4E Investigative Reporting Rules

August 26, 2012 - Design

One of the characters in my campaign is an investigative reporter and we’ve been using an ad-hoc system to cover the stories he reports. To better support his character type I’ve been meaning to translate the rules from the first edition sourcebook Shadowbeat, into something more useable since we first started playing. Today here they are.


Reporting a story is comprised of two phases, the investigation and the reporting phases. The investigation phases is when the reporter is gathering the supporting evidence for his story and the reporting phase is used when he submits it to his publisher and gets paid.

The Investigation Phase

The investigative phase covers the gathering and interpreting of evidence linked to the story. The evidence gathered is made up of two types: Supporting Media (Footage, Sound Recordings, and data files) and Interviews. Evidence is rated between 0 and 6 depending on the quality and impact of the evidence. A seventh rating, P is used to distinguish clear, irrefutable proof from other less reliable forms of evidence. Proof can only be obtained by performing a run or a series of investigations not through a single dice roll. As a story develops evidence should be recorded in the following format until the reporter is ready to file the story.

Case #: A unique identifer for the story
Timestamp: The number of days since the material was obtained.
Type: Media or Interview
Rating: The rating of the material (1-6, or “P”).
Description: A description of the material.

Supporting Media

Media is everything else not covered by the interview. It could include footage, pictures, sound recordings, and datafiles. Each piece of media is rated between 1 and 6 unless the media depicts something irrefutable in which case the rating is P.  Most media can be gathered with the perception skill with the number of successes determining the media’s rating. For other types of media determine an applicable skill and modifiers to determine the rating. Finally determine if the media represents evidence that is mundane, dramatic or sensational and reduce the rating according to the table below. Media rated P cannot be reduced in this manner.

Media Type
Mundane: -1d6
Dramatic: -1d3
Sensational: 0


Interviewing a metahuman as part of an investigation is covered by the active skills etiquette, negotiation, and interrogation. Successful interviews have ratings similar to the ratings used for supporting media. There are 3 types of interview that can be performed each with a different linked skill. The types of interview are: Casual (Etiquette), Friendly (Negotiation) and Hostile (Interrogation).

Casual Interviews

Casual interviews are performed at the scene of something newsworthy against a group of metahumans. Casual interviews often do not produce high-rated interview material. Perform etiquette + charisma (Group’s Willpower) test with each success beyond the threshold adding to the interview’s final rating. A group will not be able to provide any evidence if they did not witness it and what they know may limit the final rating.

Friendly Interviews

Friendly interviews involve an interview intended to let someone put his view across regarding the stories subject matter. To perform a friendly interview first determine a rating that represents how relevant the subjects expertise is (e.g. 2 – highly relevant, 12 – not related) then perform a negotiation + charisma (Relevance rating) test with each success beyond the threshold adding to the interview’s final rating.

Hostile Interviews

Hostile interviews are performed as standard interrogation tests with the number of successes determining the final rating of the interview.

The Reporting Phase

The reporting phase is performed when the reporter is ready to break the story. First he must determine which pieces of information are still relevant to the story. For each piece of investigation make an opposed test between the evidences rating and the number of days that have past since the evidence was obtained. If no successes were rolled then the information is no longer relevant and cannot be used. “P” rated evidence does not go stale and automatically passes the test.

The final part of of the reporting phase is delivering the story to the publishers and getting paid. Total the number of remaining pieces of evidence and add this result to reporter’s negotiation pool. Now make an opposed negotiation + charisma test between the reporter and the publisher. The monetary figure the publisher will pay is really up in the air but should reflect the true value of the story with each success moving the figure by 10%.

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