What is the worst roleplaying / backstory you have ever seen?


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Auren "Rin" Cloudstrider wrote:


this account belongs to a couple, a male and female, both 25 years old and both into anime. we share it. we always have horror stories. but we aren't trolls.

Sorry if I offended. The autobiographical paragraph just felt a bit awkward in context. Your muteness was the only bit really relevant to the rest of the story.

Dark Archive

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Jaçinto wrote:
That brings up something I have told people at our table. If you didn't want to actually do any talking and play out your diplomatic actions, why did you put your points into diplomacy and essentially build a face man?

Because the player of the strong man doesn't actually have to lift boulders, and the player of the Wizard doesn't actually have to cast spells, so why should the player of the face actually have to be an outgoing, extrovert?

On topic - Bad backstory : Bill, the Minotaur. How did he wind up with the party? He got lost, apparently. That was about the totality of it. The player has been known as Bill ever since (some 9 nine years now).

Bad role-playing : Shadowrun game. At character creation, players sets up clearly that her character is an Elf, is intended to be the face and is built for such. In gameplay, refuses to talk to anyone, and always makes the Troll Hacker do the talking. >.<

Sovereign Court

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@LordSynos

Because this is not a video game, and if you want a tabletop role playing game to be boiled down to simple mechanics, maybe you should be playing wargames.

I require a player of a character who attempts diplomacy to at least tell what the character sayst. I don't go for "I roll diplomacy" That roll automatically fails or has a -10 penalty.

Dark Archive

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Off Topic Tangent - Hama:
Hama wrote:

@LordSynos

Because this is not a video game, and if you want a tabletop role playing game to be boiled down to simple mechanics, maybe you should be playing wargames.

I require a player of a character who attempts diplomacy to at least tell what the character sayst. I don't go for "I roll diplomacy" That roll automatically fails or has a -10 penalty.

I didn't think there was much room for diplomacy in wargames? Or back story, or world building, or unique personalities for the character you play, or, well, roleplaying? Because I enjoy all of those things.

But if you want to convince the local Lord to send aid to some hamlet about to be smashed by Orcs, or bluff the King of Thieves into breaking into some vault for you, GM's suddenly expect you to be some great orator, or spin a convincing yarn. The same thing can't be said for any other skill set.

If someone wants to pick a lock, do you get them to produce a set of lockpicks and pick the lock of something, or they get a -10? Climb something or a -10 to Climb checks? Be able to recite the Bestiary from memory or take a -10 on Knowledge checks? And if no, why then do you do so to Diplomacy?

This is why the famed "murderhobos" are so common. Charisma/Diplomacy is the only skill set where GM's punish you for not having those skills in real life. Of course no one is inclined to take them.


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Another bad backstory I had was a player who constantly changed his. He was playing a barbarian. First some of his tribe was killed by drow. Later he "revealed" they were all killed; some by drow and the rest by a dragon (when I hinted that the BBEG would be a dragon). I was irked but decided to run with it. Later he reveals they were killed... HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO. His character is human so, no.

Also I was getting backstory from this guy in pieces. That's one thing that irks me in games: I ask for a backstory. I hand out questions to new players and I work with folks who want my help. I even tell them flat out that I'm asking for this to get a sense of the character AND to gather fodder for the games. I'm already putting in a significant amount of work.

There are STILL some players who either don't like to RP or aren't very creative or just want a popcorn game. These folks just plain don't meet me halfway. Getting any kind of backstory from them is like pulling teeth. Then when I've finally got something they forget it's even out there and when elements from it come up they're like "oh, the ghost of my mother is warning me about the dragon in my dream? Whatevs..."

I don't know - maybe I'm going through a dry spell or something.

Silver Crusade

I'll just give my worst backstory (at least the worst imo).

First a little backstory into the situation. We were playing Rifts for the first time, and I wasn't really wanting to give it a try. We were entering apoint where my group was tryinig new games, and I just wanted to get back to D&D. I ifigured Rifts would last a session so I tried to make a purposefully disruptive character (I wouldn't admit it then, but I do now).

So reading enough of the book to learn what to do (and our insane ability score generation method) I ended up making a Burster. My backstory consisted of "I'm a female d-bee from an anime based world and I like pink. I wear pink camfloauge and have a pink laser pistol with pink hair.". The guy running it was into anime enough that he was fine with it.

Oddly that ended up being one of my favorite campaigns and favorite characters. But I've talked about that elsewhere.


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Mark Hoover wrote:

...

Also I was getting backstory from this guy in pieces. That's one thing that irks me in games: I ask for a backstory. I hand out questions to new players and I work with folks who want my help. ...

Sometimes I have a really difficult time coming up with a personality and backstory until I've actually played a character for a while. I have a build concept I like, but I just can't seem to decide how he should behave or what his motivations would be. Then as I start to move him around, a personality develops. Then I start thinking "What in the past could have warped him to have those priorities?"

I had a GM in the past who wanted (and made use of) our backstories and personalities. But he would normally wait until we had adventured a little bit into the storyline before asking for them. Usually after the first mission or level advancement. It seemed to work out very well.

Other times it is the exact opposite. The backstory, leads to the personality, which leads to the build. Ok, this guy hates undead for devastating the village a couple generations ago making him grow up in poverty when his family used to be wealthy and powerful. He joined the church not because the is really all that devoted to Sarenrae, but because they are the most universally anti-undead group he knows of. Not really a priest type, he'll become an oracle. Ok most undead killing would probably be a channeling life oracle. Etc...


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@Kydee Lang: I hear you and sometimes the PC doesn't gel in your own head until after you've played them. I'm not talking RP though; that does come with playing the PC. I'm saying backstory.

By that I mean: how did you come to have those traits? Why the battle axe over the greatsword? Did anyone teach you Power Attack or is it more like some preternatural knowledge you were born with?

For example, let's say I don't know how to play my Halfling ranger and can't express him very well to the GM or even myself at the first gaming session. I do know however that I gave him the traits Reactionary and Friend of the Fey. Why? Because I wanted the Trait bonuses. But what do those choices say about the PC?

Well with a bit of thought I decide on a very simple explanation: I had a bully, befriended a pixie, and they helped me deal with my enemy. I hand that over to the GM as my backstory.

Now a bad GM asks for a backstory then disregards it. A decent GM might take my 1 sentence and go "Fine; you know a pixie" writing in a friendly pixie contact to their game. A REALLY good GM though would work with me and ask more questions like: what else did the faeries teach my PC? Is the favored enemy I took at 1st level tied to my experience among the fey? Do you expect anything more from this pixie like fey-enchanted items and, if so, how will you repay them?

I guess I don't need to know every nuance of the PC before they ever hit the table, but if I ask for a backstory I'm looking for some explanation of why they are.


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LordSynos:
LordSynos wrote:

I didn't think there was much room for diplomacy in wargames? Or back story, or world building, or unique personalities for the character you play, or, well, roleplaying? Because I enjoy all of those things.

But if you want to convince the local Lord to send aid to some hamlet about to be smashed by Orcs, or bluff the King of Thieves into breaking into some vault for you, GM's suddenly expect you to be some great orator, or spin a convincing yarn. The same thing can't be said for any other skill set.

If someone wants to pick a lock, do you get them to produce a set of lockpicks and pick the lock of something, or they get a -10? Climb something or a -10 to Climb checks? Be able to recite the Bestiary from memory or take a -10 on Knowledge checks? And if no, why then do you do so to Diplomacy?

This is why the famed "murderhobos" are so common. Charisma/Diplomacy is the only skill set where GM's punish you for not having those skills in real life. Of course no one is inclined to take them.

I won't speak for Hamma.

I don't require a player to be a skilled orator. But I at least want some sense of what they are trying.

"I'll use the parable of the witches and demons to show that cooperation will improve both situations better than the continual backstabbing."
"I will flirt with the baron and mention that real exciting men of power succeed rather than just complaining about having to do something."
"He's a pragmatic guy, so I will build an argument to logically show how supporting the villages will eventually strengthen his position with the council."

Would all work for me. No, the 40+ male doesn't have to successfully roleplay an adolescent female elf flirting with the baron. But it vastly helps me to know that is what the character is doing. (The first time that happened it was rich, since the PC's didn't know it but the baron was the town pedophile and the PC just became a target.)

The "I got a 27 on the diplomacy roll" gives me absolutely nothing to work with. I have had players that only roll with no information, then get upset at how I interpreted the actions. "What? No! I wouldn't tell stupid stories. I just use diplomacy!"

When attacking many players often do give more descriptive info. "I run him through with a spear thrust." At the very least they will tell what weapon they are using and full attack, charge attack, bull rush, flanking, etc...

Swinging wildly about the head or stabbing for the gut helps keep the feel of the game but are not strictly necessary, since it doesn't likely affect the advancement of the story. But I think most can see how whether the PC is using unfulfilled flirtation, logical persuasiveness, or an emotional appeal could affect how the story advances.


Mark Hoover wrote:

@Kydee Lang: I hear you and sometimes the PC doesn't gel in your own head until after you've played them. I'm not talking RP though; that does come with playing the PC. I'm saying backstory.

By that I mean: how did you come to have those traits? Why the battle axe over the greatsword? Did anyone teach you Power Attack or is it more like some preternatural knowledge you were born with?...

To me the personality and the backstory go together. If I don't have a personality, any backstory I can slap together will be very lame and probably deserving of mention on this thread.

To me the build doesn't give a backstory, the personality does. It is not usually a huge problem. But sometimes I am just completely stuck until the PC takes on life at the table.

Shadow Lodge

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Auren "Rin" Cloudstrider wrote:
Orthos wrote:
Alex Smith 908 wrote:
Why on earth does Cloudstrider keep mentioning liking anime or being like an anime character? I honestly thought their self description was copy pasting a terrible character backstory from a previous game.
S/he has always been like that. Anime characters/tropes are his/her favorite concepts.
this account belongs to a couple, a male and female, both 25 years old and both into anime. we share it. we always have horror stories. but we aren't trolls.

Don't recall saying you were. Just pointed out that you've (or you two have, apparently) always been a big anime fan(s) and incorporate a lot of that into your games, apparently.


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Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:

@Kydee Lang: I hear you and sometimes the PC doesn't gel in your own head until after you've played them. I'm not talking RP though; that does come with playing the PC. I'm saying backstory.

By that I mean: how did you come to have those traits? Why the battle axe over the greatsword? Did anyone teach you Power Attack or is it more like some preternatural knowledge you were born with?...

To me the personality and the backstory go together. If I don't have a personality, any backstory I can slap together will be very lame and probably deserving of mention on this thread.

To me the build doesn't give a backstory, the personality does. It is not usually a huge problem. But sometimes I am just completely stuck until the PC takes on life at the table.

I think build can give some inspiration for a backstory. I often have them go in tandem but usually builds help me make the backstory/personality.

My current fighter had a lot of his backstory created already because it's a sequel campaign where we all play descendants of our characters from the previous game. Despite having most of backstory given to us, we were given full control of personalities.

I wanted to try a dual-wielding fighter so that led me to make a character who is a bit of a black sheep in the family. His fighting style is different from his ancestor's raging Barbarian with a claymore. He fights with grace and intelligence, preferring to disarm opponents. He also has more flash and poise because he is a prince. (Had Swashbuckler been out when I made the chracter when the ACG came out he'd be one) His ancestor was a Half-Orc raised by Orcs who later became consort to an Empress. As such, he was terser and more pragmatic in combat and out. All of this came from the fact he was a fighter as opposed to a barbarian.

My witch was created based on the synergy between hexes, the witch spell list, the deception patron, and the idea of vengeance.

This isn't to say that you can't make a character first and then assign a class to him after but I find that to be less rewarding. I like to tailor backstories to explain different parts of the fluff and class features.

I find it usually snowballs from there. For example, my feral child Druid has a bond with a certain type of animals because he raised by them. How did he get there? Why has no one attempted to find him? Why didn't the animals just eat him? These questions made the crux of his backstory.


I want to clarify, since my entry to this thread has sparked some intense conversation, that the player I mention wasn't just coming up with poorly thought-out attempts at Diplomacy roleplay - nor did I expect him to eloquently roleplay out everything that he needed to do in order to make his roll succeed.

He simply walked into towns, said "I lay some trinkets out on a rug" and rolled Diplomacy, expecting them to come walk up to his feet like some Great White Hunter Savior.

He never went out with the group to taverns after finishing tasks set to them by Thrall or Jaina or Tyrande. He never took part in any tests of strength or courage in Orgrimmar. He never did anything in character that could in any way, shape or form be construed as "bridging gaps."

Any of those things would have sufficed for me, as a GM, to let him get some awesome results.

He'd basically roll into town like he was a Stereotypical Catholic Missionary and they were Stereotypical Primitive Savages and expect his dice to win him praise and adulation. And when that didn't work, he would get (rather uncharacteristically, honestly) very, very upset about it. Red in the face upset.

Because he had a High Diplomacy. And that should have been sufficient.


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One way I design characters it to run them in a few scenarios and see how they end up playing and what the personality that emerges from them is.

My own personal worst roleplaying was when I was in my third game over all. It was a 3.5 game and we were dealing with a GM who figured our large group could hold our own against a Red Dragon Wyrm. In the end the whole thing was he told us to make our backstory and feel free to add to the world for nations and so forth. Well needless to say after the 3rd or 4th session the only real roleplay I had gotten to do was a 30-45 minute interrogation of a Kobold that the rest of the group got upset at because my character was Lawful Good. Though this might just be because I couldn't get a word in except when it was my turn and I was stating my actions. And heaven forbid I asked more than 3 questions.


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jemstone wrote:

I want to clarify, since my entry to this thread has sparked some intense conversation, that the player I mention wasn't just coming up with poorly thought-out attempts at Diplomacy roleplay - nor did I expect him to eloquently roleplay out everything that he needed to do in order to make his roll succeed.

He simply walked into towns, said "I lay some trinkets out on a rug" and rolled Diplomacy, expecting them to come walk up to his feet like some Great White Hunter Savior.

He never went out with the group to taverns after finishing tasks set to them by Thrall or Jaina or Tyrande. He never took part in any tests of strength or courage in Orgrimmar. He never did anything in character that could in any way, shape or form be construed as "bridging gaps."

Any of those things would have sufficed for me, as a GM, to let him get some awesome results.

He'd basically roll into town like he was a Stereotypical Catholic Missionary and they were Stereotypical Primitive Savages and expect his dice to win him praise and adulation. And when that didn't work, he would get (rather uncharacteristically, honestly) very, very upset about it. Red in the face upset.

Because he had a High Diplomacy. And that should have been sufficient.

i see.

I can see how that would have been offensive to many, but I also can think of a few ways it would have worked at my table at least. I don't know if I would have invited that guy back.


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Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
I don't require a player to be a skilled orator. But I at least want some sense of what they are trying.

This is exactly how I handle it as well -- your roll is very nice and all, but I'd like to feel that you are attempting to play someone who is a negotiator or diplomat or might have spoken to another creature at some point in their life.

That goes for any roll, really. "I roll Knowledge (Blah). Tell me everything there is to know." "I do Whatever. Gimme success and let's move on." I just expect and want more, just like I would hope my players would want more than "It's a room with monsters and stuff over there. Roll."

To get back on track, most of my worst role playing backstories I've observed have been of two sorts. The first is, as mentioned above, one to two word answers with no real effort put into it. It either means, in my mind, you don't care or that you are hoping not to give me anything to work with because Another GM has done you wrong by using elements of your story against you.

The second type goes to the other extreme, trying to weave in bonus material in the hopes of getting benefits out of it without spending traits, feats, and so on. Third cousin to the King, mom left a magical sword under a tree that you have to find, and so on. Those can be useful and even make for good plot elements if done correctly, but usually it comes across more ham-handed in the examples I've seen.


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LordSynos:

Spoiler:

LordSynos wrote:
Charisma/Diplomacy is the only skill set where GM's punish you for not having those skills in real life. Of course no one is inclined to take them.

Absolutely false.

Do you let players make decisions for their characters at the table? Oh, you do? Even if the player playing a fighter isn't a tactical genius/great warrior? Even if the player playing the wizard isn't a spell-casting genius who has never cast spells in combat or even chosen spells before? You let them make those decisions on their own?

Uh huh.

So you do allow real life Intelligence and Wisdom to play at least some role.

The suggestion that Charisma is somehow separate (and that making people at least say 'how' they're talking to someone else - just like making people say 'how' they're combating those monsters) is inconsistent laughable nonsense.

Shadow Lodge

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The worst, but also the absolute best I've seen was back in the good ol' 3.5 days. We where starting a new game, and being that by that point everyone was sick to death of frequently starting new games (we had a lot of people often switching in and out, so it was difficult to keep a story going week to week, and well, just got tired of low level play), one of the guys just marked out that entire section and then explained to me that he had up until yesterday, (out of character at this point), been a 38th level character, but while on the final leg of his quest to Ascend, got level drained (3.5 style) all the way back to level 1, then, to rub it all in, the BBEG had erased his memory and taken all of his gear and wealth, with the exception of about a hundred gold, (starting gp), stuffed under his pillow at the inn, that apparently he cradled at night, but doesn't know why or where it came from. Not liking walking around "feeling naked", he stopped by a smith and grabbed some armor and weapons before strolling in to meat the other players.

He just woke up, now level 1, this morning, and has no idea. Go.


Jaçinto wrote:
Hey, why not? "I have cooked meals so grand it has even garnered attention from gods themselves. They were so enamoured by my meals they could not help but reward me by making me the chef of the gods as none other could satisfy their appetites as I have done! My creations have even satisfied the hunger of great demons that would devour the world itself!" Quirky but awesome and I would totally let it in.

As you write the story it does sound pretty cool. What I wrote was his actual at table backstory. He added the "REALLY good." Part at our request for a bit more. You are right however he I'd turn into a good character like pretty much everyone in the campaign. Honestly the best I have ever played.


A 20 year old with severe depression who was role-playing a puerto rican drug dealer...why was this a problem
1)The player fell asleep at the table
2)The player wasn't sure what PR drug dealers act like, in the least
3) He wasn't sure what coke did, but insisted his character did drugs at 10 min. intervals...

Silver Crusade

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This was in PFSociety.

The brony, Both the PC and the character. Ht functioned as a human, but had the appearance of a pony. It was a cleric of luna.
The guy was worse. Over weight to the extreme. wearing pants with a belt that wasnt buckled. A White stained shirt with wholes in the worse places and flab hanging out.
Im a brony myself(Less so though, mostly watch the show) I text my friend(The GM) "And you give me crud" he replies "To tired to audit, but im going to have fun"
The stuff was hilarious
Brony "I open the door"
GM "With what?"
Brony "My hoof"
GM "To Tall for you to reach it isnt made for talking ponies"
Brony "I use my horn"
Gm "You are a cleric, you dont have telekinisis
He especially got mad when we put him in the stable because no animal allowed.


HarbinNick wrote:

A 20 year old with severe depression who was role-playing a puerto rican drug dealer...why was this a problem

1)The player fell asleep at the table
2)The player wasn't sure what PR drug dealers act like, in the least
3) He wasn't sure what coke did, but insisted his character did drugs at 10 min. intervals...

I've got a character who matches your third point at the moment. But I didn't build him, and it's a specific character point. A Hunter (World of Darkness Hunter, not Pathfinder), with Endowments related to taking supernatural drugs that make it possible for him to make connections and track people with ease during her investigations. She's a psychologist who was unbelievably bored with her small town life and began experimenting... eventually came across these new drugs, and started seeing patterns in events in the town that led to her finding out about the supernatural. Fun times.


Maria wrote:

This was in PFSociety.

The brony, Both the PC and the character. Ht functioned as a human, but had the appearance of a pony. It was a cleric of luna.
The guy was worse. Over weight to the extreme. wearing pants with a belt that wasnt buckled. A White stained shirt with wholes in the worse places and flab hanging out.
Im a brony myself(Less so though, mostly watch the show) I text my friend(The GM) "And you give me crud" he replies "To tired to audit, but im going to have fun"
The stuff was hilarious
Brony "I open the door"
GM "With what?"
Brony "My hoof"
GM "To Tall for you to reach it isnt made for talking ponies"
Brony "I use my horn"
Gm "You are a cleric, you dont have telekinisis
He especially got mad when we put him in the stable because no animal allowed.

Is this even allowable in PFS? I don't play it myself, but I thought that reskinning wasn't really allowed. In a home game though, yeah I'd totally mess with someone like that.


It isnt, he didn't know that, the gm just woke up after having a night shift and just wanted to play and not audit


I think I have one from myself, it was an interesting character but I had no good backstory. It was Shadowrun 3rd and we needed a brute. I hated shadowrun 3rd but the group was playing it so I was down for it. I built a dark elf street sam with some chrome but could use some more. Dual wielded pistols and knives and knew ninjitsu, so I have a ninja clan after me. There entire character is right there, black, fuzzy, elf, and ninja. I had picked the flaws amnesia and the one where my name was basically a killing word in whatever old circles I was in. Nobody, not even the ninja clan trying to kill me could find me because I didn't want a lengthy and tragic backstory. One of the guys in the group, his character owned a brothel/deli/safehouse (His story was golden, he was a Jewish kid that goblinized in Seattle and he wore neon kilts.) and I was the bouncer. Tougher than most orcs, stronger than a good number of trolls we fought that was my elf. I earned a rep but anytime my backstory was about to be brought up (before the amnesia) I would leave the room because my character would as well. I told the others not to tell me because I'd rather not know who I used to be, for whatever second chance I was given I was going to use it for the future not to bring up old enemies that I didn't even remember.

Dark Archive

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Diplomacy Tangent

@ Kydeem de'Morcaine:
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
LordSynos wrote:
Hama wrote:

@LordSynos

Because this is not a video game, and if you want a tabletop role playing game to be boiled down to simple mechanics, maybe you should be playing wargames.

I require a player of a character who attempts diplomacy to at least tell what the character sayst. I don't go for "I roll diplomacy" That roll automatically fails or has a -10 penalty.

I didn't think there was much room for diplomacy in wargames? Or back story, or world building, or unique personalities for the character you play, or, well, roleplaying? Because I enjoy all of those things.

But if you want to convince the local Lord to send aid to some hamlet about to be smashed by Orcs, or bluff the King of Thieves into breaking into some vault for you, GM's suddenly expect you to be some great orator, or spin a convincing yarn. The same thing can't be said for any other skill set.

If someone wants to pick a lock, do you get them to produce a set of lockpicks and pick the lock of something, or they get a -10? Climb something or a -10 to Climb checks? Be able to recite the Bestiary from memory or take a -10 on Knowledge checks? And if no, why then do you do so to Diplomacy?

This is why the famed "murderhobos" are so common. Charisma/Diplomacy is the only skill set where GM's punish you for not having those skills in real life. Of course no one is inclined to take them.

I won't speak for Hamma.

I don't require a player to be a skilled orator. But I at least want some sense of what they are trying.

"I'll use the parable of the witches and demons to show that cooperation will improve both situations better than the continual backstabbing."
"I will flirt with the baron and mention that real exciting men of power succeed rather than just complaining about having to do something."
"He's a pragmatic guy, so I will build an argument to logically show how supporting the villages will eventually strengthen his position with the council."

Would all work for me. No, the 40+ male doesn't have to successfully roleplay an adolescent female elf flirting with the baron. But it vastly helps me to know that is what the character is doing. (The first time that happened it was rich, since the PC's didn't know it but the baron was the town pedophile and the PC just became a target.)

The "I got a 27 on the diplomacy roll" gives me absolutely nothing to work with. I have had players that only roll with no information, then get upset at how I interpreted the actions. "What? No! I wouldn't tell stupid stories. I just use diplomacy!"

When attacking many players often do give more descriptive info. "I run him through with a spear thrust." At the very least they will tell what weapon they are using and full attack, charge attack, bull rush, flanking, etc...

Swinging wildly about the head or stabbing for the gut helps keep the feel of the game but are not strictly necessary, since it doesn't likely affect the advancement of the story. But I think most can see how whether the PC is using unfulfilled flirtation, logical persuasiveness, or an emotional appeal could affect how the story advances.

I get that. I do. The full attack, charge attack, bull rush, etc. comparison makes sense to me. Similarly, I imagine, if a guy is carrying around 5 different weapons to deal with different damage/material type resistances, just saying "I attack with my weapon" is insufficient. So, if I was to say, "I remind the Baron of his duty to the people living in his lands, and appeal to his sense of honour to fulfill said duty" would that be enough for you? Relatedly, if said Baron was dishonourable, ignoble, and generally lousy (possibly Baron Von Evil), would the same argument be able to work, or would you give the character a penalty for the player trying to make that argument and failing to read their audience?

I'm going to bring it back to skills quickly, because Diplomacy is a skill. If someone says "I use Disable Device to disarm the trap" do you ask what tools they use? I don't imagine you do, because knowing the Disable Device skill lets your character know what the right tool for the job is, even if the player wouldn't. If they use Handle Animal, do you ask how they approach and attempt to control the animal? If they use Heal, do you ask how they treat the wounds? In the above scenario, that's what my points in Diplomacy is supposed to represent. My character is trained, skilled, at the art of winning people over. A good Diplomacy check represents not only winning someone over, but knowing exactly what to say/do to win someone over. The warrior with 5 weapons needs to succeed at a Knowledge check to figure out which of their 5 weapons to use. For Diplomacy, Diplomacy is the skill to figure that out. And at that point, you'd be making them roll twice for the same thing. "I, the player, don't know what will appeal to this person, I roll Diplomacy to figure out how best to win them over", rolls well, "The Baron is a cruel and selfish man, appeal to his pride, or his greed over lost taxes", "Okay, I do that", rolls again.

Ah, I don't know. I wouldn't roll into town and say "I roll Diplomacy at the King!". But if I, the player, have to figure out exactly what approach my character needs to take (such as "this guy's a jerk, don't try and appeal to his sense of honour"), and then figure out vague terms for how to phrase such, to win someone over, I'll continue to avoid the face characters and charisma skills. I'm sure if I was the kind of person that could figure that out (A) I'd be able to argue my point here better and (B) I wouldn't be arguing my point here, because if I didn't have that issue, I wouldn't see the problem.

@ jemstone:
jemstone wrote:

I want to clarify, since my entry to this thread has sparked some intense conversation, that the player I mention wasn't just coming up with poorly thought-out attempts at Diplomacy roleplay - nor did I expect him to eloquently roleplay out everything that he needed to do in order to make his roll succeed.

He simply walked into towns, said "I lay some trinkets out on a rug" and rolled Diplomacy, expecting them to come walk up to his feet like some Great White Hunter Savior.

He never went out with the group to taverns after finishing tasks set to them by Thrall or Jaina or Tyrande. He never took part in any tests of strength or courage in Orgrimmar. He never did anything in character that could in any way, shape or form be construed as "bridging gaps."

Any of those things would have sufficed for me, as a GM, to let him get some awesome results.

He'd basically roll into town like he was a Stereotypical Catholic Missionary and they were Stereotypical Primitive Savages and expect his dice to win him praise and adulation. And when that didn't work, he would get (rather uncharacteristically, honestly) very, very upset about it. Red in the face upset.

Because he had a High Diplomacy. And that should have been sufficient.

I could see how that would be a frustrating extreme. Did you ever say to him "Your high Diplomacy tells you that this will never win them over, you should do this instead."? Because knowing the proper way to win people over is part of Diplomacy as well. I know you said the others PCs did, but I was just wondering if you, as GM, did. If so, and he continued to insist that HIGH DIPLOMACY SOLVES ALL, then, yeah, that sucks. Definitely not the position I find myself trying to defend.

@ knightnday:
knightnday wrote:
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
I don't require a player to be a skilled orator. But I at least want some sense of what they are trying.

This is exactly how I handle it as well -- your roll is very nice and all, but I'd like to feel that you are attempting to play someone who is a negotiator or diplomat or might have spoken to another creature at some point in their life.

That goes for any roll, really. "I roll Knowledge (Blah). Tell me everything there is to know." "I do Whatever. Gimme success and let's move on." I just expect and want more, just like I would hope my players would want more than "It's a room with monsters and stuff over there. Roll."

What, people have to describe themselves treating wounds, climbing cliff-faces, swimming through lakes, crafting items, etc, etc, in your game? Every dice roll must be accompanied by a description?

That's fair enough. I'm not going to say you're wrong, because that's not how you have a discussion. I am going to say, the amount of characters with no relations, no NPC friends, have dumped charisma, and don't even consider Diplomacy as an option is directly related to the fact that describing how you swing your axe is not mandatory to successfully do so. And as long as that remains to be the case, I, and I'm sure many like me, will continue to carry a very big axe into combat, and will leave the talking to players (not characters) who are more social.

@ Arnwyn:
Arnwyn wrote:
LordSynos:
LordSynos wrote:
Charisma/Diplomacy is the only skill set where GM's punish you for not having those skills in real life. Of course no one is inclined to take them.

Absolutely false.

Do you let players make decisions for their characters at the table? Oh, you do? Even if the player playing a fighter isn't a tactical genius/great warrior? Even if the player playing the wizard isn't a spell-casting genius who has never cast spells in combat or even chosen spells before? You let them make those decisions on their own?

Uh huh.

So you do allow real life Intelligence and Wisdom to play at least some role.

The suggestion that Charisma is somehow separate (and that making people at least say 'how' they're talking to someone else - just like making people say 'how' they're combating those monsters) is inconsistent laughable nonsense.

I can't say what I let players do. (A) I wouldn't use the phrase "I let my players do this", because it speaks to a kind of condescending, arrogance that I dislike, and (B) I've GM'ed all of 2 times. I don't really consider myself as having "players". However, yes, a player's attributes do affect their characters to some extent, mainly their mental attributes. However, you're arguing the reverse of my position, which isn't the same as my position. A strawman, effectively.

I am saying, if a player is less skilled than their character, their character should still be able to use their skills. If a player can't cast Magic Missile, the appropriate character still can. If the player can't wield a Greataxe, the appropriate character still can. In this, we completely agree, it appears.

However, if a player isn't very Wise, I won't prevent them from playing a character with high Wisdom, or restrict their Cleric's spells because their real life Wisdom isn't that high. If a player isn't the brightest, I won't prevent them from playing a character with a high Int score, or limit their Wizard's spellcasting. This is a different point from the above. This is the point I am making about Charisma. If someone isn't a great talker, isn't particularly social, doesn't read social cues the best, I wouldn't punish their high Charisma, high Diplomacy character for that, because the character can still do those things, even if the player can't.

Thanks for arguing against a strawman and then calling my actually point inconsistent, laughable nonsense on that basis though. That was a very pleasant thing to do.

Note:
My main frustration with this comes from my own experiences in roleplaying, where saying "I attempt to win the [person of interest] over with charm" or "I buy the [person of interest] some drinks, and attempt to get them to spill the beans on [activity of interest] under the guise of sociable chat" is met with "But what do you actually say?" which effectively renders all points in Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and every other social skill, meaningless, because, if I, the player, cannot figure out what to say, all those points my character possesses, representing years of training and experience, are worthless. And many seem quick to defend that position, that the player's Charisma should restricts the character's Charisma, even though the same can't be said of the physical stats, and if it ever comes up as regards Intelligence or Wisdom, people are quick to suggest "Give the high Wis/Int character a Wis/Int check to figure it out", where Cha is met with "Well, be more outgoing then". It bothers me intensely.

Still, this is all rather Off Topic for this thread. If people wish to continue this discussion, may I suggest the start of a new thread? I do not wish to derail this fine thread entirely.


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Now that I think of it I had a bad backstory of my own. This was back in 2e and we were playing D&D in the Forgotten Realms setting. We start up a new campaign and the previous one had been very tragic and "dark world" kind of stuff so the GM says he wants to try and change it up.

We break for a week and meet back up with our new 1st level characters. We have a jedi-style fighter who has a dark and mysterious past; a dwarf cleric who was forced to witness the destruction of his entire clan; a ranger hell bent on revenge for the murder of his wife and children. Then they look over at me:

Arlyss Coranth, AKA Arlyss the Gaunt. He's basically Ichabod Crane; a really tall, gaunt man who up until now has been an absent minded school teacher/professor type. He got his start at adventure late in life though he's an expert sage who travels and gives lectures all over the region of the realms. His path to adventure came after writing a dissertation on the elves and his work helped secure a truce between them and some human woodsmen. To reward Arlyss for his service they taught him magic. Oh, and he's working on a 9 volume set of teaching spellbooks he calls the Coranthium.

... dead silence. I look around the room. "What?" Turns out the GM wasn't turning over a new leaf at all and it was supposed to be another dark world. It ended up being fun to role play though. The other PCs would walk around all grim and gritty and then here comes Professor Gaunt, stumbling in with an armload of books and scrolls and maps, adjusting his spectacles and his balding black hair tied in a pony tail and spouting some rambling lecture on the historical significance of lantern design.

I never really did fit into the game though and the campaign ended prematurely. Still one of my own personal faves though.


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I don't always make characters my group finds annoying, but when I do, I've usually been binge watching van damme and steven seagal the night before.


@ Mark Hoover

Sounds like a great relief and knowledge character to have around.


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LordSynos:
LordSynos wrote:
... So, if I was to say, "I remind the Baron of his duty to the people living in his lands, and appeal to his sense of honour to fulfill said duty" would that be enough for you? ...

Yup. Now if the player (not the PC) is capable of it, I encourage and think it helps the RP experience for everyone if more detail is given. But I do not require it, especially not for an introverted or socially-challenged player (I fit at least somewhat in both those categories).

LordSynos wrote:
... Relatedly, if said Baron was dishonourable, ignoble, and generally lousy (possibly Baron Von Evil), would the same argument be able to work, or would you give the character a penalty for the player trying to make that argument and failing to read their audience? ...

If it was well known that the baron had those traits, I’d say something like, “ You can do that if you want, but with 7 ranks in diplomacy, you know the baron doesn’t care a rats behind about honor and duty so the argument is likely to fail.” If the PC still takes that approach (maybe he just wants to be able to say he tried without succeeding) I’d give him some penalty like -4 or more on the check.

If it was not well known that the baron had those traits, I’d require a sense motive or knowledge local to figure it out.

LordSynos wrote:
... I'm going to bring it back to skills quickly, because Diplomacy is a skill. If someone says "I use Disable Device to disarm the trap" do you ask what tools they use? I don't imagine you do, because knowing the Disable Device skill lets your character know what the right tool for the job is, even if the player wouldn't. If they use Handle Animal, do you ask how they approach and attempt to control the animal? If they use Heal, do you ask how they treat the wounds? ...

In prior versions, it was very common for most GM’s to require things like that. “I look around the mantle for a hidden lever. I first toss the dog a piece of raw fatty meat, then approach without making challenging direct eye contact. First I will bind any arterial bleeding then look for discoloration around any wounds that might indicate poison. Etc…” Again, if the player (not the PC) is capable of it, I encourage and think it helps the RP experience for everyone if more detail is given. But few of us require it any longer (there are still a few old school GM’s that do). I would guess primarily because it burned a lot of table time with only once player AND it rarely had any effect on how the story would advance.

What you do (or don’t do) with diplomacy very well might have an effect on how the story advances. Did you flirt with someone who will be upset that you didn’t follow through? Did you convince the guildmaster that it would be to his own financial advantage, but his business is in ruins? Did you convince the duchess that it would make her famous, then bankroll a bard to write a play to help make sure she really did become famous? Those can all have very different long and short term effects that can’t be guessed at by “I rolled diplomacy.”

LordSynos wrote:
... In the above scenario, that's what my points in Diplomacy is supposed to represent. My character is trained, skilled, at the art of winning people over. A good Diplomacy check represents not only winning someone over, but knowing exactly what to say/do to win someone over. The warrior with 5 weapons needs to succeed at a Knowledge check to figure out which of their 5 weapons to use. For Diplomacy, Diplomacy is the skill to figure that out. And at that point, you'd be making them roll twice for the same thing. "I, the player, don't know what will appeal to this person, I roll Diplomacy to figure out how best to win them over", rolls well, "The Baron is a cruel and selfish man, appeal to his pride, or his greed over lost taxes", "Okay, I do that", rolls again. ...

No problem with that except that I think sometimes a sense motive or knowledge local might be more appropriate to know what approach to take. Seems like diplomacy would let you know how to appeal to the earl’s pride. But a sense motive might better tell you if an appeal to pride is advisable.

LordSynos wrote:
... Ah, I don't know. I wouldn't roll into town and say "I roll Diplomacy at the King!". ...

Some of us have had players do EXACTLY that. Then get very upset when asked for some thing more.

LordSynos wrote:

... But if I, the player, have to figure out exactly what approach my character needs to take (such as "this guy's a jerk, don't try and appeal to his sense of honour"), and then figure out vague terms for how to phrase such, to win someone over, I'll continue to avoid the face characters and charisma skills. I'm sure if I was the kind of person that could figure that out (A) I'd be able to argue my point here better and (B) I wouldn't be arguing my point here, because if I didn't have that issue, I wouldn't see the problem.

...
My main frustration with this comes from my own experiences in roleplaying, where saying "I attempt to win the [person of interest] over with charm" or "I buy the [person of interest] some drinks, and attempt to get them to spill the beans on [activity of interest] under the guise of sociable chat" is met with "But what do you actually say?" which effectively renders all points in Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and every other social skill, meaningless, because, if I, the player, cannot figure out what to say, all those points my character possesses, representing years of training and experience, are worthless. ...

I have had a couple of GM’s like that over the years. Wasn’t a lot of fun for me either. I would posit that very few of us are requiring that level of detail. Again, if the player (not the PC) is capable of it, I encourage and think it helps the RP experience for everyone if more detail is given. But I don’t require it. I do generally require more than “I roll diplomacy.”


Chyrone wrote:

@ Mark Hoover

Sounds like a great relief and knowledge character to have around.

Agreed. You don't want to get into Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. Were I GM, I'd love your character being there to lighten the mood.

I hate when everyone starts off with a dark and mysterious origin story. I get it; they want to start out as Wolverine or Batman without earning it. You have to start somewhere relatively light and then let the plot drive you to that point. Otherwise it's like becoming Batman without witnessing your parents' death.

@Mark Hoover If your GM really wanted a dark and fulfilling world, he should require your characters have hope and then drive them to darkness. Have them see what they're made of. Let them rise from the ashes stronger than before.


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Well said LordSynos. Very well said.


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I was playing a game with a rogue who's backstory was essentially "I want to build a bunker to be safe." Erm, ewkay. Apparantly his character was also a coward. The party would be exploring caves and he would be "guarding the cart" (never ran off with it, thankfully) and almost got himself whacked when he pulled his sword on some hoochies the witch sent to him as a joke. He was like a really cowardly Batman, always brooding about something.

Now here's another one from a friend who was in my game and played a halfling inquisitor. He wanted to make the most ridiculous backstory as a joke. So he made up a cult called the Truth of the Beard or something which had different orders depending on how the beards were cut. Longbeards ran everything and his character was part of the assassin order called the Goatees and he got in trouble for sleeping with the Longbeard High Priestess who was the Great Longbeard's daughter. So he was on the run from the Great Longbeard and the Goatees. I allowed it.


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LordSynos:

Spoiler:
I did in fact take him aside more than once and explain to him something akin to:

"These are the new Horde you're talking about here. They're still bristling at the way they were kept as little more than curiosities and slaves by the Humans of Lordaeron, and they're very, very unwilling to give you or any other Human the benefit of the doubt. If you want to win them over, you're going to have to treat them as equals, and you're going to have to show humility and honor toward their renewed traditions. You can't just expect them to warm up to you because you have a smiling face and a high skill check. The reason the other PC's are getting further than you is because they're taking part in the post-mission-victory celebrations. Hell, Sparkk* is building a mechanical Tauren just so she can participate in the feats of strength at the summer festival. The Orcs value actions more than words and trinkets, and I've explained before, in character as various NPC's, how they'd rather you help them with their crops and get your hands dirty to show you're their friend than just give them blankets and beads."

(Actual transcript of part of the email I sent him.)

*Sparkk = the Gnome with her inevitably dangerous mechanical contraptions.

So really, I do think I gave him ample opportunities to get things together and figure out how best to describe the nature of his Diplomacy skill. All I wanted from him was an "I go find something to help build or repair" or "I go down to the smithy and use my Craft: Armor skill to help get the Horde on its feet," and that Diplomacy check would have been ON FIRE.


Mark Hoover wrote:
I never really did fit into the game though and the campaign ended prematurely. Still one of my own personal faves though.

That's absolutely brilliant.


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When my new PF group was just starting out, one of the players brought in a single-spaced 20-page backstory for her character. It was kind of over the top, so we poked a bit of good-natured fun, and then forgot about it.

Months later, we brought in a new player, and happened to mention the 20-page backstory incident to him before he made his character. When he showed up on his first day, he presented me with his character sheet, wearing a s%~#-eating grin on his face. His character backstory was a sheet of printer paper, on which was typed in minuscule font "Backstory: mysterious."

Needless to say, we got along famously.


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Thomas Long 175 wrote:

We typically don't share ours with each other, but my worst one was an old wizard who had gone senile. He was convinced that magic leaked out of your body when you touch things so he (this was before mythic) floated around on floating disk completely nude in order to keep from touching anything.

He was half crazed, slightly xenophobic, and hated other casters because of their mocking of his theories related to magical reservoirs and magical energy conduction. He was prone to long angry rants upon meeting another caster.

In combat he would chase people around, electricity sparking from his finger tips, screaming "i'm going to touch you!"

This sounds like possibly the greatest character ever.


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LordSynos wrote:
Because the player of the strong man doesn't actually have to lift boulders, and the player of the Wizard doesn't actually have to cast spells, so why should the player of the face actually have to be an outgoing, extrovert?

I've always found that when it comes to the three mental ability scores, players can be hampered by their own limitations. For example, my IRL Charisma score is probably on the low side. I have a really hard time negotiating, intimidating, or even just conversing. As such, I don't really know how to do those things, in-game or otherwise. Most of the characters I've played have been pretty lacking in Charisma, or have relied on methods of utilizing the ability score other than diplomacy/intimidate.

Basically, you can easily pretend to be strong, tough, or fast, but it's harder to pretend to be wiser, smarter, or more charismatic than you are in real life. Though, as has been mentioned, a really good GM can help their players overcome some of their limitations in-game.


A former barber, turned rogue...assassin.

Not Sweeney Todd, mullet over is a better name....


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LordSynos:

Spoiler:

LordSynos wrote:

What, people have to describe themselves treating wounds, climbing cliff-faces, swimming through lakes, crafting items, etc, etc, in your game? Every dice roll must be accompanied by a description?

That's fair enough. I'm not going to say you're wrong, because that's not how you have a discussion. I am going to say, the amount of characters with no relations, no NPC friends, have dumped charisma, and don't even consider Diplomacy as an option is directly related to the fact that describing how you swing your axe is not mandatory to successfully do so. And as long as that remains to be the case, I, and I'm sure many like me, will continue to carry a very big axe into combat, and will leave the talking to players (not characters) who are more social.

Heh, no not to that degree (although a bit more description would be nice on occasion.) However, I do let my players know that I'd prefer that they give some indication of the hows and whys of what they are doing. It's fine to want to use diplomacy or tactics or seduction or whatever, but I'd like (A) a starting point for the conversation otherwise things get muddled, and (B) I don't want to play your character for you.

By that I mean that if you want to be a tactical genius (or at least OK at it) or the type of character who can talk their way through situations that I expect you are willing to meet me half way in the role play or tactical thinking. You don't have to be Moist von Lipwig or Hannibal in real life to play those characters in my game, don't get me wrong, but you have to be willing to do more than throw dice at the table and expect me to play out both sides of the conflict or conversation.

I may be one of those older style GMs that Kydeem de'Morcaine mentioned above -- I like my players to be a bit more descriptive in what they are doing. This, again, doesn't mean that you are on your own and if your own Intelligence isn't on par with your Investigator's 20 that I won't give clues and hints and so forth, and I don't penalize your IRL Charisma of 8 with no clue about seduction when you are playing Joe Casanova; I just expect more than the clatter of dice and a bored "I do that. Yeah, diplomacy or whatever."

As for the axe and not needing to describe in detail, I'll add that I do expect like you mentioned to at least do more than throw dice and say "I hit one of them. don't care which." For me, it is about Rping and effort. If someone is giving me and the table/game the bare minimum, it makes it hard to want to give more back, you know what I mean?

Dark Archive

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Diplomacy Tangent

Kydeem de'Morcaine:
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
LordSynos wrote:
... So, if I was to say, "I remind the Baron of his duty to the people living in his lands, and appeal to his sense of honour to fulfill said duty" would that be enough for you? ...
Yup. Now if the player (not the PC) is capable of it, I encourage and think it helps the RP experience for everyone if more detail is given. But I do not require it, especially not for an introverted or socially-challenged player (I fit at least somewhat in both those categories).

Well, glad we both agree on this point then, both in requirement (or lack of), and appreciation of the fact that, yes, it does enhance the RP experience if a player can bring their social skills to life.

Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
LordSynos wrote:
... Relatedly, if said Baron was dishonourable, ignoble, and generally lousy (possibly Baron Von Evil), would the same argument be able to work, or would you give the character a penalty for the player trying to make that argument and failing to read their audience? ...

If it was well known that the baron had those traits, I’d say something like, “ You can do that if you want, but with 7 ranks in diplomacy, you know the baron doesn’t care a rats behind about honor and duty so the argument is likely to fail.” If the PC still takes that approach (maybe he just wants to be able to say he tried without succeeding) I’d give him some penalty like -4 or more on the check.

If it was not well known that the baron had those traits, I’d require a sense motive or knowledge local to figure it out.

This, too, I can respect. I would go with Diplomacy, based on the last line of the skill, specifically "This skill is also used to negotiate conflicts by using the proper etiquette and manners suitable to the problem." So, the skill does suggest that the properly trained Diplomat would know the proper methods to use. However, that could mean the proper etiquette assuming normal standards (i.e. the Baron not being a jerkface), so I could understand Sense Motive or Knowledge (Local) to know better.

Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
LordSynos wrote:
... I'm going to bring it back to skills quickly, because Diplomacy is a skill. If someone says "I use Disable Device to disarm the trap" do you ask what tools they use? I don't imagine you do, because knowing the Disable Device skill lets your character know what the right tool for the job is, even if the player wouldn't. If they use Handle Animal, do you ask how they approach and attempt to control the animal? If they use Heal, do you ask how they treat the wounds? ...
In prior versions, it was very common for most GM’s to require things like that. “I look around the mantle for a hidden lever. I first toss the dog a piece of raw fatty meat, then approach without making challenging direct eye contact. First I will bind any arterial bleeding then look for discoloration around any wounds that might indicate poison. Etc…” Again, if the player (not the PC) is capable of it, I encourage and think it helps the RP experience for everyone if more detail is given. But few of us require it any longer (there are still a few old school GM’s that do). I would guess primarily because it burned a lot of table time with only once player AND it rarely had any effect on how the story would advance.

Having never played previous editions of DND, I didn't know that. I would have floundered terribly. That or avoided all skills altogether. Or possibly even adapted, eventually. Hard to say.

Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
What you do (or don’t do) with diplomacy very well might have an effect on how the story advances. Did you flirt with someone who will be upset that you didn’t follow through? Did you convince the guildmaster that it would be to his own financial advantage, but his business is in ruins? Did you convince the duchess that it would make her famous, then bankroll a bard to write a play to help make sure she really did become famous? Those can all have very different long and short term effects that can’t be guessed at by “I rolled diplomacy.”

I would take minor issue with that, if it wasn't mentioned beforehand. I realise, from a verisimilitude point of view, maintaining a cohesive story, that makes perfect sense. From a "person already wary of how GM's will limit the Diplomacy skill" point of view, that's a further punishment on inexperienced roleplayers or socialites, that doesn't exist in the book. A successful roll that comes back and bites you in the rear, if you flavour it poorly? However, based on this back and forth alone, I do not believe you're the kind of GM looking to out players, so I'll assume it's not hidden from players and sprung like a trap. And fulfilling promises/agreements should (hopefully) come naturally anyways. Well, at least to the Good, and some/most Neutral, depending on how that goes. That's starting a different conversation though. >.>

Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
LordSynos wrote:
... In the above scenario, that's what my points in Diplomacy is supposed to represent. My character is trained, skilled, at the art of winning people over. A good Diplomacy check represents not only winning someone over, but knowing exactly what to say/do to win someone over. The warrior with 5 weapons needs to succeed at a Knowledge check to figure out which of their 5 weapons to use. For Diplomacy, Diplomacy is the skill to figure that out. And at that point, you'd be making them roll twice for the same thing. "I, the player, don't know what will appeal to this person, I roll Diplomacy to figure out how best to win them over", rolls well, "The Baron is a cruel and selfish man, appeal to his pride, or his greed over lost taxes", "Okay, I do that", rolls again. ...
No problem with that except that I think sometimes a sense motive or knowledge local might be more appropriate to know what approach to take. Seems like diplomacy would let you know how to appeal to the earl’s pride. But a sense motive might better tell you if an appeal to pride is advisable.

As above, that seems perfectly reasonable.

Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
LordSynos wrote:
... Ah, I don't know. I wouldn't roll into town and say "I roll Diplomacy at the King!". ...
Some of us have had players do EXACTLY that. Then get very upset when asked for some thing more.

And that I do disagree with. I mean, well, mostly. Are these brand new, never played before players? My very first TTRPG, which darn near put me off them, was a once-off with pregen characters. They were randomly assigned to players and I wound up with the equivalent of a high charisma female character. And, of course, there eventually came a time when a male guard needed to be distracted non violently, and my character was pushed to the front. The GM insisted I roleplay the conversation and, well, it was not a pleasant first game. If I were more confrontational, I very well might have gotten upset that I couldn't just roll my skill at the time. However, like above, I give you the benefit of the doubt, that these are more experienced players we're talking about and, as you said, they need not go into such detail.

Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
LordSynos wrote:

... But if I, the player, have to figure out exactly what approach my character needs to take (such as "this guy's a jerk, don't try and appeal to his sense of honour"), and then figure out vague terms for how to phrase such, to win someone over, I'll continue to avoid the face characters and charisma skills. I'm sure if I was the kind of person that could figure that out (A) I'd be able to argue my point here better and (B) I wouldn't be arguing my point here, because if I didn't have that issue, I wouldn't see the problem.

...
My main frustration with this comes from my own experiences in roleplaying, where saying "I attempt to win the [person of interest] over with charm" or "I buy the [person of interest] some drinks, and attempt to get them to spill the beans on [activity of interest] under the guise of sociable chat" is met with "But what do you actually say?" which effectively renders all points in Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and every other social skill, meaningless, because, if I, the player, cannot figure out what to say, all those points my character possesses, representing years of training and experience, are worthless. ...
I have had a couple of GM’s like that over the years. Wasn’t a lot of fun for me either. I would posit that very few of us are requiring that level of detail. Again, if the player (not the PC) is capable of it, I encourage and think it helps the RP experience for everyone if more detail is given. But I don’t require it. I do generally require more than “I roll diplomacy.”

I think, overall, we are of very similar stances. More than "I roll Diplomacy", while less than "but what, exactly, do you say?" Appreciation of the immersion that fully roleplaying out the conversations, and consequences, can bring, while understanding and encouraging those that are less able/ready to do such.

I appreciate your engagement with me here, and the quality and fairness of your responses. I hope your are enjoying/ have enjoyed this discussion as I have.

jemstone:
jemstone wrote:

LordSynos:

I did in fact take him aside more than once and explain to him something akin to:
"These are the new Horde you're talking about here. They're still bristling at the way they were kept as little more than curiosities and slaves by the Humans of Lordaeron, and they're very, very unwilling to give you or any other Human the benefit of the doubt. If you want to win them over, you're going to have to treat them as equals, and you're going to have to show humility and honor toward their renewed traditions. You can't just expect them to warm up to you because you have a smiling face and a high skill check. The reason the other PC's are getting further than you is because they're taking part in the post-mission-victory celebrations. Hell, Sparkk* is building a mechanical Tauren just so she can participate in the feats of strength at the summer festival. The Orcs value actions more than words and trinkets, and I've explained before, in character as various NPC's, how they'd rather you help them with their crops and get your hands dirty to show you're their friend than just give them blankets and beads."

(Actual transcript of part of the email I sent him.)

*Sparkk = the Gnome with her inevitably dangerous mechanical contraptions.

So really, I do think I gave him ample opportunities to get things together and figure out how best to describe the nature of his Diplomacy skill. All I wanted from him was an "I go find something to help build or repair" or "I go down to the smithy and use my Craft: Armor skill to help get the Horde on its feet," and that Diplomacy check would have been ON FIRE.

It most certainly sounds like you did. I hope you do not think I was assuming the worst of you, I just wished to clarify. Thank you for doing such. I can see how, despite your attempts to steer him right, his continuation on the path of "only-rolls-or-bust" would be very frustrating.

knightnday:
knightnday wrote:

LordSynos:

LordSynos wrote:

What, people have to describe themselves treating wounds, climbing cliff-faces, swimming through lakes, crafting items, etc, etc, in your game? Every dice roll must be accompanied by a description?

That's fair enough. I'm not going to say you're wrong, because that's not how you have a discussion. I am going to say, the amount of characters with no relations, no NPC friends, have dumped charisma, and don't even consider Diplomacy as an option is directly related to the fact that describing how you swing your axe is not mandatory to successfully do so. And as long as that remains to be the case, I, and I'm sure many like me, will continue to carry a very big axe into combat, and will leave the talking to players (not characters) who are more social.

Heh, no not to that degree (although a bit more description would be nice on occasion.) However, I do let my players know that I'd prefer that they give some indication of the hows and whys of what they are doing. It's fine to want to use diplomacy or tactics or seduction or whatever, but I'd like (A) a starting point for the conversation otherwise things get muddled, and (B) I don't want to play your character for you.

By that I mean that if you want to be a tactical genius (or at least OK at it) or the type of character who can talk their way through situations that I expect you are willing to meet me half way in the role play or tactical thinking. You don't have to be Moist von Lipwig or Hannibal in real life to play those characters in my game, don't get me wrong, but you have to be willing to do more than throw dice at the table and expect me to play out both sides of the conflict or conversation.

I may be one of those older style GMs that Kydeem de'Morcaine mentioned above -- I like my players to be a bit more descriptive in what they are doing. This, again, doesn't mean that you are on your own and if your own Intelligence isn't on par with your Investigator's 20 that I won't give clues and hints and so forth, and I don't penalize your IRL Charisma of 8 with no clue about seduction when you are playing Joe Casanova; I just expect more than the clatter of dice and a bored "I do that. Yeah, diplomacy or whatever."

As for the axe and not needing to describe in detail, I'll add that I do expect like you mentioned to at least do more than throw dice and say "I hit one of them. don't care which." For me, it is about Rping and effort. If someone is giving me and the table/game the bare minimum, it makes it hard to want to give more back, you know what I mean?

I do think we are approaching something which appears similar but is, in fact, quite different from each other. Of course if a player is bored at the table, and goes no further than "I do that. Yeah, diplomacy or whatever.", then there are problems. I hope that a certain amount of hyperbole is involved there, as I assume most would see the issue there. That player is clearly not enjoying themselves, and that will most likely detract from the experience for everyone. That's not the kind of player / situation I'm talking about though.

For example, let's say the players are sent by a local Lord to investigate some town in the woods, which is no longer trading supplies or sending tribute to their Lord. When they get to the town, through Sense Motive, or Perception, or some skill, they come to realise the town is being taken in by some cult or another. Now, I'm not thinking about a player who waltzes into the town sand says "I roll Diplomacy at the villagers." I'm talking about the player who says, "Listen, I don't want to slaughter all these people just because they've been won over by the BBEG / wooed by some silver tongued devil. How can I win back these people to the path of Good? Or at least Neutral." *rolls Diplomacy* They have good intentions, they want to roleplay a charismatic person who wins over the masses, they want a character with life and style and, you know, more than just bored rolling. But they don't know how to go about succeeding at it. They want a flavourful character, they want a Tyrion or a Kellhus, so they build the skills to match, but when rubber hits the road, they can't or don't know how to pull off the finer details of the roleplay that goes with.

And maybe both players are the same, and one just fails to vocalise the difference. They are thinking "I've gotta make these villagers realise the error of their ways, the dangers of dealing with devils, and save their immortal souls!", but all that leaves their lips is "I roll Diplomacy". Maybe the "bored" player has been countered with "No, tell me who you talk to and exactly what you say to them, then I'll tell you if you can roll Diplomacy or not." one too many times, and has been disabused of the notion of trying anymore. That's possibly looking too far into things though. I suppose I'm just trying to give every party a certain benefit of the doubt. I very possibly would have uttered such a phrase, years ago, when I started playing and wasn't yet comfortable with the whole roleplaying thing. I possibly could have uttered it more recently, if I had not made sure to avoid being put in such situations, dumping Charisma no matter what system I used so that I would never be considered for social rolls. Not because of a lack of interest in the story, or the characters, or the roleplay, but because of a lack of .... social finesse is the best phrasing I can come up with. *sigh* I'm pretty sure I've muddled it entirely at this point. Go read David's post, he's on the trolley.

For the record, combats in my area are like your example. "I charge and hit one. I do this much damage. Is it dead yet?" Combat is mechanics time, between combats is roleplay time. Depending on GM, there is either far more combat or far more downtime. I started my first leader/charismatic character a year ago, and am doing alright at it, but it took me 8 years to be at this point, and I wouldn't be there if it wasn't for patient GM's. Not for lack of interest or investment in my characters or the roleplay, but because I knew I lacked the ability to follow through on that roleplay. The GM's I know are very much of the "What, exactly, do you say?" variety. I do understand what you're saying, about making an effort when faced with the bare minimum. Let's just say I wish smartphones weren't allowed at the table some times, and I'm saying that as a player. But I hope you can also see where I'm coming from.

Note:
Here, I try to stand for the nervous, the new, the inexperienced, those who have difficulty, in RL and TTRPG, with social interactions. I hope that they get encouragement and a certain benefit of the doubt, rather than met with hostility or chased away from the game with high expectations. Were all of my TTRPG experiences like my first, then I would most certainly not be playing now. I felt it important to defend such when it came up in this thread. I am glad for the (mostly) reasonable and engaging responses. Thank you. And apologies for the derail, and the fact that it may have accidentally killed the thread. >.>

Liberty's Edge

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For years I've used a backstory system called "ten memories." I think I picked it up on these boards. The idea is to write no more than 10 memories from your character's life, preferably in first person format, that have had an effect on your character's life. In theory, this is supposed to give the DM plenty of hooks, explain your character's background, give yourself a non-restrictive framework, and avoid the 20 page, single-spaced horror that is a too-dense character history.

The last two times I've DMed, the shortest response I've had with this method was over ten pages. No great and entertaining stories like others in this thread, just a lot of face palm.

@ Lord Synos:
Lord Synos wrote: wrote:
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote: wrote:
What you do (or don’t do) with diplomacy very well might have an effect on how the story advances. Did you flirt with someone who will be upset that you didn’t follow through? Did you convince the guildmaster that it would be to his own financial advantage, but his business is in ruins? Did you convince the duchess that it would make her famous, then bankroll a bard to write a play to help make sure she really did become famous? Those can all have very different long and short term effects that can’t be guessed at by “I rolled diplomacy.”
I would take minor issue with that, if it wasn't mentioned beforehand. I realise, from a verisimilitude point of view, maintaining a cohesive story, that makes perfect sense. From a "person already wary of how GM's will limit the Diplomacy skill" point of view, that's a further punishment on inexperienced roleplayers or socialites, that doesn't exist in the book. A successful roll that comes back and bites you in the rear, if you flavour it poorly? However, based on this back and forth alone, I do not believe you're the kind of GM looking to out players, so I'll assume it's not hidden from players and sprung like a trap. And fulfilling promises/agreements should (hopefully) come naturally anyways. Well, at least to the Good, and some/most Neutral, depending on how that goes. That's starting a different conversation though. >.>

But everything has these secondary effects that aren't spelled out by the book. Combat has them too.

You have six major (and a huge number of minor) possible ends to a fight: You win and kill the enemy; you win and drive off the enemy; you win and capture the enemy; you lose and are dead; you lose and are driven off; you lose and are captured. Each one of these has very different effects that aren't just "you rolled the dice, there was a single effect, it is now over." Even the simplest version, where you defeated and killed the bad guy, has all sorts of possibilities for change in the game. Is a player justified in feeling frustrated because of fallout from having killed a bad guy?

"I diplomacy that guy" shouldn't be any more of a win in a vacuum than a win by combat. I fully agree that you shouldn't penalize your players for not roleplaying something out†, but arguing that there should be no secondary effects when a skill is used because it isn't spelled out in the rules is the same, to me, as arguing that there shouldn't be secondary effects to killing an opponent because it isn't spelled out in the rules.

†I only ever penalize a person for bad RP of social skills when they go way way too far. I mentioned this in another thread, but I've actually had a player insist that they were rolling diplomacy while, RPing at the table, they were screaming obscenities and threats (in character, not IRL). Even after I repeatedly tried to get the person to take a different tack or to use intimidate, they insisted on abusiveness as "diplomacy." That guy got a penalty. The rest of the time, RP can only get you a bonus at my table.

Silver Crusade

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I'm old enough to remember horror stories where DMs insisted that the players of bards had to actually make up and sing a song on the spot each time they cast a spell or used Bardic music; if they didn't then the spell/ability automatically failed.


Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
I'm old enough to remember horror stories where DMs insisted that the players of bards had to actually make up and sing a song on the spot each time they cast a spell or used Bardic music; if they didn't then the spell/ability automatically failed.

Yeah nuts to that. I've seen something similar work, where it's not required, but bard players will often have some music ready to go for specific abilities (I use The Immigrant Song for my Thundercaller Bard in Reign of Winter when he's using the rage performance, stuff like that). Generally it's just used occasionally for effect so that it doesn't end up just being over done and boring. Having to come up with music of my own on the spot though, that would be a deal breaker for me.

Sczarni

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I played with a guy who named his bard lasagna to give people something to talk about. And that's as far as his backstory went.


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Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
I'm old enough to remember horror stories where DMs insisted that the players of bards had to actually make up and sing a song on the spot each time they cast a spell or used Bardic music; if they didn't then the spell/ability automatically failed.

Yeah, long ago I played one session with a DM that insisted bards real life sing (actually he assumed anyone playing a bard would have a bunch of songs ready to go) and casters had to chant in fake latin. He was seemingly amazed that he had a table full of only fighters and thieves.

I stayed the afternoon just to see how bad it got. Was pretty amazingly ridiculous.
.
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LordSynos wrote:
Diplomacy Tangent** spoiler omitted **...

I nearly always appreciate a discussion with someone that is not doing the forum equivalent of foaming at the mouth. Thankyou.


Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
I'm old enough to remember horror stories where DMs insisted that the players of bards had to actually make up and sing a song on the spot each time they cast a spell or used Bardic music; if they didn't then the spell/ability automatically failed.

That mechanic only works in games like Teenagers from Outer Space....

Dark Archive

The Shining Fool:
The Shining Fool wrote:

@Lord Synos:

Lord Synos wrote:
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
What you do (or don’t do) with diplomacy very well might have an effect on how the story advances. Did you flirt with someone who will be upset that you didn’t follow through? Did you convince the guildmaster that it would be to his own financial advantage, but his business is in ruins? Did you convince the duchess that it would make her famous, then bankroll a bard to write a play to help make sure she really did become famous? Those can all have very different long and short term effects that can’t be guessed at by “I rolled diplomacy.”
I would take minor issue with that, if it wasn't mentioned beforehand. I realise, from a verisimilitude point of view, maintaining a cohesive story, that makes perfect sense. From a "person already wary of how GM's will limit the Diplomacy skill" point of view, that's a further punishment on inexperienced roleplayers or socialites, that doesn't exist in the book. A successful roll that comes back and bites you in the rear, if you flavour it poorly? However, based on this back and forth alone, I do not believe you're the kind of GM looking to out players, so I'll assume it's not hidden from players and sprung like a trap. And fulfilling promises/agreements should (hopefully) come naturally anyways. Well, at least to the Good, and some/most Neutral, depending on how that goes. That's starting a different conversation though. >.>

But everything has these secondary effects that aren't spelled out by the book. Combat has them too.

You have six major (and a huge number of minor) possible ends to a fight: You win and kill the enemy; you win and drive off the enemy; you win and capture the enemy; you lose and are dead; you lose and are driven off; you lose and are captured. Each one of these has very different effects that aren't just "you rolled the dice, there was a single effect, it is now over." Even the simplest version, where you defeated and killed the bad guy, has all sorts of possibilities for change in the game. Is a player justified in feeling frustrated because of fallout from having killed a bad guy?

"I diplomacy that guy" shouldn't be any more of a win in a vacuum than a win by combat. I fully agree that you shouldn't penalize your players for not roleplaying something out†, but arguing that there should be no secondary effects when a skill is used because it isn't spelled out in the rules is the same, to me, as arguing that there shouldn't be secondary effects to killing an opponent because it isn't spelled out in the rules.

†I only ever penalize a person for bad RP of social skills when they go way way too far. I mentioned this in another thread, but I've actually had a player insist that they were rolling diplomacy while, RPing at the table, they were screaming obscenities and threats (in character, not IRL). Even after I repeatedly tried to get the person to take a different tack or to use intimidate, they insisted on abusiveness as "diplomacy." That guy got a penalty. The rest of the time, RP can only get you a bonus at my table.

I appreciate it when someone puts something in a different light (that's applicable to the actual point being discussed) that makes me see a sense I didn't before. So, yeah, I see what you're saying. The roleplay you add to the dice can/does have an effect beyond the immediate, in more than just Diplomacy. It doesn't come up around my parts often (GM's usually just kill enemies as soon as they hit 0, so only 1 of those 6 combat outcomes is common, which does add to the intrigue when one of the others has to/does happen), but this point does go beyond just my area and I can see the sense to it.

To counter, or at least provide further discussion material, would you agree that is something of a roleplaying decision, and not a game mechanic decision? What I mean is, that whether you let your enemies escape, capture them or kill them is a roleplaying decision, separate to the roll of the dice? So, if the player doesn't roleplay something out, how do you decide what the consequences will be? And how are they communicated to the player?

Maybe an example will help explain my point. So, let's say the PC's are traveling through a desert, and are lost. Their supplies are limited to enough to keep them and their mounts going through the journey. Suddenly, the party is attacked by a mysterious cloaked group. The group is using hit-and-run tactics, harrying the party, and then disappearing into the desert. While the PC's would like to take one alive for questioning, they know they lack the supplies to feed a prisoner, and would have to kill them off. Lacking the willingness to kill a prisoner as opposed to a combatant, they instead decide to kill all the mysterious assailants the next time they strike. They do so and journey on. They eventually find an oasis city, and are immediately arrested by the city guard. Turns out, the mysterious assailants were border guards, and the players are to be tried for their murders. When it comes to the trial, one of the players uses Diplomacy to defend themselves and successfully get the party cleared of all charges. The party resupply at the town, and rest at the inn, making clear their intent to never return to the accursed city again. The next day, they find themselves arrested once more. Part of the player's Diplomacy check included a promise to maintain the borders until such a time as replacement guards could be trained, and their clear, expressed intent to leave and not fulfill such has resulted in the Diplomacy check failing, post successful roll.

Now, a bit of a long winded example, but my point is this. I fear the above scenario, playing out as above in its entirety. The reason I dislike it follows. (A) Outside of taking one of the guards alive, which would have led to further possible alignment issues for a Good party, the PC's were not given an opportunity to discover the truth of their assailants. Even taking one alive, the rest of the border patrol were still killed. The party tried to make a good roleplaying decision to support their mechanical combat action and were punished by the purposefully limited information provided by the GM. A classic "Fall/Fall". (B) The Diplomat didn't roleplay out the conversation, so the GM decided to insert consequences as suited them, giving the party no indication of what they agreed to as part of the Diplomacy check, because they didn't play it out.

Now, I'm not suggesting you would do the above, as it is clearly more of a GM-Vs-Player situation, but I am curious as to how "these secondary effects that aren't spelled out by the book" are decided and communicated. Because, as a player, if I succeeded at a roll, and then down the line some secondary effect which had not been, in any way (that I could tell/perceive), communicated with me ended up screwing me over, I would feel hard done by.

Alternatively, these roleplaying Diplomacy limitations aren't also applied / are harder to apply to other skills. For example, if someone was bleeding out and I applied first aid to stem the bleeding, if I wasn't specific enough in the detail I added to it, could that come back to haunt me? "Oh, you didn't say you disinfected the wound before bandaging it, 3 months down the line it has to be amputated!" If I roleplay a close call Climb check as loosing some scree from a mountain-side while climbing, will I find out a few games later that I caused a landslide that killed off some NPC's? If I rolled successfully on a Disable Device check to disarm a trap, but then described it in such a way that would actually set off the trap in my face, would I have a Reflex save in my future? I'm finding hard to fathom how to even begin to apply it to Knowledge, though maybe I just lack imagination. I don't feel like Diplomacy is an auto win, one roll, no more effort needed. But I do feel like it is adjudicated/restricted more than other, comparable skills are.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

A while ago, I ran a one-shot, using a PFS module. One of the players decided to be silly, moreso than he usually is in one-shots.

His character was named Murderhobo. That's about all there is to say. Granted, in what amounted to a one-time PFS game, there wasn't much need for backstory. In other similar one-shots, we've seen similar awfulness. When we were experimenting with ACG classes, he played a bow-wielding warpriest named Stirling.
I immediately said "G&^@!*$&% Archer!", and promptly renamed my character Lana. But hey, it's one-shots, I don't feel too bad about doing silly things there.

As far as Diplomacy, Bluff, or Intimidate, I do expect players to describe what they're doing, and what they're trying to accomplish. That doesn't mean they need to give a speech in character, and if they're trying to bluff someone unimportant, they don't necessarily need to come up with their own lie. But I do need to know what they're trying to accomplish.

(I'll also allow them to use the skills directly to assist. Having trouble coming up with a lie? Roll Bluff and I'll help you (actually I'll get the party to help; I'm pretty bad at lying myself). Making a speech and not good at coming up with proper phrasing? Roll Diplomacy and your character will clean up what you're trying to say, correcting some gaffes based on the check result. Both of these stand in good stead in my experience, with me just not being good at coming up with lies on my feet, despite sometimes wanting to play a character who is good at it, and some players I know phrasing things in awkward ways that can end up offensive even though they're intended to be diplomatic.)

With knowledge checks, I'm learning that I need to specify what I want to know, because my poor wizard keeps ending up getting useless or obvious information in place of useful. Last night, in fact, I got four pieces of information, including name of the creature type. Name in of itself is useless, and one of the other pieces was obvious from looking at the creature ("you mean that it uses those big lobster claws to attack?") Coming back and asking specific questions helps, but it slows the game down more to keep revisiting.

The paladin I'm playing in a short campaign right now has a backstory informed largely by the need to justify Skill Focus (Survival). All I knew initially was "Paladin + Eldritch Heritage (orc)". Quickly I figured out that the paladin was a half-orc, raised by an orc tribe, which he ran away from when he realized how much their morals and his diverged, spent much of his life living alone in the wilderness, and maintains a hopeful, optimistic, attitude even in the face of failure and repeated rejection.

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