Lily Gilding

My troupe was debating the effect on politics of lie detecting. One of the players has a Folk Ken of 9 (7+2) with Clear Thinker (+3) and a Mentam form bonus of 13 (+3) and a Perception of 2(+2)....That's 17 plus his roll. It shouldn't be very hard to detect almost anyones lies at Tribunal. Now even if a magi isn't as tweaked he still could easily get a fairly high roll for deception detection!
I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the obvious implications of this...and the lack of lying bonuses. Basically you have Guile, plus Pussiant Guile and Im not sure of what else. Now I understand not all magi will be living lie detectors...but I bet many are daaaaamn good at it. Including most Quesitors....many mentam magi...Jerbitons...anyone with a reason to have a Folk Ken really.
Has this cropped up in anyones story?
Any anecdotes?
Is it most magi expect to hear/tell lies and hope they won't be found out to exactly what thier lies are?
Do most magi expect other magi to be vague and not press them w/o good reason?
I'm very interested in hearing from you about this.

Answer to this: do not lie. Simply say what they ask in a way that puts the events in a positive light for you :wink: Take in mind that being guilty of something doesn't mean that you will have to pay for it. As it is, the OoH tribunal system votes each case separately. Precedence is important, but as long as you get enough people to vote for you, you could raze Paris and desecrate the Jerusalem without consequences at tribunal (apart from having your soul going straight to Hell, that is)

My players use that all the time: do not engate the evidence. magic will uncover it 99% of the time. Simply make sure that nobody investigates (so you will not be acused of the crime) or weave the political alliances in a way to make the crime appear to be a lesser one and get out of the mess with a small punishment on you. Easier and cheaper than trying to cheat a tribunal.

Your player would be a great investigator, but you have to prove that what you claim is true. If he doesn't have the Gentle Gift and he accuses the brother of the local ruler of engineering the death of his nephew he is likely to be thrown in jail, more than anything.... Knowing the truth and being able to use it wefficiently are 2 different things. I can see a lot of story potential coming out from this knowledge :slight_smile:


First of all: quite a remarkable character!

It's a skill typical of magi, but also possessed by officers, teachers and mothers...

I think that in literature (and the longer I play the more parallels I see), especially in crime fiction, the protagonist (the detective) often has hunches that something is not right about a story. This does not lead to an early denouement, but only serves to create tension and to further the investigation. Finding out why somebody lies makes for a better story than finding out that somebody lies.

I read somewhere that most people lie three times every ten minutes of conversation. Now, I don't think these are "whoppers" of a lie, more like bending the truth a bit. If this maga were a living lie detector, his buzzer would be going off constantly. Further, I don't think having such skill automatically detects all lies. Certainly, an opposed roll is called for. Although, with such a high skill, you can choose to make the roll for him and give a hint.


This is exactly what I recommend NOT be done.

A player who has invested all those points in Folk Ken and associated virtues is announcing, "my character is really good at reading people; that's what I want to play." A GM serves the game better by being up front about not wanting this kind of character in his game, rather than finding justification to screw the player, which the above advice is.

There is no "buzzer." The maga is simply very good at seeing people. Except when some character is good at holding his cards close to the chest, better not to roll dice at all, and let the maga notice everything, from lies to discomfort to stress. Some real people are remarkably good at this! Err on the side of providing extra information, and make the player happy. The maga can tell when the merchant isn't telling all; she knows when the peasant girl is lying; she sees that the praeco is ashamed and the quaesitor is trying to hide his glee. This kind of knowledge can spoil some stories--and start others.

The interesting stories come from the choices the player makes for his character, and some of the very best stories are about tough choices made with full knowledge.

The least interesting games tend to be whodunnits, with players pecking at GM clues and running pre-established mazes like lab rats, rolling lots of dice, interrogating everyone in sight for the right clue.... yawn. A maga like this is a great character, allowing stories that begin just when things get interesting, with whydunnit and whadawedonow.




Com for sure; I'd give the better of Com and Pre, Com representing skill at speaking and Pre representing a force of presence that can obscure reason. (If I'm awed or scared, I'm not thinking through what's being said, at least not as well; if I'm turned on, I don't want to listen to cool reason.)

A +3 bonus from an MuIm spell can make a speaker more impressive, his voice more certain, and so on. A minor virtue like Good Liar or Composed Speaker or Cool Customer would reasonably provide a +3, even though you'd have to create it.



Exactly. Manipulative CAN be the same as truthful. Its just a matter which truths and how and when they are presented.

~"everybody lies and by doing so, they tell me the truth!". Truthreading Poirot style. :wink:

Well, the most common lie though is in my experience the accidental one, no attempt to actually lie but someone saying something in a poorly worded way or in a way that simply comes across in a questionable way...
And that brings me to the next funny part. Just because someone lied about something doesnt mean what he said cant be the truth. The liar might simply think he knows something and be wrong about it.
And of course vice versa, just because a person told the truth doesnt mean what he said IS the truth, its just the truth as HE knows it.

And then there´s misrepresentation, something that isnt a lie but still distorts reality, or worse yet a lie that hides a distortion.
For example, if im selling a house i might state that its "close to nature" or has a "marvelously scenic view" instead of "lacks a couple of walls"... Im not lying but i doubt a buyer would be happy. :mrgreen:

And being able to read people like that, doesnt automatically mean you get the full picture, what isnt the merchant telling, why and about what is the girl lying, what causes the shame for the praeco etc etc...
I would say getting this kind of knowledge is great for stories overall, exactly because you only have the hints you get, you have to come up with a way to figure out the whole picture.

Affinity also. Possibly the bonus from Imaginem (ie lies == illusions roughly).

Good idea. :smiley:

Remember that knowing somebody is lying is not the same as knowing what the truth is.

I must agree with Ovarwa that being able to read people and sussing out lies and deceptions is not a "lie detector." There is no buzzer that goes off when you hear a lie. There are spells for that. And I would try to shy away from using this ability like a combat skill (i.e., an opposed die roll, if you win you detect the lie) as it turns a central character trait into a dice roll. Much less fun than the alternatives.

For one thing, let the player know that no matter how much xp they pour into this suite of abilities it is not a "lie detector" but rather a combination of the character's observation of minute details, intuition, and hunches. Let them know that no matter how good they are they may still be fooled. And sometimes their hunches are wrong. A good way to handle this is have the player roll the die "blind" (i.e., the player rolls but cannot see her result, only the SG can). How many times have you rolled a high number, had it still fail in your task, and you end up going "OK, I have to beat at least a 16"? If the player doesn't know what number she rolled she won't know how close or far away she is from knowing. THAT is up to the SG to describe the other character's behavior and give her some clues about it. Even things like "You think this person is lying, pretty sure, but possibly not" and "He seems awful sweaty and nervous, so you think he's probably lying" help the player accept the limitations of the ability. If their roll was really good then say "Oh yeah, you're sure this dude's lying. He won't make eye contact with you and he's wringing his hat in his hands to pieces."

And like Richard said, knowing that someone is lying is not knowing the truth. Then there's also the business of which part is a lie. In a Tribunal setting there is likely much conversation, so detecting that a character is or has lied may be not terribly useful: "This guy's been going on for ten minutes, he's lying about something, but what? All of it? Just the part about seeing my apprentice running through the garden last night?" I think this is best left up to good roleplaying and care on the SG's part. Yeah, you don't want to ruin a player's character concept, but this sort of ability has potential to unbalance a game if he's simply "the guy one cannot lie to".


This is quite the opposite of what I'm saying. The very opposite.

I'm saying: This is such a large investment in Folk Ken, Clear Thinking and so on, that I recommend the SG to almost always assume that the maga knows what's going on. None of this "you might be wrong" stuff, with fake dice and all that other stuff. None of this 'teach the player to be satisfied with less.'

I'm saying: Tell the player straight out who is lying, who is afraid, and so on.

I'm saying: The SG should not obfuscate things by piling up 'clues'.

I'm saying: It's not a buzzer or lie detector--it's better, and it is an organic part of the character and the world.

I'm saying: Start by assuming the character is even more awesome than you think.... and then build stories around that.



I absolutely agree with Ovarwa. A player that dumps that much mechanical effort onto a character wants to play that character - let them. Don't stymie them and turn what should be an advantage into some GM fiat trump-you-when-I-feel-like-it device. If the player has paid the cost with their character resources, they should get to play with what they've bought... and +17 to Folk Ken checks can but a LOT in the "lie awareness" category.

If someone has Magical Focus (explosions) and lots of Creo and lots of Ignem and Affinities in those Arts, are you really going to have every combat this warmachine character is in to be in the midst of driving sleet in the middle of a lake?

This thread has been great!! I was wondering if we might get back to the effect magi that sense lies better have on Hermtic politics. With the Mentam form bonus and Folk Ken and the fact I think most magi aren't great liars, doesn't that have a effect on what you can pull at tribunal...not during tribunal but the politicing that happens around it. I know there has been some great answers to that already but I'm just trying to squeeze as much out of this thread as I can!
Don't forget I think most Tribunals are within the Aegis of a covanent as well hence dampening any lie spells.

I guess it depends on how cynical your Tribunal politics are (which is a very saga dependent thing). Yes, your character will always have some advantage in that he knows which other characters are lying. However, that doesn't mean that anyone will necessarily believe him --- even if he is right. And also who is telling the truth might not matter that much when it comes to voting (depending on how cynical your Tribunal politics are, of course). Sure, maybe your character knows that the Tribunal's archmagi are all lying, and maybe he even convinces the majority of the other magi that the archmagi are lying --- does that mean that everyone will vote to march the archmagi of the Tribunal?

For comparison, think about voting at the United Nations. Knowing whether other nations are lying might be helpful to an ambassador, but what he votes for and against also depends on alliances and self-interest.

In other words, politics is much more than just figuring out who is lying --- especially if everyone is lying.

Only to point out that folk ken has a much broader us than "sense lies". The other comments made in the thread are perfectly kosher in any case :slight_smile:


The effect it has on Hermetic politics depends on the character the player wrote and the kinds of stories you want to run.

Does the character fit the saga as Winston Churchill in the Novgorod Tribunal saying 'no, no, the Khan is lying, and his shamans are drooling over your vis resources, why can't you idiots see it' as the rest of the Tribunal cuts deals with the Mongols?

Is he a brilliant detective, either the elite of House Guernicus, or perhaps waging a lonely battle of wits against entrenched and complacent Quaesitorial corruption?

Is he something else?

Does he use his uncanny insight to take advantage or to ensure that no one else does?



I guess I am less concerned with this one wizard...maybe I shouldn't have posted his characters stats. My troupe and myself have gotten the feeling that there prolly aren't nearly as many good wizard liars as there are good wizard lie detectors...(sorry to everyone that cringes everytime I say that but that's what we are concerned with most here). It seemed to us that there are quite a few magi...any with high Mentam and a decent Folk Ken that would be pretty sharp in person using no magic at discerning truths/motives whatever.

Thought I'd put in my tuppence. I know what you mean; it's somewhat scary as an ST to have a character that is Just That Good at anything, be it blasty magics, mind control, divination, or anything else that can trump the average person you throw at them. I'll freely admit that I do suffer from a common problem of 'thwarting' the characters... If one of my players is a fire mage with incredible Creo, Ignem, MMF, Puissant, Affinity, my knee-jerk is to throw in some dragons or fire elementals. Against an incredible Intelligo specialist, out come the demons. I'm working on overcoming it. (I've literally made a list of resolutions for myself that I keep in front of me next to my adventure notes).

I agree with the posters saying let the characters use the ability. Don't come up with ways to defuse the ability so as to protect the adventure. Rather, let the ability be an excellent way of following the story seeds. Adventures work better with "Yup, your ability is really helpful" than with "Nope, your ability just so happens to not be useful. Again."

I agree with every word that Ovarwa has said. My advice is to play to your PCs' strengths and to build stories around this character's ability. My view is that a good GM provides opportunities for players to realise the characters that they want to play.

I was not advocating thwarting a character, but rather making a distinction between a magical ability (like a spell, which gives one a distinct "yes/no" response) and a natural one (which is intuitive and does not include a "buzzer" when lies are detected). I agree by all means an ability should be as potent as it is described in the character. But a good SG will feed information to that character in a variety of ways, as befits the intuitive nature of the ability. The player should know her character is almost always right, and if the SG is constantly throwing demons and other lie-detector-proof NPC's at her then the SG should be encouraged to consider other options.

The most obvious (IMHO) is the truth that you know but what can you do about it? If the PC is a lowly fledgling and the Praeco of the Tribunal is lying about something, what exactly can the PC do about it? She could attempt to expose the Praeco in open Tribunal (good luck with that), or use this knowledge to curry favor with the Praeco's rivals (and they all have rivals), or... the possibilities are endless.

The story possibilities depend a lot on the Tribunal your SG has envisioned. Is everyone happy with the status quo, no rocking the boat? Your wizard might learn the disheartening lesson that sometimes (often, even) the truth is just not enough--earn a Cynicism point. If the liar has rivals, can your knowledge be used in some sort of subterfuge against her? Your SG may be all about political intrigue, backroom dealing and various machinations, or want no part of them. Obviously the "lie detector" magus is more useful in the political intrigue scenario, so work with the SG to find a niche for your character, some faction or other that could use this power of yours to their advantage. It could be advantageous to you, or make you enemies. Preferably both.


The problem is that even the most loquacious GM can provide a player with only a tiny fraction of the information that a person embedded in the world will receive. I might spend the next twenty minutes describing my bedroom to you, yet provide far less information that you would receive by standing here for five seconds.

A player character is always at a severe disadvantage, because the player knows far less about the world than his character and knows far less about the game world than the GM. Worse, GMs tend to be human beings: Not only do they lack telepathy but tend to struggle even with empathy. A good GM realizes that players are not likely to pick up his 'obvious' and 'reasonable' and 'balanced' clues, realizes that players need good and abundant information about what is going on in the game world in order to make reasonable choices and realizes that the default GM position of 'fairness' is just another way to railroad. A good GM either tells a player up front, "This character doesn't work in my game," or errs on the side of being heavyhandedly generous (and still is likely to be too 'subtle' and stingy) to make sure that the character really gets the information he deserves.