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Desslok

Distinctively Indistinguishable

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Okay guys, advice time! How would you handle this.

Lets say you have a distinctive looking character, which I know in the Big Universe of Weirdies that is Star Wars, can be a pretty hard trick. But lets say that you have someone, like - oh lets say Vader (take the reputation and backstory out of the mix. He's just a big, tall noisy dude in all black armor and stylish cape). That's still a very distinctive look among a whole bunch of weirdies. Now, let's say that he's an ambassador with tons of ranks in Indistinguishable - but he's still the tallest dude in the room. Pretty easy to pick out of a line-up.

I've got an idea on how I might handle it, but I wanted other opinions. Would you blow off the physical description as just color? Would you throw blues on top of the upgrades to ID the character that Indistinguishable invokes? Something else?

The reason I ask - my new character, she's a jet black twi'lek thief. Wait a second, I hear you say - there are no black twi'lek! Ah hah, now you see what I mean - she's a one in a million-ish. Not quite tall and armored with stylish cape, and there are other black races out there (like them shiny headed bald dudes from the Cantina), but she's distinctive enough to pick out of a line up on Ryloth. So I thought I'd solicit opinions before this inevitably comes up in our game.

So what say you?

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I might handle it as the distinctive thing might be the only thing people can remember about the character. Even at one in a million the odds of picking her out specifically can still be tough. The talent will still let her be harder to identify mechanically, but the color of it might be that people only remember her for her unusual feature.

"She was a black twi'lek."

"Yes, but what did she look like?"

"Um… well she was a black twi'lek."

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A couple of our PCs have this one.

Our twi'lek PC, Ardanna Cynn, calls this talent 'My Eyes Are Up Here'. :)

In other words, they're not looking at her facial features.  And humans probably think all twi'lek women look the same anyway. 

(Her partner also has this one and we hand-waved it as some Force thing, a kind of low-level use of 'Influence')

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Hmm, interesting... I definitely think the "unique feature is the only thing people can remember" angle is a good one.  Another option is that, even though she has a distinctive appearance, she's good at acting inconspicuous, so as long as she's not drawing attention to herself, people might not notice she's there, and when they have to try and remember what she was doing in a scene, if they remember she was present at all, they might mistake her for a different species, because "there are no black twi'leks!"

Alternatively, it might just be as simple as her dark pigmentation makes it harder for people to discern her features (less contrast), and then when people think back, their minds replace her black skin with indigo or dark violet or something, something likewise dark but not the same color.  For the same reason; they remember her as black, but that can't be right, so their mind replaces the black with something a bit more familiar.  Helps throw off the people looking for her because the authorities never can get a straight answer on what race of twi'lek she is...

(Oh, and on the slight tangent of renaming talents, my iconic Mystic Kemna has renamed the two ranks of Know Somebody in the Advisor tree as "The Force Provides."  She doesn't actually have a vast network of contacts, but she's got such a close relationship with the Force it can nudge her towards the one person on a planet that's selling the item she needs.  And her Nobody's Fool is also likely a low-level Force thing; she can just sense if you're being dishonest.)

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25 minutes ago, mcellis said:

"She was a black twi'lek."

"Yes, but what did she look like?"

"Um… well she was a black twi'lek."

I cant help hearing this exchange in Nigel Tufnel's voice.

"Eleven. Exactly. One louder."

"Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?"

"These go up to 11. . . "

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14 minutes ago, Absol197 said:

(Oh, and on the slight tangent of renaming talents, my iconic Mystic Kemna has renamed the two ranks of Know Somebody in the Advisor tree as "The Force Provides."  She doesn't actually have a vast network of contacts, but she's got such a close relationship with the Force it can nudge her towards the one person on a planet that's selling the item she needs.  And her Nobody's Fool is also likely a low-level Force thing; she can just sense if you're being dishonest.)

Oh, totally this.  Don't get too hung up on the talent names.  Different people could do the same thing in very different ways.

We even interpret the various Signature Abilities as they way important muggles use the Force - okay, it's not raising the dead or throwing spaceships at people, but we like to feel the Force moves through everyone, even if you're not a full Sensitive.

Edited by Maelora

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It's also possible that you are a black twi'lek.  But because your lekku are black, they are mistaken for hair, and some people remember you as a long, black haired, black skinned human.  Some see a black skinned twilek, but can't distinguish features.  Maybe mistake you for another alien.  Or they just plain forget what you looked like.

Now if your character specifically calls attention to himself, I would cancel the Indistinguishable for that scene.

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If you really want this, just apply the Rule of Cool. Don’t ask how it works, just accept that it works even if logically it shouldn’t work. Maybe it’s the Force at work, maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s just a mystery. I wouldn’t try to explain the inexplicable.

Alternatively (and this is just a simple suggestion, I’m not judging your character building choices), let it go and play a Twi’lek with a more common skin color. Would you create a lightsaber master who for some reason can’t manipulate weapons, but expect that to be ok because he he has ranks in lightsaber talents? After all if it comes up in the game, that must mean someone has an issue with it. Otherwise, you’d just handwave it. If it is an issue, it might just be more trouble than it’s worth.

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37 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

If it is an issue, it might just be more trouble than it’s worth.

Well, we're only two games into this and I don't even have the talent yet. It hasn't been an issue, I was just soliciting ideas from the others so that if it did come up, we'd have some ideas to draw upon.

Besides, I like her black! It would be a shame to ditch it. If it came down to a choice between the talent and the fluff, I'll happily nerf the talent and keep the skin tone.

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1 minute ago, Desslok said:

Well, we're only two games into this and I don't even have the talent yet. It hasn't been an issue, I was just soliciting ideas from the others so that if it did come up, we'd have some ideas to draw upon.

Besides, I like her black! It would be a shame to ditch it. If it came down to a choice between the talent and the fluff, I'll happily nerf the talent and keep the skin tone.

If you disguise her skin tone, it’s absolutely fine. Use the talent exactly as written. Other than that though, she’s - not to put too fine a point on it - a one in a million genetic freak whose mutation is eminently visible. She might as well be two droids holding up a sign that says “indeed, these ARE the droids you are looking for”. By any reasonable measure of common sense she has zero expectancy of being indistinguishable. So, either handwave it and pretend nobody gives her skin tone any consideration when it matters or accept that anyone who is looking for an incredibly rare black-skinned female Twi’lek is definitely going to notice she’s a black-skinned female Twi’lek. ;)

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I'd most likely handle it by just adding boost die on the check to remember the character, or if they are SUPER distinctive (like a 1-million skin color variation), I'd probably downgrade the difficulty.   A few setback are fine and all, but removing purples is pretty sweet too.

On the other hand, there is no mechanic denoting the skin color of your species effecting the dice rolls.  So I'm also hesitant to penalize you for skin color.

You could probably rule any failures to distinguish her, similar to the above mentioned "yeah but what were her distinguishing features", you could have the other party instead simply not believe them  "A black Twi'lek?  Come on man, are you sure it wasn't a *insert some other random species from Star Wars*.  I mean seriously..."  *scoffs and looks at his friend*  "...who's ever heard of a black Twi'lek!"   *disregards the persons description of the suspect*

Edited by KungFuFerret

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Selective/suggestive memory could be a factor.

”What did she look like?”

”a twi’lek with black skin.”

”there’s no such thing!”

”oh right. Perhaps she had makeup... maybe she was blue? I don’t know.”

GM waves hand. Play resumes.

Edited by OriginalDomingo

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Yeah, it looks like we've got enough ammo in the clip to be able to hand wave it should it even come up down the road. And of course it's all situational - a human-centric security checkpoint who sees a hundred weirdies an hour, the minimum wage schlub might not blink, but a xenobiologist with a small suspect pool to choose from might get blues and difficulty downgrades.

if we were a more Rules Uber Alles over the Rule of Cool table, I might see being more uptight - but we're pretty chill about stuff like this. I mean we've got one person who really, really wants one set of talents that - in all honestly, really should be on her tree but isn't - and we just went "Yeah, ditch X and Y talent, call it good!" So this probably wont be an issue too much.

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Besides, that's what all the robes and cloaks with hoods are for. "What'd the shooter look like?" "He was wearing one a them long capes, with like the hood? Wait, no, it was more like a poncho. Like those four espos over there. Except not them." [Espo detective sighs, closes datapad.]

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22 hours ago, Desslok said:

Wait a second, I hear you say - there are no black twi'lek! Ah hah, now you see what I mean - she's a one in a million-ish. Not quite tall and armored with stylish cape, and there are other black races out there (like them shiny headed bald dudes from the Cantina), but she's distinctive enough to pick out of a line up on Ryloth. So I thought I'd solicit opinions before this inevitably comes up in our game.

So what say you?

Easy! Like you say, there are no black twi'lek. So anybody who spots a black-skinned alien will assume they're something else  (unless they're actually concentrating). Then they can't recognise you later on, because they're convinced they're not looking for a twi'lek.

Probably safe to assume that memory for most alien races in the Star Wars universe works like that of humans in our own, where it's incredibly malleable and unreliable and people remember what they *think* they saw, rather than what they actually saw.

Edited by Talkie Toaster

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45 minutes ago, Talkie Toaster said:

Easy! Like you say, there are no black twi'lek. So anybody who spots a black-skinned alien will assume they're something else  (unless they're actually concentrating). Then they can't recognise you later on, because they're convinced they're not looking for a twi'lek.

Probably safe to assume that memory for most alien races in the Star Wars universe works like that of humans in our own, where it's incredibly malleable and unreliable and people remember what they *think* they saw, rather than what they actually saw.

You mean later on, when they’re actually looking at a black Twi’lek, they still can’t believe they saw a black Twi’lek or at least someone that looks like one earlier and can’t recognize what they saw? Right...

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Aye, for our particular group who works closely with Lando we often compared the Force's relationship with him like an exceedingly jealous lover, it would bestow him with unmatched luck and opportunity, but it will give him absolute **** every time he tries to settle down. Thus far he has had a relationship with a Hutt he would not talk about; almost married a woman who then decided to turn on him as part of a Cloud City power play, then after that he was forced to flee cloud city with the people he almost sold over to the empire, but then became mega famous general celeb who was on the flight team that took down the second Death Star and would become one of the most spontaneous generals in the field, with a squad of equally checkered history (us) being assigned to him. Combined with his gambling reputation and it becomes apparent that this guy is probably the luckiest man in the galaxy who is just inherently destined to do great things; just he certainly doesn't feel like it some days. XD



Re: The fact of indistinguishable is that one looks like a fairly typical member of their species, so in principle I would say it depends. A black Twilack might be rare, but not many people might even know that (and thus wouldn't retain that information as readily) and with her particularly dark colouration, identifying key features might be difficult at a glance. Though if people are actively looking for that person, then indistinglishable is less likely to be useful. 

Of course, any true con-artist/indistingishable shape shifter is not complete without some make up kit, so someone looking to double down on being unrecognisable should have something on that anyway. Add a dash of blue to exposed skin and one would just look like a different shade, enough to be completely different. Or perhaps that person is taking advantage of their unique status by concealing that they have that unique status, traveling with make up on when intending to do criminal/attention drawing activity and scrubbing it off otherwise.

 

My character is a blue Rodian who is otherwise fairly underwhelming and unassuming in appearance, thus the threat he poses is often underestimated. As much as he complains about it, he often exploits his unassuming appearance and treats his real self, the Charmelion, as some super heroic alterego of himself. The difference between he and the Charmelion? He simply sticks on a set of decal eyebrows. Job done!

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This subject brings to mind something I heard once. You don't see what you aren't expecting to see. If someone grew up only ever seeing black hair and all of a sudden someone shows up with red hair, the colour isn't noticed. It's kinda like the burnt orange coloured car. You never see one till someone draws your attention to it. Then it seems that every other car is painted burnt orange. Were the cars not there till you looked? Of course they were... you just didn't notice. (Your welcome for the subliminal nudge?). So as others have said, the subconscious mind thinks... na there is no black twi'lec so she must be a dark blue or some other species altogether.

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19 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

You mean later on, when they’re actually looking at a black Twi’lek, they still can’t believe they saw a black Twi’lek or at least someone that looks like one earlier and can’t recognize what they saw? Right...

I take it you've not heard of the Moonwalking Bear Awareness Test: https://www.awarenesstest.co.uk/video/moonwalking-bear-awareness-test

Show people this video, ask them to count the number of times the white team passes the ball. Ask them if they spotted anything unusual. Then, show it to them again. A good chunk of people (around 50%) won't have noticed the moonwalking bear in the background, because they were concentrating on something else at the time, and nobody expects a moonwalking bear in the background of a basketball game.

Nobody expects a black Twi'lek, so when they see one they assume it's a normal black alien, and that's what they remember. Then you present them a black Twi'lek and they go 'huh, odd', but their memory is already formed.

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4 hours ago, jayc007 said:

This subject brings to mind something I heard once. You don't see what you aren't expecting to see. If someone grew up only ever seeing black hair and all of a sudden someone shows up with red hair, the colour isn't noticed. It's kinda like the burnt orange coloured car. You never see one till someone draws your attention to it. Then it seems that every other car is painted burnt orange. Were the cars not there till you looked? Of course they were... you just didn't notice. (Your welcome for the subliminal nudge?). So as others have said, the subconscious mind thinks... na there is no black twi'lec so she must be a dark blue or some other species altogether.

 

Yeah, I have to comment on this one.  I lived near our airport and drove a half mile section of road approaching the Airport for decades.  Then I started driving Taxi and realized that this section of road was one of the most concentrated areas for Taxis to drive.  Before that realization, I have NEVER noticed a taxi (in 20 years).  Now every time I drive that section, I count the number of taxis I pass or see.  They were always there, but completely indistinguishable to me.

Also IRL there are people who are just indistinguishable.  They may be completely different physically and dress completely different, but unless they do something to draw attention to themselves we all just "move along."  

And as a GM, I also justify the use of indistinguishable for my various VERY unique PC's based on the fact that you only get 1 black die per rank, which isn't that much.  Four ranks of indistinguishable might be a game changer, but as often as those black dice come up blank during our sessions, I'm not scared.

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I run a Mando in my campaign who has a bunch of ranks in indistinguishable too. Never mind that Mandos just aren't terribly common, but if all anyone remembers is a big guy in armor, that's all they remember. I do play along by repainting it every so often. 

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