Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mechanics for Social Conflicts

First off, Happy Father's Day to all the male gamers with their own pack of level 0's to keep track of. Secondly, my topic for today is social mechanics.

Now Piecemeal has had a social resolution system for awhile, but I've never been super thrilled with it, so with the latest update I threw in an alternate system and I'd love peoples votes on which version they think of as better.

The old version worked as a series of comparative ability checks, with different "verbal maneuvers" you could pull off to give you the edge. A complicated series of paper rock scissors meets ability checks, trying to get a certain number of successes before the other guy.

The new system I threw in place features an appeal roll and rebuttal roll, with different maneuvers in place, trying to score enough influence to exceed the difficulty of the opponents position. I know that's vague, but perhaps this will help, I modelled it off of the combat system. It runs like a piecemeal combat, with talking.

Now in both systems you still have to make an actual statement and/or rebuttal as a player, and in both systems that represents what you are trying to say..not what you actually manage to spit out of your mouth in the heat of the moment.

This brings me to a problem however. Which one is better? I haven't had much time to actually test this new version, its one of those "inspiration" moments. But it FEELS more exciting. Perhaps my boring side is showing, but I like watching the epic speeches in movies where the hero convinces people to follow his lead as much as I like the part where he then kicks someone down a well (Don't get me wrong, I like both).

Before I go too into depth into social mechanics in general, I'd love to know which version people prefer, and then save the social mechanics post till after the results come in.


  1. Okay... I'm a big advocate for social mechanics, but having played around with them I'm more one for a system where the die Roll effects more of a general mood than just automatically makes the character do what you're telling him to. That way it keeps things in the realm of Role-playing rather than taking control away from the player.

    For example: Say one character is trying to persuade the PC that he wants to sell his prize sword.

    The buyer is offering money which is sizable, but the PC really loves that sword, so he's kinda against the idea of it.

    The NPC decides to appeal to the character's sense of heroism pointing out that he needs to use the sword to present to a good king who rules justly, and he wants to reward that good king with a solid incentive. This soft persuasion can be supplemented by a die roll to see if the PC becomes more sympathetic.

    Okay, here the conversation presents an opening that the player can sieze on through role-playing or not. No dice roll required, but he asks "Why can't I present this sword to the king myself?"

    Then the NPC realizes he's said too much so he has to decieve the PC. He makes up an excuse about how he was granted a knighthood and wants to return an appropriate gift. This deception needs to be supplemented by a roll to see if the PC buys it. If the PC doesn't then his opinion of the buyer is further tarnished or if the Roll is successful, maybe the PC would feel for the new night and agree to help him, depending on the success of the roll.

    This approach allows for Role-playing to go on without being artificially inhibited by mechanical timing issues. Basically allowing the Players and GM's to determine when a Roll is necessary to decieve or influence the feelings of another character.

  2. Atlas Games put out a product called Dynasties and Demagogues that had some interesting rules for debates and elections that you might want to take a look at.