If there is one thing that makes it difficult to do actual mysteries and investigations in a traditional fantasy RPG system, it is the dependency of the system on skill roles. With a mystery, the adventure only goes on if the clues are discovered, so failing a roll can hinder or stop an investigation. The actual “thrill” of solving the adventure is lost as there was no input by the player, they simply rolled a die the way they always do.
What Makes it Iron
Lorefinder, by Pelgrane Press, is a great start to a fix around that problem. When 3.5 went to Pathfinder , I was on the fense about diminishing skills. It was the argument of having less rolls versus having more diverse schedules. Pelgrane reinstates a lot of skills that were dropped off and breaks out other skills into a separate skill system called Investigative skills. The remaining few skills are still general skills and work the same way. However, investigative skills work in entirely different. They do not require rolling. You receive ranks skills that revolve around investigating, from diplomacy to bluff to knowledge skills to search. When you want to investigate something, you simply go to what youre investigating and say I want to investigate such a thing, the DM then gives you the information, or asks you to spend ranks. Ranks only recover at the beginning of an adventure so these resources must be used sparingly as most individuals only have between 12 to 16 for most of the campaign.
This new system changes the “investigative game” from beating a particular roll to figuring out which skill to use on the clues you find, making for a more rewarding mystery solving segment. The PDF starts off by explaining to you how each of the main classes should be changed and explaining how to convert other classes. Each skill is explained in depth. To add additional motivations to your gaming group, Drives are included to flesh out the reasons why your PCs investigate. A sample adventure is included.
Why its not Iron
The system feels a bit incomplete as it certainly needs some tweaking so that the Charisma, Wisdom and Intelligence do not become dump skills. One of the solutions my group used was to develop a limit for ranks based on the previously mentioned abilities. For instance, all Lore skills are limited by your Intelligence bonus, Cunning skills by Wisdom and Interpersonal skills by Charisma.
Another major issue with the system is it doesn’t do a great job of giving an adequate amount of General Skill ranks to classes based on the current skills of that class. For instance, fighters and fighter classes should have more ranks in general skills because that is the basis of most of their class skills.
The Iron World
Despite what seems to be major issues with the system, small DM changes make them very fixable. Lorefinder is a great product that I can’t imagine not using in a game again. It is easy to integrate and does not complicate the game. Instead, it actually eases up the game by reducing the number of skill rolls and making a once boring part of the game a bit more interesting.