My character is a hostage negotiator, but I am not.

Why is it that in most RPGs (as run) social and to a lesser extent technical (crafting) skills are scrutinized far more than combat or physical ones?  At least in my experience.  While I firmly believe that one should role-play any diplomacy attempt, one should not be penalized for not being a great diplomat.  After all, you aren’t the diplomat, your character is!  So, while it is appropriate to role-play negotiating with Orcs or the town Mayor, one should not be penalized for one’s own, personal, out of character inability to negotiate.

Your character has a skill and it should be the end-all-be-all of your diplomacy.  I personally believe that adding a slight bonus if your player says something REALLY cool.  But no penalty should weigh down their efforts for lack of oratory on the player’s part.  After all, if he was such a good diplomat, he wouldn’t be role-playing anything but himself.  And he would more than likely be playing a fighter, something he is not in real life.

Let’s look at that fighter.  I have never experienced, even while playing a fighter, a penalty on an attack roll because I didn’t know how to hold my .357 Magnum, or how to properly wield a pole-ax.  Yet, if I don’t know the right thing to say to a kidnapper with a gun pointed at innocent children… Hey, my character is the hostage negotiator, not I!

Truly this is not the most weighty of RPG subjects, but I had a discussion at lunch with a fellow gamer and it came up.

If you have any ideas why this prejudicial phenomenon occurs… comment!

I’d be interested to hear what other people think is the cause.  Or if you haven’t even bumped into this.


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