Of Monsters and Men
Investigation is the ability to actively look for things and, hopefully, find them, such as searching a room or looking for a hidden enemy. Characters with Investigation include trackers, scouts and city guards (some of them, anyway).
Investigation is also used for eavesdropping, or whenever observing something over a period of time. It can also be used for assessments (see page 61) when looking for deep patterns and hidden flaws. Investigation is the flipside of Alertness: mindful, deliberate perception, in contrast to the passive Alertness, meaning an equivalent Investigation effort yields better, more in-depth information than Alertness; the downside is that Investigation is far more
Finding Hidden Things
When searching for something specific, keep Investigation difficulties at Mediocre (+0), using shifts to determine how long the search takes. If there’s a reason the thing in question shouldn’t be found, it’s usually better to declare it unfindable due to a critical missing piece that would “unlock” access, in which case don’t bother with a roll but rather put the players on the path to discovering that missing piece. It could be equipment, a key, or a magic password: once it’s in place, the difficulty should return to normal.
If characters are searching an area for hidden things like clues, the guidelines for Alertness apply: use a Mediocre (+0) difficulty, make sure the characters can find something, and that whatever it is suggests a course of action.
If in doubt about setting difficulties for finding things, aim low, and avoid derailing the game because players failed to find something. It may seem less challenging or interesting if the Investigation roll is easy, but in this situation that isn’t the case: lack of information is frustrating to players, and for those who enjoy finding secret panels, figuring out clues, and so on, the challenge is less in finding them than working out what to do with them once found. And there’s the rub: hidden items don’t come with built-in explanations. Position your story in the things the players find, not those they don’t, and remember: if there’s nothing to find, don’t make them roll.
Investigation can also be used for declarations, similar to the “Declaring Minor Details” Academics trapping. It allows investigators to make Sherlock Holmes-like declarations, asserting minor details about a scene, and confirming their assertions with a successful roll. For more on clues and information management, see page 289.
Scene of the Crime (Investigation)
A character revisiting a place where he’s used Investigation before may spend a few seconds immediately on an Investigation roll to determine what’s changed since he was last there, as if it were an unusually detailed Alertness check.
Eye for Detail (Investigation)
Requires Scene of the Crime
With a little concentration the character can recall any place he’s been to in exacting detail, sometimes even finding details he hadn’t consciously noticed before. To do so, the character spends a Fate point, and make a perception roll (usually, but not always, Investigation) to search things as if still at the scene, no matter how long ago he left.
Uncanny Hunch (Investigation)
Requires at least one other Investigation stunt and one Empathy stunt
Sometimes your hunches play out to great advantage. Once per scene, you may guess what the “deal” is with a character, object, location or situation. Don’t say it out loud, but note it down and pass it to the Story Teller, who must accept it as a valid hunch that would be something of a revelation if true (ie nothing too obvious, like “I’m convinced that the ocean is made of water!”). If the hunch later proves correct, you may use Investigation or Empathy instead of any other skill concerning its target for one exchange. (A savvy Story Teller occasionally alters her characters’ motives to match your hunches, which is absolutely perfect!)
Lip Reading (Investigation)
The character can use Investigation to eavesdrop on conversations he can only see. If the Story Teller normally allows lip-reading attempts, the Investigation difficulty is reduced by two.
Focussed Senses (Investigation)
The character can concentrate on one sense to the exclusion of the others; the sense must be specified when the stunt is taken. With a few moments concentration, the character enters a focussed state, gaining a +2 bonus to all Investigation actions using the focussed sense as long, and a corresponding -2 to all non-Investigation rolls due to the
You may take the stunt multiple times, each time for a separate sense; the focus covers all selected senses at once.
Impossible Detail (Investigation)
Requires Focussed Senses
The character’s senses operate at a profound level, allowing him to perceive details no one else can. It’s still a deliberate search, rather than a casual use better suited to Alertness. With the stunt, you incur no increased difficulties due to the smallness or subtlety of physical details. For example, the difficulty to detect nearly any poison is reduced to Mediocre (+0).
Using this stunt may colour the details a Story Teller reveals on a successful Investigation roll; let the Story Teller know you have this stunt when rolling Investigation.
Quick Eye (Investigation)
The character can search locations much more quickly than others, while remaining thorough. Searching takes one to two steps less on the Time Increments Table (page178), allowing the character to make one or two additional rolls in the same time, or conclude the search faster.