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Evilschemer

Stand-offs

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Sorry, wasn't meaning to criticize your past GM-ing, just suggesting an alternative approach for the future.

You wouldn't have to take 4 hours over a 4-hour negotiation. "OK, 4 hours later, they're still there asking you to disarm." would handle it. If the lawmen can be relieved by others in shifts, rinse and repeat until the player-characters fail Fatigue/CON rolls... All in 5 mins of game play.

Frankly though, I'd think - in fact I'd hope! - lawmen would have far less patience with obviously uncooperative weapon-wearing bravos. At some point, they'd instruct the 'bad guys' not to draw, and then draw their own weapons. Some lawmen would then approach and remove the players' weapons while others gave cover. The first player so foolish as to draw in those circumstances would become the 'Evil Doiley', as above - and deserve it. Even though just accessories, they ARE still party to a murder!

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Have you ever heard of "peace-bonding"?

Oh, and in real life, if you don't put the weapon down you usually get shot multiple times from many angles. When a cop tells you to lower your weapon, real or not, you better damn well do so.

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Have you ever heard of "peace-bonding"?

Oh, and in real life, if you don't put the weapon down you usually get shot multiple times from many angles. When a cop tells you to lower your weapon, real or not, you better damn well do so.

Read it again, no weapons were drawn. All weapons were holstered. Everyone was calm.

The setting is a fantasy-sci-fi-western setting, so the "authorities" was the local baron in charge of a small western town, equivalent to a town mayor with a gang of henchmen (Brian Dennehey in Silverado, Gene Hackman in the Quick and the Dead). The murder victim was an associate of the "town boss". The PCs were lying to cover for their buddy, who was nowhere to be seen. But, essentially, a wild west "Town Boss" and his henchmen telling some suspicious dudes "Surrender your weapons and come with me. I'd like to talk to you privately."

The PC response was "We'll come with you to talk privately, but we won't surrender our weapons."

NPC response, "That's unacceptable. Surrender your weapons, come on, let's go."

PC, "You'll have to kill me first."

NPC, "I don't want to kill you."

PC, "And I don't want to kill you."

Etc. etc.

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Read it again, no weapons were drawn. All weapons were holstered. Everyone was calm.

The setting is a fantasy-sci-fi-western setting, so the "authorities" was the local baron in charge of a small western town, equivalent to a town mayor with a gang of henchmen (Brian Dennehey in Silverado, Gene Hackman in the Quick and the Dead). The murder victim was an associate of the "town boss". The PCs were lying to cover for their buddy, who was nowhere to be seen. But, essentially, a wild west "Town Boss" and his henchmen telling some suspicious dudes "Surrender your weapons and come with me. I'd like to talk to you privately."

The PC response was "We'll come with you to talk privately, but we won't surrender our weapons."

NPC response, "That's unacceptable. Surrender your weapons, come on, let's go."

PC, "You'll have to kill me first."

NPC, "I don't want to kill you."

PC, "And I don't want to kill you."

Etc. etc.

Did they really say this one? Because it implies they could kill the baron, in front of his men.

At this point, violence would have shifted to "logical choice" for the NPC in question, at least in my games.

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Did they really say this one? Because it implies they could kill the baron, in front of his men.

At this point, violence would have shifted to "logical choice" for the NPC in question, at least in my games.

Unfortunately, this thread somehow became about the incident that inspired my thinking about stand-offs, not how to handle intractable non-violent (but with the implication of possible violence) stand-offs more in general. I didn't really mean to talk about the original incident, but somehow it became the focus.

A better hypothetical stand-off might also be two guys with holstered guns, both paranoid that the other guy might shoot him in the back, waiting to go through a door one at a time. Each guy saying "You first", "No, after you", "I insist", "No, by all means", "I said you first", "age before beauty", etc.

Neither guy wants to actually pull a gun and shoot the other, but neither one trusts the other NOT to pull a gun and shoot him.

This kind of intractable stand-off becomes BORING quickly! And the GM has the weaker hand. Either I continue arguing about who goes first forever, which is un-fun (and it's part of the gm's responsibility to make sure everyone's having fun), or I just give in and go through the door first. No player will ever willingly go through the door first if they are paranoid about the other guy. So my first post was a mechanical way of ending the argument and determining who the hell goes through the door first.

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Unfortunately, this thread somehow became about the incident that inspired my thinking about stand-offs, not how to handle intractable non-violent (but with the implication of possible violence) stand-offs more in general... So my first post was a mechanical way of ending the argument and determining who the hell goes through the door first.

Not sure any mechanism would help. Ultimately, it'd just dress-up the GM taking control of the characters and saying "...so you decide to do as they say" - which the players would still be completely unwilling to do. And They do have a point. I think it is a roleplaying problem, rather than a rules problem. Your second post trumped the first by showing that bigger problem.

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So my first post was a mechanical way of ending the argument and determining who the hell goes through the door first.

A mechanical solution would be possible in theory, something like "Lower roll on

Stubbornness goes first", but I doubt that many players would find such a solu-

tion acceptable when it contradicts their concept of the character.

I think I would look for some in game way to change the problem, in your exam-

ple with the door one of the characters could perhaps go backwards through the

door while still keeping an eye on the other character, or one character could re-

treat a safe distance from the door to enable the other one to enter the building

without risk, or they could ask a third party to watch over the proceedings, or

- you get the idea: If you cannot solve the problem, change it into one you can

solve.

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Unfortunately, this thread somehow became about the incident that inspired my thinking about stand-offs, not how to handle intractable non-violent (but with the implication of possible violence) stand-offs more in general. I didn't really mean to talk about the original incident, but somehow it became the focus.

A better hypothetical stand-off might also be two guys with holstered guns, both paranoid that the other guy might shoot him in the back, waiting to go through a door one at a time. Each guy saying "You first", "No, after you", "I insist", "No, by all means", "I said you first", "age before beauty", etc.

Neither guy wants to actually pull a gun and shoot the other, but neither one trusts the other NOT to pull a gun and shoot him.

This kind of intractable stand-off becomes BORING quickly! And the GM has the weaker hand. Either I continue arguing about who goes first forever, which is un-fun (and it's part of the gm's responsibility to make sure everyone's having fun), or I just give in and go through the door first. No player will ever willingly go through the door first if they are paranoid about the other guy. So my first post was a mechanical way of ending the argument and determining who the hell goes through the door first.

I already commented on the problem. Talk with the group and see how they feel about it and whether they all back the e-mail writer, then work from there. You can even tell us what they said in this thread, and we could be more useful then:).

But if you feel you gto the weaker hand, change the deck;D! By which I mean not the group, stop assuming that only the GM is responsible, or even more responsible, for having a fun time! If they chose to discuss, it's because they find it fun, as far as I'm concerned, so there is no problem to begin with;)! If they don't find it fun, they should have opted for another solution, like running away, or buying everybody a round of drinks to talk then and there, or anything appropriate!

A mechanical solution is good unless your group is one of those that would hate Pendragon because of the Passions.

BTW, inspired by the example but more general, when you resist people with authority for a long time, they tend to assume you're challenging their authority, so escalation should always be on the list!

Edited by AsenRG

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Read it again, no weapons were drawn. All weapons were holstered. Everyone was calm.

The setting is a fantasy-sci-fi-western setting, so the "authorities" was the local baron in charge of a small western town, equivalent to a town mayor with a gang of henchmen (Brian Dennehey in Silverado, Gene Hackman in the Quick and the Dead). The murder victim was an associate of the "town boss". The PCs were lying to cover for their buddy, who was nowhere to be seen. But, essentially, a wild west "Town Boss" and his henchmen telling some suspicious dudes "Surrender your weapons and come with me. I'd like to talk to you privately."

The PC response was "We'll come with you to talk privately, but we won't surrender our weapons."

NPC response, "That's unacceptable. Surrender your weapons, come on, let's go."

PC, "You'll have to kill me first."

NPC, "I don't want to kill you."

PC, "And I don't want to kill you."

Etc. etc.

Again - peace-bonding. Allow them to keep their weapons, but secure them in their scabbards (or remove bowstrings, whatever).

Ian

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It IS a rules problem. Because BRP lacks a well-defined resolution method for these pre-fight situations where intimidation is more important than actual might. This means that the GM has no real way to enforce a plausible outcome and must resort to the OD&D-esque resolution method of "roleplaying it out", which has a 90%+ chance of resulting in one of these unpleasant outcomes:

- a player trying to bully the GM (see above)

- the GM forcing the players to act contrary to their inclination

- a player bullying an NPC (involuntarily) in such a way that there is no plausible outcome but violence, forcing the player to either break suspension of disbelief or risk an involuntary TPK

Please note that BRP includes the skills necessary to handle these situations (Persuade, Insight, etc.), but lacks the procedures. This is instead easy to solve in Aegis or HeroQuest, and in each and every system that includes non-violent conflict rules. Dogs in the Vineyard has a good system for handling this, as it allows verbal conflicts to escalate in violence if the outcome of persuasion/intimidation is not satisfactory for you, without even having the need to initiate a new conflict.

Edited by RosenMcStern

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It IS a rules problem. Because BRP lacks a well-defined resolution method for these pre-fight situations where intimidation is more important than actual might. This means that the GM has no real way to enforce a plausible outcome and must resort to the OD&D-esque resolution method of "roleplaying it out", which has a 90%+ chance of resulting in one of these unpleasant outcomes:

- a player trying to bully the GM (see above)

- the GM forcing the players to act contrary to their inclination

- a player bullying an NPC (involuntarily) in such a way that there is no plausible outcome but violence, forcing the player to either break suspension of disbelief or risk an involuntary TPK

Please note that BRP includes the skills necessary to handle these situations (Persuade, Insight, etc.), but lacks the procedures. This is instead easy to solve in Aegis or HeroQuest, and in each and every system that includes non-violent conflict rules. Dogs in the Vineyard has a good system for handling this, as it allows verbal conflicts to escalate in violence if the outcome of persuasion/intimidation is not satisfactory for you, without even having the need to initiate a new conflict.

While I agree with this, see again this line.

A mechanical solution is good unless your group is one of those that would hate Pendragon because of the Passions.

So, a mechanic might solve the problem, or the players might just hate the mechanic.

This simply means you can't skip the "talk to the group" part, at least not without risking to have your decision making the problem worse;).

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IME most players have a tendency to resent it when their character is affected by a social challenge from an NPC that would involve them roleplaying the effects in a way that is counter to what they wish to do. So you could probably come up with some mechanical means to resolve the standoff, however if it ever results in the PCs on the losing end wherein they are forced to give up their guns due to a die roll when that isn't what they wanted to do they will likely resent it.

Based on the email you posted I just can't see any game-mechanical way you could resolve that type of standoff that wouldn't upset your players should they be on the losing end. To be honest, I still see this as a roleplaying issue rather than a missing game mechanism. YMMV.

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I very much doubt that any rules mechanic which results in "Your character

now trusts my character" would be acceptable to many players, except per-

haps where magic or psionics can be used as an explanation.

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But because this is a game, I had no bargaining position and I was trying to move the story along to the next part, the part that WASN'T about a 4-hour stand-off negotiation. Thus my first attempt was for rules that simulate and resolve a 4-hour stand-off negotiation. Then my second realization that I should have just by-passed the scenario with a third option.

It looks to me like this is more about you Evilschemer, than about the situation. You didn't want to roleplay the negotiations. The players had stated that they did not want to be disarmed, and were quite clear about the fact that they did not want to kill anyone. You stated that the NPCs said they did not want to kill anyone either. What should have followed was dialogue, roleplaying and making use of any of the PCs talking skills etc to resolve the situation. But you "wanted to hurry the story along to the next part". Is that railroading?

B) the guy who sent me the e-mail wasn't even in the stand-off! He committed the murder, but was hiding. The other PCs were covering for him. His e-mail and attitude aside, this thread wasn't about him. His comments, however, got me to think of alternatives to a mechanical resolution.

The PCs covering for a murderer are doing something stupid. If they get killed for this it is their own fault. And I'd ditch the e mail guy at the first opportunity. I've heard stories about such players, and the outcome of these tales is never a happy one!=O

Edited by Conrad

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While I agree with this, see again this line.

A mechanical solution is good unless your group is one of those that would hate Pendragon because of the Passions.

So, a mechanic might solve the problem, or the players might just hate the mechanic.

This simply means you can't skip the "talk to the group" part, at least not without risking to have your decision making the problem worse;).

A mechanic to solve sociall conflicts has NOTHING TO DO with the Pendragon Trait mechanics you quote. Solving non-violent conflicts involves whether you can sweet-talk/intimidate/persuade your NPC opponent, not whether your character would act in one way or not.

There is no "forcing the PCs to act" in a good social mechanics, it is only used to determine whether a bribe / intimidate works without the alpha player in the group actually trying to sweet-talk/intimidate the GM, which is what actually happens if you "roleplay it out" (see example above).

Coincidentially, there was a thread on RPG.net three months ago where a player asked if losing a non-violent conflict in Dogs in the Vineyard meant he had been mind-controlled. Despite the player's fears, this is not the case. Losing a conflict does not change your ideas, it just means you cannot IMPOSE your POV on other characters. At this point, you can either yield grudgingly or fight to endorse your POV. Which the DitV system does wonderfully, as you can just escalate the social conflict and "draw guns" (and risk that someone gets hurt).

I very much doubt that any rules mechanic which results in "Your character

now trusts my character" would be acceptable to many players, except per-

haps where magic or psionics can be used as an explanation.

Ditto. THERE IS NO MIND CONTROLLING OR FORCING PLAYERS TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS in a good social conflict mechanics. Forget Pendragon Traits, that is NOT a social conflict mechanics. Not at all.

Edited by RosenMcStern

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THERE IS NO MIND CONTROLLING OR FORCING PLAYERS TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS in a good social conflict mechanics.

Then I fail to understand how this could work. Once the player is determined

that his character will not change his mind ("No, he does not trust him") any

rule which results in another decision ("But now he does") will hardly be accep-

table to him.

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Social conflict is not about what your character thinks or feels. It is about how he can impose his/her POV on others, or gain insight about the opposition's intentions. It is not about forcing characters to surrender, it is about persuading players that this is the best option available - while leaving them the option to fight.

If you lose a conflict about "trusting a NPC", this does not mean that you trust him if you do not want to trust him. This means that you are absolutely unable to show others that he is not to be trusted. You can still shoot him, if you wish, but this will CERTAINLY make you labeled as a criminal, while shooting him after winning the social conflict would probably make you a hero.

In our case, things could have been handled this way: the guards want the PCs to surrender their weapons. The PCs then attempt to argue with them with two goals:

a) persuade the guards that it would be dishonourable to surrender weapons and let them go with them voluntarily (Persuade/Orate/Etiquette/Status/Whatever)

B) determine if this is a trick to slaughter them once they are tied up (Insight)

If the party succeeds in a), the problem is solved: no disarming (it's the guards' problems now, as their boss will probably get angry). If the party succeeds in B), most players would agree to lay down their weapons, as the risk is reduced. If the party tries a) but fails, they still have the option to fight: however, your average player is much more likely to give up violence as an option once he has been given a fair, objective chance to talk himself out of trouble. There is no perceived railroading if you surrender after a failed try to persuade the guards, if you roll the dice for a conflict. If all you do is roleplaying it out, how can you know the GM did not simply determine the guards would not let you go in any case?

Note that this would not work with the "problem player". But there is no way you can handle a player who says "I will disrupt your campaign if you try and disarm my PC". Nothing can work with such a player. And I doubt that not including plausible situations in your game because of problem players is a solution. Like Pete, I would rather rule the problem player out, not the situation.

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Ah, I see what you mean. GURPS recently published a Social Engineering PDF

with similar rules. I have not yet had an opportunity to test them, but they

look good. My problem with understanding what you wrote was because I

was still thinking of the situation with the "problem player", not of players

who would welcome that kind of rules as a way to avoid problems.

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Roleplaying backed up with the players using the relevant PC skills (Persuade/Orate/Etiquette/Status/Whatever) to roll to convince the opposition, is a way out of a perceived impasse. I'd also give the PC a modifier to the relevant skill if they roleplayed the negotiation conversation well. But if you want to go down the road of a more Gygaxian fix with more mechanics added on YMMV.

Edited by Conrad

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Ah, I see what you mean. GURPS recently published a Social Engineering PDF

with similar rules.

I hope we will have something similar for BRP soon, or else we will end up pursuing GURPS once more.

Roleplaying backed up with the players using the relevant PC skills (Persuade/Orate/Etiquette/Status/Whatever) to roll to convince the opposition, is a way out of a perceived impasse. I'd also give the PC a modifier to the relevant skill if they roleplayed the negotiation conversation well. But if you want to go down the road of a more Gygaxian fix with more mechanics added on YMMV.

It is not a matter of "more mechanics" but of "more objectivity". Knowing what skill to use is not enough. In a combat situation you know what skills to use, but also when a conflict is over (one side runs out of HP). This is not true for social conflicts, where you know only what skill to use, and the GM is often tempted to ditch the roll if the players sweet-talked him - which is a MISTAKE as it creates "alpha players" and the suspicition of arbitrarity and railroading. Railroading GMs can oftern give you the illusion that you have had a chance to win a social conflict by asking for more and more rolls, until you fail something and your goal is denied. This is awfully wrong, but it is also a common practice, and it is also rather easy to do it involuntarily if you, as a GM, do not like the result of the rolls.

Games that handle social conflict (example: HeroQuest, Aegis, Dogs in the Vineyard, etc.) tell you exactly how to run the conflict, not just what score to use. BRP is lacking here. This is why I say it is a problem of rules, not of roleplaying. Had evilschemer been playing HeroQuest, the problem could have been avoided.

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It is not a matter of "more mechanics" but of "more objectivity". Knowing what skill to use is not enough. In a combat situation you know what skills to use, but also when a conflict is over (one side runs out of HP). This is not true for social conflicts, where you know only what skill to use, and the GM is often tempted to ditch the roll if the players sweet-talked him - which is a MISTAKE as it creates "alpha players" and the suspicition of arbitrarity and railroading

.

All I see is more mechanics and a lack of a more enjoyable balanced rollplaying and roleplaying approach. If you prefer a more balanced approach then rolling for oratory, or fast talk plus listening to the player character plead his case seems more like the BRP game I want to run. No GM has to ditch the dice roll because a player "sweet talked" him. But if a player rolls well enough and roleplays well enough then I don't see what the problem is in giving the player a bonus dice modifier to reward good roleplaying. I've never had any complaints directed at me for the practice by my players as it encourages ALL of them to roleplay, as well as rollplay. I would think that relying too much on "objective" rolling is a MISTAKE which would lead to a boring lack of roleplaying; the players merely rolling dice with no chance to show off the characters they have made. We need a balance.

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All I see is more mechanics and a lack of a more enjoyable balanced rollplaying and roleplaying approach. If you prefer a more balanced approach then rolling for oratory, or fast talk plus listening to the player character plead his case seems more like the BRP game I want to run. No GM has to ditch the dice roll because a player "sweet talked" him. But if a player rolls well enough and roleplays well enough then I don't see what the problem is in giving the player a bonus dice modifier to reward good roleplaying. I've never had any complaints directed at me for the practice by my players as it encourages ALL of them to roleplay, as well as rollplay. I would think that relying too much on "objective" rolling is a MISTAKE which would lead to a boring lack of roleplaying; the players merely rolling dice with no chance to show off the characters they have made. We need a balance.

I never said "do not allow roleplaying" or "do not give bonuses for roleplaying".

I just said "provide a well-defined procedure". You may think that "roleplay and then make one roll with a bonus for what you said" is a sufficiently defined procedure, but is it really? Does your game include only one - and always one - roll for social interactions? Would you find it acceptable for combat?

Would you appreciate a combat in which you are not told how many hit points of damage your attack dealt, but just what skill to roll? Or one in which most of your chances of success in combat depended on how well you mimicked your attack moves, rather than your character's skill? Please note that I produce a game (Aegis) where this actualy happens - if you do not describe the attack in colorful words, it fails - so this is not "wrong" in itself, just not coherent with the BRP game model. But why should Fast Talk work differently?

In synthesis, I fail to see why "simply sticking to a well-defined procedural mechanics based on statement of intent and subsequent die rolls" is considered good for combat and "boring roll-playing" for social conflicts.

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A mechanic to solve sociall conflicts has NOTHING TO DO with the Pendragon Trait mechanics you quote. Solving non-violent conflicts involves whether you can sweet-talk/intimidate/persuade your NPC opponent, not whether your character would act in one way or not.

There is no "forcing the PCs to act" in a good social mechanics, it is only used to determine whether a bribe / intimidate works without the alpha player in the group actually trying to sweet-talk/intimidate the GM, which is what actually happens if you "roleplay it out" (see example above).

Really? I've also played Exalted, LotW, A Dirty World, FATE, Heroquest 2 and a couple other systems with social conflict mechanics. And I've played Pendragon, Unknown Armies, Artesia, CoC and Gumshoe, so maybe I have some idea about personality mechanics as well and how they differ from social conflict;).

Now, can you point me to where I said Pendragon's passions are a social conflict mechanics? Because what I said is the same players that dislike Pendragon are likely to dislike social conflict as well. That's simply my observation, and they raise similar objections. "But what if my character wouldn't do that?"

As you say, social conflict isn't about mind-control, so the answer is "then your PC wouldn't do it". At most, you can get some penalties for the nagging doubt inside your character's mind that maybe, just maybe, he or she is making a mistake (not in all systems, though).

But, largely thanks to Exalted IMO, social conflict is often viewed as mind-control (nevermind that charms are actually mind-control). So, the same players that hate Pendragon, are the most likely to object. And I used Pendragon as I figured Greg Stafford's games are most likely to be known around here;D!

If you lose a conflict about "trusting a NPC", this does not mean that you trust him if you do not want to trust him. This means that you are absolutely unable to show others that he is not to be trusted. You can still shoot him, if you wish, but this will CERTAINLY make you labeled as a criminal, while shooting him after winning the social conflict would probably make you a hero.

In our case, things could have been handled this way: the guards want the PCs to surrender their weapons. The PCs then attempt to argue with them with two goals:

a) persuade the guards that it would be dishonourable to surrender weapons and let them go with them voluntarily (Persuade/Orate/Etiquette/Status/Whatever)

B) determine if this is a trick to slaughter them once they are tied up (Insight)

If the party succeeds in a), the problem is solved: no disarming (it's the guards' problems now, as their boss will probably get angry). If the party succeeds in B), most players would agree to lay down their weapons, as the risk is reduced. If the party tries a) but fails, they still have the option to fight: however, your average player is much more likely to give up violence as an option once he has been given a fair, objective chance to talk himself out of trouble. There is no perceived railroading if you surrender after a failed try to persuade the guards, if you roll the dice for a conflict. If all you do is roleplaying it out, how can you know the GM did not simply determine the guards would not let you go in any case?

Note that this would not work with the "problem player". But there is no way you can handle a player who says "I will disrupt your campaign if you try and disarm my PC". Nothing can work with such a player. And I doubt that not including plausible situations in your game because of problem players is a solution. Like Pete, I would rather rule the problem player out, not the situation.

Yes, that's my experience with it as well, so we're actually not in disagreement;). And it's also why I've noticed the existence of such clear procedures makes trigger-happy players less likely to resort to violence.

In synthesis, I fail to see why "simply sticking to a well-defined procedural mechanics based on statement of intent and subsequent die rolls" is considered good for combat and "boring roll-playing" for social conflicts.

FWIW, I'm with you here.

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