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Author Topic: Rolling Interactions  (Read 7364 times)
Web_Weaver
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« Reply #30 on: May 14, 2006, 11:40:16 AM »

Hi Storn,

How?

This is not meant to be flippant.  But your excellent example seems like a long talk, not a quick chat.

No flippancy taken, the answer is dependant upon the group you are playing with. In my case we have been playing HeroWars/HeroQuest together as a group since its publication and are quite familiar with each others style.

I had chosen to have a chat about setting (cyberpunk current era conspiracy) but not about the Basic Roleplaying mechanics. I should have at least recognised the gear shift and initiated a chat about the difference in style (4 out of 5 of our players had played RQ so it would have been a quick refresher) the important thing would have been to start the discussion.

The secret of Social Contract and Meta-Game interactions is to acknowledge they exist, so that you can easily shift back to those levels of interaction when problems arise. Otherwise problems can get stuck in a GM v Player rut.

It is easier to say "remember we decided on a gritty realism, well I think that requires a more realistic usage of fast-talk, what do you think?" than to say "hey, that's not realistic, you need to do more than just roll your skill". One is based on previous agreement and returns to a negotiation, the other can kick off an idealogical argument (as has occurred on this thread).

Quote
This stuff ain't easy.  Unless you have that system that really tackles social die-rolling/role playing head on...(Burning Wheel comes to mind...

Don't get too focused upon the game text, you are correct that game design coherence is a great help here, but the same level of coherence can be negotiated as long as a safe negotiation environment is created. The GNS theory on this site focuses on Game design but it is not the only way to save dysfunction or disagreement.

The important thing is to be aware of the different problems that can arise. In my example, I should have been aware that switching to a Simulationist/Gamist style, directly from the more flexible usage of all three GNS techniques that we employ in HQ could result in problems, and set an environment that allowed a meta-game discussion when required.

Quote
Unless, the quick chat comes down to "roleplay it out, convince the GM" or "roll it and see".  But if it is a combo of both, like BW's rules, then that ain't a quick chat...then you have to get down to the expectations of the genres and how that meets the expectations of the players and your expectations as the GM.

Again, its the starting of the discussion and a way to get back to it when required that is essential, how detailed you get early on is up to the group. My group would resist long chats on game theory, and I am sure most would.

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Jane
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« Reply #31 on: May 14, 2006, 01:18:31 PM »

Just a thought on the general problem of a player whose skill at something is far higher than that of their character, whether that's social interaction, setting knowledge, or whatever.

It can take a great deal of skill to do something deliberately badly. Why not make use of that?

If a player for whom words come easily is running a crude barbarian, then when he tries to persuade the guards to let them past, he can use his grasp of language to make sure that the way he insults their mothers is really amusing to listen to, and the excuse he comes up with is so far-fetched as to be completely unbelievable, even as the rest of the party cover their eyes and go "noooo!"

A long time ago now, we were handing over control of a campaign to a new GM - I'd created the universe, modified the rules, developed the background, and run it for years. We felt there might be a problem that once I was a player not a GM, my universe knowledge might creep out into character knowledge. So I created Leonara the incredibly dumb paladin, whose thinking was (preferably) done by her NPC unicorn mount, whose knowledge of the universe was seen through a filter of ignorance, prejudice, and stupidity, and who had a Jump To Wrong Conclusion skill of around 150% (we were using modified BRP). She was great fun to play, and every time any background knowledge was required, I could look at what I knew as a player, work out what Leonara might know, which of the (wrong) options would make most fun in play (to create a little conflict but not too much), and go with that. Without having the background knowledge to start with, I couldn't have jumped to plot-useful wrong conclusions. Being stupid in a narratively-useful way required a lot of thought :)

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Alan
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« Reply #32 on: May 14, 2006, 03:31:32 PM »

You know, I first encountered the lack of formal rules to support social interaction way back in the mid-80s.  We were playing AD&D 1st ed.  Now I realize that Dean, the GM, was running a great gamist game and the three other players were really digging it.  But I had chosen to play a high charisma ranger (who was later transformed into a Choatic Good paladin by GM fiat, but that's another story).  I wanted the opportunity to interact with NPCs instead of just fighting them.  The only provision for this in the rules was some sketchy talk about attribute rolls.  My desire was largely frustrated because there were no clear rules for social interaction resolution and, as a result, Dean only provided resolutions that involved the well-described rules of violence.  So our character's hacked and slashed.

I've only recently learned that Tunnels and Trolls, the other major game available at that time that supported gamist play _did_ include options for social resolution (CHR SRs).

In my experience -- AD&D, RuneQuest, DragonQuest, HERO, and even FUDGE all sufferred from this because, while there were detailed rules for violent conflict, there was nothing much for non-violent.  I even felt this lack in my first attempts to GM The Riddle of Steel. 

It wasn't until I played games that put all kinds of conflict resolution through the same process (Trollbabe and Hero Wars) that I really began to get how social interaction can be done with rolls and have significant impact on game events.  The key is indeed structure and treating all conflict the same way.  After that, when I played TROS, I applied to social interaction the structure I mentioned in an earlier post here, which is derived from TB and HW. 

A double-standard has endured through the years.  On the one hand, player success in combat is judged by choice of tactics and rolling dice, while player success in social interaction is judged first by real-world ability to persuade people at the table.  Is it fair that one activity be judged _within_ the fiction of the game, while the other is judged by player performance _outside_ the fiction? 

Let's go back to the example of the security guard denying a player's gambit at persuasion before dice have even rolled.  What if, instead the player had declared a fight, and the GM had said, "You just don't look like you're ready to hit him yet.  Persuade me that you can actual take him." ?







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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Bartmoss
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Posts: 4


« Reply #33 on: May 16, 2006, 02:21:35 PM »


Let's go back to the example of the security guard denying a player's gambit at persuasion before dice have even rolled.  What if, instead the player had declared a fight, and the GM had said, "You just don't look like you're ready to hit him yet.  Persuade me that you can actual take him." ?


This may actually be my first post. If its not (by the count) then its been so long I cannot remember. But here goes.

I have faced this issue in play and have been reading this thread with avid interest.

Some years ago I was playing a CP2020 game in which I was the "fixer". The GM actually said to me something along these lines.

"As you are playing the dealer you have obviously requested a more in character stance, therefore you should roleplay out all your social interactions"

I responded

"OK on one agreement. Dan as you know is the Solo. I want you set up targets outside, that move, in the rain, in darkness and even with dazling light sent in his direction. Dan can shoot them, if he misses then he misses. Also Phil is playing the netrunner, as you know Phil has zero knowledge about any form of computing and as you know real world hacking bares no resemblence to CP2020 style netrunning - which means Phil will be failing often. Only if this is agreed to will I never role dice. You see all my skills have been designed around a social character, if these social skills are never going to be used I am going to change those skills and be a combat monkey but without Combat Awareness."

The GM disagreed. I left the game. As did everyone else.

However it did focus me to the problem. Social mechanics in most of the games I play are terriable. It always boils down to some form of GM fiat or "one roll to rule them all". You know the classic "I want to persuade the King to go to War" roll diplomacy ...wowo look at that high number!!!! I did it...One roll? One conversation? never happens.

It is for this reason I have become more to like games like Burning Wheel or just rulesets that say...

Ok the King is classed as an ally, you have to get him up the scale to friend before he will do as you ask him directly.

Making the player who wants to play a social character actually be amazingly social is probably the most unfair thing a GM can do, simply because that means highly socialy able players will never need to create a character with those skills and therefore get more from the game without actually having a character that can do it. I once spent a great deal of time stopping a player who had good social skills from dominating a game this way - because he had got a way with it in the past with other GMs - constantly telling him that if he wanted a good social character he should have created one. I asked him to roll, he would fail, he had to deal. He constantly complained "but I gave you an amazing lie" I would say "yeah its a good lie but your character smiled or looked shifty when he said it, thats what happens with a low Presence and -4 to Subterfuge because you dont have the skill"

The only real way to avoid the problem is to use games with highly developed social mechanics and I am sure more of them will be coming along.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #34 on: May 17, 2006, 02:19:19 AM »

I was in a CoC game once, where I decided my PC had a southern accent. It was fun to do, okay? :) When I say I am at the start, the GM goes "Really??" in this way I just didn't understand at the time.

Anyway, we end up in the swamps. There were confederate soldiers hiding out there (ever since the war) which of course means a confrontation vs them with their rifles because were outsiders. Err, except my character who gets one chance to say something. I blub it and then I'm treated exactly like everyone else in the party.

Reading through this thread, though, I wonder if it's a matter of social skills simply - zing - eliminating conflict. Ie, they just get rid of conflict. That's actually pretty boring. Just removing conflict is - flat. And that's why GM's instinctually ignore them at times. While players love them and because of that, at least in my case, haven't actually thought about how they just remove conflict.

Social skills that shape and kneed conflict, now that's interesting. But following the wargame designs, they are typically designed in a 'eliminate the conflict' way.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Darren Hill
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« Reply #35 on: May 17, 2006, 03:13:42 AM »

I don't think the traditional gaming systems do design social skills to eliminate conflict. Certainly not any more than skills like lockpicking, stealth, or demolitions. What they do is eliminate combat - which in many systems, eliminates the only part of many systems that has well-explained rules for dealing danger and adversity to the PCs.
By simply tagging on failure conditions for rolls, and using Mike Holmes patented line, "failure means conflict," social and other non-combat skills can still provide tension and conflict.
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Storn
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Posts: 228


« Reply #36 on: May 17, 2006, 05:10:20 AM »

I don't think the traditional gaming systems do design social skills to eliminate conflict. Certainly not any more than skills like lockpicking, stealth, or demolitions. What they do is eliminate combat - which in many systems, eliminates the only part of many systems that has well-explained rules for dealing danger and adversity to the PCs.
By simply tagging on failure conditions for rolls, and using Mike Holmes patented line, "failure means conflict," social and other non-combat skills can still provide tension and conflict.

I agree that game systems can have tension, drama, conflict within social mechanics... but it takes the group to make it so.  Most game systems SEEM to point towards the stuff of adventure (combat, stealth rolls, perception/awareness rolls) as being Conflict.  It is my contention that this is inadvertant and not the desires of the game designers.  But the perception of many players using those systems is Conflict = Combat.

When I looked at Burning Wheel (or the d20 Dynasties and Demagogues from Atlas) and its many pages on social conflict, all of a sudden the weight of the material shifts perception.  In Weapons of the Gods, the first example of the use of kung fu is a social contest to woo the haughty princess as the two suitors use kung fu marvels to show off.... here, combat skill translates into social prowess and even standing.

However, I do think the differences of Social conflict and Martial (open warfare/combat) conflict are inheritenly different.  To "be social" is to pretty much mean "seeking compromise and peaceful solutions."  RE:  We be trying solve problems in a complicated, but civilized setting.  To have out and out Combat is to subjugate the other guy by domination... wars aren't won by killing the other guy's army, but by breaking their will to fight... still, its is domination.  Killing the other guy solves some problems pretty quickly, like the problem of ME staying alive!!!

So, I think there is this subconcious, kneejerk reaction by GMs that a social problem solving Player is trying to avoid conflict all together and so they block it, make it more difficult and sometimes downright useless...

silly note:  My longest running Champions PC is Vector of over a decade.  His tagline is "I'd rather talk".  I've done all the fighting I ever want to do in Champions.  I would rather use V's clout politically.  My GM once complained, "hey, IF I DON"T ignore your desire to talk all the time, there won't be an adventure."  Which I just simply didn't know how to respond to, but it has bothered me ever since.  I think this thread led me to a partial answer.
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Darren Hill
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« Reply #37 on: May 17, 2006, 08:48:18 PM »

Ron asked Aaron:
Will, I am wondering what you and the DM are planning to do next time such a situation comes up. Did he say? I hope he did listen to you, because a number of folks I've played with dug in their heels very hard on this point. They really, really didn't want players to be able to influence NPCs ... at all ... unless it fit with their plans or amused them in some kind of useful way.

I'm wondering about this too. Is this thread helping you, Aaron?
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Aaron
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« Reply #38 on: May 18, 2006, 04:00:07 PM »

Sorry I've been absent for a bit everybody!
Quite alot of useful information and insight which I think will help me quite a bit and while it did seem to get off track a bit I still think it's been very helpful.
My next TROS session is in  a couple of weeks.  We left if last time with the villagers all frightened and enraged by someone stealing and killing the townsfolks children.  The PC's just came back form battling an animated Scarecrow, one of them carrying the hat it had been wearing that had fallen off durign the fight.  One of the villagers recognises the hat and the call goes up that its all farmer Bobs fault and they are off to lynch him.  The PC are going to try and stop them.  This is another Social conflict.  I don't mind whether farmer Bob cops it or not so its going to be up to the players to convince the mob,(not me!)
I grabbed a copy of Trollbabe and have been devouring that and am looking over Burning Wheel and d20 Dynasties and Demagogues(I got this a while back as I have had this social conflict problem for a while!) and am going to try and come up witha social combat system for TROS that is similar to the combat system, for consistency.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #39 on: May 19, 2006, 05:19:51 AM »

Thanks for coming back to it, Aaron.

I'll call this a good point for closing this thread, but also for encouraging others (as well as Aaron, after the next game) to begin new Actual Play threads which build on the points and questions that arose here.

So, it's closed now. But don't think of this thread as stopped, but rather as spawning offspring ... go ye forth and multiply.

Best, Ron
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Storn
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Posts: 228


« Reply #40 on: May 19, 2006, 08:01:05 AM »

Quote
I grabbed a copy of Trollbabe and have been devouring that and am looking over Burning Wheel and d20 Dynasties and Demagogues(I got this a while back as I have had this social conflict problem for a while!) and am going to try and come up witha social combat system for TROS that is similar to the combat system, for consistency.

Can I sneak in a question that might help spawn a follow up thread?

Aaron, I quoted you above.  My question is HOW is that above mentioned stuff striking you?  I'm very curious on what you are going to tweak and what you are not... and how your players respond and feel about it all.
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