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I was looking at different ways of handling social conflict using Mythras Imperative.  I ran into some interesting elements and perhaps you might have some opinions on how you would handle it or change the way to run it.  So Here is what I did:

Djesmiri Prince Farhan

He is the seventh son of a seventh son, though strange magics have kept this obvious fact hidden for now.  He is not the crown prince.  He is 19 years old, is a military officer and has seen battle at least three times.  There are forces at work, both good and evil, trying to locate him for there own purposes.  He is an important figure. This night he has been charged with standing Officer of the Watch and plans to personally inspect the night shift. He is in the full regalia of his cavalry unit, battle ready weapons instead of ceremonial ones.  CHA 13, POW 12, Influence 40, Willpower 35, Oratory 55, Politics 60.  Loyalty to Royal Family 65 (5th=13). 

Master At Arms Jawad

Jawad is a battle hardened soldier, 27 years old, who has dedicated his life to the Royal Family and to Djesmir.  He accompanies Prince Farhan on this night more as a body guard, even though he and the prince are close friends.  He is dressed in dessert fashion, his weapons are hidden and he is barely a whisper as he walks alongside the Prince with his scarf hiding everything but his eyes. CHA 10, POW 14, Influence 55, Willpower 65, Loyalty to the Royal Family 75 (5th=15)

Naisha

Naisha is a beautiful young lady, 23 years old, who is an acolyte in a secret female cult of Yegusai Shamans known as the Void Seekers.  She is in Djesmir to find the Characters and cause trouble for them anyway she can.  The Circle of Three have foreseen the PCs as a threat to their plans to find the 7th son and so want to get rid of them.  Naisha is ambitious and will do almost anything to prove herself to the leaders of the cult.  She has taken the role of a peasant girl on her way to the well.  CHA 14, POW 15, Deceit 45, Influence 55, Willpower 50, Seduction 53, Loyalty to the Void Seekers 70 (5th=14)

The Situation

The Characters are in Djesmir.  They are there to investigate a rumor for a mysterious client.  They've been directed to search specific private libraries on the genealogies of specific persons - the royal line.  Of course this must be done with secrecy.  Naisha has spotted and trailed them.  The streets are quiet since it is on the cusp of Sabatine and Plashkis when the autumn festival begins again.  She waits for them outside of one of the smaller residences pretending to gather water from a nearby well.  She sees the night watch is on patrol as it is near sundown, she is unaware of Prince Farhan and Jawad.

The Characters finally exit the gate of the residence and Naisha sees her opportunity.  She shouts, "Murder! Murder! Help Me!"  Of course this draws the night watch, two guards on duty, Prince Farhan, and Jawad.  The characters are confused as the guards see Naisha pointing at the Characters and screaming in terror.  The Prince has the characters detained and begins to question Naisha who accuses the Characters of kidnapping her family in the desert and that's why she lives, hand to mouth, in the street without a family and a home.  None of this is true.

It's at this point that I started to make influence rolls for the interaction between the PCs and the NPCs.  I set the threshold to best of 7.  The characters want to settle the situation and avoid trouble, while Naisha wants to have them thrown in jail.  The Prince obviously wants to look important and he can't avoid taking small glances down Naisha's blouse (this is intentional on her part to draw him into her trust, however, she doesn't necessarily know that he is Prince Farhan or that Jawad is the Royal Master at Arms.)

Any thoughts on how to run this using Mythras Imperative?  I used the 5th of the passions base characteristic as a bonus to the die roll and I also added the status and regalia of the prince as additional modifiers.  I also added a modifier for Jawad advising the Prince in hushed tones.  

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M-Space has a chapter about extended contests that is stronlgy biased towards running social interaction scenes. Clarence has posted a good example of an event and the interactions that takes place.

In the Revolution D100 forum there are additional, free to download rules that do more or less the same - and have largely inspired what Clarence wrote in M-Space. An example of social conflict run by Zit is there. The skills in RD100 are very close to the ones you find in Mythras Imperative, so you can apply the same principles with that ruleset with little or no effort.

I suppose this countrs as enough suggestions :)

Edited by RosenMcStern
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Yes, both Revolution and M-SPACE could turn this situation into a good detailed conflict. 

In essence, I see a two-way conflict in front of a "judge" (the prince). Have the players pick a representative to speak for them, perhaps with one more person to lend a helping hand by augmenting skill rolls now and then. (You can let different players roll too, but only one person per round to even out the odds). 

I'm very happy with the results I've had when using characteristics as hit points in social situations. In this case, I would probably use a CHA+POW combination, as it is both about social aptness and willpower. 

For round length, I would go for somewhere between 2-5 minutes. 

As for skills, Naisha uses Deceit with a bit of Seduction at times. The characters will use Influence (or whatever social skills they have) - and perhaps throw in anything they can to augment their lowly status. 

Highest CHA+POW rolls first, though the character's "initiative" should come with a penalty. So, I would probably let Naisha begin by making her accusations. With a successful opposed roll against the characters, she will reduce the character's conflict pool (CHA+POW) by 1d6. (If she fails, the prince gets to roll Insight: if that succeeds, Naisha's next roll will be Hard - to remove the penalty she will try to use Seduction on the prince; either as a separate roll against his Willpower, or for simplicity just as an augment to her Deceit roll). If the characters win a roll, they reduce Naisha's conflict pool by 1d6. If they fail, their next roll will be Hard. The first side to reach zero will lose the argument and has to face the consequences the prince declares. 

Playing it out is part of the fun. The GM makes Naisha's accusations, one player makes a counter-argument. Both roll, and the GM tells the players "The prince nods at Naisha's speech" if she won the opposed roll. And so on. 

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I see.  It makes sense to do it that way Clarence.  Instead of making a few opposed rolls, the characters get to do a little more interaction with the NPCs and interpreting the rolled results into roleplay.  

In the past, I've seen people just roleplay this out, but I always felt it was not good to just let players roleplay that out.  I'll use D&D for instance.  If you had a high Cha and some decent social skills you could just rp the scene and talk your way out of it, with very little chance for failure.  

On the other end, I've seen people "rp" a scene and come out on top simply because the player was a good orator and the DM was easily intimidated, not because of the numbers on the character sheet.  Sometimes the outcomes were vastly different from what they probably should have been.  

Your method, and some others, allows some interplay between the statistics and makes more sense to me.  It also trims the intimidation factor down a bit.  Thanks for the illustration above.

So then my question would be: If I am going to move to this style of conflict resolution, how easy is it to set up "in game"?  I could see setting up Farhan, Jawad and Naisha with appropriate stats ahead of time, yet it might slow down if I had to come up with stats on the spot until I got used to it.

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An appropriate comment, Umbral. You have highlighted the many potential pitfalls of social interactions in game. Two observations and a series of suggestions.

You wrote, as many others do, the word "roleplay", but in fact you meant "speak with your character's voice". Rolling your social skills when it is appropriate to the scene is roleplaying, and I see no reason why you should ascribe this to another kind of activity.

The intimidation factor is something that exists at some tables, and is absent at others. And it is often subliminal, that is, the GM does not perceive the fact he is favouring an "alpha" player at the table. So whether this kind of approach is a solution to a problem depends on what actually happens at your table. But you said that you have seen this happen, so it is likely that it is good for your group. Others will find it unnecessary.

How easy is it to set up in game? Well, allmost instant. You just have to assign "hit points" and to check that you know the skill rating that NPC will roll (Persuasion, Willpower, whatever). If necessary, you can hand-waive both these factors without spoiling the fun at the table. Advice:

  • Prefer a pure characteristic (CHA for social confronntations) as pool. Only use averaged characteristics if you really need to highlight some important peculiarities, otherwise go for the quickest solution.
  • Go for personal pools only for the most complex situations, otherwise use only one pool per side, as Clarence suggested for this case. Players can alternate rolling even when there is only one pool.
  • Avoid pools above 20 for all but the most important situations. It will take 6-7 successful rolls to bring a 20-point pool to zero, and it is too much. A good social combat ends in 4, 5 rounds at most, anything else becomes boring as players run out of points to make in the discussion and start "rolling until it is over".

If you stick to these principles, conflict setup will take 30 seconds, and resolution is usually over in 10 minutes.

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Good observations, both of you. I often use this simplified table for NPCs I have not prepared:

Low-level NPC: Stat 6, Skill 30%

Mid-Level NPC: Stat 11, Skill 50%

High-Level: Stat 16, Skill 75%

(That's the most relevant stat (like CHA in a social conflict) and skill (Influence for example)).

Or sometimes the sneaky "values three fourths of the opposing PC's".

Combining rolls and talking works very well. And for people not into acting it out, they will at least give a good description of what their character says, making the situation much more than a series of dice rolls.

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Personally, I give bonuses for good roleplaying when in social situations, sometimes I just say they have succeeded because it makes sense. If I ask for a roll, the player gets a bonus for the roleplaying or just rolls the skill as normal. I don't really mind which happens, as long as the players don't feel cheated.

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