Hello and welcome to the forums, Orion!
Orion wrote:Most notably, clues (and lore). I understand that I (as the keeper) should leave a lot of open questions (e.g. what's the noisy thing in the wardrobe?). But on the other hand, the players seem to have regular opportunity for clues that I should prepare for them. So how does this work?
I'd first direct you to read the section on clues (p. 160) closely.
Orion wrote:How can I hint towards something, if I don't know yet what it is?
The clue can begin as something ill-defined, and you work it into the story as it develops. A button, a spot of blood on the floor, or a strange scale can all be integrated as you move forward. It helps if you have at least some Looming Mystery, an overarching question to be answered, before play begins. Some materials I recently drafted go into some detail on this, and shall be incorporated into a future update.
The question I'd posit to you is whether you intend to start off with your own framework, use the Ebon Eaves playset, or start with nothing whatsoever. If you have a framework or use a playset, you're already going to have some concept of what the Looming Mystery is going to be, and direct things accordingly. Just like in any game or story, while you can keep things vague, you need to have at least some vague idea. If you're coming in cold, you can let this emerge during the first session of play, but have some question. For example, a question could be mundane such as "Who killed Lara Palmer?*" to the more surreal as "Why does everyone who comes in contact with the Staff of Ra burst into flame?" or "What does the scar on the right cheek of the elders really mean?" With this one question, you can start dispensing clues that will point to interesting things depending upon the characters in play and the direction they take things. For example, The Antiquarian and The Detective are going to consider different things clues in play, so you want to color your presentation with how they'd perceive things.
Orion wrote:A similar question about lore - what is it, that I would generally tell the player here? p. 22 hints a bit at it, but a few more concrete examples would really be helpful.
Lore can range from nebulous, but useful (at the least) to greatly helpful (useful and knowledge expanding) depending upon the state of the story, and the moment it arises. Obviously, when a character earns lore it gives them some bit of knowledge that helps them, particularly, perform their Lore move. It's knowledge bouncing around loosely until applied, and they narratively work it into the game. Let's say The Dilettante earns a bit of Lore from Puzzling Out something he noticed in a strange painting, and later uses his Lore move "You've Done This Before" when approaching a heavy at the museum. He could either not explain (which is okay, but not thrilling) or say "I remembered looking at the painting Some Enchanted Evening
and it reminded me of my days in summer theater where I used to do a bit of play-fencing with Reginald before evening cocktails..." as he grabs a decorative sword from the wall and engages in melee. Both ways work, but the latter example is more narratively gripping. Alternately, you can tease in a bit of information and pointers using Lore to foreshadow and other things...the character sees the painting and you tell them..."they notice the glow on their faces is not coming from the moonlight (as the shadows are just wrong), but from the strange, Egyptian staff in the corner, and you suddenly glance over and catch the artist's name, Beauclerc, and recall how he was somehow connected with the Staff of Ra expedition..." Like anything, the more you do it, the better you get at it.
Orion wrote:Or is this also collaborative material? As in, I ask "What do you think you just found out?"
You can certainly collaborate, if you and your group are willing to have a little give-and-take. Just be certain to keep things in the proper tone, and atmosphere, and not let them enter ridiculous areas. It's best to provide a little lead and direction, such as "You notice something about the painting that's unusual....what do you think it could be?"
Hopefully, this provides some insight.
*For the Twin Peaks