So the players need to ask around town and get info to continue their quest. This is often handled with an investigation check, but why not let each player's mental scores shine when they make this check. Each stat gets info differently.
Intelligence: helps narrow down the range of answers and get more specific, useful information.
Wisdom: helps find people who have the right information and see how reliable their answers are.
Charisma: helps get more information for less cost.
The way I would handle it would be to have a base outcome for each roll, then let players roll a relevant skill to improve those results. For instance, if the players are asking about for info on magical anomalies, the wizard might roll arcana or investigation, the cleric might roll insight, and the paladin might roll persuasion. If more players roll, I'd take the highest roll for each mental stat into account. This could lead to a bunch of different success or fail-forward states.
Say the players collectively roll high on INT and WIS checks, but low on CHA. They find a reliable source of very useful information, but it'll come at a cost. They may have to pay money, or do a favor, or maybe they get the information but piss someone off in the process.
What if they roll high on CHA and INT but low on WIS. Now they are getting several conflicting pieces of information from different sources, but the players need to look closer at these sources to figure out which one is true and which is misleading. Or perhaps they get the information they want, but the source has ulterior motives and withholds some important meta-information from the PCs to further their own ends.
Now let's imagine they roll high on CHA or WIS abilities, but low on INT. In this case the trouble is not the price of the info or even the people giving it to them, but instead they receive a lot of general info, and the useful details they want are hidden in the weeds, or referred to in imprecise ways.
Now what happens if they low roll on several or even all three checks. Instead of preventing the players from moving forward, this is a situation where the players could get several different sources of info, each with a cost associated, and it's not immediately obvious which is reliable and what strings are attached. This is a chance for the players to make some choices. They could pick at random, in which case they might get lucky, or they might make lateral progress, perhaps playing into the villians' hands but learning info in the process. Or they could follow up on their sources, looking for more in-world knowledge to make an informed decision.
Let's revisit our original example of magical anomalies and say the players rolled low across the board. They get several hooks for info. 1. The local thieves guild offers to lead them to a source of the anomalies in the sewers if the players help pin the blame for the incidents on a city council member. 2. A taverngoer indicates they know a guy who's part of an exclusive archeology club that might know more, but the club meetings take place in the local inn's back room and they don't take new members. 3. A crazy-looking figure in the town square claims their god revealed the truth of the anomalies to them, but has a grudge against the theives guild and won't divulge further unless the players sneak into a building he claims is one of their fronts and recover an artifact he wants from it.
Of course, these are somewhat elaborate, so these scenarios can be simplified as necessary, but I think a benefit of this method is it can get your players engaging with the world beyond following a single plot, trying to understand the situation better as they make decisions.
- How to deal with detecting magical objects?
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More about Dungeons & Dragons OnlinePost: "Try using all three mental scores when the players look for information." specifically for the game Dungeons & Dragons Online. Other useful information about this game:
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