Interpreting

Interpreting

The next step in discovery is mechanically simple. The player rolls her persona’s investigation dice, and keeps the number of dice indicated by the elements of her investigation. The result of this roll is the pool of points that the player can use to describe the information that her character has discovered. Again, this is done in terms of elements.

Each element has a discovery cost, which is the number of points needed to make it part of the information discovered. Standard elements also have an incorporation cost and a number of dice, which are used when generating a theory in the next stage. A low incorporation cost and a high number of dice is good, because that will tend to produce a better theory. Naturally, a low incorporation cost and a high number of dice mean that the element has a high discovery cost.

Once an element has been discovered, it is part of the description of the subject. If, for example, the persona discovers that a character likes cats, then that character does like cats. The character may change her preferences over time, but even if she does it will at least be true that she did like cats. This means that some elements will exclude others; a character who likes cats cannot dislike them as well. Of course, a character can like cats and dislike dogs, so these restrictions will often be simple, and a matter of common sense.

When the personae are discovering something about a subject that is not a part of the real world, however, these links between elements become more important. If an element is a feature of a subject, it might make some impossible, and others more or less expensive. The players are, effectively, creating the topic as they investigate it, so these relationships will mean that the topics will fit into the game background. This, however, is a complicated issue that doesn’t apply to investigating people, and so I will come back to it later.

Some elements have a relatively low incorporation cost or high number of dice for their discovery cost, because they also introduce complications into the personae’s lives. For example, discovering that someone is a huge fan of first edition D&D books is useful, because it suggests an ideal gift. Quite an expensive ideal gift, however, and one that may not be easily available, so that adds story potential to the creation of the action that will build the relationship.

While the number of dice granted will always be positive, and normally not more than one or two, the incorporation cost can be negative. This is necessary because of the mechanics for building a theory, as I will discuss in the next post.

Not all the elements discovered in this step need to contribute to a theory. At least some of them should, because the theory is typically the purpose of the investigation, but there are other options. This is one of the places in which a persona can discover a special element that grants a bonus to some other task. These elements have discovery costs, but their other statistics may be quite different.

Any subject has a number of elements available for discovery. Only the ones that have been discovered are known to be true of the subject, however. Other elements may be true of different examples of that sort of thing (different kami, for example), and elements that are not inconsistent with what is known may also be true of this subject. It is possible that the personae have simply not learned everything about it yet. Nevertheless, those elements cannot be used in play because, even if they are true, the personae do not yet know that, and so cannot use them.

The final stage of discovery is creating the theory. How does that work?

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