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Author Topic: Rolling Interactions  (Read 7404 times)
Aaron
Member

Posts: 102


« on: May 10, 2006, 08:08:02 PM »

I've been reading some posts regarding rolling dice for social conflicts and not using GM fiat to rule the outcome.  I heartily agree but have a question, but first my game experience.

Shadowrun.  The players, myself included, need to get into a corporate function .  We have invitations and approach the guards on the door.  My character specialised in interaction skills and he was very good.  After a brief discussion with the other PC's I decide to see if we can get a couple of my collegues inside the building with their pistols.  I approach the securtiy on the door, "My name is blah blah, here is my invertation these are my security and I need them to come in armed"(or something like that).  Security reponds," thats not necessary we have security under control".  Gamemaster fiat. No chance of getting the guns in, no dice roll.

At the time I was a little peeved, what is the point of having the skill if you can't use it, but I thought well I suppose they are professionals and would probably get into trouble if they allowed us to bring guns in.  But is that enough reason to not allow a dice roll?  It could have been very important in the game to be armed at that time(it wasn't as it happened).


My question is how to resolve such a conflict when it is completely in the interests of one party memeber to decide in a certain way that the GM would seriously consider a fiat situation.  How many successes or what DC(however this is resolved in any game) does it take to make a NPC  murderer confess?

I am running a game of TROS.  Next adventure has a character in it thats a chaos cultist pretending to be a priest.  The PC's will have ample opportunity to interact with him.  Obviously he doesn't want them to know this but should it be possible to get it out of him using interaction skills?  When I was playing a shifty NPC in the past I would look askance and generally 'act' shifty.  I've come to realise that this doesn't really work as only one player usually picks up on it and it has nothing to do with his characters skills!

Thanks
Aaron.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2006, 09:03:06 PM »

Hi Aaron,

One way I've seen dice used in a functional way (especially on the forge) is in a bartering method. Bartering about the modifiers, the DC and all the other fiddlies, until just like bartering about the price of an item, both parties come to a satisfactory price (or one of them decides they aren't interested in buying/selling at the current prices and moves on).

However, for that method to work, the seller/the GM has to be interested in selling. If he isn't, then your stuffed. There is no arguement in 'what's the point of a skill'. It's like arguing 'what's the point of a market' when a vendor wont sell you something. In addition, the buying/player has to be interested in paying something. If you want a free ride when the GM is actually ready to barter, well then the GM is equally stuffed.

Do you have enough info to help with your TROS situation yet?
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Philosopher Gamer
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Dav
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2006, 10:36:24 PM »

Being someone that largely despises social rolling of any kind, I will say that, when forced into it, I tend to run things more along these lines:

I don't generally give even the most remote of a shit how good your social attributes are... until you come up with something plausible.  Thus, even if you are Don effing Juan, the line, "come on," ain't gettin' the virgin grrl's pants off.  However, if you can run through a scenario that makes me smile ("Baby, it's war, and I ship out tomorrow, and I know that I can't ask you to wait for me, I just want to know, to really feel, that now, just now, you love me." -- zzzziiiippp) or sounds halfway decent ("Everybody's first time is a bad experience, that's the nature of the first time.  People will spin you a tale of magic and wonder, but it is awkward, brief, and terrible.  Let's get that part out of the way, and focus on making a memory that will last somewhere down the line, after we've had some practice at this."), then they get to roll their social dice.

The idea is that I don't want someone strolling up to the security and saying "I roll my manipulation," or what-have-you.  In your case, I probably would have fiated your monkey-ass as well... these guys are paid to do a job, and you've just invited them to perform it (first rule of conning, don't offer them the "no" opportunity until you can see that they already want to go your way... then it is a question of "do I want to be an asshole?" rather than "can I allow this?").  If you were to manage either to cause some sort of scene ("Do you know who I am!?  I am the fucking Chief Accounts Officer for ABC Corp!  There is a terrorist threat currently against me, and me, personally, so either you let my men register their presence with you, and carry their tools, discreetly, or you assign two personal bodyguards to follow me fucking EVERYWHERE tonight!") or somehow distract the officers ("the ol' guest-having-seizures routine while your boys slip around the metal detector", I would have more sympathy.  Now they balance perimeter/planned security against your needs, they may cave, they may not... how good can you bluff?  Further, even if you fail, they grant you two nameless goons to trail you all night, and your boys have a chance to pull the quick one-two on them and, voila, armed.  This sounds like a well-thought idea, complete with compromising half-success.  I'd listen, waver, and say, "No problem, roll your tootin'-out-the-shit attribute... the difficulty to let them give your guys a pass is high, they're good bodyguards... but, they may believe you enough to give you one or two personal security detail -- we'll call that less-than-totally-successful".

In the end, if a social roll must be made, it will definitely be in the vein of "this is as good as they can come up with, it is time for fate"... or "this excuse sucks, they fail"... or "damn, that's good, no roll needed".  Your excuse, to me, falls into one of the first two... but surely not the third.

Dav
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Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2006, 12:01:10 AM »

Hi, Aaron. Tough questions.
With your Shadowrun situation, it's a tough call. In some cases, it will be perfectly reasonable to say, "no roll - you can't succeed." This happens in other situations, too. "You're facing that dragon with just a toothpick?" "You want to cross the sea with no boat?" There are social situations where no roll is justified, but it should usually be apparent that this is the case. "This CEO who recently discovered me embezzling funds - I'm going to fast talk him into make me his company's chief accountant."
But if the thing the player wants seems even slightly possible, I always allow a roll. I use movie or book heroes as my model - I think of a film in the same genre, and imagine: "would characters in this movie be able to pull off that stunt?" If the answer's yes, I allow them to try - often with an openly disclosed penalty.
Also, if the thing they want doesn't seem plausible, I mention this, and ask them if they want to try some other approach. In your example, for example, I might have decided the security here don't allow anyone else to have guns. In that case, I'd say, without rolling, "it's clear that you aren't going to persuade them. Do you want to try another way of getting guns in?" This leaves the way open for PCs to try hiding guns and fooling the security scanners, or finding someone on the security staff they can bribe or blackmail to help get their guns inside. I'd also point out that if their deceit was discovered, it will lead to further potential for conflict.
(By the way, did you and your fellow PCs who were denied guns encounter non-security NPCs who had managed to get guns inside? If so, then this is a sign your irritation was justified. If not, then that's a sign your GM treated you fairly.)

Your second question: keeping your treacherous cultist sneaky.
If you don't mind players knowing things their characters don't, this is super-easy. Just play your sneaky character as extravagantly suspicious as you like, and then when the players realise, which shouldn't take long, let them roll something against the sneaky guy's Sincerity. If Sneaky guy wins, tell them he has allayed their suspicions, and ask them to play their characters accordingly. Then you can have lots of fun situations where the players try to innocently manoeuvre their characters into situations where they might have a chance of discovering his deceit, while their characters are acting all trusting. (And where failed rolls mean he manages to make them look guilty.)
If this might not work for your group, you could create a situation in which the players can't openly act against sneaky-guy, even when they know he's a villain. Maybe the local prince favours him, and the prince's party are travelling with him. Or maybe he's a cousin of the Prince! So the adventure then becomes not about figuring out who the bad guy is, but to figure out how to expose him, or get rid of him without anyone knowing it was them who did him in.
Failing an approach like either of those, you're stuck in GM Fiat territory. You have a secret you want (and maybe need) the players to discover, but have to work to make it hard for them to find out, thus setting both you and them up for dissatisfaction. Whether they decide to investigate this guy is entirely dependent on what you tell them, and how you describe his actions. If you are waiting for one of them to notice something about your portrayal of him before getting them to make a roll, you are relying on a particularly unreliable form of GM Fiat: just how well the players interpret your acting skills.

So it looks like neither of these two questions are really about rolling interactions - they are both about when to use GM fiat and when not to. Perosnally, I've grown to seriously dislike "find the GM's secret" type adventures, because of the GM Fiuat issue, and so would recommend using the DITV approach - get that secret (sneaky-guy) in their face, let them know he's a bad guy, but then give them difficult choices about what to do about it like I described above.

Speaking more generally with regard to rolling interactions. I always make clear what the roll is for in general terms, and if I expect the PC to act in a certain way when they lose, I make this obvious during the build-up to the roll. "Your wife's sister has been getting you drunk. Let's see if she gets you to go to bed with her. Roll." In this case, a failure for the player might not mean he jumps in the sack - it might mean instead that someone sees him heading to bed, before he stops himself and leaves. That depends on the situation and the character (and, if the system uses margins of failure, just how big a failure it was).

Also, as a counterpoint to Dav, I don't require players to come up with flowery descriptions of their actions, nor do I give them any positive modifier at all for how well they act it out. The only reward they receive for that is seeing me and the other players grinning and showing signs of enjoyment. I'd be perfectly happy with someone saying, "I roll my manipulation." In that case, I'll usually respond with a probing question, like, "what sort of things do you say, how do you manipulate him?" They'll usually be able to say something to that ("Um, I'm arrogant, so um, maybe my confidence dispels his doubts") - the purpose of my question is not to get the player to act out, but to give me a context for the roll, so that I can describe what success or failure looks like when needed. Then we roll.
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Aaron
Member

Posts: 102


« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2006, 07:46:31 PM »

Callan,
I'll have to have a bit of poke around the forge for what your talking about, I haven't seen anything about the bartering method.  It sounds interesting.

Dav,
I used to play with a referee who ignored social rolls.  I found it quite frustrating.  While I appreciate your desire to 'role play', I am one for trying to talk in character etc, I don't believe it is essential.  Social interaction, IMO, should be covered by the mechanics of the game just like any other action.  I don't require the players to demostrate how they are going to attack the enemy before they roll the dice.  If they want to thats great, but its not necessary.  The same can be said of any and all other activities the characters partake in.  To me talking is just one of these activities.

Darren,
But wouldn't you play those two examples out.  Sure there is very little chance of defeating the Dragon or crossing  the sea but it is possible.  Does the English Channel count as a sea? :) .

The guns in the function weren't, in the end, an issue.  We were in and out so fast it didn't matter. 

I really like the idea of the players knowing and trying to devise some way of their characters catching on.  I think that sort of thing might really appeal to a couple of my players, so I'll work on that.  Thanks.
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Dav
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2006, 10:33:39 PM »

I think my greatest irritant for any social rolling, more than anything, comes with the fact that a social interaction is not the equivalent of a simple machine.  You can run things that way, of course (mainly because I haven't set forth my army of Make-Them-Play-Like-Davs), but, at some point, you want some measure of decision-making/creative thinking to happen.  When a guy with some insane bluff starts lying, that's just plain kosher, hell, obviously, that's the guy's bag... here's the thing, you (the GM) makes a call on something, anything... you toss me info via an NPC, I'm a big boy, I'll make my own call as to whether you are shitting me or not, I don't need help.  Whenever I see a stat or some attribute like bluffing or persuading or anything, I get irritated because that's the meat of any game (social interaction, I mean, not the bluffing, per se).  If I wanted it to be a system, I would go cavort with that mass of sociopaths that people call mmog (because, no matter how you argue it, and no matter what anomalous moment you saw or your friend experienced, there is no "rp" to be had). 

The whole idea of "Guy says X", I say: "Cool, he's lying", and the GM says "What is your truthdetection/diplomacy/subterfuge/whatever" and I respond "Y"... But here's the thing: I never asked, said, or mentioned I wanted to use it.  You can only manipulate or bluff someone who cares.  If someone is merely listening for the verbs... you know, skimming the surface, you have no shot, this guy couldn't care less.  Social interaction is odd to me in a game system.  In combat, or magic, or anything, you have this choice (how you go about it)... social rolls are always some opposed nightmare of dice versus dice with some sort of chart about how sexy I am (and let me just say, I am sex-ay)... very much a killer to those times you have some sort of kickass plan and drop a 1 right out of the gate.  Terrible.

I have never actually played a game where someone could say "I kill him" and I say "Kickass, roll it up".  If you want someone dead, great... how?  You bet your ass you need a plan of action, I won't magic the guy dead for you because you dropped a 6 three times in a row and point imperiously at your character sheet.

Dav

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Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2006, 11:16:11 PM »

Darren,
But wouldn't you play those two examples out.  Sure there is very little chance of defeating the Dragon or crossing  the sea but it is possible.  Does the English Channel count as a sea? :) .
Those two examples I used might not have been the best. The point was to describe some thing a player might want to do, but which you might reasonably say is impossible. "I hold my breath for an hour." "I climb mount everest. No I didn't bring any climbing gear."
In my current fantasy game, if the players encountered a dragon (there are only three dragons in this game, and they are monsters in every sense of the word), I'd tell them something like - "you can't defeat it in combat, so you can't roll for that. You can attempt to escape, or to divert its attacks against another foe, or riddle with it, or something else. What do you want to try?"
Though the English Channel isn't a sea :), so I'd probably let them roll to swim that - and would certainly do so if it was a game of larger-than-life pulp-style heroes.  If not, I'd discuss what preparations they took - today, the best swimmers choose ideal weather and cover themselves with insulating grease before attempting the channel swim. So I'd discuss it with the player, and if we agree that it's not possible, he might end up rolling to fail but to be seen to make a good effort and keep his dignity. This is definitely GM Fiat territory, but of the open and transparent kind, where you are establishing the boundaries of what is possible in the game world - and letting the players see those limits (and maybe contribute their own ideas as to what those limits should be) before they make any rolls.
Is that clearer?
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Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2006, 11:33:46 PM »

If I wanted it to be a system, I would go cavort with that mass of sociopaths that people call mmog (because, no matter how you argue it, and no matter what anomalous moment you saw or your friend experienced, there is no "rp" to be had). 
But don't mmorpgs use 'roleplaying' in place of dice? I don't know for certain, as I've never played one, but if so this seems to undercut your argument a bit.

Quote
The whole idea of "Guy says X", I say: "Cool, he's lying", and the GM says "What is your truthdetection/diplomacy/subterfuge/whatever" and I respond "Y"... But here's the thing: I never asked, said, or mentioned I wanted to use it.  You can only manipulate or bluff someone who cares.  If someone is merely listening for the verbs... you know, skimming the surface, you have no shot, this guy couldn't care less.  Social interaction is odd to me in a game system.  In combat, or magic, or anything, you have this choice (how you go about it)... social rolls are always some opposed nightmare of dice versus dice with some sort of chart about how sexy I am (and let me just say, I am sex-ay)... very much a killer to those times you have some sort of kickass plan and drop a 1 right out of the gate.  Terrible.

Have you played dogs in the vineyard, shadows over yesterday, conspiracy of shadows, trollbabe, or, heck, just about any game championed by the forge? It's quite possible to have social conflict where the rolling isn't a nightmare. Also, I'd disagree that you can only manipulate or bluff someone who cares - part of the art of the con is luring people in so they begin to care, despite their best intentions, and when someone is being being overbearing and intimidating, or claiming to have legal authority over you, it's hard to just ignore them.

Quote
I have never actually played a game where someone could say "I kill him" and I say "Kickass, roll it up".  If you want someone dead, great... how?  You bet your ass you need a plan of action, I won't magic the guy dead for you because you dropped a 6 three times in a row and point imperiously at your character sheet.
Yes, of course - so you get your player to describe what he does to kill someone, presumably without acting it out.
So when they want to trick someone, or intimidate them, what's wrong with letting them describe how they do it, without having to act it out?
(As an aside, if a player comes up with an idea for a bluff that seems stupid to me, but his character has an amazing Bluff skill, I'll often assume his character is capable of making the blatantly obvious trick seem plausible - briefly. I'll also collude with him, and suggest refinements to his bluff: after all, part of what the roll covers could be figuring out just what the NPC will fall for.)

In the end it sounds like we belong to different roleplaying schools. I don't see any benefit to requiring a player to act or perform as his character, and in fact would reject a GM who required it of me. Though I'm happy to let other players who enjoy it do it, and I'll do it if I'm in the mood. Even as a GM, I tend to describe my NPCs actions and speeches more often than I act them out. I've been complimented on bringing NPCs to life and giving them depth, so I'm doing something right!
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dsellars
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2006, 12:31:43 AM »

It might be worth you having a look at this thread http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19744.0 wher I had a conversation with Ron about a very similar topic.  I found it very useful.

Regards,
Dan.
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Wade L
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2006, 01:30:44 AM »

I think part of it comes down to "How interesting are social interactions for you?"

From what I've seen, mechanics tend to surround and bracket interesting interactions in a game that works, but where the meat of the interestingness is, that's where the players get to make choices.

If what your group finds interesting is tactics and being badass in combat...it's probably a poor fit to have combat that is all resolved in one, simple roll.  Your group doesn't get to explore tactics and decision making in combat at all if it just goes "We decide to have combat -> die roll -> Result of combat decided."  On the other hand, if your group doesn't find that kind of stuff interesting, it may very well be enough to say "Okay, we have a fight.  Uhh, roll a d6 - on a 4 or higher we win, on 3 or less they do."

Same goes for IC social interaction.  Many people see some types of social interaction as the point of roleplaying, just as others see making tactical decisions in combat as the point.  To them "I roll to talk my way past the guards" is just as boring as a real tactical guy who is interested in combat hearing "Okay...I roll to see if we can defeat the ninja".  It's not just important that the ninja is defeated - what is important is how the ninja is defeated!

For the people you're playing with...okay, there could be other explanations, too, mind you...but if social interaction is, well, the point...then maybe you should try breaking it down into smaller chunks.  Instead of trying to roll to convince someone, maybe your GM would be friendlier to the idea if you rolled for specific things.  I know many players who would very much take objection to "Okay, let's roll intimidation - if he wins, he cows you, you back down, and give him what he wants!", but who don't have a problem with "Okay, let's roll intimidation - if he wins, he puts you off your guard and causes you to back up, but you don't have to actually give him the McGuffin."  For things like that...well, I've heard excellent things about the social combat type stuff in Burning Wheel...

But maybe that would still be distasteful.  It may be that social interaction is so much the point of what is going on, that any mechanics would water it down.  It'd be like showing up at a football game and saying "Hey, instead of wrestling around with that ball, let's play paper rock scissors to see whose endzone the ball ends up in first?"

Or, of course, it was just how the GM wanted it to go.  He didn't want to play paper rock scissors, but neither did he want to play football - he knew the ball had to be in a particular endzone, done.  For some reason, social interaction tends to land in this court a lot more than combat...I'm not sure whether that's because GMs are more likely to have a predetermined outcome in mind for social situations, or instead that an actual fight is usually so complex, game mechanics wise, that if the GM wants to make sure one side or the other wins, he can often get very good at ensuring it happens without use of visible fiat.  One roll "If I get a 12 or better, he confesses!" social mechanics are a lot harder to subtly engineer.

I will mention that Dogs in the Vineyard is, after all, not a task-based resolution system, so the comparison you made may not entirely be fair.  And even then - the area of focus is different - in Dogs the system seems more geared towards making players make thematic or moral choices instead of tactical ones.  The question isn't "How do I talk my way past the Steward?", it's "What am I willing to do to get past the Steward?"  But Dogs would be crippled if you had to roll to see if your character could escalate a conflict, for instance - you'd be taking away player choice in the arena that matters

Besides, if I was running Dogs(which, admittedly, I only have done three times), I probably wouldn't take "Can we talk our way past the security guards with our guns?" unedited as stakes for a conflict.  It's hedging your bets.  "Can we get our guns past the guards?" I think is a better phrased, more open-ended conflict. 

Just like I'd think saying "Can we rid this town of sin and move on to the next?" probably would be a discouraged conflict in the first five minutes of a Dogs session, but whadever.

Dogs comment may be a bit of a tangent, but it made me think of something else related...  If we are going to look at conflict for social rolls...  Part of the reason many GMs will object to "Social rolling your way past" something is because it often seems an attempt to "get something for nothing".  This is probably a by-product of the fact that if you fight someone, there's something to loose.  Half the time, people don't make it happen that way with social rolls.  You're not putting anything on the table.  A lot of GMs who'd object to "Okay...I wanna bluff my way past the guards with our guns, can I just roll for it?" might be more happy with "Okay...I wanna bluff my way past the guards with our guns...if I make it, they buy the story and let us in...but if I fail, they get suspicious and decide to boot us from the event, period.  We'll have to sneak or fight our way in if I fail."  Then you're putting something on the table - you're risking something, as opposed to just trying to get something for "free".

Overall point - people deny social rolls for all sorts of reasons.  Knowing the reason is a big part of knowing how to bridge the gap(and knowing whether it can be bridged in the first place).
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Glendower
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Posts: 182

My name is Jon.


« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2006, 04:22:10 AM »

Social interaction is odd to me in a game system.  In combat, or magic, or anything, you have this choice (how you go about it)... social rolls are always some opposed nightmare of dice versus dice with some sort of chart about how sexy I am (and let me just say, I am sex-ay)... very much a killer to those times you have some sort of kickass plan and drop a 1 right out of the gate.  Terrible.

This is synedoche.  You're taking rules from some of the games you've played and applying them to all games.  It doesn't make for a particularly compelling argument. 

Let me use one excellent example of a game that uses a "social interaction mechanic" and does it AMAZING.  Dogs in the Vineyard.  The mechanic of "just talking" all the up to using guns makes for very compelling conflict.  And it resolves disputes without getting into the frustrating GM fiat territory, or the hours of argument among players.  Yes, this mechanic can even be used against your fellow players.  No more cult of personality situation where the guy that talks louder and faster gets his way.  Great system. 

What annoys me is when GMs expect a dog and pony show from their players.  Some people aren't so good at articulating themselves, and it doesn't seem fair to me that they are denied a means to achieve success in a social arena using a system of some kind.  They have to impress the GM with some kind of song and dance, and that just sucks.  And if a GM personally doesn't like the approach they put together?  "yeah, it fails"  Without a roll that's the GM swinging around his weight.  That's a fiat.  And fiats aren't fair.

You gotta remember that social interaction is not 100% the Gm's decision.  The players have just as much right to determine how a social interaction will be determined as a Gm does.  Everyone sitting at the table has a stake in how the game is played, and there should be at least a little flexibility.  The Gm is an arbitrator, not Simon Powell from American Idol.
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Hi, my name is Jon.
Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2006, 08:12:30 AM »

I'm going to use an example from D&D since it is a "traditional" rpg and that seems to be the original focs here.  Here's a paraphrase from an actual scene in one of our games where I was the GM.  The characters are trying to talk their way into the city of Nesme.  Normally there wouldn't be a problem but the party has 2 Drow and a Tiefling in it, so issues arose.  The players decide to let the Paladin do the talking (smart choice).

Me:  Okay, the guards pretty much aren't going to let you in with 2 Drow and a Tiefling in the party.  In fact, they're rather suspicious of you for traveling with them, Paladin of Selune or not.

Player:  I want to use Diplomacy to try to talk him into letting us into the city.  I am a Paladin after all.  My standing with the chuch ought to count for something.  I'll vouch for my companions's character.

Me:  That'll work.  You can roll your Diplomacy.  Get +2 synergy from your Orate skill and +2 for being a Paladin.  The guard will roll Sense Motive (it seems more applicable than anything else).  He'll get +2 because Drow are really distrusted.  If you win, he'll let them in but they have to give over their weapons and they can only stay in the Inn right next to the gate and don't have free run of the city.  You can go wherever you want.  If you lose, they send you on your way.

Player:  That sucks.  I want to convince them to let us in without all the restrictions.

Me:  The guards will get another +2 to their roll if you try that and if you lose they'll be convinced you're up to no good and attempt to arrest you.

Player:  I don't care.  I'm going for it.

Now, there was a good bit more conversation than that and there was some in-character chit-chat going on throughout, but that is the basic gist of things.  The key to making this more interesting than just rolling a die and either getting in or not was in negotiating the bonuses and the specifics about the goal for the characters.  Using dice for Social skills only makes sense.  Why have them on the sheet otherwise.  I know that if Social skills were simply fiated in a game I played, I'd never put a single point into them.  I'd completely pump up the combat stuff, since I'd know those points would be worth it.
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Mike Lucas
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Posts: 17


« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2006, 08:18:50 AM »

Dav,
It seems to me that using your methods for social interaction, it would be very difficult for a player who is shy or has a tendency to get tongue-tied to play a smooth-talking con-artist type character. Maybe this isn't an issue in your group - in fact maybe that's the way your group prefers it. But I think you can understand that many other role-players feel that a player should be able to play a character with skills he doesn't have - whether those are physical skills, combat skills, superior intelligence, whatever.

The opposite problem can also occur. In my group, my GM has a similar take on social interaction as you do. What often happens is that the most outgoing player - let's call him Jay* - often purposely makes a character who is supposed to lack social skills. (I think Jay does this because he is often the centre of attention, and he wants the other players to get the chance to do more NPC interaction and whatnot.) But what always happens is that Jay's character ends up being the one to sweet-talk the guards, make deals with the rich people, etc. -- because he's the most effective at it, even when he's playing an albino outlander! (Jay's -1 Bluff is better than my +5, because +5 is useless if you don't get to roll.) So not only are less-outgoing players prevented from playing smooth-talkers, but smooth-talkers can't play socially challenged characters.

*I think it's very important to also note, that Jay is the one who has known and played with the GM the longest, by orders of magnitude. So Jay has a good sense of what he finds plausible. When social rolls can't happen until the player describes something the GM finds plausible, it's the GM that determines that plausibility. Thus it's GM fiat that determines when the social skills on the character sheet can be used.

One solution is for the GM and player to hash out the player's "action plan" together (with the GM making suggestions and the player having final say over what his character does). This will let the player do what he wants, while preserving plausibility for everyone. However, I realize that it can be tough to interrupt role-play to do this, especially when speaking in character.

Cheers, Mike
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khelek
Member

Posts: 24


« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2006, 08:29:40 AM »

Wel my long rampling post died somewhere on the internet so here is the short version.

I think that you have to be aware of the limitation of the system. Shadowrun for example is a poor system for dealign with social conflict and a poor system for encouraging players to look at moral choices. You can try to get either of those in there, but you will be operating outside of the system as written.

Other games have different focuses...

Call of Cthulhu has poor (in my oppinion) conflict resolution. I have dropped the whole thing before and just had people make one Luck Roll to avoid a 3 hour long battle, which was really not that interesting. Of course the focus of CoC is not on combat, but investigation.

Dogs has very streamlines social resolution tied right to coonflict resolution. It is built for this. so it gives good tools.

Burnign Wheel is the simular as it gives great tools for social resolution.

You have to be aware of the limitations of the sytems. and as a player need to call for conflict/tsk rolls as appropriate to the system. Though this can be wickedly difficutl to be sure.


Jason
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Precious Villain
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2006, 08:50:33 AM »

I think there is a sort of double standard when it comes to social interactions.  You can declare an attack roll in almost any game system and have it resolved right then and there.  No need to describe how you swing (or thrust with) the sword.  Nothing about stance or maneuver.  It's noteworthy that there are plenty of players with no clue about swordsmanship, gunfighting or phaser marksmanship that can play combat oriented characters just fine - they need to know the combat rules not a bunch of crap about parries, thrusts or phaser settings.

Many GMs, on the other hand, (and I'm guilty of this, too) require a certain amount of in character dialogue, with a plausible story or whatever as a pre-requisite to a social attack roll.  And yet, to my memory, there is generally no in game rules text that calls for such.  It's just something that's grown up - unless someone can point me to the origins of this sort of issue.

If social skill interactions were tied into a more comprehensive "social conflict" rules matrix, you might not have that issue.  I'll raise the point next time I GM a session - no need to speak in character to get a social skill roll.  Instead, just try your luck and we'll run it like a regular skill.



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My real name is Robert.
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