Thursday, November 26, 2015

All that Crap

So - it’s a FRPG. A gang of thieves (likely the player characters) busts into a house and starts searching it for the big diamond they know is hidden somewhere inside. They check the underwear drawers, the cookie jar, the freezer ... the freezer? What do a group of modern players know about searching a house in a fantasy world? They don’t, but they shouldn’t need to.

OK - So the diamond is hidden in a secret pouch tied to the bottom of the outhouse seat. How do I know that? Well, ignoring the fact that I was the GM, I know that people put their human waste in outhouses. Sometimes they use the outhouse, sometimes they use a chamber pot and dump it in the outhouse later, but they still have an outhouse in the yard.

When an outhouse gets filled up, you have to do something. It is far cheaper to hire a guy to empty the waste out of the outhouse than to dig another one and use the dirt to fill in the old one. So I now know that there need to be professional outhouse emptiers. Sounds like a shitty job, huh? (Sorry, had to go there.)

I also know that nails are expensive and screws are astronomically expensive, so normal folks don’t use them. Since the outhouse is probably only emptied once a year, they don’t want to have a big cellar door behind it taking up space. All this together means that the seat lifts off, so the pro outhouse guy can have access to the big pile of waste material. (The whole seat, bench and all.)

So, in the modern era, Louisiana Congressmen roll up their cash in aluminum foil and hide it in the freezer. You know what? They aren’t the only guys to do that. (I don’t have any money, so don’t bother checking my freezer.) In a fantasy world, people hide things in a place they can get to relatively easily, but that no one wants to search: the outhouse.

But the point of this post is honestly not about where fantasy folk go potty. It is about how your player characters would find the diamond. Ignoring the use of magic, you cannot use any manner of senses skill to find the diamond, because it is not in plain view. It is hidden inside of something. (We assume X-ray vision is magical.) So how do you know where to look? In Legend Quest, you use your Scrounging skill. While scrounging is most commonly used to figure out where to buy what you need to find in an urban setting, it can absolutely be used here. This is not an incredibly uncommon hidey hole; it would probably be rather normal for a thief or investigator to check the outhouse. If it is less common, then maybe it is a Scrounging task with a modifier, but it is still scrounging to use your urban skills to figure out where something might be.

What’s point of all of this? If you are playing a role-playing game that does not have skills like Senses and Scrounging, then you cannot play detective style missions. No, you are not Batman, no matter how well you say the line, because all you can do is attack; you cannot detect. You cannot investigate; you probably cannot even question or interrogate prisoners. If you want to expand the types of missions you can do, you need a full role-playing game. Obviously we suggest Legend Quest, but I won’t take it personally if you have found a different game that still allows for non-combat related activities.

You know what else? Knowing stupid stuff like there are no toilets but there are outhouses (all those mundane things) can matter. You don’t need to know everything and constantly be talking about it, but you need to have some of this knowledge in the back of your mind in order to run your game properly.

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