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Ideas for an Interesting Investigation

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  • Ideas for an Interesting Investigation

    I recently started dm'ing for my group, and this is my first big campaign. I want to have a session that involves an investigation involving a water villain. Two of my players can traverse water but my third player. My tone is around that of Spiderman, so I don't want to have a super dark session.

    I've been thinking along the lines of the character was wronged in some way and is out for revenge. My problem is that I can't figure out a good idea for the investigation. I'm open to ideas and thanks in advance for the help.

  • #2
    Re: Ideas for an Interesting Investigation

    One of the keys to an investigation storyline is that failing checks should never keep the heroes from figuring out where to go next. That's a hard thing to do because it makes the checks seemingly useless since you'd advance whether or not you found that next clue. However, the key is that success or failure in the check doesn't determine whether the players move forward, but rather how successful they are. It could be the difference between getting there in time to save the hostage, or to catch a glimpse of the villain's cape, or to arrive after the fact, the scene cold, secondary evidence (not things that point you to the next step, but explaining more of the background as to why things are happening) destroyed or obscured, etc.

    Another thing to consider is that many roads can lead to the same destination and it's important to consider how the players might approach things, particularly if some of them aren't particularly well-suited to investigation or the medium (water transport). The Angry DM had a good article about skill checks which covers both the need to decide what success and failure means (and whether it's really meaningful to roll for such), and the different approaches and how to plot for them (you don't have to consider every possible approach, but you want to have an idea of what happens if the players try Stealth, Force, Bluffing, Diplomacy, etc).
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    • #3
      Re: Ideas for an Interesting Investigation

      Depends on what you want to get from it. A water villain who's a villain because he was wronged in some way is an interesting concept. My first thought was an underwater pipeline ruptured polluting what he considers home (or holy). Maybe he's attacked several people who work for the company responsible for the care and maintenance of the pipeline and has decided that the company as a whole must pay. It could start out with a house being ransacked and the only thing missing is a personal laptop. Investigating they discover that the laptop had company material on it and that he was targeted. The players will eventually discover the why and are lead to that same polluted body of water where the company CEO is being slowly lowered into it to be drowned in his "company's filth".


      • #4
        Re: Ideas for an Interesting Investigation

        This is probably the simplest advice, but its true for any sort of story you might want to tell.


        You want to tell a good detective story, read/watch good detective stories, decide what you like and go from there.

        Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammet are more or less essential reading for anyone who wants to tell a really good investigation/mystery detective story.

        Chandler has a story with a larger than life crook (who is frequently described in hyperbolic terms regarding his size) who is out to find an old love of his. The hero gets swept up in this story and it involves the reveal that the baddie (and he is a baddie despite being sympathetic-his first actions are tossing a bouncer like a frisbee and killing a guy by more or less folding his head back like a pez dispenser) was betrayed by the woman he loves, and he's all tangled up in his love for her/desire for vengeance.

        I'm spoiling the story but its nearly eight decades old so I feel ok about that.

        Give the characters red herrings, give them dead ends, but also give them helpful police officers, talkative and colorful crooks, exciting and seedy locales. Make them feel like the act of finding information is as engaging and important as whatever it is they actually learn (or don't learn).
        [I]Any sound can shake the air. My voice shakes the heart![/I]


        • #5
          Re: Ideas for an Interesting Investigation

          Thank you for the help everyone it helped out a lot. The character I introduced was pretty well received by my players, and they're eager to see more of her. Thanks again for the help, and if anyone else has any cool or fun ideas for an investigation or mystery I'd love to hear about it.