“Elementary my dear Watson”
An iconic phrase, nearly instantly recognizable to anyone learned in the English language. This trademark of Sherlock Holmes is about to have its explosion of in-game analogs. The investigator class from the recently released Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Advanced Class Guide is an effective and crisp alternative to the “skill monkey” party role.
It is also absolute roleplaying gold.
Playing a super-genius in game is hard because, of course, most of us are nowhere near that smart. However, the bursts of inspiration and other mechanical realities of the class demand expression.
Below are a few ideas on how to pull off your intellectual tower without having to be anywhere near as smart as your character:
Be a teacher – We are programmed from an early age that Teacher=Smart no matter what the reality is. Giving lessons to party members will often instantly pull up these ques. Fellow players may not be ready for this and may react to your character as condescending so take steps to manage that reaction unless you WANT to play an unlikable know-it-all.
Be authoratative – Make assertations. State facts. If your GM is comfortable with it, toss out extra “canon” information. “A cave troll, but at least it isn’t the Southern variety.” Expound with corellaries and addenda. A few prep “factoids” are a great idea here and a little GM collusion might go a long way,
Be verbose – So many people accept big words=big brain as a truism. Spend a few minutes polishing of some ten cent vocabulary and let fly with the pontificating.
Be eccentric – All too regularly our most “beautiful minds” are also a bit off. Compulsions, signature behaviors, catch phrase usage, and the like are fairly common to real world genius and will trigger responses appropriate to your character’s mighty mentality.
Be a buddy – Genius loves a sidekick. Whether the target of your lessons, the muscle to your mad science or your intellectual punching bag, smart guys love starring in a buddy flick. The cultural reference here is amazing. Also consider genius-on-genius pairing. Fitz and Simmons anyone?
When all else fails… be quiet – Thinking can be quiet work. Don’t hesitate to use that. Consider physical mannerisms in roleplaying here. Pursed lips, pen tapping, fingers to brow or mouth. Make your silence audible to the group. They may just start hanging on your next explosive epiphany.
No one is friends with the smartest guy in the room
As mentioned above, be ready for other players to hate your character. You can PR campaign and social engineer around it but often times people can’t hear “I am smart!” without also hearing “You are dumb.” Work on this from day one or your experience with playing the bright bulb may be too hot to handle.
However you play it… Play it
If you have been dying for some rich, creamy RP options, investigator is tailor made for the experience with solid (if conservative) mechanical options you won’t suffer in game play as you ready to deliver your next brilliant deduction.