Counter Monkey – The Bardic Knock Spell

The Spoony One | Sep 8 2012 | more notation(s) | 

Note: There is a fine line between being good at bluffing and becoming the clown nobody ever believes. You don’t want to go from cleverness to making the game goofy, because you’ll frustrate the DM and get the players into a lot of trouble when you go off being ridiculous. If you’re jacking around constantly, the DM is going to punish you and the party for your antics. You’ve got to very carefully pick your moments, because bluffing is about surprise and spontaneity– or should I say, making a lot of careful preparation LOOK like spontaneity. You have to surprise the DM as much as the characters you’re bluffing. Bluffing isn’t a surprise if you’re doing it all the time. Think of it like a jump-scare in a movie; the best ones only happen once, maybe twice in the film. Any more than that and you’re just screaming loud noises and pissing people off.

So, to reiterate, don’t let yourself become a clown. You don’t want to drag the game down into hysterics and becoming the guy who’s throwing pies in peoples’ faces, thinking that because it’s wacky, it’s foolproof. You want the DM and the players to think you’re brilliant, not a complete jagoff. In poker, you only bluff maybe once or twice a night, if that, and only when it counts. Bluffing is as much about patience and telling the truth as it is about lying. Lie constantly, nobody believes you. Lie 10% of the time, and suddenly you’re a complete wildcard. Do not become a clown. Be smooth. Bluffing only works if you almost never do it. And suddenly you’re always doing it, because you’re smooth, and nobody can tell what you’re up to anymore.

  • Das_Bass

    Stop making me wanna play DnD. I can’t find anyone here too play with.

    • David Herbert

      Same. Anyone know what the program Spoony uses for the Pathfinder games is? I might see if anyone online wants to play.

      • The Boo

        It’s called Map Tools. Very good program. Use it often with my group, and can handle most PnP/D20 formats.

        • Chris Bradshaw

          it can handle anything so long as it doesn’t require taking the middle dice from a pool. and even then you can just work around it by rolling a dice macro 3 times and selecting the middle yourself.

          • Jim Thorpe

            You can also use, which is like maptools but simpler to use and you can do that dice thing with it.

        • David Herbert

          Awesome, thank you.

  • Jesse Vaillancourt

    man watching these counter monkey episodes makes me wish I had a group to play with. I’ve always wanted to play D&D more, tried it a few times in highschool but I don’t know anyone who does anymore. I really dig this series though, when I finally do get to play again I’ll atleast be ready!

  • Christopher Shanahan

    Thanks for this Spoony.
    I’m going to be making a D&D group with my friends and your experience will just make the game more fruitful.

  • Mark Platt

    Thanks spoony. Guy cancelled on my D&D game today after hours of preperation for the game. This cheered me up.

  • Chris Night

    If anyone in the UK curious then I suggest looking up the official WOTC RPGA encounter games. If you’re not in the UK or fancy doing something else then I suggest you check out a site called Usually you can find a RPG meetup near you, i highly recommend it. I use map tools too.

  • Mads Bolding Fenger Poulsen

    Watching counter-monkey while listening to the LOTR-filmscore is something that I’d seriously recommend!

    • Emil Petrunov
      • Mads Bolding Fenger Poulsen

        It’s lovely, but considering the length of a regular Counter Monkey, I would have replay it about 15 times pr episode.

  • Denderfurger

    i played Shadowrun 4ed last night we had a blast! and today i wake up and have my breakfast and watch this! this is my luckiest day !

  • Brent Andersen

    Showed this series to my friend and he quickly fell in love with it.
    Got another fan, Spoony!

  • doresh

    If a tracking roll is absolutely mandatory for the game’s progress, a tracking roll should only be used to avoid possible disadvantages (the group’s target reaches his destination well before the players, giving him time to fortify his position or leave, forcing them to look for clues) .

    These old location-based (as opposed to plot-based) modules are awesome. I myself got my hand on the 3rd edition remake of Caverns of Thracia, and I can’t wait to use it :D

  • Neski

    The Bardic Knock Spell :

    • Emil Petrunov

      Oh, I love this!

    • Kurt Penman

      Pure AWESOME!!!!

  • Emil Petrunov

    This… My friend… THIS IS why I love the facemen!

    Very well explained, Spoony! <3

  • Mitchell Bandes

    God, Oreo, stop being such an attention whore.

  • smek2

    Now i’m really interested in trying a tabletop role-playing game. I like RPGs and played my fair share of classic ones (Wasteland, Fallout, Baldurs Gate, Ultima, Torment, you name it) but oddly never tried a “real” RPG, even though it appears to offer so much computer games can’t possibly provide. Many, many years ago (half an eternity, really) i attended a Shadowrun session. It took me at least an hour to even get my character’s basics down. I guess i felt a bit intimidated, because i never came around to actually play my character after that. Something i really regret, even after all those years.

    • doresh

      Then welcome, potential RPG geek. Now’s the best time to become one, what with all those free virtual tabletop software and games around :D !

      CharGen can really act as a kind of barrier at times, depending on how much the rules let you customize your character. Old school games tend to be VERY fast in that regard, but might appear a bit wonky in other rule areas (largely due to less unified rules and some balance decision that might appear questionable at first).

    • Patrick Joannisse

      You started with a hard game to learn. I play a lot of different games and Shadowrun is intense. You should try more easy game like DnD 4E and such. They are way simpler IMHO.

    • ScreamingDoom

      Shadowrun, especially the earlier incarnations which you were probably dealing with, is a Lovecraftian monstrosity of an RPG. Staring into the insane spiral of stats and charts is sure to drive most newbies screaming into the night. There are only a few games worse than early Shadowrun for ridiculous stats and rules — probably Rollmaster and F.A.T.A.L.

      It’d be better to start with something like World of Darkness or one of the Cortex system games. They’re far more manageable.

    • Steven Black

      I’d try Savage Worlds then. It is probably the quickest and dirtiest RPG I have ever played. Character generation is relatively easy, can take maybe 15 minutes. Tons of settings to choose from 50 Fathoms (water submerged world, pirate genre), Deadlands (Weird West cowboy game with apocalyptic elements), Shaintar (High magic fantasy, very DnD-like), those being the settings I have either played or read (there are tons of other ones, including an Earthdawn conversion, Space 1889, Rippers, etc. The thing about this is that once you know the system, tons of settings to explore and check out). The other thing about Savage Worlds is that character advancement is also relatively easy. Every 5 XP awards an advance (+1 Attribute die increase (D4 to D12 scale), an Edge (Feat in DnD terms), 2 skill ups under Attribute (skills are linked to attribute, much like Shadowrun if I remember correctly, easier to gain skill points if under the Attribute and harder above it), 1 new skill, or 1 skill up if above Attribute base) and generally occurs about every 3 sessions at an average 2 XP game session award. Personally I prefer Earthdawn, but the game is relatively complex, best to start with an easier game system. I love Shadowrun’s setting and Earthdawn-tie in, but the game mechanics never were that great (Fourth Edition is a playable though mechanics-wise, the older editions made me want to scream).

      • faeyr

        Completely agree with the Savage Worlds recommendation. My group’s been playing in a few SW settings for a couple of years now, after having played D&D and WoD, and we haven’t looked back. It’s especially good if your group is craving some old-school pulp and I’ve never seen a game engine that’s more new user friendly.

    • Jim Thorpe

      Dungeon World. All I gotta say. You folks really gotta try Dungeon World.

  • TheCheshireOne

    Ooooh, you’ve got me hooked for that Dirty Tricks video.

  • Dehl Fudge

    once an invisible stalker stole my great axe in the plane of fire. also I have an advenchter with 100 rumers.

  • MichaelT

    Whilst I don’t role-play myself, here’s a scenario I thought up while watching this video.

    “It is a cold, rainy night. The party is taking advantage of the weather to sneak up to a cabin of thieves to steal their treasure. The Spoony Bard tells the other members ” I got this.” He walks up to the cabin and knocks on the door. One of the thieves comes over to the door. “Who’s there!” Spoony begins speaking in a female voice. “Please, sir, I am only a lonely widow seeking shelter from this storm. I am so cold…and so wet…” The thief enthusiastically swings open the door. Spoony immediately kicks the thief in his now excited balls. The rest of the party rushes in.”

    And that’s how you use charisma! ;)

  • Jenx Rodwell

    I dunno about the whole Point A to point B quest thing. I personally prefer to just give my players the set up and let them come up with the story for me. Not only is it more intersting, but I’m a lazy bastard, and this way I don’t need to do that much work. Plus, if I don’t have a set story it means my players can’t fuck up the story.

  • Charred Newt

    Bluff really is one of the most useful skills a character can learn. In my present Pathfinder campaign, I play a variant chaotic good paladin (kind of like a shiny-armored Robin Hood), with something like a +15 at Bluff, and it got us out of trouble lots of time. They seldom suspect the paladin to be the party’s trickster, and it’s great to avoid battles with good or too powerful NPCs. For example, our first adventure started in an Inn, where we knew we would find the criminals we had been hunting. We were outside their room, when all of a sudden one of them came out another door and saw us. He was ready to attack us, but I got a sudden idea, and convinced him that his buddies were undercover guards who had tricked us into almost getting arrested after our latest theft (we looked quite ragtag, and my character kept her class hidden). Not only he helped us defeat his accomplices, he also guided us to their cove, where we managed to catch the whole gang in one move and kill the leader.
    Much later in the campaign, a pair of thugs who had faked redemption caught us by surprise and took our elderly cleric hostage. She was a powerful spellcaster, but fragile as a twig, so we couldn’t risk attacking them. She tried to intimidate them with a simple spell: she started shining as brightly as she could, while telling them that the light they had betrayed would now be their end. Sadly, it didn’t work. But it did give me an idea: using my bluff skill, I acted terrified and shouted “Oh shit, she is really going to do it this time! SHE’S GOING TO EXPLODE!!!”.
    It worked beautifully. They immediately let her go and started running for their life, only to be blasted by a nearby ally of ours. We almost fell on the floor laughing, and gained extra exp. It became rapidly a recurring joke in our party.
    Needless to say, it has become a sport in our campaign to tell the NPCs the most ridiculous and imaginative shit possible while still remaining in the realm of possibility. We have currently convincing a guard that his fort has been overrided by an army of dopplegangers who all have his comrades’ faces.

    • MichaelT

      Well that’s all well and good, but I have to ask:
      What’s a paladin? ;)

    • A Random FootballFan

      In our Savage worlds game our really social character had lie and bluff and persuade all to silly levels and has his own side-plot none of the other PCs found out about in character, one of us began to suspect towards the end but we couldn’t get anything to stick

  • Sandahl192

    In one of our first games we had to sneak a guy out of a prison cell located underneath a colosseum Unfortunately we failed getting to him because of demons. We did need to get some city guards off of our tail to escape the city, which was in lockdown. My character(high elf female) decides to surprise the guards by flashing them. This also surprised the GM and we were able to make a successful escape…into a sewer.

    One of my favorites was trying to rescue a friend after an unsuccessful sneak in rescue. After the first attempt, the party runs towards the neighboring country in order to not be captured and killed by the army chasing them. Along the way they come upon an undead dragon, which imprints on my character. Fortunately for the party, a wild golem passes by and distracts the dragon long enough for us to get away. Later my character was able to portal the party back to home base.

    My character, not one to give up on her friends, formulates plan 2. Her plan is to lure the undead dragon to the castle where her friend is being held. Easier said than done. She tells her plan to the old codgery mage, who informs her that the dragon has suddenly appeared near the Dwarven Kingdom, where another party happens to be. She has the old man portal her and another npc there. She tells the other PC’s her plan, which seems feasible since they’re somewhat able to outrun the dragon with the carriage and “mechastrider” the other party got from the gnomes. She makes a portal…unfortunately back to base. After a few moments of panic, they decide to drive straight into the old codgery mage’s fishing pond. He sees them coming and has the correct portal ready for them, though his is rather unhappy because they’re driving into his pond.

    Now back in the correct country, the group rides toward the castle. Along the way the undead dragon merges with a crocodile/seahorse chimera via some fuse goo. It increases in size and can now fly when it previously couldn’t. The group bolts for the castle. The army is about to attack their carriage when not moments later, the dragon appears and distracts them. The group is then able to get into the castle, grab their comrade, and a shiny artifact to boot.

    I was actually surprised my character’s plan worked as well as it did. She’s normally not a strategist, but it was so far out there for a plan that she figured that it had to work.

  • Katrin

    Another plus to haggling, is if you do it enough the DM may get sick of arguing and just give you deals on stuff all the time. In our Pathfinder game last week, one of the characters haggled a half hour to to save 4 GP on a room. He talked to the innkeeper’s slave, the inkeeper, and the inkeeper’s mom. After that every time he went haggle that session(and he haggled for EVERYTHING) the DM didn’t even make him roll, he was just gave him 20% off. Although if the character had pressed for more, I think he would have made the DM angry as it was getting slightly annoying.

    I’m so glad to be RPing again. I had to wait forever for a game to open up, and these Counter Monkeys were just teasing me. I love them though. Can’t wait to watch more!

  • Jay Logan

    About the whole bluff thing, as a GM in one session, yes, RPing a good bluff can make things really interesting, but at the same time, it CAN be over-used.

    In a home-brew Sci-Fi campaign, the team of hapless heroes were abducted by the villain. One of the heroes was in a different part of the villain’s base, and the idea was that the others had to find his (her? sometimes it’s difficult determining whether to use player gender or character gender) sorry ass after they broke out. And of course, in order to get past the guards, one of the players just walked past as if they had every right to be there.

    It worked… the first four times. The problem was, he started to feel that it wouldn’t fail, so when he walked past a checkpoint with slightly more ‘competent’ guards, not only did they have a slight bonus against that particular buff, he flubbed his roll and hadn’t prepared a backup plan as he had the first couple of times, and more or less get murdered. I say more or less, because he managed to kill those goons, only to walk right into the quick response team that the alarm alerted.

    It was interesting and amusing the first couple of times, he just walked past a guard and even asked how his kids were doing, which led to some amusement from the party. The third time of the same thing? It was starting to get old.

    And I have a feeling that the flub has dissuaded the group from really trying these sorts of bluffs again, since until we got a new player join us, I had yet to see any massive bluff attempts of this sort again.

    But… I think this vid has given me ideas next character I roll. Hmm…

  • IHeart28

    Wow. This is really awesome advice on how to make the roleplaying fun! The Bardic Knock Spell as awesome as it is, really made me laugh because of the description of what it is. It’s something I’d expect out of a comedy but hey I’ll be willing to try it sometime *shrugs* Also, I agree if you get into the game and roleplay it out instead of just saying things like “I haggle” or “I threaten him” is far more fun and interesting for the game. I remember the conbravo DnD game, you were so awesome in it Spoony! Anyways great advice on how to bluff and use charisma, I’d totally play with people who would be willing to use charm sometimes to get the game going

  • peteman

    Animate Guard: How have you served the ranks of Orcus?’

    Epic Cleric who has been slaughtering Orcus’ servants left and right: We have purged his ranks of incompetence and failure.

  • Calum Brough

    Kinda feel like sharing this: I started playing pathfinder recently after dming 3.5 for a couple years. I rolled a halfling bard called Erasmus Fandango. While I was making the character, I decided to give him ranks in profession (courtesan). Just for the banter. The first thing I did as Erasmus was earn a weeks wage whoring so that I could fund the printing of a largely ficitonal autobiography. I also purchased a noble’s signet ring and cleric vestements, expecting that I’d want to smuggle myself into a noble’s daughter’s bedchamber in a farcical manner. Now, here’s where it get’s interesting. After the first adventure, which ended with my blowing up a meth lab and befriending it’s owner, I found out that I was wanted for murdering the King. Since my Autobiography had become a bestseller, everyone in the kingdom was under the impression that I had killed a balrog, and so was more than capable. I’d also just blown up my only alibi, and was assoctiating with a known felon. So here’s what I did.

    There were guards all over the place searching for me, so used the cleric vestements and signet ring to disguise my drug dealer pal as a local noble. He was an Orc. the noble was human. Luckily, we both rolled really well on disguise checks. I then had him and the party’s ranger pretend to arrest me so we could bypass the guards and get out of town.

    I don’t know if this is interesting to anyone, but it seems relevant.

  • amishman

    god i can’t tell you how many times i’ve run into a dead end when the party failed a roll my favorite trick would be have them go to the nearest tavern and have a npc talk about a group of bandits he past and the town they were heading.

  • Skolex

    Please give us more dirty tricks, the Bardic Knock Spell is hilarious!

  • Sabine Vecchio

    I cannot wait for that dirty tricks video–it is going to be awesome.

  • Chee Moon Yeo

    This is
    probably one of the best Counter Monkey videos Spoony has done, not in terms of
    entertainment value but in being useful to would-be tabletop game players.

    I remember
    reading the book Blacksand! which instructs both players and DMs on how to
    fully immerse yourself and your fellow players into the game.

    What NOT to
    say: “An Ogre leaps out at you from an alcove in the passageway with a club. He
    gets a free attack on the first person in line. His strength is 15, roll and
    add up your armor rating…”

    What to say:
    “As you near one of the alcoves in the passageway, something in the alcove’s
    shadows moves and before you could reach for your weapon, a huge, brown,
    smelly, Ogre with warts all over its body leaps out at the first party member,
    letting out a bellow that causes spittle to fly from its mouth. It raises a big
    wooden club with a rusty spike in it and swings directly at the head of what it
    is foreseeing as its next meal. Roll!”

    Also, I
    personally think that an adventure involving bluffing and infiltration could be
    more enjoyable and even tense than simply sneaking around and avoiding
    unfriendly guards. Imagine putting on disguises and using false identities to
    get into a high-class occasion and ending up conversing with some Big Bads,
    possibly even the Big Boss himself, all the while trying to make sure that you
    don’t blow your cover.

    Listening to
    Spoony relay the BKS reminded me of one of the most hilarious yet simultaneously
    awesome scenes in the Discworld novels Color of Magic and Interesting Times
    (Spoilers incoming)

    CoM moment:
    Confronted by a swordsman, Rincewind pretends to cast a spell, waving his arms
    and chanting gibberish. The swordsman looks around, frightened that he’s about
    to receive a terrible spell, and by the time he realizes that nothing is
    happening, Rincewind had already ran up and kicked him in the groin.

    IT moment: A
    Samurai challenges an elderly Barbarian to a duel, totally confident that he
    will win. He throws a cloth into the air, whips out his katana, and slices it
    into a dozen pieces before it hits the ground. The aged, old Barbarian declares
    he can do the same, and tosses a cloth into the air as well. While the Samurai
    is looking up at the cloth, the Barbarian beheads him.

    The Bardic
    Knock Spell sounds like exactly the type of thing that Tandem the Spoony would

    I fully
    support and look forward to dirty tricks and tactics that Tandem has done in
    his many adventures.

    One of the
    best multi-player gamebook series I’ve read is the Blood Sword series. I highly
    recommend it (although it took me forever to get all five books). The Trickster
    manipulating the Bat and Dog into killing each other so that he could get their
    treasure was AWESOME.

    • Jim Thorpe

      This is why I just started promoting Dungeon World. That example, up in the beginning. The game depends on the story. As part of the rules, you cannot actually use a movie unless you describe exactly how you’re doing. There’s no “I roll 3d6+2 to Defy Danger”, you have to actually describe what you do, and then the move happens.

  • Stefan Eremia

    Great tips Spoony!

  • Brandon Rich

    19:45 Oreo says” ohmahgared it worked!” O_O

  • Daniel Gilfillan

    “Think of it like a jump-scare in a movie; the best ones only happen
    once, maybe twice in the film. Any more than that and you’re just
    screaming loud noises and pissing people off.” – My thoughts on Drag Me To Hell.

  • Sandahl192

    I agree with Spoony in that the best thing you can do for a DM/GM is actually roleplay your character. Create an interesting story for your character. If you’re having trouble coming up with a backstory, talk with the GM. You might figure something out together, or the GM might actually throw ingame breadcrumbs to you. This happened with my character at the very beginning. I had nothing for her, but as the game progressed, she started becoming interesting and my GM ended up throwing a curveball by revealing that she was royalty. That made things really interesting because she was a high elf who had lived with human thieves her whole life. To learn that she was a princess, and next in line for the throne, kind of threw her for a loop. Especially since she never grew up to be groomed for leadership. After this, I came up with how and why she ended up where she did at the beginning of the game.

    My group was kind of meh at roleplaying in the beginning, but as the game and story progressed, we got better at it. There will be times when we’ll just go, “I relay the message to…” The player already heard the explanation, so why explain it twice. After that we commence roleplay about the situation.

    Also, don’t be afraid to declare rolls. Whenever we’re in a new area, my group will usually do a spot/search check. Usually to see if we find anything useful or interesting. My character adds a premonition roll to the check list when available. My friend would use his magic card deck, which changed depending on what he was looking for or what the situation was. At one time my character had one of these and used it as a map when trying to find her way out of an enemy stronghold…it led me to the treasury. Sad day for bad guy. XD

    Whenever we’re at base, our characters are doing what they’d do on down time. Mine would hit the books or go to the rune masters to see about affixing a rune to herself(I found out my elemental weakness this way.), the alchemist/golem maker would hit up the lab or the forge for parts for his golems, etc. It’s a great way to restock on used items or to advance skills. It’s also a good time to learn about what’s going on and to see if there’s a breadcrumb for an adventure.

  • Patrick Joannisse

    Something one of my player did once was to tell a guard that another one was calling him a wuss. And in a game a played we had to get inside someone’s house. I knocked on the door (with my friends shocked) and said : I sell cookie for the kids club (Crit on Bluff).

  • Urban Sniper

    I’ve seen the Bardic Knock used a few times, and it’s worked great for most of them. It’s a great tool to have in the arsenal.

    The dirty tricks vid sounds enticing; I’m anxious to see what you’ve got inside that devious mind of yours.

  • Shaka Zulu

    Can’t wait for the dirty tricks and tactics video – thats what i’m waiting for!

  • Chuster M. Merino

    “I use intimidation”
    “Excuse me?”
    “Yes, I leap up, I scream “I AM A MAN!” and I punch the nearest son of a bitch that I find”
    *Roll a d20*
    “You succeded”

  • Ville Gunnarsson

    Beverly Hills Cop 2, by far Eddie Murphy’s best movie.

    “What would Axel Foley do?” From now on I’m going to ask that question every time I encounter a problem in my life.

  • Darby Bryan-Dye

    One of my first DnD 3rd edition characters was a Gnome Bard. It was a small group so I went with bard to supply a mixture of offensive combat (he dual wielded light maces quite effectively), healing spells, and the bards usual assortment of magical effect spells. A part of his story was that he used to be a court bard, from a long line of court bards. He was born and raised in luxury, hearing and telling stories of great adventures. So when his lords fell on hard times he set out into the world to chronicle adventures. Being a totally novice adventurer he forgot to bring things like Rope, and Torches (because in stories heroes rarely use such things). However he also did things like paint his armor in a dramatic styling, and load up on instruments so he can play different ones in different situations (there were certain instruments that gave you bonuses in different settings).

    At one point during his first adventure we came upon a door in a dungeon, where we could hear what sounded like 20 orcs on the other side. Having slain a number of orc guards up to that point we decided a plan was in order. So we set up the wizard at the door, with burning hands prepped. Meanwhile my bard unleashed two ghost sound spells, One was the sound of combat, another was the sound of an orc raising the alarm and calling for help (my bard of course spoke many languages). I rolled my bluff, and pulled off the trick. After a few seconds we heard the tramping of boots coming from the other side of the door. The door opens and the wizards spell goes off. Frying 6 orcs, 3/4ths the amount of orc warriors that were on the other side of the door (the room mostly held orc civilians).

    Later when we went back to town, we had found a nice set of magic leather armor. So my bard, being the story teller he is, decided to sell his old set to the local shop keep. So I roll played out the entire encounter with the shop keep. Used spells to set the stage and played my instrument for dramatic effect. Used my bluff to tweak details of the story to be more dramatic, my diplomacy to convince him the truth was the truth, and my intimidate to make the enemies seem more intimidating.

    In the end I was able to convince him to buy my dramatically painted armor for more than its base value. Sure in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t much money, but my character will be a legend to that shop keeper until the day he dies.

    • Sandahl192

      this reminds me of the time we engaged a few mages in battle. I caught one off guard by throwing a book at him. He lost his footing and fell onto a table full of vials with caustic, poisonous, and other chemicals, as well as bunson buners. He ended up taking fall, acid, poison, burn, and other damage on top of the hit points he lost from the book. Good times.

      Then there was the time I sold a king his own pot plants for platinum. Our group found an interesting bug in the woods whose saliva caused rapid growth to plant life. My character gets the idea to let a few loose in the king’s personal garden. She takes the rest to the king and tells them what they do. She also passingly mentions that she left a few in the garden. Without words he bolts to his treasury and returns with a sack. “We handsomely reward those who provide service to the Kingdom,” He says. He then hands me the sack containing 6 platinum.(in our game a platinum is 1000g)

    • Emil Petrunov

      I always did think that when a bard tells a major story like that, even if parts are complete bullshit, it’s a well earned payment or armor gain. After all, you’ve given the audience something they will tell in the shopkeeper family for GENERATIONS!

  • saibot216

    It’s so amusing to watch Oreo. She reminds me of my dog.

  • Mateusz K.

    That is great advice not just for begginers, but for experienced players as well. So many times in our adventures someone is trying to bribe, haggle or persuade another character and just shouts: I have +10 to charisma, and rolls a dice. DM’s love when people are trying and even give players a bigger bonus. Instead of setting a check for difficulty level 30, they’d rather you talk for yourself, and often will pass you without having to roll the dice at all. Even if you are bad at it, it’s the trying that counts and DM will reward you for it.
    Many players thoug are shy and preparing such things in advance is great. It’s scary when you are put on a spot and DM tell’s you: now convince me or your dead. You think you will have to give the best performance of your life, but no. Just make shit up and have fun and DM will applaud.
    Great advice from Spoony. Damn I wish I had my old party and could play some rpg’s with them… I miss that.

  • MrRuse

    If you play a lawfully-aligned character with Diplomacy and the likes; have your character own something like a fancy outfit. This especially works if your character is a woman: a dress that fully covers the body can hide a suit of armor and weapons. Roll Diplomacy to hide this in case people ask why you rattle. You can take this full-throttle by having two of your party members (make sure to get matching uniforms, and that they are roughly the same race) carry you around in a litter. Perfect for infiltrating an upper-class party.

    Next, if you’re a shapeshifter: use it! Changelings/Doppelgangers can turn into people. Use this to send this guy in if you need to be somewhere and you’re sure that the original guy won’t walk in himself (because you got him hostage/dead). Of if you’re playing 4e, a Shardmind can shapeshift into non-natural shapes. Use this guy to hide your weapons in if you need to go somewhere without weapons. Don’t forget to bring cheap decoys to hand in when you’re being searched. You can easily fit a one-handed weapon or two for every party member inside of him. Even better about Shardminds is that they can take nearly any form: turn into a living bridge! Or a wall and have your healers constantly cast on you to keep the enemy away! Go Green Lantern up in this mother!

    • Ajax

      In terms of shapeshifting, don’t discount the power of Wildshape for infiltration, especially if the druid in question can shift into Tiny or Diminutive animals.

      I actually just used that to infiltrate and search a high(-ish) muckety-muck’s rooms in my group’s latest Pathfinder session. Tiny creature (rat) + a load of spells spread between myself, the cleric, and the wizard = VERY little chance of being found out. And, when I set off a sonic Glyph of Warding, the guards were fairly easily misdirected with creative application of Summon Nature’s Ally. After all, who’s going to look at the itty bitty rat hiding in the shadows (or a desk drawer) when there’s dire rats wandering out from under tables and beds?

      • MrRuse

        Of course. And if you use 4e rules and play a Pixie Beast Master Ranger with a certain early career thing (don’t remember what it’s called) that allowes you to ride animals of bigger size and pick a bird, you can fly on your beast companion and rain arrows rom above.

        Another fun thing to do is to turn the Bardic Knock spell on the players. Someone knocks on the door, a player opens and a dozen Orcs grin at the players. This does require the player to react with “I close the door.” or something along those lines.

  • ScreamingDoom

    The beginning of the video hit on something that has always confused me.

    If, as a DM, your adventure relies on the players getting some critical bit of information… why would you EVER allow the possibility of them failing to get that information? If they need to track the footprints, JUST HAVE THEM DO IT! No roll needed! Why is this so difficult?

    • Vincent Leo Burris

      It’s mostly to give that guy who put all that into tracking to feel like he is important. Like he says there will be a time when everyone just keeps failing and you have to do something like a map on a body, but most of the time the players will make the check. This adds to the flavor of the adventure and gives the party a sense of accomplishment.

    • Emperor_Z

      In nearly all aspects of the game, you don’t want the party to fail, but you want to challenge them. That risk of failure needs to be present, or there’s no purpose to the game.

    • Patrick Coyle

      One way to handle critical rolls like that is to have a bad roll not be a complete failure, but an inconvenient one – the party loses several hours regaining the trail, or they blunder into some other encounter.

      And sometimes it’s just a matter of seeing whether players can come up with their own solutions, especially in a setting with magic and gods that like to bargain and meddle. Like maybe going back over where they’d been to see if the person they’re following has dropped something, or going into town to locate and buy/steal something he might have handled, and using divination magic on it to follow them.

      The original track roll isn’t necessary then, but damn, it would have saved a lot of time and money.

  • Randall Bohannan

    HA! I did this once in a D&D session. When I was a kid, I remember watching an episode of “Get Smart” where the main protagonist “Maxwell Smart” needed to get into an apartment to rescue his girlfriend, being held kidnapped by Chaos agents. Having found the hideout, he just walks right up to the front door and knocks. The chaos agents say through the door, “Who is there?” and he simply replies “Its me”. They open the door and Max punches them both out in fast order. His boss later asks “how did you know they would answer the door?” and Max replies–“Me”, is somebody EVERYBODY knows”. How true, how true :P

  • Dan Schuett

    Another thing I’ve seen players and DMs fail to take advantage of is using social skills in combat. Bluff and Intimidate more than Diplomacy but they can still be used. Fake an injury to make an enemy recklessly charge in, hide a real injury to prevent the same, or just radiate confidence to make enemies hesitant to fight you. Even just talking to distract or anger an opponent so they make a mistake can make combat a lot more interesting.
    Example; in one group we had a dual wielding Rogue who’d do this frequently. In one instance he’d lost his off hand weapon while fighting an Orc and rather than try to retrieve it or just carrying on with combat as normal he said, “I flourish my blade and take up a dueling stance saying, ‘I only need one blade to best you beast.'”
    DM rolled (can’t remember if he treated it as Intimidation or Bluff) and on a success he gave the Orc a +1 to AC and a -1 to attack or something because the player had gotten him worried and he was fighting more defensively.
    As long as your DM isn’t playing enemies as mindless drones who do nothing but attack (unless they are mindless) this can be a lot of fun and add a new angle to combat.

  • Michael Shallenberger

    a friend of mine tried this on enemies that knew we were coming so he got stabbed through his hand through the door.

  • Laura Rola

    Reminds me of last week’s pathfinder session. I’m one of two Charisma based characters (I’m a sorceress/rogue, the other one is a bard). Our DM is starting to take the kid gloves off, finally, as I got thrown in jail for asking a suspicious question, and the bard nearly got killed for trying to pass himself off as a government agent to the corrupt town marshal, but our non-Charisma characters started to really shine in the role-playing aspect of the game. We took the whole four hour session to complete a quest that should have taken about an hour. So, DM gave us a level because we really played it up.
    I need to start out-Barding the bard with some of these suggestions now.

    • Das_Bass

      Find sand, throw it in somebodies face. Then you go to the ranger SHOOT HIM NOW!

  • marabackman

    Great stuff, once again! Some time after you posted the Counter Monkey episode about “Tandem’s last ride” I was invited to join a friend’s pirate-themed campaign. It was on very short notice, so I improvised a character more or less based on how you described Tandem. I made him a retired pirate chieftain, like an older Jack Sparrow past his prime. He was bored and wanted to get back into the game, so I played the character like a very experienced trickster-archetype who used his knowledge of sailor life, dirty fighting and general bullshitting to compensate for his advancing age. He was essentially a conniving and manipulative bastard, who knew how to impress young people with his reputation and how to make himself seem smarter and wiser than he actually was. It helped that the character had his Rapport skill at 5, which is the highest ranking one can have any skill in the FATE-system.

  • Randall Taylor

    I wanna see that dirty tricks list, cause the Bardic Knock is pure brilliance.

  • Matrim

    Heh, I used to use the “bardic knock” with my favorite monk character.

    My problem with the “I use diplomacy” stuff is that I’m just not all that social in my real life, so I’m not particularly good at doing it in role play. Sometimes I come up with stuff on the fly, but normally I end up slowing the game way down trying to think of how to do things. I generally play characters who are smarter than I am, that can be a problem. I tend to do a lot better in that respect with PBP games, if I have to to think and write out stuff, I’m pretty good. It’s when I’m on the spot that I’m not too hot.

  • Renaissance_nerd

    oh i do this all the time on my rogue, only i call it my bullshit spell. My Rogue BSed his way into a lords castle by stealing some peasant rags and claiming to be a part of the kitchen crew.

    another time we got a character rezzed by stealing some monks robes, dressing the corpse in them and BSing the monks into beveling the dead guy was a fallen monk who was murdered by some road bandits.

    as a player never never never underestimate the power of some good ol fashioned bullshit artist.

  • Sam Williams

    I’ve only ever been involved in one table top rpg and even then only for a few months, I really want to get back in but my uni life is really hectic and while there is a club most of the members are way more experienced than me and given the heavy book load on my course I just don’t have time.

    Anyway I was playing a charismatic thief the kind who forges, lies and befriends people to get to his target, I was the guy who always talked to the bar tender for gossip. The DM had set up a personal quest for my character based on his back story. I’d lost a locket in a fight and a fellow thief who could help me find it had just been caught.
    We ran into the prison and immediately had our backsides handed to us, by the time we cleared the first room we were all down on health and we knew there were more guards in the cell area. We all knew that if we went in and duked it out some if not all of us were going to die. Then our bard came up with a plan which he told us in a whisper so the DM got taken by suprise.

    Me and him stole a couple of the guards uniforms from the bodies and went to the cell block door. Then we got our fighters and mages (two of each) to go absolutely insane, smashing the desk throwing chairs, I think one of them threw a bottle of alchemists fire at us as we bolted through the door and slammed it behind us. They started attacking the door and slamming axes into it being all threatening and freaking the guards right the hell out. Me and the Bard start yelling that there’s a mob out there who have a vendetta against the prisoner and won’t leave without him. To them we are two guards covered in blood and heavily injured. We convinced them that the only way to survive was run out the back and leave the prisoner to die. When they did that we just walked him out the front door and legged it down the street.

  • Michos

    So many videos <3

  • Patrick Coyle

    I imagine a bard or wizard pulling out their travel-sized spellbooks and claiming to be encyclopedia salesmen, then dropping a Charm Person on whoever answers the door.

  • Patrick Coyle

    By the by, add me to the “please more Counter Monkey” column. I’m close to getting a new group together from friends and relatives I’ve introduced to your videos.

    One girl became interested in trying out tabletop gaming just from seeing the Squirtgun Wars and Tempus Thales taking a flask of acid to the face.

  • sergio Estilarte

    You make me want to start to play again

  • MFlorian

    The Bardic Knock Spell. That’s fucking brilliant. You get bonus EXP.

  • angela

    Bardic Knock Spell…I had to pause the video I was laughing so hard. That is fucking brilliant :D
    As for the socially charismatic, I had to be a charismatic ranger character once. Despite probably smelling like animal droppings I managed to wiggle my way into a prision escape route thanks to a little swing of the hips and ye-old-damsel-in-distress talk against “big-strong-men”. guess it helped that they were loaded, but still XD.
    And if all else failed I could have knocked his head into the wood. maximum strength can do wonders…

  • Shadowdancer21b
  • Shadowdancer21b

    I played a Bangaa Sohei who despite his mediocre charisma and Diplomacy skills talked the groups way through several layers of Oriental Amalgamated Hell. Good rolls, good talking by me. I’ll tell the story sometime.

  • Shadowdancer21b

    Wilderness Survival is used for the tracking rolls when you have the tracking feat.

  • Kyle Veihdeffer

    A story of my greatest bard lie:
    Our group was on its way to infiltrate the capital city of this highly militarized country. The only way in was to have a special pass, akin to the golden ticket to Wonka’s factory. In the town before the capital, I (stupidly) let slip the name of the guy we were working for and get us into massive touble.
    To get my group out of trouble I claimed to turn spy against our benefactor and told the mayor of the town we were in that our boss was gonna incite an uprising in the capitol and if he could get us a pass into the city, we could stop it. It worked and we were able to stroll into the capitol.
    Unfortunatly I don’t think the DM liked it very much cause nearly every attempt I’ve made sense then to use my social skills, he has been highly resistant to letting me get away with anything.

  • Yuki Fischer

    I love the bluff skill for that very reason; it provides some interesting opportunities to actually ROLEPLAY, which is what the game is all about. I always try my best to entertain my peers whenever such an opportunity arises, and I expect no less from any of them! People who don’t even try to roleplay are the worst.

  • James Miller

    Pissing myself in anticipation of the dirty tricks episode

  • Alexander Wood

    A way to fix a bad roll spree is to let people roll over and over until they get it, and just have the ranger take like 4 freaking hours to find it, and have them at a disadvantage in the upcoming fight.

  • Stephen Urbaniuk

    I remember playing a Cavalier in 2e where i bought a fancy cape which i would only wear when going into town after an encounter or mission. Quickly became the most popular person in the party (to NPCs) since i appeared to always return from the fiercest fights in decent condition compared to my friends. Also i remember trying to sell a bunch of goblin javelins by stating that “The crude construction here sir is only a disguise for the true effectiveness of the design! The rough barb tip makes it difficult to treat and the brittleness of the shaft makes it impossible for the enemy to retrieve it and return fire!” Sold 150 of the things XD

  • CGPshit

    This video has been up for a couple days. I’ld just like to say that in case you were trying to do a thing where the springboard shit was in waiting for this shit. Now I ain’t sayin’ this fucker was hanging out all obviously. But the way I saw it was when I watched the shit swimmin’ counter monkey. It was in the similar videos.

    Just keep doin’ super good pnp stories. For most folks it’ts better than actually getting a group together.

    I would like a rebuttal to that weirdo lordkat diatribe where he got super
    “inside baseball” with the whole internet reviewer shit.

    That shit seems a little too “on his side” as it’s standiing.

    Ye had that whole big blow out twitter thing that was absolutely taken into a higher proportion than you would’ve ever expected for a half boiled one-liner. You have to address that whole thing eventually. That entire thing is just going to be an elephant in the room until you address it.

  • Lybra

    I remember one campaign, it was actually our last 3.5 campaign before 4th edition came out. It was Gestalt set in the world of Final Fantasy VII. I had rolled up a Duskblade/Rogue and that dude stealthed and bluffed like a champ. Our first big mission was to infiltrate this Shinra power plant or something and detonate a generator, kind of like the first mission of the game, but not hopping straight off a train.
    So my guy sneaks in running aside a big truck, like a personnel carrier or something, meanwhile the rest of the party is faffing about outside. I sneak up on a dude, conk him out, and steal his uniform. Just when I think I’m safe to walk about freely with my new disguise, I get swept up in this tide of moving soldiers and get lead to a control tower for a meeting of some sort, I think they were preparing to mobilize because the rest of the party was basically prank calling the security depot outside. I slink my way to a panel and look for buttons to press. I find the door controls and activate them with a sleight of hand, then shout “THEY’VE BREACHED THE DOORS, SIR!” The soldiers storm out and I slink off again in the confusion.
    I make my way towards the generator, peek around a corner and see a couple soldiers guarding the entrance. So, I took a second to think before I came tearing around the corner shouting “Can’t you guys hear the chaos out there!? Avalanche is here, c’mon! We need reinforcements!” The guards look at each other a moment, turn back to me with rifles cocked and we start running back out together. As we went, I gradually slowed down and lagged behind them until they were far enough away, then I lobbed a grenade from the soldier’s uniform I stole in front of them, killing those guys. I swipe their grenades and make back for the generator thinking I’ll need the extra kaboom for it.
    I get to the generator and start setting up my explosives, when the DM tells me that with what I have I won’t be able to destroy the generator alone, I’ll need at least two other players’ allotments of explosives. I basically would have cleared the entire encounter by myself if it wasn’t for that just by thinking outside the box and being a sly bastard. Although, I did get to do the smug “What kept you?” line when the party finally caught up, so there’s that.

  • Matei Nicolaescu

    Word of advice Spoony, if you make a longer video we will look at it more times.

  • Wonderful_Person

    I can’t wait for the dirty tricks vid.

  • GunsmithKitten

    The most brilliant single bit of info in gaming, both as a player and GM, came from the original Paranoia RPG rulebook.

    “Put on a good show, and fate will smile upon you. Be boring and you’re DEAD”.

    This has always been the No.1 commandment in any of the games I GM.

  • Logion

    I love that picture you see before clicking play on the video. What a perfect expression Oreo has there.

  • Alexandre Martins

    Yeha, your new player isn’t working for me at all. It takes years to load, plays for 3 seconds, stops playing and takes years yet again to load. Rinse and repeat.

  • Adam Stackenland

    Noah forced me to go out and find a group of strangers sow I have someone to play with!

  • Adam Stackenland

    Noah forced me to go out and find a group of strangers sow I am able to play!

  • Sven Liebe

    With my group I think it’s somewhat hard to find the middleground between “just using a skill by rolling it” and “using a skill by roleplaying it out completely without rolling the dice”. The first one never happens but the second one is what most of our GMs go for and I don’t think it’s completely fair. I am not my character. I am not as good in bluffing as my character might be. In real life I am a bad liar, simply because I despise lying. So in roleplaying games what I say might not come across like a good bluff but it’s not how my character would say it, it is how the player says it. And because I fail, my character fails without even considering his skills…

    But I can see how the middleground is hard to accomplish too. Imagine you as player do a good job of bluffing, you are convincing and use good arguments. Then you roll the dice and it’s a fumble… While roleplaying the target of your bluff was completely following along but after the roll of dice he does a complete 180 and goes like “are you fucking with me?” all your arguments are now useless…

  • Vismutti

    There are a ton of ways to haggle. Obviously there’s the bullshitting and the indignation, as mentioned. But then there’s the good old charming. And sometimes even just being obviously hesitant might work. I’ve actually managed to accidentally haggle just because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy the thing or not and the stall vendor just started lowering the price on his own. And when I still wasn’t sure he lowered it even more. And more. Until I finally said yes. xD I honestly didn’t mean to haggle, I was just undecided. I guess I could have gotten it even lower if I actually tried.

    That’s just an example of how you don’t even need to be confrontational to get what you need. There are so many ways.

    Another good one is to study magicians and fortune tellers and how they trick people. Sometimes you can fool people into revealing a ton of information without even realizing they’re doing it.

    Oh, Sherlock Holmes from BBC’s Sherlock (okay it might have been in the original books too, I haven’t read them all so I wouldn’t know) had a pretty good one too: he wanted a woman to tell him about her husband so he pretended to know the husband and just talked about the husband’s affairs without even trying to be correct. The wife automatically corrected him, confused about this strange guy pretending to be her husbands friend. So Sherlock got her to say everything he wanted to know, just because of the compulsive need humans have to correct incorrect statements.

  • Jared Michael Anjewierden

    I actually had an opportunity to try something like this in my 4th edition DnD game last night. We were trapped behind a locked door, with the mechanism on the other side, too far above a hole to reach normally. Now, I play a changeling Hexblade (and the party’s designated lock-picker) and our heavy hitter is a pixie fighter. (Who can’t pick locks) We knew there was a bunch of Ettercaps in the room, and that these kind had an insanely high propensity to stun us repeatedly. (We’re level 4 with at most five magic items between us all) So what do we do? The Pixie ‘rides’ my hand which I turn into a snake looking thing and elongate the arm enough to reach the lock, which she guides my hand too. (and I rolled a 30 on my bluff check) We botched the sneak checks (plan A) but they were so confused as to what on earth was going on they just stood there. Then, to add insult to injury (and give me some darkness to work with) I put the ‘snake’ back through an ‘spat’ an Eldritch Bolt at one of the room’s magical lanterns. At that point they tried to hack it off, but only two of them, so we promptly burst through the door and dropped them before the rest really knew what was going on.

  • Justin Booker

    ♫♪♫ It’s the bard knock life for us. ♪♫♪

  • Daemian_Lucifer

    One problem with roleplaying a good bard(or any cha based character)is that you can overshadow the rest of your group if they are more fight oriented.Youll end up doing practically the whole adventure with the gm,and the rest of the group will get bored and hate you.Of course,if the gm is good,he will incentivise the rest to roleplay as well.

  • Rosemary CG

    The fact that Oreo is sacked out on your lap for most of it amused me greatly.

  • Phillip Smith

    When will we get more pathfinder dnd? The game was just hitting it’s interesting point with everyone hitting level 2.

  • Arthur Randall

    one good trick is to have a character with desert garb (e.g white robe and head wrap) have the inside of the robe meshed with fine silk and make him have a beard. Wenever you want to disaper all you have to do is turn your clother inside out and remove the head wrap (as people will have only seen the part of your face with the beard) then shave off the beard then the only thing that any guards and mercenerys have to go on is a voice and i dought whoevers looking for the character is gonna do impressions of you to all his lakeys. That way they will only be loking for a guy with a beard and desert robes so you can make a clean get away

  • Robert Trueblood

    If you’ve ever read “the name of the wind”, the main character is awesome at this. If you haven’t, you should.

  • Alexander Thomas

    As a DM and a writer for RPG’s, I wouldn’t leave a plot specific ecounter like that down to a roll. I would let the players work it out without needing the dice. For example, someone stole my stuff, well it may very well be local thieves, where is the nearest town where I can pick up information and see where they would pawn/sell these items.

  • Alexander Thomas

    Ohh, to add, I gave up on D&D a little while ago. I used to play with a pretty good group that was very RP orientated. However, going to more and more cons to promote my stuff I tried to play a few games with groups who only wanted to kill stuff and get loot and actually got offended when you tried to rp your character.

  • Seraph~♥

    Do you have any good books of settings for 3.5/4E D&D? I’d love to make a campaign in an elaborate setting but I often fall short of making up good flavor text and descriptions of things and places…

    • Jared Michael Anjewierden

      I only have 4th edition, but here are some of them: Neverwinter Campaign Setting, Menzobranzan: City of Intrigue, (City of the Drow in the Underdark) The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond, (My personal favorite) and to a lesser or greater extent; The Plane Above, The Plane Below, Manual of the Planes, and Halls of the Undermountain, though those are focused on areas much bigger than a single city or area. There are also Campaign Guides for Dark Sun, Ebberon, and Forgotten Realms, oh and Hammerfast and Vor Rukoth are a bit smaller books of adventure settings.

      • Jared Michael Anjewierden

        ….Actually, that might be all of them in print. There is a bit more online, but not as substantive.

  • Faust

    Spoony you seem almost more focused and able to speak very well. I am glad to see the medication is working.

  • Das_Bass

    I just found my character sheet from when I almost had a game going. I picked Rouge class and was pulling it off as the fast moving, smooth talking, stealthy guy who was good with a lock tumbler and the crossbow or if I had to a short sword. So yeah, I’m not that kind of thief.
    I had a Dex of 19 and a Cha of 17. I put my skills to start in bluff, clime, listen, open lock, tumble, knowledge (street) Intimidate and that’s all I can remember off the top of my head. I think my Str was a bit low along with Wis being I think 15. I assumed the high Dex meant I’d be almost always ( with good dice) the first to win the IN. And that I’d be able to move around the big guys ans dodge things ( something I’d want with what I remember being a low St)
    I’m rambling on but point is I wanted to kinda play it out like Spoony is saying. Maybe I should have picked Bard over Rouge or a fast talking guy with a lot of charm.

    • MFlorian

      Rouge class? Was Knuckles already taken?

      • Das_Bass

        as in brass knuckles? No. Would I be better off using my fists or a short sword over a crossbow? Keep in mind this is 3.5 and I’ve never played before, so I’m bound to play it like a noob.

        • Charred Newt

          No, he was correcting your spelling: it’s Rogue, not Rouge. Anyway, with high Dex a ranged weapon is the best choice.

          • Das_Bass

            I swear some times I think I’m dyslexic. I figured as much. I wanted my guy to be the male Annie Oakley of Crossbows. Never talking about it much since where he lived every other day somebody would challenge him and his skills to the point that when he left home to follow….w/e it matters not.Point is I like crossbows.

      • Turkey OnAStick

        Ugh, highlighting the rouge/rogue spelling mistake is bad enough, but referencing modern Sonic characters like Rouge? BLEUGHGHH!

  • Eldahast Incant Mitte

    I love your Counter Monkey serier. I’ll never be bored by your RPG stories. You’re a great story teller.

  • Turkey OnAStick

    So bards are capable of one-hit (undefended) knockouts on a guard?
    That’d be like a weedy guy trying to get past a beefy bouncer at a nightclub by punching him.

    • Amesang

      I just recently had an actual bard pull of the “bardic knock spell” due to him picking up Improved Unarmed Strike (so he could kick guys while rocking out on guitar). “I hit? Ha, alright, roll for damage… w00t! One point! Yeah…”

  • ben.telford

    This exact thing just happened within the game I’m playing right now. Some guy was a literal clown; a knock off of the joker who was a super crazy, bomb throwing, over-powered, trench coat badass. He kept taking all the kills, fighting NPCs before the talking is done, and generally over-stepping his bounds at the expense of the story.

    So eventually the DM got tired of him showing off. An ent comes onto the scene, and the clown inevitably tries to stab him in the back whilst he’s talking. When that fails, (and the DM made pretty damn sure it would fail), the ent picked the character up and threw him over the horizon. Haven’t seen that guy since.

  • Jon Sukanen

    This is why i always just make story as i go with the game group im DM:ing for. But for that to work you have to have a great on the go imagination. been DM:ing for 8 years now.

  • Freddy Duran


    • Driscol

      “Why isn’t the horse stopping?”
      “I gave it some meth, WILDCARD BITCHES! Yeehaw!”


    This remined me of a the last game I was in. we has 2 rouges rouge/mage a warrior, clearic and I played a ranger. We were playing as Pirates and needed to get a charter. So we waited until night to scale the wall. The rouges keep on fauiling their stealth rolls. rolling 1 or 2’s making it so we had to fight the guards at the front door. After a good battle we killed them, to find the front door fucking locked. So the rouges tried to pick the lock but keep fauiling at it. After a little while I had my person walk over to the front door guard to search his corpes for a key to the door. No one even thought of it until after I found the key. It made the DM pretty happy.

  • shadowKeegan

    This remined me of a the last game I was in. we has 2 rouges rouge/mage a warrior, clearic and I played a ranger. We were playing as Pirates and needed to get a charter. So we waited until night to scale the wall. The rouges keep on fauiling their stealth rolls. rolling 1 or 2’s making it so we had to fight the guards at the front door. After a good battle we killed them, to find the front door fucking locked. So the rouges tried to pick the lock but keep fauiling at it. After a little while I had my person walk over to the front door guard to search his corpes for a key to the door. No one even thought of it until after I found the key. It made the DM pretty happy. But after watching these video’s I am getting a much better idea on how to play my characters. just need to find a group. last one I was in disbanded

  • Jim Thorpe

    spoony please get and review Dungeon World. You’ll fucking love it.

  • Alan Rizkallah

    I was a terrible player when I played D&D… which was when AD&D 2nd Edition was the most recent. I leaned too frequently into the goofy direction and just couldn’t take it serious enough to maintain composure for a decent amount of time to make it an intriguing enough experience for everyone else. Some of my friends were no different. We just get going and can’t settle down to concentrate on playing the game. I get what you’re saying though, Spoony. Some people need a bit of a nudge to start ad-libbing if they even can. No me though, I can ad-lib at the drop of a hat whether it’s coherent or not… ANOTHER reason I’m a terrible player. HAHA!!

    I think I’d have to just observe a game session in progress that doesn’t involve me or anyone I know playing, hahaha!

  • Vanvidum

    Currently I’m in a Pathfinder campaign, playing a wizard that rolled obscenely high stats at character creation. It’s been a creative challenge to play a wizard that also has high charisma–There’s no common archetype for a fantasy wizard that’s also an observant people-person.

    Seeing as how this wizard is also an Enchanter, it adds a whole new layer to bluffing, haggling, or even just distraction. So far I’ve been treating charm, compulsion, and illusion as something the party always has in reserve in case mundane methods fail–Here you’ve pointed out that the breadth of “mundane methods” can be pretty damn wide.

    I can’t wait for the dirty tricks video, you’ve already given me so many terrible and wonderful ideas with this one.

    • Driscol

      I thought high charisma was common for spell casters. I usually play as a sorcerer in D&D and know nothing about pathfinder so maybe that’s a huge different but I always figured a lower level spellcaster would want to avoid fights whenever possible, at least close ranged head on fights which is where bluffing usually seems like the best option.

      • Vanvidum

        Sorcerers (and Oracles in PF) cast off of charisma, so it’s expected that it’d be their best stat. Clerics also have a use for it, even if wisdom is most important. Wizards on the other hand typically dump charisma, because the class just doesn’t use charisma-based skills or special abilities often or at all. Intelligence is most important, and everything else is secondary or unimportant.

        It was just unusual that when I was creating the character that I rolled well on ability scores. Now, I didn’t go for the “best” min-maxed build I could have even so. I put my three highest scores in intelligence, charisma, and wisdom–Which at level 4, and after the human racial bonus were all 18 or higher. His mental stats are pretty obscene, which makes me joke about how he can kill people with his brain.

        I wanted to try playing a different sort of wizard, and the stats I rolled were a great opportunity to do just that. The character doesn’t fit the stereotype of the typical RPG fantasy wizard at all–He’s a handsome 20-year-old smooth talker that’s just as happy to be trading funny stories in a tavern with local farmers as he is quietly delving into a book, or debating philosophy among scholars. The challenge has been incorporating the weaknesses such a character would have–Not quite arrogance, but rather a lack of experience and sense that things are naturally just as easy for everyone. He’s also the type that hasn’t had much practice in dealing with failure, so when things don’t work out the way they ‘should’, he gets quite frustrated.

  • Lukas Hägg

    One of my favourite characters I’ve played was Dir, a dhampir rogue type character. I did everything I could to add to my bluff skill and ended up with 40+ base on my bluff checks. I had gone over this with my GM and I’d looked at the Epic Handbook which stated that on high enough DCs bluff could be used to achieve results of a lesser geas, which was what I was aiming for.

    He was so much fun to play. Though I played him right out of the campaign since if I wanted to roleplay my character properly, eventually I had to backstab the party. We had a ship that could travel on the astral sea, and each of us had a brooch which would let the wearer immediately teleport to the ship. Earlier in the campaign we got hold of a ring of three wishes, which of course I held onto. Because I was trustworthy I guess.

    Anyway, eventually shit went down and my character felt like it was time to ditch these crazy people and join up with the necromancer who threw T-rexes at people (another PC that deserted). So I stole another party members brooch while they were fighting said dinosaurs the necromancer left behind. I used the brooch to get onto the ship, then wished for every such brooch in existence so the party couldn’t follow me. Then I used the ring again to get me to wherever the necromancer went, leaving the ship stranded in the astral sea with all the brooches and the two world chakras we had collected.

    If you’re gonna backstab, best do it with style.

  • CronoT

    “Alex, you STOLE a house!”

    “Get the fuck outta here! How do you steal a house…?”

    My favorite bluffing moment from Beverly Hills Cop II is when Alex bluffs out Gilbert Gottfried as The Accountant, let’s himself be bribed for $200 for fake tickets, and THEN donates the money “anonymously” AS The Accountant. Pure genius.

  • Jonathan Waterstraat

    I’m proud to say that my master thief in Exalted is partially based on Axel Foley and has often pulled off the exact sort of things you are talking about in this video.

  • asshole mcbunns

    candy gram with poison candy

  • Jonel Burge

    “Can you do 10 on this?”
    “Do you have a better price for it?”
    “I can’t do 30 on that, can you do lower?”
    Flea Markets. Yes, flea markets, are where I learned how to haggle IRL. You’ll get better at haggling as things go on, but it’s one of the few places where you can still negotiate the prices for things. The insulting part doesn’t have to be overt, but the “Can you do ___ on this?” is the line I use most often. It’s not rude or showy, and it’s showing that you’re still willing to pay for it.

  • likalaruku

    For some reason I imagined trying to bluff a guard with an apple pie & a fork.

  • Renan Perine

    It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve played D&D and I’m surprised that people to ‘I roll whatever skill’ instead of coming up with a little blurb. I feel kinda old when I think that those things were the motive I played.

  • Joliet Jane

    Alas, some of us want to play witty and clever characters because we’re not like that in real life. If my bard needs to bluff, or if my ranger needs to figure out how survive in a forest, I might not know how to do that, but the character does. It’s boring, but sometimes it turns out that way. :-/

  • Michael Sunseri

    a friend of mine actually did something like this except he striped naked and sold rocks he claimed to be cookies to an evil wizard

  • Mavros St. John

    I love using creativity in Campaigns. A while ago, my party (me being the Rouge(not thief) and professional intruder) was walking through a forest, looking for a Bard with a Paintbrush that can create items in the real world (yes…just like Epic Mickey…) and we found what would be considered the CREEPIEST OUT OF PLACE TOWN EVER!!! There, in the middle of a Elven forest, is a 50’s style town, with constantly smiling villigers. We were looking for a Paintbrush in a town that is scared of images of any type, even making the Cleric hide his Holy Symbol. We were invaded to a “Dinner” to the “head leader’s” house. The First thing I said to the Butler, because he’s in a mansion, “May I see my sitting for the Dinner, Sir?” Being nice and currious sounding. My story for the guy, rolling a bluff check is that I can’t eat without first seeing my silverware’s condition, getting the Bluff check. I pick up the spoon, and I can’t see my reflection in the shiny surface, a classic sign of an Illusionary spell.
    The Butler (and the DM to an extent) was wondering what I was up to, saying, “Is there anything wrong with the tableware, sir?”
    I turn to him, getting a sneak attack critical, shoving the spoon into his eye, killing him with pure shock of the moment.
    I say, “It was a little dingy…” getting a good intimidation check on the rest of the creepy villagers, pulling a bow and arrow with a free action, “Now…where is the Bard…”
    I pushed that Campaign along by a good session using a spoon…

  • Darren Christopher Grant-Hall

    We as a roleplaying group whenever we want to use a diplomatic skill will role the dice first, see the result, then roleplay the result to the best of the abilities. You may get bonuses/minuses based on how well you describe it.

    It’s good fun, and it stops the “I hold my blade up to the mans throat, “your money or your life”” roles a 1…
    The sniveling peasant starts laughing at you with your blade to his throat, and declines and wishes you a nice day.

  • vorpalanvil

    This is why I run 2nd ed. No rolling for ridiculous skills like bluff or streetwise. Want to be a charismatic person or bs’er, roleplay it. I will happliy take your acting ability into account. The main thing is that you are “roleplaying” and not rollplaying.

  • BronzeDog

    I had completely forgotten about the Bardic Knock spell Brilliant stuff. On the next occasion I play, I’ll make a note to please the DM by asking about rumors. Think I’ll also consider giving my favorite sorcerer Intimidate and add some magical light shows to back up his threats.

  • He that knows

    After watching Counter Monkey I now have a desire to play a table top rpg. Too bad I can’t find anyone to play with. I do have one question about DnD: What’s a paladin? ( I know thats a cheap joke but sometimes those are the best)

  • Seth Henderson

    i tried that exact same thing, with the boa, and the dm stopped me anyways… it was stupid and aggravating

  • Matthew Lane

    Haggelling is a dead art, but its really a lot of fun. I love going to swap meets for just that reason: Swap meet vendors are one of the few groups left in the western world still willing to haggel. A lot of it has to do with leverage & nothing says leverage like buying in bulk.

  • Jean-Francois Glaude

    I started a Warhammer Fantasy roleplay 2nd edition campaign (The enemy within campaign) with 3 friends recently and one of the NPC (A french Gambler named Philippe descartes) stayed with the group and i used the tips given in this video….. “How do you open the door?” I saw the “Ohhhh sh!t” expression on the fighters face …. I … uh …. search for traps …..” At one point I stepped in with the Gambler (I play him as a Jack Sparrow type) and did the Bard knock spell ….. The group loved the bit ….. Thanks Spoony for these videos !!!

  • Jonathan Vaughn

    My two favorite stories that involve Bluff

    The first story is completely stupid, but, sue me, it was fun. We were playing a non-good campaign and I had a fun game going with the barkeep at the inn were our quest giver was. Every time I went in I found a new way to mess with this guy.
    My best prank was after we had just gotten back from a late night mission. It was just before the bar and kitchen opened so no one else was there. I had the party wait outside, went up to him and said that our female Barbarian (who, for some reason, he was really smitten with) was waiting for him out back. He bought it and went out the back door right behind the bar. I quickly hopped the bar, quietly locked the back door, signaled the others to come in, and locked the front doors as well locking him out. We then went into the basement where our quest giver was located (without the barkeeps knowledge I might add), and fortunately there was a secret passage out so I didn’t have to deal with the barkeep on the way back up. However when he confronted me later, I told him there was another man who looked just like me, and that if he ever saw him he should let me know right away. He said that he would.

    This second story is probably my best moment in gaming thus far. In another game we were transporting a mysterious crate from point A to point B. I was the “party face,” and I knew, in character, that we were eventually going to be attacked for this crate so I started coming up with a plan. After a while we came up on a group of mercs standing in the middle of the road. They outnumbered us and we hadn’t had time to rest before we had to get going, due to a time constraint. I stopped the wagon, told the guard captain to follow my lead, and I called out to them to state their business. Then began the conversation of my life.
    I had to succeed on no less than fifteen Diplomacy and Bluff checks as I talked to them. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I convinced them that I was the rightful owner of the cargo (even though they had been told different), and that their employer was not only not going to pay them, but planned on the thing inside the crate they were supposed to open killing them. As they left I also convinced them to warn other mercenaries not to take this deal as it would cost them their lives. The rest of the campaign was a disaster but that moment will always be one of my favorites.

  • David Baer

    I had a character named Michael Spalding, I pulled him out of thin air in about 30 minutes and he became my favorite character. A friend invited me to join a World of Darkness game with a unique setup: we all started as regular humans and everybody had one major and one minor derangement chosen by the GM. So this GM who has never met me before decides to go easy, and gives me Obsessive-Compulsive and Verbalization. My character hates things that aren’t perfectly organized, and thinks out loud without realizing it.

    Then I got the idea for Michael Spalding. He was a child prodigy and super-genius, rich, charismatic, attending MIT at the age of 17 when he was in a car accident and took a nasty blow to the head. Now his ability to concentrate is shattered, and his social skills in the toilet. Stat-wise he had mental resistance, quick healer, and 4 dots in Composure. He was meant to be super-resilient to Vampire mental effects because certain parts of his brain simply weren’t there.

    So we get into the campaign and our group is broken out of a mental hospital by a Vampire hunter who wants to use our second-sight in her fight against a prince in Chicago. We’re sent to the city, which has been overrun and the population decimated, and we end up in Elysium with the prince. We tell the prince he has to come with us, but it soon becomes clear that we have no hope of beating him, in fact we’ll be lucky to escape with our lives. The prince haughtily tells us to turn tail and run away, and maybe he’ll let us go.

    As we’re about to leave, something occurs to Michael Spalding (and me of course). The Vampire hunter KNEW we didn’t stand a chance, but she sent us anyway. And for the first time since I created him, he gets angry. I didn’t really plan it, it just made sense at the time: he was such a goofy character all the time but that was because he had learned to suppress his pride.

    Figuring it couldn’t hurt anything, he turned around and marched right up to the Vampire prince’s throne. He placed his hands on the throne on either side of the prince and whispered in his ear, “I have 1.2 liters of nitroglycerin in a pouch in my stomach. Either you leave with us right now, or we all die in a massive fireball.”

    It was the greatest RP moment I’ve ever had. Everyone just stopped dead, then I rolled composure and spent a point of willpower to boost it, and got an insane roll, I think it was 9 successes. The prince flopped, getting 3 successes on 7 dice. He went with us.

    Of course the GM was peeved that I threw her campaign plan out the window (He was supposed to get the hint and come see the Vampire hunter, at which point an alliance would be struck to take down a rival prince) but I was happy. The funny thing is, when I tried the bluff I didn’t know that Fire is a vampire’s greatest weakness. I (and thus Michael) only learned that after the fact.

  • Wade Seewald

    still wait for the dirty tricks video

  • Daniel Tilson

    I think it would be awesome to, when the guy says “None shall pass” or something, have the bard launch into Spoony’s epic “I’m the god damn Avatar!” rant from his UW1 review.

  • Daniel Tilson

    “Someone who’s going to kill you won’t knock on the door.”
    Oh really?

    *Knock knock*

    “Sarah Connor?”




  • kamrom dechu

    When you know you’re about to be ambushed. “Okay, I give up. I surrender. I can’t beat you guys.”
    Suddenly, you’ll know where at least one of your ambushers was hiding.

  • Daniel Tilson

    One of my old parties liked to spread out so that even big AOE spells could only hit one of us.. So the DM implemented the Spin the bottle rule. Unless whoever was using the AOE was really annoyed at a certain character, the DM would randomly determine who it was shot at first.

  • Daniel Tilson

    I like the barbarian Knock spell.

    Knock the door off its hinges on top of the guy behind it and walk in.

  • kamrom dechu

    I was thinking about htis.. Could you use a bluff roll to tirkc your enemies in a really humiliating way? Like.. You tell them your whole, real plan, but intentionally bluff badly, so they think you’re lying?

    • Daniel Tilson

      No, though they might think you’re lying anyway because, what idiot tells the enemy his plan?

  • William Pelletier

    Orea cracked me up in this video :) She’s always cute but this time I looked up and she was staring right at me! Then later she turns and glares at the camera again. Can she see me??? I’M FREAKING OUT!!! :-P

  • Amesang

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched this video, primarily because for the last, big campaign I played in I played as a chaotic-evil (but not chaotic-stupid) sorceress named Quintessa who was very vain, conceited, self-centered, and very much one who was silver-tongued; the kind of saucy lass who enjoys corrupting and tricking otherwise good folk into working for her (she loved the fact that she could rob and steal at will, albeit against other villains, and have the townsfolk praise her for it). Hell, if she can convince a paladin of all people to fight alongside her and soak up damage then she must have been doing something right. Of course that’s also why she picked up a “ring of mind shielding,” as it deflects annoying spells like Discern Lies, Detect Thoughts, and Detect Evil. Despite her alignment, however, I made it quite clear that she wasn’t going to backstab any of the meatshields, I mean, members of the party. After all the nicer she is to them, the more they’ll do for her; if she’s a total bitch, she’ll just end up with even more enemies to deal with. As such she secretly thought of everyone as nothing more than pawns for her grand schemes — with a Wisdom of 15, an Intelligence of 17, and a Charisma of 21 she’d better damn well be careful and calculating.

    (It’s also why I often watched Noah’s “So You Want To Be Evil” video as that applies, as well; I just can’t see Quintessa as anything BUT chaotic-evil, but also as the kind who will wait as long as she has to before putting her “world domination” plans into order. She can’t be lawful, though, because any form of law or order hinders her personal freedoms and she’s, perhaps, a bit too spontaneous to be disciplined in anything outside of spellcasting and dressing gorgeously.)

    I actually pray for the moment when Quintessa can go up to a group of guards and bluff her way through, since she not only gives off an aura of one who is noble but actually dresses the part with all of the proper clothes; she’s even forsaken trail rations for a basket full of fresh bread, meat, and cheese. It also contains two wine bottles: one filled with the finest of the natural stuff, the other filled with acid crafted from her Alchemy skill… the idea being that if the party ever had to assassinate someone she could bluff her way in and get the target liquored up with the first bottle before getting him to drink from the second. Not that it would do THAT much damage, but if he’s a spellcaster than I imagine casting spells would be more difficult after guzzling down some acid, no?

    • Tab

      That glass of acid thing is brilliant. I might have to try that; I run a changeling rogue and that’d be right up her alley.

  • Avenger93

    “They go near the water and then Nessie jumps out. See, good things come out of this”
    Spoony you have a weird definition of good things

    • Daniel Tilson

      Good things for the DM. ^_^

      Also good opportunities for Roleplay.

      Barbarian: “I draw my greataxe and charge the horrid beast!”

      Ranger: “I whip out my bow and fire an arrow into its eye!”

      Wizard: “I shit myself!”

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