Saturday, March 14, 2009

Using Skill challenges in social encounters

Was over at the Chatty DM just now and he mentioned something that I thought would make a good post. Of course, I'm sure he's going to post more on it another time, but I gotta take my inspiration where I get it.

This follows right along with my previous post about role playing. Most of my old party (I don't have one right now, sadly) was not into roleplay. They were hack and slash crazy, but when it came to the finer points of conversation, they'd fumble their tongues a bit and then reach for the dice, proclaiming what they were trying to accomplish.

"Umm.. Where are we going? What are we getting? Oh, geez. I don't know what to ask. Gather information check."

At first I was reticent to allow such a sham. No roleplay in a roleplaying game?? Heresy! But I am nothing if not diplomatic and was not going to chase my few players off by making them act, so skill challenge it is!

I would still do my best to roleplay the reaction: horrible voice, squinty eye, and everything. But it does leave something out of the experience. I think that Sage and Sinister would be more apt to roleplay if the whole group was into it, but with Lone, nothing is more complicated than: I hit it with my axe.

Still, few gamers I have met were trained actors. The one Vampire: The Masquerade game I played was the closest I've been to LARP. Everyone dressed the part and was in character the moment we walked into the basement. The prince of the city had the meeting table set up and it was very engrossing. I miss groups like that.

I think in the end I will continue to suggest and encourage any role play first, but am glad the skill challenges are there as a backup.

How do you handle conversation in your own games?


Anonymous,  March 14, 2009 at 11:21 PM  

I like to use skill challenges with bonuses for good roleplaying for things like negotiating, and just use roleplaying otherwise. But I'll handwave stuff if my players have unanimously decided they don't care. If only one player doesn't care, they can deal with it - I'll let them do their thing in some other encounter this session. They can take this opportunity to get a snack.

"few gamers I have met were trained actors"

There's an entire gaming circle I'm unaware of! My entire group back home was actors, and of my new group, only two aren't theatre people (and one of those two is a LARPer anyway).

Anonymous,  March 14, 2009 at 11:23 PM  

Incidentally, not having a nickname/url option for commenting makes it a severe hassle for those of us without blogger or wordpress accounts.

Soul Existence March 15, 2009 at 12:08 AM  

You're so right. I've opened it up. Silly default settings.

Maybe its just here in Idaho where we don't take acting class and play D&D.

ChattyDM March 15, 2009 at 2:03 PM  

Hey there, thanks for the link.

If your players are not Roleplayers, I don't think you should force the issue... however, if it happens that a player talks in character, either during a skill challenge or a combat, think about granting some generous bonuses to reward the behavior.

+2 is a good rule of thumb to take.

My 2 cents.

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