Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
DaverWattra

Unrelenting Skeptic makes lying impossible?

Recommended Posts

I recently introduced a new PC into the game I GM at a fairly high XP level.  She is mainly a bounty hunter type, but she has pretty much completed the Marshal tree as well.  The campaign is quite focused on intrigue right now.

So this character was involved in interrogating an enemy spy, and the spy had really high Deception skill (4 Yellow).  I figured he would get at least one or two lies past this PC.  Her Discipline skill is 2Y 1G, and (here's the kicker) she also has 3 ranks of Viligance.  So the difficulty of his Deception checks was 2R 1P -- but *then* I had to add three automatic failures for Unrelenting Skeptic and the 3 Vigilance ranks.

I just kept failing over and over again.  I even tried giving the guy some circumstantial boost dice later in the interrogation, but nope.  Afterward I checked the statistics, and it turns out that adding automatic failures is an *incredibly* powerful way of making someone fail a roll.  The guy needed 4+ successes to beat the Skeptic talent, meaning that even with his really high Deception skill he had only a 12% chance to succeed.

It turns out that even a character with completely maxed out Deception skill and Cunning 6 (!) has only about a 37% chance to succeed when lying to this PC.  And this isn't anywhere near the maximum that Unrelenting Skeptic is capable of.  If she spends another 20 XP on one further Vigilance rank, that Deception 5 Cunning 6 NPC would have only a 20% chance of getting away with a lie.  With a fifth Vigilance, rank, it looks like the chance drops below 10 percent.  And that's for someone who is rolling 5 yellow + 1 green!

I'm wondering if this talent might not be too good at what it does--at least in a campaign like mine where intrigue is important and it's sometimes good for plot reasons if an NPC can convincingly lie to a PC.  I hate having to nerf PCs' talents, so if someone has a better idea please let me know.  But my first thought is to have the talent increase difficulty rather than adding automatic failures.  That still has a huge effect on the chances of a successful lie, but it doesn't make success almost impossible like the automatic failures do.  (The player has already agreed to nerf the talent if I deem it necessary, and is very congenial about it, so there's no risk of trouble at the table, I'm just checking if anyone has better ideas about how to fix the situation.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would add drawbacks to Unrelenting Skeptic and make it an optional thing.

For example, if the PC chooses to "activate" Unrelenting Skeptic for some encounter, they would also have a harder time recognizing truth. For example, you deem it such that an NPC in an interrogation has finally broken and is telling the truth. Now, you could make it such that the PC adds 3 failures on checks to realize that he is actually telling the truth.

Now, for the next encounter, the PC may want to "deactivate" the paranoia caused by Unrelenting Skeptic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, DaverWattra said:

I recently introduced a new PC into the game I GM at a fairly high XP level.  She is mainly a bounty hunter type, but she has pretty much completed the Marshal tree as well.  The campaign is quite focused on intrigue right now.

So this character was involved in interrogating an enemy spy, and the spy had really high Deception skill (4 Yellow).  I figured he would get at least one or two lies past this PC.  Her Discipline skill is 2Y 1G, and (here's the kicker) she also has 3 ranks of Viligance.  So the difficulty of his Deception checks was 2R 1P -- but *then* I had to add three automatic failures for Unrelenting Skeptic and the 3 Vigilance ranks.

I just kept failing over and over again.  I even tried giving the guy some circumstantial boost dice later in the interrogation, but nope.  Afterward I checked the statistics, and it turns out that adding automatic failures is an *incredibly* powerful way of making someone fail a roll.  The guy needed 4+ successes to beat the Skeptic talent, meaning that even with his really high Deception skill he had only a 12% chance to succeed.

It turns out that even a character with completely maxed out Deception skill and Cunning 6 (!) has only about a 37% chance to succeed when lying to this PC.  And this isn't anywhere near the maximum that Unrelenting Skeptic is capable of.  If she spends another 20 XP on one further Vigilance rank, that Deception 5 Cunning 6 NPC would have only a 20% chance of getting away with a lie.  With a fifth Vigilance, rank, it looks like the chance drops below 10 percent.  And that's for someone who is rolling 5 yellow + 1 green!

I'm wondering if this talent might not be too good at what it does--at least in a campaign like mine where intrigue is important and it's sometimes good for plot reasons if an NPC can convincingly lie to a PC.  I hate having to nerf PCs' talents, so if someone has a better idea please let me know.  But my first thought is to have the talent increase difficulty rather than adding automatic failures.  That still has a huge effect on the chances of a successful lie, but it doesn't make success almost impossible like the automatic failures do.  (The player has already agreed to nerf the talent if I deem it necessary, and is very congenial about it, so there's no risk of trouble at the table, I'm just checking if anyone has better ideas about how to fix the situation.)

Wow, that is terribly frustrating and powerful. I think if I was the GM, I would really lean into this. I would make them roll for any information that comes out of any NPC's mouth. Now they're skeptic about lies AND the truth. They cannot rely on their character to be sure of anything.

Edited by panpolyqueergeek
lol ninja'd by Yaccarus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

I would add drawbacks to Unrelenting Skeptic and make it an optional thing.

For example, if the PC chooses to "activate" Unrelenting Skeptic for some encounter, they would also have a harder time recognizing truth. For example, you deem it such that an NPC in an interrogation has finally broken and is telling the truth. Now, you could make it such that the PC adds 3 failures on checks to realize that he is actually telling the truth.

Now, for the next encounter, the PC may want to "deactivate" the paranoia caused by Unrelenting Skeptic.

Interesting and appealing idea that fits well with the theme of the talent.  Curious to hear more ideas if other people have them, but I like this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, DaverWattra said:

Interesting and appealing idea that fits well with the theme of the talent.  Curious to hear more ideas if other people have them, but I like this one.

I don't know the exact specifics of your game, but I would turn the "interrogation scene" into its own encounter. Sorting lies from truth is very difficult if the subject of interrogation is only motivated to tell their interrogators what they want to hear. I could easily imagine a PC threatening an NPC with force, but confessions/information extracted in such a way are rarely reliable. The quality and reliability of information gained could be determined by the active skill the PC is using: coercion, negotiation, charm, etc. Perhaps the actual interrogation must be preceded by negotiations that the subject feels confident will be honored, and that could be the first phase of the interrogation. Perhaps the intense nature of interrogation causes strain to both parties, and if they press their subject too hard, one or both sides could exceed their strain threshold. Doing so could have very negative consequences,  even causing the subject to take drastic action or shut down completely.

On a larger scale, the PC could earn a reputation for not believing other people, so NPC's might instead try to use charm, coercion, negotiations, or other social engineering tactics to counter that.

Edited by panpolyqueergeek

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ouch. That talent makes me wonder if whoever wrote it did the math. I mean, three ranks in Vigilance plus a 20 XP talent is not nothing, but Vigilance is not exactly a one-trick-skill either. Playing around with a dice calculator, it seems like the combination would on average eat up 2Y2G all by itself (advantages excluded)... That's about powerful as adding the full Vigilance skill into the test, assuming the 3 skill are backed by a 3 attribute as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a campaign running where one of the people the PCs are trying to research is a Spymaster. She builds layer after layer of deception, has multiple false identities, has a slicing crew to route communications through systems without their owner's approval, utilizes dead drops, contacts people through stand-ins and compartmentalizes information. When she needs something done, she sits down and figures out "who wants to do this, independent of me", and then "how do I get them to do what I want them to without them even knowing I was involved". 

Star Wars has ample criminal elements who are willing to do something just because someone paid them to. Your really important people should never work with the mercs directly. They should use at a minimum a fixer. And preferably an intermediary to work with the fixer. You know the whole "my associates would like you to do ..." bit. Best of all is if your important people made a false identity to recruit the intermediary ;)

Then it doesn't matter so much that the actors gets caught and interrogated. They give up the fixer. So the PCs have to go kidnap the fixer. Who maybe gives up the intermediary. And now the PCs have to go find them. And after all that, they get some shadowy identity that maybe they can contact, but isn't of a real person they can trace. So they have to try to lure a master spy into revealing him/herself. 

If they can pull that off, more power to them and congrats. They deserve the win at that point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just because you can always tell when someone is lying doesnt mean you ever hear the truth. Good operational security means that the spies shouldnt know anything particularly useful, so even if they cant lie convincingly that doesnt mean they actually know what the players want to hear. Add on top of that a BBEG who is willing to lie to the spies to spread disinfo and the spy may never even tell a lie but also never tell the truth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, kaosoe said:

Some people like making characters that are hard to kill, some people like making characters that do massive damage. This example isn't very different. I would let them have their fun and seek to challenge them in other ways.

In many game contexts I would agree, but in this case the player likes the focus of the campaign on spy games and agrees with me that it's not as fun to have a PC in that sort of game who can infallibly detect lies. Like I said above, the player is on board with house ruling the talent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, korjik said:

Just because you can always tell when someone is lying doesnt mean you ever hear the truth. Good operational security means that the spies shouldnt know anything particularly useful, so even if they cant lie convincingly that doesnt mean they actually know what the players want to hear. Add on top of that a BBEG who is willing to lie to the spies to spread disinfo and the spy may never even tell a lie but also never tell the truth.

Sure, but we've had a lot of fun with scenes where the PCs talk face to face with the BBEG. I don't want to have to cut down on those.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do your super silver tongued NPCs somehow not have the Natural Charmer talent, plus a bunch of ranks in Smooth Talker and Convincing Demeanor? It takes a lot more than skill ranks to be a specialist in something. IMO, Unrelenting Skeptic should be an auto-win against anyone who isn't a master of Deception, and if they are then it evens the playing field into a really tense exchange.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, kaosoe said:

Some people like making characters that are hard to kill, some people like making characters that do massive damage. This example isn't very different. I would let them have their fun and seek to challenge them in other ways.

Bingo! I would be pissed if my GM tried to punish me for being good at what I do.

Go build encounters where there are master spies in a high stakes sabbac game where everyone is a high roller. Let them play in their chosen field - and when they get too full of themselves, force them into a solo gunfight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Hinklemar said:

Do your super silver tongued NPCs somehow not have the Natural Charmer talent, plus a bunch of ranks in Smooth Talker and Convincing Demeanor? It takes a lot more than skill ranks to be a specialist in something. IMO, Unrelenting Skeptic should be an auto-win against anyone who isn't a master of Deception, and if they are then it evens the playing field into a really tense exchange.

"Somehow not have" sounds like you're not talking about grabbing talents from at least two specializations, possibly three if you're using Age of Rebellion rather than EotE - all that to counter one single talent. Doesn't that strike you as disproportionate? And on the other hand side, is it really appropriate that your value as a lie detector is mostly measured by whether you have taken one specific spec over all the others that should be good at the stuff like the Bounty Hunter Skip Tracer?

@Desslok
You do realize the player himself said he considers the talent too strong?

Edited by Cifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dont know how you run your games, but my NPCs always mix truth with lie and always respond in the most vague way. This way the PCs if they are suspicious and ask for the check and succeed, they are never sure what part of the info is a lie and which is not. They get feeling or maybe NPC is a bit nervous, but nothing more. Only with the adv and tr we can start talking about the details...but still not for 1 or 2 adv, maybe there is someone who can confirm this info...with triumph they overheard smth that lets them deduct which part is a lie...

Setbacks. Do you give setbacks for races? A human is not so good to read from a face of a Mon Calamari. Do you give setbacks for tension? I do. Flying through an asteroid and flying through an asteroid field while being shot by a squadron of TIE fighters. Do you give setbacks for languages? I do, you may speak Huttese but no so perfect....(in my groups I always check and write down how each PC speak languages, it gives them boosts and setbacks and some flavor to the game). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It doesn't strike me as too strong. Talents that improve social skills exist for a reason, on both sides of the equation. If the NPC doesn't have any and the PC does, it *should* be very difficult for the NPC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OP is talking about NPCs lying; specializations have nothing to do with their ability to do so.

It’s not disproportionate if the GM wants to have a a chance to get something by the PCs, or wants to highlight how good the PC is even against a skilled liar. NPCs should be built to serve a role in the story and if one has the role of deceiver they should be equipped for their role; giving them the talents mentioned should be in their wheelhouse anyway and is not a specific response to the Unrelenting Skeptic talent. IMO, it’s also a lot more “fair” than giving the NPC an ability like, “Silver Tounge: Spend a Destiny point to add [Su][Su][Su] to the next Deception check.” which is still entirely acceptable.

All I can really say about, “value as a lie detector” is that each spec has a lot more than one thing it’s judged on. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Hinklemar said:

Do your super silver tongued NPCs somehow not have the Natural Charmer talent, plus a bunch of ranks in Smooth Talker and Convincing Demeanor? It takes a lot more than skill ranks to be a specialist in something. IMO, Unrelenting Skeptic should be an auto-win against anyone who isn't a master of Deception, and if they are then it evens the playing field into a really tense exchange.

Smooth Talker is a good call, thank you! I never think of that talent as any good, but in this case it definitely would be. I will try that out and see if it is enough to fix the issue.

With such a low chance of success in the first place, natural charmer wouldn't make a big difference, but in combination with smooth talker it could!

Edited by DaverWattra

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing to keep in mind is that while you may know someone is lying, that doesn’t mean that you can get the truth.

Also, a good idea for these checks is to roll both the pc and npc rolls hidden so only the GM can see them. This is because knowing if a roll succeeded or not gives the players outside information with checks like this. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, DaverWattra said:

Sure, but we've had a lot of fun with scenes where the PCs talk face to face with the BBEG. I don't want to have to cut down on those.

Well, yeah. Its more that it shouldnt be used to short circuit an adventure by having the first minion give away the BBEGs location and plans

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, BadMotivator said:

One thing to keep in mind is that while you may know someone is lying, that doesn’t mean that you can get the truth.

This is very much the truth of the matter.

In a lot of police procedural-type shows (as well as shows that make a serious nod towards police involvement), just because you know a suspect is lying to you doesn't mean you know exactly what they're not telling you.  In the case of police, it's not enough to know a perp is lying, you also have to be able to prove that they're lying otherwise it won't hold up in a court of law.  While most PCs in an EotE game aren't quite as about proper police procedures and regulations, just because the PC with Unrelenting Skeptic knows that the person is lying to them doesn't equal to automatically sussing out the truth (unless the NPC happens to generate a crap-ton of threat and/or some despairs that is)

For instance, the character of Misty Knight from the Luke Cage Netflix series probably has Unrelenting Skeptic and a few ranks of Vigilance, as she knows pretty much when professional criminals and politicians are lying to her, but she doesn't know the precise details of the lie, only that she's not getting the full story.

If anything, Unrelenting Skeptic could open the door for the PC to make some social skill checks of their own, to see if they can manage to wrangle the truth out of the suspect, be it politely (Charm), impolitely (Coercion), or through double-talk (Deception).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

If anything, Unrelenting Skeptic could open the door for the PC to make some social skill checks of their own, to see if they can manage to wrangle the truth out of the suspect, be it politely (Charm), impolitely (Coercion), or through double-talk (Deception).

Don't forget bribes/favors (Negotiation) and loyalty/organizational pressure (Leadership).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...