Pulp Krieg: Heroes - Private Investigator
$Revision: 1.9 $

Sam Spade

Private Investigator template

Sam Spade, Marlowe, The Continental Op... the archetypal P.I.s, as portrayed in comics, movies and novels, have a lot in common. They are usually loners, ready to accept though cases and go to the end of them, betraying the fact that even if they look and act cynical, their main motivation is usually moral instead of greed. No Pulp P.I. will consider a case successfully completed if his sense of justice has not been satisfied.
The classical P.I. usually operates from a not-too-glamorous office, has a car, a gun, and a small network of friends and ex-customers who may help him checking license plates, doing background searches and so on.
The main weak point of this character are usually some form of addiction (and in this case women count as a dangerous substance), his own sense of duty, and the risk of losing his license.
From a GM point of view this character is pretty useful if s/he wants to run city-based adventures. A P.I. may easily fit in most urban situations, and he can provide a good starting point for many adventures (instead of the old cliché of having a distant cousin or former army buddy call the party for help).
On the other hand, if you prefer a globetrotting campaign through exotic locales, this character would have some problem fitting in.

The license

City of San Francisco


License no.


Being a licensed Private Investigator is a very weak form of the Authority Perk. It costs just 1 character point (not factored in the costs listed below), and gives the character a nifty badge, the right to carry a concealed firearm and very little else, in terms of actual authority.
The license is granted by the local police force, and it can be revoked quite easily... in most novels and movies the policemen often try to goad P.I.s by threatening to revoke it.
Anyone with no crime record could probably ask for a license (unless they are black, that is... but there is some fictional precedent for an Oriental P.I.). In practice ex- policemen will be able to get it more easily. Another popular way to get one is to join a larger agency (like Pinkerton) and then "go solo" after a few years of hands-on experience.
Fictional detectives often claimed some sort of detective-client relationship (akin to the one for lawyers and doctors) which allegedly allowed them to keep investigation details from the police.
While doctors and lawyers do enjoy this kind of protection (forcing them to surrender details requires a subpoena) nothing similar ever existed for P.I.s, in reality, so obscuring or keeping information from the police may be prosecuted (even if apparently the police just preferred roughing up the detective, at least according to pulp sources).
If the P.I. is actually working for a lawyer, his findings can fall under the law protecting lawyer-customer relationship, though.
In practice, detectives in movies and novels keep their mouth shut and their clients out of the picture by integrity and as a form of professional service, but they will have to face the full consequences in case of problems.

AGI: 0APP: 0BUI: 0CRE: 0FIT: 0
INF: 0KNO: 1PER: 1PSY: 1WIL: 0
STR: 0HEA: 0STA: 25UD: 4AD:3

Skill levels
Combat Sense1+1
Human Perception1+1
Small Arms10

Cost: (Attribute 19)/(Skills 25)

Typical Equipment: Gun, car, camera, flashlight, office.
Typical Perks: Allies, Contacts, Favor, Lucky.
Typical Flaws: Addiction, Code of Honor.


In order to get a more "dignified" consulting detective, a la Philo Vance, invest a little more in Grooming, Etiquette and KNO based skills (see also the Dilettante template. Another interesting variation could be a detective working for a large Insurance company. If you want to include arson, sabotage and maritime disaster in his line of work (downplaying the more standard thefts and blackmailing), add some specific skills like Tinker, Demolition, Piloting. The result will be a character better suited to take part in adventures in exotic locales.
Historically, a female P.I. would be a little hard to accept, even if their existence is pretty normal today. The idea could be interesting, but be sure that the player understands that most people would not have much faith in the lady ability to do "a man's job".