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False Attacker is a rogue talent that lets me

attempt a Bluff check as an immediate action (opposed by the target’s Sense Motive or Perception check, whichever has a higher bonus) before rolling damage to convince the foe that another creature was the attacker.

What does "another creature" actually mean? Clearly I can't convince the creature that it was me who did it (although a generous DM might allow that in odd circumstances).

Can I convince the person I shot that it was, say, the Gold Dragon God-King of Tarlev, who's currently a hundred miles away? Neither of us can see him, but we both know about him - granted, it's pretty hard to signal that without verbal Bluffing. I... don't see any clear range limitations or sight limitations on this power, so I think this should work.

Can I convince the person I shot "Yeah, you shot yourself."? That person is clearly a creature, and definitely in sight, but I'm not sure what "another creature" means in this case.

I'm aware that in both these cases the Bluff penalty will be extreme, since neither of those is at all plausible. But can I do it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If this should be two questions, I'm totally up for splitting it. I think both fall under the question "who is a legal target for False Attacker," but could arguably be the two questions "can I apply False Attacker to anyone anywhere?" and "can I use False Attacker to convince a creature it shot itself?" \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 4:28

2 Answers 2

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Yes.

Bluff has the rules for unbelievable lies, and also the GM is encouraged to alter DCs (or apply appropriate penalties/bonuses) to reflect strange or ridiculous circumstances. But keep in mind, the highest human bluff score in our world is like, +8*. And con artists can and have convinced people to leap off buildings, unlock doors they are guarding and hand the con artist the key and their gun, or betray their own family members, after they were told this was a famous con artist they were talking to. And most skilled con artists basically do not expect someone to be hard to manipulate, if not precisely in that extreme a circumstance.

So if Loki, god of lies and mischief, stabs an Umber Hulk and convinces it that actually it's someone over in that direction who stabbed them, so they go raging off in that direction busting through walls etc, while I don't particularly know how Loki achieved that, he was able to do that because he is very good at lying. Better than people in our world at lying, who are themselves using techniques they often struggle to describe and which most people who think they understand them (or claim to) are then unable to reproduce even slightly.

Lying is incredibly potent and powerful as a weapon, and most people are incredibly bad at it. So like most things PCs can do that their players can't (like cast Fireball), some handwaving is required to explain how they actually get from A to B (go on, cast fireball right now at the table to prove you know how your character does it - or it doesn't go off). Something like misdirecting an opponent as to who attacked them even if that person isn't present is the barest edge of what lies can accomplish and not impossible at all.

That said, if you asked whoever wrote that ability, they'd probably immediately clarify that they meant 'someone else adjacent' or 'someone else in the room'. They might even say they meant 'another enemy' of the creature targeted, and not say, an ally (getting accidentally stabbed by your allies in a confused melee is unfortunately quite common). It's very unlikely to be the intended use of this Rogue Talent, even though the text clearly makes it possible as written.

TLDR:

RAW - yes, that's how it works.

In-universe - lies are incredibly powerful. The GM may provide a penalty to your roll for an unbelievable lie, but provided you succeed, there is no reason this wouldn't work and I bet a skilled liar in our world could reproduce this while having less magical aids to his lying and less lies that work ('magical mind control' is less plausible in our setting).

RAI - the author likely did not think about that as an option and given pathfinder's relative level of power given to skills and rogues and fighters (as opposed to clerics, wizards and druids) would probably be shocked at the idea of rogues doing anything other than swinging daggers and picking locks.

* using human athletic world record holders as a baseline for maximum 'level' achievable in this setting.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a fair point! This isn't really so much more powerful than Suggestion instantly at will, and it's pretty restricted. The fact that there's a -20 listed penalty for impossible bluffs makes this more convincing, too. I'm not quite sure how to reconcile that entry in the table with HeyICanChan's answer, though, and I agree that it's correct too. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 15:40
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In such cases, the GM may exercise discretion

An attacker that possesses the rogue talent False Attacker, in the right circumstances, can, indeed, "convince the [attacked] foe that another creature [i.e. not the attacker] was the attacker." However, "[t]his Bluff check applies the normal modifiers for convincing a creature of a falsehood."

With that last part in mind, the Bluff skill on Deceive or Lie says, "Note that some lies are so improbable that it is impossible to convince anyone that they are true (subject to GM discretion)."

Thus the GM may rule that it's simply impossible for the attacker to convince the attacked foe that the foe was attacked by Gold Dragon God-King of Tarlev from Castle Auric hundreds of miles away, by that sheep in the pen in over there, or by the foe itself. The attacked foe may be even more difficult to convince if the attacker is trying to convince the foe solely through the power of mime. (The False Attacker talent's effect "can be accomplished with just physical trickery (a shared language is not required).")

A GM that's using a typical high-magic Pathfinder setting may give the attacker some leeway as to how far the attacker can shift the blame for his attacks, but this player wouldn't try to shift the blame for his attacks onto invisible spirits, microorganisms, or the gods above or below without first discussing with the GM the talent's limits in the GM's campaign to find out if doing so is possible.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh. I had no idea that line existed, and assumed that the lying-specific rules were just 3.5. I'm amused that there is a listed penalty for impossible lies (-20), and a line that the DM may declare a lie so improbable that it's impossible. Imported the table from 3.5 and rewrote the description for Bluff, maybe? \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices While it's useful for Paizo to have plunked that text right into the Bluff skill, a 3.5 DM could say the same: On Practically Impossible Tasks says, "The DM decides what is actually impossible and what is merely practically impossible" for any skill (PH 65). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair, fair. It still bothers me that Bluff actually lists "impossible" as an option and then says some bluffs are impossible; 3.5 doesn't do that, using a very different wording. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices You are, indeed, fortunate if that's among your few beefs with Pathfinder compared to 3.5. ;-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Suggestions for improvement welcome. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 7:20

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