Shadows Over Bogenhafen help, please?

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johnfinnswife
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:02 am

Hey people, hope everyone's well in these weird times. Long post incoming, sorry!

I'm running Shadows Over Bogenhafen for the first time (with hacked WFRP 2 rules) & it's getting late on the second day of the Schaffenfest, & I'm a bit worried.

I think the problem might be my group's lack of familiarity with (old-school) roleplaying or maybe just that no-one had the decency to watch Scooby-Doo growing up, but my group seems to have severe difficulty investigating anything they found in the sewers (guardian demon, gutted dwarf etc etc.).

It's not the sneery "Oh TEW isn't any good it doesn't force the players to engage with it" that I've seen a lot from certain people in recent years (there's only one dude who wants to leave the town & everyone else disagreed), it's more that my lot are *shit* at investigating. Like, terribad.

They've asked one or two questions but then immediately backed off from the consequences of same, forcing me to splurge a bit heavy-handedly on the exposition: e.g. they refused to ask Richter which warehouse the goblin was found in "in case he gets suspicious", then when they went to the Town Hall as he told them for more info/a reward they saw him entering the back door (to report in to Teugen) & went "LOLNOPE" & went back to gambling & whoring at the Schaffenfest. They're not being terribly investigative, is my point, but also seem to expect things to come to them. Even when I've tried to get random NPCs to spout plot at them they're like "AH! They must know about what's going on! Let's avoid them!" They've had some heavy fricking hints (Kuftsos's printers told them about the Steinhagers, I casually dropped in which manhole the cult temple is below) but they've shown no inclination to actually *do* anything with it.

I thought I'd try a different tack & lean heavily on roleplay to encourage interaction with the plot (bribing one of them with on-the-spot XP the moment they said it!) : this way I got one of them to go to a temple where they had a vision, so Deus ex Machina FTW, & while they were there I dropped enough savage hints to get another to go to the Temple of Verena, where they bartered for some research (the results of which they have not received as yet, told them to come back later). I'm cautious of doing this too much, however.

So, TL;DR: do I keep bribing them when they get warm ([player mentions the word "merchant" in public]=Random NPC: "Ah, let me tell you of the four great merchant houses of our city...")? How do you deal with cowards, laggards (but no dwarfs) & other people who cannot seem to engage with a plot in any logical way? Do I just run "Apocalypse" & go straight into Death on the Reik?

Thank you in advance & apologies for the wall of text!
Jadrax
Posts: 39
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:19 am

Are the player enjoying the game? Are you enjoying the game? Is this actually a problem that needs fixing?

If it is a problem: What are you players goals? What do they want? Why should they engage with the plot?
johnfinnswife
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:02 am

Jadrax wrote:
Sat Apr 18, 2020 4:32 am
Are the player enjoying the game? Are you enjoying the game? Is this actually a problem that needs fixing?

If it is a problem: What are you players goals? What do they want? Why should they engage with the plot?
My players are definitely enjoying it, thank you. They don't really have any goals, other than whoring & drinking & accrual of money by scarcely-licit means. Which would be okay, except I was explicitly asked to run this thing & have done quite a lot of work getting it to (virtual) table...

I have ensnared one of them (he's had him a revelation!) with the idea of joining the Cult of Verena (as he was getting on so well with the Mutter there), so I shall attempt to heavy-handedly drag them back into the plot that way.

I suppose I am just suffering performance anxiety, & a bit worried about letting them naff about on their murderhobo picaresque & then suddenly going "Oh, that town you were in two days ago? It's been swallowed up by the warp, have an Insanity Point!"

Which is totally an option (going straight into the more sandboxy DotR), but it just seems a bit of a waste...

Thank you again for your input.
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Totsuzenheni Yukimi
Posts: 339
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:38 pm

Are you aware of Gideon's Companion to the first edition of the campaign? It can be downloaded here: https://onedrive.live.com/?id=C86ACFA4B ... A4B04325B4 . There is some advice on pp. 34 and 37, with some handouts.

There are also a bunch of links here: https://awesomeliesblog.wordpress.com/2 ... hin-links/ .

I would say there should be consequences to not investigating. I personally would not be too reticent about them having to deal with a large gateway into the warp releasing daemons, drawing in troops, increasing the enthusiasm for witch hunts across the Old World, and generally making the PCs' lives harder, daemoner and deadlier. (Later in the campaign you might be able to have someone of merit muse out loud that such a portal would have required conspiracy within the town, and alas if only the town had had less corruption, been less full of gambling, and had braver witchhunters.)

In the mean time don't forget that Morrslieb is getting unnaturally bigger and closer to the town, seemingly grinning right at those who look up. I'd also argue that it might be right for the PCs to be concerned about raising suspicions, but if Teugen and/or Gideon know that the PCs found the temple, which they almost certainly do, even if they didn't tell Richter, it may already be too late. Teugen generally sends in either Stevedore thugs or Gideon to do the dirty work. If the PCs are spending their time at the fest gambling perhaps Gideon (in disguise) and/or some other gamblers, shills, or Stevedores can accuse the PCs of cheating and have them arrested and consequently taken to the fest court where either they get another chance to talk to RIchter or they find out that Gorvintz has taken over from Richter because he has fallen suddenly ill. Later the PCs might question some of the gamblers, some of which they've made friends with, only to find out that some of them were paid to accuse the PCs (no hard feelings) or that those who accused them aren't regular gamblers, or whatever the case may be. Perhaps mixing with the gamblers could lead them to the thieves guild.
Last edited by Totsuzenheni Yukimi on Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Orin J.
Posts: 472
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:39 pm

honestly, it sounds like your group is entirely uninterested in the "suspenseful mystery" sort of adventure which is the main draw of the enemy within arc to me. i'd go over it to see what plays to their own enjoyment and let, like getting them in the death on the riek by "just" going to the wittgentstiens to make a fat payment on a parcel just to drag them through the adventure trying to get a damn signature. sure they're not playing like the adventure wants, but it's honestly a bit on the railroady side and your group seems uninterested and staying on the rails.

play to the group's strengths, don't try and make them fit in the book.
johnfinnswife
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:02 am

totsuzenheni wrote:
Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:20 am
Are you aware of Gideon's Companion to the first edition of the campaign? It can be downloaded here: https://onedrive.live.com/?id=C86ACFA4B ... A4B04325B4 . There is some advice on pp. 34 and 37, with some handouts.

There are also a bunch of links here: https://awesomeliesblog.wordpress.com/2 ... hin-links/ .

I would say there should be consequences to not investigating. I personally would not be too reticent about them having to deal with a large gateway into the warp releasing daemons, drawing in troops, increasing the enthusiasm for witch hunts across the Old World, and generally making the PCs' lives harder, daemoner and deadlier. (Later in the campaign you might be able to have someone of merit muse out loud that such a portal would have required conspiracy within the town, and alas if only the town had had less corruption, been less full of gambling, and had braver witchhunters.)

In the mean time don't forget that Morrslieb is getting unnaturally bigger and closer to the town, seemingly grinning right at those who look up. I'd also argue that it might be right for the PCs to be concerned about raising suspicions, but if Teugen and/or Gideon know that the PCs found the temple, which they almost certainly do, even if they didn't tell Richter, it may already be too late. Teugen generally sends in either Stevedore thugs or Gideon to do the dirty work. If the PCs are spending their time at the fest gambling perhaps Gideon (in disguise) and/or some other gamblers, shills, or Stevedores can accuse the PCs of cheating and have them arrested and consequently taken to the fest court where either they get another chance to talk to RIchter or they find out that Gorvintz has taken over from Richter because he has fallen suddenly ill. Later the PCs might question some of the gamblers, some of which they've made friends with, only to find out that some of them were paid to accuse the PCs (no hard feelings) or that those who accused them aren't regular gamblers, or whatever the case may be. Perhaps mixing with the gamblers could lead them to the thieves guild.

Awesome, thank you so much!

Some great ideas here, sincerely appreciated!
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Gideon
Posts: 90
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:14 pm

Are the players failing to investigate because they don't know how to go about it, or because they're not interested?

If the former, perhaps an out-of-game chat would work, in which you could point out they need to ask questions, follow up clues, visit libraries and guilds, stake out suspects, etc.

If it's the latter, roll with it. Fill out the days with events at the Schafffenfest. If necessary, you can pad it out with minor bits and pieces from the Middenheim Carnival (see also pp107-108 of my Companion) and other encounters (eg those in Warhammer City or the Enemy in Shadows Shadows Companion). The one bit of railroading you do need to do is have them speak with Magirius. Then you can trigger the finale when Magirius gets cold feet and contacts the PCs. I would be inclined to have the PCs arrive too late to disrupt the ritual and go with the Apocalypse ending, but it depends what will bring most pleasure to you and the players.
johnfinnswife
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:02 am

Hello everyone, thank you for the advice.

After playing through last night's session I came to the conclusion that one player likes to "problematise the narrative", shall we say, & seems to spend every second dreaming up ways to derail whatever's going on & remain in a state of analysis paralysis. They're happy just living out their life like they're in The Sims or something, & strongly discourage anyone else from doing anything that might engage them.

I don't think he does this deliberately, or even consciously, but it's fecking annoying when you realise someone's playstyle is basically "Find increasingly elaborate ways to refuse engage with anything". The problem turned out to be, that other people (who are newer to RPGs) were going along with it! They'd get half a lead or be told the location of something interesting & he'd go "No! X must be after us! Let's flee!" He did this from everything, from Magistrate Richter to random people at the Schaffenfest.

So, for this session, I had a quick chat with everyone beforehand about, you know, "You're playing Call of Cthulhu in Renaissance Europe, get your shite together" & when that didn't work contrived to split the party. This meant the individual who wanted to navel-gaze got to spend four & a half hours of real-time looking for thimbles (don't ask) & everyone else got to have a game.

Clues were found, people were talked to & things were found out & a good time was had by all.

Again, thank you all for your advice.
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Totsuzenheni Yukimi
Posts: 339
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:38 pm

Smooth. I'm curious to know how the thimble finder reacts to finding out about how well everything went without him.

All this has me thinking about why Teugen and Gideon don't try to deal with the PCs earlier given how quickly they deal with Richter and Gurnisson (and no doubt others i don't recall), and if having the Stevedores and Gideon make some moves against the PCs might serve to create a (greater) sense of urgency and danger, as well as help the GM and PCs in terms of moving things along.

It also occurred to me that if the PCs split up Gideon might impersonate one of them, perhaps 'coincidentally' the PC who resembles Kastor Lieberung. Not that i'm suggesting that that would be helpful or a good idea, and i'm not sure how a GM would make that work, but it could be a fun red herring none the less.
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