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5E Weird Interpretations for High/Low Ability Scores

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Which, come to think of it, is a great analogy to this thread and how you can try to be Sherlock Holmes but your dice may disagree. I'm not going to police the trying (just like I don't police my player trying to con on 0d Sway), but the adjudication of your pretty word or deductive superpowers may leave much to be desired.
Exactly this. My assumption on a well-played 5 Int Sherlock is that the player is expecting to fail, and wants to lean into situations where they can narrate those failures as often as possible. Emphasizing the distinction between the narrative (really smart detective) and the result (can't ever remember anything or figure out a puzzle when actually called upon) is part of the fun. It's farcical, sure, but I think plenty of groups have room for some farcicial play (mine certainly do!)
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
This is actually a fairly common thing I hear about Inspiration - players get it and don't use it or don't go for it. It seems like that's a matter of habit perhaps, but I also wonder sometimes how meaningful the consequence of failure is. I know in my games my regular johns almost always hit the limit of 4 Inspiration per character per session. I think this is because failing an ability check in my games is usually pretty bad in context and this is generally where they spend their Inspiration. Like anything though, it's probably not just one thing that contributes to players using or not using the mechanic.
Oh, I liberally apply adversity on failures. Which is part of why I find it weird -- it's clear this is a bad outcome, the player is looking for approaches (I allow table talk) from others, but they still don't reach for inspiration despite it being right there! I go back and forth as to whether I should be prompting it's use because if I do, it almost always gets used that time. I took myself out of the decision process for inspiration because I don't want to have to track all the character things, so I don't want to replace that with prodding players to use it, but I want them to use it... gah. Still, my game is a blast and we have fun so it's a minor issue in the long run. Still, so many times I'm heaping on adverse outcomes and thinking, "dummy, you could have rolled a second d20 on that."

That's funny, some kind of mismatch between how the player wants to play and how good the character is in those areas it seems to me. I sometimes see this and it's usually as above where the player wants to be chatty but the character isn't good at persuasion. I wonder if there's something to that, perhaps relating to the player's level of extroversion.
Heh, thinking about it, that might be it, but in a weird inverted way. The player often complains they're not good at off-the-cuff dialogue stuff (they're limiting themselves) but enjoys playing PCs that do have strong social skills. So, sometimes, they play offtype and make a character that isn't great at social stuff (like their Blades character), but the way they picture scenes going occasionally gets stuck and they imagine a cool talky scene but forget this character is a 14-year-old orphan street rat that sees dead people, often talks to the ghost of his dead dog while in company, and has a stutter. So, he gets caught up in the fiction of the scene, comes up with a plan, and then, when he executes it, remembers he's actually really bad at this stuff (in Blades, 0 dice means you roll 2d6 and take the lowest, where a 1-3 is a failure).
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Exactly this. My assumption on a well-played 5 Int Sherlock is that the player is expecting to fail, and wants to lean into situations where they can narrate those failures as often as possible. Emphasizing the distinction between the narrative (really smart detective) and the result (can't ever remember anything or figure out a puzzle when actually called upon) is part of the fun. It's farcical, sure, but I think plenty of groups have room for some farcicial play (mine certainly do!)

It can also be an interesting challenge to play a character like this and still have it achieve the successes for which Holmes is generally known. If I can minimize the amount of, say, Intelligence (Investigation) checks through smart play and stack the deck in my favor with resources the few times I do need to roll, then I can in theory and perhaps in practice succeed enough to portray the character despite what appears to be a significant handicap in Intelligence score. After all, a success is a success whether the character has an 5 Int or 20 Int (and a failure is a failure).
 

but what specifically, is good about letting a player dumpstat mental stats, ignore those stats in how he portrays the character, then socially manipulate the DM into letting him operate as if his character was extremely good in those stats

First, you are assuming the bolded part will always happen. I am not.

Furthermore, if it does happen then I would say it's a problem with the player, and if that player is ordered to roleplay a certain way, they will act subversively anyway. Starting with the premise that not everybody at the table buys into the table rules does not make for a sound argument.

But to answer your question more generally, i.e. what is good about letting players decide things about their own characters, how about:
  1. Everybody gets to play the way they like, increasing overall enjoyment for all.
  2. Nobody has to police how other people are playing.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
First, you are assuming the bolded part will always happen. I am not.

Furthermore, if it does happen then I would say it's a problem with the player, and if that player is ordered to roleplay a certain way, they will act subversively anyway. Starting with the premise that not everybody at the table buys into the table rules does not make for a sound argument.

But to answer your question more generally, i.e. what is good about letting players decide things about their own characters, how about:
  1. Everybody gets to play the way they like, increasing overall enjoyment for all.
  2. Nobody has to police how other people are playing.
A far more succinct reply than mine. Kudos. Right to the heart of it.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
For once! That's how I usually feel about your posts. "I wish I had said that."

In other news, the solution to Inspiration is to allow it to be used for re-rolls. Players suddenly start remembering they have it.
I, um, do that, too. I'm not super strict about inspiration timing, and say, "oh, sure, you could have used inspiration on that! It would have been with advantage, so go ahead and roll the second d20." It's still not oft used. I just don't get it. I'd be spamming the hell out of it. I mean, it's not like my players don't already do crazy stuff, so they're not real careful to begin with. Hmm, maybe they actually like the failures? I dunno, given how they approach Blades, I might be onto something here.
 

cmad1977

Hero
I, um, do that, too. I'm not super strict about inspiration timing, and say, "oh, sure, you could have used inspiration on that! It would have been with advantage, so go ahead and roll the second d20." It's still not oft used. I just don't get it. I'd be spamming the hell out of it. I mean, it's not like my players don't already do crazy stuff, so they're not real careful to begin with. Hmm, maybe they actually like the failures? I dunno, given how they approach Blades, I might be onto something here.

I’m very NOT strict about a lot of the abilities players have that must trigger before a roll. Protection style for example.
I roll the dice(click the button) too fast in all the excitement.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
I, um, do that, too. I'm not super strict about inspiration timing, and say, "oh, sure, you could have used inspiration on that! It would have been with advantage, so go ahead and roll the second d20." It's still not oft used. I just don't get it. I'd be spamming the hell out of it. I mean, it's not like my players don't already do crazy stuff, so they're not real careful to begin with. Hmm, maybe they actually like the failures? I dunno, given how they approach Blades, I might be onto something here.

How about having a bad guy with inspiration? During a combat, the bad guy uses it as part of an attack roll. Might start spurring on the players to remember if they see this happen a few times turning a miss into a hit. I've not actually tried it, but it just popped in my head. Of course, an attack roll is not necessarily the most interesting use of inspiration (except maybe for sneak attack, I suppose), but at least it's an in-game reminder. Or maybe use it for the bad guy during initiative - that might, er, inspire the low Dex Rogue to use their inspiration to try to get higher up in the order...
 

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