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 Post subject: Social combat
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:49 am 
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Hi guys,
I havent been around these boards much these last couple of years but I've been looking at TROS again over the last couple of weeks so I've been looing at what has been happening.
I know this topic has been covered before, and I've had a look at some of those threads recently but I was hoping to revist it and see if there is any interest out in web land.

There is another indie game out there, bit hard to get hold of now, by the name of Conspiracy of Shadows. Im pretty sure the author said somewhere that he was inspired by TROS and had some similar maneuvers, Beat, Bind and Strike(or some such) etc. The reason I mention this game is because these maneuvers were used for all conflicts, physical and social.

So with this in mind is it possible to come up with a Social Combat system for TROS that uses the existing combat system as a basis. I think it just might be possible. It would need some re-jigging of some of the maneuvers, but nothing too drastic.

Firstly we would have to use one the fan systems that turns skills into a dice pool plus stat, instead of rolling stat vs a skill TN as the rules a written.

My next thought was to use Higgins Broader skills were he has communication as the catch all social skill.

So could we now use the old skills( in name only) as the tactic that the character is going to use in that exchange. Just as in Melee you use a weapon with an ATN, DTN and damage, could intimidation be the Greatsword of social combat? Could the characteristic used for determining damage, ie STR in melee, be dependent on the social tactic being used. Ridicule maybe WIT, Intimidation may be WIL for example, and the opponent uses the same STAT as their armour.

These are some ideas I am tossing around at the moment. Not much yet but do they sound interesting? Any suggestions or ideas? If so I'll do some more on it.(as this post is the first time of put any of these ideas 'down')


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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:17 pm 
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But what of the wounds? Level 4 embarrassment in the King's court? :mrgreen:

Also, I can't really see the two-exchange model making sense in social situations. Okay, paving the way with a lesser argument (using smaller portion of your dice pool) to deliver a greater blow afterwards can be modelled fine, but why on earth does committing yourself with a good argument (using most your dice pool) leave you weak until the next refresh?

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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:10 pm 
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Azza wrote:
So with this in mind is it possible to come up with a Social Combat system for TROS that uses the existing combat system as a basis.

...

These are some ideas I am tossing around at the moment. Not much yet but do they sound interesting? Any suggestions or ideas? If so I'll do some more on it.(as this post is the first time of put any of these ideas 'down')


Here's how I see this working:

TRoS Core Combat: Hook Manoeuvre wrote:
Many pole-arms and axes are capable of hooking an opponent's limb or head. This maneuver is executed like a thrust that intentionally misses, and then the shaft is pressed against the target and pulled. This maneuver is particularly effective on the legs, causing one's opponent to fall and become prone.

After spending the Activation Cost (usually 1) allot dice for a regular thrust-like attack. Every success in the Margin of Success lowers the target's Knockdown Attribute by one die. The hooked party then rolls Knockdown/TN 8. Failure drops him to the ground (-1/2 total CP for lying prone). Fumbling causes damage as a 6' fall (see Book Five: The Laws of Nature). The attacker still retains initiative.


becomes:

TRoS Social Combat: Sidestep Manoeuvre wrote:
This maneuver is executed like a Tangent manoeuvre, but then as the opponent tries to bring the discussion back on track through their defensive manoeuvre the actual point is made. If successful the opponent becomes Exposed.

After spending the Activation Cost (usually 1) allot dice for a regular Tangent attack. Every success in the Margin of Success lowers the target's Exposure Attribute by one die. The Sidestepped party then rolls Exposure/TN 8. Failure causes him to become Exposed (SP is halved). A Fumble causes the defender to become Exposed and to take damage to their Argument equal to the original MoS. The attacker still retains initiative.


As with TRoS Combat the manoeuvres are specific to the Proficiency. Intimidate can't Sidestep -- it lacks the subtle nuance. However Ridicule can, as can Orate.

So, in essence, I can see it being viable to largely relabel the TRoS Combat mechanics in order to create a social combat system.

Higgins wrote:
But what of the wounds?


I don't think we need a wound/healing mechanic like TRoS Combat. I think we need to simply model the idea that someone's argument becomes exhausted -- that there's no point to continuing to ague because the opponent has managed to successfully refute your argument.

I think that the easiest way to model this would be to have a number that gets reduced by the MoS on certain manoeuvres but not all manoeuvres (like Burning Wheel with its Body of Argument).

Higgins wrote:
Also, I can't really see the two-exchange model making sense in social situations. Okay, paving the way with a lesser argument (using smaller portion of your dice pool) to deliver a greater blow afterwards can be modelled fine, but why on earth does committing yourself with a good argument (using most your dice pool) leave you weak until the next refresh?


I don't mind the two Exchange mechanic. In Combat, CP represents how much you can achieve within the combat environment within a non-specific amount of time. CP shows how much effort you are dedicating to a particular manoeuvre but is also eaten by Activation Costs and Terrain rolls.

I see the Social Pool (SP) acting in the same way. Your opponent won't let you talk continually throughout a Round. They're going to interject, interrupt, and do whatever they can to lessen the impact of your manoeuvres. So SP allocation shows how much effort you are able to put into a particular manoeuvre. It is also eaten by Activation Costs and the social combat equivalent of the Terrain Roll. And allocating a lot of effort to one manoeuvre -- that is, occupying a larger chunk of the talk time -- presents your opponent with the opportunity to do the same in the second Exchange (depending on how they allocate their SP).

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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:16 am 
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I'm guessing you might have thought about this before Ian?

Wounds is an interesting area. In mellee the wounds are inflicted along the way to winning, meaning that you have achieved your objective. Usually killing/defeating your foe. As it is a physical confrontation wounds you received in winning cause problems for you until they have been healed meaing there is a consequence of the fight.

So in social conflict the character initiating the conflict has to want something that the opponent is opposing, ie he wants a different outcome. If no one opposes what the initiating characters objective is then there is no conlict.

I'd agree that the exchange mechanic might not always model a conversation well, but really it is just that, a mechanic to use to calculate a fair winner. As Ian says it represents a non specific amount of time so, in some ways, could be seen as capturing the ebb and flow of the coversation.

Ian.Plumb wrote:
I think that the easiest way to model this would be to have a number that gets reduced by the MoS on certain manoeuvres but not all manoeuvres (like Burning Wheel with its Body of Argument).


And like TROS combat as it stands currently. Beat, Bind and Strike, Stop short, could all be used. Obviously some are going to need some serious work, Simultaneous Block/Strike for example.

When I started this thread I wasn't aware of Eos. Could it be something that might be considered in the revised edition? Or is that going to just make a tough job even harder :)


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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:44 am 
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Azza wrote:
I'm guessing you might have thought about this before Ian?


There are threads on converting BW's "Duel of Wits" mechanic to TRoS as well as several EoS threads on the subject. Social combat is a must for EoS.

Ian.Plumb wrote:
I think that the easiest way to model this would be to have a number that gets reduced by the MoS on certain manoeuvres but not all manoeuvres (like Burning Wheel with its Body of Argument).


Azza wrote:
And like TROS combat as it stands currently. Beat, Bind and Strike, Stop short, could all be used. Obviously some are going to need some serious work, Simultaneous Block/Strike for example.


Not really like TRoS. In BW's Duel of Wits only one manoeuvre (Point) actually reduces your opponent's Body of Argument. All other manoeuvres are about positioning your opponent's argument to the moment when a Point manoeuvre will be successful. I would see a TRoS conversion being similar -- one or two manoeuvres reduce the opponent's Argument number while the bulk of manoeuvres reduce SP or defend against having one's SP reduced.

Azza wrote:
When I started this thread I wasn't aware of Eos. Could it be something that might be considered in the revised edition? Or is that going to just make a tough job even harder :)


EoS will have social combat.

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:30 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:

Not really like TRoS. In BW's Duel of Wits only one manoeuvre (Point) actually reduces your opponent's Body of Argument. All other manoeuvres are about positioning your opponent's argument to the moment when a Point manoeuvre will be successful. I would see a TRoS conversion being similar -- one or two manoeuvres reduce the opponent's Argument number while the bulk of manoeuvres reduce SP or defend against having one's SP reduced.

Regards,



There are a few others, Dismiss, Rebuttal and a successful feint gets a free point, but I get your point (no pun intended :) ). There are only 7 maneuvers in total, so it really does rely on the scripting and how one interacts with each other, which doesn't work if your not scripting.

I agree with you about only a couple of maneuvers reducing the argument number and the rest being about positioning. That was how I always saw the combat system, thus my comment previously.

I might have a tinker around with it for my own amusement, and if I have anything concrete before Eos is compleated I will post it otherwise I look forward to the revised system, and if there is anything I can do to help I'd be more than happy to do so.


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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:20 am 
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Azza wrote:
I agree with you about only a couple of maneuvers reducing the argument number and the rest being about positioning. That was how I always saw the combat system, thus my comment previously.


Ah OK, fair enough.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I think it will work -- and actually be a bit more diverse than the Proficiencies (where most Proficiencies have most manoeuvres). Skills have a use outside of social combat -- for example, all social combat skills have a use when they aren't being opposed in an argument. So I can see skills that might only allow a couple of manoeuvres, but they do those manoeuvres very well (bonus to SP).

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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:27 am 
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Is it poor form to be resurrecting this thread? I apologize if so. I'm about a decade late to the Riddle of Steel party, but it's completely rejuvenated my love of rpgs. Like many others, D&D is where I popped my cherry, and I could never get over how much I hated that system. It's a testament to how fun roleplaying is that I kept going with it anyway (and attempted several attempts to homebrew the grittiness that has now been accomplished with TROS). I started a new campaign this month and just a week ago discovered Burning Wheel and that awesome social combat system, Duel of Wits. I thought it would be cool to cart that over to TROS, but then figured, why not rewrite it to use the TROS combat mechanics (since it is basically is just renamed melee combat from BW, which I don't appreciate as much as the combat in TROS).

I knocked something out over coffee this morning, so it's definitely still rough, but the concept is there (of course i then found this thread later in the day which discusses very similar ideas but ah well). It's really just a new paint job of physical combat, since I found the rules for things like Blood Loss to be a very close analogy for decaying self esteem and what have you. Why change what isn't broke, right? That said, I'd still love some feedback and ideas for improvement. I'll be playtesting this thing Thursday night and report how it goes.

Without further procrastination...

----begin

Duel of Wits(tros style)::

The debating pool is a Player’s (Wit+Social)/2 added to the skill they are using (oration, politics, etc...). The TN for all rolls will be 5 unless explicitly stated otherwise. Body of Argument is a players Social (perhaps they are also allowed to roll overlapping skills to gain bonus dice). Body of Argument works like hit points, whoever reduces their opponents Body of Argument to zero is the winner of the duel of wits. The generic damage chart should be consulted when a player loses points from their Body of Argument. Shock, Pain, and Blood Loss should be called Flabbergasted, Distracted, and Audience Disdain respectively and still work the same, albeit with slight modifications. A players Wit is subtracted from their Distracted(Pain) score instead of Willpower (this represents the player getting flummoxed by an argument, but managing to be quick enough on their feet to fight through). When rolling against Audience Disdain(Blood Loss) the player uses their Social instead of Toughness, and obviously on a failed roll the player loses a point of Social instead of Toughness. Reaching zero in Social should pretty much mean the player flees the room, being pelted by tomatoes.

Initiative is determined the same as with combat, by throwing dice. The Wit score is used instead of the Reflex. On a throw of double white, roll a contest of each players' Wit+ Skill against TN of 5. The winner is given the choice of going on the offensive or forcing their opponent to do so.

Maneuvers are going to be much more fun if the players actually roleplay what they’re doing (same as with combat) instead of just naming the technique and rolling for it.

Offensive Manuevers:

Point - This is the basic offensive move in a debate, and how a player subtracts points from another player’s Body of Argument. “We can’t risk waiting for the enemy to attack first. We must bring war to them.” To make a point, a player declares the maneuver and assigns dice from their debate pool to roll with.

Feint - This is a move where one player lures the other into a trap and then springs a prepared response on them. Typically this is embarrassing. “So you would say that leniency towards criminals is a sign of weakness? Yes? You must find our king a weak man in that case as he’s pardoned 5 thieves from the firing squad this year alone.” To make a feint, a player begins by declaring a point maneuver and assigning dice, then after the opponent assigns dice to their defensive maneuver, the player can add dice to their original point maneuver at a cost of 2 for 1.

Incite - This is a direct insult designed to drive an opponent into lashing out recklessly. “You clearly don’t understand this matter, but it isn’t surprising given your upbringing. This is why commoners should stay out of politics.” To use incite, a player must make a contested roll of their (Wit/Social)/2 against their opponent's Willpower. If successful, the opponent loses dice from their debate pool equal to the margin of success and must use half of what remains (rounded up) to make a point (no other maneuvers allowed) immediately on the following exchange.

Fast Talk - This is a technique that confounds an opponent, not giving them a chance to register what was said or give an appropriate response. The things said don’t have to be accurate, or even plausible, as long as they are stated fast and with confidence. “Have you considered the significance of first century Dwarven fertility rituals to these people? No, don’t bother answering. I can see it in your face. You haven’t taken any of those factors into account, nor considered the ramifications of NOT taking said factors into account, nor even considered the gravity of those ramifications should they occur. Look at you. You don’t even know what I’m saying, do you?” To use fast talk, a player burns dice as many dice from their debate pool as they desire. The player and opponent then do a contested roll of Wit with each die burned on the maneuver raising the opponents TN by 1 (from the debating default of TN 5). If the player wins, they maintain initiative and on the next exchange their opponent loses dice out of their debate pool equal to the margin of success. This maneuver becomes less effective over time. Starting at 0 for the first use, the activation cost goes up by 1 each time it is used on the same opponent.

Defensive Manuevers:

Counterpoint - This is a basic cancelling out of your opponent’s point and is used to stop them from taking points out of your Body of Argument. “A preemptive attack is foolish and guarantees war.” To make a counterpoint, the player declares the maneuver and assigns dice to roll out of their debate pool.

Avoid the Topic - This is more or less a retreat used to take a breather when your opponent has you at a disadvantage. The audience will always look on this with disfavor, but it may be better to avoid a topic entirely than to have an advantaged opponent trounce you. “That’s not really relevant. I won’t bother to dignify it with an answer.” To avoid the topic, the player declares the maneuver and assigns dice out of their debate pool to roll. The target number for this roll will be TN 4 as opposed to the debating default of TN 5. If successful, the debate is broken off and initiative must be rerolled. Regardless of the outcome, the player loses one point from their Body of Argument (this stacks with other lost points in the case of failure).

Rebuttal - This is a counterpoint, followed up by a point of the player’s own, reversing the tide of the debate. “A preemptive attack is foolish and guarantees war. My opponent’s war will destroy a peace that has lasted generations. It will bring ruin to our lands. It will see your son in an early grave.” To make a rebuttal, the player declares the maneuver, burns two dice from their debate pool, and assigns dice to roll from what remains. If the roll is successful, the player gains bonus dice for the next exchange equal to every success rolled by their opponent.


---- end


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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:18 pm 
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jetlagg wrote:
Is it poor form to be resurrecting this thread?


No such formality here. Welcome aboard!

jetlagg wrote:
The debating pool is a Player’s (Wit+Social)/2 added to the skill they are using (oration, politics, etc...).


A couple of questions:

(Wit+Social)/2 + Skill + SAs against a TN of 5?

Skills get lower as you get better at them...?

Are SAs applied at any other time during the duel?

Otherwise I like it very much -- quite evocative and interesting!

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:23 am 
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Very nice draft!

I can see this working, taking into account a few other ideas already having been tossed around.

For example, as for skills getting lower as they get better, perhaps we should use a sort of "social proficiencies" instead, then? I'll call them Attitudes for now, let's see how that works out :)

Taking up on one of Ian's earlier points then, I agree that unlike physical combat, not all of these proficiencies should grant access to most maneuvers. Seeing as the social equivalent of proficiencies and weapons should probably be conflated into one and the same thing (I for one have a hard time imagining how to carry longswords and daggers over to a social arena!), this would keep things more interesting and diverse, imho.

For example, I could see how someone debating by making use of the Arrogance Attitude would conduct conversation in a distinctly different style from someone who used Empathy, say, or Hostility...

Assuming much of what Jetlagg has written as "basic maneuvers" of sorts, available to all styles and attitudes of social conflict, it could then be elaborated upon something like the following:

Arrogance
off: Demand, Incite, Insult, Fortify (your own claim), Ridicule
def: Deny, Ignore, Sweep Aside

(a very limited but quite powerful style, low TNs perhaps...)

Empathy
off: Feign Interest, Soothe, Suggest, Undermining Question
def: Agree, Avoid Topic, Clarifying Question, Sense Intent, Take and Turn Over (opponent's point)

(a largely reactive style, strong on the defense, but with little repertoire for agression...)

Hostility
off: Incite, Insult, Intimidate, Ridicule,
def: Deny, Intimidate, Rebuttal, Sweep Aside

(another rather limited style, but perhaps attractive because of low Activation Costs, and perhaps because Intimidate and Insult are only to be found here...)

...and so on...


other Attitudes, such as Polite/Diplomatic, Subservient, Preaching, Charming, Passionate etc. could be imagined from there I think...

Most every character should be interested in having at least one of these, many will want to have two or three... or more, in the case of a real socializer-determined character such as a courtier?

some Defaults would also certainly be in order - e.g. preachiness and arrogance tend to go well together :D


... all just some rough ideas, lots of work would certainly have to go into that yet in order to make it workable :) But I for one would sure love to see something like that to use in my games!

Btw, I would call Shock, Pain and Blood Loss as Surprise, Embarassment and Doubt, but that comes out to largely the same things as Jetlagg's approach seems to be :)
I have also thought about a kind of social AV / Brawn for damage reduction, called Composure - but that's not been put into any kind of context with the rest yet (like, where does it derive from?)


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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:01 pm 
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I actually hadn't read any of the EoS stuff until yesterday (perhaps this should be posted in that forum instead?) and wasn't even aware that the RoS companion existed. I'd definitely have written that draft a little different otherwise. I'd love to fix the skill mechanics, but that's another discussion.

Quote:
(Wit+Social)/2 + Skill + SAs against a TN of 5?

Skills get lower as you get better at them...?


Yeah, my fault. I used skill when I should have said Social Proficiency or something of the like. It would be a separate system from the skill mechanics and more akin to combat proficiencies as Auburney is suggesting.

Quote:
Btw, I would call Shock, Pain and Blood Loss as Surprise, Embarassment and Doubt, but that comes out to largely the same things as Jetlagg's approach seems to be


Haha, those were really the first three words that came to my mind and not something I'm stuck on. I agree Doubt is a better word as it applies to more situations. I was thinking of the Duel of Wits strictly as a public debate when I came up with Audience Disdain, but using Doubt and the others would give it the versatility for GM's that wanted to use this as say, a seduction (where each exchange could even represent days of passed time).

Quote:
Taking up on one of Ian's earlier points then, I agree that unlike physical combat, not all of these proficiencies should grant access to most maneuvers. Seeing as the social equivalent of proficiencies and weapons should probably be conflated into one and the same thing (I for one have a hard time imagining how to carry longswords and daggers over to a social arena!), this would keep things more interesting and diverse, imho.


That would be awesome. I like the idea of different skills having different TNs (as with weapons). I was thinking the static TN kept it simple, but floating TNs work for melee combat, they could work here as well.

I think a few basic Social Proficiencies with their own maneuvers could exist (interrogation, and debating are all vastly different skills in real life after all). Does someone without the Debating Proficiency just have to roll with a reduced Social Pool and do their best against that trained orator?

Or, what if there was a basic Social Proficiency and you could learn different maneuvers for it the way you learn new proficiencies? So someone might know how to Fast Talk, but they wouldn't know how to set up a Rebuttal? To get more granular, a prophet could be very skilled at Intimidate (fire and brimstone) but a courtesan knows the Cast Doubt and Flatter maneuvers. I'm not really sure how all those would interact however (weak against, strong against?)

And while we're brainstorming, Swashbuckler or 7 Seas (both?) have that thing I've heard about where each move has a limited number of follow up moves it sets itself up for. That'd be cool.


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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:58 am 
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I like your seduction example, as it is something I had not thought about previously, but of course that would also fall under social combat! I also like the courtesan maneuvers, very fitting for what I would call the Charming Attitude! (not only for courtesans, of course - Grima Wormtongue comes to mind as well :) )


Quote:
I think a few basic Social Proficiencies with their own maneuvers could exist (interrogation, and debating are all vastly different skills in real life after all).

exactly, which is what I think can be reflected by having decidedly little "overlap" between Social Styles / Attitudes.

Quote:
Does someone without the Debating Proficiency just have to roll with a reduced Social Pool and do their best against that trained orator?

More or less, yep. I would say that, similarly to melee combat, when you are forced to fight with something you're not proficient in, grab the nearest improvised weapon and default to it as well as you can manage!
Therefore, the base Social Pool should perhaps remain static (like Reflex would), but Attitudes would have to be defaulted to in any situation where it would be impolitical to use the one(s) you are really good at - forcing the street thug who is really intimidating and self-assured in the nightly alleyways to squirm in his booots when speaking at court, for example...
(Having a few points in Subservient or a similar Attitude may prove wise to those with reason to fear being in such a situation someday, just in case ;) )

Quote:
not really sure how all those would interact however (weak against, strong against?)

That is of course the tricky bit - at a gaming table, anyone can say anthing at any time, much like (theoretically) in real life... only the chances of success are in some cases so small as to persuade most people from not even trying (openly intimidating the Supreme Judge in public, trying to flatter and use empathy on the streetgang trying to rob you...)

Limiting the coices too much will make the system unattractive for players (who love their freedom of acting over all, as a general rule I find), but limitations also create niche protection - which can be a good thing to have.
Just imagine how under this system the player who has chosen to make a character specialized on socializing will really be almost the only one talking in certain situations, simply because the rest of the group is too wary and cautious to say much, lest the GM compel them to make rolls to back up their words - and then the entire group would have to live with the consequences for what the filthy (if brawny) barbarian just said to the king! :D

Limiting it too little, on the other hand, would risk ruining just that. With this system, you'd want to give players the tools to back up their rhethoric creativity with some hard numbers and daring rolls - but without some limitation, there would be no challenge to it!


perhaps we should first try and come up with a "grand total" of Social Proficiencies we'd like to see in there, ideally somewhere from about 5-9 or so, covering all the essential aspects of human social interaction?

From there, inventing and distributing Maneuvers should be easy and intuitive enough. Having thus established a "big picture" of sorts, the detailed rules (which are bound to come up almost along the way, pretty much) could then be finetuned, game-tested and balanced against each other.

Sounds lengthy, but doable :D


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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:57 pm 
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One more sooper long reply and then it's holiday time!

Ian, would it be possible to move this thread over to EoS? I think we're moving into that territory now. If it's a simpler thing to just repost my outline over there (thread title, EoS: Social Combat, or something) I can do that instead.

Playtesting! I tried it out last night (in it's current, imperfect form) and I'll recap now (to the best of my recollection at any rate, I'd been drinking quite a bit before we got to the social combat).

My players, Nici and Raket, are soldiers in the Denicium Imperial Forces. They and their fencing instructor, Eunice Thaureau, have been conscripted by a Ministry of Science agent, Darrius Crise, into searching for a downed dirigible on its pilot on a nearby island. Raket is a social-climbing, silver-tongued bastard, always with his eye on other people's true motives. He suspects Darrius isn't telling them everything about why fencing specialists were selected for this mission. (fencing is something of a specialty in this world as firearm technology is pretty advanced). Raket's player tells me what he wants: to get the full story behind this dirigible crash. I fudge the rules a bit, and, instead of giving Darrius his own goal in the Social Combat, I rule that if Raket loses he will be looked at suspiciously for asking too many questions (possibly being investigated by the Ministry of Science). Raket's player accepts the terms and we begin.

*some notes* the game system I'm using is just as much a patched-together, clockwork monstrosity as the campaign setting it is used for. Up front, Attributes range 1-5, as do Skills (like Burning Wheel) with typically a fixed TN of 6. As with Burning Wheel harder tests require more successes, denoted by Obstacle 1, 2, etc..*end notes*

Raket wants to open with out warning and throw Darrius off guard. He waits until they are marching inland and then declares a Point for 5 dice out of his Social Pool of 10 (Wit 4 + Social 3 + Debate 3). "That brewing storm should cover our retreat, shouldn't it? After all, I suspect we won't be alone when we find that dirigible." Darrius rolls his Wits (3) against an Obstacle of 2 (he wasn't expecting an attack and focused on his surroundings). He fails the roll (one success short I think) and is surprised. His Social Pool is 10 (Wit 3 + Social 4 + Spycraft 3) and he will lose half of the for the first round, leaving him with only 5 dice to work with.

Darrius is flustered, completely blindsided by this statement, and figures his best bet is to Avoid the Topic (only a TN 4 versus Raket's TN of 6). He puts all 5 of his dice for this round into it, leaving him nothing for the following exchange. We roll. Darrius gets 4 successes, but before I can even smile, Raket rolls all 5 successes (my wonderful, newly rpg-converted geek of a wife wanted to take pictures of the dice, haha). MoS (1) + Raket's skill (3) - Darrius' Social (4) brings it down to level 0. Raket didn't strike home with that Point, but he maintains initiative into the new exchange, and Darrius has no dice left. He's still struggling to compose himself and is wide open.

Raket goes for another Point. "I know there's more to this than you're letting on. You aren't fooling anyone. Why not shed some light? I can't be effective to you if I don't know what we're up against." He puts his remaining 5 dice in. Darrius has nothing to make a Counterpoint with. Raket rolls 2 successes + Skill (3) minus Darrius' Social (4) = a level 1 hit, reducing Darrius Social Health from 4 to 3 (in this case I just used their Social as hit points, didn't want to drag it out). I check the damage chart. Doubt 0, Surprise 2, Embarrassment 4 - 4 Social = 0. *note - i'm using the chest section in the quickstart rules. I've never actually graduated to the Core damage charts as I was trying to convert people to RPGs and nothing turns people off faster in my experience than saying "you hit! now hold on for 5 minutes while I look up exactly what that means"*

New round, pools refresh. Raket is at 10. Darrius is at 10 - 2 Surprise = 8. Like Shock, Surprise only lasts one round. Raket still has initiative and knows he tagged Darrius, he wants to use Incite to lower that Social Pool even more and get an opportunity for a rebuttal (he also sees Darrius as competition for the affections of Eunice, no game mechanics there, but he'd like to make the man look foolish in addition to getting this info). He rolls his (Wit+Social)/2 = 3 against Darrius Willpower of 3. "On second thought, forget it. You're nothing but a dog for the Ministry of Science. We soldiers are just pawns to you, isn't that right?" They roll and Raket wins with MoS 1. Darrius loses 1 die from his Social Pool and must go offensive with at least half on the following exchange.

Darrius has lost agents before. Raket's remark burns. Darrius, angry, puts everything into a Point (7 dice). "I care for my men more than you'll ever know! There are bigger things at stake than you and I. As a soldier you should understand that." (perhaps this wasn't the best move tactically, but I try to have NPCs make mistakes such as this when it seems like good roleplaying. Another example would be inexperienced swordsman with large dice pools always spamming huge swings at the head, leaving them open for counters and the like). Raket was hoping for this and uses a Rebuttal. He'll burn 2 dice and put the remaining 8 into a Counterpoint. If he succeeds he'll gain bonus dice for every success Darrius rolls. "You really buy into that propoganda?" he asks. They roll and Raket succeeds. Darrius landed 3 successes, so Raket will have 3 bonus dice in the next exchange.

New round, pools refresh. Darrius to 10, Raket to 13 (with bonus dice). Raket has the initiative and completes his Rebuttal with a Point "You really are just the Ministry's dog after all.". He puts in 5 dice. Darrius goes for the Counterpoint with 6 dice. "You don't know the first thing of my loyalties." Raket then declares a Feint. "Prove it to me then, dog. You know holding back now could get us all killed." He uses all his remaining dice at 2:1. 8 dice is now 4 plus the original 5 = 9 against Darrius' 6. They roll and Raket wins with MoS 3 + Skill 3 – Darrius Social 4 = 2. Darrius Social Health goes from 3 to 1. I check out the damage table and see his Doubt is 4 (he'll have to Roll against that TN every round to avoid losing more Social Health). His Surprise is 6 (he loses the 4 dice he had left for this round) and his Embarassment is 6-4 Social = 2 (all pools lose 2 dice from now on).

No dice for the second exchange, so we skip it. New round, pools refresh. Raket to 10. Darrius to 8 (from Embarassment of 2). At this point I noted it was only a matter of time until Darrius succumbed to his Doubt, which kind of makes it a cool mechanic. It's similar to dramatic scenes where a character says something really profound and walks away, then the other character will call them an hour later, "hey... I was thinking about what you said". Raket isn't having any of that though. He wants to make Darrius look bad in front of Eunice and spends a few rounds toying with him before finishing him off (using Fast Talk and Incite frequently)"Take a look around you! There's no ministry here, just you. It's blood on your hands, not theirs. Hey, don't look at Eunice. Who's talking? That's right. Answer the question!" In the end, Darrius is a sweating, nervous mess, and Raket gets all the info he wants.

So, I have some thoughts after the playtest. It was fun. My players really liked it, and they're very enthused that it makes a non-fighter a viable character option. Like physical combat, it eats up a decent chunk of your session time, so the stakes should definitely be higher than they were for Raket and Darrius. My players will be going deep under cover in the next session. Picture a scene where they have to get information out of a general, but failure means they're exposed as double agents and likely executed. THAT is a good time for Social Combat, otherwise a simple die roll could do the trick and keep things moving.


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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:07 pm 
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jetlagg wrote:
Ian, would it be possible to move this thread over to EoS?


Sure, no problem.

jetlagg wrote:
Playtesting! I tried it out last night (in it's current, imperfect form) and I'll recap now...


Nice recap. I like the resulting scene.

I am a little concerned about the overall impact on gameplay. Does the party now require a combat specialist, an arcane specialist, and a social combat specialist? Will certain NPCs become simply impenetrable as their position -- say Prior of Montrose -- means they need no combat nor arcane development? So whatever development they've got goes into social combat skills rather than other mundane skills that have a less juicy impact on the game?

Nothing insurmountable of course but something to consider as the system is developed.

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 Post subject: Re: Social combat
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 8:54 pm 
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Quote:
It was fun. My players really liked it, and they're very enthused that it makes a non-fighter a viable character option.

Glad to hear it - I think this is the main allure of the system! Without these factors, there would be little reason to have it, otherwise ;)

Quote:
Like physical combat, it eats up a decent chunk of your session time, so the stakes should definitely be higher than they were for Raket and Darrius. [...] THAT is a good time for Social Combat, otherwise a simple die roll could do the trick and keep things moving.

I think you are absolutely right on that one. I have had a very similar experience with a social confrontation system I was developing for a home-brew system we played and worked on for a few years.

In the end, I handled it similarly to how you don't make a grapple attack for every time a player says "I grab her by the arm and pull her out of sight of the guards" or "I push him away from me and rise from my seat" or some such (most of the times, player characters can (and should) be just able to do that sort of thing successfully.

Likewise, not every conversation, even if hostile, confrontational, and/or dramatic necessarily needs to make use of the (full) rules for Social Combat.
Only if a situation is both hostile and dramatic, and is resolved between two characters of roughly equal capacity (socializing-wise), should it be rolled out in great detail, as you rightly point out.

Otherwise it may become a little like declaring Initiative everytime your character kicks a beggar out of his way, or "grapples" a fly out of his beer :D


* * *


Quote:
I am a little concerned about the overall impact on gameplay. Does the party now require a combat specialist, an arcane specialist, and a social combat specialist?


Yes, it may well result in that. But then again, there has always been a place for a dedicated socializer in any party – only the role has been a decidedly unthankful one in the past, in the majority of cases. So most parties have perhaps learned to make do without one, simply since no player wanted to sign up for that job?

Given interesting and challenging rules and options for such a dedicated socializer, however, more players might be interested in giving this a try. Similarly to how in a system where there are spectacular magic rules, people will want to play a Sorcerer, whereas when the magic is ruled plainly and off-handedly, this role loses a lot of its appeal as well. Players might still try it out now and again, but most will turn away again after just a little time, going “meh. That kinda wasn’t what i expected out of it”.

Could be the same with Social Combat, I imagine :)

And there is always the (much more “convincing” (in lieu of the term “realistic”) approach of having players become multi-skillers instead of dedicated specialists. The wilderness-savvy fighter type is one such mainstay, as is the educated, sagely wizard. Perhaps the charming witty bowman may become another?

Quote:
Will certain NPCs become simply impenetrable as their position -- say Prior of Montrose -- means they need no combat nor arcane development?


To a degree, aren’t they already? What ever points they do not invest in combat or arcane capacities, they will likely put into skills. These are usually the characters who have insanely high Politics, Etiquette, Intrigue, Falsehood etc. ratings – and, to a degree, I fell this is cinemtically / dramatically apropriate for them to have. The Prior you mention is after all likely to have spent most of his life moving through the hierarchy of his church and making a living from socializing with his flock of belivers in between that. He would have those skills pretty much practiced by now. :)

The only difference, then, would be to replace those skills with (social) proficiencies, and have those players / npc’s actually have fun using them! :D

Quote:
So whatever development they've got goes into social combat skills rather than other mundane skills that have a less juicy impact on the game?


In fact, I would consider replacing any skill that can be used socially with an equivalent Proficiency. Or vice versa, for every Proficiency that is invented for this system, there may be one (or more) skills that become obsolete.

After all, who needs Haggling rating X, if you’ve got a Proficiency or three full of maneuvers that let you do the same job in greater detail, with more flair, and having more fun while doing it?!

Quote:
Nothing insurmountable of course but something to consider as the system is developed.


Certainly so, and thanks for the input – it sure helps shape out those rough ideas!


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