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Chapter 1: Gamemastery Basics / Running Exploration / Scenes Within Exploration

Investigations

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 20
The Investigate exploration activity is pretty broad and can lead into a more thorough investigation scene. Lead off with a definite clue that has details but clearly isn’t the whole picture: “These runes look like ones used for arcane magic but are some kind of variant form,” “As you assess the architecture of the room, you see the pillar caps are all made of granite, except for one that appears to be painted plaster,” or “Each of the stained glass shows scenes of one of the god Norgorber’s aspects, but there are only three windows, and Norgorber has four aspects.”

Then, if this piques a player’s interest, you can go into a more detailed investigation. They might look at the runes more closely, chip away at the plaster, or search around for a representation of Norgorber’s fourth aspect. Avoid calling for checks if it’s not necessary. In the last example, you’d likely tell them which of the deity’s aspects is missing without another Religion check, and if the aspect is represented as a statue in the room, asking for a Perception check to find it might short-circuit the investigation in an uninteresting way.

To make the investigation feel real, it helps to talk the player through their character’s thought processes by saying what clue inspired them to think of an important detail, explaining what the detail is, and possibly mentioning a further question that detail raises. Then let the player extrapolate rather than telling them their conclusion. Even if the investigation doesn’t lead to a an unambiguous conclusion, the players should feel they’re more informed than when they started.

Though one person starts the investigation, getting others involved can help them become more interested and bring different skills to bear to get other types of information. Reward collaboration and clever ideas.