The Criminologist

November 12th, 2012

Alex Riggs

Best in Class Archive

            Today marks the official beginning of Crime and Punishment Week here at Necromancers of the Northwest. While I can’t speak for my colleague, I know that when I hear “crime and punishment” I start thinking more of law enforcement than of actually committing crimes (I guess it’s that “punishment” part at the end. It sounds pretty nasty.), and since we’ve recently spent a lot of time celebrating the gentleman thief (and even released a book about them), I’ll be spending my time this week on options that will allow you to better catch and punish criminals (because, really, who doesn’t want an excuse to stand up at their game table and bellow “I AM the law!”).



New Rogue Archetype

            When they say that “it takes a thief to catch a thief,” they’re usually talking about criminologists. These reformed (or, in rare cases, simply eccentric) rapscallions use their own slippery mind and expertise in all things crime-related to give them an edge in outsmarting and outmaneuvering criminals, using their skills for the law, rather than against it.

            Intuitive (Ex): A criminologist adds 1/2 his class level to Sense Motive checks made to make a hunch about a person or to detect when creatures are lying or otherwise obfuscating the truth (minimum +1).

            This ability replaces the trapfinding class feature.

            Crime Scene Investigator (Ex): Beginning at 3rd level, a criminologist becomes more proficient at dissecting the scene of a crime in order to find clues about what occurred. By spending 10 minutes reviewing the scene of a crime (such as a murder, theft, or so on), and making a special Perception check, he can glean certain pieces of information.

            This special Perception check uses the higher of the criminologist’s Intelligence or Wisdom, and the base DC is 15. If someone (such as the culprit) deliberately tried to hide or destroy the evidence of what occurred, this check is instead an opposed roll, with the person trying to hide the evidence using the higher of either Sleight of Hand or Stealth (although, in both cases, Intelligence is used in place of Dexterity). For every four hours since the crime occurred, the DC increases by +1, and if the crime scene has been altered in some other way (such as by someone else getting to it first and moving things) the DC increases by +5 (or, in the case of an opposed roll, the person trying to hide the evidence gains a bonus equal to that amount, instead). The criminologist may make this check only once per crime scene.

            If the check succeeds, the criminologist gains a piece of information about one of the following topics (or similar information, at the GM’s discretion). These clues are always relevant to the case in some way, and even if they don’t directly relate to the culprit, if interpreted correctly they can help lead the criminologist to solve the case (although, they can still be misleading, such as if the culprit used beast shape, he might leave paw prints like a dog instead of footprints, etc.). These clues are always things that cannot simply be gained by a quick glance at the crime scene, but can be information that could normally be gained by other means (such as the normal use of a skill check, certain spells, etc.). It is up to the criminologist to use these clues effectively.

  •             Method of Entry: The criminologist gains some clue as to how the culprit entered and exited the area. This might include dirt and scuffmarks on a windowsill, or the fact that the broken glass fell outside the window indicates that someone exited that way, rather than entering, or even a complete lack of evidence of entry or exit (which might mean that the culprit teleported, or that they were let in by the victim, etc.).
  •             Motivation of Culprit: The criminologist learns some clue that might shed light on the culprit’s motivation. This might include the fact that a murder victim’s purse was not taken (from which the criminologist might assume that money was not the culprit’s concern), or the fact that a stolen item was very obviously not the most valuable item in the room (potentially indicating that either the culprit was not very knowledgeable, or that he was in a rush, or that there was something specific about the stolen item).
  •             Physical Description of Culprit: The criminologist learns something about the culprit’s physical characteristics. This might include the fact that the wounds on a body indicate that the attacker was a certain height, or footprints that indicate a limp, or that the force of a blow gives a good indication of the culprit’s strength, etc.


            For every 5 points by which the criminologist beats the DC, he gains another clue. At 6th level, and every 3 levels thereafter, the criminologist gains a cumulative +2 bonus on the special Perception checks made for this ability, as well as on normal skill checks (including Appraise, Heal, Perception, Spellcraft, and whatever else the GM feels is appropriate) made to survey a crime scene.

            This ability replaces the trap sense class feature.

            Rogue Talents: The following rogue talents complement the criminologist archetype: coax information, fast picks, follow clues, hard to fool, and minor magic.

            Advanced Talents: The following advanced rogue talents complement the criminologist archetype: hunter’s surprise, slippery mind, and thought reexamining.