I think I’ve talked pretty recently about how I handle mysteries and investigation, so I think I’ll talk about the recent Web DM video about alternate skill checks and how they might play out for an investigation.
Basically, that video centred on the use of alternate ability modifiers for various skills. Investigation is an Intelligence skill – you are looking for clues to a certain thing using deductive reasoning.
So how does using a different ability modifier change investigation rolls?
I’m going to go in reverse order, since that gives me more time to come up with a Strength/Investigation idea…
Charisma/Investigation is using your wiles to gather clues to a specific outcome with people. You could roll Insight with this, and you could use your Intelligence to look for clues this way, BUT we’re looking at alternatives here – this is basically a gather information roll, in terms of older editions of D&D. You might be using your deductive reasoning for the clues at hand, but finding those clues in the first place, via effective communication, is what we’re looking at here.
Wisdom/Investigation would perhaps be best explained with Occam’s Razor – eliminate the impossible and the remainder, however improbable, is a clue. This could also be the skill roll to eliminate red herrings, or to follow a hunch or gut feeling.
Constitution/Investigation is about pounding the streets – if your mystery takes in a whole city, and the clues are out there to be found but require a big search, this is the kind of thing you’re looking at. Being able to slog away at an investigation for a long time and slowly gather up clues and information, that’s where this roll takes us.
Dexterity/Investigation is where we start to run into problems – I guess it’s harder to use all skills with all abilities, but let’s give this a try.
We’re using this roll to quickly search something for a specific answer, or where a character’s natural agility or balance is a factor – so we’re trying to read a burning book before it’s completely destroyed, or scanning nearby buildings from a high perch, or we’re recreating the scene in Fifth Element where Corbyn Dallas checks a doorway for hostile aliens.
Strength/Investigation is where things break down really. Strength is a measure of pure physical power, Investigation is looking at things.
The best idea I can come up with is destruction for the sake of finding things – if you need to find an object’s weak point, you could take a careful look at it, or you could smash your fists into it until it breaks.
At some point, I’m thinking of writing a whole series of these for different skills, though Web DM did a great video that encompasses most of the ways this ability swap works. Maybe if I’m looking at homebrew skills.