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Episode 2237: Just the Two of Us, Wielding Fast Talk in the Sky


There is a curious difference in the traditional treatment of physical and social skills in roleplaying games. Let's look at strength first:

Typically, a character's physical strength would be represented by a score, and stronger characters are better able to perform feats of strength, usually represented mechanically by having to make dice rolls with a higher probability of success. This allows a physically weak player to play the part of a hulking barbarian without any problem.

Compare to the way in which social skills such as bluffing or diplomacy are often used:

Typically, a character's charisma or oratory skill would be represented by a score, and more eloquent and convincing characters are better able to perform feats of deception or persuasion, usually represented mechanically by having to make dice rolls with a higher probability of success. This allows a hesitant, socially awkward player to play the part of a glib-tongued con artist without any problem... Except... that games don't actually work this way in many cases.

In many games, these sorts of social interactions are handled in a different way. Either:

If you think about it, this is the equivalent of making a player do 50 push-ups and then either giving them a bonus or penalty to their strength rolls based on how well they perform. Or doing away with the dice roll altogether and judging characters' feats of strength purely on how well the player can perform the challenge.

There are two diverging schools of thought on this:

  1. It's a roleplaying game - you're meant to do some roleplaying, and players should be rewarded for doing it well. (And possibly penalised for doing it badly.)
  2. It's a form of escapism from the real world. Just because a player may have poor persuasive skills doesn't mean they should be penalised for wanting to play a character with a silver tongue.

There's no right or wrong answer to this, and there are strong proponents of both points of view. It depends what you want your game to be like. If you're running a game, consider asking what style your players might prefer. And if you're playing a game, ask the GM beforehand how they intend to handle social skills and see if you're comfortable with that. You don't have to run the game with the exact rules as written in the rulebook - adapt to better suit your own preferences.

Commentary by memnarch (who has not seen the movie)

So, there's no way they're actually talking in the movie, right? Hux is just talking to himself and making faces for no reason? Wait, I'm not sure that's any better. And while I know that it can be easy to chop up images to make them look worse, that still doesn't look like the face of someone who's completely all there. Maybe the end of the last movie made Hux somewhat desperate to get back on Snoke's good side?

And Jim, being able to bluff someone himself in person? That's less likely than you'd think. Unless it involves Geology. Then Jim could probably run circles around everyone else, assuming he could bring himself to use that knowledge to deceive them.

That all said, it would be incredibly funny if the holo-giant was somehow a part of the Resistance. Imagine; somehow finding the time to infiltrate while demanding status updates from a chair, all while disguising that huge brain surgery scar. The Resistance would basically deserve to lose for failing that hard at catching such an obvious spy.


General Hux: Why would Administrator Snoke be in a one-person Resistance fighter?
Allan: Because apparently I’m the only competent person in this organisation.
Allan: I infiltrated the Resistance on a secret mission to expose their base so we could attack.
General Hux: And why would Administrator Snoke use an open channel rather than Black Alpha encryption layers?
Allan: Because I want them to hear this conversation so they can quake in fear!
General Hux: Funny. I thought the most logical reason would be that a Resistance fighter isn’t equipped with a Black Alpha encoder.
Allan: That too.
Allan: I roll 18 for Bluff!
GM: Bluff only works against NPCs. This is a roleplaying encounter. You have to convince Ben.
BB-8: You’re doomed.
Allan: Incorrect.
Allan: We’re doomed!

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Published: Tuesday, 29 November, 2022; 01:11:04 PST.
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