I signed up to these new forums coming back into the Happy Jacks forum sphere because I wanted to comment on this episode.
Social Skills: Adam touched briefly on what would be my argument. Much like attack descriptions I like when players describe what they are saying, in my mind the roll result determines how the NPC takes the social encounter.
I am reminded of the nearly Oscar nominated Liar Liar movie with Jim Carrey. When Fletcher's horrible boss found out he can't lie, she dragged him into the Lawyer Partner's meeting and asked him what he thought of the big Partner boss trying to get him fired. Of course poor Fletcher had to recite how he felt without filter in front of everyone. Calling the big Partner boss all sorts of horrible things. But obviously the player Jim Carrey rolled a natural 20 on his diplomacy check because instead of being insulted the boss laughs his ass off and yells "I love a good roast!" And the situation turns out positive for Fletcher.
I run combat the same way. I asked the player to describe their combat attack roll, the roll itself determines whether or not the attack hits, not the description of the attack.
Social situations don't have to be any different. Let the player describe what their character says, and the roll is how the NPC responds. That way any player even socially awkward players can play face characters, and all they have to do is describe what they are saying, and let the dice fall where they may for how the NPC results.
I feel fortunate as a Dad of two small children that I can host game nights at my house. I have a player in my group who also has a kid who is around the same age as my oldest, so he brings his spawn over and the two oldest kids fight with each other in another room while we play.
Also Stu, I don't really want Scarlet Letter myself as a gamer. Then again many of my t-shirts are gaming related:
"Chaotic Good: Doing the right thing even if it means I have to kill everyone in the process"
"I'm only here for the XP"
<Graphic: bloody d20 showing 1> "Pass me another character sheet"
"The dice giveth the dice taketh away"
"Dungeon Master's Union"
Plus Augmented Reality is on the way: eye contacts or brain chips that allow us to be able to look at someone and see all their social media activity.