Running investigations and mysteries

I don't know about other folks, but when I started running games with a heavy investigative component, I structured them the way you see investigations structured in movies and books. Just add freedom of action for the PCs and stir. For some people, I'm sure this works great - your players piece together your cleverly (but not too cleverly) hidden bits of information and come to the conclusions that you expect.

This pretty much never worked for me. Too often, players miss key clues, no matter how smart the player or how obvious you've made the clues. Investigative games where players aren't finding their way have a habit of slowing to a crawl as the PCs start flailing - interacting with every NPC they find to try and get a hint, or throwing their characters at the setting to try and cause a reaction.

So, here are 3 things that I've done to make my investigative games work better:


Roleplaying games and copyright infringement II

This part is mostly about derivative works. For Part I (game mechanics and IP law) go here.

So - game mechanics are not protected by copyright, and are unlikely to be patented.

Suppose you have written a supplement for a particular game system - say, a spin-off game called 'Hipster: The Irony.' Are there restrictions on how closely this can be based on existing, copyright protected material, beyond a prohibition against copying and pasting copyrighted text or images? 

You bet there are. But there is a good chance you could make the game anyway.


Random Loot: DuraFoam Canister

Designed for: Near-future Sci-Fi, but works just fine in any reasonably tech heavy setting.

Summary: Instant concrete in a spray can. Good for last-minute repairs, securing a room against zombie hordes, and causing all kinds of mayhem.


Roleplaying games and copyright infringement I

About game mechanics and IP law:

I've made a lot of homebrew content over the years, and now that I'm putting out on the interwebs, I thought I'd figure out how IP law (copyright, patent and trademark) applies to the distribution of house rules, content and even home-made game systems via the internet. Thus begins my journey . . .

Driven by my own hubris, I delved into that which is mercifully hidden from human comprehension. My answers are incomplete - compared to the mad prophets of old, they are but the scratchings of a child - but they may yet be useful to others who are driven by the same questions. An attempt to make some sense of what I have learned follows: