A lot can go wrong during an investigation. Especially when routing out sinister sorcerers, vile cultists, and even less savory individuals.
I'm of two minds about investigative scenarios. On the one hand, it's supposed to be frustrating, nerve-wracking, and just plain difficult to get at the truth. On the other, it sucks to hit dead end after dead end. When the trail runs cold and the party is out of ideas, that frustration bleeds into the player's emotional state - not just his character's.
Below is a table for when the GM feels the need to furnish the player characters with a break in the case. Randomly roll for each clue, contact, or newspaper article the investigators receive above and beyond the norm. There was no such thing as a free lunch in the 1930's and the same applies today. This is by no means a perfect fix, only my attempt at creating some kind of mutually satisfying middle ground... a third side, if you will.
Something Good for Something Bad
1. PC falls off the wagon. Unfortunately, addiction rears its ugly visage again. Could be alcoholism, anonymous sex, morphine, or perhaps even murder. Whatever a character's vice, the pressures of this investigation cause him to relapse.
2. PC's primary personal relationship falls apart. Could be a spouse, sister, brother, daughter, son, father, mother, uncle, or best friend. Whoever a character loves most - that relationship begins to disintegrate. Maybe they're in danger or dying or disgusted by the PC's actions.
3. Malaise. A PC feels out of sorts; just not himself. His malaise is accompanied by a lack of motivation and ambition - he just doesn't care enough about helping people or saving the world to continue the investigation.
4. Destitute. The character is having financial trouble. That's the polite way of saying he's flat broke. In fact, he probably owes someone money - maybe several people. You can bet there might be a gambling problem involved. At least some of the investigation has to take a backseat to making some money, ducking debt collectors with baseball bats, or changing his name and leaving town.
5. Marked for death. This PC has been chosen for some awful fate. Perhaps this was put into motion by those at the center of the investigation or maybe someone the character crossed paths with long ago. This is more than a couple of goons trying to teach the PC a lesson. A professional killer (of whatever type) is most likely involved.
6. Temptation. The PC has seen enough to know that he's on the losing side. Up until now, he's been able to turn a blind eye to the big picture. Not anymore. Sure, there are a few intrepid individuals striving to make the world a better place, but the opposition have actual gods on their side! Maybe a life of indulgence, power, and ruthless megalomania isn't so bad?
These complications should make life more interesting for the party in general and a certain PC in particular. Hopefully, finding a way out of this sticky wicket will draw out some excellent roleplaying opportunities.
Authored by Venger Satanis