GUMSHOE doesn’t care. It doesn’t care whether a clue is easy to interpret, like a matchbook with a phone number on it, or as hard the Van Gaal code. It doesn’t care what a clue is; a physical object, a realisation, an NPC’s throw-away comment or a simple signpost. It doesn’t care where it is in space or time. A trail of clues can lead you back to the very place you started, with enough extra information gathered on your journey to find something new. GUMSHOE doesn’t care which ability you use to get a lead, only that there is at least one ability which can do the job.
GUMSHOE doesn’t care whether benefits gained from characters’ abilities are pre-determined, offered by the GM, or suggested by the players. It doesn’t care what those abilities are, or how they function. It only cares that there is a match between abilities and information, benefits or interpersonal interaction in the games’ fiction.
GUMSHOE doesn’t care if your character is getting attention by intimidating a suspect, researching a discarded coin or mixing a reagent. It just cares that all players get their chance to shine in the spotlight.
GUMSHOE doesn’t care whether your adventure is pre-planned or improvised, whether it’s a published adventure with carefully crafted scenes, a structure like a peeled onion, a single page with bullet points, or just an idea in the GM’s head. It doesn’t care if abilities lead you into trouble, difficult moral choices, or the wrong direction entirely. It doesn’t care if the game is about players interpreting clues or characters interpreting clues. It doesn’t care if the use of the system is to get the flow of information out of the way, or make it central. It only cares that information that all players want to make available, is made available, to the person who should have it in the game’s fiction.
GUMSHOE takes care of information. You take care of the rest.