Role Playing Challenges

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We are trying to get away from "roll" playing and back into "role" playing.  Are any DMs having success in rewarding "role" playing?

How do you reward it and how are you judging it?

Too many pre-written adventures (almost all) are delve styled, meaning all combat, no story telling, no PC acting...  When trying to make a sandbox adventure how would you handle a skill challenge without using many dice rolls?
We are trying to get away from "roll" playing and back into "role" playing.  Are any DMs having success in rewarding "role" playing?

How do you reward it and how are you judging it? 



We judge it based on cool factor... I hear awesome and wow words and similar rewards those seem how we reward it, and my daughter sometimes claps. Oh and roleplaying is an internal phenomena putting oneself in to the role and feeling one is part of an ongoing story. It rewards itself and is actually not very detectable.

Perhaps you mean play acting... which is kind of like using an aiding others check on the other players roleplay (by affecting the atmosphere of play with how you present what your character is doing.)

Ok I do use DMs best friend and page 42 benefits on top of normal power use when the players are paying attention to things I present and integrate those things in to the description of what there character does including how they use there abilities... but that is rewarding attentiveness and inventiveness.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

My one complaint about 4e (and I really do like the system and enjoy the heck out of to an obsessive level other than this) is the skill challenge as a substitute for roleplaying. The roleplaying seems to take, mainly, the form of lead-up to the point where we roll dice to see what the result of all the "acting" was. As a result, we seem to sort of rush through the roleplaying to get to the rolling. Maybe it's just because my group isn't entirely comfortable with the roleplaying, and we'll get more into it as we ease into our PCs and party dynamics more.

One thing I've seen another DM do (who had since abandoned 4E in favor of Pathfinder and WoD games) would be to give people bonuses to their rolls as a "reward" for convincing or deep roleplay. I also find myself having a hard time acting against the best, out-of-character interests of my party, even when it might be in-character for my character to do something foolhardy or detrimental to the goals of the party.

For example: we're in a tense situation with some potential allies who are suspicious of us. It might be very in-character for my PC to act surly and hostile toward these captors, but I find myself feeling pressured to just conform and act in our party's best interest even when my PC might, more realistically, behave differently.

I would just say the primary consideration is the player is going to have to interpret the situation and do something plausible. You can emphasize skill use more or less to taste. 4e skills are more about "what sorts of ways does this character act" vs anything else.

However, a lot of published adventures are not too sophisticated in this realm. I find that I just don't use a lot of published stuff. You can always break it down more along the lines of the guy with the high Diplomacy talking to someone that logically is going to listen to him and saying something reasonable probably doesn't NEED to role a check. You may find that you'll want to provide additional obstacles if you do a lot of that, since SCs are generally predicated on medium to hard checks mostly.

You can do as Garthanos suggests too. There are a lot of ways to fluff 'Aid Another' for instance. Nor is it really necessary for all the things the PCs do collectively to match one skill to invoke those kinds of bonuses. If the Half-Orc fighter is 'looking tough' and you want to convince someone that you're all pretty tough customers and you can handle some mission, then just grant a +2 or have him roll an Athletics check, etc.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Thanks, Garthanos,

Let the others at the table basically decide succeed or fail based on table reactions... OK.

I was thinking the reward would be similar to an appropriate skill challenge level as far as XP. 

And yes I was implying more of the play-acting aspects of role-play.  We are very burnt-out on rolling dice;  The character does a fantastic job conveying what their character says and does and then biffs on the check.  That hardly seems just.

@Abdul, @Bakha,

Those are very helpful comments. 

Having the party really describe their words and actions to count as a check or to give themselves bonuses on an actual roll if one is needed.

If the character, themself, can convey the intent through their own mannerisms then use that as a possible success.

This is not exactly a 'cure' for dice rolling but if your looking for more acting prior to dice being rolled then some tips that have worked for me.


For starters your players never, ever, get to say they are making a skill check. The DM is the arbitrator of when you roll a skill check. The effect of this is the players must say what they are actually doing or role play what they are saying etc. This often results in the DM asking for some kind of a check to determine if what they are doing works but your players need to role play to get to that point.


Another element I use is that I never tell the players that they are in a skill challenge and I use enough stand alone skill checks that they don't immediately know they are in one if I call for a skill check.


This not only increases the amount of actual roleplaying at the table but, because it increases the immersiveness (due to the fact that they are role playing their characters) you get more players doing things that don't necessarily correlate with whatever their best skill is. Note that you do need to watch this element some what – if you punish them hard every time they don't happen to use some maxed out skill then they obviously will be more careful not to do any spontaneous role playing so you need to insure that they either have a reasonable shot at succeeding or at least make failure 'fun'.


Its also important, especially in skill challenges, to narrate things in such a way that the players are leading the action and your 'reacting' without them scrutinizing their character sheets for their best skill. In circumstances where the characters are going to be reacting to you its usually best to use group checks. You can mix and match some what if you have some quick thinking players.

We are trying to get away from "roll" playing and back into "role" playing.  Are any DMs having success in rewarding "role" playing?

How do you reward it and how are you judging it?

Too many pre-written adventures (almost all) are delve styled, meaning all combat, no story telling, no PC acting...  When trying to make a sandbox adventure how would you handle a skill challenge without using many dice rolls?



Here's my suggestion:
Determine the objective, the scenes that the players have to go through to get to that objective, and then present the problem to the party.

For example:
My lover's character was sent out by his master to harvest some mushrooms for a friend of his.  He then was to bring the mushrooms to the master's friend.  No details on the mushroom's appearance were given (I let her [the player] determine the details herself).

It was fun seeing the roleplaying that was going on at this point, as the PC and his master were arguing on where the mushrooms can be found.

When the PC was heading to the forest  where the mushroom was located, I had him roll his Nature to allow him to save time in reaching the most likely area the mushrooms would be in, then I had him roll his Endurance to check his fatigue from searching the area, as well as Perception to actually find the thing.  When he found that the mushrooms were, in fact, on a cliff, he decided that he leave the actual harvesting to his companion (who had a much better chance at getting to the cliff face).

- - - - -
It's not much, I reckon, but the idea is there: there's an objective, there are a few specific effects pre-determined, then I leave the players to fill in the details. If they're finding it hard to be that creative -- or if there's conflict to be resolved, like Endurance checks to determine if a player loses a healing surge or not as a result of strenuous activity -- I'd allow/require rolls, to keep the game moving... but of course the game gets more interesting and fun -- especially in the social skills sort of challenges -- if, instead of rolls, you determine the success or failure in a challenge based on their performance and how they interacted with the NPCs (or even with fellow PCs).
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This is not exactly a 'cure' for dice rolling but if your looking for more acting prior to dice being rolled then some tips that have worked for me.


For starters your players never, ever, get to say they are making a skill check. The DM is the arbitrator of when you roll a skill check. The effect of this is the players must say what they are actually doing or role play what they are saying etc. This often results in the DM asking for some kind of a check to determine if what they are doing works but your players need to role play to get to that point.




I really like this idea. I wonder how I could bring it to my group (I'm not the DM) tactfully, without making it sound like I'm trying to control things?



This is not exactly a 'cure' for dice rolling but if your looking for more acting prior to dice being rolled then some tips that have worked for me.


For starters your players never, ever, get to say they are making a skill check. The DM is the arbitrator of when you roll a skill check. The effect of this is the players must say what they are actually doing or role play what they are saying etc. This often results in the DM asking for some kind of a check to determine if what they are doing works but your players need to role play to get to that point.




I really like this idea. I wonder how I could bring it to my group (I'm not the DM) tactfully, without making it sound like I'm trying to control things?



What BeaverDuck explains is exactly what I do.

I tell them, right from the beginning of the campaign and before each session, "Always tell me what your characters are doing in character.  Never tell me that you are making a skill check.  Based upon your actions, I will decide what skill check best fits."  It works, and the players love it.  They rarely know that they are even in a skill challenge when one is taking place.  It's completely fluid narrative shared between DM and player.

Occasionally, there will be times where we disagree on which skill is appropriate, but it's rare when it happens and never takes longer than 30 seconds to iron it out.

From a player's perspective, simply suggest it to the table.  It's not about control at all, it's about presenting something new that will add more atmosphere to the game.
 

Celebrate our differences.

And yes I was implying more of the play-acting aspects of role-play.  We are very burnt-out on rolling dice;  The character does a fantastic job conveying what their character says and does and then biffs on the check.  That hardly seems just.


I came up with a great solution for this in my group, because we also noticed how silly this was.  Have the roll come first.  Effectively, you quickly get the roll out of the way, and then comes the acting.  So, instead of Billy (playing the Bard) giving a great speach and then rolling a 1 (forcing you to come up with a crazy reason why he failed), he rolls the 1 first, and then gets the joy of roleplaying a failure.  Because lets face it: roleplaying failure is just as fun as roleplaying success.

The other option is to not require a roll at all.  This works for many people, but I personally don't prefer it most of the time.  First of all, it rewards people who are good at acting over those who are not, and I like to reward the character as much as the player.  Secondly, people never choose to roleplay failure, and I feel this is an important aspect of character development.  No one gives the perfect speach every time, but that is how the Player of the Bard tries to describe his actions.

So, roll first, then act.

As for a reward, I would suggest talking to your players.  Find out what they want for motivation.


And yes I was implying more of the play-acting aspects of role-play.  We are very burnt-out on rolling dice;  The character does a fantastic job conveying what their character says and does and then biffs on the check.  That hardly seems just.


As an alternative viewpoint to Arithezoo above...

You do not need to view the dice roll as a character doing a bad job or failing, per se, but instead the reaction of the NPC.  It could be as simple as the NPC happening to have a bad day that day, and he is not in the mood to hear anything.  Or, it could be as complex that the NPC has gotten wind of the PCs intentions and does not necessarily agree with their motives or plans.

Make a failed dice roll a challenge on YOUR role play ability.  Failures can be just as much fun to role play as successes; sometimes even more fun.

You can still reward good role playing in countless other ways, even if there are failed dice rolls.

Celebrate our differences.

And yes I was implying more of the play-acting aspects of role-play.  We are very burnt-out on rolling dice;  The character does a fantastic job conveying what their character says and does and then biffs on the check.  That hardly seems just.


I came up with a great solution for this in my group, because we also noticed how silly this was.  Have the roll come first.  Effectively, you quickly get the roll out of the way, and then comes the acting.  So, instead of Billy (playing the Bard) giving a great speach and then rolling a 1 (forcing you to come up with a crazy reason why he failed), he rolls the 1 first, and then gets the joy of roleplaying a failure.  Because lets face it: roleplaying failure is just as fun as roleplaying success.

snip...

So, roll first, then act.

As for a reward, I would suggest talking to your players.  Find out what they want for motivation.




The first suggestion doesn't work as well for combat attack powers, since the player might plan on using a daily power roll a nat. 1 and then describe one of their at will powers instead.  I guess it's a matter of trust.  Your example, of course was for a skill check, not an attack roll, so I'm not 100% sure you would suggest using this for them.  I think it could work for attack rolls if you really trusted everyone to be honest about it.  An alternate would be for the player to hold up the power card to signal to the DM the power used, roll and then describe the action involved.

This is not exactly a 'cure' for dice rolling but if your looking for more acting prior to dice being rolled then some tips that have worked for me.


For starters your players never, ever, get to say they are making a skill check. The DM is the arbitrator of when you roll a skill check. The effect of this is the players must say what they are actually doing or role play what they are saying etc. This often results in the DM asking for some kind of a check to determine if what they are doing works but your players need to role play to get to that point.




I really like this idea. I wonder how I could bring it to my group (I'm not the DM) tactfully, without making it sound like I'm trying to control things?




I'm definately going to talk to the players in a game I run about trying BeaverDuck's approach to skills.
An alternate would be for the player to hold up the power card to signal to the DM the power used, roll and then describe the action involved.


This works great .. how your attack fails can even be the enemy making an awesome parry or whatever hehehe.... My master swordsman never just misses
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Thanks, Garthanos,

Let the others at the table basically decide succeed or fail based on table reactions... OK.
 



Not what I said I said the reward for cool move descriptions was table reactions. (not a bonus to any roll or an auto success)

We do describe combat moves after the roll... as per the discussion here... unless the move is an improvised one.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I just hand out xp based on how well they roleplay their characters.   My players have all written background stories along with mental descriptions.   That extra bit of effort helps the DM and the players understand how the character will react in many situations.       

For example,  if a player has a hate on for the nobility (he is a peasent hero) and he roleplays it well during session I'll award him xp.   Likewise,  if he is playing a dwarf that can't keep his ignorant mouth shut I'll award him XP.   I'll even award xp if the said action causes the party to fail a diplomacy challenge. 

If on the other his profile says one thing and I find him doing the oposite or I find that he is falling back on his own personality I won't award xp.  

In the end, this has nothing to do with rolling dice.      Even inter-character conversations can be role played and earn role playing xp.  

In my game if Gimli screamed "never trust an elf!"   I would award him xp for role playing his mistrust of elves.     


My group tends toward using the roll first and then describe what happens method for skill checks. For attack powers we'll annouce at will/encounter/daily/etc then describe the setup, then roll, then dm or us will describe the outcome.

Example from a recent game:
 
DM has us set up walking down a road. To our right through some trees is a run down stone house missing it's roof. The party hears some people interigating someone for information about the group we're supposed to meet. The rogue says we need to intervene in this.

Now my character doesn't say much but he's straightforward and solves things with brute strength so I say to the DM my character immiedietly turns to the right and starts into a charge in an attempt to smash the nearest wall in. He says go for it.

'Red without slowing down and before any of you can say anything veers sharpely to the right drawing his weapon. He builds up speed crashing through the trees and lays into the wall at full speed with his shoulders and his weapon'

Dm says to roll a strength check. I roll and get a 20.

DM, "The wall comes crashing in with the force of an avalanche flinging stone across the room, inside you see a tied up goblin, and 3 humans with drawn weapons wearing tabards over their armor, on the tabard is a green claw. Make an attack roll on each"

And the combat pretty much continues in that style until one side or the other loses.

Now my group can be a problem group, in fact we've had posts from DM and player in their respective help forums. We've had tons of discusions about why our campaigns collapse, how we can incourage role play from certain people, how to make someone not feel outshined in combat because they don't build mechanically strong characters, etc. It takes a bit of maturity but I think more than our examples really talking it out with your group is almost always the best solution. Then once you've talked about it implement it. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. Just stay calm, stay persistent, and always talk to your group about making the game better for everyone.
I personally believe good roleplay should reward xp just as good encounters reward xp. Say your average encounter runs 1 hr. An hr of
roleplay should be similar in xp. Feel free to deduct or add dependant on the decisions they make and how committed to the rp they are. It's like a skill challenge or avoiding a trap. While it won't always reap monetary rewards its still a "roleplay encounter".
Yeah, I agree:

In our game the player will describe what they want to do, the DM will decide what skill it might use (if any) and ask for a check, then the player will describe how things went. Pretty much like combat. There are definitely a lot of times when the check isn't really required for obvious things. I don't usually bother to say "this is an SC" either. I got lazy and stopped using XP quite a while back too, though for some groups it is better to go ahead and use them. I don't think there HAS to be a specific reward for good RP, everyone in our group has fun doing it anyway. Nothing really wrong with doing that though. Tailor the motivations to the players at your table I say. Mine like plot hooks and twists, lol.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I have always struggled with the concept of providing xp bonuses for good roleplaying.  The reality is that my players will enter the game with different levels of skill and interest in roleplaying.  I struggle with the idea of having game rewards depend on those levels.  I worry that it would make the guy in the group who is great at group strategy or mapping, or whatever else, feel less valued or less important to the party than the wannabe actor.  Yes, I want to recognize and reward the player who is able to go the extra mile in the roleplaying section, but why should it be a bigger/different reward than any other area of strength?

The +2 bonus to the roll that Bakha mentioned seemed a bit more workable.  If a player has good strategy skills, he's more likely to set his character up for a bonus with a key attack roll, etc. 
We are trying to get away from "roll" playing and back into "role" playing.  Are any DMs having success in rewarding "role" playing?

How do you reward it and how are you judging it?

Too many pre-written adventures (almost all) are delve styled, meaning all combat, no story telling, no PC acting...  When trying to make a sandbox adventure how would you handle a skill challenge without using many dice rolls?

OK, a few prefacing comments:

1) It's very important to get very clear what you mean by "roleplaying".  It's a debased word that has a whole host of assumed meanings, as some of the responses here show.  Don't assume that your players understand the same by it as you do.  The same applies, incidentally, to "Storytelling".

2) Following on from (1), I think it's critical to get a clear picture of what you are aiming for.  Do you want acting, with gesture and accents?  Do you want (perceived) quality of acting to determine success at in-game tasks?  In general, what do you want to determine the success of in-game tasks?  Be really clear and honest, here - "quality of roleplaying" cannot determine anything; someone's opinion of the quality of an idea or a bit of acting can.  Whether or not it should is up to you.

3) There is a common trope peddled around that assumes that "immersion" (a) is roleplaying and (b) is the "natural" aim of all roleplaying activity.  This is not so.  Immersive play is great fun if done well, but it does not suit all players and it can be an elusive and tricky beast to pin down.  It's very easy to fall into a trap of thinking you must "do immersion" or you're "not doing it properly" - you end up chasing a chimaera and spoiling what could have been a perfectly fun experience as a result.

With all that in mind, here are some suggestions that I could see working well with 4E D&D.  I see 4E as a primarily "Gamist" system; that is to say I see the main "point" of play is for the players to engage their own skill and creativity within the game system to try to overcome challenges in play.  Since this is a "roleplaying game", they will do this from the perspective of characters in an imaginary game world; the character they control at any instant defines the control they have over the game environment, and their outlook, actions and in-game commentary are expected to be aligned with the outlook of that character.  Such roleplaying is quite feasible in combat, as well as out of it.

Entertaining acting of the character in various ways can be fun.  I would not choose for it to compromise the central "point" of play, however.  Nor would I want the "judging" of the quality of these performances to be in the gift of one individual, DM or not (I have a great deal of sympathy with Garthanos' view, here, that ideally the "crowd reactions" to such acting should be it's own reward).  So, a suggestion:

Each player starts each session with one "roleplaying kudos token".  While they hold it themselves, it is worthless, but it may be given to another player at any time to recognise an outstanding piece of acting/following a character's personality/evocative play of any sort.  At the end of the session, the player with the most tokens that have been given to them (i.e. not including the one they started with) is awarded "RP of the week" (or whatever), and next session they get an extra Action Point that they can use at any time (it does not get removed at an Extended Rest, and they still get one - for a total of two - after such a rest) in that session.

This avoids a few pitfalls I have encountered:

- Awarding XP can be cumbersome and D&D - 4E included - works much better IME if all the characters in the group are at the same level.

- The award relates directly to the main "point" of the game without being unbalancing, overwhelming or tradeable.

- The focus of the rewards is up to the players; it does not become a game of "what the DM wants us to do".  That said, the DM is a player, and should get a token just as much as everybody else!
======= Balesir
I think generally the danger is that when you reward one player for what they do better than the other players, you create a sort of favorite. The DM is saying "I value this player's contribution more than that player's contribution." If you're going to do that then you'd best be careful to reward every player for what they do well.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
to the op i dont think you need to think in terms of 'judging' or 'rewarding' roleplaying. you need to think about what in your adventure design has led to a situation where nobody is doing so

i would start small. you say you have something sandboxy designed. set it up with very little detail. ie 'you are here'. then ask them what they want to do. rinse and repeat. have your npcs ask open ended questions that need response, or give answers that lead to more party questions. if you just start doing these simple things, you are sure to see some improvement

as for skill challenges, if you must run them, dont tell them they are in one. i vastly prefer players just coming up with solutions to problems as opposed to a rigid structure. in my experience, few things have killed roleplaying as successfully as a skill challenge
There have been many wonderful replies and a great discussion on "roleplaying", all of which have been enlightening and helpful.

The original thought behind the post was from a DMs perspective about "skill challenges".

...  When trying to make a sandbox adventure how would you handle a skill challenge without using many dice rolls?



So to answer some of the questions about how I would describe the use of "RolePlay";

How would you run a skill challenge through role play and not (necessarily) through rolling the dice?
few things have killed roleplaying as successfully as a skill challenge



nuff' said!!!
The skill challenge is a dm tool for determining the over all difficulty for a complex scenario and not a player thing at all presenting it in some concrete way to the players is a dm error..   ie it not something on there table.

I present players with situations and ask the players how they are going to approach it and describe intermediate stages and as the situation changes different skills than were originally plausible open up and so on. ... some successes end up being automatic when the players thought of a path to the end I didnt think of and so on.

Ie if skill challenges kill role play you are doing it wrong.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

The skill challenge is a dm tool for determining the over all difficulty for a complex scenario and not a player thing at all presenting it in some concrete way to the players is a dm error..   ie it not something on there table.

I present players with situations and ask the players how they are going to approach it and describe intermediate stages and as the situation changes different skills than were originally plausible open up and so on. ... some successes end up being automatic when the players thought of a path to the end I didnt think of and so on.

Ie if skill challenges kill role play you are doing it wrong.

A-freaking-men!  There is really no one right way to run a skill challenge.  However, there are several ways to run a skill challenge incorrectly.  If it is ruining your role play, then you've found one of those wrong ways.

Besides the posts in this thread that cover this very concept, there are a number of web sites out there that offer pointers and guidance in how to run a skill challenge.  Critical-Hits is one such site.
 

Celebrate our differences.

jharri and garth i dont think we really disagree. but announced skill challenges can kill roleplay bc ive unfortunately seen it happen under multiple dms. this isnt to say theres some way yall do it that works but id call yall the exception
No we probably dont disagree... I was defining exactly why "announcing" is easily seen as incorrect handling of the sc

but announced skill challenges can kill roleplay bc ive unfortunately seen it happen under multiple dms.



  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I've never had a problem with announced SCs personally. One of my players reads the stars as a form of peddling in new towns which always is a lot of fun.

And if you're concerned about uneven distributing XP just keep everyone the same level, share xp bonuses from SCs and good RP, when that's encouraged and reinforced the other players tend to want to get in on the RP as well. Not to be left out of XP but rather because they want to see the social encounter succeed.
 in my experience, few things have killed roleplaying as successfully as a skill challenge



I think planning and presentation is everything in this case, because my group wouldn't be roleplaying at all if it wasn't for the skill challenges.  As soon as I started collecting and modifying skill challenges as set pieces, my game went from a linear hack-and-slash versus stock villains to an adventure guided by the PCs.

That takes more work than combat encounter design, because you have to build the skill challenge into the campaign in a way that makes it something other than a pass/fail checkpoing in the story progression.  We've had the most fun with them when they were turning points in the story - there weren't victory conditions; the plot continued in reaction to what they chose to do.
"When Friday comes, we'll all call rats fish." D&D Outsider
i would agree that presentation is crucial, and it may work well for other groups but i prefer the roleplaying to be a natural part of the story. if you can accomplish this with a skill challenge, more power to you

my intention wasnt to savage skill challenges so much as it was to offer suggestions to encourage roleplay without resorting to them
I've never had a problem with announced SCs personally. 


I can see that for some people but to me its rather like announcing who the bad guy is before you have really interacted with him. Some might see it as announcing enemy hit points at the beginning of the fight... hmmm
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I've never had a problem with announced SCs personally. 


I can see that for some people but to me its rather like announcing who the bad guy is before you have really interacted with him. Some might see it as announcing enemy hit points at the beginning of the fight... hmmm

Agreed.  My players don't even know they are in skill challenges until they are several rolls into it.  Sometimes they never figure out they were in one.  Most of the time, the environment gives it away before I actually do.

I treat skill challenges like I have treated them in all previous editions: interactive narrative with the players and then asking for a skill check when it is appropriate. 

Celebrate our differences.

My one complaint about 4e (and I really do like the system and enjoy the heck out of to an obsessive level other than this) is the skill challenge as a substitute for roleplaying. The roleplaying seems to take, mainly, the form of lead-up to the point where we roll dice to see what the result of all the "acting" was. As a result, we seem to sort of rush through the roleplaying to get to the rolling. Maybe it's just because my group isn't entirely comfortable with the roleplaying, and we'll get more into it as we ease into our PCs and party dynamics more.

One thing I've seen another DM do (who had since abandoned 4E in favor of Pathfinder and WoD games) would be to give people bonuses to their rolls as a "reward" for convincing or deep roleplay. I also find myself having a hard time acting against the best, out-of-character interests of my party, even when it might be in-character for my character to do something foolhardy or detrimental to the goals of the party.

For example: we're in a tense situation with some potential allies who are suspicious of us. It might be very in-character for my PC to act surly and hostile toward these captors, but I find myself feeling pressured to just conform and act in our party's best interest even when my PC might, more realistically, behave differently.




Then you have been using skill challenges in the wrong way.  Skill challenges are there to give a loose set of rules and structure  to help in situations such as role-playing or in parts of adventure you can't role-play but is not combat

This easiest example is crossing a desert.  how do you role play that?  Walk around outside and come back in?  This is where skill challenges come in. 

I have used a skill challenge in roleplaying and it's worked out great.  I couldn't' get better roleplaying if I had asked.

A frequent problem is people announce they are in a skill challenge.  I almost never do that.  They say they want to do something, I ask for a roll and move on.  I don't mention pass or fails.  I never mention they are in a skill challenge.

My best example is my group was trying to negotiate with a gate keeper to let them in another land.  The adventures had a passport to go to the other land.  The guard at the gate has seen many fake passports.

My group was trying to convince him that it's real.  All the while they rolled there diplomacy check and other skills and I was marking passes or fail.  About 2/3rds of the way through the skill challenge they got it.  The figured it was a skill challenge.

Because I didn't tell them it was a skill challenge they roleplayed the skill challenge

As for the OP I would say you don't need to reward them.  It sounds like they want to RP anyway.  Let them do what they want to do
My one complaint about 4e (and I really do like the system and enjoy the heck out of to an obsessive level other than this) is the skill challenge as a substitute for roleplaying. The roleplaying seems to take, mainly, the form of lead-up to the point where we roll dice to see what the result of all the "acting" was. As a result, we seem to sort of rush through the roleplaying to get to the rolling. Maybe it's just because my group isn't entirely comfortable with the roleplaying, and we'll get more into it as we ease into our PCs and party dynamics more.

One thing I've seen another DM do (who had since abandoned 4E in favor of Pathfinder and WoD games) would be to give people bonuses to their rolls as a "reward" for convincing or deep roleplay. I also find myself having a hard time acting against the best, out-of-character interests of my party, even when it might be in-character for my character to do something foolhardy or detrimental to the goals of the party.

For example: we're in a tense situation with some potential allies who are suspicious of us. It might be very in-character for my PC to act surly and hostile toward these captors, but I find myself feeling pressured to just conform and act in our party's best interest even when my PC might, more realistically, behave differently.




Then you have been using skill challenges in the wrong way.  Skill challenges are there to give a loose set of rules and structure  to help in situations such as role-playing or in parts of adventure you can't role-play but is not combat

This easiest example is crossing a desert.  how do you role play that?  Walk around outside and come back in?  This is where skill challenges come in. 

I have used a skill challenge in roleplaying and it's worked out great.  I couldn't' get better roleplaying if I had asked.

A frequent problem is people announce they are in a skill challenge.  I almost never do that.  They say they want to do something, I ask for a roll and move on.  I don't mention pass or fails.  I never mention they are in a skill challenge.

My best example is my group was trying to negotiate with a gate keeper to let them in another land.  The adventures had a passport to go to the other land.  The guard at the gate has seen many fake passports.

My group was trying to convince him that it's real.  All the while they rolled there diplomacy check and other skills and I was marking passes or fail.  About 2/3rds of the way through the skill challenge they got it.  The figured it was a skill challenge.

Because I didn't tell them it was a skill challenge they roleplayed the skill challenge

As for the OP I would say you don't need to reward them.  It sounds like they want to RP anyway.  Let them do what they want to do

I don't think it is possible to make absolute statements about how any given DM should run SCs for any given group of players across the board.

Some people will say "never reveal that they're in a challenge" for instance. Now, it is definitely better not to in some cases. In other cases it can be better. For instance if I were going to run a chariot race as an SC I would tell the players how it would work mechanically because the mechanics in that case would be pretty closely aligned with the in-game action (IE the PC's chariot moves ahead when they get successes or whatever). In other cases I might not, or I might not describe the whole thing in detail, but just explain some of the possibilities (say in the chartiot race the SC might start earlier and allow for the players to create some advantage for their chariot, but I probably wouldn't tell them what all the options were because they are likely to think of other ones, and I am not there to tell them all the ways the adventure could go).

With pure RP type challenges in particular there's usually not a good reason to tell the players what is up exactly. The challenge should ORGANICALLY be an RP situation because it should evolve and change. In these kinds of cases I generally just describe in my notes the salient aspects of the NPCs personalities, their goals, relationships, situation, etc, plus as many details as possible. All of these things are hooks that the PCs could use to move things forward. The players will experience this all through a sequence of exposition, action, evolution of the situation, more RP and exposition, etc.

Don't be too stuck on the way you've structured these SCs either. Things often go off in surprising directions. The whole SC may even come to nothing as the players might shift goals or do things that just change the situation so radically that the challenge ends. This is a bit analogous to say a combat where the players decide to negotiate or flee, or where they start the building on fire and create a whole new scenario.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

And yes I was implying more of the play-acting aspects of role-play.  We are very burnt-out on rolling dice;  The character does a fantastic job conveying what their character says and does and then biffs on the check.  That hardly seems just.

I came up with a great solution for this in my group, because we also noticed how silly this was.  Have the roll come first.  Effectively, you quickly get the roll out of the way, and then comes the acting.  So, instead of Billy (playing the Bard) giving a great speach and then rolling a 1 (forcing you to come up with a crazy reason why he failed), he rolls the 1 first, and then gets the joy of roleplaying a failure.  Because lets face it: roleplaying failure is just as fun as roleplaying success.

The other option is to not require a roll at all.  This works for many people, but I personally don't prefer it most of the time.  First of all, it rewards people who are good at acting over those who are not, and I like to reward the character as much as the player.  Secondly, people never choose to roleplay failure, and I feel this is an important aspect of character development.  No one gives the perfect speach every time, but that is how the Player of the Bard tries to describe his actions.


So, roll first, then act.


As an alternative viewpoint to Arithezoo above...

You do not need to view the dice roll as a character doing a bad job or failing, per se, but instead the reaction of the NPC.  It could be as simple as the NPC happening to have a bad day that day, and he is not in the mood to hear anything.  Or, it could be as complex that the NPC has gotten wind of the PCs intentions and does not necessarily agree with their motives or plans.


Make a failed dice roll a challenge on YOUR role play ability.  Failures can be just as much fun to role play as successes; sometimes even more fun.


You can still reward good role playing in countless other ways, even if there are failed dice rolls.


As a GM I've seen and encouraged both methods. As a player I do whichever suits me at that moment (and depending on who's GMing).

A similar confusion I often hear is some variant of "why does it take 6 arrows/stabs/etc to kill something?" The key thing there is to know that the terms "hit" and "miss" don't actually mean that. "Hit" means you got through defenses but may not have actually caused any significant damage while "miss" simply means your attacked was blocked, or parried, or bounced off armor, or whatever, but still probably hit something. Each "hit" simply wears your opponent down making him sore and tired until he eventually collapses. So I usually only describe the attack that removes the last hitpoint as injury causing (although I sometimes also do it for especially impressive crits).


how your attack fails can even be the enemy making an awesome parry or whatever hehehe.... My master swordsman never just misses

Exactly.

I just hand out xp based on how well they roleplay their characters.  My players have all written background stories along with mental descriptions.   That extra bit of effort helps the DM and the players understand how the character will react in many situations.

For example,  if a player has a hate on for the nobility (he is a peasent hero) and he roleplays it well during session I'll award him xp. Likewise, if he is playing a dwarf that can't keep his ignorant mouth shut I'll award him XP. I'll even award xp if the said action causes the party to fail a diplomacy challenge.


If on the other his profile says one thing and I find him doing the oposite or I find that he is falling back on his own personality I won't award xp.


In the end, this has nothing to do with rolling dice. Even inter-character conversations can be role played and earn role playing xp.


In my game if Gimli screamed "never trust an elf!" I would award him xp for role playing his mistrust of elves.


HackMaster 4e introduced an attribute called "honor" which had several functions. It was a measure of your character's reputation among NPCs and could be spent to modify dice rolls sort of like "Fate Points" and such in a lot of modern games. The way Honor was earned is what's relelvant here.

Honor could be earned in a lot of ways but all of them required roleplaying. I don't remember many specifics since I haven't run 4e since 5e released (we even converted my ongoing campaign) but I do remember that one of them was standing up for yourself when your honor was called into question.


5e kicked it up a notch. Now, not only does good roleplaying earn you Honor, it also gets you experience because only half of your experience each level comes from combat. The balance comes "from 'story awards' given for meeting the objectives (interim and final) of their mission. This provides the GameMaster with a reward system that encourages clever and focused roleplay rather than relying solely on bodycount." ~ HackMaster Basic pg 177


I'm also introducing something I'm tentatively calling "Awesome Points" to all of my games (except Encounters, obviously, and OVA because it has already has Fate Dice). At the beginning of each session I'll give each player one of my Pokémon coins (wife and I used to collect them so I've got a bunch so I also uses them as Power Points for my Ardent). Those coins can be cashed in for some kind of mechanical bonus each session but only with explanation (it's a combination of OVA's Fate Dice and HM5e's Luck Points that require an explanation). The exact effect will, of course, depend upon the game but we're still playtesting out those details. For now, GURPS players can get a free use of the Luck or Serendipity Advantages while HM players can roll an extra die (d100 for skill checks and d20 for everything else) and choose the best.

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