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Latest revision as of 21:47, 28 June 2020

House Rule — Ability Cherries

In all GUMSHOE games there’s an advantage for having a rating of 8 or more in Athletics — your Hit Threshold rises by 1. Night’s Black Agents expanded this to all General Abilities, so if you invest enough of your build points in a particular ability to get a rating of 8 or higher, you get a cherry on top — a special ability that shows off your mastery in that field. So, for your high-octane Pulp games, here’s a bunch of Trail of Cthulhu cherries that don’t overlap with the various occupation special abilities:


Conceal: Trap Sense

You may spend Conceal pool points to add to a Sense Trouble test if the potential threat is a concealed trap or other hidden environmental peril, like an overgrown pit or impending cave-in.


Disguise: Alternate Identity

You’ve established a whole other life for yourself, complete with friends, possessions, documentation — possibly even a home and family. This alternate persona must have a lower Credit Rating than your main identity (unless you’ve been masquerading as someone else since the start of the campaign). A Disguise rating of 8 or more gets you one alternate identity; you can purchase more for 4 experience points each.


Driving: Drive-By Shootout

You’re adept at lining up shots for your passengers when they’re shooting out the window. You may transfer up to 4 of your Driving pool points to your passenger’s Firearms pools at the start of a car chase. Unspent points are lost when the chase ends.


Electrical Repair: Alien Insight

Your intuitive understanding of electricity and magnetism gives you an insight into devices far beyond the paltry technology of humanity. You may spend 4 Electrical Repair pool points to activate a strange and unfamiliar device. You only guess at how to turn the thing on, not what it does or how to properly control it.


Explosives: One Last Stick

You can spend Explosive pool points on Preparedness tests to obtain dynamite or similar explosives.


Filch: Here’s One I Stole Earlier

With a Filch rating of 8 or more, once per investigation, you may declare you stole something retroactively from a previous scene. You need to get into the mansion’s boathouse to flee the bandits? Well, it just so happens that you picked the groundskeeper’s pockets earlier on, and here’s the very key you need. You still need to make a Filch test to actually acquire whatever you want to unexpectedly produce.


Firearms: Nerves of Steel

Difficulty numbers for your Firearms tests aren’t affected by being shaken.


First Aid: Sawbones

A First Aid rating of 8 or more gives 1 free pool point in either Medicine or Pharmacy, (player’s choice).


Fleeing: Blackout

Once per adventure, when you fail a Fleeing test or are about to be consumed by some other horror, you may declare that you black out. When you wake up, you’re somewhere safe. You have no idea how you escaped or where you are now, and may have dropped items or abandoned fellow investigators to some horrible fate. But you’re alive, and that’s something.


Hypnosis: Mesmerise

You may attempt to use hypnotism on subjects who aren’t actively willing to be hypnotised. Your subject must still be somewhat open to your influence — you could hypnotise someone that you’re in conversation with, or the doorman at a club, but you couldn’t hypnotise the mugger who’s about to rob you, or the cultist who’s intent on sacrificing you to some alien god. Increase the difficulty of any hypnotism tests using this ability by +2 (so, putting someone into a trance without their co-operation is difficulty 5; planting false memories is difficulty 7).


Mechanical Repair: Give It A Kick

Once per adventure, you may declare one Mechanical Repair test an instant success. You could kick a plane’s engine back to life as it falls from the sky, or unjam a machine gun with one solid whack.


Piloting: There’s Always A Plane

Once per adventure, you may ask the Keeper to introduce an aircraft of some description that you can fly with this ability. Maybe it’s your own plane, and you’ve flown it out or had it shipped out. Maybe it’s someone else’s aircraft you can borrow, or a crashed plane that’s repairable. Maybe the cultists have a Zeppelin-temple. In any event, there’s always a plane nearby that you can use/borrow/steal over the course of the adventure.


Preparedness: Expedition Planning

If you have time to prepare and pack for any sort of expedition, then you bring enough for everyone. When you succeed at a Preparedness test to obtain an item, you may spend one extra point to have one of those items for everyone in the group. For example, if you use Preparedness to declare you’ve got an electric lamp, then you can spend an extra point to give everyone else a similar lamp too.


Psychoanalysis: Insight

A Psychoanalysis rating of 8 or more gives one free pool point in Reassurance or Assess Honesty (player’s choice).


Scuffling: The Old One Two

You may make an extra Scuffling attack per round, as long as you hit with your first attack. To make the second attack you must pay a number of Scuffling pool points equal to the result of the damage die from the first attack (so, if you roll damage of 2, you must pay 2 Scuffling pool points for another swing).


Sense Trouble: Quick Reflexes

If you overspend on a successful Sense Trouble test, you get the excess pool points back, but they can only be spent on Athletics, Fleeing, Firearms, Scuffling or Weapons tests in the first round of combat or in tests immediately related to the trouble you sensed. e.g. say the difficulty to sense a lurking enemy is 5 and you spend 3 Sense Trouble and roll a 4, for a total of 7, beating the difficulty by 2; you get 2 pool points back that you must spend immediately on attacking or escaping. The maximum size of the refund pool can not be more than the number of Sense Trouble pool points spent i.e. if you’d rolled a 6 in the example above, you’d have beaten the difficulty by 4, but you’d still only get 3 pool points back because you only spent 3 to add to the test die roll.


Shadowing: In Over Your Head

Whenever you make a successful Shadowing test while shadowing someone, you gain 2 pool points that can be spent on Evidence Collection, Locksmith, Disguise, Filch or Stealth. You lose any unspent points in this pool when you stop shadowing the target and turn back, or are discovered.


Stealth: Stay Here

As long as someone follows your explicit instructions, they can piggyback (as per the rules on page 57 of the Trail of Cthulhu rulebook) on your Stealth tests even when you’re not present. So, if you tell a fellow investigator to hide in the undergrowth and keep crawling until they reach the road, they can piggyback on your Stealth tests if they do exactly what you told them to do.


Weapons: Favourite Weapon

Pick your favourite melee weapon. You draw strength and courage from its familiar heft in your hand. Once per adventure, you may gain 4 Stability from drawing or brandishing your weapon. With this sword by your side, there’s nothing you can’t handle.