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Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases» Forums » General

Subject: Fan-made cases rss

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Eric Martin
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For anyone who hasn't requested a copy yet, I strongly recommend trying Thane Mullen's fan-made case, The Slain Scholar, which he's designed for SHCD. I played it through a couple of night's ago and when I finished I put it right in my binder with the rest of the cases. It is very well done and I hope to post a review on here shortly.

For any of you who also own or have played Gumshoe, I am currently developing some of my own cases for that game. I have new mugshots, fingerprints, newspapers, autopsy reports, lab reports and am working on the clue book right now. I will make another post when I'm finished and ready for playtesting.

I strongly encourage anyone who loves these games to work on designing their own fan-made cases. Nothing teaches you the inner workings of the game itself better than developing a new case from scratch. It will give you a tremendous appreciation for those who have already given us so many excellent cases for this game. If anyone has already designed their own fan-made cases, please advertise them in this page.
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Wayne Walker
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Gumshoe!

I eagerly await your efforts on this front.

The fact that "The Chinatown Caper" is sitting in a binder in a warehouse or garage somewhere is a crying shame!
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Eric Martin
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I have plans for 3 days of cases so far. I am working on Day 1 right now and plan to submit it by itself at first as a standalone example of how the Gumshoe model differs from that used in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective.

I'm really working hard to design some nice-looking extras like the newspapers and mugshots. At present I have twelve mugshots, nine autopsy reports and six lab reports.

For my Fingerprint File, I'm using the fingerprint system developed by Gary Grady for his Ident-A-Kit supplement to Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes. It provides fingerprints for 50 different characters, which is more than enough for what I'm planning.

My clues will begin with a daily briefing like in Gumshoe, followed by a listing of the day's clue points and then the clues in paragraph format. The Gumshoe format is much more like a choose-your-own-adventure story than SHCD and I am trying as hard as possible to replicate these features in my own cases.

The phone book and directory will be the ones from the original game. I still have to figure out what to do for those who don't own the original game.

I have the second edition of Gumshoe myself and consider it far superior to the first edition. When I played the game through myself a couple of months ago I started with the first edition for the first three days and missed a lot of important stuff (even with the errata) because the second edition includes even more clues and much better fingerprints on the mugshots, autopsy reports and fingerprint clues in the book. When I switched to the second edition on Day 4 I noticed an immediate improvement in the gameplay. I wish the second edition were easier to find on Ebay, but it seems like the only copies for sale on Ebay are first editions (which makes sense).

There is a second edition for sale on Ebay right now from England for just over $100. If I didn't already have a copy, I would pick it up in a heartbeat, even at that price.

I posted a similar description on the Gumshoe page, but I don't think that pages gets anywhere near as much traffic as this one, and the games are similar in so many ways I figured that I might spark a little interest over here as well.

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Thane Mullen
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Glad to hear you liked it! I'm just waiting to get some feedback from the testers before I finalize it and post it on here. There are some minor points that I want to make sure I get right before I let it loose.
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Stijn Hommes
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I'd love to play Thane Mullen's case, but I don't seem to be able to find it. Is it actually publicly available somewhere?
 
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Eric Martin
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He's got a post about five or six down from this one.
 
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Thane Mullen
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A couple people have asked me if I would post an article outlining the process behind making cases for SHCD. I have one in the works, but before I post it, I have a few questions for those of you who have played multiple fan-cases (regardless of whether mine was one of them).

Are there any common errors that you notice in fan-cases?
What would you like to see more/less of?
Are things like full (Holmes-length) newspapers and/or graphic work important to you?

If you make any specific references to cases, use spoiler tags when appropriate.
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Arsene Lupin
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I was browsing YouTube this afternoon when I stumbled upon a video published yesterday in which someone is playtesting SH:CD using a fan case.

Here is what is REALLY interesting about it:
- This case (The Red River Valley) is not available anywhere;
- The author has written a full campaign composed of 6 (!) different cases, and actively seeking a publisher;

I stopped watching the video after the introduction because I did not want to spoil this case, so I can't really say whether it's good. Here's a link to the video if anyone is interested. The part I am referring to starts at 10:55:



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Billy Crawford - Greybeard
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The good news is he didn't finish the case, so at least the end wasn't spoiled.
 
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Dave Neale
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arsene_lupin wrote:

Here is what is REALLY interesting about it:
- This case (The Red River Valley) is not available anywhere;
- The author has written a full campaign composed of 6 (!) different cases, and actively seeking a publisher.


The case is mine. It is the first case in a six-case expansion called 'The Baker Street Irregulars' that I have been writing and play-testing since mid 2014. It introduces some new ideas and rules to the base game (e.g. the game now 'knows' when you have been to important locations, so the info you get at a clue point will change; the final case has multiple possible endings depending on the players' actions and is replayable if you fail). Also, all 6 cases are playable independently but have some connecting plot threads as well, and so there is a sense of build up towards the final case.

When and how the expansion will be available is currently an open question. I initiated contact with Ystari/Asmodee on the subject a long time ago, but still cannot say for sure if that will lead anywhere.
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Tiago Perretto
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whitescar wrote:
arsene_lupin wrote:

Here is what is REALLY interesting about it:
- This case (The Red River Valley) is not available anywhere;
- The author has written a full campaign composed of 6 (!) different cases, and actively seeking a publisher.


The case is mine. It is the first case in a six-case expansion called 'The Baker Street Irregulars' that I have been writing and play-testing since mid 2014. It introduces some new ideas and rules to the base game (e.g. the game now 'knows' when you have been to important locations, so the info you get at a clue point will change; the final case has multiple possible endings depending on the players' actions and is replayable if you fail). Also, all 6 cases are playable independently but have some connecting plot threads as well, and so there is a sense of build up towards the final case.

When and how the expansion will be available is currently an open question. I initiated contact with Ystari/Asmodee on the subject a long time ago, but still cannot say for sure if that will lead anywhere.


Do you want a group to help play-test it? We would be willing!

Regards,
 
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Arsene Lupin
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whitescar wrote:
The case is mine. It is the first case in a six-case expansion called 'The Baker Street Irregulars' that I have been writing and play-testing since mid 2014. It introduces some new ideas and rules to the base game (e.g. the game now 'knows' when you have been to important locations, so the info you get at a clue point will change; the final case has multiple possible endings depending on the players' actions and is replayable if you fail). Also, all 6 cases are playable independently but have some connecting plot threads as well, and so there is a sense of build up towards the final case.


This looks really interesting. It reminds me of Phoenix Wright. Are you using a keyword system to keep track of the game state? I have seen this used in some game books. It works well in practice at the expense of introducing additional branching points and paragraphs.

whitescar wrote:
When and how the expansion will be available is currently an open question. I initiated contact with Ystari/Asmodee on the subject a long time ago, but still cannot say for sure if that will lead anywhere.


As far as I know they're currently busy preparing a new expansion for 2016 that will include West End Adventures and a campaign about Jack the Ripper. I figure they probably want to put other expansions on the back-burner until that's out. After all it's better for them to publish new content about once a year than all at once with nothing else to follow. It keeps the interest for the game going.
 
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Dave Neale
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tiagoVIP wrote:
whitescar wrote:
arsene_lupin wrote:

Here is what is REALLY interesting about it:
- This case (The Red River Valley) is not available anywhere;
- The author has written a full campaign composed of 6 (!) different cases, and actively seeking a publisher.


The case is mine. It is the first case in a six-case expansion called 'The Baker Street Irregulars' that I have been writing and play-testing since mid 2014. It introduces some new ideas and rules to the base game (e.g. the game now 'knows' when you have been to important locations, so the info you get at a clue point will change; the final case has multiple possible endings depending on the players' actions and is replayable if you fail). Also, all 6 cases are playable independently but have some connecting plot threads as well, and so there is a sense of build up towards the final case.

When and how the expansion will be available is currently an open question. I initiated contact with Ystari/Asmodee on the subject a long time ago, but still cannot say for sure if that will lead anywhere.


Do you want a group to help play-test it? We would be willing!

Regards,


Thanks for the offer but I'm almost finished with play-testing. It's taken almost a year because I've given myself strict criteria (No case is considered finished until it has been fully solved in play-testing, and if any player sees any flaws in Holmes' logic or the solution I rewrite the case until multiple groups have said they are happy with it).

I'll be sure to let you know as soon as the cases are available in any form.

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Dave Neale
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arsene_lupin wrote:
whitescar wrote:
The case is mine. It is the first case in a six-case expansion called 'The Baker Street Irregulars' that I have been writing and play-testing since mid 2014. It introduces some new ideas and rules to the base game (e.g. the game now 'knows' when you have been to important locations, so the info you get at a clue point will change; the final case has multiple possible endings depending on the players' actions and is replayable if you fail). Also, all 6 cases are playable independently but have some connecting plot threads as well, and so there is a sense of build up towards the final case.


This looks really interesting. It reminds me of Phoenix Wright. Are you using a keyword system to keep track of the game state? I have seen this used in some game books. It works well in practice at the expense of introducing additional branching points and paragraphs.


Yes I'm using something along those lines. The first case (the one Rahdo plays in the run-through) doesn't use it, but it gets introduced in the second case and becomes gradually more important - and more complex - as you play through the cases.
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Arsene Lupin
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whitescar wrote:
Yes I'm using something along those lines. The first case (the one Rahdo plays in the run-through) doesn't use it, but it gets introduced in the second case and becomes gradually more important - and more complex - as you play through the cases.


Thanks. To keep this conversation going, I would have a couple of questions for you and other authors that may interest potential writers.

How do you go about writing a case? Do you start with an idea for a trick (e.g. an ingenious way of committing a murder/robbery/etc.) then build a plot around it? Do you instead start with a general plot, filling details as required? Or do you think of new mechanics or situations you want players to experience, and build a plot to that end?

What do you think is the optimal difficulty compared to say a Golden Age mystery novel? For instance J.D. Carr's mysteries, while mostly fair, would probably be considered too frustrating by a large majority of players. Should an author strive to make a case hard to solve and keep players guessing? Or is this the wrong approach?

I'm basically wondering about what -- in your opinion and experience -- works and what doesn't for a game like SHCD or Gumshoe. Both in term of creative approach and gameplay.
 
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Dave Neale
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arsene_lupin wrote:

Thanks. To keep this conversation going, I would have a couple of questions for you and other authors that may interest potential writers.

How do you go about writing a case? Do you start with an idea for a trick (e.g. an ingenious way of committing a murder/robbery/etc.) then build a plot around it? Do you instead start with a general plot, filling details as required? Or do you think of new mechanics or situations you want players to experience, and build a plot to that end?


I start with either the idea for a clever plot, or with an intriguing opening (and I then have to spend time working out the clever plot behind it). The mechanics are only introduced where they are of service to the plot, not for their own sake.

arsene_lupin wrote:

What do you think is the optimal difficulty compared to say a Golden Age mystery novel? For instance J.D. Carr's mysteries, while mostly fair, would probably be considered too frustrating by a large majority of players. Should an author strive to make a case hard to solve and keep players guessing? Or is this the wrong approach?


My cases tend to start off very hard, but solvable (by a genius). The first playtesters invariably cannot solve the case, and based on their feedback I find the parts that I should make easier. I tend to do it this way because if the case is initially set too easy then a group could solve it quickly, the playtest ends, and I am left with little useful feedback (except make it harder). If I set the initial difficulty high, then if am running/watching a playtest group and they are struggling I can give them some hints or suggestions. I then get to see which hints or suggestions put them on the right track and can incorporate those hints into the case to make it easier.

Having said all that some of my cases are very hard to solve completely, though it is possible. I think a case that is very challenging is fine, as long as the solution is satisfying and makes sense and has players going "oh, of course! Should have thought of that." We don't want any repetitions of The Mystified Murderess if we can avoid it.

arsene_lupin wrote:

I'm basically wondering about what -- in your opinion and experience -- works and what doesn't for a game like SHCD or Gumshoe. Both in term of creative approach and gameplay.


Gumshoe is interesting as it adds quite a few new ideas - some that work better than others, in my opinion.

As a final note I'll say that, for me at least, creating cases for SHCD is very intensive and time consuming. Just creating a newspaper for a case takes a great deal of thought and effort. I'd estimate I've spent at least 35 hours per case, and definitely a lot more for some of them. Some of that is because the initial idea I have invariably changes once I start writing and after play-testing. The world takes on a life of its own. If, for example, I decide someone's husband is murdered and have a plot around that, it's only when I start writing that I suddenly think "hang on, where did her husband work? What about his family? Does he have siblings? Are his parents still alive?" And before you know it you have a whole host of extra characters and more backstory than you ever had in your initial outline which was centred simply around a 'clever plot'.
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Arsene Lupin
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whitescar wrote:
I start with either the idea for a clever plot, or with an intriguing opening (and I then have to spend time working out the clever plot behind it). The mechanics are only introduced where they are of service to the plot, not for their own sake.


What does the plot cover though? Do you mean the actual murder/theft/[insert other dastardly deed here] or does that include the investigation as well?


whitescar wrote:
Having said all that some of my cases are very hard to solve completely, though it is possible. I think a case that is very challenging is fine, as long as the solution is satisfying and makes sense and has players going "oh, of course! Should have thought of that." We don't want any repetitions of The Mystified Murderess if we can avoid it.


Pretty much what I had in mind. I think I really need to play the Mystified Murderess to see what the fuss is all about

I would be interested in writing something, but the number of novels I have read makes it hard to think of something original. "Oh wait, I've read that somewhere before" pretty much sums it up.


whitescar wrote:
Gumshoe is interesting as it adds quite a few new ideas - some that work better than others, in my opinion.


I read the rules over the week-end. At first glance I really like the new mechanics, especially the way fingerprints work. It all looks very realistic and immersive.

I am not so sure about the multi-player aspect though. Having several players follow different leads simultaneously (possibly together), and having them communicate only when they're in the same location looks like flavorful... but does that really work in practice? Is everyone supposed to play in silence? Are players in the same location supposed to whisper to prevent others from listening?

Wouldn't it make more sense to let players interact at any time but with different restrictions? For instance a clue would only be read by the player(s) who accessed it. Those players could then only relate the content to others in their own words. I think this could lead to interesting possibilities for multiplayer, especially with visual clues.


whitescar wrote:
As a final note I'll say that, for me at least, creating cases for SHCD is very intensive and time consuming. Just creating a newspaper for a case takes a great deal of thought and effort. I'd estimate I've spent at least 35 hours per case, and definitely a lot more for some of them.


35 hours doesn't sound so bad. I would probably take me a lot more than that to come up with an idea and do something with it!
 
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Constantine Caviris
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whitescar wrote:
arsene_lupin wrote:

Here is what is REALLY interesting about it:
- This case (The Red River Valley) is not available anywhere;
- The author has written a full campaign composed of 6 (!) different cases, and actively seeking a publisher.


The case is mine. It is the first case in a six-case expansion called 'The Baker Street Irregulars' that I have been writing and play-testing since mid 2014. It introduces some new ideas and rules to the base game (e.g. the game now 'knows' when you have been to important locations, so the info you get at a clue point will change; the final case has multiple possible endings depending on the players' actions and is replayable if you fail). Also, all 6 cases are playable independently but have some connecting plot threads as well, and so there is a sense of build up towards the final case.

When and how the expansion will be available is currently an open question. I initiated contact with Ystari/Asmodee on the subject a long time ago, but still cannot say for sure if that will lead anywhere.


WOW, seems really cool! Looking forward to its availability.
 
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tem117 wrote:
A couple people have asked me if I would post an article outlining the process behind making cases for SHCD. I have one in the works, but before I post it...

Here are two other case authors' feedback on writing (both in French, sorry):
http://www.sleuth-games.com/2016/03/31/une-methode-pour-ecri...

https://gusandcodotnet.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/shdc_ne_p...

tem117 wrote:
What would you like to see more/less of?


More: Good writing! The fan-cases I have read so far have had several things that have really shined:
- Well researched historical context -- I love learning while playing.
- Character development, even on some minor roles -- makes it very immersive.
- Side plots -- often increases the number of places I visit and elongating the experience.


psychotic33089 wrote:
whitescar wrote:
When and how the expansion will be available is currently an open question. I initiated contact with Ystari/Asmodee on the subject a long time ago, but still cannot say for sure if that will lead anywhere.

WOW, seems really cool! Looking forward to its availability.


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