Campaign of the Month: February 2020
Terror at Thrushmoor
Various Knowledge skills represent a character’s familiarity with different fields of study. Knowledge checks can often answer specific questions, but sometimes a character either fails the Knowledge check or has no hope of success, such as when the knowledge she seeks is forgotten, hidden, or important enough to the story that uncovering it with a simple skill check would be anticlimactic.
This is where research comes into play. Under the following rules system, characters can visit a library and use its resources to discover new information. While simple questions (such as identifying a monster, knowing a local rumor, or recognizing a deity and her symbols and clergy) may still be answered with a single Knowledge check, this system addresses more complex issues, such as learning details of an ancient pharaoh whose name has been lost to history, interpreting an infernal contract, or studying a comprehensive book of arcane lore.
These rules can represent researching any repository of lore or knowledge: an actual library, a vast historical archive, a complicated legal contract, a city’s hall of records, a hoard of ancient scrolls, a magical tome of esoteric lore, or a wizard’s personal collection of books and scrolls. For the purposes of these rules, however, the term “library” is used to represent all of these possibilities.
Every library has two primary statistics: a Complexity rating, which reflects the intricacy or confusing nature of the library’s contents, and Knowledge Points (abbreviated kp), which are an abstract representation of the sum of the library’s collected information.
To research a specific topic or question within a library, a character must succeed at a Research check, using one of the skills listed in the library’s stat block. A Research check is similar to a Knowledge check, though each library stat block lists the specific skills that can be used for Research checks based on the nature of that library’s collections. A library’s Complexity rating serves as the DC for Research checks that attempt to unravel that library’s clues.
Attempting a Research check requires an uninterrupted 8-hour period of research, and a character cannot take 10 or 20 on a Research check. Each 8-hour period of research grants a cumulative +1 bonus on Research checks. If a researcher stops researching at the same library for a month or more, she loses any cumulative bonuses gained for that library thus far. Up to two additional characters can use the aid another action to assist a primary researcher.
Succeeding at a Research check reduces a library’s knowledge points, similar to dealing damage to a creature’s hit points. As its knowledge points decrease, a library reveals its secrets. Characters learn information when a library’s knowledge points reach various research thresholds.
In addition to these base amounts, for every 5 by which a Research check exceeds the library’s Complexity rating, the library’s knowledge points are reduced by 1 additional point. Rolling a natural 20 on a Research check acts like a critical threat. If the researcher confirms the critical hit by succeeding at a second Research check with all the same modifiers (this takes no additional time), the resulting knowledge point reduction is doubled. Conversely, rolling a natural 1 on a Research check automatically results in failure, and the library’s knowledge points increase by 1/4 of the library’s maximum knowledge points as the library’s complexity causes a researcher to follow a wrong avenue of investigation.
When a library’s knowledge points are reduced to 0, the characters have learned everything they can from that library, and gain experience points according to the library’s CR. To learn additional information, they must visit another library and continue their research there.
A successful Research check reduces a library’s knowledge points by a certain amount, just as a successful attack roll in combat reduces a creature’s hit points, and this amount depends on the primary researcher’s training in the skill she used for the Research check. The amount of KP reduced depends on the primary researcher’s ranks in the skill used to perform the research and whether they have the appropriate Skill Focus feat:
|10 ranks in skill||Skill Focus in Skill||Both 5 ranks in the skill AND it is a class skill||Either 5 ranks in skill OR it is a class skill||None of the previous|
|1d12+Int modifier||1d12+Int modifier||1d12+Int modifier||1d8+Int modifier||1d4+Int modifier|