On the Ocean, the Mighty Ocean, the Clueless Sleep Tonight…
During the past two years that C.L.U.E. has been around (wow… it's been that long - go figure!), we've been confronted again and again with the sad lack of common sense in our species.
Case in point: if a person says to you, "oh, there's a huge safe falling from the sky right above your head: what do you do?" the general answer of anyone who has a clue would be, "I move out of the way." The Clueless, however, would simply stand and watch it fall, or tie their shoes, or wonder what to have for lunch, or whatever - don't ask me how they think.
The GM who submitted this tale did say the players were fairly new to the game, but there is a big difference between a new player who DOES have a clue and the totally clueless. Common sense does NOT require a rulebook.
Please accept the following tale (in the GM's own words) as a graphic illustration of this point….
The plucky team had just pulled off their first run and was heading back to Seattle from the San Juan Islands in their brand-new assault powerboat. Due to a rather violent retreat, the powerboat had more holes in it than the manufacturer would recommend. Some of these holes were large, steaming, and below the water line.
GM: "So the boat is in pretty bad shape. It's listing badly to the side and the engine is making a funny, choking sound. What do you do?"
Thorax, the Sammy team leader, paused and pondered the question for a moment. "I'm not sure."
I assumed he was thinking about how to fix the boat and get home without swimming. The other players seemed to be deep in thought as well. In a democratic move, Thorax turned to the team rigger and asked him "What do you think we should do?"
The Rigger was the repair expert, right? Seems like a logical thing for a leader to do; wanna make sure you hear the expert's opinion….
Rigger: "I don't know about you, but I could use a nap."
Now, before I could laugh at what could only be a light joke in a dire circumstance, Thorax nodded sagely. "Yes," he said, straight-faced. "A nap sounds like a good idea. We've had a lot of combat and I'm sure we're all very tired."
"Yes," echoed the other runners. "Naps!" (Karen insert: why do I just see the Knights of Ni all crying "Yes! A shrubbery!" at this point?)
Thorax turned proudly back to me. "We've decided to go down below and take a nap to rest up after the fight."
The look on my face must have been priceless. "You, uh…you want to go below and, uh…"
"Take a nap. Yes."
"Um… the boat is, um, the damage is… well, okay."
So everyone gladly took a nap. I have never seen anything like this in any game before or since. Seems that these players felt that the sleeping cycles of their runners were critical to the story or something. Or not. I can't begin to fathom how this plan was embraced by all five of them without anyone even batting an eye.
A moment passed and I described that the rigger was being awakened from his nap by water lapping against his cheek. The lower cabin had filled with four feet of water while he was off counting sheep.
"Oh, no!" he yelled and began splashing about looking for his tools and waking everyone else up. "We're really sinking now guys!"
Yeah… no shit.
By some miracle, everyone got out alive and tread water while they watched their half million-nuyen powerboat slide below the surface of Puget Sound, along with practically all their gear.
But the cluelessness doesn't end there! The group managed to dogpaddle over to a small nearby island in the Sound and wash themselves up on the beach. Since it looked like the rest of the adventure would probably take place on this forested island instead of back in Seattle like I'd planned, I decided that this island was an abandoned secret testing facility for Ares Special Projects.
As the group headed up the sand, they heard some sort of alarm or siren coming from the trees and a garbled computer voice said something unintelligible to them. They just shrugged at each other and kept walking towards the sound. It was at this point that the automated sentry-guns activated and started tracking their movement. I called for Perception tests, and the dwarf Sammie, Urp, got a huge result.
"Looks like there are some automatic defense guns hidden in the trees up ahead," I tell him. "They could be light machine guns or assault cannons: it's hard to tell because of the trees. The muzzles are pointed right at you."
"Humm. Better tell the other guys," says Urp. I'm about to say OK, when Urp's player interrupts. "No! Maybe the guns track on sound and it will pick up my voice when I talk to the others! I stand still and try not to breathe!"
"Ah… OK. Everyone, you notice that Urp has stopped walking with the rest of you. His eyes are fixed on the trees ahead and he's standing stock-still."
Thorax got that thoughtful look on his face again (I swear that I thought they were about to take naps again). "I stop moving," he says.
"Yeah, me too!" the other players chime in.
Well, well. Everyone was just a big fat target then, weren't they?
"Everyone roll their reaction." Bullets erupted from the trees, taking Urp square in the chest. Everyone else was actually smart enough to beat it and dive for cover of some nearby fallen logs.
A miracle happened on the damage roll, and Urp came out with only a medium wound. I said that his flak vest caught some of the burst, but a round got him in the side and deflected off a rib. "It's bleeding and you feel like you've been it with a baseball bat," I said.
Urp's player dutifully recorded his medium wound on his character sheet. When it was his turn to act, I asked him what he wanted to do.
"Me? Nothing, man! I've been wounded! I just lie here on the sand in pain."
Carefully, I explained the situation again to Urp's player, stressing that he could still take action with only a small penalty to any tests he had to make.
"Forget it," says Urp. "I'm not taking any chances now. I try to lie completely still and make no noise."
Like, that really worked last time, didn't it?
I asked the other players what they wanted to do. "Stay behind cover!" was the unanimous response. Next turn the sentry gun opened up again on the only target it could see with its heat sensor: poor Urp. This time he was out for the count and dying. What did the other players do? Why, stay safely behind cover, of course!
The gun finally ran out of ammo shooting Urp's slowly cooling corpse.
In the end, no one made it off that island alive, even though the only other threatening device (that still worked) was an electrified fence. But that's another story…
A Note from CLUE Administration:
Please remember that, in the vast majority of these files, I am NOT the GM. If I am, I say so up front. So, before you break out flame guns for any of these files, remember it's not nice to shoot the messenger. I'm a big girl and I can take flames; hey they come with the job! But I do have to laugh when, for the SAME file, I get two separate nasty grams, one for the GM being too easy on players and one for him being too hard.
Anyway, only nine days to Gencon! Yayyyy! CLUE T-shirts are being printed up and my friends and I will be wearing them during the con, at least on Friday and Saturday. The shirts are navy blue, with 'Get C.L.U.E.D IN!" and the site address in metallic gold on the back. Since I'll be the only female wearing one, anyone with a CLUE should be able to identify me...
Hummm, perhaps I'd better keep my bodyguards close...
See you next month!
Karen - firstname.lastname@example.org