House Rules: Research

Sometimes, general knowledge is not enough to solve a problem. Sometimes, you need to find a specific piece of lore to solve a puzzle or learning some long-lost ritual. In these cases, you will need to spend time perusing tomes and scrolls to find the knowledge you seek.

The Research game mechanic simulates the challenge of trying to find the knowledge you need. The cost in engaging in research is the amount of time spent looking for the information you need, as well as possible fees to pay to gain access to such materials. To research a specific topic or question, you must have access to research material called a library which can take the form of an actual library, but can also be a private collection of books, a collection of notes, or even a gathering of experts.

To research a specific piece of information or question, known as a topic, you must succeed at a Research check using one of the skills listed in the topic's stat block. A Research check is akin to a Knowledge check, though each topic stat block lists the specific skills that can be used for Research checks based on its nature, which may also be a non-Knowledge skill. A topic's Complexity rating serves as the DC for Research checks that attempt to unravel that topic's clues.

A library's Assist Limit indicates how many other characters can use the aid another action to assist the primary researcher. The limit varies depending on how much source materials is available to be researched. The Library Quality may grant Advantage, Disadvantage, or a numerical modifier to your Research checks. A library may have Specialization in certain skills, granting Advantage on checks using those skills. A library may also have Deficit in certain skill areas due to the lore in the library being incomplete or having mistakes, granting Disadvantage on your Research checks with those skills. A library's bonuses and penalties only apply to the primary researcher's checks.

You receive a cumulative -1 penalty to Research checks each time you use the same skill in successive order. The penalty is removed once you use a different skill. Research assistants also take a cumulative -1 penalty if they use the same skill in a row for their aid another action.

Attempting a Research check requires an uninterrupted 8-hour period of research, and you 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 of more, she loses any cumulative bonuses gained for that library thus far. You gain Disadvantage if you attempt a Research check while fatigued, and double Disadvantage if you are exhausted.

Succeeding at a Research check grants you a topic's knowledge points (kp). As you gain a topic's knowledge points, you uncover more of the topic's secrets. You learn information when your kp reaches various thresholds, as detailed in each topic's stat block. The amount of kp gained on a successful check is equal to the difference between your check results and the Complexity rating. However, a failed Research check reduces your amount of kp by the difference between your result check and the Complexity rating, to a minimum of 0 kp. A failure represents that your research went down the wrong path, and you must backtrack your research. Being reduced to 0 kp means that you were forced to restart your research from scratch. Any secrets previously learned remains known to you. Rolling a natural 20 on a Research check increases the check by 10, and a natural 1 reduces your result by 10.

Once you learn all of a topic's secrets, you gain experience points according to the topic's CR. To learn additional information, you must visit another library and continue your research there.

Table: Library Buildings lists appropriate buildings from the Nation Building and Downtime rules that can be used as libraries for research. The Library Quality, Assist Limit, and Daily Fee listed for each of them are the average default values for such buildings. They may be higher or lower depending on various circumstances. Such buildings do not start with any Specializations or Deficits by default.

Table: Library Buildings

Building Library Quality Assist Limit Daily Fee
Academy +4 8 25 gp
Bardic College Advantage 6 15 gp
Cathedral Advantage 6 10 gp
Library None 4 5 gp
Magical Academy Advantage 8 50 gp
University +6 12 100 gp

Example Research Topic

Dreamlands Occult Ritual Research (CR 6)
XP 2,400
Complexity 15
Research Check Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (history), Knowledge (planes)
Library Used
Library Count Lowls's Journals; Languages Common; Assist Limit 2
Library Quality Advantage; Specialization none; Deficit none
Research Thresholds
kp 5 Lowls’s notes indicate that his journeys occurred in the Dreamlands, a vast and relatively stable section of the Dimension of Dreams. The PCs learn the fundamentals of travel in the Dreamlands: most types of damage experienced in the Dreamlands vanish upon waking except for mental ability score damage or drain; spells and items used in the Dreamlands are not expended upon waking; items found in the Dreamlands cannot be brought into the waking world, but persist from dream to dream; and death in the Dreamlands results in immediate traumatic awakening and permanent madness.
kp 10 Lowls planned to reach a mysterious hermit in the Dreamlands known as the Mad Poet. This Mad Poet was dangerous unless appeased, and Lowls focused his investigation on how to best approach this inscrutable—and certainly sinister—figure.
kp 15 Lowls selected a caravanserai in a vast Dreamlands desert as his initial destination. Here, he planned to talk with other dream travelers to gain information about how to locate and appease the Mad Poet.
kp 20 The PCs piece together the Dreamlands excursion occult ritual and can use it to travel to the Forsaken Caravanserai.
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