Finding Secret Doors

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azato

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Finding Secret Doors
« on: July 27, 2012, 01:18:24 PM »

I have been using Discern Realities for them to seach for secret doors. They seem to discover them too easily...especially if multiple people are doing the Discern Reality move. 

Thoughts????

Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2012, 01:37:04 PM »
Usually I do it all descriptively / fictionally... very few secret doors have no clue to their description at all, so you say what is noticable and unusual and they can ask questions etc (or not) until they find the door.

You could always do a custom move, too, but "noticing things" custom moves is kind of weird. Here's how I'd do it, maybe.

"When the GM has no hold already and you're keeping a keen eye out, roll+wis. On a 10+, the GM holds 3. On a 7-9, hold 1. On a miss, you hold 0 and the GM makes his move. Whenever you might notice a secret door, trap, or otherwise something (or someone) hidden, the GM will spend 1 hold and tell you. If the GM doesn't have any hold, he may or may not tell you, his call."

But, eh, that's kinda dumb!

- Alex

[EDIT]: Also, if they're all searching the same area, only 1 person should roll to discern... everyone else should probably try and assist!

Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 01:55:21 PM »
Yeah, it's way better to have one rolling discern realities, and a couple of people aiding him.

Why do you feel they are discovering secret doors too easily? More over: what do you use secret doors for?

I don't actually use secret doors that much. Once I did to have a player escape with her life—the dungeon was collapsing, she had some good rolls, so to be a fan of the characters and make the world fantastic, I came up with a cool secret exit (leading to a very dangerous place of course). Another time, when writing the front I decided there was a secret door leading to the deep elves realm, but then during the game the characters discovered it for totally different reasons (they were searching for a way to outflank a big bad villain who was waiting for them at the front door of the dungeon). More recently I decided there was a secret underwater passage, which I described just as an underground river flowing at the bottom of the cave when they passed by the first time, actually leading to the treasure chamber of the bandit king, and since they captured him and "gently" made him confess instead of just killing him*, they discovered the thing.

*they argued a lot about this: the wizard wanted to leave him to the wolves, the thief wanted to kill him now, but eventually prevailed the paladin who wanted him in prison
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.

Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2012, 11:05:45 AM »
Keep the discerns very specific. For example, the Throne Room of Doom in a dungeon might have scuff marks on the floor, several tables with old food trays on them, tapestries on the walls, the throne, 2 doors, and 2 large carved pillars by the throne.

Players have to pick an item or feature and discern that. My secret door might be under the throne but they'd only have a chance to discern it if a player searched the throne.

In very very old school D&D players had to describe what they did. You couldn't just go into a room and "roll perception". You had to find the hidden lever by describing exactly what you were searching.

Another example, a hidden passage in a library triggered by pressing the eye of of a stuffed animal head above the fireplace.

The hidden passageway might be in the bookcase and a player may notice that by examining the book case(scuff marks on the floor), but there's no way to find the trigger unless someone examined the moose head above the fireplace(one of the eyes has finger prints on it).

The key with this is to always provide details even if they point to nothing. That way the players never know if a detail you're sharing is something important or not.

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azato

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Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2012, 09:47:15 PM »

Why do you feel they are discovering secret doors too easily? More over: what do you use secret doors for?

Well, if ever room the first player blows a roll, the second person rolls. If that person fails then the next person rolls, etc...until a success.  Then, in effect every secret door is always found and then there is no such thing as a secret door.

I do like the advice of other player aiding....Actually there is a bunch of good advice from everybody.

Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2012, 10:18:36 PM »
Wait a sec.

1) A player missing a roll means BAD THINGS. No matter the kind of move he's rolling, a miss means hard moves. Very hard. Like he finds a concealed door, he enters it and only a couple of seconds later he realizes there was no floor—at least for the first 30 feet.

2) to roll Discern Realities, you have to study closely something. I mean, you really have to do it. It's not that a character enters a room and the players says "I roll discern realities". He describes what the character does, and if it's a move, you roll, otherwise—dang, GM's move (a soft one). This is true especially in a dangerous dungeon. What I mean here is, if the character just stares at the room, it's not DR. If he closely analyzes the walls, well it is—but the Q&A will be all about the walls, and he gets nothing about the trapdoor on the floor!

I'm not saying that you don't know these things, it's just that you put it too easy in the above post!

That said, you didn't answer my second question :) I'll be more specific: what secret door of yours you felt was too easily discovered by the players? Give us some AP!
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 10:26:25 PM by (not that) adam »
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.

Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2012, 01:18:02 PM »
I work on an amended version of the Trail of Cthulhu principle - if it is important that they find it, then they will find it. I amend that to if it will be fun (for the players and for me), then they'll find it. I'd use the skill roll to see what happens as they find it (they inadvertently also set off a trap; the door squeaks loudly as they open it, alerting nearby denizens, it gets stuck so they have to basically break it down, meaning that it's no longer secret or can't be closed afterwards, which will alert anyone following them to their direction...).

Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2012, 02:02:52 PM »
About secrets in general, I always found enlightning this passage from Storming the Wizard's Tower:

Mystery
When an adventure includes a mystery, it’s not always obvious how to run it. You need to give them all the cool information you’ve created, but you also want to preserve the mystery and create suspense. Here’s how, some things to do and things to don’t.

Don’t lead them to the monster, clue to clue to clue. Don’t prepare a trail of leads, or “this person tells you to talk to this person who tells you to go to this place at midnight,” or whatever. Don’t prepare a big reveal. When you run a mystery this way, first of all, you’re the one solving it, not them. Also, you’re setting yourself up for failure – what happens when they don’t follow your carefully prepared trail? Or when they see through it, and treat it as the manipulation it is? What if they predict your big reveal instead of letting you deliver it?

Don’t! It’s a bad way to play this game. Instead, go now and read the four foundational rolls in the chapter about dice. Whenever you feel like you haven’t planned enough, read them again. If you just play those rolls  straight, especially the perception and arcane rolls to notice and discover things, and the perception and command rolls for interacting with people, they’ll give the players the information they need, seamlessly and under their control. That’s precisely what those rules are designed to do: let the players, not you, solve the mysteries you create.



Obviously, in this case, substitute "foundational rolls" with "DW moves".
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.

Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2012, 06:45:32 PM »
I really dislike false tests. It's like in DnD setting a perception DC 15 test. It's sort of a why even bother the players with the dice rolls? Are 4 people with +8 or so in perception(a skill everyone has to take) really going to miss the test?

I have this problem with Savage Worlds right now too. Even a d4 perception suceeds 62% of the time. So again, 4 people checking out a room are going to find whatever. Rolling just slows down the play and is like giving someone a gold star for just showing up.

If characters have to be specific with their searches it changes the game a lot. First it brings things down to 1 roll per item check as each player is going to split off and search something different. Players may also just choose not to search the right item.

If it's something that the players "need" to find, then just have them find it. Don't bother with the rolling.

Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2012, 07:44:56 PM »
Poor azato, all these people going off topic. And I'm the one of them!

Why do you think there could be a notion that they *need* to find? I mean: they need it for what?

In DW you just prepare your front before playing, and you do GM moves during the game, including the hard move of activating a Grim Portent. Grim Portents and Impending Dooms are what fronts are all about, and if the characters fail to prevent them, then so it is. And it's not that you are plotting the one true solution to resolve a front, because how the characters want to interact with the front is their business.
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.

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azato

  • 43
Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2012, 07:23:04 AM »
After reading what people wrote...seems there are some inferences. 

Due to much few people showing up than expected I went to an old module The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh. They are paid to explore a **spoiler alert** "haunted house"...which looks like a small Victorian mansion. There are no threats until later and it makes sense that they would both be looking for secret passages and that they would have time to look for secret passages.

No, finding the trap door was not necessary but was helpful.


My biggest problem is with the lack of "rules" for handling such a common situation...and me trying to follow the spirit and the letter of the rules.
In the game system I normally play, if a people were searching for a door **I** would secretly roll the one die roll for them all and tell them whether or not they found anything. Thy would never know if they made a successful check or not...and thus maintain the mystery if they didn't find the door.

Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2012, 09:59:06 AM »
The PCs doing the roll is something I do in any game system. It really comes down to if they make the roll then they can be pretty sure there's nothing notable about what they're searching. But if they fail the roll then they just won't know.

I also frown on PCs checking up on another PC's searches when that player fails a roll. It's meta-gaming.

Your Victorian house should be stocked full of a lot of flavor and features. The players should be a little overwhelmed with what they can search in any given room. Fireplaces, paintings on the walls, book shelves, chairs, rugs, couches, lamps, old desk, piano, etc. Here their choices matter more than the rolls, which to me is how it should be.

I make it a habit to always promote the mundane in my games. I have a deck of cards I use to check for random events. If I draw a face card something happens with the suit determining if it's an innocent thing or something important.

Once while they were driving someplace I came up with a face spades card, so I translated that into a driving check to avoid a fallen tree. While they were down repairing the truck a face hearts card brought in a friendly NPC who stopped to check if they needed help. Once on their way traveling to a sea cave a face hearts card came up so I had them encounter a pod of manatee.

They just never know(and neither do I) if what's happening to them is some significant event or just random life happening. I find that by doing that I can present details and encounters which are important and the players approach the situation more realistically.

Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2012, 02:12:14 PM »
After reading what people wrote...seems there are some inferences.
is this a bad thing? °L°

Have you used the rules for converting D&D modules into DW fronts? Maybe it will be easier to delve into the problem with the front and some actualy play! Also I'm really interested, I actually never used those rules, I always wrote ad-hoc fronts, but I would love to convert some old adventure.

However, I don't know what else to say. Maybe someone who knows the game better than me could give a better answer. I never hit such problems in my games, and once I ran a totally investigative urban game! Nothing was "given because needed", we just played normally, me doing GM moves and they doing their moves. We created a custom move to forge fake documents for fun, but I don't remember how it was! We sort of used the thieve's Tricks of the Trade as a basis. And I also felt the need for a true "find useful people" move in burning wheel style, but at the end we just used recruit hirelings.
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.

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azato

  • 43
Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2012, 10:17:57 PM »
I made a snap judgement to run the module right then and there. I had no prep time. ZERO, I mean...I opened it up an ran it right then and there. What i had was an old school DnD module that I ran a couple times years ago.

So yeah, it would have been nice to have some to create and flesh out impending dooms, prewritten fronts, more descriptive stuff in the rooms, and a fully developed  thesis on the existential reasons for secret doors, etc, etc. etc.  But that was beyond what I had and what I was capable of.

I really don't have the ability to create detailed scenes...nor the desire to come up with a detail way of triggering a mechanism when nothing is stated in the text.  I wish I could, but i cant. What I have is a a module that on the map is an "S", all I really care about is knowing what is the proper mechanic to handle looking for finding that secret door. There seems to be a number of items that are part and parcel to the genre that are left out of the rules. And maybe for you story type guys, you have your ways of handling that, but that isn't always so clear for me coming from a mechanical system. I think based on the wide range of responses to this, there is a gap since basically each person has given a different take on how to handle the situation.

I do like the idea of the failure to mean something bad, and that it will trigger a move. I think that it would make people more conservative about how often Discern Realities is used. I think that it would make sense to perhaps even trigger moves that are not directly related to what the characters are doing. I have never been a fan of wandering monsters, and they didn't make sense in this scenario, but that may be a good use of a hard move...failure with a discern realities.

I do appreciate everybody answering, and I got something from everybody who responded...You are a great group of guys.



Re: Finding Secret Doors
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2012, 03:39:37 AM »
We also do children's parties!

Mind that a monster showing up might or might not be a hard move:
Quote
A hard move is one that is irrevocable and immediate. The players immediately feel the consequences of the move and have to deal with them. Dealing damage is a hard move, since the damage is immediately applied.

However if it was your first session, then you were rightfully not doing a front, since the first session is all about asking questions and establishing details for future adventures! When the players are exploring a dungeon in the first session, the Dungeon Moves are really useful. They help focusing on the dungeon and exploration more than the generic moves.

If you're interested however we could do some brainstorm to convert old adventures here on the forum. Or to create custom moves. Like:

When you search for secret doors and chests, roll+wis. On a 10+, you're very lucky. On a 7-9, the GM chooses one:
• it takes a lot of time to find it
• it's locked
• it's trapped
• it's physically inaccessible
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 03:57:40 AM by (not that) adam »
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.