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Related to this question: Do demons in cover generate disbelief?

So I have a demon character in one game who thinks that he can use a hunter power he has seen in combination with show of power to detect demons who pose as hunters.

Thus: He got a benediction via show of power and uses it while alone (for example, inside a car) with another demon. Now he is sure that the -2 penalty for being in the vincinity of the same splat seeing him doing a benediction being there or not is sufficient for him to see if it's a demon or a real hunter there with him.

As a GM from how I see spoof and the related question above: It can be that the -2 penalty is missing thus the player knows (if I don't say I'm rolling this one myself as a hidden roll) but the char would not know in either case though.

That is at least how I interpret the rules.

The player sees it differently. They wrote:

Player here. I figure I should probably clarify.

Said character claims to be a Malleus hunter endowed with holy powers. Now, using the Show of Power exploit will make it much harder to manifest a copied power if another member of that supernatural group is around. So if I use Show of Power to manifest a Benediction, I figure the following should happen :

  • The character is what it claims to be, a hunter with Benediction powers. Casting the Show of Power exploit becomes really hard.
  • The character is a demon or angel in cover. The Spoof makes it look like a regular, mundane human. I don't get a penalty.
  • The character is a demon or angel in cover with the Deep Cover exploit. It uses it to spoof itself as the same kind of being as I am. I can spoof it right back, to make it think I'm a regular human. So the Deep Cover Spoof ends up registering as regular human, and I don't get a penalty.
  • The character is something else entirely, a vampire or a werewolf, or whatever else. No penalty either.

As far as I can see, the penalty only comes into play if we've got a proper Malleus Hunter in the area. It doesn't detect whether the creature is an angel, a demon, or a ghost, but it tells me if it's a hunter or not. Any flaws with that logic?

To add on to that though. In the case of a demon posing as a hunter telling if its a hunter or not is "seeing through cover or not" in essence.


Now the question here is: Which interpretation of the rules for spoofing, show of power, etc. is correct? Can such a "trick" be used as a simple demon detector? (His argumentation is mostly that spoof shows you as normal human not hunter.)

Also this is NOT only related to hunter powers but generally to things doable with show of power (the hunter powers being the most recent example only).

To clarify about the -2 penalty mentioned above meant here is the: "Dice Pool: Presence + Occult + Primum vs. highest Wits + Supernatural Tolerance of observers of emulated supernatural type" Thus the supernatural tolerance is the point at which one could glean if the other person (or persons) is/are what they say they are....or if they are for example impostors or demons disguising themselves as what they say they are but are not. As its not hunter related per se I took the question as a general one and just used when it came up with hunters as example above.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ahriman Dice pool "Supernatural Tolerance of observers of emulated supernatural type". I wasn't sure how he got it that a hhunter has a supernatural tolerance of 2 there but that is also why I took it as a general question instead of fixing it just on hunters as the supernatural tolerance part just allows it for ppl to discern "is the other what he seems to be"? good point though clarifying this also in the question itself at the bottom \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas E. May 20 '16 at 14:09
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The dice penalty should apply even if the target is a Demon/Angel in Deep Cover.

Aetheric Resonance, found on page 184 of Demon: The Descent states that Demons are able to detect nearby Aether (and "aether-flavored" essence) expenditures. However, a cover is able to "seal in" the Aether - in other words, Demons cannot actively identify Demons or Angels while in cover unless they are expending their fuel.

Spoof, from page 112, says that a Demon can reflexively thwart supernatural scrunity, even in a passive way. As such, if a Demon is masquerading as a Whatsit, and the omission of a dice penalty would then imply the Demon is not a Whatsit, the dice penalty would then have to apply.

Furthermore, the Embed via which a Demon may spoof a Whatsit does not require spending Aether, so Aetheric Resonance will not detect it.

To come around full circle, though - using the Exploit Show of Power requires spending Aether.

So, let's break this down:

Demon Sue is using Deep Cover to investigate a hive of Whatsits. She meets Peter, who asks for her to prove she is a Whatsit. Sue suspects Peter is also using Deep Cover, so she decides to use Show of Power to demonstrate.

Now, there are two possibilities: either Peter is a Whatsit, and the dice penalty applies, or Peter has, through Deep Cover as a super-charged Spoofing, tricked reality into thinking he is a Whatsit. Ergo, since the lack of a penalty would betray him, the penalty must apply.

However, if Peter is also a Demon, after watching the Show of Power, he can spend Aether to feel for recent expenditures - in which case, he'd get a yes, and Sue would likely be the obvious culprit.

Therefore, Sue makes a convincing display, but Peter now knows she's not a Whatsit.

For a simple Demon detector, trick them into spending Aether/Essence while secluded and then spend for Aetheric Resonance.


Furthermore, giving a character knowledge falls into the idea of metagaming: characters cannot "see" their sheets. For example, Abed and Bob both try to grab the same sandwich. Abed gets to its first - in fact, he judges that about 11 people, slower than himself, could have grabbed it before Bob. This implies he has a higher base initiative - but, since he knows he and Bob have the same amount of Composure, he now knows he has more mental flexibility than Bob, as he eats the sandwich.

This is a preposterous idea.

As such, the idea of a character knowing whether a dice penalty is in effect falls into Metagaming.

Especially in a contested roll, the Demon would be able to feel a range of "I feel like I employed this Exploit really well, but he didn't buy it" to "That felt okay - not my best effort - but it seemed believable anyway."

Maybe the first was without the dice penalty, maybe the second was with the dice penalty - the Demon does not know; the player does.

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To C Geist's answer, I would also add that a dice bonus or penalty is never visible to the character if it is caused by an unknown, outside factor.

For example, if Bob tries to jump over a mud puddle, his roll will likely not have any penalties, and may even have a bonus. This is due to difficulty in CoD being tied to dice quantity. Before a roll is even called for, Bob knows he is more likely to succeed at this task because it is visibly easy.

Conversely, Bob would know that jumping from one moving car to another would be difficult. Bob cannot see the player's dice pool, but he can 'see the penalty' by knowing the relative difficulty of the task.

If Bob does not see the tripwire right in front of his feet before he tries to jump the puddle, his assessment of the difficulty says it will be easy, but it will be hard. The penalty on the roll is not known to Bob, only to his player (and the reason for the penalty is obscured even from the player).

In the converse scenario, Bob knows that jumping from one moving car to another is hard, but he does not know that the other driver is an ally who wants to help him stick the landing. As he jumps, the driver of that car will adjust the vehicle's course so Bob is more likely to land safely. Bob cannot see the dice bonus, but the player can.

Applied to this specific scenario, a Demon would not know that an attempt to activate a power was "more difficult," only that it is less likely to succeed in the presence of someone with knowledge of the power. Thus, ANY failure could cause the Demon to suspect a nearby observer of being a 'Whatsit.'

From the Demon's perspective, though, his own capability with the power is unchanged, and thus he is unaware of any penalty (or even bonus!) imposed from outside.

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