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Thread: Playing it out.

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Playing it out.

    This occurred last Sunday during our gaming session.

    The group consists of four players and a GM. The characters are 18th level. I play a fighter. There is also a Cleric/Radiant Servant of Pelor, Rogue (with a couple levels of fighter) and a War Mage in the party. The War Mage player is new to the group.

    The campaign has been taking place primarily in 'The World's Largest Dungeon'. The other main setting is the home town to some of the original party (Of whom only the Cleric is still around), Haven.

    Recently the party has recieved some disturbing reports of some sort of inquistion from the Church of Pelor. Elvin refugees have been forced from their homes for refusing to convert. There have been reports of Paladins of Pelor interceding to prevent unlawful executions.

    For now the party has decided to continue on with it's various missions within the Dungeon.

    At the very end of the session before last weekend, we found a tunnel on the Haven side of the mountain that led out of the Dungeon.

    That brings us to the start of last weeks session. Our characters pop their heads out of this exit and look around a bit. In the far distance, the party Rogue can hear the march of troops. Using a spyglass we're able to spot a large column of infantry flying the symbols of Pelor.

    I decide to have my character hop on his dragon and fly down to see what they're up to as they appear to be headed for the entrance that originally brought us into the WLD.

    My character is introduced to the leader of the expedition. His coat of arms marks him as the heir to the kingdom. The Prince claims that there is a schism within the Church of Pelor. He has gathered loyal men that he can trust and has sought out a Cleric and a Paladin (cohort to the party cleric) of Pelor who disappeared into the dungeon before the inquistion began. Apparently the Prince has no spellcasters in his troupe and is seeking a Cleric who is untainted by the inquisition.

    So my character flies back to the party. He relates what he's learned and ends the story with, "I have no magical means of determining if he's lieing or not, but I trust him."

    The new player immediately pipes up with, "But you never rolled sense motive."

    "Yeah, so?" I reply.

    "So you don't know if you trust him or not." He says.

    "It's true, you didn't make any rolls." The DM interjects.

    "I choose to have my character beleive him based on the evidence he saw and the conversation and interaction with the prince." I point out.

    "Fair enough." The DM agrees before the new player can object again.

    Now, don't get me wrong. I like having sense motive and other 'social' skills so that I can have a mechanical means to back up my roleplaying when I feel it is needed. But at the same time, I believe I should be able to decide for my character if they believe or disbeleive something, given the circumstance. And that's pretty much how we play at our table. Social skills are for resolving dealings with NPC's, not for determining how our characters feel or react to any given circumstance. We liberally mix our mechanical rules and our role playing.

    The new player to the group apparently has come from a background where everything was rolled, even when roleplayed out. And it would seem that dice rolls would determine player character reactions as well.

    Now, I'm not setting up to criticize any sort of play. If it works for a group and everyone is having fun, awesome. What I am curious about is to what degree other parties mix their crunchy rules and their roleplaying. And how much one affects the other.

    Just to reiterate, this thread is not about bashing how others play, it is a medium to discuss how others play. So asking questions about how a poster's group does things is legitimate. Posting how your own group does things is legitimate. Contrasting playing styles is legitimate. Saying that one way of doing something is right or wrong is not legitimate. Arguing about which way is better is not legititimate in the context of this thread.

    So with that in mind, I would like to say that I very much enjoy my groups style of play. Where roleplaying can add (or subtract) modifiers to rolls but the rolls don't necesary determine how you roleplay your character.

    I would be uncomfortable in a gaming environment where I had to roleplay my character based on rolls I made rather than how I felt they would react. I would probably exit myself from such a game as it would not be much fun for me.

    As you can see I don't criticize the other style of playing. I simply point out that I wouldn't enjoy it and wouldn't likely play in such a game. It's not wrong or a less legitimate way than how I play, it is simply not what I enjoy.

    I am certainly open to questions as to why I like the way I play and why I don't like the other method presented in this post.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    You *can* certainly demand a check and roll it. You are not required to do so. Even if you were, you can normally voluntarially fail most checks.

    If he wants to roll sense motive to see if he believes if what you're giving him is *really* a healing potion, he can certainly do so. Most of us will just chug the potion unless we have reason to be suspicious.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    What you did was just fine. You can always "choose to fail" any skill check or saving throw, so if your character has no reason to suspect anything, you can just take it as read that you believe the other person, if you like.

    OTOH, the DM could always make a secret roll (possibly with circumstance penalties) for your sense motive if you're not actively skeptical, and let you know that "for some reason you can't explain, you're not sure you believe him" if that is the appropriate result.

    If I were running a tabletop game as a DM, I'd have a list of pre-rolled d20s just for this type of event, so I don't raise suspicions by rolling. Either that, or roll dice at random for no reason. :)


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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    Right on!
    *high fives*

    In the groups I have played in, social skill checks were for, like, diplomacying(?) the shopkeeper into giving me a discount on that 'like new' wand of summoning.

    Main plot twists and interactions with major NPC's were all RP'ed.

    EDIT: @^ Rolling dice at random is a great tactic. When the players ask, "what was that for?" You can say, "you'll see." And give a little evil laugh. It keeps 'em on their toes.
    Last edited by dsmiles; 2009-11-18 at 11:27 AM.
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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    I roll the dice and describe what my character does based on that. 1 on a diplomacy check? I said the D&D equivilant of "If Stalin and Hitler could make a truce, surely we can as well," Usually I will roll, this is a rules heavy game after all, but sometimes I don't.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepingbear View Post
    "So you don't know if you trust him or not."
    ...
    "I choose to have my character beleive him based on the evidence he saw and the conversation and interaction with the prince." I point out.
    ...
    I believe I should be able to decide for my character if they believe or disbeleive something, given the circumstance.
    I think you're being slightly unfair to this other player, and are slightly off base in your objection above.

    The result of your sense motive check won't tell you whether or not you trust the prince... but it will tell you whether he seems trustworthy. You can decide that your character would implicitly trust his prince even if the prince was behaving suspiciously or appeared to be concealing information - but you can't decide whether your character was aware of those facts. The check isn't determining your character's actions, but providing a vector of information that face-to-face roleplaying may not have adequately conveyed.

    Consider this scenario. You meet an NPC in a dungeon. Said NPC has a pair of prick-marks on his neck. The DM can roll a spot check for you, or use a passive spot result (taking ten), or whatever to tell you that you've noticed that fact. That piece of information doesn't force you to roleplay your character as trying to cut the NPC's head off and drive a stake through his heart - you decide that for yourself. But for you as a player to decide that your character didn't see the marks isn't so much roleplaying as dramatic license.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duke of URL View Post
    OTOH, the DM could always make a secret roll (possibly with circumstance penalties) for your sense motive if you're not actively skeptical, and let you know that "for some reason you can't explain, you're not sure you believe him" if that is the appropriate result.
    This is essentially what I'm suggesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepingbear View Post
    I would be uncomfortable in a gaming environment where I had to roleplay my character based on rolls I made rather than how I felt they would react. I would probably exit myself from such a game as it would not be much fun for me.
    Again - your character doesn't really have a choice about what he does or doesn't perceive. He can only choose how to react to what he sees. If the prince is behaving suspiciously, and your character has a decent sense motive, he'll pick up on it. He may tell himself that it's nothing and that he shouldn't doubt his liege, but he'll still pick up on it.

    There is a gulf of abstraction between you and your character and being told what your character's skills reveal to him about the world he's embedded in that can't be adequately conveyed by the DM via face-to-face, "improv acting" roleplaying is not being forced to roleplay based on rolls rather than your feeling for them - it's being told what the character you chose sees around him so that you can choose how he responds to that.
    Last edited by kamikasei; 2009-11-18 at 11:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    I roll the dice and describe what my character does based on that. 1 on a diplomacy check? I said the D&D equivilant of "If Stalin and Hitler could make a truce, surely we can as well," Usually I will roll, this is a rules heavy game after all, but sometimes I don't.
    I tend to do this too.


    And as for random rolling dice to shake up players: I approve!

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    This reminds me of an LFR game with an incarnation of Argent, my tactical warlord/wizard. We were in a haunted temple on some mission that I can't recall, and we encounter a ghost. I blast it with Color Spray, and then tell the DM that the ghost should take extra radiant damage because it's undead.

    One player then tells me that I was metagaming since I didn't roll a Religion check. I explain to him that my character has faced ghosts and other types of undead in the past, and that he wouldn't magically forget that they were vulnerable to radiant damage. He insists that I make a Religion check, and goes on a passive-aggressive mode when I refuse.

    I got into another argument in the RPTools forum with him about the use of Insight (Sense Motive in 3.5). I felt that Insight shouldn't be a straitjacket, and that it should be a tool for figuring out something you have no way of figuring out as a player (e.g. facial expressions and nonverbal cues). Furthermore, rolling low on Insight should not necessarily give you bad information. To prevent metagaming, I suggested that a low Insight roll meant that your character is unable to read the other person, and that he may or may not be telling the truth.

    He takes the opposite stance, saying that if you roll a natural 1 on Insight, you should automatically believe what the other guy is saying, and act accordingly.

    Meh. To each his own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Silver View Post
    I explain to him that my character has faced ghosts and other types of undead in the past, and that he wouldn't magically forget that they were vulnerable to radiant damage.
    Knowledge is such an atrociously represented skill in general that it's often a pain to handle. This raises questions like "is your character aware of such things as 'radiant damage', and can he recognize when an enemy is taking extra damage from 'radiant damage', or is he stuck lining up a group of ghosts and hitting them with a different suite of spells each to see how long they take to die versus what combination of effects?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Silver View Post
    I felt that Insight shouldn't be a straitjacket, and that it should be a tool for figuring out something you have no way of figuring out as a player (e.g. facial expressions and nonverbal cues). Furthermore, rolling low on Insight should not necessarily give you bad information. To prevent metagaming, I suggested that a low Insight roll meant that your character is unable to read the other person, and that he may or may not be telling the truth.
    Strongly agreed. Your sense motive may tell you that something's up, or it may not, based on your ability to size up the other character... but your character's judgment is a separate thing, and you may choose to believe someone you trust even though they're behaving oddly, or disbelieve someone you don't trust even though they're behaving like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    Knowledge is such an atrociously represented skill in general that it's often a pain to handle. This raises questions like "is your character aware of such things as 'radiant damage', and can he recognize when an enemy is taking extra damage from 'radiant damage', or is he stuck lining up a group of ghosts and hitting them with a different suite of spells each to see how long they take to die versus what combination of effects?
    By default, you are aware of things such as reduced damage for your spells and attacks due to resistance and/or DR. I would presume increased damage would be equally noticable.

    Different damage types are known character knowledge, as there are feats that let you choose damage types and so forth, and some spells, notably the energy resistance/immunity kind, require selection of a specific energy type when cast. Thus, knowledge of energy types can be assumed. This is mostly 3.5 specific, but I believe other versions have similar examples.

    So, it's perfectly reasonable to expect a character to realize that "hey, doing x results in enemy y dying faster. I think I'll do that whenever I meet them."

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    That's a fair point. I wouldn't like to have to describe what the character actually perceives in all the various combinations of damage type and resistance/vulnerability, but eh. We can chalk it up to the abstract nature of the combat system.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    This is why the DM uses many vague statements, like:

    A rogue failing at finding traps: "The door (or chest, or whatever) doesn't appear to be trapped."
    A failed Spot or Listen check: "You don't notice anything out of the ordinary."
    A Ranger failing to find tracks: "You don't find any identifiable tracks."

    We, as DM's, can use statements like these to represent the fact that the character should be unsure as to whether he/she failed or not, because until the character has run into every situation imagineable, they won't know what every trap should look like, or what ordinary sights and sounds are in that given situation, or what the tracks of every single creature in existance look like...again, I'm just sayin'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    That's a fair point. I wouldn't like to have to describe what the character actually perceives in all the various combinations of damage type and resistance/vulnerability, but eh. We can chalk it up to the abstract nature of the combat system.
    Now, to be clear, it doesn't say specifically that the character is aware of the exact number...so he may not know that the skeleton has DR 5...he's just aware that his dagger didn't do much, but his club did.

    There are a couple of 3.5 spells that will give you normally metagame info, such as hp totals remaining, though. Those are a bit harder to fluff, but still possible.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    Here's how I handle it, generally. For all social situations, I let the players play it out first. If the player requests a sense motive roll, I give it to them. If the player doesn't want to use any particular skill in figuring out if the NPC is being honest, I let them react however they want to react. So for the player, it's either trust your own gut and have a 50% chance of being wrong no matter what, or roll the dice and have an unknown chance of being wrong. Besides, if they really think their character wouldn't believe the vizier is being honest, then they'll probably act that way anyway regardless of how the dice fall.

    (Side note, I do not treat Sense Motive as being an automatic truth detector. I treat it as being an honesty detector. If the peasant really believes he's been abducted by Mindflayers, Sense Motive will show him as being honest no matter what the roll. A player using the Sense Motive skill would think that he's not trying to milk the story for attention, etc. It's up to the player to determine whether or not the character thinks the peasant is nuts or not.)

    EDIT: when the players do call for a Sense Motive check, I always roll the dice, whether or not the NPC is actually being honest. That way they don't know which rolls I'm actually paying attention to. You could also just preroll a Bluff check for all NPCs - doesn't matter which, as long as you're consistent across all NPCs so the players don't notice a pattern.

    If the player attempts to influence an NPC into doing something he otherwise wouldn't have done (bluff, diplomacy, or intimidate), I let the scene play out and then call for a roll right before the NPC would react. I assign a bonus or penalty to the roll based on what was just said, more or less like the "bluff" examples in the PHB demonstrate.
    Last edited by Telonius; 2009-11-18 at 12:19 PM.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    I think you're being slightly unfair to this other player, and are slightly off base in your objection above.

    The result of your sense motive check won't tell you whether or not you trust the prince... but it will tell you whether he seems trustworthy. You can decide that your character would implicitly trust his prince even if the prince was behaving suspiciously or appeared to be concealing information - but you can't decide whether your character was aware of those facts. The check isn't determining your character's actions, but providing a vector of information that face-to-face roleplaying may not have adequately conveyed.
    I don't see how I could be even slightly unfair to the player in question as I've assigned no moralistic value to their actions, only reported what happened. He came from a table where things were done differently and he raised an objection based on his own past experience. And I'd just like to point out that what he was advocating was that Sense Motive had to be used to determine if actual trust existed, not trustworthiness. To wit, that the skill would actually determine my actions (giving trust or not). My point here is that sometimes a roll isn't needed. Just because I can search a room for traps doesn't mean I have to. There will, of course, be consequences for both decisions.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    Consider this scenario. You meet an NPC in a dungeon. Said NPC has a pair of prick-marks on his neck. The DM can roll a spot check for you, or use a passive spot result (taking ten), or whatever to tell you that you've noticed that fact. That piece of information doesn't force you to roleplay your character as trying to cut the NPC's head off and drive a stake through his heart - you decide that for yourself. But for you as a player to decide that your character didn't see the marks isn't so much roleplaying as dramatic license.
    Or I can choose to not look by not making a spot check. If the DM chooses to make one on my behalf, that is their perrogative and the same would be true for sense motive but that is not the case in the scenerio I presented. Therefore the above example isn't really relevant. The DM did not choose to make a check on my behalf and I chose not to use a particular skill.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    Again - your character doesn't really have a choice about what he does or doesn't perceive. He can only choose how to react to what he sees. If the prince is behaving suspiciously, and your character has a decent sense motive, he'll pick up on it. He may tell himself that it's nothing and that he shouldn't doubt his liege, but he'll still pick up on it.
    Actually, he does. He can choose not to use skills. Chosing to use the skills doesn't garuntee percieving things but not using them pretty much garuntees not percieving something. Unless the DM makes a roll for a character, which again, was not the case in the example above.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    There is a gulf of abstraction between you and your character and being told what your character's skills reveal to him about the world he's embedded in that can't be adequately conveyed by the DM via face-to-face, "improv acting" roleplaying is not being forced to roleplay based on rolls rather than your feeling for them - it's being told what the character you chose sees around him so that you can choose how he responds to that.
    Except again, what the player in question was directly advocating a skill roll to determine how I would respond.

    "So you don't know if you trust him or not." He says.
    And what I was doing was choosing to not use a skill and therefore not percieve anything beyond what was conveyed in the RP.

    "I choose to have my character beleive him based on the evidence he saw and the conversation and interaction with the prince." I point out.
    I'm relying on information already conveyed instead of attempting to percieve something more. Such a decision is as legitimate for a character to make as trying to gather additional information by the means available (skill checks).

    Tyndmyr, I agree 100% with your first post. Although I don't see it so much as deliberately failing as choosing not to use the skill at all.

    Duke of URL, Again, I agree with your first post. I've seen lots of DM's do what you do with the prerolls. I had one that made us make three rolls before the start of every session but we never knew if they were being applied to spots or listens or whatever. Personally, I like to assume that characters are generally taking 10 on most 'passive' skills such as spot or listen unless they request a check.

    Boci, I've seen other players play this way. I consider it a very valid method of determining your characters actions. For my own tastes, I prefer a little more direct control over my character when I play and prefer to have the dice determine success, failure or levels thereof.

    Joseph Silver, I can totally see your point in the examples you gave. I happen to agree with your view in these cases.

    dsmiles, I agree with your statement and that's how I run games and that's what I like to see in a DM.

    Telonius, that's pretty similar to how things are done at our gaming table. The players can request a roll but can go by their 'gut' instead.

    I would like to point out that I'm not really looking too much for approval or disapproval of how things were handled in the example I gave. I focused a bit on kamikasei's first post because I think there were some incorrect assumptions that had to be addressed for the sake of clarity. Still, I'm a lot less interested in conversations discussing how the game should (or more accurately how people think it should) be played and more interested in how people do play.

    Even when I don't agree with how others do things, I find it instructive and beneficial to see alternative methods.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    This is a dilemma, and I think there are valid arguements for both sides of the discussion. The best way to deal with it is to play it out and let the GM ecaluate the played part to grant a situational modifier for the following skill check. That combines both models and creates a nice motivation for the roleplaying while it keeps the stats and skills of a character relevant.
    That doesn't work that well with Sense Motive, but that is less a social skill and more in the line of search, or spot.
    When I master a game, I make usually hidden rolls for these skills and tell the players their impression, not the direct outcome of the roll. Works well enough.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    If you believe what the other person is saying, why would you choose to roll sense motive? There's no reason to. If you were suspicious you'd roll it against his bluff or diplomacy. But there was no reason for the roll since you bought his story.

    If the new player objects on the basis that "you never rolled sense motive" point out that a) his character wasn't there and doesn't know that and b) sense motive is an out of game effect and whether or not its been rolled isn't something his character knows about.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepingbear View Post
    I focused a bit on kamikasei's first post because I think there were some incorrect assumptions that had to be addressed for the sake of clarity.
    Apparently so. Frankly the position you describe him as advocating is so ridiculous that I assumed you had slightly misunderstood the far more reasonable position I hoped he was actually trying to advance.

    If you're quite certain that he really thinks you have to roll sense motive in order to decide how your character feels, not what he perceives, then unless he wants to speak up and contradict you I'll agree that he's being daft.

    In general, I'm afraid it doesn't make any sense to me to speak of forgoing checks like this, though. If you're not blind or blindfolded, your eyes are open, and you have light, you will see the things in your field of view. You can't choose not to. You can be distracted, taking a penalty, but you see them or not independent of your own volition.

    More point-by-point responses:

    [QUOTE=Sleepingbear;7339211]My point here is that sometimes a roll isn't needed. Just because I can search a room for traps doesn't mean I have to.

    I would treat sense motive, especially in reaction to an attempted bluff where the sense motive is an opposed roll that's part of the bluff check, as being much more like spot or listen (in reaction to hide or move silently) than search, which is an active skill.

    That is: I would assume all characters are continuously taking ten on spot, listen, and sense motive, to represent the fact that they are not blind, deaf, or incapable of reading emotional cues (assuming, of course, that all of those things are true) - thus they can spot hard-to-see items, hear things that aren't actively trying to go unheard, and realize that the person they're dealing with is behaving oddly (though this application of sense motive is not unquestionably present in the rules, whereas the use of spot and listen is just a time-saving streamlining of an assumption that is). If someone wants to actively try to listen out for a sound they suspect might be there, or peer about for something they think might be present, or talk to someone for a while to see if they seem trustworthy, they can take an action to roll. And if someone else is lying to them, or hiding from them, or tiptoeing past them, the DM should be asking them to roll or rolling on their behalf as the opposed roll which is part of the hide, move silently, or bluff check being made by the second party.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepingbear View Post
    Or I can choose to not look by not making a spot check. If the DM chooses to make one on my behalf, that is their perrogative and the same would be true for sense motive but that is not the case in the scenerio I presented. Therefore the above example isn't really relevant. The DM did not choose to make a check on my behalf and I chose not to use a particular skill.
    As mentioned, I don't see any sense in the notion of "choosing not to make a spot check" - it's not something your character can choose. And if there's something to be seen, or someone lying to you, and your DM isn't either asking you to roll spot or bluff or doing it on your behalf, then you have a fundamental breakdown of your character's immersion in the world. Of course, your group may prefer to gloss over such details and let the DM dole out information when he feels appropriate, but then the response to "what about sense motive?" (leaving aside the issue of "...which should determine your character's actions for you") should properly be "nah, let's not bother with such minutiae" rather than "it would be illegitimate for me to make that check because my character wouldn't be actively suspicious of the prince".

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepingbear View Post
    I'm relying on information already conveyed instead of attempting to percieve something more. Such a decision is as legitimate for a character to make as trying to gather additional information by the means available (skill checks).
    This makes no sense to me, I'm afraid. You as a player are relying on the information already conveyed by the DM. But for the character to make a reactive or passive sense motive check is not an in-character decision, and it's not looking for anything more than he already knows, it's all part and parcel with what he's simultaneously perceiving and it's just being conveyed to you, the player, serially rather than all-at-once because your DM is (I assume) not a masterful actor and we haven't yet developed telepathy or perfect immersive virtuality.

    I suspect the root of our disagreement is a difference in our attitudes to in-/out-of-character behaviour and where the line between them is drawn.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepingbear View Post
    Still, I'm a lot less interested in conversations discussing how the game should (or more accurately how people think it should) be played and more interested in how people do play.

    Even when I don't agree with how others do things, I find it instructive and beneficial to see alternative methods.
    Er... we play the way we think we should play. So a discussion, as opposed to a survey, will inevitably touch on why we play the way we variously do, which leads to discussing why we think that's the right way to play (at least, the right way to accommodate our various tastes).

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    If you believe what the other person is saying, why would you choose to roll sense motive?
    You automatically make a sense motive check against someone trying to bluff you. I'd also play it as a passive skill like spot or listen, where you don't fail to notice everything around you unless actively looking for it, but that's not called out either way in the rules so far as I know.

    In other words, if someone tells you a lie, you don't decide to try to figure out if they're lying. Their words just sound false to you.

    Actually, let me quote another part of that paragraph:

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    If you were suspicious you'd roll it against his bluff or diplomacy. But there was no reason for the roll since you bought his story.
    This is exactly backwards. Their bluff check gets opposed by your sense motive as part of their making the check. That then means that if they do badly the fact is conveyed to you before you decide whether or not you believe them.

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    If the new player objects on the basis that "you never rolled sense motive" point out that a) his character wasn't there and doesn't know that and b) sense motive is an out of game effect and whether or not its been rolled isn't something his character knows about.
    This strikes me as odd. I didn't get the impression from the OP that the other player's character was telling the OP's character, in character, that he couldn't know how he felt because he hadn't made a check. I got the impression that the discussion was taking place entirely out of character, where I would regard it as perfectly legitimate for one player to remind another of a point of the rules, regardless of how their characters are interacting. Maybe I misunderstood.
    Last edited by kamikasei; 2009-11-18 at 02:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    This strikes me as odd. I didn't get the impression from the OP that the other player's character was telling the OP's character, in character, that he couldn't know how he felt because he hadn't made a check. I got the impression that the discussion was taking place entirely out of character, where I would regard it as perfectly legitimate for one player to remind another of a point of the rules, regardless of how their characters are interacting. Maybe I misunderstood.
    Seems just as likely that I had. Re-reading the story, either interpretation seems viable.
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    For Sense Motive, I told my players: "I will assume you believe everything that everyone tells you unless you roll a Sense Motive." That is to say, I'm not saying whether something is the truth or not, I'm just presenting what the NPC is saying. If a player wishes to use Sense Motive, then I roll (regardless of whether the NPC is actually lying, see "Rolling Randomly to Screw with Players") and tell them whether the NPC appears to by lying or truth...ing.

    I make exceptions for this, however, if an NPC has a low Bluff. Then, I just roll in secret and, if they botch it, tell the players "He is obviously lying." So I'm adopting the "Sense Motive as an active skill" approach with a little bit of "Sense Motive as a passive skill."

    In practice, this means that the PCs are usually just listening when a priest or someone they trust is speaking, and they are narrowing their eyes and rolling Sense Motives when a bandit is talking or when they're interrogating a prisoner.

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    In my group, bad role playing= penalties to roll, Good role playing=bonus to roll.
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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    The Sense Motive skill isn't a Lie Detection agent. All it does is allow you, the player, to have your character attempt to reconcile what's said to them logically.

    Sense Motive (Wis)
    Check

    A successful check lets you avoid being bluffed. You can also use this skill to determine when “something is up” (that is, something odd is going on) or to assess someone’s trustworthiness.

    Hunch

    This use of the skill involves making a gut assessment of the social situation. You can get the feeling from another’s behavior that something is wrong, such as when you’re talking to an impostor. Alternatively, you can get the feeling that someone is trustworthy.
    But it's not a zone of truth spell. It's not a measure of "Is this guy telling the truth?", it's a measure of "Do I believe this guy?" which is why, Sense Motive is used against a Bluff check.

    Further, it can be foiled: a character who absolutely believes in something can still be wrong, but they're not lying if they are. This instance will return a positive: he is telling the truth, he's just wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    Apparently so. Frankly the position you describe him as advocating is so ridiculous that I assumed you had slightly misunderstood the far more reasonable position I hoped he was actually trying to advance.

    If you're quite certain that he really thinks you have to roll sense motive in order to decide how your character feels, not what he perceives, then unless he wants to speak up and contradict you I'll agree that he's being daft.
    I don't actually think he's being daft nor have I applied any value to his actions. He made an objection based on his previous experiences. This is normal and acceptable behavior. He is adjusting to a new playing environment and doing so nicely, I might add.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    In general, I'm afraid it doesn't make any sense to me to speak of forgoing checks like this, though. If you're not blind or blindfolded, your eyes are open, and you have light, you will see the things in your field of view. You can't choose not to. You can be distracted, taking a penalty, but you see them or not independent of your own volition.
    I accept that this doesn't make sense to you. I also accept that it is unlikely that I would be successful in getting you to see it the other way, even if I were so inclined.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepingbear View Post
    My point here is that sometimes a roll isn't needed. Just because I can search a room for traps doesn't mean I have to.
    I would treat sense motive, especially in reaction to an attempted bluff where the sense motive is an opposed roll that's part of the bluff check, as being much more like spot or listen (in reaction to hide or move silently) than search, which is an active skill.
    So if no bluff is being made, then it doesn't trigger a sense motive check, does it? Or in game terms, the bluffing individual sets a bluff DC with their check. Which a player may then attempt to beat with a sense motive. But there is no requirement forcing them to try.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    That is: I would assume all characters are continuously taking ten on spot, listen, and sense motive, to represent the fact that they are not blind, deaf, or incapable of reading emotional cues (assuming, of course, that all of those things are true) - thus they can spot hard-to-see items, hear things that aren't actively trying to go unheard, and realize that the person they're dealing with is behaving oddly (though this application of sense motive is not unquestionably present in the rules, whereas the use of spot and listen is just a time-saving streamlining of an assumption that is). If someone wants to actively try to listen out for a sound they suspect might be there, or peer about for something they think might be present, or talk to someone for a while to see if they seem trustworthy, they can take an action to roll. And if someone else is lying to them, or hiding from them, or tiptoeing past them, the DM should be asking them to roll or rolling on their behalf as the opposed roll which is part of the hide, move silently, or bluff check being made by the second party.
    I also assume that players are taking ten for listen, spot and even sense motive when I DM. And for similar reasons that you choose to. That doesn't make other ways of doing it incorrect. Although if a player told me that they weren't trying to do something, even spot or listen, I would accept their choice instead of trying to impose things on them.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    As mentioned, I don't see any sense in the notion of "choosing not to make a spot check" - it's not something your character can choose. And if there's something to be seen, or someone lying to you, and your DM isn't either asking you to roll spot or bluff or doing it on your behalf, then you have a fundamental breakdown of your character's immersion in the world. Of course, your group may prefer to gloss over such details and let the DM dole out information when he feels appropriate, but then the response to "what about sense motive?" (leaving aside the issue of "...which should determine your character's actions for you") should properly be "nah, let's not bother with such minutiae" rather than "it would be illegitimate for me to make that check because my character wouldn't be actively suspicious of the prince".
    I never said anything about it being a illegitimate choice for my character to be suspicious of the prince. That would in fact, have been a very legitimate choice. So was the one I made. It's about making choices. Sometimes those choices can and do include not doing something even when we can. And sometime even sometimes when we should.

    Furthermore, if the prince has been telling the truth and not bluffing, then sense motive wouldn't be passively triggered, would it? Because there would be nothing to make my character go, "Hmmm. He's acting suspicious".

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    This makes no sense to me, I'm afraid. You as a player are relying on the information already conveyed by the DM. But for the character to make a reactive or passive sense motive check is not an in-character decision, and it's not looking for anything more than he already knows, it's all part and parcel with what he's simultaneously perceiving and it's just being conveyed to you, the player, serially rather than all-at-once because your DM is (I assume) not a masterful actor and we haven't yet developed telepathy or perfect immersive virtuality.
    A player always makes decisions for their character based on the information given by the DM. It doesn't matter if it's an attempt to use a skill (or not use that skill) or to attack (or not attack). Any passive information my character may recieve is up to the DM to convey and I trust him to do so. Anything more than that is a decision that I must decide to make. If no information given to me by the DM causes me to be suspicious, then it's a legitimate choice not to be suspicios and try a sense motive check. I can still be suspicious and call for one anyway. But it is still a choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    Er... we play the way we think we should play. So a discussion, as opposed to a survey, will inevitably touch on why we play the way we variously do, which leads to discussing why we think that's the right way to play (at least, the right way to accommodate our various tastes).
    There is, nevertheless, a difference between discussing how we play and making judgements on how others play. It's one thing to say, "I like playing this way." Or even, "I don't like playing that way." It is quite another to say, "That is the wrong way to play."

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    You automatically make a sense motive check against someone trying to bluff you. I'd also play it as a passive skill like spot or listen, where you don't fail to notice everything around you unless actively looking for it, but that's not called out either way in the rules so far as I know.

    In other words, if someone tells you a lie, you don't decide to try to figure out if they're lying. Their words just sound false to you.
    And if they're not lying? Then there's no reason to call for a sense motive check as there will be no bluff check. There seems to be an assumption that the Prince was lying. While I certainly don't know if he was or not, it's possible he was telling the truth and that is why there was no call from the DM for a sense motive check. In any case, there was no reason in game or out for me to call for one.


    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    This strikes me as odd. I didn't get the impression from the OP that the other player's character was telling the OP's character, in character, that he couldn't know how he felt because he hadn't made a check. I got the impression that the discussion was taking place entirely out of character, where I would regard it as perfectly legitimate for one player to remind another of a point of the rules, regardless of how their characters are interacting. Maybe I misunderstood.
    You are correct, the conversation between the other player and myself was entirely out of game. It would certainly have been odd phrasing for it to be in game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Count Dravda View Post
    For Sense Motive, I told my players: "I will assume you believe everything that everyone tells you unless you roll a Sense Motive." That is to say, I'm not saying whether something is the truth or not, I'm just presenting what the NPC is saying. If a player wishes to use Sense Motive, then I roll (regardless of whether the NPC is actually lying, see "Rolling Randomly to Screw with Players") and tell them whether the NPC appears to by lying or truth...ing.

    I make exceptions for this, however, if an NPC has a low Bluff. Then, I just roll in secret and, if they botch it, tell the players "He is obviously lying." So I'm adopting the "Sense Motive as an active skill" approach with a little bit of "Sense Motive as a passive skill."

    In practice, this means that the PCs are usually just listening when a priest or someone they trust is speaking, and they are narrowing their eyes and rolling Sense Motives when a bandit is talking or when they're interrogating a prisoner.

    -Count Dravda
    This is what I've always done. Technically I don't penalize a failed Sense Motive check at all except by saying "You believe he is telling the truth" or "He sounds like he is telling the truth" and leave it up to the PCs to determine how they react. Seeing as how I do this when they make one and the person is telling the truth they generally just assume the NPC is lying regardless of the check or don't make a check (it wastes time). I will sometime have my character make a diplomacy check and role-play based on that, or when DMing if an NPC fails a bluff check badly I will sometimes instead of telling them right out just role-play it. Even so I usually play RP = modifier to rolls not rolls determine RP.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepingbear View Post
    And if they're not lying? Then there's no reason to call for a sense motive check as there will be no bluff check. There seems to be an assumption that the Prince was lying. While I certainly don't know if he was or not, it's possible he was telling the truth and that is why there was no call from the DM for a sense motive check. In any case, there was no reason in game or out for me to call for one.
    Sure the "Sense Motive counters Bluff, and Bluff only" is one way to play it, and no judgment of that.
    Personally, I see Sense Motive more as a "How much do you notice here" kinda thing. Not necessarily lying, but also: Is the NPC acting nervous? Do his eyes keep straying somewhere? Is there something in his tone of voice when he mentions a particular NPC? Anything that'll be conveyed via body language.
    (Actually, when we roll the Sense Motive, I think my DM's most common answer is something along the lines of how scared this NPC seems... Weird).

    In both my groups, we tend to roleplay the social skills.

    I don't think either group ever really uses Diplomacy, ever. That skill is usually played completely straight.

    Bluff and Intimidate are played out, then rolled.
    This is with the exception of the few guys who are really just RP'ing because they wanna hang out. They never roleplay (and thus never actually need to roll any social skill checks).

    Gather Information, I think, is the only one we consistently roll. But it's used so rarely, you'd forget it even existed.

    Sense Motive (in my one group) tends to be a PvP thing. Actually, most Bluff tend to be this, too. Untrustworthy bastards.
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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    Using roll play to alter the roll for diplomacy, sense motive, bluff, etc is fantastic. The social skills are all a combination of body/spoken language, which by its very nature can be roll played so long as you don't larp. Friends don't let friends LARP. A balance skill is all the role of the die. But sense motive, that's something done in reaction to something being said / done.

    For example. You're at the bar with your friends and one of them tells you how after you left last night he/she hooked up with someone. Your reaction is probably either "High five!" or "No way". But either way you respond you're not rolling sense motive. This is a person you trust, it's about something which isn't life threatening, and you're in a comfy environment.

    Next scenario. You've just been abducted and are now in a basement. A person stares at you over a desk which has a single vial of liquid. They say to you "You can leave here in one of two ways. You can either drink this vial and live forever, or you can simply leave and die wondering what would have happened". This requires a sense motive check in a RPG, because there's only so much that a DM can tell you when it comes to all the little things about voice inflection and body language. Is the guy telling the truth about either option? Your roll (done by the DM and you don't know the roll) results in you being told that you believe he's telling the truth, even though it's absolutely ridiculous. The option is now before you as to whether or not actually drink the potion, or just leave. Just because you believe the guy doesn't mean you have to do what he suggests you should do.

    Sense motive is simply another tool that's being unconsciously used in any situation you're not familiar with. Like a spot check. When you enter your bedroom you don't automatically look at everything in the room, and you probably won't notice if something is out of place because you're not really thinking about it. But you still get a spot check, just at a negative because you're not in a new situation. But when you are at a party with friends you're probably more likely to notice something that doesn't seem right. You're not actively looking for a really hot person to be giving you look over, but you're still going to notice it even though you haven't asked for a spot check.
    Last edited by ghashxx; 2009-11-19 at 12:03 AM. Reason: breaking up the text
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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    kuddos on the roleplay. I've had DMs wait untill i was having trouble role-playing something then ask for a sense to help me determine how i felt, thats about it.

    On the other hand i've had players demand bluf and sense motive for every time someone spoke, and every reaction to that speaking.

    also, ghashxx, kuddos on not letting friends larp.
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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    I liked to have the roll prior to the RP.

    Scenario:
    PC interacts with an NPC

    Proir to the encounter, there’s a check.*

    If the PC’s Sense Motive/Insight beats my Bluff,
    I play it shifty, hands wringing, not making eye contact, stumbling through my story.
    My description of the events will also support the conclusion that something is not above board.**

    The player can inquire about what the character observes beyond what I describe or act out, but what he’s told depends on what the character sees. And I control that, based on the roll.

    If the PC’s SM is lower than the NPC’s Bluff, I play it straight, direct and comfortable and confident. No matter what the player asks, my answers support the perception of the NPC as being honest.

    I guess, you could say the player decides what the character does, but I control what the player/character sees.

    Ideally, and this doesn’t work as well, I’d like the rolls to shape how the player RPs: you roll a 20+17 on your Bluff, I’d like to see you RP the best lie ever. Roll a one? let’s see you RP a normally articulate rogue getting tongue-tied.


    *In 3.5, I had each player make a roster of pre-rolls to which I could refer and apply the appropriate modifier when the situation arose (so they wouldn’t know a check was being made.

    If 4e, that’s what passive checks are for.

    ** I might play the same way if the NPC was honest, but the player rolled very poorly.
    I know that’s not directly supported by the rules.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghashxx View Post
    ....stuff
    I've just been critted by a wall of text.

    Rolling sense motive before every npc discussion isn't bad, per se, but it's often impractical. If you're doing any serious amount of RP, it'd be a bit awkward and slow things down. It's pretty reasonable to ignore it unless the player requests a roll, or something pops up that the character would obviously note as suspicious.

    Either way, only awareness is affected. The decision of what to do always remains with the player, regardless of if the guy is suspicious.

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    Default Re: Playing it out.

    I would consider rolling a Sense Motive (on my part) to be actively scrutinizing what is going on around me, in an attempt to determine if there is something strange or amiss. There is nothing wrong with not rolling - it simply means that I accepted whatever the NPC told me and made my judgement based on that.

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