Gumshoe Homebrew: CSI Ankh-Morpork

I wanted to go more CSI: Game of Thrones, but I think the tone is more Guards! Guards! than the dark post medieval low fantasy world I had envisioned.
The background

Back when the Gumshoe SRD was released, I used it to start writing a game, which I envisioned as an intrigue heavy Political murder mystery. I hacked some rules, using the SRD, the Lorefinder book that hacks Gumshoe into Pathfinder, and my own ideas.

I wrote a fair old amount, even swapped some ideas with Simon Rogers, then kind of stopped, and let it sit in my Google Drive.

The game starts from a traditional ‘authorised officers of the state investigating wrong doing’ position, with a small twist.

The players are from one of five branches of the city militia:

  • The Patrol – standard troops who patrol the city streets, sworn to uphold the Peace, and dispense Civil, Royal and/or Holy Justice

  • The Guard – hardened warriors assigned to protecting specific persons and places. City Guards are deployed sparingly, and each has sworn to give their life in defence of their charges

  • The Watch – spies and assassins. Greatly feared, the Watch have sworn to identify, isolate and excise corruption, treason, conspiracy and espionage

  • The Wardens – Charged with pursuing heretics, stemming heresy and safeguarding the moral and ethical fabric of the Crown. Wardens maintain the City’s defences against intrusion from other planes – spirits, ghosts, demons and alien gods

  • The Hunt – Scouts, rangers, gamekeepers and border patrol. The Hunt are also charged with tracking fugitives that have breached the city walls

They’re then disgraced, after committing a crime, transgression, or embarrassment, and subsequently shunted sideways to a new unit being set up under the auspices of the new Queen – a dead end and punitive posting where they expected to fade and be forgotten.

Unfortunately for the PCs former commanders, the Queen has plans for her new household militia, and employs them to further her own agenda.

The setting is a great walled city, which I think of as the Game of Thrones version of Mega-City One. The City spans miles and miles, and has grown organically over centuries. It has absorbed and united other cities, towns, villages, estates and farms. It contains acres of forest, plains, farmland and hills, palaces, castles, slums, churches and warehouses.

The City is ruled by a new king, freshly coronated following the death of his father by natural causes (murdered by his uncle). The old king was due to be married to a high born lady, 20 years his junior, and the contract applied to his heir. Thus the new King found himself wed to a woman 15 years his senior within weeks of assuming his throne.

The setting isn’t so hot on names at the moment, as I’m struggling to decide on names that don’t sound wanky and/or pretentious, so at the moment I’m using descriptive terms and titles instead. Walled City. King. Queen. Bridge District. East Palace etc.

Last week my group agreed to playtest the game, as I figured I had enough to create a group and run a mystery.

We spent about 30 minutes on character creation (plus another 30 just dicking around), and about an hour on a basic investigation.

My biggest concerns, rules wise, were around Armour and Magic and Miracles.

I’ve opted to have Shields and Armour do separate things. Shields provide additional cover, or an increase to a combatants Hit Threshold, whereas Armour grants damage reduction. I added that a combatant must have Weapons 8+ to use a large Shield effectively, and Athletics 8+ to use Heavy Armour effectively.

These ideas make sense to me, but I’m still not sure how they work out in play. So far, the Guard PC has a Hit Threshold of 6, plus a Damage Reduction of 2, so an opponent will have to piss Ability points up the wall to even hit him, then will do reduced damage in a successful hit.

Whilst this sounds good for a PC, I can see it being incredibly frustrating trying to hit a similarly armoured NPC.