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On Telltales

Started by jburneko, September 29, 2003, 07:50:58 PM

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Telltales are conceptually very awkward things for me.  I have a particularly difficult time understanding the relationship between Telltales, Lore rolls, and non-Sorcerers.

Consider this telltale: In my Space-Western game one of the PCs had a Possessor Demon with Hop.  Its telltale was that its current host appeared to have grease paint clown make-up on.  That's a pretty obvious telltale.


1) What does rolling lore to "spot" a telltale mean in this instance?

2) How do you treat non-Sorcerers who see this?

I had been treating it as non-Sorcerers would spot it, comment on it, but for sort of unexplicable reasons always shrug it off in the end while Sorcerers would have to roll to recognize the make-up AS a telltale rather than spot it at all.  This worked but felt strange.

This particularly feels wrong for Lilly, the example Sorcerer I listed for the Asylum game.  Her telltale is "Cries tears of blood."  If I'm Lilly's non-Sorcerous parents I'm going to have a hard time shrugging off my child crying tears of blood.

Are telltales simply invisible to non-Sorcerers?

I'm sure the answer direct answer is, "it depends on the group's definition of sorcery."  But some general guidelines would be much appreciated.


Ron Edwards

Hi Jesse,

Putting aside talk of local definitions of demons/sorcery, which would certainly factor in, here goes.

Regarding the clown face-paint,

Quote1) What does rolling lore to "spot" a telltale mean in this instance?

2) How do you treat non-Sorcerers who see this?

The person who successfully rolls Lore has his "demon! sorcerer!" alarm go off. They recognize it as associated with the practices of sorcery or with the nature of demons.

The easiest way to play Telltales is to define sorcerer Telltales as explainable by normal means (maybe with a bit of a stretch). A tattoo, when all is said and done, is a tattoo. A bite scar is a bite scar. But a sorcerer might note that the tattoo is all symbolic of some ritual or represents a letter in the alphabet of a language used in rituals, or he might note that the dentition suggested by the bite scar is definitely not going to be found in a zoology book.

To continue with this "easiest way" idea, what about demon Telltales? The best way to handle these is for them to be either like sorcerer Telltales or to be fleeting in some way, such that the viewer might convince himself that what he saw was an optical illusion or something, or not associate it with the demon (if the demon was perceived). A sorcerer could potentially make the connection, of course.

So your clown face-paint guy is easy. Non-sorcerer or sorcerer who fails his Lore roll: "Why the hell do you have clown face-paint on your face?" Sorcerer who makes his Lore roll: "There you are, you fucker. Get out of my pal's body or I'll whop you." (or anything else involving interaction with the demon)

No one "can't see" the face-paint.

Given your description, though, I suspect that this doesn't match the initial conception. If, as I'm guessing, the player wanted to define the Telltale differently, such that the paint really is invisible unless you use Lore, then I suggest bringing the ability Mark into the game and taking the definition of Telltale from there.

The tears of blood can be handled in a number of ways. Perhaps her parents and her doctors think she has a tear-duct problem and try to correct it, but so far it's proven intractable. So it's no big deal for play; that effort is incorporated into the character's NPC-stable.

Or perhaps you all decide that non-sorcerers just aren't going to notice it; she brushes them away or cries real tears when dealing with them. That's a bit more effect-driven than I suspect your group is comfortable with, but it's a playable option for some groups.



Okay, so it seems like my instincts were more or less correct.  I just hadn't completely solidified them in my own mind.

Thanks for the clearification.