- Get four to six people who want to play around a table.
- Take a piece of paper that's been ruled into three columns and as many rows as there are players. The first column is "Name"; the second, "Case"; the third, "Votes."
- Pass the piece of paper around the table. If there's a question about what order to go in, go in the order of whoever's birthday comes next.
- Next to your name, write a potential problem, mystery, or other isuse that you want to drive the case. It can be whatever you want.
- Once everyone has written something next to their name, everyone secretly votes by ranking everyone else's proposed cases. Use an index card and reveal your preferences simultaneously. Tally the votes. If there are ties or other ambiguities, the person with the fewest votes gets to resolve them.
|Alex||Wife is missing||0 + 3 + 3 + 2 = 8 |
|Bob||Murdered prostitute||3 + 0 + 2 + 1 = 6 |
|Chip||Who's following me?||2 + 2 + 0 + 3 = 7 |
|Dana||Crooked politician is intimidating rivals||1 + 1 + 1 + 0 = 3 |
Step Two. Deal Out the Cards.
The player whose case won deals out a hand of cards to each player.
- Four players: Each player gets 13 cards.
- Five players: Each player gets 10 cards, discard the bottom two cards on the deck.
- Six players: Each player gets 8 cards, discard the bottom four cards on the deck.
- Spades are muscle; play a spade to resolve a situation by force, violence, coercion, physical threats, or intimidation.
- Hearts are looks; play a heart to resolve a situation by charm, intimacy, emotional appeal or sexual attraction, or other passionate drive or impulse.
- Diamonds are money; play a diamond to resolve a situation by the use of wealth or its perquisites.
- Clubs are brains; play a club to resolve a situation by the use of knowledge, wits, street smarts, and so forth.
- Everyone gets a number of chips equal to how many votes their case got.
- Starting with the person with the most chips, bid some number of chips to take on the role of the Gumshoe or the Client, or pass.
- The Gumshoe plays the character whose responsibility it is to solve the case, whatever it might be and whatever form it might finally take. The Gumshoe wins if he or she can solve the case without giving up too much.
- The Client plays the character who sets things in motion; the Client player has a lot of power to establish what it takes for the case to finally be solved. The Client [player] wins if the Gumshoe fails.
- You can try to outbid another player to take on a particular role.
- Bidding continues until at least one chip has been bid on each role and everyone passes in order.
- Bidding starts with Alex, who says, "One for the Gumshoe" (she's got 7 left).
- Bob says, "Two for the Gumshoe" (5 left).
- Chip says, "One for the Client" (6 left).
- Dana says, "Three for the Gumshoe" (0 left).
- Alex says, "Two for the Client" (5 left).
- Bob says, "Pass."
- Chip says, "Pass."
- Dana says, "Pass."
- Alex says, "Pass," and bidding is over.
Step Four. Enter the Gumshoe.
The Gumshoe player establishes his or her character's name and so forth, framing an introductory scene that generates that character's secret.
Step Five. Enter the Client.
The Client player frames a scene where the client meets the gumshoe. Other characters are identified.
Step Six. Regular Play.
The Gumshoe, through interaction with the other players, tries to solve the case without giving away too much.