Most RP games treat Intimidation rolls as a vs/opposed contest. However, in GUMSHOE the Intimidation skill is a Investigative skill - no roll, no contest, nothing of the sort -. Does this mean that PCs can go intimidating anyone willy-nilly (ie. automagickally)?

Mazedly yours,


  • No. If you've got Intimidate
    * You'll always be able to get Core Clues related to Intimidation
    * You can spend Intimidate points to get extra clues/benefits

    The first one will always work if there's a Core Clue involved. The second's limited by the points available - and even then, intimidate only works if there's some benefit to it.
  • With Gumshoe, you need to do the following to get a clue:

    1. Be in the right place.
    2. Have the right ability.
    3. Use that ability.

    So if you're trapped in an alley with a large group heavily armed and hostile thugs, Intimmidation is hardly the right ability, and therefore will not yield any clues.

    There should obviously be room for player input, any plausible ability should work if it's a Core clue. So even if the GM had decided that you needed to Bargain your way out of the alley, clever use of Flattery might also work.
    Heck, if you had dynamite strapped to your chest, I guess Intimmidation could work as well ;)
  • It's nice, huh? Instead of turning it into a binary success/fail "You end the confrontation immediately or nothing happens," it's put the control back into your hands. If you think the guy they're up against can't possibly be intimidated, then you just don't accept any imitation spends (just like you wouldn't accept a Data Recovery spend in a place without a computer). And if you want to allow them to end a confrontation or gain some bonus like a NBA Tactical Fact-Finding Bonus such as suddenly damaging an enemy's pools for every Intimidation spend you make, you can make that offer. And, of course, you can vary the price. You can end the confrontation with the trembling drug dealer with a single Intimidation spend (or just having the Intimidation skill at all), but putting off that Good FBI agent with a family might cost you two or three.
  • Another thing, using an ability when it's not "appropriate" can give you the clue, but have some sort of negative effect later.
    I belive Robin Laws used an example with a nice old lady being Intimmidated. This made her give up the clue, but a while later her grandson showed up swinging a baseball bat...

    My players are currently over-using Intimmidation, running roughshod over New Yorks underworld. It's gonna have to come back and bite them eventually...
  • Eternal Lies supplement for ToC has amazing examples of how Intimidation can have negative effects on different NPCs. Its good to keep in mind what tactics work best with certain NPCs, as the example mentioned: Intimidation used on Granny will not yield any core clues, she'll probably just cry and tell you her money is in the sock drawer. But Reassurance and complementing her marshmallow cream pie might yield her remembering that there was a strange man walking a dog that night before the murder...

    Some hardened "Thugs" or NPCs who are trained to resist Interrogation, will not easily give up information and will actually expect for most people to try and intimidate them- they'd probably only respond with a mouthful of curses at the Investigators, usually something about their mother and a blowdryer. But Bargain or Flattery might catch them off guard. Investigator groups should get the hang of the good cop / bad cop routine fairly quickly. 
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