Social Encounters: Does it Matter What and How PCs Speak to NPCs?

bloodtide

Legend
Yes.

I do allow players that don't want to role play or don't have the ability to role play and want to be dull, boring and robotic to say the basic "I ask the gate guard to pass" with no ill effects.

BUT they do have to put forth a basic effort of "sounding good" and "not saying anything dumb".

I really hate when players use modern speak "What up gate guard man, bru, can I like EZ-pass!", and on a good day you will be lucky to get like only a -5.

I do encourage players to role play and speak in character and even more so use words/phrases from game books/novels and my own homebrewed words/phrases. Players that do so get great rewards in many ways, not just a plus.

And any player that whines they "don't want to role play" gets a laugh from me, with a barb of "oh, but I thought all you players loved to "improv"? Well, have at it!"
 

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
What about situations where "the rules" aren't in play and the players are simply having an in-character discussion (or argument) with each other? Telling war stories. Falling in love. Arguing over who gets what treasure. Planning what to do next, or which route to take. Discussing family matters. Playing pranks on each other. Becoming friends instead of just team-mates.

Yes, nearly all of this represents time during which "the story" isn't advancing, but so what? There's always next session for that - and hundreds of sessions beyond, if needed.

As for interacting with NPCs in the sort of manner you're posting about here, I take almost the opposite tack: occasionally giving a slight advantage to the player who does the better acting job is a subtle encouragement to the others to up their game a bit.
That tends to be a thing with vanishingly low odds of happening. IME the player who does the voice and accent in service of obfuscation and timesink rarely has any interest in interacting with the other PCs like that because those other players are far more free than the gm to call bs and just ignore the player authored story being setup by the player ignoring stuff. The only time that really changes is when the player/PC in question is the reluctant/cowardly adventurer who needs to be regularly begged bribed or somehow beaten into allowing the group to play d&d rather than life Coach. With the reluctant adventurer I'm less tolerant each time I see it and quicker to just tell the player that they failed at making an adventurer so should make a new one who wants to be an adventurer.


As to the discussion you bring up, I find that players who are more likely to summarize and broad strokes it are generally the ones who are providing interesting details with enough brevity for others to care follow and be interested in interacting with.
 
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MGibster

Legend
There are many ways to pursue the hobby.
You are correct and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the way your group chooses to do thing. There are times in my games where the PCs narrate what they're saying, "I flatter him and try to get him to tell me where he bought the jewelry," but other times we talk things out in character. It just depends on the situation.
 

You are correct and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the way your group chooses to do thing. There are times in my games where the PCs narrate what they're saying, "I flatter him and try to get him to tell me where he bought the jewelry," but other times we talk things out in character. It just depends on the situation.
In my case, the way I write up investigations (and investigations are common), there are numerous NPCs to deal with (each named, with an image, and a background), and going IC with them would be a huge time sink.

Plus my players tend to blow up Discord between sessions. In the last five days they've made over 70 Discord posts, some IC, others not. And its not that critical of a point in the campaign.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Maybe 'Abused' is too strong of a term. I do think there is merit to the idea of players, especially new players developing the wrong mindset from being in bad games.

I played at a table in highschool with some kids I knew and it was horrid. It was very combative, and very DM vs. Players.

I knew from my home table however, that this wasn't how all D&D was. I was able to go "Wow, this game sucks.. I'm out of here."

If that was my first exposure to the game however, I might not have that baseline to relate to, and just assume that was how the game was supposed to be played.
And there are also a few players so used to being abused out of game that they simply accept it as their lot in life. So when it happens in game they simply accept it thinking it's their fault or worse, punishment from a higher power.

A few such realize, at least if they find the right group, that it's not their fault and they're not to blame.

A lot of gamers have low self esteem... I'm married to one and parent of one. In their case, it's biochemical... My own self-esteem is as bouncy as a pingpong ball in a spinning lottery cage... Bipolar disorder really sucks.

It sees a distproportionately high number of gamers...
 

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
Supporter
Plus my players tend to blow up Discord between sessions. In the last five days they've made over 70 Discord posts, some IC, others not. And its not that critical of a point in the campaign.
I don't think this part is crazy uncommon is it? Maybe I'm just fortunate to have passionate players but the majority of my groups talk about the game or game-adjacent stuff in the Discord between sessions.
 


aramis erak

Legend
I literally cannot fathom the idea that there are roleplayers who genuinely think that speaking in character is a bad thing and should be avoided...
I am utterly flabbergasted. o_O :eek:
While I don't think it a bad thing, It has, in a substantial number of players, been a way to try to compensate for dump-statting Charisma or equivalent. Basically, to have the good roll elsewhere, and make up for it with the player's personal charisma.

Since I have 3 players who literally panic at being asked for details about the direction of discussion... (Autism being a part of it...) I don't see it as a needful part of RPG play.I do see it as a good reason for a modifier... to a point.

I don't want to have hourlong conversations in character as player nor GM. Haven't since 1982 or so...
But I'm hardly averse to "to play another card on the task, you must narrate some element based upon the suit of the card"... á la Freemarket (Jared Sorenson/Luke Crane)
 

Anon Adderlan

Adventurer
By rendering what/how PCs speak meaningless you invalidate a player's social acumen and force them to rely on their mechanical acumen, which completely changes what the game is about and which skillset gives you the edge. This is why we have different games which meet different needs, and why I wish RPGs were clearer on which needs they meet, but the hobby seems violently allergic to any effort at categorizing playstyles.
 

Celebrim

Legend
By rendering what/how PCs speak meaningless you invalidate a player's social acumen and force them to rely on their mechanical acumen, which completely changes what the game is about and which skillset gives you the edge.

I don't think it is as clear/cut black and white as that. Consider that in combat it matters greatly what your character's attack bonus is and what your hit points are but that isn't ever all that matters. Whether you choose to engage in ranged combat, or close to melee matters. Whether your party fights defensively or presses the attack, whether you split up to address different threats or focus attacks on a single foe, whether you choose to position yourself between the enemy and another player, and what abilities you choose to use and when all are some of the many things that go into determining how successful you will be in combat. So typically combat involves some combination of both player and character skill.

And there is no particular reason why a social engagement can't involve some combination of both player and character skill. What the players speak doesn't have to be meaningless, nor does it have to be everything. There is a broad area in the middle between pure mechanical resolution and pure fiat.
 

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