Sleuth (5e Background)

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An eye for mystery, an ear for trouble and a nose to sniff out the answers. Those are the most touted traits of any good sleuth. They are like detectives, but with a penchant for the more unsavory kinds of investigation. Sleuthing originally was a term for animals who had a nose for scents. Nowadays, it means people trying to figure things out. But sleuths do still have that connotation of a lesser kind of investigator, compared to the often state-sanctioned detective. Sleuths are scrappier and work at their own leisure, much like private eyes or private hires, rather than policeman detectives.

When making a character of this background, keep in mind the key feature: curiosity. Sleuths rarely have a good sense of privacy. They'll peep and pry to get down to the bottom of things like sharks to blood. Their own lives are often second to an investigation, meaning many of them are quite reckless and meet some ill-fated end. However, that is not to say all sleuths follow their noses without a brain. Sleuths are best known for their deductive thinking capabilities and questioning faculties, which is what keeps the wheels turning and the plot thickening. Mysteries are their daily bread and butter.

When making a sleuth character, ask yourself these questions: What prompted your character down this path of investigation? Justice? Pure curiosity? What was the biggest discovery your character ever made in their career? Or is this just some side hobby to amuse their boredom? Do you dive straight into a good story, or do you like to take a step back and wait for more clues to appear? Do you even care if you're peeping in a bath or snooping in someone else's house?

Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Insight

Tool Proficiencies: Forgery kit or disguise kit

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: Belt pouch with 10gp, a magnifying glass, and a set of traveler's clothes

Sleuth Type

Sleuths come in various shapes and sizes. Some actually are the hired kind, like detectives. Others are more specialized in certain cases of their fancy. Their skills make them niche investigators sometimes, such as locators, who specialize in finding people, or surveillance, which specializes in watching and monitoring.

d6 Specialization
1 Policing Mysteries (Murder)
2 Surveillance (Stake Out)
3 Locating (Missing Persons)
4 Background Search (Dirt Digger)
5 Fraternizer (Stool Pigeon)
6 Dowser (Item Finder)

Feature: Cozy With The Law

Your work often brings you within close proximity of the authorities. Maybe you were nearly mistaken for an illegal trespasser yourself or you helped with an investigation as part of a hired gig. One way or another, some people in law enforcement can foresee your involvement in cases and are possibly friendly to you. Discuss with your DM the nature of this relationship. Perhaps you have a contact within the law that sends you small bits of information or gossip in exchange for help on their own matter. Or, maybe there are particularly close eyes on your activities from the local guards. These relationships are only slightly interventionist and they will not intervene on your behalf if it will endanger their own skin.

Alternate Feature: Blackmail

One day, you stumbled upon someone's dark secret. To this day, you have kept your mouth shut, but not for free. This person whom you have dirt on is your reliable patsy. They are willing to put you and your allies up with room and board as well as pay for expenses. However, they may not be so inclined to save your skin if it means they can get rid of you.

Suggested Characteristics

d8 Personality Trait
1 You are always sticking your nose where it doesn't belong.
2 You have an eye for detail, always analysing.
3 Many years on the streets have prepared you for every eventuality.
4 You always introduce yourself with a smile, it helps getting the info you want.
5 You like to contemplate everything you encounter with careful thought.
6 You are prepared to roll up the sleeves when required.
7 You have a case file on everyone you're friends with.
8 You have plenty of wisecracks on hand, whether helpful or not.
d6 Ideal
1 Truth I must hold the law, dishing out justice to those who break it. (Lawful)
2 Corrupt Sometimes to rise up others must fall, whether guilty or not. (Evil)
3 Honourable I help out even the smallest of people, they deserve justice. (Good)
4 Reckless To solve a crime you may need to commit a crime. (Chaotic)
5 Greedy Sure, I'll help you, for a price. (Neutral)
6 Duty It's my job, someone's gotta do it. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 My partner died because of me, it won't happen again.
2 There is a mob boss who wants me dead.
3 My tutor showed me what the real world is like, I respect them for that.
4 A strange figure helped me out on my toughest case, i must repay them for their help.
5 I've been stuck on this case for many years, I will solve it one day.
6 My badge of office is more important to me than anyone else.
d6 Flaw
1 Everything can be evidence, even the silverware.
2 I'm not above beating the information out of people.
3 I can be deceptive in order to get what i want.
4 Once I find something of interest, it will take over my life.
5 I can easily be persuaded by gold.
6 I can't resist a pretty face.

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