So I'm running AoW and my group is about to get to "Prince of Redhand." However, there's a major problem: Nobody in the group has the Diplomacy skill. It seems like you need this skill to be able to do anything at the banquet, since the DCs are too high for anyone to make untrained. I don't want to skip the banquet entirely, but I doubt that a long series of failed checks and getting unavoidably poisoned will be much fun for the players.
Any suggestions? Did anyone else run into this problem?
I'm nearing the end of Spire of Long Shadows, and I just checked and will be in the same boat as you are. The best Diplomacy in the party (and the only one with pluses) is the wizard with a +2.
I have to go and re-read the adventure, but if it looks too bad, I may give circumstance bonuses for good roll-playing.
Been a while since I ran this one, but if I remember correctly, they have one and only one goal at the banquet: meet Lashonna.
As long as they do that, it doesn't really matter how much they mess up the rest of the rest of the diplomacy checks. Yeah they'll miss out on some other good information and some potential allies (and potentially have some poison saves to make...), but the story can continue just fine.
Well my concern is that it seems pretty unfair to present the party with a bunch of social challenges that they have no chance of completing, and to put them in a situation where they're going to get poisoned with no chance to avoid it happening.
I really like the adventure, and I like the idea of an adventure that's centered around role-playing, but I think it was a bad idea to make the adventure so completely dependent on a single skill.
Maybe I'll just skip the banquet entirely and have them find Lashonna some other way.
I have three suggestions:
- allow the players to substitute other skills (such as bluff) for diplomacy when a check is called for
- given that they have a lot of warning of the upcoming banquet, allow any players who want to to retrain some skills in order to boost their diplomacy
- run the whole thing as a pure role-playing encounter, without any recourse to diplomacy checks.
My group (despite running it in 4E) had Diplomacy and played along. They bought fancy clothes and didn't go crazy on any of the bad guys at the party. However, they also managed to piss of the prince a couple times so two of the PC's got poisoned pretty badly.
Not many influence points were gained by them either, and they thought the adventure was more odd than anything else. Still, a welcome change of pace from the normal dungeon hack fests.
You could always leave everything the same and lower the DCs.
I haven't thought about lowering DCs but I am going to allow "aid another" for each roll. But I'm also considering a special "faux pas" rule where an aid another roll of 5 or less detracts from the current scenario (-2). But we're still at the start so I haven't decided on that one yet.
"oh noes, we dumpstatted anything resembling social and have a huge situation where we suck because of it!"
i call it well deserved ;)
However, in the interest of actual positive contribution, if you are that unhappy with the prospect as a DM then as suggested above: rework the DC's. Alternately, emphasise the actual roleplay element and give varying bonuses to the checks based on what is said/done.
If they haven't taken it yet, give someone an opportunity to "pre-buy" their next feat, so long as it's Leadership, for a diplomacy-monkey.
I threw in a few diplomacy encounters earlier in the campaign, to point out how useful the skill was going to end up being. This convinced one of the players to make their henchman a bard, with crazy diplomacy/bluff scores. That character ended up becoming the mouthpiece for the party, which made for some really fun times during Champion's Belt... where the party ended up styling themselves after a professional-wrestling faction.
I don't know the encounter in question but it seems to me if a bunch of boorish PCs find themselves attending a political minefield of a banquet then what should happen likely will happen.
I would allow aid anothers (it seems reasonable). I'd reread the rules on ad hoc circumstance bonuses for roleplaying well and I'd use them. Then I would let it play out. There are rules for social encounters because it's expected that at some point in the game you'll want to talk to someone rather than kill them. If no one at your table took that into consideration when making their characters then let this be a lesson to them. To me it's no different then a party with no trapfinder walking into an Indiana Jones style crypt. I'm not gonna feel bad about it when the giant boulder smushes them.
That being said if they can come up with a reasonable way to achieve their objective that bypasses the banquet entirely let them try it. Make it hard but let them try it.
That's all I've got.
I have run many campaigns over the years and this one reminded me a little of the meal in Castle Amber.... I suggest if the Diplomacy skills are next to zero the best way is to create situational modifiers, let the characters build up a picture of how the NPC's react with each other, if they notice two NPC's not liking each other thay can play on that and "diss" one NPC to get a +2/4 bonus on another NPC.
Also as a last resort you could let one patient PC take a 20 on their checks and build up bonuses throughout the night should the party really need to succeed on one check.
Red Hand of Doom was like this, luckily i played a Paladin with good Charisma and maxed on Diplomacy so life was easy, however i missed a session or two and it really affected the campaign!
They could hire a publicist to attend the party with them. Seriously, barristers are available for hire, you could make them pay more to hire one for this particular event. Bringing such a person could actually improve the perception the other guests have of them to have someone so well-spoken in their employ, and they look like the intimidating, important bosses they actually are.
There should be a solution to every problem for every party composition. I think that hiring a gifted speaker for a healthy chunk of gold is a fair trade off for not having diplomacy skills of their own.