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The Deception skill replaces Bluff, Disguise, and most uses of Forgery. It is the skill to use when you are trying to fool, trick, and bamboozle.

Deception (Cha)

This skill encompasses conning, fast-talking, misdirection, forgery, disguise, and outright lying.

Bluff: A Deception check is opposed by the target’s Perception check when trying to con or mislead. Favorable and unfavorable circumstances weigh heavily on the outcome of a bluff. Two circumstances can work against you: The bluff is hard to believe, or the action that the bluff requires the target to take goes against the target’s self-interest, nature, personality, or orders.

If it’s important, the GM can distinguish between a bluff that fails because the target doesn’t believe it and one that fails because it asks too much of the target. For instance, if the target gets a +10 bonus because the bluff demands something risky of the target, and the target’s Perception check succeeds by 10 or less, then the target didn’t so much see through the bluff as prove reluctant to go along with it. If the target’s Perception check succeeds by 11 or more, he has seen through the bluff, and would have succeeded in doing so even if it had not placed any demand on him (that is, even without the +10 bonus).

A successful Deception check indicates that the target reacts as you wish, at least for a short time (usually 1 round or less), or the target believes something that you want him or her to believe.

A bluff requires interaction between you and the target. Targets unaware of you can’t be bluffed.

Example Circumstances Sense Motive Modifier
The target wants to believe you. –5
The bluff is believable and doesn’t affect the target much one way or the other. +0
The bluff is a little hard to believe or puts the target at some kind of risk. +5
The bluff is hard to believe or entails a large risk for the target. +10
The bluff is way out there; it’s almost too incredible to consider. +20

A bluff is not the same thing as a lie. A bluff is a quick prevarication intended to distract, confuse, or mislead, generally only for the short term. A bluff is not intended to withstand long-term or careful scrutiny, but rather to momentarily deter an action or decision. Bluffs involve attitude and body language. Bluffs often include lies, but they usually aren’t very sophisticated and aren’t intended to deceive the target for more than a few moments.

A lie, on the other hand, is a simple misrepresentation of the facts. Body language and attitude aren’t a big part of communication. The lie may be very sophisticated and well thought-out, and is intended to deceive a character at least until he or she discovers evidence to the contrary. You should not make a Deception check every time he or she utters a lie.

Creating a Diversion to Hide: You can use Deception to help yourself hide. A successful Deception check gives you the momentary diversion needed to attempt a Stealth check while people are aware of you.

Sending a Secret Message: You can use Deception to send and understand secret messages while appearing to be speaking about other things. The DC for a basic message is 10. Complex messages or messages trying to communicate new information have DCs of 15 or 20. Both the sender and the receiver must make the check for the secret message to be successfully relayed and understood.

Anyone listening in on a secret message can attempt a Perception check (DC equal to the sender’s Deception check result). If successful, the eavesdropper realizes that a secret message is contained in the communication. If the eavesdropper beats the DC by 5 or more, he or she understands the secret message.

Whether trying to send or intercept a message, a failure by 5 or more points means that one side or the other misinterprets the message in some fashion.

Feinting in Combat: You can also use Deception to mislead an opponent in combat so that the opponent can’t dodge your attack effectively. If you succeed against the opponent's Initiative check, the target is flat-footed against your next attack. Using Deceive in this way against a creature of animal intelligence (Int 1 or 2) requires a –5 penalty on the check. Against a nonintelligent creature, feinting is impossible.

Disguise: Your Deception check result determines how good the disguise is. It is opposed by others’ Perception check results. Make one Deception check even if several people make Perception checks. The GM makes your Deception check secretly so that you're not sure how well your disguise holds up to scrutiny.

If you don’t draw any attention to yourself, however, others don’t get to make Perception checks. If you come to the attention of people who are suspicious, the suspicious person gets to make a Perception check. (The GM can assume that such observers take 10 on their Perception checks.)

The effectiveness of your disguise depends in part on how much you are attempting to change your appearance.

Disguise Modifier
Minor details only +5
Appropriate uniform or costume +2
Disguised as different sex –2
Disguised as different age category –2 1
  1. Per step of difference between your age category and the disguised age category (child, young adult, adult, middle age, old, or venerable).
Familiarity Bonus
Recognizes on sight +4
Friend or associate +6
Close friend +8
Intimate +10

If you are impersonating a particular individual, those who know what that person looks like automatically get to make Perception checks. Furthermore, they get a bonus on their Perception checks.

Usually, an individual makes a Perception check to detect a disguise immediately upon meeting you and each hour thereafter. If you casually meet many different people, each for a short time, the GM checks once per day or hour, using an average Perception modifier for the group (assuming they take 10).

A character without a disguise kit takes a –5 penalty on Deception checks to disguise.

You can help someone else create a disguise for him or her, treating it as an aid another attempt.

Forgery: Forgery requires materials appropriate to the document being forged, and some time. To forge a document you need to have seen a similar document before. The complexity of the document, your degree of familiarity with it, and whether you need to reproduce the signature or handwriting of a specific individual, provide modifiers to the Deception check, as shown below.

Factor Check Modifier Time
Document Type
Simple (typed letter, business card) +0 10 min.
Moderate (letterhead, business form) –2 20 min.
Complex (stock certificate, driver’s license) –4 1 hr.
Difficult (passport) –8 4 hr.
Extreme (military/law enforcement ID) –16 24 hr.
Unfamiliar (seen once for less than a minute) –4
Fairly familiar (seen for several minutes) +0
Quite familiar (on hand, or studied at leisure) +4
Forger has produced other documents of same type +4
Document includes specific signature –4

Some documents require security or authorization codes, whether authentic ones or additional forgeries. The GM makes your check secretly so you're not sure how good your forgery is.

To forge documents and detect forgeries, one must be able to read and write the language in question. (The skill is language-dependent.)

A character without a forgery kit takes a –5 penalty on Deception checks to forge.

Retry: A failed Deception check makes the targets too suspicious to try again. Feinting in combat can be retried freely.

Special: A character can take 10 when making a Deception check (except for feinting in combat), but can’t take 20.

Time: A Deception takes at least a standard action, but can take much longer. a disguise that changes body build can take hours or days of preparation. An advanced forgery with many safeguards can take days or even weeks to complete.

Modern Horror

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