"Sense Motive" in FFG's SW system?

Do the FFG SW game mechanics in any way support an attempt by a listener to “read a person”, i.e., figure out if it’s likely that he’s lying? (Using subtle cues from speech, body language, etc.)

Certain other game systems have some sort of Sense Motive (or Psychology) vs. Bluff skill contest for situations where someone is lying, and Sense Motive vs. a set difficulty for situations where the speaker is not lying.

As far as I can tell, FFG’s SW system only has the Deception skill (on the liar’s side) vs. Discipline (on the listener’s side).

That’s great if the speaker is actually lying, but not so useful to the lie-detecting listener if the speaker is actually telling the truth. Forcing the truth-teller to roll Deception vs. the listener’s Discipline/Adversary rating: “The listener’s high Discipline skill/Adversary talent makes it harder for a truth-teller with low Deception to … tell him the truth?!?”

A high Discipline skill/Adversary rating should not make it automatically harder to detect the truth in this case.

Can anyone point me at a splat-book with information on “lie detection” skills and how they work when the truth is being told?

Or suggest a sensible skill vs. skill opposed check in the case of someone actually telling the truth to the listener?

Who should roll the active portion of the opposed check? The truth-teller or the listener? (I’m leaning towards the listener.)

Full disclosure: This question stems from a game in which I am the GM and Bellona is a player. However, I’m going to answer this question as I would should it not involve me, since topics like this are for the benefit of casual viewers as much as those directly involved.

I am unaware of any rules regarding this sort of situation, though I think Deception is the closest match.

I handle situations like this with a normal Deception check (Adversary doesn’t apply). Reasons why:
If you are telling the truth:
You’re trying to convince somebody of something of which they likely have minimal or no knowledge, or else conflicting knowledge. Thus, you have to be convincing enough that they believe you without further evidence or anything backing you up. If you do have something backing you up, it should add Boost.
If you are lying:
You’re trying to convince somebody of something of which they likely have minimal or no knowledge, or else conflicting knowledge. Thus, you have to be convincing enough that they believe you without further evidence or anything backing you up. If you do have something backing you up, it should add Boost.

Adding a Boost or downgrading the difficulty because, when telling the truth, your story should have no holes, is reasonable, though I disagree with the blanket application of this since being truthful doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be correct or remember everything exactly.

Additional reasons why I think Deception makes sense, and why a high Discipline/Nobody’s Fool makes it harder to convince them:

  1. Someone who is unrelentingly skeptical (hah, see what I did there?) and refuses to be fooled by someone is going to be more hesitant to believe the truth, especially when he’s already suspicious. If a check needs to be rolled for either the truth or a lie, it means that the target is already inclined to disbelieve the acting character, and likely already has conflicting information (whether falsified or not).
  2. Generally, we’re more likely to believe the first thing we hear. If we then hear something contradictory, we’ll be inclined to disbelieve the contradictory information (see confirmation bias).
  3. Part of a high Discipline and resistance to untruths is a stubborn refusal to be taken in by something you think is false. This can make it difficult to convince somebody who already thinks you are lying.
  4. Somebody can say something true, but either have such little credibility or say it in such a way that you think he’s lying, even when what he’s saying is totally true. This is where a high Deception skill comes into play. If you’re really good at convincing people that a lie is true, you’ll also be very good at convincing people that a truth is true, unless they already know you’re a liar in which case you’d add a bunch of Setbacks, upgrades, or difficulty dice to the check.

Who should roll the active portion of the check? I (obviously) say the truth teller. It’s incumbent upon him to convince the hearer of the veracity of his statement, just as it is incumbent upon the liar to convince the hearer of the veracity of his statement.

In the case of someone who is simultaneously being lied to by two characters (meaning he’s being introduced to both arguments at the same time, and has not already been convinced of one or the other and has to sort out the truth), then it should be a competitive check opposed by the target’s Discipline.

Here's what it was before competitive check, as that option completely slipped my mind.

I’d say that the listener should make the check, with a difficulty determined by the skill disparity between the liar and the truth-teller. If it’s about the same, Average. If the liar is much better, Hard or more (upgraded once per point of skill over the other). If the truth-teller is much better, Easy (just Easy, no positive upgrades or further difficulty reductions).
So if the liar has 4 Cunning and 3 Deception and the truth-teller has 2 Cunning and 1 Deception, I’d set it at Daunting with 2 upgrades and appropriate Setback or Boost, with success allowing the acting character to determine the truth.

I really don’t think this needs to be an opposed check since nothing is being attempted from the person being read. A simple Discipline check versus a difficulty of my choice would suffice in a game I would be running, as again nothing it is being actively resisted against. Maybe add in some setbacks or boosts depending on if they’re a familiar species or not - Ithorians faces being much harder to read for a human. On the inverse, rolling an opposed check every time they are suspicious would help maintain the meta illusion and not telegraph when an NPC is actually lying.

Here is discipline in the EotE core:

I have read about others defaulting to a deception vs. discipline check in this instance as a reverse lying opposed check as is being suggested, and then adding setbacks to the discipline as the tale would be more assured than if they were lying. You could also change it up and use Cool in the opposed check if you want to go that route. It’s literally a skill about remaining “emotionally centered”.

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Here’s where I disagree and would make it an opposed Deception vs. Discipline, unless the target has two people lying to him simultaneously, and does not already agree with one or the other.
You’re right, it does not make sense for a Discipline check made to sort out the truth to be opposed, because if the person is telling the truth they want the check to succeed. That’s why I think it should be the other way around.
Further, as you mention the meta aspect, that’s much of the point for how I handle this. If the PCs accept what an NPC tells them on its face, no Deception check is called for. If they say they’re suspicious, it’s a Deception check regardless, and they may come to the wrong conclusion (I also roll the NPC’s dice hidden, so the PCs know how confident they are based on their results, but don’t know if they succeeded or failed).

That particular game was actually not the only reason why I decided to start this topic. :slight_smile:

I’m going to run a one-shot FFG SW scenario in a tabletop session, and wanted to be prepared should the question arise (particuarly seeing as those players are coming from Pathfinder Classic).

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This is a great discussion. Thanks for bringing this up.
Most common case I hear listening to D&D podcasts is PCs are not sure an NPC is telling the truth and call for an Insight check. Obviously GM doesn’t want to reveal by an open die roll if the PCs “succeeded” or not, so whether it is opposed or a fixed difficulty, the NPC’s roll would be in secret. Because PC is calling for action, they should roll the Discipline check (Proficiency & Ability). Boosts/Setbacks may be added if the PCs are aware why. GM rolls the Difficulty & Challenge dice, plus any Setback/Boost the PCs are not aware of the reasons for. GM need not disclose exact result of the die, roll, just the narrative result of how assured PC is of the NPC’s truthfulness. Failure with Despair could mean they are assured of the wrong thing; with success it could mean the inferred reason why it’s true/false is wrong. A Triumph could mean they can deduce one additional crucial fact/motive (beyond what was already said) from the NPC.

Similarly PCs should roll if they are trying to convince an NPC of something, but that is a more typical Deception/Charm check. As P-47 suggests, Deception may be appropriate and used if PC prefers even when they are telling the truth. GM option to roll opposing dice in secret, if he anticipates NPC may give a deceptive response (as in if disbelieving but wants to string the PCs along by feigning agreement).

Two characters arguing opposing views to a third party should be a Competitive check. Unless the “jury” is the PC(s), then agree with P-47’s last point.

As an aside, I saw that Vigilance is the given opposing skill to Deception for detecting a lie as the example under Competitive Checks in CRB chap 1. Similar to initiative, I suggest that Vigilance is for unexpected lies, while if the opposing character is negatively inclined to believe the lie (for reasons P-47 enumerates above) it should be Discipline. Nobody’s Fool talent may apply in either case.

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P.S. Couldn’t you argue that Deception could be used for detecting lies? If you are a good liar, can you detect better when someone is trying it on you?

P.P.S. Wouldn’t the Sense Control upgrade to detect thoughts trump this?

I agree with most of what you said, but I strongly disagree here. The NPC is the acting character in lying (or not) to the PCs, the PC is just deciding whether they’re skeptical enough that the NPC has to really try to convince them.
You leave it vague enough that it could be opposed by Deception, but I still want to stress that NPCs have those skills for a reason and should get to use them.

This can be more a matter of taste, but I believe that the rules should be interchangeable between NPCs and PCs. You should be able to invert those labels and have the rules work the same way.
In this case, that’s to say that NPCs should roll the positive dice. One of the things you say is that “the PCs are calling for action,” but is that not the same as when the GM says “Okay, he’s skeptical, so please roll a Deception check”?
One of the main reasons why I believe that the PCs should NOT always roll the positive dice in situations like this is because negative Triumph and positive Despair do not mean the same thing, nor do positive Triumph and negative Despair. In a situation like this, a Triumph generally means you did well, and a Despair means you screwed up. You can spin certain effects or expenditures to make them interchangeable, but they are still different, with different implications. There are also certain talents or abilities that would be messed up by this dichotomy, such as Nobody’s Fool.

That is odd. I think that may have been an error, as the official opposing skill is Discipline. I also do not think it supports your suggestion of “unexpected lies” because it’s in a context where the questioning character would be skeptical of the deceiving character.

I do not think Deception’s opposition skills should be split up that way, for a couple reasons.
The first is that if a Deception check is called for, that generally means that the opposing character is already on his guard, and so Discipline would be the proper skill.
The second, and possibly more important, is that the circumstance in which it comes into play can have the same lie, but a different, more favorable circumstance for the lie. This means that someone might be better at detecting a lie they weren’t expecting than detecting one they were on guard for, which doesn’t make much sense, to me at least.

I can see the argument for it. I don’t think I’d allow it, at least as a general rule, but there’s a case to be made for it. I’d rather go with Discipline though. The idea of a gullible liar is not an untrue one, and using Discipline means that the character has to diversify.

Sense Control: Sort of, but that can be resisted by the targeted character. However, I’d first require the Deception check to go through, and may refuse the use of the Force power if the liar rolls sufficiently well, as the Force-user may well be convinced readily enough that he feels no need to verify with a potentially invasive use of a Force power. That’s not blanket though, as “trust, but verify” is an acceptable posture at times. There’s a lot of meta that goes into that, but that’s where the GM steps in as arbiter to keep the players honest.

That’s a smarter way of doing things. I knew there was something, but it was slipping my mind. Yes, Competitive check. I’d say even if the “jury” is the PC(s), for the reasons addressed above. I’ll edit my original post to mention competitive checks.

Good point. Agreed.

True. If I allowed it, perhaps downgrade the PC’s pool once or twice to account for not using the primary skill.

Good point on Sense doing the Deception check first, and only disallow the PC to do Sense if the GM narrates “You’re confident of X” or similar.

What you are looking at is an opposed Discipline vs. Vigilance check.

As @Marlow noted, Cool can also be used to “penetrate through to the truth”:
image [EotE CRB p.108]
So we have Discipline as the primary (per Table 3-3) and “not letting oneself be swayed by the lies”, Vigilance per Opposed Checks example in ch.1, Deception if you are trying to tell if someone is plying your skill on you, and Cool!

As always, PC should sell an alternate skill they want to use, and GM must approve and may adjust difficulty for the “wrong” skill.

However, I believe Cool was addressed there in relation to resisting Charm, not Deception, or perhaps Deception in the context of Charm (the bit about “excess flattery” in the description of Charm).

Leaving it too open to adjudication means that some players will try too hard to gain advantage, which introduces unnecessary potential for conflict or frustration with the GM’s calls, so I would stick to Discipline except in rare situations, typically offered by the GM. Discipline is the RAW skill, Vigilance is a confusing case (my guess is that it was a mistake), Deception would be a houserule, and I believe Cool was intended to be applied to Charm, possibly to the “use Deception instead” side of Charm.

Agreed Vigilance makes the least sense for this.

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Just read some alternate rules for using different skills from GM Holocron and like the option that discourages min-maxing: if PC wants to use different skill (or diff characteristic for a skill) than RAW, require a Destiny Point flip. Suggest that upon a request to not use Discipline

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