Punishing Bad RP


Advice

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Optimizing a character isn't a bonus because everyone is given the same point buy and the same options. If someone's character isn't performing as well as it could be (and they want it to be better) part of my role as a GM is to work with them to find the rules to make their character better.

As for people mentioning things like flanking giving a bonus or system mastery as being a bonus, as above, I see it as my job to help those players learn the rules and to use them to their advantage.


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
The thing that's galling for me is that I can with absolute authority say that players who are good at combat optimization and tactics do that because they enjoy it to, because I do both. Why is it that one aspect of what I enjoy is more deserving of reward than another aspect I also enjoy?

You've got something wrong here. Optimization works equally as well for skills AND combat: as such you're asking why you can't double dip bonuses [one set for optimization and one for out of character RP talent]. As such, i find it galling that you want double the bonuses.

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Why is it that one aspect of what I enjoy is more deserving of reward than another aspect I also enjoy?

Because one is in character and based on mechanics and one isn't?

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
This is my point - your stance is a double standard.

from my perspective, it's YOU that's asking for double standard: you want the ability to both optimize your skill AND use out of character skills, while other sections of the game do not offer you the opportunity to allow outside skills to influence them. For it to NOT be a double standard, I should be able to use player knowledge for knowledge checks, use my knowledge of acrobatics for jump checks or my woodworking ability for craft checks. As I can't, you're inventing a double standard for cha skills that other skills and parts of the game can't benefit from.


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Weirdo wrote:
J4RH34D wrote:

I have always viewed combat as much more of a group effort.

I find it happens much more regularly in combat that my group of players will say to each other "Hey, if you move there, I can move there, and then we get a flanking bonus." The nature of the round by round combat basically ensures that everyone gets a turn to effect the outcome.

I can honestly say that I have never had anyone in any of my games, ever say, during someone elses RP "Hey, remember this guy is having an affair, weave that in to your speach." It just isn't something that really happens.

Quoting this because I don't think it's gotten enough attention, given the amount of discussion on different kinds of player skill.

If you're bad at character optimization, odds are good that someone in your gaming group can help – and if not, there are guides online. If you're bad at in the moment tactics, you can ask fellow players advice about what action to take. I think you're more likely to get too much tactical advice than not enough.

But personally, I've never been in a situation where I don't know what my character should say as part of a social check and another player has given me suggestions ("Tell the guard we're maintenance workers!"). I have been in situations where I'm struggling to think of something to say and a player with a less socially adept character stepped in and made the check instead. This keeps the game moving but does not encourage me to play social characters. Even if someone else comes up with the conversational tactics, I'd feel good about being able to make the roll with the skill bonus I invested in, and about the fact that my character is a smooth talker.

I have actually seen that happen, not too infrequently either. But those are the bonus for specific points kind of things ("offer your condolences for her kids", tell her we can stop more bloodshed"), not help with the smooth talking oratory kind of phrasing we're mostly worried about here. Not even really sure how to give that kind of coaching or how well it would go over.

I've also seen GMs shut down even the first kind or only allow it with Aid Another rolls or separate attempts.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Do we take the athlete and force them not to exercise so they won't make the out of shape feel bad?
No, but if you have an eager nine-year-old playing an Int 18 wizard, and an adult who is obsessed and very experienced with puzzles playing an Int 8 barbarian, as a GM I would see it as essential to rein in the adult if they use their RL skills to jump all over in-game puzzles in ways that are both out of character for their barbarian and getting in the way of the nine-year-old playing to their character's strengths.

Part of why I hate puzzles in RPGs. Most of the time, there's no way to solve them in character, they break me out immersion completely and it just becomes me trying to solve a puzzle whether my character would be any good at it at all.

And I'm normally pretty good at it, so if I'm not playing the smart guy, I've still got to pitch in or we'll likely just sit there and stew.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Irontruth wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
...

I agree bias will always exist. I disagree on adding more though. You won't get me to budge on that. There's really NOTHING to convince me of here. You aren't going to sway me.

Just because a potential for bias already exists, does not mean it is a good thing to add more. In fact, I think that is a bad thing. If you want to do it, go for it. I can't stop you, nor would I bother trying if I could.

You aren't going to get me to adopt it though, or to say that it is a good thing.

This is another double standard (or maybe another example of the same one I've been fighting against) I don't get right here. Why is it that it is okay for you to flatly reject my perspective yet demand that I respect yours? Why is it that you are comfortable saying "I think what you do is biased and bad, and I'm totally unwilling to budge on that", but my attempts to demonstrate how your position is, itself, biased (just in a different way) are somehow an attack?

I am not trying to persuade you to adopt roleplay bonuses, that has never been my project. I am saying that you don't get to judge my gameplay as "bad" or "biased" without reply. My position this entire time has been that giving roleplay bonuses is (or at least can be) good, and that the corollary to that is that they are not inherently or necessarily biased. I don't care if you like them or not, or if you use them or not. I'm trying to get you to see that the position of "this type of play is bad and biased and nothing that you ever do or say can convince me otherwise" is, itself, a biased and highly toxic (in my opinion) position to take. It's also utterly unnecessary - if you don't like RP bonuses, just don't use them. You can dislike something without delegitimizing it. Frankly, in this entire thread, there has only ever been one side that has been seeking to delegitimize, demean, police and or judge other people's gameplay, and it is not mine.

Now, before the inevitable "If you are so into tolerating different playstyles, why can't you just let this topic go, and stop telling me that my opinion is biased and/or wrong?": Sure, of course I can. But why should I have to? Why should I be expected to tolerate people saying "Your way of play is unacceptable and should not, in my opinion, be allowed?" Why can't I defend my position and show how it is not, in fact, necessarily bad, just different? Explain why the onus has to be on me and others to justify why our preferences are not, in fact, bad and wrong, but also to do so in a way that doesn't get misconstrued as any kind of attack? Why is it that one side gets to judge the other without reply, and why is that not exactly an example of the bias I am talking about.

Again, I'm not attacking YOU. I'm not even attacking your gameplay. I am attacking your POSITION, but that's because your position is to justify your personal preferences by explicitly judging the way I like to play instead of simply being willing to say "I don't like it, and I don't play that way, but sure, it's fine if you play that way, I can see how and why it can be fun and valid, just different from what I'm after". And I know you said that you know you can't stop me, and wouldn't bother to try - but of course the issue has never been whether or not you could stop me from playing the way I like. You are wrong, though, when you say you wouldn't bother to try, because even in this post, you are absolutely trying to police other people's gameplay because you are making an appeal to a judgment - that what I do is bad and adds bias. The act of making that judgment IS an attempt to impose your opinion - what else can it be? I am making a judgment too, of course, but mine is "I'm not wrong to play the way I like, and you ARE wrong to judge my playstyle". You might see those as equivalently trying to impose an opinion on someone else, but I sure don't.

In short, what I'm asking for is that you treat my playstyle with this much respect, since it's been the respect I've given your playstyle this entire time:

"I don't like the way you play, I prefer a more flexible style of play with more flexible rewards, but if you are not comfortable with that, it's perfectly fine to play the way you do."


The best person with the screen I ever played with took an interesting tack to this - he would roll the checks for the player but not let them know how they did. "You think you're hidden." "You believe that you told a witty joke." We had a not especially bright bulb in that campaign, but this method allowed him to successfully play high int/high char.

Also fun with "you think you've found all the traps."

There's also the Fallout (1 & 2) approach - NPCs know if you're smart or not and adjust their reactions to you accordingly. Story is the same, but options get simplified.


thejeff wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Do we take the athlete and force them not to exercise so they won't make the out of shape feel bad?
No, but if you have an eager nine-year-old playing an Int 18 wizard, and an adult who is obsessed and very experienced with puzzles playing an Int 8 barbarian, as a GM I would see it as essential to rein in the adult if they use their RL skills to jump all over in-game puzzles in ways that are both out of character for their barbarian and getting in the way of the nine-year-old playing to their character's strengths.

Part of why I hate puzzles in RPGs. Most of the time, there's no way to solve them in character, they break me out immersion completely and it just becomes me trying to solve a puzzle whether my character would be any good at it at all.

And I'm normally pretty good at it, so if I'm not playing the smart guy, I've still got to pitch in or we'll likely just sit there and stew.

I can't agree more. On one hand, i enjoy those handout puzzles and I too am good at them: the rub is when my character is on the lower int scale... Do I point out the solution and try to pass it off as an 'idiot savant' moment or hold my tongue and let the 'smart' characters player try to figure it out. Neither is particularly palatable a a solution.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

You figure it out, and pass it over out of character to someone whose character is smart, so their character can be the one to solve it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Warped Savant wrote:

Optimizing a character isn't a bonus because everyone is given the same point buy and the same options. If someone's character isn't performing as well as it could be (and they want it to be better) part of my role as a GM is to work with them to find the rules to make their character better.

As for people mentioning things like flanking giving a bonus or system mastery as being a bonus, as above, I see it as my job to help those players learn the rules and to use them to their advantage.

Everyone is given the same options, but not everyone inherently has the same capacity to evaluate and use those options, in precisely the same way that not everyone has the same capacity to be a good roleplayer in social situations. Furthermore, in any given social situation, all players have the also start with the same options - indeed, often there are essentially unlimited ways in which the players could approach a social situation (which is why the mechanics for social situations are necessarily more fluid and less crunch oriented). As such, it seems evident to me that the rest of what you are saying should apply just as much to social RP. If someone feels like they are missing out by not RPing as well as they could (and they want to change that), part of your role as a GM is to work with them to find ways in which they can be more engaged in the game without being uncomfortable.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
graystone wrote:
You've got something wrong here. Optimization works equally as well for skills AND combat: as such you're asking why you can't double dip bonuses [one set for optimization and one for out of character RP talent]. As such, i find it galling that you want double the bonuses.

First, remember that what I was saying was in response to your claim that in your experience people who like to roleplay do it because they enjoy it, with the implication that they therefore don't really desire any additional rewards, which I understood as being presented as a reason why it's not biased to say they don't really deserve them. I pointed out that I personally DO desire them, so are we now back around to you saying that my desire is wrong and that I don't deserve recognition for adding extra value to the table? Isn't that a kind of bias?

graystone wrote:


MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Why is it that one aspect of what I enjoy is more deserving of reward than another aspect I also enjoy?

Because one is in character and based on mechanics and one isn't?

The mechanical choices I made when building the character are just as much "me" as my roleplaying skills, and my roleplaying skills as a player are just as much a part of my character as those mechanical choices. This line is not nearly as bright as you think - indeed, I've argued repeatedly that it does not exist at all.

graystone wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
This is my point - your stance is a double standard.
from my perspective, it's YOU that's asking for double standard: you want the ability to both optimize your skill AND use out of character skills, while other sections of the game do not offer you the opportunity to allow outside skills to influence them. For it to NOT be a double standard, I should be able to use player knowledge for knowledge checks, use my knowledge of acrobatics for jump checks or my woodworking ability for craft checks. As I can't, you're inventing a double standard for cha skills that other skills and parts of the game can't benefit from.

Well, I mean, I have explicitly said multiple times that I'm open to the idea of players using real life skills in multiple situations to enrich the game and be rewarded for it, so I guess it's not a double standard then?

Specifically, if you'll recall, the distinction I drew was between saying "I deserve a bonus on my strength check because I can lift this heavy thing in real life", which wasn't engaged with the story in any way, and a situation where a player used his real-world knowledge of weightlifting (which was narratively connected to the game through his character's established background as a former carnival strongman) to flavor what could have been either a strength check or an intimidate check. Maybe the bonus would have been to use either the strength bonus or intimidate skill bonus for that check (whichever is higher). Maybe it would have been a +2 bonus to the check. Maybe it would have been simply treated as an automatic "assist" success for the Face player who was trying to convince the barbarians to join forces. Who knows - I trust that I can judge what options are appropriate for a given situation.


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:

This is another double standard (or maybe another example of the same one I've been fighting against) I don't get right here. Why is it that it is okay for you to flatly reject my perspective yet demand that I respect yours? Why is it that you are comfortable saying "I think what you do is biased and bad, and I'm totally unwilling to budge on that", but my attempts to demonstrate how your position is, itself, biased (just in a different way) are somehow an attack?

I am not trying to persuade you to adopt roleplay bonuses, that has never been my project. I am saying that you don't get to judge my gameplay as "bad" or "biased" without reply. My position this entire time has been that giving roleplay bonuses is (or at least can be) good, and that the corollary to that is that they are not inherently or necessarily biased. I don't care if you like them or not, or if you use them or not. I'm trying to get you to see that the position of "this type of play is bad and biased and nothing that you ever do or say can convince me otherwise" is, itself, a biased and highly toxic (in my opinion) position to take. It's also utterly unnecessary - if you don't like RP bonuses, just don't use them. You can dislike something without delegitimizing it. Frankly, in this entire thread, there has only ever been one side that has been seeking to delegitimize, demean, police and or judge other people's gameplay, and it is not mine.

Your style of play does add additional potential for bias though. This is a clear fact.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Warped Savant wrote:
graystone wrote:
IMO, the person that loves to embellish roleplaying does it because they enjoy doing it: as such, they aren't doing it for the bonus but instead because it's fun.

This. This right here is the basis of why I wouldn't give someone a bonus (no matter how small) just because they're eloquent.

Most every role-player that I know does it for fun. What they consider fun can vary wildly from person to person. Some want to play the Face because it's their own personality and they want to play an awesome version of themselves. That player is going to have fun whether I give them a bonus for a good speech or not.

This strikes me as a fairly pointless argument. Why offer any bonuses for anything since we're all having fun, right? Hell, why have success at all, because we're having fun, right?

Part of having fun in most games is being successful through good play, being able to affect the outcome of challenges by our choices and our actions and not just riding out the variances of random trials. And yes, if my players play well, they'll have an easier time achieving success than if they don't play as well, as they should. You could achieve success through just being lucky, and while that's sometimes fun, it's not particularly sustainable.


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Isn't that a kind of bias?

No, not even a little. Wanting a reward and deserving one are different thing. IMO, the bias is using non-character skills to influence character abilities: YOUR acting abilities aren't part of your character...

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
my roleplaying skills as a player are just as much a part of my character as those mechanical choices.

Not even slightly correct. The character's skills are clearly defined by mechanics: 'roleplaying bonuses' are NOT included because those are your skills... Double dipping, double standard bonuses.

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
This line is not nearly as bright as you think - indeed, I've argued repeatedly that it does not exist at all.

It's neon bright and flashing along with a band playing... It clear for anyone to see: anything past the mechanics is YOU not the character. So easy to figure out. You being professional actor has no impact on your character's abilities.

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Specifically, if you'll recall, the distinction I drew was between saying "I deserve a bonus on my strength check because I can lift this heavy thing in real life", which wasn't engaged with the story in any way, and a situation where a player used his real-world knowledge of weightlifting (which was narratively connected to the game through his character's established background as a former carnival strongman) to flavor what could have been either a strength check or an intimidate check.

So what this means is that I can automatically make know checks because I memorized the bestiaries? I mean, I can list off the exact stats and since I can use out of game skills/information [ie meta-abilities] I can just rattle them off right? What you advocate is removing the line between player and character for complete meta knowledge use. You know, because you think it's somehow hard to figure it out.


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Bill Dunn wrote:
as they should.

If the CHARACTER has done something worthy of a bonus, sure. If the PLAYER does? I enjoy a pizza and I'm sure other would too but bringing one doesn't give a bonus on die rolls. Having the CHARACTER "affect the outcome of challenges by our choices" and "being successful through good play" and not on the PLAYERS ability to act. My ability to use accents isn't a CHARACTER 'choice'. If an eloquent speech brings up good points, sure the GOOD POINTS might be worthy of bonuses: the eloquent speech though... That's the die roll.


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Everyone is given the same options, but not everyone inherently has the same capacity to evaluate and use those options, in precisely the same way that not everyone has the same capacity to be a good roleplayer in social situations.

Absolutely correct! Some people aren't as mechanically inclined with the rules which is why I will offer to help, direct them towards guides, have other players offer suggestions... things like that.

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Furthermore, in any given social situation, all players have the also start with the same options - indeed, often there are essentially unlimited ways in which the players could approach a social situation (which is why the mechanics for social situations are necessarily more fluid and less crunch oriented). As such, it seems evident to me that the rest of what you are saying should apply just as much to social RP.

I agree... If a player is confident in how they're reacting and respond in a suitable way (let's say they're in a diplomatic situation with the king of a nation) they can act it out or they can give me an idea of what they want to say and roll the die. If they aren't confident and don't know what they should say or do the player can say "I have no idea what I should say in such a political situation but I'm going to roll my die and tell you my result so that you realize my character would know what to say even though I have no freaking clue." Whichever option they go for they roll the die and I take that into account, thereby helping them even though they don't know the best thing to say/do.

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
If someone feels like they are missing out by not RPing as well as they could (and they want to change that), part of your role as a GM is to work with them to find ways in which they can be more engaged in the game without being uncomfortable.

If someone wants to try to become more outgoing, I will fully support them and do what I can to help. I would things like provide them with ideas, give them time to collect their thoughts, or ask them leading questions to get them on the right track.

In my experience, I don't feel that a bonus is the right way to do this. I feel like it puts undue pressure on introverted people.
Players who aren't comfortable, creative, or knowledgeable enough to act something out are likely going to feel they are being penalized even though their character, by the stats, should know exactly what to do and say.
By using bonuses to encourage charismatic speech from players, an outgoing player who has made a non-charismatic character would be receiving a reward for poor role-playing (ie: acting out of character).
A non-charismatic person is going to have moments of eloquence or smart-assery. Likewise a charismatic person can trip over their tongue or put their foot in their mouth once in awhile. This is exactly where the dice and stats come in.


So let's say that the PCs are RPing a bluff situation and they manage to concoct a lie that I believe would be particularly amusing if this NPC believed it, and delighting in the opportunity to RP as this NPC who happens to believe this ridiculous lie, I just handwave the bluff check away because "the lie is believed" is the thing that both I and my players want to happen.

On one hand, sure, this is a bias towards "ideas that amuse me" but, on the other hand everybody is getting what they want and we're keeping the game moving. I feel like some amount of "a player has an idea that the GM thinks is cool, so that's what happens, is intrinsic to the game.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
graystone wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
as they should.
If the CHARACTER has done something worthy of a bonus, sure. If the PLAYER does? I enjoy a pizza and I'm sure other would too but bringing one doesn't give a bonus on die rolls. Having the CHARACTER "affect the outcome of challenges by our choices" and "being successful through good play" and not on the PLAYERS ability to act. My ability to use accents isn't a CHARACTER 'choice'. If an eloquent speech brings up good points, sure the GOOD POINTS might be worthy of bonuses: the eloquent speech though... That's the die roll.

You may notice that throughout this discussion (I'm right up there on the first page with one of the first responses) that giving a good speech is only one route to achieve gaining a bonus - though it is true - I do consider it one route to gain a bonus. I give them out for considerably more than including clever ideas and shrewd judgment.

It's also the PLAYER moving the character across the board, avoiding or minimizing AoO, moving into flanking position, using the segmented nature of the movement rules to minimize their risks or maximize teamwork, equipping the character for success on missions, understanding the narrative expectations of the genre emulated by the game, and a host of other things that are inseparable from the role of the player and not just the character. What I don't understand is the desire to draw some kind of bright red (even neon) line around things like social skills when player skill and knowledge affects so much of the play of the game.


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Irontruth wrote:
Your style of play does add additional potential for bias though. This is a clear fact.

No, it doesn't, and no, it isn't.

There is 100% exactly as much bias in the game in a world in which all GMs give RP bonuses as there is in the world where no GMs do, as there is in the real world where some do and some don't. That you don't agree with this stance is obvious, and I'll not try to demonstrate it again here, because since you were clear about the fact that you cannot be persuaded of this, you've thankfully moved the discussion past where it was a relevant part of the contention.

At this point, your position, as stated, is that we should accept as given your perspective that RP bonuses are inherently biased, and that therefore it is correct to consider them bad gameplay (effectively seeking to argue that people should not be using them).

My position is that we should NOT accept, as given, your perspective, because doing so requires dismissing as invalid or unreasonable my perspective so that you can justify a completely unnecessary judgment against the way I play. Again, you can dislike or disagree with a viewpoint without delegitimizing that viewpoint.

What I keep trying to get to is a negotiated middle ground, where you recognize that I AM accepting that you believe what you believe, and that you have your legitimate reasons for feeling that way, but that I have very good and legitimate reasons why I believe something different, and all I'm asking is that instead of you constructing your position in a way that says that only one perspective and one playstyle is legitimate, you accept that both views are legitimate and that both playstyles are acceptable, even if you personally don't like my way and I personally don't like yours. All I've been fighting for is the recognition that it is, in fact, acceptable to play this game in a way different from what you prefer without it being judged. If you don't want to play the way I play, nobody is forcing you, and you really don't need to justify that position with anything more than "because I don't like it", but the problem comes in when you decide that your dislike is the only possible worldview (it isn't), and that therefore you are justified in judging what other people are doing (you aren't). You have no business telling me or anyone else that our viewpoints are invalid. I have no business telling you or anyone else your viewpoints are invalid too - EXCEPT the part of your viewpoints where you insist that they are the only possible ones.

So, my offer/challenge is this:

I am not trying to say that your beliefs or feelings are illegitimate, and I apologize for the fact that I let my zeal for this topic make me blur (and probably cross) that line. I accept that you feel the way that you do, though I genuinely do not see things your way, and I genuinely disagree with you. I recognize that it is not my business to police your table, and that while I strongly prefer my style of play to yours, and can see the potential ways in which your preferences COULD lead to bias or bad outcomes, I acknowledge that my style has the potential to be equivalently problematic, though in different ways. I respect you enough to trust that you are making what you see as the best choices for your game in good faith, and that you have an absolute right to play your way without judgment from me or anyone else.

That's my offer. The challenge is can everybody say the same? Can we, for the love of everything holy, unholy and secular, be done with this and finally agree that it's okay to be different? Not just "I can't control what you do and I think it's bad but I can't stop you" agree to disagree, but genuinely accept that even though you don't have to like it, the people who play differently are not "wrong" to do so?


Bill Dunn wrote:
What I don't understand is the desire to draw some kind of bright red (even neon) line around things like social skills when player skill and knowledge affects so much of the play of the game.

Do you allow players to use OoC knowledge in regards to monsters? Let's say they're fighting a nereid but the characters don't have much knowledge Arcana. The characters don't know that the nereid's shawl is important because they didn't roll well but a player does.

Do they get a bonus to their knowledge check because it's a random fact they know?

(This is an honest question as I'm trying to better understand where you're coming from.)


MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Your style of play does add additional potential for bias though. This is a clear fact.

No, it doesn't, and no, it isn't.

Does every player receive the bonus in equal proportions? If so, what method do you use to ensure that all players receive it equally?

To be clear, I'm not asking if all players are equally eligible to get the bonus. I'm asking, do they in fact all receive it an equal number of times.

See, I can guarantee that all my players receive the bonus for "good roleplaying" equally, because there is no bonus, so all players have received it 0 times. Equal.


Why would a player care if one person at the table gets more bonuses for good RP or paying attention or quality tactics or whatever?

I mean, when player A passes their rolls, that benefits the entire party whether they're doing so via circumstantial bonuses/adjusted DCs or not doesn't it? Presumably the entire party wants the same things (this is a cooperative game after all) so if the player to my left is trying to talk a guard into just ignoring the party, I want them to succeed on their roll no matter how they manage it. It doesn't benefit me to say "well, I wouldn't give a bonus to someone else using a different skill, so your I won't give a bonus here". When I'm playing I want every player to get all the bonuses they can finagle.

Like here's an example that does not benefit me- I am bad at remembering names (why I keep copious notes when GMing). So if I'm a player and we meet an NPC 5 sessions ago who mentions their grandchildren, and 5 sessions later we encounter them again there is no way I will be able to remember these grandchildren's names, and it's not like there's a skill for remembering names I could invest ranks in. So I will never get a bonus for "asking about an NPCs grandkids by name" unless I wrote it down somewhere, but I certainly wouldn't begrudge anybody else who did.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Warped Savant wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
What I don't understand is the desire to draw some kind of bright red (even neon) line around things like social skills when player skill and knowledge affects so much of the play of the game.

Do you allow players to use OoC knowledge in regards to monsters? Let's say they're fighting a nereid but the characters don't have much knowledge Arcana. The characters don't know that the nereid's shawl is important because they didn't roll well but a player does.

Do they get a bonus to their knowledge check because it's a random fact they know?

(This is an honest question as I'm trying to better understand where you're coming from.)

Speaking for myself, probably not, no. If there's no real reason why the player's character should know that information, then I wouldn't give a bonus to the knowledge check, because that player knowledge isn't engaged in the narrative in any way.

However, there are certainly some situations where I would. If the player specifically built the character to be something of a monster expert because the player wanted to get more use out of heir personal skill of knowing a bunch about monsters without feeling like they were metagaming, and especially if the player had taken pains to establish those real world skills in the context of the narrative (say the character has a notebook of all the monster lore they've collected that they review every night, and in every town they seek out the town loremaster to share info, then I could probably be persuaded to come up with a bonus on the roll, though in truth if the character is built that way it's hardly likely to matter except at very low levels.

Maybe the better example might be something like this - lets say this encounter was the culmination of something of a mystery adventure, and I had been seeding clues throughout that the players hadn't completely put together yet. If the final encounter happens and the player with the OoC knowledge suddenly puts two and two together and says something like "Oh DUH! The rumors of the bathing lady in the towel! Of course!", then yeah, I'd probably give a reward on the knowledge check, since that seems like a fair reward for solving the puzzle (albeit a bit late), AND I think the narrative of the character suddenly having an epiphany by linking the rumors to a bit of nearly forgotten folklore is cool, if a bit trope-y.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Irontruth wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Your style of play does add additional potential for bias though. This is a clear fact.

No, it doesn't, and no, it isn't.

Does every player receive the bonus in equal proportions? If so, what method do you use to ensure that all players receive it equally?

To be clear, I'm not asking if all players are equally eligible to get the bonus. I'm asking, do they in fact all receive it an equal number of times.

See, I can guarantee that all my players receive the bonus for "good roleplaying" equally, because there is no bonus, so all players have received it 0 times. Equal.

So we can't, then? Okay, that's too bad. Sorry everyone else!

To answer your questions - yes, they all get equal bonuses. One question that I think you should have asked that I will answer is "How do you make sure the bonuses are cool and fun, and not something the players just expect if they know everyone is going to get the same amount?" and the answer to that is that I use my judgment about what seems cool to me, and ideally pace it out so that everyone gets one bonus every session, but not all at the same time. The method I use to ensure that? There's this cool invention, it's called "numbers", and you can use them to keep track of all sorts of things:

How many times a player has gotten a bonus
How many times a player has killed an enemy
How many times a player has done something cool outside of combat
How many roads a man must walk down before you can call him a man

I mean, really, are you serious with this? Like, really? I'm sorry that I'm snarking you, but... come on. That was low-hanging fruit.

Does this in any way alleviate your concerns that I am doing wrongbadplay?


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Why would a player care if one person at the table gets more bonuses for good RP or paying attention or quality tactics or whatever?

Sadly, because the ones getting mad about someone getting a bonus and them not getting one seems to come down to the fact that they want to be the best character in the group.

(Most noticeable when the players roll for stats and the one that wants to be better than everyone rolled medium to bad compared to everyone else.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
graystone wrote:


MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
This line is not nearly as bright as you think - indeed, I've argued repeatedly that it does not exist at all.

It's neon bright and flashing along with a band playing... It clear for anyone to see: anything past the mechanics is YOU not the character. So easy to figure out. You being professional actor has no impact on your character's abilities.

Except I don't see it, and I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I know the value and quality of my own perceptions and reasoning. This doesn't mean that I'm better than you, or that my position is better than yours, or that you can't have a different opinion here, but it does mean that it CANNOT be true that there is an objectively clear brightline, because no matter how clear it is to you, it is not clear to everyone.

With that, I refer you to the challenge I posed in my reply to Irontruth. I'm not trying to force you to change your opinion to match mine, I'm just trying to get you to acknowledge that my opinion is just as valid as yours.

EDIT: I just realized that I was misnaming Irontruth as Irontooth, and I honestly don't know how many times I've made that mistake in this thread. I apologize, it's been a long day and I'm tired and not being as careful as I try to be. I can totally see how that could be seen as an attempt at some sort of disrespectful nickname, and that was honestly not my intent. Mea Culpa.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Warped Savant wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
What I don't understand is the desire to draw some kind of bright red (even neon) line around things like social skills when player skill and knowledge affects so much of the play of the game.

Do you allow players to use OoC knowledge in regards to monsters? Let's say they're fighting a nereid but the characters don't have much knowledge Arcana. The characters don't know that the nereid's shawl is important because they didn't roll well but a player does.

Do they get a bonus to their knowledge check because it's a random fact they know?

(This is an honest question as I'm trying to better understand where you're coming from.)

If they've got something in their character backstory that indicates experience with fey creatures, I'd be willing to give them a +2 circumstance bonus. Or if they're attempting to use what they know to steer the encounter in a way that will drive the story in an interesting direction, I'd give them the bonus for that too. If they manage to achieve some results on the knowledge and are trolling for info on the shawl in particular, I'll make sure it's part of the first parcel of info rather than withhold it for a higher degree of success.

What info to give out for different levels of success with Knowledge skills is fuzzy enough that I'm willing to prioritize what they're particularly trolling for whether it's a weak save, energy resistances, or vulnerabilities like the shawl.


Warped Savant wrote:

Sadly, because the ones getting mad about someone getting a bonus and them not getting one seems to come down to the fact that they want to be the best character in the group.

(Most noticeable when the players roll for stats and the one that wants to be better than everyone rolled medium to bad compared to everyone else.)

I mean, I get that players all want their turn in the spotlight and nobody wants to feel like they are superfluous. But generally, in my experience you don´t generally have two diplomancers in a party and if you do they aren't going to be working at cross-purposes. I mean, my Hell's Rebels game ended up with 4 characters whose charisma scores were in the 20s by the end (and one with a charisma of 5), and we resolved the whole spotlight issue by "not all talking at the same time, instead we took turns and played off each other."

Feels like the whole "one player does everything" problem is more likely to rear its head in combat than out of it, as the GM can make sure the smart one, the sneaky one, and the charming one all get their turn to shine by varying the challenges the players encounter.


MrTsFloatinghead wrote:

Speaking for myself, probably not, no. If there's no real reason why the player's character should know that information, then I wouldn't give a bonus to the knowledge check, because that player knowledge isn't engaged in the narrative in any way.

However, there are certainly some situations where I would. If the player specifically built the character to be something of a monster expert because the player wanted to get more use out of heir personal skill of knowing a bunch about monsters without feeling like they were metagaming, and especially if the player had taken pains to establish those real world skills in the context of the narrative (say the character has a notebook of all the monster lore they've collected that they review every night, and in every town they seek out the town loremaster to share info, then I could probably be persuaded to come up with a bonus on the roll, though in truth if the character is built that way it's hardly likely to matter except at very low levels.

Maybe the better example might be something like this - lets say this encounter was the culmination of something of a mystery adventure, and I had been seeding clues throughout that the players hadn't completely put together yet. If the final encounter happens and the player with the OoC knowledge suddenly puts two and two...

Right, so, I might see what the problem is... I think, and tell me if I'm wrong, in regards to bonuses to social skills you're giving slight bonuses to characters when they're good with the skill and the player is saying something appropriate to the situation?

I think that others are thinking that you're giving the same bonus to anyone even if the character isn't built to be good at social skills.

As for the knowledge example that you gave: The player has developed the character to be good at knowledge skills and is keeping track of things. That's an easy to produce, in game mechanic that makes sense. They've accumulated a small library (or, at least, a book or three) and that item is giving them a bonus.

For the mystery one: The bonus would be from solving the puzzle, right? (FYI: I don't like puzzles in games because, as someone else said earlier, there's not really a mechanic for solving them and a player good at solving puzzles has a huge advantage over everyone else regardless of the characters intelligence score.)
That bonus is from the player figuring it out and therefore the character figured it out so that's something in the game, isn't it?

Full disclosure: I don't see a point to a +2 bonus for social role-playing most of the time but I completely agree with letting someone pass a check if they're really close and it gives a better result/moves the story along so it's kind of, almost the same thing. (Especially used when I want the players to know something/something will have a huge impact if they figure it out but they didn't quite roll high enough.)


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Warped Savant wrote:


Sadly, because the ones getting mad about someone getting a bonus and them not getting one seems to come down to the fact that they want to be the best character in the group.
(Most noticeable when the players roll for stats and the one that wants to be better than everyone rolled medium to bad compared to everyone else.)

I do make my players roll their stats (hell, I make them roll hit points). So if a player whose PC has middling stats feels driven to be top dog, they're going to have to really bring it in play and be creative, smart, productive, shrewd, and elevate the level of the game. To which I say, "Bring it on!"


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Irontruth wrote:

I don't like that Pathfinder inherently rewards mechanical knowledge and optimization. It is something I also work to minimize. I consider it a major weakness of the game system.

So no, I don't feel it is a double standard at all.

Besides, for any player at my table who is bad at mechanical optimization, I print them out a class guide to help them make decisions. There are other people on the internet who have done the optimization thinking for them already, so they can just enjoy their character.

That relates to the original topic. What I like about Pathfinder is the customization of characters. Players can dream up a character concept and in most cases build it. The tools for customization also allow optimization. Fortunately, characters built for concept often work as well as characters built for optimization, especially when I rewrite the adventure path to embrace that concept.

The only strix tribe in Golarion is in Cheliax. One player needed a strix tribe closer to Numeria for her strix skald to participate in the Iron Gods adventure path, so I put a second tribe in the mysterious Shudderwood in Ustalav. The dwarf gunslinger was a gadgeteer, so I let the party salvage a wrecked shuttle ship and get it flying again. The magus joined the evil Technic League to spy on them; strangely, the module had no rules for joining that collection of wizards and magi, so I invented the recruitment process. Actions of the new player's fighter are shaped by the player's desire to win at this Pathfinder game, but the other players and I treat it as roleplaying the fighter's ambitions.

By shaping the narrative, I give each player character a chance to shine in the way that the player wants the character to shine: as the exotic musician, as the nerdy gadgeteer, as the brainy magus, or as the victorious fighter.

If a player created a smooth-talking bard, with the Charisma and skills to support that, then having the bard speak eloquently would give the character many chances to shine. But if the player cannot form stirring words to match his excellent Diplomacy check, then the job falls on me. We pretend the words were there and move on to the reaction of the listeners, so that their actions reflect the concept of the character. Some description of what the bard said would make my job easier, but the imperative is that the game goes on.

If a player created an uncouth barbarian, with the lack of Charisma and skills to match, then having the barbarian speak eloquently would be odd. The dwarven gunslinger in my game often found herself in situations where she had to speak persuasively, because she organized the party. And the player flubbed the words deliberately, despite her years of playing silver-tongued bards, because the dwarf was a geek and an introvert. Failing in character was part of the excitement of the game. In contrast, our imaginary barbarian's player set up his character to fail and then stepped out of character to try to succeed instead. This would give me a quandry: which concept is the player after? And if the player would simply want that his character can morph at will to never fail, then I get angry.


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Your style of play does add additional potential for bias though. This is a clear fact.

No, it doesn't, and no, it isn't.

Does every player receive the bonus in equal proportions? If so, what method do you use to ensure that all players receive it equally?

To be clear, I'm not asking if all players are equally eligible to get the bonus. I'm asking, do they in fact all receive it an equal number of times.

See, I can guarantee that all my players receive the bonus for "good roleplaying" equally, because there is no bonus, so all players have received it 0 times. Equal.

So we can't, then? Okay, that's too bad. Sorry everyone else!

To answer your questions - yes, they all get equal bonuses. One question that I think you should have asked that I will answer is "How do you make sure the bonuses are cool and fun, and not something the players just expect if they know everyone is going to get the same amount?" and the answer to that is that I use my judgment about what seems cool to me, and ideally pace it out so that everyone gets one bonus every session, but not all at the same time. The method I use to ensure that? There's this cool invention, it's called "numbers", and you can use them to keep track of all sorts of things:

How many times a player has gotten a bonus
How many times a player has killed an enemy
How many times a player has done something cool outside of combat
How many roads a man must walk down before you can call him a man

I mean, really, are you serious with this? Like, really? I'm sorry that I'm snarking you, but... come on. That was low-hanging fruit.

Does this in any way alleviate your concerns that I am doing wrongbadplay?

It's interesting that every time I ask you a question to try and get to the truth of things, you respond with snark, sarcasm, and telling me that I'm doing the wrong thing.

All I do is ask one or two questions, but you respond as if this is an insult based conversation.

Perhaps stop imagining there are insults, and you'll stop seeing insults. Here, try it in reverse. Ask me a simple, direct question.

Liberty's Edge

dragonhunterq wrote:

I'm curious how you handle the naturally extremely eloquent/talkative player who always comes up with really cool ideas playing the charisma 5 character with negative social skills?

*cowers* My GMs make ME roll the bluff, intimidate, or diplomacy.

Which is why I started making all my characters have at least a decent diplomacy. I can't seem to keep my mouth shut in social encounters.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Warped Savant wrote:
Right, so, I might see what the problem is... I think, and tell me if I'm wrong, in regards to bonuses to social skills you're giving slight bonuses to characters when they're good with the skill and the player is saying something appropriate to the situation?

Yeah, pretty much. I mean, there are definitely potentials for grey areas - characters, like people, change, and so what might have been appropriate at one time might not be appropriate at another time, but honestly I have never found it to be a terribly fraught process to evaluate when a bonus seemed appropriate or not.

Warped Savant wrote:
I think that others are thinking that you're giving the same bonus to anyone even if the character isn't built to be good at social skills.

Maybe... we'll see. I think it's actually a melange of issues, really, from a general distrust of anything that seems to be subjective, to a fear of bad GMs pushing out certain players, to a fear of bad players making the table un-fun for others, to a general unwillingness to accept that just because you feel a way very strongly, that doesn't mean that's the only possible correct way to feel (which is really what I'm trying to move the discussion past). Not everyone has the same concerns, clearly, but I think it's the last one that's really the sticking point at this point.

Warped Savant wrote:
As for the knowledge example that you gave: The player has developed the character to be good at knowledge skills and is keeping track of things. That's an easy to produce, in game mechanic that makes sense. They've accumulated a small library (or, at least, a book or three) and that item is giving them a bonus.

Yeah, definitely, though I would be a little bit careful about tying too much of a character's identity to specific items, as it can create something of a "wizard's spellbook" problem in miniature - IE players can come to regard those kinds of RP-centric items as part of their character (which is entirely reasonable!), and so can really resent it if something happens to those items. On the other hand, with enough trust between players and GM, I can see a ton of potential for cool hooks etc., so, you know, exercise best judgment would be my goal there:)

Warped Savant wrote:

For the mystery one: The bonus would be from solving the puzzle, right? (FYI: I don't like puzzles in games because, as someone else said earlier, there's not really a mechanic for solving them and a player good at solving puzzles has a huge advantage over everyone else regardless of the characters intelligence score.)

That bonus is from the player figuring it out and therefore the character figured it out so that's something in the game, isn't it?

In the example I gave, yeah, the idea is that the player's real life epiphany is a narrative hook to the character in game also having all the necessary pieces to work it out too, so getting a bonus on the chance to do so. This might mean that in this instance the "Ah-Hah!" moment doesn't end up coming from the smartest character in the room (so to speak), but that result was always possible with the dice anyway, and that's the way things really happen sometimes in the real world. If it was happening more than once or twice, that would be something I would look at more closely, but that's not likely with a puzzle-style adventure because:

Yeah, as you noted, those can be a nightmare. They are really really hard to design well and even then can be tough to run well. Protip: When you are at the point of asking your players to each roll against a DC 5 Int check so that you can give someone (ANYONE) the next clue, you need to re-evaluate your approach. Just saying.
I know I guy.

Warped Savant wrote:
Full disclosure: I don't see a point to a +2 bonus for social role-playing most of the time but I completely agree with letting someone pass a check if they're really close and it gives a better result/moves the story along so it's kind of, almost the same thing. (Especially used when I want the players to know something/something will have a huge impact if they figure it out but they didn't quite roll high enough.)

I like the +2 as a generic sort of bonus precisely because I think it feels like something large enough to be a "real" reward, but as you say in practice it doesn't really end up being of overwhelming import. I will say that I try to avoid the temptation to add these bonuses to rolls that are important to me, as the GM, because they move the story along UNLESS there's a pretty solid reason to. I want players to trust that the bonus really is about them and the awesome thing they did, and not because I stupidly check-pointed the entire freaking campaign behind a DC 15 check that really any of them should have been able to make, honest! (Again).


So let's say I was interested in running a game that is less combat-focused (put aside the idea that other systems are better at this for a moment). So I institute a rule where every roll out of combat where a player says anything relevant in the first person (including possibly an anecdote of something similar in their backstory) gets a +2. Hopefully, this makes "avoiding combat" more desirable because non-combat solutions are suddenly more reliable.

Is this going to affect all players equally? No, because if someone brings an low-intelligence fighter, warpriest, or cleric who specializes in combat over everything that player's not really going to be rolling for anything other than perception. Is that a problem though, really?

Shadow Lodge

thejeff wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
But personally, I've never been in a situation where I don't know what my character should say as part of a social check and another player has given me suggestions ("Tell the guard we're maintenance workers!"). I have been in situations where I'm struggling to think of something to say and a player with a less socially adept character stepped in and made the check instead. This keeps the game moving but does not encourage me to play social characters. Even if someone else comes up with the conversational tactics, I'd feel good about being able to make the roll with the skill bonus I invested in, and about the fact that my character is a smooth talker.

I have actually seen that happen, not too infrequently either. But those are the bonus for specific points kind of things ("offer your condolences for her kids", tell her we can stop more bloodshed"), not help with the smooth talking oratory kind of phrasing we're mostly worried about here. Not even really sure how to give that kind of coaching or how well it would go over.

I've also seen GMs shut down even the first kind or only allow it with Aid Another rolls or separate attempts.

Have you seen GMs shut down OOC discussions of tactics? Things like “If you move in this way you won't provoke” or “Could you delay your charge until after I cast Fireball?”

Warped Savant wrote:

If someone wants to try to become more outgoing, I will fully support them and do what I can to help. I would things like provide them with ideas, give them time to collect their thoughts, or ask them leading questions to get them on the right track.

In my experience, I don't feel that a bonus is the right way to do this. I feel like it puts undue pressure on introverted people.
Players who aren't comfortable, creative, or knowledgeable enough to act something out are likely going to feel they are being penalized even though their character, by the stats, should know exactly what to do and say.

That is the kind of approach that I personally would appreciate, as someone who roleplays partly to stretch my social skills.

MrTsFloatingHead wrote:
However, there are certainly some situations where I would. If the player specifically built the character to be something of a monster expert because the player wanted to get more use out of heir personal skill of knowing a bunch about monsters without feeling like they were metagaming, and especially if the player had taken pains to establish those real world skills in the context of the narrative (say the character has a notebook of all the monster lore they've collected that they review every night, and in every town they seek out the town loremaster to share info, then I could probably be persuaded to come up with a bonus on the roll, though in truth if the character is built that way it's hardly likely to matter except at very low levels.

If the character built the player to be a monster expert, then they should have ranks in skills that are important for monster identification and possibly abilities that would further improve their ability to identify monsters (such as the Inquisitor's first-level Monster Lore ability). If it is important to the character concept that they be good at something, then that should be reflected in the mechanics. If the player isn't sure how to do that, it's because they haven't taken me up on my repeated and possibly annoying offers to share my character-building obsessiveness with anyone who wants it. >_>

Now, if the character's not supposed to be a monster expert but has a specific relevant pre-established backstory of “a nereid killed my brother,” I can give you some basic information without a check, but that will only happen a handful of times in a campaign (and it's probably a pre-planned character moment).

In fact, you might say that my strategy is to give mechanical rewards for mechanical skill and narrative rewards for narrative skill. You write a cool backstory, and I'll make that backstory relevant to the narrative.


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The issue i have with most of these "RP-threads" is how they are so negative in tone. *Punishing* bad RP, how do i *Enforce* RP, how do i *Make* my players RP, etc.

How about we put the RP aspect in more of a brighter light and lure them with honey instead of hellfire? Theres a reason why you have skillpoints after all, and the whole "RP" aspect of the game is that you are playing the role of your character and no further demands that "Require" any further player input than your attendance really.

The problem in a tabletop game in general and the whole aspect of "social gameplay" is based on several factors. The game should have aspects that allow that, and Pathfinder at best is "meh" (even after all of the expansions). The players should have the will to do so. The GM need to properly design a encounter to allow for such. And all of these three rarely can stand on their own, maybe except for mechanics where you can just "free form" past the bad bits.

If you need to force or punish your players for not subscribing to your wanted playstyle, you just dont have the right players to begin with.


Warped Savant wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
What I don't understand is the desire to draw some kind of bright red (even neon) line around things like social skills when player skill and knowledge affects so much of the play of the game.

Do you allow players to use OoC knowledge in regards to monsters? Let's say they're fighting a nereid but the characters don't have much knowledge Arcana. The characters don't know that the nereid's shawl is important because they didn't roll well but a player does.

Do they get a bonus to their knowledge check because it's a random fact they know?

(This is an honest question as I'm trying to better understand where you're coming from.)

If they can provide a good and creative reason that meshes with their character background why they might know more about this thing, perhaps.


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RDM42 wrote:
Warped Savant wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
What I don't understand is the desire to draw some kind of bright red (even neon) line around things like social skills when player skill and knowledge affects so much of the play of the game.

Do you allow players to use OoC knowledge in regards to monsters? Let's say they're fighting a nereid but the characters don't have much knowledge Arcana. The characters don't know that the nereid's shawl is important because they didn't roll well but a player does.

Do they get a bonus to their knowledge check because it's a random fact they know?

(This is an honest question as I'm trying to better understand where you're coming from.)

If they can provide a good and creative reason that meshes with their character background why they might know more about this thing, perhaps.

The background skill system and the "Lore" skill was added for just this reason. Forexample if in your background was attacked by a Bear, your lore could be about Bears in particular to manifest that characters way of studying how to kill bears as a revenge.

Personally i think the background skill system that add +2 skillpoints to dedicated "background skills" is a good way to flesh out mechanically a background without sacrificing the utility of far more useful skills. (Who would take Proffersion over Perception forexample?"


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
..."How do you make sure the bonuses are cool and fun, and not something the players just expect if they know everyone is going to get the same amount?" and the answer to that is that I use my judgment about what seems cool to me, and ideally pace it out so that everyone gets one bonus every session, but not all at the same time. The method I use to ensure that? There's this cool invention, it's called "numbers", and you can use them to keep track of all sorts of things...

You seem to be contradicting yourself here so I'm hoping you can clarify this for me. You reward people for good role playing, which would indicate that if someone doesn't do it they don't get a bonus. But you also say that you try to give it to each person once per session.

Does your group have anyone that's shy/quiet? Do you have anyone that doesn't say things in character?
(By saying that you only give the bonus to someone when they do something cool but that you try to give them out evenly tells me that your group all plays in a very similar fashion. That's not an experience that I've ever had.)

Also, something else I was wondering:
If a low charisma, not very social character tries to use diplomacy and the player uses his OoC ability to suck up to people and says that the character gives a grand speech (even though the character isn't designed to do such a thing) would you allow them to earn a bonus?
(Asking because I see outgoing and charisma as personality traits that some players have that others don't much in the same way that I see monster knowledge as something that some players have that others don't.)

Silver Crusade

Mykull wrote:
Jurassic Pratt wrote:
Why do social skills get rewarded for being good at them IRL but not other types of skills?

Because we are playing a roleplaying game.

If you would like a bonus for your real physical abilities, try LARP'ing. However, I do grant a small bonus if players describe their skill check with vibrant detail. In your Sleight of Hand example, if you were to describe how you misdirect your mark's attention from what you're pick pocketing, I'd give a +1 or +2 bonus.

Conversely, this isn't Night at the Improv, either. I have DM'd shy players who've had social characters and just let their Diplomacy roll be their check. I didn't penalize them for not acting it out.

This is what I do. If someone can give me a description of how they are using a skill I give them circumstance bonuses. Its a role playing game, not a roll playing game. I feel that there are plenty of games that are strictly about rolling dice which are better suited for combat then any pen and paper RPG to satisfy those who only want to destroy minis on a map with their minis on a map..so anything that lends depth is normally rewarded at my tables.

If you are playing the dull witted, rush in and smash barbarian, great but if you want to attempt an acrobatics to avoid an AoO and say even something as basic as "I try to juke him and fake him out as I dodge around him", I'm gonna give you a circumstance bonus just because it makes your character more then a page full of numbers.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Warped Savant wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
..."How do you make sure the bonuses are cool and fun, and not something the players just expect if they know everyone is going to get the same amount?" and the answer to that is that I use my judgment about what seems cool to me, and ideally pace it out so that everyone gets one bonus every session, but not all at the same time. The method I use to ensure that? There's this cool invention, it's called "numbers", and you can use them to keep track of all sorts of things...

You seem to be contradicting yourself here so I'm hoping you can clarify this for me. You reward people for good role playing, which would indicate that if someone doesn't do it they don't get a bonus. But you also say that you try to give it to each person once per session.

Does your group have anyone that's shy/quiet? Do you have anyone that doesn't say things in character?
(By saying that you only give the bonus to someone when they do something cool but that you try to give them out evenly tells me that your group all plays in a very similar fashion. That's not an experience that I've ever had.)

Sure, I've played with people who where shy, and people who didn't say things in character. All players play differently, too, of course. But honestly, I don't see a contradiction - given the incredibly wide scope for what "good roleplaying" is, I have never experienced, as a player or as a GM, or even as a spectator of other people's games, a situation where an entire session went on and I wasn't able to find a single solitary thing praiseworthy about an individual players actions. I don't seek to limit what counts as "good roleplaying" beyond "did something that added to the experience at the table", and the reason I'm adamant that what I'm doing isn't biased or bad is because I have never been in a situation where a player didn't add something of value to a session (even when overall I felt the player was a net drag on the table and had to have a conversation about being rude to other players). Every player brings something unique and cool to the table in my experience, and I cannot imagine a situation where that is not true.

Warped Savant wrote:

Also, something else I was wondering:

If a low charisma, not very social character tries to use diplomacy and the player uses his OoC ability to suck up to people and says that the character gives a grand speech (even though the character isn't designed to do such a thing) would you allow them to earn a bonus?
(Asking because I see outgoing and charisma as personality traits that some players have that others don't much in the same way that I see monster knowledge as something that some players have that others don't.)

Maybe. There are definitely situations where it would be appropriate and definitely situations where it would not be appropriate. Not all cases are the same, and demanding that they should be the same is, in my opinion a form of bias.

First, imagine the hypothetical scenario where I reward all forms of good RP EXCEPT giving speeches in character, because I accept the arguments being made here that it's not fair to reward that, since not everyone is comfortable doing that. What about the hypothetical player whose special cool thing is being great at really getting into their character? Why is it "unbiased" that they are not getting a reward for that, and other players are?

Let's extend this further and imagine a scenario where I don't give any kind of mechanical rewards for anything that happens at the table other than what is explicitly spelled out in the rules. In that case I am rewarding the players with mechanical systems mastery (as I always am, as those rewards are baked into the rules), but not rewarding any of the other myriad ways in which players can be awesome. I don't think I can justify saying that I'm being unbiased by just sticking to the rules and therefore I'm not risking treating someone unfairly, because I can empathize with the players who aren't as strong with the rules and feel left out, and I understand that the reason they feel left out is because I made a choice to play the way I have.

Now, people argue that if I just stick to the mechanics of the game that I can give different, non-mechanical rewards (like kindness or positive social feedback) for good roleplay, and that in their experience that is sufficient to encourage good roleplay. That's great for them - I also give out those kinds of rewards too. However, as a GM or as a Player, I do not see any value in or indeed justification for an arbitrary distinction between types of play. If you are a very social player, that should be able to contribute just as much to the success of the party as a very tactical player can. Both are awesome, both are different ways to play, both are good, both can and should be rewarded without implying that the other is somehow less valuable, and both contribute to the real-world goal of the game (to have fun crafting a collaborative story), so both should also be viable ways to contribute to success with in-game goals as well.


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:

In what way did I fail to answer your questions?

Why am I not justified in seeing your position as an attack?
If you are not committed to delegitimizing my views, why are you unwilling to accept my proposed middle ground where I accept that maybe you have a point, even if I don't agree with it, and you accept that maybe I have a point, even if you don't agree with it?

You've side stepped questions, or answered a different question instead of the one I've asked. You claim you've answered them, but in my estimation, you have not. Or at best you've given an answer, but it isn't the answer you think it is.

You can view my posts however you want. If you feel like this way is making for better conversation, continue. If not, perhaps come at my posts in a different way.

I think certain points you've made are factually wrong. Not just a difference in preference, but in how you justify and portray them. I'm willing to have a conversation about your method, but you refuse to admit certain facts that are true about it, so we have to debate these facts instead. Maybe they aren't true facts, and I am mistaken, but in that case I'm going to need to see a lot of clarification, and the best way for me to get there is precise answer to my questions. For the time being, I'm not enthused about reading the walls of text.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Irontruth wrote:


I think certain points you've made are factually wrong. Not just a difference in preference, but in how you justify and portray them. I'm willing to have a conversation about your method, but you refuse to admit certain facts that are true about it, so we have to debate these facts instead. Maybe they aren't true facts, and I am mistaken, but in that case I'm going to need to see a lot of clarification, and the best way for me to get there is precise answer to my questions. For the time being, I'm not enthused about reading the walls of text.

So:

You won't accept my position without a lot of clarification, but you also won't allow me to give you that clarification because you are only willing to accept answers that come to you in a form that you have effectively custom-designed to make it impossible for you to get that clarification. Hell, I gave simple, direct answers to the questions you asked, and while you assert that I was sidestepping them, you have no actual demonstration of that for me to attempt to understand or respond to. In essence, you are establishing a position that says "MrTsFloatinghead's opinions and preferences can go die in a fire, and if he or anyone else wants to discuss that position with me, they can only do so by adopting my preferences". I am not sure what you think you are offering there that is tempting, or even reasonable. Why should I conform to your preferences if you aren't even willing to acknowledge the possible legitimacy of mine? Why is the burden only on me?

To be clear, I am not, nor have I ever been, attempting to make you AGREE with me. I'm just trying to get you to accept that it is legitimate to disagree on the facts here. As for debating the facts, I have already tried that with you, and as far as I can tell, you have not even bothered to consider the things I am saying - not because you don't agree with them, but because the way in which you disagree with them exactly conforms to patterns of reasoning that I am intimately familiar with. Now, maybe that's not conclusive evidence - maybe that's just coincidence. I can't know exactly how you are thinking, I can only infer it from what you do and say - that's pretty much my point. I think of this as the problem of limited information. I know myself and how good my arguments are with an extremely high degree of confidence, but I can only infer from what I see of your arguments what's going on "behind the screen", so to speak. I also recognize that the same thing is true for you - the difference between us is that when faced with this problem my epiphany is that the only way forward that seems reasonable to me is to a) Accept that what I know about myself and my position is true b) Extend you and your position the exact same respect I give mine, and accept therefore that your position is every bit as valid as mine, even if I disagree with it and finally c) my position doesn't require that I challenge your premises because my position accepts that there is more than one correct way of looking at things.

Put bluntly, my position CAN be, I think, summed up in a very short statement and simple question:

I'm not judging the way you like to play, or even trying to make you change your preferences, merely seeking to defend that I am not "wrong" to play and think differently. What right do you have to judge my preferences and attempt to get me to conform to yours?


MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
...given the incredibly wide scope for what "good roleplaying" is, I have never experienced, as a player or as a GM, or even as a spectator of other people's games, a situation where an entire session went on and I wasn't able to find a single solitary thing praiseworthy about an individual players actions. I don't seek to limit what counts as "good roleplaying" beyond "did something that added to the experience at the table", and the reason I'm adamant that what I'm doing isn't biased or bad is because I have never been in a situation where a player didn't add something of value to a session (even when overall I felt the player was a net drag on the table and had to have a conversation about...

Ah, okay... I think I see a thing that is causing a misunderstanding... You're talking about rewarding everyone for doing something cool, not just on social skill based things, right?

The original post specifically says "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." so I think the majority of the conversation is people thinking that you're talking about only giving bonuses on social based skills.
But you're talking about giving bonuses to anything that has a cool result/description, right?
(ie: an unsocial barbarian can get a bonus to acrobatics if the player describes doing something in a really interesting way)
Am I right?

Irontruth -- Were you under the impression that MrTsFloatingHead was only talking about bonuses to social skills?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Can't speak for Irontruth, but insights get lost in boilerplate.


Irontruth wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
born_of_fire wrote:
...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:
Yes, people are saying this. There are posts from multiple people in this thread saying how they do this.

My theory as to the source of original mixed up communication here:

(1) born_of_fire conflated a player's speech ability 'influencing success' with their ability 'determining success' even though these aren't really the same thing.

(It is, of course, a sliding scale. Is +2 too much of a bonus? Is +10 too much of a bonus? Should we award bonuses for eloquence or for being true to the character?)

(2) MrTsFloatingHead skipped past the 'influenced' part of b_o_f's comment and jumped on the 'outright determining success' bit and said "no-one is saying this".

(3) Irontruth responded as if MrTsFloatingHead's "this" meant "no-one is allowing speech skills to influence success", which many people were saying.

(4) A lot of back and forth stuff that was a waste of time.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Warped Savant wrote:


Ah, okay... I think I see a thing that is causing a misunderstanding... You're talking about rewarding everyone for doing something cool, not just on social skill based things, right?

Bingo!

Warped Savant wrote:

The original post specifically says "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." so I think the majority of the conversation is people thinking that you're talking about only giving bonuses on social based skills.

But you're talking about giving bonuses to anything that has a cool result/description, right?
(ie: an unsocial barbarian can get a bonus to acrobatics if the player describes doing something in a really interesting way)
Am I right?

That's my stand on it. Mind - giving a really good off the cuff speech in character is something that's really cool so points for good acting is there - it's just a subset of everything worth getting a bonus.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Manager

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Removed a couple posts. Bickering about this is not helpful and does not promote a welcoming environment on our forums. If you cannot dial it back, you need need to take a break from posting in this thread.


MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Warped Savant wrote:
*Snip*
Sure, I've played with people who where shy, and people who didn't say things in character. All players play differently, too, of course. But honestly, I don't see a contradiction - given the incredibly wide scope for what "good roleplaying" is, I have never experienced, as a player or as a GM, or even as a spectator of other people's games, a situation where an entire session went on and I wasn't able to find a single solitary thing praiseworthy about an individual players actions. I don't seek to limit what counts as "good roleplaying" beyond "did something that added to the experience at the table", and the reason I'm adamant that what I'm doing isn't biased or bad is because I have never been in a situation where a player didn't add something of value to a session (even when overall I felt the player was a net drag on the table and had to have a conversation about being rude to other players). Every player brings something unique and cool to the table in my experience, and I cannot imagine a situation where that is not true.

This is as much out of curiosity as anything, just wanting to know... can you give an example of rewarding good roleplaying with a combat-focused character? And I mean something other than, say, a flanking bonus or other such bonus that is hard-coded into the basic mechanics of the game, and not counting stuff like the instance of "I'm a body builder IRL so I use my bodybuilding knowledge to influence these barbarians in this social encounter" but an actual judgement-call based bonus in a combat situation. Something that would make the BSF or Sneak Attack Rogue feel special (ignore that specific wording if it disagrees with you, as stated before I'm not the best wordsmith, but just that idea of "you did really good, have a bonus") for doing their big thing of fighting.

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