Take the Case and Player Expectations


Investigator Playtest

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Hello, fellow investigators!

As a forward, the investigator is my favorite PF1 class and I had a lot of expectations going into it for the playtest. I've already submitted my feedback, which was based on a game I got to play with Paizo developer Luis Loza and other fine Know Direction staffers. If you want to read more of my thoughts on the APG classes so you can confirm how I don't know anything about Pathfinder Second Edition, you can check out my APG Analysis blog HERE.

With that out of the way, I ended up playing Take the Case wrong for about 3 hours in that adventure. Human error is absolutely a factor, but I like to think that a major reason I flubbed so badly regarding Take the Case is that to an extent, the ability doesn't really work like what its name says on the tin.

For a bit of background so you don't need to watch a four-hour video to get my points, we played a neat little adventure written by Paizo developer Ron Lundeen called Vanquish the APG. It was fun; I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick scenario. The opening scene of that adventure involved us needing to investigate a burned-down temple, so I being the canny investigator promptly told Luis that I was going to spend 10 minutes to take the case of the burned-down building.

You can see my error here. I original thought that when you Took the Case, you got to pick an actual event or occurrence that you investigate, and your bonus applied to that one specific case. As you all probably know, that is NOT at all how Take the Case works. Instead you have to spend 10 minutes looking over one specific creature, object, or small room.

After figuring out my error and correcting it about halfway through the adventure, I can definitely say that while a +1 bonus didn't really fun to begin with (more on that in a different thread), needing to spend 10 minutes to investigate one specific thing isn't really "Taking the Case," and is significantly less fun than taking an actual case. It's a ton of waiting around, not really doing anything, and constantly not having your bonuses when you're otherwise really like to have them. I generally don't like the Take the Case mechanic as written because the entire design paradigm seems to be based around making the base action as limited as possible while slowly using class feats to open it up to more usable levels. To put another way, Take the Case fails to meet expectations by default and only becomes fun when you invest in it rather than being fun by default and becoming more fun if you invest in it.

I'm interested in hearing what other people's opinions are regarding Take the Case on this, the final day of the Playtest. (Sorry, I've been swamped!)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

All very good insights! Especially the bit in your blog about not getting enough skill feats, which really starts to hurt the higher level you get (being it's a cumulative issue when comparing yourself with what you could be doing as a skill-character had you picked rogue).

I played an Investigator in Fall of Plaguestone and while it was fun, I too assumed "take the case" was taking on a case, not a part of a case. Had it not been, I doubt I'd have seen that +1 bonus more than once or twice. After all, how often am I going to spend 10 minutes every time I come upon a new clue or suspect? It's just silly.

I'm also disappointing that "take the case" doesn't stack with "aid another". It's not as noticeable until you hit level 10-12...but once players can reliably hit "20" and start to use aid another on "whoever has the highest bonus", I'm afraid the investigator is just going to find one of their key abilities being outshone by a core mechanic of the game, their multi-attribute dependence making them rarely the ideal party member to roll the skill in the first place.

But, yes, "take the case" should apply to an entire "case". An investigator not being able to interrogate multiple witnesses it just silly. What are we supposed to do if we have 5 suspects? Spend 10 minutes staring at them one at a time before we start to ask questions?

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A scene that pops into my mind regarding Take the Case comes from the Pathfinder Society Scenario I penned, Mysteries Under Moonlight Part 1. In that scenario, you find yourself in an investigation in the first act where you have four witnesses. Based on the way that Take the Case works now, an investigator would have to spend 10 minutes per person just studying them over before ever actually interacting them before they could Take the Case. If one of those people was the perpetrator, they'd actually lose their Take the Case benefits once they moved on to the next person despite having studied them before. It's also pretty anticlimatic for an investigator to be staring blankly at someone for 10 minutes before ever actually interacting with them.

It would be much more appropriate if the player could posit a question to the GM (with their approval, of course) and the player receives bonuses whenever they attempt a check related to the answer to that question.


Thanks for the feedback.

Alexander wrote:

The opening scene of that adventure involved us needing to investigate a burned-down temple, so I being the canny investigator promptly told Luis that I was going to spend 10 minutes to take the case of the burned-down building.

You can see my error here. I original thought that when you Took the Case, you got to pick an actual event or occurrence that you investigate, and your bonus applied to that one specific case. As you all probably know, that is NOT at all how Take the Case works. Instead you have to spend 10 minutes looking over one specific creature, object, or small room

A couple of items here. Let's look at the actual text for Take the Case:

Quote:

Frequency once per 10 minutes

You spend 1 minute to establish a case you’re going to pursue— an intense investigation into a single subject you designate when you use this activity. This subject is typically a single creature, item, or small location (such as a room or corridor), but the GM might allow a different scope for your investigation.

1. You don't have to spend 10 minutes looking over one specific X. You only spend 1 minute. But you can't change the case for another 9 minutes. That means when you take the case, you can essentially immediately get the benefits if you're not in combat.

In Fall of Plaguestone, I have not found the 10 minute limit to have any limiting effect on Take the Case, whatsoever.

2. The GM can absolutely allow you to make the Case an event or something larger than a creature or object. There's no reason why the GM can't allow you to make the burned down building the Case. The problem is that rules need to give an example of the case being someone's murder or the disappearance of a person.

However, as written, it's possible to argue that Paizo wants the The Case to be anything that you want to investigate, especially concrete things. As such, the 10 minute frequency is probably designed to limit its use in Combat, but not meaningfully outside of combat. With all the minute/level buffs essentially gone, I don't see GMs tracking actual minutes out of combat. Also remember the whole Treat Wounds is the defacto method of healing and this could mean several hour waits if you've got a lot of healing to do.

AA wrote:
It's a ton of waiting around, not really doing anything, and constantly not having your bonuses when you're otherwise really like to have them

I haven't found that to be true. I haven't had any experience of "waiting" to use Take the Case out of combat.

AA wrote:
I flubbed so badly regarding Take the Case is that to an extent, the ability doesn't really work like what its name says on the tin.

I wouldn't put too much stock in the names of Feats. Hunter's Edge being a flurry-style attack has nothing to do with actual hunting. The question is what is the purpose of Take the Case? It's obviously to give the Investigator (and the party) an edge in making any skill checks associated with understanding some clue. I think it does that without making everyone else completely useless.

Personally, I like the narrative of it. I like the feeling going around and making it clear that object X is now the subject of my intense scrutiny and we are all benefited from that.


Alexander Augunas wrote:
A scene that pops into my mind regarding Take the Case comes from the Pathfinder Society Scenario I penned, Mysteries Under Moonlight Part 1. In that scenario, you find yourself in an investigation in the first act where you have four witnesses. Based on the way that Take the Case works now, an investigator would have to spend 10 minutes per person just studying them over before ever actually interacting them before they could Take the Case. If one of those people was the perpetrator, they'd actually lose their Take the Case benefits once they moved on to the next person despite having studied them before. It's also pretty anticlimatic for an investigator to be staring blankly at someone for 10 minutes before ever actually interacting with them.

1. If you're going over four witnesses to a murder, you would absolutely spend more than 10 minutes talking to each one.

2. After 10 minutes of talking to the first witness, you move to the second witness and get a bonus within the first minute. It doesn't take 10 minutes of waiting.

3. There's no reason GM couldn't allow the subject of the investigation to be the Case. As such, you'd get bonuses involving any investigation of that subject.


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Have to agree that in practice Take the Case has felt kind of clunky in play.

It also makes feats like Framing Case and Everyone's a Suspect feel kinda like patches to make the mechanic work better.


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N N 959 wrote:
Personally, I like the narrative of it. I like the feeling going around and making it clear that object X is now the subject of my intense scrutiny and we are all benefited from that.

I forgot to add that I also agree that in actual play, having to constantly say "I make X the case" does feel a little corny and repetitive. To AA's point, it might be worth considering changing the name from Take the Case to "Investigate". That way the player can say, "I investigate X," or "I focus my investigation on X."


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I came to pretty much the exact conclusions you did on TtC in the feedback thread I wrote.

What's even worse, is there are whole Feat lines dependent on TtC that try to "fix" TtC like Framing the Case. It's got the right idea behind it but just mechanically isn't there as a concept.


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Midnightoker wrote:
there are whole Feat lines dependent on TtC that try to "fix" TtC like Framing the Case

Reminds me of Hunt Target.


Draco18s wrote:
Midnightoker wrote:
there are whole Feat lines dependent on TtC that try to "fix" TtC like Framing the Case
Reminds me of Hunt Target.

Indeed.

I’d prefer them to make it a little different in the final than how hunt target is a one and done action, and instead drive incentives to doing it every round (the inspiration thread comes to mind, with snowballing bonuses).

Also @Squiggit looks like you feel the same as well, I imagine paizo is on it then.


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N N 959 wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
Personally, I like the narrative of it. I like the feeling going around and making it clear that object X is now the subject of my intense scrutiny and we are all benefited from that.

I forgot to add that I also agree that in actual play, having to constantly say "I make X the case" does feel a little corny and repetitive. To AA's point, it might be worth considering changing the name from Take the Case to "Investigate". That way the player can say, "I investigate X," or "I focus my investigation on X."

I should have added that if you change the name of Take the Case to Investigate. Then you can rename "Framing the Case" into "Take the Case" and this would solve AA's issues. Because now, when you "Take the Case" it's a long term thing.

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