Investigations and Finding Leads

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Investigations and Finding Leads

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:07 pm

Downtimes naturally feature a lot of investigations and lead hunting. Here are some methods and tips that can improve your success rates and help the GM to give you the information you desire.

Use an Appropriate Method
When you have a hammer, everything can look like a nail. However, if you beat your contact's face in with a hammer, it might not be clues that leak out of their skull. Each character has their own skill set that can be used effectively but this can limit an investigation.
For example, when searching for information on the Order of the True Faith, it is unlikely that Data Trawling will find very much; the OTF hate technology and do their best to avoid computerising any records. Data Trawling is ideal for finding information like the location of equipment shipments and the movement of Corporate staff though, so finding a hidden facility (if it is large enough) will be more likely to succeed this way than manually searching houses in an area. A list of some example investigative methods is included below for inspiration.

  • Data Trawling - Ideal for finding Corporate shipments that are aimed at being hidden in plain sight and details about Corporate staff. Not so useful at getting information about remote secret bases in the tundra.
  • Asking the locals - If you have a bit of street culture you can try to ask around for information. This can be the best way to find out about criminal activities, rumours of Code 4s and finding future contacts in the underworld. It will not tell you very much about Corporate activities, except when they are deliberately being unsubtle for some reason.
  • Infiltration - Lying & Acting is damn useful here. Put on a disguise and try to get close to your target. Infiltration is risky, but it is the most reliable way to learn real insider information about a number of organisations such as criminal gangs and anti-corporate groups.
  • Bugs - AV bugs, the Surveillance training and plenty of stealth is the perfect skill set to let you find out about areas and people that use a certain location or make regular deliveries. Well placed AV bugs can let you listen in on conversations and tracers can let you track a package (or person) to their next address.
  • Looking around - If you know there is a secret base nearby you may be able to find it by spending some time searching for it. This is unlikely to work if the base is hidden away in a building in the middle of a city and you don't know which one. However, if you are a bad enough dude and the base is hiding in the jungle/under the sea/in Arctic ice then you are likely to stumble into it, or at least evidence of its existence. Having sensor equipment and/or droids/animals to help search a wider area is best for this.
  • Contacts - I am not running the 'levelling up contacts' system that the Corporation books suggest for normal games, but finding a good contact and then spending a minor action to sometimes check back in with them is a good way to find rumours and random leads. Throwing them some cash or interesting gifts can also encourage them to open up to you. As a side note, the GM usually forgets when you have contacts, hence why using a minor action to kick-start their memory can be so successful.
  • Interrogation - Grab someone connected to something interesting and keep hitting until they tell you what they know. This method may be slightly illegal, but this is not a problem to many agents in the grimdark corporate future.


A Note on Profit
Investigating randomly can be fun and dig up surprisingly deep plot hooks, but the most profitable information is usually found where you most expect it. Commercially viable data is usually hidden in secure labs and servers and belongs to the biggest Corporations. If they spend so much protecting it, then they'll spend a lot more to get it back from Oracle.

Helping the GM to Help You
When looking into something in your downtime, let the GM know which sort of skills and method you are aiming to employ. You can even include a probable skill check to speed things up. For instance, if you are asking around the local area for leads, throw in a Presence + Street Culture roll result.
It is also awesome to tell the GM what you are looking for. Simply looking around an area for 'something' or investigating a group/corporation without any real objective will result in an unfocused and usually not-very-detailed reply.

Finding New Leads
When a character has used up all of their existing hints it is time to go and find some new plot hooks to pursue. Here are some useful ways to find fresh story arcs.
  • Ask Contacts if they have any problems or rumours - Vague hints at mission hooks will often be given out by NPCs. Things like "Some guy kept screaming and yelling about a 'monster' in the sewer. But there's nothing down there except the old abandoned Gemini research labs, the silly billy."
  • Check the News - Major world events can mean lots of profit. Named figures and locations may have something worth looking into.
  • Corporations never change - There will always be an EI banking scandal waiting to be revealed. The Ai Jinn will have a secret base in the area. The chance that a shadowy figure is tailing you/a loved one/an NPC is often above 100%. Gemini labs are using monsters to create even more terrible monsters. Oh, and FYI, the WF is lying to it's citizens.
  • Work as a team - Your skill set could take someone else's vague lead and turn it into a mission just by coming at it from a different direction. No amount of data trawling will tell your friend how to get into the hidden lab, but a little trespassing and searching in-person could find that entrance disguised as a book case very quickly.


Do I have a mission?
There (hopefully) comes a point in every investigation when you will get to propose a mission to your Oracle colleagues. Sometimes it is clear when this point has been reached, such as "I have found the secret lab and I even have key codes for the first set of security doors. Time to fuck shit up". At other times it may be less clear, such as when you are tracking down a lead and you find a weapons deal going down. Do you call in the cavalry and try to grab some intel from the buyers, or do you risk losing the trail by attempting to track them after the deal has gone down?
I recommend busting down doors and kicking ass as often as possible. Ass kicking almost always leads to more information, provided you do not kill everyone or let the NPC with a glowing question mark above their heads escape. At the very least, it means lots of XP.


Last edited by Admin on Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:28 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Example Posts

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:02 pm

Here is a hypothetical example of a (i) bad post and a (ii) good post in terms of helping the GM out. Note: These are just vague guidelines and not rules.

(i) The bad.

Major action: I look into the Ai Jinn in Shanghai.

Minor Action: I investigate the epic plot line in my backstory.


This is a bad post for the GM because it does not specify anything about what they are looking for or how they will do so. When this post gets a reply, it will be to ask for more details or to say something like "You find out there are some Ai Jinn in Shanghai. Watch out for that."
Also, the use of a minor action to perform any kind of indepth investigation is unlikely to work. Minor actions represent a couple of hours of effort during a week, and simply isn't enough time to get lots of results. The exception to this rule is using automated searches such as data trawling, which are at least possible in minor action timescales. The results of these will be less awesome than using a major action though.

(ii) The good.

Major action: I use my knowledge of the criminal underground to go and track down some leads in Shanghai. I really want to find out more about Gaun Yu armour, so I ask around to see if any Ai-Jinn affiliated gangs have been seen wearing or selling the stuff, or if any has been sold on the black market recently. Here is my Presence + Street Culture roll to ask around <some numbers etc.>. Also, I have a contact in this area who I gave those rocket pants to. I'll call in on them and see if they can help me, or if anything interesting has happened with them.

Note how in this post the GM has been given lots of information on how the character is going to behave. This makes it much more likely that a really useful result will emerge from the investigation. Also, by reminding the GM about a contact in the area it provides an easy way to add in additional information, or some kind of side mission.
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Re: Investigations and Finding Leads

Post  SosieTerrehaute on Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:56 pm

Out of the Box Thinking
I'm gonna offer some advice, because I am a creative stalker with google fu who routinely got yelled at for her unclear posts. Feel free to learn from my mistakes.

So... Not everyone has investigation skills that are obvious, like hacking or Underground Ops. However, any useful skill can be turned into something to be used for an investigation. Maybe you can't turn that arts and culture roll into interrogating people to give you the known location of a foe, but you can turn it into a mission hook which can help you get a mission down the line.

Looking at arts and culture, you can spend a major action looking at art in a Comoros museum, and perhaps finding a fake. You could watch a few seasons of What's In That Box and see a strange edit or a background figure that indicates a conspiracy. You could spend your time hanging out in little Japantown learning how to make okonomiyaki, and in doing so build a strong contact with a prominent business owner or over hear a secret conversation between Ai Jinn infiltrating agents.

The same can be done for trainings. You a nuke? Make friends at the local Nuke bar. Bow Celerity? Find a few agent friends from other minor corps to get hints from and shoot the shit with. Jury Rigging? Maybe that forum post for new and exciting uses of bubble gum can turn up a location of a known rogue scientist in hiding.

Now, minor actions can be used to build for a next week's downtime or a case. Remember, the more specific the better for minor actions. In addition to doing some technical things, like data trawling, social skills can also be used. Think of things you can reasonably do in a few hours or a day out, or spend a few minutes off and on every hour or so doing. You could put in a afternoon drinking with your contact or going on a business date, pumping either for information. You could keep constant tabs on a bunch of chat rooms, or ANARCHY threads. You could check local headlines, or follow a bounty's twitter posts. The more diverse your actions, the more diverse your information, and the more diverse the world is.

One thing that sometimes gets rewarded is coming up with a conspiracy that sounds so good it SHOULD be real, in a believable way. This is an extension of the idea that Corps never change. Of course What's In That Box has a huge conspiracy surrounding it. Certainly the Comoros Museum which is strangely well-funded and always full has some sort of underground weird drug-and-art-smuggling-ring going on. There's no way the """Free""" """Clinic""" is free or an actual clinic. The news exists for three reasons: To let us know what we did, good or bad, OR to let us know where to go or what we could investigate OR to show us how horrible things can go when we don't intercede.

And those are my 2 credits.
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Helpful Hints About Understanding My Husband

Post  Hugo on Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:22 pm

Matt is Subtle

Our GMatthew is in many way a subtle man... Which makes him a compelling compliment for yours truly. Here are some hints as to decoding the subtle messages in his responses:

  • Missions which seem very risky almost always mean they are very profitable. Phrases like "insanely dangerous" or "very well guarded" or "high-end security system" or "cyberlin escort" mean that the risks for finding what lies behind these challenges is almost certainly worth the reward. This almost always means that you need to find a way around (or through) such problems, and need to do more research. Nothing is easy in life, and the same applies for the game. Think of it this way: Oracle is able to do what it does since it has a small, rather expendable crew who dares to do what no other corporation do. By definition, Oracle will only do what is conventionally impossible. If it were possible, another corporation would have done it.

  • If there is a specific request for information, this means that the response will have huge impacts. These impacts might be financial for us or change the structure of world power, but they are Matt's marginally less obvious way of letting you know that hey, maybe you should check this out. Look for phrases in the news or your downtimes that say "media black out" or "will exchange for information" or "inquiring minds want to know" or "wishes to find out".

  • Some downtime actions are impossible, but you will still get something out of it. Normally accidentally. You can try really hard to research something, but it just may never happen. EG: Looking for Keith in Mumbai. You could spend a dozen major actions, but if you just stayed in Mumbai, you would never get him given he was from the underground, straight outta Detriot. That does not mean you wiouldn't find other exciting information. Sometimes you may look for something but be given information about something unrelated. This gives you a choice to chase up your new lead or look for an old one. Be aware that the things you do may never produce the result you want, but Matt tries very hard to make sure you don't waste your downtime.
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Re: Investigations and Finding Leads

Post  Hugo on Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:06 pm

A Note On Leaving Helpful, Informative Downtimes:

Matt doesn't go in IRC with any frequency, and more importantly, he is not psychic. He had no idea what you're talking about in your downtimes if you do not provide context, and he has no idea about the jokey names we call things.

Here are some hints as to getting your downtimes back quickly, efficiently, with a minimal amount of swearing from my beloved.
  • When you reference an event, especially one from a downtime, provide a link if possible. If it's information that someone else told you, mention who, and when they got it.
  • If you are using a special training or piece of equipment, quote the stats if possible. Mention where this equipment has come from.
  • If you have private things that need constant referencing, like a plot or equipment, you can make a separate entry in your downtime forum for easy linking.


Matt forgets things, and he has massive charts, spider graphs, and lists to help him track it all. Make sure you put all the relevant information in your downtime. Makes sure you do a cursory spell check. Matt will be as generous as possible, and the more pertinent, interested, and involved you get, the more he will. That doesn't mean writing more, but it does mean writing usefully and with focus and context and mild enjoyment.
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