Wises and the unknown

I’m thinking of some examples where a specific monster or stock wise might be used, e.g. Elf-Wise or Goblin-Wise.

Let’s say there are footprints. They happen to be goblin prints though the players do not know this. A player with Hunter(?) is making a test to identify them. Another player has goblin-wise but not a suggested help skill. They could, however, use their wise to help in the test, but they don’t know they are goblin prints so they don’t know their goblin-wise can be applied.

I could imagine a similar thing for inscriptions… There is an inscription in ancient elvish. A player with Scholar is making a test to decipher the inscription. Another player has Elf-Wise but not a suggested help skill. How would they know to apply their wise?

I suppose in the latter case, the GM can say to the Elf-Wise player, you recognize this as some form of Elvish and the player can then help. The real test is to decipher the words / meaning. In the first case, however, the test is recognizing the footprint.


Edit: a useful post on speaking languages for the stock / monster specific wises: http://www.burningwheel.org/forum/showthread.php?13609-Language-Wise - not really this problem.

I think I would just let the character with Goblin-wise recognize that they are Goblin tracks. Tracking them is another matter.

Likewise, the character who is Elf-wise could say yep - that’s Elvish. Deciphering them is another matter.

Yeah, I thought about not requiring a test for the first one.

“If the action doesn’t merit a possible twist or condition,
then you should simply describe the outcome of the action
and move on.”

In this case, the twist is that an incorrect identification is misinformation that can be… er, well… fatal.

Right, but it seems odd that if a character is Goblin-wise that they couldn’t identify tracks from them. They’re supposed to be the authority on Goblins!

I’m also not sure how misidentifying the tracks could be fatal, since all that is at stake is identifying what kind of creature was, at some point in the recent or not so recent past, in this area. It certainly will introduce a twist later on, if they find out that those tracks actually belonged to a similar creature, but they still have to go through a Kill conflict or accrue some conditions before they’re knocking on death’s door.

If you still insist upon rolling for this stuff, I think it makes more sense to allow Goblin-wise if you don’t know the outcome yourself and want to let the dice decide. If they pass, yep - those are Goblin tracks! If not, misidentify them as Goblin tracks and introduce the other creature later.