Rogue thats bad at bluffing!


I have a rogue character who is neutral good. She is in it for the challenge to see if she can get somehwere do something and take it without getting caught. Uninterested in killing and such but sometimes It's gotta happen. Lately shes found herself killing guards in large citys and is running like the hounds of hell are onto her. Unfortunatly if she does get caught she can never seem to come up with a good story no matter how high her bluff might be.

Some bluffs that turned out okay

Dead guy in the street. She wanted his stuff and so floped onto him bawling her eyes out crying over her dead cousin all the while takeing his things right infront of everyone.

Unfortunatly hasn't come up with a good bluff since :(
Any ideas or such that could help her?

Is it the rogue who is bad at bluffing, or the player?

If it is the rogue, spend more skill points in bluff.

If it is the player, discuss with your GM the mechanics of the Bluff skill. Not everyone who role-plays is a good actor; in my experience, very few people are (even those who think they are).

The whole purpose of social skills existing in the game rules is to allow players who aren't necessarily the most socially smooth people in the world portray characters who are.

If your character has a high Bluff skill, that skill should be reflected in gameplay as naturally as a fighter's high base attack bonus. If you can make your character's bluff attempts more credible, bravo! You'll increase the enjoyment of the game for everyone (and the anecdote about sobbing over the corpse is hilarious).

If you cannot, you should not be penalized for your, the player's, lack of bluffing ability any more than your "fighter" should be penalized for his ability (or lack thereof) to swing a broadsword in real life. I think thecraichead, Lurking Gherkin, and perhaps a few others who have ever posted here have ever seen a broadsword or even a replica of one, let alone picked one up and swung it with any degree of accuracy. Does this mean the rest of us cannot play fighters? Of course not!

I will not entertain a discussion of 'should social skills exist in roleplaying systems?' They do, and they have done for decades now.

You should be able to play the character you want to play, and you should be able to have fun doing it.

I entirely concur with Cocytus here.

One thing you haven't been quite clear about is whether you believe the GM is not playing fair, or whether you are bemoaning your own personal lack of Bluff skill.

Does your Rogue have a Bluff skill, and are they allowed to use it based purely on your dice for success, or does the GM insist on you 'acting' the bluff irrespective of your character's skill? As Cocytus remarks, we don't expect our players to be able to weild a sword IRL like a seasoned warrior so why should we expect them to be able to talk the talk IRL like a professional con-artist?

Now, if your group has a kind of house rule that says 'We don't play Social Skills in our system - we want players to do the acting' then this is OK provided -

- This isn't a deal-breaker for anyone's enjoyment of the game.

- It's an explicitly stated house rule - not one snuck in by the back door - otherwise you as players will possibly end up spending points on developing character skills that will be useless within the game.

Of course, there is another reason why your character's bluffs might be failing. It may be a case of 'GM's Perogative' to prevent you short-circuiting a scenario plot. I personally don't like to do this as a GM as it intrudes into the sense of reality within the game world and also fails to reward inventive thinking. I tend to avoid running linear-plot adventures myself. I prefer 'gently-guided-plot' adventures - and sometimes I rearrange the plot on the fly to suit changing circumstances. And sometimes I just let the chips fall where they may. But many GMs do run linear plots - indeed, many modules actively encourage linear plots (I cringe whenever I read the words 'whatever happens the player characters must not be allowed to...' - though I understand why the writers do this. It's because they can't tailor the module to every possible party that will be undertaking the adventure. But sometimes their premises for railroading the party are a bit weak - and very obvious DEM...).

I guess you need to chat with the GM, find out what the house rules are, and stick up for your rights (without being stroppy about it) if you think you're getting a raw deal out of the points you spent on your Bluff skill.

Of course, maybe your post was a bluff in itself - just to see how much attention you'd get!


Oh, and while I'm thinking about linear plot adventures and entirely OT of course -

- worst 'linear-plot' module ever - has to be, IMO - 'Vecna Lives!'

Especially the intro, and the expected player behaviour it assumes for its pre-determined outcome. Truly horrible.

Actually, the ending is pretty awful as well, come to think of it.

Okay Truth be told. Im the one bad at bluffing. Lets see my following stories

Came up from underground into a guards room and was caught after having killed them all
"you see... Uh My copper piece fell out of my pocket and rolled up the stairs! And then they attacked me for no reason!!!"

I was allowed my bluff roll, but I got minuses for such a bad story. Only one of the guards rolled a 5 or less and was like "wow! Can I have that copper piece!?" So I was wondering if anyone might have any tips for um better bluffs :D

Take inspiration from stand-up comics and movies. Beverly Hills Cop and its sequel present an excellent example of a fast-talker. See the movie Maverick for another.

Bear in mind also that the Bluff skill isn't meant to convey a thoroughly convincing story, just to create a moment's distraction (usually long enough for the character to slip away). If your character has a convincing disguise, your GM might give you a synergy bonus, and the disguise itself might suggest possible tales ("Which I'm just a saucy lass from the red-lantern district, gov'nor! I was singin' these boys a proper old bawdy when a 'orrible skelinton shambled up from below and they all copped it! 'E went that way!").

Remember, a Bluff attempt doesn't have to stand up to intense scrutiny (remember C3PO in Star Wars? "They're madmen! If you hurry, you might catch them!"). It just has to give your character a round or two of uncertainty so she can quietly slink off.

Vecna Lives! sucks? That's a bit of a shame...I have toyed with the notion of tracking it down and running it someday. I have Vecna Reborn and Die Vecna Die and was thinking of maybe doing a trilogy of Vecna games in the future.

Well.....I haven't seen the other two myself yet so I can't comment on them. But 'Vecna Lives!' is pretty bad - at least, it is pretty bad if you dislike very linear adventures where the party have hardly any real choices as to how they approach the challenge.

To further assist in enforcing its linearity, it is recommended by the writer that the players use the pre-generated characters provided.

I haven't actually run the adventure yet - nor am I likely to in its present form although I may use it as source material if I develop a Vecna plotline in my campaign (I have planted some seeds for this to happen already so that I have graceful entry point for the storyline, although it's not a sure thing by any means).

There are a few interesting bits in it but if I were to run it I would re-think the beginning and the ending at least.

I don't want to throw in too many spoilers but when I read the prologue to the adventure my immediate thought was -

'Dave "Zeb" Cook has obviously never played a magic user, certainly not one of any appreciable level'

It also relies heavily on an interpretation of the 'Time Stop' spell that I don't like (i.e. if you're caught in a time stop you're meat). The way I run 'Time Stops' is that creatures who are time-stopped are temporarily in stasis - which means that nothing can affect them. The mage who cast the Time Stop has the option, however, of releasing specified individuals from this state if he or she wishes. Thus the Time Stop, rather than being an 'auto-kill' spell, can be used to-

- Enable the mage (+companions) to make a getaway
- Gives the mage (+companions) a 'time-out' to cast spells, administer healing, or prepare attacks against the time-stopped individuals (e.g. backstabs)
- Allows the mage (+companions) the opportunity of selectively engaging opponents while the spell is in force - eg time stop all but ONE of your opponents and then gang up on them

The interpretation used in the module is that Time Stopped creatures can be automatically slain. I have never liked this interpretation as it reduces any combat involving an 18th or higher level magic user to an initiative roll.

For the prologue to run its intended linear course, it also assumes player behaviour that is best described as amateurish. Which one doesn't expect for a module designed for characters of 12th-15th level.

The interpretation used in the module is that Time Stopped creatures can be automatically slain.

In support of your position, that is definitely not the way Time Stop works in 3.5. From PHB:294:

"While the time stop is in effect, other creatures are invulnerable to your attacks and spells; you cannot target such creatures with any attack or spell."

So you're clearly not the only person who felt that "everyone else can be killed after I cast this spell" was an abusive interpretation of Time Stop. I do recall that it worked differently in older editions of D&D.

thanks :) I'll check those out

Kinda like how it works in Baldur's Gate II, then...

I'm not a big fan of "Zeb." He's written what I consider to be one of the worst stories of all time...Beyond the Moons...the first Spelljammer novel.

If I recall, Vecna Lives was written around 1990...and, personally, I kinda frown on the last days of 1st Edition and the first days of 2nd (with exceptions, of course).

Anyway...yeah, I've got a handful of modules where I can only use them as source material and not actual adventures as the basic module...well, sucks. I'm not terribly fond of linear adventures...there's one or two good ones out there...but, as a whole, they suck. But...I think the worst faux pas of modules are the ones that try to be "funny."

i've read "beyond the moons" a couple of times and don't remember it as being particularly bad. what I don't really like is a series written by different authors.. but i still had fun with "the maelstrom's eye", maybe it was just that i really like Spelljammer...

which reminds me: did anyone here run a spelljammer campaign? how was it?

I'm still sorta running one! Spelljamming isn't a focus, per se, of my campaign...but, it exists and one of the major NPC's owns a ship, which gets "borrowed" from time to time.

One of the main players in my game is a dwarven king and also has access to a dwarven citadel -- rather than have his clan / followers under some hill...we put them in a floating hill.

But, if you read Beyond the Moons a couple of're a better man than me. Or mightier...or something.

To me, the worst thing about D&D is the novels. I also recall Pool of Radiance being particularly bad. Earlier this year, I tried Gygax's Saga of the Old City (the first Greyhawk book)...and it's quite a piece as well. So, me saying that Beyond the Moons is *the* worst is, admittedly, a stretch...but, I thought that way at the time I read it...I've since been proven wrong.

well, the D&D books i've read other than the Spelljammer series are R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt series (most of which are good, IMO) , the Dark Sun series which I liked vey much, and some of the dozens of Dragonlance books. I found I really enjoyed almost all of those written by Weis & Hickman, but the rest are, well, of all kinds of quality. some are OK , some are bad and a couple are good.

You know, strangely, I've never actually read any of the D&D books. I don't have a lot of time available for reading, but when I do start reading something I tend to see it through to the end even if it is painfully awful. So I'm very choosy about what books I buy. When I see those D&D books I can't shake off the nagging suspicion that they will be so self-referentially 'up their own arse' that a non D&D player would struggle to relate to them; in which case I wouldn't enjoy reading them either, even though I do play D&D! I don't tend to like books based on films that are based on books, and these are kind of the same thing.

Then again my fears could be groundless. Perhaps I should give one a try - I might be missing out. Any recs?

(Though it'll have to wait until I've finished ploughing through '1610: A Sundial In A Grave' by Mary Gentle and Stephen Oppenheimer's 'Eden in the East'....)

< rant>
Salvatore is a hack who got lucky by writing in a genre which hadn't yet been explored by any other author. His style is sub-standard, immature and, IMHO, unworthy of the TSR label.
< /rant>

ouch! :)

LG, I'd reccomend the Dragonlance Chronicles as a starter. Although i'd read them last maybe ten years ago,I still enjoy the authors' style and plot.

A very good series to try is George R.R. Martin's "song of ice and fire" which is seriusly enthralling IMO (but isn't D&D per se)

In addition, I've also got mixed feeling concerning Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. I was simply sucked into the first book, and the second, and the third....but then, gradually, having read the fourth,fifth,sixth and so on, it's now way drawn out and is like a fantasy setting version of a daytime soap.

Maybe we should move this discussion to a new thread? < g >

I concur with the Robert Jordan comment. What started out as a pretty good series became drawn out and exhaustive (just like all of the silly Xanth novels -- enough already!). Dragonlance was unique, in that it was a series based on a campaign (or so it seemed while reading it).

To me, there has been a flood in the fantasy genre market, and it seems that everyone can write a book... and so few of them are really worth reading. I haven't read anything lately that I couldn't put down. Years ago, it was unthinkable to not finish a book or series; today I haven't found anything that releases that kind of passion.

Heck, maybe I'm just getting too old.

Fantasy is a debased genre, and it always has been. I'm very, very selective about works I'll read within it.

Fantasy authors I can wholeheartedly recommend:

  • Tolkien (duh)
  • Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Roger Zelazny (especially the first Amber series)
  • Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Fritz Leiber
  • J.K. Rowling (seriously)

That's pretty much it. I enjoyed Elric of Melniboné and the rest of that series, but I really can't recommend it as great without serious qualifications. I hear George R.R. Martin is very good, but I haven't read him. I read the first book of Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series, which I liked but didn't bowl me over. I have heard such strongly mixed reviews about Robert Jordan that I just don't have much interest in Wheel of Time -- some of my friends insist I must read it, others warn me quite strongly not to bother.

And OT is right -- a forum post on this wouldn't hurt. I'll start one if this thread keeps going.

I give props to Martin, for whatever that's worth. I consider his Song of Ice and Fire series to be the best of the modern fantasy works.

A bit surprised nobody threw out REH.

I don't disagree with Old Timer...

..but, I kinda feel that I have to state that I consider Salvatore one of the *better* D&D authors...

...which doesn't say much for D&D novels as a whole.

My favorite D&D novel that I've read was Salvatore's Homeland, the first of the Dark Elf Trilogy. I think it's his best work...and maybe not *sub* standard...but certainly not above average. Just okay.

I'd agree with most of your list, Cocytus.

I have a soft spot for Michael Moorcock's works; they're kind of somewhere in between fantasy, satire and surrealism and I can understand that some people don't feel comfortable with them as they aren't easy to pigeonhole - which is, of course, precisely why I like them! To the Chronicles of Elric I'd add 'The History of the Runestaff' and 'The Dancers At The End Of Time' as excellent reads (although as both of these works are set in Earth's future perhaps they don't quite qualify as 'fantasy')

Guy Gavriel Kay? I haven't had the pleasure of encountering his work so far. Must give him a try.

E.R.Eddison's 'The Worm Ouroborous' is a great read and very non-genre bound (unsurprising since the genre didn't exist in 1922 when it was written). Eddison's world isn't as consistent and detailed as Tolkien's but his pseudo-archaic prose style is highly entertaining.

I love the 'Titus Groan' trilogy by Mervyn Peake. Arguably not fantasy (no magic or exotic creatures) but a splendid work of gothic fiction set in an imaginary world.

Stephen Donaldson is good in places, though not consistently so. I felt that 'The Illearth War' rose to the level of greatness (in a tragic sense) and I found it genuinely moving when I re-read it a couple of years ago. I don't think he's managed to re-capture those heights in anything else of his I've read.

J.K.Rowling? A good effort, and successful in reviving interest in the genre of 'children's fantasy', but I'm afraid she pales in comparison with the true master, Alan Garner. A few months back I dug out my old dog-eared copy of 'The Weirdstone of Brisingamen' which I hadn't read since I was 15 I guess. I started reading it and couldn't put the damn thing down until I'd finished it. Streets ahead of Harry Potter, and with 2 protagonists - a boy and a girl - both of whom are equally strong characters. And written in 1960, please note.

I don't think the Conan books are by any means the pinnacle of the fantasy genre - but boy are they fun to read! And a tad less misogynist than those dreadful 'Gor' books...

Further to the above, I'll also recommend 'The Knights Of Dark Renown' by Graham Shelby. Now out of print, apparently. Historical fiction (based on factual events) set in Palestine after the second crusade. I understand that some of its historical basis has been superseded by more recent research but it's still a ripping good read with some highly memorable characters, notably its uncompromising depiction of Reynald of Châtillon. I haven't read the sequel, 'The Kings of Vain Intent', but I've heard that it's not so good.

Worth looking for if you're ever browsing through a second-hand bookstore.

I respond to your rant with a rant.
Ok, I don't mean to be flamey, but haven't you noticed that ALL fantasy writers since Tolkien and ALL Sci-fi writers since Heinlein have been, at best, above average hacks? Those two invented their genres, and no one has yet to come anywhere close to their level. The closest I'd say anyone has come to their level is Douglas Adams, and he knew he wasn't much good.
Fantasy and Sci-Fi witting is not, no matter what anyone tells you, an art. It is entertainment. And so, we get entertainers, i.e. hacks. If we want to see fantasy and sci-fi on the level of Austen or Dickens, there are going to need to be some artists writing it.
But then great art isn't much fun. Interesting, perhaps, but fun? No. And we, as an audience, want fun. It's why we role play (don't even get me started on role playing as art).
Most writers are hacks, paticularly the gaming ones. Gygax is a hack, Cook is a hack, Jackson is a hack, and every GM you've ever met is a hack! So get over it already!

End of rant, fortunately.

Not to drag out a more or less OT rant, but my inner geek just can't let this slide...
Heinlein invented Sci-fi? Dude, H.G. Wells would like to disagree.

I'll agree that a majority of fantasy novels out there are worth about as much as the paper they're printed on, but when you can borrow them from the library for free, you don't have much to lose. If you enjoyed the read, who cares if everyone else thinks it sucked?

As for the bluffing question, (almost forgot about that, didn't we?) if you (the player) are a chronically bad bluffer, then your GM is being rather unrealistic to give you a penalty for bad stories. He's punishing the character for the shortcomings of the player, and it's not very fair.
Perhaps the group could brainstorm a story for the character to tell, or you and the GM could come up with an idea in a quick aside - whatever is easier. It definitely beats shutting down the entire group's fun (and creativity) by saying "Your story sucks. -5 penalty."

Nobody has mentioned Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, and I'm ashamed of all of you! That's what you ought to read, if you want some good fantasy and you're tired of the standard fare.

I'd love to spend about ten years indignantly ranting about that Douglas Adams remark... "Wasn't much good", eh? *glowers*

But instead, I'd like to bring up Theodore Sturgeon, Phillip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison, who are the three SF Greats I can think of off the top of my head who are at least contemporary with Heinlein. And Ray Bradbury, who's still writing. And Issac Asimov. And there's SF that actually got in the canon, despite academic bias, like 1984 and Brave New World. And lots of others, although I won't list them all because it is about 1:00 in the morning and I ought to be in bed.

Oh yeah, and Jules Verne would like to back up H. G. Wells on the whole "invented" issue. So would Mary Shelley.

I personally think that people should play closer to their real life personas. For example, my brother in-law is very chauvanistic. When he does play a female character, he plays them as he views women; brainless, utterly useless, sluts. I wish that I were joking, but I'm not. As a result, I have banned him from playing a female. Some people just can't play some things.

Just like I can't play a piano, some people just can't get around whatever mental obstical that prevents them from doing certain things. My wife cannot bluff or haggle. Right now she's playing a merchant's daughter who cannot bluff or haggle due to low selfesteem and shyness. As the character learns and grows, I see my wife learning and growing as well.

I know that I'll get flamed for what I've said here. That's fine. But think about it.

Instead of playing something that requires you to depend entirely on a roll (bluffing with out actually having to say anything), why don't you use your limitations as part of your character. If your character can overcome these limitations, then you can as well.

We've all dealt with the severely obese hairy stink bomb who insisted on playing a willowy beautiful young maiden. It didn't work. Somethings just don't work. Of course, some things that you never thought would work, sometimes do. I never thought the Rock could play a gay guy, but he did...

I guess that what I'm saying boils down to this:
Play what you can, not what you can't.
Work with your limitations, do not ignore them.
Admit that you have limitations that can't be overcome. There are some things that you just can't play.
Don't be afraid to try playing them.
Know when to stop.

I guess that's it.

"The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very, badly."

I'm not going to flame you, but I don't think I agree 100%.

I think what sometimes gets missed in these discussions is the first commandment of playing any game: Thou Shalt Have a Good Time.

If your group can play a lively and imaginative game wherein players who cannot Bluff or negotiate worth a flip have characters whose high skill-levels allow them to negotiate tricky social situations by rolling dice, and the die-rolling interferes with no one's suspension of disbelief, there's no problem.

If your players are all "amateur actors" who insist on all at-the-table conversation being completely in-character, and who have lobbied the GM to allow suitable bonuses or penalties to their characters' social skill checks based on a player's "performance," then obviously letting the dice decide everything is going to pose a problem.

These are two different types of groups. Each one can have a good time. The rules can be interpreted to accommodate either kind.

The second commandment of gaming is, as I believe someone already noted: Thou Shalt Know Thy Group. That goes for putting a group together as well as catering to the desires of an existing one. Don't put heavy-drama-seeking simulationists at the same table with people who just want to roll damage unless watching them squabble with you or each other is your idea of a good time.

There's a social element to your post, which is that players should know their limitations. I agree, but only to the extent that a socially conscious person should never deliberately annoy the people with whom s/he is participating in a fun-related activity. If you continually insist on playing ninja-strippers, make sure your character choice doesn't alienate the others at the table.

Otherwise, I don't see any harm in any player's choice of character. Often, picking a personality archetype at great variance with your own is half the fun of roleplaying. As long as you've got a suitable group that is willing to indulge your shyness, inept acting, or whatever, I don't see the harm in straying far beyond your dramatic limitations. Roleplayers aren't actors. A roleplayer knowing his own limitations is not the same as Kevin Costner needing to realize (for the sake of his movie, his reputation, and perhaps his career) that an English accent is a bit far beyond his abilities. I've gamed with weird, bordering-on-the-offensive character concepts and endured many a dreadful attempt at a foreign accent. As long as we're all having fun, it's ok with me.

The final observation I have to make is this: a GM has to play everyone. Does this mean that only skilled amateur actors should be GMs? Well, you're entitled to your own opinion. But (not to toot my own horn, but to establish my credibility on the subject) I was a professional actor at one time, and my list of criteria for good GMing doesn't include acting ability. Acting ability helps anybody in any role-playing exercise, but (again, in my opinion) it should never be a prerequisite to a game. In my opinion, a good GM needs intelligence, openmindedness, fairness, and above all patience far more than s/he needs the ability to portray a role convincingly.

Cocytus said: a GM has to play everyone

One of the aspects I found enjoyable in my brief stint at playing at tournaments was the ability of the GMs to play the NPCs. Many of them had worked on accents and speech patterns which helped to bring an otherwise boring block of text to a more interesting and entertaining experience.

Having said that, as a GM, I just don't have that ability. Sure, some of the main NPCs may have an accent, but I am really not that good at all of that. I try to make up for it by giving good, detailed visual descriptions of the character and his/her actions so that a more vivid image can be formed in the mind of the players.

My point is this: not everyone-- GMs included-- can do the acting bit.