Investigation Skill

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Investigation Skill
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Investigation is the art and science of solving mysteries, examining seemingly disparate evidence to find a connection, answering riddles and overcoming paradoxes. It not only allows your character to get into the head of a killer to grasp his motives or plans, it allows her to look beyond the mundane world to guess at answers to mysterious problems, or to have a 'eureka' moment that offers insight into baffling circumstances. Your character might realize that all murder victims have the same digits jumbled in their phone numbers, she might interpret a dream that has striking similarities to events in the real world, or she could recognize why an intruder took the time to paint a room red. Certain individuals such as law-enforcement officers, forensic specialists, scientists and investigators are trained in the art of examination, while others simply develop the knack through years of practice.

Note that Investigation is different from the perception Attribute task detailed on p. 45. Perception (Wits + Composure or Wits + another Skill) is typically checked when a character could spot something unusual or amiss when she isn't actually looking for it. Investigation-based rolls are typically made when a character actively studies a situation. Dots in Investigation don't give a character sudden insight or capability in the realms of other Skills, however. She can't miraculously identify changing brushstrokes in a painting, for example. That would be the realm of Academics Skill or Crafts Skill. But she might identify how the placement of paintings throughout a house creates a pattern and imparts a message.

General Roll Results

Examining a Crime Scene

Dice Pool: Wits + Investigation + equipment
Action: Extended (3-10+ successes; one roll represents 10 minutes of activity)
Suggested Equipment: Forensic kit (+1), surveillance gear (parabolic mikes, night-vision goggles, laser mikes) (+1), unrestricted access to the scene (+2), access to government databases (+3)
Possible Penalties: Weather obscures scene (-1 to - 3), scene has been compromised by intruders (-1 to -5), lack of forensic equipment (-3)

Examining a crime scene involves studying evidence and clues to piece together useful facts about events, perpetrators or a mystery. Roll Wits + Investigation. Each roll represents 10 minutes of observation and interpretation, and possibly referencing databases and calling expert witnesses. Depending on the size of the crime scene and the complexity and obscurity of details, the task could demand anywhere from three to 10 successes (or more) for your character to make sense of things.

Unlike many tasks, this isn't an all-or-nothing effort. If your character has to abandon the project before it's completed, he may still come away with some useful information depending on the number of successes earned.

The Storyteller should share information each time a roll yields a success, starting with the most obvious facts and revealing increasingly obscure bits as the investigation continues. At no time should the player know how many successes are needed to complete the analysis Ñ he should always wonder whether his character should invest a little more time and dig deeper. Storytellers may choose to make these rolls for players in secret to add uncertainty and suspense.

Example: Andrea Ward is called to the scene of a murder at a local park. Taking stock of the situation, she studies the area around the body to try and piece together what happened. The Storyteller decides that it takes eight successes to gather all the clues available. Andrea's Wits is 3 and her Investigation is 2. The first roll is 5,6,7,8,9. With two successes, Andrea has gathered a quarter of the information available. The Storyteller reveals that the victim died due to massive blood loss, but there are no bloodstains around the corpse. At this point, Janet can continue to investigate or decide that she's seen enough and move on.

Roll Results

Solving Enigmas

Dice Pool: Intelligence + Investigation + equipment
Action: Instant or extended (3-10+ successes; one roll represents one hour of activity)
Suggested Equipment: Internet access (+1), code-deciphering computer programs (+2), extensive reference library (+2), extensive library dedicated to the specific subject matter in question (+3)
Possible Penalties: No reference library (-1); distracting phenomena in area, from noise (-1) to dangers (-4); incomplete clues (-1 to -5)

A man scrawls a bizarre message before he dies. A ghost utters some cryptic, haunting words that are the clues to freeing the spirit from this world. A killer leaves a hint to his next crime. Your character is posed with a perplexing mystery, riddle, puzzle, code or series of clues to contemplate. Sometimes these brainteasers can be solved quickly, such as a short riddle meant to lead your character to his next destination. Such conundrums might be solved with a simple success and an instant action. Other stumpers demand consideration, research, interpretation and/or legwork - an extended action. For your character to understand what "Blue Heron" written in blood means, she needs to look into the murder victim's past and do research into what the term itself is applied.

Often times, such an enigma goes unsolved until the required successes are gained. Partial insights along the way aren't forthcoming, because the elements of the answer don't make sense until they're all gathered. When they are, eureka!

Roll Results


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