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A recent adventure for the Pathfinder game I’m running was more of an investigation to find out what had happened to a couple of young lovers, which involved talking to people and searching for clues. I decided to go for a more mechanical approach to things, rather than just feeding clues with a single Perception check, or relying on them asking the right questions (though there was a bit of the latter thrown in as well).

For the searching for clues, the I gave the option of a number of different skills which could be used, which allowed different characters to contribute. So Sense Motive could be used to search a room, because you’re looking for indications of motive. Knowledge (Nobility) can be used, to find things that might be important to a noble. Rather than just having the person with a high Perception gain all the glory.

So, for example:


  • DC 11: Some clothes are missing, including a pair of boots, and a sword is not hanging from where it should be.
  • DC 14: The window is closed, but unlocked. It would be easy to get down from here to the garden.
  • DC 17: There are some boot prints on the window sill.

Sense Motive

  • DC 11: The bed looks like it was slept in the previous night.
  • DC 14: There’s no sign of a rush to leave. Everything is neat and tidy.

Knowledge (Nobility)

  • DC 11: There’s a collection of pamphlets for plays, including The Bumbling Goblin, Faerie of the Opera, A Day and Night for Miss Zeldana, and The Inconstant Nymph on the table. Zeldana is put on at the Rose and Rake, the others are for the Triodea. Follow up: Lore (Magnimar) 24: His first cousin, once removed (Durstin Versade), owns the Triodea.

Survival (in the garden)

  • DC 14: Probably went down the side of the house, across the garden and out through a side gate. Would not have taken him near the stables.

It actually worked quite well, and I allowed a bit of flexibility, especially when players wanted to ask questions or use skills not listed (so using Stealth to figure out the most likely way to leave the house without disturbing anyone, rather than Survival. That gave him the route, but not the fact that it would have avoided the stables (which a couple of horses were missing from, and a clue that the horses were possibly moved before hand, rather than trying to get them out of the city at night)).

This sort of things could just be roleplayed, with maybe the odd skill check (and that’s my usual approach), but this split the workload between characters so they all got to do something, and it gives more of a feeling that they might fail to get all the clues if they don’t have the right skills. The chance of getting nothing though, and not being able to progress at all was quite low.

There were also multiple ways of getting similar information. There’s a clue pointing at the theatres, but talking to the stableboy also had similar information. Putting both together gives a clear direction of which path to follow, but either one should give some hints which could be followed up with a bit more investigation.

For talking to witnesses and getting information out of them, I used a slightly modified form of the Pathfinder intrigue and influence rules for social combat. My main reason for using these was that the next adventure is going to be a party where I’m planning on using them quite heavily, and I wanted to give an introduction to the rules before hand.

Anyway, the PCs think the lovers sneaked out of the city at night to elope, and are heading to Sandpoint. So next session will probably be heading out of Magnimar along the Lost Coast Road to find them.

blog/20181028_clues.txt · Last modified: 2018/10/28 18:22 by sam