How to do false leads in Gumshoe?

Riggswolfe

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I have a game in mind that will involve conspiracies and such. In the early adventures I want to have situations where, for example, the evidence leads to the PCs accusing the wrong person of murder. Then several adventures later they find out the person in question had been framed.

My question is this: Is this easy to do in Gumshoe? Sure, I could give them false clues but will it make the players lose faith in the clue system?
 

komradebob

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My own experience with mysteries n RPGs generally is that you don't have to add red herrings. Just give them the clues and the players themselves will lead the party astray for a while.:D
 

Wolfwood2

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I have a game in mind that will involve conspiracies and such. In the early adventures I want to have situations where, for example, the evidence leads to the PCs accusing the wrong person of murder. Then several adventures later they find out the person in question had been framed.
If that's a firm plot, then the clues should lead them to concluding that the framed person was guilty. The evidence exists and they will follow it. They fact that accused an innocent man is not that they have failed as detectives; it is that the evidence itself was wrong.

Or to put it another way, I would play it as if it were a retcon. Like you had run the first mystery straight as if the guy was totally guilty, and only decided after the fact to make him framed. The key is not to include any counter-evidence showing that the guy was framed. Simply do not have such evidence exist in the first adventure.
 

Professor Phobos

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Leveraged clues, mostly - that is, clues that trigger some change in other clues they already have. Set the "Oh shit, we got the wrong guy" clue to appear later in the campaign, and boom.
 

Riggswolfe

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I think I worded my question poorly. I'm not as worried about the mechanics of how to do it as I am about how to do it without making the players feel cheated. "So we got the clues but you just gave us false clues and not a way to figure out the real situation until now?"
 

CardinalXimenes

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I think I worded my question poorly. I'm not as worried about the mechanics of how to do it as I am about how to do it without making the players feel cheated. "So we got the clues but you just gave us false clues and not a way to figure out the real situation until now?"
If it's an inescapable and mandatory campaign point that the PCs use seemingly-legit clues to accuse an innocent NPC, then I'd just start the campaign after the PCs have made the accusation and just as they're about to realize that the clues were faked.

If what you're really trying to juice out of the situation is the stung pride or wounded sense of justice that the players themselves might feel for being so intimately involved with a miscarriage of justice, then there's really no way to script that in a bulletproof fashion. If the mistake is not honestly earned, the players won't feel honestly invested in it. And if it is honestly earned, there has to be a retrospectively obvious way that the PCs could have perceived the truth of the matter.
 

Dikotana

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Make sure there's someone higher up they report evidence to, and have that person be the one convinced of the innocent guy's guilt. The player characters don't have to believe their evidence is ironclad; in fact, the players may be the ones pointing out that the case isn't solid. No matter; wrong person's accused by the powers that be.

That doesn't have the same "oh God what have we done" factor, but it gets the same sting of being involved in a miscarriage of justice. And you get possibly added grievance that the players' work was misrepresented and misused over their objections.

"The evidence all points to Mr. Smith. He owns the gun that was used, he has motive, and a witness puts him at the victim's house just before it happened."

"But he reported the gun stolen a week ago! We know he argued with the Mr. Cook, but it didn't sound vicious. And sure, he was at the guy's house; he said they just mended their differences! Why are the prints on the gun and how come there were cigarette butts there when neither Smith nor Cook smokes?"

"I'm sure he was just wearing gloves, and I don't know, maybe Cook had a girlfriend smokes or something. Look, we've got our man, stop wasting time digging holes in our case."

"And the footprints in the mud way too big to be either of those two guys?"

"Mailman had big feet. What, you feeling sorry for the murderer?"
 

Logos Invictus

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A big part of the challenge of GUMSHOE from a game play standpoint is that although you can fairly easily get the clues, you have to interpret what they mean. Including ambiguous clues that can point to one or more possible culprits/conclusion is often all you need to do to get the players to generate their own red herrings as they try to form a picture of events from incomplete information. This also lets you plan leveraged clues or other scenes to reflect the results of their pursuit of theservice false clue trails. The main thing, though, is that at some point you need to either put a stop to the trail, marking the point at which they need to retrace their steps and figure out the correct path or else have the alternate line of questioning lead back into the main structure of the investigation.

One interesting idea: in a lot of mystery fiction, detectives talk about going back to square one to reevaluate the infornation when you've hit a dead end. This in and of itself could be anice investigative scene as the pcs review their casework up to this point and find a new core clue that they "missed" which leverages the ambiguous or false trail they have been following, putting them back on the right trail.
 

Mejiro_Night

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Deliberately giving out false/incorrect clues in Gumshoe seems a bit... dodgy, in that you're messing with one of the main parts of the system, it would be a bit like running D&D and ignoring enemy HP, you just have monsters fight until for a while, and then die. It can be done, but can go wrong. It's probably a better idea to go with vague clues that can legitimately point somewhere else, and follow Dikotana's advice of having another NPC prompt them to point their suspicions somewhere specific. If they see through it, awesome, they've legitimately managed to shortcut the mystery, like managing to solve it when they've only got half the clues. If they don't, then have a clue or something that doesn't make sense/can't be got until near the end that makes the true meaning obvious, and the true culprit possible to find.

Remember that players won't know the solution, so no matter how obvious it seems to the GM, they will make up their own incorrect interpretations and false leads, without the GM confusing the matter further. Make clues vague/lead to multiple conclusions, but I'd avoid clues that are flat-out wrong, unless they can be sorted from the correct clues somehow.
 

Riggswolfe

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Deliberately giving out false/incorrect clues in Gumshoe seems a bit... dodgy, in that you're messing with one of the main parts of the system, it would be a bit like running D&D and ignoring enemy HP, you just have monsters fight until for a while, and then die. It can be done, but can go wrong. It's probably a better idea to go with vague clues that can legitimately point somewhere else, and follow Dikotana's advice of having another NPC prompt them to point their suspicions somewhere specific. If they see through it, awesome, they've legitimately managed to shortcut the mystery, like managing to solve it when they've only got half the clues. If they don't, then have a clue or something that doesn't make sense/can't be got until near the end that makes the true meaning obvious, and the true culprit possible to find.

Remember that players won't know the solution, so no matter how obvious it seems to the GM, they will make up their own incorrect interpretations and false leads, without the GM confusing the matter further. Make clues vague/lead to multiple conclusions, but I'd avoid clues that are flat-out wrong, unless they can be sorted from the correct clues somehow.
The idea I'm shooting for is that a conspiracy is deliberately framing people for their crimes to weaken the town I want to set things in. I just can't figure out how to do frame jobs and such in Gumshoe without short circuiting things. As you say, deliberately giving out misleading clues isn't an intended part of the system, yet it would be something happening in the campaign as part of the early plots. I just haven't figured out how, or even if, it can be made to work.
 
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