Skip to main content

When is a Clue Not a Clue?

When it's a 0-point spend.

The 0-point spend is the forgotten sibling of the core clue and the Investigative spend. Whereas the core clue is essential to progress through the adventure and the Investigative spend primarily makes the characters look more badass, the 0-point spend is about adding color to the adventure and the setting.

As the name implies, the 0-point spend is free. Like a core clue, you can give your players a 0-point spend if they are in the right place and describe how their character is using an appropriate ability. The effect is a bit of information that someone with that ability would gain in that place, but having that information will not necessarily move them forward in their investigation. Nor will it provide them with any of the concrete benefits of a full Investigative spend.

Basically, the 0-point spend is there if the GM has a really interesting piece of descriptive detail or adventure background that is too good to leave on the page but which may not be obvious to just anyone walking around the scene. Did you stumble on a really interesting fact about restaurant kitchens in the 1930s, and you want to work it into your Trail of Cthulhu adventure? Set a scene in a restaurant kitchen and pepper it with 0-point spends tied to your Investigators' abilities (probably Craft, Credit Rating, or even Chemistry or Pharmacy).

The secret is to keep handing out 0-point spends until your players get bored. As long as they stay interested, you can keep feeding them information. Hopefully, if you build a convincing enough picture, it may even help them solve the mystery quicker. At the very least, you reinforce the value of their Investigative abilities and remind them that they are still highly competent, even if they've spent all of their pool points.

Popular posts from this blog

Dungeon Crate, May 2016

For my birthday last month, my friends got me a subscription to DungeonCrate.  This service is the RPG-focused entry in the current "crate" craze, where you pay a subscription fee and a box of themed stuff is sent to your home monthly, quarterly, or whatever. Well, my first crate arrived today, and I thought I'd go through it here on the blog.

Discworld RPG Review

The Discworld Roleplaying Game is a standalone fantasy RPG written by Phil Masters with rules based on GURPS Fourth Edition by Steve Jackson Games. It is the second edition of Discworld RPG, following the original GURPS Discworld published in 1998 and reprinted under the Discworld RPG name in 2002.

For those who may not be familiar, Discworld is the setting of an extremely popular series of fantasy novels written by Sir Terry Pratchett. The Disc consists of a flat, circular plane resting on the backs of four elephants who in turn stand on the shell of an enormous turtle which swims through space. It began as a fairly traditional — if satirical — fantasy world, but through over 40 novels, Pratchett advanced the setting into a rich canvas on which to poke fun at the peculiarities of modern life.

The first edition of the Discworld RPG was based on GURPS Third Edition, and it included GURPS Lite, a pared down version of the core system. Still, it relied perhaps too much on knowledge of th…

Voting Is Live For The 2016 Ennie Awards

The 2016 Ennie Awards are now open for voting. Go to to vote for the great gaming products in two dozen categories.

While you’re there, I hope you’ll consider voting for It’s Element-ary! for Best Family Game. I’m up against some very worthy competition, and I’m honored just to be nominated. But who knows what could happen, right?