Professions: The Detective
The Detective Forum
The Detective, by Heathwalker; Edited by Xena Dragon

You look around you. Everywhere in Felucca you see menacing figures lurking in shadows, sense thieves stealing past you, see thugs brazenly standing in the daylight, known criminals laughing at justice. By the bank, linchpins of the very economy, the situation is even worse. Some banks are infested with scum training and practicing their craft. British's guards sometimes intervene, but often miss the nefarious activities of the more skilled scoundrels. And, of course, outside the small protected zones, the thief operates with impunity.

Every day there are more. Attracted by the exhortations of the Secret Society, or lured by the scent of an easy profit.
Few stop them. Few are versed in their ways yet hate them. But you are an exception, you are a detective, licensed to detect crimes, hunt criminals and exact whatever justice you see fit.

You will have few helpers. The guards will ignore you. The citizenry you seek to protect will largely spurn you. And the art itself, the skills of being a detective, have been mostly forgotten. Let me, Heathwalker, explain how you can help repel the tide, and teach you a little of the half-forgotten profession of Detective.

And never forget, there is one basic job at the heart of the detective role.
Detect the crime, find the thief, apprehend (kill) him.

Where to start, and what to do.

Britain is the most common place to find thieves, but for starting off you will be no match for most thieves. Far more important is to train hard for the initial period, and, perversely, the company of thieves will help you learn more quickly. And, the closer you are to them, the more you study their ways and habits, the better a detective you will become. Thieves are everywhere, but, depending on the shard, there are particular concentrations in Moonglow and Britain.

Starting off:

Most detectives aim for strength of between 90 and 100, dexterity of between 90 and 100, and 25 intelligence. Set these attributes accordingly. You need to be strong enough to kill thieves when you find them. Hence the need for high strength and dexterity. There are two basic categories of thieves you will come across, Scoundrels, or pure thieves, with limited resistance to your halberd, and Thugs, thieves with GMed fighting skills, who are usually Despicable. Beware the latter. They kill many a detective. However against both you will need the following -

There are three important detective-specific ones, plus an array of additional generic skills. Full details on how to raise skills in-game can be found later in the essay

  1. Detect Hidden By far the easiest to raise. You should start with nothing here, and buy the skill. Training it higher is simple.
  2. Forensics (50) Fairly hard to raise, and an essential character skill
  3. Tracking (49) Used to hunt thieves. This is not easy to raise, and starting with 49 will help.
  4. Other (1) To get a newbiefied item, try 1 point in, say, healing, to provide you with scissors. Not crucial
For other skills it is recommended that you pursue a combat skill, rather then magic. As most of your work is involved inside town, magic is normally a disadvantage here. This is only a recommendation. If you choose a sword or fencing skill, it is a great advantage to have an ally who can provide you will deadly poisoned weapons.

My own character has
Anatomy - Improves damage and helps with healing. It also helps you size up your opponent before dealing with them.
Swords - Helps swinging the Halberd (more on that later)
Tactics - Part of learning Swords.
Healing - Bandages are cheaper for healing, slightly longer but can also handle poison later on (which some thieves prefer to use). Healing people can also help you later on when you need backup.

Many recommend low level magery to help you move around, and some swear by archery as a distance-based combat skill.... Many thieves are able to disarm you in hand-to-hand combat.

Raising detective skills.

Detect hidden.

Enables you to reveal hidden objects, or in this case, thieves. An easy skill to raise, but it's advisable to buy it up to 20 from a thief guildmaster NPC so you can get rid of the 10-second delay when you target objects instead of areas. It is simple to GM, mostly because when it is used it checks all available items in range. It can be GMed in several power hours simply by going to the box room in the West Brit Warriors' Guild... put on circle of transparency, and you will see a small room just through the west of the entrance. Any provisioner's will do too. If you get 'stuck' in the Warrior Guild, you need to leave for awhile and come back, and crossing server lines helps. You can GM this in less than 45 minutes from 20 if you hop from one server to another! Some use houses that have locked down trapped chests you can practice on.


This skill is relatively easy to raise to 90, if tedious, with apparently marginal incremental benefits. Raise it by use on anything that has had a crime committed on it. Simple. So, go to the box room in the Warriors Guild in Britain, or anywhere where urchins open boxes, steal etc. Try it on corpses, animal or human. It is a pain to raise, boring etc., but will work. Also try beggars, NPC thieves and thief guildmasters.

Why raise it? Firstly you fail less. Secondly, you are a detective, it's a kind of have-to-have skill. Thirdly, at higher levels you can blow thief disguises. Don't kill yourself to GM it though.


It is best to set up a hot key to automatically use this skill in conversation etc. It just needs lots of use. Alternately you can get on a boat and keep trying it... this works well, though is hardly in the spirit of things :)
With higher skill levels you can track further afield, As simple as that. I personally have mine set at 70... more than enough for most situations. To use in-game, when you want to track someone, use the skill while they are still around. A screen appears, allowing you to select human, animal or monster. Choose human, then scroll through t select the individual. The game will then keep track of the individual, telling you which direction the target is in.

What the thieves say

Stolen from thief FAQ:

How can I avoid those few Detectives/Thief Killers out there?
Why would you want to avoid them? They spice up the game! If you must...
Beware stealing when you think someone is using Forensics Evaluation on you, you can be noticed a lot easier 2 minutes after it's used on you. Any aspiring Detective can just use FE on all the Thieves around the bank and be a great assistance to all the players. If anyone is chasing you using the Tracking skill, you pretty much are in trouble unless you can use Stealth. If the tracker is beside you and they move through you, stealth away in the opposite direction. When the tracker starts to move again in your direction, move off to one side. They will think you have moved off their tracking compass at that location. Maintain that direction until they start moving towards you again.
If the pursuant is looking for you while your are hidden, and they already initiated combat, hit Tab twice to get yourself out of combat mode and turn off Auto-Defend. If you know there is a detective around, you can always ask a Guard where the person is by their name, i.e.: "Guard, where is XXX?" If the guard has seen him or her, he will tell you.

When working.

It is strongly recommended that you wear a guard's costume when working. For this it is more of an advantage to be female then male, as female guards wear leather, where as male guards wear plate armor (which slows you down).
Carry one or two newbie books and one or two other newbie items, and one or two empty pouches. Also carry more than one sword...... Many thieves have the ability to disarm you. I also carry several potions, of strength, dexterity, healing. Beyond that carry little else. If a thief tries to random steal they have more chance of hitting a newbie item and failing. Don't forget that if you carry any weapon bar a halberd, disarm thieves can disarm you and steal it, and use it on you. With a halberd they disarm but cannot steal.

Where do I find thieves?

Because of the changes in perma-grey, it is very hard to catch them in town, unless they are gray, in which case they are fair game for all.

Try all lowlife outside town... with sufficient forensics you will see if they are thief, in which case attack at will.
Thieves also hang around a lot just outside guard zones, to avoid, obviously, the guards.
Try player events/player towns, again sources of pickings away from guards.
Try dungeons, particularly popular Felucca places like Deceit and Khaldun.
Try the major moongates, particularly Moonglow and Britain.
Lastly, and an absolute staple, find and kill the noble killers. Thieves and other scum regularly kill nobles and seekers of adventure by luring them just outside a town and robbing and killing them. Though a change has recently been implemented to give these bloodsucking aristocrats, err noble souls, protection with henchmen, they need to pay the mercenaries, so if the thief robs the noble's gold first he can kill with impunity. This is such a common pastime, but beware, noble killers are often stronger than town thieves. Which brings us on to types of thief......

Thug (combat) thief.
By far the most deadly. This thief trains in combat and most if not all will rip you to shreds. Most combat thieves tend to have a good weapon in hand, as they know anyone who tries to attack isn't going to get their hands on it easy. Using anatomy as well helps detecting these. Also watch out for poisoned weapons.
Defensive Thief.
In some cases as hard as the combat thief. Only hard to catch or kill. This thief excels in hiding, stealth and running. In most cases your best chance to kill them is surprise and running them to ground (hard).
Deceptive Thief.
This thief is a master of disguise (they don't just slap on white wig and can have non standard karma). They may also be a defensive or combat thief, but in general can lose you by changing their disguise. These thieves may be few and far between, but as they are hard to find it's hard to count.
Disarm Thief.
Skilled enough to disarm your weapon if you attack him, and steal it from you to. This type is likely to try to provoke you, but rarely has any combat skills.
Non guilded thief.
These are people who steal but have not yet joined the thieves guild. These are sometimes the most easy to find and kill. Most do not bother hiding their Karma so you can pick them off that way. Make a note of their name as well. If they do take up the professional stealing you know their name. Don't forget that only guilded thieves cannot give you a murder count.
NOTO Killers (not a thief)
If someone is wandering around town or country gray, there is a good chance they are waiting for someone to attack so they can kill them without getting a murder count. This is where Forensics comes in handy. Normally a NOTO killer is lot more dangerous then a combat thief and should be avoided. (Strange but in this case Thieves help keep the town clean of NOTO killers as they can loot them blind and the NOTO killer can do nothing to stop them).

Other things to note.

The disguise kit used by thieves gives them bright white hair and a NPC name. But don't assume that someone with white hair and a NPC name is automatically a thief. Some thieves tend to wear black clothing as well, or have a large set of newbie clothes (for disguises).
Making notes of dead gray bodies sometimes tell you the name of a thief working the area.

Detecting Perma.

Perma is short for "Permanently Gray". When someone steals from a blue character (NPC, Player or pet) they turn gray for two minutes. Everyone may be able see this. After the two minutes are up they appear blue to everyone EXCEPT the person they stole from.

Because of recent changes, it is now impossible to tell if a character is a thief in town AND then attack him. You can tell he is a thief of course, simply by using the Forensics skill on him, but this DOES NOT give you any in-town privileges. To reiterate, even if the skill tells you "This individual is a thief" you cannot attack him in town, unless he is otherwise gray or perma. You WILL be guard-whacked. Outside town, of course, you can pick a fight, sure in the knowledge that there will be no count, but it is of course at your risk.

Inside town, you cannot prosecute the criminals any more than with any other character.

Perma gray from the thief's viewpoint.

1) You are blue, but perma-grey (Thus gray to the one you stole from)
Detective is blue, to you and others
2) Detective attacks you (outside town), he turns gray to you, but stays blue to others. You will turn gray to the detective, but will stay blue to others (except the one you stole from)
3) Another player joins in, he is blue. Then he attacks you, he turns gray to you, but stays blue to others, as you are
"perma-grey", you will turn gray to him too.
4) If you die, your corpse will be gray If you get away, you will be blue in 2 minutes after the last attack.
5) if you see the detective again, he now has to make a choice, either attack again (and if you are still perma-grey, all starts again from the beginning. If you lost your perma-grey, he will turn gray to others.

Fighting Thieves.

The most important factor in fighting is surprise! A combat thief will kill quickly if warned, and a defensive thief will outrun you. This is where dressing up as a guard helps. When you are dressed as a guard you put everyone at ease. It allows you to wander around and close to people.

Macro keys.

You should have the following actions bound to keys (in your macros)

Macro #1 Last Target
Macro #2 Last Object
Macro #3 Yell "You will regret thine actions! Swine!" This will scare the living daylights out of the thief letting you get in the first few whacks and they will sometimes sit there for a few seconds thinking they are being guard whacked
Macro #4, #5  Should be a yell saying something like "Stop thief!" or "Freeze Police!". You should yell this occasionally when chasing the thief so as to let people know what you are doing (some will help, others will hinder you).
Macro #6 Attack Last Target
Now the fun begins.

The thief now knows you are not a guard, but in fact a detective. Some will call the guards, some will run, some will attack (and some will just sit there and take it). If they attack, then backing off or letting them chase you can be an advantage as you can get them to a more remote location (which helps). Never continue combat if you can't win, you can always get them again.
If the thief is a defensive thief, they will start running trying to lose you to hide then stealth. When chasing them Yell for them to stop (Macro #4, #5) Also if they turn a corner keep hitting "Attack Last Target" as it helps stop them from hiding easily (it's still possible for them, just not easy). The attack last target will help sometimes force them to break hide by defending.
When chasing a defensive thief, try to run them to areas with fewer people. This keeps others from interfering (to others you will both look blue).
If the thief manages to hide do not do detect hidden straight away! Do tracking first. Once you have the person tracked it will be nearly impossible for them to lose you while stealthing. Also if they change their disguise while hidden you can find them straight away.
In a crowded area in town, where tracking can be difficult, you can always ask a town guard "Guard, where is [name]" and the Guard will give you directions if he has seen the thief.
When tracking it's important to know that the furthest away appear first in the list. This is why secluded areas are helpful as you have less to scroll through. If you are sure you are standing right beside the thief who is hidden, they will always be last in the list if no one else is near.
Once they are tracked, start the detect hidden. Another trick to try is to have low level purple potions. Stand where the thief is hidden and double click the potion but do not throw it, it will explode hurting you and the thief, but will force the thief out of hiding.
If the thief manages to lose you and comes back a few minutes later check their status bar. If their health is low it's possible they killed themselves to lose their perma. Either way check their perma gray before restarting attacks.

Looting the bad guy:

When you catch people, for sure take their weapon. There is nothing like a bad temper and a weapon. It keeps people from direct attacking you again once they are ressed and healed. Also take all their gold. If the corpse is "gray", try to loot as much as you can. Put it in a spare bag in your backpack. When the criminal returns and acts nice. (No shouting, No Noob calling, etc.) return their items if this is your style, minus the gold and the weapons. Remember if you are to be a successful detective, you will become well known, and acting like a licensed player killer may not be in your own best interest.


Sometimes people offer you money for not attacking. I only accept money from people I have killed before and killing them again can become boring (to both of us). Most noble thieves and killers have plenty of money, so we don't make it too cheap. I (have asked for) was given 500-2000 gp for a half-hour of peace.

Death and interaction.

Never carry more then you are prepared to lose. Wear GM armor and carry a GM weapon and some bandages. If you die, chalk it up to experience and re-equip and get out on the streets. You will never win every battle, but never give in. You will get them eventually. When chasing a thief never give up unless you are near death or exhausted.
Most thieves are lazy and easy (from no one dealing with them full time). But the expert ones are more deadly or harder to hunt then other dangers in the world. A skilled thug thief is one of the most menacing foes you can face.

Over time you will gain fame amongst the underworld, so expect traps and deception.

Those thieves who are abusive, ignore. If they say they are going to get someone to kill you (their other character), suggest that they take up a different profession if they can't handle the heat. In all cases be civil, protect the innocent and uphold the law.

Don't think of thieves as 'scum'. Some are of course annoying, some deliberate griefers, but most are skilled players. Many of the thieves I come across are characters of long-established UO players, and will be pleased there are active competent detectives after them. Don't gloat when you kill them, and don't let the irritating habits of the minority cloud your judgment. If you are 'lucky' you will come across powerful thief guilds such as the pan-shard Secret Society. You may find it rewarding to cooperate occasionally with such types. In their ranks you will find experienced players you can learn from, find out about habits etc.

If you come across other detectives, try to work with them. Share information on hangouts, strategies, known ringleaders. There are few enough of you to fight to tide of crime... don't see your fellow detective as a rival.

I wish you every success in the relentless struggle. I hope these words help you to detect, chase & catch the thief, find and execute justice. If you need more information, or help, please feel free to ask questions on the The Detective Forum.

Heathwalker, Grandmaster Detective, Europa.