Here is a post mortem of a mystery I ran yesterday.

Here is a post mortem of a mystery I ran yesterday.

Here is a post mortem of a mystery I ran yesterday. Feel free to offer up your thoughts on some of the things that didn’t go well, or answer the rules questions at the bottom. Thanks y’all!

Mystery that I ran (self written, posted to the Mysteries! section a few edays ago):


Things that went great:

The final fight was cool. The hunters did a good job preparing a battleground, and giving the monster ranged and melee attacks made for more interesting fight.I could have used some more of the

One of the hunters had a really cool Roleplaying moment at the end.

Maybe some other stuff went well, but that’s what I see from my side.

I think the Divine did some cool role playing and had a lot of fun with their character.

The players said they had fun, but I think the general consensus is that things felt a little flat.


Things that didn’t go great:

Three hours didn’t feel like enough time. We played through a mystery from start to finish, which was the intent, but it just felt rushed.

The monster was too complex. The light form / reflection was cool and the hunters liked the idea, but they barely interacted with it that way. I realized it was just going to be…. Obnoxious. So, while it was a cool concept, it needs to work in the game, too.

I had to do a out-of-character Q&A with the players so that they could understand how it worked and what they could do. I honestly felt this was the right thing to do at that point. Symptom of monster being too complex.

Pacing was off. The countdown clock went pretty well, but the investigation wasn’t satisfying. The hunters got very little information, and then got it all at once from Laura, with a Manipulate Someone + Help Out roll. There just wasn’t any more ways to gather information. Symptom of the monster being too complex.

Laura’s character might be defined wrong. Mayber her motivation should have been different. The hunters got a 10 on Manipulate Someone on her, which included a death threat with a trident at her throat. I couldn’t think of a plausible reason for her not to spill all the info she had. I don’t know if that was the right thing to do.

The minions didn’t really work out. My goal was to have evil humans, but the characters fell flat. I think having the plot hook in be a minion limited options for me at the start of the game. There were only so many things Rob could do as a minion. It was really difficult to know what to do with him when the hunters were asking him questions or trying to use Manipulate Someone on him. I was just doing “reveal a secret” over and over. In the future it might be best to make it so that if minions have significant information, they are willing to die to protect it.

Having an undefined number of people in the mall didn’t really accomplish anything. It might have been better to have less people, but make them all more interesting. In this mystery, they just became nameless corpses.

Trying to finish the mystery in one 3-4 hour session meant there was no time for anything other than the mystery. Our first mystery took place over an 8 hour session, and the players had lots of time to do more role playing and more investigating, which we all really enjoyed.

I didn’t give the hunters enough of a chance to shine. They weren’t put in stressful situations often enough, and couldn’t really use their abilities. Until the final fight, there weren’t too many rolls.

Several hours after the game ended, I realized I was “protecting my plot” a little too much. Just a thing that I need to keep in mind in the future: Play to see what happens. I also think I wasn’t a big enough fan of the hunters.

I don’t think the Professional, Crooked or Flake felt as badass as the Divine. I think it’s partially because the Divine is a more assertive roleplayer, but also because the Divine has all these cool powers. Maybe they felt a little vanilla. So I need to work on figuring out how to make those other players feel as impactful as the Divine.


Questions that came up:

Working from RAW…

On a Kick Some Ass 6-, can I use some other keeper move, such as “separate them” instead of, or in addition to “deal harm as established?” Example: “The monster grabs Bob and jumps out the window with him. No harm taken.”

How to deal with things that narratively would kill a human? Example: hunter has a human minion pinned, and has a gun at the minion’s head. Minion has taken 2 harm with cap of 7. Player says “I shoot her in the head.” What happens?

Why can’t the Divine use Angel Wing to always avoid damage, or just generally blinking all over the place and making challenging combat narratively impossible? Example: “I stab the zombie and then angel-wings away before it can touch me.”

Can the Divine Lay On Hands targeting themselves?

When there is no specified failure effect, what happens when a hunter rolls 6-? Examples: Divine’s Angel Wings carrying 1 or 2 people, Crooked’s Pickpocket.

8 thoughts on “Here is a post mortem of a mystery I ran yesterday.”

  1. Remember, PbtA games are fiction first. If a player has a gun to somebody’s head, they are dead. Unless they got an interesting ability/move or it’s the monster, they are probably going to die. Same for stepping in lava, sitting on a nuke, etc.

    As far as the Divine being better, I think it’s the player. Having had Divines in multiple games, they never stood out. Using Angel Wings to dodge is totally a possibility, defy danger and the fictional portion is they teleport, fly, etc.

  2. +Michael Kennedy “Fiction first,” that’s incredibly helpful. I was stuck looking at the minion moves and the descriptions for Manipulate Someone and could not figure out what to do. When you run your games, do the hunters have time to do stuff other than just investigate and fight? I’m just trying to figure out where our time is getting sucked up.

  3. Yeah, the rules suggest when the attention lags to make a move. With Pbta games, if it’s not interesting to the group or if it is dragging on, skip it or make a roll.

    Normally I present the hook, then the players start doing their thing. I let them talk and chit chat, once the energy levels go down, make a roll or shift scenes.

  4. Michael Kennedy This is all super helpful! I’m seeing that I might have been making my plots too complex because I as a Keeper thought it would be cool. Simplifying those can probably help me run stuff faster. Thanks for all your help!

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