Open-ended research

How do you handle open-ended research in town? A common desire at our table is “I want to find out more about a lead, like this crown I hear is in a tomb in some mountains way over there. Like… anything more. As in go to the local Governmental Book Repository ™ and look for any books about the crown, tomb, or mountains, and skim them all. Google:‘dwarf crown diamondhelm in tomb in east mountains’.”

It sounds like Scholar, right?

But how many tests at what Ob(s)? If they have a specific question, that’s 1 turn at an Ob that’s easy enough to check or interpolate. But they don’t. If lots of info is available, that could be one test at a super-high Ob, or lots of tests at variable Obs with corresponding lifestyle increases. One test at super-high Ob just seems wrong. Here are some possibilities:

  1. Per question. Push until they ask a specific enough question, gather the factors and give them a test to make. This is a problem if they truly don’t have a specific enough question and instead want to Google-search.
  2. Per available answer. Figure out what info they could find out, pick among available answers as you wish, gather the factors and give them a test to make for that piece of info. If they’re not satisfied, let them do another day of research. This is a problem because of path-dependence; as GM I don’t want to essentially decide how much or little research they do based on my presentation order.
  3. Per available resource. If there are only a few books/scrolls with information they want, make a quick table and either keep pushing on their actions until you know which they’ll find first or have them roll a d6. Gather the factors based on all the info in the book they’ll actually find. This sounds pretty fun.
  4. Not a Scholar test. If there’s lots of info in all sorts of books, the relevant problem might be something other than Scholar? Or maybe it doesn’t take a test, just +1 lifestyle cost?

How do you play it?

If they don’t have specific questions and there are plenty of resources around then you can give them the ‘dwarf crown for dummies’ as a good idea and hope it sparks specific questions. If it doesn’t spark specific questions then it must not be very important to them, otherwise they’d want to know where it is, how it’s protected, who it belonged to, what it signifies or does, etc. Tell them they skim through some books aimlessly, get bored, and fall asleep. :slight_smile:

  1. Good Ideas happen in town too. Not just Adventure phases.

Good idea.