It seems strange to me that you'd typically only be allowed to ask 0-2 questions when taking the Investigate a Mystery action. Specifically, I'm imagining situations where a Keeper calls for the action during a Hunter's conversation with a bystander. It seems really unnatural that the Hunter would stop at 1-2 questions while discussing the mystery with a bystander who knows things.

Any tips for how to make this make sense narratively? Or am I misunderstanding something about this action? An idea I have is that once the hunter has spent his or her allowed questions, the Keeper could make the bystander unwilling or unable to answer any more questions. Any other ideas?

On a similar note, does this action always have to be linked to a roleplaying situation, or can the Hunter ask the Keeper questions directly, as with the "Read a Bad Situation" action? I can understand why you'd only be allowed 0-2 questions if you're just straight up asking the Keeper for answers in a meta-game situation, rather than asking the questions via roleplay. My gut is that roleplay is almost always preferred for this game.

Any insights on the Investigate a Mystery action would be much appreciated! Thank you.

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    – Oblivious Sage
    Jan 31, 2019 at 22:15

2 Answers 2


The move description explicitly states that the player is asking the questions of the Keeper:

One hold can be spent to ask the Keeper one of the following questions

The mechanics of the move allow the player to obtain information from the Keeper. A move like this is quite common in PbtA games I've read.

The move description also talks about situations where it might be invoked, which certainly aren't limited to conversations with NPCs.

Investigating can be done any number of ways: following tracks, interviewing witnesses, forensic analysis, looking up old folklore in a library, typing the monster’s name into Google, capturing the monster and conducting tests on it, and so on.

Regarding your comment, "My gut is that roleplay is almost always preferred for this game." ... In PbtA games, a very central concept is, when you do something in the fiction ("role-play") that invokes a move, then the mechanics determine what happens next. You need to work that into the fiction, but it is the move that determines what happens.

Role-play leads to invocation of moves (at least sometimes), which leads to more role-play to show how the outcome of the move affects the narrative.


You always ask the Keeper questions. The Keeper always makes the world answer.

One hold can be spent to ask the Keeper one of the following questions. [...] The Keeper is obliged to answer truthfully, but not in full - just what you can work out in your current situation using your current methods. [...] The Keeper may ask, "How did you find that out?" If you don't have a good answer, choose another question instead.

Investigate a Mystery, Monster of the Week p.102

Now, you can run down the list of Investigate a Mystery questions with an eyewitness, and even more besides those, and get a whole bunch of answers! But an eyewitness isn't a conduit to the truth. They're a normal human being who experienced something extraordinary, full of clear sensory impressions and wild speculations in equal measure. They can say anything. But when you ask the Keeper, they'll give you the truth if you could get it and tell you how -- and if they can't work out how, they'll ask you, per the move.

This is why it's usually better to make this move when you're talking to a witness on an emergency vehicle outside the attack site, so you have more sources of truth to draw from, rather than two days later over invisible pie at the Moonlite All-Nite Diner. Though that last interview can "connect the dots" for you - "The Keeper may choose to describe how something you just discovered relates to something you learned previously."

The Keeper can give you answers to Investigate a Mystery questions from a conversation with an eyewitness in several ways. You could learn what the monster is weak to directly, because an eyewitness saw it stumble into that and how it reacted. You could learn what the monster was going to do indirectly, by piecing together an eyewitness description of the things it took interest in and the rough direction it was headed with the big elaborate map in town hall - of course, it wanted electricity, so it's headed for the old substation up at Radon Canyon! You could learn what's being concealed here by omission, from the pattern of things that the eyewitness lies about with a smile on their face - something's up with the new municipal dog park.

When you run out of Investigate a Mystery questions, that means that for the moment you're out of definite answers. You might still have plenty of evidence, but you can't put it together just yet. Maybe you need to talk the City Council into giving you access to the Hall of Records, or run what you have through the supercomputer at the University of What It Is, or try and track down another eyewitness or the monster itself, to see what more you can learn.

Read a Bad Situation differs from Investigate a Mystery in a couple of important ways:

  • You're experiencing the bad situation currently and with your entire body, meaning that you have ready access to all the information you need to get the answers to the questions you're asking the Keeper. The Keeper just needs to give you a little more narration.

  • Investigate a Mystery can give you information that remains useful over the entire course of the mystery, which might be multiple game sessions! Read a Bad Situation just tells you things that are useful in your current bad situation, which might stop being useful once you've gotten in, dealt with something you didn't notice and protected the victims, leaving you still in a bad situation.


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