Monday, February 25, 2013

An Alternative ACKS Diplomacy

One thing that bothered me just a little during ACKS was how awesome the +reaction roll proficiencies were.  A 1st level bard with 16 Cha who takes Diplomacy as his general and Mystic Aura as your class proficiency, you can be pulling +6 on reaction rolls from 1st level.  Since reactions are rolled on 2d6, that's a hell of a modifier, bumping even snake eyes up to a "neutral, uncertain" reaction from kill-on-sight, and anything higher than unfriendly up to helpful.  I really don't think the reaction roll mechanism was built to handle modifiers larger than +3 or so, so I was kind of thinking about capping modifiers or eliminating stacking, but upon further thought, I think I've reached at least a more interesting solution.

I don't mind Mystic Aura so much because it's a class prof only, and Intimidate carries its own restrictions, but Diplomacy as it stands was a remarkably common choice as a general proficiency.  Diplomacy to my mind involves a lot of smoothing things over, stomping on your companions' toes when they're about to say something stupid, and so forth.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.  I'm curious, then to change Diplomacy to something resembling the following:

Diplomacy (G): The character is smooth-tongued and familiar with protocol.  When attempting to parley, the character learns the outcome of the reaction roll and chooses whether or not to intervene.  Should he intervene, a second reaction roll is made with the same modifiers, and the diplomat makes a proficiency throw of 11+.  If he succeeds, the higher of the two reaction rolls is used; should he fail, he has further angered the other party, and the lower of the two rolls is used.

These changes produce a version of diplomacy which does not raise the maximum result of reaction rolls, but which can still be used to ameliorate the effects of poor rolls.  It also turns a flat-bonus proficiency into something which is rolled by the players reactively, and it adds a little bit of strategy into the reaction roll in terms of risk management ("Hmm, well they came off Neutral, should we try to persuade them to our cause but risk a failure?"), creating a sort of 'double or nothing' mechanic.  Thoughts?


  1. That is kind of a cool idea, but then you lose the ability as a DM to hide the reaction roll - the players have to know what the reaction is going to be so they can use their ability. Say the enemies were going to be sneaky and lead the players into a trap. If the players know they rolled low, and the enemies offer to help them anyway, they're immediately going to be suspicious when otherwise they might not have been. If you're not worried about that, though, I think it sounds like a fun mechanic. Rerolls are always fun, and especially useful when the dice roll tends to be bell-curve-like.

    1. I don't think this is a problem; by "learns the outcome" I meant more along the lines of "observes whether or not they go for their weapons". Might be fair to allow skilled diplomats to 'read' people, though... interesting thought for "what if I want to take Diplo again?"

    2. Yeah this mechanic actually sounds like a lot of fun to me. I always approve of taking proficiencies/feats more toward increased situational options instead of flat numerical benefits.