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Telltale and Cloak

Started by Plotin, November 06, 2007, 07:39:16 PM

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I am a bit at loss pertaining to an Inconspicious Demon's telltale. The following thread, which was the result of a search, didn't clear things up for me:;topicseen#msg112596

Example from actual play: Sorcerer&Sword, a setting very much like Viking Age and Migration Era. The character has got an Inconspicious Demon, a valkyrie, which accompanies him in invisible state, but the soft jingling of its armour and weapons can sometimes be heard; this jingling is its Telltale. Another sorcerer encounters the character and his demon, who is currently using none of its powers (save Cloak on itself, of course).

How exactly am I to resolve if the sorcerer notices the telltale?

Does I check the sorcerer's Lore against the demons Power to see if he has any chance to even notice the Telltale, and if this is succesful do I once again check the Lore against Power to see if he actually does notice it?
My real name is Michael.

Ron Edwards

Hi Michael,

Well, let's take it step by step. First, we shall assume that there exists an inherent conflict of interest which depends on noticing the demon. This is generally the case in situations like the one you're describing, so we don't need to stress about this part. I mention it only because if, somehow, no conflict of interest applied to this situation in a particular instance of play, then there would be no roll.

Second, let's consider what would happen if the demon was not Inconspicuous, but a Passer (and either not having, or having but not using, Cloak). In other words, the character runs around with a hot-looking scary woman accompanying him.

This is a simpler case, so if you understand this one, then understanding the Inconspicuous one is easy. Here's how it works: the sorcerer player would roll dice equal to Lore and the demon player (GM) would roll one die. That's it: one die. That's what a demon gets to keep its demon-ness hidden from a sorcerer, no matter what its Power is. The only exception is if the demon has the Cover ability, in which case it rolls its Power instead.

In that case, if the demon lost, then the second sorcerer says, "Hey, that babe is a demon!!"

Third, let's move onto the situation you describe, in which the demon is Inconspicuous rather than a Passer. There are two rolls, but not quite as you describe.

The first roll is highly situational, predicated on the idea that the demon is "hiding in plain sight" using Cloak, and the sorcerer is engaged in any other action, ranging from saying hello from attacking to meditating upon the cosmos, or whatever. Each side uses the relevant score to the situation. For instance, both might use Will, if the situation is purely social. The demon gets to add its Power in dice to its roll. The whole point here is whether the second sorcerer realizes that anyone is there at all. If he doesn't, then that's that, the issue is solved.

The second roll is just like the one with the Passer. Let's say the demon fails the first roll, Power dice and all. So, it is now established that the first sorcerer has a hot scary woman accompanying him. The issue now is whether the second sorcerer realizes that the hot scary woman is a demon, and the roll is totally as normal: Lore vs. a single die (or Cover dice).

Let me know if that helps!

Best, Ron


Thank you, Ron, this does in fact help a lot, as one of my concerns was how I would resolve the situation if the demon wasn't Inconspicuous.

I am also glad that you mentioned Cover, as the very demon at hand does also possess the power Cover: Warrior-woman. So how would I deal with this situation? The sorcerer rolls to notice if the demon is there as per your example, but in the second roll, to identify the hot-looking scary woman as a demon, he would have to match his Lore not vs. a single die, but vs. the demon's Cover dice, right?

Your reply also brings up a closely related concern of mine, the actual difference in noticing the Telltale of an Inconspicuous demon and of a Passer with the power of Cloak. If this Passer uses Cloak the same as his Inconspicuous buddy does (i.e. active on himself all the time unless doing something else), is there any difference in how difficult it is to identify one or the other as demon? I always felt that it is a very feature of inconspicuousness that seeing an Inconspicuous demon equals identifying it (let's say the Inconspicuous demon wasn't a valkyrie but a wyrm), but I am bewildered now.
My real name is Michael.

Ron Edwards

Hi Michael,

Glad I could help. And yes, if the demon has Cover, then its roll vs. being detected-as-a-demon uses the Cover dice (Power), not a single die.

Your new inquiry can be dealt with as easily as the first, and again, by understanding the rules in terms of layers. I suspected we might come to this issue, which is why I began my post above with a discussion of the primary rule in Sorcerer: the dice are used only to resolve conflicts.

1. In the case of an Inconspicuous demon whose appearance, once revealed, cannot possibly be mistaken for a human or anything else normal, no "is it a demon?" roll is called for in the first place. Why not? Because in defining the demon in this way, the player is effectively saying, Identifying this thing as a demon will never be a conflict. The only concern is whether anyone notices it's present before it's ready to do something proactive (which by definition drops the Cloak). Noticing it is therefore a conflict, and probably pretty much always an inherent conflict when the demon is in a scene, given that other individuals are being disadvantaged by not knowing its's there. But identifying it as a demon, or at least as something quite awful and not normal, is a given - hence that's not a conflict and requires no roll.

2. In the case of a Passer without Cloak, the definition of the type creates the opposite situation. The demon is noticeable in the same sense that any character is noticeable when present, and by definition, its appearance is normal. However, since it is in fact, you know, a demon, its duplicitous presence creates a standing conflict that's the opposite of the demon above: not whether its presence is noticed, but whether its unnatural-ness is noticed. Just as with #1, the non-conflict is not rolled - no one has to roll to see whether they notice the scary babe standing there.

3. In the case of a Passer with Cloak, the definition of the type and the choice of ability create a nearly opposite situation: here we have a thing which, by definition, is a walking conflict of "don't notice me," and also, "don't realize what I am." That's why two rolls are involved, because two, separate conflicts are occurring between the demon and the other character, simply because the demon is there. As Jesse points out in one of the threads linked above, the two rolls may be considered related, and so the victories of the first, if successful, may be rolled into the dice of the second.

Let me know if this makes sense!

Best, Ron


Makes perfect sense, Ron, thank you. All of your answers are very much in line with what I suspected anyway, down to the appearance of an Inconspicuous demon being a kind of special effect and to giving the victories of the noticing roll as bonus dice for the realization roll as per point 3 of your clarification.

Seems as if I might just start to finally get to grips with the game mechanics.
My real name is Michael.