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The GUMSHOE system, often known as the "GUMSHOE Engine", is a tabletop roleplaying Universal System created by Robin Laws for Pelgrane Press, and used in a number of Pelgrane's games. Pelgrane do not publish a standalone GUMSHOE rulebook; rather, the rules are revised and customised and integrated into each game where they are used.

GUMSHOE is designed more with storytelling than with simulation in mind, and as the name is intended to suggest, it is primarily intended to support detective and mystery stories. This intention is most visible in the rule which says that if a scene incorporates a "core clue" which is required to move the plot forward, and if any of the PCs involved have an appropriate ability, they find that clue automatically — and players are encouraged to make sure that their characters have a full range of investigative abilities between them. Hence, a mystery plot should never get bogged down by the lack of important clues.

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No connection to the video game of the same name.

Games using the GUMSHOE Engine include:

  • Ashen Stars — A game of interstellar troubleshooters in a Space Opera setting.
  • Bubblegumshoe — A streamlined version of GUMSHOE for playing teen sleuths solving mysteries in small American towns.
  • The Esoterrorists — In which the heroes are the Ordo Veritatis, who combat Esoterrorists, occult terrorists who oppose reality as we know it and unleash the unremitting horrors of the Outer Dark.
    • Fear Itself — A game set in the same world but instead about ordinary people fighting creatures from the Outer Dark.
  • The Fall of DELTA GREEN — A prequel to Delta Green set in The '60s.
  • The Gaean Reach — A short game based on the setting of Jack Vance's "Gaean Reach" books.
  • Lorefinder — An adaptation of GUMSHOE for use with Pathfinder.
  • Mutant City Blues — Which takes place in a world where 1% of the population has gained super-powers, the heroes dealing with crimes involving these powered people.
  • Night's Black Agents — In which the heroes are modern-day independent secret agents who discover that the evil conspiracy they are fighting is actually run by vampires.
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  • Robot Dreams — Robots safeguarding their communities from dangers and deadly glitches in Humanity's Wake.
  • Swords Of The Serpentine — A Sword & Sorcery fantasy game set in the sort of city that tends to show up in the genre.
  • Time Watch — A somewhat tongue-in-cheek Time Travel game.
  • Trail of Cthulhu — Lovecraftian horror set in The '30s.
    • Cthulhu Confidential — A version designed for one player and one GM.
  • The Yellow King — about a world subjected to the reality-altering horror of the play from The King in Yellow.

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Tropes:

  • Crazy-Prepared: The Preparedness skill lets you retroactively have had something you need in your bag the whole time.
  • Forensic Accounting: An available core character skill in some iterations of the system — necessarily, because the system is built to facilitate (and encourage) roleplaying detective work.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: The core mechanic of the system.


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