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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 157 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Social Combat  (Read 15613 times)
John Resotko
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #60 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)
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Drew Stevens
Member

Posts: 154


« Reply #61 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...
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #62 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
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John Resotko
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Posts: 6


« Reply #63 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!
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #64 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
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #65 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
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Callan S.
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« Reply #66 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'.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #67 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
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Callan S.
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« Reply #68 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.
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