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Investigator & Dolly

The Investigator is a Discipline inspired by the character Cassian from the Earthdawn novel, Shroud of Madness.  I wanted it to be a hybrid discipline: One that blends the abilities of the Scout, Thief, Troubadour, and Illusionist.

“I’m here to solve a crime. I move in and out of the shadows to bring you the light of truth. Who sent me? My employers are of no concern. They hired me to help you.

Any information not gleaned from the scene of the crime will be gotten through other means. However, I hope you will cooperate and tell me what you know, and what I want to hear. Any impedance by you prolongs the suffering caused by this vile act, allowing the chance for it to happen again.

We are in a world where many things happen and what is on the surface is not always the truth of the matter. I will get in and under the layers of this mystery to find the truth.”

–Cassian Elf of House Medari; 9th Circle   Investigator of Thera *

Discipline Description:

Investigators are those who work to solve the unsolvable. They are the police, the private investigators, or the secret agents, sent to solve crimes and other mysteries. Ranging from the simple - solving a theft, to the complex - infiltrating a known crime syndicate to ferret out information before action can be taken. Investigators serve as spies as well as official police for the powerful governments of Thera, Throal, The Elven Court, and even the T’Skrang Aropagoi. Their wide range of jurisdiction allows them to get into places normal authorities could not. When their status is a hindrance, they rely on their talents to get them information or into places where their title cannot take them.

Oftentimes clues can be misleading and lead to a “solution” in one direction when the truth really lies in the other. An Investigator is required to understand the subtleties of a situation. Investigation cannot be charged at headlong like a Troll into battle. This path requires patience, intuition, and the ability to see things on different levels. Investigators need to be able to see the many layers of the world around them. One should also be adept at perceiving through what is real and what is not. Doing this allows them to follow the clues that will lead to a solution, not to a red herring.

Investigators must also be able to interact with others for the benefit of the case. Social skills are a must in gaining vital information, be it from a street urchin in the know, or a powerful aristocrat who knows what is gossip and what is truth amongst his fellows.

Investigators can’t always rely on witnesses, other authorities, or the crime scene itself. Sometimes they must get into the nitty gritty of things. They will often scour for clues around the area of the crime - be it talking to tavern customers who might have last seen the murder victim in the bar, or going to a seedy side of town to get information from an informant.

Quick hands compliment a quick mind and quick wit. All the Investigator’s qualities are meant to work in concert with one another.

Investigators are not limited to investigating cities and other urban landscapes. They also need to be able to take care of themselves in the wilderness as well as a city if they hope to survive. Many travel to find lost Kaers or downed airships. They could be sent to find the cause of the Kaer’s Demise, or why an Airship, with a competent crew, crashed.

Important Attributes: Perception, Charisma, and Dexterity
Racial Restrictions: Obsidimen, Windlings, Trolls, and Orks
Karma Ritual: To perform their Karma Ritual the Investigator contemplates an existing case or makes up an imaginary one. They go through the routine of an opening investigation - looking for clues, asking questions to imaginary witnesses or suspects. As the Investigator’s line of questioning draws to completion he reassures the imaginary witnesses the case will be solved, and he sternly tells the imaginary suspect the truth will be revealed and they will be caught. With the Investigator feeling confident he will solve the real case, or any future mysteries that come his way, the ritual ends.
Recommended Artisan Skills: Wood Carving, Poetry, Acting, Painting or Sketching.
Half-Magic: An investigator may use half-magic to help him better detect falsehoods, illusions, and other things that make up the core of his discipline. An investigator’s goal is to get past the lies and find the truth of any situation. If he does not have the skills or talents, the magic of his discipline will aid him to an extent.
Ritual of Advancement: For the investigator advancing in circle can come from by two means. The first is for the investigator desiring to advance to report to a mentor or trainer all the mysteries she was involved in and helped solved. Because the investigator has proven her skills in the field through adventuring, the more skilled investigator might deem her worthy of advancement and train her.

The second method of advancement is for the investigator to seek out her mentor or an investigator of a higher circle. When asked to be trained, the teacher will describe a previously solved mystery, leave out certain details that led to the case being solved, and then ask the young investigator to solve the mystery on her own (this is done all through conversation, like solving a riddle). Alternatively, the mentor could have the investigator work on an open case using his existing talents. If the investigator solves the mystery, the teacher will train her to the next circle.

First Circle
              Melee Weapons
              Conversation (D) **
              Lock Pick
              Karma Ritual
              Evidence Analysis (D)
              Avoid Blow

Second Circle
              Speak Language (D)
              Durability (5/4)
              Silent Walk

Third Circle
              Disguise Self

Fourth Circle
Karma: The Investigator may spend a Karma point on any action using Perception only.
              Thread Weaving (D)
              Trap Initiative (D)

Fifth Circle
Replay: For 3 points of Strain, the Investigator may touch a witness, suspect, or victim (a live one) and “see” what has occurred in the last 15 minutes through their eyes. The Investigator must be in contact with the target for the duration of the Replay, and the fifteen minutes is in real time.
              Detect Trap (D)
              Astral Sight

Sixth Circle
Social Defense: Increase the Investigator’s Social Defense by 1.
              Disarm Trap
              Resist Taunt

Seventh Circle
Spell Defense: Increase the Investigator’s Spell Defense by 1.
              Streetwise (D)
              Conceal Weapon

Eighth Circle
Physical Defense: Increase the Investigator’s Physical Defense by 1.
              True Sight (D)
              Detect Weapon (D)

Ninth Circle
Social and Spell Defense: Increase the Investigator’s Social and Spell Defense by 1.
              Sense Poison (D)
              Detect Falsehood (D)
              Spirit Strike

Tenth Circle
Karma: The Investigator may spend a Karma Point on any action using Charisma or Dexterity only.
              Lion Spirit
              Temper Self

Eleventh Circle
Recovery Test: The Investigator gains an additional Recovery Test per day.
Karma: The Investigator may spend a Karma Point on a Recovery Test.
              Safe Thought (D)
              Memorize Image

Twelfth Circle
Physical Defense: Increase the Investigator’s Physical Defense by 1.
              Thought Link

Thirteenth Circle
Accusation: An Investigator rolls their Half-Magic (Pg. 79 ED Companion 2nd Ed.) against the target’s Social Defense when accusing them of a crime. If the target is affiliated and is unaware of the Investigator's full knowledge of the crime, the accusation is successful. A successful accusation renders the target afraid, shocked, furious, or another fitting emotion for the next 4 rounds. During this time any action taken against the Investigator is done so at negative 5 steps. The use of this ability causes 3 points of strain.
Karma: Increase the Investigator’s maximum Karma by 25.
Social Defense: Increase the Investigator’s Social Defense by 1.
              Detect Influence (D)
              Blood Guilt Weapon (D)

Fourteenth Circle
Initiative: Increase the Investigator’s Initiative Dice by 2 Steps.
Physical Defense: Increase the Investigator’s Physical Defense by 1.
              Matrix Strike

Fifteenth Circle
Spell Defense: Increase the Investigator’s Spell Defense by 1.
              Aura Armor
              Reenactment (D) **

* This spoken passage was not taken from the novel, Shroud of Madness. The book does not provide any information in regards to Cassian's chosen Discipline or what Circle he is. The passage I wrote is my interpretation of his character and what he might say.
** Denotes a New Talent (Described below)
(D) = Discipline Talent

Step: Rank + Charisma Step
Action: Yes
Strain: 1                           Requires Karma: No
Conversation allows the Investigator to better interact with witnesses, suspects, or even victims (those still alive of course). The Investigator makes a Conversation test against the highest Social Defense in the group with which he is attempting to converse, modified by the number of people in the group. Add 1 to the difficulty number for every person after the first. A successful roll results in the target or targets acting more compliant with the Investigator’s line of questions. The Investigator gains a bonus equal to his rank in Conversation for all Charisma tests against that character(s). They are more cooperative and willing to assist in the investigation. The higher the level of success, the more cooperative the target(s) become.

Conversation also allows the Investigator to better interact with those of higher or lower status. For example, it reduces the fear a peasant may have when talking to an Investigator who is an agent of the Eye of Throal. At the same time it will allow an Investigator to better question an aristocrat who’s attitude gets in the way of talking to those of “lower” status. Conversation lasts rank x 2 minutes.

Step: Rank + Perception Step
Action: Yes
Strain: Varies                    Requires Karma: Yes
Reenactment allows an Investigator to replay events that occurred in a certain area. He or she must go to the scene of the crime and study it using the various Investigator talents for ten minutes. Once the study period has finished, the Investigator takes an amount of Strain equal to their rank in Reenactment. Each Strain taken equals one hour that is reenacted. The Investigator rolls their Reenactment dice and the result determines how precise, or clear, the reenactment is. The Game Master determines the target number needed to succeed. A poor failure results in a backlash of magical energies that damages the Investigator an amount equal to their rank in Reenactment and one Wound.

A successful roll allows the Investigator to view a surreal play of events that has happened in the area. The duration is rank hours, meaning that an Investigator with a Rank 1 can only see the events of the past hour whereas a Rank 12 allows the Investigator to witness the past 12 hours of events. What the Investigator sees is in real time. The Investigator might not see the crime being committed, but they may see tampering of evidence by witnesses, or the first person to enter the crime scene.

An Investigator must be completely undisturbed in the room or area in which they are performing this talent. As they are immersed in watching the “show” they are completely unaware of their surroundings. An Investigator suffers negative 5 steps to any perception tests when using Reenactment.

When an Investigator successfully performs this talent the real world is phased out and is replaced with a hazy version of the area or room they are in. Then events from Rank hours ago start playing themselves out. Any namegivers in the reenactment appear transparent. Conversations can be heard and understood but sound distant and quiet. The quality of what the Investigator sees and hears depends on the success level of the roll. An Average success allows the character to see what is going on although hazy, clothes and faces seem to shift rather than be steady and conversations are spotty. A Heroic success allows the character to see and hear everything that transpired clearly.

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“I wanna play, don't you?”

–Stated by a Dolly right before it tried to swipe
  Straum the Thief’s face off with its fingernails.


“Here is my account of the Horror creation known as Dolly. Dolly is a viscious little thing. I'll be very happy if I never encounter one again, let alone the twenty in Kaer #837 that ambushed the party I was in, swarmed us, and finally killed three of my friends. I will miss them dearly. Please do what you will with this information. But be careful the next time you travel down the dark tunnels of unexplored kaers or caves: Especially if you hear high pitched giggles off in the distance. The dollies may want to play with you.”

–Borgus Freyjlach: Dwarven Traveled Scholar,   Wizard, and Scribe at the Library of Throal.

Dollies, cute and deadly, are Horror constructs: Things that are made by Horrors and used to strike further fear into the populace of Barsaive. Resembling porcelain dolls, they range from one and-a-half to three feet in height. Their flesh is powder white, sometimes pale gray, and there is a hint of rouge on their cheeks. Some look pristine, while others look tattered and worn with cracks in their “skin”, rumpled and burnt clothes, dishevled hair, and missing or broken appendages. Most of the time, their clothes look new, but there are still imperfections on the body. When a Dolly is hurt, black ichor oozes out of the wound; when one is destroyed, it crumbles into an ashen powder. The only remnants are strips of cloths and strands of their fibrous hair.

The Dollies origins are unknown. However, some theories suggest that the souls of children, who lived in the defiled kaers where Dollies roam, are trapped within their cute and sinister frames. Survivors of attacks have said they heard a distinct sigh, or wheezing noise escaping the Dolly's body when it was destroyed.

Neither dead nor living, Dollies possess intellect. Calculating, they use simple tactics when attacking unwary kaer goers. Not conversationalists, Dollies say the same things over and over, such as: The cute but deceptive, “Wanna play?” and “No fair, you cheated!” The latter phrase is employed when the Dolly receives a sound hit.

Dollies are diminutive in size and physically weak. What they lack in strength and bulk, they make up for in speed and numbers. Dollies usually attack in groups of fifteen to twenty, and have two known attacks: A bite and a nailswipe. When using the nailswipe, their tiny fingernails extend into two-inch claws. Also, their nails ooze a black substance like tree sap. The goo acts as a mild poison that causes acute nausea, shivers, muscle cramps, and abdominal pain. While the pain goes away quickly, the other effects linger for hours and sometimes up to a couple of days.

Finally, the Dollies seem to have some form of social structure. While all of the dollies that attacked us were female in form and dress, there was one who was distinctly male. The male seemed to use the others as fodder, and it would only attack as a last resort. The Dolly Master, as I have dubbed it, is tougher than the other Dollies. It has the ability to cast spells, although the effects wear off quickly. He can cast some form of fear-inducing spell as well as a hypnotic one. One of my companions, a Windling Illusionist, succumbed to the Dolly Master’s charm spell, and turned on us. While he managed to fling an Ephemeral Bolt at Destard, another companion, he did not seriously hurt him. When the charm spell wore off, the Windling swore up and down that he could not remember any time spent under the Dolly Master’s control.

Killing the Dolly Master while the other Dollies are wreaking havoc does not stop their tirade. However, the remaining constructs do seem a bit out of sorts. They become erratic and unorganized. That is all the information I have on these little terrors. There were no other horrors or constructs in the Kaer where we encountered the Dollies. The Horror who made them must have left the caverns of the dead place long ago, forgetting its creations.


Dollies are horror constructs. They attack in groups, ranging from about 15 to 25. With these numbers they can easily overwhelm a party. I suggest having Dollies attack in waves of five, either every round, or every other round. This way a party has a chance of successfully repelling the attack. However, whether or not the Dollies will overwhelm the players depends on the size of the party, and what circles the players are.

The adventure I ran consisted of six people: Three were NPC’s (they were mundanes), and the players were either 1st or 2nd Circle Adepts. They encountered twenty Dollies and one master. No one died, but many were severely wounded. Again, determine the strength of your players before putting them in a situation where 25 of the little nasties are gunning for them.

The Dolly Master will not attack unless directly threatened. Instead, he will remain in the background charming and fearing group members. Also, Dollies will not flee if the battle is going against them; they continue to fight until destroyed. However, the Dolly Master will retreat if he sees his little dollies being obliterated.

When attacking physically, Dollies and the Dolly Master will both bite and swipe at their enemies with their long sharp nails. Any player injured by a Dolly’s nails has a chance to become poisoned. A Toughness roll of 7 or higher is required to resist the poison when any damage from a nail attack is not absorbed by the player's armor, or if the attack is armor defeating. If the player fails his roll, he will suffer the physical effects of the poison (described in the Summary section), and take 1D6 damage for 5 rounds.

Adventure Hook:

A merchant, or government official (which government is your call) hires the players to explore a set of caverns that may have once been a kaer. While exploring the ancient place they encounter a Dolly. The creature smiles then runs off—the pitter-patter of its little feet echoing through the massive caverns. When the players continue their exploration they hear giggles in the distance. As they move towards the laughing, the giggles become louder and multiply in number. Finally, out of the gloom, the Dollies attack!

Behind the mass of twenty or so little things is the Dolly Master, grinning with arms crossed. He does not attack, but watches as the Dollies begin to surround the players: The battle ensues.


Note: All creature attributes are expressed in step numbers, rather than Attribute Values. This also goes for Attack, Damage, and Spellcasting values. Only the Dolly Master may cast spells, and numbers in parentheses are the Dolly Master’s attributes.

DEX: 7
STR: 4 (5)
TOU: 4 (6)
PER: 6 (7)
WIL: 5
CHR: 8

Initiative: 7
Number of Attacks:  2
Attack:                     8 (10)
       Damage: 7 (9)
Number of Spells:
0 (1)
*Spellcasting: 8
       Effect: See Spells
       Spells: Charm or Fear, only one spell may be cast on
                   one person at a time. Each spell lasts 2 Rounds.

Physical Defense:   9
Spell Defense:        8 (10)
Social Defense:      10

Physical Armor: 3 (5)
Mystic Armor:   1 (3)

Knockdown: 4 (5)
Recovery Tests: 1

Death Rating: 27 (38)
Wound Threshold: NA (13)
Unconsciousness Rating: NA

Combat Movement: 38
Full Movement: 75

Karma: 10 pts.   Step: 4 (7)    Dice:  1D6 (1D12)

Equipment:   None
Loot:   In some instances there have been jewelry and other bobbles found amidst the debry of slain Dollies. Usually only about five out of a group of twenty-five have such trinkets on them. These items are worth 1D8 x 10 silver pieces each.
Legend:   110 (250)

*The Dolly Master has two spells to choose from, both very limited in duration. Charm allows the Dolly Master to command the affected player to do whatever it wants as long as it isn’t blatantly suicidal. If commanded to kill his group mates, a player may make Willpower test against the Dolly Master’s Spell Defense. If successful, the player refuses the command, if not he must obey. Fear causes a player to see his worst nightmare come true. Any player afflicted by the spell will flee fast as possible. For two rounds the player will run away at full movement in a random direction. Use the scatter diagram on page 197 of the Earthdawn sourcebook (the book published by FASA) to determine which direction the player will run.

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