You were just someone ordinary, another mundane in the world, but then you saw something inexplicable. This event changed you, and started you down a path to truth that now dominates your life. You know there’s weird stuff out there, and you are determined to discover it all and offer what aid you can to guide investigative parties where they need to be to help prevent another tragedy from taking place.
The searcher class isn’t the conspiracy theorist who finds the patterns that leads to truth or the normal everyday man who levels up like crazy because they get no special abilities while trying to fight, and constantly overmatched. The Searcher playbook from Monster of the Week: Tome of Mysteries is somewhere in the middle, not an Expert or Professional, but the dogged amateur investigating all sorts of hoaxes and frauds in pursuit of finding more genuine weird events.
This doggedness is one of the main traits of The Searcher, as shown in their own words:
There’s still so much to be discovered and explained, even now. Perhaps only one event in a thousand is true weirdness – but I’ll investigate them all to find out.The Searcher, Monster of the Week, Tome of Mysteries p.50
The Searcher wasn’t one of the original playbooks for Monster of the Week but was added to fill a perceived gap in roleplaying that wasn’t filled by The Expert, The Flake, or The Professional playbooks from the original system. An investigation first class, there are several moves that allow you to get an edge over the Mundane or direct your particular Searcher in a direction you want whether it’s as someone whose third eye has opened, an investigator who works well under pressure, or even additional immunity from certain types of attack or damage.
There’s a lot here to unpack, so let’s dive in and figure out if the Searcher playbook is the character class you have been searching for…apologies for the terrible pun.
What Is the Searcher Class In Monster of the Week RPG?
In my eyes the Searcher Playbook in Monster of the Week is a mish-mash of a class that seems to take a piece from one class and a move from another and puts a buffet of options on the table, some with an additional twist or bit of flavor. This isn’t a specialist in any sense of the word, but they are a character class that can choose one or several different skills to focus on depending on what this particular party needs.
You are the amateur who maybe believed in the unnatural before but didn’t have any experience until that moment. This could have been from a variety of options (check First Encounter moves further down the page to learn more – advanced players and Keepers can even customize another one if needed) ranging from finding a Cryptid (accidentally or not), gaining the interest of something divine, or even being abducted by aliens…who hopefully make you slow dance to Lady in Red.
Bonus points to you if you get that amazing reference.
Whatever the reason, you now know that the unnatural, the supernatural exist, and you desire to know more, to investigate it all, and to lend your expertise to your team to investigate mysteries. The Searcher class is all about the investigation, but they also have a variety of potential protections that allow them to grow into support or combat roles with enough level ups, as well.
What Type of Searcher Will You Be?
You’re going to be some level of Sharp if you’re coming out of the Searcher playbook, and you’re probably a little Weird, too. How much you pursue this routes depends on the character that you want to play and maybe just how far along your journey that you want to be. Are you near the beginning? Maybe go with a +1 Weird instead of +2.
Are you Charming or Cool? Generally in this class you must choose one or the other, so is it acting under pressure and helping out or your ability to be liked or manipulate others while investigating with your party?
The Searcher Ratings for MOTW Are
- +2 Weird, +1 Sharp & Cool, 0 Charm, -1 Tough
- +2 Weird, +1 Sharp & Charm, 0 Tough, -1 Cool
- +2 Weird & Sharp, 0 Charm & Tough, -1 Cool
- +2 Sharp, +1 Weird & Cool, 0 Charm, -1 Tough
- +2 Sharp, +1 Weird & Charm, 0 Cool, -1 Tough
There’s quite a variety of options here, and this Monster of the Week playbook returns to what many of the original playbooks did with a good variety of starting Core Stats, allowing you to build in different directions depending on how you want your character to grow.
There’s always some Sharp and Weird, which makes perfect sense with this class, and how you divvy up (or completely ignore) Cool, Charm, and Tough remains up to you!
What Do Searcher Moves Bring To The Table?
The Searcher is interesting in that they all come out a move (First Encounter) that is tied to the background, meaning there are 7 different potential routes to go that give different abilities based on what that First Encounter was. After that the Searcher chooses two other moves from the list of class-related moves that are available.
Let’s take a look at each move from the Searcher playbook and see what they potentially bring to the table.
- First Encounter – One strange event started you down this path, sparking your need to discover the truth behind the unexplained. Decide what that event was: pick a category below and take the associated move. Then tell everyone what happened to you (or someone close to you).
- Cryptid Sighting – You take note of any reports of strange creatures. Whenever you first see a new type of creature, you may immediately ask one of the investigate a mystery questions. This is a cool move but will vary based on Keeper – do you ever see a creature early or generally only at the end of a mystery when combat is inevitable? Still – it can be very useful in may games.
- Zone of Strangeness – Things are not fixed. You never need act under pressure when supernatural forces alter the environment around you, and you get 2-armor against harm from sudden changes to the laws of physics.
- Psychic Event – Your mind is awakened. You may act under pressure to use the sensitive weird move, or – if sensitive is your weird move – empath. See page 18 for Empath and page 21 for sensitive from Tome of Mysteries. Sensitive/Empath can be very powerful moves so this is a very potentially strong move for the right build and the right type of mysteries or style of game.
- Higher Power – Something looks out for you. You start with extra Luck. This is potentially HUGE, especially with a Keeper who likes pushing the Luck, forcing those hard decisions.
- Strange Dangers – You are always watching for hazards. When you have no armor, you still count as having 1-armor. Extra armor is always good!
- Abduction – They taught you hidden knowledge. Gain +1 to any move when you research strange or ancient secrets to do it.
- Cosmic Insight – You have encompassed the soul of the universe. You never need to act under pressure due to feelings of fear, despair, or isolation. When you can skip having to act under pressure, that is a rock solid move.
- Prepare to Defend – Even truth seekers need to fight some times. Whenever you suffer harm when you kick some ass or protect someone, you suffer 1-harm less. Excellent move if you are going to build yourself to be in combat, and the versatility is nice allowing you to use it whether getting hit directly or offering protective support to someone else.
- Fellow Believer – People understand you’ve also known strangeness. Bystanders will talk to you about weird things they would not trust another hunter (or a mundane official) to believe. Great for pulling stories out of those reluctant witnesses – which makes this a good move for an investigative Searcher build.
- Guardian – You have a mystical ally (perhaps a spirit, alien, or cryptid) who helps and defends you. Define them, and their powers, with the Keeper’s agreement. Their look is one of: invisible, an intangible spirit thing, a weird creature, disguised as an animal, or disguised as a person. Good move, which can be great depending on the Keeper and how powerful they will allow allies to be.
- Just Another Day – When you have to act under pressure due to a monster, phenomenon, or mystical effect, you may roll +Weird instead of +Cool. Any time you can swap out a weak core stat for a strong one, that’s a good move.
- Network – You may gain an ally group of others who had experiences similar to your first encounter-perhaps they’re a support group or hobbyist club. Detail up to five members with useful skills related to what happened to them (none are up for fighting monsters).
- Ockham’s Broadsword – When you first encounter something strange, you may ask the Keeper what sort of thing it is. They will tell you if it (or the cause) is: natural, an unnatural creature, a weird phenomenon, or a person. You gain +1 forward dealing with it. This can be very useful since it will come up almost every adventure in most cases – and having that early information can make a huge difference.
- The Things I’ve Seen – When you encounter a creature or phenomenon, you may declare that you have seen it before. The Keeper may ask you some questions about that encounter, and will then tell you one useful fact you learned and one danger you need to watch out for (maybe right now). Always good to get a useful fact AND know what danger to watch out for…especially if it’s RIGHT NOW!
The moves of this class are generally quite strong, which might be one of the strongest features that attempt to help it stick out from other investigative classes that are very similar in nature.
Who Should Play The Searcher Class in Monster of the Week?
The Searcher class doesn’t have an easy comparison in other systems or to D&D classes for those players coming over from that system. If you want an investigative class and like the idea of being more of an ordinary man/woman but still want the ability to grow into a strong character, then the Searcher playbook is a very good option.
If you tend to be story-based like I am and love the idea of a Cryptid hunter obsessed with Bigfoot, Skinwalkers, or other odd creatures…or being the guy who claimed to be abducted by a UFO but actually was, then Searcher fits perfectly into that background story.
The Searcher is also a decent choice if you want to be investigative in nature, but still hold your own in a fight or pick up the ability to have a Weird score that allows you to advance level up into spell slinging classes, then Searcher can offer a decent option if that sounds like a good base for a long-time build.
MOTW The Searcher Class: Final Thoughts
One of the major criticisms of The Searcher class is it feels a bit like trying to mix together The Mundane class and The Expert or The Mundane and The Flake, and it just doesn’t bring as much to the table as any of the other classes it seems to overlap with…and those critics might have a point. While in a vacuum there’s nothing odious about this class, there’s nothing incredible about it, either, and when put side-by-side with the other playbooks that are available in Monster of the Week, it’s really hard to see what the Searcher carves out that isn’t already covered.
This is done in different flavors, and this also allows for the Cryptid Hunter who isn’t a conspiracy theorist or the amateur sleuth who doesn’t have to be an all-out Gumshoe to investigate what’s going on, but this does feel like an “add-on” playbook that maybe was there to balance the new playbooks with 2 investigative vs 2 strange/supernatural but I’m not sure it brings a ton to the table.
Then again, who says existing playbooks like the Flake or Mundane are the right ones to choose? Maybe you don’t like aspects of these classes and this is the amateur investigator who speaks to you. Fair point. I will say this about the Searcher Playbook – some of the backstory options and individual moves or backstory pieces are excellent.
It’s a well-written playbook, and as a chaos goblin style of player, the ability in introductions to tell another player at the table “You’re being stalked by a dangerous creature I’m tracking and you’re completely unaware,” would not only be a blast at my table, but cause the Keeper to grin from ear to ear…regardless of who was running the game.
It’s not a bad playbook, but in the same way you would struggle to explain why the Searcher is all that different from other investigative playbooks in the system, the identity of this particular playbook just doesn’t feel quite there.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.