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    Canonfire :: View topic - 3.5 gather information or not
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    3.5 gather information or not
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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 14, 2009
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    From: Laporte IN.

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    Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:38 pm  
    3.5 gather information or not

    I want to get your opinion on this one guys.
    As a DM for more than 25 years, if any of my players wanted to find out where the "goblin caves" or " evil tower " is located, they would have to talk to the town guard ( who's me ) or the bar tender ( who's me also ) and so on. I have cut out the gather info. skill in all of my campaigns.

    I ask this because i have a new player to my campaign. He is a friends buddy from his work. Seemed like a real nice guy. Meet him afew time's and got along fine. Last night i ran my campaign and he was invited to join. All players are at 5th level and told my new player he would start at 4th level, he did'nt have a problem with it. When i informed him that my one house rule is that their is no gather info. He had a fit, and i quote " How and the HEL* do we get info then" I explained to him i play the bar tender, the city guard ect.ect. He then says " well if you have one house rule on the board, how many other house rules do you have you dont tell the other players about?" I told him that i'm not going to give out the info on a dice roll, IT"S ABOUT ROLEPLAYING AND HAVING FUN ! He gathered up his books and left.

    I'm Confused
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 17, 2004
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    Thu Apr 01, 2010 2:13 pm  

    Sadly, as another long time enthusast I find a distressing number of players tend to focus on the mechanics of the system rather then role-playing. When I try to patiently explain the goal is not the system but the social experience some people become confused and even hostile.

    For this type of player the mechanics of a system is like a security blanket and some refuse to give it up. Much like the one in your post, I suspect...so sad Sad
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 10, 2003
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    Thu Apr 01, 2010 8:06 pm  

    I also understand where your coming from. However his response was immature and unwarranted. He had no problem with starting at a higher level than one. House rules are established and you did let him know. If after your explanation he did not want to play fine. He could of graciously bowed out. I say good riddance he wasn't open to even try your way then you did not need him in your game. I prefer the role-playing experience over game mechanics. To this day I still remember the fundamental concept of the game. Have fun use what rules you want and take what you want from the game it your game. Gary Gygax believed in it and many great players and DMs alike will agree. You should of ask him how to play monopoly their are several different rules based on who you play with. I don't see milton bradley getting upset about it though.
    As far as the gather information skill you could always use it when pcs don't know where to get info instead of providing info with the check you could suggest sources based on what they want to know. Although your way is fine too. There where two editions that didn't even have it as a proficiency or skill.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:09 pm  

    I handle skill checks very simply.

    You only make a skill check if there is a pre-existing precedent for failure.

    If you have a player make a Gather Information check it is because failing the roll has a direct consequence. Asking a town guard or bartender should amount to 75% of Gather Information, no rolls required. However, if the PC is seeking something like a town's "dirty little secret" a failure could indicate that the PC has earned animosity from those he asked. It is a Charisma-based skill. He just showed his **** while asking and now he's gone and pissed off the locals.

    I handle all skill checks in this way. If no one is actively looking out for someone sneaking around, what's the point of rolling Hide (Stealth, whatever)?

    I hate it when a PC rolls a Hide check arbitrarily and says, "I am Hidden for 23." That means nothing to me.

    I do not even consider this much of a home rule. It is more of a "laid-back" approach to skill checks. You roll a Spot check if there is something hiding from you. You roll a Listen check if there is something trying to be quiet. You roll a Search check if something is hidden.

    I do not believe in having to come up with a consequence for a failed roll when done under minimally plausible circumstances. It is not random what the bartender says based on a roll. If a PC wants to deliberately go out of their way to make the bartender more friendly, that is what Diplomacy is for. In which case, an information granting NPC should already have consequences ordained for the increasing or decreasing of their favor towards the PCs.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Dec 06, 2003
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    Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:32 am  

    Hmm, i'm frequently surprised whenever that happens to me. I'm sure that if it wasn't a Gather Information skill check, it would be something else.

    I enjoy 2E and I recently had a player, who had only played WOW, roll up a character, except he didn't qualify for a bard. He got upset because 'everyone got to play what they wanted to and I didn't' (i am paraphrasing what he said). Well, i've never played WOW, and some buddies of mine who do told me that on WOW, if you don't like someone you just boot them. I quickly realized that many newer players are used to just walking away if they don't care for something. Role-playing games are not like that. 2E, more than 3E (in my experience), is about working together, someone not showing up for a game, or worse, walking out, can put a real crimp in a game.

    The Grey Mouser
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    Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:54 am  

    Let me take the position of devil's advocate.

    Player decides she wants her character to be the "spokesman" for the party. She chooses charisma as the character's highest ability, chooses bard for a class, and maintains maximum skill ranks in diplomacy, gather information, bluff, etc. Shouldn't she expect that the success of the character's actions be determined by the character's statistics and abilities and not her own? The player herself might not be the most adept at social interactions: the player plays D&D and in some social circles might be considered a nerd, geek or other form of social undesirable who only gets a cold shoulder instead of the latest gossip. And after all, a fighter character's chance of success in combat is not based on the player's own strength.

    Isn't this player "role-playing" when she decides to use the gather information skill rather than intimidating or stealthily looking through the papers or belongings of others for information? And what if the party is evil? Perhaps their solution to acquiring information is to lie, or kill and speak with dead (while lying).

    One recurring feature that found its way into a number of first and some second edition adventures was the puzzle room or riddle that could not be resolved by referring to the characters or the character's abilities/class/non-weapon proficiencies, etc. Many players found it annoying to be playing a hyper-intelligent wizard or divinely insightful cleric and not have these features matter when resolving a problem in the game for which such abilities and skills would be relevant.

    In fact, as the DM isn't it your job to explain the consequences of the dice rolls? Perhaps an example:

    "Wow your total gather information check result is pretty high. You start off by talking to the town guard at the gate. After advising you to talk to the bartender, you learn the location of the dungeon outside of town. Because the bartender seems to be taking a shine to you, he also explains that the old priest at the temple once tried to explore that dungeon. After heading on over to the temple, your charming nature overcomes the priest's reservations, and he tells you of a second hidden entrance to the dungeon..."

    The game presents a variety of problems for the players to resolve. I submit it is "role-playing" when the player decides which skill or method to use in overcoming the problem. In tactical problems it is a quick suicide to go against character (wizards in melee without spelling-up, fighters allocating ranks in use magic item and trying to use scrolls, frontal assault by rogues, etc.). For non-combat problems, shouldn't the dice-rolls and character statistics be equally significant?

    Please explain how your method provides an advantage to those players with charismatic and skillful characters. Apparently in your method an uncouth, slobbering fighter with the social grace of a hyena could extract the same information as a charismatic character by randomly picking the right person to talk to.

    All that aside, if the player is having that much of a problem over house rules, your better off without them.
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 17, 2004
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    Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:42 pm  

    Forgive me for defending your position baronzemo.

    baronzemo did not claim the charisma or class of the character could not have an impact of the information gained. He has decided to choose what to reveal based upon a conversation between individuals rather then a dice-roll.

    Perhaps he could decide to reveal more information to the charming bard then to the slobbering fighter if they approach the same bartender but the interaction is forefront not the dice.

    Hope I understood your position baronzemo.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 14, 2009
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    Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:48 pm  

    When it come's to hide, spot and listen check's i have each player give me their current skill rank.Let's say "Joe Shome the fighter" has a spot rank of 5 and a listen rank of 6. Before gaming start's i will put his name down on a scrap piece of paper with 6 column's. I will then ask the player to roll a 20 six times ( let say it was a 6 , 19 , 11 , 20 , 9 ,and a 1 ) i will roll a 6 to determine where to start the rows ( lets say i rolled a 2. So that means column 5 has his rolled 1 in it ) . The next player " Tim Buck Too the cleric " has a spot of 4 and listen of 4. He roll's 12 , 11 , 4 , 16 , 17 and a 8. Again i roll a six sided dice to determine where i start his column. Let's say i rolled a 4 ,which means his 4 is also in column 5 and so on for the pther players

    OK next, let's say all 5 players have low scores in column 5 ( max 12 with modifiers). They are walking down a road where a thief is waiting to pick some pockets. His hide is 16 and his move silent is also 16. I will roll a 6 sided to see what column i will use for the encounter. If i rolled a 3 that would mean that "Joe Shome the fighter " would have a spot score of
    25 and a listen of 26 and he would spot and hear the thief. But if i rolled a 5 that would mean all of the players would not see or hear the thief.

    This works well when a secert door is hidden and i roll column 5 and everyone will walk right by it. If someone has a high enough score i'll say " Tim Buck Too, you see something different about that wall" or something along that line.

    My playersdont have a problem with this system i use. It's their own roll's, thier on skill rank's, and it add's more fun for me.
    My players in both campaign's ( all 11 ) know that it's up too their roll playing to get the results that they wish to get. Yes it up to my discretion. The better you roleplay your character the better results you will get

    On a personal note, I'm like the most easy going DM. I will listen to all argument's, all points of view's and new concepts of the game. Every player has thier own way to play and i will NEVER interfere with someone's fun with the game.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:10 pm  

    I like that system. I think I'll just go and steal that. I hate it when a pc knows how high they've rolled and they get mad when they get surprised anyway.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:19 pm  

    Happy NP chaoticprime
    Site Theocrat

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    Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:50 am  
    What about an-Unbaneful Backfire?

    Hi all -
    I have been gaming since I was in 3rd grade. 1979. I found the puzzle with the answer of Man in the early I series to be extremely difficult. I still suck at riddles and puzzles, esp. if they have a time limit.
    A Baneful Backfire is absolutely correct, and I dislike the concept of comparing WOW to 2nd Ed. I never really cared for the roll and keep in position scores. The game is to be about Heroes. If a PC rolled a couple 4-6's and nothing higher than a 12 - not very heroic. Likely that PC will stay the stable boy or barmaid, or at best a cloistered cleric.
    On that same hand, I do not give lots of points to build a character. In Pathfinder I give 22 points to create a PC.
    On with the original statement - having house rules is part of the game - and if you house rules says that Gather Info and it's related aspects must be role played, I may not have a problem with it. But then I'm not a quite player. But I have had some quite players with those scores that would be high, or some that would have no ability to use them in character.
    But in the end, it is your game and you are free to use the rules that you want at your table. The game must be fun for you as a GM and a player. If your players are having fun, then you are doing something right. But peace could be attempted if that potential player does seem to bring something to the table.

    Be Well. Be Well Mannered.
    Theocrat Issak
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    Theocrat Issak
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    Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:05 am  
    Roll-less skill checks

    First ... if someone is ill-mannered, don't game with them. Period. Your house, your house rules. Period.

    That being said, I am a huge proponent of roleplaying. It's what the bsis of the game is. But, there has to be a statistical way for guys that aren't a "face-man" IRL to play that type of character in the game. RPing "gather information", IMO, isn't the way to go. There has to be RP in order to make the check, it's not a simple thing that the PC just decides they're doing and rolls. But, there also has to be some leeway for the PC to make a check.

    My personal opinion - I would never take a skill away from a PC (or group of PCs) that is integral to the way they accomplish they goals. Just the same as I would never take 3.0 grapple checks away from a fighter just because I view them as cumbersome. (Which BTW, Pathfinder did a marvelous job of straightening Grapple out.)

    I will absolutely force a player to RP in order to get a Gather Information check (or Diplomacy in Pathfinder, since they too did away with a seperate skill check for Gather Info), but I think that there needs to be a check.
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    Site Theocrat

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    Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:22 pm  
    Live in the World...Always.

    Hi all -
    I think that Role playing is just as important as Roll Playing. In PFS I'm playing a halfling that runs around naked at least once during the adventure. I ride a dog or a lion into battle. I'm a bard and tell tall tales of Taldor's greatness. He's patterned after a 1st ed. Bard. Fight, Rogue, Druid with a couple levels of Bard thrown in. So he goes into the forefront of battle on his animal and attacks or sneaks as he's able. But he also does a lot of signing. In all my years, I've only had one player that could truly ROLE play a bard. But then he was our kids high school band teacher. He knew the right tone to use and the right song (modern, classical and even some long winded poetry). I think I'm smart enough, but I've met some really smart people and players - they know all the rules, they are able to memorize all the spells, heck, one guy at our table can rattle off all the feats and class combinations that would make the perfect PC for a situation (and this includes feats from Dragon and 3rd Party Publishers). Me, if it were based upon Role Playing all the time, I'd never be able to play a Wizard. I'm not that smart. Heck when I started as a kid there was no way I could solve those puzzles in the I series modules.
    This same concept I use when GMing. I believe that the PC's live in their world. They always look up when entering a room, esp. one that has spider webs all over the place. They have a light source of some sort. We live in ours and we (mostly) remember to turn off the lights, grab our car keys and put on our seat belt. These things should be considered as part of the living world. Mundane aspects that don't always need to be role/roll played. Letting players' characters live in the world is very important ans should be an aspect of the game that doesn't need to bog down either role or roll playing.

    Be Well. Be Well Played.
    Theocrat Issak
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    Theocrat Issak
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    Sun Apr 04, 2010 5:09 pm  

    Well, when it comes to role playing and not roll playing, abstraction is key. There is a marked difference between saying, "I tell the Mayor our story so far and impress upon him the urgency of our task" as part of Diplomacy check and rolling a Diplomacy check and saying, "I got a 22, he's our ally."

    Similarly, with the above comparison, you do not literally have to sing a song to play a Bard. You can role play a Bard just as well by describing a song you may sing or describing a conversation you may have.

    I believe the consensus is that role-playing in DnD was not originally tied to an abstraction like combat was. With 3E and up, such abstractions became a rule. I believe that you should play a class that you enjoy. You should not feel entitled to play a class based on the pure numbers. This is not Diablo 2, you don't "run through a game" as a new class.

    All skill checks by the rules of 3E still require a precedent for the skill check to be made. That is why there are modifiers. If a player does not state the basis for a Bluff check, then no modifiers can be generated to establish the difficulty.

    In regard to solving puzzles, there is a bridge of abstraction where a player and a character cannot fully coexist. In 3E solving a puzzle for a group of PC's with set knowledge skills can be very simple. Look at the descriptions of what each knowledge skill covers. With a successful check, the puzzle or riddle can be broken down clue by clue until it is all but solved. Most players, to my experience, would rather figure it out on their own, however, as that is part of the fun. When the game has to be broken down mechanically for every type of encounter your dice-rolling wrist gets a better work out than your brain does.

    My formula for all skills checks is as follow: Precedence + Skill Check = Results.

    ex. "I cast Detect Magic and saw that the Arl's daughter is wearing an magical brooch. What can I learn about it by asking around town?"

    +

    Gather Information check (DC 20)

    Success: You meet with a member of the Arl's guardsmen who seems to enjoy rumor-mongering. He seems a bit eager, but trustworthy, "There are rumors that the Arl's daughter is carrying on secretly with a wizard named Badgerkraken that lives in the forest south of town. Word from her handmaiden suggests that the brooch makes her skin as resilient as hard leather."

    Failure: You meet with a member of the Arl's guardsmen who seems to enjoy protecting the esteem of his Lord and his Lord's daughter. "What business if it of yours that you should know that? If I hear that you've been asking around about not your business again, we are going to have more than words to cross."

    You do not have to be as descriptive as that, but the same message can be conveyed with far fewer words.

    With all skill checks there should be an impetus for the check to be made, firstly, then an establishment of whether or not there is a penalty for failure or a reward for success.

    You do not have to literally be as intelligent as your character to play him. In fiction there are characters far more intelligent that the author who created them. In such cases it comes down to Meta-Game thinking. Though your character has a 21 intelligence, he still has a range of information he would have available to work with. Any circumstance where a character of Intelligence superior to your own would be called into question will be based over a condition that even someone of base intelligence could identify. If you are using 3E rules, as presented by the OP, then you simply have to use the condition as the precedent and have your character's intelligence be the mitigating factor between you and he.

    ex. "Before you is a complex magical contraption where a half-dozen spinning gears move at varying speeds causing as many symbols to constantly shift on a vertical slotted display. Each symbol maintains its orientation for about three seconds before changing again. There is a button beneath each slot."

    Knowledge History check (DC 15)

    "This tomb was built by priests devoted to Wee Jas."

    Knowledge Arcana check (DC 15)

    "You identify the symbols as runes out of common use in this current age. You are able to identify the meaning of all of them."

    If all else fails...

    Intelligence check (DC 10)

    "There are six letters in Wee Jas's name."

    Intelligence check (DC 5)

    "There are also six slots, the characters on which you can read."

    Intelligence check (DC 0)

    "The answer is 'W E E J A S'. Stop the slots on the right characters."

    Most players would probably figure that one out after the first hint.

    There are many ways to disperse clues, too. Like with a Search check have them notice some characters have discoloration as if they've been displayed more often than the others. Disable Device could figure out which symbols are correct by the sounds they make when spinning. Or you could just lay into the device with a warhammer.

    You could also take it full on abstract, set the "Solve" DC at 20 and if the PC makes an Intelligence check and makes it, explain it to them. But that's no fun.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:37 am  

    Thanks for all of your opinion's, did'nt know i would stir up this much Smile

    One last thing, one of my players wife started mybee a year and a half ago. She never played any type of role playing or gaming. When she started she was a little embarrassed to "role play " her character. I think i was embarrassed too the first time i rolled played out side of my first group. Now she's one of my best players ( which i give my buddy jerry a hard time about ) Thanks again for your insite !
    GreySage

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    Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:28 am  
    Re: Live in the World...Always.

    TheocratIssak wrote:
    I believe that the PC's live in their world. They always look up when entering a room, esp. one that has spider webs all over the place. They have a light source of some sort. We live in ours and we (mostly) remember to turn off the lights, grab our car keys and put on our seat belt. These things should be considered as part of the living world. Mundane aspects that don't always need to be role/roll played. Letting players' characters live in the world is very important ans should be an aspect of the game that doesn't need to bog down either role or roll playing.


    Bravo! My thoughts exactly Theocrat! Wink

    Some of these things should just be "automatic." Cool
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    Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:10 pm  

    Gather information is one of those odd skills. It suggests that they can find forbidden info simply by asking around. I've never been fully comfortable with that as a GM. To me, I would see it as an overlap of research and diplomacy as skills and maybe contacts. Gather information doesn't allow people to get knowledge from a specific person. Instead, it allows the PC to find the specific person who has that information who gives the PCs information. Like I said, it's an odd skill.

    In my own mind I see GI as a montage. PCs ask around until they find a reliable source. The length of time is determined by the number of rolls required to meet the DC - find the source. As a GM there's no reason why the source is nearby. In my Star Wars Saga game I've had the PCs Gather Info only to trek across the galaxy to find the sage who knows. This is legit as a story device but shouldn't be the norm.

    In the end I have to repeat the sentiments of TheocratIssak. There are things that shouldn't require rolls. Often if it's in a character's area of expertise I won't require a Gather Info roll. Why should I? Said character should already know some things, or at least they should know where to look. Does Mordenkainen ask a bartender for information? No. There's a point when bartenders are just good for pouring drinks, nothing more.
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