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Disguises and Small-Worlding
The burden of proof is too high.

We should lower the amount of evidence a character needs to attack a disguised person. If you have 1) a bona fide reason to believe a target is at a certain location and 2) knowledge that the target has a certain disguise or other common identifier, that should be enough.

If JoeBaka hides her identity using a green widget, I agree that seeing a woman walking down the street in a green widget should not be enough to kill her. Even if JoeBaka is the only PC with a green widget, there are thousands of people in green widgets running around Red Central at any time.

What should be enough to kill someone is a bona fide reason that JoeBaka will be at the Bad Alibi at that time or is a regular there and that JoeBaka disguises herself with a green widget. There might be thousands of people with green widgets walking around Red Central, but there probably aren't a ton of people with green widgets in the Bad Alibi at any given time.

With this proposal, please keep in mind that in non-disguised circumstances, it's a rare Mixer that will wait for even a preponderance of evidence before deciding to off someone. A mere suspicion is usually enough. I understand the burden of proof needs to be higher with disguised characters than a normal Mix hit because of the small world issue, but the burden now is wildly inconsistent with the amount of evidence Mixers usually need to find someone "guilty."

Of course, if the wrong person using a green widget is killed, that makes the game even more fun. This lets JoeBaka trade widgets with someone else and create even more chaos.

There might be thousands of people with green widgets walking around Red Central, but there probably aren't a ton of people with green widgets in the Bad Alibi at any given time.

There's always a dozen plus people who looks just like who you are after hanging around. That's what eighty million people in cramped confines looks like.

Identifying someone because you think you know what shroud colour they habitually wear is metagaming.

0x, let's say a person disguised in a green widget punches me in the face on the street and flees into the Bad Alibi. I chase my assailant into the Bad Alibi. Am I no longer able to identify my assailant because there are dozens of people with green widgets in the Bad Alibi? If not, I fail to see how that's different than the scenario I described above. If so, then a disguise plus fleeing one screen is enough to make you safe from any assailant, and you also shouldn't be able to identify if someone with a disguise is tailing you all around Red Central.
Those are not the same scenario.

In one case you were attacked by X (green shroud) not Y (person you have identified), and those would not be treated as the same by staff because you would reasonably remain in sight of your assailt if you followed them immediately to the next room.

If X attacks you and you later attack Y because they also wear a green shroud that is metagaming, as is attacking some random green shroud at a later date because it's the only green shroud amongst active players.

The metagaming rules enforced by the staff are pretty well throught out and fairly enforced in my experience, if you have legitimately good reasons for suspecting someone and explain that you may find them agreeing with you.

Rules favour the disguised because it's so easy to metagame and identify people otherwise and work out the justifications in retrospect. Anonymity is extremely fragile when all it takes is one "guessed" public accusation and someone is outed permanently.

Crime is pretty hard as it is, making it even easier to ID perpetrators would only make it more difficult.

Keep in mind though, if someone attacks you (and you survive) they have given you a lot more information than just the colour of their shroud that you can legitimately use to identify them after.

A lot of people take zero effort to make their disguises believable and just expect meta-protection to cover them even though it's glaringly obvious who they are due to circumstantial evidence, location, etc. It leads to a lot of situations where a poncho basically acts as an invisibility cloak and winds up frustrating people on both sides. I brought this up at town hall and everyone agreed with me but then like immediately after everyone stopped agreeing with me =(
I don't disagree there.

Disguises should be RPed and applied and used in good-faith, not though gaming or abusing the system.

I wasn't accusing anyone of gaming or abusing the system, or even acting in bad faith. I was just saying that since there is more to disguises than simply having one on or not people ought to have more leeway to work with the evidence on hand than staff is currently willing to extend.
I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I've personally seen what I considered to be gaming of the system (flipping through every manner of 'appear' on the fly, setting appears that conflict with a character desc) but I don't think this was explicitly disallowed until there was a shout about it earlier.

Some in-writing guidelines about what is and is not permitted with the new systems would probably go a long way.

I am not going to lie, I once had an old character who got attacked by hoods a LOT.

In fact, I once was disguised and went to buy another better disguise and still got attacked on the way out. Which made me lose faith in the disguise 'etiquette' or 'code of honor'.

Guess what? After that I started shooting at hooded motherbakas first and asking question much much later, no evidence needed and if you were hooded and I felt threatened you got got, easy as that.

Also this approached backfired PLENTY, but at least it was consistent.

It wasn't oh Joebaka might be under there, so I attacked him. It was, I got fucked up by hoods a lot so now, I am jumping them first if they linger or act funny.

I am not one to play xhelp meta inquisition, that thing turns me off. Sure, if the GMs ask you stuff be sure to answer them nicely...if you are not getting murdered while they are asking (happened to me too.)

The new appear command is a different beast tho, and it should be RPed on par to the skill.

But yeah, just wearing a disguise doesn't make you invisible. But also you don't need a great reason to confront a hood, just have it make sense with your RP and your character.

Historically I have always been very much on the side of requiring truly solid evidence before even suspecting a person in disguise. I have always been pushed myself hard to avoiding making what seemed like obvious connections as, in most every case I've seen, these 'obvious connections' tend to only make sense in the context of a game with 50 players and not in the context of a city of 70 million.

However, given recent changes to the disguise system and the introduction of the appear system, I think that we really need to reevaluate. I think even staff needs to have a talk among themselves on this issue as it seems to me that they don't share a common understanding of what the end goal is, what the current state is and how to enforce all of this. I don't mean this disparagingly. There have been a lot of recent changes in this area and it's natural for it to take time before people become comfortable with it all.

When I read Slither's posts in relation to our two most recent disguise updates I get the impression that his development efforts are intended to flip our current approach to disguises and meta. It's to make it so that a person in disguise no longer has the right to xhelp and say to staff, "Bob was totally meta when they IDed me!" Because the answer will always be, "You have the tools needed to avoid this. Use them. If you got caught then you got caught. That's on you."

That is completely contrary to our current state. Where people in disguises are constantly xhelping with complaints of meta and expecting staff to sort it out. Where the burden of proof was on the hunter. I get why that was our stance for so long as, given the tools available to people wanting to use disguises, it was far too easy to ID people in was that did not make sense given the massive population.

What I don't think is tenable is both giving people the super powerful tools they have today with enhanced disguises and appear AND still maintaining the up to now standard regarding what is allowed when it comes to IDing people. Together it puts gives those using disguises and appear WAY too much of an advantage.

If we want disguises and appearance tools to be as powerful as we have made them then we need to back off on the "prove you have watertight reason to suspect" bit. If we want people to have to provide watertight reasoning to suspect then we need to really limit the power of disguises and appear and, ideally, provide more IC means for people to combat disguises using things like forensics.


Post on my understanding on how we have handled meta and disguises up until now: (near the bottom)

Posts by Slither on the major Disguise and Appear updated:

I wouldn't say this is at all true except where people are quickly changing their appear on the fly, which I think is pushing the boundaries of the intended use of the system -- unless supported by very high disguise skill and appropriate RP.

Someone's shortdesc has never been enough to identify them in any situation I've ever been in involving disguise, nor has their shroud colour. Appear doesn't meaningfully make someone harder to identify at level in which staff get involved and metagaming comes into play, it just makes it harder to isolate who is who in a meta sense.

Players are always allowed to xhelp if they think someone is metagaming.

If there is a need then balance appear itself, whether metering or setting cooldowns or raising skill requirements for appear or shrouds themselves. Lowering the burden of evidence to identify players just encourages metagaming and small-worlding.

It is very, very easy to identify any given player OOC regardless of their shortdesc or shroud if you know what you're doing, and because of how few players there is, those 'guesses' are almost always right. These protections exist for a reason. I think weakening them would be a mistake.

Alternative balance suggestion: Many of the concerns people have raised before have to do with combat-related disguise use as well. Making it so disguises break much more easily during combat is another possible way of balancing the skill without making it useless for the wide array of interesting (and underused) non-combat applications that it has. Characters would need really substantial investment to be able to get through combat rounds and conceal their identities successfully.

The reason I am arguing against sweeping protection changes is that balancing the overall metagame protections against players hotswapping appears for hit-and-runs would, I think, wipe out the social and intrigue aspects that disguise allows for but which already barely exist now because of how prevalent metagaming issues are with them. I would really hate to see these become a victim of too-broad balancing.

Some of those definitely seem like easy tweaks, right? Like you've supported before 0x1, the onus isn't necessarily on the player to take what the game mechanics are presenting them as options and know automagially what, say is 'goodwill' to do or not. Yes, obviously you need a modicum of common sense and you need to RP things, but also, like...if I appear as a 'chen' or a 'mano' even, who is going to police to me what RP'ing that way 'appropriately' is? That's -real- grey real fast.

If the appear command lets me change those options too quickly, or hold them for X amount of time, or change them in the middle of a bar with 20 PCs in it, or whatever, with zero or minimal Disguise skill, is that my problem, or the game mechanics needing tweaked? It's a VERY new and VERY power mechanic so I think we all understand these discussions are important and it's going to take time to settle, and people are relying, often, on disguise / appear(now) for their very lives, sometimes it's the only thing they can rely on, so there are emotions running high in these situations sometimes.

Roleplaying being explicitly required for appear changes, and examples of that, are written in 'help appear'.

Also from earlier today:

Dreamer OOCly shouts, "As a reminder, using the Appear command should be justified with RP, changing your description, emoting, voice, etc. If Brock the Jock appears as lesbian just for funs or Sally Sweetheart appears as a hulking bro just as a joke with no reason, RP, or effort around it I will be a sad. Thank you."

I'm aware, but it's not appropriately fleshed out enough to demand that, that harshly. What's a chen's voice sound like? Does every appear change, for every character, necessarily demand a voice change? Obviously not, right? This is a conversation we're having. Isn't one choice, like 'regular'? What does proper RP 'effort' for that demand? If I choose 'smoker', does my character need a pack in hand? These aren't picky or trivial questions, considering the -- very reasonable and important -- demands being asked of players who use what is a very powerful new mechanic.

Otherwise we're just going to have players going from one kind of hammy jokey stupid gaming of the mechanic (or just using it as a joke) to...hammy stereotypes to do whatever they think satisfies some minimum RP checkbox to not get yelled at. 'umm, @voice me is....' offensive lesbian thing here, or what have you. And since many of the appear choices don't have any real boxes to check, people will just start funneling to those to avoid having to worry about it, and then every disguised person is a chen w/e, 'my reason is I want to be disguised'. How do you ask them to RP their effort to 'be like a chen'?

I can't speak for the staff but I doubt minute critique of RP choices is the level of scrutiny which players will be subjected.

I suspect most good-faith efforts to RP appearances would be considered valid, and these rules are in place to prevent people from on-the-fly switching from petite vixen to hulking pimp to average gramps, without any RP involved, in order to throw off pursuers.

I 100% get that and understand that feels 'common sense'.

But that's not what the mechanic is. 'help appear' even states there is a cooldown, affected by skill. If I"m able to change, on the fly, to evade pursuers, quickly enough, because my skill lets me and the mechanic lets me....that seems like it should be fine. I'm not being argumentative toward 0x1 or anyone in the thread or staff necessarily, I'm just very confused. What is 'the RP' necessary? when appearing fatter? the command itself says I puff out my chest or whatever. Do I emote that too for no reason? Help appear says 'If you appear as a bro, RP that way'. That's not helpful. Let's have five and then 30 PCs say what 'a bro' RPs like. Someone might say 'nitpicking isn't really something that will happen, people just need to put in effort', but nitpicking will of course happen, but anyone who observes and might decide boxes weren't properly checked.

The common sense being offered is 'if you're 90 pounds and 4'8 and female, and appear as a hulking mano, use common sense and.....' but we don't use that reasoning for things, like, people slipping in behind others' apartment doors in a split second, a completely absurd situation, but 'because the game didn't tell you you saw them....' we accept it as a mechanic, right? Common sense / goodwill aren't really tools to lean on here, the game is not a 'realistic' experience in many ways. If my disguise skill is high enough, this is apparently letting me do exactly the above.

Appear is a very weird new area where a mechanic and RP meet so feeling this out is important, and interesting!

There are lots of things you can do mechanically that are restricted by rules that require interpretation, not every possible example or edge case can be illustrated.

It seems clear to me the purpose of requiring roleplay is to avoid situations where someone appears as a chunky femboy to kill Joebaka, steps outside and appears as an amazonian granny to dodge pursurers, and then finally switches to svelte chen before entering the club up the street to wait out the heat. As I understand it, without some kind of justifying roleplay in that, it is against the rules.

That same set of circumstances could happen with some very nifty roleplay, but it would be much more difficult on the part of the attacker.

A comparable situation in terms of non-specific rules would be killing NPCs and taking their possessions. This is allowed, in certain circumstances and for certain reasons, not always and not without restrictions, some of which are ambiguous and require talking to staff about.

I'm not confused about the premise.

'without some kind of justifying roleplay in that, it is against the rules'

But there are no examples of any kind, clear and helpful, in the New Features thread, or in help appear, that begin to limn that what is, at all, is the problem. Arguably if your disguise skill is high enough doing those things should be perfectly fine -- high enough stealth lets you do quite silly stuff, as already mentioned. High disguise -already- lets you do very silly things sometimes.

Players can't be asked to fulfill requirements that mean they aren't cheating if it's incredibly ambiguous what those requirements are. A comparison to 'sometimes you can kill gangers, but you can't murderhobo 24/7 even if you CAN' doesn't hold and isn't constructive to the complexities and new ground being broken here. We're not just talking about players abusing the mechanic to be 10000% silly for no reason, that's pretty easy to spot and police. We're talking about when the policing starts getting even -slightly- pickier, and it will, if it isn't already.

I feel we are drowning in a small puddle, 50 players, 10 players or 1000 players in the game. It doesn't and shouldn't make a difference for your character.

If you are appear-switching between 3 crowded rooms, that's kind of gamey and definitely not meta-proof. Now I understand a bit more where Grey was coming from in the other disguise thread asking for people to require mirrors or something.

Honestly I doubt people are 'confuse' and they are more concerned about what they can get away with.

So if the help files related to this aren't clear enough, maybe they can be rewritten to make things more clear and even add RP suggestion on how to play it proper.

Appear is quite recent, so its ought to get tweaked in the long run.

What I don't think is tenable is both giving people the super powerful tools they have today with enhanced disguises and appear AND still maintaining the up to now standard regarding what is allowed when it comes to IDing people. Together it puts gives those using disguises and appear WAY too much of an advantage.

Absolutely this. Dealing with meta complaints is SO ANNOYING when you have heaps of evidence and the other player isn't even trying. Ponchos should not be invisibility cloaks!

Gathering the evidence is a -majority- of the fun. And there's even ways to tell if someone is someone else, even when they're fully disguised.
Just wanted to post this here because some folx have had questions about our policies in help disguise around disguise meta.

We don't police players recognizing another player is person X, if person X is shrouded but doesn't change their description, or doesn't change their appearance, or they have some IC evidence to indicate to them that the person is who they think it is. Please be aware, this means a character has legitimate reason to believe it is person X. Us not policing that, is a result of the robust systems we have in place to change your appearance. This doesn't mean that we don't police small worlding. We are avoiding the following: Too much time goes into the GMs arbitrating if someone 'would really know it was person X' and in the end the decision is still entirely subjective.

If a person or group is attacking every shrouded person they see that matches a specific /similar description, in a crowded area that would presumably have hundreds or thousands if not tens of thousands of people passing through it... That is small worlding. If you ask yourself 'Would this work in downtown Tokyo?' and the answer is 'no' then the answer is probably small worlding if it happens in the game.

Ignoring ambient population has negative impacts on the game. We don't have enough players or NPCs or GMs to make it NOT cost effective to just attack every person in a shroud (or every person in game!) or everyone with something of a similar description. If it was the real world, there would be a very real cost in both rep, money, and possibly fucking with the wrong person (or the law).

Doing this results in a bad experience for people involved. It short circuits roleplay. And it goes against the spirit of what we're looking to accomplish in creating a vivid world in our lovely imaginations.

So please consider what I've said here and why you should avoid this. Thanks!