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Boosting Social Interactions in D100 games


nclarke

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I've been playing in a short campaign of ASoIaF using their GoT setting and had a lot of enjoyment out of the social side of the game. I'd like to add more to Social Interaction in other games so I can do more of the power play, court intrigue over 'hit it with a pointy stick' games I seem stuck in.

 

Obviously some of the problem is players who think hitting things is the only true way of sorting things out but a more balanced Social combat system might counter this tendency.

 

Combat usually consist of multiple rounds of hitting things whereas social combat is usually resolved with a single roll of the dice. This gives me a less interesting feel to Social combat and also makes it less important in the eyes of the players.

 

Now RQ6 with Passions gives me some of the underpinnings to make for a better social combat feeling but it's not complete. If I use my Influence vs. Willpower in an Opposed test and reduce the target's Passion by a few percentage points it'll take a very long time to move him to a position where he agrees with my position. If I use the Passion directly as the opposing skill it's no better. 

 

There is no means by which a Passion can be altered except by GM fiat. I can certainly say your Passion for Lady Margaret has risen by 10 or 20% because she has successfully used Seduce with one or two degrees of success. I can't say the NPC is leaning towards supporting your cause without adding some Passion such as Player's Cause in the game.

 

So let's have some suggestions of a suitable mechanism that will help with this and maybe even a table of results or Special Effects to be applied in Social Combat.

Nigel

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I've always preferred role playing the social side of things - I need a combat system to simulate combat, but I don't need a social system to simulate social interaction. Each to their own, of course, but I've always seen games systems as a supplement to the roleplaying part of RPGs, not the main feature. Some of the best sessions I've had were the ones where hardly any dice were rolled.

 

Easy enough to turn various social skilss into - well, skills, but at what point are you just rolling for everything your character does and your only part in the decision making process is deciding which skill to roll against?

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I agree with Vile. I prefer to role play social conflict where possible; indeed, my games are nearly 75-80% role play and investigations/research/travel and 20-25% combat. Admittedly we run discussion-conversation (and bull-shit :) ) heavy games.

 

That being said, when I need a mechanic, and sometimes I do, I use the RQ6 "Social Conflict" mechanism. You mentioned Passions, nclarke, but have your read the Social Conflict mechanic suggested on pages 427 and 28 of the RQ6 rule book? In brief, for those who don't know, it goes something like this: identify/frame the social conflict (bargaining is a good one where I might want to go a little crunchy); decide how long the bargaining might go--seconds, minutes, rounds, etc.; choose the appropriate social skill for each side (Commerce or oratory for example); roll by turns...again, how many depends on how long the conflict goes; the first character to reach 100% or more over the course of the social conflict "wins". It can go rather fast.

 

At the end of the time period decided on by the GM, the difference in rolls between the opponents describes the degree of success. Say for example party A scores 130% and party B scores a 90%, not only did A win the conflict, but the 40% difference described A's degree of success: a good bargain, or a great bargain, or an outstanding bargain--as per GM's judgement.

 

In a religious argument, if I didn't want to use Passions, I could decided that the characters must pit their Oratory skills against the NPCs. I  have done this btw, especially when players hadn't got into their characters religion enough to argue its theological underpinnings in role play (our games can get very heavy into character-culture), but once...for a glorious half an hour...a couple of my players did argue, loudly and passionately, their particular sectarian views as members of the same religious community with differing views on the nature of spiritual reality. The role play was singular. The other players watched open mouthed as these two guys went at it. No mechanism or rolling required. I gave out serious experience rolls for that one! That's the way I really like social conflict to go :-)

 

Cheers!

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I think just roleplaying social interaction is unfair to the players- it's limits their character's abilities to that of the players. So a player has to be as smooth, charming and charismatic as James Bond in order to be able to play James Bond. Yet a player doesn't have to be as good a marksman of gambler as Bond to succeed in those types of tasks. Unfair.

 

I think any sort of ability should be assisted by the game mechanics in some way.

 

 

 

 

 

And since I used James Bond as an example. the old James Bond RPG axctually had some rules to help with social interaction.

 

 

First off, the GM would make a reaction roll to see how an NPC reated to a player character. This was based on the PCs Chasima skill (similar to APPx5% in BRP) but as it was a raisable skill, we might want to let a PC average the stat roll with a social skill. In Bond the difficulty of the roll varied based on how the PCs were interacting with the NPC -the roleplay aspect (polite PCs tend to get better reactions that jerks), situation (meeting someone at the bar is more likely to give a favorable reaction that meeting someone over a corpse), appearance for those who are of the NPCs sexual preference (hotties tend to get better reactions than uggos, sorry), and what the NPC knows about the PC (that is, if you know the PC is an enemy agent out to get you, it puts a damper on your relationship). The final reaction would determine how helpful or hostil an NPC would be, although this could be shifted in play based on how events play out.

 

In my last campaign, we had one character who had very high Charisma  and Appearance ratings, who used to get extremly good customer service from female clerks at hotels, rental agencies, casinos, restaurants, etc. They'd often fawn over him. Even when he wasn't really trying to impress them. That never would have happened with "just roleplay it."

 

 

The Bond RPG also had rules for persuading NPCs, and for seducing them. Seduction was a 5 stage process that started off easy, but got progressively more difficult. If successful though it tended to improve the NPCs reaction for that particular PC. 

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I think I might not have been clear enough in my initial summary. I don't feel that role playing gives everyone an adequate chance of success in a Social combat situation. Simply relying on the 'talky' player doing all the work prevents another character who may have been built as socially powerful from taking their place in the spotlight.

 

I'll give an example from ASoIaF. Each character has a resistance to being influenced and the degree of success of the influencer allows for this resistance to be eroded and when it reaches zero the character agrees to do the required task. This mechanical system is the same for combat in that a defence pool is reduced to zero by an amount depending upon the degrees of success of the attack and this amount can be reduced by taking a wound or injury which takes time to heal.

 

So I'm looking for some a bit more than what is outlined on p427/8. The mechanical effect of 25% per level of success and aiming for a total of 100% doesn't really give any of the flavour I'm looking for in a Social Conflict even with a bit of role play to back up the die rolls. I think I'm going to have to kludge the ASoIaF mechanics into a formal/better formulated system.

 

This will involve setting up an Objective for the Social combat e.g. - Friendship, Information, Service, Deceit

Setting the opposing Dispositions e.g. - Affectionate, Friendly, Amiable, Indifferent, Dislike, Unfriendly, Malicious

Differing Techniques e.g. - Bargain, Charm, Convince, Incite, Intimidate, Seduce, Taunt

Then using some sort of table to adjust Objectives by which Technique is used and thereby setting the amount that the opponents Disposition is moved to a more or less favourable position.

 

If the Objective is Friendship then Intimidate and Incite are unlikely to be effective whereas Charm and Seduce would likely work.

 

The Techniques don't have to map exactly to skills as Customs, Insight, Influence, Passions and Persuade are the 'normal' base social skills in RQ6 while Dance and Sing may be useful in a Friendship situation. The Professional skills of Acting, Bureaucracy, Commerce, Courtesy, Disguise, Musicianship, Oratory, Seduction and Streetwise might all be useful in various situations for any of the Techniques but the limit of a small number of such skills prevents their use in regular situations but might be the best solution when they are available by delivering a more focussed effect.

Nigel

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I think I might not have been clear enough in my initial summary. I don't feel that role playing gives everyone an adequate chance of success in a Social combat situation. Simply relying on the 'talky' player doing all the work prevents another character who may have been built as socially powerful from taking their place in the spotlight.

 

I'll give an example from ASoIaF. Each character has a resistance to being influenced and the degree of success of the influencer allows for this resistance to be eroded and when it reaches zero the character agrees to do the required task. This mechanical system is the same for combat in that a defence pool is reduced to zero by an amount depending upon the degrees of success of the attack and this amount can be reduced by taking a wound or injury which takes time to heal.

 

So I'm looking for some a bit more than what is outlined on p427/8. The mechanical effect of 25% per level of success and aiming for a total of 100% doesn't really give any of the flavour I'm looking for in a Social Conflict even with a bit of role play to back up the die rolls. I think I'm going to have to kludge the ASoIaF mechanics into a formal/better formulated system.

 

This will involve setting up an Objective for the Social combat e.g. - Friendship, Information, Service, Deceit

Setting the opposing Dispositions e.g. - Affectionate, Friendly, Amiable, Indifferent, Dislike, Unfriendly, Malicious

Differing Techniques e.g. - Bargain, Charm, Convince, Incite, Intimidate, Seduce, Taunt

Then using some sort of table to adjust Objectives by which Technique is used and thereby setting the amount that the opponents Disposition is moved to a more or less favourable position.

 

If the Objective is Friendship then Intimidate and Incite are unlikely to be effective whereas Charm and Seduce would likely work.

 

The Techniques don't have to map exactly to skills as Customs, Insight, Influence, Passions and Persuade are the 'normal' base social skills in RQ6 while Dance and Sing may be useful in a Friendship situation. The Professional skills of Acting, Bureaucracy, Commerce, Courtesy, Disguise, Musicianship, Oratory, Seduction and Streetwise might all be useful in various situations for any of the Techniques but the limit of a small number of such skills prevents their use in regular situations but might be the best solution when they are available by delivering a more focussed effect.

 

If I were to build a social conflict system for BRP, I'd try to model it on the combat system for ease of use.  Resolve Points could replace Hit Points, with each side trying to reduce the other side to a certain value in order to force a concession.  

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Have you looked at the Personality Traits on pp.294-295? Not really a social mechanic, but something that can help by allowing the players to better flesh out the overall personality of their adventurer, or the GM of their NPCs. This can help as a handy marker for how the characters react in certain situations. Or, in situations of personal conflict, opposing values may be played off against one another.

 

These are essentially the foundation for Traits in the Pendragon game. 

 

SDLeary

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Thanks SDLeary, I'll take another look through the Traits part to see if I can use that.

 

p_clapham, what you are suggesting is roughly how Green Ronin's ASoIaF works and is mostly what I'm trying to get at but most suggestions i.e. the ones in RQ6, seem to treat Social Combat as an adjunct to the game and try to get it over in a single roll which does not provide any flavour and makes those epic struggles between competing powerful personalities hard to do.

 

An example from Cornwall. Arthur has a cleric that advises him and a warlord that guides him in military matters and these two are at odds over political methods of running the war against the Saxons. No way do I want to play out that struggle for power with a single flavourless die roll and the Green Ronin Chronicle system is too clunky and overly complex for both martial and social combat to work smoothly although the system they have for creating and maintaining Houses works pretty well.

Nigel

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I think I'm going to have to kludge the ASoIaF mechanics into a formal/better formulated system.

 

 

I'm very much looking forward to this. A good step towards making rpg:s less combat oriented. Will it be tied to RQ6-specific stats?

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I don't know if anything like this would be useful but it is how we played out social conflicts in a past game we had.

In general it was done as combat normally is but with these values as the replacements.

 

Social Conflict
Resolve/Hit Points: CHA+POW/2 
Attack/Defend' skills: Orate, Debate, Intimidate, Bluff, etc
Wits Rank/Initiative: CHA+INT/2
Determination Modifier/Damage Bonus: use the standard STR+SIZ chart, replacing the stats with POW+INT(pg 30)
Damage:d6
Composure\Armour: Recognized Authority, frequently defaulting to 1/20th of Status 
Defeat:  Resolve of 0, usually resulting in negative modifiers to social interactions for a period
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That's certainly very interesting and maybe along the lines I was thinking. The role play between dice rolls is about the right sort of level /mix between pure mechanics and RP that I'm seeking. I'll digest this and may scrap my 75% complete mod of the ASoIaF Intrigue/Social Combat system and use this instead.

Nigel

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I like the Social Conflict rules presented above, but I'm partial to the old-school principle that you cannot influence a PC's attitude/action with a die roll - I may be miss-interpreting the mechanic, but that's what it seems to intimate to me.  This would be a one-sided 'conflict' in the way that I'd run it;

 I'd assign a principle NPC negotiator and a difficulty rating to the goal of the PCs. . . Failure, Very Difficult, Difficult, Standard, or Easy, Success. Apply the 'social skill' attack vs the 'defense' and reduce the resolve accordingly.  However, we all know that persistence can be annoying, so, each 'round that the Social Conflict occurs automatically slide the difficulty rating to one worse at the beginning of the next round.

 I'd allow a second PC, or this could be played as a second form of attack, (let's call it a 'supporting negotiator') to apply a similar skill to to move the difficulty rating back to it's previous level.  A special success would allow it to move two levels back to where it was before, if two levels had been lost since the beginning of the negotiation.  A critical success would allow it to recover up to three levels, and actually advance to one level easier than it started.  Note this could potentially allow a 'success' to occur in the negotiations. 

Note that nefarious allies of the principle NPC negotiator might wish to see the PCs fail in their goal.  In this case, they would be granted a roll identical the 'supporting negotiator' but thier rolls would slide the difficulty one, two or three degrees worse.  Use player's social skills as opposing defenses vs these roles. 

if the PCs can reduce the principle NPC's resolve to 0, or achieve 'Success' before 'Failure' is reached, then they succeed.  Failure could result in the loss of a trade agreement, war, or out-right combat between the negotiators and the PCs . . . 

It's a simple yet complex mechanic, like the rest of BRP . . . ;-)

If everybody in the world thought and acted like i do, then who would be the players in my Basic Role Playing game?

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The way it played out was sorta the give and take as you worked through a discussion. Some times you made a point (reducing the opponents hp) and sometimes they made their point (reducing your total). Arugement/Debate/etc winner determined when someone was at 0 or surrendered to save face.

 

As to why we used this system rather than straight roleplaying? It was the ole, "Without a system to shore up the players abilities the character is never better than the player" plus the desire for more detail than a one roll solutions. We just wanted something as deep and engaging as combat for resolution is all. Something that mirrored more closely the give and take or point and counterpoint of a debate or argument. Allowing characters to change their approach if things weren't going their way or push hard for a slam dunk win if they were really pounding away point after point. 

One of the things we did really like was the mechanical way it showed when you made a good point, landed a zinger, etc even if you lost the overall exchange.

It is far from perfect. We use it in some games and not in others. I just hope that sharing it helps others with their brainstorming.

Heck one of the best things about this hobby and brp in particular is the fun of tweaking the flavor til it tastes just right  :) .

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, but I'm partial to the old-school principle that you cannot influence a PC's attitude/action with a die roll - I may be miss-interpreting the mechanic, but that's what it seems to intimate to me.  

 

 

I completely understand what you mean here. In play this is where a player would choose to drop out of the argument to avoid such a situation. We always thought of it as kinda a "I dont agree with what they are saying but I'm done talking about it" moment. They might look a little silly to anyone around but they didn't get their mind changed. Of course now they did have to deal with the fact that they backed down.

 

Even a loss tended to be more representative of a capitulation for the moment. A "Fine lets do it your way this time, but I still think you're wrong" sort of moment not really a force-able mind change.

 

Ahh well I've edited this like 8 times and still don't think I'm gettin what is in my brain into text form lol.

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Here is what I do.

 

Each side can apply one or more skills/talents/abilities/situations to their score, each of which adds 1 or more to a dice pool. At the end of the social interaction, a number of dice are rolled, added up and this gives the skill to be rolled on 1D100. Succeeding means the social attempt succeeded and so on. If two camps are competing, then each makes a roll and the results are compared, as for an opposed Roll.

 

The Dice used in the Dice Pool depend on the situation and how difficult the roll should be.

 

If a skill is used, then each level of success gives +1 to the Dice Pool. So, in BRP, a success gives +1, a Special gives +2 and a Critical gives +3. In Legend or RQ6, a special gives +1 and a Critical gives +2.

 

Abilities or talents give +1 each, if applicable.

 

Situation bonuses give +1, normally, but players are free to discuss each situation with the GM.

 

For example, Tom and Harry are competing for the affections of Sabrina. The contest takes place over a period of time, with many attempts by each to bolster their position.

 

Sabrina likes handsome, arty types - Tom is a poet with APP 15, Harry is a merchant with APP 12. Tom gets +1 for being a poet and both Tom and Harry need to roll APPx5% to see if they get a bonus, Tom rolls 50 (success +1) and Harry rolls 02 (Critical +3 in BRP).

 

Tom: 2, Harry 2.

 

Tom writes a poem for Sabrina and performs it to her, succeeding in Art (Poetry), getting a +1.

 

Tom: 3, Harry 2.

 

Harry brings Sabrina a necklace imported from far away, which the GM deems to be worth +2 (Gift and Exotic).

 

Tom: 3, Harry 4.

 

Harry saves Sabrina from being ambushed by thugs, which gives him +1.

 

Tom: 3, Harry 5.

 

Harry's cousin wounds Sabrina's cousin in a fight and Sabrina's family go off him (-2).

 

Tom: 3, Harry 3.

 

Harry climbs up to Sabrina's balcony and sings her a love song (+2)

 

Tom: 3, Harry 5.

 

Tom rescues the local baron's daughter, but turns down the chance of marrying her, as he says his heart belongs to Sabrina (+3 - Brave deed, Romantic gesture).

 

Tom: 5, Harry 5.

 

Tom gets a commission from the baron to become his poet, with a title and small land grant (+2, social position, wealth)

 

Tom: 7, Harry 5.

 

Tom and Harry give Sabrina an ultimatum to choose one of them, as they feel that she is stringing them both along.

 

The GM decides to roll on 1D10. 1D20 would give a higher skill, but he wants them both to have a chance of failing, as Sabrina is not really committed to either of them. Tom's player rolls 7D10, 1+5+7+4+8+2+10 = 37%, Harry's player rolls 7+4+8+5+10=34%. Tom rolls 30 and Harry rolls 01, so Sabrina chooses Harry.

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I have been calculating Power Points as (POW+CHA)/2 for the last few years, as in my settings they not only reflect magical essence, but they also reflect something of the character's conviction and charisma, as I use them to also cost for Stunts/Feats.

 

I think I will just use PP to also reflect Resolve as in the social combat rules proposed by Montjoy's, for the sake of not starting an extra set out points. I'ld probably recharge them at 1d3 per round afterwards, or if there is no combat then they would just reset between narrative scenes.

 

I think Montjoy's concept of simply replicating the current physical combat mechanics works great and is consistent with the rules. I will be looking at trying this out for complex bargaining and persuasion/negotiation situations, I think its perfect!

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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I've been sidetracked playing/running games since last week and haven't got further. The system proposed by Montjoy has been of interest and I'm currently going to try that in some test scenes. His system seems most like the one in ASoIaF and that had the right sort of flavour that I want.

 

I'm going to write up various techniques and possible outcomes and see how they fit with Montjoy's system. I'll post back when I've down the testing.

Nigel

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  • 4 months later...

 

 

Social Conflict
Resolve/Hit Points: CHA+POW/2 
Attack/Defend' skills: Orate, Debate, Intimidate, Bluff, etc
Wits Rank/Initiative: CHA+INT/2
Determination Modifier/Damage Bonus: use the standard STR+SIZ chart, replacing the stats with POW+INT(pg 30)
Damage:d6
Composure\Armour: Recognized Authority, frequently defaulting to 1/20th of Status 
Defeat:  Resolve of 0, usually resulting in negative modifiers to social interactions for a period

 

 

Just rediscovered this thread… I still think the rules are really good. Is anyone working on fleshing it out?

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