OGC:Forensic Pathology (3.5e Heal Skill Use)
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|This material is published under the OGL 1.0a.
Heal represents knowledge of medicine and the humanoid body. By combining medical knowledge with alchemical techniques, it is possible to gain a significant amount of information from a corpse without the use of magic. Heal forms the basis of forensic pathology, but Craft (alchemy) allows you to test the characteristics of blood and is required for certain advanced actions.
Check: The following table indicates the type of information that can be gained with a Heal check, along with the DC of the check and the ranks in Craft (alchemy) that you must possess (if any). An alchemist and a healer can team up in order to perform a task.
|Nature of Information
|Craft (Alchemy) Ranks
|Cause of Death
|Presence of Foreign Substances
|Nature of Foreign Substances
|Time of Death
|0 or 8 ranks
Performing an autopsy requires approximately three hours. At the end of this time, you can make two checks (typically cause of death and examining the injury that caused death). Each additional check takes an additional thirty minutes to perform.
Cause of Death can be useful when you want to know if the crushing damage came after the victim was poisoned. This only provides general information: "She died as a result of decapitation" or "She appears to have died of natural causes." To obtain more specific details, you must make an additional check to examine the injury or determine the nature of foreign substances.
Examine Injury allows you to obtain information about a specific wound. If you make the check, you determine the basic cause of the injury (a narrow blade, a small blunt object, teeth). If you make the check by at least five points, you gain specific details about the weapon that caused the injury (a double-edged dagger with a six-inch blade). If you make the check by ten or more points, you gain information about the manner in which the wound was inflicted (the attacker was left handed, about six feet tall, and probably grabbed her from behind).
Presence of Foreign Substances reveals whether the victim had drugs, poison, or high levels of alcohol in his system when he died. As with a cause of death check, this information is not specific; it simply determines that something unnatural was present at the time of death.
Nature of Foreign Substances allows you to determine the specific nature of any substance you have identified. You must discover the presence of foreign substances before you can attempt to determine their nature.
Time of Death reveals when the victim was killed. This is an imprecise science at best. If the user does not possess the prerequisite levels of Craft (alchemy), time of death can only be determined to within 4d6 hours. With access to alchemy, the time can be pinpointed to within 1d6 hours.
Retry: You cannot retry a failed roll. If you miss the check by ten or more points you may come to a false conclusion, otherwise you will just be unable to obtain any useful information.
Special: Time is the enemy of the pathologist. Every twelve hours that passes from the point of death adds 2 to the DC of any autopsy check. In a swampy or tropical environment, this penalty is doubled; in an especially dry environment it is halved. The spell gentle repose will preserve a body in its current condition for the duration of the spell.
Certain poisons and drugs may be harder to detect than others. The GM should consider the poisons that exist within the gameworld; those that are difficult to trace could increase the DC of checks made to determine cause of death, presence of foreign substances, and nature of foreign substances by up to 5 points.
During the course of an autopsy, you may also make a Search check to notice any unusual details about the corpse. There may not be any; but perhaps you will notice a few threads of cloth caught under the victim’s fingernails, or a small tattoo that will prove to be relevant later. It is up to the GM to determine whether there are any facts to be discovered, and if so, what the DC of the check should be.