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Old 12-27-2014, 11:24 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Criminology

Criminology is the IQ/A skill that represents understanding of crime and the criminal mind. It takes penalties for lack of Cultural Familiarity and for Low Empathy, because understanding the motives of criminals is very important. It allows you to find and interpret clues, guess what criminals might do, and so on: it seems to be the main measure of competence for detectives. Skills that may be complementary include Forensics, Observation, Research, Search and Streetwise. Criminology defaults to IQ-5 or Psychology-4 and provides defaults for Forensics and Search. It can also be used in place of Perception to penetrate a disguise, and to recognise punishment marks in low-tech justice systems.

Mysteries is the oldest 4e source on Criminology, and explains that clues are found with sense or Forensics rolls and interpreted with Criminology. How to be a GURPS GM is more modern and uses simple Criminology for finding macroscopic evidence, although it seems to me that Per-based Criminology might often be useful. Mysteries also points out that while Criminology can be studied academically, many learn it on the street. Action has it in several lenses, and has advice on using it. Fantasy has the specialisation of Criminology (Occult) with defaults in both directions at -4 and Horror has a good section on doing investigations. Monster Hunters touches on it lightly and Powers mentions using it with Psychometry in Skills Enhancing Abilities. Social Engineering has several applications of the skill, as does Pulling Rank. Supers includes it in traditional crime-fighting, and Thaumatology: Magical Styles has it as a recommended skill for users of the Protection and Warning college.

Criminology appears on templates or lenses in Action, Banestorm, Abydos, Bio-Tech, Fantasy, Horror, Madness Dossier, Infinite Worlds, Martial Arts, FCCS, Monster Hunters, i, Reign of Steel: Will to Live, Space, Supers, and Thaumatology: Urban Magics. PU3: Talents and PU7: Wildcard Skills have examples that include Criminology.

A few characters of mine have had Criminology, but haven't rolled it very often. Having it on the sheet makes me more confident about making deductions myself on the assumption that having the skill means the GM will correct the obvious errors: this may seem like "using player skill, not character skill" but doing everything by rolling skills isn't very interesting.

Where has a lack of this skill led you astray?
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Old 12-27-2014, 04:55 PM   #2
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Criminology

This skill seems to get a fair amount of use in Ankh-Morpork City Watch Discworld demo game I've run at a number of conventions over the last year. Basically, it serves as the "knowing how this stuff is likely to go, if this is a normal investigation" skill when a bunch of Watchmen are trailing round the city (at worst, the "drop broad hints to clueless players" skill). It's the body of knowledge that lets a working copper handle routine criminal investigations without wasting too much time.

Of course, it's most fun when three PCs roll it, two of them make the roll, and the one who doesn't happens to have the highest Watch Rank.
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Old 12-27-2014, 09:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Criminology

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Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
Of course, it's most fun when three PCs roll it, two of them make the roll, and the one who doesn't happens to have the highest Watch Rank.
Heh. We had something akin to that in today's fantasy campaign: three PCs wanted to choose suitable cargo to ship across the Sea to the unknown lands of the West, so I said, "OK, roll Merchant-5." Two of them made normal failures, which I took as having no idea; the third made a critical failure, which I took as "confident and dead wrong."
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Old 12-27-2014, 09:30 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Criminology

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
... "confident and dead wrong."
That's my brother in a nutshell.
Literally ever single time he's said that he's 100% certain, he has been completely wrong.
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Old 12-27-2014, 10:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Criminology

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Where has a lack of this skill led you astray?
Not me, but in a currently running Supers campaign, none of my players chose any investigatory skills, so they're relying on the lucky character (three levels of Serendipity and Ridiculous Luck) to just stumble onto crime scenes in progress.
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Old 12-27-2014, 11:26 PM   #6
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Criminology

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Originally Posted by Culture20 View Post
Not me, but in a currently running Supers campaign, none of my players chose any investigatory skills, so they're relying on the lucky character (three levels of Serendipity and Ridiculous Luck) to just stumble onto crime scenes in progress.
In truth, it frequently works better to design your superhero character to find crime in progress (or have it find them) than to try to solve them after the fact. After all, unless you have Law Enforcement Powers you don't have legitimate access to crime scenes and very few of the clues you uncover will be admissible in a court of law. Chain of custody and all that.
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Old 12-31-2014, 02:05 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Criminology

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
That's my brother in a nutshell.
Literally ever single time he's said that he's 100% certain, he has been completely wrong.
That sounds more like Overconfidence and Unlucky.
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Old 12-31-2014, 04:34 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Criminology

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That sounds more like Overconfidence and Unlucky.
He made his own luck. I just found it funny that literally every time he used that expression, he was invariably wrong. A few times I would ask him if he's 100% sure; he would say, "yes", and turn out completely wrong again.
A couple of years ago he stopped saying it. He's still wrong a lot, of course, but avoids the words of doom.
The Dunning Kruger effect owns his butt.
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Old 01-05-2015, 12:56 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Criminology

This is another skill that seems to turn up more for colour than as an actual target for rolls. I haven't had that much evidence-gathering, and I really ought to print out a copy of the Most Famous Krommnote Ever (pp. 24-25 of How to Be a GURPS GM).
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Old 01-05-2015, 05:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Criminology

Criminology was covered in Agency 17 by Johnny, who only got sporadic use of the skill, sadly.

In my Monster Hunters game, Criminology has been covered by the Witchfinder, who did prevent a few murders by identifying clues that lead to knowing which family was being targeted.
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