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Author Topic: Interrogation: A question about role playing them.  (Read 1612 times)

Posts: 582

« on: May 11, 2006, 09:51:24 AM »

I am interested in hearing people's perspectives on how to run an interrogation using conflict resolution techniques.

First a review of other ways I've seen interrogation done.

In D+D games years ago we would capture the odd kobolt and try to get them to tell us where the traps were or how much loot they had, etc. We would ask our questions. The GM would then usually tell us how he didn't answer (spitting and biting was a popular responce). We then described what we did to change his mind (no need to describe more of that - I'm not proud of myself.) The GM would roll some dice (presumably a saving throw) and either answer us or try another bite. If they spoke the GM would act that out for us. The persuasion could go on as long as the captive lived or till they broke.

When we switched to skill based games, interrogation would be played out similarly but a player would roll the die based on a skill in interrogation (or some related skill). The GM would then act out what the captive told us.

Both of the above are examples of task resolution. The players only have authority over what their characters do. The GM has all the other power in the game.

In the 80's I did free form mystery games where we role played each interview. I would give the players information as I chose. I wanted them to solve the crime at the end of the play session so I did give out information consistently but sometimes it was done by leaving things out, mimicking obvious "I'm lying" body language, and answering too quickly (to show when I was flustered by the question). I still controlled all the NPCs. The system was that the players picked the order of interviews and had to ask good questions to find clues. I would telegraph where to look and give answers to questions. We both wanted them to arrest someone in the space of one play session.

This verbal approach to task resolution was one of the steps on my journey to making Engle Matrix Games.

In EMGs the players have characters but make things happen in the game by making an argument about what happens next. The referee/GM only decides how good the player's roll for it to happen is. So interrogations happen when a player says it happens in an argument. They might say "I ask Weasel where he was on Friday night. It takes some convincing but after I slap him around some he tells me he was at the Beach and that he saw the murder victim walk by. "But I didn't do it, I tells you! It was Mannie!" The player could roll this and settle the whole matter in a single roll or the referee could view this as starting a conflict between the interviewer and interviewee. The referee has choices in how to handle it. They could have all the players make counter-arguments to the first argument so there would be a big dice rolling competition to see which argument happens. The referee could ask a player to make a trouble argument about how Weasel really resists the questioning (thus negating the argument). Or the referee could could say the argument started the conflict but that a second round of arguments will determin the outcome. The referee decides which character has the most advantage (a subjective judgement call). The player running that character would then make an unopposed argument saying what happened. For instance if Weasel was really superman in disguise, he would have the advantage in the conflict. The player may still chose to have him roll over on Mannie but it would not mean the same thing. If the strongest player misses their roll then the next strongest player goes, etc till everyone has a chance to say "what really happened." If everyone fails then the first argument is what happens.

Matrix Games use a kind of geography. The world is divided up into areas. There are barriers between areas. Some barriers can be crossed easily - others require and argument to cross and still others need conflict arguments. A human brain has one barrier around it. Some characters may have more mental defense barriers.

Please note that I've used the word "conflict" above as it is used in Engle Matrix Games, not as it is used in the forge meaning of the term "Conflict resolution." It is just one dice rolling technique that the referee can use to add drama into games.

What I would like to know is how conflict resolution games handle interrogation? Do the players have authorial rights over NPCs before the conflict roll? What about after the roll? My understanding is that at that point the players would run everyone (assuming they won the roll).

I'm interested in learning how this technique works and would appreciate people's input.

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games


Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald

« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2006, 12:10:16 PM »

I can talk to the use of Interrogation in Perfect, Chris.

In Perfect, tests always revolve around crime: either committing crime or the fallout of a crime.
Failing a Calm test (to see if you keep your cool) arouses suspicion, Inspectors arrest you based on these suspicions, and thus enters you into an Interrogation test.

The Interrogation test follows the same format as the other tests:
Players have a type of tool, in this test Evasions. The GM has a limited pool of points, in this test Fear points.
Evasions have Gains and Fallouts.
Invoking an Evasion means you apply the Gain to the test... but if the player wins he/she suffers the fallout.

Player invokes an Evasion,
Then GM bids an amount of points...
the player invokes an evasion...
this goes back and forth until both parties are satisfied.

Then each side rolls a d6.
Player adds all the mechanical bonus Gains they invoked (not all Gains are mechanical, some are story-related, etc)
GM adds all the points bid to their d6.

If the player wins, he/she doesn't tell a word, and gets released scot free.
If the player loses... he/she has amount of information exposed equal to the amount he/she lost by.

In this case "information exposed" is Images, which are the other tool of the game. Exposed images are mentally beaten out of the character, and considered lost. :(

That's how it works in Perfect.
hopefully that was straightforward, and shed some light on interrogations.

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2006, 02:56:36 PM »

This is clearly an actual play post, I think.

Chris, describe an instance of interrogation from actual play of any kind, Engle Matrix Game or otherwise.

That oughta get this going.

Best, Ron
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