View Full Version : Fixing the Perform Skill

2007-08-01, 09:17 PM
In a campaign I am running the two players are part of a rock band (don't ask how we got to this) and found that perform being charisma based doesn't make sense for some things. How will your personality or looks affect how you play a guitar or bash your drums away?

Our solution was this-

For instrument we made two categories:

A) Strings and Percussion

B) Woodwind and Brass

We decided for A dexterity should be the ability involved as both require trained hands to work. For B it was a bit tricky, but in the end Constitution made the most sense as you have to constantly breathe to play, but we almost killed each other over dex vs. con for this one.

We decided for acting charisma still goes as the base skill as you want people to like you.

Singing was tough, but we went with charisma for the same reason as acting.

Dance we went dexterity as you are constantly moving about and jumping. Strength and Constitution also came in here.

Because we are D20 we had to add in synthesizers, which requires intelligence as you are working a machine, much like computer use.

For comedy we decided charisma for getting people to like you and laugh.

For telling stories we went charisma also.

Although much stayed at charisma the changes made our campaign better, although it is a bit confusing.
This is all I think off of the top of my head, so my perform is--

Perform (Ability Varies)
This skill encompasses several categories, each of them treated as a separate skill. These categories are identified and defined below. The number of Perform categories is kept purposely finite. When trying to determine what Perform skill a particular type of performance falls under, use a broad interpretation of the existing categories. Do not arbitrarily make up new categories.

Check: The character is accomplished in some type of artistic expression and knows how to put on a performance. The character can impress audiences with his or her talent and skill. The quality of the character's performance depends on his or her check result.

Each category is a different treated as a seperate skill using a different ability

* Act: The character is a gifted actor, capable of performing drama, comedy, or action-oriented roles with some level of skill. Acting is charisma based.
* Dance: The character is a gifted dancer, capable of performing rhythmic and patterned bodily movements to music. Dance is dexterity based.
* Keyboards: The character is a musician gifted with a talent for playing keyboard musical instruments, such as piano, and organ. Keyboards is dexterity based.
* Percussion Instruments: The character is a musician gifted with a talent for playing percussion musical instruments, such as drums, cymbals, triangle, xylophone, and tambourine. Percussion Instruments is dexterity based.
* Sing: The character is a musician gifted with a talent for producing musical tones with your voice. Sing is charisma based,
* Stand-Up: The character is a gifted comedian, capable of performing a stand-up routine before an audience. Stand-Up is charisma based.
* Stringed Instruments: The character is a musician gifted with a talent for playing stringed musical instruments, such as banjo, guitar, harp, lute, sitar, and violin. Stringed Instruments is dexterity based.
* Wind Instruments: The character is a musician gifted with a talent for playing wind musical instruments, such as flute, bugle, trumpet, tuba, bagpipes, and trombone. Wind Instruments is Constitution based.
* Electronic: The character is a musician gifted with a talent for playing electronic instruments such as synthesizers.

2007-08-01, 09:27 PM
i like this, it is an interesting take, and it makes sense. the only problem(IMO) is that when performing in general, you are always trying to get people to like you (ie. the difference between that guitarist looking awsome or that guitarist looking like a jerk) i would think that the perform skill itself could keep charisma, but have varying skills to allow profinciencies for different performances? like, performing by playing guitar still takes charisma, but being able to play the guitar, that takes dexterity.

2007-08-01, 09:30 PM
Hmm, like a dual-check sort of thing, that could be interesting. I think I like it, but that would make this confusing, ill have to think about whether I would want to play that.

Lord Iames Osari
2007-08-01, 10:17 PM
I would put synthesizers in with piano-like instruments, personally. Probably Dex based, because of all the keys, etc.

2007-08-01, 10:24 PM
I see where you are coming from, but I believe Cha should be the key ability to perform checks. When you watch a rock concert, the band isn't standing in place simply playing their instruments, that is boring. Angus Young, one of the greatest guitarists in history was just as famous for his antics on stage as he was for his ability to play. You can play better than anyone has ever before or ever will again, but if you want to get a crowd of thousands of people to scream your name and remember how awesome your concert was, you had better have one heck of a stage presence.

2007-08-01, 10:41 PM
I wholeheartedly second the notion of keeping Charisma as the Key Abilty.

Aside from measuring a character's "force of personality, persuasiveness ..." d20 (admirably, IMHO) uses Charisma to gauge the effect of a person on the universe: witness the restoration of form following a Chaos Beast's attack as a Charisma check.

While realizing that the default interpretation of Charisma relates to interpersonal skill, given the rock-n-roll context you detailed: I can imagine a charismatic guitar player, sweating under the lights and flubbing a crucial note, modifying the riff and bending something appropriate while the adoring crowd cheers.

Happy gaming

2007-08-01, 11:00 PM
I feel a new bard spell coming on....lipsink. oh and new usess for color spray.

Kurald Galain
2007-08-02, 02:50 AM
I'd say that dexterity and/or constitution is required to play technically well, but the only people that are really impressed by that are snooty judges that know way too much about music theory.

To put on a show requires, yes, charisma. If you've been to a few live concerts you'll know the difference between a singer who can sing, and a singer who has Presence.

The player will need some minimum stats in, say, dexterity - a Dex/5 character is pretty much too clumsy to hold a guitar, let alone string it. A 12 woud be required to play well, maybe 14 for certain complex instruments, above that it doesn't really matter.

2007-08-02, 03:02 AM
I'm with keeping it with CHA. Perform is about making a hood performance that affects others rather than playing well.There could be DEX based feats to enhance the skill but I could see a bad flutist rocking a crowd with the 2 notes he knows.

2007-08-02, 03:37 AM
If you have actions that logically could be performed by using two or more ability scores you have three options. First, follow the PHB/DMG: PC and DM discuss and make a choice on which one to use as the situation may differ (like str or dex for swimming). Second, highest or weakest value is used (DM decision). Finally, average of the values is used or a simple synergy-like system is used (con mod of +3 or more gives a +2 check to a wind instrument which is using dex as the primary or visa-versa).

2007-08-02, 04:10 AM
Been There, Done That:


I was pondering what a revised and expanded Perform skill would resemble- especially when it comes to them pesky elvses- so I thought I might distribute my musings for general consumption. It gives you a little more flexibility in selecting a performance career, and covers some of the deficiencies in ability score dependancies that bugged me beforehand.
Lastly, there's no business like show business, so there's a whole bunch of feats covering how to enhance your career in entertainment.
I took a page out of Mr. Burlewe's book (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/jFppYwv7OUkegKhONNF.html) for relationship (or Relation) modifiers. In any case enjoy- or failing that, feel free to submit corrections and suggestions.

Performance (Cha)

Synergy Ability Requirements
Performance checks with synergy dependancies may not gain a synergy bonus in excess of the modifiers in each required ability score.

Instrument Performances
Plucked and bowed instrument performances gain synergy +1 from 5 ranks in Performance(string), tuned and tympanic from 5 ranks in Performance(percussion), and brass or woodwind from 5 ranks in Performance(wind). Checks may gain up to a +5 bonus from masterwork instruments.
10 ranks Concentrate, 10 ranks Listen, and 20 ranks Listen grant synergy +1 to all instrument performances.

Covers: The public forum, folk tales, epic narrative
Cannot be conducted for a private audience, except during spontaneous performances at a -3 penalty. Performance(oratory) may also be used to make Mass Diplomacy or Mass Intimidate checks at a -5 penalty.
Synergy: 5 ranks Knowledge(religion), 5 ranks Knowledge(history), 5 ranks Performance(poetry), 10 ranks Diplomacy +1.
Synergy needs: Intelligence

Covers: Ballads, opera, hymnals
All performances gain a +2 bonus from a successful Performance(poetry) check of matching DC.
Synergy: 5 ranks Performance(poetry), 10 ranks Knowledge(geography), 15 ranks Listen +1.

Covers: Sonnets, odes, haiku
This skill may be taken several times- each time, it applies to a different known language.
Subjects who do not understand the chosen language impose a -3 penalty to checks made, those who do grant a +1 bonus.
Synergy: 10 ranks Knowledge(nature), 10 ranks Decipher Script, 15 ranks Listen +1.
Synergy needs: Intelligence

Covers: Dervishes, flamenco, ballet
Every 5 ranks grants a +1 (max. +4) circumstance bonus against all Grapple, Bull Rush, Trip, Charge, or Overrun attempts by humanoids.
DC 20+ performances require Str 14.
Synergy: 5 ranks Performance(carnal), 5 ranks Performance(gymnast) +1, 10 ranks Balance +2.
Synergy needs: Dexterity

Covers: Dance of the 7 veils, masseuse, bondage
A -5 check penalty applies during public performances.
Carnal performances that succeed by 8 points or more earn double normal pay.
Subjects with a sexual interest in the performer grant a +2 bonus to the check, those without impose a -10 penalty.
Synergy: 5 ranks Disguise, 5 ranks Tumble, 10 ranks Performance(gymnast) +1, 10 ranks Sense Motive +2.
Synergy needs: Wisdom, Dexterity

Covers: Tragedy, romance and melodrama, mime
In public performance, every 5 ranks in Performance(oratory), or another performer's successful Performance(puppetry) check of matching DC, grant a +1 enhancement bonus (max. +4) to the check.
Synergy: 5 ranks Disguise, 5 ranks Intimidate, 10 ranks Sense Motive, 10 ranks Knowledge(nobility) +1, 5 ranks Performance(comedy) +2.
Synergy needs: Wisdom, Intelligence

Covers: Stand-up, pantomine, limericks
Synergy: 10 ranks Performance(banter), 10 ranks Tumble, 10 ranks Knowledge(local) +2.
Synergy needs: Intelligence

Covers: Deus ex mechina, stage props, marionettes
Masterwork craftsmanship in props and materials provides a +2 bonus to checks made.
Synergy: 5 ranks Hide, 5 ranks Move Silently +1, 5 ranks Knowledge(architecture & engineering), 5 ranks Performance(comedy) +2.
Synergy needs: Wisdom, Dexterity

Covers: Cup and ball, distraction, street act
You may substitute a Performance(juggle) check at a -5 penalty for an attack roll to resist Disarm or Sunder attempts.
Synergy: 5 ranks Performance(gymnast) +1, 5 ranks Sleight of Hand, 10 ranks Sleight of Hand +2.
Synergy needs: Dexterity

Covers: Human pyramids, somersaults, sword-swallowing
Every 10 ranks in the skill grant a +1 dodge bonus to Touch AC and Reflex saves when lightly encumbered.
The skill may be used to perform Jump, Escape Artist, Balance or Climb checks at a -12 penalty.
Synergy: 10 ranks Jump, 10 ranks Climb, 5 ranks Escape Artist +1, 5 ranks Balance +2.
Synergy needs: Strength, Dexterity

Covers: Conversation, gossip, anecdotes
Cannot be conducted for public audiences, except at a -3 penalty during combined performances.
Synergy: 10 ranks Bluff, 10 ranks Sense Motive, 5 ranks Diplomacy +1.
Synergy needs: Intelligence

Performance(instrument)[string, percussion, wind, or clavier]
Covers: Proficiency with instruments of the selected type
The skill may be selected more than once, and applies to a different instrument type each time. String, percussion, and wind checks suffer a -5 penalty, clavier checks, a -3 penalty.
Synergy needs: Dexterity

Performance(instrument)[plucked, bowed, tuned, tympanic, brass, or woodwind]
Covers: Proficiency with instruments of the selected type
The skill may be selected more than once, and applies to a different instrument type each time. All checks suffer a -4 penalty.
Synergy needs: Dexterity

Covers: Proficiency with a single chosen instrument
No checks are made with this skill. The skill may be selected more than once, and applies to a different instrument each time. Every 4 ranks in the skill grants a cumulative +1 synergy bonus to Performance checks with the chosen instrument, up to +5.

Untrained Performance checks suffer a -3 penalty. Time taken for a successful Performance check is indicated on the table below.
The time taken for Performance can be halved at the cost of a -6 penalty to the check.

If the character can find a suitable venue in a prosperous city, she can expect to earn the sum indicated below with each successful appearance (typically once/day:)

{table=head]Check DC|Time taken|Income|Other
10|20 minutes|2d10 cp|A humdrum performance, just above begging.
15|1 hour|1d6 sp|An enjoyable performance, enough for an afternoon's diversion.
20|2 hours|4d10 sp|A fine performance, worth an evening and paid admission.
25|3 hours|1d8 gp|A great performance, drawing large crowds at select venues.
30|4 hours|3d10 gp|An extraordinary performance, winning devout adherents and public adulation.
35|5 hours|1d12 x10 gp|An epiphanal performance, a towering testiment to the muse of your art. (Spontaneous only.)
40|6 hours|2d20 x10 gp|A prodigous performance, proof of flair, virtuosity and demonstrative genius. (Spontaneous only.)
50|8 hours|1d10 x100 gp|A divine performance, altering lives. (Combined and Spontaneous only.)

Performance for 2 hours or more requires Con 12. Performance for 4 hours or more inflicts fatigue, and 6 hours, exhaustion.
5 ranks in Spot or 10 ranks in Knowledge(local) grant synergy +1 to all public performances.

Venue conditions
Naturally, being unable to see or hear the Performer during various acts is an encumbrance to keeping all concerned enlivened.
Audience members who fail in Taking 10 on Listen checks apply the margin of failure as a penalty to all Performance checks involving song, poetry, puppetry, comedy, banter, theatrics or instrumental accompaniment.
Those who fail in Taking 10 on Spot checks apply margins of failure as a penalty to all Performance checks involving dance, theatrics, puppetry, juggling, gymnastics or erotic acts.
Typically speaking, if at least 9/10 audience members permit beating the check DC, your Performance is a success.

Try again
Yes, subject to cumulative -5 penalties for a jaded audience. Jaded audience modifiers stack to -20, but each -5 penalty can be alleviated by successful performance checks. These penalties apply only as long as the performer remains at a particular locale and the audience remembers prior performances. Typically, every year's passage of time eliminates 1 such -5 penalty.

Routine Performance[Performer]
Cha 13, 4 ranks in any Performance skill.

Routine Performance allows you to Take 10 on performances once you decide on a given performance routine that you can repeat by rote. For an audience new to that routine, you perform a standard skill check without the benefit of Taking 10. You may make 1 additional appearance for each point by which the check succeeds and Take 10 against matching DC on each occasion.

A -1 check penalty applies to routine Performance(comedy) checks.

Private Performance[Performer]
Cha 13, 4 ranks in any Performance skill.

Up to 6 clients may be entertained in private audience, and every 2 members (rounding up,) will pay as much as the performer could expect to earn in an entire public performance. There are no intrinsic limits on her performances per day with a private audience, but she may typically allow herself 10 hours work per day in total. (Naturally, clients rich enough to afford the service of the truly gifted may well be few and far between.)

The character is subject to a cumulative skill check penalty of -1 per member of her audience, and applies the lowest-value Relation modifier with her clients.
Servants, retainers, and other bystanders are not considered members of an audience, nor are other performers, provided none of the above make demands on the character's attention. The normal penalties for a jaded audience and neccesity of switching routines apply to private audiences as they do to the public, but individual clients are considered rather than locale.

During private Performance(banter) checks, every total 20 ranks in Knowledge and Profession skills in which any client possesses at least 5 ranks confer a cumulative +1 synergy bonus.
10 ranks in Sense Motive grants synergy +2 to all private performances.
A -3 check penalty applies to private Performance(thespian) checks.

Elating Performance[Performer]
Cha 13, 4 ranks in any Performance skill.

A successful Elating Performance check of DC 15 or better has the potential to provide audiences with a +1 morale bonus toward saves and skill checks for 24 hours, subject to a -2 penalty to the check. All checks failed by 5 points or more instead impose -1 morale penalties.
Subjects can ignore effects with a +5 Will save against the same DC, but must make their save prior to the check.

Improved Elating Performance[Performer]
Cha 15, 9 ranks in any Performance skill, Elating Performance.

Elating Performances of DC 30 or better can now provide a +2 morale bonus, instead of +1, and the check penalty is reduced to -1.

Greater Elating Performance[Performer]
Cha 15, 13 ranks in any Performance skill, Improved Elating Performance.

Elating Performances of DC 45 or better can now provide a +3 morale bonus, instead of +2/+1, and check penalties are eliminated.

Dedicated Performance[Performer]
Cha 15, 9 ranks in any Performance skill, Elating Performance, Private Performance.

During a Dedicated Performance, you can attempt to apply the morale modifiers of an Elating Performance toward your Relation with a single chosen character. The general minimum check DC for success = (10 - existing Relation modifier) x 2 (i.e., negative Relations increase the DC).
Only Relations between +5 and -5 may be affected by a dedicated performance.
You cannot accept payment from the subject for a dedicated performance unless you beat the DC by 8 points or more.

You gain a +2 bonus on dedicated Performance(song), Performance(poetry) and Performance(carnal) checks.

Spontaneous Performance[Performer]
Int 14, 1 rank in any chosen Performance skill.

This feat may be taken several times. Each time it applies to a different performance skill.

Normal performance checks are made against a predetermined DC based on what the audience is expected to pay for admission. A spontaneous performance allows you to negotiate half price for a predetermined DC that you would beat by taking 10, and half price based on your actual Performance roll. The calibre of performance matches your check result.

A spontaneous performance is required to beat Performance check DCs of 35 or more. Spontaneous performances have Intelligence as an additional Synergy requirement.
You gain a +2 bonus on spontaneous Performance(comedy) or Performance(juggle) checks.

Combined Performance[Performer]
5 ranks in two seperate Performance skills, Wis 14.

Certain seperate Performance checks may be combined in a single Performance effort. For instance, poetry might be sung to accompany a string serenade, tumblling and oratory might be incorporated as part of a vaudeville comedy, or dance and gymnastics could be integral to an erotic liasion.
Alternatively (or in addition,) several participants might combine their talents in a single performance.

A total of up to 6 seperate skill checks may be combined in this way, provided they gel in some logical fashion as part of a single act (in general, performer skills that grant the other a synergy bonus may be combined.)
Tumble is considered a Performance skill. Performance(banter) or Performance(instrument) checks can be part of any combined performance.

Combining checks
In general, each seperate performance check during a combined performance grants a +2 bonus to all skill checks made (up to +10,) but the worst of all results is kept, and you may not Take 10 on these checks. If the check succeeds, the participants earn as much gold for each performance check as they could normally expect for an entire standard performance.

Multiple performers
Participants with 10 ranks in Diplomacy gains a +2 bonus during checks made with multiple participants. Any participants who don't possess the Combined Performance feat cannot gain synergy.
Multiple Performance(thespian), Performance(dance), and Performance(gymnast) checks gain a +1 synergy bonus.

A combined performance is required to beat Performance check DCs of 45 or more.

2007-08-02, 09:08 PM
I'd keep it based on charisma. It's what gives that little extra to any rock band's performance. My favorite concerts have always featured the band doing much more than playing their instruments. They were putting on a show, bantering, getting into the music--it's all part of charisma, and stage presence is as important for musicians as anything else.

While I can see dexterity helping to an extent, I still think charisma is a more important part of putting on a good show. (I'd also say that constitution is definitely not a good one for wind instruments--proper breathing is something you're taught.)

2007-08-03, 08:08 PM

When I saw that perform was being "fixed" I was eager to see what was happening. Lets face it: Perform is pretty much worthless except to get abilities for bards.

What is being done is taking away the charisma and replacing it with various other skills.

I see where you're coming from, but charisma is woefully underpowered as is. Most skills don't require charisma. Give poor charisma a chance; let him keep perform. In any case performances are about influancing people. I have seen musicians with plenty of skill, but no charisma and they don't get off the ground!

2007-08-07, 08:50 AM
As you can see, my own workaround was to give the various Perform skills synergies that were dependant on other ability scores. Also, I inserted feats that allowed Perform checks to give a 24-hour morale bonus of up to +3 to saves and skill checks, and various options to make performance far more lucrative, along with numerous side-benefits.
So, you can keep your Cha dependancy, and still make the skill very worthwhile.