Nothing To See Here
It’s the perfect hook. One of the characters works at a bar, and there’s a dead body in the parking lot. At a glance: alcohol poisoning. It isn’t difficult to believe with the number of nights she’s seen him there when she arrived, and kicked him out at closing. All the same, she calls her Adamantine Arrow cabal mate to examine the body. He’s a Moros Mage, so he can get a bead on the cause of death with a simple covert spell called “Forensic Gaze” without the need for her to use Post-Cognition and actually watch the poor guy die. Just to be sure.
When her cabal mate arrives he thinks she’s just being paranoid. After all, these things happen at bars sometimes, and this guy clearly has a history. That doesn’t mean he isn’t going to humor her by casting the spell. He breaks out the dice and calculates his dice pool, all the while suspecting nothing.
And then I tell him that there’s a -3 dice modifier to his role.
Nope, nothing to see here!
This is why I hate, and I do mean HATE (all caps – no holds barred – can not stand!) negative dice modifiers to rolls. Give me a contested roll that gives me a dice pool against, give me an increase to the number of successes needed to ascertain certain information, but once you whip out a negative dice modifier there is no way the players are going to buy into the perfectly logical explanation that presents itself at first glance.
Furthermore, it makes even less sense on attack rolls! OK, I can expect my players to not overly meta-game and accept it if they know something strange is afoot at the Circle K but their character doesn’t. I’m a lucky Story Teller like that. Of course, once I tell them how many defense dice to pull out of their attack pool they start using that information to figure out all sorts of other things about their opponent. They may not be trying to do it, but rest assured that somewhere in their devious little plot-wrecking brains they ARE doing it. It’s what they do. It’s ALL they do!
What’s a GM to do? #sigh