Finally solved the roleplaying issue in D&D 4/e

So, in Dragon 379, the 4/e team talks about Skill Powers — utility powers you may take if you’re trained in a particular skill, rather than just being wholly class-based. I think the idea is amazing, and I’m all for it, but I didn’t realize what it opened up until recently.

I was talking with a friend of mine, about how I’m playing in a D&D game now with my formerly-enslaved Eladrin Rogue, totally patterning after Conan. He said “hope you have fun with that in your little skirmish game.” I swore at him, and said…well, you should just take a look at the power I came up with:

Dramatis Personae

The issue is now closed. You’re welcome, Internet.

Onto something more serious, freelancing life has kept me from being about to produce another Master Plan recently, but if you are interested in hearing a lot more about the reincorporation topic from Master Plan 52 (as well as a bunch of other thoughts), you can hear me on Clyde Rhoer’s Theory From the Closet 56. Two hours and twenty minutes of unedited chatter, baby!

– Ryan


14 Responses to Finally solved the roleplaying issue in D&D 4/e

  1. Ooh. Perhaps there is a version for dwarves in which one might roleplay their character with a Scottish accent.

  2. Alex Hunter says:

    Awesome. As a side note did you ever see the “Personal Code” and “Clarity of Purpose” feats from One Bad Egg’s “The Unbroken” pdf? They work well to add mechanical benefit for having some depth to your character.

  3. Tim White says:

    Finally, I’m *allowed*!!!!

  4. Matt Troedson says:

    Lovely power. I don’t think halflings would need a power like that. They’re too badass on their own.

  5. Ah, so in that skirmish game of yours you can only roleplay once per encounter, right?

    Kidding Ryan, kidding!

    But you should have made it an At-Will, First level power :-D

  6. That’s magnificent.

  7. Mike Olson says:

    Should’ve made it a stance — then it would last for the entire encounter.

  8. David Gallo says:

    What is it with all these people complaining about RP in 4th Edition? When have we ever needed “systems” to roleplay? If people need rules to roleplay, then I gotta say they are probably doing it wrong.

    I guess no one reads rulebooks anymore. Next time someone complains about roleplaying in 4e, point them to pg 266/267 of the Player’s Guide and have them read the part about Free Actions as many times as it takes for it to sink in…

  9. Swordgleam says:

    You should make a higher-level one that lets you extend the opportunity to roleplay to the entire party. After all, not everyone has room to train bluff.

    I wonder what a good range would be? I notice it tends to be lower if there are non-gamers in the room. Now that would be a good Intimidate utility: Cha vs Will, target non-gamer leaves the room (WITHOUT snickering).

  10. @David Gallo:

    IMHO, the problem with role-playing in 4E is that:

    * Most folks play in 3-6h long sessions
    * An average combat takes 1h, maybe 2h, to complete
    * The suggested pace is 4 encounters / session

    There’s simply no room left in a session for the kind of free-form role-play you’re suggesting. Sure, you can decrease the number of encounters to 1-2 small ones or 1 big one per session, but then your leveling pace slows down, which in our group lead to dissatisfaction since 95% of the game text is about combat and different ways you can tinker with your character to make it better in combat.

    To put it differently, if free-form role-playing is what you’re primarily after, why use a conflict resolution system so time-consuming it displaces your opportunity to engage in it? Why not use, say, In A Wicked Age instead?

    As a skirmish/character tinkering game, DnD 4E is fantastic, but I can totally see what people mean when they say it’s not conducive to role-playing. Even DnD 3.x left you with considerably more opportunities.

  11. Ryan Macklin says:

    David, Mikael,

    What part of “the issue is closed” did you not read? Y’all are ruining my joke. Please take it elsewhere. :)

    Edit: Further wankery like that will be deleted. You may link to your own posts to talk more.

    – Ryan

  12. Quinn says:

    This is power creep if I’ve ever seen it. Who wouldn’t take this power? It’s totally unbalanced! ;-)

  13. Hey Ryan,

    Sorry for ruining your joke. Since this is your blog I encourage you to take a more proactive editorial role and nuke wankery on sight. [Edited by management: done. :) ]

  14. Zac in VA says:

    Does this mean that I could use Dramatis Personae as a free action? :P