I want to have my cake and eat it too. Give me a system where the default puts the onus of clue-deciphering and people-influencing on the player, but give that player some sort of scarce resource they can spend to make the issue mechanical. “Listen, Mr. DM, I’m sick of trying to figure your damn riddle out. I’m just gonna spend a MetaPoint to turn the problem into a Knowledge (History) check.”
Independent of the fruitful and interesting discussion of another way to handle mental stats in D&D, Jeff’s comment jumped out at me because I think many RPGs — and gaming groups — need a mechanic like this.
I’ve been on both sides of this one: watching my players beat their heads against a problem and wishing there was something I could do as a GM that didn’t feel like a cop-out, and descending into drooling boredom while trying to figure out a puzzle as a player. Both problems could be neatly solved, or very nearly solved, by this simple rules tweak.
What do you think?