What I learned from watching too much Law & Order


  • PC has an Instinct to search for loot.
  • Room has loot.
  • Room has a trap.

Player describes searching the room, invokes Instinct for a Scout roll. Is this “search warrant rules” in that because they are searching the area with Scout Test that finding the Trap is fair play even if that isn’t the trigger for the Instinct? Does how they describe the search, the specifics of it [potentially] matter?

I’d say a failed Scout roll could certainly set off the trap as a Twist, if their description of their searching could reasonably trigger it.

Sure, however I wasn’t clear enough on what my question was: Does meeting the Scout Ob for the trap reveal it to the PC?

I’d say yes, if he’s looking in the right place. If he’s searching the shelves and the trap is in the doorknob, then no.

I think I’d need more fictional details to make a decision. Like is the area where the loot is trapped? Is it in a different area of the room?

Also, when I picture someone searching something for traps vs searching around for loot, I picture two different activities. Trap searching requires a lot of caution and precision, whereas someone looking for loot is just as likely to be ransacking the place. In that case, before they even roll to search for loot I’d probably just have them set off the trap, deal with that, and then they could go back to searching for loot if they wish.

In the end, for me, it comes down to intent. They’re searching for loot, not a trap. It’ll be their problem if they’re not careful enough to check for traps first.

That’s a lot of what is rolling around in my mind but there is more.

But cannot happen at the same time?

Trap searching requires a lot of caution and precision, whereas someone looking for loot is just as likely to be ransacking the place.

So description matters, right? “Just as likely” sounds like it can happen in your opinion, just without a painting of the actions you are unsure and so default to “ransacking”.

In that case, before they even roll to search for loot I’d probably just have them set off the trap, deal with that, and then they could go back to searching for loot if they wish.

Perhaps using a trap as the example is a bad one, because of the potential for triggering of it. There are other Scout outcomes that matter that don’t have that same effect.

In the end, for me, it comes down to intent. They’re searching for loot, not a trap. It’ll be their problem if they’re not careful enough to check for traps first.

But getting that order in place is a real issue. If they explicitly mention watching for traps? Are we rolling multiple times for Scout? Instinct first/last? What happens when there is loot and a trap and no Instinct at play? That seems like a decidedly BAD place to go, I’ve taken the Rollfest Tour and found it…lacking.

Yet I get the urge that the prejudice of the Instinct inherently means something. What if that focus became a Factor for the other potential targets?

This all gets sort of weird, I agree. With a tiered multiple results of ‘success’. I don’t think TB was really build with that in mind, rather built more around the harsh binary of pass/fail. But with the minimum success high enough I don’t think it would entirely undo this anymore than the places where MOS is used does.

Yeah, this gave me pause as well. I was creating an area, and it had a secret door and a hidden bit of treasure. Does one Scout test find all of it? What if some things have different Obstacles?

(And on a related note, how much description? Where you look. How you look. What you touch. Eventually you’ll find whatever’s there by “good idea” alone.)

I think the idea in Torchbearer is that they never say “I’m searching for traps” and then roll. They describe how they are looking for traps and where they are looking.

GM: “You enter a room <brief description>”
Player: “I look around for dangers and treasure.”
GM: “How? What are you looking at and how are you going about it.”
Player: “I check out the floor tiles, inspecting them visually first and then running my hands along checking for abnormalities…”

The GM judges that the player should get a Scout test to see if he would find that trap in the middle of the floor, he makes the scout test using a turn since the instinct does not apply. Once that is resolved (assuming they’re still in the hallway) the GM also decides that the player’s description warrants another Scout test to find the treasure in the rubbish pile after the trap and because this applies to their instinct it does not cost a turn.

Now, if the player had described walking right over to the rubbish pile to search it, they would get the free search for treasure but only after they overcome the trigger effect of setting off the trap and only if a twist doesn’t keep them from getting to that treasure (a cave-in for example).

That’s how I see it, make sense?

Ah. I forget these things. If there’s no trigger where they’re looking, no test, no turn. It’s not until there’s something to interact with that you bother rolling. So if you’re searching for traps (that aren’t there) by waving your 10-foot pole through the tall grass, you find the hidden bag with the Theif’s Tools (this is there) instead?

You separated the two physically, and created a description that separated the two. Also, trap vs something else is confounding again I think.

I understand your post I believe…and I heard Rollfest Tour. Or alternatively if I’m building an area not putting multiple similar testable things in the same physical space.

Maybe that’s not “wrong”, it just strikes me as a whole lot like rolling for each 10’ I climb up a wall. shrug

Well, in that scenario, if there was a hidden trap, right on top of a hidden treasure, then I’d have the Scout test find both, because that makes sense.

Different objective, different reward, different roll, right? Climbing each ten feet aren’t different, but navigating a trap is very different from finding treasure, even though they use the same skill. Of course this assumes hidden treasure, if it’s an obvious chest but with a trap on it, that’s a different story, because there’s no test to find an obvious chest. And since you don’t make them test without an opportunity to either get something out of it or advance the story, it shouldn’t turn into a rollfest, I wouldn’t think.

As a player I wouldn’t argue with that. The question is, what’s the obstacle? Do you add all the factors for finding the trap and for finding the treasure? That could be rough… probably Ob5 at least.

You know, I think this might be one of those “not a problem in actual play” things. Maybe.

The Burglar describes poking about the room with his 10-foot pole.

Burglar: “I knock the ruined painting down with my pole and poke the wall behind it, and then feel it with my hands.”
GM: “There’s nothing there but cobwebs.”

(This sort of thing probably happens several times in the exploration of the room.)

Burglar: “I jab around under the bed with the pole, and then feel around with my hand.”
GM: “Are you checking the bed itself? Moving the covers and such?” (GM clarifies, as per instructions)
Burglar: “Ooh, yes. But with the pole first if at all possible.”
GM: “Roll Scout. No pole bonus, though.” (Because there’s no trap, just a hidden compartment.)

Burglar: “I jab inside the armoire with the pole, and then feel the interior with my hands, like I do.”
GM: “Roll Scout with +1D for the pole.” (Because of the exploding wood trap inside.)
Burglar: “Fail!”
GM: “The armoire explodes, ruining the clothes inside. You find pieces of what was probably a very expensive cloak, too.” (Twist: Treasure opportunity lost)

Burglar: “I jab around underneath the sink with my pole and then feel around with my hands.”
GM: “Roll Scout with +1D for the pole.” (Because of the acid bath trap.)
Burglar: “Success!”
GM: “You find an acid bath trap! What do you do?”
Burglar: I take the rag and grease from my imaginary dungeoneering kit, and wrap it around the pipes to disable the trap."
GM: “Roll Dungeoneer.”
Burglar: “Success! Wait, why is there a trap under the sink? I feel around for secret doors, pushing and pulling on things.”
GM: “Roll Scout.”
Burglar: “Success!”
GM: “You find a hidden medicine cabinet!”

This game being hard-mode “traditional”, and reliant upon players interacting with their environments, players are expected to spend a not-insignificant amount of time describing (at least in broad strokes) what they’re doing to the environment and how. A “roll-fest” is mostly avoided because if there’s nothing there, you don’t roll, and if there is something there, then the roll is meaningful. Plus, in a given area, you’re unlikely to have more than one Scout-worthy obstacle in the first place. Maybe two, tops. Very little actual rolling.

Also, sorry about the imaginary play example. It might not have been necessary to illustrate anything. It was fun, though. :slight_smile:

Agreed. Maybe.

Yeah, I don’t pretend to really know anything. I think my logic is sound, but A) I still haven’t actually played, and B) Everything is a problem for somebody. :slight_smile:

I haven’t GMed it. I’ve played. I’m having a hard time seeing how things come together [in a non-sucky way ;)].

Potential confounding problem for me, I have been unable to read the sample adventure due to spoiler, as that is what we are playing.

It might not come together, for a given value of “suck”. :slight_smile:

It can be really helpful to see an example of how an adventure should look, though the sample adventure might confuse things slightly in its offering of suggested skills and obstacles. I think a “real” adventure would just describe the challenges and leave the Obstacles to the GM to decide, since there are so many ways that players might approach a problem.

A non-Conflict example of play in the book might have been nice. (I realize there are a ton of those, but they’re not compiled into an overall play experience.)

Example play does have a tough time covering the weird. Last night, middle of a Drive Off Conflict, a PC described their Help in such a way that there was no way to judge that it wouldn’t trigger a predefined trap. Middle of the Conflict. :stuck_out_tongue: Fortunately the acting player ran down the the opponent’s Dispo with that roll so it wasn’t as big of a dilemma as it could have been (trap triggering player hadn’t yet had an action) but it was very much within sight of weirdness. shrug

Spoiler details withheld.

EDIT: Fixed typo.

One obvious solution if trying to game the system would be to word your instinct “Search every room carefully”. Or even “search every room for traps, treasure and secret doors”…

I’m not advocating using these, as they irk me, but the thing is they don’t seem strictly illegal as per the rules. I think it depends on whether you define searching as a general activity which finds hidden things, or an activity in which you search for a specific thing, at the exclusion of others. No matter, though, as I read the rules, because picking through the room an instinct such as “search the room carefully” ought to kick in regardless of trap, door, treasure, ambush or what have you.

I don’t have a good solution, but I don’t think we’ve solved the problem either…

That’s pretty much exactly what I was trying to say, your examples and scenarios were much more complete though.

I don’t have the books in front of me, but I have to assume the Instincts section says something about specificity. As a GM I would probably preclude conjunctions from instincts. A good rule might be that if an instinct would allow you more than one test in a given area then it’s probably too broad.