On secret GM knowledge

Need your words of wisdom pals.
During yesterday’s session the characters managed to kill the evil necromancer and retrieve his notebook (not his laptop computer - his tattered scrapbook). Now they’re excited at the thought of deciphering it, grabbing the necromancer’s dark secrets, and eventually stopping the zombie apocalypse he released over the land.

Now I have some preliminary ideas on the book and what it is written on.
First of all I will not let the characters go away with the information too easily. The text is encrypted and a Symbology test will be required.

Given the characters will be able to decipher the text, now I’m a bit puzzled on how to reveal them bits of information from the book. The text is not a coherent assay, but more a collection of notes and impressions from a crazy mind. So the informations are very useful but scattered in the whole text. An organic review of the book will not be so useful.

I’m thinking about offering the characters a mini-game.
I will write up informations and statements as self-contained bits of information.
Then the characters will test their Research (or whatever skill will be appropriate) to find informations in the book. I will require them to state clearly in the Intent of each test the scope of the topic they’re researching between a series of possible areas, each one encompassed by a different Wise or Lore skill. I will prepare beforehand 3-4 topics (in increasing difficulty order) for each “discipline” (or Skill). Then I’d have the characters test against a basic Ob1; each success above the first will give them access to one bit of knowledge about each topic.
The various topics should be related to the following skills:
:black_small_square: Black Oil-wise
:black_small_square: Apocalypse-wise
:black_small_square: Death Cult-wise
:black_small_square: Ancient Gods-wise
:black_small_square: Secret Hideouts-wise
:black_small_square: Death-wise
:black_small_square: God of Death-wise
:black_small_square: Graveyard-wise
:black_small_square: Folklore

Some of the topics will be overlapping between various skills or disciplines.
Failing the tests will lead to complications such as misunderstood information or retrieving information about a topic different from the intended one.

Then I’d like to add some spice.
For each bit of info gained from each topic, I was thinking of letting the character(s) mark a check for a test on the corresponding skill. They do not have, AFAIK, any of the skills involved in any of the topics, so they will eventually gain checks for opening them.

Practical example.
The characters wants to know more about “How the necromancer the Black Oil it’s referenced in the Stavanoi folklore and their Death Cult”.
They’d test their Research against Ob1. The topic is afferent to the skills: Black Oil-wise, Folklore, Death Cult-wise.
1 success gains them access to one bit of info on the topic requested and they can mark a check for any of the two skills above in addition to the test gained for Research. 2 successes gains them two bits and two checks (possibly on different skills). 3 will gain 3 bits and three checks and so on. The maximum limit for checks gained is up to opening the skills to their root.
Failed Research tests will lead them to gain bits of info from other topics, totally random. They do not earn any advancement checks for the skills involved in the unintended topic.

What do you guys think of it?
Maybe I’m being a little too generous, but I feel the characters perhaps deserve it after a long gamespan.

Some thoughts:

It’s an involved process; after all that work (as a player) I’d be much happier with your specific, GM-written clues.

You could get rid of the book-specific learning rule by making the book an advantage to using those wises. (Players would then earn tests for advancement by testing Beginner’s Luck, as normal, just with +1D or +2D.)

Well the players will have the specific information, I’m writing it down. Only it is divided into sparse statements. Collecting them and making them fit into a whole picture will be their next concern…
Maybe I’d provide some hints if they get stuck.

You could get rid of the book-specific learning rule by making the book an advantage to using those wises. (Players would then earn tests for advancement by testing Beginner’s Luck, as normal, just with +1D or +2D.)

That’s a really neat idea, thank you.

Or treat it as a linked test, that way it can help or hurt and be subject to its own failure conditions.

Another nice advice.

Here’s what I’ve came up with.
I’d have the characters test their Research (+ applicable FoRKs and Advantages) in a graduated test. Each success generated gains one bit of information in any specific topic, and maybe give characters an advantage for a Research test for another related topic as per a linked test.

The book will then provide instructions for the involved skills I mentioned in the first post. The advantage will vary from +1D to +2D, based on the actual relevance of the information contained within the pages. For example: Black Oil-wise, Death Cult-wise, Secret Hideouts-wise +2D; Death-wise, God of Death-wise, Graveyard-wise, Folklore, Apocalypse-wise, Ancient Gods-wise +1D.

What do you think?

My only advice: if the book is encrypted, Symbology isn’t quite the right skill. What you want is the Cryptography skill.