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View Full Version : Roping non-social characters into courtly politics.



Isamu Dyson
2013-11-22, 01:42 PM
How do you pull this off?

A great example is the typical D&D Fighter: they have one social Skill that isn't useful for most political maneuvering. Furthermore, they lack Knowledge (History), Knowledge (Local), and Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty).

However, the Fighter's player could have consistently been roleplaying the Fighter well, plus they may have clout with a reputation earned as being a hero of no small fame.

So, the GM wants a noble/political heavyweight to pull them into a side-story or perhaps quest that requires them to interact with others in the same social circle(s). With that in mind, what is the GM to do? Should they merely handle everything with pure roleplaying? Is this fair when a party might include, say, a Bard, Paladin, or Rogue that has a significant investment in relevant Skills?

Rhynn
2013-11-22, 01:47 PM
Only use skill check when there's some uncertainty. Let the players maneuver instead: if they have something that the other party wants, or are holding something over their head, why would they need to make dice rolls? "Naw, I randomly decided I don't care that you'll reveal my deep dark secrets..."

It's fine that they'll be at a disadvantage in some things, e.g. in D&D 3.X not having Sense Motive means the DM isn't going to tell you "yeah that person is lying." You can still figure out that they are hella lying, though. Diplomacy lets you negotiate when you don't have no leverage. And so on. Having or not having a skill doesn't need to affect every situation.

Honest Tiefling
2013-11-22, 06:02 PM
They could also be helpful in other areas that don't require the skills other people invested in but he didn't. A champion fighter who is a hero of the people might be able to score some invitations to events due to his reputation. He could make a distraction while other people went behind the scenes to score information. Depending on the region, he might be able to try for knighthood or join a tourney. A rather grateful (or desperate) noble might try to hire the guy on as a bodyguard.

Personally, I feel that yes, you shouldn't have to roll in situations where common sense is telling you something, nor does it mean you cannot RP your character suspecting things anyway. But that doesn't mean that a 10 charisma fighter with no diplomacy ranks should be Role Played as the best diplomancer ever. I tend not to stay in games very long if I feel that skill investment means nothing, but that could be personal taste.

MonochromeTiger
2013-11-22, 06:06 PM
How do you pull this off?

A great example is the typical D&D Fighter: they have one social Skill that isn't useful for most political maneuvering. Furthermore, they lack Knowledge (History), Knowledge (Local), and Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty).

However, the Fighter's player could have consistently been roleplaying the Fighter well, plus they may have clout with a reputation earned as being a hero of no small fame.

So, the GM wants a noble/political heavyweight to pull them into a side-story or perhaps quest that requires them to interact with others in the same social circle(s). With that in mind, what is the GM to do? Should they merely handle everything with pure roleplaying? Is this fair when a party might include, say, a Bard, Paladin, or Rogue that has a significant investment in relevant Skills?

mix of the two, if there are characters with relevant abilities make it clear that they may want to use those skills in the following encounters to get the most out of it. for those that don't have social skills that fit the situation..just treat them as a noble would treat anyone who is considered famous, important, or useful enough to keep around but not knowledgeable enough to understand the "important" things like who does and doesn't want a particular law to come into effect or the horrible scandal of sir fancyton and the chambermaid (as opposed to the obviously unimportant things like that swarm of undead outside the peasant village).

Vamphyr
2013-11-22, 06:34 PM
If you're trying to bring a non-social character (Fighter) into heavy political and social situations you'll want to use a lot of roleplay instead of rollplay.

If they don't have the skill for Knowledge: History, don't make them use it! If it's important that they know, have someone explain it to them.

So, terrified Politician-A has his assistant contact the Fighter for a private meeting. Upon entering his chambers, Politician-A quickly greets him and explains that he fears for his life from assassins/whatever. The Fighter will naturally ask questions which allows the NPC to fill in any knowledge roll information that a Bard would have been able to make themselves. Instead of being ahead of the curve and able to play the politician, the fighter is trying to play catch up to whatever spin Politician-A is putting on the story.

Doing this drags the fighter into the situation (maybe he gets hired as a bodyguard, or to hunt down another politician) and could even be used to cause turmoil in the party as Politician-A begins to suggest that he believes the Bard is the one who is really sending assassins....

madtinker
2013-11-22, 06:44 PM
If I was the player: A person can try to be helpful and just put his foot in his mouth. Play the low charisma fighter as someone who laughs at the wrong jokes, or can't tell when his stories aren't appropriate, or is just plain awkward. He could lack tact, or maybe he doesn't bathe, or have the right table manners. But as has been said, that doesn't mean that people won't listen to him. Maybe Crocodile Dundee is an appropriate model for this kind of character.

If I was the DM: I would houserule that after so much time in the limelight, he either gets a story-reward bonus to diplomacy for his fame, and/or let him count social skills as class skills.

CarpeGuitarrem
2013-11-22, 07:00 PM
You can always find room for the hitty-guy in a plan. See Jayne in Firefly and Elliot in Leverage. Sure, they're heist/caper shows, but that doesn't change the fact that they model a D&D team dynamic really well. In a creative plan, you use the tools you have, and not just the obvious skills.

So basically, the players should plan. :smallwink:

Good uses for a fighter type: guarding someone, threatening someone, capturing someone, breaking into places by force, being an enforcer or collecting promises from political figures, etc.

Knaight
2013-11-22, 07:13 PM
An alternate method would be to look into systems in which broad swaths of characters aren't arbitrarily denied social skills, and instead are likely to have different ones. Take a situation where you have two PCs - a noble involved in courtly politics, and a warrior who's that noble's bodyguard. Which of the two seems more likely to be able to build a rapport as a friend with lower classes. Which of the two are likely to have a direct line there at all? Which of the two are likely to have any idea what rank and file military types thing about a situation?

I'm guessing it's not the noble. There's a whole broad area of information that can be better gained through the bodyguard, and some systems actually acknowledge this. On top of that, the noble is clearly recognizable. The bodyguard might not be, which makes planting them somewhere that much easier. There's also more room for the bodyguard to act in some circumstances, as it's likely easier for a noble to sweep things under the rug and have a reputation as someone with some dubious people under them than it would be for them to keep themselves out of trouble in said situations and deal with the reputation of themselves being untrustworthy.

Vamphyr
2013-11-22, 07:18 PM
An alternate method would be to look into systems in which broad swaths of characters aren't arbitrarily denied social skills, and instead are likely to have different ones. Take a situation where you have two PCs - a noble involved in courtly politics, and a warrior who's that noble's bodyguard. Which of the two seems more likely to be able to build a rapport as a friend with lower classes. Which of the two are likely to have a direct line there at all? Which of the two are likely to have any idea what rank and file military types thing about a situation?

I'm guessing it's not the noble. There's a whole broad area of information that can be better gained through the bodyguard, and some systems actually acknowledge this. On top of that, the noble is clearly recognizable. The bodyguard might not be, which makes planting them somewhere that much easier. There's also more room for the bodyguard to act in some circumstances, as it's likely easier for a noble to sweep things under the rug and have a reputation as someone with some dubious people under them than it would be for them to keep themselves out of trouble in said situations and deal with the reputation of themselves being untrustworthy.

You could remove class based restrictions on skills. Just tell your players "this is going to be a political game and some knowledges may help" and let them pick what they want.

Knaight
2013-11-22, 07:32 PM
You could remove class based restrictions on skills. Just tell your players "this is going to be a political game and some knowledges may help" and let them pick what they want.

I'd generally not use D&D for this at all (it is clearly not what it was made for), but gutting the whole "cross class" notion is a good start.

SiuiS
2013-11-22, 07:40 PM
Politics and intrigue != social skills.

Politics happens when the players want a thing, and the only way to get that thing is to solve two or more other parties who are at odds. The fighter's reputation, killing capacity, previous quests and single social skill are as relevant in politics as they are in any other part of the game. :smallsmile:

My favorite "knowledge skill" method involves the fighter (or whoever) recognizing they are going into a conflict and preparing. Learning useful info from books and conversation to prepare for conflict is the longhand version of rolling a knowledge check to get info to prep. And any smart fighter would prep for this conflict as much as he would prepare for a hard battle of more attack-roll proportions.

Vamphyr
2013-11-22, 07:54 PM
I'd generally not use D&D for this at all (it is clearly not what it was made for), but gutting the whole "cross class" notion is a good start.

Yeah, D&D is not very versatile once you start breaking the "SEE MONSTER, HIT MONSTER, LOOT CORPSE" campaign structure.

I think it's definitely possible though, you just need to make a lot of changes and use a lot of house rules to make it flow better. That way the fighter isn't constantly confused as to what everyone is talking about and the diplomancer isn't convincing the king that he'd really rather retire and leave the throne to him.

Telok
2013-11-22, 08:28 PM
Back in AD&D most social and political encounters were roleplayed with the occasional charisma check thrown in and things worked just fine. There was no "social combat" or defined "face role" so people just responded to the circumstances in character. People who couldn't "contribute" were generally just not trying.

I'd just advise not making every social interatcion with people into a skill roll. If something absolutely has to be some sort of social skill check make it into seven or eight rolls that anyone can succeed on and allow second chances at higher difficulties. This allows everyone to contribute and the people who invested heavily in social abilities can bail out the more socially inept if they get into trouble.

Remmirath
2013-11-22, 11:11 PM
My belief is that everything social should always be handled with pure roleplaying first and foremost, backed up by the occasional skill check when it is necessary to know how well the character did at something. There should not be any problem with having a character with no skills whatsoever in Diplomacy, Bluff, and so forth engage in political maneuvering, although they might end up outgunned by the opposition. Charisma checks, intelligence checks, and wisdom checks can also be helpful under such circumstances.

As for lacking Knowledge skills, just so long as they keep that in mind in character I don't see any problem with that. If possible they can research things in a library or ask other characters who know more to prepare, or they could just try to work around their general lack of knowledge on the subject. It should represent a different challenge, not a reason not to engage in any sort of politics at all.

I would say it is completely fair. The main determiner of social situations in a roleplaying game should always be the roleplaying, and those characters who have invested more in said skills will simply come across better and be better at trying the things they try -- which does not necessarily mean that they will come up with the right things to do or say, just that they are likely to succeed at doing those things that they do try. Conceivably the fighter could end up getting further with a blunt method than the others do with a more diplomatic method. It's all about the information they gain, what they do with it, and (most importantly) what their characters would do with it and want to do.

Sidenote: I do also always advocate removing skill restrictions as a house rule, but this can work either way. I simply find them rather obnoxious and never useful.

Scow2
2013-11-22, 11:48 PM
Aye - a lack of knowledge skills means a lack of on-the-spot knowledge, not incapability of gaining that knowledge. If you have no knowledge skills, you know what you know. If you do have knowledge skills, you know what you don't know (Or is it you don't know what you know?)

avr
2013-11-22, 11:54 PM
If you do leave skill rolls as important & remove or loosen the cross-class restrictions then you still also need to give the fighters and clerics of the world a couple more skill points per level. 2 + INT isn't enough for many non-INT based characters to splash out on knowledges and social skills.

Edit: if this is an existing game it needs to be handled another way. Maybe only the hero will get to have a private audience with some people; in a public audience the bard can do his stuff but will be competing against other highly skilled opposing characters present.

Rhynn
2013-11-23, 12:15 AM
Back in AD&D most social and political encounters were roleplayed with the occasional charisma check thrown in and things worked just fine.

The loss of reaction rolls in D&D 3E was at least as bad as the loss of morale, IMO. I love how ACKS makes use of reaction rolls for many things; trading goods, henchmen, etc. (ACKS also lets any character take proficiencies like Diplomacy or Intimidation to "specialize" in reaction rolls.)

Slipperychicken
2013-11-23, 02:16 PM
The loss of reaction rolls in D&D 3E was at least as bad as the loss of morale, IMO. I love how ACKS makes use of reaction rolls for many things; trading goods, henchmen, etc. (ACKS also lets any character take proficiencies like Diplomacy or Intimidation to "specialize" in reaction rolls.)

What I like about the idea of reaction rolls is that it makes social interactions less dependent on the players' persuasive ability, and also opens the door for encounters to be solved with diplomacy. Like if you bump into some patrolling orcs while adventuring, they might think you're a cool guy and let you go (even more so if you bribe them with something like booze or gold), rather than immediately trying to bash your face in.

Rhynn
2013-11-23, 04:09 PM
What I like about the idea of reaction rolls is that it makes social interactions less dependent on the players' persuasive ability, and also opens the door for encounters to be solved with diplomacy. Like if you bump into some patrolling orcs while adventuring, they might think you're a cool guy and let you go (even more so if you bribe them with something like booze or gold), rather than immediately trying to bash your face in.

Exactly! People eventually came to think that "random encounter" means a fight, but in old D&D, it could mean anything: the reaction roll determines how those orcs or goblins take to you. ACKS provides great context for interpreting reaction rolls (and uses them for a huge variety of things, like trying to hire henchmen or hirelings, or taking over a criminal guild), but it's largely common sense: even "Friendly" orcs are basically just willing to live and let live, or might be amenable to being paid to attack somebody they think is weaker...

And, obviously, the GM is perfectly free to just make a ruling: "sorry, zombies are motivated by an all-consuming lust for living flesh and have no sense of self-preservation, they attack automatically." And so on.

Tengu_temp
2013-11-23, 04:20 PM
Watch the Firefly episode "The Shindig" to see not one, but two examples of non-social characters in such situations. Needless to say, it becomes kind of a trainwreck (in the fictional world - the actual episode is very fun), but that's what it's all about! You use such situations to shake things up a little, engage the characters in all kinds of trouble as they insult all the wrong people, but also let them earn all kinds of unsuspected allies who are impressed by their attitude and/or skills.

BWR
2013-11-23, 05:18 PM
While roleplaying is the most important thing, I am a strong believer in using skills for certain things. Just like it's unfair to expect players to know how to fight with a sword IRL to determine if their PCs win in a fight, it's not always fair to ignore the system in favor of players that can talk better than others.

If player A is a great talker and can always talk his PCs in or out of situations, he doesn't need to have mechanics that say his characters are good talkers.
Player B is a bit less eloquent, a bit slower to understand what sort of approach is good, but wants to play someone who is that good. Now mechanics are a good way of allowing B to do what he wants.
But what happens when PC A, who is less mechanically adept at talky-stuff, is at odds with PC B? Say they both want something from the same NPC and are trying to convince him. Player A gets by on his innate talking abilities even if his PC is strictly speaking not so good at this, mechanically. Player B pretty much has to rely on the mechanically superior PC to get the job done.
Should roleplaying/acting trump mechanics? Is it fair to those who have built their characters to be good at something to be outshined by someone who doesn't even bother with mechanics?

As for the OP, since Fighter is famous, perhaps more famous than the other characters with actual skill ranks, it seems natural that said noble approaches Fighter first. He may be attracted to the reputation but quickly find out that Fighter isn't quite the big man off the battlefield. Nice enough but maybe lacking in refinement, ignorant on several important issues and has no poker face. However, these hangers-on of his seem to show some ability and promise, and they might be the ones who end up taking the noble's attention in the conversation (especially if they speak up rather than let Fighter do all the work).
So Noble gets all the PCs on board. They decide to use Fighter's fame to get them a foot in the door but let the people with actual ability do the actual work.

Isamu Dyson
2013-11-23, 05:55 PM
I'll respond at length later, but I want to clarify one thing. The Fighter is not being brought in as some sort of hired muscle: they're expected to consistently put their face out there and interact in a calm, (relatively, given the politics) reasonable fashion.

MonochromeTiger
2013-11-23, 05:59 PM
I'll respond at length later, but I want to clarify one thing. The Fighter is not being brought in as some sort of hired muscle: they're expected to consistently put their face out there and interact in a calm, (relatively, given the politics) reasonable fashion.

.....well the good news is you said fighter and not barbarian.

skyth
2013-11-23, 06:13 PM
Just like it's unfair to expect players to know how to fight with a sword IRL to determine if their PCs win in a fight, it's not always fair to ignore the system in favor of players that can talk better than others.

Exactly. I had that problem with a player in a group I was in before. The player was pretty charismatic, but his characters always used Charisma as a dump stat and he didn't take any social skills. Yet, he was the 'face' of the group...At least the one that did the most talking with NPC's.

MukkTB
2013-11-24, 11:23 AM
If we're trying to be fair then you can't let someone dump charisma and then be the party face.

We should probably look to combat for a guide to how much should be dependent on the build and how much should depend on the roleplay. So let me bring up theoretical fighter dude, Fred.

Fred has a big base attack with good feats and a lot of theoretical damage. However he is a moron. He tries to trip things that can't be tripped. He attacks with weapons that won't penetrate damage reduction. He stabs obvious reshirts instead of going after the big bad. He runs out into the middle of combat instead of taking cover. He doesn't flank. He blames other people for his failures and for not backing him up.

So despite his build, Fred is a terrible combatant and actually annoying and detrimental to have on the team. If we take this into the realm of roleplaying social encounters, that means a diplomancer should probably suck balls if he wears a silly outfit, says insulting things to people, and disregards important plot points. In short, roleplaying matters a lot.

Lets look at a different theoretical fighter dude, Jacob. He has 3/4 base attack, simple weapon proficiency, and fights sword and board. His damage output is pretty mediocre, and he isn't all that survivable despite an ok AC. However he is always flanking the enemy. He fights in bottlenecks where only 1 or 2 mooks can get at him at a time. He takes cover when it makes sense. He shields the party casters when they need it, and he always has the right equipment for the job.

Jacob is preferable to Fred but he's still fighting an uphill battle. In fact if Fred is really optimized and Jacob is really badly optimized its possible Fred may still do better. With regard to social play that means that good roleplay should be workable with bad stats, but it should be tough without the numbers to back it up. They should be saying, "I really wish I had the diplomacy skill to help me out."

The Fury
2013-11-26, 02:21 AM
Y'know, these are exactly the kinds of situations that I really enjoy roleplaying. Maybe it's because I like fish out of water scenarios so much, and I also like being able to see how a kingdom in the campaign world is run.
I guess as long as the fighter's player is willing to go more roleplay-heavy it shouldn't be too big an issue. As for stuff to help level the playing field, if the fighter is given some opportunities to cheat-- not like fudging dice or anything, but given a chance to page through a history book before going to a social function so (s)he can fake being knowledgeable, or maybe even get a brief circumstance bonus to making rolls if they do come up. Stuff like that.
As for the other players-- if you can involve them and they'd like to be, by all means do it. Was there a reason why they might not be included or would that be getting into too much detail?

CarpeGuitarrem
2013-11-26, 10:51 AM
Also, if the Fighter's failures cause complications, those complications can serve as a useful distraction from the real plots going on. The non-social character can make a great "wingman".

Fighter: <accidentally gets someone's name wrong>
Bard: <plays up scolding the fighter for his misstep and ingratiates themselves with the nobles>

Jack of Spades
2013-11-27, 09:25 AM
The archetypal Fighter can also make a great reluctant king. Ned Stark could probably considered the Lawful Good endgame of such a leader: practical to a fault, but just barely capable of maintaining courtly manner when necessary. Although hopefully the results would be a bit different. Or not, whatever floats your boat.

I mean, assuming the token Mage doesn't decide to go for ultimate supremacy, the natural leader of the party (which usually falls on the fighter because tropes) will believably receive at least a sizable fief for most serious questing. In such a situation the obvious move would be to hire someone to teach just enough of The Noble Way to get by.

Or, of course, the fun way to do it is to roleplay the rest of the party getting the Fighter up to snuff, sort of like the montage in A Knight's Tale. A whole bunch of good, fun interactions floating around down that route.

Axiomatic
2013-11-27, 10:00 AM
It's a strange feudal system where none of the warrior class of nobility are, you know, fighters.

Rhynn
2013-11-27, 10:17 AM
It's a strange feudal system where none of the warrior class of nobility are, you know, fighters.

That's what I call a runaway skill system. :smallconfused:

Scow2
2013-11-27, 11:18 AM
You don't need diplomacy to be a good fighter. Frankly, I don't trust any diplomatic nobles - they're all sleazy doublespeakers. Base diplomatic maneuvering on actions and favors, not words. Actions and favors don't require skills. That's how you get a non-social character involved in courtly politics.

The idea that you need bluff/diplomacy/a positive CHA modifier are all malicious lies and diversions. Intimidate may be somewhat useful, but ultimately it's unnecessary because everyone has Respect for each other because failure to respect each other results in assorted methods of Termination From Politics.

Rhynn
2013-11-27, 11:29 AM
Base diplomatic maneuvering on actions and favors, not words. Actions and favors don't require skills. That's how you get a non-social character involved in courtly politics.

Yup, exactly.

Having skills like Bluff, Diplomacy, or Sense Motive can be useful and an advantage, but not everything you might do in politics involves a skill roll.

Beleriphon
2013-11-27, 11:39 AM
You don't need diplomacy to be a good fighter. Frankly, I don't trust any diplomatic nobles - they're all sleazy doublespeakers. Base diplomatic maneuvering on actions and favors, not words. Actions and favors don't require skills. That's how you get a non-social character involved in courtly politics.

That's an excellent point. Skills are only useful when you need to do something the players are clearly completely incapable of doing or knowing about. At which point the character with the appropriate skill is useful and makes the roll and shares with the others.


The idea that you need bluff/diplomacy/a positive CHA modifier are all malicious lies and diversions. Intimidate may be somewhat useful, but ultimately it's unnecessary because everyone has Respect for each other because failure to respect each other results in assorted methods of Termination From Politics.

Very true. Sense motive and the like are useful for knowing if a particular NPC is lying to you, but just because a character doesn't have a skill doesn't mean the player can't figure out the NPC is a liar or in some way distrustful. Because quite frankly when it comes down to is the DM/GM has all the power here since they can lie to the characters and the players without fail if they so choose.

Isamu Dyson
2013-11-27, 01:11 PM
On the other hand, the average player isn't as socially savvy as the average court politician (represented by actual Skill ranks).

Rhynn
2013-11-27, 01:15 PM
On the other hand, the average player isn't as socially savvy as the average court politician (represented by actual Skill ranks).

That's okay, the GM probably isn't either, and it's a game, so it's all a wash.

Isamu Dyson
2013-11-27, 01:25 PM
That's okay, the GM probably isn't either, and it's a game, so it's all a wash.

If everyone had entered into the game with the assumption that there would be no social Skills...that's one thing. However, introducing this style of gameplay later on, when there are other PCs that are already social juggernauts via their Skill investment, is something else entirely.

The only way I can see this fairly working, is by stressing that the game of politics with the Fighter is a one time event/side quest.

Rhynn
2013-11-27, 01:33 PM
If everyone had entered into the game with the assumption that there would be no social Skills...that's one thing. However, introducing this style of gameplay later on, when there are other PCs that are already social juggernauts via their Skill investment, is something else entirely.

Why are you pretending that if social skills aren't the most important thing then they are worthless? :smallfrown:

Honest Tiefling
2013-11-27, 01:47 PM
Very true. Sense motive and the like are useful for knowing if a particular NPC is lying to you, but just because a character doesn't have a skill doesn't mean the player can't figure out the NPC is a liar or in some way distrustful. Because quite frankly when it comes down to is the DM/GM has all the power here since they can lie to the characters and the players without fail if they so choose.

I would actually disagree. While I think most people will have reason to suspect others, if you happen to be good at reading people maybe your 8 wisdom Wizard with traits about scholarly exclusion and no ranks in Sense Motive shouldn't be all that perceptive.


The only way I can see this fairly working, is by stressing that the game of politics with the Fighter is a one time event/side quest.

Did the player ever tell you his background? Maybe you could work in a noble or even a royal illegitimate child into his family tree as well.

TETanglebrooke
2013-11-27, 02:22 PM
Award skill points as part of the loot. Or rather, as a reward for RP.

nedz
2013-11-27, 02:32 PM
I had great fun playing my low Cha Dwarven Ranger in a diplomatic meeting. He didn't exactly make a useful contribution but it was amusing.
It's not something to base an entire campaign around though.

Rhynn
2013-11-27, 02:40 PM
I would actually disagree. While I think most people will have reason to suspect others, if you happen to be good at reading people maybe your 8 wisdom Wizard with traits about scholarly exclusion and no ranks in Sense Motive shouldn't be all that perceptive.

"Reading people" isn't the main way to figure out somebody is or may be a liar, though. There's many ways to figure it out that could in no reasonable way involve Sense Motive checks.

Scow2
2013-11-27, 02:44 PM
I would actually disagree. While I think most people will have reason to suspect others, if you happen to be good at reading people maybe your 8 wisdom Wizard with traits about scholarly exclusion and no ranks in Sense Motive shouldn't be all that perceptive.
Lacking sense motive means you can't be sure of your convictions. It doesn't mean you have to take everything said at face value.

A fighter is extremely effective in negotiation even without a single point in diplomacy. Seriously - he has ~50-100% more HP than anyone else there, and 33-50% greater bonus to hit at very least. If he wants something done, his attack bonus is just a roll away.

Lacking social skills doesn't mean you're stuck being a goof - That sword is just as great at cutting through red tape and political bull**** as it is goblins.

Raimun
2013-11-28, 02:23 AM
Social interactions should be roleplayed and the players should do the talking or at least explain how they try to influence the NPCs.

I still think even after that there should be die rolls.

As strange as it may sound, IRL great speeches (that always convinve NPCs) by a PC with low charisma and no ranks in social skills is not good roleplaying, if s/he's doing that all the time. Sure, even a broken clock is right twice a day... but not all day long. It's kind of like claiming that your character used to earn his living as a master carpenter when you have no ranks in Craft and an Int-penalty. :smalltongue:

Luckily, I've never seen anything like that. People who have any interest in settling things by talking tend to invest in Charisma and social skills and people who want to be master carpenters take ranks in Craft.

Rhynn
2013-11-28, 02:32 AM
As strange as it may sound, IRL great speeches (that always convinve NPCs) by a PC with low charisma and no ranks in social skills is not good roleplaying, if s/he's doing that all the time. Sure, even a broken clock is right twice a day... but not all day long. It's kind of like claiming that your character used to earn his living as a master carpenter when you have no ranks in Craft and an Int-penalty. :smalltongue:

Good social/political roleplaying has nothing to do with the player giving a good speech. That's silly.

It's about making choices and decisions: ferreting out information, choosing what information to use with who, offering the right people the right incentive (or the correct threat), and so on.

Scow2
2013-11-28, 02:33 AM
Social interactions should be roleplayed and the players should do the talking or at least explain how they try to influence the NPCs.

I still think even after that there should be die rolls.

As strange as it may sound, IRL great speeches (that always convinve NPCs) by a PC with low charisma and no ranks in social skills is not good roleplaying, if s/he's doing that all the time. Sure, even a broken clock is right twice a day... but not all day long. It's kind of like claiming that your character used to earn his living as a master carpenter when you have no ranks in Craft and an Int-penalty. :smalltongue:

Luckily, I've never seen anything like that. People who have any interest in settling things by talking tend to invest in Charisma and social skills and people who want to be master carpenters take ranks in Craft.It's not about speeches. Politics is about deals, ideology, and agreements. You don't need diplomatic ability or charisma to be a competent politician.

skyth
2013-11-28, 12:54 PM
You don't need diplomatic ability or charisma to be a competent politician.

Actually you do. A politician's job is to get people to agree with them. This requires charisma as if you don't like the person, you won't follow them. If people don't like you, they won't follow you.

Also, remember, Charisma represents self-confidence. A threat by a someone seen as whiney wouldn't be effective. Same with deals.

Slipperychicken
2013-11-28, 01:02 PM
A fighter is extremely effective in negotiation even without a single point in diplomacy. Seriously - he has ~50-100% more HP than anyone else there, and 33-50% greater bonus to hit at very least. If he wants something done, his attack bonus is just a roll away.

He might be able to kill people, but he's not very scary until he puts points in Intimidate, which actually makes a good deal of sense. I've known a few guys who were quite good at martial arts, but were too meek, reserved, or unconvincing to really scare anyone.


I'll have to disagree about the Sense Motive bit. That skill represents the accuracy of a characters' gut feelings. Even if a character who failed his sense motive was to be supremely suspicious and paranoid, it would be of the wrong things and people. His misplaced suspicions would likely do him more harm than good.



Also, remember, Charisma represents self-confidence. A threat by a someone seen as whiney wouldn't be effective. Same with deals.

I imagine it has more to do with the threat's perceived legitimacy (i.e. whether other actors think the character will follow through with it). So if our fighter makes a squeaky, unconvincing threat, it's not going to have very much weight.

Of course, I imagine one might get a +2 circumstance bonus to intimidate for possessing a great deal of force, but that's about as far as it would go. Maybe seriously legendary skill would bump it up to +5.

Even so..


[PF Intimidate Excerpt (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/intimidate)]

You can use Intimidate to force an opponent to act friendly toward you for 1d6 ◊ 10 minutes with a successful check.


[3.5 Intimidate Excerpt (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/intimidate.htm)]

You can change anotherís behavior with a successful check. Your Intimidate check is opposed by the targetís modified level check (1d20 + character level or Hit Dice + targetís Wisdom bonus [if any] + targetís modifiers on saves against fear). If you beat your targetís check result, you may treat the target as friendly, but only for the purpose of actions taken while it remains intimidated. (That is, the target retains its normal attitude, but will chat, advise, offer limited help, or advocate on your behalf while intimidated. See the Diplomacy skill, above, for additional details.) The effect lasts as long as the target remains in your presence, and for 1d6◊10 minutes afterward. After this time, the targetís default attitude toward you shifts to unfriendly (or, if normally unfriendly, to hostile).


Whichever system you use, you only get about 30 minutes on average.

Scow2
2013-11-28, 02:22 PM
Which is why you don't rely on Intimidation, but merely command respect.

Rhynn
2013-11-28, 02:49 PM
Which is why you don't rely on Intimidation, but merely command respect.

Yeah. Anyway, threats don't necessarily have anything to do with Intimidation.

No skill is related to telling someone "If you don't do what I want, I'll spill your secrets"; or "If you don't do what I want, you won't get what you want" for that matter.

Intimidation is for when you need to put a scare into someone with nothing to back it up except yourself. Diplomacy is when you want to make a friend with nothing to back it up except yourself. Bluff is for when you want to fool somebody.

None of that is necessary for social/political RP. All of it can be useful, though.

Thus, a fighter is perfectly capable of playing politics; but someone with all the skills has an advantage.

It ain't complicated, people!

Isamu Dyson
2013-11-28, 07:03 PM
Yeah. Anyway, threats don't necessarily have anything to do with Intimidation.

No skill is related to telling someone "If you don't do what I want, I'll spill your secrets"; or "If you don't do what I want, you won't get what you want" for that matter.

Intimidation is for when you need to put a scare into someone with nothing to back it up except yourself. Diplomacy is when you want to make a friend with nothing to back it up except yourself. Bluff is for when you want to fool somebody.

None of that is necessary for social/political RP. All of it can be useful, though.

Thus, a fighter is perfectly capable of playing politics; but someone with all the skills has an advantage.

It ain't complicated, people!

In other words, everyone can play baseball, but not everyone even gets to the Little Leagues :smalltongue:.

skyth
2013-11-29, 10:37 AM
Yeah. Anyway, threats don't necessarily have anything to do with Intimidation.

No skill is related to telling someone "If you don't do what I want, I'll spill your secrets"; or "If you don't do what I want, you won't get what you want" for that matter.

Seems like negotiating scenarios where Diplomacy (Or Intimidate) would play a big part.

Scow2
2013-11-29, 10:42 AM
Seems like negotiating scenarios where Diplomacy (Or Intimidate) would play a big part.

Nope. If it was "Do X for me", then yes. But when it's equitable trades, not at all.


Diplomacy and Intimidate do nothing more than change the target's disposition toward you, nothing more, nothing less. They have nothing to do with getting people to do what you say (Their current disposition does, though).

Rhynn
2013-11-29, 10:44 AM
Seems like negotiating scenarios where Diplomacy (Or Intimidate) would play a big part.

Why? Is the fighter talking to people who are so stupid they want to have their dark secrets revealed or bad things to happen to them just because they don't like or aren't personally physically afraid of the person telling them what will happen?

That is just some straight-up ignorant adherence to dice in situations where they're not needed.

Quit it with the false dichotomy, folks. The skill ranks can still be an advantage even when you don't needlessly restrict entire character classes from participating in one of the coolest parts of RPGs.

CarpeGuitarrem
2013-11-29, 10:54 AM
Diplomacy and Intimidate work in one of two modes.

First mode: applying subtle pressure to find opportunities that can be exploited

Second mode: effectively using leverage to pressure someone

I know this isn't necessarily rules-as-written, but the game Dungeon World has an excellent social manipulation move called Parley:

When you have leverage on a GM Character and manipulate them, roll+Cha*. (Leverage is something they need or want.) ✴On a 10+, they do what you ask if you first promise what they ask of you. ✴On a 7Ė9, they will do what you ask, but need some concrete assurance of your promise, right now.

*Dungeon World uses 2d6+stat for its core mechanic

That's a great model to follow. The role of the fighter can easily be "secure that leverage", which is not something that the noble can necessarily do. (In Dungeon World, there's no skills, so a fighter actually has a decent chance of making the Parley themselves. But that's different from this case.)

Slipperychicken
2013-11-29, 10:58 AM
Which is why you don't rely on Intimidation, but merely command respect.

That requires the audience to perceive some kind of authority. If you don't have either charisma, some position (like general, king, lord, bailiff, hero, etc) which grants power, or perceived expertise in the matter in question, then you aren't likely to "command" anything. You need at least one of those.

Like some dumb, ugly fighter with no social skills or titles isn't going to get much done at court unless he has an army parked outside, ready to kill anyone who disagrees with him.


A fighter with no social skills (or sense motive) trying to get things done would probably wind up much like [Game of Thrones spoiler] Ned Stark, outmaneuvered and killed by people with much more guile and cunning than himself.

skyth
2013-11-29, 01:12 PM
Nope. If it was "Do X for me", then yes. But when it's equitable trades, not at all.


That assumes that the other person sees it as an equitable trade or if they are willing to do an 'equitable' trade. The social skills of the character would greatly influence whether they see it as that or now (Or think they can get a better deal).

skyth
2013-11-29, 01:16 PM
Why? Is the fighter talking to people who are so stupid they want to have their dark secrets revealed or bad things to happen to them just because they don't like or aren't personally physically afraid of the person telling them what will happen?

That is just some straight-up ignorant adherence to dice in situations where they're not needed.

Quit it with the false dichotomy, folks. The skill ranks can still be an advantage even when you don't needlessly restrict entire character classes from participating in one of the coolest parts of RPGs.

Or maybe they don't believe that you'll actually go through, or believe that they can effectively threaten you in return.

And dice should always be involved in 'tricky' negotiations to keep people from dumping Charisma and social skills but still negotiating effectively on the back of the player's ability. Should there be bonuses and penalties based on the situation? Yes, but you should still need to possibly roll.

Raimun
2013-11-30, 05:09 AM
Good social/political roleplaying has nothing to do with the player giving a good speech. That's silly.

It's about making choices and decisions: ferreting out information, choosing what information to use with who, offering the right people the right incentive (or the correct threat), and so on.

Nothing to do? How about "Ich bin ein berliner."?

Either way, "speeches" was just an example. I meant someone playing, for example, a Ranger with low Cha and no ranks in social skills, regularly convincing NPCs to do things or agree with him when it's clear such situations would call for a diplomacy or a bluff check... which would be impossible for someone who was raised by the wolves or something and had no clue of social subleties, hence the low Cha, etc.

Kind of like insisting using real life modern day advanced scientific knowledge in a game set to medievel ages.

Rhynn
2013-11-30, 05:13 AM
Either way, "speeches" was just an example.

Nice job ignoring all my examples, hey.

Scow2
2013-11-30, 12:41 PM
Nothing to do? How about "Ich bin ein berliner."?

Either way, "speeches" was just an example. I meant someone playing, for example, a Ranger with low Cha and no ranks in social skills, regularly convincing NPCs to do things or agree with him when it's clear such situations would call for a diplomacy or a bluff check... which would be impossible for someone who was raised by the wolves or something and had no clue of social subleties, hence the low Cha, etc.

Kind of like insisting using real life modern day advanced scientific knowledge in a game set to medievel ages.
But it's not clear that the situations call for a diplomacy/bluff check. He can completely play up the savage, low-social ability and still get what he needs done by being proactive and capable in other ways.

Honest Tiefling
2013-11-30, 04:24 PM
But it's not clear that the situations call for a diplomacy/bluff check. He can completely play up the savage, low-social ability and still get what he needs done by being proactive and capable in other ways.

I can imagine it now. The low class fighter strides into the great all of the local lord, tells him he can solve his issues with the invading army not problem, and ask him in how many pieces he wants the opposing general in. And then the lord wonders who this ill dressed buffoon is and calls the guards.

Perhaps I am not fully understanding your point, but I am having issues thinking that a low CHA (Or even WIS) character trying to make a trade with a sly and cunning noble and somehow not getting ripped off in the process.

Isamu Dyson
2013-11-30, 04:33 PM
Low Charisma doesn't equate to lack of good sense (that's Low Wisdom).

CarpeGuitarrem
2013-11-30, 05:32 PM
Low-Charisma fighter making demands looks like this:

"Okay, listen up, Good Lord Throndius, you've got two chances--I mean, two outcomes--I mean...oh whatever. I have a pointy sword. I want you to step down. Got it?"

Spore
2013-11-30, 05:50 PM
Low-Charisma fighter making demands looks like this:

"Okay, listen up, Good Lord Throndius, you've got two chances--I mean, two outcomes--I mean...oh whatever. I have a pointy sword. I want you to step down. Got it?"

That again is not low charisma for me. This is a low rank in Intimidate. Keep in mind that charisma is a non substantial state of "presence" as I would call it. It is the reason why many ghosts and fey creatures have high charisma.

They should be insubstantial and volatile but their presence is just great!

The slimy yet convincing Cha 12 Rogue can be more convincing than the noble Cha 16 Paladin by simply having practised the manners at the king's court. The Cha 16 Paladin would plead the king to free the poor slaves because of his principles. The Cha 12 high ranked Diplomat would negotiate about providing a substitute for the work power of the slaves.

skyth
2013-11-30, 06:17 PM
If the fighter is stuttering and unsure of himself, that would be low Charisma. Also, the fighter could get a circumstance bonus to the intimidate check based on how dangerous he has shown himself to be.

PersonMan
2013-11-30, 06:19 PM
Low-Charisma demand:

"Step down, or I'll cut you and anyone you throw at me apart."

High-Charisma demand:

"Step down, or I'll cut you and anyone you throw at me apart."

---

Charisma =/= good vocabulary and sentence structure. Charisma is making them believe you, instead of laugh and send in the guards. If you choose, your low-Charisma character can stutter or make mistakes when speaking, but that's only one way of showing it. Another is having them simply lack the oomph behind their words.

Beleriphon
2013-11-30, 09:33 PM
Actually you do. A politician's job is to get people to agree with them. This requires charisma as if you don't like the person, you won't follow them. If people don't like you, they won't follow you.

Also, remember, Charisma represents self-confidence. A threat by a someone seen as whiney wouldn't be effective. Same with deals.

You don't need to be charismatic to be a good diplomat or play the game of politics though. You have to know what you want, how to get it and what your side is willing to give up to get it. Tyrion Lannister would make a terrible politician for a variety of reason, but woe betide the person that gets in his way when playing at politics.

The important part again, is the DM/GM in any game has all of the power in the game. A +23 skill check in anything doesn't matter much when the DM determines what the NPCs believe or how effective a liar they are. So again my general rule is that the characters with useful skills use them, but the entire group can still come up with the plans of what to do. Think about a modern politician. Most of them don't write their own speeches let alone run their own campaigns. They have teams of people to do this for them, and that can include digging up dirt on their opponents.

Also, with skills checks they tend to be presented as a bit binary. I'd suggest never using a skill check as a way to push forward a scenario. They should only ever be a way to affect a scenario. For example failing a skill check might result in not discovering something about an NPC that makes the players deliver information to the wrong person.

As it is I wouldn't ever have the players being the movers and shakers in the courtly politics. It is quite frankly boring for the most part, and most players would be better served by playing the chiefs of staff, body guards and the fixers of NPC problems. They can understand the NPC goals and work for or against them, but in the long run getting all of the players involved is easier if they aren't at the top of the political food chain.

Scow2
2013-12-01, 01:52 AM
Low-Charisma fighter making demands looks like this:

"Okay, listen up, Good Lord Throndius, you've got two chances--I mean, two outcomes--I mean...oh whatever. I have a pointy sword. I want you to step down. Got it?"And if said fighter is built like a brickhouse, and his sword of unsurpassed dwarven/efreeti/elven make that arcs with lightning and shines with mystic energy, and is famous for single-handedly destroying an Orc Warlord and his elite guard that surpassed the might of Lord Throndius' own retinue, our Good Lord is likely to say "I'll get my stuff", flee the castle, and start plotting his revenge when he's not so close to the business end of a living WMD. Or, if he decides to stand his ground, ends up being the new paint for the red carpet leading up to the throne.


I can imagine it now. The low class fighter strides into the great all of the local lord, tells him he can solve his issues with the invading army not problem, and ask him in how many pieces he wants the opposing general in. And then the lord wonders who this ill dressed buffoon is and calls the guards.

Perhaps I am not fully understanding your point, but I am having issues thinking that a low CHA (Or even WIS) character trying to make a trade with a sly and cunning noble and somehow not getting ripped off in the process.Ill-dressed? This "low class" fighter is probably wearing armor worth an entire estate on its own, and with a sword of unsurpassed quality capable of cutting through lesser blades without a scratch. He might have a reputation to back up his offered services, so the local lord will hear him out and put up with his occassional social faux-pas and base demeanor. He doesn't need to be a man of great presence to be a political player - he can be a man of few words and decisive action, using his demonstrable ability and reputation to get what he needs done.

PersonMan
2013-12-01, 05:32 AM
A hazmat suit, no matter how expensive, is no replacement for a tuxedo or ball dress. Hence armor worth an estate being 'ill-dressed'.

Scow2
2013-12-01, 02:14 PM
A hazmat suit, no matter how expensive, is no replacement for a tuxedo or ball dress. Hence armor worth an estate being 'ill-dressed'.First off - Fancy/expensive armor, especially full plate (Which is always highly ornate) IS considered appropriate formal wear in pseudo-medieval settings.

Secondly - if you're looking for someone to contain an outbreak in an extremely hazardous environment, the guy who serendipitously shows up in the greatest state-of-the-art HAZ-MAT suit while driving a Hazardous Waste containment truck is exactly the guy you want to be friends with in taking care of the problem, not the guy in the shiny shirt and expensive limousine.

PersonMan
2013-12-01, 04:08 PM
That won't change the fact that showing up to a fancy dinner party in the hazmat suit will make at least a few people wrinkle their noses.

MonochromeTiger
2013-12-01, 04:17 PM
That won't change the fact that showing up to a fancy dinner party in the hazmat suit will make at least a few people wrinkle their noses.

yes, but one less person will because their hazmat suit is keeping them from inhaling the deadly poison.

that aside I agree with scow here, in a fantasy setting or a situation where combat is going to be required it's entirely fitting to show up to a royal's court in full armor. heck there are books, shows, movies, and DMs who constantly forget that some royal figures are ever OUT of armor unless they're asleep so generic fantasy court attire has become a choice of tunic and pants or full-plate with your sword across your back.

of course reaction to this is situational, a low level character may be considered little more than a mercenary or soldier of little to no importance in the eyes of a noble. a high level player is at least respectable or threatening to the various nobles in the room because they're essentially living tanks wearing and wielding enough destructive force to level the building. oh sure they can still get comments behind their back but the people commenting better be sure they're out of hearing range.

Sith_Happens
2013-12-01, 04:19 PM
That won't change the fact that showing up to a fancy dinner party in the hazmat suit will make at least a few people wrinkle their noses.

Not if it's the blingiest hazmat suit in the history of blingy hazmat suits.

The Fury
2013-12-03, 02:00 PM
I thought it was already made clear that armor is not a hazmat suit. Yeah, if the "armor that's worth an estate" is battle-scarred and rusty that's probably going to be a faux pas but if it looks like this (http://www.secretsofparis.com/storage/blog-photos/july-31/armymuseumfrancoisi.jpg) that almost seems like something a king would wear.

Slipperychicken
2013-12-03, 05:51 PM
if the "armor that's worth an estate" is battle-scarred and rusty that's probably going to be a faux pas

Dude, it's magic armor. That stuff is always masterfully crafted, and should look great if the fighter's been giving it the proper maintenance. If he put Blueshine on it (so it doesn't get eaten by rust monsters), it should be immune to rust.


Also, if he can afford such that kind of armor, then he can throw down 80gp (30gp outfit + 50gp jewels should be pocket change at those levels) and just change into a courtier's outfit before dinner. Knowing that one should wear the proper clothing should be a DC 10 Knowledge (nobility and royalty), if not DC 5 or less.


EDIT: Wearing improper attire seems like it would be a -2 on checks to influence nobles, if we assume that the fighter's armor is equivalent to "street dress":


Courtierís Outfit
This outfit includes fancy, tailored clothes in whatever fashion happens to be the current style in the courts of the nobles. Anyone trying to influence nobles or courtiers while wearing street dress will have a hard time of it (-2 penalty on Charisma-based skill checks to influence such individuals). If you wear this outfit without jewelry (costing an additional 50 gp), you look like an out-of-place commoner.