Thursday, June 16, 2011


Through some advice from someone on writing, I am now going to write about something I know and am feeling a bit passionate about right now. Something that's been on my mind and itching to get out. Diplomacy. For any of you unfamiliar with DnD 3.5, it's a skill the player gets and improves as they level. Specifically it improves the target's impression of the character. I've had some good and bad experience with this in the past, with one specific occurrence bothering the most.

Roughly put the following is my interpretation of diplomacy and how I've conflicted with others, or when I feel it's worked well.

Firstly and most importantly. I see diplomacy when used beyond just improving the reaction of the target to actually negotiate as simply operating to improve the reaction level of the target in regards to a specific request. Which means, it is limited by the same limitations of all reactions. The upper limit being, willing to risk harm to themselves to help the player. This is a very fine distinction and should be carefully noted. The willingness is AT MOST to RISK harm to themselves. This means they will not by default harm themselves. Also, this does not mean they will risk harm without at least using their brain first. If the player tells them to shoot their grandma, they will A: not do it as that would be harming themselves (an extension being things very important to them) and B: would likely ask why and or try to guide their friend to a different alternative.

Furthermore, this does not cover the area of over time interaction. Imagine for a moment a bucket. The amount of water in the bucket is how much the NPC is willing to do for the player. Diplomacy puts water in. However, prejudices, past experiences and reputation can cause another effect. For every negative prejudice, past experience and reputation the Player has for the NPC put sand in the bucket. For every positive take sand out. There's an upper limit to what Diplomacy can sanely do. Furthermore, some personalities and NPCs are just plain stubborn, and won't budge as much to diplomacy. Take experienced and diligent guards, Dwarves (the race not the other kind) and other difficult to impress beings. Those are basically like using a smaller pipe to bring the water to the bucket.

My major conflict I can't get off my mind with diplomacy is this. It was used to persuade a large group of people to begin burning their own city to the ground. If my best friend turned to me and said, "Burn this city to the ground." my first question would be why. My second thought and expressed being would likely be, "No, because I live here." Under my diplomacy interpretation, you cannot get an NPC to actively harm themselves without magic or some extreme situations. Such as implying something very much worse is going to happen if they don't. After this point, I was penalized alignment wise for killing 'innocent' people after ensuring they were not magically motivated. Alignment issues aside, the intent was to penalize me for drawing a conclusion that I found logical, people burning down a city I am to protect while not under magical compulsion are the enemy. Oh well.

However, there have been times that diplomacy has gone well for me. Currently I am in a campaign with a VERY diplomatic character. I think the GM is becoming a bit wary of it, but I think they should approach it from the same perspective. As long as I'm not requesting self harm, and am not tapping the bucket too much, there probably shouldn't be a problem. And so far, I've gotten about the expected responses for most NPCs.

Anyhow, this is really just more a look into my mind on Diplomacy and 'friendly' social skills. There's an upper limit. Anything more than that, well they have spells for that.

Monday, June 13, 2011

And So We Begin.

I think that's the line at the beginning of Fable... Anyhoo on topic.

The party has been released into the wild. With the exception of the cleric. He's still fiddling with his character, question asked, but some key answers not given about background and that he's done setting things up. He keeps wanting to change the world as it was given to him. (created for him actually) To hold up the charade and for reasons of balance and parity I'm turning him down on rebuilding the custom god. Well at least he's asking questions, some of the wrong ones after working for a few days to clarify his real intent, but he's asking them, the paladin was not so concerned.

The party and their contributions is thusly.

I have inserted a familiar opportunity in the future. It's an abstract loot thought should the environment be convenient. Also he named a town and it's environment over the mountain range that has sprung up for the opening scene. He's also invented a new kind of mushroom unintentionally.

Created a new god of knowledge, industry and goodness. Also a plot line to be followed involving a divine mandate.

I have inserted a type of armor in the future as loot, same as the familiar. So far he hasn't added much but himself.

Hasn't added anything. A very passive player who has posted twice as opposed to the others with at least 10 to 15 times. I've already NPCed them once to forwards the plot, I don't like doing this, but am only using it to do things that only THAT character can do when the party seems interested. I need to carefully phrase everything that comes out of his mouth during NPCing so it doesn't become the voice of GOD.

Has added about 20 gods to the human pantheon in insisting he wanted to see a 'list' of the gods and pick from it rather than let me choose one to his liking. I inserted the god I would create for him within the list. He chose it. Other than developing out the pantheon little additional creation. Especially since he isn't in the game world yet. Apparently being out for a week didn't mean he couldn't post so I should have worked to get him into the world. For the record, telling someone that you'll be out of town when it wont change your posting habits is unnecessary.

As a group
The temporary names I gave the players were VERY popular. I'm going to find some way to insert it into the plot.

Current History
-Each character was setting out for an adventure separately before this adventure started.
-They awoke in a fairy circle on the other side of a mountain from their original position, with no knowledge of the time between this and setting out.
-They have headed to a nearby town and have been informed of it's current situation with some room for hooks.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Preparation

The pieces are falling into place. The game is hosted, and already three players have joined in.

The first, apparently a power player. Looking to get every edge in, he settled on a fighter after going through a laundry list of disapprovals, from taking an ability that allows him to ignore one projectile every round to wielding two handed weapons in one hand. Tonight I'm going to have to block him by actually tallying how much all his gear costs and shaking my finger at him. I think I'll actually enjoy this one.

The second, sounds like a lady. There's an approach to their typing, the words they say and how they approach things that seems to come through. I may be wrong... Anyhow, she will be playing the dwarven paladin. We shall see how that goes. I have a feeling they will adhere to the provided rules without pushing the borders. I have a feeling they're more interested in their character and events.

The third character will probably be abandoning the game before two weeks is out. The elven rogue. Not too many words, some mispelled, quiet. I would expect after expanding on a thought as much as I did to get more than a 4 word reply. Either they are always very brief in the conversation, or they lack a zeal to get in there. We shall see how it goes.

Beyond this I've already received at least 3 more requests, however I'm feeling more picky. I feel like a dynamic of 3 is the minimum necessary to play, and some of the offers seem less than desirable. A Mary Sue possibly, a person with a pre-written story, someone with the already acquired roles in a party. I think I'll wait till everyone's created their character before I start. Maybe between now and then I'll get some good ones.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Wild Idea

I have a wild idea. Using RPOL an online gaming forum designed for roleplaying online, I'm going to create a game with no planning whatsoever. Only an opening scene and the desires of the players. I will make no maps ahead of time, no plot, no monster research and nothing but planning with the players and their desires. From there, I will craft the world as they push to explore it.

My hope is this will help me grow my creativity and ability to react to situations brought up by players. It also will help keep me from melting down just during the preparation. Finally, I will not be wasting anyones time in person.

Meanwhile, I will still be preparing for real people.