Point spend advice

I am still not clear on the execution of the point spend mechanic.  In Dead Rock 7 for example, there is some important information to be gained from point spends but how is that to be presented? On page 42, for example, there are point spends for "explosive devices" "forensic anthropology" and "forensic engineering" that all convey important clues.  How is that supposed to work in practice?  Ok character, you gain x clue from using "explosive devices,"  do you wish to spend one point to find out something else important?  Why would they ever not do so?  Sometimes the point spends are for peripheral info and sometimes for important clues.  How would the players be expected to ever distinguish between the two?  Any advice would be appreciated. 

Comments

  • The mechanics of spending Investigative points probably varies widely from group to group.  In practice, I see more experienced players volunteering investigative skill spends when they suspect more information might be available.  If I don't have more information planned for that skill, I usually try to either provide information from a different skill or make something up.  I don't characterize the information as "important" or "not important".  It is all information.  I do try to make the information relevant to the current situation, rather than general background.  I also usually do not prompt players to make investigative spends for specific skills.  Even for new players, part of the rules explanation at the beginning of play is that they can make investigative skill spends to potentially gain more information (as well as to gain other benefits, more spotlight time, flashbacks, etc--the spend doesn't have to be for information.  For example, look at the example on p.235 in the Ashen Stars rulebook--the player wants to find the easiest route and the GM requires a spend to do so.)  I will sometimes give the players a chance to make investigative skill spends at the end of a scene, "anyone want to make an investigative spend?", although I tend not to because, as you imply, of course they then start fishing for more.  I also tend not to build adventures with a lot of investigative skill spends for bonus information.  If I have information, I am giving it out!  It's better for the players to have too much information than too little.  With too little, they don't know what action to take.  With too much, they don't know which action to take!  But that means the ball is entirely in their court with regards to what happens next.  
    In sum, my advice is 1) to provide an opportunity at the end of scene for investigative spends.  Don't tie the offer to any particular skill.  2)  Give out information if you have it, regardless of spends!  3)  Reward investigative skill spends with _new_ information, even if you have to make it up on the spot.  And 4) Remember that investigate spends can gain more than additional information.  With these principles in practice, your players will have all the information they need to make meaningful decisions; you'll enjoy the game more because you'll be challenged to improvise as the game goes on; and investigative points will be spent making characters awesome (because the players aren't conserving points to get information).
    Mel 
  • Thank you for the excellent advice on managing point spends generally but I still don't understand how to best handle the situation in a published adventure as in the examples I provided.  Any other thoughts would be appreciated.  
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