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weckar
2017-11-17, 06:30 AM
So, here's a thing that's been bugging me for a while:

If I were to try and open a lock in most games, I roll some dice to see if I succeed.
I do not actually need to provide a strategy to open the lock - this is a skill my character has, after all, not me.

Yet, if I were to convince someone of something and roll my persuasion, my GM always asks me to come up with an actual argument.
If it is not good enough, I fail regardless of the roll, even though with his skills my character likely could have come up with a good one.

What makes social skills so different that they can be treated this way?

aberratio ictus
2017-11-17, 06:38 AM
The fact that we're sitting around a table playing a social game with dialogue. Swinging swords and picking locks is rather hard to do at the table.

Then again, at the tables I've played at, the most you'd get would be a slight bonus or malus to the roll. Most if the time, not even that.

Playing in a game with dice rolling instead of dialogue seems rather sterile and not very engaging to me personally, but to each their own, I suppose. :smallsmile:

Cluedrew
2017-11-17, 06:59 AM
The fact that it is easy to replicate around the table is part of it. I think the more important issue that what your character does in a "social encounter" is very closely tied to characterization, as in portraying who you character is and something people don't want to mechanically abstract away.

As someone who is making a homebrew system, that tug between allowing people to say exactly who their character is and at the same time the character being as good as the sheet says they are comes up a lot. Actually it comes up everywhere, but social skills especially.

weckar
2017-11-17, 07:11 AM
It just feels that for a character to be good socially, it requires the player to be good socially. No other area of gaming really requires that.

Floret
2017-11-17, 07:18 AM
This is an old debate - and, at its base, matters of taste make it different.

For some people, sitting around a table, enabling to talk is close enough to the situation in game; whereas for most everything else, it is not. And it is further removed, certainly.
Now I personally think, for numerous reasons that it isn't close enough - the factors pressing on the character being quite different from the factors working on the player (Sitting around the table talking to a friend simply isn't the same as talking in front of a crowd, or in a dark, damp cavern, or at a city gate to a guard; whose relationship to you will be different to the one you and the GM share. Yes, imagination and immersion are a thing, but they only go so far, in my experience; my comparison here being between otherwise largely comparable situations in Tabletop RPGs and LARP.)

There is also, certainly, the question of differentiation of player and character skill. The gulf might just be larger in other situations - everyone can talk to some extent (Well, communicate; there are mute people). Some people, including you, it seems, (rightfully) point out that for the game, if there are stats, those should matter, instead of player skill. After all, if you put points in something... That should have some relevance, no?
(Then there are some things people might not wanna play out in great detail, particularly seduction or hardcore intimidation/torture; without denying it as part of the game. Boiling them down to a roll might just be easier and more comfortable for everyone involved than playing it out.)

One of the bigger points I have also seen to argue against rolling is the inherent unrealism of the mechanics ("This is not how persuasion works IRL"), which... certainly it might not be; or it might be abstracted to a point that people don't intuitively understand it to be abstracted to, leading to the feeling of "diplomancers". Different, more fleshed out rules than most games have might help here, if that is the only point of contention.

There are also some people that argue the mind of a PC is a sacred space that should not be touched by rules - and if rolls work to seduce NPCs, then they might be used on PCs as well, so any mechanisation holds at least some danger there. (One might contend that they'd much rather screw with a PCs brain directly than go through the player's; which one would have to to reach the PC if there are no rules. Your mileage may vary.) In a similar vein, it carries a feel of the dice determining what comes out of a character's mouth for some - which some of those people heartily object to; either because of realism, or because of getting control over their character taken away in an area they deem too holy to touch.

Ultimately, it comes down to taste. I myself would hate to have discussions boil down to simply a roll, like to play out discussions (Because it's just... fun, more immersive, more engaging... a number of things); and call for a roll only if the question "Does the character let slip something/go with the demands/etc." requires me to actually make a decision based on character skills.
Taking it to a roll has benefits, and so has playing it out. I mostly fall down on the play-assisted roll side of things; you sound like you might as well, but your GM does not, or to fall further on the "roleplaying" side of things. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it seems a dissonance. Maybe talk it over with him, voice your arguments for why you feel it should be treated (copy any of my arguments, if you want?), try to understand where he is coming from, and then look if this is something you can deal with in a game you are playing.

I will note that voicing an argument makes it easier to act out not only that the NPC acquiesces, but WHY, and most importantly HOW, so I can understand him asking - then going around and saying "despite your character's skill, nope" is a playstyle I much less agree with, but again, a matter of taste.

(And, I do hope I have not missed any of the arguments for why to treat them differently (And have them presented fairly); I had the feeling I have over the years gathered some insight into the arguments, seeing as they were made in contention to my opinions :smallwink:)

PhoenixPhyre
2017-11-17, 07:51 AM
One reason that matters for me (as a DM) is that unlike lock-picking or chasm jumping, the approach really really matters for social skills. I don't require an exact speech, but you have to let me know (at least) the following:

1) what you're trying to get the NPC to do
2) how you're approaching them (beyond simple skill names)
2a) are you trying to bribe? how much are you offering?
2b) threaten (and if so, with what)?
2c) appeal to their sense of justice?
2d) lie? What shape does that lie take?
3) what risks you're asking them to take for you.

All of these go into setting the target number. Some NPCs are easily bribed, but will laugh off threats and have no sense of justice. Others hate being lied to, but respect honesty. Yet others respect chutzpah.

Yes, in reality locks differ, but it's a lot harder to characterize the lock well enough to make a significant difference.

2D8HP
2017-11-17, 08:19 AM
....What makes social skills so different that they can be treated this way?.
The difference is that the GM may judge it more fun to hear some dialog than to watch some dice rolling.

D&D:didn't used to have any "skills" until the Thief class had stuff like "pick pockets".

The closest to social skills was the CHA stat, and there were rules for rolling reactions with a mod for CHA but a PC convincing n NPC of something, then as now, was handled ad-hoc.

There may have been others before, but of games I'm aware of,Traveller (in '77) had skills, as did the more D&D like RuneQuest (in '78), and other games followed, and social skill mechanics became usual, but the tradition of including table talk was already in place, but really it's just about deciding what seems more fun, player patter or dice rolling.

Darth Ultron
2017-11-17, 08:44 AM
The fact that we're sitting around a table playing a social game with dialogue.

This is a big part of it right here. There is no point in playing a social game if your going to be anti-social.

Role-Playing is also a big part of the game...for most gamers. It is fun to play a role and inter act with others. It is not fun to watch someone roll play.


And while it is true that most DM's won't ask you ''how'' your character picks a lock....that is not true all the time. A lot of actions in game play depend the player describing a bit more then the boring ''my character does X" and then rolling dice. D&D, for example, does have a circumstance bonus, for example. So if a player can take a couple seconds to descried in detail what they are doing in a role play sense, they can get a bonus to that mechanical roll. The same is true for social skills.

And combat in most games needs a level of detail to it, yet few players complain about it. They will happily count squares, crunch some math and make all sorts of tactical decisions and even write a whole story about their ''gleaming sword strike as it flashes through the air to do a combat maneuver, but then act like it is the end of the world if they are asked ''so what story do you tell the guard?"

When you take a away all role playing from social skills...you might as well just play a video game. The gameplay is then like ''my character talks to people and rolls and 11'' and ''the people talk back to your character and tell your character stuff'' and ''ok, my character uses the stuff he now knows to solve the problem." Wow..exciting gameplay.

And it's not like most DM's what a massive novel every time a character does anything......just look at what the average DM will accept:

Player:"I walk up to the guard and tell him that I'm from HighCity and I'm here at the castle to inspect the tapestries.
DM: Nods, ok, roll your persuasion check.

See, it is not so much to ask.

Tinkerer
2017-11-17, 11:21 AM
It just feels that for a character to be good socially, it requires the player to be good socially. No other area of gaming really requires that.

It is an awfully fuzzy line to draw. Myself I draw the line pretty darn hard to fail (maybe a minor bonus or penalty for circumstance and eloquence). If a player is really having a problem with the concept I will often sit down with them after the session and discuss a few different hints I have for them including: having a cheat sheet of pre-written lines for a variety of situations, blatantly ripping off media (then again that's also how wands of lightning bolts get referred to as boomsticks), talking in character more often when they aren't trying to use their skills, etc...

LordCdrMilitant
2017-11-17, 11:43 AM
Because it's more important than other checks. NPC's react to them, so I have to have some foundation based on at least a general idea of what you say.

If you tell the guards you're going to inspect the tapestries, they'll expect you to be in the great hall doing that, not in the kitchen adding things to the soup.

Joe the Rat
2017-11-17, 11:58 AM
If you're a Scottish Lord, then I am Mickey Mouse!


One reason that matters for me (as a DM) is that unlike lock-picking or chasm jumping, the approach really really matters for social skills. I don't require an exact speech, but you have to let me know (at least) the following:

1) what you're trying to get the NPC to do
2) how you're approaching them (beyond simple skill names)
2a) are you trying to bribe? how much are you offering?
2b) threaten (and if so, with what)?
2c) appeal to their sense of justice?
2d) lie? What shape does that lie take?
3) what risks you're asking them to take for you.

All of these go into setting the target number. Some NPCs are easily bribed, but will laugh off threats and have no sense of justice. Others hate being lied to, but respect honesty. Yet others respect chutzpah.

Yes, in reality locks differ, but it's a lot harder to characterize the lock well enough to make a significant difference.

Perhaps not for locks, but you could easily take this approach to traps:

1) Are you trying to disarm or disable?
2) The trigger, or the mechanism?
3) Be able to reset or repurpose?
4) Hide your tracks?

Then there's the physical obstacles: How do you get past the shifting corridor / huge chasm / frictionless room that drops you into a pit of deadly blades if you can't stop. What you propose certainly decides what rolls you need to make.

---

If you have someone that's really into the oratory side of social encounters, then flip the system - have them say how they're approaching the exchange, roll, then talk out something appropriate to the result. Anyone can say a stupid, but it takes a true master of discourse to lay out an epic failure on the dice.

Tanarii
2017-11-17, 12:32 PM
So, here's a thing that's been bugging me for a while:

If I were to try and open a lock in most games, I roll some dice to see if I succeed.
I do not actually need to provide a strategy to open the lock - this is a skill my character has, after all, not me.Yes you do. At the least, you need to provide Intent (open lock) and Approach (break with strength, pick with expensive thieves tools, pick with makeshift thieves tools, poor acid on it, etc). Each of these gives potentially different chances of success (on a spectrum from automatic to check needed and modified by approach to no chance of success), success and failure outcomes (open lock suddenly, open lock slowly, fail to open lock, jam lock open or closed), and consequences (cannot lock behind you, make lots of noise, quiet but takes time).


What makes social skills so different that they can be treated this way?They aren't. Either you've got DMs that aren't resolving each correctly, or you're failing to understand where the points are for your decision making vs resolution.

It looks like the latter to me. When you decide to get past a lock, you're making the same decision points as getting the king to hire more troops. If you have to come up with an actual argument to persuade, that's because the DM needs to know the details of the Approach you are taking. Persuade instead of Intimidate is like Pick instead of kick door down. Thieves Tools and using them to pick the lock, as opposed to using makeshift tools or using acid to burn it out, is like argument A that hiring troops will save the Kings daughter's life, vs Argument B that the king will save money in the long run by defending his peasants. One Approach is better than the other.

That said, there is often a difference in complexity between physical and mental/social checks. Often physical checks have rather simple decision points and simple consequences. Just a few for each. Whereas mental/social checks can have quite a lot of complexity or nuance for both Approach and Consequences.

Airk
2017-11-17, 01:07 PM
Yes you do. At the least, you need to provide Intent (open lock) and Approach (break with strength, pick with expensive thieves tools, pick with makeshift thieves tools, poor acid on it, etc). Each of these gives potentially different chances of success (on a spectrum from automatic to check needed and modified by approach to no chance of success), success and failure outcomes (open lock suddenly, open lock slowly, fail to open lock, jam lock open or closed), and consequences (cannot lock behind you, make lots of noise, quiet but takes time).

They aren't. Either you've got DMs that aren't resolving each correctly, or you're failing to understand where the points are for your decision making vs resolution.

It looks like the latter to me. When you decide to get past a lock, you're making the same decision points as getting the king to hire more troops. If you have to come up with an actual argument to persuade, that's because the DM needs to know the details of the Approach you are taking. Persuade instead of Intimidate is like Pick instead of kick door down. Thieves Tools and using them to pick the lock, as opposed to using makeshift tools or using acid to burn it out, is like argument A that hiring troops will save the Kings daughter's life, vs Argument B that the king will save money in the long run by defending his peasants. One Approach is better than the other.

That said, there is often a difference in complexity between physical and mental/social checks. Often physical checks have rather simple decision points and simple consequences. Just a few for each. Whereas mental/social checks can have quite a lot of complexity or nuance for both Approach and Consequences.

I don't agree with you very often, but this is a very good explanation. You need to provide the approach/method for a social skill check, but if the GM is asking you to give him a blow-by-blow argument, then from my perspective, the GM is doing it wrong. The blow by blow can be played out a little bit afterwards when you know how things are going to go.

The correct way to resolve any action is pretty much always (i.e. unless your game explicitly says otherwise):

State intent ("I want to pick the lock!" "I want to persuade the king to send troops to the Vale.")
State Approach/Method ("I'll use my high quality lock picks." "I will grandstand about the value of the Vale as the breadbasket of the kingdom and the potential havoc caused by it being overrun.")
Optional (Varies by game): Decide stakes or consequences. ("If you fail, you're not going to be able to open this lock this way." "If you fail, the king will order his guards to arrest you.")
Engage resolution mechanism (Roll dice, draw cards, spend points, whatever.)
Roleplay the result. ("The lock clicks open as the well oiled tumblers roll over." "The king rubs his chin, nodding, and says "Very well, I will dispatch the 2nd infantry to defend the Vale, but if you have mislead me...")

Aliquid
2017-11-17, 01:32 PM
Yet, if I were to convince someone of something and roll my persuasion, my GM always asks me to come up with an actual argument.
If it is not good enough, I fail regardless of the roll, even though with his skills my character likely could have come up with a good one.Say to your DM, "I roll on my persuasion skill to see if my character can come up with an effective argument against this particular person". If the roll is high, you say to the DM "So... that's a good roll, my character observes the person and the social situation and is able to decide what tactic to use. You as the DM now need to tell me what my character figured out about the NPC. Should I lie to him, guilt trip him, offer a compromise, pretend I am an authority and pressure him, flatter him...?"

Lets say that the DM says "flatter", your next response is "what sort of thing would flatter this guy? I'm assuming that flattering him about his strength would be a good bet, does my character (who has a high charisma) agree with that assumption? He would know better than I"

Anonymouswizard
2017-11-17, 01:37 PM
There are essentially three schools of thought with regards to social skills.

The Gonard School: 'back in my day social interaction was ad-hoc'. While not every member of this school of thought has actually played old-school games, the idea is that you can talk while sitting round a table, so why do we need to simulate talking.

The Fairness School: While we might enforce roleplaying, we're not going to penalise players. Therefore, a good roll will mean your character worded it better than you did.

The Halfway School: We'll apply modifiers based on your roleplay, but you still might succeed with a bad argument if you get a lucky roll.

Note that I have never seen a GM declare an argument fail because they think it's bad. I've had to suck penalties, sometimes up to my skill bonus or more, but never outright failed without a roll (at least officially, I'm sure I've been penalised into 'not a chance' once or twice).

Tanarii
2017-11-17, 02:05 PM
I don't agree with you very often, but this is a very good explanation.
I stole the terms / clarity from Angry DM. He wrote a very good article on it. He's mostly a D&D guy, but the concepts are mostly applicable to other systems:
http://theangrygm.com/adjudicate-actions-like-a-boss/


Say to your DM, "I roll on my persuasion skill to see if my character can come up with an effective argument against this particular person". If the roll is high, you say to the DM "So... that's a good roll, my character observes the person and the social situation and is able to decide what tactic to use. You as the DM now need to tell me what my character figured out about the NPC. Should I lie to him, guilt trip him, offer a compromise, pretend I am an authority and pressure him, flatter him...?" the problem with this is the player skips a very important step: determining what approach they want to use. That will affect the possible outcomes, as well as the potential consequences.

That's basically half the agency/role playing involved. Using the highest level definition of roleplaying: making decisions for your character in the fantasy environment.

It's certainly possible to have resolution back-fill the approach, but I wouldn't want to do that as a DM, nor have my DM do it as a player. I want the player to make that choice as a DM, or to make it myself as a player.

That's not to say there's something wrong with ways to help narrow down the possible approaches that might bring the outcomes and consequences they want, if there's a way for the PC to determine that in game. Possibly involving some kind of roll. E.g. Wisdom / Intuition in D&D for people, or Intelligence / Investigation for situations (traps, locks, etc).



Note that I have never seen a GM declare an argument fail because they think it's bad. I've had to suck penalties, sometimes up to my skill bonus or more, but never outright failed without a roll (at least officially, I'm sure I've been penalised into 'not a chance' once or twice).
There is a difference between having an attempt to persuade automatically fail without a check because :
- the 'argument' cannot possibly succeed. Ie Approach is invalid with the person you're trying to persuade.
- the players delivery of the 'argument' is poor or poorly phrased.

Similarly, there's a difference between having different arguments (approaches) have different chances of success (DCs in D&D, or modifiers to the roll in various other games), and modifying it based on the players delivery.

It can be hard to separate approach vs delivery/description, especially for social situations that need a roll to affect the outcome where the player is saying exactly what their character is saying. But it's an important distinction for properly resolving the action, IMO.

Esprit15
2017-11-17, 02:05 PM
My sort of go-to with talking is to have the person at least lead into how they begin talking to someone, enough that I get which social skill they are rolling, whether they are offering something or otherwise playing to the target’s interests, etc. If they are a charismatic person in real life, I’ll just let them finish out their spiel, but if they are clearly stuttering and uncomfortable, I’ll just ask them if they want to roll for it, and then will give a brief overview of what their character said.

Ex:

Player: “So, we’re a pretty decent... erm, group of adventurers, and would like to– I mean, if you’ll have us, uh, work for you, not for a lot I mean, but... um...”
DM: “Okay, so, OOC, you’re offering the party’s services for a fairly low fee?”
Player: “Yeah, basically.”
DM: “Okay, roll diplomacy, give yourself a +2 for offering to do it at a discount.”
*rolls well*
DM: “So yeah, you all see Leho the warlock work his magic, talking up the strength of Derek and the magical ability of Soren, while offering your services to the king as more of a favor than a true job. The king and Leho eventually settle on 500 gold to each of you.”

It coaxes people just a little out of their comfort zone, allows characterization, but still leaves the dice in control. Meanwhile, I’ll often skip over the diplomacy check for minor encounters if it is well RPed well, though more important checks ultimately come down to luck.

Bogwoppit
2017-11-17, 03:23 PM
What makes social skills different is that we're all used to using them, as opposed to fighting skills, breaking and entering skills, arcane skills, and acrobatic skills - so we don't usually try to simulate them, because we hardly think of them as skill tasks.

The suggestions above - declare Intent, apply a Method, adjust DC, roll the dice - have been suggested by people before, even people on this board.
They don't work for everyone, though. Some sort of compromise, based on a rules-set + RPing, is what tends to happen in my group.

Aliquid
2017-11-17, 03:33 PM
the problem with this is the player skips a very important step: determining what approach they want to use. That will affect the possible outcomes, as well as the potential consequences.

That's basically half the agency/role playing involved. Using the highest level definition of roleplaying: making decisions for your character in the fantasy environment.Then what's the point of having a high charisma or a high wisdom if you can't ever use it?

The comparison people are using of "tell me how you approach a lock pick" isn't even a fair comparison. The real comparison is to put a real lock in front of a player and tell him/her to pick it.


That's not to say there's something wrong with ways to help narrow down the possible approaches that might bring the outcomes and consequences they want, if there's a way for the PC to determine that in game. Possibly involving some kind of roll. E.g. Wisdom / Intuition in D&D for people, or Intelligence / Investigation for situations (traps, locks, etc).I don't use D&D as a system anymore, so I don't know current versions, but with 3.5, I think it would be perfectly fair for a player to use a "gather information", "knowledge", or "sense motive" roll to find out what approach would be best under the given circumstances.

In reality, it shouldn't have to come down to that. This should be a collaborative process, and the GM shouldn't be an ass, and penalize the player for lacking social and diplomatic skills.

A character with a good charisma would be able to carefully test the waters and see if flattery works. They could make a casual flattering comment, and watch the NPC's body language to see if it had an impact or not, and then abort if it isn't working. The player quite literally can't do that, even if he/she had the skills to read subtle body language... the NPC isn't in front of him/her to observe in the first place.



There is a difference between having an attempt to persuade automatically fail without a check because :
- the 'argument' cannot possibly succeed. Ie Approach is invalid with the person you're trying to persuade.
- the players delivery of the 'argument' is poor or poorly phrased.Agreed. I would be much more annoyed at a GM that punished a player for personally failing at the second, rather than just the first.

But still, I think if the character had a good wisdom, the player could say "I'm going to carefully suss this situation out, and see if this guy would be the sort of person to accept a bribe".
- If the roll succeeds, the DM will say "Yeah, he would take a bribe", or "no, he would take offense to that"
- If the roll fails, the DM could say "your careful probing wasn't subtle enough, he caught onto what you were implying and took offense"

Actually I like adding this step to the process, as it makes the player consider the situation a lot more carefully. A good player might even say
I chat up the various guards to find out which one is the most gullible and make note of when his shift is and what entrance he guards
I gather information to find out how legitimate people get past a guard (must be on a list, must show a pass, etc)
I gather information on what sort of people would be going into that entrance at that point of time (caterer, diplomat, merchant? etc)
I use disguise self to make myself look like that type of person
I use my knowledge gained on how people normally get past the guard to help think of a good bluff (or forge a pass... or take on the name of someone on the list... etc)
I go up to the guard and bluff my way past
This way the player can use their skills to help them decide on the best tactic. Maybe their initial roll showed that none of the guards are gullible... ok then, abandon this plan and think of something new... etc.

Tanarii
2017-11-17, 04:48 PM
Then what's the point of having a high charisma or a high wisdom if you can't ever use it? What I'm suggesting verry much makes a high charisma and high intelligence and high wisdom important. Any time there is a chance an action might fail that involves them, it's relevant. The player can't just talk their way around a problem unless they figure out something that will result in an automatic success. They also can't do something at all if it has no chance of success. They also need to think about consequences based on their approach. It makes a difference, both in your ability score/skill used, the chance of success, and the long term consequences. Examples would be attempting to bully a guard (intimidation) vs bribe them (persuasion) vs remind them they owe you a favor (possibly no check needed due to automatic success, but still an attempt at persuasion). How good you are it if the outcome is in doubt matters, as does the resulting consequences.

What you're suggesting disassociates actions from consequences. Instead of the player needing to consider how they're going to do something, and have to face resulting consequences, you're skipping that and only caring about intended result and if it succeeds or fails. That's fine if you want 'narrative' causality, where you know what's happening now you just need to determine how. It's less fine if you want causality to be action --> consequences.


The comparison people are using of "tell me how you approach a lock pick" isn't even a fair comparison. The real comparison is to put a real lock in front of a player and tell him/her to pick it. Youre making the same mistake of not understanding where the decision point on intent and approach are, vs description.

Here's the full comparison.

Intent: get through the portal or open the container
Approach 1: pick the lock
Additional decision points: use thieves tools vs use makeshift tools
Approach 2: break open
Additional decision points: use muscles, use axe
Resolutions: pick lock skill (possible penalty) vs success chance, Use strength-type skill vs break open chance, use attack vs object defense/durability/hps
Outcomes: it's open or not open
Consequences for 1: it's quiet and the portal/object can be relocked, but it takes time.
Consequences for 2: it loud, it destroys the portal object partially or completely, it's fast.

Intent: get past guard
Approach 1: bully him
Additional decision points: use physical threats, remind him of information you have over him, pull rank
Approach 2: persuade him
Additional decision points: bribe him, remind him he owes you one, try to reason with him
Approach 3: deceive him
Additional decision points: present falsified documents, pull fake rank
Resolutions: make require checks to fake a document, requires money, guard may or may not be impressed by threats or rank. Checks to be believed may be required. Checks to persuade with an argument/reason of 'please, it's important' might be incredibly hard.
Outcomes: you get past or don't get past
Consequences 1: he's pissed off
Consequences 2: he's not pissed off
Consequences 3: you might get caught later.

The advantage of this is "Player Skill" is relevant in this, and so is "PC skill". The player needs to make the decisions, the PC executes with their skill. It works just like an in-game physical action in that regard. Players don't just get to describe/narrate their way to success, but neither do they get to just roll a die and have all important decisions get made for them.

Edit: also, since this isn't a video game, it doesn't play out like this decision/resolution/consequences tree. The player says what he wants to do and how, possibly in a descriptive or narrative way or by just saying what their charcater says, either approximately or exactly. Then the DM asks for any clarifications on Intent or Approach that are needed, decides if a roll is needed, what it is if so, and then the players resolves. Then DM gives the outcome and either announces or notes the consequences, and if an NPC is involved has them react. Nor does it have to be a constant check for each little thing. This entire cycle might be a simple thing ("I break down the door with my axe") or a complex thing (on-going 5 minute conversation between PCs and NPC, followed by a single resolution check).

Mark Hall
2017-11-17, 04:59 PM
I'd say another aspect is that social skills interact with characters, whereas most other skills interact with the environment.

Open Locks interacts directly with the environment... do a thing and a thing happens to a thing.
Knowledge skills represent knowledge of the environment... do I know a thing? Tell me about ti.
Move Silently interacts with others, but more as features of the environment... if I succeed at a Move Silently check against someone, I'm not altering their character (until I stab them in the back), just reacting to them as a piece of the environment.

But inherent in social skills is the idea that I will change you. I will make you believe something you do not believe. I will shape your way of thinking about things. In this way, social skills are very much like combat... both make you different, but one makes you think different, while the other makes you differently alive.

And, while combat does NOT require you to demonstrate your ability, it does require you to lay your tactical cards on the table. Sure, you can walk up to the orc and start hitting her with a sword until she falls down, but that's a tactic in and of itself... much like convincing the king to do what you want by walking up and telling him the truth. Both are straightforward and honest... but you can also kill the orc by sneaking up behind her and stabbing her in the kidneys, or by poisoning her food. Likewise, you can convince the King to do what you want by lying to him, or by offering him a deal, or what have you.

In a lot of ways, this why using detailed social systems are important... if you fall entirely on role-play and player fiat, you have Bob, who spent no points on Resist Persuasion, ignoring torture because "That's what my character would do", while Sarah, who spent those points, interacts with the system and possibly fails.

Aliquid
2017-11-17, 06:24 PM
What you are suggesting disassociates...no it doesn’t. You are have inconsistent expectations between “unlocking a door” and social skills.

The person does select an approach. They select “diplomacy” or “bluffing” or “intimidation” or “bribing”.

The problem is when the DM asks the player to state a good sub-approach within the chosen approach. Such as “now you have chosen to intimidate, tell me your approach as to how you intimidate” and then the DM punishes the player for not coming up with a clever strategy.

Quertus
2017-11-17, 07:01 PM
Ah, my favorite topic is back. Others have already hit on most my points, but I'll make them again anyway. :smalltongue:

It's darn hard if not impossible to convince a vegetarian to eat a steak (not threaten, not coerce, just "this is Timmy, try it"). Just like it's really hard if not impossible for a woman to seduce a gay man.

The approach one takes when using social skills greatly impacts one's chances of success.

But isn't that true of all skills? Well, somewhat. I mean, I imagine it would be much more difficult if I tried to program nuclear guidance systems using bubble sort in basic. Or, I would, if I didn't suspect it may well have been written that way in the first place.

Presumably, most of us have a basic sense of goals, motivations, drive, etc. If not, a) why are we playing a role-playing game, and b) how is that even possible?

Right or wrong, most humans have some sense of how things work. They use this to determine what DC defeating a given lock is (or, to turn that around, to describe what a lock with a listed DC might look like). But, as a rule, intuition says that defeating any given lock is possible, sinking any given ship is possible, hacking any given system is possible. But most of us believe that no amount of telling us that Timmy is yummy (darn autocorrect) will convince us to kill and eat our best friend. Right or wrong, most of us believe in social no-sells. And you'll excuse me as I slowly inch away from anyone who says, "nah, I'd totally kill and eat someone if I was told they were yummy convincingly enough"

I mean, heck, when asked to do something against their nature, characters who've already lost to a spell get an automatic saving throw - just how much less effective should someone just using words and telling us our buddy looks tasty be?

Here, unlike questions of whether wood floats or how barns burn, my intuition tells me that "just wing it" will produce better and more consistent results than any system I've seen, under myself and most GMs I've seen (and, for those who don't know, I've seen lots of terrible GMs).

Now, any portion of the game could be micromanaged the same way social skills often are, with the GM asking for a detailed description of how things are done. In fact, some of the earliest examples of Player skills trumping character skills is when dealing with traps. What is the point in putting resources in making one character good at dealing with traps, when another had a player who understands traps, mechanics, and basic physics well enough to handle the GMs traps better than the skilled character can by using their skill?

This is a fundamental RPG issue.

Personally, while I have the player provide the path that the character takes, I have the stats / skills / dice determine how far along that path they can get.

Even back when all there was was a Charisma stat, I had that determine how NPCs responded to the PCs given strategy. For example, someone who isn't interested in bribes may cause trouble for a low Chr character, but may just comment that they're glad the high Chr character was joking, because, otherwise, they'd have to report them.

And, I could say a lot more, but let's not lose the forest for the trees.

Cluedrew
2017-11-17, 07:06 PM
Lots of good points, I especially liked Floret's and Mark Hall's posts. But I'm going to address a different issue, which is the approach model brought in by Tanarii. I think the idea is correct, but I think the part it misses, or perhaps just doesn't address explicitly enough. The difference between social skills and others by this model in my mind is that people ask not only for the approach but the details as well.

I think "I attempt to convince the guard to let me pass by acting like I belong." outlines an intent approach well enough as "I'm going to try to force the bandit to surrender by disarming him." However asking for the exact wording of "acting like I belong" is like asking for "I hilt strike the bandit's axe close to the handle then hook around it and spin it against his grip."* To me those are the details of the attempt. The might be fun to fill in for flavour but I do not believe they should be required to make the attempt.

*I have no idea if that is a good way to disarm someone of an axe.

Aliquid
2017-11-17, 07:24 PM
Cluedrew gets it.

Cluedrew
2017-11-17, 07:30 PM
Well thank-you, I think it is something that a lot of people know, but don't quite have the words for. I had to borrow a lot from up-thread, but I think I got my idea across.

Segev
2017-11-17, 07:43 PM
To answer the first thing the OP asks - why can he roll a die and be done with it for lock-picking, but not for "social stuff" - I'll ask a similar question:

"Why can I just roll a die to see if I can leap across this chasm, but I have to roll tons of dice and make all sorts of tactical decisions to see if I can defeat these kobolds in combat?"

The difference in both situations is the same: one is a singular action that is not easily broken down into sub-actions where individual successes and failures pile up to lead to a final outcome; the other is a scene unto itself, with many things that can be tried.

Or, examined another way, rolling to pick the lock or leap the chasm is making an attack roll. The combat result is analogous to whether or not you get past the whole set of obstacles of which the locked door and chasm are parts.

The reason social skills are different is that they are, as presented in most games, essentially the equivalent of having a "fight skill," where the actual dice resolution is a single "fight roll," and the player either "roll plays" it and just says "I roll fight; do I win?" or "role plays" it and describes his entire combat scene and approach, then rolls the dice anyway.

If social mechanics are to live up to what people seem to want from them when they demand that you "role play" it, then they need to have the depth of physical combat. Rolls aren't to "persuade," but to learn about the other socialites, to see if you can sway or tempt them, to stoke anger or greed or lust or joy. To get them into a position where their natural inclination is to go along with what you want. It would be like rolling lots of rounds in combat, but more puzzle-like because you're not just wearing down "will points" to browbeat them into being your mind-slave. You're interacting with their mechanical social statistics to manipulate them into doing what you want.

Thrudd
2017-11-17, 08:37 PM
So, here's a thing that's been bugging me for a while:

If I were to try and open a lock in most games, I roll some dice to see if I succeed.
I do not actually need to provide a strategy to open the lock - this is a skill my character has, after all, not me.

Yet, if I were to convince someone of something and roll my persuasion, my GM always asks me to come up with an actual argument.
If it is not good enough, I fail regardless of the roll, even though with his skills my character likely could have come up with a good one.

What makes social skills so different that they can be treated this way?

They shouldn't be treated that way. It is either dictated by the rules or it isn't. If it isn't, then there shouldn't be any character resource expenditure. If it is, then technically you shouldn't need to say anything at all, just like with lock picking, etc. Some people might do a hybrid, where bonuses or penalties might be applied to your roll based on what you say, but your character's skills are still applied and the dice make the final decision.

weckar
2017-11-17, 08:42 PM
I do think I like the middle ground approach of describing a rough strategy a lot. I'm here to roleplay, after all, not to act!

Pelle
2017-11-17, 09:40 PM
I think "I attempt to convince the guard to let me pass by acting like I belong." outlines an intent approach well enough as "I'm going to try to force the bandit to surrender by disarming him."

If I understand Tanarii right, both would be acceptable. Sorry if wrong. "I roll Bluff!" does not.



The person does select an approach. They select “diplomacy” or “bluffing” or “intimidation” or “bribing”.


For me this would be sufficient to determine what roll to make (ability + skill), but not the DC and concequences. That depends on the sub approach.


The problem is when the DM asks the player to state a good sub-approach within the chosen approach. Such as “now you have chosen to intimidate, tell me your approach as to how you intimidate” and then the DM punishes the player for not coming up with a clever strategy.

I see that this can be difficult for a player when the PC is supposed to be much better. But the fishing for the best approach that you describe can be a fine part of the role playing. That is also not necessarily contrary to Tanariis' method...

My problem with just wanting to roll Diplomacy or whatever, "GM tell me what my character would think and say (to convince the king)", is that it is players giving away their own agency. I want them to make descisions for their characters. This includes player skill in figuring out approach, which I think is a good thing, while PC skill determines if the approach is successfull.

Tanarii
2017-11-17, 10:28 PM
no it doesn’t. You are have inconsistent expectations between “unlocking a door” and social skills.

The person does select an approach. They select “diplomacy” or “bluffing” or “intimidation” or “bribing”. Thats not an approach, that's a skill you want to use. It doesn't provide sufficient information to determine a result.

The problem you're running into is that social skills are generally widely applicable to multiple approaches. On the other hand, so are well designed physical skills.

For example, 5e Sleight of Hand are used for palming small objects, picking pockets, and many other tricks of legerdemain.

If you tell the DM "I Sleight of Hand the Guard" all you've told him is what skill you want to use. You haven't told him if you're attempting to pick his pocket or conceal a dagger on your person.

Even "I pick the guards pocket" isn't enough info. Are you trying to do it sneakily from behind, or using the ol' accidentally bump into them routine. Each may have different consequences.


Edit:

I think "I attempt to convince the guard to let me pass by acting like I belong." outlines an intent approach well enough as "I'm going to try to force the bandit to surrender by disarming him." However asking for the exact wording of "acting like I belong" is like asking for "I hilt strike the bandit's axe close to the handle then hook around it and spin it against his grip."* To me those are the details of the attempt. The might be fun to fill in for flavour but I do not believe they should be required to make the attempt.
Then you agree with me. Although as a DM I might ask how your PC is dressed and for a reminder of what they look like, before deciding if resolution works.

But if the player told me "I Bluff / Decieve the guard" they haven't given me anything to go on in regards to approach, so I can't determine consequences properly. Or even chance of successful outcome. All they've told me is what number on their sheet they want to roll.

Further edits: although if "acting like I belong" means talking to the guard as if you belong, no, it's probably not enough for an approach. I'm going to want to know if your charcater has any idea what people who 'belong' in this location act like. Not the player, the charcater. But if it's a big-standard castle or nobles mansion, that's not going to be an issue.

Aliquid
2017-11-17, 11:13 PM
If I see that this can be difficult for a player when the PC is supposed to be much better. But the fishing for the best approach that you describe can be a fine part of the role playing. That is also not necessarily contrary to Tanariis' method...

My problem with just wanting to roll Diplomacy or whatever, "GM tell me what my character would think and say (to convince the king)", is that it is players giving away their own agency. I want them to make descisions for their characters. This includes player skill in figuring out approach, which I think is a good thing, while PC skill determines if the approach is successfull.I agree that would be lame roleplaying, but I'm not suggesting that it is taken that far, and I don't think anyone else on this thread is arguing that either.

Scenario one lazy player and DM
Player: "I use my bluff skill to get past the guard" (rolls a 19), "looks good enough to me. I'm inside now"
DM: "yeah whatever"

Scenario two jackass DM
Player: "I act like I belong and walk casually past the guard" (rolls a 19)
DM: "Nope doesn't work, the guard and everyone that used this door are elves, and you are clearly a dwarf. it doesn't work"
Player: "wait wouldn't my player have noticed that
DM: "not my fault you didn't think of that, the guard attacks"

Scenario two more appropriate situation
Player: "I act like I belong and walk casually past the guard" (rolls a 19)
DM: "It is pretty obvious to your character that everyone that is walking through the door is an elf... and it is unlikely you can pull this bluff off as a dwarf. You still want to try it?"
Player: "no, no I'll try something else. Does the guard look gullible enough to fall for a distraction, or is he hard core focused on his duty?"
DM: You can suss him out if you want. Roll against your wisdom...
Player: "I got a 17"
DM: The guard does look pretty bored...
etc





Thats not an approach, that's a skill you want to use. It doesn't provide sufficient information to determine a result.Again, you are being totally inconsistent on how you are defining things.... so saying "I smash the lock" vs "I pick the lock" is picking an approach, but "I use diplomacy" vs "I use intimidation" is a skill you want to use? Pick one set of expectations and apply it to both situations. Picking vs smashing are also skills that you want to use.

RazorChain
2017-11-17, 11:37 PM
I do think I like the middle ground approach of describing a rough strategy a lot. I'm here to roleplay, after all, not to act!

Roleplaying implies improv acting most of the time.

You know the word play..that's what stage actors act in.

So when roleplaying with my wife I cant just say "I'm a plumber now, seduce me"

I actally have to put on my tool belt, pick up my toolbox, go outside, knock on the door and ACT like a plumber.

Tanarii
2017-11-18, 12:28 AM
Again, you are being totally inconsistent on how you are defining things.... so saying "I smash the lock" vs "I pick the lock" is picking an approach, but "I use diplomacy" vs "I use intimidation" is a skill you want to use? Pick one set of expectations and apply it to both situations. Picking vs smashing are also skills that you want to use.Its not inconsistent at all. "I pick the lock" and "I smash the door" is only an Intention, not an Approach.

Intentions + Approaches
"I pick the lock with my Thieves Tools"
"I smash the door with my axe"
"I persuade the guard by reminding him he owes me a favor"
"I intimidate the guard by glowering at him and flexing my muscles"

There are multiple approaches with each intention, and all you're giving is intention. Furthermore, it's not even clear exactly what you're intention is in the latter two. What are you trying to persuade the guard of? What are you trying to intimidate him to do? You're not giving the DM enough information to resolve outcome, and determine consequences.

Darth Ultron
2017-11-18, 12:49 AM
I think "I attempt to convince the guard to let me pass by acting like I belong." outlines an intent approach well enough as "I'm going to try to force the bandit to surrender by disarming him." However asking for the exact wording of "acting like I belong" is like asking for "I hilt strike the bandit's axe close to the handle then hook around it and spin it against his grip."* To me those are the details of the attempt. The might be fun to fill in for flavour but I do not believe they should be required to make the attempt.


As I posted above, this is where I stand too. Plenty of players can quickly rattle off a paragraph of ''fantasy physics'' for some type of action or combat. From ''I spin around in a half circle and swing my sword in a low stab under his shield " to the complex rules like ''ok, I will take a move action for 10 feet, then turn and use my feat". So asking that a player say something similar for social stuff fits.

So is ''swinging a sword in a half circle and then stabbing'' a good way to get past a shield? Maybe not. But it sounds good and passes the ''fantasy test''. Very few people that play the game are classical weapons experts(and it's not like they all agree anyway).

So really it is treating social skills just like everything else in the game.

When a character uses a skill like Hide, is to more:
Player:''Um, my character just hides, somehow and rolled a 20" or more like
Player "My character drops down to the ground and gets behind the water barrels."

Like the trick of pretending to have a prisoner to get past some guards is a very common thing you see in a lot of fiction (it is in Star Wars, for example.....). Chances are it would never work ''for real''...but that does not matter...it works in fiction. And most reasonable Dm's would let this Bluff ''work''...more or less.

And few DM's would ever want a player to do a social thing ''for real''. It's not like the DM wants the player to ''really'' persuade the NPC. It's a lot more vague and just to say ''how you would do it".

Pelle
2017-11-18, 04:32 AM
Its not inconsistent at all. "I pick the lock" and "I smash the door" is only an Intention, not an Approach.


I think a reason for the felt difference may be that for these examples, the approach is not specified, but kind of implied. It may exist a clearly best approach, best chance to succeed and lowest consequences, which the player and GM both have in mind without needing to specify.

Or neither the player nor GM have the same personal skill as the PC, and just trust in PC to figure out the approach. Example, GM has decided on a DC 15 lock as appropriate challenge, but doesn't know what that would look like, and neither GM nor player knows anything about lock picking.

hymer
2017-11-18, 07:03 AM
I remember reading a Lovecraft story, where he wrote something like "The protagonist asked clever questions, and was able to get the truth out of the other guy. The truth was this:"
That's pretty bad writing! We want to know what those clever questions were! So here's a different take on the difference between the aforementioned skill types:

We all know what a conversation looks and sounds like. I need some details to the narrative to find it believable. Going from 'No, I won't let you do that' to 'Okay, then, go ahead' needs some context. Was it a veiled threat? Bringing up new information? Pleading? Bribery? That sort of thing will also affect what happens from here on. If someone took a bribe, that's saying something about them. If they stand up to the veiled threat, there may be some reaction.
Not so with picking a lock or jumping a chasm. But if we were all hobby lockpickers, then maybe we'd be much more interested in that, and know enough about it to want more detail. It's a double pin tumbler lock, huh? Some dwarf must've installed that. And I'm going to need both hands to get this one. (I know nothing about locks, so I'm just using words, there.)

But I can see that if you are playing your games with little in the way of narrative or immersion, then it doesn't matter so much.

WarKitty
2017-11-18, 07:28 AM
I think a reason for the felt difference may be that for these examples, the approach is not specified, but kind of implied. It may exist a clearly best approach, best chance to succeed and lowest consequences, which the player and GM both have in mind without needing to specify.

I had thought of this as well. If I'm picking a lock, and I'm a character that normally picks locks, there's a pretty good chance that I'm taking out my tools that I have to pick locks and using them to pick the lock.

I tend to favor the "intent + approach" method, but keep it fairly vague. So if you're going to try to bluff, for example, I'll usually call for what lie you're telling. So if you're entering the palace and trying to bluff that you belong - are you pretending to be a servant on an errand, or a noble who's too important to be bothered? Something like "I act like a servant who is hurrying on some errand" is fine.

If it's a bad idea, I'll call for a roll of the appropriate skill to notice that it's a bad idea. If it's a really bad idea, I'll call for a roll and then just tell them anyway.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-18, 10:13 AM
Roleplaying implies improv acting most of the time.

You know the word play..that's what stage actors act in.

So when roleplaying with my wife I cant just say "I'm a plumber now, seduce me"

I actally have to put on my tool belt, pick up my toolbox, go outside, knock on the door and ACT like a plumber.


You're cross-applying definitions.


The word "play" in RPG has nothing to do with the noun, the thing done on stage and in front of an audience. It's the verb, thus "playing", as in to play a game or to play with other people. A roleplaying game is a game in which one plays a role -- a character -- and interacts with the setting and characters in the manner in which that character would do so.


Improv acting can be a tool used in playing an RPG; it is not the core of what an RPG is, it is not the origin of RPGs, and it is not necessary to the playing of an RPG.


Just because some acting techniques, a therapy method, and something do in their bedrooms, have the same name, doesn't make an RPG necessarily all that much like any of those things.

Aliquid
2017-11-18, 11:04 AM
I think a reason for the felt difference may be that for these examples, the approach is not specified, but kind of implied. It may exist a clearly best approach, best chance to succeed and lowest consequences, which the player and GM both have in mind without needing to specify.

Or neither the player nor GM have the same personal skill as the PC, and just trust in PC to figure out the approach. Example, GM has decided on a DC 15 lock as appropriate challenge, but doesn't know what that would look like, and neither GM nor player knows anything about lock picking.Another annoyance with the lockpick analogy is that I have never heard of a situation where the player is punished for not being good at thieving and making a bad choice for his character... but you keep hearing stories of a DM punishing a player for making a bad "approach" with a social skill.

Maybe the analogy should be that the DM says "So, when you pick that lock, with your lockpicking set, do you use the torsion wrench, the torsion wrench, the half diamond, or the s-rake pick?" The player wouldn't know... and the DM shouldn't punish the player for not knowing.




I had thought of this as well. If I'm picking a lock, and I'm a character that normally picks locks, there's a pretty good chance that I'm taking out my tools that I have to pick locks and using them to pick the lock.

I tend to favor the "intent + approach" method, but keep it fairly vague. So if you're going to try to bluff, for example, I'll usually call for what lie you're telling. So if you're entering the palace and trying to bluff that you belong - are you pretending to be a servant on an errand, or a noble who's too important to be bothered? Something like "I act like a servant who is hurrying on some errand" is fine.

If it's a bad idea, I'll call for a roll of the appropriate skill to notice that it's a bad idea. If it's a really bad idea, I'll call for a roll and then just tell them anyway.And that's all I am asking for, if the character would know better, the DM gives the player a 'heads up' and gives him the option to abort, rather than having the plan fail, and applying a consequence.

WarKitty
2017-11-18, 11:10 AM
And that's all I am asking for, if the character would know better, the DM gives the player a 'heads up' and gives him the option to abort, rather than having the plan fail, and applying a consequence.

Honestly I've found that comes up with other skills as well sometimes. Like knowledges sometimes, I'll just tell a player to roll a certain knowledge, because I know there's something they would know that would affect their plans, but the player hasn't thought of it.

Quertus
2017-11-18, 11:20 AM
Then you agree with me. Although as a DM I might ask how your PC is dressed and for a reminder of what they look like, before deciding if resolution works.

Getting a good idea what the character looks like is almost the only thing I ask for at the beginning of the game, along with name, AC, and any special senses etc I need to be aware of.


Another annoyance with the lockpick analogy is that I have never heard of a situation where the player is punished for not being good at thieving and making a bad choice for his character... but you keep hearing stories of a DM punishing a player for making a bad "approach" with a social skill.

Maybe the analogy should be that the DM says "So, when you pick that lock, with your lockpicking set, do you use the torsion wrench, the torsion wrench, the half diamond, or the s-rake pick?" The player wouldn't know... and the DM shouldn't punish the player for not knowing.

See, I both agree and disagree. "As you stick your hand into the idol's mouth, it snaps shut, chopping your hand off." Players absolutely have been punished for choosing the wrong technique to disarm a trap.

I can't speak for all GMs, but, for me, it's the price you pay for taking action without first gaining knowledge - you didn't take the time to find out that the NPC was a vegetarian, or gay, or whatever. Just like you pay the price when you didn't take the time to learn that the golem was healed by fire, or that the ooze dissolves metal on contract.

Now, sure, 3e has Knowledge skills, so you don't need to test all monsters with an alchemy kit before firing your big guns... but it doesn't have a "learn all the NPCs secrets" skill... oh, wait, bardic lore and knowledge:local probably cover that at some tables.

Tanarii
2017-11-18, 11:24 AM
Another annoyance with the lockpick analogy is that I have never heard of a situation where the player is punished for not being good at thieving and making a bad choice for his character... but you keep hearing stories of a DM punishing a player for making a bad "approach" with a social skill.

Maybe the analogy should be that the DM says "So, when you pick that lock, with your lockpicking set, do you use the torsion wrench, the torsion wrench, the half diamond, or the s-rake pick?" The player wouldn't know... and the DM shouldn't punish the player for not knowing.Now thats a good example for the situation going too far. Unless the DM and player want it to go to that level.

To use the 'I Decieve by acting like I belong' situation ... additional information on if you're acting like a servant or noble may be needed, because that can have important consequences down the line. But unless the player wants to get into details, it's not necessary to go into how the PC carries their body, if they turn to face to the wall when other nobles approach or not as a servant, or how they greet other nobles as a pretend noble.


And that's all I am asking for, if the character would know better, the DM gives the player a 'heads up' and gives him the option to abort, rather than having the plan fail, and applying a consequence.
Agreed. In addition, a fair question from a player is always "would my character know a good way to do that?"


Getting a good idea what the character looks like is almost the only thing I ask for at the beginning of the game, along with name, AC, and any special senses etc I need to be aware of.I see 25-30 diffent PCs in the typical week, plus henchmen. Often the same player, with a different PC, to make things more confusing. I need reminders.

Quertus
2017-11-18, 11:37 AM
I see 25-30 diffent PCs in the typical week, plus henchmen. Often the same player, with a different PC, to make things more confusing. I need reminders.

Oh, for sure. I was just saying I agree that it's important. :smallwink:

Jay R
2017-11-18, 11:54 AM
So, here's a thing that's been bugging me for a while:

If I were to try and open a lock in most games, I roll some dice to see if I succeed.
I do not actually need to provide a strategy to open the lock - this is a skill my character has, after all, not me.

Yet, if I were to convince someone of something and roll my persuasion, my GM always asks me to come up with an actual argument.
If it is not good enough, I fail regardless of the roll, even though with his skills my character likely could have come up with a good one.

What makes social skills so different that they can be treated this way?

The simple answer to the general question "What makes social skills different that they can be treated this way?" is that they simulate playing the role and picking a lock does not.

Sometimes we choose to act out the parts that can be acted out. Since I want to re-use my friends, and I don't have a treasure chest for you to unlock, we have to roll dice for combat and lockpicking. But we can choose whether or not to act out conversations. Despite all the arguments each side has for being the only "right" side, this is a choice, and some people will choose differently from you.

The more complex answer to the specific example above is that you already provided the equivalent of the argument. I consider the following two things to be similar:

1. Player: I roll to pick a lock.
DM: What lock are you picking, and do you have a lockpick?

2. Player: I roll to persuade the king to go to war.
DM: What argument are you using?

If you try to convince the king that this is a moral war against the dark forces, and he has a secret alliance with the dark forces, then no, your argument cannot succeed, just as you can't pick certain locks. If you tell the king that his two daughters are in a village in front of the marauding army, then you have a chance of persuading him.

Your skill roll cannot make the moral war argument work in this situation, just as some locks can't be picked.

Quite often, there is no secret treaty that will invalidate some arguments, but sometimes there is such a treaty, or some other fact your PCs don't know, which will make certain arguments fail automatically. And as the DM, I can't tell you which situation you're in, so I have to treat every situation as if what approach you take affects whether it can work.

And no persuasion roll will work as mind reading to gain information that the PC does not have.

Quertus
2017-11-18, 02:49 PM
And no persuasion roll will work as mind reading to gain information that the PC does not have.

No, but a Sense Motive* roll may help the PCs notice how the king reacts when you mention his daughters, or the dark forces with which he has a pact.

* substitute equivalent by system.

RazorChain
2017-11-18, 06:17 PM
You're cross-applying definitions.


The word "play" in RPG has nothing to do with the noun, the thing done on stage and in front of an audience. It's the verb, thus "playing", as in to play a game or to play with other people. A roleplaying game is a game in which one plays a role -- a character -- and interacts with the setting and characters in the manner in which that character would do so.


Improv acting can be a tool used in playing an RPG; it is not the core of what an RPG is, it is not the origin of RPGs, and it is not necessary to the playing of an RPG.


Just because some acting techniques, a therapy method, and something do in their bedrooms, have the same name, doesn't make an RPG necessarily all that much like any of those things.

Yeah I should have toned down the snarkiness in my bad attempt at humor.

But lot of people take part in roleplaying games to act out a role and like to stay in character rather than just narrate what the character does.

So the OPs problem seems to be more about style than mechanics or both.

Nightcanon
2017-11-18, 06:50 PM
So, here's a thing that's been bugging me for a while:

If I were to try and open a lock in most games, I roll some dice to see if I succeed.
I do not actually need to provide a strategy to open the lock - this is a skill my character has, after all, not me.

Yet, if I were to convince someone of something and roll my persuasion, my GM always asks me to come up with an actual argument.
If it is not good enough, I fail regardless of the roll, even though with his skills my character likely could have come up with a good one.

What makes social skills so different that they can be treated this way?
Early iterations of RPGs didn't have social skills, and players had come come up with what they said to the king/ city guard etc (in some ways it was part of thefun).
I suspect social skill mechanics were introduced with an eye on potential future cRPGs, and subsequently were incorporated into the armamentariums of certain classes. By RAW, you probably should be able to say 'my PC gives the guard some BS story to make him let us pass' and have the DM roll for it (because you have a skill rank on your sheet), but that's a bit of a departure from where the game has evolved from. Similarly, there's a (slightly lame) history of using logic puzzles and riddles that should theoretically be amenable to my 20 Int wizard putting on his +6 hat of intellect and me saying 'I'm now smarter than many gods; I look at puzzle and solve it'. Again, the history of the game suggests that my friends and I should (personally rather than vicariously through our characters ) be solving this with our own Int scores.
It's probably something to discuss with your DM- if it isn't fun for you because of shyness or similar social handicap than it's not unreasonable to say 'I try to persuade the guard that we are allowed in the restricted area' and proceed to rolling for Bluff.

RazorChain
2017-11-18, 06:53 PM
Another annoyance with the lockpick analogy is that I have never heard of a situation where the player is punished for not being good at thieving and making a bad choice for his character... but you keep hearing stories of a DM punishing a player for making a bad "approach" with a social skill.

Wait? What! Never had people bungling stealth rolls during infiltration? Botching their lockpicking rolls when under time pressure? Failing their houldout to sneak in a weapon? Or just plainly deciding to pick pocket the Duke while he's surrounded by his guards?

LudicSavant
2017-11-18, 06:56 PM
So, here's a thing that's been bugging me for a while:

If I were to try and open a lock in most games, I roll some dice to see if I succeed.
I do not actually need to provide a strategy to open the lock - this is a skill my character has, after all, not me. Yes, you *do* need to provide a strategy to open the lock. In this case, it's "I use my lockpick to open the lock." Your actual action is being determined and described. We know what happened on screen.

There are other strategies of opening locks, too. You could cast a spell that opens locks. You could break the lock. And so on and so forth. The difference here is that the alternate strategies tend to be covered by different skills.

I think Angry DM fielded this question once and used the analogy of a player saying they were trying to kick down a door or open a door with a crowbar to saying they wanted to slap a door. And all of those different approaches would have different modifiers or DCs for the check.

Darth Ultron
2017-11-18, 07:03 PM
Another annoyance with the lockpick analogy is that I have never heard of a situation where the player is punished for not being good at thieving and making a bad choice for his character... but you keep hearing stories of a DM punishing a player for making a bad "approach" with a social skill.

Maybe the analogy should be that the DM says "So, when you pick that lock, with your lockpicking set, do you use the torsion wrench, the torsion wrench, the half diamond, or the s-rake pick?" The player wouldn't know... and the DM shouldn't punish the player for not knowing.


To be fair, a lot of DM's to ''punish'' players for making bad approaches in game play. If a character just walks over and picks a lock...and does not check for a trap....they will get hit by the trap. If a character attacks a foe that is stronger they will loose the fight...and maybe die.

Nightcanon
2017-11-18, 07:42 PM
Perhaps not for locks, but you could easily take this approach to traps:

1) Are you trying to disarm or disable?
2) The trigger, or the mechanism?
3) Be able to reset or repurpose?
4) Hide your tracks?


I don't think it would be unreasonable in that situation to say that I (the player) have never so much as set a mousetrap in my life, but I'm playing a 9th level rogue with maxed ranks in disable device, and I'll like to roll, please. There is a bit of a line with larger traps (having spotted the paving stone that acts as a pressure plate for cave-in, can I chalk a big circle round it and instruct my party not to stray inside 'for free', rather than attempting to disable the mechanism? Can I ask my fighter buddy to lay his tower shield over the 5' wide trapdoor so we can all walk across?) where there might be 'player-smarts' options that could be argued to make a roll unecessary.

Aliquid
2017-11-18, 08:23 PM
Wait? What! Never had people bungling stealth rolls during infiltration? Botching their lockpicking rolls when under time pressure? Failing their houldout to sneak in a weapon?Those are simply poor rolls, not a failure because the player didn't think of a thieving tactic that met the DM's standards.

Or just plainly deciding to pick pocket the Duke while he's surrounded by his guards?OK, that is a good analogy of a situation where the character will fail no matter what the roll is, because it is a dumb idea...
But I don't think I have ever seen something like that happen. I think it is because RPG players are often good at strategic decisions of that nature, but some lack for social decisions.

GreatWyrmGold
2017-11-18, 09:10 PM
What makes social skills so different that they can be treated this way?
Most people do not have any experience opening locks--or, for that matter, doing most of the things they do in tabletop RPGs. You can't expect people to know enough about that kind of thing to ask Bob how Billow is going to open that lock or whatever. However, you can expect people to have experience talking to each other, so people expect that you'd be willing and able to talk through the process of diplomacy in a way that most people couldn't talk through picking lock or swinging a sword.
There are, of course, some issues. I don't think I'd be alone if I said I knew more about how mechanical locks and HEMA work than I do about how people work, and while I've had more of a chance to practice the practical side of talking with people, I'm still not that good at it. That's not getting into little details like how I have exactly as much experience picking locks as I do convincing criminals not to kill me or negotiating alliances.



Playing in a game with dice rolling instead of dialogue seems rather sterile and not very engaging to me personally, but to each their own, I suppose. :smallsmile:
Personally, I could go either way depending on the situation. If I can think of something interesting to say, I'll say it, but if not, I'd rather just roll. If I wanted to roleplay an argument about something which ultimately doesn't matter, I can just go to the Internet.
Seriously, though. It can be interesting and fun, or it can be boring and annoying. In the former case, I'll roleplay it as much as the DM has responses for. In the latter case, I'd rather just roll. (And most of the people I play with tends towards rolling much more quickly.)



One reason that matters for me (as a DM) is that unlike lock-picking or chasm jumping, the approach really really matters for social skills.
I admit that I don't know a lot about either of those, but for their closest analogues I'm familiar with and most other (non-combat, non-social) skills I possess, approach does matter. It's just that approaches are hard to understand if you don't already have a good idea of how that kind of problem-solving works. For instance, I might be able to design a good experiment for determining the properties of some magical substance or the origin of an alien artifact, but most other people don't have as solid a grounding in the sciences.
The big difference is that humans instinctively understand social interaction. (It's probably one of the reasons we have such an inflated brain size.) Hence, we're expected to be able to figure out what approach would work in social situations, even though there is empirical evidence that people making similar decisions IRL with orders of magnitude more experience, time, and flexibility have a disturbing tendency to screw things up.



What makes social skills different is that we're all used to using them, as opposed to fighting skills, breaking and entering skills, arcane skills, and acrobatic skills - so we don't usually try to simulate them, because we hardly think of them as skill tasks.
Between martial arts classes as a kid and having a brother, I have some experience in fighting. Gym gave me athletics experience, the fact that I frequently found my change jar emptying mysteriously suggests that my brother had breaking and entering experience, and while I don't have any arcane skills, I'm pretty confident in saying that I probably would have a little if they existed.
Of course, none of this is comparable to what adventurers use those skills for...but then, I don't think that any social situation I've been in compares to what D&D characters use their social skills for, either.



To answer the first thing the OP asks - why can he roll a die and be done with it for lock-picking, but not for "social stuff" - I'll ask a similar question:
"Why can I just roll a die to see if I can leap across this chasm, but I have to roll tons of dice and make all sorts of tactical decisions to see if I can defeat these kobolds in combat?"
The difference in both situations is the same: one is a singular action that is not easily broken down into sub-actions where individual successes and failures pile up to lead to a final outcome; the other is a scene unto itself, with many things that can be tried.
If you can't think of a way for jumping across a chasm to be made into an engaging scene, you...well, I guess that would take a pretty skilled writer. So let's go back to the original example.
If you can't think of a way for picking a lock to be made into an engaging scene, you need to see more spy films. On the other hand, if you think that combat always needs to be a big detailed scene, you need to see fewer spy films. The reason that combat has complicated mechanics while lockpicking does not is that combat is the central focus of D&D's mechanics, while lockpicking is not. (Don't tell me combat is only one of the foci; how many books are dedicated lists of people to talk to or places to explore?) The same goes for all skills, actually...including diplomacy. That's why the 3.5 diplomacy rules are so simple and so easily-broken; nobody cared enough until more social-minded players focused on them and broke the system.
I'm kinda disappointed that no RPGs I've seen have any kind of social mechanics even comparable to typical combat mechanics. They're certainly possible--I've seen excellent social mechanics in video games, albeit in a bare-bones format--but nobody seems to care. I've seen it as an alternate ruleset in Pathfinder...but only in SRD settings, not at any table. Social interaction via roleplaying doesn't leave much room for interesting decisions, the way tactical combat (sometimes) can. It's just "How much do I want to bother, and what sounds vaguely reasonable?"



I remember reading a Lovecraft story, where he wrote something like "The protagonist asked clever questions, and was able to get the truth out of the other guy. The truth was this:"
That's pretty bad writing!
Not nearly as bad as what comes out of some of my gaming buddies' mouths when they try to roleplay. Which is probably related to why they don't try.



The simple answer to the general question "What makes social skills different that they can be treated this way?" is that they simulate playing the role and picking a lock does not.

I'm not entirely clear on what you mean here. To me, "a role" is all about what one does. If talking is what the person being played would do, that's part of the role. If lockpicking is what that person would do, that's another part of the role.



Sure you do! When you say, "I want to pick the lock with my lockpick," that's a description of approach! Just like any RP ou'd be asked to do by a DM.
That argument isn't quite wrong, but it's certainly not right. While it's the same kind of thing, it's far from being the same magnitude of that thing. The Diplomacy equivalent would be "I want to convince the king to give me a raise," which does make it clear what you're trying to affect (the king) and with what (your rhetoric), but nothing else. Because, y'know, not many people are used to asking for a pay raise from someone with the personal authority to have you decapitated if you annoy them.

Tanarii
2017-11-19, 12:18 AM
I'm kinda disappointed that no RPGs I've seen have any kind of social mechanics even comparable to typical combat mechanics. They're certainly possible--I've seen excellent social mechanics in video games, albeit in a bare-bones format--but nobody seems to care.
Interesting. The vast majority of social mechanics in CRPGs I've encountered are garbage. As as RPGs that try to deal with it on anything more complicated than 'GM decides when check is needed, use system mechanics for a simple check with GM decided skill at GM decided difficulty, GM decides what outcome represents'. Certainly attempts to make it more mechanical, more like combat systems, are universally disasters. Because they're too limited and robotic. And social interactions are broad, and require another human being to adjudicate the situation. Huge amounts of GM discretion combined with a simple and easy to adjust resolution method is, as far as I'm concerned, generally the best method.

That's not to say that a not-overly-regimented system can't assist a GM for time to time. Things like skill challenges, used as a framework to apply to a social situation, can be useful, if done right. Provided they aren't too rigorously applied until they create nonsense results. (Torchbearer's generic challenge system also looks like it could work okay for that.)

OTOH people who are very familiar with combat probably feel the same way about strict mechanical combat systems creating nonsense results and not being particularly realistic. ;)

Xuc Xac
2017-11-19, 04:43 AM
If I were to try and open a lock in most games, I roll some dice to see if I succeed.
I do not actually need to provide a strategy to open the lock - this is a skill my character has, after all, not me.

Yet, if I were to convince someone of something and roll my persuasion, my GM always asks me to come up with an actual argument.
If it is not good enough, I fail regardless of the roll, even though with his skills my character likely could have come up with a good one.

What makes social skills so different that they can be treated this way?

People frame things incorrectly and/or fail to see the whole picture.

For an example of the first, saying "I pick the lock" isn't equivalent to "I persuade someone". Just saying "I convince him" is like saying "I pass the locked door". You need to specify how you do it. Pick the lock, smash the door, teleport through it, etc. If you want to convince someone, you need to specify if you're threatening, bribing, flirting, etc. Your character's skills at those different approaches will make a difference.

For an example of not seeing the whole picture, people always make the argument that "it's just talking, so the player can say the words that the character says", but social interaction *isn't* just talking. The local high school drama club can read the exact same script as Tom "5 Oscars" Hanks but it won't be as good. I can swear loudly, but it won't same impact as it does coming from Sam Jackson. There's more to it than just the words.

Or think of a musician doing a cover song. They can use the same music and lyrics but vary drastically in the quality of their performance. Sometimes it's so good that it becomes the definitive version of the song and sometimes it's so bad that it gets booed off the stage at the local coffee shop's open mic night. Sometimes a professional musician does the same song night after night for years but occasionally has a bad night and just doesn't hit it like they usually do.

How would you react to the words "Come here and give me a kiss"? Does it make a difference if the speaker is an 80-year-old granny or your supermodel crush or a creepy homeless man on the subway?

I'm always reminded of the old man at the gas station at the end of the movie "Wayne's World". The guy gives him directions and starts to get wistful and reminisces about his youth. He's kind of flat so Wayne breaks the fourth wall and says "I know this is just a bit part, but can't we get a better actor?" Then they swap the old guy for Charlton Heston who delivers the exact same lines but with more feeling and Wayne chokes up and wipes away a year.

When it comes to social skills in a game, the player is just the script writer who comes up with the dialogue. The PC is the actor who has to deliver the lines. If they have high charisma, they'll make any awful dialogue sound cool. With low charisma, they'll be unimpressive no matter what they say. If they choose the wrong approach (using lockpicks on a door that doesn't have a key hole, attempting to intimidate mindless undead), they'll fail no matter how good they are.

WarKitty
2017-11-19, 04:52 AM
Wait? What! Never had people bungling stealth rolls during infiltration? Botching their lockpicking rolls when under time pressure? Failing their houldout to sneak in a weapon? Or just plainly deciding to pick pocket the Duke while he's surrounded by his guards?

Clarification here - we're talking about PC skills vs player skills. So the idea is that the PC has a good lockpicking skill, but the player has no idea how to pick a lock and is all thumbs anyway. So the player gets asked how he's picking the lock, and describes something that wouldn't actually work, then no matter how high he rolls he can't pick the lock.

Dimers
2017-11-19, 06:33 AM
I'm kinda disappointed that no RPGs I've seen have any kind of social mechanics even comparable to typical combat mechanics.

There was a WoD Vampire supplement for ancient Rome that included rules for rhetoric, mostly to be used in Senate-type situations to convince or woo a powerful crowd. It had tactics-level maneuvers more or less on par with those for melee combat. Which is to say, not great, but considerably better than nothing.

To further this discussion ... the Shadowrun game series uses much more detail for locks, traps and security measures than most game systems. "I pick the lock" isn't something you can just say in Shadowrun. Likewise, "I hack the system and corrupt the data file" -- in GURPS or WoD that might be enough, but not Shadowrun. D&D doesn't have mechanical depth in that area. Choosing between masterwork lockpicks, improvised lockpicks and sledgehammers is a drop in the bucket, and not a good comparison to the incredibly complex web that makes up social interactions.

When I GM and a player wants some important social thing to happen, I ask them to roll first and then roleplay in accordance with the result. The character's mechanics matter, and you have your chance to be flavorfully in-character. Furthermore, if the player doesn't want to or can't make it work, I encourage the rest of the players to help fill in.

Quertus
2017-11-19, 07:29 AM
People frame things incorrectly and/or fail to see the whole picture.

For an example of the first, saying "I pick the lock" isn't equivalent to "I persuade someone". Just saying "I convince him" is like saying "I pass the locked door". You need to specify how you do it. Pick the lock, smash the door, teleport through it, etc. If you want to convince someone, you need to specify if you're threatening, bribing, flirting, etc. Your character's skills at those different approaches will make a difference.

For an example of not seeing the whole picture, people always make the argument that "it's just talking, so the player can say the words that the character says", but social interaction *isn't* just talking. The local high school drama club can read the exact same script as Tom "5 Oscars" Hanks but it won't be as good. I can swear loudly, but it won't same impact as it does coming from Sam Jackson. There's more to it than just the words.

Or think of a musician doing a cover song. They can use the same music and lyrics but vary drastically in the quality of their performance. Sometimes it's so good that it becomes the definitive version of the song and sometimes it's so bad that it gets booed off the stage at the local coffee shop's open mic night. Sometimes a professional musician does the same song night after night for years but occasionally has a bad night and just doesn't hit it like they usually do.

How would you react to the words "Come here and give me a kiss"? Does it make a difference if the speaker is an 80-year-old granny or your supermodel crush or a creepy homeless man on the subway?

I'm always reminded of the old man at the gas station at the end of the movie "Wayne's World". The guy gives him directions and starts to get wistful and reminisces about his youth. He's kind of flat so Wayne breaks the fourth wall and says "I know this is just a bit part, but can't we get a better actor?" Then they swap the old guy for Charlton Heston who delivers the exact same lines but with more feeling and Wayne chokes up and wipes away a year.

When it comes to social skills in a game, the player is just the script writer who comes up with the dialogue. The PC is the actor who has to deliver the lines. If they have high charisma, they'll make any awful dialogue sound cool. With low charisma, they'll be unimpressive no matter what they say. If they choose the wrong approach (using lockpicks on a door that doesn't have a key hole, attempting to intimidate mindless undead), they'll fail no matter how good they are.

Wow. Whenever this topic comes up again, can you copy & paste this in? Because this really hits the nail - no, this hits several nails on the head.

jayem
2017-11-19, 08:10 AM
People frame things incorrectly and/or fail to see the whole picture.

For an example of the first, saying "I pick the lock" isn't equivalent to "I persuade someone". Just saying "I convince him" is like saying "I pass the locked door". You need to specify how you do it. Pick the lock, smash the door, teleport through it, etc. If you want to convince someone, you need to specify if you're threatening, bribing, flirting, etc. Your character's skills at those different approaches will make a difference.

Surely that's a prime example of the two elements being treated at different picture levels (whether for good reason).
You could just as well say (the sentence structure suggests it makes much more sense)...
"I pick the lock" and "I convince the person" are roughly equivalent.
"I get passed the locked door" and "The difficult person does XYZ" are roughly equivalent.
"I pick the lock by using a lockpick" and "I persuade the person by using threats" are roughly equivalent.
"I check for traps and pick the lock" and "I examine for character and threaten the person"
"I pick the lock by individually lifting the pegs so they align with the end of the barrel", "I persuade the person by threatening them with their daughter"
"I insert my pin and lift the first peg by 1mm,2 mm 3mm", "I say 'is your son enjoying his maths lesson'"

There's sensible reasons, a lockpicking attempt at the end of the day can only go in two ways (as the lockpick doesn't do anything back), whereas a dialog can go way off course.

GreatWyrmGold
2017-11-19, 08:49 AM
Interesting. The vast majority of social mechanics in CRPGs I've encountered are garbage.
Not surprising. Like TRPGs, most don't bother. (Not to mention that the baggage carried over from TRPGs hurts them most when there's an unspoken assumption that the GM will be bringing in something computers can't do yet.) But there are exceptions. Last Word comes to mind. (Not an RPG, but hey.) I've also heard good things about Deus Ex: Human Revolutions's hostile social interaction segments.


Certainly attempts to make it more mechanical, more like combat systems, are universally disasters. Because they're too limited and robotic. And social interactions are broad, and require another human being to adjudicate the situation.
I'm disinclined to agree. It's not that social interactions aren't broad, or that humans are predictable; it's that everything is unpredictable, and can be solved with abroad array of possibilities. It's just that most people don't think about things that way for anything they're not familiar with.



People frame things incorrectly and/or fail to see the whole picture.
For an example of the first, saying "I pick the lock" isn't equivalent to "I persuade someone". Just saying "I convince him" is like saying "I pass the locked door". You need to specify how you do it. Pick the lock, smash the door, teleport through it, etc. If you want to convince someone, you need to specify if you're threatening, bribing, flirting, etc. Your character's skills at those different approaches will make a difference.
As I said before, I don't find this persuasive. "I pass the locked door" isn't equivalent to "I persuade someone" or "I persuade the guard to let me pass"--it's equivalent to "I walk past the guard". It's a description of what you want to happen, without worrying about how you do it. "I pick the lock" is equivalent to "I persuade the guard to let me past," as much as "I smash down the door" is equivalent to "I beat up the guard".



There was a WoD Vampire supplement for ancient Rome that included rules for rhetoric, mostly to be used in Senate-type situations to convince or woo a powerful crowd. It had tactics-level maneuvers more or less on par with those for melee combat. Which is to say, not great, but considerably better than nothing.
Well, alright! I don't suppose you remember the title? Or which if it was for the Old WoD or the new?

King of Nowhere
2017-11-19, 09:41 AM
in some circumstances there is also another argument to be made: the DM is treating the social interaction as a puzzle, and he wants the players to find the right approach to it. it requires understanding the npc motivation, and can be considered akin to finding the door without lock and figuring out where is the opening mechanism.

For example, I had an adventure with bands of outcast goblin youths. In my world goblins suffer from overpopulation, so those young goblins who don't show particular skill are cast out and sent in the desert to die. If they survive two years, they can return and get another chance to prove their worth (generally by dueling a warrior), but less than one in 100 makes it. So those goblins ended up attacking the pcs knowing full well that their chances were slim, but the loot would barter them food for the rest of their two years, and the experience would help them pass the test afterwards.
To try diplomacy, the pcs needed to figure out that those goblins would laugh at threats - what else could you do to them? they speak of themselves as being already dead - but they would react very well to bribes; give them something that will help them survive, and they'll jump for it.
Then they met the adventure's boss, a goblin who survived two years and was more than skilled enough to win the test, but she got unlucky. So she was cast out for two more years, and she were only missing a few months. Unlike the others, she was badass and fully capable fo surviving the rest of the time, so she would react poorly to bribes - she hates everyone not goblin; think of goblin society as a nationalistic, xenophobic collectivist dictatorship. On the other hand, she knew she would survive, so death now scared her, and putting up a strong front persuaded her to look for easier targets.

When a player manages to strike the spot, he can persuade an npc no matter how poor the social skills of the character are, because he's giving the npc what he wants. It doesn't matter how unlikable the market dealer is, if he sells you exactly what you wanted for a reasonable price you take the deal.

Tanarii
2017-11-19, 09:52 AM
Clarification here - we're talking about PC skills vs player skills. So the idea is that the PC has a good lockpicking skill, but the player has no idea how to pick a lock and is all thumbs anyway. So the player gets asked how he's picking the lock, and describes something that wouldn't actually work, then no matter how high he rolls he can't pick the lock.Picking the lock won't work on a door that is barred. The comparison point is intention "get past door" or "open container", not "pick lock". And "pick lock" is only part of the approach. "Pick lock by using X tools" is part of the entire approach.

Trying to bribe someone with 10gp wont work on someone that's got thousands in the bank and will be beheaded if caught. The comparison point is "get guard to let us into manor" , not "persuade guard". And "persuade guard" is only part of the approach. "Persuade guard by bribing him with 10gp" is the entire approach.

A player (generally, in most systems) doesn't need to tell you how they use the tools, nor how they deliver the words of the attempted bribe. In fact, a not uncommon way to handle success/failure is for the player to describe it after, if it was their failure. Poor delivery or choice of words. Etc.

In short: It's necessary to know both specifically what the player is trying to accomplish, plus sufficient details of how they want to accomplish it, to adjudicate it. Not just what skill they want to roll. But neither is full debate argument or blow by blow of the mechanics of locks required.

Once the DM has that information in hand, he can properly adjudicate the situation, determine if a check is needed, then ask the player to roll, and describe outcomes and consequences.

I mean, it's not always a clear line. But approaching the issue as a DM understanding what minimum information you need to adjudicate, and stripping that out from unnecessary description or prompting the player if it's insufficient makes a difference.
Otherwise you're favoring one or the other of player skill and PC skill. Best to blend both as much as possible for satisfied players.

Jay R
2017-11-19, 11:17 AM
I'm not entirely clear on what you mean here. To me, "a role" is all about what one does. If talking is what the person being played would do, that's part of the role. If lockpicking is what that person would do, that's another part of the role.

You're trying to complicate something absurdly simple. I can in fact have a conversation at the table. I cannot pick a lock at the table. Therefore I can play the role by having the conversation my PC is having, but I cannot play the roil by picking the lock my PC is picking.


That argument isn't quite wrong, but it's certainly not right. While it's the same kind of thing, it's far from being the same magnitude of that thing. The Diplomacy equivalent would be "I want to convince the king to give me a raise," which does make it clear what you're trying to affect (the king) and with what (your rhetoric), but nothing else. Because, y'know, not many people are used to asking for a pay raise from someone with the personal authority to have you decapitated if you annoy them.

When the fighter decides to hit something, she has to specify which creature she's trying to hit, how she's trying to do it, and what weapon she's trying to hit it with. She also might have to specify which maneuver she's using - disarm, trip, etc.

When the wizard wants to cast a spell, she has to specify which spell, what her target is, which tool she's using (her own spell, wand, staff, ring, etc.), and any specific spell options.

Similarly, the bard should have to specify which person he's trying to convince, what weapon (the specific argument), and any other maneuver involved (dropping orc heads on the floor to convince him there really is an orc army, for instance).

Lockpicking is unusual because there's usually only one lock, the thief usually only has one lockpick, and there are no lockpick options. That's why it's the wrong analogy - it's far less complicated than fighting, magic, or diplomacy.

In your specific example of asking for a raise, saying, "... because I've assembled a 1,000 person army to fight on your side," or possibly, "... because the king you're warring with just offered me a lot of money to switch," will and should affect your chances.

Simply rolling for diplomacy without discussing the details of what you're doing is bland and uninteresting for me, and for my group. If your group doesn't want that particular flavor, and you feel it just gets in the way of what you're playing for then I urge you not to play the way we play.

Pleh
2017-11-19, 11:19 AM
One reason that matters for me (as a DM) is that unlike lock-picking or chasm jumping, the approach really really matters for social skills. I don't require an exact speech, but you have to let me know (at least) the following:

1) what you're trying to get the NPC to do
2) how you're approaching them (beyond simple skill names)
2a) are you trying to bribe? how much are you offering?
2b) threaten (and if so, with what)?
2c) appeal to their sense of justice?
2d) lie? What shape does that lie take?
3) what risks you're asking them to take for you.

All of these go into setting the target number. Some NPCs are easily bribed, but will laugh off threats and have no sense of justice. Others hate being lied to, but respect honesty. Yet others respect chutzpah.

Yes, in reality locks differ, but it's a lot harder to characterize the lock well enough to make a significant difference.

Yes. I'll add that sometimes, how you swing the sword or how you pick the lock or disable the device does matter. Just less frequently.

For example, when attacking a Hydra, it does matter if you want to sunder a neck or just hack somewhere at the body.

In locks and devices, the problem is that often their mechanisms are abstracted, not described. The more described a mechanism, the more a player can exploit any understanding the mechanism they possess.

But the action of utilizing social influence on a fellow sentient creature is not something that essentially needs to be abstracted. It takes no effort to guess at the likely mindset of a given creature in a particular set of circumstances. Players who use that intuitive understanding of other people to creatively solve problems deserve some reward. If there are no bad consequences for failure, then the rewards mean slightly less.

If the DM designs a trap to have defined mechanisms so a player is meant to solve it through player understanding rather than abstracted character knowledge, it can be frustrating for the DM to have their puzzle auto crushed by a high skill check and frustrating for players to play a trial and error guessing game to work out the DM's puzzle if their check can't auto win.

The question really comes down to, "what elements should be simplified to abstraction and luck/skill rolls as opposed to being puzzles to be reasoned out?"

Clearly, reasoning out puzzles involves more effort from players and DMs, and I would say it has greater risk vs reward on the fun aspect. Understanding how your character accomplished their goals is more fun than just knowing that they did somehow. So I would advocate for the minimal necessary abstraction, since I feel its more fun the less you need to abstract.

The guiding line for where abstraction becomes necessary, to me, is where the player fatigues of grappling with understanding or the DM tires of trying to communicate minute details.

In that sense, "just roll bluff to get past the guard" works just fine as long as getting past the guard wasn't meant to be a substantial challenge.

Tanarii
2017-11-19, 11:29 AM
Lockpicking is unusual because there's usually only one lock, the thief usually only has one lockpick, and there are no lockpick options. That's why it's the wrong analogy - it's far less complicated than fighting, magic, or diplomacy.Yeah that's a very good point. But I still hold its the wrong analogy because it's assuming a bunch of stuff already. (Edit: by which I mean it's assuming "pick the lock" is the intention, instead of a partial approach)

Besides, if you want to talk about social interactions and keep it simple, it's best to use a comparison with the exact same intention that can be done social vs non-social.

For example, "get past guard" is a good place to start, and drill down from there. Approaches include sneaking past guard, distracting guard, talking past guard, etc. Some of those require more information to resolve. Sneaking past guard doesn't necessarily mean "stealth check" and done, any more than taking past guard necessarily means "persuasion check" and done.

Aliquid
2017-11-19, 12:26 PM
Trying to bribe someone with 10gp wont work on someone that's got thousands in the bank and will be beheaded if caught. The comparison point is "get guard to let us into manor" , not "persuade guard". And "persuade guard" is only part of the approach. "Persuade guard by bribing him with 10gp" is the entire approach.
Objective - Get into manor
Scenario A Obstacle - Guard at door won't let you past
Scenario B Obstacle - Lock on door won't let you past

Scenario A approach to overcoming obstacle - bribe guard to get past
Scenario B approach to overcoming obstacle - pick lock


A player (generally, in most systems) doesn't need to tell you how they use the tools, nor how they deliver the words of the attempted bribe. In fact, a not uncommon way to handle success/failure is for the player to describe it after, if it was their failure. Poor delivery or choice of words. Etc.And this is the main point of the OP that was annoying. It appeared that the DM punished the player for delivering the words poorly. If the player rolls high, they should either succeed, or if the approach won't work they fail without consequences.


In short: It's necessary to know both specifically what the player is trying to accomplish, plus sufficient details of how they want to accomplish it, to adjudicate it. Not just what skill they want to roll. But neither is full debate argument or blow by blow of the mechanics of locks required.It depends on how detailed the DM wants to get. A game could easily be run where the DM doesn't care about the details, and accepts a high roll as success. i.e. "your objective is get past the door, you rolled high on your skill, you succeed at your objective." no further detail or discussion needed. It would be a mostly hack and slash style game, but some people like that.

GreatWyrmGold
2017-11-19, 12:27 PM
When the fighter decides to hit something, she has to specify which creature she's trying to hit, how she's trying to do it, and what weapon she's trying to hit it with. She also might have to specify which maneuver she's using - disarm, trip, etc.
When the wizard wants to cast a spell, she has to specify which spell, what her target is, which tool she's using (her own spell, wand, staff, ring, etc.), and any specific spell options.
Similarly, the bard should have to specify which person he's trying to convince, what weapon (the specific argument), and any other maneuver involved (dropping orc heads on the floor to convince him there really is an orc army, for instance).
Lockpicking is unusual because there's usually only one lock, the thief usually only has one lockpick, and there are no lockpick options. That's why it's the wrong analogy - it's far less complicated than fighting, magic, or diplomacy.
Do you want to know why people are comparing the Diplomacy skill to the Open Lock skill and the Jump skill and so on? Because very, very few games have rules for persuasion, lock-opening, or jumping that are anywhere near as deep or detailed as the rules for combat or magic. Or, as a wise man once said:

Imagine if the combat system was as well thought out and explained as the skill system. You could cut it down to a page and a half, monsters would be about three sentences long. Best of all you don't have to remember any tables for conditions or detail the special abilities because you've got rulings instead of rules.

Simply put, the designers considered character skills and skill use unimportant. The skill system is essentially "roll d20 + stat and prof versus a number the DM thinks of, unless the DM decides that you automatically succeed or fail" plus some examples and vague guidelines. If you consider noncombat skills as important as combat abilities then this skill system is insufficent for you. The choices then are to play something different or to do a bunch of house ruling.
The fighter only has one target, only one sword, and--realistically--as many options to use one on the other as the thief has for opening the lock. It's just that the rules don't recognize the options available for anything but beating people up.
So, basically, you're saying that there should be rules for specifying approaches, but there aren't, so you roleplay through it instead. Valid, but I don't think it's what you intended, and it's more of an argument that you need to find a new system (or at least a new subsystem) than an argument that people should play in any given way.

Bohandas
2017-11-19, 12:30 PM
One of the bigger points I have also seen to argue against rolling is the inherent unrealism of the mechanics ("This is not how persuasion works IRL"), which... certainly it might not be; or it might be abstracted to a point that people don't intuitively understand it to be abstracted to, leading to the feeling of "diplomancers". Different, more fleshed out rules than most games have might help here, if that is the only point of contention.

It's not how swordfighting or archery works in real life either

Bohandas
2017-11-19, 12:37 PM
Not surprising. Like TRPGs, most don't bother. (Not to mention that the baggage carried over from TRPGs hurts them most when there's an unspoken assumption that the GM will be bringing in something computers can't do yet.) But there are exceptions. Last Word comes to mind. (Not an RPG, but hey.)

Last Word is at least as much an RPG as any other CRPG.

If you want an example of a computer game with a good social interaction system that's not an RPG the best example would probably be Oh Sir! by Vile Monarch games

Tanarii
2017-11-19, 12:43 PM
It depends on how detailed the DM wants to get. A game could easily be run where the DM doesn't care about the details, and accepts a high roll as success. i.e. "your objective is get past the door, you rolled high on your skill, you succeed at your objective." no further detail or discussion needed. It would be a mostly hack and slash style game, but some people like that.It depends on how much control the player wants over the consequences as well.

Using persuasion by bribing vs using persuasion vs reminding of a favor vs using persuasion by appealing to good nature vs using persuasion by convincing that a need is very real all can have very different consequences, regardless of success or failure. As a player, I'd rather have input on that than tell the DM "I persuade the guard to let me past" and let the DM determine what detailed approach I used, and generate consequences based on that.

Similarly I don't want the DM to determine my PC is using lock picks in my hands when I'm intending to do it via Mage Hand at a distance. Or to determine that I sneak past a guard trying to use the shadows alone when I'm intending to have my friend distract them by talking to them as I walk right past while they're not paying attention.

GreatWyrmGold
2017-11-19, 01:25 PM
Last Word is at least as much an RPG as any other CRPG.
I mean, it's a video game about roleplaying, but it doesn't have much in common with many "typical" video RPGs (Western or Japanese). But I guess that's as much to do with how FUBARd the term is as anything.



It depends on how much control the player wants over the consequences as well.
Using persuasion by bribing vs using persuasion vs reminding of a favor vs using persuasion by appealing to good nature vs using persuasion by convincing that a need is very real all can have very different consequences, regardless of success or failure. As a player, I'd rather have input on that than tell the DM "I persuade the guard to let me past" and let the DM determine what detailed approach I used, and generate consequences based on that.
Similarly I don't want the DM to determine my PC is using lock picks in my hands when I'm intending to do it via Mage Hand at a distance. Or to determine that I sneak past a guard trying to use the shadows alone when I'm intending to have my friend distract them by talking to them as I walk right past while they're not paying attention.
I mean, I guess that's a valid point of view to take. For me, though, if it leads to the same result I don't care, and when we're discussing this sort of thing in a vacuum it's hard to see how those would inherently have different results. (Aside from spending gold or spell slots, I guess.)

Bohandas
2017-11-19, 01:36 PM
I mean, it's a video game about roleplaying, but it doesn't have much in common with many "typical" video RPGs (Western or Japanese). But I guess that's as much to do with how FUBARd the term is as anything.

But the social interaction system is a rejiggered JRPG combat system

Bogwoppit
2017-11-19, 01:43 PM
I love how this thread show how difficult social checks are!
No one is persuading anyone of anything.

Tanarii
2017-11-19, 01:45 PM
I mean, I guess that's a valid point of view to take. For me, though, if it leads to the same result I don't care, and when we're discussing this sort of thing in a vacuum it's hard to see how those would inherently have different results. (Aside from spending gold or spell slots, I guess.) Personally as both a player and DM, I prefer consequences to be tied to choices. And even 'in a vacuum' it should be obvious that there are potentially drastically different consequences beyond "spending gold or spells slots".

Each of those different persuasion methods has very different consequences for the future. For the NPCs attitude towards the PC moving forward, for what happens afterwards when it comes out how the PC got past the guard, for what the NPC will do in terms of reporting to their superiors, or other immediate and long term actions.

Similarly if I use lock picks in my hands, they are vulnerable to a trap. If I do it from 30 ft away I'm safer. If a friend distracts the guard and he notices me try to walk past I might be able to play it off as a mistake, if I'm trying to sneak past in the dark that's less likely.

hymer
2017-11-19, 01:58 PM
Not nearly as bad as what comes out of some of my gaming buddies' mouths when they try to roleplay. Which is probably related to why they don't try.

I'd let them ask other players for input, or give my own suggestions.

Aliquid
2017-11-19, 02:10 PM
I love how this thread show how difficult social checks are!
No one is persuading anyone of anything.if my character with 18 chr 16 wis and a bunch of skill points in diplomacy was here... he would convince everyone! ;)


Personally as both a player and DM, I prefer consequences to be tied to choices.but the question is how much you micromanage when choices are needed.

If you ask the player to specifically describe which of the thieves tools he uses and in what order... it could impact the consequences.
- lock is totally jammed now, or
- lock pick is broken can’t be used again, or
- lock is partially open, try again,
- etc


Similarly if I use lock picks in my hands, they are vulnerable to a trap. If I do it from 30 ft away I'm safer. If a friend distracts the guard and he notices me try to walk past I might be able to play it off as a mistake, if I'm trying to sneak past in the dark that's less likely.most of the time players choose to go to that level of detail. It isn’t expected or enforced.

Tanarii
2017-11-19, 02:19 PM
ibut the question is how much you micromanage when choices are needed.
Yep. It's not a precise line.

But my experience is that players just wanting to roll a skill and leave it at that is never sufficient information for me as a DM to properly resolve the action. I understand why some players want to do it that way, and it's usually for one or more of the following reasons:
- They want to ensure they get to use their highest bonus for the task at hand.
- They are looking at their charcater sheet for buttons to push to get past an obstacle.
- They mistakenly think outcome is all that matters, and don't consider the potential consequences.

Aliquid
2017-11-19, 02:50 PM
I understand why some players want to do it that way, and it's usually for one or more of the following reasons:
- They want to ensure they get to use their highest bonus for the task at hand.
- They are looking at their charcater sheet for buttons to push to get past an obstacle.
- They mistakenly think outcome is all that matters, and don't consider the potential consequences.
Or they just don’t know. Which gets to the root of the problem.

If a DM asks a player “which lock pick tool do you use” and the player says “I don’t know, but my character would.” That’s ok.

If a DM asks “what argument do you use to persuade the NPC” and the player says “I don’t know, but my character would”. Is eaentiay the same thing.

So from my perspective, to be fair to the player, you shouldn’t punish him/her for not knowing what approach to use.

I still agree that you as the DM need to know to keep the story going. But that is when you work with the player to figure something out. Have the player brainstorm with the other players. Maybe their combined skills will equal that of the character. Or drop hints as the DM in regards to two or three possible tactics that might work... as the DM you know better than the players do about the politics of the world and how much their characters would know.

Jay R
2017-11-19, 02:54 PM
I love how this thread show how difficult social checks are!
No one is persuading anyone of anything.

Brilliant.

But just for fun, here's a counter-example. I wrote, "If your group doesn't want that particular flavor, and you feel it just gets in the way of what you're playing for then I urge you not to play the way we play."

And now everybody who doesn't want that particular flavor, and who feels it just gets in the way of what they're playing, is now not playing the way I play, just like I urged them to.

Xuc Xac
2017-11-19, 03:19 PM
I love how this thread show how difficult social checks are!
No one is persuading anyone of anything.

That's because it's an open-ended discussion with no endpoint. It's like fighting a combat with unlimited hit points. Things would be much different if there was an end state or goal. If we were all planning to play a game together and we argued about how to handle social skills, we would eventually come to some sort of consensus, at least for that session, and get on with the game (or just agree to disagree and play a board game or video game or something else instead).

Jay R
2017-11-19, 04:22 PM
I note that we've had people describe the potential abuse of making diplomacy too hard by role-playing the diplomatic encounter before the roll. Just for fun, here's the most ridiculous example of the potential abuse in the other direction.

http://www.dorktower.com/files/2005/04/DorkTower444.gif

Tanarii
2017-11-19, 04:37 PM
Or they just don’t know. Which gets to the root of the problem. Thats a problem all right. But not generally one on the DMs side. Well,I'm guess it is, because now the DM has to work with the player to bring them up to speed so they can make meaningful decisions for their character.

Edit: revisited this while catching up on posts below. My attitude here, implying the player is at fault, is garbage :smallredface:

Yes, it's a problem. No, it's not the players fault in any way. It's something to be worked out between player and DM, if the player doesn't know, but the DM feels more info is needed to properly resolve outcomes and consequences.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-19, 04:46 PM
I note that we've had people describe the potential abuse of making diplomacy too hard by role-playing the diplomatic encounter before the roll. Just for fun, here's the most ridiculous example of the potential abuse in the other direction.

http://www.dorktower.com/files/2005/04/DorkTower444.gif


I've seen the expectation of that sort of thing -- "social skills as magic" -- too often, which is probably part of why I'm leery of social skills in RPGs.

Segev
2017-11-19, 05:20 PM
If you can't think of a way for jumping across a chasm to be made into an engaging scene, you...well, I guess that would take a pretty skilled writer. So let's go back to the original example.
If you can't think of a way for picking a lock to be made into an engaging scene, you need to see more spy films. On the other hand, if you think that combat always needs to be a big detailed scene, you need to see fewer spy films. The reason that combat has complicated mechanics while lockpicking does not is that combat is the central focus of D&D's mechanics, while lockpicking is not. (Don't tell me combat is only one of the foci; how many books are dedicated lists of people to talk to or places to explore?) The same goes for all skills, actually...including diplomacy. That's why the 3.5 diplomacy rules are so simple and so easily-broken; nobody cared enough until more social-minded players focused on them and broke the system.
I'm kinda disappointed that no RPGs I've seen have any kind of social mechanics even comparable to typical combat mechanics. They're certainly possible--I've seen excellent social mechanics in video games, albeit in a bare-bones format--but nobody seems to care. I've seen it as an alternate ruleset in Pathfinder...but only in SRD settings, not at any table. Social interaction via roleplaying doesn't leave much room for interesting decisions, the way tactical combat (sometimes) can. It's just "How much do I want to bother, and what sounds vaguely reasonable?"


Aside from a certain poster's creative interpretations of posts regarding Railroading and Agency, this is the most impressive bit of completely missing my point that I have ever seen when the poster quoted me directly. I will assume it was in good faith, and the failure must be mine.

I never said crossing a chasm or picking a lock can't be engaging scenes. I said quite the opposite, in fact, if you read a little deeper into what I was getting at.

Of course D&D's combat mechanics' centrality to the game influence their high level of detail.

That said, if you want chasm-crossing and lock-picking to be engaging scenes, you'll need more in-depth mechanics for them. Personally, I don't think they need it; I prefer to treat the greater scene within which they're set as the focal level, with those being roughly equivalent to a single attack/damage roll to the whole scene's "combat."

But if you want social skills and social scenes to be more than "I roll Diplomacy and win/lose," you need to have mechanics that go into the same kind of depth as D&D's combat mechanics.

That was my point. Now, before anybody jumps down my throat about this somehow being unreasonable, I ask that they re-read the post the one I'm quoting is replying to. I don't want to be repeating the same arguments again just because people read this post and assume that I haven't made any arguments at all to back it up, just because I'm not repeating myself here.

(Sorry if this comes off aggressively; I've had arguments on this topic before which amount to that kind of tail-chasing.)

GreatWyrmGold
2017-11-19, 08:50 PM
But the social interaction system is a rejiggered JRPG combat system
Not really. I mean, it depends on how vague you're getting with "JRPG combat system" and "rejiggered," but if nothing else the final victory condition is meaningfully different. In a typical JRPG, you're trying to get the other guy's health to 0 without your health hitting 0. In Last Word, you're trying to shove the conversation meter harder than they do. It's not a race, it's tug-of-war.



Personally as both a player and DM, I prefer consequences to be tied to choices. And even 'in a vacuum' it should be obvious that there are potentially drastically different consequences beyond "spending gold or spells slots".
Each of those different persuasion methods has very different consequences for the future. For the NPCs attitude towards the PC moving forward, for what happens afterwards when it comes out how the PC got past the guard, for what the NPC will do in terms of reporting to their superiors, or other immediate and long term actions.
Similarly if I use lock picks in my hands, they are vulnerable to a trap. If I do it from 30 ft away I'm safer. If a friend distracts the guard and he notices me try to walk past I might be able to play it off as a mistake, if I'm trying to sneak past in the dark that's less likely.
There are certainly other potential consequences, but it's hard to determine which are relevant and the possible effects they could have without taking this out of a vacuum. In general, though, it's a matter of success or failure. Which is likeliest to succeed, which likeliest to backfire? Without context, it's impossible to say if or how any of those would have consequences beyond the immediate act. Sure, any of them could, but that's not a meaningful statement if you can't clarify which actions would or how they would.



Aside from a certain poster's creative interpretations of posts regarding Railroading and Agency, this is the most impressive bit of completely missing my point that I have ever seen when the poster quoted me directly. I will assume it was in good faith, and the failure must be mine.
I never said crossing a chasm or picking a lock can't be engaging scenes. I said quite the opposite, in fact, if you read a little deeper into what I was getting at.
Of course D&D's combat mechanics' centrality to the game influence their high level of detail.
That said, if you want chasm-crossing and lock-picking to be engaging scenes, you'll need more in-depth mechanics for them. Personally, I don't think they need it; I prefer to treat the greater scene within which they're set as the focal level, with those being roughly equivalent to a single attack/damage roll to the whole scene's "combat."
But if you want social skills and social scenes to be more than "I roll Diplomacy and win/lose," you need to have mechanics that go into the same kind of depth as D&D's combat mechanics.
That was my point. Now, before anybody jumps down my throat about this somehow being unreasonable, I ask that they re-read the post the one I'm quoting is replying to. I don't want to be repeating the same arguments again just because people read this post and assume that I haven't made any arguments at all to back it up, just because I'm not repeating myself here.
(Sorry if this comes off aggressively; I've had arguments on this topic before which amount to that kind of tail-chasing.)
You, in turn, missed the point of my post. Even if I agree with your ultimate point, if you get to it in a fallacious manner, I'm going to argue the point. And your original argument was:

The difference in both situations is the same: one is a singular action that is not easily broken down into sub-actions where individual successes and failures pile up to lead to a final outcome; the other is a scene unto itself, with many things that can be tried.
My response was, essentially, that the distinction is arbitrary, and that the lack of a distinction makes any argument based on it meaningless.
It doesn't matter if we agree or disagree, we're going to get there the right way, damit.

WarKitty
2017-11-19, 09:54 PM
Yep. It's not a precise line.

But my experience is that players just wanting to roll a skill and leave it at that is never sufficient information for me as a DM to properly resolve the action. I understand why some players want to do it that way, and it's usually for one or more of the following reasons:
- They want to ensure they get to use their highest bonus for the task at hand.
- They are looking at their charcater sheet for buttons to push to get past an obstacle.
- They mistakenly think outcome is all that matters, and don't consider the potential consequences.

I think the main worry a lot of us have is we want to play charming, charismatic characters. But not all of us are charming, charismatic people who know exactly what to say and when to say it. So we want to be able to make our characters be able to make their social skills work, even if ours aren't the greatest.

Tanarii
2017-11-19, 10:30 PM
There are certainly other potential consequences, but it's hard to determine which are relevant and the possible effects they could have without taking this out of a vacuum. In general, though, it's a matter of success or failure. Which is likeliest to succeed, which likeliest to backfire? Without context, it's impossible to say if or how any of those would have consequences beyond the immediate act. Sure, any of them could, but that's not a meaningful statement if you can't clarify which actions would or how they would.Oh, sorry, you mean we're just white rooming and throwing out vague examples, so to speak? Yes. That's absolutely true. Even our examples to illustrate our points are very roughly outlined with all sorts of unspoken assumptions.

But once you get to an actual table, almost every decision a player makes has two sides with varying degree of impact, both a simple success/failure outcome, and the "what does that mean" consequences.

Even success may end up looking like a failure to the player, if they chose an approach with unwanted consequences. And a failure may be okay, if they chose an approach with acceptable consequences. Unlikely of course. More likely it'll end up looking like "yes, but" or "no, but", to use a variation on famous internet meme for resolutions. Whereas an approach that gives beneficial consequences to success, or disasterous one with failure, will end up looking like "yes, and" or "no, and" to the player.

And since it's on the player's chosen approach as to what the consequences are, a DM both reinforces the association Actions Have Consequences, and makes player agency very visible.

All in all its a huge benefit, well worth paying attention to.


I think the main worry a lot of us have is we want to play charming, charismatic characters. But not all of us are charming, charismatic people who know exactly what to say and when to say it. So we want to be able to make our characters be able to make their social skills work, even if ours aren't the greatest.You don't need to be charming to pay attention to approach, and possible consequences. What you definitely DO need is a DM that will use good faith judgement on certain things being uncertain outcomes, so that checks will be used, that your score won't be made meaningless by the DM always judging things to be an automatic success or failure. Or even worse, by judging based on your delivery, not on your intent and approach.

It probably does help, as a player. to be thoughtful. That's a general thought, not an accusation against anyone posting here. I actually don't claim to be particular good at this kind of thing when I play. I'm a little too good at winging it and reacting without thinking things thorough. I'm very bad at carefully considering consequences for my actions, both IRL and in game. But I expect that to result in disaster occasionally, so I'm okay with that. :smallbiggrin:

Dimers
2017-11-20, 01:58 AM
I don't suppose you remember the title? Or which if it was for the Old WoD or the new?

Pretty sure it was Requiem For Rome (http://drivethrurpg.com/product/51184?affiliate_id=13&src=WWWiki), which would of course be NWoD.


If a DM asks a player “which lock pick tool do you use” and the player says “I don’t know, but my character would.” That’s ok.

If a DM asks “what argument do you use to persuade the NPC” and the player says “I don’t know, but my character would”. Is essentially the same thing.

Yes. Now, in my perfect world, the GM is anticipating the PCs' social goals and can give them information (in a way they understand) to prevent the "I don't know" from happening, based on the characters' general skill level, perceptivity and raw ability. Then someone with a highly social character will naturally lean toward a good approach.

Bohandas
2017-11-20, 03:45 AM
Not really. I mean, it depends on how vague you're getting with "JRPG combat system" and "rejiggered," but if nothing else the final victory condition is meaningfully different. In a typical JRPG, you're trying to get the other guy's health to 0 without your health hitting 0. In Last Word, you're trying to shove the conversation meter harder than they do. It's not a race, it's tug-of-war.

Which is why I said "rejiggered" and not "reskined"

hifidelity2
2017-11-20, 08:27 AM
So, here's a thing that's been bugging me for a while:

If I were to try and open a lock in most games, I roll some dice to see if I succeed.
I do not actually need to provide a strategy to open the lock - this is a skill my character has, after all, not me.

Yet, if I were to convince someone of something and roll my persuasion, my GM always asks me to come up with an actual argument.
If it is not good enough, I fail regardless of the roll, even though with his skills my character likely could have come up with a good one.

What makes social skills so different that they can be treated this way?

It shouldn’t BUT

I normally offer my players one of 3 options

First however

Tell me what you want to do –

“I want the guard to let me into the castle and I want to use my Bribe Skill”
Which is the same as
I want to get past the locked door using my Pick lock skill


So now as a DM I know what you want to do and what skill you want to use

BUT while a lock will have a fixed difficulty level social interactions don’t
- the lock does not care if you use tools made or pure gold or that you know where its family lives
- The guard does

So I need the player to tell me how much (say gold) he is willing to pay


I then given the PC 3 options
Just roll a dice, I will determine success based on the Difficulty modifier I have set and if need be tell the PC to knock X gp off their character sheet
Roll play light, roll a dice. May get a slight bonus (or penalty) to the dice roll
Roll play heavy and get a bigger bonus (or penalty)

This way some players who are more socially awkward can still play the “Face “ character while those who love that part of roleplaying can really go to town

Jay R
2017-11-20, 09:10 AM
If a DM asks a player “which lock pick tool do you use” and the player says “I don’t know, but my character would.” That’s ok.

If a DM asks “what argument do you use to persuade the NPC” and the player says “I don’t know, but my character would”. Is essentially the same thing.

If what lockpick tool is used doesn't matter, and what argument is used does matter, then these are not even close to the same thing. From a tactical point of view, they are near opposites.

A closer analogy is fighting. You can't be surrounded by ten goblins, one goblin mage, and two ogres, and say, "My character fights.". The DM will ask which weapon are you using, and what maneuver are you attempting, and who is your target. These decisions matter, and the player needs to make them. Similarly, you can't just roll diplomacy in a crowd. You need to tell the DM who are you trying to convince, what argument are you using, do you have any corroborating evidence.


So from my perspective, to be fair to the player, you shouldn’t punish him/her for not knowing what approach to use.

I suspect that here is our greatest disagreement. I do not believe that allowing the players to occasionally fail at a task because they didn't do it well is "punishing" them. I don't believe that when players fail because they didn't find the essential facts, or because they ignored them when they were available, is in any way punishing them. I think it's playing the game.

I repeat: this is a choice, and different gaming groups do it differently. Since having the conversations is something that I and my group really enjoy, we play out the conversations. Since trying to find the clues to help us do things better is a fun part of the game for us, we play out trying to find out about the person we need to persuade.

Others don't want to do that, and get past the discussions with a single roll. They can play that way, and enjoy it. That does not invalidate the way my group plays.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-20, 09:51 AM
If what lockpick tool is used doesn't matter, and what argument is used does matter, then these are not even close to the same thing. From a tactical point of view, they are near opposites.


Somewhat related to that, I've found a belief that if one just finds the right "lockpick" (action, statement, argument, etc) one can get whatever one wants from another person, that there's a correct action to get the desired response if one can just figure it out... rather alarmingly common in the subcultures (gaming and overlapping). Or perhaps a frustration that it isn't that way. "I did X, so they're supposed to do Y now", and then it doesn't happen.




A closer analogy is fighting. You can't be surrounded by ten goblins, one goblin mage, and two ogres, and say, "My character fights.". The DM will ask which weapon are you using, and what maneuver are you attempting, and who is your target. These decisions matter, and the player needs to make them. Similarly, you can't just roll diplomacy in a crowd. You need to tell the DM who are you trying to convince, what argument are you using, do you have any corroborating evidence.


I've found that some gamers see social aptitude as a "black box" IRL, so they treat it that way in-game, as well.




I suspect that here is our greatest disagreement. I do not believe that allowing the players to occasionally fail at a task because they didn't do it well is "punishing" them. I don't believe that when players fail because they didn't find the essential facts, or because they ignored them when they were available, is in any way punishing them. I think it's playing the game.


IMO, there's a problem whether they're allowed OR not allowed to fail. Failure should be the result of their decisions, actions, rolls, etc, or lack thereof. And if the PCs fail, it's not punishment, it's how things worked out.

Calthropstu
2017-11-20, 10:13 AM
This is LITERALLY the role-play vs roll-play debate. There really is no right or wrong answers to the original post.

Yes, it is concievable that your character could come up with a unique or appropriate social response that you as a player cannot concieve, and conversely it's possible you can come up with a response your character never would. The roll play is technically the "appropriate" way, but many, as evidenced here in the thread, find this approach unrewarding. Coming up with cheesy one liners to seduce drunken cheerleaders, coming up with responses to defuse complicated situations, writing letters to high ranking diplomats, trying to convince the assassin's target to not go up to the podium to speak.

"I try to convince the elven diplomat to support our ally for the throne. I roll a 27 diplomacy."
To many that's a lot less satisfying than:
"I ask the elven diplomat how he likes our kingdom and what he thinks of the throne candidates..."
*After an engrossing conversation in which pc attempts to highlight the qualifications of said ally*
"I roll a 27. With the circumstance bonus you gave me for my approach it becomes a 32."

In the first case, the roll is the be all end all. In the latter, it's a back and forth between player and gm, culminating in a roll. The roll in this case represents your character's reactions during the conversation and the impression you leave, while you control what is actually said. Controlling what is said allows you to try for bonuses on the roll as well. Gm's can reward ingenuity after all, and a good role play session can be a lot more rewarding than simple combat or dice rolling hand waved communication with npcs.

Tanarii
2017-11-20, 10:57 AM
This is LITERALLY the role-play vs roll-play debate. There really is no right or wrong answers to the original post.It is rather, isn't it?


But I think the "right" answer is: blend the two to some degree.

As such, I've been intentionally avoiding calling the 'sides' that, because my point is: try and avoid that kind of black and white thinking, that it must be one extreme or the other, and look at what underlies resolution of actions on the DM's side of the screen.

Because starting with a rigorously methodical analysis of resolution theory (in the white room), then taking that and doing a less-rigorous application during play (because real world), is extremely helpful in determining how to effectively blend the two.

Even if there's still room for some debate on how much precision is needed in Approach, at least it gives us a chance to break out of the trenches of ARGLE ROLLPLAY BARGLE ROLEPLAY. :smallyuk:

GreatWyrmGold
2017-11-20, 11:17 AM
Which is why I said "rejiggered" and not "reskined"
Well, in that case...you're not wrong, but I'm not sure you're meaningful, either. You've probably heard a thousand variations on "There is nothing new under the sun". This goes double for game mechanics. There are only so many ways to numerically represent how close you are to victory, and only so many of them are simple enough that humans can understand how close they are to winning (or losing) at a glance.


Jay R: The first two points have been brought up before, so you should have had time to come up with a good counterargument for them.


If what lockpick tool is used doesn't matter, and what argument is used does matter, then these are not even close to the same thing. From a tactical point of view, they are near opposites.
The thing is...what lockpick tool us used does matter. It's just that most people neither know enough about lockpicking to make that kind of decision nor care enough to describe their plan in detail.


A closer analogy is fighting. You can't be surrounded by ten goblins, one goblin mage, and two ogres, and say, "My character fights.". -snip-
Believe it or not, there are games where that's enough! D&D isn't one of them, because combat is the game's primary focus. Because of that, the rules for combat are far, far deeper and more nuanced than the rules for skills. On the other hand, lockpicking and diplomacy are not primary focuses of the game, so their rules are ridiculously simple.


I suspect that here is our greatest disagreement. I do not believe that allowing the players to occasionally fail at a task because they didn't do it well is "punishing" them. I don't believe that when players fail because they didn't find the essential facts, or because they ignored them when they were available, is in any way punishing them. I think it's playing the game.
It can be either one, depending on the circumstances. Spend five seconds thinking about how a bad DM might run with this advice and you'll realize that your definition of playing the game and cruelly punishing the player are the same coin, spent by different people.
Moreover, unless we have vastly different definitions of "punishment," it's still "punishment". It's punishment for "not playing the game," but it's still the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense.



This is LITERALLY the role-play vs roll-play debate. There really is no right or wrong answers to the original post.
Considering the content of the rest of your post (and the connotations associated with "roleplay" and "rollplay"), I find your platitude unconvincing.
I also disagree with you. If you want to roleplay your social interactions, play a game designed to support that. While we're not exclusively focusing on D&D, we have been using its mechanics as a basis for comparison, and most games have something similar. They are not for you.

Calthropstu
2017-11-20, 11:32 AM
Considering the content of the rest of your post (and the connotations associated with "roleplay" and "rollplay"), I find your platitude unconvincing.
I also disagree with you. If you want to roleplay your social interactions, play a game designed to support that. While we're not exclusively focusing on D&D, we have been using its mechanics as a basis for comparison, and most games have something similar. They are not for you.

The thousands of hours I have spent playing 3.0/3.5/PF disagree with your assertion. Hell, a good gm + good players can pretty much wing the whole thing without dice ever coming into play until absolutely needed.
I have played both combat heavy + dice heavy games and dice light games and can enjoy both.
So I stand by my original assertion. There really is no wrong way for a gm to handle social skill use in this context.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-20, 11:42 AM
The thousands of hours I have spent playing 3.0/3.5/PF disagree with your assertion. Hell, a good gm + good players can pretty much wing the whole thing without dice ever coming into play until absolutely needed.
I have played both combat heavy + dice heavy games and dice light games and can enjoy both.
So I stand by my original assertion. There really is no wrong way for a gm to handle social skill use in this context.


Sure there is, it's just not a single wrong way.

The wrong way to do this is the way that makes the game no fun for the players involved in a particular campaign.

Aliquid
2017-11-20, 12:01 PM
If what lockpick tool is used doesn't matter, and what argument is used does matter, then these are not even close to the same thing. From a tactical point of view, they are near opposites.I agree with GreatWyrmGold. Which tool you used does matter. It could make the difference between jamming the lock permanently, breaking your tools, so you can't pick future locks, or just messing up, and being able to try again.




I suspect that here is our greatest disagreement. I do not believe that allowing the players to occasionally fail at a task because they didn't do it well is "punishing" them. I don't believe that when players fail because they didn't find the essential facts, or because they ignored them when they were available, is in any way punishing them. I think it's playing the game.You aren't using the stats on the character sheet then... if you flip this argument on its head, you have a huge amount of room for abuse. You can have a player who thinks quick and is a good 'actor' always put charisma as a dump stat on his characters, because who cares what the Chr is, he can succeed anyway.

If you let a character with high charisma and wisdom fail because the player does a poor job of roleplaying something cleaver... then you would likely do the opposite too, i.e. letting a character with a low charisma and wisdom succeed because the player does a good job or roleplaying. Both of these scenarios are unfair to me.

If you want to focus on role-playing rather than roll-playing, then you need to actually play the role of the character as written on the character sheet. You need to act with the skills of the character on the character sheet, not with the skills of the player. If the character is better than the player at something, then the player needs help to make sure he is "better" at that. If the character is worse at something than the player, then the player must restrain himself and deliberately fail at some things.


There really is no wrong way for a gm to handle social skill use in this context.Actually there is one wrong way to handle this. If the GM handles it in a way that ruins the fun for the players, then the GM is doing it wrong. If the GM and the players both enjoy the same style... then go at it. But I do think that there are other gaming systems that are far more conducive to that style of play.

GreatWyrmGold
2017-11-20, 12:16 PM
The thousands of hours I have spent playing 3.0/3.5/PF disagree with your assertion. Hell, a good gm + good players can pretty much wing the whole thing without dice ever coming into play until absolutely needed.
I have played both combat heavy + dice heavy games and dice light games and can enjoy both.
So I stand by my original assertion. There really is no wrong way for a gm to handle social skill use in this context.
There's a difference between a system which does not actively impede your efforts and the right system. If you don't understand that, there's no purpose continuing this discussion.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-20, 12:32 PM
I agree with GreatWyrmGold. Which tool you used does matter. It could make the difference between jamming the lock permanently, breaking your tools, so you can't pick future locks, or just messing up, and being able to try again.


As a general question, while the tools matter to the character; are they important to how the game works? That is, does taking time to figure which pick gets used and how, enhance or detract from the enjoyment of a particular game for a particular set of players?

This might be my personal preferences talking and that's all, but to me it seems that the details of character interaction -- social, combat, whatever -- deserve more "screen time" than which tools are used how in the picking of a lock, and that taking 10+ minutes of real life time to work out how a lock gets picked is going to have much more niche appeal than taking 10+ minutes to figure out a combat to the death, or the negotiations that lead to peace or war for the next decade, or two characters who've been engaged in a "we're in love, shut up" plot finally realizing they feel more than friendship, or whatever example you want to give.




You aren't using the stats on the character sheet then... if you flip this argument on its head, you have a huge amount of room for abuse. You can have a player who thinks quick and is a good 'actor' always put charisma as a dump stat on his characters, because who cares what the Chr is, he can succeed anyway.

If you let a character with high charisma and wisdom fail because the player does a poor job of roleplaying something cleaver... then you would likely do the opposite too, i.e. letting a character with a low charisma and wisdom succeed because the player does a good job or roleplaying. Both of these scenarios are unfair to me.

If you want to focus on role-playing rather than roll-playing, then you need to actually play the role of the character as written on the character sheet. You need to act with the skills of the character on the character sheet, not with the skills of the player. If the character is better than the player at something, then the player needs help to make sure he is "better" at that. If the character is worse at something than the player, then the player must restrain himself and deliberately fail at some things.


I don't see how you got that out of the post you quoted, maybe I missed some earlier context. In that specific post, Jay R appears to be talking about characters failing because of their actions, not about letting players ignore the characters' stats and backgrounds and whatnot.

But I totally agree that part of roleplaying is making sure that the build fits the character you want to play, and that you play the character that the stats are mapping. As discussed in another tread, stats do matter.




Actually there is one wrong way to handle this. If the GM handles it in a way that ruins the fun for the players, then the GM is doing it wrong. If the GM and the players both enjoy the same style... then go at it. But I do think that there are other gaming systems that are far more conducive to that style of play.


Heh -- I said almost the same thing.

Thrudd
2017-11-20, 12:38 PM
The "wrong way" is to tell the players the game works a certain way (or allow them to assume it will be played according to the written rules), and to then ignore or circumvent those rules without warning. If the game has rules for social interactions involving dice and invested character resources, you need to inform the players if those rules are being altered, replaced or ignored, so they can make good decisions regarding the allocation of their resources and prepare themselves for what the game will require of them. "Fun" is not an objective measuring stick for anything.

So if you're going to ignore the dice and expect players to do acting, or even if that's an option they can choose, you need to tell them so. Preferably when they are making their characters.

Whatever solution someone wants to use for adjudicating social interactions is fine, so long as the players know how the game works. If it's subjective improv acting with the GM rather than dice rolling, that's an important thing to know.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-20, 12:41 PM
The "wrong way" is to tell the players the game works a certain way (or allow them to assume it will be played according to the written rules), and to then ignore or circumvent those rules without warning. If the game has rules for social interactions involving dice and invested character resources, you need to inform the players if those rules are being altered, replaced or ignored, so they can make good decisions regarding the allocation of their resources and prepare themselves for what the game will require of them. "Fun" is not an objective measuring stick for anything.

So if you're going to ignore the dice and expect players to do acting, or even if that's an option they can choose, you need to tell them so. Preferably when they are making their characters.

Whatever solution someone wants to use for adjudicating social interactions is fine, so long as the players know how the game works. If it's subjective improv acting with the GM rather than dice rolling, that's an important thing to know.

Another good point. Avoid the shell-game, or letting mismatched assumptions fester into conflict.

Floret
2017-11-20, 12:42 PM
Lots of good points, I especially liked Floret's and Mark Hall's posts. But I'm going to address a different issue, which is the approach model brought in by Tanarii. I think the idea is correct, but I think the part it misses, or perhaps just doesn't address explicitly enough. The difference between social skills and others by this model in my mind is that people ask not only for the approach but the details as well.

I think I have never been complimented on making a good argument for people I generally at least halfway disagree with, but thanks^^


The difference in both situations is the same: one is a singular action that is not easily broken down into sub-actions where individual successes and failures pile up to lead to a final outcome; the other is a scene unto itself, with many things that can be tried.

The reason social skills are different is that they are, as presented in most games, essentially the equivalent of having a "fight skill," where the actual dice resolution is a single "fight roll," and the player either "roll plays" it and just says "I roll fight; do I win?" or "role plays" it and describes his entire combat scene and approach, then rolls the dice anyway.

If social mechanics are to live up to what people seem to want from them when they demand that you "role play" it, then they need to have the depth of physical combat. Rolls aren't to "persuade," but to learn about the other socialites, to see if you can sway or tempt them, to stoke anger or greed or lust or joy. To get them into a position where their natural inclination is to go along with what you want. It would be like rolling lots of rounds in combat, but more puzzle-like because you're not just wearing down "will points" to browbeat them into being your mind-slave. You're interacting with their mechanical social statistics to manipulate them into doing what you want.

I think a certain lack of creativity in RPGs and the media they draw from is somewhat responsible here (Or maybe physical violence is just inherently more engaging to humans than other things. Might be.) - RPGs should probably have rules for the things they want to accomplish, more detailed for the ones they focus on. For some reason, most RPGs have decided they want to focus on combat, but social interactions are superficially relevant to the actual gameplay. I certainly wouldn't wanna add complex social rules into a game like DnD, it seems to irrelevant - but I certainly have heard of games that have a "fight roll", where this is the relevant thing. Maybe a heist game might have this... (Which begs the question why shadowrun needs complex combat mechanics; or if the fact that it HAS draws it to be so much less of a heist game than the general theme might have you believe...)
The last time this discussion came around, I might have been more on the side of social mechanics being in everything, but if a game focusses on social interactions should absolutely flesh it out more (I don't actually know any, but suspect there must be. Does Monster Hearts do it?)

A matter of what the game is about. I think it's entirely possible to abstract things to different levels, even though they seem "equivalent" IRL, or have a game with an extensive sneaking and trapfinding subsystem, but "combat rolls". So... I agree, but only sort of :smallwink:


My problem with just wanting to roll Diplomacy or whatever, "GM tell me what my character would think and say (to convince the king)", is that it is players giving away their own agency. I want them to make descisions for their characters. This includes player skill in figuring out approach, which I think is a good thing, while PC skill determines if the approach is successfull.

I think players should be given the agency to give theirs away. It might not been your style, but "this takes away player agency" as an argument for an inherent difference seems to me a bit like saying "this bit has to have player agency". I have seen players surrender to the GM the decision how they feel about certain things (According to clan stereotypes in L5R); and myself often surrender the agency of giving in to some temptation or not to the dice.
All a matter of taste, and I find if a player decides "I don't want that agency", it would be wrong to force them to take it - though it might be a sign of incompatible gaming preferences if it appears often and the GM chafes against it.


Roleplaying implies improv acting most of the time.

Others have said it already, but no. This equates roleplaying with the "talky" part of RPGs, which it absolutely shouldn't be reduced to. In a similar vein...


The simple answer to the general question "What makes social skills different that they can be treated this way?" is that they simulate playing the role and picking a lock does not.

I disagree. Picking a lock, how, why and how efficiently your character does it absolutely simulate playing the role. A role doesn't end when dice are rolled, a role extends to character capabilities. Roleplaying is not only talky-time (Not that I am saying you said that).
(There might be an argument for simulating character personality, but personality and role should not be conflated.)

I once had a GM interrupt a fight to have the NPC deliver a monologue, to "give us the opportunity to roleplay" and talk with him. As I and some other players pointed out: Talking, in that moment, would have been the antithesis of roleplaying. It would have actively forced me not to play my role - of a character that really, really thought that guy needed killing, and wouldn't stop to listen to his infame lying (Or what she percieved as such) for a second.


Its not inconsistent at all. "I pick the lock" and "I smash the door" is only an Intention, not an Approach.

Intentions + Approaches
"I pick the lock with my Thieves Tools"
"I smash the door with my axe"
"I persuade the guard by reminding him he owes me a favor"
"I intimidate the guard by glowering at him and flexing my muscles"

There are multiple approaches with each intention, and all you're giving is intention. Furthermore, it's not even clear exactly what you're intention is in the latter two. What are you trying to persuade the guard of? What are you trying to intimidate him to do? You're not giving the DM enough information to resolve outcome, and determine consequences.

I think the problem here is that what counts as "Intent" and "Approach" can vary wildly in broadness, depending on how much you are willing to abstract things.
"I want icecream" is an intention as much as "I want chocolate and peppermint ice cream" is; or even "I want chocolote and peppermint icecream, for free, from that one specific merchant".
If you see "I want to get past the guard" as the intent (Because hey, that is the actual goal of the character"; then "by intimidating him" becomes an approach. The end goal isn't actually the intimidation, after all, but what you want to achieve with it. Just as the actual intention is getting past the door - picking the lock or smashing it usually isn't what you are after, aka. the intended goal.

(It might be what you intent to do; but differenciating "I intend to do X" from "I want to solve this in way Y" will get increasingly nitpicky. Now I agree that for social interactions, what argument you use will greatly change how things might play out - but THAT is the actual crux with just rolling persuasion, that you cannot properly improvise on, and the discussion about intent and approach only obfuscates the issue. Intent and approach are depending on perspective, context and level of abstraction too much that they would be able to serve as complete guidelines.


You're trying to complicate something absurdly simple. I can in fact have a conversation at the table. I cannot pick a lock at the table. Therefore I can play the role by having the conversation my PC is having, but I cannot play the roil by picking the lock my PC is picking.


You can have a conversation. You cannot stand in front of a crowd at the table. You cannot be in a damp dungeon, tied up to the wall ****-talking the guard into coming close enough for you to grab their keys. You cannot be in a great crowd of people, trying to argue with a guard for a relief from the toll, while the people behind you get slowly angrier and angrier. You cannot stand surrounded by swords, trying to convince the bandits not to kill you.
The point is... If the abstraction you can get by sitting at the table and talking is close enough for you, that's fine, and great for you - but the situation is about as equivalent as taking a padlock and fiddling about with it, before slotting in the key and opening it is for picking a lock in a dungeon. That is, superficially similar, but by far not the same thing.


It's not how swordfighting or archery works in real life either

I mean, sure. Pretty much nothing is - or should be, probably, for matter of "playability" be represented ingame in the way it actually works in real life. It all depends on how much abstraction for what thing you are willing to accept. I am actively in favour of social skills being a thing that exists, no matter if they aren't "realistic".


If what lockpick tool is used doesn't matter, and what argument is used does matter, then these are not even close to the same thing. From a tactical point of view, they are near opposites.

A closer analogy is fighting. You can't be surrounded by ten goblins, one goblin mage, and two ogres, and say, "My character fights.". The DM will ask which weapon are you using, and what maneuver are you attempting, and who is your target. These decisions matter, and the player needs to make them. Similarly, you can't just roll diplomacy in a crowd. You need to tell the DM who are you trying to convince, what argument are you using, do you have any corroborating evidence.

Question: Why? Why can you not say that - If we are arguing system-agnostic here. I mean, sure, in most rulesystems, that doesn't fly. But some rulesystems don't have anything for social interaction, some do, to very different levels of abstraction, and we aren't talking system-specific.
So... if something isn't important to the game or the players involved, why shouldn't it be glossed over?

(The argument of "The GM might need to know what you are trying to succeed at" stays, sure, but it is rather hurt by the analogy. If the goal is clear from context - winning and killing the enemies in a fight, and maybe rallying a mob in a crowd scene, simply rolling might just work.)

Pelle
2017-11-20, 02:11 PM
I think players should be given the agency to give theirs away. It might not been your style, but "this takes away player agency" as an argument for an inherent difference seems to me a bit like saying "this bit has to have player agency". I have seen players surrender to the GM the decision how they feel about certain things (According to clan stereotypes in L5R); and myself often surrender the agency of giving in to some temptation or not to the dice.
All a matter of taste, and I find if a player decides "I don't want that agency", it would be wrong to force them to take it - though it might be a sign of incompatible gaming preferences if it appears often and the GM chafes against it.

Yes, it's a personal gaming preference. When I GM I enjoy seeing my players make interesting decisions. I like to game with my friends, not alone by myself with their character sheets. I understand why players may want to, but opting out of the agency often feels like choosing not to play the game we all agreed to play. That's fine, but then why bother showing up?

Letting dice determine your PCs' action is a small pet peeve of mine. Take responsibilty for your PC, please, and own its decisions! Any decision is fine, even following a stereotype or doing the most "optimal" choice.



I think the problem here is that what counts as "Intent" and "Approach" can vary wildly in broadness, depending on how much you are willing to abstract things.
"I want icecream" is an intention as much as "I want chocolate and peppermint ice cream" is; or even "I want chocolote and peppermint icecream, for free, from that one specific merchant".
If you see "I want to get past the guard" as the intent (Because hey, that is the actual goal of the character"; then "by intimidating him" becomes an approach. The end goal isn't actually the intimidation, after all, but what you want to achieve with it. Just as the actual intention is getting past the door - picking the lock or smashing it usually isn't what you are after, aka. the intended goal.


Not all social interactions require the same amount of approach specification, but some need more than others.

I think that if I as GM can see that depending on the persuasion approach the chance of success and the risks involved will vary, I want the player to specify so that I can set the DC and determine consequences. That is not punishing the player.

If it is inconsequential either way, who cares? It can be handwaved if noone wants to spend time on it.

Aliquid
2017-11-20, 02:47 PM
Actually... an even bigger problem I just thought of is that if you just role-play the story out by "improv acting", then you are pitting the DM's acting skills vs the Player's acting skills.

If the DM is better at diplomacy, or if the DM is more verbally assertive, then the DM will always win the argument.

"I hold all the power because I am the DM, and I am a better negotiator than you... so I always get to dictate where this story goes. You are just along for the ride"

kyoryu
2017-11-20, 02:59 PM
Not all social interactions require the same amount of approach specification, but some need more than others.

I think that if I as GM can see that depending on the persuasion approach the chance of success and the risks involved will vary, I want the player to specify so that I can set the DC and determine consequences. That is not punishing the player.

If it is inconsequential either way, who cares? It can be handwaved if noone wants to spend time on it.

Yes, but "I social past the guard" is roughly the equivalent of "I open the box." It's just not enough info.

"I intimidate the guard" is roughly the equivalent of "I pick the lock." That's enough info to determine the likely difficulty and outcomes (both positive and negative) of the action.

Beyond that is detail that, in most cases, won't really impact what the potential outcomes *are*, and can be fairly safely subsumed into a die roll *if you want*.

Tanarii
2017-11-20, 03:06 PM
"I intimidate the guard" is roughly the equivalent of "I pick the lock." That's enough info to determine the likely difficulty and outcomes (both positive and negative) of the action.Personally, I disagree. To me, "I intimidate the guard" is roughly the equivalent of "I open the container". It requires more info to determine the likely difficulty and outcomes (both positive and negative) of the action.

But that's really the point of this thread, really. There's definitely room for the line on what's sufficient information to resolve the action to be drawn different places. What matters is for the DM and player to get on the same page.

kyoryu
2017-11-20, 03:18 PM
Personally, I disagree. To me, "I intimidate the guard" is roughly the equivalent of "I open the container". It requires more info to determine the likely difficulty and outcomes (both positive and negative) of the action.

But that's really the point of this thread, really. There's definitely room for the line on what's sufficient information to resolve the action to be drawn different places. What matters is for the DM and player to get on the same page.

That's fine.

My point is more along the lines that "picking the lock" is a poor analogy for some of the more genericized uses of social skills that get floated around - those are closer to "open the box."

To be clear, when I say 'likely outcomes', I don't really mean success or failure - I mean the shape of what success and failure look like. A failed intimindation will likely have a similar result for most tactics used... though perhaps I'm just immediately jumping to an assumption of physical intimidation vs. blackmail, etc. - if you're not making that assumption, then yeah, I'd agree with you 100%.

Floret
2017-11-20, 03:35 PM
Yes, it's a personal gaming preference. When I GM I enjoy seeing my players make interesting decisions. I like to game with my friends, not alone by myself with their character sheets. I understand why players may want to, but opting out of the agency often feels like choosing not to play the game we all agreed to play. That's fine, but then why bother showing up?

Letting dice determine your PCs' action is a small pet peeve of mine. Take responsibilty for your PC, please, and own its decisions! Any decision is fine, even following a stereotype or doing the most "optimal" choice.

1. Surrendering over your agency over decisions in one instance does not mean doing it always. The ability to say "Yaknow, I just don't know, you decide" comes with no compunction to use it; and having used it once doesn't mean you have to use it again. The extreme you are constructing is not conductive to a constructive discussion about real possibilities of handling these things.
Or, in other words, to answer the question "Why show up?": Because most of the time, you don't opt out.

2. Letting the dice determine the actions of a PC is not synonymous with refusing responsibilty for the decision. In the moment I decide to adhere to the dice, I am responsible for the resulting action, not any outside entity; as much as I would be if I made a decision independent of a dieroll. I made the decision to roll, after all.

Frankly, I simply don't know how tempting holding a bottle of an alcoholic drink in the face of my - incredibly strong-willed - character; who nonetheless, unlike me, has a moral code forbidding it; after nearly dying to a foe minutes before deemed impossible to even be real would be. I mean, sure, I can try to feel into the situation - but sometimes, things are just too far outside my frame of reference that I can get closer than "Well, there are two possibilities here" (Refusing, or drinking, in the example). And just like I might throw a coin when faced with such a decision in my day to day life, in TRPGs I like to ask the dice; the instrument for simulating character capability, if the impulse is strong enough. It has nothing to do with not taking responsibilty.
(Interestingly enough, despite the insane dicepool, everytime drinking came up my character failed her roll miserably. Became somewhat of a running gag.)


Not all social interactions require the same amount of approach specification, but some need more than others.

I think that if I as GM can see that depending on the persuasion approach the chance of success and the risks involved will vary, I want the player to specify so that I can set the DC and determine consequences. That is not punishing the player.

If it is inconsequential either way, who cares? It can be handwaved if noone wants to spend time on it.

I am not disagreeing. In fact, I am very much agreeing - my point was merely that the reason that social skills might require more detail than others is not because they in fact don't; just perceptions differ - but that they are simply more open-ended, most of the time, and have more diverse things falling under the same skill.
"You need more info on what you're trying to be able to properly respond and spin this further" is a quite convincing argument; A discussion about what is needed to count as an "approach" is... not, at least to me.


Personally, I disagree. To me, "I intimidate the guard" is roughly the equivalent of "I open the container". It requires more info to determine the likely difficulty and outcomes (both positive and negative) of the action.

But that's really the point of this thread, really. There's definitely room for the line on what's sufficient information to resolve the action to be drawn different places. What matters is for the DM and player to get on the same page.

That is an issue of abstraction levels, personal perspective, and general lack of comparability between different kinds of actions.
There is no baseline for what counts as "equivalently abstracted", because we are comparing things that are mostly incomparable; all immesurably complex, in ways probably none of us fully understand, looking at different aspects of them. Not even comparing apples to pears; more like comparing apples to a basketball - how DO you compare these? Chemical components, maybe, or the shape? But what is the shape of an action, what are its chemical components?

I simply think that there is no way to objectively judge what level of detail would be "equivalent", and arguing about what actions actually are equivalent is futile. Are all skills equivalent? Subskills? Then different games have different definitions of what is equivalent. By how many words are needed to say your action?

"Sufficient information to resolve the action appropriately" seems a good line for determining how much detail is needed, but I cannot help but notice it seems to have little relationship to actual levels of abstraction.


Actually... an even bigger problem I just thought of is that if you just role-play the story out by "improve acting", then you are pitting the DM's acting skills vs the Player's acting skills.

If the DM is better at diplomacy, or if the DM is more verbally assertive, then the DM will always win the argument.

Not necessarily - it is a bit more complicated.
What is happening is not the player convincing the GM with the arguments of the character; it is that the player is trying to convince the GM that the arguments of the character would convince the NPC. The GM need not be convinced himself - but convincing your GM is actually involved in some way.
So why I don't think it will necessarily get to the level you fear (After all, social interaction in Larp - which is basically purely improv acting works, and can create a satisfying gaming experience not dominated by one singular person; social stuff is rather complex), there is a possibility for it to get out of hand.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-20, 03:42 PM
Actually... an even bigger problem I just thought of is that if you just role-play the story out by "improve acting", then you are pitting the DM's acting skills vs the Player's acting skills.

If the DM is better at diplomacy, or if the DM is more verbally assertive, then the DM will always win the argument.

"I hold all the power because I am the DM, and I am a better negotiator than you... so I always get to dictate where this story goes. You are just along for the ride"

Nope.

Nooooope.

The reason why this train of thought, especially what I underlined, does not hold, is because you forgot how acting skill is measured:

It's not measured by winning.

It's measured by convincingly playing a role.

And the GM's role could be anything. It could be a stern, no nonsense diplomat. But just as well it could be a weak-willed doormat, or easily-provoked hot-head.

The GM's role, could very well be to lose. And those GMs who actually have skill in improv acting WILL do this.

This doesn't mean the GM isn't being manipulative, though. A really skilled actor and devious scenario designer will introduce character who are set to lose on purpose, all to steer the players towards a set outcome while making them think it was their idea. :smallamused:

Remember: even in adversarial games, where the GM is primarily playing the antagonists, that's usually not the only hat they're wearing. They're also the scenario designer and play the support roles as well.

Tanarii
2017-11-20, 03:42 PM
To be clear, when I say 'likely outcomes', I don't really mean success or failure - I mean the shape of what success and failure look like. A failed intimindation will likely have a similar result for most tactics used... though perhaps I'm just immediately jumping to an assumption of physical intimidation vs. blackmail, etc. - if you're not making that assumption, then yeah, I'd agree with you 100%.The shape of what success and failure looks like it what I (generally) think of as consequences. And those tend to stem from specific approach to attempting to resolve the intended action.

Again though, that's not always something that's clean cut. Sometimes the shape of success / failure is more a matter of "exactly what did I succeed or fail at?", and that's more of clarifying intent, so it's more a matter of the outcome, rather than approach and consequences.

(I'm using very specific terms here though, so if other people think of terms differently.)

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-20, 03:52 PM
As a side note, what's with "improve" instead of "improv"?

Aliquid
2017-11-20, 04:01 PM
Nope.

Nooooope.

The reason why this train of thought, especially what I underlined, does not hold, is because you forgot how acting skill is measured:

It's not measured by winning.

It's measured by convincingly playing a role.Fine, but what if the player can't convincingly play an assertive confident character, because the player is personally passive and insecure in nature...

Then this player "improv acts" his character against a stubborn NPC. The DM (who personally happens to be quite assertive) easily and convincingly plays the stubborn NPC, and gets his way.



And the GM's role could be anything. It could be a stern, no nonsense diplomat. But just as well it could be a weak-willed doormat, or easily-provoked hot-head.

The GM's role, could very well be to lose. And those GMs who actually have skill in improv acting WILL do this.That sounds a bit too 'pre determined' to me. The GM should go design the scenario and the NPC with the mindset that "This non-nonsense diplomat will [/I]probably[/I] win over the PCs, but lets see how the dice roll", or "This weak-willed doormat will probably be pushed around by the PCs, but who knows, they might roll a 1, and push this guys buttons enough that he snaps and lashes back at them"

Aliquid
2017-11-20, 04:03 PM
As a side note, what's with "improve" instead of "improv"?I'm going to say autocorrect. Spellcheck doesn't like it.

Pelle
2017-11-20, 04:22 PM
Yes, but "I social past the guard" is roughly the equivalent of "I open the box." It's just not enough info.

"I intimidate the guard" is roughly the equivalent of "I pick the lock." That's enough info to determine the likely difficulty and outcomes (both positive and negative) of the action.

Beyond that is detail that, in most cases, won't really impact what the potential outcomes *are*, and can be fairly safely subsumed into a die roll *if you want*.

For the guard example I may agree, and would perhaps just handwave it myself depending on the situation. For another situation, like intimidating the king, the sub-approach will matter. Threating to kill him - high DC due to his armed guards, threatening to kill his hostaged son - DC depends on which one, threatening to expose his dirty secret demonic pact - low DC. This situation will also be more narratively important/interesting, so here I expect players to engage more in the social encounter.

Pelle
2017-11-20, 05:01 PM
1. Surrendering over your agency over decisions in one instance does not mean doing it always. The ability to say "Yaknow, I just don't know, you decide" comes with no compunction to use it; and having used it once doesn't mean you have to use it again. The extreme you are constructing is not conductive to a constructive discussion about real possibilities of handling these things.
Or, in other words, to answer the question "Why show up?": Because most of the time, you don't opt out.

Yes, it was a bit extreme. Still, in the moment, I'm not so happy about it. As the GM I don't like to decide for a PC, even if it is only once in a while.


2. Letting the dice determine the actions of a PC is not synonymous with refusing responsibilty for the decision. In the moment I decide to adhere to the dice, I am responsible for the resulting action, not any outside entity; as much as I would be if I made a decision independent of a dieroll. I made the decision to roll, after all.

Ok, when you are deciding on specific odds for the different actions and so on, it's better than refusing to decide. When I have seen it though, it has felt more as giving responsibility over to the die, absolving the player. Like if rolling 50-50 for either fleeing or attacking, the player goes through with the result, without demonstrating that there was a chance for something else happening instead. So it has felt to me like the player is asking "should I play a cowardly or brave character? - let a die decide", rather than deciding to play a conflicted character who wants to to both. Maybe you accomplish it better.




I am not disagreeing. In fact, I am very much agreeing - my point was merely that the reason that social skills might require more detail than others is not because they in fact don't; just perceptions differ - but that they are simply more open-ended, most of the time, and have more diverse things falling under the same skill.
"You need more info on what you're trying to be able to properly respond and spin this further" is a quite convincing argument; A discussion about what is needed to count as an "approach" is... not, at least to me.

Sorry, I wasn't meaning to disagree there; I just wanted to change topic, and felt that part of your post was the most relevant...

kyoryu
2017-11-20, 05:01 PM
The shape of what success and failure looks like it what I (generally) think of as consequences. And those tend to stem from specific approach to attempting to resolve the intended action.

Again though, that's not always something that's clean cut. Sometimes the shape of success / failure is more a matter of "exactly what did I succeed or fail at?", and that's more of clarifying intent, so it's more a matter of the outcome, rather than approach and consequences.

(I'm using very specific terms here though, so if other people think of terms differently.)

Yes, I agree. In general, an action in a more freeform system (such as social skills tend to be) needs to clarify both the intended goal as well as how the character intends to accomplish that, to a degree of detail that the likely possible outcomes can be determined.

I think there is little or no disagreement here.


For the guard example I may agree, and would perhaps just handwave it myself depending on the situation. For another situation, like intimidating the king, the sub-approach will matter. Threating to kill him - high DC due to his armed guards, threatening to kill his hostaged son - DC depends on which one, threatening to expose his dirty secret demonic pact - low DC. This situation will also be more narratively important/interesting, so here I expect players to engage more in the social encounter.

Yeah, see, I just presumed the physical sort of intimidation, which was my error. You'd absolutely need to know if you're trying to intimidate with physical force, or with exposing the demonic pact. Not only will that change the DC, but it will lead to greatly different outcomes, succeed or fail.

Tanarii
2017-11-20, 05:12 PM
I think there is little or no disagreement here.Probably not. Of course, when I'm just responding to the little specific details I am nit-picking on, and not the entirety of a post (and with some people vice versa) it can be hard to tell that I'm sitting over here going "yeah you make sense". :smallwink:


Yeah, see, I just presumed the physical sort of intimidation, which was my error. You'd absolutely need to know if you're trying to intimidate with physical force, or with exposing the demonic pact. Not only will that change the DC, but it will lead to greatly different outcomes, succeed or fail.And in some cases (like 5e variant ability checks) may actually change the ability score being used for the check.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-20, 05:52 PM
Fine, but what if the player can't convincingly play...

A player who picks any role that they are too unskilled to play for any reason will lose a game. News at eleven.

Trivial fact: all games which are not utterly random require player skill. Systems design can influence which skills, but a socially unskilled player being unable to play socially challenging roles is not worse than a mathematically unskilled player not being able to count dice probabilities (etc.).

When it comes to social skills, it is always preferable to teach the unskilled player to be better, than bypass those skills via simulation. The reason is simple: completety detached from inability to portray a role, tabletop games are a social hobby. If you can teach the awkward player to be even slightly more assertive, slightly more well-spoken etc., this directly makes them more pleasant to be around as a person. I feel most roleplayers shirk away from doing this only because their own social skills leave much to be desired... and the entire hobby is worse for it as a result. Or, like I've seen a person on these boards put it: roleplaying games are a social hobby, with some of the most spectacularly anti-social hobbyists.


That sounds a bit too 'pre determined' to me. The GM should go design the scenario and the NPC with the mindset that "This non-nonsense diplomat will [/I]probably[/I] win over the PCs, but lets see how the dice roll", or "This weak-willed doormat will probably be pushed around by the PCs, but who knows, they might roll a 1, and push this guys buttons enough that he snaps and lashes back at them"

As with mathematical skill checks, a GM has full spectrum of possibilities to use, from auto-fail to auto-success. Where to put their foot down and when is the open question. Pretty much all well-designed scenarios I've seen mix deterministic and non-deterministic elements, so focusing on whether some given element of a scenario is one or the other is usually poor practice compared to more holistic evaluations of a scenario.

Or, in other words, a scenario's decision should be viewed in its entirety where possible, instead of narrowly focusing on single decisions.

Tanarii
2017-11-20, 05:54 PM
A player who picks any role that they are too unskilled to play for any reason will lose a game. News at eleven.Careful there. Some people think that RPGs can't be played to be 'won', and that trying is BadWrongFun.

I mean, clearly they live in bizzaro world. :smallwink: But they still believe it.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-20, 06:34 PM
"You can't win in RPGs" is one of the biggest lies people circulate in this hobby. :smalltongue:

In practice, winning and losing a really straightforward:

1) a player's character wins if they end a session equal or better off than when they started; the character loses if they're worse.

2) the player wins if they end a session equal or better off than when they started; the player loses if they're worse.

Note that these two don't necessarily align and whole genres of games are basically founded on characters losing in ways that amuse the players.

Floret
2017-11-20, 06:37 PM
Yes, it was a bit extreme. Still, in the moment, I'm not so happy about it. As the GM I don't like to decide for a PC, even if it is only once in a while.

As is your right. Different people like different things, and want their games to go different ways. I wasn't objecting to refusing to decide for PCs, I was objecting to the notion that it was inacceptable for players to even want to refuse agency. I have seen it enhance game enjoyment - not dealing with things one doesn't wanna deal with, not bogging the game down by trying to decide can help. For some people, at least.


Ok, when you are deciding on specific odds for the different actions and so on, it's better than refusing to decide. When I have seen it though, it has felt more as giving responsibility over to the die, absolving the player. Like if rolling 50-50 for either fleeing or attacking, the player goes through with the result, without demonstrating that there was a chance for something else happening instead. So it has felt to me like the player is asking "should I play a cowardly or brave character? - let a die decide", rather than deciding to play a conflicted character who wants to to both. Maybe you accomplish it better.

If the player has decided to hand the decision over, the decision still ultimately rests on their head; anyone who tries to argue otherwise... "But it's what my character would do" has never been a convincing defense for being an ass. Sure.
I can understand why such behaviour might make you wary of that kind of behaviour, but handing the ultimate decision over to another entity than the player isn't actually the problem in those cases.

Maybe it is a matter of game socialisation. The biggest RPG in Germany (The Dark Eye) is one where from the point I have started playing there have been negative qualities, that almost every character had, that required you to roll in certain situations to see if they trigger and your decision gets taken over by some darker urges. It was just... normal. Can lead to hilarious, or tense situations. I just feel... We, as humans, aren't always fully in control of what we do (Though you remain responsible for your actions unless actively forced by someone else), and to fully be in control of my characters every single decision and action would feel... wrong, especially since I cannot decide how strongly all the factors that usually (and justly) go unconsidered in a TRPG would affect them in any given situation.

(A player in my game has a character that is quick to anger, and quick to punch. Once, he felt insulted by a village elder, decided this might prompt the rage (Without me actually calling for it; I had overlooked the possibility since the insult was not actually directed at the character), promptly failed the roll and decked him. We talk about it months later - it was quite funny, but also lead to some interesting complications for the characters; and a tense discussion between them.)


Sorry, I wasn't meaning to disagree there; I just wanted to change topic, and felt that part of your post was the most relevant...

I see. I wasn't sure, and apologize if I came across as combative.


A player who picks any role that they are too unskilled to play for any reason will lose a game. News at eleven.

Trivial fact: all games which are not utterly random require player skill. Systems design can influence which skills, but a socially unskilled player being unable to play socially challenging roles is not worse than a mathematically unskilled player not being able to count dice probabilities (etc.).

When it comes to social skills, it is always preferable to teach the unskilled player to be better, than bypass those skills via simulation. The reason is simple: completety detached from inability to portray a role, tabletop games are a social hobby. If you can teach the awkward player to be even slightly more assertive, slightly more well-spoken etc., this directly makes them more pleasant to be around as a person. I feel most roleplayers shirk away from doing this only because their own social skills leave much to be desired... and the entire hobby is worse for it as a result. Or, like I've seen a person on these boards put it: roleplaying games are a social hobby, with some of the most spectacularly anti-social hobbyists.

As soon as the game provides rules for social interaction that aren't "Player skill", it should take a second seat. Players that agree on a game system should be able to rely on the assumption that this game system will be followed unless specified otherwise.

Now, is it fun to watch an awkward-as hell player stumble their way through playing a suave bard? Possibly not. But that is a matter of preference, nothing that absolute statements can be made about. As much as I am in favour of dicerolling mattering, and social capabilities of the character being the thing that matters for if the character achieves things, there are people - dear friends - I would probably not invite for a high-intrigue socialite game.

And I disagree that it is always preferable. Teaching people to be better at social stuff, and helping people to be more well-spoken and confident is quite a noble goal, and one I'd absolutely encourage - but I don't think the gaming table is always the right place for that. It can help, to provide a safe space to test things out. But I don't think teaching people real-life things should be put before fun as a goal - and if forcing a socially awkward person to play out a scene diminishes their fun, but they want to play party negotiator desperately? Maybe the training will come another session. Ease people into it, show them they don't have to be good as a player to be useful as a character. Might help with encouraging them to try, even :smallwink:
I have seen the attempt to force square pegs into round holes backfire, too. It isn't always the right way.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-20, 06:50 PM
I have seen the attempt to force square pegs into round holes backfire, too. It isn't always the right way.

Being unable to do (or achieve) the preferable thing does not make it less preferable. It just means you have to settle for second best that time. :smalltongue:

Tanarii
2017-11-20, 07:03 PM
As soon as the game provides rules for social interaction that aren't "Player skill", it should take a second seat. Players that agree on a game system should be able to rely on the assumption that this game system will be followed unless specified otherwise.That it should. Not sure why they'd want to abrogate "Player skill" entirely, but if they decide to, and find a system that does that, then they do.

Of course, I haven't seen a game system that explicitly abrogates "player skill" completely. There are those where people using the system choose to abrogate it either completely or heavily in favor of dice resolution. But the systems aren't necessarily designed for that. They're usually designed so the DM can, should they chose to, use a built in resolution system once all decisions and choices about approach have been made (to whatever degree is deemed necessary), and there's now an uncertain resolution to be addressed. In other words, it's designed so it can be used in conjunction with "player skill". Not to replace it.


"You can't win in RPGs" is one of the biggest lies people circulate in this hobby. :smalltongue:Yeah. Of course, you did strongly imply that not playing to win was wrong.

Bohandas
2017-11-20, 07:07 PM
That it should. Not sure why they'd want to abrogate "Player skill" entirely, but if they decide to, and find a system that does that, then they do.

Of course, I haven't seen a game system that explicitly abrogates "player skill" completely.

Candyland and Master of Orion 3

Aliquid
2017-11-20, 07:44 PM
A player who picks any role that they are too unskilled to play for any reason will lose a game. News at eleven.I regularly GM for kids. The youngest so far being 5. If I took that attitude they all would lose always.


Trivial fact: all games which are not utterly random require player skill. Systems design can influence which skills, but a socially unskilled player being unable to play socially challenging roles is not worse than a mathematically unskilled player not being able to count dice probabilities (etc.).But RPGs don't have to be socially challenging. The rules don't even suggest that they are. This is something that you are imposing on the game that does not need to be there.


When it comes to social skills, it is always preferable to teach the unskilled player to be better, than bypass those skills via simulation.Back to the original point of this thread: EVERY other skill is happily accepted as a simulation... combat, lock picking, sneaking, spell casting... etc. Why is it such a problem for social skills to be bypassed?

In many hack and slash combat heavy games, there is no social aspect at all in a RPG. The original D&D in the 70's assumed there was all combat, no social. Charisma was only there to determine how many followers you could get and what their morale was.


The reason is simple: completety detached from inability to portray a role, tabletop games are a social hobby. If you can teach the awkward player to be even slightly more assertive, slightly more well-spoken etc., this directly makes them more pleasant to be around as a person. I feel most roleplayers shirk away from doing this only because their own social skills leave much to be desired... and the entire hobby is worse for it as a result. Or, like I've seen a person on these boards put it: roleplaying games are a social hobby, with some of the most spectacularly anti-social hobbyists.When I was playing with a 7 year old the other week, he ended up being locked up in a jail. He wanted to break out, but all of his ideas for how to go about it were... short sighted. It might get him out of the individual jail cell, but it would very clearly announce his actions to the guards. I had to ask him to think through his ideas and ask him what he thought might happen next. It took a while to coach him and help him come up with a plan that would work, without outright telling him what to do... but that's the thing, and it appears that we agree to some point. You help them through the planning and strategic process, you don't just let them execute some dumb idea that their character would know better about... and then dish out the consequences.

The DM can always give out hints. "Think that through, what would happen next?", or "take a look at the skills/spells on your character sheet. Do you think one of those would help?", or "the guard looks bored, maybe you can think of a way to take advantage of that", or "The guard's clothes and shoes look shabby and old... you are guessing he is poorly paid. How could that help you with a plan?"

Tanarii
2017-11-20, 07:58 PM
In many hack and slash combat heavy games, there is no social aspect at all in a RPG. The original D&D in the 70's assumed there was all combat, no social. Charisma was only there to determine how many followers you could get and what their morale was.Really? In all the older versions I played, there was a reaction roll modified by Charisma. And you used it in any encounter where you attempted to parlay. (Honest question, the oldest version I played was AD&D / BECMI.)

Tinkerer
2017-11-20, 08:15 PM
Really? In all the older versions I played, there was a reaction roll modified by Charisma. And you used it in any encounter where you attempted to parlay. (Honest question, the oldest version I played was AD&D / BECMI.)

If I recall correctly it said that it affected initial responses as well but there wasn't any mechanic tying it to the resultant chart. It just says that it affects the chart but you just roll 2d6 and compare it to a 2-12 chart.

Aliquid
2017-11-20, 08:24 PM
Really? In all the older versions I played, there was a reaction roll modified by Charisma. And you used it in any encounter where you attempted to parlay. (Honest question, the oldest version I played was AD&D / BECMI.)Well the original was designed by people who played tabletop war games, and wanted to make a more party based dungeon crawl type game...

But even in BECMI (which I grew up on) I don't recall there being any rules or discussions on social skills until they made the rules Cyclopedia.

Skelechicken
2017-11-20, 09:08 PM
I know there has been a nuanced discussion about how using combat as a point of comparison against social skills is flawed given the relative amount of attention each system has been given, but I still think it is useful to consider combat tangential scenarios when analyzing this mindset.

Less than the "surrounded by goblins, I simply say 'I fight'" example I think more of a seasoned veteran walking into a trap.

Say I am playing this seasoned veteran, who has been in countless skirmishes, fought behind enemy lines, and grown up in a military home, all told in my backstory and represented appropriately on my character sheet as a high wisdom and strength, and a focus on tactical knowledge.

Now if at any time my seasoned veteran falls for an ambush, it is likely because I as a player wasn't paying close enough attention. The character I am playing is well trained in detecting these kinds of things, but I personally didn't ask to examine the area carefully and my passive perception wasn't quite high enough to pick up on some of the more obvious signs. Should the solution, then, be to say that my character is unable to fall for this ambush because I wanted to play a character with a large degree of tactical knowledge who has studied ambush tactics?

Again, no one seems to be arguing that to succeed in a social challenge you need to give the full nuances of the argument and act it out. I see a lot of people saying it is reasonable to expect the players to provide enough of an approach to adjudicate the action, even if determining that approach should theoretically be easier for the character you are playing. That strikes me as perfectly reasonable, and in keeping with the resolution of a lot of other forms of conflict in the game.

Tanarii
2017-11-21, 12:01 AM
Well the original was designed by people who played tabletop war games, and wanted to make a more party based dungeon crawl type game...

But even in BECMI (which I grew up on) I don't recall there being any rules or discussions on social skills until they made the rules Cyclopedia.
BECMI had a monster reaction table, and Cha had a modifier. iIRC the RC made it bigger though, using the standard -3/+3 scale instead of one topping out at -2/+2. I just double checked, and the reaction table doesn't use Cha for the first roll. If they're uncertain (4-11 on the initial roll on 2d6) you roll again the next round using player Cha modifiers if they interact instead of attacking.

RC also says:
The actions or words of the PCs may affect monsters' reactions. Gestures of friendship cangive the PCs a bonus at the DM's discretion; threats, attempts to appear menacing, and rude-ness can give the PCs a penalty. Adjustments for PC actions can range from a — 2 penalty to a + 2bonus. If a charismatic character is speaking forhis entire party while another character is silently glaring, bristling, and otherwise indicating thathe's a tough guy, the rudeness penalty could eas-ily cancel the Charisma bonus.

So clearly the intent is both some random determinations of how things will go (which early D&D was heavy on), the PC's actions, and modified by ability scores. All in all it boils down to what I've been saying: blend player skill and PC skill.

Given that encounters were potentially deadly in BECMI, and generally speaking it was better to not fight and find treasure for XP than fight and risk death, reaction rolls were an important part of the game. As were retainers, and their morale. Cha was a pretty important score overall. Except when players and DMs ignored reaction table and retainers of course. :smallyuk:

Aliquid
2017-11-21, 01:12 AM
Given that encounters were potentially deadly in BECMI, and generally speaking it was better to not fight and find treasure for XP than fight and risk death, reaction rolls were an important part of the game. As were retainers, and their morale. Cha was a pretty important score overall. Except when players and DMs ignored reaction table and retainers of course. :smallyuk:Well back in those days, we didn't have this fancy internet thingy with message boards to talk to other players. I wouldn't be surprised if every social group of players interpreted the rules and played the game different from the next group. Back in those days I typically ran the standard modules (Keep on the borderlands etc.), and you didn't really need to think about "reaction rolls", as the text box for the room with the monsters typically told you what their reaction was.

To be honest, I like playing games with a high level of social and a low level of combat. I just really don't like using the D&D system for those types of games. I have a friend that runs home-brew systems for his games, and we can go three or four sessions of playing without breaking into combat once. I've been using the Fate Accelerated system for the games I run for kids which is working quite well. It doesn't even have attributes like "Strength" or "Charisma", it has approaches like "Clever", "Flashy", or "Careful", and the relationship between GM and player is way more collaborative.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-21, 03:34 AM
I regularly GM for kids. The youngest so far being 5. If I took that attitude they all would lose always.

False.

What I said has nothing at all to do with attitude, it's about player skill versus game difficulty. (https://www.google.fi/search?safe=off&client=ms-android-samsung&biw=320&bih=452&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=skill+vs+difficulty&oq=skill+versus+diffi&aqs=mobile-gws-lite.0.0l1#imgrc=ZwLmyuZAHV971M%3A")

The same goes for the spirit what you're saying. Five-year-olds don't always lose because there are roles which are easy enough in games which are easy enough for them to succesfully play. What you refer to as "attitude" is tinkering with game difficulty either by making the game simpler or by playing poorly yourself. It is not in any shape or form a counter to what I said.

The corollary to the above that even for most games which can be succesfully played by a five year old, there is someone unskilled enough to lose at it. The second corollary is that games which are easy enough that no-one is guaranteed to lose are either too random or too trivial to be interesting to most players.


But RPGs don't have to be socially challenging. The rules don't even suggest that they are. This is something that you are imposing on the game that does not need to be there.

Take a good hard look at the graph above.

Sure, a game doesn't have to ve challenging, in any respect. But if it's not, sooner or later it ceases tp be interesting.

In that respect, it should be easy to see why swapping a challenge to social skills for a lesser challenge of math skills (etc.) is no actual improvement to anything.


Back to the original point of this thread: EVERY other skill is happily accepted as a simulation... combat, lock picking, sneaking, spell casting... etc. Why is it such a problem for social skills to be bypassed?

The very next paragraph you quoted answered this, but since I apparently wasn't clear enough:

All multiplayer games are fundamentally social endeavors. Hence social skills are vital to play them, even if the game is nominally not about anything social. This applies to ALL multiplayer games, from children's games to board games to computer games to roleplaying games. There is ALWAYS a minimum amount of social aptitude required to make the experience tolerable for all. Hence practicing social skills and using them in the context of the game create tangible improvements for the whole game.

By contrast, lack of aptitude in lockpicking, lethal combat etc. are much less vital. My skill in martial arts, for example, will not become very relevant untill we actually stand up and begin fighting. So in this respect, the people who said from first page on that "you can talk while sitting around the table, but you can't to mortal combat" are right. Sometimes, the anwer really is that simple.


When I was playing with a 7 year old the other week, he ended up being locked up in a jail. He wanted to break out, but all of his ideas for how to go about it were... short sighted. It might get him out of the individual jail cell, but it would very clearly announce his actions to the guards. I had to ask him to think through his ideas and ask him what he thought might happen next. It took a while to coach him and help him come up with a plan that would work, without outright telling him what to do... but that's the thing, and it appears that we agree to some point. You help them through the planning and strategic process, you don't just let them execute some dumb idea that their character would know better about... and then dish out the consequences.


Well duh. I said it's preferable to teach players to become better, you gave an example of teaching.

What I'm actually contesting here, is the idea that swapping the challenge to social skills, for a challenge to some other skill, is some big damn improvement. It isn't. I could bloody well solve RPG combats via real martial arts spars if I wanted to, LARPing and historical re-enactment are things. I don't roll dice because the dice are better or fairer, I do it because I don't always have time, space and materials to actually swing swords around.

Pelle
2017-11-21, 04:52 AM
If the player has decided to hand the decision over, the decision still ultimately rests on their head; anyone who tries to argue otherwise... "But it's what my character would do" has never been a convincing defense for being an ass. Sure.
I can understand why such behaviour might make you wary of that kind of behaviour, but handing the ultimate decision over to another entity than the player isn't actually the problem in those cases.


Actually, I don't see much disruptive behaviour from my friends. The situations might be more like having a choice between using an AoE spell that may possibly kill another PC, but will definitely save the party, or trying to save the ally and risking everyone. Both legitimate choices in my opinion, and would greatly characterize the character. Not wanting to make the decision is understandable, but rolling a die for it just feels like a missed opportunity, and cheapens my experience.



Maybe it is a matter of game socialisation. The biggest RPG in Germany (The Dark Eye) is one where from the point I have started playing there have been negative qualities, that almost every character had, that required you to roll in certain situations to see if they trigger and your decision gets taken over by some darker urges. It was just... normal. Can lead to hilarious, or tense situations. I just feel... We, as humans, aren't always fully in control of what we do (Though you remain responsible for your actions unless actively forced by someone else), and to fully be in control of my characters every single decision and action would feel... wrong, especially since I cannot decide how strongly all the factors that usually (and justly) go unconsidered in a TRPG would affect them in any given situation.

(A player in my game has a character that is quick to anger, and quick to punch. Once, he felt insulted by a village elder, decided this might prompt the rage (Without me actually calling for it; I had overlooked the possibility since the insult was not actually directed at the character), promptly failed the roll and decked him. We talk about it months later - it was quite funny, but also lead to some interesting complications for the characters; and a tense discussion between them.)


I think it feels different when the GM/game initiates it. Rolling against a DC due to your Trait makes it more visible to the rest of the table, and the internal conflict is not only in the players head.

After having given it some more thought now, I think if you as a player decide to do something detrimental for the character when you have an opportunity for something better, that is definitely making a decision. Even if it is only giving it 50% chance, and exposing yourself by rolling a die. What I realize I'm less happy about is when you have two options that are of roughly equal merit for a "normal" person, a dilemma. The choice you make in these situations are more interesting to me, and can say much about the character. I want to see the players make this decision, not a random number generator.

Pelle
2017-11-21, 05:27 AM
A closer analogy is fighting. You can't be surrounded by ten goblins, one goblin mage, and two ogres, and say, "My character fights.". The DM will ask which weapon are you using, and what maneuver are you attempting, and who is your target. These decisions matter, and the player needs to make them.


GM: Ok, what do you do?
Player: I fight!
GM: It's a complicated situation, can you describe your approach?
Player: I ignore the normal goblins and go straight for the mage, trying to keep distance from the ogres.
GM: Sounds wise, roll Fight DC 15, if you fail some goblins will land hits on you.

or

GM: Ok, what do you do?
Player: I fight!
GM: It's a complicated situation, can you describe your approach?
Player: I kill the normal goblins one by one, and then the ogres, and then the mage.
GM: Sounds challenging, roll Fight DC 20, if you fail you will take some Firebolts and hits from the ogres.

(I'm sick of D&D 3.5 combat...)

Floret
2017-11-21, 07:38 AM
That it should. Not sure why they'd want to abrogate "Player skill" entirely, but if they decide to, and find a system that does that, then they do.

Of course, I haven't seen a game system that explicitly abrogates "player skill" completely. There are those where people using the system choose to abrogate it either completely or heavily in favor of dice resolution. But the systems aren't necessarily designed for that. They're usually designed so the DM can, should they chose to, use a built in resolution system once all decisions and choices about approach have been made (to whatever degree is deemed necessary), and there's now an uncertain resolution to be addressed. In other words, it's designed so it can be used in conjunction with "player skill". Not to replace it.

"Second seat" and "abrogate" are not synonymous :smallwink:
And... I'm not sure I agree that the systems aren't designed that way. The rules of most systems I have read state something akin to "If there is question about the result, go roll the dice". Heck, sometimes even when there isn't, but it would seem "logical" to test the PCs capabilities (Even though failing means the game grinds to a halt. More a thing for pregenerated modules than game systems, though). The approach you see certainly has merit, but I hardly see evidence for it being the "assumed default" in game systems.

"Whenever the result of an action is uncertain and it's interesting for the adventure" (The Dark Eye 5th edition)
"You will always roll the dice when you’re opposing another character with your efforts, or when there’s a significant obstacle in the way of your effort." (FATE Core)
"When a player wishes to have his character take an action" (Legend of the Five Rings 4th)
"If a character wants to do something important in the gameworld" (Symbaroum)
"When a character needs to master a critical situation" (Los Muertos)
(Some of these might be translated from German by me on the spot)

While I'd heartily disagree at least with the L5R variant, none (Except TDE) of those leave the call for rolls for the GM to decide, but rather insist on rolling in specific situations (If a situation qualifies might still be GM judgement, but there are quite clear guidelines at the very least).

Though maybe we are talking about the same thing and just using different words. Or operating under different definitions of "player skill".
I usually mean it in contention with "Character skill" - aka. that the decision for how successfull a character will be at attempting an action will depend on what is written on the character sheet, what there have been points invested in, rather than how good the player is at the respective task - only really relevant in regards to knowlege skills or social skills.
I personally wouldn't describe the ability to show up on time, construct a character, or understand what the GM is getting at with a certain NPC, to predict the plot or any myriad of other things as "player skill" in this context, even though I can see a point being made for them being possibly described that way.


Actually, I don't see much disruptive behaviour from my friends. The situations might be more like having a choice between using an AoE spell that may possibly kill another PC, but will definitely save the party, or trying to save the ally and risking everyone. Both legitimate choices in my opinion, and would greatly characterize the character. Not wanting to make the decision is understandable, but rolling a die for it just feels like a missed opportunity, and cheapens my experience.

I think it feels different when the GM/game initiates it. Rolling against a DC due to your Trait makes it more visible to the rest of the table, and the internal conflict is not only in the players head.

After having given it some more thought now, I think if you as a player decide to do something detrimental for the character when you have an opportunity for something better, that is definitely making a decision. Even if it is only giving it 50% chance, and exposing yourself by rolling a die. What I realize I'm less happy about is when you have two options that are of roughly equal merit for a "normal" person, a dilemma. The choice you make in these situations are more interesting to me, and can say much about the character. I want to see the players make this decision, not a random number generator.

1) Interestingly enough, for such situations I have never rolled dice. Only for "would my character really wanna do this (suboptimal) action that I feel a certain impulse to do". I have never seen anyone leave such things up to chance, either, outside of flipping a coin IRL as a decision aid - if after the cointoss you feel like "nah... don't wanna", probably go with the other choice; but "forcing" the decision helps get it over.
2) Would you see a meaningful difference, if, in the situation a character gets offered a drink, the GM goes "This might tempt you, roll" or me as a player going, unpromted outside of the other character holding the bottle in my face "This might tempt me, I will roll"?
3) I would disagree with the assertion that whether or not to give in to temptation isn't saying much about the character. I find it absolutely does; especially the question of "when does the character give in, and when do they not".

Zale
2017-11-21, 08:42 AM
Part of the problem is probably just that a relatively high number of people have mostly experienced TTRPGs through D&D and it's kin. Those games aren't very good at dealing with social interaction, as the systems built to do so are three parts free-form and two parts handwave.

Relying on the mechanics for those games feels incredibly unsatisfying, since it basically boils down to one or more binary rolls. So, the focus shifts to be more oriented on freeform suggestions than on mechanics.

Systems with more through or interesting social mechanics tend to have this problem less, I feel. Especially ones that are properly structured to make arguments feel more naturalistic.

Exalted 3e, for example, has a system in which you

A) try to find out what the other parties in the social situation care about/hate/believe in.
B) you try to leverage those things to convince them to listen to you.
C) they try to refute you by calling on a different thing they are invested in.

and then the result is either them listening, or trying to find something they can't ignore.

There's also more bells and whistles and mechanical levers for players to pull, and most of them feel pretty intuitive.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-21, 09:03 AM
I personally wouldn't describe the ability to show up on time, construct a character, or understand what the GM is getting at with a certain NPC, to predict the plot or any myriad of other things as "player skill" in this context, even though I can see a point being made for them being possibly described that way.

The underlined part is a pretty important player skill in context of what you say, as the more in-game events rely on what you termed character skill ("what's on the sheet"), the more you reward ability to construct a character according to your simulation rules, and any related skills. Typical example would be giving an edge to the player who best understands probability, statistics, systems math and who is best at rules-lawyering.

The more agency the player has in designing a character, the bigger the impact of player skill will be. By contrast, the less agency given to the player, such as through randomization, the less their skill matters.

The big question is, is it worth it to reward the player's ability to min-max the "talking skill" of the game (for example), versus rewarding a player's actual ability to speak as their character.

Floret
2017-11-21, 09:31 AM
The underlined part is a pretty important player skill in context of what you say, as the more in-game events rely on what you termed character skill ("what's on the sheet"), the more you reward ability to construct a character according to your simulation rules, and any related skills. Typical example would be giving an edge to the player who best understands probability, statistics, systems math and who is best at rules-lawyering.

The more agency the player has in designing a character, the bigger the impact of player skill will be. By contrast, the less agency given to the player, such as through randomization, the less their skill matters.

The big question is, is it worth it to reward the player's ability to min-max the "talking skill" of the game (for example), versus rewarding a player's actual ability to speak as their character.

Yes, it is something a player can be better or worse at (In a large part depending on the game played - the fewer decisions made during character creation, the less skill dependent, generally). In so far there can be a "skill" a player can have - as I said, I can see why someone might describe it as player skill.

But it is not "player skill" in the sense as it applies to social rules. Player skill in that sense is in direct contention with character skill - how much the ability of the player in the same type of action the character is attempting matter, versus how much stats matter. When talking about "player skill being more important than character skill" in regards to social interaction, that is all that is talked about; and that was my point - not other things one might describe as "player skill". There are two very different things both labelled with the same term, and for that discussion at hand, player ability to create a character is only indirectly relevant.

In that sense, the last question is basically the entire debate - do we value character skill, or player skill for such situations more?
And that is a discussion largely based on preference, though of course there can be arguments made for why one falls on either side.

(For me, it mostly comes down to the difference between what's happening at the table and ingame to still be too big to be in any way accurately simulated even in social situations; the fact that I want point investment to matter, and not be able to be bypassed by a player who's just better at talking; because I do not trust myself as a GM or a player to accurately judge just HOW convincing the arguments the other players make are to the respective character (Seriously, try nuancing your way through 20 people+ in one day, all different... I can't, not in a way I can at the end of the day comfortably say this actually was true to all of them, and I didn't in some parts fall back on my own opinions and values.), and for some part that I value the fact that TRPGs are a game, and I want to be able to do cool and mechanically different things, realism be damned.)
I will still talk out social situations, and have said that before, but mostly because I also like acting, and to know how the NPC reacts to success, or a failure. I largely try to keep player ability to convince me out of it, though.

Tanarii
2017-11-21, 10:29 AM
I don't roll dice because the dice are better or fairer, I do it because I don't always have time, space and materials to actually swing swords around.I lol'd at the visual I got reading this.



And... I'm not sure I agree that the systems aren't designed that way. The rules of most systems I have read state something akin to "If there is question about the result, go roll the dice".Yeah, some systems don't do a very good job of explaining that the dice are there to resolve critical things that need to be uncertain, and add appropriate tension in the process. Lots of them give the mistaken impression that "do action = roll dice". Those are good quotes showing where it makes it easy to come to that conclusion.


Though maybe we are talking about the same thing and just using different words. Or operating under different definitions of "player skill".
I usually mean it in contention with "Character skill" - aka. that the decision for how successfull a character will be at attempting an action will depend on what is written on the character sheet, what there have been points invested in, rather than how good the player is at the respective task - only really relevant in regards to knowlege skills or social skills.
I personally wouldn't describe the ability to show up on time, construct a character, or understand what the GM is getting at with a certain NPC, to predict the plot or any myriad of other things as "player skill" in this context, even though I can see a point being made for them being possibly described that way.You're definitely using it wrong. "Player skill" is not skill at doing the action in question. "Player skill" is skill at making good decisions.

Different intentions & approaches have different chances of outcomes and different consequences, as they must if you want to tie together the concepts of decisions being meaningful and actions having logical consequences. As a result making good or skillful" decisions about which approaches to use will affect your likelihood of successful outcome and what the consequences are. "Player skill" is knowing what decisions are more likely to bring about the desired outcomes and consequences.

Basically, it's making smart decisions for your character in that situation.

Of course, the danger is always that it can start to become "gaming" something, either the system rules or the DM, instead of just making smart decisions as if you were your character in that situation. If you even consider that a danger. Certainly Gygax didn't! And he's the one that coined the term in regards to RPGs.

Many people think it's a problem if skip having to make good decisions to a large degree, and just let the dice make them for you. Others think it's a problem if you can "game" the DM to avoid having to roll the dice at all when you have poor chances of success.

I think that the DM has to use his best judgement on when something is an automatic success, requires a roll, or automatic failure. And "player skill" includes making decisions that get automatic successes when they can, and if they can't do that to move an automatic failure to a die roll. That does mean it's possible to game the DM, but that's fine. PC skill may kick in by making it easier to convince the DM something is an automatic success for your PC, and definitely kicks in whenever you have to roll the dice.

Tl;dr: "player skill" is good decision making skill

Aliquid
2017-11-21, 11:30 AM
All multiplayer games are fundamentally social endeavors. Hence social skills are vital to play them, even if the game is nominally not about anything social. You are taking this debate in a direction that I'm not arguing (and I don't think anyone else is either). I don't have an issue with people having to socialize during a game. The issue comes up when the social skills of the character are higher than the social skill than the player, AND it only becomes a problem when the GM ignores the dice and adjudicates the outcome of the scenario based on the player's lack of social skills.


What I'm actually contesting here, is the idea that swapping the challenge to social skills, for a challenge to some other skill, is some big damn improvement.It isn't an improvement, it is a different style of play, and a VERY COMMON style of play. i.e. The "dungeon crawl" genre of gaming where the objective is to kill monsters, collect treasure, improve your stats, buy better weapons, get better spells, kill bigger monsters.... and so on. In games like that, you can easily play without ever having an in-game conversation

Jay R
2017-11-21, 02:44 PM
The simple answer to "What makes social skills different?" is that many gamers want and expect to play out the conversations, but I haven't met any players who want and expect to pick a lock at the table.

While people on both "sides" are trying to convince the people on "the other side" how wrong they are, the brute fact remains. Many gamers want and expect to play out the conversations.

Floret
2017-11-21, 03:23 PM
Yeah, some systems don't do a very good job of explaining that the dice are there to resolve critical things that need to be uncertain, and add appropriate tension in the process. Lots of them give the mistaken impression that "do action = roll dice". Those are good quotes showing where it makes it easy to come to that conclusion.

In the face of reading through these (Mind you, I had to look them up because I mostly rely on when I "feel" like a skillroll is needed, but new players might look to these pieces to gain that feel in the first place) I find it somewhat... arrogant to say "This isn't how the game is designed", though; or that "To resolve critical things that need to be uncertain and add appropriate tension" is what the games are actually about.
It might be your opinion that this is how to handle things. I might even share it to at least a good degree. But to talk as if your perspective has more of a say on what is "supposed" to happen than the actual stated intent of the designers? That is a bit presumptuos.

So talk about your preferences for all you like. But don't act as if there was a greater truth to them than that it is the way you, and maybe many others like to play.


You're definitely using it wrong. "Player skill" is not skill at doing the action in question. "Player skill" is skill at making good decisions.

Different intentions & approaches have different chances of outcomes and different consequences, as they must if you want to tie together the concepts of decisions being meaningful and actions having logical consequences. As a result making good or skillful" decisions about which approaches to use will affect your likelihood of successful outcome and what the consequences are. "Player skill" is knowing what decisions are more likely to bring about the desired outcomes and consequences.

Basically, it's making smart decisions for your character in that situation.

Of course, the danger is always that it can start to become "gaming" something, either the system rules or the DM, instead of just making smart decisions as if you were your character in that situation. If you even consider that a danger. Certainly Gygax didn't! And he's the one that coined the term in regards to RPGs.

Many people think it's a problem if skip having to make good decisions to a large degree, and just let the dice make them for you. Others think it's a problem if you can "game" the DM to avoid having to roll the dice at all when you have poor chances of success.

I think that the DM has to use his best judgement on when something is an automatic success, requires a roll, or automatic failure. And "player skill" includes making decisions that get automatic successes when they can, and if they can't do that to move an automatic failure to a die roll. That does mean it's possible to game the DM, but that's fine. PC skill may kick in by making it easier to convince the DM something is an automatic success for your PC, and definitely kicks in whenever you have to roll the dice.

Tl;dr: "player skill" is good decision making skill

Yeah... No.
No, I am not using the term wrong (...who made you the authority on this?), but I am using it to mean something different from you. Both things (The player's ability to "play the game" - decision making; as well as the player's abilities at certain tasks) might reasonably be called that, sure. This is why I tried to differentiate the two; not to deny that there is an element of "skill" you can gain at playing the game. There is, but it is simply not what I (Or other people who, in the case of social skills worry about player skill taking over the role of character skill) are talking about when we use the term in that context:


You are taking this debate in a direction that I'm not arguing (and I don't think anyone else is either). I don't have an issue with people having to socialize during a game. The issue comes up when the social skills of the character are higher than the social skill than the player, AND it only becomes a problem when the GM ignores the dice and adjudicates the outcome of the scenario based on the player's lack of social skills.

The problem is when player social skills replace character social skills (Or, isn't, if you don't see this as a problem). Anything about "gaming" the GM has little to do with it for me, I simply don't think the characters capabilities should be replaced by those of another entity in that regard. And it is the character that talks to the NPCs, and interacts with the world, not the player - they only do so indirectly.

(I also don't think "making decisions that get automatic successes" is actually indicative of high "player skill", but then again I don't play the game to achieve my character's goals, and might have a different opinion of what the game is about from you. Making "good" decisions is such a loaded term in regards to "winning". Yes, I read the short blips ahead. I think for games where player and character goals don't necessarily align, "winning/loosing" is the entirely wrong frame.)


The simple answer to "What makes social skills different?" is that many gamers want and expect to play out the conversations, but I haven't met any players who want and expect to pick a lock at the table.

At the table, maybe not, but there is a reason Larp is a thing that exist. As soon as you want to play out more than just talking, moving off of a table is often the most sensible idea :smallwink:

Aliquid
2017-11-21, 03:24 PM
The simple answer to "What makes social skills different?" is that many gamers want and expect to play out the conversations, but I haven't met any players who want and expect to pick a lock at the table.

While people on both "sides" are trying to convince the people on "the other side" how wrong they are, the brute fact remains. Many gamers want and expect to play out the conversations.At the end of the day, it looks to me like there is 90% agreement on this thread as to how people would want to play a game... and the vast majority of the debate is semantics

For instance, I totally agree with what you just said in your first paragraph, but I disagree with other posts that have the exact same attitude towards gameplay, but assert that "social skills aren't treated differently"

Ezeze
2017-11-21, 03:25 PM
Quick off-topic derailment:


I'm kinda disappointed that no RPGs I've seen have any kind of social mechanics even comparable to typical combat mechanics.

Dresden Files RPG (and, to an extent, the FATE system it is based off of) gives physical fighting and social 'fighting' equal weight. you have the option to add 'Aspects' to someone as you talk, which you or your allies can then 'tag' to give bonuses to a final, impassioned plea you might make. Or you could choose a brute force method and wear down at their presence the way fighting a monster would wear down their hit points.

One of my favorite systems of all times, Monster Hearts, has four stats; Hot, Cold, Dark, and Volatile. The first three are for social maneuvering, and all combat is resolved with only a single roll of the last one (yes, you literally 'roll to fight!').

There, that is a thing you now know :smallbiggrin:





A little bit more on-topic;
When I am DMing there is a point at which I simply will not allow my PCs to use social skills.

That point is when there would be no prospect of success. If your character has been sentenced to execution, and has been lead up to the chopping block with their head down, and the executioner has an axe in hand, no amount of your character yelling "no! Stop!" is going to get this executioner who you have never spoken to and who has no reason to listen to spare your life no matter how good your persuasion skill is.

If that PC's head is on the copping block, and the player tells me they want to try to persuade the executioner not to go through with it, I might respond with "Well what are you saying to convince him not to?" - this is not me demanding that the player be as quick and witty as their PC is, this is me giving the player a chance to surprise me because I have been surprised by my players before (and have been delighted every most times! :smalltongue:)

But if that player cannot think of anything his character could say other than "no! Stop!" then I'm going to rule that he cannot make the roll and be comfortable with that call.

Aliquid
2017-11-21, 03:37 PM
Dresden Files RPG (and, to an extent, the FATE system it is based off of) gives physical fighting and social 'fighting' equal weight. you have the option to add 'Aspects' to someone as you talk, which you or your allies can then 'tag' to give bonuses to a final, impassioned plea you might make. Or you could choose a brute force method and wear down at their presence the way fighting a monster would wear down their hit points.I already have been playing FAE, but the FATE Core system is on my Christmas wish list. Dresden Files is also quite intriguing.


If that PC's head is on the copping block, and the player tells me they want to try to persuade the executioner not to go through with it, I might respond with "Well what are you saying to convince him not to?" - this is not me demanding that the player be as quick and witty as their PC is, this is me giving the player a chance to surprise me because I have been surprised by my players before (and have been delighted every most times! :smalltongue:)"Psst, Mr. Executioner... I'm the only living person left that knows what really happened to your brother that night... kill me and that knowledge dies with me". Of course this requires that something actually did happen to his brother...

SirBellias
2017-11-21, 03:49 PM
And it's not like most DM's what a massive novel every time a character does anything......just look at what the average DM will accept:

Player:"I walk up to the guard and tell him that I'm from HighCity and I'm here at the castle to inspect the tapestries.
DM: Nods, ok, roll your persuasion check.

See, it is not so much to ask.

If any of my players put that much thought into an entrance I wouldn't even have them roll. The circumstances are so extraordinary they automatically succeed.

Of course, they would have to be escorted into the Head Honcho of the Tapestries office and listen to him prattle on about his work ("Is that you, Stibbons? I thought we normally only did tours on weekends, but I'd be happy to show you around...."). But that's all in a day's work. And they succeeded at their objective, so no hard done, right?

Zale
2017-11-21, 04:17 PM
A little bit more on-topic;
When I am DMing there is a point at which I simply will not allow my PCs to use social skills.

That point is when there would be no prospect of success. If your character has been sentenced to execution, and has been lead up to the chopping block with their head down, and the executioner has an axe in hand, no amount of your character yelling "no! Stop!" is going to get this executioner who you have never spoken to and who has no reason to listen to spare your life no matter how good your persuasion skill is.

If that PC's head is on the copping block, and the player tells me they want to try to persuade the executioner not to go through with it, I might respond with "Well what are you saying to convince him not to?" - this is not me demanding that the player be as quick and witty as their PC is, this is me giving the player a chance to surprise me because I have been surprised by my players before (and have been delighted every most times! :smalltongue:)

But if that player cannot think of anything his character could say other than "no! Stop!" then I'm going to rule that he cannot make the roll and be comfortable with that call.

It depends on the game, really. I know some games where that'd be genre appropriate, and in such a case there's no reason to stop them.

Or at the very least, where it's possible to stop someone with a word.

I've played games where you could literally respond to this situation by saying that the axe cannot harm you.

You are a thing of radiant beauty, of such grace and elegance that to harm you would be worse than a sin- beyond a blasphemy- that to strike you down would call into question the validity of the world, and the true nobility of nature. In the wake of that, the axe would shatter upon you rather than destroy the soul of the world.

I could probably do that in Nobilis, or, say, Wisher, Therugist and Fatalist.

As this discussion continues to be super d20 centric.

Aliquid
2017-11-21, 04:28 PM
I've played games where you could literally respond to this situation by saying that the axe cannot harm you.

-------

As this discussion continues to be super d20 centric.Good point. I know systems where the player could say:
"Since the platform that the execution is being performed on was constructed so hastily... someone made a mistake during construction, and it collapses as I kneel at the executioner's block. As we fall to the ground in the rubble, the executioner's axe lands beside me, which I use to cut my bound hands free, and I make a run for it"

(Note that the system has mechanics and rules as to how you do this sort of thing. You couldn't just make crap up as much as you wanted and whenever you wanted to)

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-21, 05:06 PM
It depends on the game, really. I know some games where that'd be genre appropriate, and in such a case there's no reason to stop them.

Or at the very least, where it's possible to stop someone with a word.

I've played games where you could literally respond to this situation by saying that the axe cannot harm you.

You are a thing of radiant beauty, of such grace and elegance that to harm you would be worse than a sin- beyond a blasphemy- that to strike you down would call into question the validity of the world, and the true nobility of nature. In the wake of that, the axe would shatter upon you rather than destroy the soul of the world.

I could probably do that in Nobilis, or, say, Wisher, Therugist and Fatalist.

As this discussion continues to be super d20 centric.


Good point. I know systems where the player could say:
"Since the platform that the execution is being performed on was constructed so hastily... someone made a mistake during construction, and it collapses as I kneel at the executioner's block. As we fall to the ground in the rubble, the executioner's axe lands beside me, which I use to cut my bound hands free, and I make a run for it"

(Note that the system has mechanics and rules as to how you do this sort of thing. You couldn't just make crap up as much as you wanted and whenever you wanted to)

However, let's not sink to a false dichotomy of "D&D/D20" versus the sort of games you describe here.

There are plenty of games that aren't anything like D&D that also don't give players world-altering powers that their characters don't actually possess, and there are plenty of players who don't enjoy how D&D does things that also don't enjoy the sort of game you're describing.

Zale
2017-11-21, 05:35 PM
However, let's not sink to a false dichotomy of "D&D/D20" versus the sort of games you describe here.

There are plenty of games that aren't anything like D&D that also don't give players world-altering powers that their characters don't actually possess, and there are plenty of players who don't enjoy how D&D does things that also don't enjoy the sort of game you're describing.

I mostly bring it up because this board is super fixated on how various versions of D&D do things, to the point that they treat the sacred cows of D&D as if they were universal across all gamelines and TTRPGs.

It doesn't have to be one or the other, I'm just bringing up that alternatives exist. If people don't enjoy them, that's fine. Different games are for different people, and I'm not going to tell people how to have fun.

Tanarii
2017-11-21, 05:38 PM
Yeah... No.
No, I am not using the term wrong (...who made you the authority on this?), but I am using it to mean something different from you. Its an established term in RPG gaming for almost 40 years, established one of the two creators of the industry. You might want to use a different term if you mean something different. It'll cause less confusion than using a defined phrase to mean something completely different.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-21, 06:08 PM
I mostly bring it up because this board is super fixated on how various versions of D&D do things, to the point that they treat the sacred cows of D&D as if they were universal across all gamelines and TTRPGs.

It doesn't have to be one or the other, I'm just bringing up that alternatives exist. If people don't enjoy them, that's fine. Different games are for different people, and I'm not going to tell people how to have fun.

I don't disagree at all with that.

But what I have seen a lot of is the flipside of what you describe about the presumptions of D&D as given -- in that sometimes people seem to assume that it's their preferred game vs "the way D&D does things", with no other options out there, so that anyone who doesn't like how their favored not-D&D system does something will be accused of "operating from D&D assumptions" even when it's CLEARLY not the true.

Tinkerer
2017-11-21, 08:07 PM
I mostly bring it up because this board is super fixated on how various versions of D&D do things, to the point that they treat the sacred cows of D&D as if they were universal across all gamelines and TTRPGs.

It doesn't have to be one or the other, I'm just bringing up that alternatives exist. If people don't enjoy them, that's fine. Different games are for different people, and I'm not going to tell people how to have fun.

Pardon me however I'm confused. You are stating that it is an alternative however neither your nor Aliquid's examples utilize any type of in character communication so I can't really view it as an alternative. I think it would be more accurate to say that the alternative that Nobilis presents is to simply not include social skills in your game and rely on the players own natural abilities.

Which is truly the first option which comes up. Just don't include social skills or modifiers and they won't be a problem. What is the issue with this? Well the first one which springs to mind is not allowing people with low RL social skills to play high social skill archetypes except through just describing their character as charismatic (which is it's own ball of wax). That could be a bonus to some though, as the strain to credulity it creates seems to be one of the main issues here.

The second is that it doesn't allow you to create characters beyond the normal human limitations. Once again, could be viewed as a positive. However most systems tend to allow PCs do go at least a little beyond normal human limits in other attribute types. Sometimes far beyond.

I had a number of other issues which were just going to clutter up this post however they were all minor. I guess the point that I was driving at was that most of the time you can just remove the social skills from a system. It definitely makes a difference however there is nothing truly game breaking about it. And indeed if you aren't going to use the social skills and attributes you should remove them altogether!

The second option which a few different systems use is to turn social skills into a mechanic similar to combat. The big downside is that there is a lot of additional effects to add and you have to take a look at what exactly defeat for the player characters means. I know I've seen this in several systems however the only one which springs to mind for me is Exalted.

In terms of alternatives those two are the ones that immediately spring to mind. Anyone have any others?

Aliquid
2017-11-21, 09:12 PM
Pardon me however I'm confused. You are stating that it is an alternative however neither your nor Aliquid's examples utilize any type of in character communication so I can't really view it as an alternative. I think it would be more accurate to say that the alternative that Nobilis presents is to simply not include social skills in your game and rely on the players own natural abilities.Sorry, that was a total tangent comment that I made, and clearly didn't pertain to the discussion at hand.


In terms of alternatives those two are the ones that immediately spring to mind. Anyone have any others?Some systems that are more collaborative have you figure out what happens after the die is rolled. You state your end goal, and a high-level approach, and then roll the die, or use your "points" or whatever.
If the results show that the "scene went in your favor" the player negotiates with the GM and the other players as to what the details should be for the most interesting way for the scene to actually play out.
If the results of the die roll show that the "scene didn't go in your favor", the same thing happens... i.e. the player negotiates with the DM and the other players as to what the most entertaining or interesting failure outcome would be.

The die rolls usually give a range of success/fail too, not just binary. So, "total success", "success", "success, but...", "fail" and "total failure"

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-22, 03:05 AM
1) You are taking this debate in a direction that I'm not arguing (and I don't think anyone else is either). I don't have an issue with people having to socialize during a game. 2) The issue comes up when the social skills of the character are higher than the social skill than the player, AND it only becomes a problem when the GM ignores the dice and adjudicates the outcome of the scenario based on the player's lack of social skills.

1) well duh, because it is my unique argument that teaching and using actual player social skills to act out social character interactions improves the gaming environment, because multiplayer games are social endeavors.

That's a reason for using the player's social skills, instead of modeling them in another way.

2) what you've missed is that I'm talking against separation of player skill from the character's skill to begin with. The question isn't whether a GM is justified in letting player skill override dice rolls (etc.), it's why would you use dice anyway?

This thread has named only one thing dice have utility for, and it's to help the GM to make up their mind when the GM is uncertain of what the result should be. For the player, the dice can only have two effects: 1) swapping the actual player skill used to something else, such as mathematical aptitude, and 2) removing the player's agency to portray their character.


1) It isn't an improvement, it is a different style of play, and a VERY COMMON style of play. i.e. The "dungeon crawl" genre of gaming where the objective is to kill monsters, collect treasure, improve your stats, buy better weapons, get better spells, kill bigger monsters.... and so on. 2) In games like that, you can easily play without ever having an in-game conversation

1) there are multiple different, common play styles which are flat-out stupid. So how common a play style is has no bearing on the argument.

2) A game not having conversations is a different thing than the game modeling conversations via means other than conversation.

In a game without social character interaction, the social skills of players, and teaching them such skills, only exist on a metagame level. The entire question of "should we model social skills via something else than player acting ability?" is entirely bypassed.

We could ask if a dungeon crawl would be improved by addition of social character interaction, but that's different from the thread topic.

Floret
2017-11-22, 07:29 AM
Its an established term in RPG gaming for almost 40 years, established one of the two creators of the industry. You might want to use a different term if you mean something different. It'll cause less confusion than using a defined phrase to mean something completely different.

Alright, I am using the term as it was first introduced to me, the way it has been used from the beginning of the discussion about social skills - and indeed, the way it has been, rather explicitly, used in this discussion by most people. If that is not the way the term was coined originally, that may be; I noticed the term being used differently by you than by others and therefor sought to clarify which definition I am operating under.
I am, compared to you, probably rather new to RPGs. I am talking in a language that is not my native one, and I don't know the founders of the industry or their words much, and I frankly don't care much about them or their opinions as holding more weight because they had ideas earlier than others.

Before that background, I can understand why my usage might seem wrong to you, yes. I believe it to be no less wrong or right than using "awful" to mean something terrible, words change meaning, after all; but I can see how having different terms might help.
Problem is, I can't come up with something to accurately and distictively separate the two. "Player ability" might work; but sounds so incredibly synonymous as to be useless as an intuitive differentiation. For the time being, I find player skill to be the most fitting term nonetheless; spefication it might require. Maybe my reluctance is based on this being pretty much the first time I have seen the term being used your way; and on top of that it being a way that seems utterly strange when applied to RPGs. Getting better at "winning" RPGs is a frame I cannot really see the central use of; and minmaxing ability, system mastery and ingame-decision making under one term seems... relatively unnecessary. They are fairly distinct things, the ability to sum them up under a vague "Decision making" notwithstanding.


2) what you've missed is that I'm talking against separation of player skill from the character's skill to begin with. The question isn't whether a GM is justified in letting player skill override dice rolls (etc.), it's why would you use dice anyway?

This thread has named only one thing dice have utility for, and it's to help the GM to make up their mind when the GM is uncertain of what the result should be. For the player, the dice can only have two effects: 1) swapping the actual player skill used to something else, such as mathematical aptitude, and 2) removing the player's agency to portray their character.

Not that helping out the GM might not be something both players and GM might desire (And that giving players the ability to surrender their agency should they wish can be a good thing), let's try if we can't come up with more (Most of which have been mentioned earlier):
1. The ability to roll the dice, something quite many players enjoy. Have you ever played a dice-pool system? Great feeling.
2. The ability for non-socially adept players to play socialites.
3. The ability to have the ingame results closer to the game reality - talking at the table isn't the same as talking in the ingame situation.
4. The ability to interact with interesting game mechanics.
5. The ability to have your character accomplish things that are impossible in real life
6. The ability for your character to accomplish things people at the table would feel uncomfortable acting out (Seduction, intimidation/torture) (Especially since both of those intermix social and physical components quite heavily, and the physical components are probably off the table for acting out)

You might not like it. You don't have to. But stop acting like this is more than your preference, that there aren't a plethora of reasons people might enjoy rolling dice instead of talking everything out, and that roleplaying games aren't about teaching people social skills.
Teaching people social skills might be a noble goal, but there is a time, and a place, and during ingame stuff might not be the best. Especially since "playing your character" might be involved, and learning actual good social skills might require playing not only socialites, but actually socially acceptable ones.
Seducing your way past everyone, or shouting at people until they do as you say while threatening them with violence are also social skills, but probably not the ones you want people to learn. (On top of that, having play-assisted dicerolling is far better suited to getting people to come out of their shell; safetynets usually increase the willingness to take risks - such as doing things you don't normally do, or do well. Taking the dice, the safety net, will normally result in those people going back to playing fighters and leave the talking to the ones that always talk.)


1) there are multiple different, common play styles which are flat-out stupid. So how common a play style is has no bearing on the argument.

2) A game not having conversations is a different thing than the game modeling conversations via means other than conversation.

1) It is not your place to call anyone's playstyle stupid. You might not be able to enjoy it, but people aren't having Badwrongfun. How common a playstyle is indeed has no bearing on how much you enjoy it, but it might just have bearing on how many people enjoy games what way.
2) Just as it models everything else via means that are not that. It is the assumed default for everything else, and I am sorry, but a misguided instinct for teaching people how to be better that trumps looking for fun first and foremost is not enough of a reason to deviate from that, when there are very clear and stated advantages not to deviate.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-22, 07:41 AM
1) well duh, because it is my unique argument that teaching and using actual player social skills to act out social character interactions improves the gaming environment, because multiplayer games are social endeavors.

That's a reason for using the player's social skills, instead of modeling them in another way.

2) what you've missed is that I'm talking against separation of player skill from the character's skill to begin with. The question isn't whether a GM is justified in letting player skill override dice rolls (etc.), it's why would you use dice anyway?

This thread has named only one thing dice have utility for, and it's to help the GM to make up their mind when the GM is uncertain of what the result should be. For the player, the dice can only have two effects: 1) swapping the actual player skill used to something else, such as mathematical aptitude, and 2) removing the player's agency to portray their character.


What if a player wants to play a character who is far better at social interaction than they are?

I'm not saying fall back on the dice and leave it entirely mechanical, the player should still try, just as they should still try to come up with tactics while also using the mechanics and dice to represent a character who is far more tactically astute than they are. And be encouraged to try, by the fact that the game will keep their limitations in that area from leading their competent character to fail and prevent them from exploring that different type of person.

That is, if you want players to have the opportunity to improve their own skills via gaming, I think having some mechanical support in the game system for playing a character who is better at something than the player can help players explore and learn in those areas instead of just shutting down and avoiding them.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-22, 07:44 AM
Its an established term in RPG gaming for almost 40 years, established one of the two creators of the industry. You might want to use a different term if you mean something different. It'll cause less confusion than using a defined phrase to mean something completely different.

First, they also helped saddle us with levels, classes, and Vancian casting... right or wrong on this one, I don't think those tacking those names lends any weight to an argument.

Second, can we please ditch the mythology of the "two men who created gaming"? There were a lot more people involved from the start, however much those two get credit.

Darth Ultron
2017-11-22, 08:52 AM
What if a player wants to play a character who is far better at social interaction than they are?


I have the player sit down so we can have a special talk.

I would explain that, no matter what, to utterly fake having real or good social skills in an RPG is ultimately pointless. It is possible that you can ''have fun'' if you fool yourself into thinking that the game is ''somehow real''. But it is not. The game is a fantasy. In reality you the player are just sitting there, unable to do social interactions...and then you roll a dice or two and your ''character does the social interaction for you''. This is not playing a character that has good social interactions...this is just rolling some dice.

A person doing real social interacting does dozens of things, and will have fun talking, acting, reacting and doing dozens of other things. A good role player who can do good social interaction can take a good couple minutes of game time to do so.

You will simply roll a dice or two, and we will just say ''your character did stuff'', taking roughly ten seconds of game time.

And, as I said, if you wish to fool your self that ''rolling a 20'' was ''good social interaction'', you may do so.....but it is not.

And, on top of that, and maybe worst of all...is you, the player, as your not so great at social interactions in the first place, can't tell your character that is good at them to act....unless you think of it first. But, of course, you won't...as your not good a social interactions in the first place. And it quickly becomes very awkward for the DM to all the time have your character remind you the player how and when and why to social interact with others....and this quickly becomes ''the DM playing your character".

So, how about you just make a quiet anti social character?

weckar
2017-11-22, 09:17 AM
Meh, stupid players can play smart characters (and the other way around) - so I am not sure why the same cannot apply here.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-22, 10:16 AM
1. The ability to roll the dice, something quite many players enjoy. Have you ever played a dice-pool system? Great feeling.

I dearly apologize for forgetting all the dice fetishists in existence. :smalltongue:


2. The ability for non-socially adept players to play socialites.

This is subset of swapping the player skilm used to something else, and it's only true as far as the player is decent at the new skill. Change a social problem for a math problem of equal complexity, and you've not improved your game one whiff if your player is bad at math.

The question still lingers why do you want to reward your socially inept player for min-maxing the talking skill, instead of rewarding them for becoming more socially apt.


3. The ability to have the ingame results closer to the game reality - talking at the table isn't the same as talking in the ingame situation.

This I reject as BS both on principle and based on experience. No amount of dice rolling gets you any closer to any real discussion, on the contrary, it leaves you completely unable to tell what is being said. You would get better results by having an chatbot AI do the character's dialogue for the player.


4. The ability to interact with interesting game mechanics.

I reject the notion that game mechanics not based on actual social skill nor actual acting ability can be as interesting as those based on them. More, since there are myriad other aspects to mechanize, it's dubious to choose this field to get that fix.


5. The ability to have your character accomplish things that are impossible in real life

Those are better accomplished by the GM using their social skills and acting chops, than by swapping the player's social skills for something else.


6. The ability for your character to accomplish things people at the table would feel uncomfortable acting out (Seduction, intimidation/torture) (Especially since both of those intermix social and physical components quite heavily, and the physical components are probably off the table for acting out)

Null utility for a roleplaying game. If a player is unwilling to act something out, they typically don't even consider it. If a player is thinking it, then having them act it out is a good way of checking how serious they are being, and in the long run this is a great way to weed out a great deal of stupid. (Namely, players stop wasting everyone's time on suggestions they don't actually want to see playing out.)

I'm rather obviously not against using dice to simulate physical components, for the same reasons I'm not opposed to simulating swordfights.


You might not like it. You don't have to. But stop acting like this is more than your preference, that there aren't a plethora of reasons people might enjoy rolling dice instead of talking everything out, and that roleplaying games aren't about teaching people social skills.

Unless you want to pretend that "multiplayer games are fundamentally social endeavors" is a statement of preference, your criticism doesn't pan out.

Also, nowhere have I said RPGs are about teaching people social skills, what I've said is that there is obvious utility to doing so. You aren't making a good argument for the enjoyment of rolling dice weighing that out, due to above-mentioned reason of there being myriad other activities to roll dice for.


Teaching people social skills might be a noble goal, but there is a time, and a place, and during ingame stuff might not be the best. Especially since "playing your character" might be involved, and learning actual good social skills might require playing not only socialites, but actually socially acceptable ones.

Well duh. Again, whether all games would be improved by inclusion of social character interaction is a different topic. As is whether a player's experience is improved by playing a social role. What I'm saying is that when a player wants to play a social role, having them learn and use their own social skills is better.


Seducing your way past everyone, or shouting at people until they do as you say while threatening them with violence are also social skills, but probably not the ones you want people to learn.

You'd be surprised how much you can teach about good behaviour by teaching the inverse.


On top of that, having play-assisted dicerolling is far better suited to getting people to come out of their shell; safetynets usually increase the willingness to take risks - such as doing things you don't normally do, or do well. Taking the dice, the safety net, will normally result in those people going back to playing fighters and leave the talking to the ones that always talk.

Ooh, how about this for a safety net: it's a god-damned game, none of the risks you're taking a real, none of the consequences are permanent in a way a lenient GM can't fix.

The dice are extremely ancillary to anything you describe and are, shock and surprise, better dealt with by making the play environment socially tolerant of errors and poor play.


1) It is not your place to call anyone's playstyle stupid.

It totally is. Just try and stop me. :smalltongue:


You might not be able to enjoy it, but people aren't having Badwrongfun. How common a playstyle is indeed has no bearing on how much you enjoy it, but it might just have bearing on how many people enjoy games what way.

What I, or anyone else, enjoys is not a measure of what's smart nor stupid. In every field of life, people commonly do stupid and detrimental things under the excuse of "fun" or "enjoyment".

Just as well, in every field of life, people commonly do things which are hurting their own fun and enjoyment, and that's stupid. So your use of the phrase "BadWrongFun" entirely misses the point.

Let's pretend for a moment that I've done martial arts for 10+ years. Would you say to someone like that, that they're unable to distinquish basic errors in another's practice? Now swap martial arts for running roleplaying games. Does that make a difference?


2) Just as it models everything else via means that are not that. It is the assumed default for everything else, and I am sorry, but a misguided instinct for teaching people how to be better that trumps looking for fun first and foremost is not enough of a reason to deviate from that, when there are very clear and stated advantages not to deviate.

1) dice as a default for everything is not necessarily a good practice to begin with. Again: I don't resolve fights via actual martial arts because I think dice are fairer or better, I do it because it's not always possible.

2) I am literally oathsworn to improve as person, and to help others improve. That quite handily trumps "fun" for me. I eagerly await your argument why it should be the other way around for anyone.

Fun, teaching and learning are not usually mutually exclusive anyway. On the contrary, games make great teaching tools because they can teach in a way that is fun. I'm confident in my ability to achieve that in my games. Why are you not?

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-22, 10:25 AM
What if a player wants to play a character who is far better at social interaction than they are?

Then they better accept that they have a lot of learning to do before they can fake it, and accept that they will probably fail a lot before they get there.

Just like with any other skill.

Again, not against the GM helping out. Teaching frequently involves helping out, shock and surprise. But again: why dice? Why are you swapping a social problem for math problem (or random result), when you could chance the social problem for an easier social problem, then increase difficulty as the player gets better at solving them?

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-22, 11:07 AM
Then they better accept that they have a lot of learning to do before they can fake it, and accept that they will probably fail a lot before they get there.

Just like with any other skill.

Again, not against the GM helping out. Teaching frequently involves helping out, shock and surprise. But again: why dice? Why are you swapping a social problem for math problem (or random result), when you could chance the social problem for an easier social problem, then increase difficulty as the player gets better at solving them?


Curious...

Is your view on all mismatches of player vs character ability consistent with this position?

Why do you think it's the GM's job to be a "teacher" of "social skills"?

What of gamers who just want to sit down and game, and aren't interested in treating their leisure time as a classroom?


Also, the consistent undertone of smug condescension and belittlement ("then they better accept they have a lot of learning to do", "shock and surprise!") makes your assertion of teaching social skills kinda humorous.


E: interestingly, I've not been a fan of social mechanics (as they tend to end up being used to hijack PCs, by the GM and/or in social "PvP"), but your posts on the matter here are actually making me reconsider my position in the direction of including social mechanics in games.

Thrudd
2017-11-22, 12:32 PM
This really all depends on what you want the game to be about vis a vis the player's participation. There is again no single correct answer, but whatever answer you choose should be consistently applied via the rule set you use.

Is a game meant to be about strategic thinking and problem solving using a set of supplied resources? Then this is the skill the players need to have, and being better at these skills will manifest as doing better in the game. Is the game meant to be about improv acting? Then that is the skill players should have. In both cases, a player can't be allowed to sidestep the thing the game is actually about- there'd be no point to even playing.

This isn't to say that a game must exclusively be one thing, but the expected player skills must be considered when making decisions about this. Also, new players can and should be encouraged and given some leeway while they learn the game and improve their skills- but at some point the bird needs to leave the nest and fly or fail on their own. The degree to which the rules let you replace player skill with mechanical determination should be inversely proportional to the importance or prominence of said skill in game play.

Aliquid
2017-11-22, 02:00 PM
The question isn't whether a GM is justified in letting player skill override dice rolls (etc.), it's why would you use dice anyway?Because that's the foundation of the game in the first place. In RPGs like D&D, you have limited resources to "build" the stats that impact your character. In D&D this ties to your abilities (STR, DEX, etc) and the skills you have. Why would someone bother investing their resources into Charisma and Diplomacy, if those numbers don't impact the die roll? You might as well use Chr as your dump stat, and pump all your skill points into non-social skills. The skill and the number beside that skill exists for a reason, and you want to completely ignore it.
This thread has named only one thing dice have utility for, and it's to help the GM to make up their mind when the GM is uncertain of what the result should be.Sure, but that still holds. If a player suggests that his character does something social that the GM personally thinks is lame and won't work, you still roll the dice. If the result is high, the GM says "your character realizes that idea won't work... do you really want to go forward with it?", or a really nice GM will say "You come up with a better idea... want some help with the other players to brainstorm what that better idea is?"

If a player suggests that his character does something social that the GM thinks "yeah that would work", but the player rolls really low, then the GM says "that seems like a good idea, but your character did a piss-poor job of executing it, and you screwed up"




Meh, stupid players can play smart characters (and the other way around) - so I am not sure why the same cannot apply here.Good point, lets look at how that plays out:


In most games, a character with a high Intelligence gets to know more languages. No GM asks the player to learn new languages.
In most games, a character with a high Intelligence gets to learn skills faster. No GM asks the player to learn those skills
In most games, a character with a high Intelligence is better at "knowledge" checks. No GM insists that the player has this knowledge. If the roll is high, the DM tells the player the knowledge his character is seeking.

Tinkerer
2017-11-22, 02:11 PM
Because that's the foundation of the game in the first place. In RPGs like D&D, you have limited resources to "build" the stats that impact your character. In D&D this ties to your abilities (STR, DEX, etc) and the skills you have. Why would someone bother investing their resources into Charisma and Diplomacy, if those numbers don't impact the die roll? You might as well use Chr as your dump stat, and pump all your skill points into non-social skills. The skill and the number beside that skill exists for a reason, and you want to completely ignore it.Sure, but that still holds. If a player suggests that his character does something social that the GM personally thinks is lame and won't work, you still roll the dice. If the result is high, the GM says "your character realizes that idea won't work... do you really want to go forward with it?", or a really nice GM will say "You come up with a better idea... want some help with the other players to brainstorm what that better idea is?"

This ties in to what I was mentioning above. If you are going to ignore the mechanics of the social system then it is incumbent on you to remove the mechanics of the system. I can't tell you how many times I made a high Charisma character as a youth only to have it turn out that the mechanic was completely ignored.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-22, 02:20 PM
This ties in to what I was mentioning above. If you are going to ignore the mechanics of the social system then it is incumbent on you to remove the mechanics of the system. I can't tell you how many times I made a high Charisma character as a youth only to have it turn out that the mechanic was completely ignored.


Very important point -- if the GM has decided that in this campaign, all social interaction and the success or failure thereof will be based purely on player social skill and roleplaying, with no consideration for the character's abilities, then it is absolutely incumbent upon the GM to make that perfectly clear and warn players to not invest in any social ability for their character.

And I say this as someone who really thinks that the character should be well-mapped in the system.

Floret
2017-11-22, 02:39 PM
I dearly apologize for forgetting all the dice fetishists in existence. :smalltongue:


Apologies accepted. Really, are you even roleplaying if you can forget us?


This is subset of swapping the player skilm used to something else, and it's only true as far as the player is decent at the new skill. Change a social problem for a math problem of equal complexity, and you've not improved your game one whiff if your player is bad at math.

The question still lingers why do you want to reward your socially inept player for min-maxing the talking skill, instead of rewarding them for becoming more socially apt.

Because it is a game, and not a seminar in social skills.
Because it allows people to have fun in a way they desire.


This I reject as BS both on principle and based on experience. No amount of dice rolling gets you any closer to any real discussion, on the contrary, it leaves you completely unable to tell what is being said. You would get better results by having an chatbot AI do the character's dialogue for the player.

Not to the real discussion, no. But it will get the result of the question whether or not the character achieves their goal to be actually determined by ingame variables. I simply reject whole-heartedly that sitting around a table and talking is in any way, shape or form a sufficient, or even accurate simulation of whatever is happening ingame when social skills are put to the test.
I have been in too many too strange situations I needed to talk my way through to believe the impacting factors are the same.
In the absence of the ability to add lighting, appropriate hunger levels, differing faces, weather, exhaustion from walking, sourroundings in general and the myriad of other factors, I take the mechanism the game gives me for resolving questions where the results of an ingame action are unclear: The dice.
Maybe they won't simulate all of those either. Probably not, in fact. But they will either simulate more, or be in and of itself a more appropriate abstraction, one in line with the entire rest of the gaming experience, then a talk relying on the social skills of the player, and the skill of the GM to accurately determine how much the NPC would be swayed by those exact words.

(I mean, rolling dice and talking something out aren't mutually exclusive, anyways, but that's not the discussion we are having).


I reject the notion that game mechanics not based on actual social skill nor actual acting ability can be as interesting as those based on them. More, since there are myriad other aspects to mechanize, it's dubious to choose this field to get that fix.

1. So you have a preference. Good job. I have one, too.
2. What is and isn't to be mechanized should entirely depend on the goals of the game in question, and what gameplay should happen.


Those are better accomplished by the GM using their social skills and acting chops, than by swapping the player's social skills for something else.

What? Giving players larger then life ability to manipulate and influence people, supernatural powers of persuasion is now something that has to be done... by the GM taking over? How does that benefit the players? How does that teach anyone anything?


Null utility for a roleplaying game. If a player is unwilling to act something out, they typically don't even consider it. If a player is thinking it, then having them act it out is a good way of checking how serious they are being, and in the long run this is a great way to weed out a great deal of stupid. (Namely, players stop wasting everyone's time on suggestions they don't actually want to see playing out.)

I'm rather obviously not against using dice to simulate physical components, for the same reasons I'm not opposed to simulating swordfights.

Heh, try me. I am unwilling to fully act out seduction scenes, for the comfort of anyone at the table. I am neither willing to seduce my players as a GM, or my GM and fellow players as a player - not at the context of the gaming table, at the very least. I am very willing to have my character seduce other characters, PC or NPC (PCs not without consent of their player, sure).
I don't want to scream my lungs out when my character does, for the sake of the ears of the other players, and the relationship with the neighbours. I don't want to make people piss their pants in fear, even though my character is absolutely trying to get them there.
(...I mean, I totally am willing to play all of that out, but not in a TRPG. Different games, different approaches.)
I am fully willing to see the results play out, positive and negative. I just don't want to play through every inch of torture or seduction scene. Timeskips and contracting time is a thing in your games as well, no? You won't play out every step of a three-day journey, packing your bags in the morning or the individual motions of picking a lock, right? So... why not afford the same courtesy to social skills.

And the problem here is, that the social impact and activity is inextrinsably linked with the physical components, and acting out only one will effectively act out none.


Unless you want to pretend that "multiplayer games are fundamentally social endeavors" is a statement of preference, your criticism doesn't pan out.

Also, nowhere have I said RPGs are about teaching people social skills, what I've said is that there is obvious utility to doing so. You aren't making a good argument for the enjoyment of rolling dice weighing that out, due to above-mentioned reason of there being myriad other activities to roll dice for.

Oh, yes it does. "Multiplayer games are fundamentally social" isn't synonymous with "social skills of players need to matter when determining social skills of characters". The two statements are unrelated and need to be defended as such.


Well duh. Again, whether all games would be improved by inclusion of social character interaction is a different topic. As is whether a player's experience is improved by playing a social role. What I'm saying is that when a player wants to play a social role, having them learn and use their own social skills is better.

You have yet to back that assertion up properly, though. It doesn't follow from your argument that "generally, people with social skills make for better playing partners" - which might be true, but is besides the point.


You'd be surprised how much you can teach about good behaviour by teaching the inverse.

Meh. Probably won't be too surprised, tbh. I'll give you this one.


Ooh, how about this for a safety net: it's a god-damned game, none of the risks you're taking a real, none of the consequences are permanent in a way a lenient GM can't fix.

The dice are extremely ancillary to anything you describe and are, shock and surprise, better dealt with by making the play environment socially tolerant of errors and poor play.

And for some people, that safety net is not enough. Have you ever met people with anxiety disorders? Yeah, "I might **** up the groups ingame endeavours by not playing properly/well enough (And then everyone will hate me)" might be an unhealthy frame of mind, an utterly unrealistic way of looking at things - but shouting at people and dragging them out of their comfort zone doesn't always fix things.
And this happens no matter how much you reassure people, because mental illnesses don't go away by reasoned discussion. I mean, they might be lightened, slowly, over years, but to be able to pull people up and get them comfortable with being more social, more daring and open? Yeah, you absolutely can use a second safety net.


It totally is. Just try and stop me. :smalltongue:


My inability to literally reach through the screen to gag you does not confer you any authority whatsoever.


What I, or anyone else, enjoys is not a measure of what's smart nor stupid. In every field of life, people commonly do stupid and detrimental things under the excuse of "fun" or "enjoyment".

Just as well, in every field of life, people commonly do things which are hurting their own fun and enjoyment, and that's stupid. So your use of the phrase "BadWrongFun" entirely misses the point.

Let's pretend for a moment that I've done martial arts for 10+ years. Would you say to someone like that, that they're unable to distinquish basic errors in another's practice? Now swap martial arts for running roleplaying games. Does that make a difference?

Yeah, it does. Or, no, it doesn't, because martial arts don't work that way either. Because try learning boxing for 10 years and then judging Kapoeira fighters based on how well they box. Or practitioners of Karate.
Someone from the German Larp community once described it most concisely, I think:
We are all playing the same hobby, in much the same way as the most common sport in the world is ballgames. If we all meet for "ballgaming", someone will complain that you are touching the ball with your foot, while you insist it is the only place you can touch the ball with. The problem isn't that they are wrong - the problem is they wanna play basketball, and you football. You just don't have the terms for it, and insist you are both playing "ball" and the other one is doing it wrong.

I don't have a solution for differentiating RPGs further. "Narrative games"; "Rollplaying" and "Roleacting" might be working ancillary terms. Or maybe we simply accept that different people get different things out of roleplaying, and we can't really judge very well if anyone is doing it "wrong", outside of the question if they are getting out of it what they want.


1) dice as a default for everything is not necessarily a good practice to begin with. Again: I don't resolve fights via actual martial arts because I think dice are fairer or better, I do it because it's not always possible.

2) I am literally oathsworn to improve as person, and to help others improve. That quite handily trumps "fun" for me. I eagerly await your argument why it should be the other way around for anyone.

Fun, teaching and learning are not usually mutually exclusive anyway. On the contrary, games make great teaching tools because they can teach in a way that is fun. I'm confident in my ability to achieve that in my games. Why are you not?

1) Well, playing cards can work as well. Or purely narrative things. But dice are a fun way of doing things. Maybe TRPGs aren't the right hobby for you. Have you tried Larping? It might be more up your alley, with all that you write...

2) ...congratulations on your cult membership? I mean, I have personal morals and goals as well, sure. They involve things like "Let people live their lives the way they want to, as long as they aren't hurting anyone".
As to why fun should trump trying to get other people to improve? Because we are humans, dammit; and deserve a break from the ****show that the world can be. Because sometimes, helping people out is a good thing - and sometimes it is done best by helping them get comfortable, and relax. Because we cannot strive for every ideal in perfection 24/7. Because while morals are a good thing to have, forcing them on others is not. (Explaining them to others, in hopes of convincing them, might be. Attacking people and telling them they are wrong, btw? Not helpful for that. Gets people defensive, and less willing to change). Maybe because I just don't game with people that have so little social skills I'd need to help them out, and I cannot see the depths of the abyss you are dealing with. Or maybe because I am a reckless hedonist and don't care about all that. Any number of reasons. Pick one, if you want.

Why I am not confident in my ability to teach in my games? Because I really can't be bothered to try, mostly. Because I game for being able to share with friends in an adventure, in a story; to share my ideas with people and see what they do with them; to face possibilties and threats I'd much rather not have in reality. Because teaching doesn't have a place in what I game for. My games are not Edutainment.
This is not a question of ability for me. In no case, btw, I am quite confident in my ability to play socialites in a game without rules for it (I play them pretty exclusively on Larps, incidentally). I just... don't care to have this in TRPGs.


E: interestingly, I've not been a fan of social mechanics (as they tend to end up being used to hijack PCs, by the GM and/or in social "PvP"), but your posts on the matter here are actually making me reconsider my position in the direction of including social mechanics in games.

Now I'm curious: What exactly about the arguments has made you reconsider?
I mean, just because an ******* holds a position doesn't make the position necessarily wrong?
(Not that I agree with his or your position, but knowing what makes people be more in favour of mine can't hurt :smallwink:)

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-22, 02:48 PM
Because it is a game, and not a seminar in social skills.

Because it allows people to have fun in a way they desire.


Indeed.

I'm a bit perplexed by any assertion that an RPG is primarily something other than a fun hobby. Sure an RPG can be used for other things, like teaching/learning, but that's all optional icing on the cake.




Not to the real discussion, no. But it will get the result of the question whether or not the character achieves their goal to be actually determined by ingame variables. I simply reject whole-heartedly that sitting around a table and talking is in any way, shape or form a sufficient, or even accurate simulation of whatever is happening ingame when social skills are put to the test.
I have been in too many too strange situations I needed to talk my way through to believe the impacting factors are the same.
In the absence of the ability to add lighting, appropriate hunger levels, differing faces, weather, exhaustion from walking, sourroundings in general and the myriad of other factors, I take the mechanism the game gives me for resolving questions where the results of an ingame action are unclear: The dice.
Maybe they won't simulate all of those either. Probably not, in fact. But they will either simulate more, or be in and of itself a more appropriate abstraction, one in line with the entire rest of the gaming experience, then a talk relying on the social skills of the player, and the skill of the GM to accurately determine how much the NPC would be swayed by those exact words.

(I mean, rolling dice and talking something out aren't mutually exclusive, anyways, but that's not the discussion we are having).


Yeah, I don't get this idea that they're mutually exclusive. The player can describe or try to play through in-character what their character is doing, and then roll, and if I'm the GM I'm going to give them credit for trying their best.

I don't expect the player of a suave international agent to actually have bedded women (or place preferred gender here) across 5 continents and talked their way into a villain's secret lair. :smallwink:




Now I'm curious: What exactly about the arguments has made you reconsider?
I mean, just because an ******* holds a position doesn't make the position necessarily wrong?
(Not that I agree with his or your position, but knowing what makes people be more in favour of mine can't hurt :smallwink:)


A combination of the "the player can either git gud at social skills or fail miserably at playing a socially-adept character" attitude, and the assertion that RPGs are somehow supposed to be a form of edutainment.

Jay R
2017-11-22, 03:01 PM
The eternal answer to the question "Should we role-play the social encounters and ignore the INT, WIS and CHA stats, or should we roll dice and ignore the players' decisions?" is, "No, you should not be stupidly extremist in either direction."

If you try to convince a stranger that you need his help 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.]

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 high-intelligence people do such things. "Intelligent" and "practical" are not synonymous. Of course, I'll usually 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 me a basic reaction level, which can then be modified up or down by a CHA roll.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-22, 03:04 PM
The eternal answer to the question "Should we role-play the social encounters and ignore the INT, WIS and CHA stats, or should we roll dice and ignore the players' decisions?" is, "No, you should not be stupidly extremist in either direction."

If you try to convince a stranger that you need his help 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.]

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 high-intelligence people do such things. "Intelligent" and "practical" are not synonymous. Of course, I'll usually 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 me a basic reaction level, which can then be modified up or down by a CHA roll.

That's pretty much my approach -- I really don't understand the debate between the two absolutist positions that appears to be going on.

Tanarii
2017-11-22, 03:04 PM
First, they also helped saddle us with levels, classes, and Vancian casting... right or wrong on this one, I don't think those tacking those names lends any weight to an argument. I'm not making an appeal to authority an the argument. I'm explaining why using an established term to mean something completely different is generally a bad idea, and by whome and when it was established. Because clarity of what we're discussing is important.

Whether or not we're talking about:
- a player's ability to make meaningful decisions being combined with a PC's skill modifying resolution of uncertainty, creating a greater whole
- a players knowledge on a specific topic & ability to apply it IRL vs a PC's skill modifying resolution of uncertainty, causing conflict when they are out of sync

... is an important difference.

I view the latter to be mostly irrelevant, or at least to be missing the point. And to stem from a poor understanding of the best ways to handle resolution. ie it is a problem because the DM is making it a problem.

Which puts it in the same place as "metagaming".

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-22, 05:21 PM
Is your view on all mismatches of player vs character ability consistent with this position?

In what way? My line of argument is founded on social skills having two things going on for them, which don't apply for all possible skills.

The one thing that does hold for all of them is that if you want benefit associated with a skill you are bad at, you own up to it and start practicing. And prepare to fail. A lot.


Why do you think it's the GM's job to be a "teacher" of "social skills"?

For the same reason a Scout Master's job is to do that for the scouts, or a sempai's duty is to do that for their kohais in the dojo, or a football coach's and captain's duty is to do that for their team, or an NCO's duty is to do that for their squad... so on and so forth.

A game master frequently is all of a game's host, it's runner, and the most experienced and rules wise player in the game. It comes with that baggage to explain, oversee and enforce rules of the game, starting with "what is roleplaying?" and extending to metagame social rules necessary for the game to function such as "show up on time" and "don't make excess noise".

You can argue that a GM isn't, or doesn't necessarily have to be, all of those things. Well duh. In the same vein, no individual scout master, martial artists, coach, team captain, NCO or whatever is guaranteed to have all traits necessary to do the job we're discussing. Where it occurs, it's a big damn problem. It can be solved by portioning parts of or all of the duty on some other person who is more suitable, if one is available. But it's never a good idea for it to be no-one's job.

You can argue that it's an unnecessary job when all players are already socially savvy, decent mannered and equally experienced. Which is sort of like arguing that you don't need to appoint an instructor for a training session when all participants are already black belts of equal rank. It's both a corner case and practically dubious, even though evidently possible.


What of gamers who just want to sit down and game, and aren't interested in treating their leisure time as a classroom?

They're idiots for thinking that any and all forms of teaching and learning function like a class room.

Didn't I already say? Fun is not mutually exclusive with teaching, it's not mutually exclusive with learning, it's not mutually exclusive with leisure either as some hard rule. Gaming makes a good tool for teaching and learning because it can combine fun with teaching and learning.

Did elementary school beat the joy of learning out of you, or why do you presume when I say "teach and learn", that automatically means "anti-fun" or "treating things like a class room?"


Also, the consistent undertone of smug condescension and belittlement ("then they better accept they have a lot of learning to do", "shock and surprise!") makes your assertion of teaching social skills kinda humorous.

The first is neither condescension nor belittlement. The second totally is, but knowing when to that is a social skill of its own, so I have no idea what you're on about. :smalltongue:


E: interestingly, I've not been a fan of social mechanics (as they tend to end up being used to hijack PCs, by the GM and/or in social "PvP"), but your posts on the matter here are actually making me reconsider my position in the direction of including social mechanics in games.

Your former position was not wrong, most mechanizations of social skills totally do reduce player agency and can be used in the way you describe.

The reason why it's not universally considered a flaw, is because when the player knows they are bad at a skill, knowing their success depends on that skill causes frustration and anxiety. (Refer back to the graph of performer skill versus task difficulty.) So in such cases, off-loading the burden on something else and the following loss of agency can be relieving.

Again, though, why off-load it on dice, instead of swapping the hard social problem for an easier one untill the player gets a hang of it?

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-22, 05:42 PM
Because that's the foundation of the game in the first place.

No. Dice are NOT the foundation of roleplaying games, as is handily proven by diceless RPGs such as Amber and STALKER. The only reason to think of dice as foundational is because D&D used dice, and it happened to be the first.

The actual foundation of RPGs is the player deciding what to do as their character, and why, and how, in a constructed setting. Dice are a tool for that, and they are neither the only tool nor the best tool for all things. Dice are optional.


In RPGs like D&D, you have limited resources to "build" the stats that impact your character. In D&D this ties to your abilities (STR, DEX, etc) and the skills you have. Why would someone bother investing their resources into Charisma and Diplomacy, if those numbers don't impact the die roll?

You seem to have missed the part where I said I'm questioning the separation of player skill and character skill to begin with. The corollary to that is that a game does not need to have any of those things to put numbers down for, and your question is mindless for when that is the situation.

This said:


You might as well use Chr as your dump stat...

Wrong. I can use my amazing GM skill of reading to see what number you have on your sheet, and then adjust my acting and in-character acting based on that number and your acting ability.

All without rolling a single die.

Again, entire game systems exists which do this.

Pelle
2017-11-22, 06:11 PM
The eternal answer to the question "Should we role-play the social encounters and ignore the INT, WIS and CHA stats, or should we roll dice and ignore the players' decisions?" is, "No, you should not be stupidly extremist in either direction."


I can't tell now if people are talking past each other, and really agreeing about most things, or if someone here actually consider either only player skill or only character skill to be valid.


That's pretty much my approach -- I really don't understand the debate between the two absolutist positions that appears to be going on.

Me too. To be honest, I had you placed in one of those at this point, I guess more people come off more extreme than they intend.

Aliquid
2017-11-22, 06:13 PM
No. Dice are NOT the foundation of roleplaying games, as is handily proven by diceless RPGs such as Amber and STALKER. The only reason to think of dice as foundational is because D&D used dice, and it happened to be the first.I was speaking specifically about games like D&D (which this discussion has been about) and I wasn't saying that dice were the foundation of that type of game. I was saying that the stats on the character sheet are a foundation of the game.


You seem to have missed the part where I said I'm questioning the separation of player skill and character skill to begin with.I don't miss it, I find it ridiculous when talking about D&D type games. The game was designed with game mechanics for arbitrating skills like "diplomacy". It is quite literally in the rules. You are saying "screw the rules, my way is better".


Wrong. I can use my amazing GM skill of reading to see what number you have on your sheet, and then adjust my acting and in-character acting based on that number and your acting ability.

All without rolling a single die.

Again, entire game systems exists which do this.And I have repeatedly said that if you are playing that way, you are better off using one of those systems, D&D wasn't designed for that style of play. It can be used, but it certainly isn't optimal.

As Tinkerer and Max_Killjoy said. If you don't want to use the mechanics as written, then you need to remove those mechanics from the game. You also need to let the players know that you have created your own house-rules for addressing social interactions, so they don't waste their resources during character generation.

WarKitty
2017-11-22, 11:50 PM
As Tinkerer and Max_Killjoy said. If you don't want to use the mechanics as written, then you need to remove those mechanics from the game. You also need to let the players know that you have created your own house-rules for addressing social interactions, so they don't waste their resources during character generation.

You also have to realize that a lot of us won't play, because we aren't at all interested in that kind of game and find it really annoying when RL social skills end up running the show.

Personally, I have some minor word-finding issues (and I've been on and off meds that can make it worse), and some issues where it's hard for me to hear clearly when there's a lot of noise going around. I've had games where that impacted my ability to play. It wasn't a learning experience, it was just plain old boring and frustrating and made me not want to play something that I otherwise very much enjoy.

(I might also point out that the people who were best at in-game social skills in that game were the ones in RL that a lot of people found plain old obnoxious. So it really didn't help.)

Darth Ultron
2017-11-23, 03:50 AM
Curious...

Is your view on all mismatches of player vs character ability consistent with this position?

Why do you think it's the GM's job to be a "teacher" of "social skills"?

What of gamers who just want to sit down and game, and aren't interested in treating their leisure time as a classroom?

1.Yes. I won't allow a Casual Gamer for example, to play a complicated class or race. Like the kind of guy who does not take notes or write stuff down.

2.I would not put this as a ''DMs job'', but more on the level of ''a friends job''. It is safe to say that half the world is shy or has some other social thing...and this is even more true of gamers. And for a more social friend to help out a less social friend is just being human. It is no different then when a group of guys goes out for some drinks and wings...and Edgar sees a woman he likes. She looks at him...he looks at her...but he is all too shy to do anything. So this is where a friend like me steps in and tells him to go talk to her, maybe tells him what to say, and I'll say the lie that he should ''be himself''(I know it is a lie, but will tell him anyway). And so on.

3.Life is a learning experience. If you are in my presence...I will teach. It is who I am. But, of course, you don't have to learn.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-23, 09:47 AM
In what way? My line of argument is founded on social skills having two things going on for them, which don't apply for all possible skills.

The one thing that does hold for all of them is that if you want benefit associated with a skill you are bad at, you own up to it and start practicing. And prepare to fail. A lot.


And do you hold this to be true for melee combat, or computer hacking, or casting spells?

Is there any other skill that you expect players to get better at in order to justify their character's abilities?




For the same reason a Scout Master's job is to do that for the scouts, or a sempai's duty is to do that for their kohais in the dojo, or a football coach's and captain's duty is to do that for their team, or an NCO's duty is to do that for their squad... so on and so forth.


The GM is not a scout master, or a sempai, or a coach, or a captain, or an NCO. The players are not scouts, kohais, green squadies, or whatever.

If that's how you view your role as GM and your relationship to the other players at the gaming table, then I thank all thankable things that I will NEVER, NEVER be in one of your games.




They're idiots for thinking that any and all forms of teaching and learning function like a class room.


First, you're the one who likened the GM to a teacher and the rest of the players to students -- don't get pissy about the classroom comparison

Second, related to a comment elsewhere about my verbosity, this is why I sometimes end up using 20 words when I could use 5... use "classroom" as shorthand for "place where someone is trying to teach and others are supposed to gratefully receive knowledge", instead of literally meaning a room with cheap desks in a crappy institutional building, and I get the response you gave.

Of course, it did get you to call people idiots for not agreeing with you, which was a positive.




Didn't I already say? Fun is not mutually exclusive with teaching, it's not mutually exclusive with learning, it's not mutually exclusive with leisure either as some hard rule. Gaming makes a good tool for teaching and learning because it can combine fun with teaching and learning.

Did elementary school beat the joy of learning out of you, or why do you presume when I say "teach and learn", that automatically means "anti-fun" or "treating things like a class room?"


No, despite its best efforts to do so. Two of my recent book purchases to read for fun were The Cambridge Compendium of Ancient Mediterranean Religions and Greek Warfare: Myths and Realities.

But I don't need some pompous wanna-be "teacher" trying to inject their special lesson of the day into my gaming.




The first is neither condescension nor belittlement. The second totally is, but knowing when to that is a social skill of its own, so I have no idea what you're on about. :smalltongue:


That would seem to be the case.

You may well not have intended it to be condescension and belittlement, but it was.




Your former position was not wrong, most mechanizations of social skills totally do reduce player agency and can be used in the way you describe.

The reason why it's not universally considered a flaw, is because when the player knows they are bad at a skill, knowing their success depends on that skill causes frustration and anxiety. (Refer back to the graph of performer skill versus task difficulty.) So in such cases, off-loading the burden on something else and the following loss of agency can be relieving.


Nice pop-psych "analysis". Always good to know when someone's position ultimately rests on pretending they know other people's minds.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-23, 09:56 AM
You might as well use Chr as your dump stat, and pump all your skill points into non-social skills. The skill and the number beside that skill exists for a reason, and you want to completely ignore it.



Wrong. I can use my amazing GM skill of reading to see what number you have on your sheet, and then adjust my acting and in-character acting based on that number and your acting ability.

All without rolling a single die.

Again, entire game systems exists which do this.


That sounds an awful lot like letting the character's abilities in social situations have some importance -- independent of the player's ability to pull it off in person.

Your previous comments really make it seem like you're totally against that.

kyoryu
2017-11-23, 11:08 AM
Your former position was not wrong, most mechanizations of social skills totally do reduce player agency and can be used in the way you describe.

The reason why it's not universally considered a flaw, is because when the player knows they are bad at a skill, knowing their success depends on that skill causes frustration and anxiety. (Refer back to the graph of performer skill versus task difficulty.) So in such cases, off-loading the burden on something else and the following loss of agency can be relieving.

Again, though, why off-load it on dice, instead of swapping the hard social problem for an easier one untill the player gets a hang of it?

Funny part is that most of the people I know with good social skills are on the "yay social skills" side of the divide, while it's mostly the people with poor social skills that are deadset against it.

Frequently, the only "social skill" those people have is an absolute refusal to ever compromise or do anything that could be perceived as backing down.

Now, to be clear, I'm not accusing you of this, or anyone you know. I am saying that my experience does not match your hypothesis.

Tanarii
2017-11-23, 11:44 AM
IMX the more common breakdown is people that don't want to have to make more specific decisions like social skills to come into play early o , and those that want to make as specific decisions like social skills to come into player later.

Of course, some people just want their detailed descriptions (and conversation) to result in automatic success. :smallyuk:

Tinkerer
2017-11-23, 11:57 AM
Funny part is that most of the people I know with good social skills are on the "yay social skills" side of the divide, while it's mostly the people with poor social skills that are deadset against it.

Huh, come to think of it my experience overall matches up with yours. A few exceptions of course however on the whole I'd say it's about a 75-25 divide.

Darth Ultron
2017-11-23, 12:21 PM
Is there any other skill that you expect players to get better at in order to justify their character's abilities?

Role Playing and System Mastery.

Tinkerer
2017-11-23, 12:28 PM
Role Playing and System Mastery.

Getting a little too meta there. If there is one thing that I refuse to allow my players to do it is to have their characters sit down and play a role-playing game. I mean... I guess it's doable but... damn, now I'm tempted to include that in a session. It's characters all the way down.

Jay R
2017-11-23, 12:59 PM
Getting a little too meta there. If there is one thing that I refuse to allow my players to do it is to have their characters sit down and play a role-playing game. I mean... I guess it's doable but... damn, now I'm tempted to include that in a session. It's characters all the way down.

Are you deliberately misinterpreting him? He's not suggesting that characters need to learn Role Playing and System Mastery. He's stating that a player's superior role-playing and systems mastery will help play the role playing and mechanical aspects of the game better.

In a game of chess, the king doesn't need to know what a knight fork is - but the player does.

The people who have mastered the system better will make better choices as fighters as wizards, simply by knowing what effect the various actions will have. If you are in a 20-foot diameter room and set off a fireball, then your characters are all in the fireball. If you keep attacking a wraith with a non-magical weapon instead of trying to flee, you will lose the encounter.

Similarly, the people who play a role well will handle role-playing aspects better. As a simple example, no matter how high you roll on Diplomacy, you will not convince the wizard who doesn't have Evocation spells to make you a wand of fireballs. Talk to him, and find out what is possible - and you might find out that he needs something you can provide.

Tinkerer
2017-11-23, 01:54 PM
Are you deliberately misinterpreting him? He's not suggesting that characters need to learn Role Playing and System Mastery. He's stating that a player's superior role-playing and systems mastery will help play the role playing and mechanical aspects of the game better.

In a game of chess, the king doesn't need to know what a knight fork is - but the player does.

The people who have mastered the system better will make better choices as fighters as wizards, simply by knowing what effect the various actions will have. If you are in a 20-foot diameter room and set off a fireball, then your characters are all in the fireball. If you keep attacking a wraith with a non-magical weapon instead of trying to flee, you will lose the encounter.

Similarly, the people who play a role well will handle role-playing aspects better. As a simple example, no matter how high you roll on Diplomacy, you will not convince the wizard who doesn't have Evocation spells to make you a wand of fireballs. Talk to him, and find out what is possible - and you might find out that he needs something you can provide.

Yes I'm quite aware of that, however the examples which you list here aren't justifying using the characters abilities. They are instead using the characters abilities well. How are role playing and system mastery going to justify the characters abilities which are on the sheet?

Xuc Xac
2017-11-23, 05:01 PM
Funny part is that most of the people I know with good social skills are on the "yay social skills" side of the divide, while it's mostly the people with poor social skills that are deadset against it.


I agree. After 20 years of witnessing arguments about this, it seems to me that an overwhelming number of people saying "if you can't be as charming and suave as me, then you have no business playing a social character" are abrasive, belligerent jerks whose social skills are affected more by Dunning-Kruger than Miss Manners.

Aliquid
2017-11-23, 05:07 PM
...whose social skills are affected more by Dunning-Kruger than Miss Manners.
Well said Xuc Xac, well said.

Floret
2017-11-23, 05:37 PM
Indeed.

I'm a bit perplexed by any assertion that an RPG is primarily something other than a fun hobby. Sure an RPG can be used for other things, like teaching/learning, but that's all optional icing on the cake.

I mean, I guess I am constantly learning new things through RPGs. What universities there are in Hong Kong, for example. How the necks of dolphins look when they're staring straight at you. Bits and pieces of Japanese. Not the core point, though, by far. And not something that anyone tried to intentionally teach.


I don't expect the player of a suave international agent to actually have bedded women (or place preferred gender here) across 5 continents and talked their way into a villain's secret lair. :smallwink:

Dammit, what did I do that for, then? :smallamused:


A combination of the "the player can either git gud at social skills or fail miserably at playing a socially-adept character" attitude, and the assertion that RPGs are somehow supposed to be a form of edutainment.

Ah, I see.


That's pretty much my approach -- I really don't understand the debate between the two absolutist positions that appears to be going on.

For the record, while I lean more on the "diceroll is maybe modified by roleplaying", I, too don't just roll, and do play out (important) conversations, and others at least with a summary of what is trying to be said.


I'm not making an appeal to authority an the argument. I'm explaining why using an established term to mean something completely different is generally a bad idea, and by whome and when it was established. Because clarity of what we're discussing is important.

Whether or not we're talking about:
- a player's ability to make meaningful decisions being combined with a PC's skill modifying resolution of uncertainty, creating a greater whole
- a players knowledge on a specific topic & ability to apply it IRL vs a PC's skill modifying resolution of uncertainty, causing conflict when they are out of sync

... is an important difference.

I view the latter to be mostly irrelevant, or at least to be missing the point. And to stem from a poor understanding of the best ways to handle resolution. ie it is a problem because the DM is making it a problem.

Which puts it in the same place as "metagaming".

See, and I find the former to be mostly irrelevant. I mean... Getting better at something that is most of the time noncompetitive seems to be a strange frame for things. On top of that, I'd think the rather well-known term "system mastery" describes what you are trying to describe more concisely, and less ambiguously.
I am not saying you are using the term wrong, I am just, again, saying that most people I have met IRL and online tend to use the term in the second way.

For which I find your view that it stems from "poor understanding of the best way to handle resolution" as seeming mostly as a statement of preference on your part, with a small sideorder of asserting people are playing the game "wrong". You might think there is a "best way" to handle resolution, I'd wager that there are multiple, different for different people.
It becomes a problem not because of the GM, but of clashing playing preferences.


For the same reason a Scout Master's job is to do that for the scouts, or a sempai's duty is to do that for their kohais in the dojo, or a football coach's and captain's duty is to do that for their team, or an NCO's duty is to do that for their squad... so on and so forth.

A game master frequently is all of a game's host, it's runner, and the most experienced and rules wise player in the game. It comes with that baggage to explain, oversee and enforce rules of the game, starting with "what is roleplaying?" and extending to metagame social rules necessary for the game to function such as "show up on time" and "don't make excess noise".

You can argue that a GM isn't, or doesn't necessarily have to be, all of those things. Well duh. In the same vein, no individual scout master, martial artists, coach, team captain, NCO or whatever is guaranteed to have all traits necessary to do the job we're discussing. Where it occurs, it's a big damn problem. It can be solved by portioning parts of or all of the duty on some other person who is more suitable, if one is available. But it's never a good idea for it to be no-one's job.

You can argue that it's an unnecessary job when all players are already socially savvy, decent mannered and equally experienced. Which is sort of like arguing that you don't need to appoint an instructor for a training session when all participants are already black belts of equal rank. It's both a corner case and practically dubious, even though evidently possible.

Except a GM isn't... any of that. Or, most of that, at least not necessarily. And it isn't bound to be a problem, neither big nor small. I mean, let's go through these...
1. Host - who hosts a game is fully irrelevant as long as everyone shows up on time and knows how to get there. And the most important skill with being a host, I would argue, is housekeeping; wholly unrelated to any teaching or social endeavours.
2. Runner - I guess, since it is literally what the GM is for? Doesn't require much social skills, though.
3. Most experienced and rules-wise - why? I mean, why would the GM need to be better than the players? I'd agree they should have a firm grasp on the rules, but beyond that? I have a player in my groups that reads RPGs and tries to break them apart for fun. Truly disgusting min-maxer, if he'd actually play those concepts.
I cannot match that guy in rules-savvyness, because he's just investing more time, and willing to invest more time. But why should that cause an issue? It's quite handy, sometimes, actually, when he know obscure special rules that I'd forgotten about.
Why, exactly, is it that you think there should be a real-life, out-game power-dynamic where the GM is on top? Why do you find that necessary?

Most importantly, none of those are an argument for the GM enforcing social skills any more than any other of the outgame equal players. Or an argument for the GM teaching social skills, incidentally. What you need to be a GM does not include social skills, not even on your list.
I mean, every player should, ideally, have them, but again, player social skills stand in no real necessary relation to their character's. Everything you say is tangential to the point.


Your former position was not wrong, most mechanizations of social skills totally do reduce player agency and can be used in the way you describe.

The reason why it's not universally considered a flaw, is because when the player knows they are bad at a skill, knowing their success depends on that skill causes frustration and anxiety. (Refer back to the graph of performer skill versus task difficulty.) So in such cases, off-loading the burden on something else and the following loss of agency can be relieving.

Again, though, why off-load it on dice, instead of swapping the hard social problem for an easier one untill the player gets a hang of it?

Or maybe because sometimes, surrendering your agency can be fun. Not because of frustration, but because... relaxing can be part of having fun. And reliquishing agency can be quite relaxing, not being forced to make every, single decision, especially ones that ultimately don't matter - which most parts of a played-through conversation don't.
And, why offload it onto the dice? Because it is far from the only reason I am in favour of social skills, and I'd rather have high-skill diplomacy simulated by abstraction, than by babys first political debate.
I mean, at the point you are simulating the actual social problem ingame by a real, but really, really simple one... You have abandoned any semblance of immersion and "getting closer to what's happening ingame" anyways.


Funny part is that most of the people I know with good social skills are on the "yay social skills" side of the divide, while it's mostly the people with poor social skills that are deadset against it.

Frequently, the only "social skill" those people have is an absolute refusal to ever compromise or do anything that could be perceived as backing down.

Now, to be clear, I'm not accusing you of this, or anyone you know. I am saying that my experience does not match your hypothesis.

Interesting observation - though my personal experience goas more along the lines of "most people I know don't care much either way", with a few "Nah, I want the skills", both for "I am socially compentent and like it" as well as "Nah, nowhere in hell am I gonna be able to sweettalk as well as my character, gimme dice."

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-23, 09:07 PM
I mean, I guess I am constantly learning new things through RPGs. What universities there are in Hong Kong, for example. How the necks of dolphins look when they're staring straight at you. Bits and pieces of Japanese. Not the core point, though, by far. And not something that anyone tried to intentionally teach.


I'm constantly learning new things almost every moment I'm awake. I'm compulsively curious and find reason to look things up or for looking into something or to ponder something scores of times a day. And as you say, not something that someone was trying to teach me. I do my own learning.

Also as you say, just because we learn from something doesn't mean that the point of it was to teach, or that a teacher or the effort to teach was involved.

PhoenixPhyre
2017-11-23, 09:13 PM
I'm constantly learning new things almost every moment I'm awake. I'm compulsively curious and find reason to look things up or looking into something or ponder something scores of times a day. And as you say, not something that someone was trying to teach me. I do my own learning.

Also as you say, just because we learn from something doesn't mean that the point of it was to teach, or that a teacher or the effort to teach was involved.

And (being a teacher and having gone through lots of school), we sometimes learn despite the teacher and the effort to teach. Been there, done that.

And to close the circle, having a good teacher doesn't even imply that the students will learn. A teacher can make the environment conducive to learning, but the student has to decide to learn. And slipping education into entertainment secretly is destined to be a failure, through and through. If you're treating a gaming opportunity as a "teaching moment," most people will twig to that and your attempt to teach will backfire. It comes across as sneaky and underhanded, a bait and switch.

Basically, unless someone asked you to teach them, don't play teacher. Especially toward adults. It never goes over well. Model correct behavior, sure. And respond to questions, giving good suggestions when asked for advice. Volunteering advice, especially at the table, often breeds humiliation and defensiveness.

WarKitty
2017-11-23, 09:37 PM
I agree. After 20 years of witnessing arguments about this, it seems to me that an overwhelming number of people saying "if you can't be as charming and suave as me, then you have no business playing a social character" are abrasive, belligerent jerks whose social skills are affected more by Dunning-Kruger than Miss Manners.

Yeah, I've rather seen this as well. Or often they were people who were very creative, but also very self-centered and used to pushing people around. Which is, I suppose, a social skill...

PhoenixPhyre
2017-11-23, 10:33 PM
Yeah, I've rather seen this as well. Or often they were people who were very creative, but also very self-centered and used to pushing people around. Which is, I suppose, a social skill...

Same. And that's not a social skill we want to be teaching (or giving incentives for).

Tanarii
2017-11-23, 11:13 PM
See, and I find the former to be mostly irrelevant. I mean... Getting better at something that is most of the time noncompetitive seems to be a strange frame for things. On top of that, I'd think the rather well-known term "system mastery" describes what you are trying to describe more concisely, and less ambiguously.Making good decisions isn't system mastery, although that certainly helps.

And I don't know where you're getting "non-competatice from. I said you can look at resolution as something in which player decision making works with dice rolling. Or you can look at resolution as being a potential conflict between player knowledge and dice rolling

I find the former more beneficial. Why go looking for ways to make the system work against you, when you can make it work smoothly?


For which I find your view that it stems from "poor understanding of the best way to handle resolution" as seeming mostly as a statement of preference on your part, yes


with a small sideorder of asserting people are playing the game "wrong". quite a large order, to be honest


You might think there is a "best way" to handle resolution, I'd wager that there are multiple, different for different people.
It becomes a problem not because of the GM, but of clashing playing preferences.If the GM is resolving things in a way that causes clashes, then IMO it's worth looking at ways to reduce that.

Floret
2017-11-24, 07:27 AM
Making good decisions isn't system mastery, although that certainly helps.

Debatable, actually. What counts as a good decision for the game in question could be argued to be system dependent. Maybe "game mastery"? ...as opposed to gamemastering, of course, meaning entirely different things. At least they are different terms^^


And I don't know where you're getting "non-competatice from. I said you can look at resolution as something in which player decision making works with dice rolling. Or you can look at resolution as being a potential conflict between player knowledge and dice rolling

I find the former more beneficial. Why go looking for ways to make the system work against you, when you can make it work smoothly?

Where I am getting non-competitive from?
Maybe it isn't quite the right term; but in every place I'd consider "ability to be good at the game" something that can be considered is something... well, something you can be good at. Either in competition against other players; or in "competition" with the board, a deck of cards, or a computer.

I find RPGs to be significantly lacking in that regard; and the lack of a clear goal to work towards more or less effectively makes the framing of the abilities of the player to play the game more "efficiently" to run into a problem, as the definition of "efficiently" gets too blurry, irrelevant, or circumvented completely.
(You may argue that being better or worse at achieving the player's goals might be the thing, decoupling them from the character's goals. And while that can certainly be done, in any given situation the player's goal can get rather vague, spontaneous, or undefined; the biggest fun being had through improvisation, and being along for the ride reacting to things in the moment being something many people want. And at that point... any "ability" to make good decisions gets down to spur-of-the moment, which certainly might be a skill, but is rather tangential to most of what people talk when they mean "good at a game".

You may even argue that "having fun" can be a goal. But please, tell me, without any addition of preferences muddying the definition, how being better or worse at having fun can be a skill a person can posess.)

I can also look at resolution to be something that has to be done. Something where player decision leads to [resolution mechanic, normally dice]. Now, taking player social skill as what makes the decision requires:
a) The resolution mechanic for these situations to be actually that. Player social skill. There are games (Notably, iirc, Symbaroum) that make this explicit.
b) The resolution mechanic the system intends to be circumvented. This is where there is a conflict between player ability and dice rolling; but it has nothing to do with player skill at playing the game; only tangentially as "the GM has changed the rules (without telling)", thus inhibiting the ability to make decisions properly. But... While this might be what you're getting at, it isn't what this discussion is about, and it doesn't get at even half of the problems of why "just use the players social skills" is considered a problem.
The term "player skill" as the equivalent of the respective "character skills" showcases that the problem is in a (sudden, and not otherwise present) disconnect of the character's abilities being what matters in the gameworld. Not because of different expectations, but because of other problems that come with that way of handling things.

Basically, I think your framing of this matter is way, way off, too coloured by your own rather specific preferences, and incredibly reductive.


yes

quite a large order, to be honest

Didn't wanna put words in your mouth, but good on you for admitting it :smallwink:


If the GM is resolving things in a way that causes clashes, then IMO it's worth looking at ways to reduce that.

Worth looking at it, sure, but I wouldn't really think it fair to make the blanket statement that the GM is the problem. There is a problem, sure, but it isn't necessarily anyone's fault.

Calthropstu
2017-11-24, 09:33 AM
Are you deliberately misinterpreting him? He's not suggesting that characters need to learn Role Playing and System Mastery. He's stating that a player's superior role-playing and systems mastery will help play the role playing and mechanical aspects of the game better.

In a game of chess, the king doesn't need to know what a knight fork is - but the player does.

The people who have mastered the system better will make better choices as fighters as wizards, simply by knowing what effect the various actions will have. If you are in a 20-foot diameter room and set off a fireball, then your characters are all in the fireball. If you keep attacking a wraith with a non-magical weapon instead of trying to flee, you will lose the encounter.

Similarly, the people who play a role well will handle role-playing aspects better. As a simple example, no matter how high you roll on Diplomacy, you will not convince the wizard who doesn't have Evocation spells to make you a wand of fireballs. Talk to him, and find out what is possible - and you might find out that he needs something you can provide.

Isn't this a feature in Shadowrun? I remember seeing rules for playing Shadowrun in Shadowrun...

Darth Ultron
2017-11-24, 10:48 AM
I agree. After 20 years of witnessing arguments about this, it seems to me that an overwhelming number of people saying "if you can't be as charming and suave as me, then you have no business playing a social character" are abrasive, belligerent jerks whose social skills are affected more by Dunning-Kruger than Miss Manners.

Well, my years of gaming have shown me that this does not work.

A player with social issues that wants to play a social character by faking it with roll playing rarely finds it good and satisfying and worth it.

And this is even more highlighted if the group does has a player and DM that do have, at least, basic social skills. When a player and DM spend a couple minutes doing some real social interaction......the other player that just roll plays for two seconds an drops a dice on the table, and then is told by the DM ''your character did good'' just feels hollow.

WarKitty
2017-11-24, 11:17 AM
Well, my years of gaming have shown me that this does not work.

A player with social issues that wants to play a social character by faking it with roll playing rarely finds it good and satisfying and worth it.

And this is even more highlighted if the group does has a player and DM that do have, at least, basic social skills. When a player and DM spend a couple minutes doing some real social interaction......the other player that just roll plays for two seconds an drops a dice on the table, and then is told by the DM ''your character did good'' just feels hollow.

I'm not really sure that's the only type of player involved though. There's also plenty of people who really do want to rp a social character, they're just not good at it. And penalizing their PC for them not being good at it doesn't really help much - it makes them frustrated with the game, plus likely embarrassed into not trying again (because when you tried and then someone tells you it doesn't work because your approach is bad, that's not exactly encouraging).

After all, you can still ask the players to come up with something, even if you don't really make it what the check depends on.

Darth Ultron
2017-11-24, 11:34 AM
I'm not really sure that's the only type of player involved though. There's also plenty of people who really do want to rp a social character, they're just not good at it. And penalizing their PC for them not being good at it doesn't really help much - it makes them frustrated with the game, plus likely embarrassed into not trying again (because when you tried and then someone tells you it doesn't work because your approach is bad, that's not exactly encouraging).

After all, you can still ask the players to come up with something, even if you don't really make it what the check depends on.

People who are not good at something, really should not want to just take way of faking it to look like they are doing it.

Just replace ''social skills'' with ''combat''. Now, just think of a player that just is not good at combat. Would you just have that player have a character sheet with just a name on it. Then when combat came up, the player would just roll a d20, and the DM would say ''your character uses the fest power attack and swings his battle axe, hits and does 11 damage" and the player just sits there?

Now, to help a person become ''better'' is a good idea....but you wob't get better at any kind of social skills rolling a d20.

Aliquid
2017-11-24, 12:15 PM
Just replace ''social skills'' with ''combat''. Now, just think of a player that just is not good at combat.Be careful. You aren't talking about "combat". i.e. the player doesn't actually need to have combat skills himself.

But if you say "combat strategy", that might be more relevant.

Lets say that a player never makes strategic decisions during combat. They don't take advantage of a flanked opponent, they don't remember to use their "special moves", etc. If their character has a low Int and Wis... I guess that would be fine. If their character is supposed to be good at that sort of thing... well that depends:

If the player finds the rules overwhelming, than the other players can remind him "dude, flank the goblin"

If the player is just too lazy to figure out the rules and doesn't put any effort into it... then you do have a problem, and should ask "why are you even here?"

Dr_Dinosaur
2017-11-24, 01:09 PM
People who are not good at something, really should not want to just take way of faking it to look like they are doing it.

Just replace ''social skills'' with ''combat''. Now, just think of a player that just is not good at combat. Would you just have that player have a character sheet with just a name on it. Then when combat came up, the player would just roll a d20, and the DM would say ''your character uses the fest power attack and swings his battle axe, hits and does 11 damage" and the player just sits there?

Now, to help a person become ''better'' is a good idea....but you wob't get better at any kind of social skills rolling a d20.
I'll regret engaging, but there's two problems here:

1. You don't need to be good at swinging a sword to play a Fighter in D&D. When you decide that your Fighter swings a sword at a goblin, you roll a d20 and add BAB plus Strength plus whatever other modifiers are at play, and compare that to the goblin's armor class. Likewise, you shouldn't have to be a master-level rhetorician to play a silver-tongued Bard in D&D. When you decide that your Bard attempts to convince the mad king to consider the countless innocents that would be harmed by his plan to ascend to godhood, you roll a d20 and add your Charisma plus skill ranks plus whatever other modifiers are at play, and compare that to the difficulty class of the check. In both scenarios you then describe what happens based on the results. It's not spooky evil rollplay, it's how the game works.

2. D&D is a fun game for enjoyment, not training camp, a fact which both you and Frozen_Feet seem to have missed. People play this fun game to temporarily inhabit other characters and go on adventures, or to tell cool stories, or to roll dice and collect EXP and loot when they've rolled enough to kill the skeletal half-dragon ogres of Fantasylandia. All of those are valid styles and none involve the DM "teaching" anyone to be "better."

Quertus
2017-11-24, 02:59 PM
You may even argue that "having fun" can be a goal. But please, tell me, without any addition of preferences muddying the definition, how being better or worse at having fun can be a skill a person can posess.)

"When you're a ****, the table has less fun. Learn how not to be a ****." How's that, for starters?

The character who outdid everyone else put together, the "it's what my character would do", the "only one way" attitude can generally all be improved by improving player social skills.

Now, me, I'm a ****. Which is part of why our first and only house rule is "don't be a ****". Because you don't really need much else to make things work.

-----

There are different kinds of fun, and different skills lend themselves to enabling or increasing each type. The phrase "the life of the party" seems indicative of the fact that humanity recognized, at some level, that having and creating fun was a skill.

Jay R
2017-11-24, 03:20 PM
There are several issues getting mixed up here, and people are accusing everybody who disagrees with them of being overly simplistic on the other side. I’m trying to add a little nuance here, and convince people, not that the ones disagreeing with them are right, but that a lot of them aren’t as simplistically stupid as you believe.

I will not let the player roll the dice blindly, without providing any context. At the very least, I need to know who she’s trying to convince, what she’s trying to convince him to do, and what argument she’s using. And all of these can make a situation where the roll isn’t needed. The best way to include all the information involved smoothly is to role-play the conversation.

I’m not judging that conversation for tone of voice, for charisma, or for bardic ability. I’m listening to the content.

If you’re trying to convince the king to rescue the village of North Zulch from the invading orcs, and the king knows his daughters are in North Zulch, once he’s told that’s where the orcs are headed, no roll is needed to convince him. If you roll at all, it will be to decide how much help he gives you.

On the other hand, if you try to convince him to help you stop Fergatroyd the mad priest, and he just signed a treaty with Fergatroyd, nothing you say will convince him to help you – unless you have learned in your adventures that Fergatroyd has betrayed and killed his last five allies. Without using that fact, you will not get a roll, or if you do, it will be to decide if he tries to imprison you or merely banish you.

If you try to negotiate with the orc chieftain, and you tell me you are speaking in orc, then you will get a circumstance bonus (or at least avoid a circumstance penalty). If you then offer him the thing he wants most (money, a magic item, help in his goal), then you may not need to roll to convince him to accept your offer. The roll would then determine whether you are considered friends, neutral allies, or necessary annoyances.

All of this is good role-playing that adds flavor to the diplomacy roll, rather than replacing it. It’s similar to the fighter deciding which maneuver to use, or the wizard picking a spell.

I consider the following three to be the same:
1. A fighter whose player says, “My character fights. He knows how, and I don’t, so he attacks the best enemy to attack, with whichever is his best weapon, using the best tactics available. I’m not the fighter, I just roll the d20.”
2. A wizard whose player says, “My character casts a spell. He knows how, and I don’t, so he chooses the best spell to use, where to aim them, and any options the spell has, using the best tactics available. I’m not the wizard, I just roll the d20.”
3. A bard whose player says, “My character rolls for diplomacy. He knows how, and I don’t, so he decides the best argument to use, who to address it to, what facts to bring up, using the best tactics available. I’m not the bard, I just roll the d20.”
You’d never accept the first two. Why would you accept the third?

It is simply not true that expecting people to put context into their diplomacy means that they won’t roll the die. It’s just not.

I suspect the real disagreement is not between people who roll a die with no information and people who only talk and never roll. It’s far more likely that it’s between people who prefer to get the minimum amount of context out of character and those who prefer a little more context delivered in character.

This is a preference of role-playing style, and neither is appreciably worse than the other. I have a strong preference, but there is no reason that people who don't share my preference are playing "wrong".

Tanarii
2017-11-24, 03:50 PM
There are different kinds of fun, and different skills lend themselves to enabling or increasing each type. The phrase "the life of the party" seems indicative of the fact that humanity recognized, at some level, that having and creating fun was a skill.
Interesting. I've always thought/viewed "the life of the party" as a negative phrase. As in, out of control partier.

Darth Ultron
2017-11-24, 04:06 PM
Be careful. You aren't talking about "combat". i.e. the player doesn't actually need to have combat skills himself.



When I say ''combat'', I'm talking about knowing the RPG combat rules...not the real life stuff..




1. You don't need to be good at swinging a sword to play a Fighter in D&D. When you decide that your Fighter swings a sword at a goblin, you roll a d20 and add BAB plus Strength plus whatever other modifiers are at play, and compare that to the goblin's armor class.

Right, I never meant to say that a player should be a world class master sword fighter or anything real like that.

I'm talking about a play that ''can't'' get the rules, and just wants to fake it: exactly like the social one wants too.




2. D&D is a fun game for enjoyment, not training camp, a fact which both you and Frozen_Feet seem to have missed. People play this fun game to temporarily inhabit other characters and go on adventures, or to tell cool stories, or to roll dice and collect EXP and loot when they've rolled enough to kill the skeletal half-dragon ogres of Fantasylandia. All of those are valid styles and none involve the DM "teaching" anyone to be "better."

As I said it is not part of the ''game'' it is part of ''life''.

In general, a good person, will help others, even without being asked; and will be even more willing if asked to do so.

Though sure, if someone is an anti social jerk, does not want any help, then sure you just let them sit in the corner and complain endlessly that ''they can't do social stuff'' (Though, true, I would never allow this in my game).

Quertus
2017-11-24, 04:24 PM
Interesting. I've always thought/viewed "the life of the party" as a negative phrase. As in, out of control partier.

I've seen both positive and negative connotations to that phrase. And to "precocious" and "munchkin".

But even the negative connotations to "the life of the party" seemed to me to acknowledge the high fun content. Although perhaps it could be argued that a willingness to sacrifice control for fun isn't a "skill"...

Tinkerer
2017-11-24, 05:07 PM
There are several issues getting mixed up here, and people are accusing everybody who disagrees with them of being overly simplistic on the other side. I’m trying to add a little nuance here, and convince people, not that the ones disagreeing with them are right, but that a lot of them aren’t as simplistically stupid as you believe.

I will not let the player roll the dice blindly, without providing any context. At the very least, I need to know who she’s trying to convince, what she’s trying to convince him to do, and what argument she’s using. And all of these can make a situation where the roll isn’t needed. The best way to include all the information involved smoothly is to role-play the conversation.


That it is normally the best way I concur. There are definitely situations though where it either isn't necessary or would be counter-productive. For instance if the PC is particularly silver-tongued a kingdom might ask them to assist in the peace negotiations with the rival nation which the PCs just helped end the war with. I highly doubt that the player would want to sit down and role play several days worth of peace talks. Or haggling, which I know some GMs go gaga over but I think is about as boring as watching paint dry. Or giving a rousing speech to a group of troops... for the 10th time over the course of your war campaign. In those situations in particular I tend to break things down to a basic roll.

As with any other skill the fact that the character has it is enough to use it, so long as they can communicate their intent. Now a skilled player using social skills can definitely get bonuses and on occasion bypass the mechanics entirely, just as a skilled player can bypass the roll on disarming a trap by circumventing it or they can get more utility out of their spells by using them in a creative fashion or they can bypass a fighting obstacle by using the environment. Really what it breaks down to though is can they describe their intent and their approach. If they can then there is no reason that they cannot use their skills.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-24, 07:29 PM
1. You don't need to be good at swinging a sword to play a Fighter in D&D. When you decide that your Fighter swings a sword at a goblin, you roll a d20 and add BAB plus Strength plus whatever other modifiers are at play, and compare that to the goblin's armor class. Likewise, you shouldn't have to be a master-level rhetorician to play a silver-tongued Bard in D&D. When you decide that your Bard attempts to convince the mad king to consider the countless innocents that would be harmed by his plan to ascend to godhood, you roll a d20 and add your Charisma plus skill ranks plus whatever other modifiers are at play, and compare that to the difficulty class of the check. In both scenarios you then describe what happens based on the results. It's not spooky evil rollplay, it's how the game works.


So your approach is that the player has little to no idea what came out of their character's mouth until after the roll?

Interesting.

Tanarii
2017-11-24, 08:12 PM
So your approach is that the player has little to no idea what came out of their character's mouth until after the roll?

Interesting.
Sure he does. He knows it's something that "attempts to convince the mad king to consider the countless innocents that would be harmed by his plan to ascend to godhood".

All you need to know is what you intent is (convince king not to ascend to godhood) and approach (persuade him by asking him to consider the moral implications of the countless innocents that would be harmed).

You do not need to know the exact words that came out of your characters mouth. Either before or after the roll.

In fact, in my games I make it clear you never ever know the exact words that came out of your characters mouth. Anything you say is approximately translated in-game anyway. Because what came out of your mouth, the player, isn't exactly what's going on or being said in game. It always has to be pushed through our individual imagination filters anyway.

Another article on that, same author who wrote so well on Intention, Approach, Outcomes and Consequences. But this time on player/character seperation, declaring actions, and the stupidity of the concept of "meta gaming":
http://theangrygm.com/through-a-glass-darkly-ic-ooc-and-the-myth-of-playercharacter-seperation/

Floret
2017-11-25, 09:39 AM
"When you're a ****, the table has less fun. Learn how not to be a ****." How's that, for starters?

The character who outdid everyone else put together, the "it's what my character would do", the "only one way" attitude can generally all be improved by improving player social skills.

Now, me, I'm a ****. Which is part of why our first and only house rule is "don't be a ****". Because you don't really need much else to make things work.

-----

There are different kinds of fun, and different skills lend themselves to enabling or increasing each type. The phrase "the life of the party" seems indicative of the fact that humanity recognized, at some level, that having and creating fun was a skill.

It's a good rule. I wouldn't describe "Not being an *******" as a skill, though. Maybe semantic differences. (It at least doesn't connect meaningfully to being "the thing you need to be good a the game"; it is far too broad to be synonymous with that, and thus to lend much credence to the idea that "player skill (at the game)" is much of a useful concept when describing RPGs in general.)

And... I disagree that the phrase implies that. It implies that there are certain skills that lend themselves to enhancing a typical party. Those are very, very specific skills, and not really a "having fun" skill. But, again, this might be getting into semantics and loosing my main point:
RPGs are not really something you can be objectively "good" at in any meaningful sense.


I've seen both positive and negative connotations to that phrase. And to "precocious" and "munchkin".

But even the negative connotations to "the life of the party" seemed to me to acknowledge the high fun content. Although perhaps it could be argued that a willingness to sacrifice control for fun isn't a "skill"...

I've never actually seen it used negatively, tbh. (Or a positive one for munchkin, beyond it being a fun cardgame).
I suppose the skill would be in knowing how much can be sacrificed to actually make the experience more enjoyable?


There are several issues getting mixed up here, and people are accusing everybody who disagrees with them of being overly simplistic on the other side. I’m trying to add a little nuance here, and convince people, not that the ones disagreeing with them are right, but that a lot of them aren’t as simplistically stupid as you believe.

I will not let the player roll the dice blindly, without providing any context. At the very least, I need to know who she’s trying to convince, what she’s trying to convince him to do, and what argument she’s using. And all of these can make a situation where the roll isn’t needed. The best way to include all the information involved smoothly is to role-play the conversation.

I’m not judging that conversation for tone of voice, for charisma, or for bardic ability. I’m listening to the content.

I don't think this is happening, actually. Most people have admitted this.


All of this is good role-playing that adds flavor to the diplomacy roll, rather than replacing it. It’s similar to the fighter deciding which maneuver to use, or the wizard picking a spell.

I consider the following three to be the same:
1. A fighter whose player says, “My character fights. He knows how, and I don’t, so he attacks the best enemy to attack, with whichever is his best weapon, using the best tactics available. I’m not the fighter, I just roll the d20.”
2. A wizard whose player says, “My character casts a spell. He knows how, and I don’t, so he chooses the best spell to use, where to aim them, and any options the spell has, using the best tactics available. I’m not the wizard, I just roll the d20.”
3. A bard whose player says, “My character rolls for diplomacy. He knows how, and I don’t, so he decides the best argument to use, who to address it to, what facts to bring up, using the best tactics available. I’m not the bard, I just roll the d20.”
You’d never accept the first two. Why would you accept the third?

It is simply not true that expecting people to put context into their diplomacy means that they won’t roll the die. It’s just not.

I suspect the real disagreement is not between people who roll a die with no information and people who only talk and never roll. It’s far more likely that it’s between people who prefer to get the minimum amount of context out of character and those who prefer a little more context delivered in character.

This is a preference of role-playing style, and neither is appreciably worse than the other. I have a strong preference, but there is no reason that people who don't share my preference are playing "wrong".

1) You are making quite some assumptions when you say "you'd never accept the first two". Because... Depending on the situation, and the game? I probably would. At least partially, I have allowed it, at least in the sense of letting people forego choosing whom to attack beyond "Meh, person closest to me will do", maybe providing context if the character might have noticed, if the player has lost track of the scene or had imagined it differently drom me. Or just answering the question of "Do I have a spell that can help here, I can't remember what all of them did" not with "then learn" or "Look it up", but with "Maybe try to keep track, please, also X might do something that could be useful".
2) It might serve well to look at what the actual problem is with the examples. For me, and generally accepted in the discussion, it mostly comes down to "I, as the GM, don't know how to resolve this/what to actually resolve". As soon as I know that, I don't need more input, and any acting out or description is voluntary. (Though often much appreciated; depending on the situation. Trying to get a courtier to slip up and reveal secrets? Probably act out most of it. Trying to ask around town if anyone knows something about person X? Probably skip the acting out part.)
Other people might want more, or there might be a disconnect between what the GM and the player each think is "sufficient information to actually resolve it", and that is where problems come in through differences in preference.


Another article on that, same author who wrote so well on Intention, Approach, Outcomes and Consequences. But this time on player/character seperation, declaring actions, and the stupidity of the concept of "meta gaming":
http://theangrygm.com/through-a-glass-darkly-ic-ooc-and-the-myth-of-playercharacter-seperation/

For all we have disagreed, reading the article I have a few points on it:
1) He seems to use "player skill" the same way I have; in the one instance he uses the phrase.
2) I agree with most of that. It might not always be my playstyle, and it might be confounded by my players generally just... being relatively good about separating player and character knowlege (Acting on things other people learned through lore rolls assuming it was shared; applying basic common sense without fear of not being allowed to; but also sometimes deliberately restricting their character to not knowing things about the setting they OOC do. (Certain customs from your favourite ingame country; when you are playing deliberately someone not from there, for example.)) But yeah, metagaming is a bull**** concept (especially to get hung up on); characters and their actions will always be informed by the person playing them, etc. All things I agree with.
3) One thing I disagree with is the implication that I'm not sure is present, but sure seems present that character and player goals will align. Because... They don't, necessarily. Some people just like to make a character, give them goals, sure, but only use those as a means of getting something to happen - making their character proactive, rather than just waiting to happen, but getting their fun out of just seeing what will happen; and that is something that has to be adressed when talking about player and character separation being impossible to fully achieve.
(Also, being an ******* in character in a way that annoys other players certainly is a problem; but as long as the other players aren't bothered, I find it works perfectly fine to play someone who's at least a bit ****e, while acknowleging that. Outgame comfort of the other players trumps it; and that "your character would do it" can never be a working excuse, but you can be an ******* character without being an ******* person.)
4) I kind of fail to see the relevance for the discussion at hand, tbh. Maybe I'm blind? Can you explain what you think is the connection, cause I just honestly don't really see it :smalleek:

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-25, 10:12 AM
Sure he does. He knows it's something that "attempts to convince the mad king to consider the countless innocents that would be harmed by his plan to ascend to godhood".

All you need to know is what you intent is (convince king not to ascend to godhood) and approach (persuade him by asking him to consider the moral implications of the countless innocents that would be harmed).

You do not need to know the exact words that came out of your characters mouth. Either before or after the roll.


Dr Dino was describing a setup that sounded like the dice determine what comes out of the character's mouth, rather than what comes out of the character's mouth modifying the roll in some way.




In fact, in my games I make it clear you never ever know the exact words that came out of your characters mouth. Anything you say is approximately translated in-game anyway. Because what came out of your mouth, the player, isn't exactly what's going on or being said in game. It always has to be pushed through our individual imagination filters anyway.


That would never fly in any group of gamers I've ever been a part of. Any GM who tried to impose that would get session-halting pushback.

Tanarii
2017-11-25, 02:35 PM
That would never fly in any group of gamers I've ever been a part of. Any GM who tried to impose that would get session-halting pushback.

That's a shame. Because it's awesome. The other awesome flip-side of it is that it allows you run a game as generally "saying is doing". When you say something at the table out-loud, it's either something your PC is doing or saying, approximately, in game. Like ... if you're ****ing around and making loud boisterous jokes, so are your PCs.

Mark Hall
2017-11-25, 02:56 PM
We would occasionally implement "You say it, you play it" when the table got too off topic.

But, again, I refer back to Star Wars. Han's conversation with security in the detention area is a classic case of a failed Bluff check... of someone who is usually smooth just utterly flubbing what's coming out of their mouth.

Tanarii
2017-11-25, 03:43 PM
We would occasionally implement "You say it, you play it" when the table got too off topic.I have a simple rule for it in most games. If I say "give me second here guys" table chatter is just chatter. Then I call for their attention again, and we're back in the game.

It's particularly hilarious when people quip a joke after a critical hit in combat, imagining the characters dropping one-liners. :smallamused: But I've found what it really helps with is times when there are NPCs around. Talking tactical battle plans in a fight means the enemy can overhear, unless you have telepathy. Which makes Rary's Telepathic Bond very meaningful. Players know not to talk about about Henchmen or Retainers as meat shields or redshirts in front of them. When negotiating with a NPc, they can't make suggestions or mouth off without the NOc knowing. NPCs react to stuff being said. When you're a scouting party treating to sneak up, PCs can't freely talk to each other about stuff, although they can describe hand signals if they like. If PCs want to discuss something privately, tell me you're pulling a character aside to do it, or call for a PC huddle.

I find it enhances verisimilitude ... but the converse is you need to assume some things the players are saying aren't word for word. Because they'll use game mechanical terms or modern jokes or modern idioms or references to modern technology that won't make sense if said in-game. And if you're generally assuming that's the case, IMO as a DM you can't suddenly switch up and assume that something is a word-for-word statement without asking "is that exactly what you say?"


But, again, I refer back to Star Wars. Han's conversation with security in the detention area is a classic case of a failed Bluff check... of someone who is usually smooth just utterly flubbing what's coming out of their mouth.
Lol that example is clearly a critical failure. :smallbiggrin:

Edit: to be clear, I don't have a problem with a detailed description or even acting out a resolution success / failure after the roll. But neither do I feel a general not-so-specific description of the result is a problem. Nor do I have a big problem with anything from a general statement of intent/approach with enough specifics to allow resolution, or a more detailed description or acting out of exactly what you say followed by resolution is a problem.

The only thing I really have problems with is a vague intent / approach without sufficient details to properly resolve, especially to the point of just saying what skill you want to roll without any additional necessary details. Or a general intent/approach, detailed description, or exact words that presuppose the result of resolution.

Pleh
2017-11-26, 06:28 AM
So your approach is that the player has little to no idea what came out of their character's mouth until after the roll?

Interesting.

I do this when a player is stuck and unsure of what to say and I don't feel the situation warrants punishing them for writer's block.

I'll get the gist of what they want to say, have them roll, then give them an idea of what their character probably said depending on the roll result.

I never cut them off from having their own ideas, however. I use this as a tool to pry loose a game experience that got momentarily stuck.

Calthropstu
2017-11-26, 07:58 PM
I do this when a player is stuck and unsure of what to say and I don't feel the situation warrants punishing them for writer's block.

I'll get the gist of what they want to say, have them roll, then give them an idea of what their character probably said depending on the roll result.

I never cut them off from having their own ideas, however. I use this as a tool to pry loose a game experience that got momentarily stuck.

Diplomacy is not just what they say, but how it comes across. If you take an agressive stance, slur your speech, smell bad, don't maintain eye contact, have to take long pauses mid sentence etc... any of these could turn the best worded of sentences with well meaning intentions into a disaster.
So even setting out exactly what characters say isn't enough to void a diplomacy or other social skill roll in any system.
So I like your approach, and often use this approach myself fairly often.

Segev
2017-11-27, 01:03 PM
In the sense that you wait to see what the dice come up with to determine what a sword-swing looks like, you wait to see what the dice come up with to see what words come out of a given social character's mouth. Sure, you meant to swing that sword precisely up under his guard and into the gap in his armor and slice through his throat, but the dice came up a natural 1, so you scraped it on the ground and the slower momentum let him catch it on his shield, deflecting it off to the side so that it hits nothing important. Sure, you meant to appeal to the King's better nature by elucidating on the plight of the orphans and widows who will be created by the cascading unintended consequences you fully understood, yourself, and had hoped to articulate, but your Charisma is low and your skill non-existent and the dice came up in the low single-digits, so what came out as your tongue stumbled over the unfamiliar phrasing and your own nerves before the king was, "Why won't you think of the CHILDREN; are you some sort of MONSTER?"

Your failure to swing the sword with the accuracy you intended resulted in a miss. Your failure to avoid a blatant and simplistic and overdone appeal to emotion combined with an insulting implication that disagreeing with your inarticulate argument makes him evil caused the King to disregard you entirely.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-27, 01:48 PM
In the sense that you wait to see what the dice come up with to determine what a sword-swing looks like, you wait to see what the dice come up with to see what words come out of a given social character's mouth. Sure, you meant to swing that sword precisely up under his guard and into the gap in his armor and slice through his throat, but the dice came up a natural 1, so you scraped it on the ground and the slower momentum let him catch it on his shield, deflecting it off to the side so that it hits nothing important. Sure, you meant to appeal to the King's better nature by elucidating on the plight of the orphans and widows who will be created by the cascading unintended consequences you fully understood, yourself, and had hoped to articulate, but your Charisma is low and your skill non-existent and the dice came up in the low single-digits, so what came out as your tongue stumbled over the unfamiliar phrasing and your own nerves before the king was, "Why won't you think of the CHILDREN; are you some sort of MONSTER?"

Your failure to swing the sword with the accuracy you intended resulted in a miss. Your failure to avoid a blatant and simplistic and overdone appeal to emotion combined with an insulting implication that disagreeing with your inarticulate argument makes him evil caused the King to disregard you entirely.


I'd say that's one way to handle it, but not the only way.

Segev
2017-11-27, 03:35 PM
I'd say that's one way to handle it, but not the only way.

No, not the only way.

However, there does come a point where what the player says with his own lips probably doesn't comport with what the character says, IC, if you're going too far into role playing it out.

I mean, if the player is a good judge and actor on par with his character's social skills, sure, it's probably close or even identical, and the die roll determines a dozen other factors.

But when the player's social talents and skills are out of alignment with the character's, and the player either can't or doesn't role play the character's skills...

You can wind up with the rather unpersuasive (e.g. me) or somewhat inarticulate player who is trying to play a highly smooth-talking socialite, who couldn't write a convincing bit of fast-talk or weave a persuasive yarn given three hours and clips of Michael Weston at his best as inspiration. Said player literally can't come up with the smooth-talking phrasing and fast-talking wordplay that his character's mechanics say should work. But he's perfectly capable of discussing the strategy he wants to take. He can't write the speech to do it, but he can say, "I want my PC to remind the King of his duty to his people and tie that in to funding our expedition to kill the dragon harassing his villagers." What his character says might be an impassioned plea on behalf of the villagers, a sonnet to their loyalty to the king and their dependence on his just rulership, etc. etc. in ways that make the court weep and the King offer his heartfelt thanks for the party taking this on, along with all the support they could want. Despite the fact that the player lacks the ability to make such a speech.

You can also wind up with the silver-tongued player who is playing the uncouth, unlettered, and irreverent barbarian with charisma and social skills as dump stats. But when it comes time to persuade the King, he actually, out of character, gives the speech that the above socialite PC in character is said to. And he says, "My character says..." before he does so. No, his character doesn't say that. His character lacks the vocabulary, oratorical skill, and convincing disposition to sell it even if he were repeating it as spoken into his ear. Because his die roll doesn't support him saying that.


We can wax eloquent over how one of those is bad role playing, and he shouldn't do that, but in the end, if we draw the analogy back to combat, we might well allow the skilled SCA member demonstrate exactly the maneuver he's having his character pull off, but even if the DM can't block it to save his proverbial life, the die roll coming up as a "miss" still means that the SCA member's character did not pull off the maneuver exactly as demonstrated IRL. Just as the silver-tongued player's speech isn't exactly what the PC actually says, nor how precisely he says it.

Xuc Xac
2017-11-27, 03:36 PM
Instead of rolling to see if you say the right thing, I prefer rolling to see if the thing you said was right. Basically, the skill check doesn't determine what words come out of the character's mouth, but how the audience takes it.

The party needs to convince the king to provide some soldiers to help stop some rampaging fluffnublins heading for their village? If a charismatic player with a sparkling white smile gives a grandiloquent dramatic speech for their CHA 6 character and rolls a 3, then the king responds with "Blah blah blah! Spare us your long winded flim-flammery!" If an awkward, sweaty-palmed player stammers out "J-just back us up with a dozen warriors or... or... It'll be really bad!" for their paladin and rolls a natural 19, then the king looks into the paladin's eyes and responds with "We... we believe you! There's no time to waste, is there? Sir Lanternjaw and his knights will go with you. Borrow the fastest horses in our stables and ride like the wind!"

Being social isn't just a binary skill and many RPGs allow for superhuman levels of ability. No player, no matter how suave, can sway nations with a whisper or stare like Hypnotoad, but PCs with mega-social stats can. If a normal human can roll for impossible results because their character has greater than normal abilities, why can't we make the same rolls for results that aren't impossible.

Tanarii
2017-11-27, 03:55 PM
Instead of rolling to see if you say the right thing, I prefer rolling to see if the thing you said was right. Basically, the skill check doesn't determine what words come out of the character's mouth, but how the audience takes it.
Same.

This goes for combat too. An attack roll doesn't primarily represent how well you make an attack, but rather how well the enemy defends themself against it. A miss is usuall blocked by a shield or dodged. It isn't just a whiff.

Segev
2017-11-27, 04:13 PM
Instead of rolling to see if you say the right thing, I prefer rolling to see if the thing you said was right. Basically, the skill check doesn't determine what words come out of the character's mouth, but how the audience takes it.

The party needs to convince the king to provide some soldiers to help stop some rampaging fluffnublins heading for their village? If a charismatic player with a sparkling white smile gives a grandiloquent dramatic speech for their CHA 6 character and rolls a 3, then the king responds with "Blah blah blah! Spare us your long winded flim-flammery!" If an awkward, sweaty-palmed player stammers out "J-just back us up with a dozen warriors or... or... It'll be really bad!" for their paladin and rolls a natural 19, then the king looks into the paladin's eyes and responds with "We... we believe you! There's no time to waste, is there? Sir Lanternjaw and his knights will go with you. Borrow the fastest horses in our stables and ride like the wind!"

Being social isn't just a binary skill and many RPGs allow for superhuman levels of ability. No player, no matter how suave, can sway nations with a whisper or stare like Hypnotoad, but PCs with mega-social stats can. If a normal human can roll for impossible results because their character has greater than normal abilities, why can't we make the same rolls for results that aren't impossible.

It is, however, a skill, and even though a number of factors come into play, the same can be said of combat. Or any other skill check.

Don't get me wrong; that's a fine approach...sometimes. But it strains credulity when used every time. If the high-charisma paladin's player is a mealy-mouthed mumbler, having every single NPC in the setting be amazingly persuaded by mealy-mouthed mumbling gets a little hard to buy. If a PC with no skill in athletics at all is constantly described by his player as making picture-perfect leaps across chasms, having the only reason he always fails be that the wind blew, or a rope he was carrying snagged, or other external factors that have nothing to do with his 90-lb. unatheltic weakling being unable to jump more than a foot off the ground being the only reasons he doesn't sail like a majestic Olympian through the running leap he took also feels unbelievable.

The dice and mechanics do determine how well you do something, most of the time. The more unlikely your success, the more likely the cause of failure is your character screwing up than some random happenstance. The reverse is also true.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-27, 04:17 PM
Same.

This goes for combat too. An attack roll doesn't primarily represent how well you make an attack, but rather how well the enemy defends themself against it. A miss is usuall blocked by a shield or dodged. It isn't just a whiff.


So if the result of the action comes down to something the defender did... why isn't the defender the one rolling?

Segev
2017-11-27, 04:20 PM
So if the result of the action comes down to something the defender did... why isn't the defender the one rolling?

Good question.

Tinkerer
2017-11-27, 04:26 PM
So if the result of the action comes down to something the defender did... why isn't the defender the one rolling?

It's a result of the combination of the attackers skill and the defenders skill. Many systems did have them both roll, until most game companies realized that it is just a waste of time doing that so they simplified it by having the attacker roll and the defender setting the target number. But some still use that system.

EDIT: Actually you can see the next step of this evolution with Passive Perception. And the reason behind the defender not rolling also dips into the psychology behind rolling to affect change vs rolling to resist change.

Tanarii
2017-11-27, 04:57 PM
Good question.


So if the result of the action comes down to something the defender did... why isn't the defender the one rolling?
Because simplicity. Besides, in some systems they do.

And I overstated my preference. There's some "attack right" on the part of the attacker, but generally speaking a competent attacker shouldn't wiff the majority of the time. In D&D specifically, I only describe an attack roll that would miss whatever AC the thing would have if it were an immobile object as a complete wiff. (In 5e that'd be against AC 5.) Otherwise it's the object moving that causes a miss (which I suppose could be considered a kind of a "wiff" on the attackers part), or dodging, or hitting hard armor, or being parried or blocked.

I mean, it's all abstract. But certainly "describe action as successful or not due to application of the action initiator's skill alone" isn't necessarily always the best way to handle social or non-social things. That's not saying it's the worst. It's just not always the best.

Edit: Ulitimately, I think the process necessarily goes:
1. Declaration of action (description optional)
2. Resolution
3. Application of resolution (description optional)

Description after the fact can include all sorts of 'reasons' for success or failure.

Segev
2017-11-27, 05:04 PM
Because simplicity. Besides, in some systems they do.

And I overstated my preference. There's some "attack right" on the part of the attacker, but generally speaking a competent attacker shouldn't wiff the majority of the time. In D&D specifically, I only describe an attack roll that would miss whatever AC the thing would have if it were an immobile object as a complete wiff. (In 5e that'd be against AC 5.) Otherwise it's the object moving that causes a miss (which I suppose could be considered a kind of a "wiff" on the attackers part), or dodging, or hitting hard armor, or being parried or blocked.

I mean, it's all abstract. But certainly "describe action as successful or not due to application of the action initiator's skill alone" isn't necessarily always the best way to handle social or non-social things. That's not saying it's the worst. It's just not always the best.

In terms of describing misses in 3.5e D&D/PF, I tend to be guided by what "kind" of AC they used to avoid being hit. Since these stack, it is a little tricky, but I tend to treat dex/dodge-based AC as the first line of defense, shield as the next line of defense, then deflection, armor, natural armor. Mainly because that's the order I view failing to stop an attack from doing damage.

Tanarii
2017-11-27, 05:05 PM
In terms of describing misses in 3.5e D&D/PF, I tend to be guided by what "kind" of AC they used to avoid being hit. Since these stack, it is a little tricky, but I tend to treat dex/dodge-based AC as the first line of defense, shield as the next line of defense, then deflection, armor, natural armor. Mainly because that's the order I view failing to stop an attack from doing damage.
I ended up ditching that because it's supposed to be abstract, and it ignores parries, which are a huge part of combat.

Segev
2017-11-27, 05:18 PM
I ended up ditching that because it's supposed to be abstract, and it ignores parries, which are a huge part of combat.

I tend to count those in with shield and dex bonuses, and thus sometimes throw those in under those circumstances. I also view them as being much more a part of the many exchanged feints and tests that don't get rolled as the "decisive" attacks of a combat round.

kyoryu
2017-11-27, 05:50 PM
No, not the only way.

However, there does come a point where what the player says with his own lips probably doesn't comport with what the character says, IC, if you're going too far into role playing it out.

Look at it this way. If your character is speaking in a foreign language, I absolutely guarantee that, unless you speak that language, what your character is saying is not what you are saying, exactly word for word.

Because anyone that has done any studying of any foreign language, or has worked with translation can tell you that speaking in another language well is not just a matter of using different words. Even beyond grammatical constructions, speaking a language well involves understanding idioms and cultural factors as well.

So, no, this idea doesn't really bug me.

Psikerlord
2017-11-27, 05:54 PM
To answer the original OP, the difference is talking with NPCs part of the game is where most of the roleplaying happens.

So most tables dont want that aspect of the game reduced to only a dice roll. Also, many dont like the idea of social skills as a pseudo charm person effect, so the player having a go at describing their approach or phrasing helps the GM determine whether to rule it auto fail/success, or if a dice roll is needed.

The best approach I've found over the years is asking the player to describe what they say, or their approach, and then - if a roll is needed - it might be modified by what the player said. So it ends up a mix of player RPing and PC skill. Not for all exchanges of course, just special ones like convincing the king, haggling for a magic sword, etc

Tanarii
2017-11-27, 06:10 PM
Look at it this way. If your character is speaking in a foreign language, I absolutely guarantee that, unless you speak that language, what your character is saying is not what you are saying, exactly word for word.

Because anyone that has done any studying of any foreign language, or has worked with translation can tell you that speaking in another language well is not just a matter of using different words. Even beyond grammatical constructions, speaking a language well involves understanding idioms and cultural factors as well.Yup. This is why I generally assume that what's being said isn't exact. Because in the vast majority of games I run, the PCs aren't English speakers.

Plus as I already mentioned, players are using idioms and words and even concepts that are very specific to our current generations. Constantly. We all do. Even when we think we aren't.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-27, 06:12 PM
Look at it this way. If your character is speaking in a foreign language, I absolutely guarantee that, unless you speak that language, what your character is saying is not what you are saying, exactly word for word.

Because anyone that has done any studying of any foreign language, or has worked with translation can tell you that speaking in another language well is not just a matter of using different words. Even beyond grammatical constructions, speaking a language well involves understanding idioms and cultural factors as well.

So, no, this idea doesn't really bug me.

I prefer a middle ground on this -- the player's statement of intended method and/or roleplaying of the interaction influences difficulty or bonus/penalty depending on system, then the roll is made to determine the effect if necessary. I don't harshly punish players who are trying their best but just aren't as "smooth" as their character, and I don't let one bad roll kill a great speech or interaction. This does require not treating social interactions as a binary on-off / yes-no, however, and getting into a lot of "degree of success/failure" along with some "no, and..." / "yes, but..." stuff that I only use during social interaction.

Xuc Xac
2017-11-27, 06:30 PM
It is, however, a skill, and even though a number of factors come into play, the same can be said of combat. Or any other skill check.

Don't get me wrong; that's a fine approach...sometimes. But it strains credulity when used every time. If the high-charisma paladin's player is a mealy-mouthed mumbler, having every single NPC in the setting be amazingly persuaded by mealy-mouthed mumbling gets a little hard to buy.

That's the point. Just because it comes out of the player as "mealy-mouthed mumbling", it can still come out of the PC clearly and confidently. The player is the scriptwriter who writes the dialogue, but the character is the actor who delivers the lines. If the scriptwriter and the actor are both really good, the result will be good. If the writer is a hack but the actor is good, the result can still be really good if the actor doesn't just phone it in. For example, Sir Christopher Lee was in a huge number of horribly written, cheesy movies. I don't think he ever turned down a role, so he would act in anything, but he was a great actor who always took his job seriously, so he was usually still awesome even if the role was badly written schlock. If the actor is bad, it doesn't matter how great the script is (as demonstrated by legions of community theater and high school drama club actors around the world butchering the classics).

If you don't separate the player's delivery from the character's performance, you end up with ridiculous situations like a 9-foot troll with a chaingun who can't intimidate anybody because the GM doesn't feel personally threatened by the player across the dining room table eating pretzels and rolling dice.

Xuc Xac
2017-11-27, 06:36 PM
I prefer a middle ground on this -- the player's statement of intended method and/or roleplaying of the interaction influences difficulty or bonus/penalty depending on system, then the roll is made to determine the effect if necessary.

That's a reasonable way to go. If a player tries a social approach that doesn't seem convincing to the GM, it doesn't have to fail automatically. A "wrong" approach can still have a chance of working even if it's sub-optimal. If a player wants to punch an enemy with their sword hilt instead of stabbing with the blade, the GM shouldn't just say "You miss". Let them roll with a penalty for not using the sharp end, but there's still a chance it will work (and sometimes, using the blunt end is the right thing to do).

Quertus
2017-11-27, 07:09 PM
You can also wind up with the silver-tongued player who is playing the uncouth, unlettered, and irreverent barbarian with charisma and social skills as dump stats. But when it comes time to persuade the King, he actually, out of character, gives the speech that the above socialite PC in character is said to. And he says, "My character says..." before he does so. No, his character doesn't say that. His character lacks the vocabulary, oratorical skill, and convincing disposition to sell it even if he were repeating it as spoken into his ear. Because his die roll doesn't support him saying that.

We can wax eloquent over how one of those is bad role playing, and he shouldn't do that, but in the end, if we draw the analogy back to combat, we might well allow the skilled SCA member demonstrate exactly the maneuver he's having his character pull off, but even if the DM can't block it to save his proverbial life, the die roll coming up as a "miss" still means that the SCA member's character did not pull off the maneuver exactly as demonstrated IRL. Just as the silver-tongued player's speech isn't exactly what the PC actually says, nor how precisely he says it.

I heard my cue to insert my standard response that bad role-playing would be the GM responding to the player's delivery instead of the character's Charisma.


No player, no matter how suave, can sway nations with a whisper or stare like Hypnotoad, but PCs with mega-social stats can. If a normal human can roll for impossible results because their character has greater than normal abilities, why can't we make the same rolls for results that aren't impossible.

All hail Hypnotoad.

Do you really let PCs pull that off with pure Charisma?


Don't get me wrong; that's a fine approach...sometimes. But it strains credulity when used every time.

Not really. Tom has never touched weights - the heaviest thing he lifts is his plate - but he can play Hercules. **** is the picture of masculinity, but he can play a woman. Why should Harry's delivery be any more damaging to your perception of in-game reality?


In terms of describing misses in 3.5e D&D/PF, I tend to be guided by what "kind" of AC they used to avoid being hit. Since these stack, it is a little tricky, but I tend to treat dex/dodge-based AC as the first line of defense, shield as the next line of defense, then deflection, armor, natural armor. Mainly because that's the order I view failing to stop an attack from doing damage.

That's... exactly what I did back in 2e. I'm... not alone any more.

Xuc Xac
2017-11-27, 07:29 PM
All hail Hypnotoad.

Do you really let PCs pull that off with pure Charisma?


Not in D&D, because the stats don't scale up like that. But in games like Aberrant, you can have characters with social stats on the same scale as Superman's strength. As I recall, you could actually "parry" a blow with your Mega-Appearance by being too pretty to get hurt like Zoolander's "Magnum" pose or plant subliminal messages in your normal speaking voice or physically hurt someone through the intense distress they feel when you focus your displeasure on them with a withering glare.

GrayGriffin
2017-11-28, 10:04 AM
Don't get me wrong; that's a fine approach...sometimes. But it strains credulity when used every time. If the high-charisma paladin's player is a mealy-mouthed mumbler, having every single NPC in the setting be amazingly persuaded by mealy-mouthed mumbling gets a little hard to buy.

Honestly if I was the DM in that case I'd turn it into part of his reputation or something, maybe something like "he keeps his words quiet and hard to understand because he doesn't need a strong voice or clarity to convince people." It's not like there haven't been stories about people's simple words being taken for super-profound before.

Tanarii
2017-11-28, 10:51 AM
If you don't separate the player's delivery from the character's performance, you end up with ridiculous situations like a 9-foot troll with a chaingun who can't intimidate anybody because the GM doesn't feel personally threatened by the player across the dining room table eating pretzels and rolling dice.Of course, in a system that bases Intimidation on force of personality instead of physical power and size, you might end up with said player being better at it IRL than said troll.

Yeah. I went there. :smallbiggrin:

Segev
2017-11-28, 11:36 AM
Not really. Tom has never touched weights - the heaviest thing he lifts is his plate - but he can play Hercules. **** is the picture of masculinity, but he can play a woman. Why should Harry's delivery be any more damaging to your perception of in-game reality?


You and a few others missed my point. This tells me I did a bad job communicating it. I was agreeing with you. I was saying that, while the approach where you have exactly what the player said and how he said it just happen to be perfect for that particular audience can work sometimes, it strains credulity when you have it be that way all the time. Therefore, having the character not always use the player as his actor - not always say, exactly as the player says it, what the player says - is essential to good RPG-social-mechanic-resolution.

It's okay to sometimes have Harry's delivery be exactly what Harry's PC says and does, and have that be perfect for the audience. It's okay - even necessary - to often have Harry's delivery be an approximation or an indication of...call it Direction, if we're going with play-and-actor metaphors...Direction to the GM as to the nature of what the PC is saying and doing. The actual in-game result is a PC saying and doing something amazingly persuasive (or, at least, as persuasive as the die roll indicates) that follows along with the Direction given by the player as to what kind of approach he's using, and possibly points he brings up.

Lorsa
2017-12-13, 04:51 AM
I know I am very late to the party and I hope it is not too late to reply to this thread. I have been very busy recently so not been able to write anything unfortunately.

Discussions of how to handle social situations in RPGs seem to pop up from time to time, and they're always interesting to me. While I largely agree with much of what Jay R has said, I will try to offer some alternative perspectives that can perhaps shed light on the topic question, as well as some personal preferences.

First I would like to say that social skills are different from most other skills on a typical character because everyone (well almost anyway) has social skills to some degree. Social interaction is almost hard-wired into our brains and from birth we develop a sense for how to navigate the social world around us. Everyone has gotten training in social skills and just about everyone has at least some basic understanding of it. This is one reason why they are different and why some GMs may treat them differently in-game. In this sense, social skills are similar to skills such as walking, running, jumping and climbing. Everyone has them to some degree.

This is not true for other skills such as lock-picking, wilderness survival or arcane lore, which require very specialized training to posses. Unlike social skills, this is not something we humans learn by default just by growing up as human beings.

Another way in which social skills are different is that they work poorly in a system only measured by success vs. failure. When you're supposed to jump across a chasm, it is quite easy to see how you either succeed or fail, but in social interactions there is a very large spectrum of possible outcomes. You can get what you want in the moment but leave the other person irritated, annoyed or suspicious. You can decide not to get what you want in the moment and instead make the other person friendly or loyal to you (which will aid in future social situations). Or you can get both or neither. As human beings, we intuitively understand that social interactions are not simple succeed or fail situations. Mind you, social skills are not the only ones with a spectrum of outcomes, but they are the ones that often, in my systems, gets treated very far from their "real" spectrum of outcomes.

It is untrue that social skills are different in that they are the only ones where a GM might request some player knowledge in order to portray a character having that skill. The example that has been mentioned here most often is fighting, where the player is expected to have some form of RPG tactics skills. It is also quite possible that in a modern game, a player trying to hack a system might be asked "so, how do you attempt to hack it?" by the GM. It does not require the player to know how to write code but rather inform the GM of some basic approach like "I try to brute force it" or "I will physically sneak in a hack through the usb port" or "I hide malware on a webpage the victim likes to visit" or somesuch (I don't know hacking very well). Similarly, a thief might be asked "so, how do you sneak into the house?" or "which lock do you try to pick?". Player skill is typically requested in all skills, not just social skills.

One thing that is very important to remember though, is that it is not "real-world" skills that are needed. A player portraying a fighter only needs to know how to select targets and maneuvers in the fictional world of the RPG, not the real world. A player portraying a hacker only needs to know how to hack in the fictional world, not the real world. A player portraying a thief only needs to know how to pick fictional locks etc etc. Similarly, a player portraying a social character only needs to be able to do social interactions within the fictional world provided by the GM, not the real world. It is quite possible to be good at one and still horrible at the other.

In this sense, I agree with Frozen_feet. You need to learn how to properly portray the character you want to roleplay within the fictional world. If you want to be a bad-ass fighter, you need to learn tactics that work in the fictional world and if you want to be a mastermind thief, you need to learn how to pick targets in the fictional world. Telling the GM "I make a roll and then you tell me exactly the best way to do this thing" is very unsatisfying for the GM (and for most players). The GMs job is to provide the obstacles, not tell the players how to solve them.

Of course, for a player with very low [fictional skill X], the GM has to provide hints and help. The player needs to learn how to navigate obstacles within the fictional world. And, as all GMs are different, this is something that needs to be done for basically every new GM you play with, and possibly even new systems/campaigns with the same GM. As such, it is a very basic thing in roleplaying not to make a character so far above your fictional skills that you can't properly portray it. This is one of the reasons I like my players to start at low levels, so they don't have an expectation on themselves to be "super good" at something. They can learn with their characters, so that at high levels, the players' fictional skills match up with their characters'. This goes for fighting, thieving, spell-casting and social skills.

Also, I am not an idiot GM. A player with high charisma or social skills might manage to seduce someone at the bar with a simple "hey, how're ya doin'?", whereas that line would never work for the player in a real bar. Adapting the response of NPCs to the skills written down on the character sheet is such a simple task. I mean, when I see that a character has very high sense motive or the like, I make sure my NPCs look more fidgety or nervous or the like when lying, compared to a low sense motive character where I make sure the NPC seems more honest.

In the reverse, I expect my players to do the same. If their characters are bad at lying, I expect them to portray them as such. The one thing I do dislike are players who play their characters far above the skills written down on the sheet. Doesn't matter if it's social skills or not, a character who specifically are made to be bad at fighting should not all of a sudden start to employ master tactics. A character who is bad at thieving should not all of a sudden come up with a mastermind plan how to break into a house. That is, I expect my players to foremost be good roleplayers, and portray their roles roughly correct. If they need some help with fictional skills to reach a certain level, I will help them. The dumbing-down I expect them to manage themselves.


A very personal reason why I like to engage in some in-game conversations in detail is that hotly debated immersion topic. With immersion, I mean my ability to picture and play out the in-game scene in my mind (much as when I read books). When a player say "I pick the lock", it is very easy for me to picture what happens. He picks up some lock picks, inserts them into the lock, fiddle a bit with them and suddenly the lock opens. When a player say "I talk my way past the guard", it is simply not enough for me to play out the scene in my mind. What, more precisely, is being said? It is very unsatisfying for me to simple picture a scene with two characters going "blah blah blah" and "blah blah blaaaaah" to each other, after which the character is allowed to pass.

Obviously, not all conversations need that sort of detailed portrayal. This is true in RPGs just as in books. Some conversations though, are more important, more interesting, have more tension or whatever. Those need more attention. This isn't unlike other skills. Sometimes a simple "I walk through the woods" is enough for people to picture what happens, other times you need to specify "I follow the river" or "I take the forest trail". It's not set in stone. But if we compare lock-picking to social interaction, it is a clear difference with how well one can picture the scene based on just "I pick the lock" vs. "I talk to the guard".

More than that, for some NPCs I really need to know what the player said to convince them. This will alter my future portrayal of them, as it might change their attitudes, beliefs or even personality to some degree. If I don't know what the player want to say, I can't do my job as a GM good enough. Furthermore, I often can't answer the question of "what would convince this guard to let me through?". I might not really know that myself as a GM. I could answer questions such as "what is the mood of the guard" or "how strong principles does the guard have" or even "what does the guard like to do as a hobby". Some of these might not be easily discernible by a simple sense motive skill roll though. As a GM, I put up the obstacles, I don't decide how they should be beaten.

I mean, even for myself I don't know what will convince me of one thing or the other before I hear it. Sure, some basic things are certain, but there's a very large unknown area. And I know myself far better than any city guard I portray in a RPG. Therefore, I do need to know the approach the player takes, even if it's just a statement of "I try to convince the guard I work for the duke".

In the end, many social interactions, even when played in some detail, often boils down to a roll anyway. If there's some ambiguity in the result, if the presentation matters more than the content or the like, the player needs to roll. Never rolling social skills ever is stupid. Only rolling them and never asking for content is unsatisfying.

So, social skills are different yet the same. They will be treated differently by every table in existence. But this is also true for fighting, spell-casting or whatever. Every table will require a different level of "player fictional skill knowledge".

Segev
2017-12-13, 09:29 AM
I agree for the most part with Lorsa's post, but want to call out a few points for further discussion. Lorsa notes that we have an instinctive, grown-up-with-it understanding of social skills to some degree. That is, we're trained in it, just by being humans in a social environment. She then likens it to running, climbing, and jumping, which is very key as an observation. If, for instance, D&D lumps "social skills" into Diplomacy (okay, it also has the possibly-even-more-used Bluff, but bear with me), it lumps those physical skills we "all have" into Athletics.

As she notes, we tend to have far less problem accepting "I jump the chasm" or "I climb the rope" without having to give detailed descriptions of specialized techniques, like finding a ramp to run off of or twisting the rope between one's feet to make artificial footholds off of which to push, than we do "I talk my way past the guard" without presenting some idea of what we say. This is because, while you CAN break down the chasm-jump into smaller things, there aren't really multiple interesting points of failure. "You tripped and fell over a loose root on your run up to the chasm" is usually just going to be followed by trying again, and if you're being chased, that might actually be still a more generous failure than falling to your doom. Maybe. The only outcomes of interest are whether you made it across, fell into it, or somehow failed to even leave the side. And if there's a way to add extra steps, they're usually handled by a saving throw or a second skill check. "You can tell immediately that your jump is insufficient!" "I want to grab the roots of that tree protruding into the chasm to arrest my fall." "Make another Athletics check!"

Social interactions have far more of a "game board" to play on. There are many approaches that can be taken with meaningful differences in how the conversation will go. Bribing the guard costs money and probably doesn't, by itself, make a friend. Befriending him can be free, but may not get the same kind of favors.

I would argue that, if you allow people to approach burglary by describing a general approach, and picking particular doors or banks of windows, but don't require detailed descriptions of the specific stealth and lockpicking techniques used, you should also allow for a description of a general approach in social interaction. You don't have to let it go at, "I talk my way past the guard," but you probably should accept something along the lines of, "I approach him like a confused courtier, and attempt to lead from some self-deprecation about my being lost naturally into a conversation about something of shared interest, perhaps the foibles of another noble if I can correctly guess one this guard (or guards in general) like to mock behind his back. Using that bit of camaraderie, I try to draw him enough into the conversation to distract him while Robin the Rogue sneaks in past and behind him."

It's not playing out the conversation, forcing the player to try to be as smarmy and as natural and as witty as his character's own tongue would be, but it's still a good detailed description of the TACTICS of the conversation, helping the mind's eye fill in the details and nod, agreeing that that approach sounds like something that might actually work. Much like choosing where to position yourself in combat, or whether to leap the chasm or attempt to balance on the vines stringing across it. You don't have to describe precisely how it's done, just what you're trying to do.

Jay R
2017-12-13, 10:44 AM
The two latest comments are both very good.

The short answer to what makes social skills different? D&D is a game played almost exclusively by talking to each other. It is composed of social skills.

Segev
2017-12-13, 11:02 AM
The two latest comments are both very good.

The short answer to what makes social skills different? D&D is a game played almost exclusively by talking to each other. It is composed of social skills.

Ironically stereotypically played by those who are worst at them. :smalltongue:

Xuc Xac
2017-12-13, 01:47 PM
The two latest comments are both very good.

The short answer to what makes social skills different? D&D is a game played almost exclusively by talking to each other. It is composed of social skills.

It's also largely composed of basic arithmetic to add up modifiers and dice rolls, but we don't make players do complex calculus to fire artillery, navigate a starship, or decrypt a secret transmission if their character is much better at math than the player is.

Social skills are not a binary "you have it or you don't" thing. PCs can be much better at them than players.

jayem
2017-12-13, 03:09 PM
First I would like to say that social skills are different from most other skills on a typical character because everyone (well almost anyway) has social skills to some degree. Social interaction is almost hard-wired into our brains and from birth we develop a sense for how to navigate the social world around us. Everyone has gotten training in social skills and just about everyone has at least some basic understanding of it. This is one reason why they are different and why some GMs may treat them differently in-game. In this sense, social skills are similar to skills such as walking, running, jumping and climbing. Everyone has them to some degree.

This is not true for other skills such as lock-picking, wilderness survival or arcane lore, which require very specialized training to posses. Unlike social skills, this is not something we humans learn by default just by growing up as human beings.

I'm not sure they're even analogies. That is I think a sentence like
"Everyone has... General survival is almost ... Everyone has gotten ... This is not true for other skills such as lock-picking, marketing or arcane lore* which ...
would have just as much superficial validity**, but more or less the opposite conclusion. And I don't think there's a simple way to say one's more fair than the other.

There's definitely some truth in what your saying there, but it doesn't feel quite right, although I'm not sure what is and if we could work it out. It definitely would need more than mere assertion, but I can't see what we can get.

*Lock picking could either be put as an extension of Opening things or item manipulation.
Arcane Lore we don't learn by default because it doesn't exist, but practical law and lore we do encounter.
**We of course can say Marketing is just a trivial application of general Social Interaction lessons but that just begs the question, or that Wilderness Survival is a different class from General Survival.


Another way in which social skills are different is that they work poorly in a system only measured by success vs. failure. When you're supposed to jump across a chasm, it is quite easy to see how you either succeed or fail, but in social interactions there is a very large spectrum of possible outcomes. You can get what you want in the moment but leave the other person irritated, annoyed or suspicious. You can decide not to get what you want in the moment and instead make the other person friendly or loyal to you (which will aid in future social situations). Or you can get both or neither. As human beings, we intuitively understand that social interactions are not simple succeed or fail situations. Mind you, social skills are not the only ones with a spectrum of outcomes, but they are the ones that often, in my systems, gets treated very far from their "real" spectrum of outcomes.

Definitely agree with this and (as far as I can see) beyond.

Lorsa
2017-12-14, 04:11 AM
I'm not sure they're even analogies. That is I think a sentence like
"Everyone has... General survival is almost ... Everyone has gotten ... This is not true for other skills such as lock-picking, marketing or arcane lore* which ...
would have just as much superficial validity**, but more or less the opposite conclusion. And I don't think there's a simple way to say one's more fair than the other.

There's definitely some truth in what your saying there, but it doesn't feel quite right, although I'm not sure what is and if we could work it out. It definitely would need more than mere assertion, but I can't see what we can get.

*Lock picking could either be put as an extension of Opening things or item manipulation.
Arcane Lore we don't learn by default because it doesn't exist, but practical law and lore we do encounter.
**We of course can say Marketing is just a trivial application of general Social Interaction lessons but that just begs the question, or that Wilderness Survival is a different class from General Survival.

I'm not quite sure what you're saying here. You want to make a case for that it is possible to make the exact same assertion but switch "social skills" to "general survival"? Well, what does general survival even mean here? If you mean simple things as eating and breathing, then yes, humans are hardwired for those things. But those are not even represented as skills in any RPG I know of. If you mean cooking food, then no, that is not actually a skill that everyone automatically picks up (as was evident among British nobility in the Edwardian era).

My assertion is based on that social skills are not a thing which one needs to be trained in. Language, for example, seems to "come natural" to humans, and studies show that babies can tell the difference between the sounds of two different languages at a very early age. Reading emotional states in others is also a skill you can not avoid unless you are born without mirror neurons. Similarly, humans learn walking by the age of 1 (which is fairly late compared to other animals), without receiving any training in it. Perhaps you can make a case for a human growing up without other humans might not learn social skills nor walking (as it's learnt by watching and mimicking other humans), but such a human would not survive. Humans can climb before they can walk and they certainly jump at the age of two. These are not skills that have to be taught, they are learnt instinctively just by watching the people around you.

This is not true for survival skills, nor is it true for any knowledge skill or lock-picking. I mean, *I* am fairly good at item manipulation, but I STILL can't pick locks. It is very possible to grow up without any knowledge about common law whatsoever.

Unfortunately, one can not say that the Athletics skill in D&D is possessed by everyone, as it includes swimming. Swimming is not something humans learn naturally, it is something that requires specific training. Something that is quite evident in Sweden today with the recent immigrants; many of them can't swim. Actually, many of them do not know the Swedish law either nor common lore about the country. If you swap "law" for "morality", then you could possibly make a case for it.

But, I do not think you should simply trust what I say simply because I say it. Rather, I think you should do a test. Randomly select one thousand healthy three year olds (I do acknowledge that there are cases for which this do not apply, such as humans that are born disabled). Then test these one thousand three year olds for the following skills:

1. Bluff
2. Climbing
3. Diplomacy
4. Jumping
5. Sense Motive
6. Walking/Running

and tell me if they seem to have an understanding for it.

Then test them for:

1. A knowledge skill of your choice
2. Lock-picking
3. Wilderness survival

and tell me if they seem to have an understanding for it.

I am willing to bet money on that all one thousand of them will have at least some rating in the first six, but that all of them won't have the last three. In fact, I'd be very surprised if even one has lock-picking as a skill, and also if even one of them could survive on their one in the wild for a week. But, I accept that I might be wrong, so if you have doubts, please do the test.