Setting Obs and Consequences for Speeches

I’m having a bit of the chicken and the egg problem with this - even for short speeches. As a GM, I would ideally like to hear the speech first before I set the parameters of the test. I have to hear what’s being said in order to decide things like appropriate FoRKs and appropriate consequences, and sometimes even what skill to use and ob to set.

But. From a player’s perspective, I don’t want to give a speech - even a short one - for nothing if I decide I don’t like the consequences and decide retroactively not to give it.

How do people handle this problem? Or is it not a problem and I’m just making it one? (I do that.)

I set and Ob and consequences, then have the player speak, and then dice are mustered.

I just had a situation where I did that, then heard the speech, and then decided that the consequence was super lame in the context of what the player had just said (which I wasn’t quite expecting). Have you ever had that happen?

What Stormy said, with particular attention paid as to whether their FoRKs really came into play.

What stormy said, indeed. Set the Ob and failure result, roleplay the speech, decide which Skill was used and which FoRKs were played into the speech. Roll dice.

How specific was your consequence? You shouldn’t change it outright, but it’s fair to tweak it a bit based on RP and FoRKs.

You could always dangle an advantage die or two in front of the player, but they really should not depend on how good a speech the player makes. That would be going against the spirit of the game, to me - it’s the character’s skill that matters, not the player’s.

Another thing I would do is make sure the intent is clear when setting the Ob, and not let the player change that intent by veering the speech off in another direction. In that case, I’d pause his speech and discuss his intent with him, possibly setting a new Ob.

Some skill tests I allow waffling out of, others I don’t. I’ll tell the players up front before an Ob and consequences of failure are declared if they have the option to waffle out of the test or not. Usually not.

In cases where I felt I really needed to hear the speech to get a good grasp of the consequence of failure and Ob, I might just tell them that, and once the speech is delivered, no waffling. As long as everything’s fair and up-front, I don’t think anybody would call foul.

The failure consequence of one speech my drunk PC made in a game was that I bored everyone by waffling on. While still speaking I rolled the dice and I continued my speech for a few extra minutes after they turned up traitors. I do believe I got a FP for that.

It wasn’t that the intent was unclear or that the speech veered off the intent, but there was something about the way he worded things that made me go “Ohhhh, you know what’d be REALLY good here…” but then I’d already issued a consequence. A GM’s version of buyer’s remorse, I suppose.

The way I handled it (which Colin will probably consider too nice) is to wait for the roll and, if failure was the order of the day, spring my alternate consequence and let the player choose. That seemed to work pretty well and, admirably, the player chose the one that worked better for the story than the one that worked better for him.

Here’s something I learned from 3 years of playing Primetime Adventures that carries over very nicely:

  1. Player says something (conversation, speech, whatever). At some point, I realize they’re angling for a result or something is on the line.

  2. I wait for a good pause point in what they’re saying and I ask, “What’s your goal here?” Usually something like this, “So, are you trying to convince them to help, make a good impression, or is this just a distraction?” and we clear it up.

For BW, we now have Intent. Based on what was said, we usually have Task and a specific skill as well. And then I lay out consequences.

  1. Once I know what the goal is, we break out the rules. If the player wants to add some onto their speech, they go ahead and do so. (PTA doesn’t have Advantage Dice, but if it’s BW, this is where I add Advantage dice if they haven’t already earned them).


I use the same steps as Chris when playing Burning Wheel.

Word. Thanks guys. :slight_smile: