Take the 2-minute tour ×
Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was thinking about making a character who is an Elan, from the Expanded Psionics Handbook. In short, they used to be humans but through a magic ritual become a psionically inclined race who are a bit in the uncanny valley, because they shift from the "Humanoid" type to "Abberation". Elan normally try to fit in with other humans and lie to them about their status, to not get chased out of town by an angry mob.

Now, I have no malevolent intent towards the party or NPCs: this character just does not want to share what she is in fear of being diven away. As such she passes herself as human. Now, this roleplaying should not be much of a problem (and I could wave away the -2 Charisma modifyer with little trouble), but there are a few issues: Elan are immune to (whatever) Person effects and do not sleep, plus they can spend power points to prevent damage, get bonuses to their saves and a few other things. How can I use these things without being outed to the party right away? The DM's okay with me playing a psionic character, while the others do not play psionics and do not know a lot about it. Could I try to bluff my way to this, while do following my character's rules?

Note that this is just towards the PCs, and not to the players: though if possible I'd prefer to keep it vague to them too (just tell them I'm playing something out of an official book with the DM's consent).

share|improve this question
4  
Is there a reason the players can't know this vs. their PCs? –  Joshua Aslan Smith Jul 2 at 13:20
9  
Do you want lie to the players or their characters? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jul 2 at 13:20
1  
Yeah, I wouldn't mind the players knowing this, though I'm not sure if I should tell them I'm an Elan or keep it vague (I'm a race from an official book that just looks human). Updating the question. –  Thomas Jacobs Jul 2 at 13:25
    
In sustained close interaction, the inherent creepiness of being elan is going to be obvious. Hiding it from the party is only useful as a short roleplaying opportunity. –  okeefe Jul 3 at 18:10

5 Answers 5

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Bluff Works - In Character (IC) Only

So long as Elan and Human are indistinguishable at a glance, Bluff will do what you need. If they're obviously different just by looking, you'll also need Disguise or magic.

The harder part is keeping it a secret Out of Character (OOC). If you don't want the other players to know, then you'll have to take some extra measures.

Poison

You can get away without revealing that you have poison immunity for a long time, because most poisons allow a save anyway. So even a normal Human can shrug off really strong poisons, and you can just pass it off IC by saying you have a strong fortitude or are just lucky.

OOC, you're going to have to roll the fortitude save along with everyone else. The DM will have to know that you're never affected and handle it accordingly, no matter what you roll. The really hard part here is that the players will notice pretty quickly that you're making saves even with a 2 for poison, while not making saves for other things with bad rolls.

You can handle that either by having the DM roll all your saves for you (if you're the only one doing it, then it's obvious something is up), or when you roll badly, pretend you're affected by the poison when you're really not. This will require IC Bluff checks as necessary (to act like you're poisoned), as well as OOC acting like your character is affected.

Not Sleeping

IC, you can pretend to sleep. OOC, you can say you're sleeping when everyone else is, and not many people are going to be awake to question it. If you have watches during the night, take one.

A Ring of Sustenance makes this easier as you only have to sleep a couple hours anyway, but isn't necessary.

Save Bonuses

These only matter OOC if someone wants to examine your character sheet, because until they do that you can just say you have good saves. There are so many ways to get save bonuses that it's not that unusual.

IC, it should never come up.

Power Points to Prevent Damage

IC, you are lucky and some of them just nicked you.

OOC, this is getting trickier. You'll need an agreement with the DM on how to use these without revealing that you're using them to the other players. Maybe you can just do it without telling the DM you're doing it, and do the tracking yourself. That's how I would handle it in the game I'm DMing right now.

The Big One - Being an Abberation

This is actually the biggest problem. You're not a humanoid. Lots of spells that affect the humanoid type won't work on you at all. If someone casts a spell that never fails like Enlarge Person on you and it suddenly fails, questions will be asked.

You'll want to try to suggest those kinds of spells always be cast on other people "for the good of the party".

Have An Endgame

You're probably not going to be able to keep this up forever. IC, you'll fail bluff checks at some point, and the party will catch on. Maybe they'll actually check you for poison, or try to hit you with a buff that fails due to type, or so on. When it happens, you'll want to have a plan for how to explain to them why you kept it a secret.

OOC, the players may notice at some point that something is up. The less you have to have conversations with the DM in private (or exchanging notes and such), the longer you can go without drawing suspicion. So try to work things out between sessions and act as normally as you can during sessions.

But when it does happen, just point out that you wanted it to be a surprise they resolved In Character first.

I've had people do this type of thing in my game (as Changelings and such) and it always worked pretty well. Elan is a bit harder to fit in than a Changeling, but it should make for a fun time.

share|improve this answer
2  
Alright. Sleep is not much of an issue for an Elan: "Instead, an elan meditates in a deep trance for 4 hours a day. An elan resting in this fashion gains the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep." (EPH p. 9), so faking it is an option. Plus, this might make me well-suited for taking middle watch and still get my sleep. As for the endgame: just telling them that she is afraid she'd be cast out for being not humanoid and that she does care for the party and sees them as her friends could work. And picking a class that's not first for the buffs helps as well. –  Thomas Jacobs Jul 2 at 13:38

I've done this on both sides of the table, playing an elan as a human and DMing with a gnome masquerading as a halfling.

Bluff works well if any suspicion falls on you. A Hat of Disguise works wonders for the looks.

As far as abilities go, it depends a lot on your group. If you play with newer players they won't know the rules well enough to realize you are doing anything special. You can't really fool veteran players, since they'll realize the inconsistencies very soon in any case, but vets will likely have seen that kind of thing before and might play along without telling you and will usually talk to you in private if they notice and have no specific motivation to expose you. That happened to me with the elan. The halfling died after about 5 adventures and at that point a group of mostly new players hadn't noticed anything, using Bluff and a Hat of Disguise.

Tridus's suggestions can help you extend the timespan till people notice and I can't really add anything there.

share|improve this answer

How to Lie to your Friends

I've had a couple experiences like that in games that I have played in, as well as some GM'ing situations where players were actively working against other players (I actually encouraged it in that setting, because that was half the fun). Here are some take-aways that I had from it. These are all systems for Out of Character behavior, though. Hope that's okay!

Texting

Texting is absolutely your friend. Letting your GM know ahead of when you're going to do something "funky" lets them prepare and handle the situation much more cleanly. I had one case where I was from a nation that the party had sworn to destroy, so naturally I would have been in danger had the party known my origin. I was actually working with them, since they were unknowingly working to help that nation (evil wizard takeover plots!), but they would have killed me if they had found out.

I would make some grandiose statement about what I was doing (like searching tents for people who were hiding) or something, and would text my GM the actions that I was hiding, so that way I didn't have to tell everyone that I was sifting through the tents for maps and documents for the captain's orders.

Just let him know ahead of time that you'd like to try this. Just texting him (or IMing if he has a computer open while he runs his game) out of the blue will really throw him off.

Hand Signs and Word Tricks

I ran a Star Wars game where one of the party was actually working for the Empire. He had a recording device in his helmet package, and was passing information about the force user in the party to the Empire, but he needed to be able to tell me what he was recording. We ended up having him use alliteration and clean his glasses whenever he wanted to get my attention to let me know that things were being recorded.

This worked pretty well, with the exception of when I had to focus intensely on what was going on (weird combats or lots of people doing different things) but overall this system worked pretty well.

If you're using Power Points to block damage or however the system works, marking it yourself is probably a good way of taking some of the burden off your GM, but letting him know will tell him that you're still keeping track of this kind of thing. We as GM's like to know that you're aware of what is going on.

The Aside

Taking your GM aside to let him know what is going on, and what you plan to be doing, is really the most effective way to make sure things aren't lost in translation. Unfortunately this 1) slows the pace of the game down for everyone else, 2) makes it really obvious that you're doing something you don't want other people to know about, and 3) breaks the immersion of trying to hide things from your friends, which is half the fun!

The way that I found this works best is to grab them before and after the game to make sure that all the stuff you wanted to do secretly got done, and talk about whether or not your system for communication is working. It lets you handle secret things well, without interrupting the flow of the game, and hopefully will let you test your abilities out without having to tell everyone you have them.

I'd try to avoid doing this in the middle of the game, since it really makes it obvious that something is up with your character, and detracts from the fun, but it also may not be avoidable.


The problem with working against the party (even if you're not actively trying to take them down, just hide something from them) is that if you do something Out of Character to raise suspicion, it often translates into in-game suspicion as well. The best way to avoid this is to use your powers only sparingly at first, and then as people grow more comfortable with each other's characters (both in and out of game), you can start using your abilities more and more, and it will be easier to avoid suspicion. There is also a lot of fun in the "Big Reveal," which adds a sense of drama to the game from a player perspective. Especially if some people have figured it out, or are starting to grow suspicious, and then dropping the veil (with the GM's permission of course).

We had one case where a guy was hiding his force powers from everyone. He had a lightsaber, but he kept it hidden, and only used force powers in a way that could be ignored by technology or his armor, etc. When the baddie came out with his lightsaber ignited, and everyone panicked, he brought his out too. The look on some of the players faces was priceless. Another person who also had a secret had his jaw drop in that cartoony fashion.

My point is that if you work with your GM, and look at this as its own mini-game, you can really have a lot of fun with it. It's even fun once the charade is over, and its time to come clean. Hope it goes well!

share|improve this answer

Elan are immune to (whatever) Person effects and do not sleep, plus they can spend power points to prevent damage, get bonuses to their saves and a few other things. How can I use these things without being outed to the party right away? The DM's okay with me playing a psionic character, while the others do not play psionics and do not know a lot about it. Could I try to bluff my way to this, while do following my character's rules?

Elan do not sleep, or sleeping is not necessary, if you're a psion you can write this off as meditating, which most people assume is the same thing. You could pretend to sleep, similar to how vampires imitating humans pretend to breathe. ( Bluff might be required )

You can explain being able to spend power points to prevent damage as a manifestation of your psionic abilities (if you're playing a psion) or you can play dumb (only prevent a portion of the damage) or take damage intentionally. (prevent none of the damage, and use a power like Vigor to get temporary hit points)

Physically looking like a human would be the hardest thing to do, a Cap of disguise would be a must, as Elan look a little like alien-humans.

Save bonuses are easy enough to explain off. There are feats for them. If someone asks? Say you took the feat.

What to do when the jig is up?

There's a time when every character is faking being something in which they are outed or discovered, their cap of disguise falls of and they are revealed for what they are. The amount of time you've had to spend with the party to learn to know them is a great tool to use in compensating for having had to lie to them.

Explain that you did not mean to trick them but that they likely would not have asked you to join them if they did not think you were a human. Most of the time a good party will be forgiving. A lawful character might give you a scolding, a chaotic character likely won't care. An evil character will see this as a breach of trust and would likely not trust you from then on.

share|improve this answer

There are already a lot of good answers to the mechanics aspect of the question so will just add a few flavor and RP bits.

Disguise

If you do not want to spend money on a Hat of Disguise, you could just use a more mundane method. As you said your PC is female, she could use make-up. This works on both in and out of game level, as the other players may just assume your character has a bit of vanity or that your personal views of normality and beauty are bleeding into the game. If your class or background puts a hamper on this, call it something else, maybe war-paint, camouflage, sun or weather protection, or anything else to justify needing to "put on your face".

Do Not Even Bother

You live in a world of monsters and magical creatures. You have two legs, two hands, two eyes, one head with hair, stand upright, breathe air, and your limbs bend the same as everyone else. Who are they to say you are less human than an orc or hobgoblin? With that in mind, embrace that you look different. Tell the party about how you were the target of bullies and scorn growing up because you were different, and you became an adventurer to be around other people who are different, and compare to the crazy things they see, you are rather normal.

Added to that, you may very well be from a different region, and everyone there looks like you. This can also tie into the above answer of face paint, having your culture (one that has a history of blending in as human) be historically inclined to slight, aesthetic changes to one's appearance. Ask your DM to possibly include a go-to place that Elan say they are from to keep the story straight.

Okay, Maybe a Little Mechanics

If you keeping track of your own HP is contrary to the way the group plays, set up a key phase, fake class feature name, or something similar with your DM to indicate when your powers are to be used. Another option to handle your saves and immunities is to have/let the DM roll them in secret. This can be justified as your character not knowing the cosmic numbers and lets your DM have fun describing passes and failures.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.