Thursday, 12 February 2015

Expanded Rule: Disguise

There are no explicit rules for disguises in Savage Worlds - somewhat ironically, not even the Disguise power allows you to simply disguise your appearance, it only lets you impersonate a specific person.[Reference]

The recommended approach is usually to treat disguise as a Persuasion roll (to convince people that you're someone else), or in some situations a Stealth roll (if you just want to appear nondescript).[Reference]

However a recent discussion about Stealth made me wonder if perhaps the disguise mechanics could be a bit more clearly defined. In particular, applying the active/inactive guard concept (which is normally used for sneaking) to disguises would seem to make a lot of sense.

My proposal is therefore as follows:


There are typically two parts to a disguise. The first part is your bearing and mannerisms, which are covered by the Persuasion skill, and the second is your physical appearance, which is covered by the Stealth skill. You don't roll when applying a disguise, instead you roll when other people interact with you.

There are two types of observer, "attentive" and "inattentive". Inattentive observers are those who aren't interacting with you or paying any particular attention to you. Under normal circumstances a standard TN 4 Persuasion roll is sufficient to maintain your disguise against inattentive observers, but on a failure you draw attention to yourself; those nearby become attentive observers.

Attentive observers make an opposed Notice roll against your Persuasion (typically only once per scene unless something occurs to draw additional scrutiny), and if they succeed they notice that you're acting strangely. They can then make another opposed Notice roll against your Stealth to try and penetrate your disguise and determine your identity - or at the very least, they will recognise that you're trying to disguise your appearance, and notice any distinctive features.

If an observer beats your Persuasion but not your Stealth, they will only realise you're an imposter if you're impersonating a specific person, and they're familiar with that person. Otherwise they'll usually just do a double take, then continue with whatever they were doing.

  • Without the necessary tools (such as makeup and suitable clothing) you suffer a -2 penalty to your disguise rolls.
  • Charisma bonuses from Attractive, Very Attractive and Noble do not typically apply to Persuasion when used for disguise rolls, except in specific situations (e.g., impersonating another attractive person when you have Attractive, or using your Noble manners and bearing to impersonate another nobleman).
  • If you are wearing clothing that partially conceals your appearance (such as a deep hood, or a masquerade ball mask) you receive a +2 bonus to your disguise rolls, as long as such clothing doesn't appear out of place.
  • If you attempt to imitate a specific person, anyone closely familiar with that person is automatically treated as an attentive observer, and receives a +2 bonus to their Notice roll against your Persuasion. This bonus increases to +4 for a lover or close family member.
  • Anyone who is very familiar with you (such as a friend, relative, or sworn enemy) receives a +2 bonus to their Notice rolls against both your Persuasion and Stealth.
  • Other situational modifiers may apply at the GM's discretion, although these should usually be limited to +1/-1 for a minor advantage or disadvantage, and +2/-2 for a major advantage or disadvantage.
New Edge

Here's a new Edge to take advantage of the expanded disguise rule:

Master of Disguise (Professional)
Requirements: Novice, Persuasion d8, Stealth d8
  You receive a +2 bonus to Persuasion and Stealth when making disguise rolls. If you apply a disguise to someone else, they also receive a +2 bonus to Stealth (but not Persuasion) when making disguise rolls; this bonus does not stack with other Stealth bonuses granted by Professional Edges.