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Diplomacy: a skill that should involve role playing

Teh Storm October 4, 2010 User blog:Teh Storm
Revision as of 19:28, October 4, 2010 by Tarkisflux (Talk | contribs)

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Negotiation and diplomacy: only the most munchkiny, hack festival, break down the door, hardcore mercenaries of war groups have never had a use for it. And yet I think making it a skill and a die roll is a mistake, if not only for the following reasons:

First, the actual skill is flawed in it's write-up. Taking a look at the rolls and DCs, I can see a 10th level bard that never needs to enter combat simply by announcing he is using diplomacy and converting everyone he meets into friendly groupies waiting on his every word. There is no scaling DC, no contested roll of any sort, no will save, and yet it duplicates the effects of some of the games most useful spells. While this is not bad in and of itself, it becomes bad when one reaches the "never roll" skill threshold. Even groups that want to keep the diplomacy skill should need a rewrite of it to keep it from becoming game breaking. I recommend this variant for any who agree with me so far but do not like the other options.

I think that a lot of skills and actions make more sense as ratings. As it is, a first level character has a small chance to make a red dragon friendly and helpful, discover gun powder, and remember that the arch villain of the campaign is deathly allergic to celery. To create a rating, just assume that a character is always taking 10 on certain actions. This is great for reducing the abuse of other skills and makes standard event like ambushes easier. For example, lets assume the Jay the Bard is shopping for a good deal and is haggling with a merchant. If the merchant has a good diplomacy rating, then that might be a signal to the GM that this merchant has thus far been able to sell at 50% above market price with no complaints. But if Jay has a good diplomacy rating, too, than maybe he can haggle the merchant down to base price. Lower if Silent Bob succeeds on an intimidate check...

This also aids role play, as there is less die rolling. While this variant can lead to some unfortunateness, like the shy kid being asked to talk to the scary GM because his character has the best rating, a quick reference to the character sheet as well as what is actually said can allow role play to resolve many situations. And emphasis on "what is actually said", because I think that should be a determining factor in whether a diplomacy check wins or fails. Offering 10,000 gold for a serfs hat should always succeed, just as offering not to take a dump on the throne in exchange for a night with the queen should always fail. Also, diplomacy does not seem to allow haggling, as there is no chance for a counter offer. You either succeed or fail in convincing someone and it's done. Same problem with fast talk and groveling. In addition, there should be some form of contested roll if rolls are to be involved. I like the idea of a will save or sense motive, but I could also see another diplomacy (counter offer), intimidate (threat), or a bluff (deception) as very viable options, although I do prefer a rating system for these skills as well.

So, in summery, diplomacy is and should be a viable skill, but not as it is written. Thank you.--Teh Storm 18:05, October 4, 2010 (UTC)

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