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Encouraging Cheating

Started by Daniel Solis, October 22, 2003, 06:40:56 AM

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Maybe the bluff token could be said as "Anyone can call the person with the bluff token in a lie, but only the holder of the bluff token can call other people's bluffs."
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M. J. Young

In reading this thread, I thought of two traditional games in which "cheating" is part of play, and I think both teach something about how to implement it in play.

The first is a card game called in polite circles I Doubt It. In this game, on your turn you are required to discard, face down, some number of cards of the value that has been reached, and declare how many you have discarded. Thus, if the player before you discards two sevens, then it's up to you to say how many eights you are discarding. Anyone can call you on it, and check the cards you've discarded. If they are right, you must pick up the entire pile; if they are wrong, they must pick up the entire pile. However, the game doesn't say that you can't discard three cards and claim you've discarded two; and it's part of play that you're expected to discard cards that you claim are a different number from what they are.

The lesson here is that "cheating" may well mean nothing more than that the player is claiming he is doing one thing when he is doing another, and that there are penalties if he is caught doing the other.

The other game is Monopoly. In this classic board game, if you land on someone else's property, you owe them rent. However, you do not have to pay them rent. If the next player rolls the dice before the player on whose property you have landed requests his rent, you don't have to pay. This is in essence "cheating", in that you got away without paying an in-game debt you accrued and rightfully owed; but because you didn't mention it and he didn't notice until "too late", the rules say you got away with it.

The lesson here is that "legitimate cheating" must be "caught" before a specific in-game event or it becomes fair by default. (The same is true in I Doubt It: if the next player plays, it's too late for anyone to call you on your discard.)

So I think that something like this could work in an RPG, if it recognizes these two aspects: cheating is a legimate action which is contrary to the player's declared action, and it can only be penalized if caught before a certain subsequent point in play.

How that works in a particular game is more difficult, but not impossible.

--M. J. Young

Mike Holmes

I agree that the atmophere of calling something cheating might be valuable. I think Evil Stevie makes a lot of mileage out of it. But mostly as a sort of advertisement. It gives the game some cache. You'll also note that he makes it optional, and that in actual play it sucks.

Because, essentially, in saying the "the player can cheat" you're saying, "the player can do somthing that he can't do." This sort of implicit paradox causes multiple interperetations, which lead to problems in play. As someone said, in the end, you'll have people making house rules.

What I'd do is put cheat in quotation marks, and explain that it's a legitamate part of the game. Because I can't cheat, personally. I can "cheat", meaning bluff.

MJ, that was exactly my point. What you called being caught I called detection. The best rules like this are like those in Bullshit (AKA I Doubt It), where there are repercussions for being caught (having your bluff called), and repercussions for incorrectly identifying an "infraction" (calling when the opponent isn't bluffing). That has the largest number of potential strategies associated a priori.

BTW, Game Theory makes regular references to bluffing as a central idea in creating strategy. Indeed, it's the most complex decision-making matrix in warfare. Other strategies like Mass and such are relatively easy by comparison.

As long as we're at it, here's an article on Game Theory and Bluffing as Game Theory analyzes it:

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Daniel Solis

That's an interesting article, Mike, thanks for posting it.

So, in summary, this suggestion...
Quote from: LordSmerfI would suggest that unless a bluff is called the given result (whether true or not) is accepted mechanically.  If you are called, but spoke truthfully then it's an auto-success (so if you sucker someone into calling your small lie that would have failed, you end up succeeding anyway thanks to your dupe).  If you are caught in a lie you automatically fail (this will keep you from being too ambitious in your lies, especially if you have a probable success anyway).  This also does some interesting things because if you have a terrible roll you are more likely to bluff since you have "nothing to lose."

...would have task resolution proceed thusly:

1. Roll dice but don't reveal the result.
2. Announce the result.
3a. If no one tries to call a bluff -- There has to be a better term. Maybe, "Calling Bullsh*t!" Okay -- If no one calls "bullsh*t!" the announced results are accepted as fact and cannot be questioned at any later point.
3b. If someone calls 'bullsh*t' on you but you spoke truthfully, you automatically succeed, even if the number you truthfully announced would have been a failure.
3c. If someone calls your bluff, you automatically fail, even if your actual result would have normally succeeded. (Don't be greedy.)

Is that about right? No "bluff token" involved?

Point 3b brings up another question: If you know the number that a player has to beat in order to win, then you know when that they're speaking truthfully when they announce a losing result. If you get a winning result, and announce it truthfully, it doesn't matter that you automatically succeed because you would've succeeded anyway. The only remedy I can see off-hand is to make target numbers a secret.

In the current system, you must roll your dice under your character's style rating in order to succeed. The usual mechanical punishment (be it from physical combat, social attacks or being chased by the cops) is that your style rating is lowered, making criminal activity more difficult.

So, should every character's style rating be kept a secret?

Quote from: LxndrMaybe the bluff token could be said as "Anyone can call the person with the bluff token in a lie, but only the holder of the bluff token can call other people's bluffs."

I'm not sure if I follow what you're suggesting here. Can you rephrase it a bit? Specifically, if the token-holder is the only one who can call 'Bullsh*t!' then how can anyone catch him in a lie?
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