Mar 13, 2009

The razor-edged tongue, or Quipping that monster's wings.

I should hope we have all seen at least ONE movie, or read a book, in which the hero(es) engage in a verbal joust punctuated by the ringing of steel. So how exactly DOES one do that? If your players are anything at all like mine, They are constantly dropping one-liners, and making fu of the bad guys. Some DM's would discourage this. I am firmly in the camp of "Let them have fun". After all, without them, you'd just be - ahem - playing with yourself : )

Being as I currently DM in 4E, I will be addressing this issue IN 4E. However, 3E fans rejoice(?) some of this may still pertain to you.

OPTION 1 - Aid Another - This option is by-the-rules. By delivering your one-liner at a critical moment, you distract an opponent another player is struggling against. By referncing the AID ANOTHER rules in the PHB pg.287 I won't print them because...well you should know why : )

This option allows a character to use a standard action on their turn to either add a +3 bonus to AC or +3 bonus to hit to a character of their choice. This is close to what we are trying to do...only having to trade a standard action to make a one liner that actually DOES something doesn't feel quite right.

What I'd do. Hmmmm....tough one. Given 4E's structure, I would either create a feat or a power to do this, say a vs. WILL attack? Either way we are now beyond the simple stuff and actually messing with the mechanical underpinnings...which is bad. Though, some further examination is warranted.

OPTION 2 - Add a skill - We can add a new skill, TAUNT to the short list of skills present in 4E. This would be a trained skill that would HAVE to take the place of another "conversation" skill such as intimidate or diplomacy.

Talking has always been "free" in our games, and even in 4E, IIRC, speaking a "few" sentences is still considered a free action (PHB.289). I can understand that using diplomacy or Intimidate would require more "concentration" or effort, but we're talking one-liners here! Let's make it a minor action to Taunt an opponent. This would be a basic attack (CHA or INT mod?) vs. WILL. The result would be a -1 or -2 cumuative penalty to AC, Damage, or to-hit for the insulted creature until the beginning of your next turn. I say -2 because AID ANOTHER is a +3 bonus, yet requires a standard action.

Hmmm......wonder how that would work out?

OPTION 3 - Wing it - Assign ad-hoc bonuses based on the "cleverness" of the quip, or maybe even penalties if it was truly terrible!

Will any of these actually work? Couldn't tell you :) The game is all about having a good time, and MY players are a bunch of goofballs. IMO, anything that makes them laugh until they cry or soil themselves is on the list of good things. After all, it's ALWAYS better to play with others!


Swordgleam said...

Why not - and this is a shock - roleplay it? The villain doesn't need a -1 to defense because of the cleverness of the taunt; it will still have mechanical benefits for the players if he leaves off attacking the fighter, who has him marked, to take an enraged lunge at the bard, who just insulted his mother.

Donny said...

You would be referring to a version of option 3 then :)

Most folks seem to need mechanics or they get all confused and frozen up :P

Besides, we all know there is no REAL role-playing in 4E right?

That was a joke...a bad one :)

satyre said...

@swordgleam - because when you're in a one-on-one fight, those options get a little limited.

@Donny - O RLY? :)

Be nice if someone sets up a skill challenge to do a Cyrano de Bergerac style taunting competition prior to a duel - or verbal sparring a la Princess Bride.

Ameron said...

I like this idea. I would make it a skill check using Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate depending on the circumstance and what you hope to accomplish. I think most PCs would end up using Bluff and if successful they either gain a bonus to hit the target or allow another foe to gain combat advantage. But ultimately it’s up to the DM. My feeling is that if a PC comes up with this idea, I’d allow it.