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Detecting the Truth

I’m going to be running an investigation heavy episode in a few days, am I’m trying to think how interogation rolls would work for an NPC trying to convince a PC that they are in fact truthful.

Paradoxicially, it’s easy to figure out the fail/pass conditions for lying (the NPC rolls better with Command&Presence with any Deception focus vs a PC’s Security&Insight with any Interrogation focus) where if the NPC rolls more successes, they can successfully lie or cover the truth, but figuring out how the opposite works has me stumped…

I don’t know whether I got you right: Your question is how a NPC, while actually telling the truth, can convince the players that he is telling the truth?

There are two solutions that come to my mind:

  1. You could ask the interrogating player to make a check; the NPC would actually assist because they’re telling the truth. I would set a rather high difficulty for this, representing the distrust of the interrogating character that has to be overcome. You could also make an extended task, especially if the characters need the information of the NPC within a certain time.
  2. You could simply rule that since the NPC is actually telling the truth, they do not need to roll at all and it’s just about the players and their judging of character, so they need to role (maybe Insight + Command or Insight + Security?). I would set the difficulty to 1 or 2 as basis, maybe raised for certain species (i.e. if the character is not familiar with this species, it would be harder for them to ‘read’ their body language etc.), you can further modify this by spending threat.

I hope this helps.

Yes, that is the question I was trying to get at, sorry for the clunkiness of the phrasing! :rofl:

The former seems like a better way of doing it, since it would appear to players to be the same kind of roll they’d need to perform if the NPC was trying to decieve them. Essentially my problem was figuring out how a roll should work so that the players don’t know if they’re being lied to or not.

If the players are asking, I’d use Command or Medicine and Insight as their roll to detect any lack of truthfulness. And, since he’s telling the truth, TN=1, as he doesn’t roll to resist… The result being, “no lack of truthfulness detected”…

If they aren’t asking, a TN1 Command+Presence to establish earnestness which I then describe (and which they’re likely to take as an attempt to deceive, and then they get the above task.

Isnt this covered in the social conflict section of the core rules?

Not in a mechanical sense, @mattcapiche.

The “Social Conflict” chapter is pretty weakly worded.

It specifies several key things:

  • A “persuasion”
    • is a request for an action
    • difficulty is based upon ability and willingness to help the PCs
    • failure is lasting - retries require changes to the circumstances
  • Social Tools are used to modify persuasions
    • Deception is
      • opposed tasks
      • creation of a deception trait
    • Evidence is
      • potentially hard if the target expects deceit
      • creation of an evidence trait
    • Intimidation is
      • opposed task
        • difficulty for each based upon overall strengths of the two sides
      • Creation of a fear trait
      • liable to have undesired consequences
    • Negotiation is
      • NOT inherently a task
      • creation of a pair of traits: one advantage for the offer, and one complication for the price of said offer.

Note that the difficulty of evidence isn’t given strong guidance, and avoids entirely which att+dis to use.

Well, it’s a contested roll.

PC rolls Insight - Command or Insight - Security (there’s some overlap here)
NPC rolls Presence - Command.

If PCs win that roll off, they will know for sure if that NPC is lying or not. So if the NPC is saying the truth and the PCs win that roll, they’ll know the NPC is saying the truth. If NPC wins that roll off, players will not know whether or not he is lying or telling the truth. If PCs not only fail but also get a complication, I’d rule that they believe very exactly the opposite, lol.

Why should it be a contested role? There is no contest! The ‘goals’ of the two sides actually align! The players want to know the truth. The NPC wants to tell the truth. Either both win or both lose.

If the NPC ‘wins’ the role on how good they are in conveying the truth – why should there remain doubt with the players?

I say: If goals align, there is no room for contest.

@aramis, fair enough, I haven’t really gone back and re-read that section in a while. That all said, I think att/dis are situational. You can’t blanket assign something, because characters of all background can lie (eddington was an excellent liar, but so was quark. They don’t really share a common discipline, just as an example). I guess you instead need to consider the content of a lie. Using a lie as an example.

Generally speaking I think this system is built more around being able to roleplay these situations, rather than turning to mechanics (a strength for some, and a weakness for others).

@MisterX, But do you want your players to just outright know that the npc is being truthful? If so, then you don’t need mechanics as you might as well just tell them that.

If, however, you want the option or illusion of option for the npc to lie, then having the rolls contested adds a layer of uncertainty for the players. Likewise, if you only ever have a roll when there is deception, then it becomes obvious that the character is lying.

But you are right about intentions aligning. A success from either without any complications should be seen as a success.

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If you want the roll to leave some doubt in the mind of the players on if the NPC is being truthful or not, then I would come up with a TN for success, have the players roll with possible assists or not, then roll for the NPC. Either have the NPC roll act as an assist (rolling one die), or have the roll act as a Secondary task. If the PCs fail or get some complications, then the secondary roll by the NPC can be used as a success test for convincing the players of their truthfulness and counteracting the complications.

There is of course, a chance that the NPC will get a complication that could come off to the players to seem like the NPC may not be telling the whole truth.

To detect the truth (depending on the character) I would allow Command, Security, or Medicine as the Discipline along with Insight as the Attribute.

For the NPC, I would use Presence or Insight with Command to convince the players. I would of course, make most of the situation be portrayed through roleplaying, with the roll happening near the middle or end of the conversation.

The layer of uncertainty comes from rolling, not from the rolls being contested. This is why I suggested making the NPC assist the players in the first place. You do not need to tell them the target numbers of their roll and you can even have a hidden roll behind your GM screen. Only that dice fall is important for the players’ illusion.

The mechanics is a different story. :slight_smile:

Establishing facts into traits is not a contested roll, under the rules in the core. It’s a difficulty for a singular task, not an opposed one, being based upon the expectations of the target.

If they expect truthfulness and have no reason to doubt the fact itself, it’s automatic, but might not qualify for making a trait. If they expect deceit and the claim is one they would have trouble believing from a trusted source, even if absolute truth, failure is should be automatic. In between, pick a difficulty and roll the dice.

Establishing the truth of a claim by the claimant… If the players think it a deceit, having them set the difficulty may be appropriate… and the easiest method for doing so is to have them make a roll…

I am sorry if I got the technical terms wrong. To me, a ‘contested roll’ would be the players and the NPC rolling against each others, i.e. both roll and the ones with higher score ‘win’.

I saw (see!) absolutely no point in this mechanic in scenario given by the original poster.

Neither do I…

But… players might not agree.

Hence why I phrased my original as a failing to detect deception - which is, fundamentally, only slightly different from detecting truth… but with an important (and subtle) difference. Failing to detect deception allows continued belief in dishonesty, but a good roll will definitely encourage accepting it as believed truth.

Interpersonal situations are a play region where I tend not to divulge difficulties… because doing so before resolution can often reveal the information sought before the roll is even made.

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Likewise, if you only ever have a roll when there is deception, then it becomes obvious that the character is lying.<

You’ve hit it on the head here, in having different mechanics for whether the NPC is lying or telling the truth, it becomes obvious to the players which the NPC is doing.

I’d prefer in these cases for it to be roleplayed with mechanics coming in as support, but some of the player group I’m currently running Star Trek for are very mechanics orientated.


Why “Medicine”?

Why not “Medicine”? I would allow Medicine, Security, or Command for the roll along with Insight to judge body language/physical responses.

Or a situation where its less about realizing someone is lying but having knowledge about the subject of the lie.

looking for the telltale metabolic signs of deception (and they’re reasonably reliable - more so than current polygraph), but require a good bit of neuropsych and physiological knowledge to use.

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