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Old 09-06-2014, 09:36 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Body Language

Body Language is the ability to interpret facial expressions and body postures to gauge feelings. Since this combines the abilities of the Empathy advantage and the Detect Lies skill, although only on a person you can see, it's an arguably better buy than Detect Lies at any TL that doesn't have telephones or radio. It's also a useful complementary skill to Observation, or almost any social skill. Unsurprisingly, Social Engineering has quite a lot about it.

Madness Dossier covers Body Language as part of its neuro-linguistic hacking. Lands Out of Time has TDMs for Neanderthals, Proto-humans and Lizard Men. Martial Arts applies Evaluate bonuses to it, allows its active use for spotting Feints and makes it part of a few styles; Technical Grappling makes it part of the unusual Passive Restraint style and Tactical Shooting reminds us of its usefulness when watching a group of people.

Have you used Body Language with Detect Lies and/or Empathy? What have you done with it that was cool, or funny?
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Old 09-06-2014, 10:56 AM   #2
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Body Language

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Body Language is the ability to interpret facial expressions and body postures to gauge feelings. Since this combines the abilities of the Empathy advantage and the Detect Lies skill, although only on a person you can see, it's an arguably better buy than Detect Lies at any TL that doesn't have telephones or radio. It's also a useful complementary skill to Observation, or almost any social skill. Unsurprisingly, Social Engineering has quite a lot about it.
I have to argue that Body Language isn't always better than Detect Lies at those TLs. Detect Lies remains reasonably useful in case of written communication, while Body Language becomes completely useless. Also, remember that Body Language takes penalties for baggy clothing, a cloak/shield, or a face mask (-5!). Commonly at low TL, and even at high TL, you'll have to talk to suspicious individuals in dark alleys; up to -4 darkness penalties are not hard to come by (at which point you're better off using the DL default).

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Martial Arts applies Evaluate bonuses to it, allows its active use for spotting Feints and makes it part of a few styles;
Wow. That's essentially a +3 for non-combat use, since you can always Evaluate outside combat. That's scary. (MA100)

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Have you used Body Language with Detect Lies and/or Empathy? What have you done with it that was cool, or funny?
My current character has the Empath Talent, which, combined with other stuff, means I have an Empathy roll of 13, a Body Language level of 15, and a Detect Lies score of 14. I took Standard Operating Procedure: Read People [1] in order to be always on the alert for cues.
It pays off. I get to learn some interesting nuances to the moods and motives of other characters.
However, it seems to be the case that NPCs rarely employ direct lies. OTOH, almost everybody is omitting stuff all the time. In that sense, Detect Lies is meh, and Body Language/Empathy can only whether the [N]PC seems trustworthy/suspicious, benevolent/malicious etc.
Oh, and I'm planning to employ a teleoperated flexible multi-eyestalk to get an Acute Vision bonus occasionally. Acute Vision is generally a better deal for a heavily BL-oriented character than buying up BL directly, but for an infomorph, having all accessible shells upgraded with AV is not always easy.

Note that I still have to choose between relying on Empathy and Body Language even for face-to-face meetings: Body Language (and Detect Lies) can be resisted by Acting. It can also be fooled by employing software to generate one's body's or avatar's body language instead of controlling it directly.
----
There's also a PC in my campaign who fixed his eyes, going from Bad Sight (Mitigated) to Acute Vision 3. With 15 Perception, he learned Body Language thanks to the advice of an NPC. He's currently competitive with the team's empath as far as figuring out people goes. I find it something of a relief when I can give out significant hints about NPCs' mood/behaviour to one or two of the PCs - it helps make sure most of the attempts to detail their inner motivation not to be a work in vain.
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Last edited by vicky_molokh; 09-06-2014 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 09-06-2014, 02:43 PM   #3
Flyndaran
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Body Language

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
I have to argue that Body Language isn't always better than Detect Lies at those TLs. Detect Lies remains reasonably useful in case of written communication, while Body Language becomes completely useless. Also, remember that Body Language takes penalties for baggy clothing, a cloak/shield, or a face mask (-5!). Commonly at low TL, and even at high TL, you'll have to talk to suspicious individuals in dark alleys; up to -4 darkness penalties are not hard to come by (at which point you're better off using the DL default).

....
That all just makes detect lies even more cinematic than it was to begin with. At least body language is a hair less of a super power.
Interpreting written information for veracity would fall right in the center of Intelligence Analysis.

Looking at the default write up of Detect Lies also has it resisted by Acting.
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Last edited by Flyndaran; 09-06-2014 at 02:58 PM.
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Body Language

The most mileage I've gotten from Body Language is surviving a companion whose Split Personality has Bloodlust, Bestial & Sadism. Knowing which personality is in charge becomes VERY important then, because one looks at you with fondness, the other looks at you like meat.

For a small-unit commander, it could help to be able to tell which soldiers are likely to stand firm and which are more likely to flee.

When a group of armed-if-bedraggled strangers are pointing weapons at you, being able to tell if they appear afraid or predatory might come in useful.
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Body Language

I'll take Awful Tunes by Queen for $100, Alex.
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:59 PM   #6
Flyndaran
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Body Language

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Originally Posted by Railstar View Post
The most mileage I've gotten from Body Language is surviving a companion whose Split Personality has Bloodlust, Bestial & Sadism. Knowing which personality is in charge becomes VERY important then, because one looks at you with fondness, the other looks at you like meat.

For a small-unit commander, it could help to be able to tell which soldiers are likely to stand firm and which are more likely to flee.

When a group of armed-if-bedraggled strangers are pointing weapons at you, being able to tell if they appear afraid or predatory might come in useful.
Bestial and sadism should be rather obvious to anyone. Inability to conform to any social customs and the need to watch and induce others' suffering seem impossible to hide without significant difficulty and/or helping skills/advantages.
Body language might allow a near instant assessment, I grant you.
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Old 09-06-2014, 04:00 PM   #7
Flyndaran
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Body Language

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I'll take Awful Tunes by Queen for $100, Alex.
My interaction with the internet tells me that there is no such thing as an awful anything by Queen.
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Old 09-06-2014, 04:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Body Language

Everybody gets one.
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:35 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Body Language

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
That all just makes detect lies even more cinematic than it was to begin with. At least body language is a hair less of a super power.
Interpreting written information for veracity would fall right in the center of Intelligence Analysis.
Intelligence Analysis covers lots of other aspects of infoverification. Detect Lies seems to be only about whether the person writing the text seemed to be telling the truth. Which is not the same as whether the facts stated in the text are true - after all, a person can unknowingly transmit a falsehood!

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Looking at the default write up of Detect Lies also has it resisted by Acting.
Yes, it is. I'm not sure: did I contradict this somewhere?
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:49 AM   #10
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Body Language

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Yes, it is. I'm not sure: did I contradict this somewhere?
The argument is that Acting could not be used to write a convincing lie and therefore it implies that lie detection's techniques would not be relevant to written lies. Thinking about it, while Writing is the obvious substitute for Acting, it might not be the right way go. Writing is more about not being boring in your writing.

It wouldn't, of course be the first time that two different skills do the same job. I think, though that I would significantly penalize Detect Lies if it were to be used with a written document given the lack of cues. Probably enough that you'd have to have nigh-supernatural skill levels to do it that way.
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