Cheating at cards, which skill?


Rules Discussion

Dark Archive

Hey folks, simple one here but I'm unsure on it.

Player wants to cheat at cards. I asked for a Thievery check, as they are basically attempting sleight of hand, which Thievery generally covers.

They protested and said it should either be a deception or Gambling lore check.

I let them do it on Gambling lore for this one, but I'm just wondering what should have been the call between here?


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I also think that both deception and gambling lore would have fit better that situation.

After all, they are neither stealing something that's on another creature nor an unattended item everybody can see.


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Old_Man_Robot wrote:
I let them do it on Gambling lore for this one, but I'm just wondering what should have been the call between here?

It is undefined. So the right call is whatever the GM and other players decide on.

Thievery(palm an object) makes a bit of sense.
Deception makes sense.
Lore(gambling) makes a lot of sense. I would probably even allow replacing the INT ability modifier with DEX depending on what specifics they are doing to cheat. Counting cards would be INT, but hiding/palming cards would be DEX. Marking cards may even be WIS.


Palm an object doesn't qualify for that purpose.

Quote:
Palming a small, unattended object without being noticed requires you to roll a single Thievery check against the Perception DCs of all creatures who are currently observing you.


From the title question I was thinking all three, though in the case of Deception & Thievery it'd matter a bit on how they were cheating. I'd likely set the DC lower for Gambling Lore. Though I dislike assuming that cheating is an inherent aspect of gambling, this is a system where all PC musicians can paint & dance well. So cheating at cards definitely falls under the umbrellas of those PCs in the role of "person who's studied all the aspects of gambling" in this game's narrative.


I could imagine:
Deception: To bluff (with DC becoming higher as you do it more and more)
Thievery: With opponents perception as fixed DC. If you failure you cannot use your "tricks" in that game or round but if you critically fail you will be discovered!
Gambling Lore: Lower DC and the advantage of 2 option above without the disadvantages (you aren't bluffing or tricking). You can gamble using your skills like 21 movie.


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HumbleGamer wrote:

Palm an object doesn't qualify for that purpose.

Quote:
Palming a small, unattended object without being noticed requires you to roll a single Thievery check against the Perception DCs of all creatures who are currently observing you.

I think you would need a microscope to split that hair any finer.

If palming a card that you are playing with doesn't qualify because the card is not considered unattended while you are holding it ... then what exactly can you palm? What object does qualify to use the action on?


breithauptclan wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:

Palm an object doesn't qualify for that purpose.

Quote:
Palming a small, unattended object without being noticed requires you to roll a single Thievery check against the Perception DCs of all creatures who are currently observing you.

I think you would need a microscope to split that hair any finer.

If palming a card that you are playing with doesn't qualify because the card is not considered unattended while you are holding it ... then what exactly can you palm? What object does qualify to use the action on?

I mean, it's clearly 2 different skills.

One you steal, the other you swap something you have within your person.
If you don't steal, seems no thievery is involved.


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HumbleGamer wrote:

If you don't steal, seems no thievery is involved.

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Wary Disarmament


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Thievery is Dexterity based. Deception is Charisma based. Most card tricks that could be relevant to cheating rely upon manual Dexterity, quite heavily in fact. But the inevitable accusations of malfeasance are a staple of saloon scenes. There is ample opportunity for all three skills to show up during the scene. I believe the associated attribute reveals a lot about which skill matches a particular task.

For maximum clarity: changing which cards are in your hand or what face a die shows? Thievery. Deflecting accusations and generally keeping an amicable demeanor? Deception. Recalling knowledge or earning income? Gambling lore. Lore is generally only used to represent physical activity in an abstract sense, such as when taking an average of a long time period.

The skills were condensed quite a bit compared to previous editions or different games. I agree with consolidating related skill checks under a common name, but taking an overly literal view of the name itself helps no one.


Errenor wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:

If you don't steal, seems no thievery is involved.

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I meant "if you don't steal the cards we are talking about".

If it had been the 3 cards game, being unattended cards it would have been thievery all day long.


Even a game like poker you could cheat by palming/stealing a few cards that you want to keep for later. Then swap them in for the cards that you actually got dealt later.


breithauptclan wrote:
Even a game like poker you could cheat by palming/stealing a few cards that you want to keep for later. Then swap them in for the cards that you actually got dealt later.

I was stuck on the "cards up to the sleeves" that I didn't consider palming an item on the table when the game was over.

That would be appropriate for a thievery check ( All 3 seems ok then, although to use something you stole from the table... here we go again... )


Maybe I'm the odd man out here, but I think it's deception.

Without deception, I would say anything else you're doing is obvious to observers. It's not just the act of physically manipulating cards or whatever, but doing it in a way that goes undetected that is important.

For me that falls under deception.

I'm not sure I'd allow general gambling lore to apply, but if someone had a "cheat at gambling" lore I'd definitely give them a decrease to the DC by 4 or 5.

Maybe "gambling lore" at a -2 to the regular DC.


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HumbleGamer wrote:
Errenor wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:

If you don't steal, seems no thievery is involved.

Quick Unlock

Concealing Legerdemain
Wary Disarmament

I meant "if you don't steal the cards we are talking about".

If it had been the 3 cards game, being unattended cards it would have been thievery all day long.

And I meant that Thievery is rather wide-applied skill, not only stealing at all. A lot of sleight of hand would be well described in the game by Thievery.

Scarab Sages

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Not knowing the whole scene, there's a lot of ways to cheat at cards.

Conceal an Object (Stealth), Palm an Object (thievery), Lying (Deception), Create a Forgery (Society), Craft a deck of marked cards (Crafting), plus any related lore skills (Gambling, Gaming, and even Legal Lore make some sense).


How did the player want to cheat at cards? Make that person describe what the act of cheating means then apply the most appropriate skill. Was the player palming cards to have that “ace under a sleeve”? Was the player marking cards to know what everyone else had? Was the player disguising/ hiding their chips to get people to think the player had fewer chips to entice different betting? Was the player using a mechanic grip while getting a turn to deal the cards and directly affecting the hands? Was the player collaborating with another player to get the rest of the table to over bet bad hands? Was the player hypnotizing other players to move all-in and then fold?

All of these could require a different skill to do.


Lucerious wrote:

How did the player want to cheat at cards? Make that person describe what the act of cheating means then apply the most appropriate skill. Was the player palming cards to have that “ace under a sleeve”? Was the player marking cards to know what everyone else had? Was the player disguising/ hiding their chips to get people to think the player had fewer chips to entice different betting? Was the player using a mechanic grip while getting a turn to deal the cards and directly affecting the hands? Was the player collaborating with another player to get the rest of the table to over bet bad hands? Was the player hypnotizing other players to move all-in and then fold?

All of these could require a different skill to do.

While in real life it's true it does, I don't think we should simulate this small thing in so many ways.

That's just my personal opinion. Not to mention that ultimately as a GM I'm not going to let you vastly exceed wealth by level guidelines so your net gain is going to be minimal.

Dark Archive

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I'm personally somewhat against Deception, specifically for "cheating".
Being deceptive in a card game is just how one plays card games.

Thievery makes the most sense to me. Followed by Stealth, at a slightly higher DC.

If they have gambling lore, I think that's right on the money.


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Claxon wrote:
Without deception, I would say anything else you're doing is obvious to observers. It's not just the act of physically manipulating cards or whatever, but doing it in a way that goes undetected that is important.

You might be aware of this but-

Nethys wrote:

Thievery Untrained Actions

Palm an Object
Manipulate
Source Core Rulebook pg. 253 4.0Palming a small, unattended object without being noticed requires you to roll a single Thievery check against the Perception DCs of all creatures who are currently observing you. You take the object whether or not you successfully conceal that you did so. You can typically only Palm Objects of negligible Bulk, though the GM might determine otherwise depending on the situation.

Success The creature does not notice you Palming the Object.
Failure The creature notices you Palming the Object, and the GM determines the creature’s response.

Getting it done undetected is entirely the point of rolling a success. I do still feel Deception has a place if they are roleplaying the whole scene.


ReyalsKanras wrote:
I do still feel Deception has a place if they are roleplaying the whole scene.

Deception can be used for misdirection: Similar to Create a Diversion, if you get someone to focus on one of your hands, they aren't going to notice what's going on with the other.


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i'm on the "all 3" train.

depends how you steal:

misdirection would be Deception
physically stealing (card swapping, palming, etc) would be Thievery
and Gabling lore could be cover both the above with a lower DC


I probably also allow the usage of Gambling lore (or similar gaming lore) DC to detect bluff and cheats in the game instead of perception (whatever is greater).


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Is there any actual guidance for using Lore skills in place of other actions?

I agree with the suggestions here but I was doing some digging trying to see if I could find some other references and I can only seem to find mentions of Recall Knowledge and Earn Income as far as applicable uses of Lore. Is there something I've missed that goes over broader uses of those skills?


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Squiggit wrote:

Is there any actual guidance for using Lore skills in place of other actions?

I agree with the suggestions here but I was doing some digging trying to see if I could find some other references and I can only seem to find mentions of Recall Knowledge and Earn Income as far as applicable uses of Lore. Is there something I've missed that goes over broader uses of those skills?

There are mentions of using Lore skills for piloting vehicles: Sailing Lore, Driving Lore, Piloting Lore, Warfare Lore, Engineering Lore and Driving Lore are possible lores used for Piloting Checks.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yeah, I think I also remember seeing some lore-replacement options come up in APs.

But as far as I can tell the actual rules for the Lore skill never mention this possibility, which seems odd.

Hopefully something that gets signaled more directly in the remaster.


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Also, Losded Dice adds an item bonus specifically to "Games Lore checks to gamble."

Dark Archive

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graystone wrote:
Squiggit wrote:

Is there any actual guidance for using Lore skills in place of other actions?

I agree with the suggestions here but I was doing some digging trying to see if I could find some other references and I can only seem to find mentions of Recall Knowledge and Earn Income as far as applicable uses of Lore. Is there something I've missed that goes over broader uses of those skills?

There are mentions of using Lore skills for piloting vehicles: Sailing Lore, Driving Lore, Piloting Lore, Warfare Lore, Engineering Lore and Driving Lore are possible lores used for Piloting Checks.

This was my overall rationale for the lore check. Certain lores seem to also include the "doing stuff" component of a skill, and not just knowledge of it.

Dark Archive

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Lucerious wrote:

How did the player want to cheat at cards? Make that person describe what the act of cheating means then apply the most appropriate skill. Was the player palming cards to have that “ace under a sleeve”? Was the player marking cards to know what everyone else had? Was the player disguising/ hiding their chips to get people to think the player had fewer chips to entice different betting? Was the player using a mechanic grip while getting a turn to deal the cards and directly affecting the hands? Was the player collaborating with another player to get the rest of the table to over bet bad hands? Was the player hypnotizing other players to move all-in and then fold?

All of these could require a different skill to do.

When I asked "how do you want to do this?", they wanted to do a riffle-shuffle, pick out a full house of Aces over kings, and place those cards in the 4th slot of the deal order. So that when they dealt the cards, they would naturally get that hand on the rotation.

This seemed like a series of card palms to me, where they would, in essence, removing several cards and placing them back in.

Hence why I went for Thievery initially.


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Yes, the above is sleight of hand, I would also have ruled for thievery (or appropriate Lore) for that.


ReyalsKanras wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Without deception, I would say anything else you're doing is obvious to observers. It's not just the act of physically manipulating cards or whatever, but doing it in a way that goes undetected that is important.

You might be aware of this but-

Nethys wrote:

Thievery Untrained Actions

Palm an Object
Manipulate
Source Core Rulebook pg. 253 4.0Palming a small, unattended object without being noticed requires you to roll a single Thievery check against the Perception DCs of all creatures who are currently observing you. You take the object whether or not you successfully conceal that you did so. You can typically only Palm Objects of negligible Bulk, though the GM might determine otherwise depending on the situation.

Success The creature does not notice you Palming the Object.
Failure The creature notices you Palming the Object, and the GM determines the creature’s response.

Getting it done undetected is entirely the point of rolling a success. I do still feel Deception has a place if they are roleplaying the whole scene.

Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of this rule, because to me that should fall under Deception and not thievery, but I guess it is RAW.


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I think you are giving Deception too much space. For example, moving without being noticed is Stealth, not Deception. Stealing stuff without getting caught is definitely a Thievery thing; Deception could be used to Aid.

Liberty's Edge

Thievery straight up.

The Deception Skill and Perception rolls would invariably be involved with the play of a card game as those kinds of games where certain information about what a player has in the hand is kept secret by each player, even and ESPECIALLY when they are being fairly involved in deception at the most basic and fundamental level.

So, the game itself would involve a series of checks which would include Deception for certain, but the "cheating" aspect of it, that would involve adding Thievery into the mix.


Old_Man_Robot wrote:
Lucerious wrote:

How did the player want to cheat at cards? Make that person describe what the act of cheating means then apply the most appropriate skill. Was the player palming cards to have that “ace under a sleeve”? Was the player marking cards to know what everyone else had? Was the player disguising/ hiding their chips to get people to think the player had fewer chips to entice different betting? Was the player using a mechanic grip while getting a turn to deal the cards and directly affecting the hands? Was the player collaborating with another player to get the rest of the table to over bet bad hands? Was the player hypnotizing other players to move all-in and then fold?

All of these could require a different skill to do.

When I asked "how do you want to do this?", they wanted to do a riffle-shuffle, pick out a full house of Aces over kings, and place those cards in the 4th slot of the deal order. So that when they dealt the cards, they would naturally get that hand on the rotation.

This seemed like a series of card palms to me, where they would, in essence, removing several cards and placing them back in.

Hence why I went for Thievery initially.

Your judgment seems reasonable to me given the method they chose.


graystone wrote:
Squiggit wrote:

Is there any actual guidance for using Lore skills in place of other actions?

I agree with the suggestions here but I was doing some digging trying to see if I could find some other references and I can only seem to find mentions of Recall Knowledge and Earn Income as far as applicable uses of Lore. Is there something I've missed that goes over broader uses of those skills?

There are mentions of using Lore skills for piloting vehicles: Sailing Lore, Driving Lore, Piloting Lore, Warfare Lore, Engineering Lore and Driving Lore are possible lores used for Piloting Checks.

I require those lore skills for piloting vehicles with the exception of a horse drawn carriage allowing it to be done via the nature skill (command and animal).


Pixel Popper wrote:

Also, Losded Dice adds an item bonus specifically to "Games Lore checks to gamble."

Same with Marked Playing Cards. At least with these, cheating is considered to be giving yourself an unfair bonus to your check. Note that at least here,

Archives of Nethys wrote:
Games Lore checks or other relevant checks to gamble with the cards.

It depends on what skill covers the game to begin with. I'd love to see how your marked cards will help you at the craps table, for example.

Still, the game at least has two explicit cheating items, and how they work. I'd say that if the players can come up with something, they can try it using whatever skills they have. Stealth to sneak a peek at someone's cards followed by Society to understand the subtle signals. Performance to distract other players while someone else uses Occultism to curse the dice. Maybe even someone using a ranged attack roll to throw a pie at another player.

Grand Archive

Generally I agree that the relevant skill would depend on the mechanism. Palming cards is Thievery, using marked cards and not having them noticed is Deception.

I hold what is probably an oddball opinion on the Gambling Lore skill. As a mostly PFS player, there are a zillion Lores & you generally don't get to use them much. So I'd allow someone with the Lore to use it. Now if this is a campaign/adventure path with lot's of gambling involved I'd probably be more hard-nosed abut it.

Liberty's Edge

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Qaianna wrote:
Pixel Popper wrote:

Also, Losded Dice adds an item bonus specifically to "Games Lore checks to gamble."

Same with Marked Playing Cards. At least with these, cheating is considered to be giving yourself an unfair bonus to your check. Note that at least here,

Archives of Nethys wrote:
Games Lore checks or other relevant checks to gamble with the cards.

It depends on what skill covers the game to begin with. I'd love to see how your marked cards will help you at the craps table, for example.

Still, the game at least has two explicit cheating items, and how they work. I'd say that if the players can come up with something, they can try it using whatever skills they have. Stealth to sneak a peek at someone's cards followed by Society to understand the subtle signals. Performance to distract other players while someone else uses Occultism to curse the dice. Maybe even someone using a ranged attack roll to throw a pie at another player.

Note also that both items mention that determining the item is marked/loaded requires "a Perception check against the dealer's Games Lore or Thievery DC."

So Thievery seems to be the default Non-Lore skill.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Morton Mazon wrote:
As a mostly PFS player, there are a zillion Lores & you generally don't get to use them much. So I'd allow someone with the Lore to use it.

Yeah, I think it's a shame when Lore skills go underutilized so I will often ask for a roll and add that an appropriate lore skill could also be used instead. I leave it to my players to check what they have and think up an appropriate reasoning.

Notably, I don't typically give the lowered DCs that lore skills get for specific recall knowledge checks.

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