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love my bones!


lizardbrain
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Sometimes I envy you people and your cushy games.

 

Though I should point out that my favourite DM, who put us through hell and taught us Creative Evil, is still so highly regarded by me for making me jump through those hoops that when I showed him all the kickstarter stuff I said:

 

"I want you to know, I did this for you. Get back in the big chair. I'll paint it all, and you can kill me with it. Please."

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Penalizing bad RP only makes sense to me if you already have a bunch of good RPers. Otherwise, you end up with the guy with the mumble playing the charismatic type, and the party is stuck unable to make friends, since they're taking a consistent penalty to those sorts of checks.

 

Part of D&D is escapism; a chance to pretend to be something you're not, someone better than you are. The scrawny guy can play a muscular barbarian, the pacifist can play a bloodthirsty assassin, the loner can have steadfast friends, the tone-deaf can play bards, and the coward can play a brave, noble knight. It doesn't make sense to me to penalize selectively. If bad speeches take penalties, then why wouldn't bards take penalties for not whipping out a lute then and there? Why shouldn't the barbarian have to prove he can actually kick down a door, or put an axe through a helmet? Why shouldn't the wizard have to cast a real Magic Missile? That sort of rule hurts too few players too consistently for my tastes. The one character in charge of speechifying will always take penalties, but the others never will. I want my players to play characters unlike them. Part of that is understanding that they can't do everything their PC can.

 

Now, I'm happy to give bonuses for particularly spectacular bits of RP, of course.

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Penalizing bad RP only makes sense to me if you already have a bunch of good RPers. Otherwise, you end up with the guy with the mumble playing the charismatic type, and the party is stuck unable to make friends, since they're taking a consistent penalty to those sorts of checks.

 

 

I sort of agree, because I know that type. But at the same time, those of us who survived became good RPers because we had to. That won't work for every campaign, some have smaller pools of potential players, but for us we could afford a high attrition rate and weed out the ones who didn't pack the gear to serve in our beloved corps. We've probably gone through . . . hell, maybe sixty or seventy players. Probably 15 of those came out super good, and that usually lets us find 5-6 to throw a game together for a while.

 

 

ETA: That's DM-dependent, though. If I ran a game, I'd get a fair bit of interest. If he announces he's running a game, there'd be a long line to get in. While it could be brutal, it was fair - and the rewards of playing are phenomenal. Because it's competitive to get a seat, when you do you know you're in for a treat and the more you bring in, the more you get out.

Edited by buglips*the*goblin
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Penalizing bad RP only makes sense to me if you already have a bunch of good RPers. Otherwise, you end up with the guy with the mumble playing the charismatic type, and the party is stuck unable to make friends, since they're taking a consistent penalty to those sorts of checks.

 

 

I sort of agree, because I know that type. But at the same time, those of us who survived became good RPers because we had to. That won't work for every campaign, some have smaller pools of potential players, but for us we could afford a high attrition rate and weed out the ones who didn't pack the gear to serve in our beloved corps. We've probably gone through . . . hell, maybe sixty or seventy players. Probably 15 of those came out super good, and that usually lets us find 5-6 to throw a game together for a while.

I mean, that actually sounds great. I suppose that if I had a group that was that good at RP, I would want to make them RP that well as often as possible. That's just not feasible for most groups, I think.

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/shrug

 

My games... tend towards the brutal actually. I reward strong roleplaying. I absolutely nudge everything in favor of narrative tension. I won't hesitate for a second to kill a PC if it's required by the story, and I absolutely won't hesitate to have people face the consequences of their actions.

 

Be that an orphanage devoted to the kobolds and goblins they've left parentless in their genocidal wave of terror, or the arising of a strong lizard-man cheftain to challenge the dry-skin monstrousities who killed their god and wore her skin as casually as you'd don a top hat, or the Cultists diverting attention away from their eldritch rituals onto some poor disorganised schlubs who believe in labour rights and the good of the society over the individual.

 

One of the recurring themes I try to have is 'actions have consequences' and it makes actually running the game remarkably easy for me. I set up the environment, let the players loose on it, and their own actions frame the narrative they're within. I just have to riff off what they do and it gives a very tight, consistent feel to the game without requiring much railroading to get there.

 

Of course, that being said it's been a long time since I ran anything other than a one-shot. And usually a Play-By-Post one-shot at that. But I do like the results: for example, in a Call of Cthulhu game I ran one of the players found the crazed pyschopath that I was planning to use to frame the communists as a major threat in the first few moments of the game and exposed her. I felt sure this would lower the perceived threat of the game, and was juggling whether I should randomly kill people off or not to keep the threat present. I decided not to and just let the players build the atmosphere, and it was absolutely the right move - the players couldn't work out why (they didn't know it was a CoC game at this stage), but their imagination put threats where there were none and the suspense ratcheted up smoothly and organically because they were creating it themselves, it wasn't being imposed from outside.

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I'd never penalize my players for an unconvincing speech any more than I'd penalize them for being unable to actually cast Fireball.

You don't need to be able to cast it - but you do need to be able to select the right spell, place the fireball in the right square, etc. There is a lot of player skill involved in the spell rules, combat rules (positioning, attack selection, etc) and other mechanical elements. I don't see why non-combat interaction should require less. As GM I don't need Shakespearean oratory, but I do need to know what you are trying to say, not just "I roll Diplomacy".

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