The Storm Has a Name
Use: Macro skill.
Sample specializations: Clue analysis, physical evidence, forensic evidence, researched evidence, deductive reasoning, puzzle solving, forgeries
The evidence analysis skill measures a character’s ability to analyze physical evidence and deduce information about events that occurred in the past. A detective might be able to look at a room and guess how many people have been in it recently, for example, or she might be able to look at an object and determine something about where it was made. The skill may also be used to solve puzzles of both the physical and mental kind.
The evidence must first be detected, either through the find skill, player characters roleplaying a search or by being rather obvious, such as a corpse in the middle of a room. Evidence may also be gathered by research (another use of the find skill), questioning witnesses or from analyzing the efforts of other investigators, such as going over police reports about a crime scene or examining the medical records of an autopsy. The difficulty of an evidence analysis skill check is usually determined by the gamemaster using the Difficulty Number Scale, taking into consideration the nature of the question(s) being asked and the actual course of events that the character is attempting to deduce.
In some cases, an attribute or skill of another character may determine the difficulty. For example, figuring out a riddle left at a crime scene might have a difficulty equal to the Perception attribute, or a skill such as scholar(riddles), of the person who left the riddle behind.
Some example difficulty numbers are provided in the following chart:
EVIDENCE ANALYSIS CHART
|Object is familiar or evidence is fairly clear (a knife at a murder scene, lock picks near an open door)||8|
|Object is somewhat familiar or evidence is only partly clear (a bloodstain near a closet where a body is hidden)||10|
|Evidence is reasonably obscure (water stains on a carpet forming a faint trail from the door to the window)||12|
|Evidence is unusual or not obviously related (humming refrigerator indicating that someone opened it recently)||15|
The success level of the evidence analysis check should be used to gauge how much useful information the character receives from analyzing the evidence.
If the detective receives minimal or average success, she can identify all of the objects or physical evidence by generic type: automatic pistols, nylon rope, a poison, blood. If she gets a good success, she knows precise information on the origin of the object, substance, or evidence, and specific information on its type: a Colt .45 automatic of rare manufacture; the rope has evidence of microstranding common to Nippon Tech materials; the poison is a hemotoxin derived from venomous reptiles found in the Living Land.
If she gets a superior success, she knows to what use all of the objects in the room were put. With a spectacular success she can accurately reconstruct events from the evidence, fitting in all the evidence to the explanation.
Good players may be able to discover this information on their own through roleplaying and solid induction. The gamemaster can encourage such behavior by feeding them a quality level of information at a time when they are on the right track.