*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 19, 2019, 11:00:27 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 93 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: Can talking people's heads off be as fun as slicing them off?  (Read 4784 times)
arthurtuxedo
Member

Posts: 41


WWW
« on: December 22, 2007, 10:06:50 PM »

On a brief and semi-recent MUDding kick, I tried out the new Iron Forge MUD, Lusternia. It's pretty similar to their previous games, but one addition struck me. There was a concept called "ego battles" where you could engage in a form of combat, but with words. It played out pretty much like normal combat, but you could do it with any NPC, friend or foe. You'd gain XP if you won, and lose XP if you lost, but nobody died and the penalties weren't as steep. This gave me an idea for PnP roleplaying.

It occurred to me that one of the reasons so many campaigns are hack'n'slash and so many player groups resort to violence at the drop of a hat is because most RPG's have detailed rules to make combat very lifelike, yet conversations are resolved by a single roll of the die. It's hard to keep something interesting when it amounts to "You should let us do what we want" (rolls Persuasion, succeeds). "Okay, I'll let you do what you want." So I've started thinking about how to spice it up and make it more back-and-forth, like combat. First of all, for anything to be interesting, you have to involve the whole group, not just one player. For the same reason that combat will be boring to a party with only one good fighter, talk will be boring to a party with only one good conversationalist.

This is what I've come up with so far. You pair off different skills (or concentrations of skills in Tensided). Argumentation counteracts itself, Manipulation against Empathy or Knowledge, Intimidation against itself, and Command against itself. You have a series of rolls and whenever one group rolls higher, the Margin of Success gets added to their total. Once they reach a certain level, they win the argument. They can use the Empathy skill or trial and error to figure out where a member of the conversation is weak, so it's about pitting one's strong points against the other's weak points. Someone with high Argumentation would try to use it against the person with the worst Argumentation, and someone with high Manipulation would single out whoever has the worst Empathy and Knowledge. People could also try to butt in and answer for someone else, and there would be situational and personality modifiers where one skill works better than others. Talking to a guard behind a battlement with 200 of his fellows, Intimdation would probably have a -10 penalty, for instance.

So what do you guys think? Ideas? Thoughts? Feedback? Insults? Threats?
Logged

Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

Don't forget to visit our attached forum!
masqueradeball
Member

Posts: 170


« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2007, 10:30:11 PM »

Exalted, 2nd Edition. did a very similar thing. Social interactions (called debates) use almost an identical system to combat. D&D 4e promises to have something similar...
Logged

Nolan Callender
Noclue
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2007, 11:57:17 PM »

BW uses a Duel of Wits mechanic that is very similar to its combat resolution mechanic. In that game, the amount of social damage you can stand in the combat is called your Body of Argument. You can win the argument, but have to make concessions because of damage you sustained.
Logged

James R.
arthurtuxedo
Member

Posts: 41


WWW
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2007, 12:00:29 AM »

So it seems like this is becoming a pretty common thing. Well, if I can't break new ground, at least I'll be keeping up with the Joneses.
Logged

Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

Don't forget to visit our attached forum!
masqueradeball
Member

Posts: 170


« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2007, 12:30:20 PM »

Yeah, sorry, didn't want my statements to seem like discouragement. I think the important thing when thinking about having rules heavy social interactions is what happens to what most people think of as the "role playing" part of a role playing game, i.e. talking in character. If my real world argument is more well founded than my opponents, does that matter, if I come up with an elegant way to tell a lie, or say something really scary, does that give me a bonus on my deception or intimidation.

A consistent problem you see in combat in a lot of RPG's is that it becomes very dry, often because people simply go through the motions of playing out the mechanics without investing anything further into the situation. Social interactions that are handle without mechanics don't normally have this problem, but no social mechanics means your character's charisma is limited to your own, real world, ability to influence people.

Finding a way to solve both of these problems would be a great innovation.

I don't know Burning Wheel, but Exalted uses Social Stunts as a way to encourage players being descriptive of what they're doing. The better your description, the more bonus dice you get. I have a lot of problems with the whole "Stunt System" but that might just be personal... 
Logged

Nolan Callender
arthurtuxedo
Member

Posts: 41


WWW
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2007, 02:08:29 PM »

Did I not include that part? You get a bonus or penalty based on what you say, and you're on a timer so you don't have all day to think of the perfect thing.
Logged

Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

Don't forget to visit our attached forum!
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2007, 04:49:36 PM »

Hi Arthur,

Are you sure making it a back and forth like combat is going to be worth doing? If combats back and forth was that engaging to begin with, you'd be happy just doing combats. But you see something more interesting in social combat than the old back and forth physical combat - surely then it's not a good idea to then make social combat just like physical combat? I'm not sure replacing the name 'to hit' with 'manipulation', for example, is going to make it any different. What do you think?
Logged

Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
arthurtuxedo
Member

Posts: 41


WWW
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2007, 08:29:04 PM »

Let me be a bit more specific. I'm talking about situations where someone is standing in the way of the party getting what they want. In my experience, the first and only resort of most player groups for any situation like this is lethal force, and when the group is forced to converse, they pick whichever character has the highest score and let him do all the talking. The conversation tends to be short and boils down to a single roll of the die that determines whether or not the obstructing NPC is convinced to let the group get what it wants, and the group as a whole is not very engaged by the whole process. Small wonder they go running to the combat mechanics every chance they get! A back and forth persuasion mechanic that involves all members of the party can make these situations a lot more interesting and fun for everyone.

I believe your point is that combat and conversation should be different, otherwise why not just do one or the other? I'm saying that you can incorporate some of the things that make combat fun and use them to spice up non-hostile encounters. Combat and conversation will still be very different by tone and by nature of what's at stake.
Logged

Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

Don't forget to visit our attached forum!
Noclue
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2007, 10:08:48 PM »

I also wasn't trying to discourage. Just pointing out a game with a social combat mechanic that happens to be one of my favorite mechanics in any game. I think if you're going to design a game with social combat, I would definitely recommend checking out BW's duel of wits. Also, Dogs in the Vineyard conflicts are just as easily social. Another favorite that I would recommend familiarizing oneself with.
Logged

James R.
arthurtuxedo
Member

Posts: 41


WWW
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2007, 10:16:14 PM »

I'll definitely check them out. Thanks for the recommendation!
Logged

Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

Don't forget to visit our attached forum!
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2007, 11:28:25 PM »

I believe your point is that combat and conversation should be different, otherwise why not just do one or the other? I'm saying that you can incorporate some of the things that make combat fun and use them to spice up non-hostile encounters. Combat and conversation will still be very different by tone and by nature of what's at stake.
What would you say is at stake?

On the first part of your post, I think you may have missidentified what makes combat compelling
Quote
The conversation tends to be short and boils down to a single roll of the die that determines whether or not the obstructing NPC is convinced to let the group get what it wants, and the group as a whole is not very engaged by the whole process. Small wonder they go running to the combat mechanics every chance they get! A back and forth persuasion mechanic that involves all members of the party can make these situations a lot more interesting and fun for everyone.
The back and forth doesn't make the combat compelling (I'd say it often does the reverse, actually). It's that the characters life is at stake.

Consider the players are pleading to a judge, trying to get off being hung by the neck until dead. Think about that single roll - is it going to be unengaging or are all eyes going to be glued to it's every bounce and spin? Oh yeah, they'll be glued! Okay, adding a back and forth might be nice - it might build up the tension, like a rising drum beat does when used in the soundtrack of a movie. But it's the stake that's makes the real tension.

The stake has to be something important - doesn't have to be life and death. But what else is important - morality might be one thing...what do you think?
Logged

Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
arthurtuxedo
Member

Posts: 41


WWW
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2007, 11:39:37 PM »

You're certainly right that there are situations where the single roll will serve better. It should be up to the GM whether to use the single roll model or the back and forth model. Is that also what you're saying or do you argue that the back and forth model should never be used?
Logged

Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

Don't forget to visit our attached forum!
Noclue
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2007, 09:56:26 AM »

The stake has to be something important - doesn't have to be life and death. But what else is important - morality might be one thing...what do you think?

Cool question.  Some recent examples of social stakes:
In our last Blossoms are Falling (a Burning Wheel variant) game we had a kickass social combat involving the terms for an archery duel between one PC and his adversary. Since the PC was recovering from a grievous wound and wasn't wearing armor at the time, the terms were pretty important.

Earlier we had a social combat between one slightly insane PC and his ex-wife/nemesis in which the stakes were if she won, he acknowledges his feelings for her, if he won she turns out to be only a figment of his deluded mind fades into nothingness.

We also had a nice argument about reparations for an attack on a neighboring clan with whom we were having some issues (i.e. border incursions). The stakes were would our last remaining source of rice remain with us or revert back to them as part of their ancestral homeland. We won, but with a major concession. Our loyal NPC captain of the guard committed sepuku to atone for his shameful attack.
Logged

James R.
dindenver
Member

Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


WWW
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2007, 01:38:49 PM »

Hi!
  I think we are all saying the same thing. I would like to add that when to roll and what system is used (one roll vs. many rolls) should be clearly defined so that the players are not caught off guard by an arbitrary decision from the GM. Maybe something like:
Nothing is at stake: No roll
Loser is only minorly inconvenienced: One roll
Loser is disgraced: Multi-roll

  In this way, there are no "gotchas" where a char is majorly disgraced by one bad roll or you don't waste an hour doing turn-by-turn combat to see who gets the last potato chip in the bag...

  I do think its an idea with merit, you just have to try and smooth it out so that people don't have to roll to say hello, lol

  Good luck man!
Logged

Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2007, 11:43:34 PM »

James (noclue),

Wow, fantastic examples! Wish I had given examples like that - they are from actual play as well, aren't they? Those are great stakes!


Hi Arthur,

I'm not suggesting sometimes it should be just a single roll and that the GM decides whether it's single or multiple rolls. I'm saying the amount of rolls doesn't have much to do with the excitement - take my example of arguing against being hanged, using multiple rolls. Now compare that against something like the characters arguing against a parking fine, with multiple rolls. The multiple rolls (or singular) don't make the excitement happen, the stake does - being hanged is a big stake, a parking fine is a small one. James/noclue has some fantastic stakes in his post, check 'em out!

Once your working with big stakes, the resolution method/rolls involved is important to look at, I think. But before then it's just...I dunno, what do you think?
Logged

Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!