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Deception, how do you hide this from the PC's so they dont meta the dice pool.

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1 hour ago, RickInVA said:

Seems to me that with some things the player knowing failure means they just keep trying

The GM is under no compulsion to allow repeated rolls for the same thing.  Really, the players don't get to demand rolls for anything.  They can ask, but it's up to the GM whether they actually get one.

Your examples can easily be narrated the same way whether the dice are hidden or not.  So the player knows the PC failed and got 4 threat and you say "You have found a great spot!"  The player knows this is possibly a problem, so now what?  If the GM has a ticking clock (which should almost always be the case), then the PC can't just run around rolling dice until he gets the successes he wants.  He's going to lose turns, be out of position when the action goes down, the plan that relies on him is at risk, etc etc.  I think it's way more interesting (and fun) to have the player sweat a bit...the best spot they could find sucks for some reason they can't see...what, Oh What, will happen to them??  This is classic Star Wars "I have a bad feeling about this!" and you can milk it for all it's worth.  This is an opportunity, not a problem  :)  

The player might decide, I need to move this PC as soon as I am able, but maybe that's the Threat...if they actually sit tight and make the best of the situation, they'll end up in a better position than if they panic and start acting on what they think they know.  As noted above, the player doesn't really know anything, and you're free to deal with it as you see fit, to meet or subvert their expectations and provide the best entertainment.

 

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12 hours ago, RickInVA said:

I feel you have to hide certain dice rolls or you loose some of the uncertainty.

Exactly.  This isn't about trusting the players to draw a distinction between their own knowledge and their characters' knowledge.  It's about introducing suspense into a story and (in effect) avoiding "spoilers."

Additionally, when it comes to NPC lying, players deserve a chance to "detect lies" even if they don't explicitly say they're trying to.  Forcing them to declare every time they're trying to notice lies disrupts the flow of the game, and feels unrealistic and overly "meta."  When you realize someone is lying IRL, it isn't usually because you were eyeing them carefully looking for a lie.  You just passively read their body language, etc etc.

My campaign is currently in the late Clone Wars and has a lot of intrigue.  When an NPC lies to the PCs, I make an opposed vigilance roll myself--yes, I roll the positive dice too.  Normally the way I do it (when we play in person rather than over chat) is I pretend to be fiddling on my laptop or phone and secretly make the roll on a dice rolling web app.  Often I'll do it a few minutes before the lie, or even before the session if I know important lying is going to happen.  If you prefer to use physical dice, just cultivate a habit of compulsively rolling dice behind a screen when nothing is going on.  Your players will thank you when the events of the game genuinely surprise them, and not just their PCs.

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One dice roll that determines whether or not a major NPC is a goodie or baddie is a bad precedent to make. If the PCs don't have direct evidence of ill-doing they're breaking the social contract of the game by automatically assuming a "lying" NPC is automatically up to no good. As a GM, I would tell the players this directly. If they want to be suspicious, whatever, you can't control that, but that doesn't mean the PCs get to act on information they don't have.

If the PCs' roll determines the NPC is lying when they make a statement, just make up an excuse as to why the NPC was lying that doesn't hint at ill behavior on the NPC's part. Court room and police dramas are full of examples of suspects who lie in order to cover up another lie or protect the innocence of a third party.

Edited by Concise Locket

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20 hours ago, whafrog said:

The GM is under no compulsion to allow repeated rolls for the same thing.  Really, the players don't get to demand rolls for anything.  They can ask, but it's up to the GM whether they actually get one.

Your examples can easily be narrated the same way whether the dice are hidden or not.  So the player knows the PC failed and got 4 threat and you say "You have found a great spot!"  The player knows this is possibly a problem, so now what?  If the GM has a ticking clock (which should almost always be the case), then the PC can't just run around rolling dice until he gets the successes he wants.  He's going to lose turns, be out of position when the action goes down, the plan that relies on him is at risk, etc etc.  I think it's way more interesting (and fun) to have the player sweat a bit...the best spot they could find sucks for some reason they can't see...what, Oh What, will happen to them??  This is classic Star Wars "I have a bad feeling about this!" and you can milk it for all it's worth.  This is an opportunity, not a problem  :)  

The player might decide, I need to move this PC as soon as I am able, but maybe that's the Threat...if they actually sit tight and make the best of the situation, they'll end up in a better position than if they panic and start acting on what they think they know.  As noted above, the player doesn't really know anything, and you're free to deal with it as you see fit, to meet or subvert their expectations and provide the best entertainment.

 

I agree to most of what you say (with the possible exception that there should almost always be a ticking clock).  I can easily see where both methods can get to the same narrative spot.  However, the open rolling method has added what I consider an unwelcome element.  It has, intentionally, added another instance of player knowledge exceeding character knowledge.  I speak for myself only when I say that I feel games run more smoothly when player knowledge and character knowledge is very close together.  My desire to keep those two items in proximity drives a lot of how I GM.

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38 minutes ago, RickInVA said:

It has, intentionally, added another instance of player knowledge exceeding character knowledge.

No, that's my whole point (and I have to imagine the designer's point as well, since they advocate for it):  the player doesn't actually know anything that is relevant.  I get that players new to open rolling might think they know something their PC doesn't (as mine did initially), but that is easy to fix.

I agree with this:

1 hour ago, RickInVA said:

I speak for myself only when I say that I feel games run more smoothly when player knowledge and character knowledge is very close together.  My desire to keep those two items in proximity drives a lot of how I GM.

I strive for that too.  My players aren't thespians (at all!), if anything our heritage is more of the antagonistic style, and on occasion they still revert back to trying to second-guess what terrible fate or failure I'm setting them for and how they can best avoid it.  Ah, the scars of playing D&D in the late 70s have never fully healed...even though I've never GM'd like that even back then...the methods and madness of some other GMs continues to haunt them...  :blink:

Anyway, open rolling has actually helped soothe those antagonistic tendencies, I think in large part because: a) they haven't been able to translate knowing the dice pool into actionable information; and b) the same time the results are not hidden.  They can see I'm not fudging anything.

Note I'm not really arguing about whether one should do open rolling or not, only the premises people have used to justify hidden rolling.  Player knowledge just isn't the problem people think it is.  But every table is different, no doubt yours is not filled with old codgers who tell stories like:

My character was sleeping around a campfire, and the GM tells me I wake up.  "You have to whiz", he says.  "Okay, I whiz," I say.  "No", he says, "you have to go to the edge of the camp."  "I don't want to...?"  "You have to, or you'll wake everybody up and none of you will regain any hit points."  "Um, okay...I go to the edge of the campsite."  "There you are, whizzing, when you hear a flapping sound from above..."  "What?  I turn and run...!"  "And before you can turn and run...(roll roll)...a red dragon swoops down and carries you off.  See?  I rolled a 20."  "Um...."  "You're dead, roll a new character."  :wacko:

50 minutes ago, RickInVA said:

with the possible exception that there should almost always be a ticking clock

In the context of requiring a roll, I think there should be...can't really think of an example where there shouldn't.  To use your example, if you give the PC plenty of time to scout the location for the best possible sniper nest, you might as well give them a position based on their raw skill, or make the roll a Simple or Easy one and be done with it.  Otherwise you get into the classic situation like searching a room for a secret door that the players are sure is there, all of them demanding Perception rolls over and over until they eventually find it, which is pretty dull.  A roll that matters should have consequences that can't just be mitigated by rolling again.

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23 hours ago, whafrog said:

Your examples can easily be narrated the same way whether the dice are hidden or not.  So the player knows the PC failed and got 4 threat and you say "You have found a great spot!"  The player knows this is possibly a problem, so now what?  If the GM has a ticking clock (which should almost always be the case), then the PC can't just run around rolling dice until he gets the successes he wants.  He's going to lose turns, be out of position when the action goes down, the plan that relies on him is at risk, etc etc.  I think it's way more interesting (and fun) to have the player sweat a bit...the best spot they could find sucks for some reason they can't see...what, Oh What, will happen to them??  This is classic Star Wars "I have a bad feeling about this!" and you can milk it for all it's worth.  This is an opportunity, not a problem  :)  

 

I agree that it's a great opportunity. Unfortunately not ever player group is suitable to handle it. I don't have to go further than mine. Seeing that I say something seemingly good or neutral for threats/despair, instead of letting the pressure build up, they immediately try to defuse a trap they don't even know about. It's time consuming and exhausting to argue with the players to stop acting on meta knowledge so I rather stopped narrating these kind of results until they mature enough for the game. (Unexperienced players, playing for a year and half.)

Edited by Rimsen

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This topic will sooner or later boomerang around to this, so I'll just skip right to it.

What if an NPC rolls a deception check against a PC? The system is clearly meant handle it, due to PCs getting talents like Nobody's Fool to resist it.

Say a PC gets suspicious and goes through an NPC's pockets and finds something potentially compromising. The NPC tries a fib to explain it away as something harmless. If you ask me, it's not up to the GM to actually fool the player in this case, but rather to roll that deception check and if the NPC succeeds, I'd say the player is pretty much bound to play their PC as buying the explanation, otherwise the social contract pretty much breaks down. Otherwise, any social checks the Players/PCs make can be completely disregarded by NPC who may act completely on GM metaknowledge.

If social skills and checks are to mean anything, the players and PCs need to accept being on the receiving end of them on occasion. If the players can't take deception checks, they shouldn't be able to make deception checks.

Of course, this needs to handled a bit more carefully when it comes to stuff like coercion and persuasion, but that's another topic entirely.

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1 hour ago, penpenpen said:

Say a PC gets suspicious and goes through an NPC's pockets and finds something potentially compromising. The NPC tries a fib to explain it away as something harmless. If you ask me, it's not up to the GM to actually fool the player in this case, but rather to roll that deception check and if the NPC succeeds, I'd say the player is pretty much bound to play their PC as buying the explanation, otherwise the social contract pretty much breaks down. Otherwise, any social checks the Players/PCs make can be completely disregarded by NPC who may act completely on GM metaknowledge.

I would handle this differently. I try to make the PC the one rolling if at all possible. The exception of course being combat.

I would have the NPC tell his fib. If the PC's except it as truth, then there is no roll. Play continues. If a PC says, "wait a minute this sounds fishy", then I'm telling the PC to make a Vigilance check. I roll the bad dice from the NPC's Deception behind a screen. I of course don't say what I'm rolling. If the PC succeeds, I tell the PC you think he is lying, but you of course can't be sure. If the PC fails, I'm saying you think he's telling the truth, but you can't be sure.

The PC can get a clue on whether he succeeded from what he rolled. He rolls 4 successes, he knows he's probably reading the NPC correctly unless the NPC is a master of deception. Later if that turns out to be the case, the roll actually failed because the NPC rolled at least 4 failures, the PC may be thinking, "wow, I really believed that guy, he seemed so genuine!". Seems very real world to me. You get clues on how successful you think you were, but you can't be for sure.

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55 minutes ago, Sturn said:

I would handle this differently. I try to make the PC the one rolling if at all possible. The exception of course being combat.

I agree with this, which is why I'm generally loose with the implications of Talents like Nobody's Fool (I would just give the PC's positive dice an upgrade in that case).

I'd still roll it openly though...  😁

 

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7 hours ago, Sturn said:

I would handle this differently. I try to make the PC the one rolling if at all possible. The exception of course being combat.

I would have the NPC tell his fib. If the PC's except it as truth, then there is no roll. Play continues. If a PC says, "wait a minute this sounds fishy", then I'm telling the PC to make a Vigilance check. I roll the bad dice from the NPC's Deception behind a screen. I of course don't say what I'm rolling. If the PC succeeds, I tell the PC you think he is lying, but you of course can't be sure. If the PC fails, I'm saying you think he's telling the truth, but you can't be sure.

The PC can get a clue on whether he succeeded from what he rolled. He rolls 4 successes, he knows he's probably reading the NPC correctly unless the NPC is a master of deception. Later if that turns out to be the case, the roll actually failed because the NPC rolled at least 4 failures, the PC may be thinking, "wow, I really believed that guy, he seemed so genuine!". Seems very real world to me. You get clues on how successful you think you were, but you can't be for sure.

Well, in most systems, I'd probably handle it like that as well, but this one has made me re-think it. If nothing else, if the players are always actively rolling, then talents like Nobody's Fool becomes useless unless you flip them around and house rule it to upgrade checks to spot lies (which is absolutely fine to do).

I might be spoiled with excellent players who wouldn't blink if I rolled a deception check in the open and told them "this NPC convinces you that this is true" and would then play that angle to the hilt.

It really comes down to mood and playstyle, and whether you and your players prefer the narrativistic approach or the immersive. If we compare it to watching a film or reading a book, the first approach would be one where the audience/readers/players are aware that the NPC is a liar and the tension is whether the PCs figure it out in time or not. The second one is where the NPC being a liar comes as a sudden reveals to both the audience/players at the same time.

I think we tend to default to the second approach in RPGs, but as this thread shows, it's a lot more hassle than the first approach, which isn't always worth it.

So, what I'm getting at is that it's definetly worth mixing the two approaches up, and if you realize your players have caught on quicker than their PCs would, or what is dramatically suitable for your plans, there's no reason that you have to play coy in front of your players. Just switch the tension to whether the PCs catch up in time or not. And if they start abusing meta knowledge, gently remind them of how terrible it would be if you did that too.

---

And a little sidetrack here. IMO, there's a difference between using and abusing meta knowledge. For instance, if the players, but not the PCs, are aware that an NPC on their ship is a mole that spying on them, a player asking to flip a destiny point to walk in the NPC doing something suspicious is fine, but the PCs without any in-character reason putting the NPC under 24/7 surveillance is quite less so.

In the groups I play in, meta knowledge is quite often flaunted for humor or dramatic irony such as when being deceived (with a triumph!) going out their way to declare how trustworthy the NPC is, or exchanges such as this:

NPC: I answer directly to Darth Vader!

PCs: Look, we don't care who your supervisor is and if this Garth Weber guy has a problem with us he can come and tell us himself!

 

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Well the only way the characters have of interacting with the NPC is through dice. So if they can't figure it out just use plot armor. Otherwise let the players roll and adjust accordingly.

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I myself roll the opposed check hidden, why, the lie detector isn't the one ACTIVELY trying to deceive, the NPC is whether or not they are really fibbing or not. 

Something else I've done for some rivals and all nemesis level NPCs and based on the NPCs deception skill base profiency die count. This dictates how many clues, evidence items and information leaks they players must gather before they can really learn the trust level, honest intentions, or devious goals of the NPC. This makes the group use their other skills besides trying to hammer away with 20 questions to the NPC. Only to learn nothing new. 

This way if say there is an information leak via an underling, and while the PCs are pressing said NPC, if three threat show or a despair, the upper management learn of the leak and promptly plug the leak with a blaster plug.

It really forces players to use other skills such as computers to see who the crime boss is paying off or see that Imperial Moff Meanie #2 has recently sent her 100,000 imperial credits. 

Or the players smooze with an old lover of the crime boss using charm to find out the real reason they disappeared was because the crime boss' mother didn't approve of them and offers up clues for some scooby snacks.

 

Asking a partner uncouth questions in the outer rim is gonna get you dead quick or earn you a bad reputation as non-trustful and potentially worse.

 

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I hope it's ok that I add a question to this topic.

What would the difficulty be when the player wants to know if an NPC is lying, but the NPC is telling the truth? Can't be the Deception of the NPC because they are not lying. Shouldn't be trivial either IMO because it's never a sure thing to read someones intentions, even if they are not at all hostile towards you. 

There should be a risk that the PC falsely assumes that the NPC is lying... But how do I set the difficulty?

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14 minutes ago, GM Fred said:

I hope it's ok that I add a question to this topic.

What would the difficulty be when the player wants to know if an NPC is lying, but the NPC is telling the truth? Can't be the Deception of the NPC because they are not lying. Shouldn't be trivial either IMO because it's never a sure thing to read someones intentions, even if they are not at all hostile towards you. 

There should be a risk that the PC falsely assumes that the NPC is lying... But how do I set the difficulty?

I would still use Deception. Success means the PCs are convinced, Failure means they think he's lying.

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24 minutes ago, P-47 Thunderbolt said:

I would still use Deception. Success means the PCs are convinced, Failure means they think he's lying.

I'd say failure just means the PC can't tell either way whether the NPC is lying or not. Despair or sufficient threat would mean they believe he's lying.

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