Impractical Applications: Beware the Honest Ones

My group loves honest manipulators; it’s almost a given that in any game, one of us will be playing one.

The game in which I played Tuyet had somewhere between one and two. Tuyet herself was the uncertain fraction; on the one hand, she was a very good liar and had an inordinate fondness for secret identities and cover stories, but on the other, she recognized the value of the truth and would wring as much of it as possible from any situation, as long as it did her more good than harm. (It helped that she was going against her family’s reputation for dishonesty, and that she knew perfectly well that magical falsehood detection was prevalent in her culture—and the truth kept being some variation on “You people are being played, can’t you see that?”.) The definite one, on the other hand, was fellow PC Golda—military trained and, as her player put it, a social blunt instrument. Golda didn’t care enough not to tell the truth and really wasn’t much of a liar, and since people knew she’d be honest (or that it would be easy to tell if she wasn’t), she could say things and know that they’d be believed that on Tuyet would be assumed to be politics as usual.

In my current game, the chief among the honest manipulators is party medic and spirit-talker Samar. Part of it is that she operates under a code of “Speak softly and be polite to everything until it declares itself an enemy”, part of it is that the others have for various reasons internalized a level of dishonesty, evasiveness and social defensive skill that she didn’t need to (with the possible exception of Ruby and her cultivated air of innocence), part of it is that she doesn’t overanalyze situations to try to find reasons why the truth will be a double-edged sword (and at one point, managed to bail out the entire group by being the only one who just related an incident as it had happened; there was context, it was messy, I’m still not quite sure where the conclusions that were drawn where drawn.) As a result, the others have more of a reputation for being canny, and she can get by because nobody sees her as anything but, well, telling the truth. But Ruby has her moments as well, having actively trained in obfuscating innocence—and even Kes, who will cheerfully admit to being social deadweight, was backstoried as able to hide one important secret by virtue of her inability to hide anything else.

Most of the other groups haven’t had anyone who’s stood out quite as much, which could just mean everyone was doing it to some degree. We’re trained to systems where lying is easily detected; the truth may not be less prone to backfiring, but it’s easier to predict how it can be turned on us.

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