As a player, it’s always safe to assume that your GM knows way more about the game-world than you do. Often, GMs will only disclose the minimum amount of clues or details necessary to get a party moving. Here are three things you can do to draw out a bit more information than your omniscient GM chooses to gift to you in the first place.
Find out what your character might already know. Ask the GM if your PC has come across or heard rumours about (X) dungeon/spaceship/NPC/fungus in the past. The more reasonable or likely this exposure seems according to your backstory, the better shot you’ve got as some free info! Alternatively, see if your GM will let you roll a skill or knowledge check to determine your chance familiarity with the (X) in question.
“Phone a Friend”
Contact a friendly NPC. Sometimes there isn’t one nearby or time enough to seek one out, but if you can make it work it’s worth a try! Remind your GM that even if your particular NPC doesn’t know anything about (X), they may know of someone else who does.
“Ask the Audience”
Mine the local population of intelligent species nearest to the (X) for what they know. This may involve spending some hard-earned currency or just a few successfully persuasive dialogues, but either way the potential information yield can make it well worth the effort. While helping out locals in exchange for information might seem tedious at the time, it’s far better to succeed at your objective later than to die trying it while underprepared!
Quick Tip: Be Wary of False Information!
Sometimes your GM might feed you red herrings or even outright false information. This can be the result of exceptionally poor knowledge or investigation attempts or because of a misinformed/blackmailed/overly suspicious NPC. Used in moderation, misinformation isn’t always a bad thing as it can provide exciting plot twists and is, frankly, a little bit more true to life. So, if you as a player suspect misinformation, remember to carefully consider whether or not your character would have any reason to be suspicious before trying to dig too deeply.