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Persuasion - How powerful do you allow it to be?

I'll answer that one: depends.

<snip>

I don't see the "no retries" as a hard rule useful in D&D because so much of the game fiction plays against this. I mean, look at combat!
Agreed about combat. In the 4e context that the article I mentioned comes from, there is a pretty sharp combat/non-combat demarcation. (Sometimes it gets wonky - [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] may want to weigh in on this, but I think one of the biggest practical issues 4e GMs have talked about is how to manage this boundary that the system treats as hard but that the fiction sometimes makes more permeable. I haven't seen so much discussion of this in the 5e context, but it may be a different matter in that system.)

More completely, if I, as DM, ask for a roll in 5e, there's a consequence for failure. That consequence may or may not allow another attempt (also with consequence fir failure). The key for me is that the fiction changes after a roll and I'm not going to use a 100% rule for anything about hiw it may change.

But, this is because 5e uses resource attrition as it's primary dramatic driver. So, in D&D, it's often worthwhile to tax a resource on failure and allow for an addition tax than to foreclose tries. Resources include time, hps, abilities uses, exhaystion, etc.
This reminds me of Gygax's AD&D or Moldvay Basic: eg searching takes a turn, which feeds into wandering monster checks; after three goes at listening at a door you have to wait a turn; etc.

Are there analogues of this sort of resource attrition that work outside the dungeon context?
 
As an outsider to this conversation I'll take a stab at it. I've not read the FATE rules, so I'm just going by what you've quoted here.

"As the gamemaster, it’s your job to decide how everyone and everything else in the world responds to what the PCs do, as well as what the PCs’ environment is like."

As this is written, this doesn't require pre-planning at all. A player decides to go into a bar, effectively creating the bar on the spot. The DM then describes the environment of the bar. Another player decides to go to the local public pool. The DM describes that environment in response, populating it with NPCs and how those NPCs respond to the PC.
But that takes this back to what I thought Ovinomancer was saying in the first place, that D&D can't be played in an improvisational manner, and that's clearly false. So there has to be more to it than that. Again, I accept that there are "No Myth" games that lack what I think Ovinomancer means by "curation", based on examples of play I've seen, but I'm not at all convinced FATE is an example of one of those games.

Nothing listed requires pre-planning, which is what D&D generally involves. In D&D, the DM would have set up the town in advance, at least to some degree. The bar would be known before the PCs ever decide to go there, if they even decide to go there. The same with the local pool or street vendor.
I'm a high prep DM, but for any town bigger than a hamlet I've never been able to set up the town in advance to a degree that means I'm not improvising most of the places and interaction in the town. I don't know every bar in advance, much less what is in the bar and who runs it. Most of that tends to be made up in play based on player cues. I do have creative input into it but so far as I can tell that doesn't differentiate D&D from FATE or PtbA or anything else.

"If a PC botches a roll, you’re the one who gets to decide the consequences."

The PC at the pool decides to dive from the highest diving board to impress the ladies and botches the roll. The DM can decided that he belly flops, the ladies laugh at him, or even that he fails to jump, landing the board in a compromising and very painful position.
Ironically, this is even more true of FATE or PbtA than D&D, which typically defines the stakes of a skill check as pass/fail explicitly so that the DM has very little interpretation to do in terms of what the fortune check meant. Where as FATE explicitly empowers the GM to decide whether to give partial failure, success with a setback, and a variety of other techniques and explicitly encourages the GM to use their own judgment as to what would make a good story to narrate what the fortune roll actually meant. So while you may be right that there is a certain amount of GM fiat involved in D&D's resolution, to the extent that there is, there is vastly more in FATE. And while the FATE GM could encourage the player to narrate the consequences of the check, and some do, it's not required by the system and you can in D&D encourage players to narrate the consequences of their failures as well - and some DM's do.

Even if I accepted everything you said in your argument, it still would not prove that there is a categorical difference between D&D and FATE baked into the system. I'm not saying conclusively that there isn't, but you haven't really addressed that.
 
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S'mon

Hero
What's your approach to retries? As a general rule - and not thinking specifically about 5e D&D - I'm not the biggest fan. Eg if the rogue fails that check I prefer to resolve it as the high priestess is not going to relinquish her vows rather than if you bat you eyelids just that little bit harder, you can have a re-roll.
I typically use Passive score for repeated attempts at the same thing. So if seducing the priestess is DC 30, you'd need a +20 bonus to succeed on retry. BTW I cap DCs at 30 and bonuses at +20. Obviously opposed rolls can go over 30, but 'passive opposition' can't give higher than a 30 DC.

A character with CHA 30 PB +6 and Persuasion expertise would get +22 RAW, so this can come up although usually it's only an issue with AC.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
You don't handle retries? Not sure that makes sense.
I would think it's pretty clear, I do not handle them. Unless you are reading this through an agenda, I do not deal with retries, they don't happen...why would they?

I'm sure that is clear enough for the crew, but, oh well...
 

Sadras

Explorer
I think Ovi answered this well. Depends.

If the ranger cannot find the necessary tracks in the wilderness, I may allow him a retry but there will be a cost in time whether successful or not and possibly a roll to check for wandering monsters.

If the wizard cannot recall a piece of lore, I won't let the bard attempt - instead I may take his passive score instead. If it is not enough, well that is why we have sages and experts.

Characters attempt to persuade again, well firstly they will require a different angle. Perhaps the disposition of the NPC they are attempting to persuade has changed making it increasingly more difficult, maybe they have disadvantage on the roll. In any event, further failure would have serious repercussions, they may not want to pressure their target so much. Success may also have a cost - information/resources, something else.
If they weren't on good terms with NPC to begin with, perhaps after the first fail, that option (to persuade) does not exist anymore.

EDIT: No retries is also a valid option.
So in the foremost example the ranger cannot find the necessary tracks despite additional times spent on searching.
 
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Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
But that takes this back to what I thought Ovinomancer was saying in the first place, that D&D can't be played in an improvisational manner, and that's clearly false. So there has to be more to it than that. Again, I accept that there are "No Myth" games that lack what I think Ovinomancer means by "curation", based on examples of play I've seen, but I'm not at all convinced FATE is an example of one of those games.

I'm a high prep DM, but for any town bigger than a hamlet I've never been able to set up the town in advance to a degree that means I'm not improvising most of the places and interaction in the town. I don't know every bar in advance, much less what is in the bar and who runs it. Most of that tends to be made up in play based on player cues. I do have creative input into it but so far as I can tell that doesn't differentiate D&D from FATE or PtbA or anything else.

Ironically, this is even more true of FATE or PbtA than D&D, which typically defines the stakes of a skill check as pass/fail explicitly so that the DM has very little interpretation to do in terms of what the fortune check meant. Where as FATE explicitly empowers the GM to decide whether to give partial failure, success with a setback, and a variety of other techniques and explicitly encourages the GM to use their own judgment as to what would make a good story to narrate what the fortune roll actually meant. So while you may be right that there is a certain amount of GM fiat involved in D&D's resolution, to the extent that there is, there is vastly more in FATE. And while the FATE GM could encourage the player to narrate the consequences of the check, and some do, it's not required by the system and you can in D&D encourage players to narrate the consequences of their failures as well - and some DM's do.

Even if I accepted everything you said in your argument, it still would not prove that there is a categorical difference between D&D and FATE baked into the system. I'm not saying conclusively that there isn't, but you haven't really addressed that.
You can improv D&D, even 100% if you really want to. Due to life responsibilities, I don't have time to do a lot of prep, so my games are usually 60-70% improv. Most of my prep goes into NPCs, dungeon maps if they are going to one, and plot points that may or may not happen, depending on how things play out. The rest is improv.

What I think @Ovinomancer is getting at, is that D&D directs you to prep, prep, prep! The rules are designed that way and the DMG tells the DM to create an entire universe and go down from there until you get to the local adventure area. You can improv D&D, but to do so you are literally going directly against the system. It fights you. A system like FATE it seems has a system that is designed for improv. It doesn't fight you. I'm sure you could do some prep in FATE and fight that system, too. It's not whether you can force your stamp on a system. It's whether the system is designed for your playstyle.
 

iserith

Explorer
What's your approach to retries? As a general rule - and not thinking specifically about 5e D&D - I'm not the biggest fan. Eg if the rogue fails that check I prefer to resolve it as the high priestess is not going to relinquish her vows rather than if you bat you eyelids just that little bit harder, you can have a re-roll.
Retries in D&D 5e basically work this way: If the player fails an ability check to resolve a task he or she proposed, the player can have the character retry at the cost of time. The character spends 10 times the normal amount of time needed to complete the task and automatically succeeds, no roll. Notably, this does not allow a character to turn an impossible task into a successful one, nor does it allow the PC to attempt to achieve the goal by the exact same approach in some situations. The example the DMG uses (page 237) is one in which the PCs attempts to lie to a guard and the guard doesn't buy it. The same lie told again automatically fails, no roll - the PC will have to come up with a different approach or try the lie on someone else, possibly at the risk of a higher DC.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
Retries in D&D 5e basically work this way: If the player fails an ability check to resolve a task he or she proposed, the player can have the character retry at the cost of time. The character spends 10 times the normal amount of time needed to complete the task and automatically succeeds, no roll. Notably, this does not allow a character to turn an impossible task into a successful one, nor does it allow the PC to attempt to achieve the goal by the exact same approach in some situations. The example the DMG uses (page 237) is one in which the PCs attempts to lie to a guard and the guard doesn't buy it. The same lie told again automatically fails, no roll - the PC will have to come up with a different approach or try the lie on someone else, possibly at the risk of a higher DC.
This would seem to be the logical approach to outcome (foregone conclusion an' all).
I approve.
 
You can improv D&D, even 100% if you really want to. Due to life responsibilities, I don't have time to do a lot of prep, so my games are usually 60-70% improv. Most of my prep goes into NPCs, dungeon maps if they are going to one, and plot points that may or may not happen, depending on how things play out. The rest is improv.
I tend to be of the opinion that the actual game is not the rules of the game, but what happens at the table. So if your game is 60-70% improv, then that is what D&D is regardless of what the text says to do or what you think the text says to do. In practice, D&D is mostly improvisational. For D&D to not be mostly improvisational, you need a strong table agreement to stay on the rails. For example, I'm currently taking a break from GMing, and our group is playing a Pathfinder AP with another player putting on the GM hat to let me be a player for a change (the first time I've really gotten a chance to be a player in like 15 years). Because the GM is relatively inexperienced and explicitly has said he's running a Pathfinder AP to minimize preparation, I'm going really easy on him to minimize the amount of prep he needs to do. Even then, it's probably 10-20% improvisational, and the GM is learning just how little an AP really gives you and how much preparation it would take to really run it well.

When I look at something like FATE, I see a game that tells you on paper that you should be mostly (but not completely) improvising, and I really wonder how it plays. From what I've seen of it, it plays terribly. An example in the public domain is Wil Wheaton playing FATE CORE w/ Felicia Day, John Rogers, & Ryan Macklin on 'Geek and Sundry', which struck me as a total train wreck of a game with emergent play that looked nothing like the presumed goals of the game's designer - despite the fact that Ryan Macklin was the one running the game.

Ever since reading the original VtM gamebook, I've been struck by how different the game as described in the rules can be from the game created by the rules. For example, the game described by the rules of VtM was a game for two people in which one person explored their inner monster, with an end state of either the monster winning or perhaps being vanquished. But the game created by the rules was nothing like that at all, and was as far as I can tell rarely if ever played according to the examples of play in the text not only because most RPG groups aren't two people, but because the rules didn't push the game heavily in the described direction. Fast forward a bit, and this became one of the things Ron Edward at The Forge would repeatedly pound on, and became a big part of the basis of his 'system matters' theories - how to create games that actually created the game they described. One of the theories that came out of that is what Ovinomancer is calling, "Story Now", but then for me the questions are, "Is something like FATE actually Story Now in any really meaningful way, and does it actually produce Story Now play in practice?", and more to the point, does "Story Now" really make for better stories that engage with narrative more productively than more traditional styles of play?

Which brings me back to the claim that is really in dispute: when deciding on the story, should we take the character of an NPC as input into the resolution mechanic of some sort of player driven persuasion challenge, or should the character of the NPC entirely fall out from the persuasion resolution challenge? Which has priority - the fiction or the mechanics? When we start the play loop and we are wanting to generate 'story now' in a satisfying manner, what do we start from? Fiction, and then use mechanics to arbitrate the unknowns, or mechanics, and then use fiction to arbitrate the unknowns?
 
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I consider the whole 'retry' thing barely worth discussing.

The answer is, consider the circumstances of the fiction and use the mechanic that most makes sense for the circumstances of the fiction. If it doesn't make sense for the PC to just bat their eyes harder and get a retry, guess what? That's how you know you shouldn't allow a retry.

We could spend a lot of time backing that assertion up from the rules, but then very much we'd be getting into a really rules lawyerly discussion where you were trying to get the letter of the rules to override the spirit of the rules.

In this specific case of a failed seduction check, we are think obviously dealing with a skill check with consequences - that's one of the reasons we bothered to roll in the first place. If the skill check failed, then the reasonable consequences are the Priestess now realizes that you have dishonorable intentions. She is now less friendly toward the PC with all the consequences that entails, including more difficult seduction checks in the future - if and when based on the play it would make sense for those to be earned.

The rules are tools. This isn't hard.
 

iserith

Explorer
We could spend a lot of time backing that assertion up from the rules, but then very much we'd be getting into a really rules lawyerly discussion where you were trying to get the letter of the rules to override the spirit of the rules.
It really doesn't take much time at all to show what the rules say about the matter and I think it's valuable to show that the rules have us covered in this case, especially to people involved in this discussion who don't play D&D 5e. While the section to which I referred in my previous post is in my view probably one of the most sloppily written in the book, it is at least in line with what I imagine you think is the "spirit" of the rules and supports your own preferences. No rules lawyers need be retained here.
 
It really doesn't take much time at all to show what the rules say about the matter and I think it's valuable to show that the rules have us covered in this case, especially to people involved in this discussion who don't play D&D 5e. While the section to which I referred in my previous post is in my view probably one of the most sloppily written in the book, it is at least in line with what I imagine you think is the "spirit" of the rules and supports your own preferences. No rules lawyers need be retained here.
I actually fully agree with you on all points above except that you will find that for a certain category of rules lawyer, no amount of time will ever be enough to show them what the rules say about the matter. No matter how tidy your argument, no matter how obvious the conclusion, they'll boldly stand there and tell you that black is white and white is black for certain values of "is".
 
Given enough time, people can be persuaded into almost anything.

People in the real world have been persuaded to buy products that they don't need. They have been persuaded to reverse strongly held moral stances. They have been persuaded to commit suicide.

Many of the instances described in the OP seem like things that absolutely could be accomplished via persuasion, though not necessarily in the sort of time-frames that an adventurer typically has to act in. Some of these acts might take hours or days, rather than minutes or seconds.
 
Given enough time, people can be persuaded into almost anything.

People in the real world have been persuaded to buy products that they don't need. They have been persuaded to reverse strongly held moral stances. They have been persuaded to commit suicide.
Sometimes. And yet, we see cases where people will risk or accept torture and death rather than be persuaded as well. I don't think it necessarily follows that because people can be persuaded, that they will be persuaded, much less that because some or even most people were persuaded everyone would be.

Many of the instances described in the OP seem like things that absolutely could be accomplished via persuasion, though not necessarily in the sort of time-frames that an adventurer typically has to act in. Some of these acts might take hours or days, rather than minutes or seconds.
I also don't think that it follows that a persuasion skill check necessarily corresponds to minutes or seconds of in game activity. I think it would be perfectly valid to establish a scene, engage in some RP to establish the character of the relationship between the Priestess and the NPC, and for the player to say, "On the pretext of friendly conversation and banter, I'm going to spend the evening trying to seduce the priestess.", and then to use a single skill check to resolve an entire evening of gradually increasing intimacy leading up to the PC's pass at the Priestess. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say as I'd only allow the skill check in the first place if some plausible circumstances like that preexisted in the fiction. Something boorish like walking up to the Priestess and saying, "Let's get naked, babe.", would either not get a roll, or else would get one with a huge circumstance penalty because it doesn't establish a reasonable basis in the fiction.

This gets back to my discussion of "intelligent strategy" in your social challenges. Just as combat has tactics that make it easier to succeed, so the player needs to demonstrate good tactics if they want to play a successful Diplomancer. I have nothing against Diplomancer as a concept, and consider it a valid character with examples in fiction. I don't say, "No." to these sort of things. But I do assign difficulty based on the circumstances of the fiction with the intention of producing a transcript of play that is a good story. In the case of seducing the Priestess, that probably involves a series of reasonable steps with less risk and less difficulty than frontal assault on her most cherished values, and that may in fact require days of time - the social equivalent of laying siege to a well fortified town - and multiple checks to resolve the series of steps that gradually erode her fictional positioning and put her in precarious position. I don't as a DM have a stake in whether or not the player succeeds in their goals - that is to say I don't care what the resulting story is. I only care that the resulting transcript is a good story.
 

iserith

Explorer
This gets back to my discussion of "intelligent strategy" in your social challenges. Just as combat has tactics that make it easier to succeed, so the player needs to demonstrate good tactics if they want to play a successful Diplomancer. I have nothing against Diplomancer as a concept, and consider it a valid character with examples in fiction. I don't say, "No." to these sort of things. But I do assign difficulty based on the circumstances of the fiction with the intention of producing a transcript of play that is a good story. In the case of seducing the Priestess, that probably involves a series of reasonable steps with less risk and less difficulty than frontal assault on her most cherished values, and that may in fact require days of time - the social equivalent of laying siege to a well fortified town - and multiple checks to resolve the series of steps that gradually erode her fictional positioning and put her in precarious position. I don't as a DM have a stake in whether or not the player succeeds in their goals - that is to say I don't care what the resulting story is. I only care that the resulting transcript is a good story.
My experience is that most DMs do not put much thought at all behind their social interaction challenges. I try to make mine at least as involved as a combat challenge with multiple objections to overcome and stakes that really matter. And because any ability check will come with a meaningful consequence for failure, the last thing anyone wants to do in my game is roll a fickle d20, so you don't see players pushing for ability checks. When they do have to roll, resources like Inspiration get spent to mitigate risk on par with combats.
 
I typically use Passive score for repeated attempts at the same thing. So if seducing the priestess is DC 30, you'd need a +20 bonus to succeed on retry. BTW I cap DCs at 30 and bonuses at +20. Obviously opposed rolls can go over 30, but 'passive opposition' can't give higher than a 30 DC.

A character with CHA 30 PB +6 and Persuasion expertise would get +22 RAW, so this can come up although usually it's only an issue with AC.
Just for clarity - so the first attempt is rolled, and then the retries are adjudicated via the passive number? So like you say in the last para it's hard to win on a retry without very big numbers (or more mundane-level DCs).
 
My experience is that most DMs do not put much thought at all behind their social interaction challenges.
My experience is most GMs don't put a lot of thought behind their combat challenges either. Or their skill challenges. We could have a whole other thread on good encounter design. There is a lot of terrible encounter design out there where the GMs tend to fault the rules, and there has been a lot of false paths pursued in game design with the goal of making good encounter design (or good narratives for that matter) something that just naturally falls out of the rules. But while I agree with you that good mechanics sustain and enrich a challenge, I feel that for the most part that's a problem of the Art (of gaming) that can't ever be fully solved with the Science (of gaming). A game can at most provide you with a good toolset. But a game can never just turn GMs into skilled craftsmen just by giving them good tools. It's a great start, but the skills of choosing and using those tools will still have to be acquired.
 

iserith

Explorer
Just for clarity - so the first attempt is rolled, and then the retries are adjudicated via the passive number? So like you say in the last para it's hard to win on a retry without very big numbers (or more mundane-level DCs).
Personally, and without judgment as to whether its workable or fun for S'mon's group, I think this muddles the rules for passive checks which are used to represent the average result for a task with an uncertain outcome done repeatedly (such as searching for secret doors while traveling the dungeon) and the rules for retrying a task that has already failed. I discuss the differences as presented by the rules as I see them upthread.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
@Manbearcat - I'm only seeing fragments of this conversation, but the following quotes seem to focus on the core of it:
That is pretty much what I figured.

Inferred...incorrectly...and then extrapolated a lot of incorrect downstream things from a bad initial inference.

The argument has historically been the idea that Shrodinger's output x from a particular type of GMing technique/action resolution scheme tends toward incoherent fiction y. The entire point of my post was to illustrate that even something completely out of continuity, not expressed by an on-screen-established causal chain (Flashbacks) has absolutely no problem being causally-coherent and internally consistent with established continuity.

But I guess I whiffed.
 

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