A Base Class for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Color interior

By Megan Stevens

Detective fiction has been a staple of literature. The stories of C. Auguste Dupin, Sherlock Holmes, Judge Dee, Father Brown, the Hardy Boys, Hercule Poirot, Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, Dr. Who, and even Dr. Gregory House have captivated the minds and hearts of many.

Detectives can see through any ploy, solve any crime, foil any villain, and always remain one step ahead of their prey. Some are literal officers of the law; some are nothing more than brilliant amateur sleuths; and others work as private investigators for hire. Whatever the case may be, they are all astute and wield their repartee like a sword to dispel ignorance and overcome mystery wherever they go. Hit Dice: D8.

Role: First and foremost, detectives are masters of skills - a role they share with rogues - but have a unique niche: they can solve mysteries with their class features! They have the ability to test theories and have them confirmed before making accusations. They can even shape the world to conform to their conclusions.

Detectives are not only skilled in the art of deduction, but they can serve as capable combatants. Contradictory to most classes, detectives can easily ascertain the weaknesses of their enemies and will often allocate time to do so. In addition, they land more consistent critical blows. Yet, this benefit is counterbalanced by a d8 Hit Dice and a mediocre attack bonus.

Alignment: Any

Detectives generally have lawful alignments and tend to be neutral or good. Chaotic detectives exist; they make wild jumps in logic that a more disciplined mind would miss. This “shoot from the hip” style of detective work often puts them on the wrong side of the chain of command and may land them in hot water. Evil detectives can be criminal masterminds who play chess games with the law or Machiavellian shadows who command vast criminal empires.

Playing a Detective: One of the largest challenges faced by one who writes (or plays) a character with an uncanny intelligence in fiction is the character’s interaction with the world. Many mystery writers have discovered tricks, like using less intelligent characters or partners as explanatory devices, to help ease the disconnect in levels of relative intelligence. A favored trick (particularly of Sir Doyle of Holmes fame) was to shape the world to the wit of the character (see the “deduction” class feature). One trick a savvy detective should learn to employ is to “corner the truth” by smartly choosing his wording with his conclusion class feature and ascertaining more specific information than a typical yes/no question would provide.

Starting Wealth: 5d6 × 10 gp (average 175 gp.). In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less and a magnifying glass or other masterwork tool of choice (of the same approximate value) that is suitable for detection.

Class SkillsEdit

The detective’s class skills are Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Knowledge (all) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 8 + Int modifier.

Table: Detective


Base Attack Bonus

Fort Save

Ref Save

Will Save







Conclusions, eureka points, modus operandi






Investigative edge, watchful eye






Bonus feat, deduction






Modus operandi, sidekick






Eclectic interests, mental acuity (knowledges)












Bonus feat, mental acuity (skills)






Modus operandi






Eclectic interests, mental acuity (attacks)






Critical thinking






Bonus feat






Modus operandi






Eclectic interests












Bonus feat






Modus operandi






Eclectic interests












Bonus feat






Eternal eureka!, modus operandi

Class FeaturesEdit

The following are the class features of the detective.

Weapon and Armor ProficienciesEdit

The detective is proficient with all simple weapons, plus one martial (non-exotic) weapon of his choosing. He is proficient with light and medium armor but not with shields.

Eureka Points (Ex):Edit

At 1st level, the detective can claim “eureka points,” which represent correct conclusions he has drawn. A detective can only a claim a number of eureka points equal to 1/2 his detective level + his Wisdom modifier per day. He may spend as many in a day as he wishes, but they do not carry over after he rests. Each day, after 8 hours of rest, the detective begins with 1 point automatically claimed and ready for his use.

The detective can “claim” these points in three fashions:

  • Firstly, the detective can claim eureka points by correctly proving a hypothesis about a mystery without sufficient information. The proven hypothesis must be relevant to the plot of the game at hand. The hypothesis must be backed up by the detective and proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. It should not be apparent to the average player and may contain information obtained via a Knowledge check to support it. (However, simply making a successful Knowledge check is not sufficient enough to provide an eureka point.) By making hypotheses in this fashion, the detective may not gain more than a single eureka point per scene*.

  • Per Scene: While this is not a direct reference to a mechanical denomination of time in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, it is more a reference of passage of literary events in terms of the story. Individual conclusions should only be rewarded with a single eureka point rather than separate point rewards.
  • Secondly, the detective can claim points by identifying an enemy creature during combat. He must have never identified the same kind of creature before. He can gain as many eureka points as he wishes by identifying creatures. He may also claim points by identifying creatures who are attempting to conceal their identities and are relevant to the plot.

  • Thirdly, he can claim eureka points by using his modus operandi class features.

He may use these points, as a free action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, to draw conclusions (see the conclusions class feature) and fuel other class features.

(Sidebar) Examples of Ways to Claim Eureka Points:Edit

  • A detective finds a murdered man whom he identifies via a Knowledge (nobility) check as the prince’s attendant. Having seen the attendant with the prince hours before and knowing that the body before him is too old to have been freshly murdered, the detective draws a conclusion that the doppelganger they are hunting is masquerading as the prince’s attendant. Declaring this to his party, he is rewarded with an eureka point.

  • A detective makes a Knowledge (planes) check to ascertain that the devil he is interrogating is bound by an ancient contract never to lie when it is talking to a male. By asking it the name of the creature who stole the Ice Heart Ruby, he learns that it was Zaphos the Blasphemer. When he presents this knowledge to his party, he is rewarded with an eureka point.

  • During the first round of combat, a detective uses his Knowledge (religion) check to identify the skeletal creature before his party as a lich. Because this was the first time he had identified a lich within combat, he gains an eureka point. However, he could not gain another eureka point for identifying another skeletal creature as a lich ever again.

Conclusions (Ex):Edit

The detective’s mind is always grasping at tangential connections between facts. At 1st level, by using 1 eureka point, he may ask a single yes or no question to the GM regarding the game plot or a fact about the world. The GM may only answer “yes” or “no,” nothing more, and the answer has to be based on information known at present. (If the detective asks, “Is the Count alive?”, “Yes” would be correct at the time of the asking if he is currently alive, but he may be killed after asking.)

This must be used to ascertain facts, not secure advice. (“Did the knight kill his squire?” would be an appropriate question but “Would going to Mt. Blue  be a good idea?” would not be.) If the answer is foggy or requires explanation, the GM may offer a little insight, but the GM cannot provide more information than what is already known. Esoteric questions or questions with no real answers are met with “no” answers.

Unlike spells, such as augury or divination, there is no margin for error in this feat, but it contains no predictive element. This class feature only answers existing questions in a binary fashion and offers no advice.

Modus Operandi (Ex):Edit

The way each detective works is unique to their own minds. The particular methods of their deductions and the playbooks they use are different for each. Some work on “hunches”; others take an extremely analytical approach; and others work the people rather than the facts. While one detective might enjoy theatrics and pomp, another might find it abhorrent and need total silence. At 1st level, the detective selects one of the modus operandi features listed below and gains the 4th level benefit listed for it. Once selected, this cannot be changed. At 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the detective gains another benefit of his modus operandi.

Reader (Cha):Edit

“If you confront anyone who has lied with the truth, he will usually admit it - often out of sheer surprise. It is only necessary to guess right to produce your effect.”

-Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express

A detective who reads people rather than evidence can productively study people and their body language to gain information, and he prefers to follows social cues rather than hard facts.

  • 1st Level: The detective treats Intimidate as a class skill.

  • 4th Level: The detective can claim 1 eureka point for every 2 successful Sense Motive checks he makes against an opponent. He may never claim more than his Charisma modifier in eureka points per day with this class feature.

  • 8th Level: The detective can use his Charisma on Knowledge checks in place of his Intelligence and additionally gains a +2 bonus on all Charisma based skill checks.

  • 12th Level: The detective may re-roll any failed Charisma-based skill check at a +4 bonus by expending 1 eureka point.

  • 16th Level: The detective adds 1/2 his detective level to Bluff and Sense Motive checks.

  • 20th Level: The detective automatically knows when a creature is attempting to lie to him (as per discern lies).

Scientific (Int):Edit

“Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it ["A Study in Scarlet"] with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story... Some facts should be suppressed, or, at least, a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them. The only point in the case which deserved mention was the curious analytical reasoning from effects to causes, by which I succeeded in unravelling it.”

-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

A detective who employs the scientific method and who has a baseline understanding of forensics is particularly effective at piecing distant clues together.

  • 1st Level: The detective treats Heal as a class skill.

  • 4th Level: The detective gains 1 eureka point for every 2 “yes” answers he secures on conclusions he attempts to draw. He may never claim more than his Intelligence modifier in eureka points per day with this class feature.

  • 8th Level: The detective may re-roll any failed Intelligence based check at a +4 bonus by expending 1 eureka point.

  • 12th Level: The detective adds 1/2 his detective level as a miscellaneous bonus to 3 Knowledge skills of his choosing and 3 Craft skills of his choosing.

  • 16th Level: The detective can take 10 on any attempt to identify creatures in the same time it would take to make a normal check even if the situation would not normally allow him to do so.

  • 20th Level: The detective can take 20 on any attempt to identify creatures in the same time it would take to make a normal check even if the situation would not normally allow him to do so.

Gut Reactions (Wis):Edit

"I believe in intuitions and inspirations. I sometimes feel that I am right. I do not know if I am.”

-Albert Einstein

Instinct is what keeps the prey one step ahead of its predator, and only a fool would ignore their instincts. A detective who works using his gut reaction follows hunches, makes wild leaps of logic, plays long odds, and never does what is expected.

  • 1st Level: The detective treats Appraise as a class skill.

  • 4th Level: Every time the detective successfully makes a Will save, he is restored 1 eureka point. He may never claim more than his Wisdom modifier in eureka points per day with this class feature.

  • 8th Level: The detective can use his Wisdom on Knowledge checks in place of his Intelligence and additionally gains a +2 bonus on all Wisdom based skill checks.

  • 12th Level: The detective can take 10 on any attempt to follow a hunch with his Sense Motive class feature in the same time it would take to make a normal check even if the situation would not normally allow him to do so.

  • 16th Level: The detective gains the evasion class feature of the rogue.

  • 20th Level: The detective can take 20 on any attempt to follow a hunch with his Sense Motive class feature in the same time it would take to make a normal check even if the situation would not normally allow him to do so.

Watchful Eye (Ex):Edit

At 2nd level, the detective may always act normally in a surprise round.

Investigative Edge (Ex):Edit

At 2nd level, the detective is rewarded with more information than what is typically available to the average character who successfully identifies creatures. He gains more information than simply the creature’s special powers and vulnerabilities. By every 5 the detective beats the required DC to identify the creature, he may select one of the follow categories of information to become privy to.


  • Movement speed and forms of movement

  • Number and type of attacks

  • The nature and reach of attacks (including special attacks)

  • Total (current) base attack bonus

  • Total CMB


  • Total and current hit points

  • Number of HD

  • Total CMD

  • Total AC (not flat-footed or touch)


  • Any vulnerabilities or special resistances (DR, elemental resistances, spell resistances etc.)

  • The creature’s subtype (as its type is revealed by the type of check required)

  • Caster level and 4 known spells or spells-like abilities

  • Ability scores

Detective Bonus Feats:Edit

At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the detective gains a bonus feat in addition to those he would gain from normal progression. These feats cannot be combat, metamagic, or racial feats.

Deduction (Ex):Edit

At 3rd level, once per week, by using 3 eureka points, the detective may make a statement that will, in some way, result in being true.

However, there are limitations to the type of deductions that can be made. If the deduction violates one of the following rules, it fails, and the eureka points are still expended. The deduction cannot alter previously stated facts, cannot affect players’ characters (as all facts are potentially stated in their head), cannot be disruptive to the game, cannot be frivolous, and cannot be ridiculous (“That sword is made of spaghetti!”). Additionally, the deduction may not mechanically preempt the outcome of events that are mechanically governed (such as a skill check or combat) or conflict with major plot elements (at the GM’s discretion, such a deduction can be ignored), but in both instances the spent eureka points can be refunded.

The effect of a deduction is determined by the GM. The GM might twist it slightly; however, it should never be harmful or negative to the detective.


  • A detective could deduce: “The king is a woman,” but it might not be true. The king might have a vestigial female twin in his body or have dressed in women’s clothing recently to escape from a dangerous situation.

  • A detective could deduce: “The [villain] is not evil.” While this may not mechanically change the villain's alignment, it could reveal/change something regarding his motivation.

  • A detective could not deduce: "We will defeat [the villain]" as this would conflict with a major plot element and would mechanically pre empt the outcome of something mechanically governed. However, deducing “we will receive help if we fight the mad priest” could be true. A conclusion like that might manifest itself as help from an unwelcome source or come in a more abstract form (such as the location of the fight).

Sidebar: Adventure PathsEdit

Deductions can be a problematic class feature when playing very structured games, such as adventure paths. There are three ways to address this. The first is to allow the detective to alter things but not alter things that would be vital to the adventure path (as per the “disruptive to the adventure” rule). The second option would be to use the structure of the adventure path to the detective's advantage and allow the detective to use his deductive class feature to learn something vital he would not have otherwise learned. (If using this option, make it worth the larger investment of eureka points over what the detective could learn using the conclusions class feature) The third option would be to disallow the deductions class feature and replace it with the bard’s bardic knowledge class feature.


At 4th level, the detective gains the service of an NPC equal to his detective level -3 who becomes the detective’s sidekick. The sidekick’s race must be common and unremarkable to the area the detective resides in, and the sidekick’s class must be an NPC class from the following list: adept, commoner, warrior, expert, or aristocrat. The sidekick does not have any money or equipment (other than the clothes on his back). Accordingly, the detective is responsible for the wellbeing of his sidekick. His sidekick’s room and board are traditionally deducted from the detective’s own coinpurse.

The sidekick uses the same method of ability generation as the detective but at a lower tier. If the method of strat generation is ability score points, the sidekick gets -5 less than the detective. The sidekick’s feats and ability selection are left up to the discretion of the detective’s player. However, the sidekick’s actions are governed in part by the GM. At the GM’s discretion, the detective’s player may govern his sidekick directly and typically does so during combat.

If the detective’s relationship with the sidekick should sour to a point where they are no longer able to work together (or if the sidekick should die), the detective may fire his sidekick and hire a new one after 1 month. Should the detective die, the sidekick is no longer employed by him. At the GM’s discretion, the sidekick may be retained if efforts are being made to return the detective to life. The detective’s sidekick is not a familiar, mount, or animal companion and does not qualify for feats as such.

On the other hand, the detective may forgo retaining a sidekick. If he does, he may allow himself a deeper connection with the other members of his party. This allows him to provide a bonus on all Initiative checks equal to his Wisdom bonus to all allies at the start of combat. Additionally, the detective that forsakes a sidekick can spend a standard action to provide all his allies with 1d4 bonus precision damage until the start of the detective’s next turn against a single target he has already identified. This is a language dependent effect with a range of 60 feet.

Eclectic Interests:Edit

At 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the detective may invest time into learning an eclectic hobby or field of study. He gains the benefits of his selected class features below. This provides him with context for the actions and investigations he will be performing in the future. However, as they are bizarre and often nonsensical to those around him, the detective will often keep them a secret.

Wondrous Weapons:Edit

The detective becomes proficient with 3 exotic weapons and may count his fighter level as being equal to 1/2 his detective level for the purpose of meeting prerequisites. These levels stack with fighter levels. Additionally, he gains a +2 insight bonus on attack rolls with any exotic weapon he is proficient with.

Fairy Tale Lore:Edit

The detective can select 3 1st or 2nd level spells from the bard spell list that he may cast as spell-like abilities. He can cast them a number of times per day equal to 1/2 his Charisma modifier (min 1). In addition, the detective can take 10 on any attempt to identify fey in the same time it would take to make a normal check even if the situation would not normally allow him to do so.

Foreign Lands:Edit

The detective understands and can speak 6 new (non-secret) languages. Additionally, when immersed in a culture for at least 24 hours, he becomes fluent in all the primary languages of that culture. In addition, he gains a +4 insight bonus on attempts to identify humanoid creatures.

Curious Chemicals:Edit

The detective gains a +4 insight bonus on Craft (alchemy) checks. In addition, he is immediately aware of any ingested poisoned and may chose to spit it out (negating the effect) if he wishes. Finally, the detective can never accidentally poison himself when applying a poison.

Mind Boggling Biology:Edit

The detective gains a +4 insight bonus on attack and damage rolls against creatures with the animal subtype. In addition, the detective can take 10 on any attempt to identify animals in the same time it would take to make a normal check even if the situation would not normally allow him to do so.

Wondrous Inventions:Edit

The detective gains a +4 insight bonus on Use Magic Device checks and always automatically passes such checks if the DC is 20 or lower (emulating a class feature or using a wand).

Exciting Engineering: Edit

The detective gains a +4 insight bonus on Knowledge (engineering) checks. In addition, the detective can take 10 on any attempt to identify constructs in the same time it would take to make a normal check even if the situation would not normally allow him to do so. Finally, he becomes proficient in all simple and martial firearms*.

  • If the campaign does not allow for firearms, he may substitute this for all exotic crossbows.


A detective gains a +4 insight bonus on Spellcraft checks made to identify spells and is always treated as if he has cast detect magic for the purposes of determining if he can identify spells. In addition, he treats Spellcraft as a class skill.

Mental Acuity (Ex):Edit

Starting at 5th level, the detective can select the result of a d20 roll and treat the selected number as the natural roll. If the detective wishes to select a number 16 or higher, he must pay 1 eureka point. When using this ability within a 24 hour period, the detective my never select the same number twice. The detective may also never select a number within 5 of the last number he selected (+ or -). However, he can use this ability as much as he can. This represents the detective’s methodical approach to dissecting motives and patterns to elicit the outcomes he desires. Mental Acuity may not be utilized with mechanics that allow the detective to re-roll dice.

At 5th level, he may only use this on Knowledge skill checks. At 7th level, he may also use this on any non-Dexterity or non-Strength based skill check. At 9th level, once per day, he may also use this on an attack roll or critical confirmation roll.

Check (Ex):Edit

At 6th level, the detective can pay 1 eureka point to automatically confirm a critical hit.

Critical Thinking (Ex):Edit

At 10th level, the detective may increase the critical threat range of any weapon he wields by his Wisdom modifier to a maximum of 1/5th of his detective level. This only functions while he has at least 1 claimed but unused eureka point. This does not stack with the keen weapon enhancement or other sources that modify his critical range (such as the Improved Critical feat).

Vigilance (Ex):Edit

At 14th level, any ally within 30 feet of the detective may act normally in a surprise round.

Checkmate (Ex):Edit

At 18th level, the detective can pay 1 eureka point to elevate a normal hit to a critical threat. He must still roll to confirm the critical hit. This may be used in conjunction with the check class feature, but he would still need to spend a total of 2 eureka points. Finally, any time the detective critically hits, any weapon damage dice are considered to have rolled maximum (but not sneak attack damage, for example).

Eternal Eureka:Edit

At 20th level, a detective gains 2 eureka points each time he would normally gain one from a detective class feature. In addition, he may make deductions daily rather than weekly.

Section 15 OGL Copyright Declaration:Edit

• Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

• System Reference Document. Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, based on material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

• Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Copyright 2009, Paizo Inc.; Author: Jason Bulmahn, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.

• The Book of Experimental Might. Copyright 2008, Monte J. Cook. All rights reserved.

• Tome of Horrors. Copyright 2002, Necromancer Games, Inc.; Authors: Scott Greene, with Clark Peterson, Erica Balsley, Kevin Baase, Casey Christofferson, Lance Hawvermale, Travis Hawvermale, Patrick Lawinger, and Bill Webb; Based on original content from TSR.

• Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Advanced Player’s Guide. © 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Jason Bulmahn

• Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Combat. © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC;

• Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Magic™. © 2012, Paizo Publishing, LLC

• The Detective’s Handbook 2014, Little Red Goblin Games LLC, Authors: Scott Gladstein, Christos Gurd, Dayton Johnson, Caleb Alysworth, Jeremiah Zerby

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