Pathfinder Society: A roleplaying game, or a roll-playing game?


Pathfinder Society

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3/5

I've just come back from A Bid for Alabastrine, spoilers are tagged below but here's a warning ahead of time anyway.

I enjoy Pathfinder Society. I honestly do, it gives me a chance to play a variety of characters and builds and meet/hang out with people I wouldn't otherwise. But a lot of times, it can feel very much like a combat simulator with the occasional puzzle. The fact that every scenario seems to revolve heavily around combat encounters and most leave little room for resolving a situation through roleplaying can get very annoying at times. However, every so often we'll get scenarios like Library of the Lion, which can be completed without a single combat if played right, or Faithless and Forgotten Parts 2 and 3 which do involve some opportunities to roleplay and respond creatively to a situation. And then came A Bid for Alabastrine, which demonstrated my main issue here in a way that I've never been able to pin down in words before.

Spoiler:
ABfA is almost entirely a social scenario. There's one combat at the beginning, and the rest is using Ultimate Intrigue's Influence system to try and win over a number of wealthy merchants and convince them to bid on control of a city. At first glance, this seemed amazing. An opportunity to roleplay, work creatively, and try out a new system. And then I rolled mediocrely, usually falling just shy of the success DCs as did many of the rest of my party members. And we lost the scenario. Not because we played poorly, but because of bad rolls. Now, here's why this irritates me: had we been given bonuses for good roleplaying, for getting in character and getting heavily involved and immersed in the story, we probably would've done just fine. But because there was no reward, we failed.

Now here's the kicker: had we done barely any roleplaying whatsoever, and rolled beautifully, we would have succeeded. There was no reason, no incentive, no reward whatsoever for actually roleplaying and participating in the scenario, as opposed to sitting back, waiting until our turn came, describing the character's action briefly with a note for mentioning important things, and rolling.

And this is a common and recurring trend in Pathfinder Society scenarios that I've noticed time and time again: mechanically, PFS scenarios are written for a roll-playing game, not a roleplaying game. To succeed at them, the goal is to make sure you have the highest numbers. No incentive or reward is given for being a roleplayer, but every incentive is given to be a munchkin. Even when a scenario does allow for creative thinking and roleplaying, even if you hit every single point on why an NPC should do something and make the most convincing argument ever, if you fall short of the DC 20 Diplomacy check then whatever you said is completely disregarded. Decisions are rewarded based entirely on what benefits the scenario; I was chewed out several months ago for, as a paladin, executing an undead at the end of a scenario who offered knowledge to the society in exchange for life and costing us a prestige point, despite the fact that no paladin should have let him live.

I guess what I'm saying is, Pathfinder Society scenarios don't have much support for the roleplaying solution as opposed to just rolling a die and getting a result. I realize that this post is largely me being petty over losing 2 prestige because of some bad rolls, but to met it's more an illumination of how hard it is to treat Pathfinder Society as a roleplaying game sometimes when there's no incentive whatsoever to actually roleplay.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Indiana—Hammond

I have had lots of good role playing in my games. I encourage it, and I have players who are willing to interact with NPCs and find creative solutions to encounters.

I think that one problem is that you will see a lot of table variation, due to different GMs and players.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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DM's supposed to give you a +2 for good role playing so they work together.

Paizo Employee 5/5 Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

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It's fairly common—not universal, but fairly common—for a scenario to either recommend that a GM grant a bonus on a skill check for good roleplaying or even waive the check altogether. Here is a small sample of a few quoted sections of adventures that sprang to mind (not an exhaustive list).

#5–03: The Hellknight's Feast:

"Additionally, if a player does a particularly good job roleplaying an interaction with an NPC, consider awarding the player’s PC a +2 circumstance bonus on his Influence or Discovery check."

#5–21: The Merchant's Wake:

"The GM might grant up to a +4 circumstance bonus on a PC’s check for particularly good roleplaying."

#6–12: Scions of the Sky Key, Part 1: On Sharrowsmith's Trail:

"While these challenges call out specific skills and ability checks, feel free to let a PC with a clever and reasonable alternative to improvise with a different skill—especially if the group doesn’t have someone capable of reliably performing the needed check. If the players are particularly convincing, cunning, or thorough in crafting their arguments, you can award them a +2 bonus on the check."

#6–98: Serpents Rise:

"Once as many of the PCs who want to give a speech have done so, let each attempt a DC 24 Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Perform (oratory) check to see how inspiring they were; be sure to give a PC as much as a +10 bonus on the check if she made an especially well- reasoned, impassioned, or finely roleplayed speech."

#7–13: Captive in Crystal:

"If the players present especially clever or convincing arguments while roleplaying, the GM might award them as much as a +5 bonus on the check."

Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide (7.0), page 35:

"Sometimes during the course of a scenario, your players might surprise you with a creative solution to an encounter (or the entire scenario) that you didn’t see coming and that isn’t expressly covered in the scenario...Pathfinder Society Organized Play never wants to give the impression that the only way to solve a problem is to kill it—rewarding the creative use of skills and roleplaying not only make Society games more fun for the players, but it also gives the GM a level of flexibility in ensuring players receive the rewards they are due."

Hence my concern at the claim that there is "no incentive whatsoever to actually roleplay." It so happens that #7–22: Bid For Alabastrine doesn't have an explicit recommendation to the GM to reward good roleplaying—feedback I'm happy to internalize for future adventures. I can understand that you might not have meant that in an absolute, all-encompassing sense, yet it raises my hackles when I hear that kind of accusation after regularly emphasizing roleplaying-reward permissiveness to GMs.

3/5 5/5

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I have very fond memories of my play-through of

Spoiler:
school of spirits
, because apart from the first skirmish which was unavoidable for plot reasons, I was able to talk us through the rest of the scenario. We were only in initiative once in the entire game.

The only person at the table who was disappointed was the GM. XD

This one stood out as one where every encounter was by default a battle, but if you were attentive to what was going on it was also perfectly possible to roleplay your way through the entire thing.

1/5 5/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One of my first scenarios with PFS was Merchant's Wake.

I went on a *good* tear for about five minutes *hard-selling* an NPC (The fact that he was from my faction didn't hurt, either). So intense was it that the other players all raised their hands and said 'I WANT WHAT HE'S SELLING TAKE OUR MONEY!' and started pulling out paper money to throw at me!

Had to wave them off because I couldn't tell if they were serious or not and was honestly kind of stunned because I hadn't felt like I'd done all that great of a job.

The GM was similarly impressed and he was almost disappointed when the sales pitch ended.

The roll was lackluster (but not anemic) and he looked at me and then the table and announced success with that particular NPC, in part due to the *EXCEPTIONAL* sales push.

EDIT: OP, I've been thinking of how to start a thread hitting the point you mentioned and that was brought up by a couple of far more experienced PFS players at PaizoCon. Still thinking on it, because it's one of those things that needs careful consideration, but possibly next week I'll have it up...

3/5

John, I can say that I haven't been on the GM's side of the table for any of those scenarios, so I missed that there were benefits there. I personally have never seen one in a scenario I've run, or gotten any impression from a GM that there was a benefit because of good roleplaying. I would like the point to stand on Bid for Alabastrine, though, because it's a scenario built specifically around heavy social encounters, the time you should feel most encouraged out of anything to roleplay heavily, and had no such benefits at all. The closest you came was the single use +4 bonus for using the right tactic, but even that was as simple as saying "I'm going to talk to this character, and specifically mention dogs because I know he likes them." That's probably a writer thing more than a Society thing, but it called to mind a number of similar situations where the words coming out of my mouth didn't matter as much as how the dice landed.

My other issue, too, is that any situation that can be roleplayed through can be rolled through as well, but most situations that can be rolled through can't be roleplayed through. I guess what I'd like is just to see more scenarios like this, heavily built on social encounters, but actually feeling like you're rewarded for roleplaying.

(another issue might just be that most GMs don't think to actually say "take a +2 to your check for good roleplaying" so it goes completely unnoticed. But that also might be a table variance thing and a trend with my local group.)

I want to stress that I genuinely didn't mean to offend. I'm angry at the writer of this scenario in particular, and a lot of situations where several players I know have put almost no effort into roleplaying but been just as successful as me because they minmax and roll well, and I wanted to call attention to the fact that social encounters and situations like this where roleplaying should shine seem far too often to get relegated to mechanical points.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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FedoraFerret wrote:
...when there's no incentive whatsoever to actually roleplay.

I have no idea how to process this statement.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
EDIT: OP, I've been thinking of how to start a thread hitting the point you mentioned and that was brought up by a couple of far more experienced PFS players at PaizoCon. Still thinking on it, because it's one of those things that needs careful consideration, but possibly next week I'll have it up...

I hope that your experience in City of Strangers II, being able to diplomatically remove the Shadow Lodge from Kaer Maga without my barbarian having to bludgeon them all into submission first will play into that post.

1/5 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
EDIT: OP, I've been thinking of how to start a thread hitting the point you mentioned and that was brought up by a couple of far more experienced PFS players at PaizoCon. Still thinking on it, because it's one of those things that needs careful consideration, but possibly next week I'll have it up...
I hope that your experience in City of Strangers II, being able to diplomatically remove the Shadow Lodge from Kaer Maga without my barbarian having to bludgeon them all into submission first will play into that post.

It will factor in, yes. And the above anecdote, and at least a half-dozen others.

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Having just run Bid for Alabastrine, I can say that it is not quite true that there are no bonuses for roleplay.

Each person that you need to influence lists ways that you can get bonuses (or penalties) to your checks against them. If you are engaging in roleplay, these biases are liable to be revealed, and you should be able to leverage them. Poor rolls can still sink you, but these bonuses are the same as what you could expect to get from roleplay in most scenarios, so those rolls would be liable to sink you anyway. This is in addition to the bonuses you get from their "weaknesses" which have more to do with how you frame your argument.

So the GM has a little more latitude than they may have believed.

BTW I love the social encounter rules in this scenario. It is worth mentioning though that they're a bit involved and fairly new, so I can easily see a GM missing some of the nuance with only a quick read.

EDIT: FedoraFerret, just to be clear, the one time +4 bonus you mentioned was a "weakness". The "biases" are a handful of +2/-2 adjustments that are "always on" and aren't part of the Discovery mechanic. They are much more traditional roleplay bonuses.

Dark Archive 5/5 5/55/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Upper Midwest aka Silbeg

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I just ran this scenario on Saturday, and I did indeed reward good role playing.... Twice!

bid for alabastrine:
lost out on two of the successes, including the wharf.

The player who pushed for the wharf went all out in threatening Temal Passad, saying he had a lovely mansion, and it would be a shame if some candles were accidently tipped over, causing a fire.

The other success was for Irith, and though hey hadn't discovered her weaknesses, nevertheless the player toadied it up, touting her previous success at running Alabastrine, very eloquently.

Without these two, it would have been an utter failure for the team. With them, they got both prestige! And, on both, the rolls without circumstance bonus for clever role playing would have left them one short.

Typically, I don't penalize poor role playing, if the player at least describes what he or she is trying to do. But...

Merely saying "I diplomacize him" will not work at my table. Neither will an aid of "yeah!" (Usually).

It seems that the difficulties that I have heard about is when people don't use the social combat system, and do not take the time to use their skills to perform Discovery checks on the people (and, yes, bonus could apply to these as well).

The skill targets vary greatly, with as much as a 15 point swing depending on who and which skills. Sometimes diplomacy is the worst skill to use... Some time it is the best. Doing your discoveries is the key!

Maybe season 8 will become the season of. Knowledge:nobility, knowledge:history, and profession:merchant, barrister, or cook? Honestly, I am glad to see more of these used!

3/5 5/5

I think it is fair to have a character's stats factor into his odds of succeeding in a social encounter. Remember that you are not your character, and your character isn't you.

Even if you have a compelling and persuasive argument, perhaps your character stutters or speaks so softly that his words are just dismissed, or speaks so forcefully that his listener is annoyed and switched off to the actual content in his words. Body language and delivery are important in social interactions, and social skills do take time and effort to develop. If you want your character to be the guy who can diffuse a tense situation and sway other people with his words, invest some skill points/traits/feats/gold for magic items to reflect the effort he put into developing his public speaking and social skills.

Basically, I think the roleplay and roll-play go hand-in-hand and complement one another. In the game that I referred to in my earlier post, my character had a decent diplomacy modifier, but we still took about 4 hours to get through the scenario, and I still had alot of fun because I was able to get really into character (especially since by sheer luck my backstory actually became relevant in the conversation). Conversely, another one of my characters has 7 INT and WIS, and I roleplay him to be dumb as a brick. He isn't going to be persuading anyone of anything except his own tenuous grasp on reality, and if I have any intelligent observations or ideas I make them out of character whilst my character continues to be oblivious to the plot.

Thing is, I am roleplaying when I roleplay either of those characters, it's just that the characters have very different skillsets, and the roleplay produce very different results. In the case of Aeleth (my brain-damaged character), good roleplaying will often mean he gets a penalty in a social situation (and alternating laughs and groans from the other players), because that's the character I am roleplaying.

4/5

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Bid for Alabastrine did bother me as well, because it seemed like there was an attempt to have the rules from Ultimate Intrigue replace CRB mechanics.

see below:

In the beginning of the scenario we were told there was an opportunity to "gather information." OK, great, I have a +14 diplomacy, and the vigilante has a +12, so let's get to gathering. Wait, you can't use diplomacy to gather information? Unlike every other PFS adventure? What?

Paizo Employee 5/5 Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

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I can agree on a solid chunk of your response.

FedoraFerret wrote:
My other issue, too, is that any situation that can be roleplayed through can be rolled through as well, but most situations that can be rolled through can't be roleplayed through. I guess what I'd like is just to see more scenarios like this, heavily built on social encounters, but actually feeling like you're rewarded for roleplaying.

This is where I disagree.

Especially for an organized play campaign, it's essential to provide a mechanical "out" for the players. It might be that the scenario has a few puzzles, and the group-of-the-day is not especially puzzle-savvy (made all the worse because it's Sunday morning of a convention, and everyone's hung-over and/or tired). It's not healthy for the campaign to tell those players, "hey, you didn't have the personal puzzle skills to get past that challenge, so you can't experience the rest of the adventure." That's especially true if several of the characters have high Intelligence. As a result, many puzzle encounters have Knowledge skill checks that provide clues often an Intelligence check that allows the group to bypass the puzzle altogether. Is the intention that they just roll the check and move on? No, ideally the group solves the puzzle together and get the pleasure of discovering the solution.

Likewise, I don't want to punish a group of shy players who aren't yet versed in Golarion lore while gaming in a loud setting; coaxing players to roleplay and get into the story in that way is absolutely wonderful, and I encourage everyone to do so. I would enjoy an adventure that plays almost like a puzzle adventure game (e.g. Monkey Island or the like), but not everyone's going to be able to rise to that challenge at the table. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the game, and forcing someone into personally uncomfortable territory isn't in the interests of the organized play campaign. If it comes down to that, there's always a die roll.

On the other side of your claim, I disagree that situations that can be rolled through—whether that's rolling a skill check or rolling to confirm a critical hit with a greataxe—cannot be roleplayed through. That's a key pillar of the "creative solutions" guideline. If the PCs are intended to fight, say, a half dozen bandits forced to rob after being disenfranchised by the prince, as a GM I'm absolutely on board if one of the PCs happens to also hate that prince (I'm assuming Stavian, for fun). That might mean that the opposing sides sit down and share a meal while making up songs about what a greedy dope Stavian is.

As a GM I'm probably going to call for a skill check or three. Why? First, it rewards those who have invested in that kind of skill check; I don't want a player's wittiness to always trump a character's wit, just as I wouldn't want to punish a players who isn't persuasive despite playing a persuasive character. Second, Asking for a die roll helps break up and pace the action, temporarily shifting the gears from free-form roleplaying to the moment of tension as people lean in to watch a d20 skitter across the table. If everything's been going really well, I'm no doubt giving the player a big bonus on the check, but the check itself can help determine whether the PCs got away with a huge win or whether they narrowly avoided bloodshed. It can even be a great way to introduce a new twist—perhaps a fireside faux pas—that keeps things fresh.

And yet it's really easy to dismiss the inclusion of a die roll as giving into the lazy seduction of "rollplaying."

Paizo Employee Contributor—Canadian Maplecakes

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FedoraFerret wrote:
I want to stress that I genuinely didn't mean to offend. I'm angry at the writer of this scenario in particular...

Huh, this is a post. Well, as the scenario author, as well as the person who originally came up with the first PF influence mechanic...

Role-playing is at the core of how I GM and how I try to write scenarios and any other gaming material. As an example, my current homebrew Tian Xia game has gone 4 full length-sessions without having a single combat. I'm as loose with the dice as they come, and believe in rewarding awesomeness and creative thinking.

THAT BEING SAID.

When someone is buying a printed (or digital) product, they're effectively looking for guidelines on how to run something. Often times, the people looking at this product are looking for more than just new background material, but want some hard numbers or stats on how to run encounters. This is even stricter when it comes organized play, as everyone is assumed to be playing by the same rules.

'Roll'-playing (a rather obnoxious term, in my opinion) is something that happens regardless of whatever codified rules backdrop is provided to the GM. If you have a player who rolls a 40+ on a Bluff check, then it's likely that the PC in question got away with their deception, regardless of other scenario concerns. The rolling mechanic is meant to ensure that players lacking professional Bluffing or theater background can still get involved in their character, without needing to have that skill in real life.

All the influence mechanics try to do, is provide guidelines on PCs using some NPC-relevant skills in order to gain influence with said NPC. It exemplifies what skills are appropriate for an NPC, and goes from there. It's effectively a 'statblock' for extended RP encounters, where some GMs might not be comfortable with deciding on appropriate skills, or where table variation would be a giant cluster if left unstated. It's also brand new in terms of this expanded use... so YMMV.

In Organized Play, you can't just rely on the GM's ability to decide on what is sufficient role-playing in a situation where RP is the basis of the entire scenario. There could be a GM who can run with the PC's creative use of skills to maneuver through a social situation, but it's just as likely there's another GM not so comfortable who causes a group of 'out of the box' thinking PCs to fail.

It should also be noted, that much of this scenario was based around the new mechanics from Ultimate Intrigue. If these mechanics are problematic, then I would suggest providing that feedback. Using my scenario as a prime example of 'Rollplaying' might not be the best approach, as it is the first real use of these mechanics; though, Blakros Matrimony and a few others did have an earlier versions of the influence rules...

Anywho, I've rambled on enough about this. I'll end by saying, that I'm pleased to see there's some vibrant discussion around this scenario.

Oh... and I guess if people aren't huge fans of social mechanics, I can always go back to Mass Combat. :)

Paizo Employee 5/5 Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

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Quote:
I want to stress that I genuinely didn't mean to offend. I'm angry at the writer of this scenario in particular...

Our authors write to an outline I create, expanding on it and adding creative elements that surpass what Linda and I could invent on our own. The authors work closely with me throughout the process to refine the adventure over several stages, and when the final manuscript arrives, Linda or I (sometimes both) review, edit, and tinker with it from start to finish.

Understand that when you say you don't mean to offend but are angry at the writer, it comes across as your not wanting to offend me but not worrying about others. In fact, the authors and I work together, and if you're displeased with how something turned out, it's hard to make a case for treating us differently in how you present feedback.

Venture-Agent, Utah—Provo aka Chess Pwn

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Haven't read everything. But if I were someone that liked roleplaying, or GMing for someone who liked roleplaying. I'd appreciate a reminder to the GM that good roleplay can be awarded a +2 bonus. Like, make your roll and say, "I got a 19, but you can give me up to a +2 for my good speech." Or something like, "Here I go, GM remember, you can add a +2 to my roll if you thought I was convincing."

Project Manager

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John Compton wrote:
Quote:
I want to stress that I genuinely didn't mean to offend. I'm angry at the writer of this scenario in particular...

Our authors write to an outline I create, expanding on it and adding creative elements that surpass what Linda and I could invent on our own. The authors work closely with me throughout the process to refine the adventure over several stages, and when the final manuscript arrives, Linda or I (sometimes both) review, edit, and tinker with it from start to finish.

Understand that when you say you don't mean to offend but are angry at the writer, it comes across as your not wanting to offend me but not worrying about others. In fact, the authors and I work together, and if you're displeased with how something turned out, it's hard to make a case for treating us differently in how you present feedback.

And John and Linda generally get buyoff from management, and scenarios go through editing, during which editors can pull a halt if they think there's a problem with a product.

When you impugn the writer, you impugn the team.

Paizo Employee 5/5 Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

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And Thurston's explanation of including roleplaying mechanics in the organized play setting is far better than mine—another demonstration of why the campaign is stronger for its cast of freelance authors.

Paizo Employee 5/5 Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

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Thomas Hutchins wrote:
Haven't read everything. But if I were someone that liked roleplaying, or GMing for someone who liked roleplaying. I'd appreciate a reminder to the GM that good roleplay can be awarded a +2 bonus. Like, make your roll and say, "I got a 19, but you can give me up to a +2 for my good speech." Or something like, "Here I go, GM remember, you can add a +2 to my roll if you thought I was convincing."

And I'm on board with that. It might even stand to be a sentence or two in the Creative Solutions section of the Guide, for I really don't want a lack of a reminder to be interpreted as a complete lack of permissiveness.

3/5

Quote:
Understand that when you say you don't mean to offend but are angry at the writer, it comes across as your not wanting to offend me but not worrying about others. In fact, the authors and I work together, and if you're displeased with how something turned out, it's hard to make a case for treating us differently in how you present feedback.

I meant I don't mean to offend anyone. This includes both you and Mr. Hillman. Being angry because I felt that the scenario encouraged being good at rolling dice and getting high numbers on your character sheet more than it did good roleplaying and clever thinking (my biggest beef on that front was that

Spoiler:
the Aspis agent knew our status as Pathfinders from the get-go, making it impossible to influence her into acting the way we wanted, but I digress)
does not mean that I think ill of them as a writer (or, in your case John, as an editor), but that I disagree with this particular choice that was made. I wasn't about to go boycotting all Thurston Hillman written scenarios or anything. I also wasn't fully aware of the involvement that various individuals had.
Quote:
It should also be noted, that much of this scenario was based around the new mechanics from Ultimate Intrigue. If these mechanics are problematic, then I would suggest providing that feedback.

Honestly? I kind of do find them problematic. It's definitely not a big deal for me in home game because I can leave them out, but the more statistics you put on social stuff the more dependent that social stuff becomes on mechanical results. But that's merely an opinion, I can see the other side of it.

I'm conscious enough to admit when I'm wrong, at least to some degree. I still don't necessarily like putting it on the mechanics to ensure that the disparity between a player's ability to speak and the character's is addressed, especially not by imparting an element of randomness to something that in reality is generally more controlled. I've played the 5 Int 7 Cha Nagaji brute before, and when I played him table GMs were not afraid to call me out when I was being more eloquent and intelligent than he should be. But at the end of the day it is a game, and there does need to be some level of standardization, so consider my objections withdrawn.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—ACT—Canberra aka Arcaian

FedoraFerret wrote:
I've played the 5 Int 7 Cha Nagaji brute before, and when I played him table GMs were not afraid to call me out when I was being more eloquent and intelligent than he should be. But at the end of the day it is a game, and there does need to be some level of standardization, so consider my objections withdrawn.

Side note: How?? Nagaji receive a racial bonus to charisma - they can't be 7 CHA in PFS play. I've always seen most of the Nagaji characters as not always good at knowing what is happening, or telling what's happening in a social situation, but very persuasive and often eloquent when speaking - just rare that they know what they're actually speaking about.

Liberty's Edge

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FedoraFerret wrote:

(my biggest beef on that front was that

Spoiler:

the Aspis agent knew our status as Pathfinders from the get-go, making it impossible to influence her into acting the way we wanted, but I digress)

I just ran this scenario this last weekend and I wanted to respond to this.

Bid for Alabastrine:

From my perspective, the PCs were publicly announced as representatives of the Pathfinder Society. So, of course the agent knew who you were. You were travelling with papers that announced who you were, as they were provided by a known associate of the Society. Your in country contact had left messages with whoever was manning the border crossing you used, and probably several others to be sure, about who you were and to be expecting you. So yeah there were so many ways in which that character would know who you were.

Second point, even if she had not known who you were, nothing was going to sway her from her plan. The influence rules include a caveat, which I think models real life very well, that some people can not be influenced in certain ways. In this case, your goal was to stop her from winning all of Alabastrine. There is no reasonable way for you to talk her out of this plan. Some people can not be convinced of some things.

As to the rest of your point, whether a GM rewards good RP is going to be on a case by case basis. This is not ideal but it is reality. At least with a system in place, I may be extremely shy, but if I build a social character I can succeed at what the character should be good at, even when I the player fall flat on my face.

Why is it no one expects you to be able to actually lift a portcullis for your character to succeed at that act, but when your character is trying to convince someone that Plan A is good for them, the player has to be a silver-tongued bastard to succeed?

Dark Archive 5/5 5/5

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Fedora Ferret, have you played The Bronze House Reprisal? This is by no means a "social scenario" and assumes there is a fair amount of combat with little to no RP depending on the actions of the players.

I ran it post GenCon last year for a few people, one of whom posted in this here thread.

The group was successful in every aspect of the adventure.

We never rolled for initiative.

The Exchange 5/5

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This topic always hits a "hot button" for me. Sorry for the following (feel free to skip my post - it's just random ranting...)

I'd like to chime in on this topic with something from an older thread.

John Francis was posting on a thread about OOC actions having in game effects... but I think it really fits here. Oh, and my reply to him...then I'll expand on the subject.

nosig wrote:
John Francis wrote:


I try to GM by a very simple rule: out-of-character actions have no in-game effects.

That means that saying "Diplomacy roll: 15 on the die, +6 equals 21" is mechanically every bit as good as the most brilliant role-playing exposition of how you're going to persuade the stall-holder to invite you to the private auction that evening.

Sure, I'd like you to role-play the encounter: it makes for a richer experience (hopefully for everybody at the table). But this is a fantasy game, and players are not their characters. I'd no more insist that you have to play out the social skills of your character than I would insist that you had to take actual physical damage should your character get wounded in combat.

Yes! this!

and you know what, the reward I am getting from "the most brilliant role-playing exposition" will be the fun I get from the DOING it... and the fun I see on my fiends faces when they watch me do it. What I rolled doesn't matter - it's all in the fun of the moment...

I've been playing Role Playing games for more years than many of our players have been alive. I can "smooze the DM" as much as the next guy... but when it comes to the mechanics of the game - it sort of bothers me when the judge gives me a bonus, when the 10 year old girl beside me did just as well on her roll as I did on mine... and I succeed and she fails. The difference? I'm playing the game the way the Judge wants me to (because I'm more experienced at it - and more comfortable acting in front of people). Kind of feels like we are saying to that kid "you're having bad-wrong-fun" - "you're playing the game wrong". I, personally, don't like that aspect of our hobby. Where we are "teaching someone HOW TO PLAY THE GAME RIGHT"....So if it's all the same to you, please don't give me a RP bonus when I "smooze the DM" and "play to my audience" ... the reward I am getting from "the most brilliant role-playing exposition" is the fun I get from the DOING it...

Because you know what? Sometimes we role play, sometimes we roll play. And it's all part of the game.

Players even play different at different times...

I like to see players having FUN their own way. I don't need to force them to do it my way.

Sometime, early in a CON, when I'm really in "the zone", I can play a conman that would pull a bluff on Razmir himself!... other times, I'm down and not really feeling it - in need of caffeine perhaps, and I just need to roll the dice and read off the numbers.

A GM that can play to both, and recognize when he/she needs to do one and/or the other (perhaps with different players at the same table at the same time) impresses me greatly. Often in PFS I'm impressed.

So, when we give player X a bonus for his performance, in a way we penalize someone for being shy, or tired, or young (and shy), or rushed, or ...o many other things... because they do not play the game the way we think they should. They are having fun "the wrong way".

Do we do the same thing for someone who just rolls his climb skill checks? or his swim? Does he have to say "I'm doing a 'dog paddle' over to the wall and try to climb out... ah... using both hands to boost me out of the water and the wall as leverage." Should he take us down to the hotel pool to show us HOW his character does that swim check?

How about in combat? should we penalize someone for just rolling the attack - without stating HOW they are attacking? Does a player who is a fencing master (or at least LOOKS like one) get a bonus if he pulls a rapier and flourish's it about?

Diplomacy (all the social skills in fact) is just another skill check - to say "If they role-play greatly, I give a modifier because they entertained m. If they choose not to role-play the conversation, they don't get the bonus, and will likely fail" or "If they dance poorly, I give no modifier..."...

Sorry for the Rant... Returning control back to you

(edited slightly to clarify a couple points)

5/5 5/55/55/5

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Its a +2 bonus. Nothing to live or die over, BUT... if they wonder why you got the plus 2 bonus and its because "you said stuff" maybe the new player will say stuff next time, which is at least half the point of the bonus.

5/5 5/5

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I have to disagree that giving a bonus for good roleplay is equivalent to penalizing those who don't roleplay well. If the other person fell short and would have succeeded if they'd had a bonus, it's because they didn't hit the target, not because the game was stacked against them. We want to encourage people to roleplay and providing an incentive is a good thing. Sometimes your dice are not with you and despite having a good modifier and giving it your best in-character plea, you just don't hit the mark. Just like a character who specializes in combat sometimes can't hit the broad side of a barn. The random element of rolling dice is part of what makes the game exciting to me. If you'd rather not have that as part of your gaming experience, I understand there are other games out there that do not rely on it.

Silver Crusade

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Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I'll give the +2 for a good concept, even if it's not roleplayed out. For example, if you say you will meet the NPC at a bar and buy them drinks, or say you're going to address the noble extra politely, I'll give the bonus if your described actions are appropriate.

Not everyone is up for role playing 24/7, so I try to accommodate that.

The Exchange 5/5

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Pete Winz wrote:
I have to disagree that giving a bonus for good roleplay is equivalent to penalizing those who don't roleplay well. If the other person fell short and would have succeeded if they'd had a bonus, it's because they didn't hit the target, not because the game was stacked against them. We want to encourage people to roleplay and providing an incentive is a good thing. Sometimes your dice are not with you and despite having a good modifier and giving it your best in-character plea, you just don't hit the mark. Just like a character who specializes in combat sometimes can't hit the broad side of a barn. The random element of rolling dice is part of what makes the game exciting to me. If you'd rather not have that as part of your gaming experience, I understand there are other games out there that do not rely on it.

and your advice would be what? for me to move on to those other games? Clearly I am not understanding this.

Normally in PFS the last few years I have been trying to roll FIRST and then try to match my performance to what result I got. (Because I'm playing a Role...)

Roll the dice (I prefer to take ten), THEN do the role play. How good is my performance? Am I one "Smooth Talk Devil"? or did I roll a "1" and flub it again? I try to make my Role Play match my roll... which means i need to know what my numbers are before I can act in the Role...

Many times in the past I've given a speech that would have the Mooks handing over the loot and healing the PCs... only to watch my die roll a "1" and get something like an 11. This is only slightly less disturbing then the player with the social skills of a toad, crassly hitting on the merchants daughter and then saying "I've got a 45 diplomacy check, so I get a discount on this right?"

I like to try it the other way around...

Roll the dice and get:

"1" + "10" skill, and so I leer at the NPC while commenting "I'm a Big Man, if you know what I mean!"

or

"20" +"10" skill, and smile at the NPC while commenting "I'm sure I could be of assistance in this little matter, perhaps we could discuss it over an ale later this evening?"

Heck, I wonder if I play "in character" would my "11" result above get bumped into a success... or at least out of a total failure. Yeah - playing the role would push me out of my "role"...

But you know, that's the way I like to play, and I don't expect other people to play the same way. And I sure don't feel comfortable telling other people how to have fun - or that if they are not doing it my way that "If you'd rather not have that as part of your gaming experience, I understand there are other games out there that do not rely on it."

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

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The biggest problem I have whenever this type of discussion comes up is that is seems those asking for rewards for good role-playing seem to limit good role-playing rewards only to those characters with good social skills. Eloquent characters are rewarded for role-playing eloquent speeches while ineloquent characters are chastised for bad role-playing when they wax equally eloquent. Yet I see no suggestions of a reward for role-playing ineloquent characters in an ineloquent manner. If we want to reward good role-playing, why are we only rewarding players who are role-playing their good social skill characters well?

The Exchange 5/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:

Its a +2 bonus. Nothing to live or die over, BUT... if they wonder why you got the plus 2 bonus and its because "you said stuff" maybe the new player will say stuff next time, which is at least half the point of the bonus.

yeah, it's kind of like those skill checks at some tables where a PC who hits a 25 on a natural 19 will achieve greater results than one who hits a 40 on a natural 3, and they both do better than the girl who gets a 50 when she is just taking 10...

;)

edit to add: and a +2 bonus actually CAN BE something for my PC to "live or die over". In fact, when I'm disarming traps, it can be something other peoples PCs might "live or die over".

The Exchange 5/5

trollbill wrote:
The biggest problem I have whenever this type of discussion comes up is that is seems those asking for rewards for good role-playing seem to limit good role-playing rewards only to those characters with good social skills. Eloquent characters are rewarded for role-playing eloquent speeches while ineloquent characters are chastised for bad role-playing when they wax equally eloquent. Yet I see no suggestions of a reward for role-playing ineloquent characters in an ineloquent manner. If we want to reward good role-playing, why are we only rewarding players who are role-playing their good social skill characters well?

LOL!

well... perhaps I should get a -2 when I am running an ineloquent character when they wax eloquent?

Or maybe when I role play my "social misfit" with the -5 Diplomacy by I leering at the NPC Bride while commenting "I'm a Big Man, if you know what I mean!"? When I am role playing my ineloquent character WELL, so they/I get a penalty? makes sense to me.

5/5 5/55/55/5

nosig wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Its a +2 bonus. Nothing to live or die over, BUT... if they wonder why you got the plus 2 bonus and its because "you said stuff" maybe the new player will say stuff next time, which is at least half the point of the bonus.

yeah, it's kind of like those skill checks at some tables where a PC who hits a 25 on a natural 19 will achieve greater results than one who hits a 40 on a natural 3, and they both do better than the girl who gets a 50 when she is just taking 10...

;)

edit to add: and a +2 bonus actually CAN BE something for my PC to "live or die over". In fact, when I'm disarming traps, it can be something other peoples PCs might "live or die over".

Its a +2 bonus in a social setting . Context matters.

And yes, that sort of bonus is all over the game. You get flanking bonuses for thinking strategically, using the right combat manuvers against the right enemy can shut them down, strategic spell combinations work well to give your parties victory (FOM + black tentacles, featherstep +stonecall), its only missing from the non social skills because there isn't any kind of minigame to picking locks but those are the odd ones out, not the skills getting the +2 bonuses. That sort of thing is normal for the rest of the game.

Shadow Lodge

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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I want to take the conversation back to the example the OP brought up, because it actually addresses the concerns of older conversations like those nosing is bringing up.

Bid for Alabastrine uses the new social encounter rules from Ultimate Intrigue which address *all these issues directly*. Because the rules are new, they even included a two page excerpt in the scenario so you would know how they worked. Every notable NPC had a social stat block, which laid out all kinds of circumstantial modifiers and alternate skills to use for influence.

I love these new rules. They codify exactly the issues being discussed -- not needing a *player* who can orate to have a character be able to orate -- and they talk about it explicitly. You don't need to hash out that argument because the rules are now very clear on it.

What the real issue seems to be in this case is that the rules are *new* and *overwhelming* if you aren't familiar with them. They can look like a straitjacket until you get used to them and figure out where the inherent flexibility is in the system. There's a lot of information presented in a new format, and it's just going to take everyone some time to assimilate it, just like it takes time to learn how to read a combat stat bloc.

So in all seriousness, unless you are referencing the rules from UI or BfA, this conversation isn't worth having again.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

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nosig wrote:
trollbill wrote:
The biggest problem I have whenever this type of discussion comes up is that is seems those asking for rewards for good role-playing seem to limit good role-playing rewards only to those characters with good social skills. Eloquent characters are rewarded for role-playing eloquent speeches while ineloquent characters are chastised for bad role-playing when they wax equally eloquent. Yet I see no suggestions of a reward for role-playing ineloquent characters in an ineloquent manner. If we want to reward good role-playing, why are we only rewarding players who are role-playing their good social skill characters well?

LOL!

well... perhaps I should get a -2 when I am running an ineloquent character when they wax eloquent?

Or maybe when I role play my "social misfit" with the -5 Diplomacy by I leering at the NPC Bride while commenting "I'm a Big Man, if you know what I mean!"? When I am role playing my ineloquent character WELL, so they/I get a penalty? makes sense to me.

I am not sure how that constitutes a reward for good role-playing in the OP's sense of reward, i.e. reward people for good role-playing by allowing them a greater chance of success in the mission.

Regardless, I agree with your earlier post that, essentially, the greatest reward you get for good role-playing has nothing to do with success or failure of the mission. It is in the reactions of the other players at the table, and, in many ways, the entertainment value good role-playing provides.

A good example here is my 5 Charisma Dwarf Barbarian. He is obnoxious, loud and opinionated, having been modeled after Gimli in Lord of the Rings. Like Gimli, he often beats the party face to opening his mouth and frequently interjects when he doesn't. Like Gimli, he needs aid anothers from his friends sometimes just to make sure an Indifferent Attitude doesn't go to Hostile. Like Gimli, he has occasionally succeeded in important Diplomacy checks mainly because he was the only one who spoke up and just happened to hit all the key important points even if he did so obnoxiously. And finally, like Gimli, he is played primarily for his entertainment value. Even as I watch the 'eloquent role-players' roll their eyes at me there is still a hint of a smile on their faces as they scramble to counter what I just said. And that is enough of a role-playing reward for me.

5/5 5/5

nosig wrote:
and your advice would be what? for me to move on to those other games? Clearly I am not understanding this.

My apologies for not clarifying that the first part of my response was a follow-up to your comment regarding bonuses to social skill checks based on good roleplaying and the second part was directed to the original poster, who seemed to have issues with the game relying too much on the results of dice rolls. I certainly don't mean to imply that anyone is playing the game wrong, but if you find that dice rolling makes the game not fun, there are other options.

Grand Lodge 4/5

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trollbill wrote:
The biggest problem I have whenever this type of discussion comes up is that is seems those asking for rewards for good role-playing seem to limit good role-playing rewards only to those characters with good social skills. Eloquent characters are rewarded for role-playing eloquent speeches while ineloquent characters are chastised for bad role-playing when they wax equally eloquent. Yet I see no suggestions of a reward for role-playing ineloquent characters in an ineloquent manner. If we want to reward good role-playing, why are we only rewarding players who are role-playing their good social skill characters well?

Well, I have a character with barely any social skills. Big ugly dumb mug with a great sword. When it comes time for a diplomacy assist I usually say "you want I should kill him now!" while acting out a reach for his sword. Technically that probably should be an intimidate roll. But usually gm's allow it as diplomacy when the face character plays off of it as "hey, look don't you want to talk to me, instead of him" the face then starts off on his speach. Sometimes if the type of npc we are dealing with is right I even get a bonus on the assist roll.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka The Great Rinaldo!

Speaking directly to the specific scenario Fedora brought up:

I ran this at Paizocon and was thrilled to see a social scenario. As a GM, I look forward to places where I can really play up the individual characters and let my players do the same. At both of my tables, everyone did role-play and we all had a great time.

At one of them, they made some unfortunate choices on what skills to use and combined it with some really bad rolls, so they actually failed to get enough influence to even succeed at the mission. They earned 0 prestige and reduced gold for the scenario. And you know what? All five of them thanked me for an enjoyable session. They got to really play their characters (even the ones who weren't specced out to be strong in social situations). One of them even said it was the best time they had ever had failing a mission.

So if you didn't get to enjoy the roleplay and felt that the rolls were overemphasized, I suggest that it is not the scenario that is to blame. The GM and the players are the ones who really make it work or not. If the players were getting into the scene and the GM made *no* allowances, then maybe they have some blame here.

On the other hand, if the GM did reward your roleplay (and they may well have done so without telling you explicitly how) and the rolls were just against you ... I just have to ask, did you enjoy the game while you were playing it? Was a good experience soured because you didn't earn your prestige points and gold? Don't get me wrong, I look forward to those rewards so I can get my character the next great piece of equipment as much as the next person; however, in the end, isn't the point of the game to enjoy the game?

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Starfinder Superscriber

I may well be violating the rules when I do this, but I will sometimes let a character roll X to do "Aid Another" for another character doing Y.

For example, the ugly big dumb mug with the sword may be able to roll Intimidate to help another Diplomacy, if a good-cop/bad-cop routine makes sense. (It could also hurt, depending on context.)

Re: the topic at large, I do agree with nosign that the reward from roleplaying is the doing of the roleplaying itself. Sometimes I'll roll first and then do the actual roleplaying, so that I can guide how I play to what happened. E.g., I remember one (that later turned out to be very important) blown social roll which I then roleplayed as the guy being kind of a clueless doof. (Which, to be fair, he was. Very smart, but just terrible in social situations.)

The same applies to combat, though. You don't just have to roll to see if you hit; you can narrate out your combat as well, which brings the roleplaying into the combat. As GM, I sometimes have fun narrating out the deaths of NPCs as they go down. (I probably quote Mercutio a bit too often, though.)

The Exchange 5/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:
nosig wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Its a +2 bonus. Nothing to live or die over, BUT... if they wonder why you got the plus 2 bonus and its because "you said stuff" maybe the new player will say stuff next time, which is at least half the point of the bonus.

yeah, it's kind of like those skill checks at some tables where a PC who hits a 25 on a natural 19 will achieve greater results than one who hits a 40 on a natural 3, and they both do better than the girl who gets a 50 when she is just taking 10...

;)

edit to add: and a +2 bonus actually CAN BE something for my PC to "live or die over". In fact, when I'm disarming traps, it can be something other peoples PCs might "live or die over".

Its a +2 bonus in a social setting . Context matters.

And yes, that sort of bonus is all over the game. You get flanking bonuses for thinking strategically, using the right combat manuvers against the right enemy can shut them down, strategic spell combinations work well to give your parties victory (FOM + black tentacles, featherstep +stonecall), its only missing from the non social skills because there isn't any kind of minigame to picking locks but those are the odd ones out, not the skills getting the +2 bonuses. That sort of thing is normal for the rest of the game.

ok... you lost me here BNW.

"...its only missing from the non social skills because there isn't any kind of minigame to picking locks but those are the odd ones out, not the skills getting the +2 bonuses. That sort of thing is normal for the rest of the game." Huh?

I have no idea what you are trying to say above. Could you please paraphrase this and try again?

5/5 5/55/55/5

Most things in the game allow the player to get their character a +2 bonus by good play/smart play.

In combat, you get that +2 bonus and the like from playing chess with the pieces on the board. Flanks, extra attacks of opportunity from being in the right place, backing people into a corner etc.

Clever use and positioning of spells and spell combinations get you huge advantages. The player has a lot of effect on how effective they are.

In social encounters doing a good job as a player gets you the +2.

You don't get the +2 bonus for doing or describing your breaststroke for swimming, but thats the exception to how the rest of the game works, not the rule. There just aren't enough parts in the game for the playerto fiddle with for that to happen.

The Exchange 5/5

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Most things in the game allow the player to get their character a +2 bonus by good play/smart play.

In combat, you get that +2 bonus and the like from playing chess with the pieces on the board. Flanks, extra attacks of opportunity from being in the right place, backing people into a corner etc.

Clever use and positioning of spells and spell combinations get you huge advantages. The player has a lot of effect on how effective they are.

In social encounters doing a good job as a player gets you the +2.

You don't get the +2 bonus for doing or describing your breaststroke for swimming, but thats the exception to how the rest of the game works, not the rule. There just aren't enough parts in the game for the playerto fiddle with for that to happen.

But we are talking about SKILLS. Not Combat or Spellcasting ... The social skills (those CHA based) get bonuses for being social? Why? Other types of skills do not. This is like saying "you get +2 bonus flanking when you are using a rapier, because you (the player) are on the fencing team."

We don't give INT based skills bonuses for being Intelligent. "You get a +2 bonus Knowledge (History) because your player has a BS degree is American History."

Or a +2 bonus in DEX skills if you (the player) can juggle - or pick pockets.

Or a +2 bonus in WIS skills because you are the oldest player at the table - and thus clearly the "Wisest Person in the Room".

Yet we think it's a given that someone can get a +2 bonus on Social Skills because THE PLAYER is better at social skills. Yeah, even the "little kid" who get's a bonus because "he's cute when he acts like a grown up". Or the "cute nerdy guy/girl" because they smiled at us (we've all see this too).

Hay! can I get a +2 on all my Social Skill checks if I bring Brownies to the game? How about beer?

edit: and thanks for the quick reply BNW.

Sovereign Court 2/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

nosig wrote:
Yet we think it's a given that someone can get a +2 bonus on Social Skills because THE PLAYER is better at social skills. Yeah, even the "little kid" who get's a bonus because "he's cute when he acts like a grown up". Or the "cute nerdy guy/girl" because they smiled at us (we've all see this too).

We give a skill bonus for good descriptions because they make the game more fun for everybody, and should be encouraged.

And this does in fact apply to all skills, not just social ones. For instance, if you describe a particularly intelligent way to get past a trap, the GM is justified in giving you a +2 circumstance bonus to disable device.

Sovereign Court 3/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like the idea that a circumstance bonus is rewarded for making the game more enjoyable for everyone playing. There are many ways you can achieve that.

You can get social skill bonuses for coming up with clever arguments, having strong word choice or writing skills, or intuiting which conversation points will be most (or least) effective. This is not much different than a fighter getting a bonus because the player can think tactically, has a sense of timing initiative, or reasons out a foe's strengths and weaknesses.

Silver Crusade 3/5

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You can be good at roll playing. All you need is to be an acrobat.

4/5

I do admit to solving a puzzle in one particular scenario in under 30 seconds because while my character has no ranks in perform, I had over 20 years of musical experience. "Give me that, they wrote out a message using sheet music. Can't be much of a message with only 7 possible letters to use."

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/55/55/5 Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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I'm glad that a circumstance bonus is available to reward good roleplay. Up unto this point, I didn't know it existed, and so never used it for my players. I merely rewarded good roleplay with more roleplay in return!

I agree that excellent roleplay can make a table fun for everyone. I've seen people do a great job roleplaying the anti-social or less social characters, though it can be hard.

I like that PFS has room for both roleplay and rollplay. It's not an either or proposition, but a continuum.

Hmm

The Exchange 5/5

Kurald Galain wrote:
nosig wrote:
Yet we think it's a given that someone can get a +2 bonus on Social Skills because THE PLAYER is better at social skills. Yeah, even the "little kid" who get's a bonus because "he's cute when he acts like a grown up". Or the "cute nerdy guy/girl" because they smiled at us (we've all see this too).

We give a skill bonus for good descriptions because they make the game more fun for everybody, and should be encouraged.

And this does in fact apply to all skills, not just social ones. For instance, if you describe a particularly intelligent way to get past a trap, the GM is justified in giving you a +2 circumstance bonus to disable device.

I except this in theory, but often I do not see it in practice. I actually wish it was more like you describe.

Normally I only see the "(+2) judge bonus" being suggested for Social Skills. It often is linked to a "(-2) judge penalty" when a player does not present his/her attempt in a fashion the judge finds acceptable. Sometimes the judge gives the penalty but not the bonus. More often the judge gives the bonus and not the penalty. Every now and again the judge will just assign a big enough bonus/penalty to ensure the outcome they feel is "just" (the player is/isn't playing the way the judge wants them to, and so they are rewarded/punished for it).

"We give a skill bonus for good descriptions because they make the game more fun for everybody, and should be encouraged." Often this is true. But should we? I mean, I'll heap praise on a player (esp. a beginner) when they do something I like. Or when they make the game more fun for the other players (and I'm just another player even when I'm the judge) Heck, I'll give them stuff. A cold drink for the judge after the game. A mini for the kid without one. A beer after the game for someone I enjoyed playing with. Heck, maybe even an in game thing when I'm running a PC in the game ("Hay! Here's a Fly extract. Feel free to use it...").

But should we when we are a judge? Should the player who "plays the way we like" be "encouraged" with in game rewards? What if everyone else at the table enjoys the players actions - except the judge? "Not at MY table..." is a real thing. Punish the player for "playing the wrong way" is a real event too. Or the flip side of this. Reward the player for actions I like, but that sort of upsets the other players at the table. "Playing favorites" is something we have all seen from time to time. "Judge's pet" is a phrase... When the judge and one (or two) players drift off into Monty Python quotes for 5 minutes, while the rest of the table just grits their teeth... then the player get's a +2 on his Intimidate roll for threatening the NPC with a "soft cushion".

Should we (as the judge) be doing this?

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Yes.

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