At the heart of nearly every RPG is a mystery meant for the players to investigate. Be it a medieval-influenced fantasy or a gritty occult noir campaign, game masters lead their players through a complex narrative by dangling a carrot. The mystery might be the location of a legendary sword lost within the bowels of a wizard’s labyrinthine dungeon, or the identity of the person responsible for sacrificing a young socialite on the altar of some profane god in the backwoods of upstate New York.
Regardless, players investigate their surroundings, using search actions and various skill checks, all the while gathering clues that lead them to the outcome. There may be any number of monsters to fight along the way, or npcs to interact with, but the heart of the matter is the mystery, not the battles.
If mystery is not your forte there are any number of ways to work around it, most notably, by adapting classic films and integrating them into your campaign. Imagine The Maltese Falcon redressed in your fantasy world, or The Name of the Rose retooled for a more modern setting. There are no limits. All that matters is building a compelling mystery and revealing the proper rabbit hole for your players to delve into.
Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game is built around the idea of a mystery, owing as much to crime noir fiction as it does to the magical realism and supernatural shenanigans that punctuate the narrative. Protagonists investigate any number of intrigues: thefts, murders, kidnappings, or what have you. I mean, it is Occult Detective, after all.