Little Details

A Fact-Checking Community for Writers

Multiple real injuries from a supernatural event
quelquescoeurs
I'm trying to write a story where one character goes through a supernatural experience and ends up with some serious medical issues.  Basically, his entire body is put through the wringer.  I want the character to be physically compromised, even disabled, but have his mental faculties more or less intact.  Here's what I've come up with so far.  I won't go into this much detail in the story, but I want to have a clear picture in my mind.

  • Subdural hematoma from brain swelling/injury, which addressed either with surgery, an induced coma, or both.

  • Pulmonary edema that is a cause of concern for a while but resolves relatively quickly

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy as a result of the pulmonary edema and/or myocarditis

So far, I figure the effects from these (besides increased risk of sudden death) would be:

  • Extreme fatigue, loss of concentration, short-term memory loss, and increased anxiety as a result of the brain injury

  • Risk of edema, embolism, and arrhythmia.  The character would have to wear a life vest to defibrillate his heart, or have an ICD surgically inserted.  Would compression socks be used for edema in the legs in this case?

  • Won't be able to physically exert himself for some time, and then will have to be careful

  • Will need physical and occupational therapy

  • Will have to eliminate sodium, fat and caffeine from his diet


Does all of this make sense? What would tell the police or doctors if you brought someone in like this and they were unaware of the supernatural?  If anyone has any tips or advice about accurately depicting these kinds of injuries and the fallout from them, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks for your time!

Experience of Missing Child in Police Custody
stardragonblue
I am finding a lot of material about reporting a missing child, but not much for the experiences of a missing/lost child who has just been found. The keywords I used included: missing children, Massachusetts runaway, Massachusetts missing children, missing children stories/experiences, how do the police process a lost child, what do I do if I find a lost child, when police find a lost child, police database, US police database, National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, when do found children get put in foster care.

The background:
A lost 10-year-old girl is picked up by the police in a small town in Massachusetts (present day). She was driven to a nearby town to see a movie, got in a fight with one of her new friends, popped someone in the nose and has blood all over her sleeves, and was picked up while she was walking back to the small town. She is a new arrival to the area, and has spent 100% of the time at her uncles' farmhouse. She isn't familiar with the area and doesn't know the town's layout, so she doesn't remember the way back home (she was driven, the farmhouse is out in the woods, and at this point, it's night). She forgot her phone at home and doesn't know her address or anyone's phone number. Other possible snags include the fact that the adults living at the farmhouse are either (a) living there under assumed names or (b) don't legally exist (they're hiding from an international criminal organization). Also, a "missing child" notice was filed for aforesaid child in her infancy by aforesaid criminal organization.

My questions:
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Hospital Stay Post-GSW to Abdomen (+ Injury Details)
Writer at Work
ashen_key
SETTING: Odessa, Ukraine, 2008/2009
SEARCHED: previous posts here; gunshot wound to abdomen recovery; post-surgery procedure; hospital recovery room. I've ended up with a lot of general information that relies on 'depends', and I need a few more specifics.
SET-UP: An athletic woman in her mid-twenties (who for the purposes of this is pretending to be American) is covering another person at the base of a cliff when she gets shot by a sniper, and bullet goes straight through. She survives with this scar, and I'm guessing that's the bullet's exit point from what the character said of the set-up. About two years later, the character seems to be suffering no mobility issues or long-term damage that impacts her very active job.
QUESTIONS:

- Assuming the shooter is standing on the cliff above her, roughly where would the entry-point be on her back for that scar to be the exit-point and what would be hit? (As mentioned, she survives with no mobility issues)
- How long would they want to keep her in the hospital? And how soon would she be allowed visitors and moved to her own room?
- How long before would it be safe-ish to leave? She'll be leaving with someone pretending to be her husband (she's aware of this deceit and is going along with it). Doctors can be unhappy about her leaving, but not actually stop her.
- How long before she's able to move about somewhat normally?

I found a lot of information that started with 'depends where the patient is hit', which wasn't quite helpful with pinning things down given I'm working within what the character's movie said. So, anything more specific would be super-useful.

Physics of Hit By Car
The King
rose_the_hat
First post here. Little nervous.

Story takes place modern day in an American suburb.

I'm writing a story and the scene I'm working on now, a character is going to be hit--I mean mowed down by a car going 80 MPH (aiming to kill, not stopping on impact). I just want to know the physics of such an accident. Would my character be thrown over the top of the car? Or would my character be pulled under and dragged? The car doing the damage is a late 60's Chevrolet, if that makes a difference.

I'm just looking for answers in plain understandable English, not scientific jargon.

Search terms used: "hit by speeding car" "damage caused by pedestrian hit by car going 80 mph" "pedestrian hit by car physics"

Thank you for any help/insight you can offer.




Psychology: Nonhuman perception of time, Forgetting one's own name
creativityspren
For purposes of following the established format, my work is a historical fiction, set in 13th-16th century Japan with fantastic elements such as yokai integrated into the world.

I have two psychology related questions:

1) How might a drastically different rate of aging effect someone's perception of time, both independently and compared to standard human aging? Most of my main characters in the novel I'm working on aren't human. They're demons that age at a much different rate from humans, and different species of demons age differently from one another. Here's how my main character ages compared to a human:

Human: 1 year of age = 1 year of growth; MC: 8 and a half years of age = 1 year of growth

Basically, it takes the MC 8 and a half years to attain the full equivalent of one year's development/growth. I imagine that this different rate of aging would fundamentally alter how she (and other nonhumans) perceive the passage of time and years. The typical 4-seasons-a-year is in effect environmentally.

I just don't know how such a long rate of aging would effect one's perception of time. I've looked at the classical fantasy examples (namely elves and dwarves in Tolkien, Paolini, etc.) that age differently from humans, but they don't really talk much about how those species think of the passage of time.

Note: for the MC's species, each "year" is viewed as one part in a cycle that completes itself after they've reached the 8.5 year mark from some yet-unknown start date, at which point, to them, it starts over. It is a buildup to their growth equivalent of one year, like how humans often have New Year's celebrations to mark the symbolic beginning of a new year/cycle of growth/what have you.

2) Is it possible for someone to genuinely forget their given name if addressed and referred to exclusively by a pseudonym for a long enough period of time?

The main character, a prostitute, lives and works under a pseudonym for 85 years, from age 8 to 18, and during that time is not once called by her real name. My thinking was that, under those circumstances, it would be more likely that she would forget her name and identify with her pseudonym alone. Would it be possible for her to eventually remember her real name - with a good deal of effort, a triggering question that causes her to realize she doesn't actually remember it, and mental sifting through the names that stick out in her mind (one of which is her given name)?

Search terms used for both questions include: altered perception of time, time perception theory, theories on animal time perception, time perception, pseudonym, is it possible to forget own name, pseudonym replacing real name, self-identity+name, etc.

All of what I found was related to memory-affective medical conditions (Alzheimer's, dementia, fugue state) or conditions with psychosis as a symptom (some forms of schizophrenia).

Thank you for your help with these somewhat odd questions.

~CreativitySpren

Native American tribes in Civil War Era Iowa
priorities_read
nessataleweaver
time/place: 1860's USA.

I'm writing a gaslight fantasy set in the 1880's, and one of my characters was adopted as a toddler/pre-schooler by a Native American tribe during the 1860's; he was primarily raised by the tribe's shaman, who taught him how to use an unusual magical talent. The character is from Iowa in the original fandom, so I thought I should stick to it if possible... but I can't figure out what tribe that would be!

I've googled Native American tribes and Iowa history, and found that a number of tribes were around... but the stuff I've come across seems to all be around the Great Lakes, and I was hoping for something around the Plains area.

Also A) this character is white; if the tribe historically did things like torture captives, that crosses them off the list. B) the Trail of Tears (1830's) hasn't happened, or only on a much smaller scale, due to the Native Americans possessing powerful earth magic; while the tribal lands have shrunken considerably, most of the tribes are still wherever their ancestral lands are. C) I'd really like a tribe that still has at least records of their language available, because I'd like the character to use some phrases (mostly endearments and swear words!) with his magically bonded partner.

Brothels in 1300s Japan
creativityspren
Hi,

The question I'm trying to figure out is this: What were brothels like during the 1300s in Japan? Things like how might they have been run, was there any sort of system like there was later, what might the prospects have been for the women there (miserable, I'm sure)? I know that they didn't really exist until the Kamakura period, and what they were like from the 1600s on.


My story is a historical fiction, set in Japan. A major part of Part I of the book takes place in a brothel in/around Kyoto, from roughly 1288-1373 CE. The main character is a prostitute. I have a good idea of what prostitution was like in the periods preceding and following this, but the histories I've managed to find leave the Muromachi period a big white blank.

Most of my current portrayal of the character's situation and the brothel has come from inferring backwards, taking the information available for the later periods and projecting back to what that might have come from. I'm personally not satisfied with doing that for a whole section of the book.

I've read all the posts under the "Prostitution" and "Japan - History" tags here on Little-Details to try and glean an answer. Some were very helpful, but I was hoping someone might have even speculation or a resource that I don't.

I've been researching, or trying to research brothels in this time period in Japan for upwards of two years, and have come up largely empty. I've all but stopped perusing the internet, out of frustration and a consistent lack of results, and turned to university libraries, journals, and databases.

The works I own and/or have referenced extensively trying to answer this question are:

A Handbook to Daily Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan
Selling Songs And Smiles: The Sex Trade in Heian and Kamakura Japan
The Nightless City
Women of the Pleasure Quarters
The Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work
Pinning Down the Floating World
Selling Women
Shadows of Transgression - Heian and Kamakura Constructions of Prostitution (dissertation)
She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not - Shinju and Shikido Okagami
Yoshiwara
Fertility and Pleasure: Ritual and Sexual Values in Tokugawa Japan
Tsumi - Offence and Retribution in Early Japan
Writing Margins: The Textual Construction of Gender in Heian and Kamakura Japan
A number of books on prostitutes as a whole, and a number of books on Kamakura and Muromachi politics and history.

I'm currently trying to find a copy of Flowers in Salt on a recommendation.

Any theories, speculation, information, books - whatever - anyone has would be of great help to me.

Thank you very much for your time.

~CreativitySpren

Poisoning - toxic paint pigments
chat noir
leyosura
Hi!
Thank you in advance for your help with this one.

My story is set in the late 18th century in Europe, and I have been trying to research poisoning by the ingestion of highly toxic paint pigments.

The best candidates for this seem to be vermillion (which contains cinnabar, a compound of mercury) or orpiment (which contains an arsenic compound). I have researched poisoning by both arsenic and mercuric compounds, but most of the data I come across seems to be about the effects of long-term, gradual poisoning.

My question is, would it be possible to for someone to be killed relatively quickly by ingesting one of these pigments? By quickly, I mean over a few hours or at most a couple of days. If so, what sort of quantity of the pigment would be required? How would the symptoms of ingesting a large quantity quickly differ from the effects of long-term poisoning?

Is there any other paint pigment used in the 18th century that would kill somebody this quickly? If so, what quantity would someone need to ingest and what would be the symptoms of poisoning?

I have searched for toxicity of paint pigments, cinnabar poisoning, mercury poisoning, orpiment poisoning, ingestion of cinnabar, etc, but I can't seem to find anything on the quantities that would be required.

Many thanks for your help.

.

Resource: Black Market Prices / Criminal Statistics
bubble
cheriola
Do you need to know how much a hitman costs to hire, or how much a human trafficker makes, but are afraid to google is because the NSA probably won't take it kindly? Do you wonder what a kidney goes for these days? Or illegally shot elephant ivory? Or do you just want a comparison between what prostitutes earn in various countries?

Never fear, Havocscope has you covered.

(And don't worry, the site accumulates the information from international news publications and other publically available sources. So, while you may need to take the information with a grain of salt, it is perfectly legal.)

Help me source a folktale I heard about-- not sure if this is the right LJ
firiel11
As it says I'm not sure if this is the right LJ for this. If it isn't, please tell me a better place to post it. This isn't really about story details but about sources.


(Partially crossposted in various different places, including some Google Groups.

I recently started drafting a fantasy story based on folktales about Knecht Ruprecht as a side project to the one posted about here, including one that a friend of mine told me through FB messaging on the 27th last month. This friend was an exchange student at the girls' high school I went to here in Australia until pretty recently. The story that she told me (she lives in a town on the German-Dutch border) was that her region's version of St. Nicholas and Knecht Ruprecht come over on a boat from Africa, similar to how Dutch kids are told that Sinterklaas sails from Spain on a boat with Black helpers, the Black Petes. I actually posted about that one on one forum I'm on.
Since then I've done a lot of research (I did do some before she told me this story and one source I found was a post from 1999 in the alt.fan. cecil adams group). Now some scattered references I came across refor to a folktale that KR was a feral child like a 4th century version of Victor.

Supposedly according to this tradition St. Nicholas found, adopted and raised him and when Ruprecht got older he became Nicholas' sidekick. From (English) Wikipedia:
According to some stories, Ruprecht began as a farmhand; in others, he is a wild foundling whom St. Nicholas raises from childhood.
That story is actually the basis for the version I'm writing, which is a combination of it and the one where he's a Black African/Moorish servant like Black Pete was traditionally supposed to be. Other common stories are that he's a devil, an evil priest or monk or "a criminal who helps St. Nikolaus to make up for his crimes."
Thing is even though I asked around about this folktale the closest thing was a story somebody else on another forum I'm a member of told me about where Ruprecht was an orphan taken in St. Nicholas but a war orphan (they think it might come from during the Napoleonic Wars).  The other substantial reference I've found to the feral child story is here.
Has anyone heard this specific story ("a feral child adopted by St. Nicholas") before? I know that Ruprecht folklore differs from region to region but I want to know about this specific feral child story, just to be sure that it exists.
Thanks for any help and apologies for the long post.

Profile Page Update
Inara
orange_fell
I've given little_details' rules page a quick update. It is now permissible for posters to delete obvious spambot comments, which should (if the protection feature keeps working) be going into the "Suspicious Comments" section on your posts. I will also delete them when I see them, but you have our go-ahead to do it yourself if you want.

Other changes: the mods' contact information has been updated!

Is Headmaster or Professor the correct form of address?
Spiritual
samantha_kathy
Where: Great-Britain
When: 1984

Situation:

Albus Dumbledore is visiting Petunia Dursley. Petunia is being exceptionally polite in addressing him. Would she call him Headmaster Dumbledore or Professor Dumbledore?

I've tried searching for proper forms of address in Great-Britain, but can't actually find what to do in a situation where someone is a Headmaster of a school. In the books I think he's addresses as Professor Dumbledore a lot, or as 'the Headmaster' but also as Headmaster Dumbledore. However, that is situation dependent and none of the people there are trying to do the whole proper manners thing. Also, Rowling might have gotten it wrong/rules of address might differ between Muggle and Wizarding world.

Paris, France: supermarket checkout area and CCTV
blue ruiner
greywash
Greetings! I have two bizarrely specific questions, but they're actually pretty plot-significant, so.

Where: 18th arrondissement, Paris, France
When: present day (spring of 2013, really, on the off-chance that there've been major changes to the answer in the past year).

1) In the US, supermarkets often have security cameras that film you entering, along with a monitor in the entryway so that shoppers can see that they are being filmed. I am trying to find out how common this practice is in Paris. I don't care about the specific name brand of store or anything, but a discount market like Dia is the right kind of place for this particular scene, and while some Dia markets in other countries definitely do have the screens [IMG], I have no idea if they all do or only some of them or only that one or what (not sure where that is, but the sandwich board is in Spanish, so I'm guessing: not France).

2) I also need to know what sort of things are sold as near as possible to the checkouts. I have a character who needs to control his leaving time, so I want him to be browsing/picking up something extra just by the registers. What'd that be likely to be, in a discount supermarket sort of place? Are there the impulse-buy/forgotton-sundries displays of gum and Chapstick and batteries, like we have over in these parts? If not, anything else he could be looking over on his way out?

I've been searching (both text and image) pretty fruitlessly for both of these in Google, Wikimedia Commons, and on Flickr—various combinations of "supermarket"/"supermarché" "paris" "france" "checkout" "register area" "cctv", et cetera. Not a lot of luck.

Thanks!

Killing through eye poking wound
sleerash
Hi, guys:
(First, please excuse my poor English; it is not my primary language.)
I must warn you; this is a bit gruesome. This is the thing:
I am writing a fighting scene in a late medieval setting. The main character uses his thumbs to poke into the eyes of an enemy, killing him.
He wore a full plate armor, with steel gauntlets. The idea is to break the eye sockets and cause internal bleeding and brain damage.
Do you think it is plausible?

My search terms were: eye-gouging, eye-gouging with thumbs, eye socket, eye poking kill.

Thanks in advance and greetings from Spain!

How would one character explain to another why kissing is pleasurable?
MoriartyMoran
darkest_alchemy
I'm not sure it's really relevant but the fandom is Sherlock Holmes (original canon) and so the setting is late Victorian era England. This is something I'm not entirely sure how to search/ask so forgive me if I ramble a bit trying to explain it. I've tried searching phrases like 'why is kissing pleasurable' and 'why do people enjoy kissing' which brings up both articles and similar questions on yahoo answers but those mostly seems to consist of a lot of theorising about the science behind kissing which is not what I want to know, and also a fair bit of ignorance/erasure of the existence of asexuality, aromanticism and the fact that some people don't desire/enjoy acts of sexual/romantic intimacy which is not helpful or particularly pleasant to read (I am asexual and aromantic, feel absolutely no desire to kiss and find the idea of kissing and 'swapping spit' myself really repulsive so this is not something I can ever research or answer directly and this is also why many existing answers are not helpful to me because often people assume these experiences and desires are universal when they're not).

The scenario is I have two characters (Moriarty and Moran) in a relationship which has been up til this point more of an emotionally intimate friendship which then developed to them also having a sexual relationship but until now Moriarty has never allowed Moran to kiss him because he doesn't see the point of kissing. Moran is bisexual and leaning towards homoromantic and has had many sexual partners in the past, many of whom he did kiss just before or during sex, but Moriarty is pretty much the first person he's deeply fallen in love with. Moriarty is asexual and essentially aromantic and has had very few sexual partners and if he did kiss any of them he got nothing out of it. Moran does want to kiss Moriarty and when he finally does so he really enjoys it and wants more of it and I think as much as he loves sex, he would be quite happy just kissing Moriarty for hours without having sex or without assuming it would ultimately lead into sex.

Moriarty though still doesn't get kissing. He doesn't find it repulsive and I think he enjoys being tactile with Moran but he gets no real direct enjoyment out of kissing and doesn't see why it's especially intimate or special to Moran. His enjoyment is more secondary (because Moran enjoys it and he likes giving Moran pleasure) so he is curious as to why Moran enjoys it so much. This is what I don't know how to write, how Moran would explain the pleasure he gets from kissing to Moriarty, and that's why I don't need to know about the scientific theories about why people kiss, I want to know the stuff which people don't seem to be able so far to explain to me, the more subjective and emotional aspects to kissing (obviously to someone who enjoys kissing) - how does it make you feel physically (especially other feelings beyond just sexual arousal), and things like is the pleasure primarily physical or primarily emotional or a fairly even mix between them, or do those experiences change the longer kissing goes on, and especially how things feel when you're just making out for longer periods without it automatically involving/leading into sex? What emotions/any other sensations does kissing make you feel? And why is kissing often seen as just as intimate or even more intimate than sex (hence why apparently many prostitutes won't kiss clients and why passionate kissing doesn't always have to involve/lead to sex)? Moran doesn't need to give a really long-winded in-depth explanation of it or anything but I would like to have him express himself slightly better than merely "it just feels good". Thanks in advance if anyone can give me any kind of help with this.

Japanese Red Cross Disaster Response
gem beasts <3
heleentje
Search terms used: Mostly I've been reading the actual website of the Japanese Red Cross, but I can't seem to find the kind of detail I need.

Setting: Japan, a decade or two in the future, a (fictional) city comparable in size to Tokyo.

In the story I'm writing, a city is facing imminent disaster that requires large-scale evacuation and medical help. I'm a member of the Belgian Red Cross myself, so I know how things would proceed in Belgium, but I'm not about to assume that the exact same thing would happen in other countries, so I'm wondering several things:

- When would the Red Cross get called in? Who would get called in first and who only later on, if such a distinction exists? How many people would be volunteers, how many professionals?
- How would Red Cross members be alerted? Phone, text message, pager, ...? (I can probably make something up here, because the story takes place about twenty years from now.)
- Who would be responsible for coordinating the whole intervention?
- When things get too dangerous, who makes the call to pull out? How would that happen and what would happen to any victims who can't be transported?
- How would the different zones be structured? What happens where?
- Which codes would be used to communicate (especially emergency codes)? A search for the codes we use in Belgium only gave me local results, so I don't think our codes are international.

Thanks in advance!

North American Indigenous Herbal Medicines
Pretty Blue Tom
bat_hawk
Setting: Not exactly Earth, but a region with great similarities to the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains. Time period is indeterminate, but pre modern medicine.

I'm looking to create an arsenal of medicines so I don't have to spend hours and hours researching every time I come across a new ailment. One of my MCs is the equivalent of a doctor/medicine man, so it is rather important that I know something about her practice. I've found a few helpful things, such as desert parsley/lomatium, osha root, and arrowleaf balsamroot, but it's very slow going, especially when so many sources just say something like, "this is a plant, with these identifying features, and Native Americans used to use it for medicine!" without any mention of which part of the plant was used, how it was prepared, or even what it was used for. Previous research has been googling of variations on "Native American medicine," "Great Basin indigenous medicine," "Rocky Mountains indigenous medicine," and the like.

What I am looking for are any North American medicinal herbs in general, though I would love it if y'all know of any native to the Great Basin and/or Rocky Mountains in specific. Also, I would like to know: 1. What they are used for (sore throat, upset stomach, cough, etc.) 2. What part of the plant is used (leaves, flowers, root, etc.) 3. How it is used (eaten raw, smoked in a pipe, steeped into a tea, etc.), and optionally, 4. What specific ceremonies or rituals were practiced with or around it (does it need to be harvested at a certain time of day or year, should it be ceremonially washed or parts of it burned before or during use, anything else you might know about it) Obviously I don't need #4, but I would be very interested to know any surrounding rituals.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Lower-ranked officer relieving superior officer of command - medical reasons?
Zayne confused
inuki42
I'm writing in the Star Wars universe, Old Republic era. Both of my characters are former Republic military, but left the service before my story starts. One was of much higher rank, and is currently the informal leader of the whole group of characters I'm writing about.

In this scene, my leader has just been through a day full of both physical fighting and emotional turmoil (she returned to a place she once called home to find it ruined). She's really not in the mental state to be doing more leaderly things, but she's stubborn and wants to keep trying anyway. I want my other character to say something that references a Republic military rule that allows lower-ranked officers (or maybe medical officers?) to tell their superiors to take a break, because they aren't fit to be commanding right then. This would be a temporary thing, along the lines of "go get some sleep/get that injury looked at", but enforceable.

I am totally okay with something that "sounds right" but doesn't actually mean anything. I'm making up a hell of a lot for this already, but for the life of me I can't find a phrase that sounds right.

Everything I've tried to search - from "emotionally compromised" to "unfit for duty" to "relieved of command" to even "can I relieve a superior of duty for medical reasons" has come back with nothing that feels really useful. Lots of Star Trek hits, but I'm a little wary of leaning too heavily on the "wrong" space opera. ;) If there's any such regulation in Earth militaries, I just can't find it.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Commercial Insurance US
kirk spock red
scifishipper
My OC is the owner of a carpentry business that has just burned to the ground (he owns the building in rural Maine). I am trying to establish a reasonable scenario in which the insurance does not cover everything that was lost. One of the ideas I came across in my searching is related to additional riders for things like fine arts. The business specialized in furniture making, but the OC was an artist, as well, and his highly sought-after work was destroyed. I toyed with that idea, but could not make it work.

Other ideas included having recent updates to the building or expansions that were not covered by the policy, or having other valuable pieces that were being restored, but none seem quite right, and I don't feel knowledgeable enough to write about it.

In general, I am looking for insurance lingo and concepts that I could use to establish significant financial losses (around $30,000 or more that isn't covered) due to the fire. The insurance would cover much of the losses, but not quite and the difference is financially ruinous for the OC.

I've googled 'commercial insurance losses' and 'common insurance mistakes' and terms of that ilk, but am feeling a overwhelmed by the options. I want to come up with something simple and straightforward that I can summarize in one conversation.

Thank you in advance!

Accessing military records, 19th century
Misc: teapot
mickleditch
1850s: my character wants to do some investigation regarding a former serviceman in one of the East India Company's European regiments about 30 years prior. He doesn't need details of his whole career; he's only trying to identify the man in the records and hopefully find out the circumstances under which he left military service (discharged? killed? deserted? etc.)

As a random civilian, what sort of records might he be allowed to access, and how would he go about it? If he wasn't permitted the Muster Rolls but could view casualty lists, that might be enough. If he lied and said he was a relative of the serviceman in question, would that make a difference (and would officials simply take him at his word, or demand proof)?

I've found this incredibly difficult to Google as all terms relating to accessing 1800s records bring up accessing them in present times. :(