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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Rakoa's Avatar

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    Default Roleplaying Thoughts (How To)

    I just saw a thread with this title and thought it would be something on how to legitimately roleplay a character's thoughts, but found it was not. I decided to make this thread because of the thoughts I had regarding my original interpretation.

    What I'm essentially asking here is how do you roleplay thoughts? It is easy to do if a PC is reading the mind of an NPC, but the reverse is the main complication. How do you ask a player what his character is thinking without it being incredibly obvious his character's mind is being read? And following that, is there really a way to get an honest reply, as opposed to "oh uhh well Melgror was just thinking about how great his breakfast was, nothing about the important secret quest we're on since his thoughts were wandering, yeah." And if a PC refuses to give a real answer, at what point do you just say "No, your character could only reasonably be thinking something along the lines of X"? That would be the worst case scenario, and it'd be best if things never progressed to that point, obviously. This wouldn't be a problem when reading at a level deeper than surface thoughts, of course.

    So my question is how do you handle an NPC reading the surface thoughts of a PC?

    EDIT: Changed thread title to make it more distinct from the original that inspired it.
    Last edited by Rakoa; 2015-01-04 at 02:01 PM.
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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying Thoughts (How To)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rakoa View Post

    So my question is how do you handle an NPC reading the surface thoughts of a PC?
    The NPC gets ''told'' the information the PC knows.

    So it's like: PC Torw is tied to a chair, and NPC Dovm goes to read his mind:
    Torw ''I won't tell you anything, not even my name'' (fails save)
    Dovm "Ah, Torw, son of Tobk, your mind is an open book to me. Why are you here?"
    Torw OOC: I think of jokes "I'll never tell" (fails save)
    Dovm "You really though you could come in here and steal my Crystal Penguin?"
    Torw "Noooooooooooooooooo"

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    Honest Tiefling's Avatar

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    Default Re: Roleplaying Thoughts (How To)

    If you can't trust your players to be honest, why the heck are you playing with them? If you cannot trust them, don't play with them. If you have suspicions, since it is an OoC problem, talk to them OoCly about it. This way I can just ask them and use that answer.
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    Default Re: Roleplaying Thoughts (How To)

    Asking what they're thinking at times when their minds aren't being read, is a good start. Ideally do it often enough that when Psychic Guy starts doing his head voodoo, no one bats an eye.
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying Thoughts (How To)

    Quote Originally Posted by jedipotter View Post
    The NPC gets ''told'' the information the PC knows.

    So it's like: PC Torw is tied to a chair, and NPC Dovm goes to read his mind:
    Torw ''I won't tell you anything, not even my name'' (fails save)
    Dovm "Ah, Torw, son of Tobk, your mind is an open book to me. Why are you here?"
    Torw OOC: I think of jokes "I'll never tell" (fails save)
    Dovm "You really though you could come in here and steal my Crystal Penguin?"
    Torw "Noooooooooooooooooo"
    If there's a save mechanic for the particular way it's done, then yeah, this is what that looks like. Almost all the media I've read with some kind of telepathic probe in it shows that it takes actual training to properly "resist" one, you can't just think about dead kittens until the guy gives up. Plus, a lot of games have mechanics for an "idea check" of some form, to allow the GM to give the players knowledge that their character would know that they as players might not...why not the other way around?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
    Asking what they're thinking at times when their minds aren't being read, is a good start. Ideally do it often enough that when Psychic Guy starts doing his head voodoo, no one bats an eye.
    Thinking may be a bit much, but I tend to do this with a lot of other things. Like equipment. Whenever they say they're going somewhere, I offhandedly ask them what they're taking with them. Helps to cut down on situations like "Oh, the DM didn't make me say whether or not I'm wearing my huge plate armor and greataxe...if there's an attack, I totally am, but if there's not and they get weirded out by me wearing huge plate armor and a greataxe I'll just say 'oh, no I'm not, I left it at the inn'."


    Also, in my opinion, the type of spell really does kind of matter. The ones that specify explicitly that they are "surface thoughts" I think would be easy to guard against if one were aware of an attempt to eavesdrop; I usually see them as a nice way of seeing if the guard is buying your story or something like that. You'd want something more...probey...if you were actually trying to interrogate someone with it.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2015-01-04 at 07:21 PM.
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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying Thoughts (How To)

    In a game, we we’re asked to write down stuff our character could be thinking during a conversation (for the express purpose of mind reading). Because of the nature of our mission at the time, we knew we could be mind read and in-games obfuscation measure — our minds being impervious to mind read would sure be a tell something fishy was going on.

    After a given conversation, we were told to write down five thoughts our character had during the conversation. The GM rolled for thoughts that might have slipped out. We were given complete freedom about what we wrote down. I went with a few innocent one (such as “Now, now, should I order red or white porto?”) and a very damning one (“I hope they don’t find out that [very stuff we don’t want them to know]”) and a few in between. Obviously, I massively failed my roll for obfuscation and the damning information came out. Because the DM thought it funny. Because it made the game go forward —*perhaps not in the direction we, as player, would have wanted, but still.

    So I guess my advice is: you’re playing with yours player, not against them. You should trust your players to give you the tools to beat them with from time to time, and they should trust you not to throw the game under the bus when they do. Let’s have fun creating stories together. Hugs all around.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying Thoughts (How To)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rakoa View Post
    How do you ask a player what his character is thinking without it being incredibly obvious his character's mind is being read?
    There's no good way to do this. In general, keeping secrets like this just to avoid metagaming is not going to work, at least not more than once.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rakoa View Post
    And following that, is there really a way to get an honest reply, as opposed to "oh uhh well Melgror was just thinking about how great his breakfast was, nothing about the important secret quest we're on since his thoughts were wandering, yeah."
    If the player can count on the information being used against them and the game thereby becoming less enjoyable for the player, probably not.

    Your best bet is to talk to the players along the lines of "Under what circumstances would it be fair and fun for your character to be disadvantaged by an NPC reading their mind?" If they tell you, then see if you can arrange for such a circumstances in the game. If they can't tell you any such circumstances, then your best bet is not to use mind reading enemies at all.

    People metagame when they think NOT metagaming will make the game boring. If you make sure that the game will be fun even if they don't metagame, then most of the incentive for metagaming goes away.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rakoa View Post
    And if a PC refuses to give a real answer, at what point do you just say "No, your character could only reasonably be thinking something along the lines of X"? That would be the worst case scenario, and it'd be best if things never progressed to that point, obviously. This wouldn't be a problem when reading at a level deeper than surface thoughts, of course.
    You seem to be saying that this approach should rarely, if ever, be used, and I agree. Take this off the table.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rakoa View Post
    So my question is how do you handle an NPC reading the surface thoughts of a PC?
    Generally I don't use such a tactic. If I were to, I wouldn't make it about specific pieces of knowledge. I'd put it in terms of some mechanical advantage achieved by the enemy. They become harder to hit or spot, or their plans become harder to foil, or the players' plans become easier to foil. Tell the player what mechanical advantage the enemy obtained, and ask the player what surface thoughts the character might have been having that would lead to such an advantage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rakoa View Post
    EDIT: Changed thread title to make it more distinct from the original that inspired it.
    If people are anything like me, they're going to think that this is general advice on how to roleplay.

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