This post is about using GUMSHOE style investigative abilities in an established Dragon Age RPG game (AGE system). I haven't implemented it yet, and I'm hoping for thoughts and feedback. Specifically, what will break that I might not have forseen?
Almost half of the ability focuses in Dragon Age RPG are used for gathering information. As a GM, there's a ton of significant info I want the player-protagonists to have, and even a few trivial things they should know as citizens of the game world. I don't always like to rely on skill rolls to dole out that information.
How much simpler would it be for the player to say, "Hey, I have the Perception (Search) focus, and I'm going to have a look around for evidence on how the apostate mage escaped the cell unnoticed."
And then I could just say, "Sure. The templar guards wouldn't have caught this, but your keen eye finds some loose stones that conceal a passage behind them. You also find some purple powder residue in the wooden food bowl." The characters now know how the apostate got out, and can follow her trail. The bit about the powder is not critical, but possibly helpful, information that they can follow up on if someone has the Cunning (Poison Lore) focus.
The first issue to tackle is to make sure the party has most or all of the relevant skill focuses. A low-level group just won't have that amount of focuses to choose from. The easiest way is to just have the group divvy up the investigative skills by assigning them according to which character is most likely to have any particular focus.
A direct result of the first issue is that the players will be able to acquire and improve their other focuses more rapidly. That's not terrible if the assumption is that the PCs are the main protagonists of their own stories. I'm not looking to play in a more harsh style where the PCs start at the lowest rung of the hero ladder and need to earn all their stripes.
The second issue is that since they will never roll for those focuses, they will never generate stunt points for them. How big of a deal is that likely to be? There's another system I could layer on top of that (Pool points, again from GUMSHOE). Is that adding too much complexity, or am I just trading one complex system for another?
Obviously, the answer is to playtest this house rule, but I'd like to go into it anticipating most of the issues that my crop up. This is probably way more than anyone wants to read, so I'll leave it at that. Hopefully, one or two of you will have an opinion on the matter and be willing to share it.You can find the Open Gaming License version of the GUMSHOE rules here: https://pelgranepress.com/site/?tag=open-gumshoe