Mittwoch, Februar 06, 2013

Lorefinder - Gumshoe for the Pathfinder RPG (and other editions, too?)

I was always fascinated by the word lore. It evoked old tales filled with odd pieces of wisdom, and secret knowledge, and maybe hints to which paths may be taken to gain it.
There was a game called Times of Lore I bought for the Atari ST, and the cover illustration triggered quite a few ideas about the game-play, its graphics, and story. But I couldn't play it, because my machine, an Atari 1040 STE had a newer TOS-version that didn't work with the game. Of course, I was disappointed. Even more so, when I finally got to play the game on another machine, and found my expectations had been a little too high. The word lore did not lose its power, though. Whenever I read it I went for it. Guess I am a seeker.
A few years later when I had already turned to Fantasy Role-Playing Games I got the Legends & Lore supplement for the AD&D 2nd Edition game. Then there was a PC game called Lands of Lore, a nice and very playable take on 3D dungeon click adventures like my favourite FTL's Dungeon Master.
And a few weeks ago I spotted Lorefinder on a German online RPG store (Sphärenmeister Spiele).
When I read the title I felt that mix of nostalgia and yearning for knowledge and wisdom once again. The book is a supplement for Paizo's Pathfinder RPG. I never played Pathfinder, I wanted to gain more wisdom and use Lorefinder for 0e games. I bought it, I read it, and here is my review. Well, let's call it some thoughts on Lorefinder.

The Lorefinder Review (Some thoughts on Lorefinder)

Lorefinder was written by Gareth Hanrahan and published by Pelgrane Press in 2011. It is 43 pages long excluding a double-sided character sheet for Pathfinder/Lorefinder, an  investigator matrix, an adventure worksheet, and the OGL.
It is an adaption of Robin D. Law's GUMSHOE investigative role-playing game system for use with the Pathfinder RPG and probably similar d20 derivatives. Since I had not heard of GUMSHOE before I had to research it first. This is when I found the first clues. I read reviews of Trail of Cthulhu to get a better idea. Then I pondered a while and thought, what would it be like to have a rules supplement that integrates special rules for investigation into an existing game system. In what way would it change the core system and its resulting game?

In fact, only a few rules (investigative skills) are added while even fewer Pathfinder rules have to be changed (e.g. spells that may conflict with the added skills.)

The old school approach of less rolls and rules is supported, as players do not simply roll the dice to see if their characters find clues and solve the mystery.
What Lorefinder does is this: the characters find the clues when they have the appropriate skill, and the players have to piece them together to sovle the mystery. And before they get bogged down by too much speculation at the game table the characters will find more clues (if the players let them get on.)

It may sound like railroading at times, but I really think this kind of adventure design lends itself quite well for sandbox gaming, too.

The DM will have to add another step into the design process of adventures. Which clues can be found when and where and by means of which investigative skills? It might help to better design adventures,

Some mysteries are solved long after all the clues have been laid out, and often no harm is done, when it takes a little longer. I guess this where the longevity of elves comes as a real bonus. Think of the elf battlefield detectives piecing together what really helped to win the epic battles of old...

A new Perspective?

While it adds a few rules the biggest change is the way you will design your adventures.
As for the other editions and d20 derivatives, adapting Lorefinder to any of these rules sets should be easy, as only the investigative skills have to be introduced and skill progression rules are given in the Lorefinder book. Other changes that effect Pathfinder can be ignored.

The printed version costs $11.95 and the book is well worth the price, if only for the inspiration to think about your adventure design.

Here's a link to the Pelgrane Press website with links to other reviews of the Lorefinder supplement.

Enjoy solving crimes, riddles, and mysteries!

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