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Using a Library

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 148
Every library has two primary statistics: a Complexity rating, which reflects the intricacy or confusing nature of the library’s contents, and knowledge points (abbreviated kp), which are an abstract representation of the sum of the library’s collected information.

To research a specific topic or question within a library, a character must succeed at a Research check, using one of the skills listed in the library’s stat block. Stat blocks for sample libraries are listed here. A Research check is akin to a Knowledge check, though each library stat block lists the specific skills that can be used for Research checks based on the nature of that library’s collections. A library’s Complexity rating serves as the DC for Research checks that attempt to unravel that library’s clues.

Attempting a Research check requires an uninterrupted 8-hour period of research, and a character cannot take 10 or 20 on a Research check. Each 8-hour period of research grants a cumulative +1 bonus on Research checks. If a researcher stops researching at the same library for a month or more, she loses any cumulative bonuses gained for that library thus far. Up to two additional characters can use the aid another action to assist a primary researcher. In addition, some libraries grant a Knowledge bonus—a bonus on specific Knowledge checks (including Research checks) attempted within that library—due to the depth and completeness of its collections. Research checks cannot normally be attempted untrained unless the library’s Complexity is 10 or lower, the Research check involves a skill that allows untrained checks, or the library’s collection is extensive enough to allow untrained checks, as detailed in the library’s stat block.

Succeeding at a Research check reduces a library’s knowledge points, similar to dealing damage to a creature’s hit points. As its knowledge points decrease, a library reveals its secrets. Characters learn information when a library’s knowledge points reach various research thresholds, as detailed in each library’s stat block. The amount of knowledge points reduced on a successful Research check depends on the nature of the primary researcher and the type of library. It is generally a reflection of the character’s training and Intelligence score, represented by a die roll modified by the character’s ability modifier (see Research by Expertise, below).

In addition to these base amounts, for every 5 by which a Research check exceeds the library’s Complexity rating, the library’s knowledge points are reduced by 1 additional point. Rolling a natural 20 on a Research check acts like a critical threat. If the researcher confirms the critical hit by succeeding at a second Research check with all the same modifiers (this takes no additional time), the resulting knowledge point reduction is doubled. Conversely, rolling a natural 1 on a Research check automatically results in failure, and the library’s knowledge points increase by 1/4 of the library’s maximum knowledge points as the library’s complexity causes a researcher to follow a wrong avenue of investigation.

When a library’s knowledge points are reduced to 0, the characters have learned everything they can from that library, and gain experience points according to the library’s CR. To learn additional information, they must visit another library and continue their research there.

Research by Expertise

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 148
A successful Research check reduces a library’s knowledge points by a certain amount, just as a successful attack roll in combat reduces a creature’s hit points, and this amount depends on the primary researcher’s training in the skill she used for the Research check. A primary researcher reduces a library’s kp by 1d12 + her Intelligence modifier if she has either 10 ranks in the skill, Skill Focus in the skill, or both 5 ranks in the skill and the skill as a class skill. She reduces a library’s kp by 1d8 + her Intelligence modifier if she has either 5 ranks in the skill or the skill is a class skill for her (but not both). Otherwise, she reduces a library’s kp by 1d4 + her Intelligence modifier.

Alternate Ability Scores: At the GM’s discretion, a character with an ability that replaces her Intelligence score with another ability score for the purpose of Knowledge checks (such as a lore oracle or shaman) can also use that ability score instead of Intelligence to determine the reduction of kp. Beyond that, characters well suited for research in a particular library might modify the result of the die roll with a different ability modifier. For instance, a brawler or fighter carrying out research in a fighting school’s library might add her Strength modifier instead of her Intelligence modifier to the result. With the variety of options available to characters in the form of character classes, archetypes, prestige classes, and other customizable selections, it’s ultimately up to the GM to decide which characters are best suited for research in a particular library.

Character Class Variant: In this variant, how much a library’s kp are reduced depends on the researching character’s class, rather than on her training in the listed skill. For the purposes of this variant, character classes can be divided into three broad researcher categories: polymaths, scholars, and novices. Polymaths are characters with the ability to attempt any Knowledge check untrained, such as bards, loremasters, and skalds. A polymath reduces a library’s kp by 1d12 + the character’s Intelligence modifier with a successful Research check. Scholars are academic characters, including Intelligence-based spellcasters, alchemists, investigators, lore shamans, and lore oracles. A scholar reduces a library’s kp by 1d8 + the character’s Intelligence modifier with a successful Research check. All other characters are considered novices, being either uneducated or untrained in scholarly research. A novice reduces a library’s kp by 1d4 + the character’s Intelligence modifier with a successful Research check.

However, certain character classes might be better suited for research in specific libraries that have collections focusing on fields of study particularly relevant to those classes and their abilities. For example, a cleric or inquisitor researching in a religious library connected to her faith might be considered a scholar or even a polymath instead of a novice, or a cavalier or warpriest undertaking research at a famous war college might be considered a scholar while arcanists and wizards are treated as novices.