In a Night’s Black Agents game, there are two kinds of Abilities measuring an Agent’s skills and talents:
- General Abilities. These are used to Do Important Stuff, like blasting vampires with assault rifles, driving cars through fences and tailing minions through crowded train stations. You roll dice and see if you succeed or fail at a General Ability.
- Investigative Abilities. These are used to Find Out What There Is To Do. These Abilities cover tapping a corrupt Russian general’s phone, searching university archives for books on vampire lore, and seducing the general’s chauffeur. You never roll dice for Investigative Abilities.
The real power of GUMSHOE comes from Investigative Abilities, which every Agent has in abundance. These Abilities are used to get clues and find out where the bad guys are, what they are doing, and ways to stop them.
As long as you get yourself into a scene where relevant information can be gathered, have one of the right Abilities to get that information, and tell the Director you are using that Ability, you always succeed in getting a clue. At the very least, a core clue that leads to another important scene/character/location where there are more clues or Important Stuff To Do.
Also, you can expend Investigative Ability points to get additional information, such as weaknesses of the enemy, or to get temporary bonuses in a tactical situation. That's where the rest of the detailed rules come in.
But you never need to spend any points to get core clues. You only need to have a score of 1 or more in that Ability rating.
It's the same rule system that powers games like Trail of Cthulhu. It helps the Director to ensure that players Find Out What There Is To Do in a simple and fun way, and then Do Important Stuff, like shooting magnesium flares through the window of Dracula's limousine.
And that's why you should play Night's Black Agents.
- the Director