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Appear & Disguise make RP difficult.
Primarily a problem in the mix.

I really don't want to get into the issue present in the other thread regarding Appear and PC gender.

I'm purely talking about gameplay mechanics here. Disguise's job is to hide the identity of characters who wish do remain anonymous and/or do crimes around the game. Appear code was a significant force-multiplier to disguise, and has absolutely no counterplay, since it can't 'slip' or fail regardless of what you do ICly.

We're also discussing making it so that appear doesn't break on corpses, or when naked. So that will further muddy the waters in determining who did what, and linking them to that action.

We like to say that actions have consequences in SD, but right now, with a relatively low investment of UE into disguise and it's relevant stats, used in conjunction with appear, it's quite possible, if not downright easy to commit perfect crimes.

We allow people to change their height, weight and apparent sex with appear on the fly with no skill or stat investment. In addition, you can hide your @nakeds by using disguise items. But you can also hide the way your character looks by being clever with other game mechanics.

This has, in effect, made it so security gear, the chatter system, NPC reports (assuming you go about asking NPC's for intel with @Request_puppet in the first place) and eyewitness reports effectively useless.

If you're not in a position to physically intercept someone doing a crime or something that you wish to prevent, then it takes but a moment to swap a disguise item and use the appear command to walk into an alley a midget mano and walk out a amazonian walker. At which point... you've lost your ability to retaliate without simply smallworlding the person.

We were told when this code came out, in addition to the changes in rules whereby staff will no longer investigate smallworlding, that the game is now about linking activities with motives. This is a fine solution if you are in a position in the game with relatively few enemies. It is significantly less than fine when you have a position of power whereby your own friends and allies are want to cain on you.

I'll also say that the solution of attacking random disguised people on scene who you think might be involved isn't working. And truthfully, chasing down motives can, in and of itself, be extremely smallworldy. We're told to respect the ambient population of the game, but the ratio to puppeted characters doing crimes to players doing crimes is obviously, very skewed.

In the past, I've suggested blanket nerfs to the appear skill. Things such as requiring people to do it in their pads, requiring people to do it using items that take not-insignificant amounts of time to use, requiring disguise kits that are consumable, etc.

There's also the issue of appear effectively stripping the informational value of eyewitness, photographic or video evidence of events down to slim to zero value. This code disproportionately affects the mix more than anyplace else in the game. Gender neutral appearances make it extremely frustrating and gamey to even describe shrouded people. "He looked like a.. human wearing a poncho." "Get that average human being!" "Look out, an average walker is coming for you!" These are gamey/cheesy phrases to use, and convey extremely little actionable intel for players not willing to simply smallworld shrouds.

However, I see a conflation of sex and gender related issues with gameplay related issues here, and while I personally think a more progressive approach to allowing players to express their character's gender more freely is awesome, I don't think it should come at the cost of gameplay.

I want to solicit the community's feedback on this, because I feel that it's an issue that's significantly impacted my own gameplay, and I'm curious as to if it's been the same for others.

The TL;DR version: Appear when used in conjunction with disguise code makes it relatively easy to get away with near perfect crimes. Clearly, there's a lot of ambient pop in the game at all times to witness appearance changes, but the lack of reaction of the ambient pop, as well as the lack of mechanical constraints on the verb itself are allowing people to radically change their appearances in a very small amount of time, and so attempting to enforce consequences on actions as players seems at times, overtly difficult.

In my opinion, this has always been a problem. Not an insurmountable one but one which is on the player, not the mechanics or GM's.

At a certain point whether driven by OOC knowledge or IC skill, getting away with the perfect crime is relatively easy. The hard part is knowingly increasing the risk to yourself for the sake of furthering the narrative.

This means putting yourself in increasingly vulnerable positions. Whether it's boasting to your friends about the crimes you committed, getting a big ass bounty on yourself, and/or climbing the social ladder in such a way that it can all come crumbling down on you because of your actions.

Not all crimes need to be ninja assassinations. Not all crimes need to be loud, obnoxious, and in everyone's face. Find an ebb and flow that pushes the theme and your characters' story.

The reality is if you choose to live as a ghost criminal and never intersect with others - your story will be bland and your impact minimal. The same can be said for people who spend there time never taking risks or following the well-beaten "career criminal" paths without initiative.

TL;DR This isn't an appear or disguise problem. This is a player culture problem. An occasion we as individuals rise to or don't.

I partially agree with Reefer, also I feel your are probably being a bit hyperbolic due to your own personal experience Talon but I get where you are coming from.

Disguise has been abused as a gamey mechanic for as long as I can remember. Also I don't feel its just for doing crimes, even if most people use it for that purpose.

There are ways this could be patched maybe, cool downs, rising up investment/difficulty, not allowing to use it in rooms with the [Crowded] tag, requiring a mirror, X-Ray cybereyes for counter, etc.

Even then, I don't think this is ever going to be perfect. There is always going to be a junction where disguises don't slip anymore and when that point is reached you are going to be facing the same problems which as mentioned have limited solutions.

Would limiting the number of 'appear' options help this at all?

I do not have any frame of reference on this because I had already sunk a bunch of UE into Disguise by the time Appear was implemented.

I would think that limiting people to 2-4 appear options until they hit the curve would be a decent place to start.

It's probably overkill, but it would be sweet if there were some way to tie some of the appear options, especially the neutral ones, to quality of clothing. For example, a character couldn't be a "citizen" with shabby clothing.

Or maybe tie some of them to stats. For example, when I think of a meatsicle I think of a buff, meathead type person. Maybe limit that to people who have hit the curve in Strength.

I also agree that there should be some requirement to have a mirror or other type of enabling item. eg being in a room with a shower (apartment), etc.

On the flip side of this discussion, it seems like @Talon is suggesting that disguises and appear make it too difficult to catch people in the act / soon after commiting a crime. The supposition is that is an RP negative.

What about the potential RP boost that comes from having to hire and network with more people to keep an eye on things? What I mean is if Person A is too far away to catch Person B in the act, they can hire Persons C & D to maintain a presence there. Not at all unlike club owners need to hire staff and establish relationships with the local gang.

Or am I missing some aspect of the dynamic here that is not addressed by involving more characters in protecting the target?

@Hek:

I'm not simply referring to protecting a property or apartment. This also applies to being killed and trying to follow-up on that. Having an eyewitness, getting an autopsy or using the chatter system now just tells you that you were killed by some form of person using [popular weapon].

Whether or not you want to pursue trying to place blame on someone purely based on what kind of weapon they use is entirely on you at that point. In the case of especially rare weapons/combinations, this might be doable, but in most circumstances, that information isn't something that I feel you should be acting on.

But that's just my take. We have room ambients describing people sword fighting with katanas and people firing off pistols, so I don't feel like that weapon choice should be the sole determining factor when trying to ID people. To do otherwise would be just totally ignoring both NPC's as well as the ambpop.

Making appear harder to use will in the form of needing higher disguise skill IMO would make meta far worse. People already meta people who prep cool shit with @disguise-name and @disguise-desc with a 'only x amount of people have disguise skill to do that, so it must be joe baka'. I hate that investment in UE (or chyen for soft) to show off a codely fun skill is punished with 'WEEEEELLL, only so many people are that skilled to make themselves appear like THAT!'.

You are going to punish the people who invest more, not less.

@deaddragon

Is this one of these situations where tuning the game for high UE expenditure ends up negatively impacting everyone else who hasn't dumped that much UE into something?

I understand your example. After a certain amount of UE, people can change their @disguise-name and @disguise-desc

My understanding is that is optional and not mandatory.

What your example glosses over is everyone who has put some UE into disguise and has ~50 'appear' descriptors to choose from.

I put some more thought into this last night and I think it might be useful to gate 'height' and 'weight' appears behind certain skill levels.

I also thought it might be useful / balancing to incur some sort of endurance penalty, like stealth. My reasoning is that especially for weight, attempting to keep your gut sucked in or pushed out for an extended period of time is going to be draining. The same logic applies to a lesser extent to being hunched over / appearing shorter.

@deaddragon:

If you are a master of disguise who "everyone" knows then you are doing it wrong. That's essentially a player who has the mechanical skills but doesn't know how to RP them properly.

Got burned because you failed? Create a new persona with a much more elaborate disguise, fake your own death, move to another sector for a bit, perm everyone who knows about you, etc.

Disguise much like artistry (performance) is an RP-heavy dependent skill.

I have to agree with @Ghost on this one.

I RPed with someone who had a super high disguise skill and I thought that they were a brand new immigrant. It was only after about a month or so that they admitted to me that they were someone else.

You both are taking what I'm saying and making it totally different.

To Hek,

There are already no disguise protection for people who put in the effort because there is only a handful of people who actually invest and just don't stack 7 different disguises, making appear harder will not help anything because there is already major discouragement to put in any real effort. You gate appear? No one is going to care other than people who actually use disguise because more people are going to make guesses over OOC knowledge of how disguise skills work and how only invested people can do that.

and with Ghost's comment,

The people who put in the effort at making good RP get punished because if they try, one exposure means they are now useless because it must be that one person who puts lots of effort in their disguises because no one in this game really cares otherwise to invest in being codly good. There is no remedy in 'pretending' to have an exposed disguise then players going 'you are using @disguise-desc so I'm not going to bother'.

@deaddragon:

I think I understood what you originally meant and you just reiterated the same thing basically. What I am saying is that I disagree with your posture and then I tried to offer real ways in which it can and it has been remedied in the past.

But you seem pretty stuck with your posture, which I would argue puts the whole player base in a "bad apples" meta gamey bag and that is an unhealthy black and white fallacy that doesn't do you or anyone else any favors.

@deaddragon

FWIW - I am not trying to make your words totally different.

I am asking questions trying to understand where you are coming from.

Given that you said this , I think that sucks.

and with Ghost's comment,

The people who put in the effort at making good RP get punished because if they try, one exposure means they are now useless because it must be that one person who puts lots of effort in their disguises because no one in this game really cares otherwise to invest in being codly good. There is no remedy in 'pretending' to have an exposed disguise then players going 'you are using @disguise-desc so I'm not going to bother'.

I am still not sure that I completely understand the issue though. If Disguise A gets broken, what is the barrier to adopting Disguise B?

when you have a position of power whereby your own friends and allies are want to cain on you.

Sounds fun. Play it where it lies.