Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Detective Character

"Where there is no imagination there is no horror."
– Arthur Conan Doyle
One of my favorite new shows on television is Elementary. I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes stories, and of course Arthur Conan Doyle. In my opinion this show is well written, and one of the best offerings on television this season. This is a great "reimagining" of the character while still retaining almost all of the things that made Sherlock Holmes a great character.

Doing some research on Holmes, and his creater, I was astounded at how well the writer/s of the show researched the mythos of Sherlock Holmes.

After tonight's episode I started thinking about detectives, sleuths, and investigators in role playing games, and how in all the games I've ever run, no one ever played one. For me it would be fun to play a detective, a solver of mysteries, it doesn't really matter what genre; horror, science fictions, supers... a detective character could work in any of them.

The fun part of playing a detective, ( at least for me ) would be actually using deductive reasoning, and to a lesser extent abductive reasoning, in the game to solve mysteries.  Not an easy skill to develop. Sure you could use skill rolls, but where is the fun in that? It's also not very satisfying. Sure some players wouldn't mind, but me? If I can't figure it out, then I wouldn't want a roll of dice to let me succeed.  Sure perception rolls are fine, but anything else I would want to depend on me thinking things through.

Now, I'm not so sure it would be easy to run a game for a detective character.  Describing the scene of the crime, providing clues, suspects, etc. would have to be carefully accomplished.  Too many clues, and it's too easy, not enough, or misleading clues, would make it impossible for the player or players.

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth".
Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes had an almost super-human perception, a keen intelligence, and that, in combination with an esoteric, broad knowledge base, made him a very skilled detective. Well, his knowledge was primarily about things that would help him solve crimes.  Nothing else really interested him.  Sherlock Holmes was all about solving crimes.  He needed the challenge.

I haven't read every story about Sherlock Holmes, especially what's considered canon.  So I've set a goal to read all 54 short stories, and the 4 books.  Well, it's a goal for next year. With the holidays coming up, and me trying to get some things accomplished I can't start right away.

I've also been trying to remember if there was ever a RPG about Sherlock Holmes?  Guess it's google time!

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