My favorite niche in fiction has always been the detective. Whether it was in Pushing Daisies, to the ever entertaining Sherlock Holmes, to Poe's Dupin. In response to Heliomance's Iron Chef Challenge
, I decided to make another thread dedicated to the concept of Detective Dipsh*t: PI for hire.
Definition of a detective for our purposes: A detective is an investigator, either a member of a police agency or a private person. The latter may be known as private investigators (P.I.s or "Private I's", hence the play-on-words, "Private Eyes"). Informally, and primarily in fiction, a detective is any licensed or unlicensed person who solves crimes, including historical crimes, or looks into records. Source
Note: substitute puzzle for crime.
Objective: Within the limit of a standard level 20 build, create a character that is both flavorful and optimized for the purpose of both discovering INFORMATION (detailed below) and preparing for a battle with what you know(aka being batman). Of course, there are other considerations to take for what to do after you've solved your mystery or nabbed the bad guy. Do you want them alive? Do you need to lockpick? Need to convince them to come willingly? Choose any theme that fits your fancy and add it to your builds repertoire.
On the nature of Gathering Information & Co
There are three main ways to go about Gathering Information; through Scry(and the logical extension of Die) - like spells, the skill with the same name, and roleplay. We will exclude roleplay means of Gathering Information, the logic being you don't need an optimized build for that.
But the goal remains the same: information. If you want to scry(and make your DM cry [RHYME]), then a spellcasting build is just your thing. If you are going the skill route, maybe go the changeling rogue sub for easier GI checks.
While your primary skill may be Gather Info, it is by no means the most important. Diplomacy, knowlege skills, even providing professional/craft skills have a place. Bonus points for using other skills as well.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Information you receive is highly defendant on your DM. Does this defeat the purpose? Hell no. Some situations will require you to think, and your build should be able to make that INT check for you, like a factotum. For information, a detective usually goes through things like research, forensics, historical records, interrogation, to just plain using their noggin.
Material: Any, though sources people tend to have are best.
woah boy, here comes a rant :/
Some characters only work in certain settings and/or environments, such as in Eberron with a house inquisitive. Provide a backstory that cements the character as a PI.
While we could stat up level 20 builds, that's no fun. Try to make them at the lowest level possible, because you don't need to beat the guy above you for this. You just need to be good at what you do for your level. So bonus points for all levels less than 20. This guideline helps to illustrate how versatile and resourceful your build can be.