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Inactive Forums => The Riddle of Steel => Topic started by: Drew Stevens on February 19, 2003, 09:23:54 AM



Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 19, 2003, 09:23:54 AM
*paces while waiting for his full copy of Riddle*

I was pondering recently, specifically about social intrigue and such- given the deadlier nature of combat in Riddle, I rather expect my players to try politicing a bit more than they previously have.  Normally, however, 'social intrigue' means 'roll a contest of the Revelevant Social Traits'.

Which has very nearly as much to do with the way people intrigue and scheme as does hit points and THAC0s to do with actual combat.

Has anyone attempted to make a Riddle-like combat system- except instead of being for litteral combat, it's meant to model the feints, reputations, alliances and treacheries of the Court?


Title: Social Combat
Post by: toli on February 19, 2003, 10:04:52 AM
I like the general idea of an "intrique combat system" but I imagine we would mostly roll play things.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 19, 2003, 10:31:49 AM
Mm.

The trouble with roleplaying court intrigue is the same as anything else, really- there's no system for determining success or failure, which means it defaults to GM fiat.

And while there's nothing really wrong with that (in some games it works exceptionally well), it could well be useful to have mechanics to help guide and govern such fun.

There's also the issue of players playing characters who are significantly different than themselves- the reason for having personality and intelligence traits in the first place.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Valamir on February 19, 2003, 10:35:14 AM
Like you I have pondered the idea.  It works very well in Hero Wars where the exact same system used to fight an enemy army can be used to haggle with a merchant (if desired, there are shortcuts).

Riddle would be pretty easily adapted to such a thing also.  Instead of a Combat Pool you'd have a Social Pool using Soc instead of Reflex and Etiquette instead of Proficiency (or other attributes and skills depending on the specific nature of the challenge).  

From there the very basic dice pool combat sans maneuvers would be fairly easy.  The only question would be what to substitue for DTN and ATN.  I'd say an opponent's attribute such as Wit or WP and maybe occassionally MA would be a good choice.

Maneuvers would be largely free form descriptions of what one was trying to do...for instance if trying to impress the king to choose your plan over your rivals you might engage in a "move" that featured opposed rolls with MAs as the Target representing scoring points by displaying your superior knowledge of the situation.  Or vs the King's Wit if trying to bamboozle him, etc.

Certain types of Combat Maneuvers would translate well.  One could easily see the verbal sparring equivalent of a Stop Short...probably have witnessed it in fact.  Feint would be another one, as would the debate equivelent of a Beat attack (skewering your opponent's arguement before they've even had a chance to raise it).  One could even invent some new ones like a maneuver for "setting up a straw man" which if your opponent falls for it (perhaps with a roll off similiar to stopping short) he's tricked into wasting time addressing tangental points (the maneuver might set up a seperate pool which the opponent has to defeat first, before he can get back to defeating the main pool).

Damage would work identically, although one would probably eliminate Weapon Damage, Toughness, and Armor equivelents and go directly with Successes=Wound Levels.  The graphic descriptions of wounds would obviously depend on the situation, but the Shock and Pain effects would translate perfectly (renamed of course).  One defeats ones opponent when accumulated "pain" has reduced the pool to zero dice...whether defeat represents getting the lady in bed, convincing the king your plan is superior, or getting the merchant to give you a really good deal.

If one wanted to get real involved Blood Loss would even work.  Failing a "Blood Loss" roll would not result in dropping health, but an increase in bad reputation (if one was attempting to seduce a lady and suffered a "blood loss" effect in the process one just acquired a reputation for being a cad/heel/boor for instance).

If one were REALLY ambitious one could probably come up with a seperate damage table for different techniques..."Witty Repartee", "Scathing Satire", "Flattery" etc.   The Witty Repartee table might have wounds that did High Shock but low Pain damage.  The Scathing Satire might have wounds that do low shock and pain but high "Blood Loss" (i.e. the bardic ability of giving someone a bad reputation through satire).  Flattery might have low shock but high pain wounds.  That might be going farther then necessary, but it would be an interesting exercize.

Certainly not a system you'd use all the time (just like it isn't in Hero Wars) but for times when the players are trying to convince the people at the local thing to rally around their banner, or are on trial for their lives, or attempting to convince the king and queen to sponsor them on an expedition to get to China by sailing west....well you get the idea.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: toli on February 19, 2003, 11:12:34 AM
Quote from: Valamir
Riddle would be pretty easily adapted to such a thing also.  Instead of a Combat Pool you'd have a Social Pool using Soc instead of Reflex and Etiquette instead of Proficiency (or other attributes and skills depending on the specific nature of the challenge).  


How would you convert the etiquette skill (or any other skill) to a prof or pool?  Perhaps an easy way would be to roll etiquette normally but have the result be an additional number of dice to the Social Pool.  Eg, success by 1= soc x 1.5, success by 3 = soc x2, success by 5+ = soc x3.  

You could also use this method to convert stategy and tactics skills to pools for mass combat.

NT


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Valamir on February 19, 2003, 11:28:34 AM
I'd probably just do simply 10-level or 12-level.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Jake Norwood on February 19, 2003, 11:56:24 AM
I hear "mini supplement"

Jake


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 19, 2003, 01:49:55 PM
Hi there,

If a person does settle down to some design for this idea, which I think is wonderful and perfect, he or she should make sure to read the game Lace & Steel very carefully. Its card-based duelling system is used identically for swords and repartee - down to the meaning of the "low line" vs. "high line" attack trajectories.

Best,
Ron


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Valamir on February 19, 2003, 03:36:51 PM
I forced myself to reread L&S recently.  Its actually pretty kick ass if you can force yourself to get past the Centaur and Fairy nonsense.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on February 19, 2003, 03:37:56 PM
And here's a good note for those interested in Lace and Steel - it's being re-released as a PDF on RPGnow.com from what I understand.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Brian Leybourne on February 19, 2003, 04:28:43 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi there,

If a person does settle down to some design for this idea, which I think is wonderful and perfect, he or she should make sure to read the game Lace & Steel very carefully. Its card-based duelling system is used identically for swords and repartee - down to the meaning of the "low line" vs. "high line" attack trajectories.

Best,
Ron


You could do worse than reading through the Dying Earth RPG as well - the entire system is based around "duelling with your wits" and combat is very much a second thought. Hard to run properly, but very fitting for the setting, and could be a useful resource.

Brian.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Callan S. on February 19, 2003, 06:40:29 PM
Start talking...each party drops a red dice or white dice. Red dice means they bring up the topic of debate first.

Double white...talking small talk and weather.

Red and white: Investigator declares how many dice he'll use from his RPpool to 'attack' and try to get to the point of things. Defender declares how many dice he'll use to defray and avoid the topic (if he went red, it means he spends his time denying and debasing the topic).

Even some of the moves sound right...fient, go from one topic them jump over to another to put them off balance, etc.

Though I'd say every round would take five or ten minutes.

Otherwise it could almost be the same...


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mainboard on February 19, 2003, 09:32:09 PM
WOW, I really like this idea and I LOVE the idea of this being a mini supplement.. My wife has always loved playing nobility but intrigues and politicking is something she cannot do. Like Mr. Stevens said:
Quote
There's also the issue of players playing characters who are significantly different than themselves- the reason for having personality and intelligence traits in the first place.


My wife cannot "role-play" court life, in fact she is as socially adept as a stone. Having a system like this would help those who do not have really good acting or intrigue planning skills. If I could hand my group a "mini" supplement for social espionage I could FINALLY have a court game that my players could have fun in! No more useless planning and trying to come up with plots, witty banter, and other things my group is not very good at! I knew buying TROS was going to be worth my money. :)

Please Jake say it IS so!

P.S. Noon I LOVE that idea!!!!


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mainboard on February 19, 2003, 09:38:20 PM
P.S. Noon I LOVE that idea!!!! My wife walked in on me talking to one of my players on the phone about this post and asked excitedly "When is the book coming out so I can throw my white dice to have small talk with the nobles or my Red to ruin their lives?"


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Brian Leybourne on February 19, 2003, 10:29:13 PM
Quote from: Mainboard
My wife walked in on me talking to one of my players on the phone about this post and asked excitedly "When is the book coming out so I can throw my white dice to have small talk with the nobles or my Red to ruin their lives?"


I think you'll find that what Jake meant was "That sounds great, somebody write it and I'll put it on the webpage". That's what a mini-suppliment usually means around here.

Brian.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 20, 2003, 03:32:55 AM
Hell, I'm willing to help with any such mini-supplement :)  Although more in a research capacity until I've got der full copy.  I've even got a few notes typed out at work on different 'areas' that can be socially attacked, as opposed to just having it be one great whole, and the start of using Fame as both a shield and weapon...

Ahem.  Anyways :)


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 20, 2003, 11:46:15 AM
This is not merely meant to cover debates, but all forms of social intrigue.  I'm drawing as my primary inspirations Alexander Dumas' novels (the Three Musketters and the Count of Monte Cristo), the Prince and the Farseer triology by Robin Hobb.  (I'm also explicitly ignoring Jordan's Wheel of Time- while the Game of Houses has the right feel to it... ehh.)  I'm also, sort of, borrowing from Steve Jackson's card game Illuminati! (not the CCG version).  I've also flipped through several websites on Rhetoric and debate techniques- I couldn't find RPGnow's Lace and Steel, and have only recently found a copy of Dying Earth to borrow, which I can't read at work.  Some of these sources will be more apparent is the next version, focused on the tactical scale of intrigue, taking the whole of a court into a single exchange.

Social combat, much as martial combat, falls into three scales- the personal, the Court, and the World (analogious to Melee, Tactical and Strategic).  This supliment will focus primarily on the personal.

In a verbal dual with another, there are two essential positions- for and against ideas.  Someone is for no idea in particular, and devotes themselves purely to attacking another idea, may be wise- but they also can offer no alternative, and so their attacks (however true), will be ignored.  Or at best, incorporated into strengthening the original idea.  So, we deal only with those times when there are two or more competing ideals and those who champion them.

An undeniable aspect of social combat at a personal level is that of social class.  Higher nobility have a true advantage in the court, while even landless titled gentry will overawe most freemen, and so on.  This translates to different ATN and DTN's for different *percieved* social classes- a recently escaped prisoner may have the tongue of a bard and the grace of a courtier, but their rags will see their arguements dismissed out of hand.  Dress the same in the cloth of a nobleman, however... It takes more than clothes, though.  It takes the right attitude, and that can be infinitly harder to convincingly portray.  There is also a certain amount of skill involved, however- the art of rhetoric, the practice of deciet, the ways of judging truth from falsehood.  So Vocational proficiency can also come in, mostly in what Manuvers may be used.

So.

A basic social pool is compsed of Ettiquete and Social, plus any relevant social proficencies.  Your ATN is equal to your opponent's Social or Wits (whichever is greater), plus two for every 'step' (Royalty is normally at least two steps, and landed lords one step, above landless gentry)  of difference between your social classes above you.  Your DTN is your opponent's Social or Wits (whichever is greater).

The most basic offensive manuver is to Argue the point- unchecked successes consult the social damage chart.

Equally easy is to Insult the opponent- which are easier to make (ATN -1), but can be dangerous- in many countries, a person who recieves an Insult with successes equal or greater than their Willpower will try and turn the arguement violent.

Next is the Feint (which requires a Courtier or similiar VR of at most 8).  A social feint involves a sudden change in conversation, which can leave an opponent stunned.  It functions almost identically to a combat feint- discard two dice from the SP, and declare any additional dice you want to add ot the attack. discarding one die for each one you add.

Next in the Stop Short (which requires a Courtier or simliar VR of at most 8).  Stopping Short is essentially just a distraction, a means of throwing an opponent off, such as flattery or even partial agreement.  It has a cumulative cost of 1 die each time it's used, as well as committing some number of dice above and beyond.  The attacker rolls Wits versus his Courtier VR, while his opponent rolls Willpower versus his Courtier VR + however many dice the the attacker committed.  If the attack succeddes, then the defender looses the margin of success from their remaining Social Pool.

So, for example, Geralt (who has a Social Pool of 10, Wits of 4 and a Courtier VR of 7) attempts a Stop Short while debating the merits of the King's invasion of Stahl with his 'friend' Stephen (who has a Social Pool of 8, Willpower of 3 and a Courtier VR of 8).  This is his first Stop Short this conversation, so there is no activation cost.  He spends one die from his Social pool anyways, raising Stephen's total TN to 9 (his VR of 8 + 1).  They both roll- Geralt rolls a 10, 7, 6, and 2 while Stephen rolls a 9, 4 and 1.  Geralt's margin of success is one, and so Stephen looses one die from his Social Pool for the next exchange.

More complex, rhetorically speaking, is the Bind (which requires a Courtier or similiar VR of at most 7).  Binding someone's arguement means anticipating and pre-empting points and counterpoints, or leading one's opponent into a corner or paradox from which the only escape is agreement- it is usally a setup for a socially devistating Arguement.  Make a standard Social attack roll- each point on the margin of success reduces the target's Social Pool by one for the next exchange.

And finally, the Beat (which requires a Courtier or similiar VR of at most 6).  A Beat may only be used in the opening exchange of an arguement, and is an attempt to completly circumvent the entire debate by cutting off further debate through a quick pincushioning of common points and counterpoints to the speaker's advantage.  Make a standard Social attack- each success reduces the target Social Pool by one for the remainder of the debate.

So armed, the Courtier is as deadly an opponent in the Court as a soldier is on the field.  However, there are defenses.

The simpliest is Counter-arguement.  A standard social roll.

The next is to Dodge the question.  The DTN for Dodging is -2 from a standard defensive check, but the defender must win with a margin of two successes to seize the initative.

A full Evasion is the last of the simple defenses.  The defender, rather than answering the question, begs forgiveness as they rush off to a suddenly remembered prior engagement- conceding the debate for the moment, but not neccesarily for long.  The DTN for a full Evasion is -3 from a standard defensive check- although the attacker can always chose to let someone who has attempted a full Evasion go.

More complex is a rhetorical technique (which requires a Courtier or similiar VR of at most 8) of Counter Questioning.  Rather than directly answer the point, the defender instead questions the attacker himself, in a manner not dissimiliar from an veiled insult.  The defender's makes a social check at DTN -1; however, if they have more successes than their opponent Willpower, then the attacker will suddenly feel a most pressing need to draw steel.  This does usally end the arguement...

Another popular technique (which requires a Courtier or simliar VR of at most 8) is Absurdist counterpoint, which exagerates the attacker's point so far out of it's normal scope as to render it laughable.  Absurdist counterpoint costs two dice to attempt, and is otherwise a normal defense roll.  However, each point of margin of success they defender succedes by is a penelty to that attacker's ATN for the remainder of the debate.

For example, Stephen (SP: 8, ATN: 5) and Geralt (SP: 10, DTN: 4) are now arguing over which Duchess has the lovliest eyes.  Stephen has chosen to simply Argue the point with Geralt (with 5 dice), who takes the chance to show how Absurd his friend is being (paying two first to make an Absurdist point, and then 5 more beyond that).  Stephen rolls a 9, 4, 3, 3, and 1- only one success -where Geralt (lucky bastard) rolls a 6, 6, 4 and 2- three success.  Geralt's margin of success is two, and so not only does he take initative, but Stephen's ATN (should he ever get iniative make) would now be 7.

The height of style, however, comes from turning one's own attack totally against them, especially against boorish opponents.  Such Counters (which require a Courtier or similiar VR of at most 7) cost three dice up front, as they are subtle and elaborate and delicate constructs.  However, should the defender succede, not only do they gain initative, they gain bonus dice equal to the total successes rolled by both attack and defense!

Social Damage
Reputation Loss (RL): Same mechanic as Blood Loss, uses an Opponent's Social instead of Health.  Just track the highest RL.
Scandel: Same mechanic as Shock.
Agreement: Same mechanic as Pain.  

An arguement is over when either an opponent has no more Social Pool due to Agreement, or their Social has fallen to 0 from Reputation loss.

Level 0: A bit of a zinger, but no notible effect.
Level 1: A witty line to use later.  RL: 4, Scandel: 2
Level 2: An excellent retort and bit of logic, that!  RL: 6, Scandel: 4, Agreement: 1
Level 3: Bit of a blister there, eh?  RL: 8, Scandel: 6, Agreement: 3
Level 4: A devestating series of arguements of logic!  RL: 10, Scandel: 8, Agreement: 5
Level 5: An arguement so totally connected that refutation seems impropable- and may be impossible.  RL: 12, Scandel: All, Agreement: 7
Level 6: No matter how intractable the opposition or how they personally feel, no one can deny that they have lost the debate.  RL: 14, Scandel: All, Agreement: All


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Jake Norwood on February 20, 2003, 11:52:37 AM
::GRINS::


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mainboard on February 20, 2003, 12:05:15 PM
Oh, sorry I did not know. I am really new here so I hope I was not rude.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Jake Norwood on February 20, 2003, 12:14:06 PM
Quote from: Mainboard
Oh, sorry I did not know. I am really new here so I hope I was not rude.


Hey, no problem. No rudeness here. :-D

Jake


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Brian Leybourne on February 20, 2003, 01:23:55 PM
Quote from: Mainboard
Oh, sorry I did not know. I am really new here so I hope I was not rude.


Not at all mate (Assuming you're referring to my reply to your message). If you thought you were rude then you have a pretty harsh view on what's rude :-)

BTW, I really like your .sig, but you left the most important part out :-) Right at the end, he says "Time to die". Really powerful quote IMO.

Brian.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 20, 2003, 02:11:24 PM
Good start Drew.I can see it getting published. While mini-supplement means written by a fan, that doesn't mean it's not a real product. I think Jakes saying that he'd put his imprimature on such a product if well done. Would you Jake?

Couple of notes. For those two maneuvers that can go to a fight, what I'd say is that if they are used, the person suffering from them can avoid taking any damage by declaring that he's escallating to violence, as long as the declaration is made before the roll (the actual roll would indicate that he'd tried to resist first, in which case, it would be too late, the damage would be done). The question of how likely this is for an NPC is purely a question of how the violence is seen in that country (and could be adjudicated by a roll like you indicate if the GM is unwilling to just choose). But PCs should be able to go to violence just like at any other time, with only the potential consequences to consider (killing the Duke may silence him, but it might also get you hung).

That said, there's no reason why such a duel of words can't continue while a fight is on. If both PCs throw white, they do a round of Social Combat if either wishes, and there is an appropraite audience. I'm reminded of the scene in Rob Roy where Neeson duels the fop. The Fop wins the social contest but ends up dead. The outcome of the physical duel should have an affect on the social combat. Depending on the nature it may eliminate all social damage in the combat, or reduce it. Losing might double losses or something. This might extend to all losses sustained in the combat so far, not just ones sustainded during the combat. Cool?

This is how bullies can sometimes remain at court. After taking losses, instead of just "taking it" they escallate to combat, in order to mitigate the effects suffered so far. Again, depending on the rules of the culture, consequences for such fights will vary in parallel with the perception of slight. A really deft social manipulator in most societies can remain out of the "danger zone" where he's a legit target most of the time.

Discussion of these sorts of norms (and perhaps rules for defining societies mechanically along these lines), would make excellent material for a mini-sup.

You know, there are lots of "illegal" techniques that you've missed that logic sites would say are bad ways to argue but often work IRL. I'd like to see rules for Gossip and Rumor-Mongering, and for Backstabbing, for example. Backstabbing would be to speak ill of somebody behind their backs when they didn't expect such. This reduces the opponents pool to zero to defend, and is often devastating. It's also often seen as very obviously conniving, makes people distrust you (might you be talking behind their backs as well?), and is a sure way to make enemies.

Also, lying. Lying is a great way to ruin a reputation.

BTW, mechanically I was thinking about what Reputation is good for. I see it maybe as something like an SA that boosts your social pool (similar to what you have for social status levels). Or something like that. Basically, it sounds like what all the fighting is about in lots of cases.

Cool stuff. I hope it sees book form.

Mike


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mainboard on February 20, 2003, 02:28:40 PM
Quote
BTW, I really like your .sig, but you left the most important part out :-) Right at the end, he says "Time to die". Really powerful quote IMO.


Yes Brian it is a powerful quote but I had to trim off the "Time to die" to get under the limit for sigs. :)

P.S. Yes I have a harsh view on being rude. :)


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 20, 2003, 02:31:38 PM
I was actually going to include quite a bit of that in the Courtly (tactical) version, as what I've written so far is mostly aimed for the 'two people get into an arguement/debate'.  And the avoidance of truth versus lies was intentional- I meant to demonstrate how a political situation is as much concerned with who has the more persuasive arguement as who has the factual information.

Although perhaps have such factual information demonstrably on hand should be worth some bonus to your SP...

Also, I like your thoughts on actual violence helping to mitigate the reputation damage- which actually ties in with another realization, that the healing model can be used to show someone who is 'on the outs' at a Court (and so starts any debate with an agreement level equal to their last Social Wound suffered) slowly regaining their old good name as time passes and people slowly forget all those nasty things that Count Ruegen said about you.  Country dependent, an honorable dual fairly won might be treated as though they had won the entire arguement- or their reputation 'healing' might be accelerated by an unprovable yet undenibly linked death of the other side of the debate...

Mm.  Much pondering required. :)


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Jake Norwood on February 20, 2003, 08:09:28 PM
Mike, Drew, that's exactly what I'm saying.

Drew, when you've got something you feel is about ready to publish, send it my way and we'll work things out.

Jake


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Callan S. on February 20, 2003, 08:23:42 PM
Quote from: Mainboard
P.S. Noon I LOVE that idea!!!! My wife walked in on me talking to one of my players on the phone about this post and asked excitedly "When is the book coming out so I can throw my white dice to have small talk with the nobles or my Red to ruin their lives?"


Thanks! Mebe I'll write up some more ideas for it latter. But sadly, with comments about your wife like "she is as socially adept as a stone" I consider you a dead man walking (they find these things out, you know!), so you'll probably never see it! ;) ;)

Edit: Ah, I see that my idea has already been worked on.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Durgil on February 21, 2003, 05:28:36 AM
I just wanted to say that this is one of the best posts I've seen (and that's saying a lot on this Forum!). I had never thought about this aspect of roleplaying before, but now I don't see how I could have gotten along without it. Excellant ideas guys, and I can't wait to see the final product in pdf form. :-)


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 21, 2003, 06:34:17 AM
Hm.

Question- I've started to tinker with the idea of Courtly level social intrigue, and my personal favorite model is to try and find some way of showing interconnectedness (who you know, who you can influence, and who you can control) is the most useful attribute.

Which would mean that people have essentially two forms of power-
Personal power: What that person brings to the table on their own.  Economic, nobility, strength of arms, magic- it would all boil down to personal power.

Peripheral power: Who you know, how loyal/indebted they are, how much of their power (personal and peripheral) they will contribute to your cause.

The problem is, while Personal Power can be roughly modeled as the new basic SP, I have no idea how to factor Peripheral power into this without making what amounts to an entirely new character sheet.  

Further, unlike with normal tactical combat (where there is a few clearly defined sides), social intrigue involves how everyone is acting almost by definition.  OTOH, that can be reasonably modeled with attacks that only reduce your opponent's Peripheral power or attacks that only reduce their Personal power...

Hm.

Has anyone here read Trollbabe? I understand it deals fairly heavily with relationships-as-power/advancement...

Oh, also, I'm definitly gonna have to up the DTN of social combat a bit.  A friend and I had a quick test of two courtiers trying to convince the king of their idea's correctness, and it lasted forever- neither of our attacks ever did damage.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Valamir on February 21, 2003, 07:15:35 AM
Quote from: Drew Stevens
Hm.

Question- I've started to tinker with the idea of Courtly level social intrigue, and my personal favorite model is to try and find some way of showing interconnectedness (who you know, who you can influence, and who you can control) is the most useful attribute.

Which would mean that people have essentially two forms of power-
Personal power: What that person brings to the table on their own.  Economic, nobility, strength of arms, magic- it would all boil down to personal power.


Actually Drew, check out Jakes new game idea La Famiglia.  The family as its own store of chips which individual characters can borrow based on their rank, but they are expected to return them and more or else bad things happen.  Might be a good model for what you're trying to accomplish.  Not so much with chips, but the ability to borrow from your connected peoples personal influence to add dice to your pool.

For instance you might have people you are indebted to.  You might be able to borrow an amount of their SA (depending on how valuable you are to them) but you'd have to return the points plus to them or they put the screws to you.  In other words the borrowing actually spends their points, and you have to use your own points from your own SAs to buy them back plus (i.e. instead of using them to buy up levels you use them to pay back your web of influence).  The advantage is that these people are likely more powerful than you so the dice you roll use their TN instead of yours.

You might also have people who are below you.  The advantage here would be that the obligation to pay it back is less onerous, but since they are likely socially beneath you the TN of their dice aren't as good.  The best situation would be to get the goods on someone above you so you get their TN and yet you're incontrol.

Quote

Oh, also, I'm definitly gonna have to up the DTN of social combat a bit.  A friend and I had a quick test of two courtiers trying to convince the king of their idea's correctness, and it lasted forever- neither of our attacks ever did damage.


I don't know Drew.  Sounds like standard bureaucratic log jam to me.  In an age where messages took weeks or months to send deliberating over an issue for years was normal (during which time the various factions are scrabbling for power...just like congress in slow motion)

What you need I think in stead is to break the issue up into smaller steps, so that the instant gratification of making progress can be felt, but the larger issue itself is still going around and around.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 21, 2003, 07:22:32 AM
Well, the idea with the Personal level of social combat is that of the old school arguing in front of a large crowd (or a small one, or just between friends- whatever), and so it is /meant/ to be the small step.  Small scale combat should idealy play much like swordplay does in RoS- slow and cautious at start, until one side overreaches themselves and gets savaged- and always fairly quick.  Ideally, it should emphasis how much of a parallel there is between the social games of the nobility and the bloody games of the warriors there is- a sort of 'barbarian at court who claims this form of savagery is worse than his own' thing.

And I'll check on La Famiglia, as it sounds fairly similiar to what I was already thinking.  Thanks :)


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 21, 2003, 11:47:31 AM
I think where you're going with the personal power thing is where it's at. That is, a failure to win on the small scale argument would lead to a drop in personal power on the larger scale.

I'd even get more complicated. Instead of power as an overall rating, I'd go with ratings for relationspip with all named characters of the court. Reputation might be the base, and then the Influence raing for the particular character goes up or down from there based on interactions.

So, my character, Bob the Magnificent, comes to court as a nobody with Rep 0. Bob makes a name for himself by defeating a horde of gols for Count Demoney (that's Demonet) gettting him Rep 5 and Influence 3 (for a total 8 effect) with the Count. Later, Bob accidentally snubs Baron Harpoonen, puting his Influence with the Baron a -10 (for a total of -5 including his Rep). Harpoonen starts a whispering campaign against Bob which subsequently reduces Bob to -2 Rep. When next Bob sees the Count, the Count still likes Bob (Influence 3 - 2 Rep = 1 effect), but warns him that his close relationships with his warhorse is a fact that shouldn't be circulated at court. Bob, a new shade of purple, asks about, and eventually learns that it was Harpoonen who started the rumor, and seeks him out. He calls Harpoonen out on the floor, and they duel ending with Bob skewering Harpoonen in a way that will leave the Baron unable to have children. Might proving right in this particular kingdom, Bob gets his 7 Reputation back, and an additional 3 for having demonstrated the Baron's villainy to the court. The Count now at an effective 13 decides to see if he can't get Bob the Magnificent to marry his daughter Elaine of the Unfortunate Visage.

What's Rep and Influence good for? These add to a character's Social for purposes of gettting people to do what you want. Perhaps for every five Rep+Inf you have on someone, you can roll an additional die on any check to get someone to do what you want. In this case, Bob burns his 3 with the Count Influence to demure on the marriage proposal (not even wanting to risk him insisting).

That sort of thing.

I see people using their meager Influence early on to try and climb, by starting with people who themselves have a little more influence, and trying to get them to get more Influence for them with more important folks. So, Jon the not-so-magificent comes to court, and manages to wrangle a job as an aide to the Barbican Castellan (um, the guy who controls who enters the gate). Using this position, he meets a lot of the court members, and uses his Inf with his boss (no rep at all yet), to introduce him to a Knight named Sir Melvin. Sir Melvin impressed with the castellan's description of Jon's toadying prowess, decides to take him on as his personal furbisher (armor polisher). He then subsequently gets Melvin to talk him up to Shante the Handmaiden of Marquessa Busoom. Shante, one of the prettier girls at court sends word that she'd be amenable to being courted by Jon (who ain't ugly), and, boom, word spreads like wildfire and suddenly Jon has a Rep of 1.

Etc. You could make a whole game outta nothing but this stuff. Just expanding your Inflence base, and using that to get people to help you further expand your base, until you've got the King asking you how many Armies he should send against Smallaria.

OK. who wants to play?

Mike


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 21, 2003, 12:27:58 PM
Mm.

I'd want to abstract out Reputation and Influence a bit as just the generic Power (name variable) pool.  And I'm not fully sure I grok a good way for the Social level and Courtly level to integrate- they clearly /need/ to, but thus far they don't. (Unless your Social Pool /is/ your Personal Power... maybe those should just always be the same...)

OTOH, recording your relationship with everyone else at Court who is spending their Personal Power (either for or against you) is definitly on the right track :)  I'm just more inclined to have it be recording how much of their Personal Power they've put at your disposal- how, precisely, you use these strings gets abstracted out into the manuvers of Courtly combat.

Hm.  Additional mental note- people should be able to devote personal power to /hating/ someone, too, giving them an effective anti-Peripheral Power (say, rather, giving any opponent they face an automatic bonus).  To help keep rivals quashed, and show the increasing cost of supressing up and comers.

Additional additional mental note- Courtly combat shouldn't have the clearly defined sides and initative of Social/melee combat.  All 'attacks' are declared at once, then all defenses checked, then pools refresh.  The actual activity that carries these results out may be weeks in the playing.   And you wouldn't just target enemies, but also the unaligned and your enemies allies to try and subvert them away from those blackguards and towards your clearly superior cause.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: svenlein on February 21, 2003, 01:47:50 PM
one idea,

If one side's thesis in an argument is inherently weaker this could be represented by a Terrain roll.

So if one minister wants to convince the king that killing the dragon may be difficult and a powerful wizard should be hired, and another minister says it will be so easy to kill his 3 year old son should do it.  The second minister could have to make a Terrain roll throughout the argument, since his position is going to be harder to defend.  (obviously this is exagerated, but you get the idea hopefully)

Scott


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Callan S. on February 22, 2003, 12:01:06 AM
I get the feeling I've lost the opportunity to expand on my original post/idea. At least not without seeming a bit of a copy. Sigh.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 22, 2003, 04:11:49 AM
svenlin- I like it :)  Bit a bit tricky though, to pre-decide which idea is inherently weaker.

Noon- Not at all.  I'm basically just throwing globs of paint at a canvas- everyone's encouraged to do the same.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Durgil on February 22, 2003, 06:25:36 AM
An idea that I had yesterday was how skill and fluency in a particular language, dialect, or even accent could modify the dice pool.  Here in the states the trick to speaking "correctly" is to more or less hide where you're from, but other cultures and languages have a dialect or accent that is concidered proper like the High German.  the speaker speaking in the proper dialect with the proper accent gains a dice or two while the guy speaking like he is from some back water area looses a dice or two.  speakers of different languages, no matter how closely related, should simply not be able to understand one another's speech.

I hope that all makes some kind of sense - I'm from the mid-west. :-)


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 22, 2003, 08:20:05 AM
Yeah, that actually makes perfect sense :)

While a lot of the social problems associated with a 'lower class dialect' are handled just with the stratification by class already, there should definitly be some additional penelty (or even potentially a bonus!  Think Saxon England after the Normans had taken over, and French beame the language of the educated elite for a while) for speaking another language as your native tongue would be appropriate.

Also, I've got my Riddle now *does his happy dance of ultimate joy* :)


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Durgil on February 22, 2003, 10:10:34 AM
Quote from: Drew
Yeah, that actually makes perfect sense :)

While a lot of the social problems associated with a 'lower class dialect' are handled just with the stratification by class already, there should definitly be some additional penelty (or even potentially a bonus!  Think Saxon England after the Normans had taken over, and French beame the language of the educated elite for a while) for speaking another language as your native tongue would be appropriate.

I'm glad I could contribute to this great idea!
Quote from: Drew
Also, I've got my Riddle now *does his happy dance of ultimate joy* :)

It is a great feeling isn't it.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 23, 2003, 08:42:05 AM
Whee!

Okay, I had a stupidly obvious in retrospect revelation, regarding the larger scale of Courtly social combat, and will be reworking that angle from the ground up- but what it boils down to is that it's not simply the scale that was off, it was the whole model.

The new version will be much more similiar to the personal scale social combat, but taking place at a very different time rate.  Generalized sentiment (the Crowd) will become an equivelent of Terrain (with the unusal flip side that favorable crowds will grant you bonuses- if you play off of them), so that the real focus goes back to a few individuals- the PCs, and the important NPCs.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Callan S. on February 23, 2003, 04:41:46 PM
Quote from: Drew Stevens
svenlin- I like it :)  Bit a bit tricky though, to pre-decide which idea is inherently weaker.

Noon- Not at all.  I'm basically just throwing globs of paint at a canvas- everyone's encouraged to do the same.


In that case, I'll add this. If your want to expand to larger arguments and debates (like you'd get in a court), I think the same system should be used (A pool, declare attack and defence, etc).

However, in this case the target number your looking for is based on how many small arguements you won, modified by that.

Imagine this: The politician sees the big debate coming...prior to it he goes around to everyone involved to have little discussions with them (I'm pretty sure its not much different in real life). So he wins some discussions, and looses others. These all modify his target number, so when the great debate comes up and its time for his big speach, the previous one on one conflicts have an effect, while the same system can be used for larger effect.

By taking success rates/etc from smaller conflicts and combining them into the system, I'm pretty sure you can just keep going up steps in scale.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: svenlein on February 24, 2003, 06:15:21 AM
Some situations that would be nice to be able to handle.

Convince someone of something, assuming they don't currently have an opinion.
"Herman Mechler sents me here to deliver this message"
Unless its terribly important this would probably just work by GM fiat.

Sell someone something.
"Step right up, this is genuine, bonified Heff blood.  Cures aches, disentary, the winds, and enhances your love life"

Have a debate with someone.  With possible outcomes of: One convinces the other, one becomes more understanding of the other side, both become more understanding, both become more entrenched in there idea.
example Theological debates

Having a debate in front of a crowd, would have outcomes listed above for the participants, plus the crowd would have outcomes: you convince everybody, everyone becomes more understanding, everyone becomes more radical, you convince some of the people, a combination of these elements.

Courtly rangleings.

Chivalrous Courtship.

I like the idea of having Respect and Influence from people meet.  They are not necessarily corelated:
my friend I have Respect from him and Influence over him.
My servant that i treat badly: i have llow respect from him but i have high influence.
I'm having trouble thinking of an example of high Respect low Influence, if someone respects you they will often take heed of your suggestions.
maybe influence sould only include coersive influence and include influence accorded due to respect.
So a friend would be defined as high Respect low coersive influence.

I'd like there to be some difference between telling a lie and tring to convince someone about a true thing.  I know for me its easier for me to convince someone when I'm telling the truth verses when I'm trying to lie.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 24, 2003, 08:20:46 AM
Yes, lying can be difficut. OTOH, one can develop skill in it. And it's a powerful weapon. The real downside to lying, however, is that, if you are caught in a lie, you lose people's trust. Which can mean everything.

Mike


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Brian Leybourne on February 24, 2003, 11:53:43 AM
Of course, there are already skills covering your ability to persuade people of things, and to lie sincerely. You would need to incorporate those skills into your system somehow.

Brian.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 24, 2003, 12:10:40 PM
Quote from: Brian Leybourne
Of course, there are already skills covering your ability to persuade people of things, and to lie sincerely. You would need to incorporate those skills into your system somehow.


Brian brings up a good point. There are lots of skills that should be incorporated in a variety of ways. Even for some that aren't directly related to persuasion per se, they can serve as a source of authority. Simply, if I know the Geography of Fauth, and you don't, I'm going to have an advantage in persuading people that my rout is the correct one to take.

I'm seeing some sort of "rolling" advantage. That is, you roll your skill roll, and tatke the successes as dice added to the next roll. Thus, in the example, I roll two successes on my Geography skill, and then add two dice to my pool for the continuing social conflict. That sort of thing. Perhaps one such augmentation per "round". Or somesuch.

Lying is cool, because you can simulate other skills with it. "Fauth? I've got a better idea: there's a pass to the North of the one he's pointing out that'll save us two days travel." Sure there is. Just roll lying and add as though the facts were true. OTOH, wait until they get there, and no pass materializes."

There may be much better ways to accomplish this; I'm just trying to get the idea under discussion.

Mike


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Brian Leybourne on February 24, 2003, 12:18:37 PM
I've been trying to keep out of this one, I find it very interesting, and am looking forward to the results, but it's not something that would usually be my cup of tea. My previous post was just because I saw something that I thought people were forgetting.

But Mike, I just have to respond to your post :-)

The entire system under discussion is based around rolling lots of dice to simulate a discussion and see who "wins". That rankles on me a tiny bit (which also makes me a hypocrite since I was previously arguing in another thread that the game should be based on character skill and not player skill, but that's another story *grin*).

Anyway, my point is that I can just barely accept the "social combat" system as it's being proposed. But now you're proposing rolling a whole other die pool each round (or maybe more than once a round) just to add dice to your other pool (the social combat one) each round?

That's just too many dice, my friend. There has to be a better way than that...

Brian.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 24, 2003, 12:42:48 PM
Quote from: Brian Leybourne
That's just too many dice, my friend. There has to be a better way than that...
You're opposition is based soley on the idea of it taking too much time to handle? Not on anything else? All I can say is that I disagree, then. Handling time is a matter of opinion. Yes, this adds time, but it does so for a good reason, IMO.

Personally, I imaging all this happening very slowly. That is, there would be a lot of description of the details of what's happening between rolls. So, I see it as already a long drawn out process, and the point of this sort of play. One conflict might last all session long on the one end of the spectrum, as I see it. As such I see adding new kinds of rolls as gravey. Heck, I've already proposed having entire combats occur between rounds of social combat. That would certainly slow things down.

I think we're both visualizing this very differently. I don't see the a social combat system as a replacement for playing out the social interactions, just something that happens as you go along to adjudicate the results mechanically. As you said, representative of the character's ability (not just the players). As such, this just seems to be a system for linking together all the normal rolls one might make in a normal session that pertain to a social conflict at hand.

This all said, if there's a faster way to incorporate these things into the overall structure, then great. As I said, it was just an idea to get talking about it.

Mike


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Brian Leybourne on February 24, 2003, 01:01:39 PM
Fair call.

One interjection though -

Roleplaying and rollplaying don't usually mix well. One particularly stellar example of where they don't is in social interactions.

What you're proposing is that you and I (say) roleplay part of a discussion, then roll the dice to see how well we did in a stats sense, then roleplay some more, etc.

The problem is (and I have experienced this very thing): One of us will make a brilliant observation or comment, a deal-breaker, an argument winner. And then we'll roll the dice and botch, which means that what we said was actually the completely wrong thing to say. Except it wasn't until we rolled dice.

Do you see what I'm getting at? It just doesn't work well when you mix dice with roleplaying in a social sense. I agree that character skill should be more important than how socially adept and quick thinking the PLAYER is (in the same way that you don't have to know how to weave a basket in real life to take the Craft: Basket Weaving skill), but in situations like the one above the results jar so badly against each other than everyone is shocked out of the shared experience and you remember that it's just a game again.

Just my 2c. I agree with everything else you said.

As for incorporating the skills into the structure better, how about making it as simple as this:

You already have your ATN's and DTN's, but when you are trying to persuade someone, you use your Persuade skill as the DN instead of the usual DN for the conversation. Or when you lie, use your sincerity skill level instead of the ATN you would otherwise use. Etc. Or, you always use the worst of the two numbers. Of the best of the two. Or whatever. That seems pretty simple, neh?

Brian.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 24, 2003, 01:11:58 PM
Mm.

First, on roleplaying and rollplaying not intermixing- I'm of, frankly, two minds.

On the one hand, that situation you just described is absolutely, utterly and totally true.

On the other hand, I am inclined to think that it's partially just a matter of conditioning and past experience.

Imagine if combat were conducted the way most people handle social situations...

Me: I walk up to the Gol and bring my battleaxe across it's neck, severing it's head before it has a chance to react!
GM: Alright, roll your attack.
Me: ... I botched.
GM: Ah!  Well, clearly you didn't cut off his head, eh?

How is this different from

Me: So you see, Duke, going to war is not only neccesary, it's vital!
GM: A convincing arguement!  Roll the dice to see if he believes it.
Me: ... I botched.
GM: Clearly the Duke found a flaw in your arguement, and is now a staunch pacifist.

Of course, most people /don't/ describe how combat goes until the dice are rolled for precisely that reason.

And the whole 'social occurances should just be roleplayed out', I honestly think might be a self-perputating problem.  Why don't we have a system for dealing with interpersonal relationships and conflicts?  Because we roleplay it out.  Why do we roleplay it out?  Because there's no good, comprehensive system for dealing with them.  And, when you've stripped out interpersonal relationships, what's left is combat (and assorted after effects thereof).  And what do the majority of RPGs devote the majority of their pages to?  This is apart from any questions of gaming shuting out chunks of the potential market by so negelecting those relationships.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 24, 2003, 02:39:03 PM
This is one of those ancient dichotomies, Brian*. Given TROS' standard methodology of resolution, yes, it's somwhat of a problem.

What I'd suggest is something that Drew almost hit upon. What we call Fortune in the Middle or (FitM). What it means is, like in combat, you roll first and then describe the action afterwards. That is, if I do well on my roll, I describe what just what the effect is that matches the roll. As opposed to making the speech and then rolling. Yes, this takes the ability to succeed with intelligent social manipulation out of the hands of the player. But then, that's sought, no? What it leaves is the fun part, the description. And if you can't come up with something good to represent a success, you say, "And then Bob says something witty, and makes everyone laugh." Which works just fine.

This does not mean that you have to roll for everything, either. Basically, the players and GM can decide when to call for the use of the rules, and when to just wing it with "regular" role-playing.

Just one option.

Mike

*The extended argument deals with the idea of whether or not, and to what extent, a system should replace the player's ability to do something that is social or intelligent. For example, should one be allowed to use a character's deduction skill to solve a puzzle, or should the player be required to do it? The basic sides of the argument are A) allowing the system to interfere is boring, and B)allowing a system to determine results allows players to play characters with abilities greater than their own. This has been batted around a great deal, and the only consensus is that there are great differences of opinion.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 26, 2003, 08:32:23 AM
Alrighty.

I've been hammering out a number of interesting issues related to the Courtly level of social combat.  In particular-
A) Gambits (attacks, manuvers, whatever you call them) are really only attack oriented.
B) How to deal with the Court, without having to outline an absurd number of NPCs.
C) How to deal with the shifting waves of popular opinion (again, without the absurd number of NPCs)
D) How a character's reputation, presence and fame influence matters.
E) How Social and Courtly level combat interact, when you would use one and when the other.

Now then, to that end.

Points B and C I finally resolved as a Court having two 'terrains' (the Nobility and the Common Folk), where the difficulty in negiotating them is determined by how hostile they are to your proposals.  Instead of the normal penelty for failing/botching terrain checks, however, you will lose some set number of dice (that number varying between one and six, in my mental run throughs), depending on the relative power of the groups.  An alternative break is to divide the Court's terrains by the political factions therein- so that you might be in good with the Cardinalists, but the Musketters and the Commoners have it in for you.

Point A is fairly self-explanatory.  There is no direct defense in social combat.  Attacks may be blunted, but not until they've been launched.  At the same time, it isn't possible for a powerful gambit to be launched, really- they have to incubate on their own for a time.  Ergo, the Courtly Pool (must... get... better... names!) will be used to do three things-
Start a new gambit (or multiple new gambits), learn of unsprung gambits, and reduce the strength of enemy gambits (sprung or unsprung).

Points A, B and C create a new class of Gambits- Terrain influencing.  Power brokering.  Instead of directly attacking an enemy, you focus on changing the terrain- improving the attitudes towards you, and making them worse towards your enemy, and/or increasing/decreasing the power of a piece of terrain (so that it is more or less riskey to risk failing that terrain check).

Point D is a damnable bastard, which I'm still working on.  My inital thought is that at the courtly level, personal charisma starts to matter less than belonging to a politically strong faction, knowing how to manipulate people and opinion, and having the money and connections of the upper crust.  So, ultimately expect some mixture of your group's Power (if it's a terrain, from above), your Wits, and your social class to determine your Courtly pool.  Fame, I'm inclined, simply makes audiences more receptive of you- not terribly helpful, and VERY fickle if someone with the right strings decides to set themselves against you.

Point E is the other damnable bastard.  While one obvious interaction is in manipulating terrain/factions (by tromping or embarrasing someone in a debate in front of a large audience, etc), I almost feel like this is getting too focused on the terrain/factions, and is losing the focus and speed that it vitally needs to be fun.

But yeah.  Just in case anyone's still listening to my rambles :)


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Durgil on February 26, 2003, 09:02:06 AM
Quote from: Drew Stevens
..But yeah.  Just in case anyone's still listening to my rambles :)

If you are having any doubts to the popularity of the crowd still reading your post, keep an eye on the "Views" #.  600+ is a respectable number IMO, and my I add that I tune in everyday during lunch to this subject to catch-up on how the discussion is evolving.  I don't have the ability or time to play-test what you have put out, but it sounds great so far to me.  Keep up the good work.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Fallen_Icarus on February 26, 2003, 01:54:18 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
The basic sides of the argument are A) allowing the system to interfere is boring, and B)allowing a system to determine results allows players to play characters with abilities greater than their own. This has been batted around a great deal, and the only consensus is that there are great differences of opinion.


1st off I'd like to agree wholeheartedly with those who fall into the "B" group here.  I think that having a system for being smarter/quicker/more persuasive is a key aspect of a good rpg.  True, there arn't many systems for dealing with this kind of interaction and thats why fighters and warriors are predominant player types.  However "A" is also true in that replacing roleplaying with rollplaying lowers the game to that of a computer rpg where the NPCs respond in lifeless, repetitive blurbs based on things you've done in game but outside of the "conversation".  

Mechanics aside though, I think a good way of mixing the 2 can be found in a RPG system called Story Engine.  Released by Hubris Games originally for the Maelstrom setting.  The way that system does resolution is backwards from most.  The players announce their  intention first, make rolls, and then they describe their own actions based on whether they failed or succeded.

Example

Player 1: I dont like the look of this.  I think theres to many of them to deal with.

Player 2: I agree.  Lets make a run for the window.  Maybe if we can get out onto the roof of the tower they wont follow.

Player 1:  Yeah.  Then we can use terrain against them.

GM:  So am I to take it that your goal for this scene is to escape onto the roof?

Players:  Yep.

GM:  Ok, roll.

GM:  (after tallying succeses)  looks like you guys barly made it.  How would you decribe your actions?


I think this system would still retian the fun of soc combat but also keep the mechanics in play.  Any thoughts?


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 26, 2003, 02:10:50 PM
Mm.

The trouble there is it boils a social combat thing into a single roll.  And while there's nothing inherently wrong with such a thing, there's nothing inherently right with it either.  Which is essentially how it's handled now- Roll Wits or Social versus an Etiquette (Court), Orate, Diplomacy, or some other appropriate skill.

Riddle's particular method of Complex Task Resolution (Combat, Sorcery, etc) lends itself to a deeper (more crunchy) means of such resolution- which could, IMO and if properly executed, allow for a whole different venue of very real and dramatic 'stuff' that is no less exciting than anything else while not removing the role aspect from play.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Fallen_Icarus on February 26, 2003, 02:20:22 PM
Well, its true that the way I expained it does seem to over simplify things.  I think the reason for that is because in my example I used only the Story Engine rules.  But I was only citing example.  I love the idea of complex rolls.  Numerous ones at that with choices of attack and defence (I've already applied some of your initial thoughts into my game)  I just mean that to keep it fun for the players, they should be able to describe their own actions  as they see fit according to the results of the roll, leaving a final description up to them (OK'd of course by the Senechal).  Its sketchy and obtuse but I think that the reverse resolution trick is the key to combining the best of both worlds


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 26, 2003, 02:34:26 PM
Oh, hell yeah :)

I just misunderstood the thrust of your point there.  I absolutely agree that the player should narrate the results of the roll within the world.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: arxhon on February 26, 2003, 09:26:51 PM
Quote
..But yeah. Just in case anyone's still listening to my rambles :)


I'm watching too, but i really don't have anything to add. As long as the whole gamut of applicable skills (sincerity, Orate, Persuasion, et al.) can be used intelligently, I'm happy. If things look too confusing, I'll squawk! :-)


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Ryuuko on February 27, 2003, 07:18:57 AM
Quote from: arxhon
I'm watching too, but i really don't have anything to add. As long as the whole gamut of applicable skills (sincerity, Orate, Persuasion, et al.) can be used intelligently, I'm happy. If things look too confusing, I'll squawk! :-)


Ditto!

Great Job so far Drew and good suggestions from everyone else!


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 27, 2003, 01:50:56 PM
Firstus, thanks for the support :)  I am, by nature, a self-depricating and self-critical sort, but it's nice to hear postive rahs.

Second, Courtly Combat (v .02) - This is the skeletal system of the Courtly (as distinct from Social) level of 'combat', and has some drift from the traditional Riddle style of conflict resolution.  But, so it goes.  :)  Also, I'm prowling for additional Gambits and forms of Neutralization, and still don't have a good means of integrating the actions of Extraordinary Individuals (like the PCs) into the larger picture.  And lastly, it was typed in Notepad, so the formating is a little funky in a few places.

Typical Exchange of Courtly Combat
Negiotate the Climate (Designate some dice to try and avoid offending any of the factions- difficulty determined by the faction's attitude towards you, the cost determined by the Power of the faction)

Declare Gambits (Gambits are both the What and the Who- designate dice for the Gambit itself, and for keeping it secret.  One success on the secrecy check, all else being normal, is all that's needed.  Any number of Gambits may be attempted.)

Declare Neutralizations (Neutralization is the basic defense- if you know of a Gambit, you can attempt to Neutralize it.  Neutralization cancels successes of a gambit on a 1 for 1 basis, and has a slightly higher TN.)

Refresh.

Note that both parties declare Gambits and Neutralizations simultaniously- in play, such events play out over days or weeks, and the normal initative thinking breaks down.

Playing the Climate- Each faction will have a relationship to your own, and a Power level.  The more hostile they are, the more of a 'background' resistance there is, and the harder this background resistance is to avoid or mitigate.  Only one success is needed to suffer no backlash.  On a failure, you lose half that group's Power from your pool.  On a botch, you lose that group's full power.

As an additional note, while your own faction will have a relationship with itself- in this case, representing internal cohesion.  It's treated the same as any other relationship, however, and will normally be allied, which requires no roll.

Attitude    TN
Overtly Hostile    15
Passivly Hostile 10
Uncaring    7
Friendly    4
Allied       (no roll neccesary- automatic success)


Gambits I've Thought Of (the mechanics still need major fleshing, but this is the direction I'm headed so far).

Gambit: Persecution- Using political influence, your Faction physically intimidates, jails, and kills members of another Faction.  A typical action of tyrants who have little understanding of how to persuade rather than destroy enemies- but there are times when it can be effective.  (No Prereqs)

System: Persecution may not be secret.  Make a typical Gambit Attack- if your Successes are greater than the Targeted faction's Power, and they get no successes on their Defense roll, then the Faction has been eliminated- although a few secret stragglers may try and bring it back latter, the faction as it existed has ceased to be.

Neutralization: Martyrdom- When a group is suppressed, a savvy leader can use the extra attention as a means of generating sympathy and support.  Although it requires a skilled Orator (or likewise useful skill, level no higher than 8), many tyrants in the past have been suprised at how the tables have been turned on their secret police.

System: May only be used if your Faction is being Persecuted or under Violence.  Make a typical Neutralization roll- if you achieve even one success (Not one success in a MoS, but one success period), then take all the successes your opponent made in the gambit as bonus dice for the next exchange.  This, however, replaces the normal damping effect of Neutralization.

Gambit: Gossipmonger- Gossips and rumors are always the bane, and the court of public opinion is more based on what a few influential wags will say than on reason or evidence most of the time.  The right words in the right ears can spread a tale (true or false) like wildfire, and the harm done may be irreperable.

System: As a Gambit, Gossipmongering is primarily meant to change public opinion, without directly helping or harming a group's power structure.  Make a standard social attack, and consult the below chart for the degree of influence.  Note also that it is easier to make people hate someone than love 'em.

Actively Hostile -> Passivly Hostile: 5 successes
Passivly Hostile -> Uncaring: 4 success
Uncaring -> Friendly: 3 successes
Friendly -> Allied: 3 successes

Allied -> Friendly: 2 successes
Friendly -> Uncaring: 2 successes
Uncaring -> Passivly Hostile: 3 successes
Passivly Hostile -> Activly Hostile: 4 successes

Gambit: Spy Network- Secrecy is the lifeblood of politics, and doing one's level best to not reveal how much you know or how you know it.  To that end, the Spy Network- although politically expensive to create and maintain, a Spy Network tells you much more about enemy activities.

System: A Spy Network costs 3+X dice to start, and X dice to maintain thereafter.  However, when someone attempts to keep something secret from you, it becomes a contested action between their efforts at concealment and your spy network.  Each success your Network must be matched by the Secrecy check (plus the one for keeping it secret at all), or you learn of the gambit.

Gambit: Blackmail- Reputation is... how shall we say... very important to those who engage in politics.  And yet, most who engage in politics also have some frequently unsavory habits or history- and even if they don't, evidence can be manufactored.  The effect is the same- the leadership of a faction either become seemingly paralyzed or risks self-destruction.  Blackmail can also be used to demonstrate a threat of violence for failure to comply, or any such similiar thing.

System: Blackmail has a three die activation cost, but is otherwise made as a standard Courtly attack.  The faction leader being Blackmailed makes a choice- they either restrict the next (S) gambits and neutralizations to no more than 4 dice (S = number of success made on the blackmail check), or disregard the threat and allow the blackmail material to surface, which counts as a normal Attack with twice the number of successes.  Few opt for the later, as the consequences are so severe.

Gambit: Violence- Subtly different from Persecution is the use of Violence against a rival Faction.  Violence is a means of reducing a group's political power by direct destruction of the group's material resources and members.  It is impossible to wipe a group out through Violent means- but rivals can be effecitvely hamstrung.

System: Discard three dice, and make a normal Social attack at ATN+1.  With a number of successes equal to the target group's current Power will reduce that Power by one, to a minimum of one.

Gambit: Consolidation- Not all politics is destructive.  Indeed, the majority of Reinessenance Italy was notible as much for the rush to create and demonstrate the height of fashion and style.  The goal was to be so impressive as to deny rebuke.

System: Discard three dice, and make a normal Social attack at ATN+1.  With a number of successes equal to the target (usally one's own) faction's current power+1, increase that Power by one to a maximum of six.

Gambit: Parties and Festivals- What else do the Nobility do besides throw banquets?  What do the peasants do beyond have a festival for every third week?  Who doesn't like a party?  Quite apart from this, parties and regular meetings are a good way of helping to consolidate internal politics and maintain a firm hand on the wheel.

System: Treat a Party as a use of Gossip attempt made against your own faction to increase it's internal cohesion, which requires two fewer successes to do so.  To go from Friendly to Allied takes 1 success, and so on.

Gambit: Propaganda and Debate- Challenges another faction leader to an open debate- basically, calling them out to openly prove their faction's rightness.  Doing so is a risk, of course- failure makes you look as foolish as you would have them appear.

System: Make a standard Courtly attack.  If the gambit works, then the winner of the debate inflicts a number of successes worth of damage on the loser in the Courtly arena As the Dice Rolled In the Gambit.  A single, successful debate can be the most devestating attack possible to either the powerful or the meek.

Gambit: Simple Propaganda- Just what it sounds like.  A simple attempt to blacken another faction's name and lessen it's power.

System: Make a standard Courtly attack.  Successes = damage on the Courtly Damage chart.

Courtly Damage- Mix and Match!

On a success with a Courtly Attack that does Damage (as opposed to some other effect), then select a number of 'wound levels' equal to the total number of successes earned.

Scandel
1 Success   1 Scandel
2 Successes   3 Scandel
3 Successes   6 Scandel
4 Successes   10 Scandel
5 Successes   ALL Scandel

Agreement
1 Success   0 Agreement
2 Successes   1 Agreement
3 Successes   1 Agreement
4 Successes   2 Agreement
5 Successes   3 Agreement

Reputation Loss
1 Success                   Reputation Loss: 3
2 Successes   Reputation Loss: 5
3 Successes   Reputation Loss: 7
4 Successes   Reputation Loss: 9
5 Successes   Reputation Loss: 12

Note that Agreement and Reputation Loss become a little different in Courtly Combat- They are each reduced by one level every three exchanges.  Normal healing times don't mean as much as they otherwise would.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 27, 2003, 02:45:19 PM
Whoa, trying to grok. Will comment when absorbed.

Cool.

Mike


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 27, 2003, 05:23:38 PM
A note for your grokking-

This is Not a complete system yet (the way Social Combat is, or at least is MUCH closer to).  It's unorganized, and virtually nothing has hard numbers associated with it, nor have I really sat down to contrast/compare as see if anything jumps out at me as Unstoppable.

If something looks mechanically stupid, it probally is and should be pointed it.  Bugs, not features :)


Title: re: Social Combat
Post by: John Resotko on February 28, 2003, 07:19:19 AM
First, let me state up front that I applaud all the hard work that has been tossed around in this thread to try and develop a social combat system.  Pick any Cyrano movie out there, and you'll find me cheering on old long-nose during the scene where he teaches a rather unimaginative punk how to REALLY insult someone.  Wars of wits and words are great fun, and the hero with a quick tounge and a quicker sword is a staple thru the entire genre.  I do think some kind of optional rules for social dueling and combat are an interesting idea, and encourage all to continue the work on these rules.  I would caution that in the 20 years I've been running RPGs,  development can go too far.  Several posts have skirted around the pros and cons of developing supplimental rules for Social Combat.  Rather than reiterate them, I'd like to put in my own checklist that I use when trying to create house rules or suppliments to another author's fine work.  When devising suplimental rules, I have always tried to

1) not reinvent current rules that work just fine, no matter how tempting
2) resist going too far into complexity, which can cause a lot of advanced preparation in order to use the rules
3) have the mechanics make sense with the rest of the game system, and be easy for both player and seneshal to add to their game encounters
4) create rules that enhance social interraction (player to seneshal, and player to player), not replace the roleplaying of social encounters with dice rolling
5) once I've created a house rule or supplimental rule,  go back to the books and really analyze if there is a way to do what I want in the existing rules without what I've created

On the downside, I am a firm believer in Freeman's first law of Seneshal-ing:

"Never let Rules get in the way of a good Game."

Contested rules are fine, but as many pointed out, they don't always work well.  Example: when you have a hero standing on the top of a makeshift barricade in the city, trying to rouse the peasants, shopkeepers, and citizens on one side while the city militia ride up with horses and weapons on the other, no Seneshal worth their grey matter is gonna make several dozen roles to see if you pursuaded each and every member of that crowd to Stand and Fight.  It's just not realistic, it wastes all your time, and it sucks the life out of any tension in that situation.  More to the point, remembering the goal of Chapter 8, it's also Not Much Fun for anyone involved.

Also, having one of your players actually try to improvise a Heroic Inspiring Speech in character (then roll for success) is much more satisfying for everyone than the player stepping up and saying "I'm gonna make a Social Combat role to convince everyone to fight with us", tossing some dice, and having the Seneshal rule thumbs up or down.

Finally, one thing missing from all these rules that I have to point out.  When engaging in Intrigue, it is often the case that one side or the other simply doesn't have all the information in a situation.  What happens if a player is engaging a member of the Court for information, but asking questions on a topic that indicates to the NPC that the player is simply "barking up the wrong tree" and doesn't know jack about the situation.  Does a success mean the NPC takes pity on him, and points him in the right direction, or does a success mean that the NPC answers the question that was asked truthfully, even though the information is essentially useless?  (in which case, from the player's perspective, it may not be a success.) It certainly makes the definition of success more interesting, no?

I'm a firm believer that social interraction needs to be social first.  Dice can be used when the nature of the debate or interraction is simply too close to call without examining the skills of both parties. It is also needed where the player is "fishing" for information, and some random element is needed so that the player either knows for sure, or is kept unsure, about the information they receive from the encounter.  One guideline a Seneshal could consider is to use such rules if there is some question of uncertainty that the player is trying to resolve that social interraction doesn't provide.   If one of my players stands up during play and gives a speech to the peasants that would make Shakespeare's Henry V speech at Agincourt proud, then a roll is moot.  You made the speech, the peasants rally, and pitchforks are raised in defiance of the Unjust Patrican!  Huzzah!

But, that's just my style, as a Seneshal and a player.  I'll use ONLY the minimum rules to keep the game rolling, but no more than that.   Now that I'm done being long winded, let me state that again, I do think there are good an legitimate reasons to formalize some of these rules.  I also firmly believe they need to remain optional to encourage active roleplaying, and reduce reliance on dice roles to resolve social interraction.

In the immortal words of Dennis Miller "... but that's just my opinion, I could be wrong."   (grin)


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Drew Stevens on February 28, 2003, 08:03:26 AM
"I'll use ONLY the minimum rules to keep the game rolling, but no more than that."

In that case, what I'm working on is utterly irrevelant to your style of gaming.  Use the in book Courtier skills and simple (or simply contested) skill checks.  Potentially even ditch those, in the case of a player roleplaying a particular scene exceptionally well.

Well and good.  :)

(Notice- this is not a slam, insult or flame.  It is an honest question.  Damn the internet's lack of emotiveness) At the same time, why are you playing Riddle of Steel, if you like the minimum of rules to keep a game rolling?  RoS has fairly complex combat and magic systems, and there are /much/ simplier games out there- Sorcerer, Donjon, and Paladin all jump out at me, just from what I've gotten recently.

While I'm all for making an elegant system, the goal here is a certain level of depth and complexity, on par with what Riddle does for both the realism, strategy and playability of physical combat.

"I also firmly believe they need to remain optional to encourage active roleplaying, and reduce reliance on dice roles to resolve social interraction."

See, this is where I'll disagree with about half the people on the planet (I think ;).  The dice/Fortune-mechanic-of-choice is not meant to replace roleplaying, it's meant to act as a guide for the narration of social interaction.  Do I out argue the Duke?  Do I persuade the King?  And so on.  Itís meant to reduce the problem of both Silver Tongued Orcs (players playing something that they are socially/intellectually superior to, and not having a ready mental guide for how to reduce themselves) and Stumble Tongued Bards (players playing something that is superior to them socially/intellectually, and not having a ready mental guide for how to enhance themselves).

If nothing else, itíll be a good concentrated place of rhetorical techniques and potential intrigues, so that, even without the mechanics, the games of drama/roleplay based High Society will have a touch more reality.  When/if this mishmash gets formalized as a minisuppliment, then the rules wonít be the major focus- the major focus will what social intrigue is and isnít like, and how to portray it in a dramatic or realistic fashion, especially in the various courts of Weyreth.

Oh, and your example with persuading the crowd- 100% correct, the present social combat rules aren't meant for that.  In basically the same fashion as Riddle's system breaks down when you get a few dozen guys fighting one another.  The Courtly level stuff is what you would use for persuading a crowd- specifically stuff like Gossip (which could take the form of a loud denouncement of the King, or whatever...) Mm.  Need to make that clearer...


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 28, 2003, 10:23:59 AM
John, you state your points eloquently. But I come down on Drew's side. Well said, Drew.

One of the manifesto's of The Forge is called System Matters, under the Articles link at the top of the page. What it says is that, all things being equal, system will inform play. To that extent system should be exactly as heavy as it needs to be to reach the designers goals, no more, no less. Essentially, John, you have certain preferences about level of rules use, and on the old issue of rules vs. play regarding socilization. These are simply preferences, and Drew cannot appeal to all of them.

Yes, I'm biased because I seem to share Drew's preferences. But that doesn't change the fact that where Drew is going is not a bad place to go. It might just not be your cup of tea.

This all said, the spirit of John's admonitions is well taken. There certainly are pitfalls that abound. But I think that Drew has his head on straight and won't be including rules that are totally out of range with TROS play.

I'm sure we'll all be able to comment more effectively when the system is better laid out.

Mike


Title: Well said!
Post by: John Resotko on March 03, 2003, 11:42:18 AM
"Touche!" seems the most appropriate way for me to start,

No harm, no foul, and no flame seen or imagined on my part.  These forums are for discussion.  To paraphrase, I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.  I do hope you didn't enterpret my comments as a flame:  I'm merely exercising my occasional itch to inject devil's advocacy into a discussion.

In responding to both Drew and Mike, I agree that my thoughts were not complete for any and all possible players you may encounter..  I've had a few Stumble Tongue Bard players in my games (and even Stuttering Casanova Wannabes, which IMHO is a worse groaner in any group!).  For those instances, I agree that a more complex system for dueling with one's wits is both useful and a much needed addition to the core rules.  Depending on how complex it turns out to be will determine if I use it for my own games.  Of course, what you are developing will be quite useful.  I simply wanted to caution against creating too many rules, or rules which are too complex that later become so unwieldy that they detract, rather than enhance play. It is too easy to get so enthusiastic about the rules development that the original problem of creating a playable set of rules can get lost.  I've gone down that path myself, and I've seen it done by well meaning and enthusiastic fans of games.  Hey, like the rulebook sayeth, use the rules you want, change what you need, but above all Have Fun!

As for the question directed at me personally: "why are you playing Riddle of Steel, if you like the minimum of rules to keep a game rolling?"  The answer is simple: I try to use the minimum number of rules necessary to keep the game rolling, but no more. That statement doesn't mean I don't use complex rules.  I should have also included that I use the minimum number of rules to run the game to my (and my player's) satisfaction.  That isn't to say I don't like complexity, or that I'm always looking for the simplest solution.  Quite the contrary: I look for rules that are simple enough, yet satisfying for the simulated situation.  I honestly think that the designers of TROS have created a system that represents the minimum amount of rules necessary to simulate accurate, tactical swordplay. Minimum rules does not always equal simplistic rules.

As a former collegiate fencer and USFA member, I've always been dissappointed by other game systems attempts to create a combat system with the actual intensity, strategy, and difficulty of swordplay.  TROS represents, to me, best developed system to date for simulating swordplay.  Any Seneshal could make them more simple, using some of the methods described in the rulebook, but to me they would lose the flavor of dueling/swordplay.  You could make them even more complex, but any more might make them too unwieldy for quick combat resolution. All rule systems have a place in the game, but it's up to the Seneshal to assess their usability, the skills of the players, and the flavor and feel of the game your Seneshal is trying to run.  

I have no doubts that Social Combat/Dueling rules will be of benefit to the TROS system.  I look forward to seeing what a fully developed system will look like.  Play on, brothers in arms and wits!


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mike Holmes on March 03, 2003, 12:10:21 PM
What did we do in some past lives that makes us so worthy of having a board with such well mannered participants? Blows my mind regularly.

John, not only did I not see it as a flame, but rather to the contrary, as I said, your thoughts actually have a point which should not be missed. There is a point where even an intentionally complex series of rules becomes too much. And that elegance is perhaps the most important part of good design. Can't hurt to remind about that. And I'll defend your right to an opinion right back.

Hmm. Maybe a light version can be concocted once the more complex one is complete? Couldn't hurt. :-)

Mike


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Jake Norwood on March 03, 2003, 12:18:17 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes

Hmm. Maybe a light version can be concocted once the more complex one is complete? Couldn't hurt. :-)

Mike


This is probably the best way, actually. Do a full-blown complicated version and play it to see what's fun and what isn't.

Jake


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Callan S. on March 05, 2003, 10:24:17 PM
Quote from: Drew Stevens
Mm.

First, on roleplaying and rollplaying not intermixing- I'm of, frankly, two minds.

On the one hand, that situation you just described is absolutely, utterly and totally true.

On the other hand, I am inclined to think that it's partially just a matter of conditioning and past experience.

Imagine if combat were conducted the way most people handle social situations...

Me: I walk up to the Gol and bring my battleaxe across it's neck, severing it's head before it has a chance to react!
GM: Alright, roll your attack.
Me: ... I botched.
GM: Ah!  Well, clearly you didn't cut off his head, eh?

How is this different from

Me: So you see, Duke, going to war is not only neccesary, it's vital!
GM: A convincing arguement!  Roll the dice to see if he believes it.
Me: ... I botched.
GM: Clearly the Duke found a flaw in your arguement, and is now a staunch pacifist.

Of course, most people /don't/ describe how combat goes until the dice are rolled for precisely that reason.

And the whole 'social occurances should just be roleplayed out', I honestly think might be a self-perputating problem.  Why don't we have a system for dealing with interpersonal relationships and conflicts?  Because we roleplay it out.  Why do we roleplay it out?  Because there's no good, comprehensive system for dealing with them.  And, when you've stripped out interpersonal relationships, what's left is combat (and assorted after effects thereof).  And what do the majority of RPGs devote the majority of their pages to?  This is apart from any questions of gaming shuting out chunks of the potential market by so negelecting those relationships.


Just a note on this. Primarily combat uses a sytem because, it doesn't matter how good an archer you are, you just can't express that at the gaming table without taking an eye out. Your physical skill just can't be carried over, so we use some stats n' stuff.

However, when it come to chatting, to convincing, to making witty marks, almost everything we are can come across at the table.

Although we use tough guy persona's in the game worlds, we ourselves essentially want to escape there for awhile.

One way we really get to transport ourselves to that place is by sending our wits and will there, to say the great things or such. We imagine ourselves there, then we say something of importance to the moment, were even more there.

But, just as stats replace how we can shoot a arrow, they can end up replacing/blocking our projection of ourselves to this other world.

When I've thought of social interaction, I've thought of it in terms of 'fun fights'. In other systems you lay into some kobolds and just have fun doing it. Here I imagined it being used against the small fry and those of little import. 'So the fighter got to cleave some people, now I get a little dice time with what my PC is good at!', the diplomat PC then goes on to 'slaughter' some aides, minor officials, etc, on his way to the top - the big guy, where roll play then kicks in.

At that point dice rolls are used as an assistant and not at all often, IMHO.

There's one more rule of roleplay, probably. Somthing like 'The more the system needs dice, the less it needs players'.


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Mike Holmes on March 06, 2003, 12:01:04 PM
Quote from: Noon
There's one more rule of roleplay, probably. Somthing like 'The more the system needs dice, the less it needs players'.

That is an opinion. You've made it known to Drew here. If you (or anyone else for that matter) want to debate it, I can only suggest starting a new thread in the RPG Theory forum (and maybe post a link to it on this thread. Talk about this stuff is starting to clutter this thread, IMO (for which I'm partially at fault).

Mike


Title: Social Combat
Post by: Callan S. on March 06, 2003, 06:37:43 PM
It's a hypothesis, really, that's why I chucked 'probably' in.

As for the forum it should be in, it's a bit iffy. After, new material can push out old material. Sometimes what is considered good material can be pushed out and a larger amount than whats been added.

High faluting hypothesis or not, this is a strong consideration to...err...consider.