This is an interesting conundrum, because actions (like Examine) whose chief function is to print a response rather than change the game world in any way might philosophically have at least generic response mechanics print their responses in the ‘Carry out’ rules for that action. This is indeed what happens in the Standard Rules for Examine.
This creates a difficulty however because, although it’s not emphasised in the I7 documentation, once the action has passed the Check stage, and has therefore succeeded, there is no way to stop it triggering the After and/or Report stages.
Using ‘stop the action’ in a Carry out rule, contrary to what one might expect from the description of this phrase in the documentation, does not stop the action continuing on to follow the After and/or Report rulebooks.
Examine deals with this by printing the object’s description, or the stock response 'You see nothing unusual about the [noun]." in the Carry out stage and having a Report stage which then runs but only prints a stock response in the case of a non-player actor doing the examining “[The actor] [look] closely at [the noun].”, printing nothing extra if it was the player doing the examining- the job having been already done in the Carry out stage.
The problem in replicating this way of doing things with the ‘Ask something about’ action is that the Report rule as written in the Standard Rules by default always prints the response “[There] [are] no reply.” .
There are however many of ways of avoiding this rule from firing after printing a reply.
(i) print the reply in a Before, Instead, After or Check rule. Instead or After rules will by default stop the action from proceeding to further stages without you having to say so, but Before or Check rules also allow the use of ‘stop the action’ to stop the action in its tracks without proceeding any further.
(ii) print the reply in a Report rule, as zarf suggests, then immediately terminate he Report stage with ‘rule succeeds’ to prevent the default response rule ever being reached
(iii) do it like Examine- print the reply or any stock response to the player asking in Carry out rules and remove the Report rule that normally prints the ‘There is no reply’ stock response to the player asking something about:
The block asking rule is not listed in any rulebook.
This works fine because for asking something about, nothing is reported anyway for actors other than the player doing the asking. If we were dealing with an action like Examine that requires a report for non-player actors, we could either leave the existing report rule in place but intercept actions where the player is doing the asking with:
Report the player asking something about:
or replace the existing rule entirely with one that prints a response only for non-player actors
My new report .....ing rule is listed instead of the ..... ....ing rule in the report ....ing rules.
Good form might (philosophically at least) suggest that if there is going to be a reply, the ‘asking something about’ action should be allowed to succeed, so the reply should be printed in the Carry out, After or Report stages by one of the methods described above.