Dralasite Truth Sense

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
March 3, 2008 - 10:46pm
I want to enhance the Dralasite's Lie Detection ability for the AER. It is clear that many find this ability to be little used if at all, so I'd like to discuss how to expand the ability more to make it more useable.

How can you see the Dralasite Lie Detection ability being expanded? d20 Future expresses their ability by giving them a +2 (+10 in SF) bonus to "Sense Motive".

My first thought is to have it, instead of being a 5% to detect lies (people sure are gullable in Star Frontiers), make it a +5 to lie detection checks and provide some indicator about how lie detection is performed in another section. Also, with d20 Future calling it "Sense Motive", this could allow it to be broadened and expressed as "an uncanny knack to read others". So maybe, instead of just "lie detection", we can call it "sense motive" and make it a kind of empathy.

How far can such an ability be stretched?
Comments:

Rum Rogue's picture
Rum Rogue
March 6, 2008 - 5:54am
looking good so far.
Time flies when your having rum.

Im a government employee, I dont goof-off. I constructively abuse my time.

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
March 6, 2008 - 4:23pm
I think the Dralasite lie detection is great mechanically, but the problem is that the percentage starts too low.  If you are running a cerebral campaign, then detecting the lies of NPCs is so potentially powerful that a referee has to be prepared to make drastic changes to the plot in the event of a successful roll.  NPCs that are caught lying will immediately raise the party's suspicions.

If you are just running around blasting at things, then no, it does not make much difference.

Another thing that I have noticed, and I don't know why, is that Dralasite PCs often forget that they have the ability or just don't use it.  Myself, I use it every single time I have any doubt about anyone.  It's a 1 in 20 shot.

By the way, I allow the ability to be used over the radio and such - any verbal communication.  That makes it a little stronger.

Gilbert's picture
Gilbert
March 6, 2008 - 4:29pm
  Here's one for ya to scratch yer head on. Have you ever seen a "water witcher" in action. These people can sense water 200 feet below ground and their nose isn't wet. And, they can't smell it either or taste it. They just know it's there. I see a Dralasite's ability to detect lies to be just like this. No science can explain it but it works for both in my game.

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 6, 2008 - 4:31pm
I'm wondering how people are getting such powerful results from the use of the Dralasite's 5% chance to detect a lie. Can you give me an example of how you use the ability?

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 6, 2008 - 5:15pm
Gilbert wrote:
Here's one for ya to scratch yer head on. Have you ever seen a "water witcher" in action. These people can sense water 200 feet below ground and their nose isn't wet. And, they can't smell it either or taste it. They just know it's there. I see a Dralasite's ability to detect lies to be just like this. No science can explain it but it works for both in my game.
The only thing I've found under the term "water witcher" is someone who uses a dowsing rod, which has repeatedly been proven to be bogus.

The only exceptional property of a dowsing rod is its ability to be dramatically controlled by the slightest muscle movement in the palm of the hand.

Gilbert's picture
Gilbert
March 6, 2008 - 5:19pm
  Well then, here's another good one for you. I AM a Water Witcher. And, it does work, it worked for my father and his father. My grandfather was so good at it he didn't even need a divining rod. He could tell you depth and purity of the water. I have done it for years. I did it when I went to survival training in the desert. Stump the Master Sargent good with it.

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 6, 2008 - 5:26pm
Where was your family or anyone like you when they were repeatedly trying to provide anything more than random statistical success? What is your success rate? Can you do it in a region you're not familiar with? How has your family used it to help utility agencies or corporations? How do you detect the water? Has your family's successes been confirmed by professionals using the scientific method?

Gilbert's picture
Gilbert
March 6, 2008 - 5:32pm
 How it works, I don't know.

 Can I repeat it? Yes, anytime, anywhere. I have bottles of water that people have hidden in a field. It has to be at least 3 gallons we found out for it to work. I am from Texas and I have witched water in New Mexico, Colorado, Georgia, and in Wisconsin. I it was when ever I felt like it and it worked.

 Have any of us used this ability to aid someone? Yes, my grandfather used to help farmers and ranchers to find water for their crops and cattle. My dad help our neighbor to find a new well site.

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 6, 2008 - 5:34pm
By the way, verifiable documented success from a letimate agency would certainly put it to rest. (By "legitimate agency", I mean more than an agency for spooks and green men.)

Gilbert's picture
Gilbert
March 6, 2008 - 5:41pm
 Bring it on, anytime anywhere.  It just has to be somewhat dry ground or it harder to do and not as accurate.

My ultimate goal is to witch on the moon or Mars. How cool would that be?

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 6, 2008 - 5:54pm
wow pretty cool

Gilbert's picture
Gilbert
March 6, 2008 - 5:53pm
  I have even tried it on cans of soda, coolaide, rootbeer, milk, and located water pipes. And, to our surprise, it worked. It didn't work with oil, or gasoline.

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 6, 2008 - 5:55pm
Alright, we've spent enough posting space on that subject.

Rum Rogue likes what I presented, anyone else? Also, I need an example from Imperial Lord or CleanCutRogue on how they have used the Dral ability to get such successes. Maybe we can use the original mechanic, but give better instructions on how to use it to repeat their successes. However, the question would still remain of how non-Drals are able to detect a lie to a lesser degree.

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
March 7, 2008 - 8:22am
Corjay - in essence, Dralasites should use the ability whenever they have a modicum of doubt about what an NPC is saying.  A quick example - in the last campaign I did, a member of the evil Internal Security was trying to pass himself off as a member of the Opposition (the side of the PCs.)  The two Dralasites in the party could have used their Lie Detection ability to find out that he was full of it.  Fortunately for the party, they deduced the situation correctly through other means, and dispatched the impostor.

Just use your imagination - every good campaign is full of spies, traitors, liars, thieves, con-men, and all sorts of nefarious operators.  Lie Detection can be a great method of separating the NPC wheat from the NPC chaff.  If you are just running around blowing up Sathar bases (which I do enjoy sometimes, by the way) then no, the Lie Detection ability is not going to be that useful.

However, I do agree with a previous poster that it should be widened to "Detect Deception", since the definition of "lie" might be a little too narrow.  Of course, as a referee, on a successful Lie Detection roll, you can give out a little more information than simply, "he's lying".  Maybe the degree of deception, or if the subject is exaggerating, etc.

Once again, we as Star Frontiers referees are faced with rules vagueness.  Are you used to it yet?

And when do you want to tackle Vrusk Comprehension?!  YIKES!  Talk about VAGUE!

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 7, 2008 - 12:23pm
You know what, that's a good point about Vrusk Comprehension.

Yeah, my problem with the Dral ability isn't so much vagueness as narrowness. A lie is completely different than deception. You can deceive with the truth. That's why they call it the "sin of omission".

Regarding the Dral lie detection ability, you gave me an anecdote of how you learned the truth through other means. What I'm looking for is an example of a success and exactly how it was acheived. For what reason was the ability used? (That is, describe the event that triggered it) How many rolls were made before you acheived success? What triggered each roll? (A statement? A round?)

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
March 7, 2008 - 2:53pm
Ah yes Corjay, another gap in the rules...  How often can the Dralasites use this ability?  Once per lie?  Once per sentence?  How many rolls?  Ugh...

My interpretation has been one roll per conversation.  I'll give you an example of this actually happening in a game - although excuse my memory on the sparse details as it was probably over 20 years ago...

An NPC was looking to hire the PCs, claiming that their mission would be routine and without any danger.  Lie Detection was rolled for, and was successful.  I told the PCs that "this guy is lying - and it probably has to do with the danger part."  The PCs decided to play it cool and take the mission, negotiating for more money (good role-playing and PER rolls helped here.)  Then, as a result, the party REALLY stacked up on equipment (actually borrowing money to bulk up - screens, goggles, clips, exo-skeletons, the works) and wound up having a somewhat easier time with the adventure.  This was important, because previously I had sent them on some boring, non- or minimal Event missions to lull them into a false sense of security.  I allowed them to collect some money with little effort.  But this was "the big one."

Of course, since my campaigns are never 100% combat, they did not exactly skate through.  But they were better prepared than they otherwise would have been.

Would they have bought *some* stuff without the successful roll?  Probably.  Would they have gone bananas with their plastic without the roll?  Definitely not.  As a matter of fact, the PCs told me that after the meat of the campaign began.

You gotta get lucky...  Mechanically, this was a single roll.  I let the PCs listen to the offer, and the Dralasite in the party called the Lie Detection.  I chose to reveal the extra information about the danger part.

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
March 7, 2008 - 3:04pm
Oh and Corjay, you have my vote for "Detect Deception".  I like that construction.  It clarifies and widens the ability.  As for the mechanic of the rolling, well, that is up to the referee.

I would imagine that a situation with a single lie would merit just one roll.  But if some dude is REALLY laying it on thick, then maybe you can offer multiple rolls - either one roll per individual deception, or just multiple rolls and some or all of the deception is revealed. 

My hunch is that this going to be almost impossible to codify.  We should just provide some general guidelines, and then let refs make the call based on the particular situation. 

I smell a Star Frontiersman article!!!

"Sense Motive" seems a little bit too powerful to me.  Also - it also smells a little like Star Trek Next Generation Betazed to me.  I don't want the jolly Dralasites turning into quivering empaths...  "The Crystal Entity just wants to be LOVED!"  LOL

And now that I think about it, it probably should remain at 5% under the original system.  1 XP for 1% increase, of course, etc.

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 7, 2008 - 3:24pm
Okay, so the following ability text has a second vote, minus the mechanic:

Quote:
Detect Deception. Through a combination of their unique senses, Dralasites have the ability to "read others" by variances in moisture and PH balance, vocal tone and pitch, stance and movement, breathing patterns, and flushing. Though seeing in black and white, they are able to detect light variances more readily, allowing them to pick up variances in facial flush. While not sensative enough to determine one thing from another easily, their sensative outer membrane makes them able to pick up smells, light, and vibrations in such a way that they can naturally determine one pattern of behavior from another just by paying attention, more easily identifying when a person is being deceptive, dishonest, vengeful, and/or manipulative, earning them the reputation of being lie detectors.


The specifics of the mechanic remains in question.

Regarding the statement that the mechanic is hard to pin down, that's the thing with RPG mechanics, is that they are only meant to approximate an event. They don't need to be exact. So we just need something approximate. But it does need to be pinned down in order to be properly used and not cause confusion.

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
March 7, 2008 - 9:50pm
How about this - as above, as you described plus...

There is a 5% (or more, after XP expenditure) chance per deceptive "topic".  This is determined by the ref ahead of time.  If the roll is successful, that particular aspect of the deception is revealed.  This, of course, may lead the PCs to be suspicous of the rest of what the NPC had to say.  This is acceptable.  The ref should make additional dummy rolls if necessary to mask the number of "deceptions" and should always roll several times every time the ability is called (unless it has no impact on the story whatsoever.)  Hence, in every key NPC conversation, the ref should be prepared with the number of possible Detect Deception rolls to which the Dralasite is entitled.  The ref should also know what a successful result means ahead of time.

A successful result could be as vague as a "vibe" - "There is something fishy about what this guy is saying..."  Or it could be very specific - "You KNOW he is not going to Cargo Bay 4, at least not now."  This needs to be determined ahead of time.  There's just no way around it.

The most important thing is, refs need to be prepared!  Granted, it is a 1 in 20 shot (normally) but it will happen from time to time.  So refs should have the appropriate plot twists and turns in their story to adjust for these successful rolls.  I could see where a story could be seriously undermined - not the end of the world, but refs need to be ready.

You could imagine a Sathar agent misleading the party in a mild way early in an adventure.  His deceptions get gradually worse and worse as the adventure continues.  Some Dralasite gets lucky, and now this guy is under SERIOUS suspicion by the party.  It is possible, under certain circumstances, for a story to actually SKIP plot points and maybe even events because of this!  Again, that's perfectly fine - actually it should yield nice XP bonuses for unravelling the adventure so quickly.

Be prepared...

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
March 7, 2008 - 9:57pm
I like it.  Good description Imperial Lord.
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Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 7, 2008 - 11:31pm
That seems to be both very broad in scope and interpretation and too dependent on the Referee, but in the end there, it gets too specific, not to mention, the whole thing is very long. I'll try to tighten it up:

Quote:
Detect Deception. While not sensative enough to determine one thing from another easily, their sensative outer membrane and dark vision makes them able to pick up smells, light, and vibrations in such a way that they can naturally determine one pattern of behavior from another just by paying attention, more easily identifying when a person is being dishonest and/or manipulative, earning them the reputation of being lie detectors.

The Dralasite has a 5% chance, plus modifiers, to detect deception during each complete dialog or answer by the speaker. This may be improved with experience points. When the player requests to detect deception, the Referee makes the roll in secret. If successful, the Dralasite senses the deception, if any. If 01 to 03 is rolled, the Referee informs the player which points were deceptive. +5 Modifiers may be applied if the Dralasite knows the individual personally and/or if the person has an obvious reason to deceive.

Rum Rogue's picture
Rum Rogue
March 8, 2008 - 7:33am
I like the fact that you guys state the player must request the use of it.  Its nice to see that it is not always "on", for lack of better terminology.
Corjay, I like the way you cleaned it up. 
I think Imperial Lord has an excellent, in-deapth descrition, I think his examples could be used in a sideboard or a gm example.

Big compliments to both of you.
Time flies when your having rum.

Im a government employee, I dont goof-off. I constructively abuse my time.

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 8, 2008 - 8:26am
Well, the problem with that is that mine changes it up from Imperial Lord's. He made the Referee the one in control of every aspect of it, whereas I made the player responsible for most of it, while the Referee is simply responsible for rolling the die and filling in only necessary information.

SmootRK's picture
SmootRK
March 14, 2008 - 10:30am
As a referee I tend to phrase answers to the Dral's ability as "you don't think that X is being completely truthful"; "you are unsure about X's answers... he might be hiding something"; "X's story seems plausible"

BTW.... I agree that this kind of ability truly needs to be one where the Referee rolls for success secretly.  That way the Referee can tailor the answer to suit the situation.

For instance: 
Player:  "I don't trust this guy; can I roll for Lie Detection?"
Referee:  checks %chance plus any situational modifiers Ref deems necessary...
...rolls 86 (needed less than 10)...  pretty bad roll.  "he seems to be completely truthful with his answers"
...rolls 45 (same needed 10)... a miss, but not so drastically.  "you cannot tell one way or another if he is being honest"
...rolls 08 (of 10)... Success.  "he seems to be hiding something"

Notice that there is no 'cheating' by the Ref in these examples.  My point is that the Ref does not need to be totally revealing about the target with success or failure for this kind of ability... as long as Ref does the rolling.  This is a completely different story if the Player is the roller because he (the player) will instantly know if the Ref is manipulating the answer.

So I am really just saying that a little more text should be placed into the resolution section to give the referee more leeway with failure rolls as well.
<insert witty comment here>

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 14, 2008 - 11:37am
How does the following text not do that?

Quote:
When the player requests to detect deception, the Referee makes the roll in secret. If successful, the Dralasite senses the deception, if any. If 01 to 03 is rolled, the Referee informs the player which points were deceptive.


SmootRK's picture
SmootRK
March 14, 2008 - 11:42am
I got those "successful" and "super successful" rolls...

I am speaking more on the Failures... small failures = you are unsure., big failures mean Refereee might tell you the exact opposite... that you completely trust what said being is telling you.
<insert witty comment here>

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
March 14, 2008 - 12:07pm
I see. Yeah, I left those out on purpose to keep it brief, but I can easily put them in:

Quote:
Detect Deception. While not sensative enough to determine one thing from another easily, their sensative outer membrane and dark vision makes them able to pick up smells, light, and vibrations in such a way that they can naturally determine one pattern of behavior from another just by paying attention, more easily identifying when a person is being dishonest and/or manipulative, earning them the reputation of being lie detectors.

The Dralasite has a 5% chance, plus modifiers, to detect deception during each complete dialog or answer by the speaker. This may be improved with experience points. When the player requests to detect deception, the Referee makes the roll in secret. If successful, the Dralasite senses deception, if any. If 01 to 03 is rolled, the Referee informs the player which points were deceptive. If the roll is unsuccessful, the Dralasite does cannot identify any deception. If 00 is rolled, the Dralasite must believe everything said by the individual credulously and can make no more detect deception checks with that individual. +5 Modifiers may be applied if the Dralasite knows the individual personally and/or if the person has an obvious reason to deceive. A Dralasite can only sense deceptions. They cannot determine what the truth is from those deceptions.

SmootRK's picture
SmootRK
March 14, 2008 - 12:13pm
All good, but I would do something more like:

Failed by more than 25% = complete trust (maybe as much as 50%), rather than the flat 00 roll.

conversely, Successful roll by X% grants detailed point by point analysis.

rationale:  gives player all the more reason to pour XP into ability to get improved accuracy and reduced chance of gross misjudgments.

Additionally, if we are talking about Dralasite's sense is based on multiple factors (smell, electrical, visual cues, etc.) then each of those might have situational modifiers stated (target in spacesuit= no smell, visor down = no visual cues with facial expressions, etc).  I might also consider that certain races might be easier or harder to 'read'... for instance a vrusk might be a tad tougher, and an Ul-Mor (because of the octopus color changing mood) might be extra easy.... but these might be over-complications that ought be glossed over.


<insert witty comment here>

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
March 14, 2008 - 12:25pm
I have to disagree here Smoot...

Additional parsing of the roll itself can be tedious.  I would say that a failure is just a failure - no matter what the roll.  "You can't tell if the guy is decieving you" is ample or something to that effect.

The 00 thing should go too.  I don't think you shut down an ability because of a bad roll. 

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
March 14, 2008 - 12:27pm
Oh and Corjay - do you mean that a 01 to 03 is special or did you mean 01 to 05?