You Don't Have Enough Information

Trust me: until the end of the adventure, you just don't know enough. You can't know enough. In Trail of Cthulhu, you probably won't know enough even after the adventure's over. (And your characters will thank you for not knowing more.)

There's a point in an investigative scenario when the players start putting pieces together and discussing theories. This is natural. The human brain loves to draw lines between dots. You should do your best to make sure this point comes as late in the scenario as possible.

The following tip appears in a sidebar in Night's Black Agents, but it is echoed in most GUMSHOE rules:
Investigative scenarios often bog down into speculative debate between players about what could be happening. Many things can be happening, but only one thing is. If more than one possible explanation ties together the clues you have so far, you need more clues.
If you find yourself saying any of the following, stop the discussion and go find more information, even a single clue:
  • Perhaps
  • Maybe
  • Probably
  • It's likely
  • What if
  • That means
  • I think
In a properly designed GUMSHOE scenario, every core clue should point you in a direction for further investigation. That means you should always have at least one other place to look to clear up any of your unanswered questions. Inevitably, you'll tie off those ends and make your way to the conclusion, where you can sit everyone down in the library, stalk the vampire through the shipping containers at the port, dodge the car thrown by that mutant thug, and get your brain removed by the mi-go.

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