Roleplaying Scenes

I wanted to share an concept that I have implemented in my campaign. I now start the gaming session with one or two roleplaying scenes. The scene is personalized for the player/PC and is not dice/abilities based, just pure roleplay (if a “skill” comes into play, I just presume they rolled a 15 on a d20). I limit each scene to 5 minutes.

I use the scenes to (1) show off the world and (2) give the players a chance to explore their PC’s personality in a “non-threatening” situation. It was really for the first function that I came up with the idea—there is just a ton of “neat” stuff in Eberron that a GM would never be able to show it all off in a campaign. It allows me to give out world flavor without having to force it into the plot. The second function just happened to be a nice by-product. My group has new PCs that they are getting used to playing. I tell the players that it does not matter how they react in this original scene, but to think about how the PC would react in the future.

Note that most scenes do have some pressure or tension, but that there generally is not the risk of a fight based on their choice/reaction (the PC is alone, and I do not want this to take too long). Also, the scene is usually is not tied directly to the current plot. If there is some tie in, the link is usually just informational. For example, one of the PCs had a scene from childhood with a group called Cloudreavers (out of control privateers). It gave her nice context when I then said that a Cloudreaver ship was in port in the main part of the session (it was in essence, a cutscene for her). Furthermore, she went to great lengths to add detail in her backstory about the Cloudreavers.

In theory, I would pull the player outside the room to run the scene because it is just for them. However, I run it in front of everyone (and make others stay quiet) and the player states at the end if they ever told the other PCs about this event. Allows me to get more information about the world across to more players.

So far, the players really like this idea. It has allowed me to show off the Dragonmarked Houses, convey some warforged “religious” options, detail Cloudreaver pirates/privateers, create a contact in mysterious continent of Xen’Drik, and show off parts of the massive city of Sharn. Everyone gets a few minutes of pure attention with no input from others. I tend to do two a session, rotating through the group. They last no more than 5 minutes each so as not to eat up a lot of time.

Let me know what you think of the idea and if you do something similiar (or use some other mechanism).

Update 1

n interesting update on this. Last night, I had a session without combat (shock, I know). It was a masquerade that the PCs had to get into and try to flush out a person they were tracking. The party was at an embassy, so they had to be on good behavior. The group did very well and took up the whole evening. It allowed me to set up some future tie-ins to the next adventure arc as well.

After complimenting the players on the good RP session, one did say that it was pretty easy given all the character development that has gone on during the campaign so far (they are 4th level), and mentioned the RP scenes as a big part of that development.

That was great feedback on this – as I have always felt it was hard for players to really develop character personality early in a campaign. If you think about it, PCs are either (1) in combat or (2) in important RP scenes (otherwise, why would the GM be talking ) So, players are always a bit hesitant to say the wrong thing. These additional scenes give the players a chance to “screw up” without real consequences – kinda like practice for when it really matters.

Update 2

Switching to Savage Worlds, the hindrance system really helps bring out the personalities of the PCs about as well as doing the scenes. It would be interesting to combo them.

Examples

In Eberron, Warforged are a “new” race trying to figure out where they belong in the world. A few philosophies/religions have evolved. Here are a couple of RP scenes that I used to help a player get a better handle on their PC named Pox

Reforged

Standing under a large palm tree in a park in Sharn stand a flamboyantly dressed individual.He talks of the four maxims of the Reforged Philosophy:

1. I choose, therefore I live 2. The purpose of life is living (taken greatly to heart) 3. All living beings have a right to choose. 4. Some choices demand punishment (delay in the veteranland rights act for WF)

Catch phrases; “Brothers and sisters, I stand before you not as a construct, but as a being.” “I choose, therefore I live. I choose to live without fear!” “I am Vitalia, Brelish for Life!

After a time, an anti-WF mod starts to form. From the crowd, a rock is thrown, hitting the WF. He is not heavily armored and is staggered by the blow. How does Pox react?

Slavery in Darguun

When Leiduna runs off to see the magic shop, Pox has a bit of trouble keeping up. He gets momentarily lost and comes upon the following scene:

Although you are not familiar with the goblinoid language, you hear what sounds like an auctioneer nearby. You pause to investigate, Leiduna momentarily forgotton. Working your way through the haphazard tents and debris, you come upon a small clearing with a raised platform. On the platform are 4 people chained to individual posts – a human female, a human male, an elven warrior (likely Valenar if the tan skin and scroll-like tattoos are an indication), and warforged missing one arm. All look to have been abused to some degree by their captors. There are a variety of what one might call “well dressed” hobgoblins with their goblin and bugbear attendents calling out what you think are prices for the people on the platform. In between some of the other tents, you see wagons that are little more than cages on wheels, some of which are crammed full of poeple of all races. The wagons are heavily guarded by hobgoblins and bugbears alike.

This brings back memories of your younger days. You were one of the first warforged infused with adamantine plating. Although the plating functions as intended, Pox has always been conscious of the fact that he appears heavily damaged when view by those with an untrained eye. After the magewrights studied Pox and corrected the process, Pox was place on the auction block himself. Sadly, there was no bid for his services that was acceptable, so he remaind with House Cannith to work in the Creation Forges.

Movement in the crowd brings you to back to the moment. It looks as if a rather fat hobgoblin has purchased the human female. Two bugbears from his entourage eagerly jump up onto the platform and take possession of the screaming woman. She is clapped in chains. The group now procedes in your direction as it exits the clearing, the fat hobgoblin appearantly satisfied with his purchase.

Red Hammer

Over the years, Pox has always kept a metalic ear out for a “remedy” to his looks. It is not that he is embarrassed, just that it seems to attract undue attention. Every artificier and magewright wants to strike up a conversation to discuss his pockmarking. Although he never puts much credance in any claim, Pox does hear of a place in the Cogs that does cosmetic work on WF. It is called The Red Hammer.

Note: This is pre-adventuring days. Pox is surprised to find out the place is completed geared (pardon the pun) to WF. Willow, a WF-Scout and recruiter for the Lord of Blades. She talks about her roll in the war (“fighting for fleshings that were too cowardly to fight themselves”) – she was in a scout Pod – one WF Recon (Ranger) with two Scouts. The WF served as a centerpoint – the two scouts would go out, do a semi-circle, then return. The WF would be a communication point as well (they were given waypoints to do the scounting - the WF digs in). There were not many of these - humans just did not trust the intell from an all WF recon unit.

She will hint about a Great Movement. And the fleshlings time is limited. After some conversation, Blue will come over and say “Willow, keep lid on the Lord of Blades crap. It distrubs my customers”

Tommon – Artificer – runs Finious – detailing “I love mamma Cannith”

Followup notices the mark of Pox’s Greatsword with the LoB mark. She introduces herself and asks if he is a Blade? Also, where did he get the sword?

Depending on the answers, Pox may make a LoB contact or an enemy (killing a Blade would not go over well with her).

Roleplaying Scenes

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