I keep reading about how the Gumshoe system provides a fix for investigation in role-playing games. The problem they identify is that a botched die roll can prevent players from gaining a vital clue.
My first thought is that applying mechanics to investigation is the real mistake. Then I think that for a game—like Call of Cthulhu, which is all about investigation—maybe it makes sense.
But then I think, isn’t D&D really about investigation too? You’re trying to locate the McGuffin or explore the unknown or whatever. D&D didn’t have much in the way of mechanics for investigation, and—I think—for good reason. The more such mechanics have been expanded and added to D&D, the more you see people coming up with complaints exactly like the one Gumshoe is designed to address.
Gumshoe’s answer is to provide a resource-based mechanic in place of a dice-based one. (There are still dice rolls, but overall it’s more resource-management focused.) Reading about this, I can’t help but think that I’d rather spend time at the table thinking about the mystery and the clues rather than resource management.
So, I’m back to thinking that applying mechanics to investigation doesn’t seem like such a good idea.
This all feels a little unfair since I haven’t actually read any of the Gumshoe books yet. This, however, is the reason why I haven’t bought or read any of them yet.