Protection against "detecting the Naiven within"

The powerful Mule in our game has an instinct to trigger Naiven detection reads and I’m exploring loopholes to counter her loopholes. I feel somewhat helpless against the detection, especially since it’s only an Ob. 3. (I’m not completely helpless - but if I know a guy is coming for me with a sword, I’ll put on armor. So I’m wondering if there’s any way to arm myself against this sort of thing.)

Three possibilities:

[li]So tech that hinders/enhances Psychologist’s power is High Index. But what about Psychology as a skill? Can I (on a Low Index planet) create tech specifically to hinder “detecting Naiven within” but not the fancy power stuff?
[/li][li]What are the limitations on the Psychology skill reads? If it’s about “deciphering gossamer veils of emotion, deception, clarity and purpose” range would be important, right? Can a person be read across a room? Distance, or a hidden face would seem to be reasonable disadvantages…
[/li][li]If my Vaylen has a connection with an ally Psychologist, can the ally hinder the detection at all?

If this sounds like grasping at straws, it totally is. Psychologists are not to be fucked with.

What’s the wording on the instinct? The easiest path is to play the instinct to the letter of the law and exploit loopholes in it. The other possibility is to always interact with that character via a proxy or other unwitting dupe. The other possibility of course is to ruin his day right back because he’s a genetic freak and enemy of Ahmilahk.

  1. You could probably tech burn something up to add a specific Ob, not sure the cost though.
  2. Limitations are line of sight (I believe), unless you have a connection or some fancy piece of tech.
  3. Probably not. If the ally Psychologist has a connection with the Mule you can do bad things that way though.

And yeah, Psychology is badass.

If the Psychologist’s Instinct is very broad, have half the people he meets be Vaylen. If he’s screaming “Vaylen! Vaylen!” every other scene he won’t be taken seriously. Also, this would freak out the whole table knowing how many Vaylen are around.

But specifically to prevent the Psychologist from finding your Vaylen, the Psychologist needs a relationship with your Vaylen to just go talk to him, otherwise he has to try to Circle up or investigate until he can pin the Vaylen down. This will probably be a series of DoWs with minor officials blocking the way and maybe even Firefights if the Vaylen is tipped off. Don’t let any PC have a relationship with a Vaylen (or anyone on the other side) that isn’t love, close family, or very close friends - it has to be a hard choice when they find out. After the Psychologist reads and fails to detect the Naiven, “Let it Ride”. If the Psychologist detects the Naiven, he still has to prove it to others. There’s all kind of people the Vaylen could hull or bribe to prevent that.

For tech burning Psychologist protection, p397 has the “Tin Foil Hat”. It’s not very effective (only +1 Ob) and has some drawbacks, but you can deconstruct it and realize Luke gave it some serious PITAP and More Powerful modifiers. So anything that hinders Psychology in the game needs to carry those modifiers.

So I was re-reading the Psychology chapter and I realized that detecting Naiven is something you can do without the Bright Mark. You aren’t looking into their mind and seeing a worm, you’re judging from their behavior. So it should definitely not be a given that anyone else believes you. Also it raises the question to me that maybe you should need to know the person before they got hulled to see a difference in behavior, but maybe there are some telltale Vaylen behaviors.

Thanks Colin & Scott!

The exact wording of the Instinct is: “When meeting someone for the first time since discovering Urci’s Infection, look for the Worm.”
So Urci was the Mule’s boyfriend, the Cotar Fomas. Now his Naiven has jumped into her half-sister’s head. It couldn’t get much more emotionally fraught than that! Because she’s family, and their paths cross, she’ll be easy to Circle up, so I’m in a vulnerable place. I’m looking forward to the drama of the Mule finding out, I’m just trying to stall it a little so I can get other things done.

Regarding tech, the Tin Foil Hat is kind of joke tech, but as an example, it’s a frustrating one. As GM, for this specific game, I don’t consider the hat deserving of PITAP or More Powerful modifiers, and without this example, I could build a protective circlet as more effective without the drawbacks, for the same price. I guess it annoyingly cockblocks Psychology, but with a Mule in play, it kinda seems fair. Still, Psychology enhancement/hinderence tech is the realm of High Index. That’s why I was wondering about a distinction between Psychology as a skill and special power. It’s not the special power that I’m worried about (in this case), it’s the stinking Naiven detection that’s part of the skill.

Anyway, thanks for your replies. You’ve given me some things to chew on. I think the fiction is my greatest weapon still. Mechanically, here’s hoping for some interesting failures.

The confines of the fiction are generally the best way to do it. Remember that since the instinct is “… for the first time” it means that anyone the character has met and scanned is now safe for hulling since they have already been scanned.


You and I both should’ve read the example at the top of p396 - no penalties there! In fact, now I’m thinking something more compact and widely available should be pretty standard in Karsan League worlds.

Colin - thanks!

Scott - good eye! That’s exactly the kind of thing I was thinking about. It seems like, at its most basic, you could do something like:

Circlet that shields the wearer from being “read” by psychology.
Base cost for Device:Obstacle: 1
Each Ob point (up to +3 Ob in Low Index) adds one: 3
Total: Circlet adds +3 Ob to “read” wearer with psychology. Requires Ob 4 Resources test to purchase. (Or less for a weaker build.)

So, the base tech Ob for an anti-psychology scanning device (+1 Ob) would be 2. Device: Obstacle is one point plus one (for the +1 Ob). The tinfoil hat is 4 points because of the More Powerful and PITA penalties. The two Obstacle limitations don’t raise or lower the cost, they just add those social skill penalties.

That said, if I was the GM making this device I’d probably only allow a device that interfered with Psychology if it was constrained to bright-mark powered tests or if it has some other interesting penalties (behaviour modifying drugs to make the psychology skill mis-read). Just building a little brooch that makes all psychology obs higher sounds kind of cheaty to me.

Categorical limitation - only affects the “detect Naiven within” intent.

Colin - cheaty is exactly what I’m trying to avoid! I don’t want to pull out some min/maxing or unfun tech that exists only to stop interesting things from happening. But I also don’t want to take on needless penalties just because, ya know? I also appreciate it when tech is fully immersed into the fiction rather than slapped awkwardly in.

Scott - good point about the categorical limitation.

Sooo…considering both of your points and that this is a high-status, fashionable noblewoman we’re talking about here, maybe something like this:

This is a “Distinguished Lady of Mystery” Birdcage Veil in cream. Designed by Lady Gabetha of Isle Arabus, Avarine, in the Casiguran Matriarchy.

The veil protects the wearer from being “read” with Psychology. Any “Psychology as a skill” tests against the wearer suffer a +3 Ob. The wearer also suffers a +2 Ob to any Inconspicuous tests.

Lady Gabetha is a distinguished member of the Church of the New Horizon, and heads the branch dedicated to exploring and regulating Psychology. She developed the veil for her own personal use and has since fielded custom orders. The veil is pinned to the wearer’s hair so the netting covers her eyes. From the inside, the wearer sees only the fine netting. From the outside, the netting creates a shimmery, translucent film making it both difficult to properly see past and difficult to tear one’s eyes away from.

Technology Traits: Device: Obstacle, Categorical Limitation, Obstacle Limitation

Base Cost: +1
One point for each added Ob: +3
Categorical Limitation: applies only to “Psychology as a skill” reads and not to Psychology as a power. -1
Obstacle Limitation: +2 Ob to Inconspicuous rolls.

Total cost: 3 points.

What do you think? Still too cheaty? Other modifiers you would add?

I don’t think it’s cheaty at all. In fact, I think there would be a really high demand for such tech in lots of guises.

The other thing to enforce would be that when you use Psychology the bright mark flares and everyone knows you’re doing it. Might lead to some situational modifiers or an infamous reputation if you read everyone you meet.

That’s part of the difficulty, Scott. Using Psychology as a skill to read people doesn’t trigger the Bright Mark. Only the special powers do. And Mules don’t trigger a Bright Mark even so. There’s a lot Psychologists can get away with without anyone ever knowing. But your point is still good in terms of consequences for failed rolls. There are a lot of interesting directions for failures there.

Rachel, you’re right - that’s the rules and it’s not contradicted by the fiction. (I don’t think we have examples from up the comics of non-psychologists using psych.)

But I really don’t like that. The Psychology skill is either extra-sensory or it is Sherlock Holmes level of deduction. I don’t think the latter is supported by the fiction.

Reading very narrowly and a little between the lines, the Bright Mark doesn’t become permanent until it is used repeatedly. Therefore, you could still have it glow a bit every time Psychology is used at the lower level - but not enough to ever scar. After all, everyone has the latent capability. Therefore, Psychology would always be in the realm of ESP but only after some advanced training or constant use do you get the higher powers. Otherwise I can’t make sense of Detecting Naiven Within at all, let alone reading Beliefs just by being in the same room with someone.

The bright mark only flares when using the stuff under “A Psychologist’s Powers” (page576) and (and I can’t cite a page but I know it’s been said somewhere on the forums) when it flares up it is bright enough to be unmistakable and unconcealable. It also scars with repeated use, regardless of what you’re doing with it (forging connections, transferring a skill, or shredding someones mind).

The use of the skill however does not trigger the bright mark since it is a case of traning and not power. Page 575: “Without one of those traits, the Psychology skill can be learned, but only the rules under Psychology as a Skill are available for use.” The last paragraph in the description of Psychology (page 240) also states that you can have the skill without the mark. I believe it’s also been stated that Kerrn can take Psychology using Generals and that a hulled psychologist still has access to the Psychology as a Skill section even though they are explicitly banned from using Psychologist powers. Much of the Psychologist training is the ability to read behaviors and mannerisms, so using the skill to detect the worm within is mostly a case of observing the suspected Vaylen for tells. That’s why I suggested going the chemical route to protect oneself from a psychologist. Don’t want anyone finding out your wormy, whack yourself up on mood stabilizers!

Rachel, I like the tech and I like the description. I’d probably slap on a +1 More Powerful modifier, but that’s just me. Question, are you playing in the League or elsewhere?