Book Review: Unusual Suspects: Guide to an Interrogation Session by Robert Oglodzinski from Library of Ancient Scroll

When I started working with Robert Oglodzinski a few months ago, I reviewed Walls Can Talk, which collects a few “legends and adventure ideas” for fantasy and horror games. The layout, done by Michael Wolf (Stargazer of Stargazer’s World), was simple and effective to put the focus on the stories at hand. I thought it was good, but wished there were a bit more Grimm-inspired tales in the mix.

So when I decided to dive into Unusual Suspects: Guide to an Interrogation Session, I was a bit surprised to find how difficult it was to read because of the dark, mottled gray background. The text is laid out in two light gray, see-through boxes that show the background image through it, which acts to distract the eye from the words and attempt to piece the picture together. Perhaps it’s just my old eyeballs (seeing through trifocals), but this short book (that was originally 14 pages and then reformatted down to 5 pages) is painful.

Some of the content was covered in another article here, but boils down to making a group of players feel the heat when you interrogate their characters during a game. Techniques are described like isolating the player, laying out the facts, and playing on their paranoia can really ratchet things up if your PCs get captured by the authorities.

Playing the characters against each other has to be my favorite technique described… “Your friends [x], [y], and [z] are already on the street. They were released a few minutes ago after they finished being questioned… But you are still here. Do you want to join them? Then you better start talking!” And then using what one character says against another… “Did you know that [x] just gave you up? That’s right. He says he has indisputable proof that you were at [a] when the whole situation went down. Is that the way it was? Or is he just selling you out to get his freedom?”

There are tons of great cop movies (Dirty Harry comes to mind) and TV shows (Bones, The Mentalist, CSI) where interrogation is used as a tool. It may not immediately achieve results, but if you rattle a suspect and let them loose you can sometimes follow them to the bigger fish or where they stashed stolen goods, or whatever else you may want to entrap them for.

But Unusual Suspects includes tons of that sort of food for thought. How to get someone to admit their identity… Suggesting the consequences for what happens if they don’t answer the questions… Proving how much you already know about what they did and simply acting like you’re waiting for them to confirm it…

And then what happens if it’s a fantasy RPG? What sorts of creepy mind games could you play using magic as a tool? Whether subtly or overtly, how would you interrogate a wizard and not potentially die in the attempt?

So other than the fact that the book was difficult to read (and needs a bit more editing), I think Unusual Suspects would be handy for any GM playing in just about any genre. Captured PCs can lead to some quite interesting roleplaying encounters. Just remember that it’s only a game and the players are your friends. Friends don’t interrogate other friends – just their friends’ PCs!

Unusual Suspects is available for FREE at RPGNow. Check it out!

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