Even if roleplaying games give us an opportunity to go out and be someone different with every new game, there are times when we find that one archetype that fits us like an old glove. It’s familiar, and you have enough experience with it (in real life or in previous games) that it becomes your go-to archetype when you don’t feel particularly experimental.
My favored character type is the Investigator. It’s a broad archetype, one that manifests in different ways in different times, but ultimately serves as a great means to follow almost any rpg plot. Maybe it’s the GM in me, but I find that playing an investigator is an instant flag for the GM to hit me with something, so I can start sniffing out the trail of his latest plot, or villain.
Why an Investigator?
Playing an investigator allows you to get a complete package of tools and contacts along with a license to poke your nose in other people’s business. The need to know the truth of things drives the investigator forwards, it is his reason for being. Ultimately, most rpg plots are mysteries of a sort. Who is the villain? Why are they doing this? How are they pulling off the crime?
Tools of the Trade
Investigators have a large number of tools at their disposal, including:
- Authority – Whether it’s a Police Badge or a Press Pass, having the right credentials to get you places solves all sorts of problems, and the GM can usually figure out an easy way to put you right where the plot needs you to be at the start of the game.
- Contacts – Investigators don’t work alone. They usually have a lot of contacts and allies who are perfectly willing to barter or give away information.
- Gadgets – Voice recorders, cameras, computers… an investigator is usually decked with all sorts of things that make it easy to take note of salient details, and gives you an excuse to take exacting notes during play. For less modern settings, having a scribe with you is always helpful, and there’s also a bible for the religious.
These are but a few of the tools of an investigator type character, all of which can come in handy during play in almost any setting.
Investigators don’t always have to be the same concept, they just have to share the same zeal for discovering the truth. Some good investigator examples include:
- Police Detective / Private Eye – No brainer, standard stuff. Has the added perk of actually having a legitimate reason to start off with a weapon.
- Magistrate – Historical settings often have a lawman with equal parts of smarts and steel.
- Investigative Journalist – Doesn’t often have a gun, but does manage to get away with a scoop by sheer chutzpah.
- Writer – Seriously, writer’s blocked authors and celebrity writers can get a lot of mileage in investigative stories.
I like investigators due to the ease by which they can easily be incorporated into a campaign. They’re self-motivated, often adventurous, and mostly too stubborn to know when to quit, especially after receiving a death threat or two.
How about you guys? What character concepts do you find most comfortable?