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Making death look natural


Steve
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At the end of the day, forensic science is a fairly limited skill.  I don't think there should be an assumption that a successful skill roll will always determine cause of death.  I think the default should be that forensic science works the same as it does in the real world, or at least like it works on TV.  Outside of commonly understood effects (fire, poison, blunt force trauma, etc), it won't reveal anything.  Now, if you're in a campaign where those sorts of attacks are common, then maybe forensic science could reveal something.  So in a weird martial arts anime world, maybe they bring in a kung fu master to check for traces of the Dim Mak technique.  "Oh, a concentration of negative chi here.  Very bad."  But I don't think that is the default setting for a world.

 

Now perhaps magic leaves a trace.  But it isn't a trace that normal forensic science is going to pick up.  I'm reminded of the movie "The Omen" (the original).  People who were going to die would have a small black mark appear on their recent photographs.  Or perhaps you should get on a white horse and try to jump over the corpse.  If the horse refuses, evil magic is at work (that's one way they used to test for vampire graves in certain Eastern European towns).  Or you could check the nests of birds in the area, crack the eggs open and see if any lizards are inside.  A sure sign of a death curse.  Of course, none of this is forensic science.  It's all mumbo jumbo.  Therefore, that would be the appropriate skill.

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At the end of the day, forensic science is a fairly limited skill.  I don't think there should be an assumption that a successful skill roll will always determine cause of death.  I think the default should be that forensic science works the same as it does in the real world, or at least like it works on TV.  Outside of commonly understood effects (fire, poison, blunt force trauma, etc), it won't reveal anything.  Now, if you're in a campaign where those sorts of attacks are common, then maybe forensic science could reveal something.  So in a weird martial arts anime world, maybe they bring in a kung fu master to check for traces of the Dim Mak technique.  "Oh, a concentration of negative chi here.  Very bad."  But I don't think that is the default setting for a world.

 

Now perhaps magic leaves a trace.  But it isn't a trace that normal forensic science is going to pick up.  I'm reminded of the movie "The Omen" (the original).  People who were going to die would have a small black mark appear on their recent photographs.  Or perhaps you should get on a white horse and try to jump over the corpse.  If the horse refuses, evil magic is at work (that's one way they used to test for vampire graves in certain Eastern European towns).  Or you could check the nests of birds in the area, crack the eggs open and see if any lizards are inside.  A sure sign of a death curse.  Of course, none of this is forensic science.  It's all mumbo jumbo.  Therefore, that would be the appropriate skill.

I think we may be talking past each other. You're stating forensic exam can't determine exact cause of death. But I didn't say it could. But it is not a binary result, a ME can very well say "I don't know how he was slain, but I don't think it was natural causes"

 

And that may very well result in an investigation, and if folks you don't like tend to keel over, it will raise questions. And if they all have mysterious heart failure in common that raises major amounts of eyebrow.

 

Even if each is a different odd death it is not believable that it " just happened"

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