I'm trying to get my head around how the gumshoe system works, and although most of it is relatively straightforward, there was one thing I'm not absolutely certain on.

A player spends points to gain both investigative and general abilities. For investigative abilities, does the size of the pool for each ability equal the rank in that ability, or do they have to spent one point to get the ability in the first place, and then additional points to buy points for their pool?

My primary interest is in Mutant City Blues.


The number of points you spend on an ability is your rating in it.

That's it. It's no more complicated than it seems. There's no spending additional points to "unlock" abilities. Investigative abilities are bought exactly the same way as general abilities, except that you spend from a separate pool of points.

(If you did have to waste a point to take an ability, the investigative skill points pools would be much too small, leaving some skills uncovered - a disaster in Gumshoe.)

Unfortunately, this is so simple the author didn't include an example. (There used to be a set of official sample characters online which illustrated this nicely - there being more than five, each had exactly 21 points of investigative skills. Unfortunately I can no longer find this sheet up for public access.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I still have a private copy of the sample characters - catch me in chat and I'll send you the saved web page. \$\endgroup\$ – Tynam Mar 19 '14 at 16:38

GUMSHOE games typically say that a rating of 1 in an Investigative skill is enough to show the character is competent in that field. A rating of 2 indicates a professional, and a rating of 3 is expert. There is probably no reason to get a rating of 4 in anything but Languages (for when you want someone like Indiana Jones).

And all Abilities are purchased on a 1 to 1 basis during character creation and experience. Some GUMSHOE games have guidelines about swapping General points for Investigative at a bit of a loss, or giving your points to another PC.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.