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How do you properly accommodate an Investigator Archetype?

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KurtDunn

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« on: <08-06-14/1930:48> »
I'm part of a somewhat bumpy game that involves an investigator archetype, almost directly cast from a 'Sherlock Holmes' mold. He has very high intellect, combined medical, psychology, and forensics skills in order to analyze places and people with complementary rolls. He even has a chemical analyzer cyberware implant for on site analysis. This is using 3rd edition ruleset, if that helps.

The GM and this player are having difficulties (polite ones thankfully) on how he can be useful. The investigator will commonly want to scrutinize places or people, attempting to get more information. However, the GM doesn't want to allow a die roll to become divining rod for plot important people or features. The GM wants the investigator to narrow down what the goal or purpose of the scrutiny is.

This becomes a cyclical problem as, previously stated, the player isn't sure what to look for in most cases, and is just trying to apply their power of observation to find information that he 'doesn't know that he doesn't know.' Understandably the GM doesn't want the player to be able to know all things and everything due to a good roll, especially as that would slow the game down considerably as he first thinks up all the things a general scrutinizing attempt would avail, and then reveal it all (not to mention attempts on places and people that are ultimately unimportant). The GM doesn't want to do all the thinking for the player, however the investigator feels like his archetype doesn't bring a lot to the table and there's a building problem in the group.

Have any GMs here found a way to accommodate ridiculously perceptive and deductive Investigators? Any advice or useful experience in this vein would be appreciated.
« Last Edit: <08-06-14/1954:02> by KurtDunn »

LionofPerth

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« Reply #1 on: <08-13-14/1116:09> »
Depends on the nature of the game to be honest.

Perhaps change up the type of runs the group goes on. That they're more a clean up crew, they need to find out who might have done it, why, that the skills of the player are recognised as being an investigator and a talented one at that.

I'm not saying every run should be one that investigates the work of other Runners, corp clean up teams etc, perhaps every second or third. A long running arc of pursuing another team of Runners, a wet work team, something that he can specifically identify as their work. Something that he can pursue and can be their own preserve, as a character. This is their thing in the campaign.

I'm with the GM to be honest, a player should know what they're looking for, they should have something to say they're after, looking for. I'd accept someone saying 'I'm looking for DNA', but I'd prefer to say 'I'm looking for troll DNA'. Even better would be 'I'm looking for more traces of that troll DNA I found before, then I want other DNA traces.'

Other options would be something akin to what I suggest before, perhaps the team has been set up for a job gone bad, to borrow an idea from a friend, they arrive to do a job and arrive at a blood bath. They have a vested interested in working out who and why. Part of that would be to work out who, in the first place, that's a whole lot of blood, DNA, maybe a few spent casings, bullets to recover. So every so often this particular player can find evidence of this other team, they believe they exist, they need to get the evidence to prove it.

Another option in my mind is tailoring the runs. Using this guys skills and abilities to determine information about where something has moved, how they've moved. Tyre treads with dirt left in them, traces of very particular chemicals people are addicted to. To a degree I'd even go so far to say allow the player to work towards detecting hidden doors, using his abilities to detect residue from finger prints, oils from their skin or cybernetic limbs. Those things have to be lubricated.

If you want to play a more technological angle, have them able to identify features in technology and weapons. That he's, as part of a group, is called in by Lone Star to make Knight Errant look bad by solving the crime faster, better, cleaner, sneakier and quieter. That on this path, he can look at weapons, know if they're fired, maybe how recently. That his skills can earn him some money on the side, maybe even lead into light runs and a credible path out for that character, should retirement be the preferred option.

I'd rather not see a created character killed off simply because the player feels the character goes nowhere, there should be an out, they live their own lives.

If you could offer some notes on the tone of the game, location, I might be able to be more precise, more useful.
When in doubt, C4.

emsquared

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« Reply #2 on: <08-13-14/1634:13> »
There's a couple important things going on here, or that should have gone on. First, either the player (if he is experienced w/ SR) should have had an idea whether his character could readily contribute to game-play in the fashion he wanted (IMO, a high Perception and some Knowledge skills isn't a very good way to contribute, but in the right kind of game I suppose it could be), if he's not experienced, then the GM, when reviewing the PC, should have talked with the player about his PC, and let the player know in advance how the mechanics would be employed in-play. If either of these situations were the case (player knew what he was getting into), there should be no hard feelings on the players part and he should move on. If neither of those things happened (the player didn't know how (in)effective his skill-set would be in play, or the GM didn't tell him) then it's the GM's responsibility to accommodate the choices he allowed the player to make.

Next, there's the question of role-play v. roll-play, and how much should a player be expected to be able to mimic the expertise his PC is supposed to have? The answer, IMO, is that you should have at least a basic understanding and ideas around how a person with your PCs skill-set does their job (though generally, I feel it's like writing, you shouldn't write about things that you dont' know about, because it's not going to come off well). He should absolutely be able to say, "My PC is looking for bruises or cuts on the body, gun-powder residue, hairs, fabrics, cigarette butts, or anything out of place, like muddy footprints in this posh of an apartment complex, or something.", and then get to make his applicable respective Knowledge/Active skill checks. These are things that anyone who's seen an episode of CSI should be able to regurgitate. He should be able to say, "Let's check the ground floor security camera footage for out of place people.", and then be allowed to make a Perception and Judge Intentions checks. If they have a woman suspect, he should be able to make specific references to the type of evidence a woman might leave behind, "I'm looking for lipstick on glasses or cigarettes, or nail-polish chips where the victim was beaten.", or whatever.

This of course means the GM needs to have an idea of what sort of evidence may have been left behind, and should plan accordingly while planning runs. Doesn't mean that evidence needs to lead directly to the bad guy, but if he allowed the player to make this PC with the understanding of the player (including not being told otherwise) that the PC would be useful, then GM needs to make an effort to make the PC useful.

The GM should not expect his PC to say, "I'm looking for needle puncture wounds, and the purple lips and burst eye blood vessels of a poison victim." When the PCs have no reason to expect a poisoning. But in looking for other trauma/wrongful death tell-tales, those things would pop up with an appropriate skill check. He doesn't need to let him figure out all the things, but he needs to figure out a place for the PC.

In this situation, it sounds to me like there's significant onus on both parties that neither are even trying to live up to. Player needs to be able to role-play his PC, and GM needs to give him the opportunity to do what he does (including rolls), because he allowed it to be built.

If the GM isn't crafting runs any deeper than can be found out through 1 layer of physical investigation, that's really his own fault and he shouldn't punish the player after allowing the build, subsequently he just needs to be a little more thoughtful and plan a little bit more carefully.

BetaCAV

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« Reply #3 on: <08-14-14/2222:22> »
One possibility that immediately comes to mind is the addition of an NPC leaving clues specifically for the character to find, to direct or redirect the avenue of inquiry. This could be a perp taunting the investigator, or someone planting red herrings, or an "uninvolved" party who just steers people along, like Harley (but not -- probably). Ideally, it should take several game sessions to determine which it is.

This would allow for the character to get some story-arc spotlight, without "turning to the back of the book".

More generally, don't leave it up to the player to determine when the skill is relevant, if it's going to grind the game down rabbit holes. Presume they're doing their thing and keeping their eyes open, and call for rolls when it matters. Most skills work that way, after all. If you had a Face that wanted to Con everyone they meet out of 5 nuyen, it would be a similar sort of problem. Eventually, someone would have them make one roll for a scene (or session), and just tally up the total.

farothel

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« Reply #4 on: <08-15-14/0631:22> »
It's also a question of player vs character knowledge.  I see it a lot with computer skills.  Some of the players in my group have much better computer skills than I do, especially in the hardware department.  Where they can go in detail on how to put a computer together, I would just say 'I put it all together as it should' and roll my dice to see if it actually works.  The inverse goes with biological and medical stuff, where I know a lot more than most of my players.

In this case it can be (I don't know, I don't know the people involved) that the GM knows a lot more about forensic investigation than the player and therefore expects more explanation than player can provide.  In that case you need a middle ground between what the player can provide, given his RL knowledge, and what the GM expects, given his RL knowledge.
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ZeConster

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« Reply #5 on: <08-15-14/0739:09> »
or an "uninvolved" party who just steers people along, like Harley (but not -- probably)
... And now I'm picturing the Joker in Shadowrun.

KurtDunn

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« Reply #6 on: <08-15-14/0900:21> »
If you could offer some notes on the tone of the game, location, I might be able to be more precise, more useful.

Sure!

The first two games took place in and around Seattle.

The first was a small group being tasked to look into some statistically strange disappearances in the Barrens, with a Corp Kid having gone missing to get the corps' attention. Turned out it was a murder mystery involving a strange set of frightening sacrifices.

The second was on a minor corporate campus, and surrounding areas, where we were tasked to investigate how one of their research subjects were stolen, and to get it back before their higher ups knew it was missing.

The third, and current one, is on a Cruise Ship departing from CAS and going into the Caribbean League, and this is where the big problems have started. It's a rather open ended mission, in which we're tasked to deal with a few small tasks, along the way (at the ports where we pull in) while also attempting to make a CAS Senatorial Candidate unelectable.

LionofPerth

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« Reply #7 on: <08-15-14/1226:04> »
If you could offer some notes on the tone of the game, location, I might be able to be more precise, more useful.

Sure!

The first two games took place in and around Seattle.

The first was a small group being tasked to look into some statistically strange disappearances in the Barrens, with a Corp Kid having gone missing to get the corps' attention. Turned out it was a murder mystery involving a strange set of frightening sacrifices.

The second was on a minor corporate campus, and surrounding areas, where we were tasked to investigate how one of their research subjects were stolen, and to get it back before their higher ups knew it was missing.

The third, and current one, is on a Cruise Ship departing from CAS and going into the Caribbean League, and this is where the big problems have started. It's a rather open ended mission, in which we're tasked to deal with a few small tasks, along the way (at the ports where we pull in) while also attempting to make a CAS Senatorial Candidate unelectable.

Interesting, I think most of my points stand, if they're trying to slime someone like that, you seemingly have the perfect tester for your schemes. If he can pick up DNA like that, you can use them to ensure the work has been done to a high standard, if not a level that a court would find..... worryingly guilty. The question is more how you as a group collect and use said evidence. Again, it seems to me that if you a person so talented and able in forensics, you have the perfect piece to set up the job. The question is more are you willing to go to the stage of using a dead body to do it. Maybe even a high class hooker ends up saying he hired her. Depends how dirty you want to be.

At least, that's how I see it.
When in doubt, C4.

emsquared

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« Reply #8 on: <08-18-14/2017:39> »
Sure!

The first two games took place in and around Seattle.

The first was a small group being tasked to look into some statistically strange disappearances in the Barrens, with a Corp Kid having gone missing to get the corps' attention. Turned out it was a murder mystery involving a strange set of frightening sacrifices.

The second was on a minor corporate campus, and surrounding areas, where we were tasked to investigate how one of their research subjects were stolen, and to get it back before their higher ups knew it was missing.

The third, and current one, is on a Cruise Ship departing from CAS and going into the Caribbean League, and this is where the big problems have started. It's a rather open ended mission, in which we're tasked to deal with a few small tasks, along the way (at the ports where we pull in) while also attempting to make a CAS Senatorial Candidate unelectable.
What are the nature of the rolls the GM is stone-walling the player on?

These are straight up investigative runs, if the PCs are questioning someone they should be allowed to make opposed skill-checks (or at the very least Judge Intentions) if someone is Conning or otherwise trying to deceive them (Etiquette - trying to fit in where they don't belong, Impersonation, etc.), or Perception to notice characteristics or something the suspect might have on them that could link to the case, or knowledge checks appropriate to the type of evidence found.

IMO, the GM straight up ignoring the viability of mechanics on runs like this is just poor GMing. Adversarial GMing, specifically. The point of the game is not to see if he (the GM) is smarter than the players, able to plan a mystery they can't solve or have to agonize over, it's to tell a story and have fun. And it's not (IMO/E) fun to labor and agonize over dragging out any possible clues from a very abstract crime scene (only viewable in the PCs imaginations, which is not as clear a picture as the GMs, and therefore things are likely much more obscure than he envisions).

It is fun to have those PC v NPC interactions, absolutely, but then to see where things lead, and yes, somewhere along the way roll dice. That's why you build a PC. If you just want to do a narrative investigation, you don't need quantified attributes and skills to do it. You don't need Shadowrun, and that's not really Shadowrun (or any table-top RPG with dice-mechanics) without the rolls.

Again, if a single simple revelation through a die roll is enough to give up the goose on the whole run, that just means the GM didn't do a very good job planning it.