Should Insight be able to determine if an NPC is lying?

Should Insight be able to determine if an NPC is lying?

  • Yes

    Votes: 82 84.5%
  • No

    Votes: 11 11.3%
  • I reject your reality and substitute my own.

    Votes: 4 4.1%

  • Total voters
    97

Mort

Community Supporter
The thread on NPCs and insight checks has taken on a life of its own - so I felt asking this in an new thread might work better.

Straightforward question: Should insight be able to determine if an NPC is lying?

I've also included a rather binary poll, explanations can be had in the comments.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
An insight can determine general intent, I don't treat it as a lie detector. Best players get from me is "Seems to be telling the truth", "You feel like they're hiding something" or "They keep glancing nervously at the captain of the guard before answering".

Useful for indicating generalities but not specifics.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
In my games, yes it can, but since it can also tell you that they are even if they are being truthful, its not as cut and dried as a binary result.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Straightforward question: Should insight be able to determine if an NPC is lying?
My answer to what I believe is the spirit of the question is "Yes," and that's how I voted.

But in a technical (yet fundamentally more important) sense, I would say "No."

I say that because "Insight" can't determine anything. Only the task described by the player has a chance at that. "Insight" is not a task. It is a mechanic used to modify an ability check if an ability check is determined by the DM to be necessary to resolve uncertainty as to the outcome when there's a meaningful consequence for failure.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
My answer to what I believe is the spirit of the question is "Yes," and that's how I voted.

But in a technical (yet fundamentally more important) sense, I would say "No."

I say that because "Insight" can't determine anything. Only the task described by the player has a chance at that. "Insight" is not a task. It is a mechanic used to modify an ability check if an ability check is determined by the DM to be necessary to resolve uncertainty as to the outcome when there's a meaningful consequence for failure.
Short answer: Yes, with a ‘but.’
Long answer: No, with an ‘except.’
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
If someone is lying, then a successful Insight check will confirm that.

If someone is not lying, then it gets more complicated.
 

Hriston

Explorer
You make an effort to glean clues from a creature's body language, speech habits, and changes in mannerisms in an attempt to search out a lie. If the outcome of that effort is uncertain and there's a meaningful consequence for failure, make a Wisdom check. If you're proficient in Insight, add your proficiency bonus to the check.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
I didnt answer the poll, because dont think there is a YES/NO answer.

The Wisdom Insight skill can reveal the MOTIVATIONS for saying something (fear, belief, defensiveness, helpfulness, etcetera). But whether the thing said remains true or not, remains unknown. Especially if the speaker happens to honestly assume that something false is true.

Really, to determine whether a statement is factual or not, would require the INTELLIGENCE INVESTIGATION skill.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
This is one of the many reasons to eliminate the Wisdom attribute from the D&D gaming system.

• Give Perception to Intelligence.
• Give Insight and Willpower saves to Charisma.

Done. Without Wisdom, everything works clearer and better.

All that one needs to play the mental aspects of D&D well is Intelligence and Charisma.

I didnt answer the poll, because dont think there is a YES/NO answer.

The Wisdom Insight skill can reveal the MOTIVATIONS for saying something (fear, belief, defensiveness, helpfulness, etcetera). But whether the thing said remains true or not, remains unknown. Especially if the speaker happens to honestly assume that something false is true.

Really, to determine whether a statement is factual or not, would require the INTELLIGENCE INVESTIGATION skill.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
I didnt answer the poll, because dont think there is a YES/NO answer.

The Wisdom Insight skill can reveal the MOTIVATIONS for saying something (fear, belief, defensiveness, helpfulness, etcetera). But whether the thing said remains true or not, remains unknown. Especially if the speaker happens to honestly assume that something false is true..
Is the motivation to deceive?

If the speaker believes something false is true and says that something, he's not lying he's simply mistaken.

Really, to determine whether a statement is factual or not, would require the INTELLIGENCE INVESTIGATION skill.
Here you're not trying to determine if something is factual, your trying to determine if the person speaking is lying.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Same thing goes with forgeries, such as fake documents or fake signatures.

A person has to be Intelligent, and normally a highly educated specialist, to recognize a forgery.

It certainly requires education to successfully produce a forgery.

The creation and detection of forgeries should be Intelligence Investigation checks.



Similarly, to invent a plausible, consistent, lie that can survive scrutiny requires Intelligence.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I had a difficult time deciding how to vote here. I went with “no,” because the way I run the game, you can’t just say “I want to know if this person is lying,” roll Insight, and get a straight yes or no, which I think was the intent of the question. That said, helping one to determine if an NPC one is interacting with is being honest is one of the primary uses of the Insight skill, and a player who wants to reliably be able to tell when they are being lied to would do well to train in Insight in my games.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Is the motivation to deceive?

If the speaker believes something false is true and says that something, he's not lying he's simply mistaken.



Here you're not trying to determine if something is factual, your trying to determine if the person speaking is lying.
To ‘deceive’ is a tactic. Not a motivation.

Why is the person trying to deceive? That is where the motivation is.

It is just as easy to tell the truth to get whatever one wants. Especially half truths.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
I had a difficult time deciding how to vote here. I went with “no,” because the way I run the game, you can’t just say “I want to know if this person is lying,” roll Insight, and get a straight yes or no, which I think was the intent of the question. That said, helping one to determine if an NPC one is interacting with is being honest is one of the primary uses of the Insight skill, and a player who wants to reliably be able to tell when they are being lied to would do well to train in Insight in my games.
I like what you wrote. Especially being unable to determine YES/NO if someone is lying.

Along these lines, I dont think, one can simply know if someone is being ‘honest’. Even a villain can be telling the truth because it serves the villains purpose.

I do think Insight can determine if someone is trying to be helpful or unhelpful − in other words, friendly or hostile. And that kind of emotional information can help the players decide whether to rely on whatever is being said.

Other than that, fact-checking is Intelligence and research. Theres no way around that.
 

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