Punishing Bad RP


Advice

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The Exchange

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now for my OPINION on this topic...which I have expressed many times, and for which people will assume I am against Role Playing... but no, I am not "...actually advocating doing away with roleplaying...", I am actually advocating disassociating the link between rewarding the PLAYER for having good social skills and the Roll of the dice.

Want to reward me for doing a fabulous in character description of a action (be it a Skill Check, a Attack, or even a Social Interaction with another PC)? Don't give me a (+2) on the check. Give me a smile. Maybe even a chuckle, or even better, give me a Role Playing, In (Non-Player) Character response right back at me.

I will preach making the check FIRST, then making the Role Play match the Roll Play. I love the Role Playing part of this game (and I've watched over the years as it get's steadily eroded away by the Roll Play parts of the rules, going from something the Player Controls totally, to something done with dice checks). And I've seen/played with players who really don't understand why I cry when my Guard Dog dies, or laugh when a complex puzzle falls into place for me. Players who are just doing Roll Play - because that is the way they play. But I don't want to try to force them to play MY way - to Role Play their PCs... I don't use the Carrot/Stick reward of a Judges +2/-2 when they "Play Right)... I think it's just wrong to try to force people to "play the Right Way".

They way I try to get them to Play with me? By making it "fun" to play along. Role Play at them, and try to make the game "come alive" for them too. Make it fun to play with me...

SO - imagine that the judge is a Roll Player who plays just for the combats - who knows the mechanics of the game and has no skill or even understanding of the Role Playing part of the game. And give them a bunch of players like me... players who want them to "just skip past mechanics parts and get to the story - I mean, it's not like we can't handle this challenge! Come on! They are just nameless thugs! Can't we just mark off the 'resource tax' and get on with the REAL GAME...." (Cue the scene from Austin Powers Gold Member - with the Nameless Mook just laying down his gun and "falling over").

Hopefully, as a player or a judge, I am going to be able to give the other people at the table - be they Roll Players or Role Players or some mix of those things - a game they will enjoy. And I'm going to try to enjoy it myself (which should be easy, as I have the most fun when the other players are having fun at the table). (And I will try to do all this while remaining true to PFSOP and the "run as written" rule.)

And I try really hard NOT to tell (even non-verbally) players at my table (or at a table I am playing at) that they "are not having fun the right way". What is fun for them might not be what is fun for me... But they sat down hoping to have a fun time... and that's what I'm hoping we will all have.

If we spend 10 minutes recounting Monty Python quotes, or snippits of dialog from the movie JAWS, or heck, producing original dialog suitable for a Doc-u-drama on high medieval court life - AS LONG AS ITS FUN, it's a win. It's a good game.

So... if the rest of the table is a bit more Roll and a bit less Role? I'll tone down the voices and pay more attention to the mechanics of how the rules work. Maybe I'll trot out a couple fancy rules gimmicks (some "cheese" maybe) and show them off to everyone. "Yeah, you can cast invisibility on an object - like a door..."...

If the rest of the table is a bit more Role and a bit less Roll? More "In Character" voices, method acting and props (pulling out a handful of 1$ coins to "drop a handful of gold on the bar..." or my matchmaker asking "are you currently in a long term relationship? No? Would you like to be?").

"Sometimes we role play, sometimes we roll play. It's all part of the game."


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Good roleplaying at my table entertains me and my players. I try to encourage it. Offering mechanical advantages on rolls is worth trying; it might be just the motivation that some players need to put a little more effort into their play.

Try to be interesting. Try to be eloquent. Try to be memorable. It makes for better games.

The Exchange

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
thejeff wrote:


You can develop skill at the tactical combat game in Pathfinder, based purely on the mechanical rules. There's no real way to do the same in any kind of "tactical social" game in the system.

Ultimate Intrigue says "HELLO!"

...which kind of underscores this point.

yeap...

I love the Role Playing part of this game... and I've watched over the years as it get's steadily eroded away by the Roll Play parts of the rules, going from something the Player Controls totally, to something done with dice checks.

Ultimate Intrigue was (IMHO) a big step in the wrong direction.

(example) In an adventure, the PCs begin to circulate among the guests at a Ball hosted by the Crown Prince. They are attempting to discover "clues" about several "plot hooks"... and thanks to UI this has been changed from a "social event" where the players get to Role Play their PCs personality quirks to a bunch of skill checks and dice rolls - it's "Social Combat"! A Role Playing encounter converted into a Roll Playing encounter... where the player who rolls the best dice "wins".... sigh.


Another take on why I started adding circumstance penalties:
The party face syndrome:

How many people have had this happen:

Trog the warrior: I'm going to go tlak to that guard and see what he knows

Julia the diplomancer: Wait! You don't have enough charisma, you will just fail the check, better let me do it.

Trog: Your right *Proceeds to sit quietly*

I found once I started giving out circumstance bonuses/penalties to skill checks the RP scenes became more dynamic as the non charisma focused PC's were not as scared to speak up.

Lately though I have been stealing the inspiration mechanic from 5th edtion over circumstance bonuses. So someone comes up with an awesome idea, whether they fail or succeed I give them a "bottlecap" (thanks Glass cannon) and they can cash it in later for advantage on another check. So someone who isn't great at talking but is good at coming up with clever ways to say make his stealth check better can now save the bottlecap for a later check that their character may not be so good at

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Some of the most *memorable* and *awesome* moments of roleplay have come from my characters who are NOT roleplay-oriented being firmly in character yet hitting all the points the target individual needs to hear PLUS doing it in a way that isn't talking down to them.

...still recalls one table at GenCon where people were pulling dollar bills out of their wallet and throwing them towards my table spot saying "TAKE MY MONEY!"

...and no, they weren't trying to assist, but the GM counted up the bills (before we gave them back to the players) and used that in his consideration for bonuses.

The Exchange

Keep Calm and Carrion wrote:

Good roleplaying at my table entertains me and my players. I try to encourage it. Offering mechanical advantages on rolls is worth trying; it might be just the motivation that some players need to put a little more effort into their play.

Try to be interesting. Try to be eloquent. Try to be memorable. It makes for better games.

I like most of this post... except for this part "...it might be just the motivation that some players need to put a little more effort into their play."

This always makes me a little un-comfortable... that line gives me "flash backs"... it reminds me of the home games where the players "smooze the GM"... you know, "butter up the person running the game" so that we'll get better treasure finds. Kind of like the game I sat in where the Judge "pulled punches" to be sure his gaming buddy didn't die (blatantly adjusting damage done down), but then 2 rounds later in the same combat the monster killed the PC run by the "new quite kid". After all, the judge was "rewarding" the play style he liked (his buddy always laughed at his jokes) and the new kid hardly ever said anything... the worst part was to have the GM award me with "judge points" when I cracked a joke and made him laugh. He and his buddy took a few minutes to tell me what I could use these "points" for in his home game...


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thejeff wrote:
Social interactions have at best a "GM handwaves a circumstance bonus".

Looking over the AP's and other adventures, you can get a general sense of what are 'accepted' circumstance bonuses, so I think you can get past the 'handwave' stage.

For myself, important NPC's have a set of 'triggers' for social modifiers, both negative or positive. If the PC's go through the effort, they can usually shift the DC a fair amount and those that don't and embellish without research might inadvertently 'step on a landmine' and tank their chances. Even with minor NPC, I tend to keep a pile of 'generic' motivations/hooks so is things end up putting a minor NPC in the stoplight, I can quickly flesh out a personality and give appropriate modifiers.


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I feel like there's a big difference between "playing with children" and "playing with actual adults" in terms of the social dynamics, since both are possible and there is a sliding scale.

Which is one reason there's no one-size fits all solution. Maybe kids need more of a push to open up, but maybe some adults need some official signpost that there's no risk to putting all of one's improvisational skills on display by formally indicating that this is desired behavior.

Like most things when GMing- read the room.

The Exchange

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Flamephoenix182 wrote:

Another take on why I started adding circumstance penalties:

The party face syndrome:

How many people have had this happen:

Trog the warrior: I'm going to go tlak to that guard and see what he knows

Julia the diplomancer: Wait! You don't have enough charisma, you will just fail the check, better let me do it.

Trog: Your right *Proceeds to sit quietly*

I found once I started giving out circumstance bonuses/penalties to skill checks the RP scenes became more dynamic as the non charisma focused PC's were not as scared to speak up.

Lately though I have been stealing the inspiration mechanic from 5th edtion over circumstance bonuses. So someone comes up with an awesome idea, whether they fail or succeed I give them a "bottlecap" (thanks Glass cannon) and they can cash it in later for advantage on another check. So someone who isn't great at talking but is good at coming up with clever ways to say make his stealth check better can now save the bottlecap for a later check that their character may not be so good at

I on the other hand have seen a lot of table where the following occurs:

the Trog the warrior player: I think we should go talk to that guard and ask him what he knows...

Julia the diplomancer: You sure? ok, (turns to the judge).. We'll ask-

Judge interrupts Julia to speak to Trog Player - going so far as to speak over Julia and ignoring her input: What do you say to the guard?

Trog Player: Huh? Why me?

Judge: It was your idea, so what, exactly, do you say to the guard at the door. Now that you've walked up to him he's waiting for you to say something.

Trog Player: Ah... Hay, dude, did anyone pass by here in the last hour?

Judge: roll a Diplomacy check.

Trog Player: Ah... roll of 6, -2 is a 4.

Judge: roll initiative.

Grand Lodge

Surprised to see some of the hate for Ultimate Intrigue in here when it's influence system kinda solves the issue of Trog the Warrior not being able to do anything in social situations without potentially hurting the group.

It allows you to use more specific skills than diplomacy that represent the particular interests of an NPC. So if Trog wanted to go talk to the soldier he could roll Profession Soldier instead.


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If I had friends, I'd totally punish them during our social interactions.


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nosig wrote:

Trog Player: Ah... Hay, dude, did anyone pass by here in the last hour?

Judge: roll a Diplomacy check.

Trog Player: Ah... roll of 6, -2 is a 4.

Judge: roll initiative.

This is where I feel a need to point out that most people don't even understand how diplomacy checks work. If people were more aware of the rules, then people with low diplomacy skills would not be afraid to roleplay.

There are two actions you can make with diplomacy: improve someone's attitude, and make a request. Diplomacy checks based on making requests, by the rules, *do not cause an NPC's attitude to become worse*. It is the "Improve Attitude" action that has penalties for failure.

Plus, once an NPC has a 'Helpful' attitude they will generally accept basic requests without rolls even being needed.

Grand Lodge

Right, but a failed diplomacy check can cause combat if their attitude was hostile and it was needed to stop them from attacking.

Or if during your failed diplomacy check you disclosed some information that shifted their attitude towards you.

The Exchange

here is another old thread link..

Please notice the lines....
"They don't understand doing things in character. In my home games I deal with this by failure,..."

So... how to punish players who don't "understand doing things in character"? "In my home games I deal with this by failure,..." yeah...

The Exchange

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Matrix Dragon wrote:
nosig wrote:

Trog Player: Ah... Hay, dude, did anyone pass by here in the last hour?

Judge: roll a Diplomacy check.

Trog Player: Ah... roll of 6, -2 is a 4.

Judge: roll initiative.

This is where I feel a need to point out that most people don't even understand how diplomacy checks work. If people were more aware of the rules, then people with low diplomacy skills would not be afraid to roleplay.

There are two actions you can make with diplomacy: improve someone's attitude, and make a request. Diplomacy checks based on making requests, by the rules, *do not cause an NPC's attitude to become worse*. It is the "Improve Attitude" action that has penalties for failure.

Plus, once an NPC has a 'Helpful' attitude they will generally accept basic requests without rolls even being needed.

and this is an example of how Role Playing has (over time) been converted to Roll Playing. and why I said earlier...

"I've watched over the years as it get's steadily eroded away by the Roll Play parts of the rules, going from something the Player Controls totally, to something done with dice checks..."

this is not necessarily a bad thing! It is just converting one form of table top game into another form... shifting from something the Player controls with things like funny voices, method acting, and a social skills, to something done with dice rolls and black and white rules (about HOW to do "social combat")...

Picture Gandalf and crew going in to see Théoden... and how they get past the guards at the door. Long ago that would have been just an exchange of words between the GM and the PCs... now it is a bunch of skill checks (Bluff? "you wouldn't deprive an old man of his walking stick would you?").

It is better now? is it worse? ... I don't know. It is what it is.

"Sometimes we role play, sometimes we roll play. It's all part of the game."


You're assuming some big assumptions about the intent of my post, lol. Oh well, whatever.


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Maybe we should try out the other side. I'm going to rollplay this thread.

Craft(Post): 1d20 ⇒ 16

There. Unless anyone can beat that, whatever opinion I support is correct.

The Exchange

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Matrix Dragon wrote:
You're assuming some big assumptions about the intent of my post, lol. Oh well, whatever.

no-no, I think you misunderstood.

This was not being critical of what you posted. It is just an example of how the game we play has changed over the years.

When I started playing there weren't even such things as "Social Skill checks". Your GM (at that time a DM) told a tale, and we as players contributed to that tale. We told the story - without resorting to checks...


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nosig wrote:


and this is an example of how Role Playing has (over time) been converted to Roll Playing. and why I said earlier...

"I've watched over the years as it get's steadily eroded away by the Roll Play parts of the rules, going from something the Player Controls totally, to something done with dice checks..."

this is not necessarily a bad thing! It is just converting one form of table top game into another form... shifting from something the Player controls with things like funny voices, method acting, and a social skills, to something done with dice rolls and black and white rules (about HOW to do "social combat")...

Picture Gandalf and crew going in to see Théoden... and how they get past the guards at the door. Long ago that would have been just an exchange of words between the GM and the PCs... now it is a bunch of skill checks (Bluff? "you wouldn't deprive an old man of his walking stick would you?").

It is better now? is it worse? ... I don't know. It is what it is.

"Sometimes we role play, sometimes we roll play. It's all part of the game."

I'm definitely torn on this topic - part of me very much wants it all to be roleplayed out with "funny voices, method acting, and a social skills" actually determining what happens. Another part finds that horribly immersion breaking, since it's all player ability, independent of the character.

I'm also not all that sure it's actually been eroded, but then I've never done a lot of convention/organized play. I suspect most long term groups find some sort of compromise that works for them, combining some level of playing it out with some level of determination by rolls.

Scarab Sages

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First of all, let me say that social skills have nothing to do with roleplaying talent. Trust me on that. It's a game of imagination. Perform (Act) should be an INT-based skill, if anything (and don't get me started on the whole Sorcerer casting stat thing).

Otherwise, saying that roleplaying shouldn't be a necessary ability in role-playing games is just like saying speed and agility shouldn't be necessary to play football/soccer, that coordination and the ability to jump shouldn't be necessary to play basketball, that strength shouldn't be necessary for wrestling, that a grasp of strategy shouldn't be necessary to play chess, that mathematical skill shouldn't be necessary to play various casino games, that hand-eye coordination shouldn't be necessary to play Sonic The Hedgehog, that a good vocabulary shouldn't be necessary to play Scrabble, etc etc etc.

With the exception of stuff like Candyland, all games require a certain amount of skill and/or talent of one sort or another. Role-playing games, in particular, have always been an exceptionally talent-demanding pursuit: Mathematical skills are good, logical problem-solving skills are highly desirable, tactical ability is useful, a background in literature and folklore/mythology are nearly a must, and acting talent and imagination are CRUCIAL. If you don't have the particular talents to play a particular game, then that just means it's not the game for you. I'm not going to try to join a sports team and demand that they lower their athletic ability standards just because I can't meet them. You don't have to feel bad, but you can't just ruin the game for those who ARE good at it by demanding the whole thing and everyone else involved be brought down to your level. That isn't "elitism". That's just life. Everybody's different. People are not necessarily all equal in all ways. Real life seems to run on a random-rolling basis rather than point-buy. Deal with it. It's not the end of the world. If you don't have talent in a particular area, don't worry about it; pursue the talents you DO have, in an environment where you are free to develop them to the fullest extent, and let everyone else be free to do the same! Life's not always fair, most people know that - but the Bed of Procrustes helps no one.


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Jurassic Pratt wrote:
Surprised to see some of the hate for Ultimate Intrigue in here when it's influence system kinda solves the issue of Trog the Warrior not being able to do anything in social situations without potentially hurting the group.

I just found it FAR to complicated and involved. As I glanced over it and it just kept going ON and ON and ON and ON... 'what was I reading?' My eyes glazed over and I lost the will to continue [failed my save vs boredom]. It might be a fine system I just can't foresee EVERY finishing the rules in total and/or going through using something that required THAT many pages of rules to replace a simple d20 roll.

nosig wrote:
When I started playing there weren't even such things as "Social Skill checks".

LOL When I started, they didn't have skills and hobbit was a class...


nosig wrote:
Matrix Dragon wrote:
You're assuming some big assumptions about the intent of my post, lol. Oh well, whatever.

no-no, I think you misunderstood.

This was not being critical of what you posted. It is just an example of how the game we play has changed over the years.

When I started playing there weren't even such things as "Social Skill checks". Your GM (at that time a DM) told a tale, and we as players contributed to that tale. We told the story - without resorting to checks...

You didn't even roll for combat?

I could literally say everything you say about social interaction, say it about combat, and sound just as smug.

Grand Lodge

graystone wrote:
I just found it FAR to complicated and involved. As I glanced over it and it just kept going ON and ON and ON and ON... 'what was I reading?' My eyes glazed over and I lost the will to continue [failed my save vs boredom]. It might be a fine system I just can't foresee EVERY finishing the rules in total and/or going through using something that required THAT many pages of rules to replace a simple d20 roll.

Oh yeah, there's a buuuuuunch of content from UI that I don't use (looking at you verbal duels). But I sorted through it over time and found some gems.

It was just weird to only see negative comments about it when some parts of it honestly can really help non-charisma characters contribute to social situations.


Jurassic Pratt wrote:
Oh yeah, there's a buuuuuunch of content from UI that I don't use (looking at you verbal duels). But I sorted through it over time and found some gems.

LOL funny you should say that: the Tactics section of verbal duels is one part that looked usable/stealable for skills that you could allow aid another checks for social skills. It could give people that would normally twiddling their thumbs because of low cha and/or cha skills a chance to help. There are options for knowledge/linguistics [for int] and sense motive/profession [wis], allowing anyone with a non-dumped mental stat and some skill points to jump on the social bandwagon [even if it's just aid another].

Jurassic Pratt wrote:
It was just weird to only see negative comments about it when some parts of it honestly can really help non-charisma characters contribute to social situations.

From my perspective, it would have been better breaking it up into digestible parts. You have to make it easy and accessible to overcome the inherent 'if it's not broke, don't fix it' and/or 'status quo' mentalities. Even if social encounters aren't playing like you want, rules that look like the US tax code makes it look like it would cause MORE problems than it fixed.


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DRD1812 wrote:
I've come to the conclusion that giving circumstance bonuses to social-skill checks for good roleplay, and thereby ENCOURAGING players to try and play something out without strictly requiring it of them, is best practice.

I'm not convinced that "good roleplay" is the same as "being appropriately polite and saying the right things". If the character I'm playing is supposed to be bad at persuasion, then in my mind "good roleplay" would be roleplaying that, rather than doing my best.

I think my ideal order of events would be:
1) outline the approach taken
2) roll the dice
3) act out the result.

I find it a little strange that people expect me to do 3) first, when the difference 2) makes is obviously huge.


Lucy_Valentine wrote:

I'm not convinced that "good roleplay" is the same as "being appropriately polite and saying the right things". If the character I'm playing is supposed to be bad at persuasion, then in my mind "good roleplay" would be roleplaying that, rather than doing my best.

She's got a point. In my current game, two of the players are SUPER good at roleplaying. They are hilarious! But there is absolutely no way that they would be able to talk their way past a guard in-game because their characters are goblins. Idiotic goblins.


Heather 540 wrote:
But there is absolutely no way that they would be able to talk their way past a guard in-game because their characters are goblins. Idiotic goblins.

What if it was a goblin guard? I hear they are particularly 'idiotic'. ;)


graystone wrote:
Heather 540 wrote:
But there is absolutely no way that they would be able to talk their way past a guard in-game because their characters are goblins. Idiotic goblins.
What if it was a goblin guard? I hear they are particularly 'idiotic'. ;)

That one they probably would be able to talk their way past. By using a bribe. :)


I don't give a bonus for roleplaying. Roleplaying is the how the roll is triggered. If you don't interact with NPCs, I don't let you roll.

Scarab Sages

Irontruth wrote:
I don't give a bonus for roleplaying. Roleplaying is the how the roll is triggered. If you don't interact with NPCs, I don't let you roll.

Lest we forget, "roleplaying" isn't just talking to people; it's in everything a character does and is.


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
I don't give a bonus for roleplaying. Roleplaying is the how the roll is triggered. If you don't interact with NPCs, I don't let you roll.
Lest we forget, "roleplaying" isn't just talking to people; it's in everything a character does and is.

In light of this comment, your previous one makes more sense. OTOH, it seems to have less to do with the topic at hand, which is that part of playing a roleplaying game sometimes covered by the social skills or other times by playing out the talking to people.


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
I don't give a bonus for roleplaying. Roleplaying is the how the roll is triggered. If you don't interact with NPCs, I don't let you roll.
Lest we forget, "roleplaying" isn't just talking to people; it's in everything a character does and is.

Yes, you have to do something in the fiction appropriate to trigger the mechanic you want to use.

Don't interact with the fiction? No roll.


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I feel like there are a lot of situations where it's appropriate to trigger an in-character action (and hence a roll) by speaking out of character.

Like if your character is in position to make swim checks, they're likely not able to talk. If you want to make a knowledge check to identify some creature I just finished describing, I don't need you to describe it back to me, something like "I want to use my knowledge of religion to see if I can tell what kind of undead this is" is fine.

And there's really no difference between "I want to use my knowledge of religion to identify the undead" and "I want to use my skill at diplomacy to sweet-talk the dockmaster". It's just that the latter might get me to respond, in character as the dockmaster, whereas the undead monstrosity is not likely to want to chat.


I didn't say "talk", I said "interact with the fiction". I chose my words on purpose.

So, I try to avoid "I want to use my skill at diplomacy", and encourage "I try to sweet talk the dockmaster." If it's ambiguous, I might ask the player the goal/method. But I want something that we can all visualize as to what they mean.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

First of all, let me say that social skills have nothing to do with roleplaying talent. Trust me on that. It's a game of imagination. Perform (Act) should be an INT-based skill, if anything (and don't get me started on the whole Sorcerer casting stat thing).

Otherwise, saying that roleplaying shouldn't be a necessary ability in role-playing games is just like saying speed and agility shouldn't be necessary to play football/soccer, that coordination and the ability to jump shouldn't be necessary to play basketball, that strength shouldn't be necessary for wrestling, that a grasp of strategy shouldn't be necessary to play chess, that mathematical skill shouldn't be necessary to play various casino games, that hand-eye coordination shouldn't be necessary to play Sonic The Hedgehog, that a good vocabulary shouldn't be necessary to play Scrabble, etc etc etc.

I think this is generally correct, but is missing another important element - roleplaying is a skill, just like any other - it can be learned and developed over time. So much of the discussion about how rewarding good roleplay penalizes people who lack real life social skills I think misses the fundamental fact that even if someone isn't naturally gregarious, they can learn to be better at it in game with practice.

Furthermore, it is silly to assert that player skills don't come into play in combat - before any D20 is rolled in anger, there is a whole slew of player choices that have to be made, and there is definitely a skill in knowing which choices are better for a given character concept/build. Nobody would argue, I think, that a player who is experienced in D20 combat tactics shouldn't be allowed to benefit from that experience, yet somehow when it comes to social situations, the standards change.

Part of that, I think, is because the work behind being a good roleplayer can sometimes be invisible - I often spend as much time thinking about how my characters think and act (going so far as to mentally play out how they might interact in common social scenarios) as I do planning out things like feats and gear selection. I read a lot, and look out for cool social lines to crib from, and I'm always thinking about ways to adapt ideas from one setting to another, etc. In short, I think it's a bit frustrating to see people dismiss that work as "Oh, you're just naturally better at doing the talky-talky, so it's unfair for your player skill there to influence the game". I actually put a bunch of effort into being good at the talky-talky thank you very much, and while I'm glad I made it look so effortless, I'd still like to have my work recognized, you know?


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Furthermore, it is silly to assert that player skills don't come into play in combat - before any D20 is rolled in anger, there is a whole slew of player choices that have to be made, and there is definitely a skill in knowing which choices are better for a given character concept/build. Nobody would argue, I think, that a player who is experienced in D20 combat tactics shouldn't be allowed to benefit from that experience, yet somehow when it comes to social situations, the standards change.

Consider using such personal skills with other character skills. If a player who is an expert in parkour demonstrates that parkour moves are part of Acrobatics, then that becomes a houserule that the other players can use, too. If a player who has memorized the Bestiary uses his memory to identify creatures, that is considered metagaming unfairly rather than using the Knowledge skill. If a player sings aloud beautifully, that does not help his character's Perform(Singing) check.

Only Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive get a free boost from the player's personal skills.

I view roleplaying as a game about making choices and seeing how those choices play out. Character design is a choice: does my archer take Weapon Focus or Deadly Aim at 3rd level? Tactics are a choice: does my fighter aid the rogue by moving into a flank? Social interactions are a choice: does my bard bluff that he is an noble to gain a dinner invitation?

Thus, in Diplomacy checks I like to reward choices rather than acting. The bard decides against bluffing his social rank and tries for diplomacy: "I have heard of your important dinner party and would like to play at it. My goal is to make contacts among your guests. I would be willing to perform for you to prove my skill." No fancy talk, but it is still good roleplaying.


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If you've got a friend who's shy or poor at roleplaying you probably want to slowly and gently encourage them to do more. It'll be more fun for both of you in the long run.

If they're an a&&&*$~& you may have to be more direct in what you tell them but I'd still stop short of 'punishing bad RP'. That's how to lose frienda and fail to influence people, experience tells me. Giving major benefits to good RP is slightly better but not a lot. Minor benefits probably won't stop someone being annoying.

Good & enjoyable RP is its own reward.


avr wrote:

If you've got a friend who's shy or poor at roleplaying you probably want to slowly and gently encourage them to do more. It'll be more fun for both of you in the long run.

If they're an a~!%*&$* you may have to be more direct in what you tell them but I'd still stop short of 'punishing bad RP'. That's how to lose frienda and fail to influence people, experience tells me. Giving major benefits to good RP is slightly better but not a lot. Minor benefits probably won't stop someone being annoying.

Good & enjoyable RP is its own reward.

That's right its all about whats most fun for you and your group!


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Mathmuse wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Furthermore, it is silly to assert that player skills don't come into play in combat - before any D20 is rolled in anger, there is a whole slew of player choices that have to be made, and there is definitely a skill in knowing which choices are better for a given character concept/build. Nobody would argue, I think, that a player who is experienced in D20 combat tactics shouldn't be allowed to benefit from that experience, yet somehow when it comes to social situations, the standards change.

Consider using such personal skills with other character skills. If a player who is an expert in parkour demonstrates that parkour moves are part of Acrobatics, then that becomes a houserule that the other players can use, too. If a player who has memorized the Bestiary uses his memory to identify creatures, that is considered metagaming unfairly rather than using the Knowledge skill. If a player sings aloud beautifully, that does not help his character's Perform(Singing) check.

Only Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive get a free boost from the player's personal skills.

It's an interesting analogy, because back in the old school days, something like knowing the monsters was considered an appropriate player skill - preferably gained by encountering them in play even with previous characters rather than by reading the manuals. The other classic old school example was trap finding and disarming, players were expected to learn to clever ways to find and disarm them out of character. In both cases, GMs were encouraged to come up with new variations to challenge that player skill.

Of course at the same time, social interactions were handled entirely by players with no character skills involved.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Mathmuse wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Furthermore, it is silly to assert that player skills don't come into play in combat - before any D20 is rolled in anger, there is a whole slew of player choices that have to be made, and there is definitely a skill in knowing which choices are better for a given character concept/build. Nobody would argue, I think, that a player who is experienced in D20 combat tactics shouldn't be allowed to benefit from that experience, yet somehow when it comes to social situations, the standards change.

Consider using such personal skills with other character skills. If a player who is an expert in parkour demonstrates that parkour moves are part of Acrobatics, then that becomes a houserule that the other players can use, too. If a player who has memorized the Bestiary uses his memory to identify creatures, that is considered metagaming unfairly rather than using the Knowledge skill. If a player sings aloud beautifully, that does not help his character's Perform(Singing) check.

Only Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive get a free boost from the player's personal skills.

Again, no, this is not what's happening. Literally every single thing a character does is the result of player skill, so your assertion that only bluff, diplomacy, and sense motive get a free boost is objectively incorrect. For example - it's not that the player is good at parkour that justifies a boost, it's that the player a)made a character who can perform that skill well, mechanically b)looked for opportunities to use that skill within the confines of the game and c)described the use of the skill in an engaging way. All of those are player skills, and I would argue that at the very least the second two would, in fact, be boosted by a player having more real-world expertise with parkour, so that he/she knew what kind of real-world situations it could be useful for, and could describe it with more fidelity.

Moreover, the distinction you think you are drawing at the end of your post (between describing a player choice and rewarding player social skills) simply isn't one - you are responding to a position that I don't think anyone is taking (IE that it's things like silly voices or acting skill that matter). Instead, it's that having social skills (IE anticipating how a human[oid] is likely to react in a given situation, and knowing how to shape your actions and responses to manipulate the situation to your benefit) should be rewarded when roleplaying social situations, and that if a player lacks these social skills in the context of the game, they can be developed if you encourage good roleplay. What is confusing to you is the fact that describing your use of a social skill well is sometimes indistinguishable from simply using the skill "in real life".

For example: unless your player in your final example actually was intending to do exactly what he/she said at the party (specifically that the motivation to attend was actually to make contacts and not, say, to investigate someone or case the grounds for a later infiltration or any other trope-y possibilities), that description was a bluff, not diplomacy. If you allowed the use of a diplomacy roll instead because you felt the lie was so well crafted that it was utterly plausible, that's you being affected by real-life player social skills. It's also (I think) an exact example of what people are talking about when they say "rewarding good roleplay", even if you don't put on a great accent or some such while describing what the Bard says.


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Furthermore, it is silly to assert that player skills don't come into play in combat - before any D20 is rolled in anger, there is a whole slew of player choices that have to be made, and there is definitely a skill in knowing which choices are better for a given character concept/build. Nobody would argue, I think, that a player who is experienced in D20 combat tactics shouldn't be allowed to benefit from that experience, yet somehow when it comes to social situations, the standards change.

Consider using such personal skills with other character skills. If a player who is an expert in parkour demonstrates that parkour moves are part of Acrobatics, then that becomes a houserule that the other players can use, too. If a player who has memorized the Bestiary uses his memory to identify creatures, that is considered metagaming unfairly rather than using the Knowledge skill. If a player sings aloud beautifully, that does not help his character's Perform(Singing) check.

Only Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive get a free boost from the player's personal skills.

Again, no, this is not what's happening. Literally every single thing a character does is the result of player skill, so your assertion that only bluff, diplomacy, and sense motive get a free boost is objectively incorrect. For example - it's not that the player is good at parkour that justifies a boost, it's that the player a)made a character who can perform that skill well, mechanically b)looked for opportunities to use that skill within the confines of the game and c)described the use of the skill in an engaging way. All of those are player skills, and I would argue that at the very least the second two would, in fact, be boosted by a player having more real-world expertise with parkour, so that he/she knew what kind of real-world situations it could be useful for, and could describe it with more fidelity.

Moreover, the distinction you think you are drawing at the end of your...

Not really, no. People are talking about players like one I have in my group who is a very gregarious fellow. He could likely sell ice to penguins but never invests in the diplomacy skill. When it comes time to move around the battle field without provoking AoO’s, this fellow says “I roll acrobatics” and the number on the die determines his success. When it comes time to get a deal from a local merchant, this fellow spends 5 minutes IC chatting up the merchant, asking after his family, discussing local events, getting the merchant to talk about himself and generally flattering him before rolling the diplomacy. His success is influenced, if not outright determined by the quality of the conversation rather than result of the diplomacy check. He knows all the right things to say and do to secure a deal and comes off as the smooth-talking diplomat he is IRL instead of the tongue-tied nitwit the investment into his character dictates the character is.

Compare this to someone like me who is not so gregarious. When it comes time to move around the battle field without provoking AoO’s, I say “I roll acrobatics” and the number on the die determines my success. When it comes time to get a deal from the local merchant, I have invested in the diplomacy skill. I say that I want to chat up the merchant, ask after his family, discuss local events, get the merchant to talk about himself and generally flatter him without actually acting out the conversation before rolling the die and the DM decides the success based on my (lack of) conversation with the merchant rather than what I rolled. I know all the right things to say and do to secure a deal but come off as the tongue-tied nitwit I am IRL instead of the smooth-talking diplomat the investment into my character dictates the character is.

Success of the acrobatics checks was determined by the result of the rolls, unaffected by the number of cartwheels we describe, our technical understanding of tumbling and gymnastics, the momentary distraction we created by saying “Hey look!” before we starting our movement or anything else—just the roll. This is not true in the case of the diplomacy check. I’m fairly confident Mathmuse understands where to apply diplomacy versus bluff and that this determination has little to with the overarching topic.


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I don't think I've ever heard of someone getting a bonus to climb or acrobatics simply by actually describing what they are doing before this thread.

I love role play, bit as I've said before in this thread, I work before games. I'm invested in the story and don't just walk up to the merchant and press x, but I can not ever become an irl diplomancer for when I play pathfinder.

Ultimately it comes down to this. If you can smooth talk, you get a bonus to ANY SKILL just because you can describe it well. I might play a bit more of a numbers and system crunch game, but that just doesn't sound fair.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
SorrySleeping wrote:


Ultimately it comes down to this. If you can smooth talk, you get a bonus to ANY SKILL just because you can describe it well. I might play a bit more of a numbers and system crunch game, but that just doesn't sound fair.

With respect to skills like climbing and others, it's less a question of smooth talk and more a question of enriching the game with good description and narrative. And I think that's well worth rewarding. Besides, a +2 isn't exactly game breaking.


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Bill Dunn wrote:
SorrySleeping wrote:


Ultimately it comes down to this. If you can smooth talk, you get a bonus to ANY SKILL just because you can describe it well. I might play a bit more of a numbers and system crunch game, but that just doesn't sound fair.
With respect to skills like climbing and others, it's less a question of smooth talk and more a question of enriching the game with good description and narrative. And I think that's well worth rewarding. Besides, a +2 isn't exactly game breaking.

Some would consider a game rich in narrative and good description the reward in and of itself. YMMV :)

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
SorrySleeping wrote:


Ultimately it comes down to this. If you can smooth talk, you get a bonus to ANY SKILL just because you can describe it well. I might play a bit more of a numbers and system crunch game, but that just doesn't sound fair.

And this perception is what will always drive this discussion.

How can a game be fair and inclusive if someone has a RL meta-advantage over someone who doesn't? Alternatively (and where it really becomes obvious) is if someone has a RL meta-advantage and sits at the table with someone who has a RL meta-disadvantage?

For some, getting out to game is a massive social accomplishment, but then to penalize these individuals (or provide the perception thereof) because they are not good at interactions in RL.

This is essentially telling them:

A. Don't bother trying to interact
B. Act out (even if inappropriate) to 'win' at roleplaying
C. The game isn't fair
D. Cheating on some meta-levels is tacitly encouraged
E. Don't bother creating a social character even if you want to explore the possibility
F. Don't show up to play, because you won't get the nifty stuff that Dame TalksAFineGame/Sir TalksAGoodGame gets. Ever.

How can this underlying thought process be addressed in an inclusive and fair way that rewards those who have limited social skills in RL without turning completely mechanical?

How can it be adjusted appropriately to account for folks who have amazing social skills in the same fashion in RL while maintaining the environment?


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Mathmuse wrote:
Only Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive get a free boost from the player's personal skills.

I mean, I'll give a bonus to disable device if a player describes the mechanism of the trap, or a bonus to stealth if a player shares an anecdote about their time at ninja school, or a bonus to appraise if a player gives their best antiques roadshow impression, etc.

It's basically just a reward for amusing the other people at the table or providing detail or color to the world that enhances the game. I don't think "fairness" really enters into it since there's no accounting for things like systems knowledge or years of experience either. It doesn't really matter since it's not a competitive game and players should make the vast majority of their rolls anyway.


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I'll give a bonus on grapple checks if the player can put the person next to them in a full nelson. DANCE FOR MY AMUSEMENT, PLAYERS! YOUR +2 CIRCUMSTANCE BONUS DEPENDS ON MY FAVOR!


SorrySleeping wrote:
I don't think I've ever heard of someone getting a bonus to climb or acrobatics simply by actually describing what they are doing before this thread.

If the party has to climb down a cliff, and the fighter, who gets an armor check penalty on Climb, says, "I pull a 100-foot rope out of my backpack, tie a knot in it every 5 feet, tied one end to a tree, throw the other end down the cliff, and climb down the rope," then the fighter rolls against the Climb DC of climbing a knotted rope, DC 5, rather than a stony cliff, DC 15. And others in the party climb down the rope, too, except maybe the thrifty rogue unties the rope and climbs down the cliff directly to keep the knotted rope for later.

But that is a different kind of describing than SorrySleeping meant.

born_of_fire wrote:

When it comes time to get a deal from a local merchant, this fellow spends 5 minutes IC chatting up the merchant, asking after his family, discussing local events, getting the merchant to talk about himself and generally flattering him before rolling the diplomacy. His success is influenced, if not outright determined by the quality of the conversation rather than result of the diplomacy check. He knows all the right things to say and do to secure a deal and comes off as the smooth-talking diplomat he is IRL instead of the tongue-tied nitwit the investment into his character dictates the character is.

...
I say that I want to chat up the merchant, ask after his family, discuss local events, get the merchant to talk about himself and generally flatter him without actually acting out the conversation before rolling the die and the DM decides the success based on my (lack of) conversation with the merchant rather than what I rolled.

That depends. I like my players to gather information. If the silver-tongued player had learned something in casual conversation from the merchant, such as the shipment from Northville is late (plot hook!), and the player's character promises to look into that because the party is heading to Northville, then I would add a circumstance bonus to the Diplomacy roll to Influence Attitude. But simply saying that the character talks without letting me pass on the information would mean that the character of the fumble-tongued player would not know to make that promise. If no plot hook or promise was involved, no circumstance bonus would result, regardless of the quality of the conversation.

Born_of_fire wrote:
Some would consider a game rich in narrative and good description the reward in and of itself. YMMV :)

Yes. That enhances the roleplaying experience and brings the characters to life. Why demand a mechanical advantage on top of that?

Though I learned that such narrative influences me as the GM. Good roleplaying makes me more willing to let the players determine the quest. They go off the planned Adventure Path into their own story in the same setting against the same villains and I put in the extra work to fill out other parts of the setting because I know I will be rewarded with a great story.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
born_of_fire wrote:
Not really, no. People are talking about players like one I have in my group who is a very gregarious fellow. He could likely sell ice to penguins but never invests in the diplomacy skill. When it comes time to move around the battle field without provoking AoO’s, this fellow says “I roll acrobatics” and the number on the die determines his success. When it comes time to get a deal from a local merchant, this fellow spends 5 minutes IC chatting up the merchant, asking after his family, discussing local events, getting the merchant to talk about himself and generally flattering him before rolling the diplomacy. His success is influenced, if not outright determined by the quality of the conversation rather than result of the diplomacy check. He knows all the right things to say and do to secure a deal and comes off as the smooth-talking diplomat he is IRL instead of the tongue-tied nitwit the investment into his character dictates the character is.

No, nobody is saying this at all, and I confess I don't understand how this is even a contentious issue. Let's be crystal clear:

Objectively player skill went into the decision to use acrobatics as a skill in that situation. The tactical skills that went into the decision to invest in that ability as well as the choice for when and how to use it are all player skills that are being rewarded in the game, and nobody thinks that it is unfair to do so.

The fact that in your example the talkative person didn't choose to add narrative flair to the acrobatics check doesn't mean that he couldn't have done so, nor does it mean it wouldn't have added to the game if he did, nor does it mean the dice wouldn't have mattered if he did. Indeed, in any game I am playing in, I would explicitly encourage him to describe his actions, and if he demurred (and I was the game master), I would offer some up of my own - because "I roll acrobatics" is not letting me or anyone else at the table get a real sense of the narrative. This has nothing to do with "punishing bad RP", and everything to do with improving the gameplay at the table.

Also, nobody is saying that ONLY the talking matters when it comes to social checks - that is an absolute strawman. In your example of the character with no ranks in diplomacy but a talkative character, dice are still being rolled. Character skills are still being used - at best, the strong roleplay amounts to a +2 circumstance bonus to the check, essentially the same as good positioning for flanking adds to attack rolls.

Furthermore, everyone would agree that the player who is playing this way (being way more suave or intelligent than his character) is not playing the role well, and thus perhaps the +2 bonus isn't warranted in that case - the GM might say something like "In your head, you have the argument well laid out, and it's very persuasive, but when you actually put it into words, it gets a bit garbled - I'll let you make the roll, but your character isn't really the type to be able to explain those concepts fluently.

This doesn't mean that players with low social skill characters are excluded from roleplay bonuses, either - maybe instead of giving an eloquent speech or complex argument, Greg the Gregarious instead RPs out giving a simple, earnest plea, more in line with the naive, unsophisticated character he's playing. Maybe THAT justifies a +2 circumstance bonus on the diplomacy check?

Further (and I can't believe this needs to be said), it should be clear that "not giving a bonus" when someone doesn't RP beyond "I roll acrobatics" is not a punishment. If you personally don't want to go beyond that, that's fine - but narrative descriptions that flow along with the game add much to the experience, and there is no reason they shouldn't be rewarded.

born_of_fire wrote:
Compare this to someone like me who is not so gregarious. When it comes time to move around the battle field without provoking AoO’s, I say “I roll acrobatics” and the number on the die determines my success. When it comes time to get a deal from the local merchant, I have invested in the diplomacy skill. I say that I want to chat up the merchant, ask after his family, discuss local events, get the merchant to talk about himself and generally flatter him without actually acting out the conversation before rolling the die and the DM decides the success based on my (lack of) conversation with the merchant rather than what I rolled. I know all the right things to say and do to secure a deal but come off as the tongue-tied nitwit I am IRL instead of the smooth-talking diplomat the investment into my character dictates the character is.

Okay, there's also a lot to unpack here.

First, the part you're really not going to want to hear, but needs to be said again, I fear - at some level, being "gregarious" in the sense of being able to tell a good story is a necessary and expected part of being a role player. When you argue that it's unfair to reward those skills because you fear you don't have them, that's exactly the same as saying "Compare this to someone like me who is not so tactically minded. When it comes time to move around the battlefield, I don't remember that I might provoke AoOs as I move within the monster's reach, so my character takes a hit that I could have avoided if I had taken a 5 foot step instead. It's not fair to penalize my character (a battle hardened veteran who would know to approach a long-limbed foe in a guarded way) simply because as a player I'm not as tactical." The only reason it seems different to you is because you perceive yourself as having one set of skills and lacking the other.

Second, you need to be introduced to the power of the word "yet", I think. When you say that you are not gregarious, you are acting like that is a fundamental fact of your nature, somehow beyond your control to change. That's a lie. Instead of saying "I'm not good at RPing conversations", say "I'm not good at RPing conversations YET." Acknowledge that it is a skill you could invest real life energy in, just like you would expect a player to invest in learning the combat rules and developing tactical skill over time. If you don't WANT to develop those skills, that's fine too - it's not wrongbadfun to only enjoy the parts of the game that you enjoy - but that doesn't mean that people who do more to make the table better shouldn't be rewarded for those efforts. If you feel bad about other people sometimes getting a minor bonus for a cool bit of RP, that's not a reason for those people to not be rewarded, that's a reason for you to think about upping your game.

Finally, because I feel like it's a particularly pernicious assumption that needs to be quashed, it bears repeating that nobody is demanding professional voice acting work or else no soup for you. Something like Mathmuse's example "diplomacy" check (more on that below) is a fine example of what would count as good roleplay - it's much more engaging that simply saying "I roll diplomacy". Indeed, I would argue that it is very nearly against the rules to simply say "I roll diplomacy" or "I roll my bluff" because the rules implicitly (or even explicitly, in the case of bluff) hinge on how plausible what you're saying is, and how well it aligns with the biases of the NPC in question. Without any type of narrative hook to latch on to, how am I, as a DM, supposed to create a reasonable response from the NPC? Should it be like this: "Your roll failed. Either roll initiative or walk away" or like this: "His eyes narrow a bit as he considers what you say, and he says 'Nobody told me about a band of well-armed performers for the party tonight. If you and your party will hand over your weapons and come with us, I'm sure we can get to the bottom of this'..."?

born_of_fire wrote:
Success of the acrobatics checks was determined by the result of the rolls, unaffected by the number of cartwheels we describe, our technical understanding of tumbling and gymnastics, the momentary distraction we created by saying “Hey look!” before we starting our movement or anything else—just the roll. This is not true in the case of the diplomacy check.

Also again, nobody is saying that the result of your check was entirely decided by how well you rp the conversation. No matter how much it might feel to you like that's what happens, it is not, so you need to stop responding to that fear as if it were a legitimate part of this discussion. What people are suggesting is that when dice are being rolled, those dice should be juiced a little bit to reward and encourage players who invest more in the narrative because they are making the game better for everyone at the table. It is NOT an argument that such skills should be 'auto-success', or that players who don't invest in RP skills should auto-fail. Point blank if you are interpreting this as removing dice from the equation for social skills, you are interpreting it incorrectly.

born_of_fire wrote:
I’m fairly confident Mathmuse understands where to apply diplomacy versus bluff and that this determination has little to with the overarching topic.

Well, it's nice that you are confident in that - I'm not certain either way, though, since on balance it seems more likely that "making contacts at the party" was a pretext for whatever goal the players were really after (since it's unlikely in my estimation -though admittedly not impossible - that the goal of the party was the professional development of the bard). The reason this matters is because it is a perfect example of good roleplay/player skill being rewarded. In the likely scenario that this was actually a highly plausible bluff that got rolled as diplomacy instead of a bluff check contested by sense motive, that's potentially a significant mechanical advantage earned by a player who used real-life social skills (in this case thinking about the plausible social dynamics of this situation) to manufacture a better approach than just "I roll bluff" or even "I roll diplomacy". Even in the case where in this specific example there really was no ulterior motive for wanting to go to the party, and it was a straight diplomacy roll down the line, as stated, with no elaboration or additional verbal decoration, that would probably be enough to earn a +2 circumstance bonus for choosing an avenue that was closely aligned with the desires and biases of the NPC.


Mathmuse wrote:
SorrySleeping wrote:
I don't think I've ever heard of someone getting a bonus to climb or acrobatics simply by actually describing what they are doing before this thread.

If the party has to climb down a cliff, and the fighter, who gets an armor check penalty on Climb, says, "I pull a 100-foot rope out of my backpack, tie a knot in it every 5 feet, tied one end to a tree, throw the other end down the cliff, and climb down the rope," then the fighter rolls against the Climb DC of climbing a knotted rope, DC 5, rather than a stony cliff, DC 15. And others in the party climb down the rope, too, except maybe the thrifty rogue unties the rope and climbs down the cliff directly to keep the knotted rope for later.

But that is a different kind of describing than SorrySleeping meant.

It is. It's also a thing directly mechanically described by the rules in a way that isn't really paralleled in the social rules. Much like the flanking example earlier.

The social rules don't have the same level of granularity as the combat rules or even some of the other skills. The closest we see are examples in the adventures of bonuses for bringing up specific arguments, but that's all essentially ad hoc.

Mathmuse wrote:
Born_of_fire wrote:
Some would consider a game rich in narrative and good description the reward in and of itself. YMMV :)
Yes. That enhances the roleplaying experience and brings the characters to life. Why demand a mechanical advantage on top of that?

Why? Because doing so encourages the habit. At least that's the theory. Explicitly reward the behavior you want to see more of.

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