The GM Awakens: The Path Less Traveled – Investigator

The Path Less Traveled is a regular series in which I’ll be examining a single specialization from the Star Wars Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion/Force and Destiny lines of games. The purpose and hope is to take a look at a specialization that perhaps many players might overlook or ones that are somewhat new to the game lines. We will look at strengths and weaknesses, synergies with other species and specializations, roles in a party, how to incorporate them into a campaign, and perhaps some uses which are not always obvious at first glance.

Overview

Typically when one examines character options in a Star Wars game, their mind goes to the swashbuckling heroes with blasters or lightsabers, tearing it up in a fight.  But the Star Wars RPG system by FFG is one that rewards narrative creativity and focus on story.  So often times players become insanely combat focused and aren’t able to work through many of the other aspects in the game.  But taking a great non-combat specialization makes for the most fun at the table.  One of the fun aspects of the article series is to examine a specialization that might not otherwise be considered at your table.  Today we examine a specialization that is one many might overlook, and it is also one that has only been out a short time for the game: the Investigator, which can be found on page 24 of Endless Vigil of the Force and Destiny game line.

Skills and Characteristics

As part of the Sentinel career, the Investigator relies on two Characteristics almost exclusively: Cunning and Intellect.  Every career skill and additional career skill from the Investigator specialization is based on those two characteristics, save one… Stealth.  Stealth is based on Agility, but with a good narrative description, I have allowed players to base Stealth on Cunning before, so I wouldn’t hesitate to ask your GM about that possibility when the situation arises.

Examining the career skills of a Sentinel, the character gets Computers, Deception, Knowledge (Core Worlds), Perception, Skulduggery, and Stealth.  When one chooses the Investigator, one gets access to Knowledge (Education) , Knowledge (Underworld), another rank of Perception, and Streetwise.

Beyond the Cunning and Intelligence, you’ll want to choose whatever characteristics you feel are important to pursue higher numbers in for the character concept you’d like to build.

Species

To build the best Investigator, you’ll want to dive into Cunning and Intellect as said above.  So which Species should you consider?  Well, there are two species that start with 3s in both Cunning and Intellect, and that’s the Munn and Neimoidian.  Those are the only two with 3s in both out of the gate.  Now, if you don’t mind starting with a 2 in one of the two characteristics, your options open up.  The Drall has a 4 in Intellect and a 2 in Cunning.  After that, there are several Species that have 3s in Cunning, and a 2 in Intellect.  The Bothan, Chevin, Devaronian, Gossam, Gotal, and Togruta all meet that criteria.

Switching it up, there are also a lot of choices with Species that have a 3 in Intellect and a 2 in Cunning.  The Cerean, Chadra-Fan, Chiss, Duros, Elomin, Ishi Tib, Lannik, Polis Massan, Quermian, Sakiyan, and Shistavanen are all excellent choices if you want to bump your Cunning up to a 3 with XP.  So as you consider your choices for Species, this list should give you plenty of choices.

Talents

This is where the Investigator really sets itself apart.  The tree itself, on page 25 of Endless Vigil, is fairly open but has two “choke points” in which you must take a certain talent to proceed further down the tree.  There are not any specific paths down the tree for different types of Investigator or certain types of talents.  The entire tree is all geared towards a single archetype.  So let’s examine the tree and see what lies in wait for a good Investigator.

The basic talents of Grit and Toughened are, of course, present.  There are two ranks of each.  Then you come to Street Smarts, which has three ranks.  This lets you remove setback dice from any Streetwise or Knowledge (Underworld) check.  Keen Eyed lets you do the same from Perception and Vigilance checks, and there are two ranks of this.  Uncanny Senses lets you add a boost to all Perception checks, and there is one rank of this.  After these, we start getting into some of the more powerful talents in the tree.

Talk the Talk, only 10XP, lets you spend a Destiny point to use Knowledge (Underworld) or Streetwise for any Knowledge check!  Anytime you need to learn anything, a simple Destiny point flip makes you as smart in that area as anyone.  This makes the Investigator able to be great at all knowledge skills at once.  And for just 10XP this is quite the bargain.  Next, we come to Reconstruct the Scene, which lets you make a hard Perception check to identify the physical characteristics of anyone present at the scene within the last day or so.

Sense Advantage lets you add two setback dice to any NPC’s skill check, and you can do so once per session.  Next, we get to Unrelenting Skeptic, which allows you to add failures if anyone tries to Deceive you, equal to your ranks in Vigilance.  Clever Solution lets you make a check using Cunning rather than the Characteristic normally used for any check, once per session.  And then you get down to the really fun powers!

Sense the Scene lets you make a Perception check and add Force Dice to the check.  If successful, you can spend the Force Points to identify the emotional characteristics of one person involved in the crime you’re trying to solve.  So, just looking at a room, you can get the state of mind of the suspect.  Valuable Facts is great and lets you make an average Knowledge check.  Success lets you add a Triumph to one ally’s check during the encounter, and you can choose which check to spend it on!  Narratively, it should be based on something you found out in the encounter.  Lastly, we come to Improved Street Smarts.  This allows you to make a formidable Streetwise or Knowledge (Underworld) check to learn one vital clue from the GM.  This is extremely narrative of course, but the great part is, you lower the difficulty once per rank of Street Smarts you have further up the tree.  This means if you take all three ranks of Street Smarts you can make an average check to learn anything you need, once per session.

Specialization Synergy and Character Concepts

The thing to remember about the Investigator in this game is that the PC is Force-sensitive.  It’s the Force that is keeping them in tune with the things around them, giving them great insight, and helping them learn what happened and where someone might have gone to.  So as you plan this Investigator, don’t forget that the Force drives everything about the character. With that said, don’t forget all types of specializations you can pair up with the Investigator.  I’m a firm believer that almost anything will pair up but a few are my narrative favorites.
The combinations with the Sentinel career are obvious, so I’ll leave those out.  Starting with the Force and Destiny line, a Healer could be a powerful combination.  With the focus on Intellect of the Healer, you can combine the knowledge skills and Intellect together for quite the powerful build.  A medic/doctor type who solves crimes and mysteries.  The Guardian’s Soresu Defender can also be a wise choice, as the Soresu technique lets you use Intellect in your Lightsaber checks.  So if you’d like to wield a lightsaber, don’t just look at the Sentinel’s Shien Technique.  Another of my favorite combos would be the Teacher, which I also wrote an article about a while ago.  All the talents of the Teacher align with Intellect as well, and makes a powerful combo with an Investigator.
In the Age of Rebellion line, one of the Commander specializations could make a great pairing.  In fact, a Commodore might make a fun one with many talents based on Intellect.  A Quartermaster might also make a great combination, with many things relying on a Quartermaster’s Intellect from the Diplomat career, and combine with Skulduggery, Computers, and Vigilance could be quite potent!  Also, any of the Spy specializations would be amazing with the focus on Cunning that they have.  The Slicer, with the Intellect-based skills like Computers, and Knowledge (Education) and Knowledge (Underworld) would blend amazingly well!
For the Edge of the Empire line, the Doctor, Politico, and Scholar would combine nicely.  The Scholar has every Knowledge skill at their disposal.  Combine that with the Investigator and there is almost nothing that couldn’t be gleaned from a crime scene.  If you’d like to combine with something else, then the Scout or Trader would work great.  The Scout, using Cunning with his Survival-based skills would work great.  Lastly, a good Smuggler might combine will with the Investigator.  In particular, I think a Thief would be fantastic.  Using Skulduggery, Computers, and Vigilance as career skills, all based on Cunning and Intellect, you can make a great character that can break into and out of places while conducting his or her Investigations.
So that’s basically it for building a great Investigator!  How about you?  Have any of you played one?  What was your build?  How would you play your Investigator?
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Scott Alden

Scott Alden

Scott is a full-time IT Manager living in Lawrence, KS. (Rock Chalk, Jayhawk! Just outside Kansas City for those who don't know.) Scott is a veteran of several role playing, table top miniatures, video, and board games, starting with the Atari 2600 when he was 6, and the classic red box Dungeons and Dragons game when he was 12. After a long hiatus away from the hobby, Scott has recently picked up gaming once again, and is running two different campaigns in Fantasy Flight Games' Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion/Force and Destiny lines. He is an avid X-Wing miniatures player, as well as Armada, Imperial Assault, Space Hulk, and Rebellion. (His family is obviously a Star Wars family, right?) Scott is married to his high school sweetheart, and has 2 children in middle school, both Black Belts in Krav Maga martial arts.
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