Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE, Part Four

There's not as much going on in the next few chapters from the point of view of our hypothetical campaign, so we're moving a bit faster in this post.

Chapter Eight: The Potions Master

There's a lot of what GUMSHOE calls "pipe" clues in this chapter. These are clues that really only make sense much later in the scenario, but which give players a nice moment of sudden realization when they put everything together.

For example, the GM notes that Quirrell's ever-present turban has a funny smell and his classroom is filled with pungent garlic. The rumor is that he had a run-in with a vampire and is now terrified, but we'll learn later just what is really going on.

The big theme of this chapter is meeting Professor Snape and learning just how deeply he seems to hate Harry. We don't learn why (and won't for several books), but it is clear from the first Potions class that Snape has a direct and generous loathing of the boy.

There is a moment during Snape's quizzing that he mentions that "a bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons." This is an example of the GM's ridiculous long-term pipe laying. Knowing what a bezoar does won't become important for FIVE more books.

After Potions, Harry and Ron visit Hagrid at his hut. Harry grouses about Snape, and Hagrid is evasive, insisting that the teacher has no reason to hate Harry. Harry, of course, gets a good read on Hagrid (Assess Honesty). Hagrid's non-answers in this scene are still clues, because they lead Harry forward in his investigation.

The clipping from the Daily Prophet on the table in this scene is an example of a Simple Search. Anybody in that room might notice the newspaper sitting there without really looking for it. Ron could have just as easily seen it. The GM gives the clue to Harry because the theft at Gringotts is directly tied to his experience at Diagon Alley that day.

Chapter Nine: The Midnight Duel

In this chapter, I imagine the GM had a guest player portray Hermione Granger. She enjoyed herself and fit in so well that the GM invited her to join the campaign full time in later chapters.

This chapter gives us our first uses of General abilities. During the flying lesson, Harry and Malfoy engage in a short contest of a new Flying ability. Malfoy takes off, spending a few points of Flying. Harry takes after him, and we discover that he has a decent Flying rating as well. In fact, Malfoy is discouraged by how well Harry can fly, so he chucks Neville's Remembrall away (ending the contest). Harry then has to make a (possibly difficult) Flying test to catch it. In the process, he impresses Professor McGonagall into assigning him to the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

Angered by Harry showing him up at Flying, Malfoy challenges him to a duel at midnight. When Harry and Ron sneak out to meet him, they encounter first Hermione and then Neville. The four go sneaking through the school. Malfoy, however, never intended to show up, and instead tipped off caretaker Mr. Filch. The kids are forced to flee, and not stealthily. This is either an Athletics or possibly a Fleeing test. (I like the idea of the campaign having the dedicated Fleeing ability, introduced in Trail of Cthulhu.)

They end up hiding behind a locked door (Hermione knows an unlocking spell and makes her Wand Magic test). Inside is a giant, three-headed dog. This is a terrifying sight and calls for Stability tests from the kids. Naturally, they flee again, but Hermione saw that the dog was standing on top of a trap door (Notice).

Chapter Ten: Halloween

Guest star Hermione got to show off the new Wand Magic ability in the previous session, but Harry and Ron start practicing it here, learning a Levitation spell ("wingardium leviosa"). I couldn't begin to work on a specialized magic system. Spells almost never reveal information, so I'm going to assume Wand Magic is purely general and requires tests to successfully cast spells. I'll also throw in the cherry from Athletics that says if you have Wand Magic 8 or higher, you get +1 to your Hit Threshold. This won't come up until later books, however, as the kids' ratings improve.

At Halloween, a mountain troll finds its way into the castle. Students are sent to their houses, but Harry and Ron realize that Hermione doesn't know of the danger because she's been crying in the girls' bathroom all afternoon. (Ron was a prat to her after class that morning.) The boys double back to find her.

This is a fine time to talk about Drives. These are the traits that keep a character investigating even when common sense tells them to go back to the common room and let the teachers handle it. Following your Drive into danger gives you some benefit (usually Stability in games that use it), while ignoring it gives you a penalty. Harry has the Duty drive, what Hermione will one day call a "saving people thing." Ron, much to his later displeasure, is a Follower.

They trick the troll into a room and lock it, only to realize that it's the girls' bathroom and Hermione is inside. With a combination of distracting Athletics and Wand Magic to levitate the troll's club and crack it on the head, Harry and Ron manage to subdue the monster. When the teachers rush in, Hermione lies to them and saves the boys from extreme punishment.

And that's how our three Investigators become friends.


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