Unnamed Noir/Mystery Game

So I’ve helped playtest board games and RPGs before, but I’ve never made one. I thought it’d be an interesting excercise to give it a try and possibly contribute something to one of my favorite systems. That said I also started thinking about what in RPGs I dislike the most, which leads me to the idea of solving a mystery in a RPG. I’m not the biggest fan of solving a mystery in a RPG, mainly because it felt like one had to follow the logic of the GM.

After trying out a game of InSpectors, I found a basis for how to do mysteries. Rather than create the problem AND sollution, why not just set up the problem and let the players create the solution from whole-cloth at the table. Once they have obtained a set number of clues, they’ve solved the case.

Game Notes: My notes include a few ideas of playbooks, actions, and HQs (like the Crews in Blades or Ships in Scum) So these are just a bunch of thoughts I had about my goals for the game and design. It’s all loose like the pages of a stream of conscience design document. So I’ll repeat a few ideas down here:

  • GMs ONLY SET UP THE MYSTERY, the PCs supply the solution. GMs never come up with the solution to the mystery they’ve set up
  • PCs must put themselves at risk to gather clues (think Noir)
  • Escalation/Deescalation: Although this is in the rules of Blades/Scum & Villainy, not too many players make use of this. So I’m aiming to have playbook abilities that codify this idea.
  • Bonds: Besides being crew, each of the individual PCs have some form of relationship with each other (may add to the XP about beliefs & goals)
  • Lifestyle: In the games I’ve played/run, the “Stash” hasn’t been used much. An aim is to add in systems that incorporate the Stash (one playbook I’m thinking about is all about abusing the Stash)

Right now I’m copying a lot from Scum & Villainy in terms of describing actions. So with all of that in mind, I’d like some guidance as to what to concentrate on first. I honestly have no idea where to start.


The thing I’ve found most useful in hacking Blades is: test the game early and often. Put together whatever you need in order to play the game, even just a one shot. If that’s just reskinning the playbooks, that’s fine. If you can’t find anyone to play with, play it by yourself. Not only will you get feedback, you’ll get a nice confidence boost. A lot of the creative process involves us getting stuck inside our own heads, so sharing something, even if it feels woefully incomplete, can be a huge boon.

I would advise against rewriting the whole rule book to fit your theme, especially this early in the process (I learned this one the hard way). You’ll just have to revisit it constantly every time you change something. Instead just list the mechanics that have changed, been removed, or been added. That way when you’re explaining to other people how to play you know what to include/leave out, and BitD veterans who know the basics will have a good idea of what to expect. This is also handy in making playbooks, since many of their special abilities often involve breaking the rules.

It looks like you have some solid foundations to starts your hack, I’m really curious to see where this goes.

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