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Anachronistic Adventurers: The Investigator

publication date: Jan 3, 2012
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“At length, sick with longing for those glittering sunset streets and cryptical hill lanes among ancient tiled roofs, nor able sleeping or waking to drive them from his mind, Carter resolved to go with bold entreaty whither no man had gone before, and dare the icy deserts through the dark to where unknown Kadath, veiled in cloud and crowned with unimagined stars, holds secret and nocturnal the onyx castle of the Great Ones.”

—H.P. Lovecraft, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath

The investigator is a searcher for answers, a solver of riddles, and an explorer of the unknown. While many investigators fall into the broad category of “detective,” the class can be used to represent anyone skilled at gathering information, forming theories, and applying knowledge gained in new and innovative ways. Reporters who seek to uncover the truth, scientists who wish to discover the fundamental laws of nature, inventors who want to create new devices, and even physicians who seek to understand diseases and heal the sick are all examples of investigators. Investigators apply knowledge and intelligence the way warriors apply brute force, as their primary tool in overcoming challenges. In so doing, they are often able to solve an extremely broad range of problems.

Of course investigators are often asking questions others would prefer go unanswered. Such inquiries can make enemies, and often have consequences. Occasionally tracking down murderers in the dark alleys of Whitechapel, deciphering Babylonian books bound in human skin, experimenting with alien technology, or asking too many questions about mysterious cults, create such bizarre consequences the investigators end up in fantasy realms where the mysteries are far more deadly, and the resources at their disposal much more primitive.

The “modern” person of great education and intellect being stuck in a more primitive, fantasy-themed world is a common trope in a great deal of adventure fiction, especially the “time travel adventure fiction” more common in the early part of the 20th century than today, but still very popular with a wide range of gamers (and game writers). The investigator is the second in a line of Anachronistic Adventurers products designed to provide rules for running modern (or near-modern) heroes in a typical fantasy roleplaying game setting. While it’s impossible to address every possible issue that might arise for such characters (can the adherent of a modern, real-world religion become a cleric?), each product in the line will look at one area where the modern and fantasy realms are most likely to overlap and give guidance for running heroic anachronisms.

We also discuss some rules useful in dealing with the detective tropes common to fiction in a number of genres, including gathering clues, preventing investigations from taking over a campaign, making sure a bad die roll never brings a mystery adventure to a total standstill, and the advantages of advanced scientific knowledge. Finally we touch on the idea of Progress Levels (PL), a simple way to determine the general technological advancement of a campaign (and outlined in more detail in Anachronistic Adventurers: The Enforcer).



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