Investigate

You can use the Perception skill to find and analyze clues at the scene of a crime or a mystery.

Benefit: This feat expands the way you can use the Perception skill by allowing you to notice and analyze available clues in a specific area. This use of the Search skill is a full-round action. Clues are pieces of evidence that lead to the solution of a mystery. Clues are physical and can be seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted. A clue stands out because it’s not a normal feature of the area being searched. Examples of clues include a trampled flowerbed, a broken urn, a pin snapped off in a lock, a torn strip of cloak, a burnt scrap of scroll, or a brooch clutched in a dead man’s fist.

Add the following task to the list provided in the Core Rulebook description of the Perception skill.

Task Perception DC
Find a clue 10

So, in addition to using Perception to find a certain item, notice a secret door, or find a footprint, you have the additional training and experience necessary to find clues of all sorts. Modify the Perception DC according to the nature of the scene being examined, as indicated below. (This function of the Perception skill doesn’t reveal clues when there are no clues to find.)

Scene Condition Perception DC Modifier
Undisturbed (The scene has not been touched or contaminated in any way.) + 0
Disturbed (Someone or something has slightly and perhaps unintentionally contaminated the scene; for example, a book was picked up and put back or a guard walked cautiously across the area.) + 5
Greatly disturbed (Someone or something has massively and intentionally contaminated the scene; for example, the area has been cleaned and scrubbed, or the area was intentionally disturbed after the primary event occurred.) + 10

When a successful Perception check turns up a clue, you can make a second check to discern patterns, analyze evidence, and draw conclusions about what occurred in a specific area. In other words, the first Perception check lets you find something, and the second check allows you to figure out what you’ve found.

You can make a DC 15 Perception check to analyze a clue. By examining a body, you might determine whether the victim fought back or provided no struggle at all, or if claws, a weapon, or a spell killed the victim. By looking at a scorch mark on a wall, you might approximate the location of the spellcaster when the spell was cast.

The DC for the check is modified by the time that has elapsed since the event occurred and how significant the clue is, as indicated below. All other rules concerning the Perception skill otherwise apply.

Circumstance DC Modifier
Each day past since event (Maximum modifier +10) + 2
Minor clue (Provides only a piece of the solution to a puzzle and requires additional data for the investigator to reach a conclusion.) + 0
Moderate clue (Provides significant data toward the solution of a puzzle and could lead to a conclusion without additional data.) + 2
Major clue (Provides everything an investigator needs to solve a puzzle, even if the solution isn’t immediately obvious.) + 5

The DM should secretly make the second Perception check to analyze a clue. If the check succeeds, the DM provides a truthful, objective analysis of the clue that can help the investigator reach a reasonable and logical conclusion. For example, analyzing a brooch clutched in the hand of a murdered dwarf (a major clue) reveals that it was torn from a blue cloak or tunic (it bears strands of a blue material). It bears the symbol of House Cannith, but the brooch isn’t of the quality that a house noble would normally wear.

These true and objective facts are now left for the investigator to consider and follow up on.

If the check fails, the DM provides analysis of the clue that sounds plausible but is actually flawed in some manner. For example, a flawed analysis of the major clue discussed above would reveal only that the brooch bears the symbol of House Cannith.

Even a successful analysis won’t reveal the actual authenticity of a clue. False clues planted at a scene could provide truthful and objective data that leads an investigator in the wrong direction.

Generally, investigating a scene a second time doesn’t add new insight unless another clue is discovered. You can take 10 when making a Perception check to find a clue, but you can’t take 20.

Investigate

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