View Full Version : Between Diplomacy and Gather Information

2011-01-11, 03:39 AM
Comes up periodically in RPs: party wishes to ask around for information, in some place which is too small for the 1d4+1 hours of Gather Information to feel plausible, but where the DM doesn't want to have to individualize NPCs for Diplomacy. For example, a temple, a passenger boat, a small village.

Any suggestions? I try to be sparing with house rules / DM fiat but I feel like there's a 'gap' between the 1-on-1 of Diplomacy/Bluff/Intimidate and the 1-on-city of Gather Information.

One idea was to use Gather Info but replace 1d4+1 hours with 1d4+1 of some time increment like 1, 5, 10, or 30 minutes depending on DM assessment of the size of the place.

Naturally you don't want to incentive PCs to declare they're using Tavern X in the city rather than the whole city, just to quicken things up - so you could either require 'probable cause' that they know in-character Tavern X is the place to go, or you could roll a d% and reduce the probability of finding the info by the same factor as the time savings.

2011-01-11, 04:17 AM
I see two ways of doing this, one efficient but problematic for parties with low Gather Information checks, and one a little clunkier but without the drawback above.

Option 1: Increase the Gather Information DC by an amount depending on how severely they want to decrease their time. For example you could say 1d4+1 hours = normal DC, (1d4+1)x10 minutes = Normal DC + 5, 1d4+1 minutes = Normal DC + 10. The downside to this method is that if no-one in the party happens to have a high Gather Information check, it's possible to get a situation where there is literally no chance that they would find out about some specific item in the time they are taking, and if this is going to be their only chance of finding out the information, why bother rolling at all?

Option 2: As you suggested above, roll a percentile chance of that information being available in the area they are investigating in. Using the same mechanics as above, you could have the normal chance at the normal time (1d4+1 hours), half the normal chance at (1d4+1)x10 minutes, and one quarter the normal chance at 1d4+1 minutes. The downside to this is that if a character happens to roll really well on his Gather Information check or has a very high modifier, he may feel cheated when the percentile roll (rather than his skill check) determined that he had no chance of succeeding.

Upon reflection, the downside to either of these options could be mostly avoided by making all the rolls in secret.

2011-01-11, 04:34 AM
With the parameters you suggested in option 2, the 'expected time' is lower fro the faster checks: 1d4+1 minutes is 1/60th the time so if it had one-quarter the suggest chance, everyone would just make 60 such checks rather than a normal check to get the best of the ~15 d20 rolls that passes the % roll'. I'd either make the percentages proportionate to the time factor, or worse.

My primary interest is in a situation where there's no big city to try to slice up or make a 'rushed' GI check in, but sometime like an isolated temple, druidic grove, ship o' friendly pirates, etc. where the DM has decided the information is, in fact, *somewhere* there, but 1d4+1 hours for a highly skilled GIer seems implausible.

I could also use Diplomacy since the default skill usage uses fixed DCs (a favorite topic of complaint on these boards) rather than the DM needing to worry about the statistics of the group of undifferentiated NPCs (as you would with Bluff vs Sense Motive.) Especially for groups with a head honcho / where the more important thing is getting 'permission' to ask around the village/ship. (Diplomacy has chat/advise under 'Friendly'.)