[I started this as a comment in
‘s blog, but continuing it here.]
OK, let's come at it from a slightly different direction, gameplay. What about Diplomacy and Bluff and Intimidate? I never quite feel that they work. We've had discussions about player ability vs. PC ability, and that somewhat enters into it. I'm not so sure those skills should be (and I'm thinking out loud here) straight skills.
Let me see if I can explain what I mean by that. Do skills adequately address the abilities of negotiation? I know that you can use Bluff and Intimidate in combat, but we rarely do. I'm not sure that those are the same skills. You might be cunning and tricky in combat, but when it comes to talking to the Hakima without losing your cool, you might not be so suave. Does that make sense? I still don't know that much about maneuvers and stances, although it seems really interesting. Bluff and Intimidate in combat might well be addressed as part of maneuvers. I think about Ari and her deft and dancing swordsmanship in this context. If she had had access to maneuvers, J could've modeled the sort of Errol Flynn swashbuckler that Ari is in my mind.
On the other hand, I wanted Raef to be decent in combat, but to excel in B, I & D, and he never really did because DONNA sux at those things. I still feel my PC got penalized for my personal shortcomings. I do not, however, want the DM to have to finess it and say, Well, you made your Diplomacy roll, so you say the perfect right thing. Or maybe I do. Still conflicted on that one. Still, there has to be a better system.
Now, a lot of what
said (here) about the ability to roleplay in 4e makes sense. But it's still not there.
I've said a whole lot of nothing. I think I can't get my head around how you would do RP in a better way. Social encounters is probably a better term. How do you simulate them?
Hmm, White Wolf games come to mind. I may look up in the one WW book I have and see how they do it.