Help with Scenario to demonstrate narrative control and task/intent

I’m new to story-games. I’m used to a clear GM and PC split, rather than the PC having control. Can you help with the following scenario we had in our game last night?

Phase: Usurpation
Phase Objective: Modify Planetary Attitude
Maneuver: Take Action (our thought is to use Law to capture a hulled human)

GM Interstitial Scene: A tip directs the Investigator General, PC Baronet Vestig (our FoN), to a hulled body at the docks
Baronet Vestig: For my building scene I want to find out where the naiven went when the body was killed. Ultimately I’d like to track the naiven back to the Enemy hideout.

Baronet Vestig’s task was to use an investigative logic test at the scene of the crime. Failure, meant he would discover that one of his underlings has taken the worm. A mole. Success meant he would narrate finding the actual naiven worm somewhere nearby. He was successful.
Vestig narrated finding the worm in a nearby rainbarrel.
Vestig then wanted to do a ruse to get the worm into a dog’s body thats been outfitted with tracking technology.
His intent was to follow the dog to the Enemy hideout.
GM said sure, I have no problem with that. No rolls made.
Vestig narrates the naiven jumping to the dog and then following the dog back to a hideout near the ocean.
Vestig’s intent is to capture everyone inside the hideout so he can interrogate any hulled humans.
GM thinks, this is a good place to have a roll of the dice, he doesn’t necessarily want Vestig to just capture a bunch of Vaylen without a fight. GM mulls what tests this would be and session derails for a bit.

I’m curious how other games go, as a GM what would you have done with the player’s original intent? At what point would you ask for rolls in his building scene?

On a side note, does the GM get to say what the hideout is like before the PC narrates, or if GM says they don’t care that the PC can track the dog back to the hideout, then the PC automatically gets control to color the Enemy hideout anyway he likes?

Thanks for any help!

Player doesn’t get control of the hideout because the GM was invoking the Say Yes rule in the first instance – thus the player gets what he wants, but he doesn’t get to go on and on about it. Or in the second instance, the GM was setting an obstacle – which the player does not have control over.

The GM has the right to describe the hideout. She could pass it off to the player, if she wanted. For me, it would depend. I’d probably describe it myself, but if there was some reason why it’d be more on the player or if I thought the player was likely to have an interesting idea, I’d hand it off. In particular, if it’s my Big Base I’d want to describe it, if it’s just one of a network of safehouses, not so much. If it’s the safehouse in the Ghetto Sheef’s neighborhood (for instance), I’d want to know what he thought that safehouse was like (because that gives me more material on the player’s idea about the Vaylen threat, which I can either play up or subvert.)

Overall, I think you’ve stopped short of actually asking the question that’s bugging you. Everything you describe sounds like one possible good way of handling the scene. Then you get to the end and suddenly you’re unhappy, but you don’t say exactly why.

You could let Vestig take the hideout. Maybe it’s a minor safehouse, with only a couple of Vaylen in it.
You could say “The defenses look pretty formidable, you’ll never get in alone. Did you want to summon your dudes and have a Firefight?”
You could have thought ahead a little farther, earlier in the scene, and paced it so that finding the hideout would require the full Builder (kind of equivalent to the above).
You could say “Okay, that’s Infiltration to sneak in, and Close Combat to subdue them. Do you have any appropriate tech?”
You could put consequences on it, like “Sure, you’re a big burly guy and there are only two of them, so you can capture them. If you don’t sneak in really well, though, they’ll sound the alarm, and if you don’t do X as well, then Thing Y will happen.”

I think what we were thinking is that during the Player’s scene the Player controls everything that happens, until the GM stops him and wants a roll.

My new understanding with what should happen, is that during his Building Scene the Player says I want to implant and track the dog. Then the GM says Yes, you don’t need to roll for that, you can track the dog, and then THE GM describes where the dog goes and what the hideout is like.

What were we doing is saying the GM said Yes, so then the Player has control, and then the Player went ahead and described where the dog went and what he found.

Players, as a rule in B* games, only control their characters, their actions and occasionally the outcomes of those actions.

Thank you, just seeing it through other eyes helps to understand. My thinking now is that it’s a step by step process. Player wants to “find the hideout”. GM says YES and then the GM describes the hideout. Now the GM has to nail down the Player’s next intent, take control, and put a concrete obstacle in the way for the Player to test against. It’s not just a Player free-form story telling time until the GM has a problem with where the story is going.

I think where we derailed is actually earlier in the scene with the Investigative Logic test. The Player win/loss was “If I Pass the test I found the naiven nearby”. The player won, and then the Player described where it was, what is was doing, and what he was doing next. But the Player should have only colored in what he was doing to find the naiven. The responsibility in the story for what that investigation revealed belongs to the GM, though he’s constrained by the win/loss to make sure its nearby. I also wonder how far we should have nailed down his intent. Obviously the Player wanted to find it nearby, alive, and able to be captured/tricked, so it could eventually lead him to the hideout.

I like “You could have thought ahead a little farther, earlier in the scene, and paced it so that finding the hideout would require the full Builder”, because really the Investigative Logic test was just the first part in a convoluted plan to use the naiven to track back its hideout. How would you have paced that out?

Eh, it’s very situational. It depends on what’s going on, depends on what matters.

If this is the first sign of actual worms, that’s a big deal! One test to figure out something weird happened, another to examine the location and spot a trail, a third to catch or spot the naiven itself. End of builder: big reveal: worms on-planet! Tracking them’s another builder.

If it’s the tenth time this month, not a big deal. Track them home, one test. Capture someone, another test. Interrogate him, a third.

Most of the time, it’ll be somewhere in between. It helps if the player kinda says what she wants from the scene (not that it always goes like that, but “I want to capture someone to interrogate” lets you say “Yeah, that’ll work as a builder” and then pace it appropriately, while “I want to rent a car” lets you say “Yes, okay, you do that, did you just want a color scene about car rental or is this going somewhere?” and “I want to gut the Hammer Lord’s flagship” lets you say “Uh, no, that’d be a Firefight but you’d probably need something more destructive than your present paring knife and brick combination first.”)

One good option would be Investigative Logic, something to track the naiven (Sensors, Signals to rig the device, a tech builder test to create the device, or an actual tracking skill), and then something at the hideout (infiltration to sneak close, security rigging to get into their cameras, or even just Perception or Will to crouch in the bushes for the next eight hours and snap a pic of everyone who comes in or goes out).

Another would be a test to find and track the naiven (sensors, Investigative Logic, whatever), and a couple more to set up a snatch (infiltration/security rigging/falsehood+close combat, probably). “I want to find a safehouse and grab someone wormy” is a totally manageable intent for a builder, if the safehouse itself isn’t especially important (and it sounds like it wasn’t, in this case).

Personally, I don’t think “I just want to find the hideout” is usually the coolest place to leave it, unless the next step is a conflict scene (a full assault, or a DoW with a third party using the hideout’s existence as evidence). But sometimes that probably is the cool stopping point! It depends on what’s going on.