Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gaining influence with factions and patrons

One thing I really love about Piecemeal's Social Conflict system is how well it deals with gaining favours and influence with powerful individuals and factions. If you haven't read the social conflict system yet, it boils down to scoring influence against your opponent. When you reach a certain level (based on what you are asking) you convince them (though they can claim "stubborn refusal" and get their own penalties).

This works well with gaining favours and loyalty, because it allows me to award a tangible non-treasure reward for quests and tasks, I split this into "Favours" and "Sway".

If you complete a favour for someone you earn a certain amount of temporary influence points with them. These represent favours, each favour can be cashed in once, with a limit of one favour per social conflict. If the players return a merchants stolen cargo I might have him give the group a favour of 10 influence. This means later if the players wish to get free passage on his ship they could immediately cash that in for 10 influence, starting them already closer (or automatically passing) the threshold to convince the merchant. If they returned cargo a half dozen times, they could not turn in 6 favours at once for 60 influence. Just because you keep returning his stolen wares doesn't mean he will automatically sail into a maelstrom and fight a demon-lord at your side.

Sway is a much stronger affair. Influence represents a permanent loyalty or duty to you from the individual or faction. Every social conflict you are in starts you with as much influence against the opponent as the difference between your sway with them, and their sway with you. So If I have two sway with the town watch (and they have none with me, which is normal for a PC) I can automatically win any social conflict for a matter of no real import. "Hey Crowley, would you mind checking on my house periodically while I am away in Korthos?".

When one gets to higher Sway, one can start automatically asking for more and more and expect the help. If you have saved the town from a rampaging orc warlord single handily, your sway in the town should guarantee you don't pay for room, board or drinks. If one has absurdly high sway, you have the power of Thusla Doom, who needs merely ask his followers to jump from a ledge to their death...and they do without question.

Why is this good?

It allows the PC's to keep track of their reputation and the good deeds they have done, the favours they have accrued in a much more tangible fashion. This means that in long running campaigns I as the GM don't have to remember absolutely every little detail from every minor good deed they have done in the last 3 years (real time), nor do I have to hand waive it and risk overlooking a good deed that I consider minor and forgettable but really stuck with the player. Often the GM and PC's remember different things.

When is this bad?

This allows Players sometimes a bit too much knowledge, in the same way knowing their hitpoints means they don't fear one goblin pointing a bow at them ("He can only do 4 damage and I have 40 hp, I'm fine"). I temper this, if it becomes a problem by having things crop up that may damage a PC's sway or favours owed without their knowledge (IE, bad deeds they have done travelling around and spoiling their reputation)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting mechanic. I have to agree having some sort of quantifiable yardstick for renown is helpful. Even if the players may not know their 'ranking' directly, having a value/scale would be helpful for the GM to keep track of their overall reputation, especially if your are wrangling with different factions.