Attack with Your Social Skills!

11 posts / 0 new
Last post
How often do you adjust encounter difficulty or size just prior to an encounter based on the things characters say at its start, especially with intelligent, speaking creatures?

Do you allow successful Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate checks in those pre-combat moments to adjust exactly how many foes stay to fight or to end an encounter peacefully or even in an all-out retreat or surrender?

I talked about this in detail this week in Attack with Your Social Skills! and I'm curious to see how often you and your players try these strategies.

Thanks!
LEONINE ROAR : Amp Up Your D&D Game : Visit my D&D blog :: FASTER COMBAT : Crush Your Combat Grind
How often do you adjust encounter difficulty or size just prior to an encounter based on the things characters say at its start, especially with intelligent, speaking creatures?

Do you allow successful Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate checks in those pre-combat moments to adjust exactly how many foes stay to fight or to end an encounter peacefully or even in an all-out retreat or surrender?

I talked about this in detail this week in Attack with Your Social Skills! and I'm curious to see how often you and your players try these strategies.

Thanks!



Often, if I have a Skill Challenge immediately before a combat encounter, that combat encounter will be modified based on the success of the Skill Challenge. Talking to the right people (and succeeding on a Diplomacy check) might get a few allies in the encounter. Intimidating the right people might find a few less enemies. Failing to trick a guard might find a few more enemies. Successful Stealth will give the PCs a more favorable starting position or the guards a less favorable one, etc.

Usually, getting close to the BBEG, and then veering off course, rather than pursuing him, will give the BBEG more time to prepare a defense. Sometimes they veer on their own, sometimes I give them a choice to go after him now or pursue this other goal, which will seem easier and more immediate.

My last encounter had some players scaring off Displacer Beasts with Intimidate checks and torches. I generally allow such checks to convince monsters to try and abandon the fight if it makes some sense to do so, and my players sometimes go for it.

Although the person with the best social skills is the Barbarian and her main desire is to maul everything that moves, so these checks get used less then they could be. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
How often do you adjust encounter difficulty or size just prior to an encounter based on the things characters say at its start, especially with intelligent, speaking creatures?

Almost never, though I have allowed parties who were aware of an impending fight take steps to reducethe difficulty.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

How often do you adjust encounter difficulty or size just prior to an encounter based on the things characters say at its start, especially with intelligent, speaking creatures?

Almost never, though I have allowed parties who were aware of an impending fight take steps to reducethe difficulty.



Same here.

It depends mostly on the larger scale game. At the moment I am playing a scenario of tough resource management, so I might allow players to attempt to remove enemies from play prior to a battle, as I could consider that part of that longer-term game that they are engaged with. However, if I do so, I have to give some extra consequences for failure, otherwise it's not really a game being played, just some probability that the PCs life is easier.

Much of the time, the combat encounter design has been balanced to the best of my ability to make an interesting fight as part of a sequence with varying difficulty levels. I wouldn't want to mess with that routinely using skill rolls or RP-based adjustments, because an encounter is also a stand-alone and quite long piece of game play. It needs to be fun and challenging in its own right, otherwise you could spend a long time "going through the motions" of a fight thanks to a lucky skill roll having its logical consequence at the start.

Now, ideas or good skill rolls that avoid an encounter in its entirety, or trivialise it down to 10 minutes, I do allow. In fact the players have only played through 2/3 of the combat encounters I prepared - the rest, even though I invested time in them - get dropped based on player actions. That's very different to me than reducing combat difficulty, because there's little or no table time wasted.

That said, I am a strong proponent (even though I don't appear to be any good at it myself) of designing encounters in which success does not mean wiping out the other side. The point of the fight might very well be to convince the other side to stand down, to reveal a misunderstanding leading to cessation of hostilities, to convince a neutral party to come to aid, etc.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Often, for each combat encounter I have there is one or two such encounters averted by careful planning or silvered tongues (or really frightening intimidation).
 

Warlord.jpg
D&D Home Page -

The pen is mightier than the character builder. Copy this to your sig if you like 4e but don't use the CB.
Hardly ever I think.  Either the social encounter will end in a fight or not.  Either all the guys on the other side will back up their leader/friends or they simply won't get into a fight.

They may still flee or what have you and may be able to be convinced to surrender or intimidated into a rout, but social skills used for that purpose already in combat are standard actions, so usually less used.
Tolkein was a jerk. Seriously, what DM sends 9 Wraith Lords at a Lvl 2 party of Halflings. The only 'correct' way to play D&D is by whatever method is making the group you have at that session, have the most fun.
How often do you adjust encounter difficulty or size just prior to an encounter based on the things characters say at its start, especially with intelligent, speaking creatures?

Do you allow successful Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate checks in those pre-combat moments to adjust exactly how many foes stay to fight or to end an encounter peacefully or even in an all-out retreat or surrender?

I talked about this in detail this week in Attack with Your Social Skills! and I'm curious to see how often you and your players try these strategies.

Thanks!

Firstly, I'm curious as to whether this is specific to 4th or to 3.5 (Not sure whether 4th places bluff, dimplomacy or imtimidate under different skill names, so I'm unclear in that.)

In my 3.5 game, I will generally put a bit of work into the encounter beforehand to determine the individual opponents'(or potential opponents') likelyhood of reacting well to negotiations, as well as any particular triggers for individuals. For example, one ugly NPC reacts badly to any mention of physical appearance, even if it's not his own. Anything like that which comes up in negotiation makes him more likely to turn violent with the situation.

Let me make it clear that my group prefers high-immersion storytelling, so it's not a system, per se, as much as it is a lot of advance-story writing. However, even in the case of less story-focused campaigns I would recommend considering the basic motives and influences on the enemies. Even particularly violent ogres or bandits may be likely to surrender if their leader surrenders or is killed, depending on the group. And that bandit leader might be specifically lenient to caravans with children on board, having lost his own son in a bandit attack befre he took up the trade.

Things to consider. Hope this helps, and happy gaming ;)
Firstly, I'm curious as to whether this is specific to 4th or to 3.5 (Not sure whether 4th places bluff, dimplomacy or imtimidate under different skill names, so I'm unclear in that.)



In general it applies to both. 4E needs more thought about this kind of cross-over between social/skilly/rp and combat encounter parts of the game, because they have been more cleanly separated in the rules. There's more of a "thunk" effect between social/RP and gamey combat encounters in 4E than 3.5.


Let me make it clear that my group prefers high-immersion storytelling, so it's not a system, per se, as much as it is a lot of advance-story writing.



You can do this is 4E, but it also helps if the combat encounters have a certain design/balance, so the pattern that seems to suit me in 4E is usually combat versus no combat. Other game systems which are more focussed on individual NPCs and PCs (and less on teams of them) haev a little more flexibility I think.

Back to the OP, it might be a good idea to get guidance on statting and presenting combat encounters with different or combined winning scenarios. For instance, is it sensible to present an encounter at L+6 experience budget, if there are one or two key goals that can be met without needing to defeat some of the creatures, or if they have restricted movement? . . . I can balance these kind of things by "feel", but would definitely appreciate examples, suggested layouts and budgets that work. In addition, I have discovered that presentation is an important factor if you make the traditional "killing them all wins" either hard or impossible.

Sometimes, but more often then not I'll usually just give a moral penalty as it isn't a situation where they could run from/where running wouldn't result in immediate death.
Its not the answer that matters, its the questions. This is the sarcasm point ---> {.) the period can be substituted for whatever punctuation mark is appropriate. Use it so show sarcasm in written text.
Sign In to post comments