Sense Motive vs something that's not a lie?


Rules Questions


Ok, using Sense Motive against someone using Bluff is pretty straight-forward. If you beat the Bluff, you don't believe the lie.

But what is when a NPC tells the PCs something that is absolutely 100% true (or at least the NPC believes it to be true), and they decide to roll Sense Motive against it?
a) Autosuccess, no matter how bad they roll?
b) If they roll bad they might misinterpret something as sign of deception and believe he's lying. What would be the DC for that though?
c) Something else?

Dark Archive

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What I do is roll a d20 and then tell the PCs what I want them to hear. That way they're never quite sure if my NPCs are lying.


I usually set 'sense truth' as a DC 10 check. That way, if someone rolls a 1, they might still fail the check and think the guy is lying.


Ask for their sense motive mod and roll a die, then say that he seems to truthful.


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I use sense motive in a way that's very different from sensing truth or lie. My purpose in using it is to allow the character a sense of whether or not the target is basically acting deceitful, out of malice, in self-interest, altruistically, etc.

A person can be telling the truth and hate you for it ... in that sense, a successful roll might result in me telling the players "You sense that this person really doesn't like you."

A person can be telling the truth, but acting on purely selfish, and not entirely 'good', goals: "You get the feeling that so-and-so is telling you more for his own benefit than for yours."

Etc, etc, etc.

(I should add ... I usually don't actually mention whether the target of Sense Motive is telling the truth or a lie, though I do try to hint one way or another based on success/failure ... with greater successes giving strong hints).


I do the same thing Mem0ri. In my game, a good sense motive roll, even on someone telling the truth, get's you some information.

Examples...

Roll (37) : "Well, the drow seems ready to bite nails in two, and obviously really wants to hang your guts up as decorations on his christmas tree, but he seems to be telling the truth. On the other hand, given his hostility, it's always possible he isn't telling you the whole story."

Roll (22) : "The tavern wench doesn't really seem all that attracted to you, but based on the glances she's made at your gear and your companions, not to mention your belt pouch, it's pretty obvious she's looking to make a few extra coin with some extra services after hours. Not that she seems repelled by you either, but she's giving off the 'just business' vibe."

Roll (15) : "Hmmm, the halfling seems friendly, but the big smile seems a put up. He doesn't appear to be lying."

Roll (8) : "Uhm, he seems honest enough."

Roll (1) : "Yep, he's a lying snake in the grass. You think he's got it out for dwarves..."


I treat "sense motive" as exactly what it says. "Sense motive."

If a character wins opposed checks and the NPC is telling the truth, but for a deceitful purpose I'll say something like "You feel certain that he is telling you the truth, but in spite of that you feel that he is somehow not telling you everything."

If a character loses opposed checks then they "sense" a different motive than what the NPC actually has. If the NPC is being genuinely honest and truthful, I might say "You suspect that he is trying to mislead you."

Instead of focusing on the truth or falsehood of the statements, I try to focus on dealing with the NPCs actual motivations.


If you read the skill description for Sense Motive, a 'hunch' is DC 20. If they make a 20 or higher, you tell them they have a strong sense the subject is telling the truth. If they don't you tell them that whatever their suspicions about the individual were, they notice nothing to contradict them.

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