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Social Skills – Ep120

With the right points spent you can be like our friend Graz'zt here and land a really cool chick.
With the right points spent you can be like our friend Graz’zt here and land a really cool chick.

One aspect of roleplaying games that has grown in fashion with us is the concept of the “social skill”.

Where we used to role play situations, now we roll a die add a modifier and move on. Has this game mechanic changed how we play? Are we playing the wrong games?

If you have some input on this, leave a comment here, via email or on our Facebook page.

Cast – Eric, Mike, Mark, Dan, Shannon, Dave, Greg and Shawn

Intro: Mark

Outro: Dan

Items Mentioned:

Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Iron Kingdoms, Mutants & Masterminds, Big Bang Theory, Legend of the Five Rings, Vampire the Masquerade & Requiem, Savage Worlds, Hero System, Shadowrun, Gen Con, Illuminati


  1. Brian
    Brian July 30, 2013

    GREAT Topic. I have some insight on this.
    I consider myself of the 2nd generation of gamers that came in with the V:TM craze. Believe it or not, there was some social stigma that prevented me from being accepted by my local D&D guys because my first (home) game was Vampire.

    The social focus and emo tones of V:TM were seen as such a departure to the +combat Grognards that I actually tried and failed in several of their games despite being liked personally and in character. The feeling was my ‘roleplaying’ was slowing the pace and distracting from the ‘rollplaying’ they were used to.

    The problem was I was used to V:TM where social skills and powers were all a natural part of the system itself, as well as degree of success and failure, and it led to more complex situations totally organically. Goes something like this:

    D&D: Did you kill it? Good! There are more, move on.
    V:TM: Did you kill it? No? What do you mean it made you a better offer? WTF!?!

    I call this ‘complexity of response’ and basically it has evolved in games as we have evolved as gamers. Sometimes big 400lb grease stained Phil Phatassio isn’t gonna be able to pull off that 80lb blond bombshell elf seductress without a little game mechanic to back him up. Especially when he is hitting on Jessica the equally hot female player who never used to be part of the equation before.

    If it seems games are going back to a more simplistic mechanic, it is likely because video games are slowly starting to evolve similar systems for handling social situations instead of simply firing your gun. Naturally, RPGs are trying to retain some of those click shoot gamers, so they toss in a few mechanics to bridge the gap between the velvet and iron glove.

    In my games, RP first, when confronted by difficulty default to system.
    And don’t let Phil drive the girls home… ever.

  2. this_is_Dan
    this_is_Dan August 1, 2013

    As always, thank you for the insight. I feel we should have you weigh in on topics before we record them.
    Thanks for listening,

    • Brian
      Brian August 1, 2013

      Drkcv@yahoo, or Facebook, or you can text me. Anyone who thinks my pretentious ramblings are valuable is welcome to them on whatever topic you like. Besides… you make work bearable by giving me other things to think about.

  3. Devon J Kelley
    Devon J Kelley August 1, 2013

    At the very beginning of the episode, what you guys were saying and my opinion couldn’t have been further from each other. That changed a bit, as the episode went on, however.

    My thoughts are this: You are playing your character. You are NOT your character. The stats on your character sheet are there to help you play your character. The mechanics are there to help you determine whether your character succeeds or fails. If the game you are playing has mechanics to determine whether your character succeeds or fails in a social conflict, of whatever kind, use those mechanics.

    Now, this is not permission to stop roleplaying. I love to roleplay. As a GM, I love having my players discuss things, in character, at the game table. However, when it comes time to make a decision, I tell them to go to the dice.

    If you eliminate the dice rolling from a social encounter, the game becomes story-time. Let those dice talk.

    • Gamerstable
      Gamerstable August 1, 2013

      Very good point Devon. Letting the “dice talk” is the fundamental essence of what we do.

      It isn’t story time. That was how some of us felt when exposed to White Wolf for the first time but the grognards among us got over that.

      We sometimes walk a fine line between letting the dice “do the talking” and not talking at all.

      • Brian
        Brian August 1, 2013

        Go with whatever’s fun for your group. In the end I don’t really think it matters how much the rules do or don’t get followed as long as everyone has a whaling good bloody time. The fun in RPGS is you can create your own winning conditions.

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