Read: The New Awesome

[i]All winter, our heroes had been hunting down the smuggler Karthos, the villain who had been supplying the goblins underneath the city of Katarren with stolen weapons and armor. At long last he was found, holed up in a goblin warren two days north of the city. The criminal was slain, justice dealt.

In a search of Karthos’ quarters, they came upon his journal. They discovered that he had been supplying the goblins for a planned goblin uprising sometime in the future. Also that he had a mysterious benefactor who had been helping him.

GM: I’m going to give you an interesting option here, guys. If you want – it is only an option – you can make a Read test to declare one other thing you discovered in Karthos’ journal. Make a declaration, just as if you had tested a Wise. If you succeed, whatever your intent was is exactly what you read. If you fail, you discover something else of my choosing.

Of course the players took the bait.
They declared their intent: Written in the smuggler’s journal is a date and place for an upcoming planned meeting between Karthos and his benefactor.
I declared my consequence of failure: The date of the planned goblin uprising in Katarren is TODAY.
I set the Ob at 3. It’s not all that hard to read a book, after all.

They mustered 7 dice. They rolled ALL ONES. Katarren burned.[/i]

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This is how I’ve been using the Read skill in my campaign. The above scenario played out earlier this spring. It radically changed the campaign setting, and helped spring the story off in an entirely new direction. It was great. The Read skill has come up a couple more times since, and the results are always fun, no matter who wins the test.

I’ve been thinking on this lately. This may or may not be an officially recognized implementation of the Read skill (might even be a Spark, actually). But it is a good way to use Read. In play, it works out better than Wises, actually. It gives the players free reign to declare anything that might make sense to be written in a book. Likewise for the GM. It is an ultimate plot-moverer.

I’ve been saving it primarily for journals found after “boss battles”, at the end of or nearing the climax of a large campaign arc. It’s kind of cheesy, but it makes for a great way to keep the narrative flowing, providing great jumping-off points for new stories or interesting ways to wrap up existing ones. Sometimes both.

Has anybody else ever used the Read skill in this manner? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

I believe this is a fantastic use of the skill. It’s like an uber-specific Wise in that it can pertain only to what might be in that book. I congratulate you!

The example you provided is epic in itself and is exactly why BW is a breakthrough product. The entire campaign shifted over the result of just one test. You can’t plan that awesomeness!

Yeah, it’s great because it’s both uber-specific and yet pretty much open at the same time. So long as the book itself is specific, it’s guaranteed to help the story in some way or another.

Books are relatively rare in my campaign, so it’s not something that comes up so often that it becomes a problem. And the players respect that this is the GM creatively interpreting the rules to give them an interesting option to pursue. They’re not going to abuse this for test-mongering. In fact, I’ve had to offer the option to them each time.

Next weekend we will be dealing with the results of the latest read test, a success for the players in this case. The PCs managed to figure out the day their arch-nemesis will be marching his army through town, and have set an ambush up for him on the road. This will be the BIG final battle of the entire plot arc thus far. It should be pretty epic – especially considering the consequence of failure for another related test revealed that their nemesis is not only a mercenary lord, but is also adept at summoning daemons. :evil:

Sort of.

We frame it differently. We ask the GM questions, “Can I search for information about X in the document?” and he decides whether that’s a valid intent/task. We find this keeps down the degree of outlandish requests since the GM is considering all requests from the standpoint of both i/t and the setting.

I like this. It would work better for Read tests on a regular basis than my freer use of the skill.

If my players start pro-actively scrounging up books and trying to make declarations left, right, and center, I’ll frame it like that. Intent/task must always be valid. As I mentioned above though, thus far my players haven’t been pro-active with Read – the skill wasn’t being used at all, in fact – so I offered them the opportunity. Also, each time it came up, we were at a point in the story where outlandish requests would be welcome. Sometimes you just gotta give the story a good kickstart, either to revive it or to rev the engines up the red line.

Using ‘Read’ as a wise specific to the document you’re holding is a very useful way to think of this skill, thank you!