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jamesnomoon
2011-04-12, 05:45 AM
One of the most common issues I've ever seen in games is the innate difference between what the character is capable of and what the player is capable of. Tactical geniuses with no concept of teamwork. Investigative prodigies that couldn't find their arse with both hands. Suave and insightful socialites that commit gross breachs of etiquette before they even speak. I'm sure everyone has seen the Wisdom 18 Cleric all the common sense of a deranged lemming.

I'm no novice Storyteller/GM, I know that skill checks and dice rolls are there for a reason, but its hardly immersive to be told that you're meeting with a court dignitary and that you have to make an appropriate roll to impress him, only to be told whether you pass or fail. It's not much fun for the GM, either, when all he does is describes the effects of dicerolls. It's always best when creativity comes from both sides of the table (should you use one). When a player makes an attack I encourage the player to be creative with the description, and I try to give the player a fun and appropriate reaction to the attack. We all know that the attack landed, we all know it did <x> amount of damage. We all saw the dice roll, so that info is superfluous. What you *want* to know that the Ranger span in place, blades orbiting him like lethal meteor trails (player description), drawing two gleaming red gashes across the raiders chest and stomach who screams in rage and agony (my description). For example.

So, how to do this with social skills and other non-combat skills. My general approach with those people who are most definately *not* their character is to give them a general description of what their character knows about this skill check, let them tell me what it is they are doing or saying, and assign a bonus (or penalty) to the check based on how appropriate their actions are. This gives them a chance to roleplay out their characters specialties without removing the point of having a character sheet in the first place. It makes the player feel involved while still giving the socially/logically challenged a chance to actually achieve what they set out to do. In the case of the Court dignitary above I would describe the general attitude of the Court, how they usually spend their time socialising, what the guys mood and general personality seems to be, and let them go from there.

I guess what I'm asking here is: Is there a better or different way? Does anyone agree with my technique? And does anyone have any funny stories about the problems I've tried to address? :smalltongue:

dsmiles
2011-04-12, 05:54 AM
We usually just roleplay it, making checks along the way. I never let a social encounter boil down to a single skill check. I'll stop the conversation at intervals, and have the player make a check. I don't assign bonuses or penalties, per se, but I do adjust the DC based on the conversation.

Of course, most of my players can sell a catsup popsicle to a woman in a white dress, so we're at least socially competent (not like the stereotyped version of a gamer).

Provengreil
2011-04-12, 09:30 AM
complex skill checks. i can't remember where I read about them, but it basically means making a bunch of checks for the same situation. you're courting a dignitary that doesn't like you, but you need his help? OK, start roleplaying the encounter. ask periodically for a check; if he fails three before he succeeds at however many you want him to need, maybe 7 cause the guy didn't like him, he passes and the dignitary agrees. otherwise, he's shoo'ed off, possibly with threats.

Telonius
2011-04-12, 10:45 AM
I know that skill checks and dice rolls are there for a reason, but its hardly immersive to be told that you're meeting with a court dignitary and that you have to make an appropriate roll to impress him, only to be told whether you pass or fail. It's not much fun for the GM, either, when all he does is describes the effects of dicerolls. It's always best when creativity comes from both sides of the table (should you use one).

Normally for situations involving Bluff or Diplomacy, I have the players play it out first, then roll. They tell me the result of the roll, and I assign circumstance bonuses or penalties based on what's said. ("Player really isn't capable of being diplomatic, but is playing a character who would be" is one of those bonuses). Then, I describe what happens. ("The Duke smiles and shakes your hand." Or, "He sneers at you. 'Do you take me for a fool, Barbarian?'"). I never flat-out tell them, "You succeed," or "You fail." What happens afterwards makes it obvious.

Gamer Girl
2011-04-12, 11:14 AM
I have always had my players role-play out skill checks. And most players like to do this, so it's not much of a problem. I give out a +1 to +5 circumstance bonus based on the description. So for a Diplomacy check, the character might say ''I listen carefully to his words and give him my full attention'' or for Intimidate, ''I flex my muscles and crack my knuckles''. I also encourage my players to make stuff up. None of use are experts on the things skills do, so we just make it all up. For example, when using Rope Use a character might say "I make a 'gnome knot', a knot shaped like a lower case 'g' ''. Players can also get even more bonuses by paying attention. If they know that the two kingdoms are at war, then they can get the bonus by working that into social skill checks.


In general, I keep the game fluid enough that the skill checks can 'change' the baseline game.

navar100
2011-04-12, 12:11 PM
Do you make the fighter player demonstrate swinging a real sword in your living room? Do you have the wizard player fling bat poo? Do you really want the rogue player to lock pick the vault in the wall behind the picture? Why should diplomacy be any different? For the fun of the play of the game it's ok for the player to say something, but what's important is the concept the player wants to convey. If the player can't inspire like Patrick Henry, it's enough to get the idea of what he wants and let the dice roll determine how successful he was at doing it.

In a small game I run, the paladin player mispronounces some words, like "moral" as "morale", gets names wrong, and confuses unrelated issues. However, his character has a high diplomacy with 16 Charisma. I ignore the player's missteps, understand what he meant, and let his roll show what the character truly said to get the positive NPC reaction. The ranger/rogue player can speak in different accents, make up anecdotes on the spot that are convincingly real until he tells you he's just kidding, and speaks eloquently. His character has a Charisma of 8 with no ranks in Diplomacy. During play he gives his speech, but what he rolls determines how the NPC reacts.

NichG
2011-04-12, 12:42 PM
I'm of the opinion that, as a game, there are some things that lie squarely on the players. In something like D&D you wouldn't want people to start rolling Int checks in combat and then asking the DM what actions their characters should take. Similarly, I feel you shouldn't leave other forms of character agency such as what they say or what they think is going on to statistics and dice. This does however create a problem with the mental ability scores.

Therefore I use a re-interpretation of the mental ability scores to make them more concrete benefits like Strength or Dexterity than what they are right now. For example, intelligence. Rather than 'this is how smart the character is', I take intelligence to determine the rate of learning, memory capacity, and the capacity to do mental computations (i.e. multiply numbers in your head). That way, you could have someone who has an Int of 40 who can't solve a riddle or figure out what the connection between two events is if the player can't. However, an Int check can be used to remember facts that may be pertinent to the situation that the player has forgotten.

Wisdom becomes perception and intuitive reaction, rather than common-sense or spiritual enlightenment. A Wisdom check can't be used to decide whether something would be a bad idea, but it can be used to glean subtle bits of information about a situation that no other senses would let you learn - e.g. 'there's a feeling of dread associated with this candelabra for some reason' or 'something about his face tells me he's dishonest'. And of course it drives Spot and Listen which are used for things your senses do tell you.

Charisma is the strength of one's sense of self, rather than how suave or clever a speaker the character is. The player decides what is said, but this contributes the missing parts: confidence, body language, pacing, how well they utilize their appearance (but not their physical beauty, since that wouldn't be constant across races anyhow), how well they believe their own lies, etc.

Of the skills, diplomacy is particularly problematic. I basically tend to houserule it heavily into something for long-term offscreen negotiations or to figure out what someone wants or needs in a negotiation (sort of like a variant of Sense Motive).

Pisha
2011-04-12, 01:14 PM
I know what you mean - I mean, why should the player have to be good at diplomacy for the character to be? (No one asks me to do a cartwheel when I roll a Tumble check!) But on the other hand, it's a roleplaying game - if you're not roleplaying out the talky parts, what's the point?

One way I've seen it done is for whatever comes out of the player's mouth (good or bad) to be what the character is thinking, or wanting to say. The roll, on the other hand, represents how well they do translating that intention into something effective. It lets you have fun roleplaying while not devaluing the points you put (or didn't put) in the skill, and it can lead to humor if the roll and the intent seriously mismatch!

obliged_salmon
2011-04-12, 01:36 PM
Don't roll unless there's conflict. When there's conflict, always roll.

Example.

Knight: We wish to see the king! We have important news from Halbrecht!
Page: Sure, go on in.

No roll required.

Knight: Your majesty, we request your aid! Give us coin, fighting men, and supplies in honor of our nations' alliance!
King: Ha! We've given Halbrecht aid time and time again, but where were you when the barbarians of Corta attacked?

Roll the dice.

Telonius
2011-04-12, 01:58 PM
Do you make the fighter player demonstrate swinging a real sword in your living room? Do you have the wizard player fling bat poo? Do you really want the rogue player to lock pick the vault in the wall behind the picture? Why should diplomacy be any different? For the fun of the play of the game it's ok for the player to say something, but what's important is the concept the player wants to convey. If the player can't inspire like Patrick Henry, it's enough to get the idea of what he wants and let the dice roll determine how successful he was at doing it.

I'm not totally unsympathetic to that view - but I also see D&D as fundamentally an exercise in collaborative storytelling. In order to play the game, you're going to have to tell the story. That includes dialogue. I don't expect somebody who's playing a Level 20 Bard to be able to pull off a speech that's Marc Antony, Martin Luther King Jr., and Convincing John all rolled up into one. But he's got to give me something to work with. He's got to try. I'll take the player's abilities and limitations into consideration when I make the ruling. But if he doesn't want to even make the attempt, it kind of goes against the spirit of what the game's supposed to be.

Odin the Ignoble
2011-04-12, 02:01 PM
General Int/Wis checks for the character to realize how dumb the action or plan is?

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-12, 04:13 PM
The problem boils down to this:

In a game that is essentially about role-playing, how much are you going to impress the Player's inherent qualities on his Character?

In general, people don't like requiring Players to be physically capable of doing the things their Characters do, but the line blurs when you start thinking about things like "military tactics" or "trap finding." In some cases, the system places the onus on the Players to figure out how to disarm traps and plan intelligent ambushes; in others there are rolls to be made. More frequently, some sort of hybrid develops.

Social skills should not be treated any differently from the above, but they frequently are as people believe that anyone can be socially adept if they try. Even those who disagree with that proposition are more likely to give bonuses to silver-tongued Players and assign penalties to Players who are less adept.

My personal views:
It is surprisingly easy to leave these sorts of decisions in the hands of the dice gods. Situational modifiers based on Player abilities tend to hinder the ability of Players to play outside their type - if they are not socially adept, any "social" character they play will be arbitrarily penalized for the Player's qualities. Therefore, I do away with these sorts of modifiers, and only apply modifiers based on in-game factors (e.g. bribery, pressure, etc.). Once a die is rolled, the result it shows is what happens - it is up to me as a DM to narrate what that means.

As an example, let's look at the PC requesting aid from a King:

* * * *

PC: I ask the King to give us troops to fight the orcs.
DM: Why should he help you?
PC: Um... the orcs are threatening his lands. We know where they are now, so... yeah.
DM: OK, roll Diplomacy.

Note that, when faced with a bald request, the DM asked the Player why he'd think the NPC would go along with it. This is just good technique to make sure that even unskilled speakers have a chance to argue their case.

If the roll fails
DM: The king reacts angrily, asking if you think you can better command his armies than he can.

If the roll succeeds
DM: The king nods gravely and says that you will have the forces you need to defeat the orc threat.

* * * *
It's really that simple. For complex conversations, have the PC roll whenever the NPC should have a significant reaction. If he succeeds, the NPC becomes friendlier and more likely to help; if he fails, the NPC becomes more hostile and unwilling to help.
TL;DR - just roll the Diplomacy checks and narrate the results according to the dice. Even the most silver-tongued speaker can stumble into conversational landmines on occasion.

Pisha
2011-04-12, 05:24 PM
Note that, when faced with a bald request, the DM asked the Player why he'd think the NPC would go along with it. This is just good technique to make sure that even unskilled speakers have a chance to argue their case.


I like that. The player has to come up with the base of the argument (just like the player has to decide who the main threat in a battle is, or how to get across that river of lava), but then let the Diplomacy roll determine how well it works.

Gamer Girl
2011-04-12, 07:22 PM
Do you make the fighter player demonstrate swinging a real sword in your living room? Do you have the wizard player fling bat poo? Do you really want the rogue player to lock pick the vault in the wall behind the picture? Why should diplomacy be any different? For the fun of the play of the game it's ok for the player to say something, but what's important is the concept the player wants to convey. If the player can't inspire like Patrick Henry, it's enough to get the idea of what he wants and let the dice roll determine how successful he was at doing it.


Well, I do make the fighter role-play out combat moves. It's much more fun to say ''I swing my sword in a low arc and cut at the guys legs'' then ''I roll the d20''. Same with wizards-"I raise my hands above my head and summon arcane energy and cast magic missile''. And so on.


And when you get to things like Diplomacy, that is just when you change the game:

So you have a Bard character with a charisma of 20, who's player is a couple dozen points lower then that in real life. So in the game he attempts to impress a king, by telling a dwarf fart joke and mooning the king. Now in a normal game, even if he rolled a 100 for Diplomacy, most DM's would have the king react badly.

But it does not have to be that way. If the character does some thing 'extreme', but still rolls a good Diplomacy, then that makes the 'extreme' thing Good. This is where the king loves the character for being so 'straight and honest' and being human with him(after all the king only gets people that kiss his feet and agree with him).

A good example of this is in the movie "Liar Liar" where Jim Carry's character(who can't lie) is forced to go into a board room(by an evil co-worker who want to get him in trouble) and tell the truth about everyone. He spends several minutes saying the worst things about the people in the room(that are all the truth). The CEO looks shocked through most of it..yet at the end he laughs and says it's the greatest thing he has ever heard. In other words, he got a 30 on that Diplomacy check.

NichG
2011-04-12, 07:46 PM
But it does not have to be that way. If the character does some thing 'extreme', but still rolls a good Diplomacy, then that makes the 'extreme' thing Good. This is where the king loves the character for being so 'straight and honest' and being human with him(after all the king only gets people that kiss his feet and agree with him).


I feel this leads to NPC-itis, where people other than the PCs behave increasingly unrealistically in order to make the actions of the PCs fit to the point where it breaks immersion. It can make the NPCs feel less like people and more like pawns or puppets for the PCs to use. For me at least, when NPCs seem story-bound to the whims of the PCs like that, it really makes it hard to empathize or become invested in them.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-12, 11:52 PM
I feel this leads to NPC-itis, where people other than the PCs behave increasingly unrealistically in order to make the actions of the PCs fit to the point where it breaks immersion. It can make the NPCs feel less like people and more like pawns or puppets for the PCs to use. For me at least, when NPCs seem story-bound to the whims of the PCs like that, it really makes it hard to empathize or become invested in them.
It really doesn't.

Personal Aside
Aside from my distaste for "breaks immersion" arguments, the issue here is that this argument is true for any Diplomacy roll. When you make a Diplomacy check, you are allowing mechanics to define RP reactions - which makes them "puppets" by the above logic.

If the counter-argument is that "those rolls don't break immersion enough" then there really isn't anything else to say.

Any time you make a roll, you are saying that "the results of this die will alter the course of the narration." If you don't think a PC's speech has any chance of affecting the narrative (or can only lead to one reaction) don't roll. Otherwise, accept the roll of the dice without reservation and move on.

In general, the sort of shenanigans depicted by Gamer Girl are not the result of someone with poor social skills, but what happens when someone is simply RPing a jerk. In those cases, it is fair to simply say "the King takes offense" without a roll - and you won't be penalizing people with poor social skills from playing social characters. The Player must have had enough awareness of the situation to realize that his course of action would be offensive; therefore he had enough to have at least made a bland "I ask for money" statement instead.

NichG
2011-04-13, 12:16 AM
It really doesn't.

Any time you make a roll, you are saying that "the results of this die will alter the course of the narration." If you don't think a PC's speech has any chance of affecting the narrative (or can only lead to one reaction) don't roll. Otherwise, accept the roll of the dice without reservation and move on.

In general, the sort of shenanigans depicted by Gamer Girl are not the result of someone with poor social skills, but what happens when someone is simply RPing a jerk.


I really meant more the 'the roll is used to justify a positive result from a strongly negative action' like you're talking about here. If a PC dominates an NPC, crushing their will and turning them into a literal puppet, thats okay with me since thats actually what they did. But if fate conspires to make it so that this NPC happened to really like being abused by someone lower in station because its the only way to justify the results of the roll given what was said or done, I think that makes for a bad narrative.

I'd far prefer a situation where it was ran as 'GM: Okay, with that roll, what you really said was ...'

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-13, 03:28 AM
I'd far prefer a situation where it was ran as 'GM: Okay, with that roll, what you really said was ...'
So... it's better for the DM to "crush the will" of the PC by putting words in his mouth rather than for the PC to do the same to an NPC :smallconfused:

NichG
2011-04-13, 04:41 AM
So... it's better for the DM to "crush the will" of the PC by putting words in his mouth rather than for the PC to do the same to an NPC :smallconfused:

The player gets a choice: say what you actually said and take the worse response, or say something that suits your character's mental stats and skills and get the desired response. Either way, what you say has consequences, but the character's stats and skills suggest a way to get the outcome you want. If you choose to ignore that and still decide insult the king with fart jokes, you get to see what the king really does when he's insulted with fart jokes.

But if a high roll means 'insult the king with fart jokes' leads to 'you speak so eloquently I'm going to give you a duchy' then that one player is making the situation more difficult to take seriously for the entire table. Why bother taking anything seriously when you can literally say anything and excuse it with a good roll?

Pisha
2011-04-13, 08:48 AM
The player gets a choice: say what you actually said and take the worse response, or say something that suits your character's mental stats and skills and get the desired response. Either way, what you say has consequences, but the character's stats and skills suggest a way to get the outcome you want. If you choose to ignore that and still decide insult the king with fart jokes, you get to see what the king really does when he's insulted with fart jokes.

But if a high roll means 'insult the king with fart jokes' leads to 'you speak so eloquently I'm going to give you a duchy' then that one player is making the situation more difficult to take seriously for the entire table. Why bother taking anything seriously when you can literally say anything and excuse it with a good roll?

Exactly. I mean, any Diplomacy roll "puts words in the PCs' mouths", to an extent - I mean, while I don't think I'm terrible at social skills, I certainly don't have a +25 Diplomacy in real life! When I roleplay out a conversation with the king and roll for Diplomacy, then, I'm assuming that what my character actually said is the more eloquent, more convincing version of what I actually said. Similarly, a player cracking stupid fart jokes might, with a good roll, upgrade that to "While introducing yourself, you take a chance and tell a slightly earthy witticism. The risk pays off; the king is startled for a moment, then laughs, and you get the impression he appreciates your boldness." While this still changes how the NPC reacts to such things, it also upgrades the player's actual words into something where the NPC's reaction makes sense.

If the player insists, "No, I don't 'tell a witticism,' I turn around, drop my pants, and fart at the king," then ok, he can do that... but he's not getting a Diplomacy roll, because he has actively chosen not to be diplomatic about this.

Totally Guy
2011-04-13, 08:54 AM
I say that telling fart jokes is not an appropriate intent for requesting aid. If the player plays out actully asking for military aid then the dice come out. You need the right task for the right intent.

Also...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_the_Farter

Pisha
2011-04-13, 09:06 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_the_Farter

Fair. And yes, there might be some kings out there (the ones who are miserable in a throne room, who'd much rather be out hunting with the dogs and drinking ale) who actually might want to reward fart jokes. There's precedent. But it's still not diplomacy! It's being rude and crass to a king, and having the sheer dumb luck that the king turns out to be a rude and crass person. So as a GM, if I gave the king that sort of personality, I'd certainly bear that in mind... but I wouldn't allow a Diplomacy roll for that.

(hmm, exception: if the player was actively going for that kind of response, doing a Sense Motive maybe and trying to make the king laugh - in other words, if they were being smart about it instead of just goofing off and not trying - maybe.)

Totally Guy
2011-04-13, 09:21 AM
(hmm, exception: if the player was actively going for that kind of response, doing a Sense Motive maybe and trying to make the king laugh - in other words, if they were being smart about it instead of just goofing off and not trying - maybe.)

There's a skill for that. I think we're good here.

I like to know why the player is doing something. That way I know what their expectation is should they succeed. Then I need to know how they are accomplishing it. If the two things match, "Yes, doing that action can conceivably lead to that expectation" then the difficulty is set and the dice come out.

In talky situations the "how are you accomplishing it?" bit is the roleplay.

obliged_salmon
2011-04-13, 10:15 AM
Bingo. GM should ask about players' intentions, rather than just making assumptions. Then, roll dice to see if the intentions are accomplished.

As addendum, there's talk about "luck" involved in finding kings with certain personalities, that appealing to "luck" is unrealistic. But we're rolling dice? Pulling your pants down should almost never impress a king, even for a ridiculously skilled diplomat, but maybe one time in a thousand...?

Gamer Girl
2011-04-13, 01:05 PM
Fair. And yes, there might be some kings out there (the ones who are miserable in a throne room, who'd much rather be out hunting with the dogs and drinking ale) who actually might want to reward fart jokes. There's precedent. But it's still not diplomacy! It's being rude and crass to a king, and having the sheer dumb luck that the king turns out to be a rude and crass person. So as a GM, if I gave the king that sort of personality, I'd certainly bear that in mind... but I wouldn't allow a Diplomacy roll for that.

It's not luck exactly, it gaming.

The game can't simulate real life, and does not even try. In real life, if you were to go before a king, you'd ask around to other people what he was like. Not to mention you'd have plenty of rumors and street talk to go on. But this makes for a very boring game for most people. It's boring to hang around town for six (real) hours and just gossip. The characters are a group of adventures, not socialites.(but you could run that type of game, of course).

So that is where the Diplomacy check comes in. It represents 'off game'('off camera') actions. That character took some (non game) time to get to know some things about the king before the meeting. And, for example, discovered the king liked fart jokes..but no one very told him any. This is all basically retcon, but it does make for a fun and smooth game.

And most of all, it allows the 'low charisma' person in real life to have fun and play their character.

Mastikator
2011-04-13, 01:12 PM
General Int/Wis checks for the character to realize how dumb the action or plan is?

This.
Also occasionally making secret checks and giving those that succeed some advice that pops into their characters head.

NichG
2011-04-13, 02:27 PM
So that is where the Diplomacy check comes in. It represents 'off game'('off camera') actions. That character took some (non game) time to get to know some things about the king before the meeting. And, for example, discovered the king liked fart jokes..but no one very told him any. This is all basically retcon, but it does make for a fun and smooth game.


When every king, nay, every NPC appreciates fart jokes, this really strains credulity. It's the kind of thing that if another player did this all the time would interfere with my fun at the table. It may be a gaming style thing though - if you're going for a beer and pretzels sort of game or a game that is centered around humor its probably fine.

Gamer Girl
2011-04-13, 05:03 PM
When every king, nay, every NPC appreciates fart jokes, this really strains credulity. It's the kind of thing that if another player did this all the time would interfere with my fun at the table. It may be a gaming style thing though - if you're going for a beer and pretzels sort of game or a game that is centered around humor its probably fine.

It's not every king, of course. But even so, a diplomacy check would mean the king is not offended. For example, the king just expects adventurers to be 'crude and smelly'. Or the king just accepts they are from a different culture. And so on.

And does not every male appreciates fart jokes anyway? Sure seems that way IRL....

Lord Vampyre
2011-04-13, 06:27 PM
So that is where the Diplomacy check comes in. It represents 'off game'('off camera') actions. That character took some (non game) time to get to know some things about the king before the meeting. And, for example, discovered the king liked fart jokes..but no one very told him any. This is all basically retcon, but it does make for a fun and smooth game.

Honestly, I would of required the PCs to do a Gather Information check prior to visiting the king if I were going to give them a bonus such as that.

If the player, does something incredibly stupid with their character, such as "insult" the king. I give them a roll to determine how harsh the penalty is going to be. A success means that they are simply thrown in the dungeon. Where as a failure would result in an immediate call for the guards to kill the offending character.

This goes along the same lines as the player choosing to attack an adult red dragon at 1st level. If the player is going to be that stupid with their character, they'll have to deal with the consequences. Even if it means having them make a new character.

I generally give my NPCs their own personality that change based upon the PC's actions. I only allow the dice to tell me how severe or beneficial their reactions are going to be.

Now, some would say that this makes the social skills somewhat worthless. On the contrary, it makes them more realistic. If an extremely charismatic bard pulls off some major affront to the king, he is likely to react far less severly than he will to some Half-Orc barbarian with no sense of social etiquette. If said bard chooses not to put points into Diplomacy, then he is probably going to be just as screwed as his Orc buddy.

Pisha
2011-04-13, 07:33 PM
It's not luck exactly, it gaming.

The game can't simulate real life, and does not even try. In real life, if you were to go before a king, you'd ask around to other people what he was like. Not to mention you'd have plenty of rumors and street talk to go on. But this makes for a very boring game for most people. It's boring to hang around town for six (real) hours and just gossip. The characters are a group of adventures, not socialites.(but you could run that type of game, of course).

So that is where the Diplomacy check comes in. It represents 'off game'('off camera') actions. That character took some (non game) time to get to know some things about the king before the meeting. And, for example, discovered the king liked fart jokes..but no one very told him any. This is all basically retcon, but it does make for a fun and smooth game.

And most of all, it allows the 'low charisma' person in real life to have fun and play their character.

No, that's where Gather Information and/or Sense Motive comes in. As a GM, I'd allow either one to provide the pertinent information, and it needn't take more than 45 seconds to roll Gather Info and learn "The king used to be a boisterous man who loved drinking, hunting, brawling and wenching, until the sudden death of his brother put him unexpectedly on the throne. Since then, he's tried to be a respectable king, but rumor has it that he's bored and unhappy with courtly life." And if the PC had made that roll and found that out, sure. Go for it. Otherwise - they're doing something that they know is stupid, with no reason to suspect it might work. I"m going to adjudicate it accordingly.

Similarly, there may well be an ancient red dragon with a kind and generous personality, who loves giving small gifts of gold and gems to travelers down on their luck. It could happen, and it'd certainly be a memorable NPC. But unless the PC has reason to believe it's true, marching up to the dragon's cave and demanding money is a bad idea, and there's no roll that's going to change that.

BayardSPSR
2011-04-14, 04:33 AM
Play a system that doesn't use intelligence and wisdom as stats?

Facetiousness aside, I occasionally have the opposite problem the OP described: when you have an emotionally unstable character who's never seen combat but miraculously turns into a cool-headed tactician as soon as the first shot's fired. It's completely an RP problem, but one that's frustrating if you happen to be the player yourself. Sort of like when I'm playing a paladin-type who, in defiance of all D&D tradition, suddenly uses underhanded but perfectly sensible tactics in order to destroy evil more efficiently.

Killer Angel
2011-04-14, 06:13 AM
Do you make the fighter player demonstrate swinging a real sword in your living room? Do you have the wizard player fling bat poo? Do you really want the rogue player to lock pick the vault in the wall behind the picture? Why should diplomacy be any different? For the fun of the play of the game it's ok for the player to say something, but what's important is the concept the player wants to convey. If the player can't inspire like Patrick Henry, it's enough to get the idea of what he wants and let the dice roll determine how successful he was at doing it.


As said by Telonius, the player should at least try.
And anyway: yes, a good speech by the player, in my games will be rewarded with bonuses to the skill check, because it's improving the game. It's fun at the table, for all the ones involved. To make a speech, rather then simply declare an intention and roll a dice, it contributes to add athmosphere. You can do only the rolling, of course, but without bonuses.
On the same level, no, I don't need a player to demonstrate sword skill, but if the player of Rheagar the barbarian says: "I charge" and roll a dice, is one thing, while if he says "enough with talking! I'll eat your hearts! CHHHHARRRGEEEEEAAARRRGHHHH", and roll the dice, sure as hell he'll get a bonus.
Role playing should be rewarded.

Yukitsu
2011-04-14, 08:22 AM
I'm socially awkward, but am extensively combat trained. Can I take the option of RPing my actual combat instead, and talk with my fists? It seems rather peculiar that you're willing to penalize players for out of character strengths and weaknesses. Seems metagamy to me.

Provengreil
2011-04-14, 09:27 AM
When every king, nay, every NPC appreciates fart jokes, this really strains credulity. It's the kind of thing that if another player did this all the time would interfere with my fun at the table. It may be a gaming style thing though - if you're going for a beer and pretzels sort of game or a game that is centered around humor its probably fine.

sounds like somebody's never played fable.

Ravens_cry
2011-04-14, 10:24 AM
The whole point of rules is to distance the differances between charachter and player. Sure, some things are hard to overcome, but just like I can't swing a sword to save my life, I certainly can not wring fire from thin air with a waggle of of my fingers and some bat poop, I also am not a suave or diplomatic individual, nor a fearsome or intimidating one. Basically, I am social klutz. Yet I have played characters who are all those things. I alsocross-gender role play and play off the other characters, rather then the players gender. And you know what? It's fun to be someone you're not in a world not your own.
It's the same in video games. I am not a doughty space marine, grizzled of face and gravel of voice, nor am I expert in skills of kicking or have calves that could crack bowling balls, also, I am not a pirate nor do I particularly have an urge to try and become one. Speaking of bowling balls, I does not have a chest with two inserted thusly, nor do I have acrobatic skills supreme nor do I plunder hidden graves.
Yet, these are roles I have also played and enjoyed.

NichG
2011-04-14, 11:49 AM
Games almost universally have some sort of challenge or skill component to them, though there are some games which are entirely randomness driven, mostly ones intended for gambling.

For those saying that there should be a complete separation between out of character skill and in-character performance, what would you say that the primary source of challenge in the game should be? What is the player skill that the game should reward?

Lord Vampyre
2011-04-14, 12:12 PM
I'm socially awkward, but am extensively combat trained. Can I take the option of RPing my actual combat instead, and talk with my fists? It seems rather peculiar that you're willing to penalize players for out of character strengths and weaknesses. Seems metagamy to me.

It's not a matter of penalizing them for out of game strengths and weaknesses, it's a matter of penalizing them for not putting forth an effort. If a player is playing a character that is supposed to be extremely gentile, then they should have that character act gentile. When the character does something crass like mooning the king, they are acting out of character, and end up paying the consequences. It doesn't matter what kind of social dilettante you are out of game, it only matters how you have your character act in game. And putting forth an effort goes a long way.

Fiery Diamond
2011-04-14, 09:02 PM
As said by Telonius, the player should at least try.
And anyway: yes, a good speech by the player, in my games will be rewarded with bonuses to the skill check, because it's improving the game. It's fun at the table, for all the ones involved. To make a speech, rather then simply declare an intention and roll a dice, it contributes to add athmosphere. You can do only the rolling, of course, but without bonuses.
On the same level, no, I don't need a player to demonstrate sword skill, but if the player of Rheagar the barbarian says: "I charge" and roll a dice, is one thing, while if he says "enough with talking! I'll eat your hearts! CHHHHARRRGEEEEEAAARRRGHHHH", and roll the dice, sure as hell he'll get a bonus.
Role playing should be rewarded.


It's not a matter of penalizing them for out of game strengths and weaknesses, it's a matter of penalizing them for not putting forth an effort. If a player is playing a character that is supposed to be extremely gentile, then they should have that character act gentile. When the character does something crass like mooning the king, they are acting out of character, and end up paying the consequences. It doesn't matter what kind of social dilettante you are out of game, it only matters how you have your character act in game. And putting forth an effort goes a long way.

Pretty much these two things.

Also, there is a difference between being bad at something but trying (for diplomacy or bluff, for example) and just not trying because you know you have good stats in game. Let's take a look at a hypothetical scenario.

SCENARIO: The PCs must discuss a very important matter with the king and are on a tight time schedule to do so. A guard bars their way and initially refuses to let them go to the king. The party face responds.

Situation A) PC: "I yell at the guard and punch him for not letting us through. Oh, diplomacy check." *diplomacy roll*
DM Response) Massive penalty to the roll, possibly to the extent of automatic failure and summoning of more guards. The PC, regardless of how adept in real life, acting like a jerk and completely out of line for the situation, metagaming that his diplomacy roll could somehow make it work out all right. I call this negative effort on the part of the player.


Situation B) PC: You are a moron. We're in a hurry. Let us speak to the king, peon. *diplomacy roll*
DM Response) Player gets a penalty to the roll, though it may well still be successful. It seems inappropriate, but the player obviously put some effort in - note the use of the word peon. I call it mixed effort on the part of the player: they roleplayed, but in a way that is most likely to be counterproductive. While this type of behavior frustrates me, it doesn't provoke outright DMFURY like the previous example.

Situation C) PC: "I do a diplomacy check to get the guard to let us see the king." *diplomacy roll*
DM Response) No bonuses or penalties, but I ask the player to elaborate a little. Whatever I get, I take. There is no effort put in by the player, so I assume either the player considers the encounter with the guard to be superfluous, simply doesn't care about it, or has social difficulties in real life and is using this approach to avoid bringing them to the fore. I like to discourage this lack of effort, but I'll use positive reinforcement when they further elaborate rather than penalizing them for it.

Situation D) PC: "I tell the guard that it is urgent that we speak to the king." *diplomacy roll*
DM Response) No bonuses or penalties. Pretty much like the previous situation except that I don't need to ask for elaboration. I try to encourage this as the minimum for effort put forth. This is perfectly acceptable, especially for those who have real life difficulty with social skills (for example, I had an Asperger's guy in my group for one campaign, and this is how he handled social skills for the most part. I gave him bonus XP, which I did for roleplaying well, even though I would have required greater effort for the same reward from a player who was more socially adept.).

Situation E) PC: Um... yeah, so, well, we need to talk to the king. Let, er... let us through. It's, uh, it's real important. *diplomacy roll*
DM Response) Bonus to the roll. Note that this was poorly articulated. Guess what? I don't care. The player obviously has trouble with the social skill in real life (look at all the unintentional filler words and pauses), but he/she put forth the effort to talk in character for the encounter AND be specific about how the character was trying to convince the guard (focusing on urgency).

Of course, I could include situation F where the player is very articulate in real life, but then I'd probably reveal my own lack of social skills in the way of diplomacy. Situation F would also get a bonus, and probably not one in any way different than situation E. Also, bonus XP for situations E and F.

Yukitsu
2011-04-14, 09:26 PM
Eh. I honestly don't care much to assign bonuses just for giving it a try, though I also don't give penalties if they don't. I don't much care for drama class, and I don't think that I honestly need to force it on the player who obviously would rather think of it as a third person RPG select your general answer kind of game.

While I play out my own speeches and dialogue, I don't really know why that's somehow better than the guy who just doesn't want to, and would rather play the game as a game, and not as an acting opportunity.

Fiery Diamond
2011-04-14, 11:17 PM
Eh. I honestly don't care much to assign bonuses just for giving it a try, though I also don't give penalties if they don't. I don't much care for drama class, and I don't think that I honestly need to force it on the player who obviously would rather think of it as a third person RPG select your general answer kind of game.

While I play out my own speeches and dialogue, I don't really know why that's somehow better than the guy who just doesn't want to, and would rather play the game as a game, and not as an acting opportunity.

Well, I wouldn't say it's better. Simply that as DM, it is the style of game I run, and if you are a player in my game, you are going to be rewarded for fitting in with the style and penalized for going against it (though behaving in a way that is neither beneficial for the style nor detrimental is not going to be penalized OR rewarded).

I've also run games where I made it clear when first gathering players that in this campaign, social skills and skill points are aids to assist your own roleplaying talents, a way of determining just how well you are able to pull off something outlandish, and a method of playing tiebreaker so that you're not just relying solely on DM judgment calls. In other words, instead of good roleplaying adding bonuses to your die rolls, good die rolls add bonuses to your roleplaying and serve as a means for keeping the DM from being completely arbitrary. Obviously you don't want to run a game like this when you have players with social disabilities or similar difficulty with roleplaying interactions, but for your average gamer or actor/gamer, this is a great way of playing (and personally my favorite).

I've never been fond of the idea that the dice determine what happens. The dice are merely tools to keep things consistent and standardized. When they get in the way of fun, their significance can be downplayed or even outright ignored. The goal, for me, is a collective story-telling game (which happens to have lots of combat in it). The dice are merely one means to the end, and are certainly not the only or most important means. The dice are not the gods of the game.

Of course, it always helps to let your players know how you will be running the game before you ever even get them to make characters. That way if they don't like it they can have input at the beginning and if they still aren't satisfied with what's decided they can just not play in that campaign. No sense in forcing people to play a different game than they want.


Edit: For the record, to me, roleplaying games are an acting opportunity, and I don't enjoy playing games with or running games for those who approach them differently. I won't say that they're wrong and should stop having fun playing it that way, because that would be stupid of me. Just that my preferences are very different.

BayardSPSR
2011-04-15, 12:57 AM
I agree completely with Fiery Diamond. Of course, in my case, the system I play explicitly states that role-play should make up (on average) roughly a third of the game, with actual combat itself an equal proportion (negotiation of traps and obstacles makes up the third third). In this case, the speeches and dialogue really ARE they game. After all, it IS called a 'role-playing' game (something I've always found to be an erroneous term in the case of D&D, which has always seemed to me as a skirmish wargame that you can role-play in if you want to).

huttj509
2011-04-15, 03:59 AM
Pretty much these two things.

Also, there is a difference between being bad at something but trying (for diplomacy or bluff, for example) and just not trying because you know you have good stats in game. Let's take a look at a hypothetical scenario.

SCENARIO: The PCs must discuss a very important matter with the king and are on a tight time schedule to do so. A guard bars their way and initially refuses to let them go to the king. The party face responds.

Situation A) PC: "I yell at the guard and punch him for not letting us through. Oh, diplomacy check." *diplomacy roll*
DM Response) Massive penalty to the roll, possibly to the extent of automatic failure and summoning of more guards. The PC, regardless of how adept in real life, acting like a jerk and completely out of line for the situation, metagaming that his diplomacy roll could somehow make it work out all right. I call this negative effort on the part of the player.


Situation B) PC: You are a moron. We're in a hurry. Let us speak to the king, peon. *diplomacy roll*
DM Response) Player gets a penalty to the roll, though it may well still be successful. It seems inappropriate, but the player obviously put some effort in - note the use of the word peon. I call it mixed effort on the part of the player: they roleplayed, but in a way that is most likely to be counterproductive. While this type of behavior frustrates me, it doesn't provoke outright DMFURY like the previous example.

Situation C) PC: "I do a diplomacy check to get the guard to let us see the king." *diplomacy roll*
DM Response) No bonuses or penalties, but I ask the player to elaborate a little. Whatever I get, I take. There is no effort put in by the player, so I assume either the player considers the encounter with the guard to be superfluous, simply doesn't care about it, or has social difficulties in real life and is using this approach to avoid bringing them to the fore. I like to discourage this lack of effort, but I'll use positive reinforcement when they further elaborate rather than penalizing them for it.

Situation D) PC: "I tell the guard that it is urgent that we speak to the king." *diplomacy roll*
DM Response) No bonuses or penalties. Pretty much like the previous situation except that I don't need to ask for elaboration. I try to encourage this as the minimum for effort put forth. This is perfectly acceptable, especially for those who have real life difficulty with social skills (for example, I had an Asperger's guy in my group for one campaign, and this is how he handled social skills for the most part. I gave him bonus XP, which I did for roleplaying well, even though I would have required greater effort for the same reward from a player who was more socially adept.).

Situation E) PC: Um... yeah, so, well, we need to talk to the king. Let, er... let us through. It's, uh, it's real important. *diplomacy roll*
DM Response) Bonus to the roll. Note that this was poorly articulated. Guess what? I don't care. The player obviously has trouble with the social skill in real life (look at all the unintentional filler words and pauses), but he/she put forth the effort to talk in character for the encounter AND be specific about how the character was trying to convince the guard (focusing on urgency).

Of course, I could include situation F where the player is very articulate in real life, but then I'd probably reveal my own lack of social skills in the way of diplomacy. Situation F would also get a bonus, and probably not one in any way different than situation E. Also, bonus XP for situations E and F.

F?

PC: It's vitally important we speak to the king. We need to be let through to see him immediately. Now you may not have the authority to allow that, I understand. In that case, bring out someone who does. Now.

Yukitsu
2011-04-15, 09:17 AM
Well, I wouldn't say it's better. Simply that as DM, it is the style of game I run, and if you are a player in my game, you are going to be rewarded for fitting in with the style and penalized for going against it (though behaving in a way that is neither beneficial for the style nor detrimental is not going to be penalized OR rewarded).

I've also run games where I made it clear when first gathering players that in this campaign, social skills and skill points are aids to assist your own roleplaying talents, a way of determining just how well you are able to pull off something outlandish, and a method of playing tiebreaker so that you're not just relying solely on DM judgment calls. In other words, instead of good roleplaying adding bonuses to your die rolls, good die rolls add bonuses to your roleplaying and serve as a means for keeping the DM from being completely arbitrary. Obviously you don't want to run a game like this when you have players with social disabilities or similar difficulty with roleplaying interactions, but for your average gamer or actor/gamer, this is a great way of playing (and personally my favorite).

I've never been fond of the idea that the dice determine what happens. The dice are merely tools to keep things consistent and standardized. When they get in the way of fun, their significance can be downplayed or even outright ignored. The goal, for me, is a collective story-telling game (which happens to have lots of combat in it). The dice are merely one means to the end, and are certainly not the only or most important means. The dice are not the gods of the game.

Of course, it always helps to let your players know how you will be running the game before you ever even get them to make characters. That way if they don't like it they can have input at the beginning and if they still aren't satisfied with what's decided they can just not play in that campaign. No sense in forcing people to play a different game than they want.


Edit: For the record, to me, roleplaying games are an acting opportunity, and I don't enjoy playing games with or running games for those who approach them differently. I won't say that they're wrong and should stop having fun playing it that way, because that would be stupid of me. Just that my preferences are very different.

Considering that the DM is asking for more general advice, I think it's better to keep it as an "in general" term instead of the specifics of preference. I certainly prefer approaching the game as a tactical and strategic war game, and can't really justify telling DMs and players to specifically cater to players who like that style for instance, and I know others who really like to ham up their acting, but I'd honestly kick them out if they started trying to tell my other members how to play.

Jay R
2011-04-15, 12:38 PM
The eternal answer to the question "Should we role-play the encounters and ignore the INT, WIS and CHA stats, or shoudl we roll dice and ignore the players' intent?" is, "No, you should not be stupidly extremist in either direction.

I tell players that INT represents those aspects of Intelligence that can't be role-played. The same with Wisdom and Charisma. A character with INT 18 who chooses a bonehead action is behaving stupidly, but I'll often give a roll on INT to remember a fact the character knows better than the player. Encounters should be role-played, which gives me some idea of how the PCs are approaching this NPC. That gives be a basic reaction level, which can then be modified up or down by a CHA roll. (If you tell a stranger you are out to destroy Eddore the mad priest, and the stranger is Eddore the mad priest, no die roll will give him a positive reaction, but it might mean the difference between immediate battle and a demand that you leave his lands.)

Jay R
2011-04-15, 12:45 PM
Actually, I have the opposite problem -- people whose actions are far above their character's mental abilities. In a game at Rice University:

DM: You see goblins approach from the darkness, weapons drawn.

Fighter's player: OK -- I wave to the bushes and yell for my forces (which don't exist) to flank the goblins on the left. I attack the first goblin who turns to look.

DM: No you don't -- your character has INT 3 and WIS 5. You can fight, or flee.

Fiery Diamond
2011-04-15, 01:46 PM
Actually, I have the opposite problem -- people whose actions are far above their character's mental abilities. In a game at Rice University:

DM: You see goblins approach from the darkness, weapons drawn.

Fighter's player: OK -- I wave to the bushes and yell for my forces (which don't exist) to flank the goblins on the left. I attack the first goblin who turns to look.

DM: No you don't -- your character has INT 3 and WIS 5. You can fight, or flee.

This is part of why I dislike having characters with low mental stats. For one, they're hard to roleplay unless the player also has low mental stats in real life. It really is quite difficult to dumb down your actions unless you have practice. For another, unless you're very skilled at turning your character's weaknesses into something interesting, having rock-bottom Int and/or Wis is really boring, as it restricts your choices considerably.

NichG
2011-04-15, 02:19 PM
This is part of why I dislike having characters with low mental stats. For one, they're hard to roleplay unless the player also has low mental stats in real life. It really is quite difficult to dumb down your actions unless you have practice. For another, unless you're very skilled at turning your character's weaknesses into something interesting, having rock-bottom Int and/or Wis is really boring, as it restricts your choices considerably.

For this reason I end up playing high Int/Wis characters almost defensively. If I randomly have a flash of brilliance and figure out the entire plot based on some tiny clue dropped by the DM, I don't want to be told 'no, sorry, your 12 Int is insufficient to figure that out, now pretend you don't know what's going on for the rest of the campaign and wait for the wizard to solve it'.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-17, 12:42 AM
Actually, I have the opposite problem -- people whose actions are far above their character's mental abilities. In a game at Rice University:

DM: You see goblins approach from the darkness, weapons drawn.

Fighter's player: OK -- I wave to the bushes and yell for my forces (which don't exist) to flank the goblins on the left. I attack the first goblin who turns to look.

DM: No you don't -- your character has INT 3 and WIS 5. You can fight, or flee.
Player: OK, Mr. DM, why don't you just play my character for me then :smallmad:

I have a pet peeve about people who assume that a given INT/WIS means your character must be played a certain way. It's bad enough when other Players do it; to have a DM negate your autonomy like that is just rude.

Admittedly, I see very few people who would play an INT/WIS at literally moronic levels but I suppose they exist. I still have seem people worry that their character was acting "too smart" when his INT was 8 (and WIS 12) and had to calm them down. Play the damn character the way you want to play it, says I :smallannoyed:

Killer Angel
2011-04-17, 11:56 AM
Player: OK, Mr. DM, why don't you just play my character for me then :smallmad:

I have a pet peeve about people who assume that a given INT/WIS means your character must be played a certain way. It's bad enough when other Players do it; to have a DM negate your autonomy like that is just rude.


I agree it's rude, but this is a role playing game. If you don't role play the weakness of your character, what's the point?
Isn't INT 3, the lowest possible for a human? Play it.

The DM should remind this to the player; out of game, if you prefere.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-17, 12:00 PM
I agree it's rude, but this is a role playing game. If you don't role play the weakness of your character, what's the point?
Isn't INT 3, the lowest possible for a human? Play it.

The DM should remind this to the player; out of game, if you prefere.
The weakness of the character is taking a -4 to all INT checks, not having the DM arbitrarily overrule your character's actions.

Or are you suggesting that the DM also tell high INT PCs "No, that's too stupid. You do this instead?" :smallconfused:

What's good for the goose is good for the gander, after all :smallamused:

Killer Angel
2011-04-17, 12:21 PM
The weakness of the character is taking a -4 to all INT checks, not having the DM arbitrarily overrule your character's actions.


I wasn't talking bout DMs overruling characters' actions... that's always wrong. I was talking 'bout DMs reminding players what should be the weakness of their characters.
'til what point it's OK for a player, to play a dumb character, as it was always very smart?


Or are you suggesting that the DM also tell high INT PCs "No, that's too stupid. You do this instead?" :smallconfused:


Indeed, many DMs give advices of this kind to players, when their characters are acting stupidly for their knowledges. "You are a 10th lev. seasoned fighter. before entering that way, let me tell you that you know that almost certainly there will be sentries".


What's good for the goose is good for the gander, after all :smallamused:

I totally agree.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-17, 01:23 PM
Indeed, many DMs give advices of this kind to players, when their characters are acting stupidly for their knowledges. "You are a 10th lev. seasoned fighter. before entering that way, let me tell you that you know that almost certainly there will be sentries".
That's not what I'm saying.

I'm saying this:
DM: You see goblins approach from the darkness, weapons drawn.

Wizard PC: I step out into the open and cast magic missile.

DM: No you don't -- your character has INT 18. You hide in the shadows and cast an illusion to make it seem like you have an army with you. The goblins turn and run.
If you're going to "remind" Players that their low-INT characters shouldn't be doing certain actions then you should be telling high-INT characters that they should be doing certain actions. DMs rarely - if ever - single out high-INT PCs for special advice but they feel perfectly fine telling low-INT PCs to change their actions.

Lord.Sorasen
2011-04-17, 01:23 PM
On this "fart jokes" thing... I feel like this is a bit of a stretch, even for a high charisma character.

Let's say I had a character with 18 strength. He's mighty, and I don't need the player to be equally physically powerful. However, if this fighter is going to stop fighting and simply walk into enemies face first, he's going to get killed. I'm not going to say "well, his strength is really high, so I shouldn't penalize him for bad role playing." I'm going to penalize him because that move was stupid.

Ultimately, I think there are two kinds of stupid moves a character can make (I'm sure there are way more, I'm generalizing and simplifying for this specific situation and even then could be wrong). The first sort is where a player doesn't know something the character would, and acts incorrectly. For instance, the character may be a desert monk, but the player doesn't realize how difficult it would be to tumble in loose sand, or a high charisma character doesn't realize it's rude to address the king by his first name. In this case, I find it my duty as a dm to warn them before they made their action. If they still make the action they run the risk of it not working out. The high tumble means it might work, and the king might be ok with it and appreciate the casual attitude, but they should still be allowed to know.

On the other hand, sometimes players do things which obviously doesn't work in the real world (and we can assume they're aware of it). If the bard regularly moons the enemy general, he's going to pay for that, because nobody doesn't know that wouldn't work. A high ability score means the character knows more than the player does, but I firmly believe everyone has enough common sense to know that farting in front of people is rude. Sure, there are players who will do it anyway, but if the player gets it they should be allowed to do it with the penalties assigned.

The whole "combat tactics" part is a lot harder. I sort of believe players shouldn't pick characters with real world skills that can't really be rolled. That or they should get another member on the team who will help them do that part of their character, because you can't just roll this... However, this is because I am a dm with little combat understanding. If your player really does not understand how to do this whole tactics thing, and you know how to do it, you can always offer to take that specific job off his hands. Maybe another player wants to help to avoid railroading. But really, this can be a difficult one.

Fiery Diamond
2011-04-17, 01:41 PM
Also, Oracle, there is a difference between "mechanical penalty imposed by low scores" (-4 to Int checks for having a 3 Int) and "character weakness which should be roleplaying" (being dumb as dirt because he has a 3 Int). You seem to be saying that there should be a complete separation of game mechanics and roleplay (a high diplomacy and charisma character doing moronically bad things like mooning the king should be okay; a severely mentally handicapped character planning out elaborate battle tactics should be okay). If that is in fact what you mean, then I have to tell you - not everyone agrees with that. I don't. I disagree very strongly, and would immediately boot any player from a game I was DMing if he tried to argue the point after being told he was not allowed to have that segregation.

A DM should not be running the player's characters. But the players should be running their own characters, not characters whose actions and mental abilities have nothing to do with what's written on the sheet. The DM is permitted to guide the player ("Your character knows that their are likely to be guards strong enough to kill you if they can reach you. Do you still want to march through the front gates un-buffed with your wizard?" "Your character doesn't even understand the concept of trying to bluff someone in battle, he has 4s for Int and Wis. I don't think he's capable of coming up with that false reinforcements plan. As a player, you can suggest to your fellow gamers that one of the higher Int/Wis characters do it, but your character isn't going to be capable of coming up with that plan, so what do you want to do?"), he's not permitted to run the PC ("Your wizard isn't stupid enough to run headlong through the front gates. He casts these buffs and then sends an illusion in first so he can sneak in invisibly." "No, your character doesn't do that. He charges forward at the enemy.").

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-17, 01:51 PM
Also, Oracle, there is a difference between "mechanical penalty imposed by low scores" (-4 to Int checks for having a 3 Int) and "character weakness which should be roleplaying" (being dumb as dirt because he has a 3 Int). You seem to be saying that there should be a complete separation of game mechanics and roleplay (a high diplomacy and charisma character doing moronically bad things like mooning the king should be okay; a severely mentally handicapped character planning out elaborate battle tactics should be okay). If that is in fact what you mean, then I have to tell you - not everyone agrees with that.I don't. I disagree very strongly, and would immediately boot any player from a game I was DMing if he tried to argue the point after being told he was not allowed to have that segregation.
Of course not! That's the point of the thread :smallsmile:

Here, I'll quote my general reasoning from earlier.

The problem boils down to this:

In a game that is essentially about role-playing, how much are you going to impress the Player's inherent qualities on his Character?

In general, people don't like requiring Players to be physically capable of doing the things their Characters do, but the line blurs when you start thinking about things like "military tactics" or "trap finding." In some cases, the system places the onus on the Players to figure out how to disarm traps and plan intelligent ambushes; in others there are rolls to be made. More frequently, some sort of hybrid develops.

Social skills should not be treated any differently from the above, but they frequently are as people believe that anyone can be socially adept if they try. Even those who disagree with that proposition are more likely to give bonuses to silver-tongued Players and assign penalties to Players who are less adept.
The logic largely follows to the application of stats. Nobody requires low STR characters to RP being cowardly and weak; or low DEX characters tripping over stuff; or low CON characters being sickly. Yet people (apparently!) feel justified booting low-INT/WIS characters for making clever plans or low-CHA characters for coming up with convincing arguments.

What is the justification for one over the other? Why should mechanical penalties alone suffice for some stats, while mechanical and RP penalties are required for the others? :smallconfused:

Fiery Diamond
2011-04-17, 02:04 PM
Of course not! That's the point of the thread :smallsmile:

Here, I'll quote my general reasoning from earlier.

The logic largely follows to the application of stats. Nobody requires low STR characters to RP being cowardly and weak; or low DEX characters tripping over stuff; or low CON characters being sickly. Yet people (apparently!) feel justified booting low-INT/WIS characters for making clever plans or low-CHA characters for coming up with convincing arguments.

What is the justification for one over the other? Why should mechanical penalties alone suffice for some stats, while mechanical and RP penalties are required for the others? :smallconfused:

Maybe I'm just strange, but I would require low STR characters to RP being weak (Strength of less than ~7? RP it!), low DEX characters to being clumsy (Dex of less than ~7? RP it!), and low CON characters as having some form of health or sturdiness related issue (Con of less than ~7? RP it!). People do usually RP high Str characters as being strong, high Dex characters as being agile, and high Con characters as being really tough; RP of physical stats can be done by what kinds of actions and attitudes the character does/has and/or how the player describes the way the character interacts with the world. RP of physical stats doesn't need to be done by physical Player action.

So... no, I'm not having a double-standard between physical and mental stats. I have the same attitude toward physical stats as I do mental stats.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-17, 02:06 PM
Maybe I'm just strange, but I would low STR characters to RP being weak (Strength of less than ~7? RP it!), low DEX characters to being clumsy (Dex of less than ~7? RP it!), and low CON characters as having some form of health or sturdiness related issue (Con of less than ~7? RP it!). People do usually RP high Str characters as being strong, high Dex characters as being agile, and high Con characters as being really tough; RP of physical stats can be done by what kinds of actions and attitudes the character does/has and/or how the player describes the way the character interacts with the world. RP of physical stats doesn't need to be done by physical Player action.
Ah. Well, I can't say I'd be happy in a game where my DM mandated 3 pratfalls per day for my DEX 7 character, but to each their own.

Fiery Diamond
2011-04-17, 02:27 PM
Ah. Well, I can't say I'd be happy in a game where my DM mandated 3 pratfalls per day for my DEX 7 character, but to each their own.

That's a bit of an exaggeration. I wouldn't mandate a specific number of incidents per day/session/whatever, nor would I mandate what the severity of the incidents were, I would simply mandate that there be a reflection based on just how bad your score was.

Sample character low physical scores:

Character A) Str 7, Dex 7, Con 7

Roleplay STR) I would expect that the this character have some kind of problem with strength. Maybe he doesn't like that he can't carry as much stuff as the fighter (on the other hand, maybe he's gleeful that he can get the fighter to carry most of his stuff). Maybe he is in medium load instead of light and thus complains about the backpack straps chafing. Maybe he often leaves tasks with any kind of lifting or pushing to other people, telling them "You know I'm a weakling." The limit to what kinds of ways this could be portrayed is the imagination of the player.

Roleplay DEX) I would expect this character to have some kind of problem with dexterity. Maybe he's a fumble-fingers. Maybe he has the tendency to bump into the edges of things. Maybe he has a tendency to trip (not necessarily to the point of always falling, however). Again, the limit is the imagination of the player.

Roleplay CON) I would expect this character to have some kind of problem with constitution. Maybe he gets sick every so often. Maybe he's afraid to get hit because he has a low pain tolerance. Maybe he tires out really easily and nags the party to stop more often. Maybe he gets out of breath easily...heck, maybe he has asthma! The limit is the imagination of the player, as I've said.



As you can hopefully see, I'm not trying to force stuff down players' throats. I'm making them roleplay their weaknesses. In games I run, the emphasis is on roleplay. If you have a stat, it should be reflected in roleplay, high or low. And if you have trouble RPing a high mental stat because you don't have one IRL, just do your best and be open to suggestions from others.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-17, 02:56 PM
As you can hopefully see, I'm not trying to force stuff down players' throats. I'm making them roleplay their weaknesses. In games I run, the emphasis is on roleplay. If you have a stat, it should be reflected in roleplay, high or low. And if you have trouble RPing a high mental stat because you don't have one IRL, just do your best and be open to suggestions from others.
That's all well and good, but you see the distinction here, no?

Your descriptions for "roleplaying" physical problems don't actually get in the way of the game. The characters are supposed to fumble and complain, but it's never a situation of "your character fumbles the MacGuffin and it falls into enemy hands."

Compare that to the examples of "roleplaying" low mental/social stats. In all these situations it is always in important situations that the DM gets annoyed. I doubt you'd like a character with a low CHA who spends most of his time being awkward around ladies and being blunt but whenever the game is on the line he always has a perfect argument; yet you would have no problem with a low DEX character who fumbles mugs, trips over his feet, and bumps into walls - except when he has to fight the BBEG or run away with MacGuffin.

My prediction is that you'd say the low CHA character is doing "bad roleplaying" because his RP never hinders him when things are important. I doubt you'd object so much with the low DEX character - or at the least you wouldn't notice his selective "roleplay" as much.

Killer Angel
2011-04-17, 03:39 PM
That's not what I'm saying.

I'm saying this:
DM: You see goblins approach from the darkness, weapons drawn.

Wizard PC: I step out into the open and cast magic missile.

DM: No you don't -- your character has INT 18. You hide in the shadows and cast an illusion to make it seem like you have an army with you. The goblins turn and run.


Well, of course I agree. The DM should never dictate actions to a Player's character



If you're going to "remind" Players that their low-INT characters shouldn't be doing certain actions then you should be telling high-INT characters that they should be doing certain actions. DMs rarely - if ever - single out high-INT PCs for special advice but they feel perfectly fine telling low-INT PCs to change their actions.

The things are different.
I remind a player that his low int character shouldn't act so smartly.
I remind a player that his high int character shouldn't act so stupidly.
I'm NOT saying: "your low int char should act this way".
neither "your high char should act this way".
Obviously, the player shoulddebate with me on the matter.



The logic largely follows to the application of stats. Nobody requires low STR characters to RP being cowardly and weak; or low DEX characters tripping over stuff; or low CON characters being sickly. Yet people (apparently!) feel justified booting low-INT/WIS characters for making clever plans or low-CHA characters for coming up with convincing arguments.


I think the issue arise only when the behaviour is repeated.
I'm not telling that a low int char cannot act smartly, once in a while... but if you act smartly all the times, there is a problem with the player.
A low strenght gives you maluses during combat AND on skills strenght based.
A low int gives you malus for skill checks... but the rest is role playing.
If the dump stat is Int, but the player knows it will matter only for some skill checks, 'cause for all the other things the character will always act at the best of the player's int, imo there's something wrong.

EDIT: the thing is also limited to the effective Int. I don't care for an Int 8... but if you play an half-orc with Int 5, or 4, then don't "cheat" on it! :smallwink:

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-17, 06:04 PM
EDIT: the thing is also limited to the effective Int. I don't care for an Int 8... but if you play an half-orc with Int 5, or 4, then don't "cheat" on it! :smallwink:
This is one thing I like about 4e - I don't have to worry about Players "cheating" by taking a score of 6 or less.

For the rest of your post, I refer to my previous one: why is it that a DM find it appropriate to impose RP restrictions for some ability scores and not for others? And why should the DM be telling anyone how to be playing their character (even through suggestions!) without warning the Players beforehand that certain scores have hidden RP restrictions on them.

If you feel fine telling your Players "if you have a INT/WIS/CHA of 6 or below, I will critique any actions I feel as being too smart for you" then by all means play that way. Me? I like leaving the RP in the hands of my Players.

Fiery Diamond
2011-04-17, 09:41 PM
That's all well and good, but you see the distinction here, no?

Your descriptions for "roleplaying" physical problems don't actually get in the way of the game. The characters are supposed to fumble and complain, but it's never a situation of "your character fumbles the MacGuffin and it falls into enemy hands."

Compare that to the examples of "roleplaying" low mental/social stats. In all these situations it is always in important situations that the DM gets annoyed. I doubt you'd like a character with a low CHA who spends most of his time being awkward around ladies and being blunt but whenever the game is on the line he always has a perfect argument; yet you would have no problem with a low DEX character who fumbles mugs, trips over his feet, and bumps into walls - except when he has to fight the BBEG or run away with MacGuffin.

My prediction is that you'd say the low CHA character is doing "bad roleplaying" because his RP never hinders him when things are important. I doubt you'd object so much with the low DEX character - or at the least you wouldn't notice his selective "roleplay" as much.

I won't lie to save face: I probably wouldn't notice the selective-ness with roleplay of physical stats as much. There are two simple reasons for that: first is that I believe in the rule of cool (which applies primarily to physical actions, though it does also have social applications as well - and a character with a moderately low mental stat having an occasional flash of brilliance of some sort would be allowed for this reason...so long as it was only occasional). Second is that it is much easier for an adrenaline-pumped individual to act average-ly if he has a below-average score than it is for a character to act awesomely good socially/intellectually if he has a below-average score: I can more easily picture a Dex6 character not tripping in a situation where a Dex10 character wouldn't trip than an Cha6 character suddenly behaving like a Cha14 character; it's a matter of scale.

On the other hand, a Dex 3 character nimbly running down the twisty corridors filled with furniture holding the McGuffin... I would call out the player on that just as much as I would a Int 6/ Cha 6 character giving a moving and poetic treatise on the merits of royal treasury fund allocations.


This is one thing I like about 4e - I don't have to worry about Players "cheating" by taking a score of 6 or less.

For the rest of your post, I refer to my previous one: why is it that a DM find it appropriate to impose RP restrictions for some ability scores and not for others? And why should the DM be telling anyone how to be playing their character (even through suggestions!) without warning the Players beforehand that certain scores have hidden RP restrictions on them.

If you feel fine telling your Players "if you have a INT/WIS/CHA of 6 or below, I will critique any actions I feel as being too smart for you" then by all means play that way. Me? I like leaving the RP in the hands of my Players.

The difference in my (and others' on here) way of thinking and your way of thinking can probably be boiled down to this: the "RP restrictions" aren't hidden in our point of view, they are self-evident and obvious. I can only speak for myself, but I do think there is a fundamental difference between physical and mental stats: one set describes the body (typically not roleplayed with the player's body, meaning that there is some disconnect between IRL player and IC character in terms of necessity of player action mirroring character action - the roleplay of physical attributes can be done through words) while the other set describes mental and social capabilities (which are roleplayed by the player... wait. There are only 2 ways of doing this roleplay: description, such as "I give an eloquent and impassioned speech to the crowd about overthrowing tyranny," or through direct mirror, such as actually giving an eloquent and impassioned speech to your fellow gamers while talking in character (or attempting to do so, which is the most important part)). Essentially, not all stats are created equal, and while you should always try to roleplay all stats to the best of your ability, sometimes the best of your ability needs a little help, especially when it comes to decision-making and tactics, when you have a much lower IRL Int/Wis than character Int; and sometimes the best of your ability needs a little nudge to remind you to dumb down your actions when you have a much higher IRL Int/Wis than your character.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-17, 10:31 PM
The difference in my (and others' on here) way of thinking and your way of thinking can probably be boiled down to this: the "RP restrictions" aren't hidden in our point of view, they are self-evident and obvious.
If they were really self-evident and obvious, you'd never have to chide a Player for "acting out of character" in mental/social situations.

The problem here is there's no guidelines for exactly how an INT/CHA X Character should act. When it comes for RP restrictions, there must be clearly laid out strictures or it becomes an invitation for DMs to tell Players how to play their Characters - a situation I personally find abhorrent.
Look at the Paladin. There is a short code that any Paladin needs to follow:

A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class abilities if she ever willingly commits an evil act.

Additionally, a paladinís code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.
Notwithstanding the amount of rumbling on teh Internetz regarding how the Paladin's Code is to be adjudicated, there is still a short code written in simple language. If you're choosing to play a Paladin, you have some basic expectations as to what that means, RP-wise.

Can you do the same for an INT 6 character? An INT 4? Where do you draw the line for the different expectations for different INT scores? Every person - and indeed, every DM - has a different set of expectations and even if you say "I expect you to RP your INT score" no Player can ever read your mind as to what that means. Ditto for WIS and CHA.

This doesn't even get into the issues of quantifying what a given INT/WIS/CHA is supposed to mean, or what happens when you try to get a gestalt picture of a Character's mind.
TL;DR - it is not fair to your Players to impose RP restrictions that require them to read your mind in order to follow.

Killer Angel
2011-04-18, 03:42 AM
And why should the DM be telling anyone how to be playing their character (even through suggestions!) without warning the Players beforehand that certain scores have hidden RP restrictions on them.


Well, they're not so "hidden" if you play a char with Int 5, but anyway, yes, the players should always know what to expect from their DM.

But, given that the debate isn't only limited to 3.5, neither D&D, there are game systems that admit DM suggestions to players.
In GURPS, you can buy an advantage (don't remember the name) that, when you act in a way the DM feels stupid, he will stop you from doing such a thing, thus avoiding mistakes during sneaking or planning.

dsmiles
2011-04-18, 07:18 AM
If they were really self-evident and obvious, you'd never have to chide a Player for "acting out of character" in mental/social situations.I shouldn't have to. An INT 3 character, again we're talking DnD stats here, can barely grasp the concept of language, let alone articulate a detailed tactical plan. INT 3 is one point above the intelligence of an animal, so INT 4 or 5 isn't going to be a whole lot better (but you may be able to turn simple thoughts into speech at this point).

Jay R
2011-04-18, 10:02 AM
why is it that a DM find it appropriate to impose RP restrictions for some ability scores and not for others?

You have it backwards. If a weightlifter player were playing a STR 4 character, you wouldn't let him use the player's high STR rather than the character's low STR, would you?

Of course not. So why would you let a high INT player with a low INT character use an intelligence level the character doesn't have?


And why should the DM be telling anyone how to be playing their character (even through suggestions!) without warning the Players beforehand that certain scores have hidden RP restrictions on them.

The "hidden RP restrictions" are that you have to play the actual role. The low-CON character can't survive well; the low-STR character can't lift well; the low-DEX character can't sneak well; the low-INT character can't plan well.

"This is the character you're playing" is not a hidden RP restriction.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-18, 11:28 AM
The "hidden RP restrictions" are that you have to play the actual role. The low-CON character can't survive well; the low-STR character can't lift well; the low-DEX character can't sneak well; the low-INT character can't plan well.

"This is the character you're playing" is not a hidden RP restriction.
OK, can you answer this question then?


The problem here is there's no guidelines for exactly how an INT/CHA X Character should act. When it comes for RP restrictions, there must be clearly laid out strictures or it becomes an invitation for DMs to tell Players how to play their Characters - a situation I personally find abhorrent.

Look at the Paladin. There is a short code that any Paladin needs to follow:

A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class abilities if she ever willingly commits an evil act.

Additionally, a paladinís code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

Notwithstanding the amount of rumbling on teh Internetz regarding how the Paladin's Code is to be adjudicated, there is still a short code written in simple language. If you're choosing to play a Paladin, you have some basic expectations as to what that means, RP-wise.

Can you do the same for an INT 6 character? An INT 4? Where do you draw the line for the different expectations for different INT scores?

Lord Vampyre
2011-04-18, 04:47 PM
Actually, I have the opposite problem -- people whose actions are far above their character's mental abilities. In a game at Rice University:

DM: You see goblins approach from the darkness, weapons drawn.

Fighter's player: OK -- I wave to the bushes and yell for my forces (which don't exist) to flank the goblins on the left. I attack the first goblin who turns to look.

DM: No you don't -- your character has INT 3 and WIS 5. You can fight, or flee.

This is why, you have the bluff mechanic. Unfortunately, D&D has a hard time of depicting a person's true mental abilities. In theory their are 7 forms of intelligence, depending on which slant of psychology you wish to adhere to. D&D really only describes 4 of them: Book learning through Int, Common Sense through Wis, Social through Cha, and Experience through Exp. With a low Int and Wis it is assumed the character doesn't study books and has very little to no common sense. However if he had a high Cha, he'd be able to lie through his teeth.

Bottom line, I'd give the character a roll, with whatever various modifiers. But once again, at least the player made an attempt at the role-play portion of the RPG.

dsmiles
2011-04-18, 04:52 PM
OK, can you answer this question then?Well, chimps, gorillas, orangutans (and probably some other primates out there) can't learn to speak, but they can learn sign language and tool use. They're probably around 6-8 INT.

Dolphins, porpoises, and orcas are probably a little lower, since they can understand language and learn complex tricks and maneuvers. Probably around 5-7 INT.

Dogs and cats (however much DnD says they have 2 INT), and birds that can learn to mimic sounds are probably around 3-5 INT.

Most other animals are around 2 INT, though there are exceptions.

Zombies (yes, even Romero zombies) are pretty much 0 INT.

That's where I generally draw the INT lines. Other people may have differing opinions. But when you're rolling 4d6b3, you generally end up with average (10) or better in all your scores (in DnD, that is), so I don't really have to worry about it.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-18, 06:15 PM
Well, chimps, gorillas, orangutans (and probably some other primates out there) can't learn to speak, but they can learn sign language and tool use. They're probably around 6-8 INT.
Ha! I'm amused to find out that the default 3.5 Half-Orc can't even speak according to you :smallbiggrin:

Yukitsu
2011-04-18, 06:20 PM
Speech is more limited in those species due to vocal chord differences, not really by intelligence, though I'm still more inclined to put them at intelligence 4-5.

dsmiles
2011-04-18, 07:17 PM
Speech is more limited in those species due to vocal chord differences, not really by intelligence, though I'm still more inclined to put them at intelligence 4-5. Really? A tool-using creature capable of expressing understandable (if not logical) thoughts in sign language? Seems a little higher than 4-5 to me...

Jay R
2011-04-18, 10:55 PM
OK, can you answer this question then?

Can you do the same for an INT 6 character? An INT 4? Where do you draw the line for the different expectations for different INT scores?

Yes, of course I can. Step one is to discuss the specific character with the player for at least half an hour, with lots of hypothetical questions.

Can I set guidelines for what a character will do without spending a lot of time discussing that unique character with the player? No, of course not.

Fiery Diamond
2011-04-18, 11:47 PM
Yes, of course I can. Step one is to discuss the specific character with the player for at least half an hour, with lots of hypothetical questions.

Can I set guidelines for what a character will do without spending a lot of time discussing that unique character with the player? No, of course not.

This, exactly, 100%. Everything needs to be handled on a case by case basis.

And frankly, if a player just doesn't want to run a character who is actually stupid despite having a super-low Int score (for example) but that's where they put their dump stat because they needed everything else higher for mechanical reasons for the character concept (players do do this on occasion), I might as well just give extra stat points to everyone to even things out while increasing their Int score to something reasonable. The dice that granteth the ability scores are not gods.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-19, 01:45 AM
Yes, of course I can. Step one is to discuss the specific character with the player for at least half an hour, with lots of hypothetical questions.

Can I set guidelines for what a character will do without spending a lot of time discussing that unique character with the player? No, of course not.
Well now, that doesn't sound quite the same as playing to a INT score - that sounds more like the DM playing director while the PCs are his actors.

I'm not about to tell a Player how to play his character, much less micromanage his tactical decisions, particularly if I have no mechanical reason to do so. The tangent we got off on was whether it is fair for a DM to mandate PC actions based on their mental stats; your response in one part was:


The "hidden RP restrictions" are that you have to play the actual role. The low-CON character can't survive well; the low-STR character can't lift well; the low-DEX character can't sneak well; the low-INT character can't plan well.

and now it's "case-by-case basis, depending on how they've played their character to this point."

If nothing else, this reinforces my point about DMs using the "low INT/WIS/CHA excuse" as a license to criticize and overrule PC actions.

Totally Guy
2011-04-19, 02:17 AM
Don't these things reinforce themselves without GM intervention?

I mean the low strength character will fail more often to overpower things and the player can then be savvy enough to know not to stake the things he cares about on feats of strength.

Similarly a low scoring social character will fail more often when trying to put a point across. The player is encouraged to find another way through the expectation of failure.

Outhinking another character or group of characters can work similarly. When it matters the dice get rolled and the odds are that he'll lose and whoever he was planning against anticipated the strategy.

Killer Angel
2011-04-19, 02:23 AM
Well now, that doesn't sound quite the same as playing to a INT score - that sounds more like the DM playing director while the PCs are his actors.

I'm not about to tell a Player how to play his character, much less micromanage his tactical decisions, particularly if I have no mechanical reason to do so.

SRD tells us explicitly that an animal has an Intelligence score of 1 or 2 and a creature of humanlike intelligence has a score of at least 3.
If you create a character with Int 4, 'cause you need the points to buy high STR and CON, pretending to play it as a guy with mid-high int, 'cause "there are no mechanical reasons to not do so", well, I'm sorry but the DM has plenty of room to criticize your actions.

And again, there are game systems (GURPS) that encourage DM suggestions to players, based on DM judgement.

...I suppose this is the time when we should agree to disagree?


Outhinking another character or group of characters can work similarly. When it matters the dice get rolled and the odds are that he'll lose and whoever he was planning against anticipated the strategy.

Planning and coming out with smart ideas, does not involve dice rolling.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-19, 02:42 AM
If you create a character with Int 4, 'cause you need the points to buy high STR and CON, pretending to play it as a guy with mid-high int, 'cause "there are no mechanical reasons to not do so", well, I'm sorry but the DM has plenty of room to criticize your actions.
This sounds less like a case of "RP your character" and increasingly more like "the DM doesn't like your build" :smallannoyed:

RANT
Nowhere in any rulebook of any edition of D&D (or any RPG I can recall!) does it say "GMs should make sure that PCs with low INT don't get to make good plans." In fact, RPGs generally discourage this sort of DM interference because it infringes on Player Autonomy.

Mechanics are there to give life to numbers. A given number in a given stat means certain things within the mechanical life of the game. What I'm hearing here is that the numbers given to mental/social stats (INT/WIS/CHA) don't sufficiently penalize Players who dump them, so DMs feel justified in imposing unique RP restrictions on those Players to make sure they are sufficiently penalized for their choices.

For me, this is as bad as deliberately throwing nothing but untripable enemies at a party because the Trip Fighter is doing too good. It's an Ex Post attempt at balance that the Player is not informed of beforehand.

If a DM is unhappy with the way the system works, he should impose house rules to make it work the way he wants it, and fully inform the Players beforehand what those house rules are. If you think dropping INT results in unfair advantages to Players that dump them, set an INT floor. In 4e you can have only one stat lower than a 10, and that one stat can be no lower than 8; it solves the problem described above and does so without giving the DM a "director's itch" when the Players are running their characters.

Hell, I have a RP pet peeve that I always take care of: Evil Characters. I don't like them in my games, and I tell my Players they can't play Evil Characters. If a "Neutral" character starts acting Evil I'll chide them and that is usually enough to get back on track. The difference between my Evil Character prohibition and the attempts at establishing "INT RP Rules" is that I can point my Players to a chunk of text that describes what I'm looking for. Even if we argue about the meaning, we have something concrete that the Player can look at when building and playing their Character. We can reach an understanding about Alignment; this cannot be done with "INT RP Rules" because the concept is just too darn vague to start with.
Now, clearly, y'all can run games the way you want to, but as I stated originally: this sort of "DM Directing" is a pet peeve of mine from the Player side of the screen and something I consider plain bad form from the DM's side.

EDIT: I've not played GURPS, but AFAIK it doesn't tell you to veto Player ideas because they're "too good for their INT." We can certainly 'agree to disagree' here, but I strongly suspect my intuition in the above Rant is correct. If your motivation to quash Player ideas is because you don't think low-INT is sufficiently penalized by the mechanics, you should use a mechanical fix like a stat floor rather than Ex Post DM meddling. It's fairer to your Players and better for the game in the long run - IMHO, of course :smallsmile:

Totally Guy
2011-04-19, 02:52 AM
Planning and coming out with smart ideas, does not involve dice rolling.

Doesn't it? :smallconfused:

Does it depend on whether the plan is intended to mechanically effect something? But if the plan doesn't really do anything then you can just fluff it however you like I suppose.

Killer Angel
2011-04-19, 03:27 AM
RANT
[spoiler]Nowhere in any rulebook of any edition of D&D (or any RPG I can recall!) does it say "GMs should make sure that PCs with low INT don't get to make good plans." In fact, RPGs generally discourage this sort of DM interference because it infringes on Player Autonomy.


Premise: I don't think it's a "rant". It was a fair explanation of your pov. :smallsmile:

In GURPS, there's an advantage. If the character comes out with a plan that the DM thinks it's obviously bad, then the DM can step in and telling: "on a second though, you believe this is a very bad idea. Think to something else".
It infringes on Player Autonomy, and you pay for having it.



If a DM is unhappy with the way the system works, he should impose house rules to make it work the way he wants it, and fully inform the Players beforehand what those house rules are. If you think dropping INT results in unfair advantages to Players that dump them, set an INT floor.


I've got no problem with my players, and we usually don't play character with characteristics lower then 7-8, but yeah, setting an INT floor is certainly a solution.


Hell, I have a RP pet peeve that I always take care of: Evil Characters. I don't like them in my games, and I tell my Players they can't play Evil Characters. If a "Neutral" character starts acting Evil I'll chide them and that is usually enough to get back on track. The difference between my Evil Character prohibition and the attempts at establishing "INT RP Rules" is that I can point my Players to a chunk of text that describes what I'm looking for.


Here I disagree. SRD tells "an animal has an Intelligence score of 1 or 2 and a creature of humanlike intelligence has a score of at least 3". It can be vague, but not so much more than alignment indications.



Doesn't it? :smallconfused:

Does it depend on whether the plan is intended to mechanically effect something? But if the plan doesn't really do anything then you can just fluff it however you like I suppose.

OK, i need to explain better.
I was thinking to this example:


DM: You see goblins approach from the darkness, weapons drawn.

INT 3 Fighter's player: OK -- I wave to the bushes and yell for my forces (which don't exist) to flank the goblins on the left. I attack the first goblin who turns to look.


The plan is elaborated by a player with standard Int, and he didn't have to roll for thinking it.
And the execution by the character (hiding, bluff, attack), involves rolls on abilities non Int-based.

Totally Guy
2011-04-19, 03:57 AM
OK, i need to explain better.
I was thinking to this example:



The plan is elaborated by a player with standard Int, and he didn't have to roll for thinking it.
And the execution by the character (hiding, bluff, attack), involves rolls on abilities non Int-based.

To me that's just deceit. If the player has points in the applicable skill then the skill should include knowledge of its application.

What I think we have here is:

Player: I know how to bluff.
Gm: But you don't know you know how to bluff.

Of course if the character has a low rating for bluff the roll will probably fail and the lack of competence becomes self fulfilling.

Killer Angel
2011-04-19, 04:08 AM
To me that's just deceit. If the player has points in the applicable skill then the skill should include knowledge of it's application.


Ah, I see... well, that's true, but the low Int gives you few skill points.
You'll know few things, but that few, you know how they work.
My point is more: you can use all the skills you have, to support your plans, but the plans of a low Int character, will be very simple.

Oracle_Hunter is right on this. If I, as a DM, have a problem with characters having too low Int, the solution is to put a limit during characters' creation. Problem solved.

Totally Guy
2011-04-19, 04:15 AM
Ah, I see... well, that's true, but the low Int gives you few skill points.
You'll know few things, but that few, you know how they work.

Yes. Having fewer skills through having less intelligence is part of the self fulfilling property too. You'd be less likely to have the skills that are applicable to the plans you come up with.

Killer Angel
2011-04-19, 04:54 AM
This sounds less like a case of "RP your character" and increasingly more like "the DM doesn't like your build" :smallannoyed:


This needs further elaboration.
I couldn't have problems with you playing a very low Int char: my attitude could very well be "OK, let me see how you role play this particular build".
If you don't roleplay the limitations you put on your character, only then I'll disagree.
I come from AD&D, where role playing was awarded with xps.
The group must sneak in the BBEG's lair. The low int character suggests an obviously dumb plan, then the other characters elaborate a smart one.
The first one gets Xps for roleplaying, the other ones get xps for plan and ideas.
If the low int char suggests a cunning plan, I'll tell the player "OK, next time remember that your character isn't that smart". He'll get xps for the idea, but not for the role-playing.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-19, 01:19 PM
This needs further elaboration.
I couldn't have problems with you playing a very low Int char: my attitude could very well be "OK, let me see how you role play this particular build".
If you don't roleplay the limitations you put on your character, only then I'll disagree.
I come from AD&D, where role playing was awarded with xps.
The group must sneak in the BBEG's lair. The low int character suggests an obviously dumb plan, then the other characters elaborate a smart one.
The first one gets Xps for roleplaying, the other ones get xps for plan and ideas.
If the low int char suggests a cunning plan, I'll tell the player "OK, next time remember that your character isn't that smart". He'll get xps for the idea, but not for the role-playing.
As far a "RP XP" goes in this area, I don't know why INT is getting singled out again. Would you have granted extra RP XP for a low DEX character who states his character trips over rocks every five minutes? Is that the sort of game you want to play? :smallconfused:

IMHO, "Stat Roleplaying" isn't what the game is about. It's about roleplaying characters who have motivations and quirks that are usually not tied to specific numbers. If you truly award XP for "Stat Roleplaying" then do you find your Players spend a lot of time talking about how strong, nimble, or healthy they are for XP? If not, why not?

Killer Angel
2011-04-19, 01:52 PM
IMHO, "Stat Roleplaying" isn't what the game is about. It's about roleplaying characters who have motivations and quirks that are usually not tied to specific numbers. If you truly award XP for "Stat Roleplaying" then do you find your Players spend a lot of time talking about how strong, nimble, or healthy they are for XP? If not, why not?

If you've got 24 strenght, you're welcome to play an overconfident character thanks to this, and be sure I'll reward it.
If you've got 4 strenght, you're welcome to play a coward character, and be sure I'll reward it the same.
The game is (also) about roleplaying characters.
If you like extreme stats, be it a very low Int, or Cha, or Dex, then live with it. Be your character, and this is valid with every game system.
If you create a dumb character, then you must be coherent. Don't make it act like it were a genius.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-19, 02:13 PM
If you've got 24 strenght, you're welcome to play an overconfident character thanks to this, and be sure I'll reward it.
If you've got 4 strenght, you're welcome to play a coward character, and be sure I'll reward it the same.
The game is (also) about roleplaying characters.
If you like extreme stats, be it a very low Int, or Cha, or Dex, then live with it. Be your character, and this is valid with every game system.
If you create a dumb character, then you must be coherent. Don't make it act like it were a genius.
Well, to each their own.

Like I said before, I'd prefer not to play in games where my DEX 7 character makes 3 Pratfalls/day for +100 XP but YMMV :smallsmile:

That said...

How do you handle not-so-smart Players who RP high-INT characters? Since they can't actually RP their high-INT character correctly (lacking the natural faculties for it) are you OK penalizing (well, not rewarding) them for not RPing their characters correctly? Or do you let them roll INT checks to come up with smart plans, and then give them RP XP accordingly?

This actually gets back to the heart of the matter. In a roleplaying game, do you really want to make "roleplaying correctly" dependent on the natural abilities of Players? Because your system does: it prevents low-CHA or INT people from successfully playing high-CHA or INT Character. Either you have to adjust your XP awards to their natural level (to the irritation of the other Players) or you let them fall behind because they're not playing their characters according to their stats - because they can't.

Killer Angel
2011-04-19, 03:42 PM
How do you handle not-so-smart Players who RP high-INT characters? Since they can't actually RP their high-INT character correctly (lacking the natural faculties for it) are you OK penalizing (well, not rewarding) them for not RPing their characters correctly? Or do you let them roll INT checks to come up with smart plans, and then give them RP XP accordingly?


No one can effectively play a 24 Int... :smallwink:
So, of course i don't penalize the players, and I don't penalize their character.
I can give hints if their plan are bad ("Yesterday you teleported in that room of the necromancer's lair and proceeded to attack many undead. You doubt that teleporting again in that room, without scrying before, is a good move").

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-19, 04:14 PM
No one can effectively play a 24 Int... :smallwink:
So, of course i don't penalize the players, and I don't penalize their character.
I can give hints if their plan are bad ("Yesterday you teleported in that room of the necromancer's lair and proceeded to attack many undead. You doubt that teleporting again in that room, without scrying before, is a good move").
Still, do they have access to your RP XP? At what INT score do you start giving RP XP for good plans? Or RP XP for bad plans?

Killer Angel
2011-04-20, 02:32 AM
Still, do they have access to your RP XP? At what INT score do you start giving RP XP for good plans? Or RP XP for bad plans?

Essentially, RP xps are given when I notice the player's effort to play the weakness (or strenght) of his character.
It's hard to set a level on this, it's DM's call case by case.

Anyway, extreme stats are hard to play, but you had to remember that the higher ones, give less problems than the lower ones.
The guy with 22 wis can choose to keep a low profile, the guy with 5 Int, cannot be smart.
This is why, in D&D, I don't like characters with stats lower than 6-7.
If Rommel chooses to play a fighter with Int 4 (a little more than an animal), I expect him toning down his tactical genius, when planning the group's moves. It would be unfair. He couldn't hide behind a "don't tell me how to play my character!".


Well, to each their own.


QFT. :smallsmile: