Social/Roleplay stats in TTRPGs, yay or nay?

Are social/roleplay stats good or bad?

  • Social/Roleplay stats are good

  • Social/Roleplay stats are bad

  • Social/Roleplay stats are not great but are necessary


Results are only viewable after voting.

LordOfPotatos

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While pondering on game design (AKA procrastinating) I started thinking about how TTRPGs handlle stats.

And now I wonder, are social/roleplay stats (like charisma, charm, appearance etc) even a good mechanic to have or should social interactions just be handled entirely by roleplaying and decided by the DM and the players instead of dice?
lots of DMs ask you to roleplay before you can even get a social roll or roll in secret so they can decide the interaction anyway so I think the roll itself is only ever relevant when a player tries to get away with murder (figuratively or literally).

I get they probably help new players with roleplaying but isn't that like the alignment chart DnD has phased out of every mechanic and made basically irrelevant by now?

I imagine there is some system somewhere that has done away with them and I'd like to know how that went.
 

Trihan

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There's definitely an argument to be made for basing social success off of how well the player actually roleplays the encounter. Rolls still have their place in games where players are less comfortable doing this, particularly a table that has some people with social anxiety or other similar issue.
 

kvngreeley

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I voted that the stats are good, but I think it depends on the player and group, since this sort of sounds like a DM led D&D style game question.

Honestly, all the D&D groups I have ever played with were terrible at role play. Personally, it made me uncomfortable. We never talked like our characters. Heck, most of the time we struggled to play the characters consistent with their class and alignment. We just said what we were going to do.

Maybe this goes back to a book that was popular in the 80s and was not very kind to D&D...Playing With Fire (I think that was the title). When I first started playing D&D, certain people in my life wanted me to read the book (which I did), but they thought it would be a gateway to demon worship and what not. It also didn't help that there was a movie about some teens who took their role playing D&D too far, started acting like their characters outside the D&D game session, and someone was actually killed. I think it might have been Mazes and Monsters or something like that.

There was a definite stigma with playing D&D back then.

So, now that I have dated myself, I am far more comfortable using social type stats to have an impact (bonus or penalty) on certain role playing aspects. As a DM, I could also use those stats while still considering actual role playing of the players within the session and make adjustments as appropriate. Although consistency of the DM is also key, in my opinion.

But that is just me and my personal preference.
 

RachelTheSeeker

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Personally? Yes and no. I voted "not great but necessary".

Not everyone is going to great at pretending to be someone else. Heck, not everyone is great at reacting how they would in the game world. Some people are awkward, others aren't too social, and others still might not find the roleplaying aspect fun. It took me forever to play as a Bard because I wasn't great at the whole "Charisma" thing. Being allowed to do some sentences over was a blessing.

However, there's also the problem with GMs and players having their rolls decide everything. Nothing sucks worse than rolling well to hit but low damage making a convincing point IC, but failing the Charisma or social skill roll. Ideally I'd want to run a TTRPG where good plans and clever ideas can bolster, or even bypass the skill check altogether. No one likes the GM who forces a "make a sandwich check" on their players.

But stats and skills matter in these games for a reason: you aren't your character. Stats and skills are an abstraction. Heck, D&D's mental stats can help influence how they'd act, giving you guidelines for in-character interactions. Ideally, that's what alignment is also used for. The high-INT, low-WIS egghead is a favorite archetype of mine. We all know someone with high CHA, but low INT and/or WIS, in real life. I also used to know a power gamer who always dumped INT for his warriors, but also tried to act with all sorts of tactics that wouldn't make any sense IC.

Ultimately, it boils down to how your group and the game itself plays. While I personally prefer things like a "Willpower" stat over Charisma, the rules are in place for a reason. I'm just at that age and mindset where rules can be bent in the name of fun, and they should be. And the less shade I throw at White Wolf games and their "Storytelling" System, the better.
 

alice_gristle

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But stats and skills matter in these games for a reason: you aren't your character. Stats and skills are an abstraction. Heck, D&D's mental stats can help influence how they'd act, giving you guidelines for in-character interactions. Ideally, that's what alignment is also used for. The high-INT, low-WIS egghead is a favorite archetype of mine. We all know someone with high CHA, but low INT and/or WIS, in real life. I also used to know a power gamer who always dumped INT for his warriors, but also tried to act with all sorts of tactics that wouldn't make any sense IC.
Ya, I think stuff like INT and WIS are a lot weirder than CHA when I think about it... I got a bunch of players making high INT chars, then in-game they make decisions that make me go "Whaaatt?" Then again, I don't think ain't anybody around that could really play an INT 21 char... :kaoswt2:
 

ts50

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A lot of players might enjoy the idea of playing an intelligent and/or charismatic character, but they might not be such in real life. As such they might end up coming doing unintelligent decisions and showing little tact in roleplay. However the point of fantasy games like this is to be a character completely different from yourself. So roleplay should play a limited role here, I think.

But effort is key. If a player places a lot of real-life effort into the roleplay, then even if they end up coming across the opposite as intended, I think a "success" would still be warranted.
 

RachelTheSeeker

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what's wrong with it?
I bet it's morality XD
The fact that the games are stupidly crunchy and combat-focused for storytelling? Or that the books are poorly laid out for how much fluff and complexity exists in them? I am biased, but I am also not a fan of the built-in edginess of playing infighting vampires or werewolves as the Planeteers. But if I had issues with "morality" in a TTRPG, I wouldn't be annoyed at alignment being downplayed in D&D 5e, or see it as a useful guideline for roleplay. Which I do.
 

Trihan

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Personally? Yes and no. I voted "not great but necessary".

Not everyone is going to great at pretending to be someone else. Heck, not everyone is great at reacting how they would in the game world. Some people are awkward, others aren't too social, and others still might not find the roleplaying aspect fun. It took me forever to play as a Bard because I wasn't great at the whole "Charisma" thing. Being allowed to do some sentences over was a blessing.

However, there's also the problem with GMs and players having their rolls decide everything. Nothing sucks worse than rolling well to hit but low damage making a convincing point IC, but failing the Charisma or social skill roll. Ideally I'd want to run a TTRPG where good plans and clever ideas can bolster, or even bypass the skill check altogether. No one likes the GM who forces a "make a sandwich check" on their players.

But stats and skills matter in these games for a reason: you aren't your character. Stats and skills are an abstraction. Heck, D&D's mental stats can help influence how they'd act, giving you guidelines for in-character interactions. Ideally, that's what alignment is also used for. The high-INT, low-WIS egghead is a favorite archetype of mine. We all know someone with high CHA, but low INT and/or WIS, in real life. I also used to know a power gamer who always dumped INT for his warriors, but also tried to act with all sorts of tactics that wouldn't make any sense IC.

Ultimately, it boils down to how your group and the game itself plays. While I personally prefer things like a "Willpower" stat over Charisma, the rules are in place for a reason. I'm just at that age and mindset where rules can be bent in the name of fun, and they should be. And the less shade I throw at White Wolf games and their "Storytelling" System, the better.
The damage thing is the reason my house rule for crits is that rolling one does maximum damage possible on the attack's roll + the roll that's normally done for it.
 

alice_gristle

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'Cuz @RachelTheSeeker mentioned Exalted, and it's kinda relevant to the topic, Imma share with y'all one of my biggest RP griefs... :kaocry:

Like, back in the day, when Exalted first come out, li'l Alice wuz like, "OH MY GOOOOD THEY MADE A GAME TAILORED FOR MEEEE". And then my posse got it and we played it. And my dream was like, y'know, crazy kung-fu and stunts and epic anime standoffs and errything breezy and fun and nuts... and then BAM, reality hit me. It was instead

stupidly crunchy
:kaocry::kaocry::kaocry:

For years I tried to somehow tweak Exalted into the game I wanted it to be. But, my TTRPG design skills were, umm, kinda zero? And I guess I was a lazy bum at the time too. :kaoswt2: But! Then Exalted 2nd edition come out! AAAAAND guess what? It sucked even more. They made the entire social interaction part of the game INTO A BATTLE ANALOGY. Wid complex dice rolls and crunch and plenty o' crunch and even moar crunch!

What the bits y'all! I still bearing a dark grudge over that. So I guess based on that, my ultimate vote wud be ARE BAD:kaoangry:

Postscript: I still a lazy bum tho, don't overestimate me. :kaoswt:
 

The Stranger

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Basic social stats are okay, but the stuff like in the Storyteller System (VTM, etc)? Nah! It breaks things down into way too many silly categories that just get in the way of roleplaying. I like stats I can use in multiple situations. I don't like stats that are so rarely used that investing points into them feels like a waste.

Kult: Divinity Lost has 10 attributes which all play a role in player moves. World of Darkness has 9 attributes in addition to a host of skills that may or may not ever play a role in anything during a chronicle; it's also silly to expect a GM to come up with situations that work for the one character with 3 dots in research or performance.

well, it IS called "World of Darkness".
being edgy is kind of it's whole thing.
People not wanting to experience horror is why I gave up on World of Darkness games a while back. It's little more than urban fantasy with a bit of blood splashed over it. That's fine for some, but it's not what was advertised when I bought games such as Vampire, and it's not what I want to play.
 
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Enigman

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I think social/roleplay can be good if the game implementation uses them in a way that a DM and players can effectively understand and use them well. Roleplaying can take some effort and not everyone wants to invest the time in a fully fleshed character which is why some games end up being parties of one dimensional characters with the players basically rolling for whatever action they have decided.

Sometimes it's left to imaginative use by the player/DM and some people aren't comfortable with using those types of stats. Someone socially awkward IRL might not think to use a character's appearance in the way that someone more at ease socially would. I recall a friend who brought an attractive female friend to a game was dumbfounded when she used her characters appearance in an inn encounter to score information and resources that helped later on. Being used to using her looks normally, it was natural for her to use it in the game nd something that didn't occur to other members of the party.
 

LordOfPotatos

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It's little more than urban fantasy with a bit of blood splashed over it. That's fine for some, but it's not what was advertised when I bought games such as Vampire, and it's not what I want to play.
to be fair vampire is the worst line to play if you want actual horror.
hunter and promethean are where the horror happens.
 

The Stranger

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@LordOfPotatos I've run Vampire games based around actual horror, it just has to focus on feeding, loss of control, etc, far more than political intrigue and being a superhero with an allergy to the sun.

The more you can ignore the fact that you're an undead abomination with an eternal hunger for the blood of the living, the less horrific it becomes. Also, I did away with the silly feeding causes pleasure and no real damage thing.
 

arsMori

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To be fair, if we're going with DnD, it's got more mechanics fleshed out for the combat side. Most "social" challenges are just basic ability checks.

I do agree with the whole "player isn't smart/charismatic/wise like their character" thing. I play a good amount of high CHA characters (my main is a sorcerer prince), but IRL I'm not much haha :kaocry: .

To get used to roleplaying, I narrate my character in the third person (ex. "X's eyes' light up at the sight of the magic ring. He looks around to check if anyone is near while slipping closer to the ring"), since the seperation between me and my character helps me think clearer about their personality. I usually include an action that could be a roll (ex. sneaking closer to the ring) to help the DM instead of just saying "I roll to steal the ring".
 

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