Many abilities and feats allow you to take plot-mediated looks at items, locations, or situations. The most prominent among these are feats of Learning and Perception. Some skills such as craft also grant abilities (Master’s Eye) that have similar effects. In order to use any of these abilities in such a way, the involved character or characters must declare that they are formally Investigating the subject in question. Only then will there be a Director/Plot Member/Marshal response.
Investigations are limited in the following ways:
Once an investigation is called, the three participants then use whichever abilities they think will be helpful in the investigation. Applicable abilities are as follows:
Even though the above are what are allowed generally, not all abilities used will help the investigation. Feats of Learning are always useful, but other feats may or may not be so, depending upon the target of the investigation itself. Any feat or expendable ability called during an investigation is lost even if it does not apply. Artifice is only of use, obviously, if the item/subject is magical. In some special cases, derived skills may be factor in Investigations.
All abilities are cumulative among the participants and add to an investigation, but only the highest Artifice value among the 3 participants adds in. After all abilities are called, the staff member will give out information to all involved based on the number, power, and type of the abilities used. They will also answer a set number of questions from each participant, the number of which is based on how successful the Investigation is.
Once the Marshal has started their description, no other abilities may be called for the Investigation. During the investigation, the participants should keep cross-talk to a bare minimum. A participant may pass if they are unable to come up with a question. Further, the Marshal may ask a participant to pass their turn if they are unable to ask a question within a reasonable amount of time or are obviously stalling.
Please remember that investigations are in-play, and are thus subject to the game around them. You may be attacked during an investigation, and doing so will automatically end it, regardless of how many questions have been asked. Leaving the investigation will also end it for all participants.
Some magical items and locations may require staff mediation when they are used in their normal fashion, and this does not count as Investigation. However, any attempt by the character to extract more information out of the subject during such use is, in fact, considered a formal act of Investigation.
Certain feats work in certain investigations, and some don’t, unless the Marshall says otherwise. The following feats will likely not apply in investigation other than the weirdest/rarest of circumstances:
Other feats will situationally apply:
Investigations are a great way to explore the lore of the game, and are sometimes integral to the developing problems and solutions that you will encounter. Investigations that are necessary or very important to the ‘main’ story arc of the event will be given top priority, but other investigations are always welcome. However, because investigations require a plot member to be entirely dedicated for the total extent of that time, these must be accounted for in order to keep the bulk of the players engaged. Below are a few easy tips that you can follow to make sure that your investigation goes off without a hitch!
Please do not call for a plot member for an investigation, then spend the next fifteen minutes trying to collect three people. Have your team ready to go immediately, just in case the plot member is ready as well.
A great way to keep investigations moving quickly is to prepare some questions ahead of time, and share them with everyone involved. Though new questions will undoubtedly come up during the investigation, having a solid outline is a sure-fire way to get what you need.
Currently, Echoes does not impose a time limit per question because we don’t want the player to feel rushed. However, if you don’t have a question ready within 15 seconds of it being your turn, you probably won’t have one at 30. Remember, you can always pass your turn to the next person if you are totally stumped.
A lot of players find it helpful to write down answers in an investigation, and they should! It’s a great way to make sure you don’t forget anything afterwards, and we very much encourage it. However, jotting down a few quick notes to elaborate on later is always preferable to writing down everything verbatim.
Your character sheet (which you should have on you always anyway) will list out all of your specialties, feats, and bonuses that may apply for an investigation. If you are unsure of what you can do, please have this sheet out and ready before the investigation begins. Your plot member will love you more for being well prepared, trust us!
Our plot team is always hard at work during a game to keep an incredible amount of parts moving. We always try to plan some time for investigations, and if you see a plot member hanging out in the corner of the tavern, it’s always ok to ask if that’s why they are there. However, just because you see one of them get a cup of water or a snack doesn’t mean they have the free time to run your investigation, so please be mindful that they need breaks too! Remember, being polite about requesting an investigation will always have a better reception than demanding one.