First, thanks again for all of your help on the social skills thread I started a couple weeks back. Second, here is another question on which my GM and I can’t agree. How is disguise handled mechanically?
For background, I made a grifter. Life paths of Born Noble, Lord, Courtier, Con Man. Basic story: he was a lord at a very young age. Several members of his family, those who were ruling on his behalf because he was too young to do so himself, betrayed the crown and were beheaded. My character lost his rank and land, at which point he adopted a new identity and started a long con of the court, a con devoted to regaining his lordship. As part of the long con, he runs a series of short grifts designed to make him very wealthy in the hopes that he can make a substantial enough donation to the court that they give him a lordship in return. He’s known by many individuals, which means he needs to be disguised as he’s running his short grifts, most of which are illegal. In play, my guy will be disguised most of the time. He has a B4 disguise skill and a G5 falsehood. (Indeed, we’ve played one session thus far, and he spent the entirety of that first game in disguise.)
With that background in mind, here’s where my GM and I disagree. He thinks disguise is usually going to be a linked test with whatever social skill I’m using in the moment. We’ll do the disguise check first, and then–linked to it–the social skill. He says, perhaps accurately, this is more interesting than rolling disguise each time I don a new appearance, his concern being we have no idea in advance whether a disguise will actually matter to the fiction. So, in his view, we’ll roll disguise only when someone has cause to care about the way I look (when they are trying to see if I’m really whom I claim to be).
I do not think this represents disguise as written in Gold. To me, the disguise skill is not about tricking people into thinking I’m someone else–it’s about looking like someone else. If I succeed, I look as I wanted to. If I fail, I don’t, and everyone who sees me knows something is wrong. In my view, then, disguise is rolled when the disguise is applied, not when someone investigates to see if something is amiss. Social skills, usually Falsehood forked with Acting, would be rolled later, when I’m interacting with people and trying to trick them into thinking I’m who I claim to be. In that way a failed disguise doesn’t hurt my interaction with just one person, but with everyone who sees me.
Take an example that will come up very early in our next game:
My character is male, but he is going to disguise himself as a female merchant in an attempt to con a powerful merchant into giving him some information that is essential to a larger heist he’s helping execute. In my GM’s view, I will go to the merchant in disguise and start roleplaying. When the fiction calls for it, I will make a linked test starting with disguise and ending with Falsehood or Acting or Seduction or whatever other social skill is appropriate. The disguise roll will only matter to this single merchant, so failure will only apply to my interaction with the merchant in question.
In my view, I will make the disguise test to see if I look like a female merchant when I first don the disguise. The players will all know if I succeeded or not. Independent of success or failure, my character will go to the powerful merchant. Assuming I fail, everyone with whom I interact will know I’m a man dressed as a woman, not just the merchant in question. If I succeed in the disguise check, I will look like a woman to everyone and thereby get an advantage die or a FoRK on my social skills tests. If I don’t succeed, the merchant (and anyone else) will get the advantage and/or I will have an increased obstacle, because I look like an idiot.
So now I get back to my question: does disguise get rolled when you first disguise yourself so that interactions with everyone are affected, or do you wait to roll until it is relevant in a single social situation with a finite audience? (In the latter scenario, a disguise could be awesome with one set of people and terrible with another set.)
P.S. Thanks in advance. And I’m sorry this was so long. Brevity has never been one of my talents.