Interpersonal Abilities as Personal Traits

The most vivid GUMSHOE investigative abilities in play are the Interpersonal ones. They allow your characters to get information through extended dialogue with Game Master characters, requiring a touch more player skill than the Technical or Academic categories.

They also show, in the game’s imagined on-screen space, who your character is and what attitudes she brings to her interactions with others. It affects how the other players see her. So when creating your character, give some thought to what the ability you expect to use most says about her.

Figuring out what personal traits go with which interrogation tactic isn’t a complicated exercise. Here are some examples to get you thinking.

Bullshit Detector: A skeptic to the bone, you go into any situation expecting people to lie to you. The question is, which lies are reflexive, and which ones bear on the case at hand? Your caustic sensibility reveals itself in hard-boiled wisecracks.

Impersonate: A natural mimic and deceiver, you enjoy pulling the wool over others’ eyes. You observe people well enough to pretend to be them. A slickness and love of surfaces pervades your dealings with others.

Inspiration: A true idealist, you believe not only in your own principles, but in the capacity of others to rise to become their best selves.

Interrogation: You value the authority you earned from an official role as cop or law enforcement official. With that comes a taste for respect—a thing you expect, but dole out to others only reluctantly.

Intimidation: You bully your way to victory. You may be physically imposing, emotionally intense, or both. The first question you ask yourself in a new interaction is: how do I seize dominance here?

Negotiation: You see life as a series of transactions. You take pains to put on the kindly face of the reassuring questioner, but that’s all part of the wheeling and dealing. What does the other person want, you ask yourself in a new situation. How little can I give him to get it?

Reassurance: You project a kindly demeanor, and get what you want out of people through kindness and empathy. You start encounters asking yourself what everybody needs.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of all Interpersonal abilities in the GUMSHOE SRD, or the only possible treatment of the ones described here. But it will get you started as you wonder which of them warrants the spotlight of a 2 or 3 build point investment.

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GUMSHOE is the groundbreaking investigative roleplaying system by Robin D. Laws that shifts the focus of play away from finding clues (or worse, not finding them), and toward interpreting clues, solving mysteries and moving the action forward. GUMSHOE powers many Pelgrane Press games, including Trail of Cthulhu, Night’s Black Agents, Esoterrorists, Ashen Stars, Mutant City Blues and Fear Itself. Learn more about how to run GUMSHOE games, and download the GUMSHOE System Reference Document to make your own GUMSHOE products under the Open Gaming License or the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Unported License.

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