On bluff, tracking, and disguises

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A Mystery Clock
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On bluff, tracking, and disguises

Post by A Mystery Clock » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:07 pm

Just a few considerations, on a system I really love, feel it could breed a lot of interesting RP, but seems oddly unbalanced somehow.

Consider this:

- Your tracks will always give away your race. There is no counter to this, aside from trackless step, which requires a dip into druid or ranger. It seems odd that you may invest 60+ ranks in making your disguise perfect, but being a master of deceit will not think about anything that may confuse trackers. Wearing larger shoes, or being trained into emulating a different gait.

- Scrying will automatically bypass your disguise. This makes it very hard to play long-term alternate identities without gimmicks such as being constantly blurred (needs you to be an assassin or spellcaster, and is a huge giveaway) because you're one -scry away from having your alter ego exposed.

- Bluff is only available to a very restricted amount of classes, even though it really feels like something anyone could want to learn. Why wouldn't bluff be viable for a cleric of Mask, or Shar? Why wouldn't it be a viable option for a cunning, manipulative wizard? And while biclassing may sometimes be a viable option, it is punishing for many caster classes.

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I think disguises are a wonderful RP tool, but that their potential is stumped by how easy to bypass they are now. It should be possible to be truly able to take on a new identity with enough dedication, without as many automatic disguise-busting buttons, and without having to completely break a build. A few suggestions:

- Consider granting bluff to more, if not all, classes. Being a RP skill, it shouldn't impact balance in a significative way.

- A cool way to go around it would be something similar to how bluff allows you to "feign" different stats. Let a high enough bluff rank (50? 60?) become a nigh-magical ability to conceal your true identity, "faking" different tracks. Something similar could be included to combat scrying, ranging from preventing it to "scrambling" scrying to randomly scry on a different target (perhaps on even higher bluff ranks, such as 70, 80, etc - or the combo of very high bluff ranks and worship of a god of lies).

- Consider introducing spells such as "alter self" to take on a different shape. It's possible to do something similar with polymorph already (fairy) but it could be fun to see more variations.

- Consider introducing a piece of equipment with bonus feat: trackless step. Make the stats otherwise fairly unappealing?

- Consider introducing extremely rare amulets of protection from scrying. Make them fittingly nightmarish to craft, expensive or rare. Alternatively, consider introducing protection from scrying as a set of feats (2 non epic + 1 epic. Maybe skill focus bluff, [custom feat tied to bluff] and ESF bluff?) to match the investment of diviners.

-Consider adding a spellcraft vs bluff check when attempting to scry someone. If the wizard wins, they will be able to scry the target. If the recipient wins, the scrying attempt will fail.

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TLDR: disguise is a great system, and it has the potential to breed enormous amounts of intrigue. But, currently, it has too many hard counters that no amount of investment, short of some very niche, very crippling builds, can outdo the many, many, many ways to instantly break them. And, unfortunately, once an alter ego is busted, everything connected to it must be thrown out of the window. This only takes the disguise being broken once.

I'd like to see disguises become viable for long-term intrigue, and available to more classes, as there's plenty of non-bluff classes who would benefit from not being cut off from deceit and intrigue.

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