Rob Brennan (and everyone else), how’s this for a “gather info” downtime move?

Rob Brennan (and everyone else), how’s this for a “gather info” downtime move?

Rob Brennan (and everyone else), how’s this for a “gather info” downtime move?


When you spend one week of downtime gathering information, say what you’re looking for and roll…

…+INT to pore over written materials

…+WIS to keep an ear to the ground

…+CHA to ask people directly

On a 10+, the Judge will tell you whatever you want to know, within the limitations of your approach and local resources; on a 7-9, the Judge will tell you something useful, and you choose 1 from the list below.

> Your queries draw unwanted attention

> Whatever you learn is accompanied by an unwelcome truth

> What you find is only the first crumb in a longer trail—ask the Judge where you might need to go next

14 thoughts on “Rob Brennan (and everyone else), how’s this for a “gather info” downtime move?”

  1. I wasn’t asked, but option 3 seems tantamount to “Nothing happens. Roll again.” The other two options are good, and I too like threes, but a hard choice between 2 good options is perfectly viable.

  2. hm, Dylan Green, I read the third option more as a “go explore this place” rather than “think of another research roll to make” but the wording certainly allows both.

  3. Yeah, the intent was to suggest a specific course of investigation, not to encourage making the same move again. I can try to reword that.

    Also, Dylan Green — everyone was asked! And your opinion is always welcome regardless.

  4. This sort of maps to the Bend Bars Lift Gates template: time, damage, attention (noise), broken. You’ve got the draw unwanted attention; and the trail of clues is it taking longer than expected. Unwelcome truth is like damage.

    I was also thinking there might be a cost option:

    > There is a cost. The GM will tell you what that is.

  5. Dylan Greene, maybe:

    WIS: You instinctively know exactly how to find out what it is that you want to know.

    CHA: In the course of talking to people, you get them to reveal exactly what you need to know.

  6. The 7-9 result needs to come with a compromise. Option 3 is gesturing towards “You’ve only got part of the story” which only, really, delays a compromise that will probably turn out to be either time or danger.

    What I’m seeing here is this:

    10+ : I get the whole story, but its very likely to be something I don’t like. This is especially true if I want something really big.

    7-9: I get the same thing but with additional compromise.

    6-: I don’t learn anything and it wastes valuable downtime?

    Is this the intent of this move? Personally I don’t really like these stakes, but maybe I’m reading the move wrong.

    I think it ties back to the 10+. The bigger and more important the thing I want to know, the harder it will be to actually obtain even on a 10+ . So what’s we’re rolling for isn’t how hard it will be to get the thing (that will be a whole adventure) but what it costs to discover. Even time may or may not actually be an interesting cost.

    I think the most interesting compromise is alerting other people to your research. Fellow tomb robbers, dangerous cults, demons.

    I would say your best 7-9 compromises are, unwanted attention or a wasted weeks living expenses.

  7. Dylan Green, either you’re reading it wrong or (more likely) I’ve written it wrong. “Within the limitations of your approach and local resources” is just a more specific way of saying “within reason.” Is that phrase the problem? I’m not seeing how the bigger and more important the thing you want to know makes it harder to know the thing, and that’s certainly not the intent.

    The compromise on “what you find is only the first crumb in a longer trail—ask the Judge where you might need to go next” is meant to be an invitation to pursue a lead to more information. The compromise is spending time to pursue a lead that you might have spent doing something else.

    The idea was for each of the choices to push the fiction in a different direction.

  8. Chris Gardiner I get limiting, but for “balance” sake, do you then have other moves that only CON and STR can do and so on, so every stat gets an equal opportunity of downtime activity?

  9. Chris Shorb Not necessarily? There could certainly downtime moves that used other stats. But CON is already a powerful stat, affecting hit points. And STR sees a lot of use in combat. The ‘balance’ doesn’t need to limited to the downtime moves. ‘Balance’ is a bit of an odd fish in PBTA games, anyway.

    Moves that let you choose any stat are usually ‘tell me how you’re awesome’ moves. There’s definitely a place for those! I just don’t know if this is it. I think the question here is ‘which classes do you want to be good at doing downtime research?’

  10. Jason Lutes I’m late to the party on this, but here’s a similar move I wrote a long time back that covers similar ground:

    When you investigate, do research, or probe your memories, ask the GM a specific question that could be answered this way and roll to get answers.

    On a 10+, the GM gives you a clear and helpful answer from your character’s point of view, including some clarifications and follow-up questions. On a 7-9, the GM gives you an incomplete or cryptic answer but will tell you how you can learn more.

    (In this game, you always rolled whatever stat made the most sense based on how you did it.)

    I recall playing around with 7-9 results like the ones you were including (unwanted attention, unwelcome truth) but discarded them because I felt they should depend more on the fiction than the roll. And unwanted attention or unwelcome information could easily be the result of a 6-.

    Maybe it’s not right for Freebooters, as you seem to be more interested in letting the dice insert randomness into the fiction. But maybe it’s something to consider.

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