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View Full Version : Playing to your Stats or letting the dice decide



KyleG
2019-01-14, 01:37 PM
Im curious how others are roleplaying their characters with high/low scores.
Do you play the weak man who has moments of unexpected incredible strength? or do you play the average joe who in reality is not able to perform feats of strength on most occasions?
Perhaps the wise man who has moment who accidently walks into the corridor with the sign that says "trap here". Or the guy who for the most part finds himself avoiding the trap by pure luck.

Basically do your ability score determine your personality, or do the dice rolls?

DeTess
2019-01-14, 05:01 PM
Im curious how others are roleplaying their characters with high/low scores.
Do you play the weak man who has moments of unexpected incredible strength? or do you play the average joe who in reality is not able to perform feats of strength on most occasions?
Perhaps the wise man who has moment who accidently walks into the corridor with the sign that says "trap here". Or the guy who for the most part finds himself avoiding the trap by pure luck.

Basically do your ability score determine your personality, or do the dice rolls?

Mostly, I'm the one who decides my characters personality, and mold the ability scores to support or at least not directly contradict that. However, I've played a character with abysmal INT in the past, in which case I'd often come up with little stupid things to do and let the dice deiced whether I'd actually follow through.

Man_Over_Game
2019-01-14, 05:31 PM
It's actually kinda hard to play against something that feels fluid to you, the player. Usually, I find it's best to find something that suits your personality and then just arranging the stats to best suit that. I tried playing a big dumb Barbarian, but I just couldn't ever get into it, and I don't think a few modifications would be enough to make me go back to that.

KyleG
2019-01-14, 06:39 PM
It's actually kinda hard to play against something that feels fluid to you, the player. Usually, I find it's best to find something that suits your personality and then just arranging the stats to best suit that. I tried playing a big dumb Barbarian, but I just couldn't ever get into it, and I don't think a few modifications would be enough to make me go back to that.

yeah...hence I thought that maybe you could play as the average joe who says "im going to look at the wall for stuff" and your perception check is rolled resulting in "you THINK its a wall, but it could be a tree, you find it hard to tell"

Or maybe the old man clearly suffering the effects of age to his strength acts as if nothing has changed despite the dice saying otherwise on more occasions than not.

The mental stats are the hardest I reckon so by ignoring them from your actions and letting the dice decide the outcome may make the experience better I was thinking. Saves having to determine how to act the low CHA, high INT guy with high WIS, or the high CHA but low INT and WIS guy. etc it playing those 3 stats in there various configurations that seem daunting to me.

Man_Over_Game
2019-01-14, 07:02 PM
The solution I encourage at my table is to think of what you want to do, roll it first and then describe what your character did to earn that roll.

Otherwise, you end up with these backwards situations of:


Player trying desperately to save their NPC sister: "Please, Mr. Merchant man! We have traveled 10 days just to receive this antidote for my dying sister, and with how much time we've spent to get here, there is no other way for her to survive. I beg of you!"
Rolls 6.
Merchant: "No".


I find it helps players to "fill a role", rather than it being expected of them to fill a void with a made-up personality's whims and habits. Rather than just saying on the spot whatever you think sounds right, you're given a mission, a goal, like this:


Rolls 6.
Player trying desperately to save their NPC sister, roleplaying their 6: "Listen here, I need that antidote to save my sister, and you better give it to me!"
Merchant: "No".


No longer are you pleading with a merchant just to be shot down by random chance.

Instead, you're an upset adventurer who traveled 10 days, luck was against you, you rolled a 6 before giving your speech, and now I want you to describe to me your best 6 you've ever given. Players don't know how to be perfectly intelligent or charming as a god, but we sure as hell know how to belt out a 6 with perfect mediocrity, and I find that to be a lot more fun than expecting perfection out of people.

Even if they happen to roll a big number, at least then they can say, with pride, that they've already succeeded, rather than trying to come up with a blanket description of everything they're doing and hoping it succeeds. You'll find that players will feel a lot cooler and more comfortable with their characters if they roll and THEN roleplay rather than the other way around.

Darth Ultron
2019-01-14, 09:06 PM
Well, I do one of two things:

1. Play whatever personality I want. The ability scores don't matter.

.2 Play what a roll. This is the way I do it most of the time. Roll some dice see what I get. Even assign the rolled number to each ability at random. Then make a character around the abilities.

Quellian-dyrae
2019-01-15, 04:02 PM
Yeah personality comes first when it comes to driving my character's decisions. I'll certainly use stats to inform personality (or vice-versa; I usually do crunch first and fluff second, but I usually at least have an idea for personality when building stats and when I flesh it out I might go back and make some tweaks to better suit it) but they also don't dictate it. I'm not going to feel obligated to put a high score into Int for my character to be able to come up with clever ideas (although of course, I will recognize the value of various information-acquiring mechanics in getting the data that will allow me to better come up with clever ideas).

Dice don't matter pretty much at all in driving decisions; far as I'm concerned the dice reflect the vagaries of circumstances outside the control of the characters. I'd actually take a lot of issue with a GM telling me to roll first and then use the roll to determine what my character did.

Man_Over_Game
2019-01-15, 05:37 PM
Dice don't matter pretty much at all in driving decisions; far as I'm concerned the dice reflect the vagaries of circumstances outside the control of the characters. I'd actually take a lot of issue with a GM telling me to roll first and then use the roll to determine what my character did.

With my above example, it's less describing about what your character tried to do, but describing how your player did it.

You could describe it as:


DM: "What do you do?"
PC: "I'll analyze the ritual thoroughly, using the notes and my experience with magic to understand as much as I can of it."
Rolls 22
DM: "You succeeded, it took you an hour"


OR:


DM: "What do you do?"
PC: "I'll analyze the ritual, using the notes I've gathered."
Rolls 22
DM: "You succeeded easily, but it took you an hour. How?"
PC: "I studied intensely, ignoring everything around me during that hour until I was content with my work."


I find that it's not good to have the dice determine what you do, but they definitely may play a part in how you do it.

Similarly, a Rogue may always try his hardest to crack a lock, but explaining why one time he rolled a 5 and another time he rolled a 20 is hard to justify when all the Rogue described was "I attempt to pick the lock". With that 5, though, the player could tack on "I'm still a bit shaky from that last fight, and it's affecting my hands", or that 20 is "The lock was new, hardly worn, so it make the locking mechanism snap into place really easily".

Which lets the player actually describe more, not less.

Quellian-dyrae
2019-01-15, 06:29 PM
Yeah the rogue example is more how I would do things. The rogue isn't putting more or less effort into picking the lock depending on the die roll, but a low roll means that there's some reason it didn't work as well as it otherwise might, and a high roll means there's some reason it went better.

I was talking more about the OP example of a weak character somehow pulling off feats of exceptional strength/a wise character making an obviously foolish decision because of a die roll (like if the corridor is obviously trapped, I'm not going to act like it isn't trapped just because I somehow didn't spot the trap - if anything, if a corridor is obviously trapped and I can't spot the trap, I'm probably going to be even more cautious because obviously it is very well trapped!) But yeah your original merchant example also seemed off to me.

Like, with the merchant, yes, I'd describe exactly what my character said, and then roll. If the roll comes up below the DC, it means that for whatever reason, the merchant wasn't persuaded by what I said. Maybe he's greedy, or there are other people who need the medicine just as badly, or he's having a bad day, or he needs the money to put food on his family's table, or whatever. Or maybe the merchant takes it poorly - thinks I'm overselling it and probably lying or exaggerating or whatever.

Of course, the merchant shouldn't just arbitrarily say no because the die came up low; if the argument is sufficiently persuasive on its face and the GM has enough character detail established about the merchant that there's no reason he would refuse the request, well, that just means no roll was required (or the DC was low enough that even the 6 beat it, or whatever).

Guizonde
2019-01-16, 04:47 PM
i dissociate the two entirely. whatever i roll simply happens to be what i roll. not everyone is awesome all the time. my stats determine my character's behavior, not his personality. for example, i'll take my pf inquisitor's example.

stats rolled, including racial bonuses:

str: 12
con: 11
dex: 18
int: 14
wis: 19
cha: 10.

so, a guy who could dance on crystal glasses while debating philosophy, right? actually, more like a wise guy who's got a laser-sight pointed straight at your emotional weak spot. inquisitor josť is arrogant bordering on suicidal. completely devoid of a survival instinct he's so convinced he'll succeed, quick-thinking in peril and as slippery as teflon in combat and as accurate as the oxford english dictionnary with his rapier. he gets his rear-end kicked so often the dm debated giving him a flying speed for all the doors he crashed through.

does that reflect his stats? kind of but not quite: he's got no tact (10 cha), he's arrogant because he knows he'll succeed (19 wis), quick thinking, usually involving livestock, potatoes, explosions or lynching the bad guys (14 int), and he's a gods-damned elf (19 dex).

when i wrote his personality i underlined in red ink "impulsive", "confident", and "dirtbag". i didn't even think for a minute to make that fit with his stats. his extremely lucky good rolls and his comically-timed bad rolls did the job for me. josť is part mafioso, part hoodlum, and part insult comic. i just built his stats to make him a skill-monkey and a karma houdini in a group of only good-aligned divine casters to avoid the group having too many fallen members at once. he's the fall guy, the reason he's built like teflon is so that nothing sticks to him. his laissez-faire attitude to moral quandaries, the law, and good taste have gotten the group out of more bad situations than i can count. of course, he's so impulsive he's gotten the group in just as many bad deals. the thing is, deep down, he knows it's a bad idea. the problem is he doesn't care so long as the job gets done as fast as possible and he can weasel out of the consequences.

he's also got a thing about loving being on boats a bit too much and talking celestial with a dwarven accent. but i've got no idea how to represent that in his stats since there's no "comedy" stat to roll for.

Hyperversum
2019-01-20, 12:53 PM
I prefer to decide for myself, while obviously giving a bit of attention for the stats when It comes to roleplay.

I mean, there isn't such a big difference between and 13 and 15 in Int when It comes to roleplay. So I want to be a smart guy I will put st least 12/13 and call It a day and not a 9 and act like he is anyway above the average.

My Archivist has a natural 19 Int so She Is smart, but if It was a 16 I would have played It like I play now at the end of the day.

MoiMagnus
2019-01-21, 11:05 AM
The solution I encourage at my table is to think of what you want to do, roll it first and then describe what your character did to earn that roll.

Otherwise, you end up with these backwards situations of:


Player trying desperately to save their NPC sister: "Please, Mr. Merchant man! We have traveled 10 days just to receive this antidote for my dying sister, and with how much time we've spent to get here, there is no other way for her to survive. I beg of you!"
Rolls 6.
Merchant: "No".


I find it helps players to "fill a role", rather than it being expected of them to fill a void with a made-up personality's whims and habits. Rather than just saying on the spot whatever you think sounds right, you're given a mission, a goal, like this:


Rolls 6.
Player trying desperately to save their NPC sister, roleplaying their 6: "Listen here, I need that antidote to save my sister, and you better give it to me!"
Merchant: "No".


No longer are you pleading with a merchant just to be shot down by random chance.

Instead, you're an upset adventurer who traveled 10 days, luck was against you, you rolled a 6 before giving your speech, and now I want you to describe to me your best 6 you've ever given. Players don't know how to be perfectly intelligent or charming as a god, but we sure as hell know how to belt out a 6 with perfect mediocrity, and I find that to be a lot more fun than expecting perfection out of people.

Even if they happen to roll a big number, at least then they can say, with pride, that they've already succeeded, rather than trying to come up with a blanket description of everything they're doing and hoping it succeeds. You'll find that players will feel a lot cooler and more comfortable with their characters if they roll and THEN roleplay rather than the other way around.

Never used that for D&D, but it is indeed a good way of proceeding if you want to put some emphasis on RP. (so I've already used it in some more RP-focused RPG)

However, it does come with some counter-costs : the "problem solving" part is less present (the part where you, the player, try to solve the problem that your character is facing). A lot of DM I know ask you to describe what you do because the difficulty of the test actually depends on your description. Good justifications leads to easier diplomacy test, while bad ones leads to more difficult test.
-> Yes, it makes your effective mental stats of the PC being an "average" of the character's stat and the real-life player's stat. And that's debatable if that's a good thing or a bad one.