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Old 11-06-2019, 04:56 PM   #1
jason taylor
 
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Default Occupational Forensics

I just realized that a Medieval Sheriff can tell if someone was a monk by looking at his knees or his writing hand. He could tell an archer from his upper arms. Obviously that has game implications, if for instance, someone is in disguise.

Any other ideas along that line?
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Old 11-06-2019, 06:25 PM   #2
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The swordsman's callouses, or the lutenist's. The dyer's stained fingers. The distinctive odors of many trades (Turtledove and Tarr discuss a man who uses urine professionally as a mordant, for example). Bow legs for certain occupations.

Sherlock Holmes observes the flattening of a young woman's fingertips and concludes that she may be either a pianist or a typist.
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Old 11-06-2019, 07:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: Occupational Forensics

Though it depends to what degree you think it should be possible to estimate capabilities based on appearances, because players might not want characters who actually look their attributes (high ST characters will have a lot of muscle, high DX characters will have a lot of muscle relative to their size. It's possible to have someone at ST 8/DX 15, like Dai Blackthorn, but he's not going to be 5'6" and 115 lb, he's going to be 4' and 60 lb).
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Old 11-06-2019, 07:35 PM   #4
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Default Re: Occupational Forensics

A shepard's soft hands.
A mason's or lime burner's cough(?)
A sailors tan (reflected sunlight)
A milkmaid's strong grip or cow pox scars(?).
A washerwoman's skin
A poor person's dietary deficiency or tanned/toughened feet.

And then there is blurring the line with outright stereotypes.
A shepard's skill with a sling.
Fat butchers etc
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: Occupational Forensics

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Sherlock Holmes observes the flattening of a young woman's fingertips and concludes that she may be either a pianist or a typist.
There were a lot of occupational stigmata back in the days of manual trades, and not just distinctive calluses. Doctors in A.C. Doyle's day were sometimes taught about them, as Doyle was by Joseph Bell, because there were also distinctive occupational diseases.

Aside from the different "hands formed by cutting cork, laying slate, and polishing diamonds", two that Holmes remarked upon were a weaver's tooth (which has a groove worn in an upper lateral incisor by friction with a thread) and a compositor's left thumb. Having worked in a lot of kitchens I can tell you that right-handed cooks get cuts on their left hand and burns on their right one, left-handed ones vice versa.
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:38 PM   #6
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Having worked in a lot of kitchens I can tell you that right-handed cooks get cuts on their left hand and burns on their right one, left-handed ones vice versa.
I believe that one. And one of the hazards of getting a newly sharpened knife is that it always wants a blood offering. Though at least it hurts less than a cut from a dull knife.
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Old 11-07-2019, 02:45 AM   #7
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Default Re: Occupational Forensics

It's not occupational, but class-related. Today, the rich tend to be well tanned, in some cases even in winter. For long times in history and in many civilizations, the rich, especially rich women, are not tanned - farmers are.

Also class-related: the feet. The poor have thick-skinned and calloused feet; they often walk around barefoot, or in poor-quality sandals or rags. The rich walk less, and when they do it's with good footwear.

---

Since the OP mentions disguises, I think it's important to observe signs that don't tell who the victim was, but who he was not.
I.e., signs on the body that are indicative of the victim having recently begun an activity that was, however, not habitual for him. If the "knight" is dressed as such and even seems to have owned that horse in the stable, but his buttocks and thigs and calves show he was actually not accustomed to the saddle, maybe he was no knight, after all. If the "porter's" body show signs of chafing and bruising on the shoulders, and open sores on the hands, then either he had just begun with that job, or he wasn't a porter.
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Old 11-07-2019, 05:20 AM   #8
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Default Re: Occupational Forensics

There are a couple of "medieval CSI" series out there for inspiration: Bernard Knight's Crowner John series feature a first generation coroner, Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael, Michael Jeck's Bailiff Simon Puttock and Susanna Gregory's Dr. Matthew Bartholomew are all also various forms of medieval investigator who do this sort of thing a lot...
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Old 11-07-2019, 06:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: Occupational Forensics

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I believe that one. And one of the hazards of getting a newly sharpened knife is that it always wants a blood offering. Though at least it hurts less than a cut from a dull knife.
Building computers is the same. IME those tend to be cuts and scrapes on the back of the hand.
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:54 AM   #10
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Default Re: Occupational Forensics

Another fun one would be to have a specialized tool from a given trade laying on a table, ask the person to hand it to you and see if they pick it up right. There are a whole host of tools which for various reasons have parts that need to be kept clean, not touched, or kept safely away from people. Those unfamiliar would just grab whatever part is handy if it isn't sharp, but a craftsman would hold it properly unconsciously.

For instance, woodworking tools are often sharp in unexpected places. leatherworking tools are kept polished clean except on the handle. I'm sure there are more that could be investigated.

One could also tell something by a regional palate. Now, we get tastes from all over the world, but in a lower tech society, if you can or can't handle spicy food it says something about where you have been.
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