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Maccabe

what would you call this skill?

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I've often had characters who want to gather information from people in a crime scene area or such.  Much like what the police, private investigators , and nosy reporters and  do. I wondered how to do that.

In your mind is [skill;conversation] enough or should I do it some other way?

 

Policing: [ INT based] This skill allows the user to find someone who has some information regarding a crime and ask them pointed questions.

   [example] did you see who did this?  what kind of car were they driving, which way did they go, etc...

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Conversation would work, but it does not feel quite right, at least not on its own.  What you are describing seems to be more structured than simply chatting to someone.  

 

There are probably several steps to this process.  In real life, officers may go door to door and speak to everyone and 90%+ of those they speak to will not know anything useful.

 

From a game POV there are a number of challenges.

 

First identifying who you want to speak to.  Your Policing idea is a good one - you could do it as PS Policing (or Investigation or Canvassing or whatever), but you could also use Streetwise.

 

Next you need to get the witness to talk to you.  For some it will be enough that you are in uniform and the Conversation skill probably works well enough there.  For others the uniform will be a negative and you might need to use police powers (so you will need a relevant Perk) to detain and question them, and you may need Interrogation for that. 

 

In the middle ground, you might even use Bribery or Persuasion to get someone to open up to you, or even Oratory to appeal to someone in the crowd to come forward.

 

Ultimately you want to give the players the information so it is a balancing act between doling it out and making them feel they have worked for it and spent their character points wisely.

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20 minutes ago, Sean Waters said:

Ultimately you want to give the players the information so it is a balancing act between doling it out and making them feel they have worked for it and spent their character points wisely.

 

I fully endorse the idea that you want to give the players the information.  It is slightly more work but if you had four versions of the truth that they might get depending on what they try and how successful their rolls are you can drive the scenario in a couple of different ways...

 

Doc

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9 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

I fully endorse the idea that you want to give the players the information.  It is slightly more work but if you had four versions of the truth that they might get depending on what they try and how successful their rolls are you can drive the scenario in a couple of different ways...

 

Doc

 

Seriously, that.  The group I play with it can be like herding cats.

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We actually have a similar Thread:

 

1 hour ago, Maccabe said:

Policing: [ INT based] This skill allows the user to find someone who has some information regarding a crime and ask them pointed questions.

The downside would be that you can not make a police officer that is just bad at this part of the work.

PS: Policing presumably also includes stuff like "doing Paperwork".

Interogation in the Precinct setting

Knowledge of the streets on your city part

And if you give it to players, you can bet they will try to find new ways to use something so poorly defined. You know, stuff like it replacing Weapon Skill or even Weapon Repair skill for pistols, Quickdraw and just about any other gun related skill.

 

 

I want to try something new for these challenges/questions, and that is to look how other Systems dealt with it.

Warhammer Fantasy:

Charm, Intimidate and event Torture might apply for a uncooperative witness (hates the police or whatever). But you need to know someone is lying/omitting something to even know to try. So that does not solve the problem.

Gossip might work, but only for "easy" information. Stuff they want to talk about anyway or at least do not mind. But it is also a "Racial Skill" for all Humans.

 

Shadowrun 4E:

Assensing and the Judge Intentions derived score might be used to figure out someone is lying.

Con, Negotiation and Leadership could be used to convince a unwilling informant

Ettiquette might also have a palce (like Warhammer Fantasy Gossip)

 

Hero 6E:

Bribery, Charm, Interrogation, Persuasion can be used to convince a unwilling Witness Oratory might work too, if you do not know a specific person who might have omitted/lied towards you

Conversation matche the Ettiquette/Gossip Scenario of the other systems. The way to get the low level information.

Streetwise/High Society act as complimentary skills

And we could not agree what even to use to detect a lie/omission

 

 

37 minutes ago, Sean Waters said:

Ultimately you want to give the players the information so it is a balancing act between doling it out and making them feel they have worked for it and spent their character points wisely.

 

15 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

I fully endorse the idea that you want to give the players the information.  It is slightly more work but if you had four versions of the truth that they might get depending on what they try and how successful their rolls are you can drive the scenario in a couple of different ways... 

I want to point out that OpenLegends has two interesting options for failing the roll:
"Success with a Twist" (like an additional challenge at the next step)

"Failure but the Adventure continues" (you might notice someone was lying and you need to apply interrogation)

 

If it is information you need the players to have, you will have the alternative route pre-mapped (hopefully). But there is still a bonus to having good rolls.

 

5 minutes ago, Sean Waters said:

Seriously, that.  The group I play with it can be like herding cats.

And my group just had a case where 3 Characters failed 3 Spot checks each in a row. For a critical piece of information.

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The problem with multiple possible outcomes is that is a lot more work for the GM, and I’m not generally in favour of that 😊

 

You can structure things though so that most of the scenario bits you write will have to be completed and the important thing is doing them in the right order (otherwise it may make no sense to the PCs) and doing it quickly because this is a time sensitive mission.  It feels more freeform than it actually is, but it is like an escape room - you have to do all the bits, to get to the end, except for a few red herrings.

 

So…

 

Luigi Linguini, mob boss, has been trying to increase his revenue stream, which is usually fed by drugs and prostitution, to the lucrative area of child pornography, the bastard.

 

Fiona Fettuccini is a working girl and sometime squeeze on the side of Linguini.  No angel, but heart of gold.

 

Robbie Ravioli is a small time dealer who works indirectly for Linguini and was with Fettuccini when they both saw four frightened kids being delivered to one of Linguini’s warehouses three days ago.  Fettuccini took a picture on her phone which shows the kids and Linguini in the frame.  Ravioli and Fettuccini are low lives, but that is far beyond what either of them are happy to turn a blind eye to.  They have been making not so discrete enquiries about what Linguini is up to and meeting up to discuss their options, and they have decided that they have no choice but to go to the police.  Tonight word got back to Linguini and he had a couple of his boys drive the streets looking for them.  They shot Ravioli and bundled Fettuccini into a car to take her back to Linguini who plans to interrogate her to find out what she knows and who she told before killing her.

 

Hungry Henry is a former history professor who suffered a serious mental breakdown and is now homeless and on the streets.  Hungry Henry loves hamburgers.  He was the sole witness to the shooting of Ravioli and the kidnapping of Fettuccini.  He can give some details of the car and the two men in it and is the only one who knows that Fettuccini has been taken.  He can describe her but he does not know who she is.

 

Rachel Ravioli is Robbie’s wife and she’s pretty mad at him because he has been hanging round with Fettuccini and acting all secretive for several days, and she suspects they are having an affair.  She will be an emotional wreck when she finds out he is dead but recognises Fettuccini from Hungry Henry’s description, but only if she is specifically asked.

 

Peter Penne and Steve Sagnarelli are the two heavies who offed Ravioli and took Fettuccini back to Linguini, and all four are at the warehouse where Linguini is threatening to move into snuff movies.  Fettuccini is threatening him with the photograph and trying to exchange her life for the phone’s location.

 

The PCs respond to a call – gunshots heard, possible shooting and find a crowd around Ravioli’s body.  Initial enquiries (appropriate social skills) reveal that none of the bystanders were present when the shooting occurred.  There are no street cameras in this part of town.  If the PCs can work out who was first on the scene and get them to talk they find out that Hungry Henry was there when they arrived, but he’s gone now, the mad old bugger.

 

PCs can:

1.       Speak to Ravioli’s wife (Conversation, Persuasion).  She can tell them about Fettuccini, but unless they have spoken to Henry they won’t know she is missing and might waste some time looking for her.

2.       Try to find Henry (Streetwise) and talk to him (Bribery – he will only talk in exchange for hamburgers). He can tell them that Ravioli was shot by two men in a grey sedan with the bumper hanging off and that they took a girl who he can describe.

3.       Try to find more witnesses – there are none, so that just wastes time, but make them make several rolls and, possibly have some gloryhound called Andy Anelli come forward with a story they will have to discount, just to waste their time.  He describes a guy in a white Impala shooting Ravioli.  The white Impala is real and belongs to the Anelli's neighbour who Anelli hates because he had an affair with Angela Anelli, Andy's wife.

4.       Check cameras at local intersections.  They won’t find anything unless they know about the bumper hanging off the sedan as there are just too many vehicles and they won't see Fettuccini – there was a collision at a red light less than a block away and a grey sedan drove away with the bumper hanging off.  Cameras can ID the plate and it can be traced to Peter Penne, but he’s not at home and his car is not there.  Further enquiries will eventually trace it, but by then Fettuccini has met her end.  Steve Sagnarelli is a known associate and they are both known to work for Linguini.  Linguini has a lot of properties across the city.  He is not at home and it going to take far too long to check them all.

5.       Check at Fettuccini’s place. Another girl who lives there, Therese Taglierini, can tell the PCs that Fettuccini has been acting jumpy for some days and left her phone with Taglierini, but she pawned it, she'll get it back Friday.  Fettuccini’s been her hanging round with someone who fits Ravioli’s description but only for the last few days.  She assumed Fettuccini was jumpy because of Ravioli.  She was talking about going to the police but was clearly scared.

6.       It is the middle of the night and the pawn shop is closed.  The PCs can break in, try and find the owner or get a warrant.  Breaking in is quickest, but might cause problems later down the line with chains of evidence and such.

7.       The picture on the phone is clearly of a warehouse near the docks and shows someone who could be Linguini and four frightened kids.  There are missing person reports for two of them, one of them is diabetic.  If you want to you can have some fun with them trying to guess the unlock code.

8.       This leads them to the warehouse.  Depending on how long they took, Fettuccini might be mildly distressed, badly beaten or dead.  There are four traumatised kids in cages.  One is in a diabetic coma and may not make it if the PCs have dawdled too much.  Linguini will try to escape and get Penne and Sagnarelli to cover his get away along with however many other goons you need to make it an interesting fight.

9.       Aftermath: best case scenario, everyone (apart from Ravioli) lives and Linguni  is arrested at the warehouse and is taken into custody and Fettuccini agrees to testify against him.  There might be some shenanigans providing protective custody.  Worst case scenario, the warehouse is empty by the time they arrive, except for Fettuccini's body.  Linguini gets away and the phone evidence gets thrown out either because they obtained it illegally or because the picture identifying Linguini is not clear enough.  The kids are never found.  Linguini will arrange to have the PCs watched and may cause them further problems down the line.

 

I obviously don't have enough to do...

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5 hours ago, Maccabe said:

I've often had characters who want to gather information from people in a crime scene area or such.  Much like what the police, private investigators , and nosy reporters and  do. I wondered how to do that.

In your mind is [skill;conversation] enough or should I do it some other way?

 

Policing: [ INT based] This skill allows the user to find someone who has some information regarding a crime and ask them pointed questions.

   [example] did you see who did this?  what kind of car were they driving, which way did they go, etc...

I always thought that this was the function of Deduction. And the other skills could be complimentary rolls plus say you say you canvas the area, that could be a time bonus to your roll.

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Obviously, you need to go with something that suits you, even if that means building a custom skill.

 

Personally, I've done it two ways:

 

If the players aren't comfortable with extensive role-playing, or aren't really knowledgeable enough (the players) to know just what it is that the character would actually do, I let Detective Work cover it.

 

If the group is more comfortable, I use a Persuasion roll.  Why persuasion?  As others have pointed out, "Interrogation" has a certain connotation.  Persuasion, however, is simply gentle guidance to get the results you want.  Extra time (i.e., longer conversation) and preparation (i.e., comfortable setting for the interviewee, perhaps with a "moral supporter" by his side, etc) get bonuses.  Essentially, it's a Charisma-based skill, which HERO doesn't do well.  Thus, I base it on INT (the understanding of _how_ to guide the interviewee) with modifiers for Comeliness (I know; I know-- but I still use it) and PRE, particularly if there is a "good guy" type rep for the character.  Batman-style "intimidating Presence" takes a negative modifier.  In this case, I'm using the "force of personality" angle of Presence.

 

 

I hope you find something that world for you.

 

 

Duke

 

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On 1/21/2019 at 11:16 PM, Ninja-Bear said:

I always thought that this was the function of Deduction. And the other skills could be complimentary rolls plus say you say you canvas the area, that could be a time bonus to your roll.

 

So, this made me look up 'Deduction':

 

Deduction, an Intellect Skill, represents the ability to take several facts and leap to an inobvious conclusion — the classic detective’s skill.
Complementary Skills include any Skill directly connected with the problem confronting the character (such as Bureaucratics for a paperwork mystery). 

 

That made me look up 'Bureaucratics':

 

A character with this Interaction Skill can deal with bureaucrats, cut through red tape, and extract information from bureaucracies. He also knows the right people to talk to (for just about anything) and how to reach them. Bureaucratics comes in handy when characters need travel papers in a foreign country, go through Customs, have to arrange an appointment, and so on.
Bureaucratic procedures usually take time, from several hours to several days. 

 

Whilst it may not be immediately intuitive, canvassing witnesses for information is mainly an exercise in repetitive paperwork and organisation, with some social  and background skills thrown in.  I reckon what you are after is, in fact Bureaucratics with AK: City / PS: Police Work / Conversation / Streetwise as complimentary skills.  It can take time, sometimes a lot of time, but a good roll may cut that time down on the time chart considerably.

 

Once you have gathered the information, that is when the Deduction comes in handy :)

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On 1/21/2019 at 11:19 AM, Christopher said:

I want to point out that OpenLegends has two interesting options for failing the roll:
"Success with a Twist" (like an additional challenge at the next step)

"Failure but the Adventure continues" (you might notice someone was lying and you need to apply interrogation) 

 

This is not an OpenLegends innovation per se, it is a pretty common convention in modern narrative games...usually stated as "Succeed at a cost" and "Fail forward". I'm not sure which game it originated in, but personally I first encountered it in Fate.

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I'd like to offer a couple of other 'fail options':

 

1. Take a shot.

2. Take a beating.

 

What?  Players can get rowdy when they blow it.  Mind you, after opting for #1 a few times I reckon they start failing on purpose.

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On 1/21/2019 at 4:26 PM, Sean Waters said:

Luigi Linguini (snip)

 

Fiona Fettuccini (snip)

 

Robbie Ravioli (snip)

 

Hungry Henry (snip)

 

Rachel Ravioli (snip)

 

Peter Penne and Steve Sagnarelli (snip)

 

I obviously don't have enough to do...

 

Well, your players would certainly have to use their noodles to figure that one out...

 

I feel like I should be offering you some garlic bread and pointing you toward the nearest Italian restaurant.

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