Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hello, Handsome...

Social Combat

I'm trying out Courtney's rules for the Gameable NPC (and considering buying his book, although the price is pretty steep). One thing I see about this set of rules, however, is that it presents the game of social interaction within a fairly neutral framework. In other words, the NPC has not decided one way or another about the players, and so there's not really a "Social Combat" aspect to it. When a character has already decided on a confrontational stance, though, there should be a gameable way to convince/seduce/deceive/intimidate the NPC into changing their mind (or, at least, not following through with their original decision).

Here's what I came up with:

  1. Set the Social Resistance Value (SRV) between 1 and 9, depending on circumstances. Bribing the city watch to let you go before they bring you in would be a 5 or 6, say; convincing the king that you're not in his bedroom to kill or rob him would be a 9.

  2. Determine the opposed attributes. Common ones would be:

    • Deception: CHA vs. INT
    • Seduction: CHA vs. WIS
    • Debate : INT vs. INT
    • Oratory : CHA vs. CHA (when two characters fight for the sway of a crowd, for instance)
  3. Determine the Present State Penalty based on the current Social Resistance Value:

    • 1-3: -1
    • 4-6: 0
    • 5-9: +1
  4. Each side rolls 3d6 against their own relevant attribute. Compare the roll to that attribute's value:

    • Over: No result
    • More than 2 times: -1 success
    • At/Under: 1 success
    • One-half : 2 successes
    • One-third: 3 successes, etc.
  5. Move SRV up or down by the difference in successes. E.g., if the PC gets 1 success and the NPC gets -1, move the score down two points. On a tie, move the value up by one.

  6. Adjust the SRV by the Present State Penalty, determined in step 3.

  7. Repeat until the SRV = 0 or SRV = 10.

There's a little work to be done with this; for one thing, there aren't many options for players other than what kind of contest to enter (deception, seduction, et al), and possibly when to bail out. Failure on one front (say, deception) might suggest taking up another (say, seduction).

I'm thinking there might also be actions to take (flatter, threaten, go off on a tangent, bribe, etc.) that may have a bonus if they succeed and a penalty otherwise, and tying those actions to the NPC and situation. Also, the SRV can move up and down a lot, and might not resolve for a long time. GMs could consider adding a time limit to the process.

Nonetheless, the basic mechanism seems sound to me. I'll give it a try on my next game and see how it works out.


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