The GUMSHOE rules system was created by Robin D Laws – the creator of the Dying Earth RPG – and is designed to work best for investigation games.
Since it’s launch GUMSHOE has picked up other big names; including Kenneth Hite who produced a new version of Call of Cthulhu called Trail of Cthulhu with it.
This week GUMSHOE’s keepers, Pelgrane Press, have been running a %15 discount sale on the system.
(At the time of posting you’ve got 52 hours of the sale left)
I took the chance to reach out to Simon J Rogers – the co-owner and MD of Pelgrane Press as well as ProFantasy Software – and fellow Brit. He suggested I fire over some questions. So here goes!
Q: Can you give us the elevator pitch for GUMSHOE? In a world filled with RPG systems; why try another?
The GUMSHOE rules system has revolutionized investigative scenarios by ensuring that players are never deprived of the crucial clues they need to move the story forward. Randomness is fun when you are fighting a shoggoth, but not when trying to find a book in a library. Investigative games are about what you do with clues, not whether you find them, and GUMSHOE makes sure all the players get a chance to shine.
Q: Is this a game system that keeps things abstract and quick or does it dive down into the gritty and realistic?
It varies between incarnations, but it’s more a simulation of stories in every media, than of the real world. In the real world in some settings, your character might be randomly picked off by a sniper. We have a word for those people – NPCs. So, for example, while there are crunchy combat options in the Esoterror Factbook, these reflect the common tropes of combat teams you see in the media, and not the nitty-gritty of burst patterns. Mutant City Blues is far more CSI than the difficult grey world of real forensics.
However, I’d say that “gritty” is a different thing – and Esoterrorists in particular is gritty, for example Stability measures you mental health, and this gets chipped away by some seriously unpleasant events and creatures of Unremitting Horror.
Q: Which GUMSHOE games would you recommend for beginners, experienced and cynical gamers? (I maintain that’s the career path most gamers take)
The rules are straightforward, but no iteration is specifically designed for those new to roleplaying to run, though they wouldn’t have much problem playing them. We’ve considered a Sherlock Holmes game for this purpose. My favourite to run is Mutant City Blues, and it would be easier to play, too, because everyone knows how police procedurals work, and the superpowers are more Heroes than DC. Esoterrorists, combined with the Esoterror FactBook would suit the more cynical minded gamer, and Trail is for those who love period horror. Fear Itself is a game of personal horror and has a smaller market, as not all roleplayers like to play normal people faced with horrors which can destroy them.
Q: Are there any online resources for GUMSHOE? Sites, forums, blogs, etc, you recommend people check out?
The Yog-Sothoth forum is where we talk about Trail, and the Pelgrane Press forum covers everything else – although I will answer Trail questions there, too. Our website has just been revamped, and has frequent updates, and I read the comments there, and there’s my livejournal too. The Pelgrane site has a lot of resources, including Call of Cthulhu adventures adapted for use with Trail, reviews, and of course Page XX, the
Q: What’s the future for the GUMSHOE system?
We’ve got the as-yet-untitled GUMSHOE Space – think Firefly meets Star Trek by way of the frontier; Razed, a post-apocalyptic game by Will Hindmarch, new Trail supplements such as Cthulhu Apocalypse and few others new GUMSHOE games not yet announced.
Take part in the community by leaving a thoughtful comment below.