D&D General "I roll Persuasion."

Reynard

Legend
As a spinoff of the astoundingly long lived "I roll perception" thread:

I don't mind D&D social encounters being about players presenting ideas to NPCs and GMs deciding how that goes with maybe a persuasion roll involved or whatever, but I actually like the idea of full on "social combat" system just as intricate and tactically satisfying as the physical combat one. There would be positions taken, and angles of rhetorical attack, and specific maneuvers and even social specific magic, all dedicated to winnowing down "Resolve" or "Social Hit Points" to find out who won.

I tried a rough design once with a courtly intrigue adventure in an otherwise standard D&D campaign and a couple players completely balked -- especially the one playing the face (who felt like the system undermined his high Charisma and high Persuasion skill).

How do you feel about "social combat" in D&D? Do you think any edition of D&D has gotten social encounters "right"? Are there and 3rd party things (for any edition) that you think work for "social combat"? Am I just looking for a way to play "Ace Attorney" in D&D?
 

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payn

Legend
I like to wing the social pillar, which I'm not sure is because its always been that way, or if its my actual preference. I have seen a few sub-systems, and they usually screw anybody that doesn't have charisma. I tend to run social combat in two different ways. One is the immediate attempt. For example, there is a building on fire in the city and you are trying to get a guard to leave their post and help. This is the "I roll persuasion" typical experience. I run a lot of political intrigue in my campaigns with faction play. So secondly, there is a lot of long term goals in the background that are effected by the party. Maintaining those relationships, and more importantly, changing them is a big long term play goal.

I think you need a social foundation before engaging in an actual social combat system. I would like to see something built into, perhaps, backgrounds that gives some more mechanics in the social pillar. Mage school, army barracks, court jester, etc.. Something that gives specific knowledge, push/pull, ability to interact within different types of groups in society. Also, adding a few bits into class design might help in this regard too. Something that can make characters a little less one dimensional in the social game. So, long story short, I dont think the infrastructure has ever been present enough to make social combat fair and/or satisfying. YMMV
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
How do you feel about "social combat" in D&D? Do you think any edition of D&D has gotten social encounters "right"? Are there and 3rd party things (for any edition) that you think work for "social combat"? Am I just looking for a way to play "Ace Attorney" in D&D?
I prefer it somewhere between where it is now in 5E, with RP centered and maybe a roll if required, and some kind of group check or skill challenge. Combat is monotonous so I wouldn’t want to make anything else in the game more like combat.
 


beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
I have no problem with a social combat system.

However, IMHO, if you're going to design a social combat system in D&D, it should take the "face's" high persuasion/intimidation/deception into account, Otherwise I agree that that would undermine the players expectations of their PCs abilities.
 

As a spinoff of the astoundingly long lived "I roll perception" thread:

I don't mind D&D social encounters being about players presenting ideas to NPCs and GMs deciding how that goes with maybe a persuasion roll involved or whatever, but I actually like the idea of full on "social combat" system just as intricate and tactically satisfying as the physical combat one. There would be positions taken, and angles of rhetorical attack, and specific maneuvers and even social specific magic, all dedicated to winnowing down "Resolve" or "Social Hit Points" to find out who won.

I tried a rough design once with a courtly intrigue adventure in an otherwise standard D&D campaign and a couple players completely balked -- especially the one playing the face (who felt like the system undermined his high Charisma and high Persuasion skill).

How do you feel about "social combat" in D&D? Do you think any edition of D&D has gotten social encounters "right"? Are there and 3rd party things (for any edition) that you think work for "social combat"? Am I just looking for a way to play "Ace Attorney" in D&D?
this sounds amazing... it is well beyond my ability to make a 'social combat' system but I would LOVE to see one if not use it
 

Basically I agree with what @overgeeked says: I don't really want to see much more complicated mechanics for social situations (especially considering that the systems I have encountered in other systems often felt more cumbersome than helpful), save maybe for the aforementioned group check and a lightweight system for hirelings and factions.
Contrary to the exploration pillar, which I would like to see extended, I am, in fact, mostly fine with how D&D handles things.
The only point is that IMO you don't simply roll persuasion/intimidation/etc. - you either act it out or you at least give a summary of what you want to achieve and how you would like to do it (same for perception).
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
There may be specific situations where a social interaction may be suitable for certain types of more elaborate gamification than role playing and a few checks. But I'm generally not in favor of "social combat" systems being widespread.
 

Reynard

Legend
I have no problem with a social combat system.

However, IMHO, if you're going to design a social combat system in D&D, it should take the "face's" high persuasion/intimidation/deception into account, Otherwise I agree that that would undermine the players expectations of their PCs abilities.
I actually made different social "attacks" based on different stats, making sure every character had some "maneuvers" they could use. The Charisma based character's player was the one that freaked out.
 


MarkB

Legend
It may not be full-on social combat, but there are rules on social interactions in the DMG that go beyond just "I roll Persuasion". Here's a good video on it:


I particularly like the idea of finding out and leveraging a character's ideals, bonds and flaws.
 

Celebrim

Legend
As a spinoff of the astoundingly long lived "I roll perception" thread:

I don't mind D&D social encounters being about players presenting ideas to NPCs and GMs deciding how that goes with maybe a persuasion roll involved or whatever, but I actually like the idea of full on "social combat" system just as intricate and tactically satisfying as the physical combat one. There would be positions taken, and angles of rhetorical attack, and specific maneuvers and even social specific magic, all dedicated to winnowing down "Resolve" or "Social Hit Points" to find out who won.

I tried a rough design once with a courtly intrigue adventure in an otherwise standard D&D campaign and a couple players completely balked -- especially the one playing the face (who felt like the system undermined his high Charisma and high Persuasion skill).

How do you feel about "social combat" in D&D? Do you think any edition of D&D has gotten social encounters "right"? Are there and 3rd party things (for any edition) that you think work for "social combat"? Am I just looking for a way to play "Ace Attorney" in D&D?

So about 20 years ago social combat systems were all the fad in RPG design and a ton of very bright and creative designers applied themselves to the problem. And after looking at all the systems that they produced, having been initially excited by the prospect and been looking for something that could inform my play based on the stated goal of making social interactions as important to play as combat, I came to the conclusion that no one had solved the problem not because no one was smart enough to do so or because no one hadn't made the effort, but because the problem as presented had no solution. The task as outlined was impossible.

To understand why requires talking for a bit first about what most players want from the game and why in particular players that want social interactions to matter and want to solve that with a social combat system are trying ultimately to achieve.

So I have this concept I call "the transcript of play". The transcript of play is what the game is actually producing as it's output. It's the part of the play at the table that is the story of the game and the record of the in-character events. A retcon for example is something that happened at the table but then by agreement gets struck from the transcript of the play. You can think about it for example being the novelization of your game or the movie of your game. It's what shows up in EnWorld Story Hours. Every game has a transcript of play even if you didn't write it down.

So I would argue that to a large extent production of a particular sort of transcript is the goal of playing an RPG. When we finish the play and look back on it, we have a transcript that we remember which is the things that happened in the game. When we remember back on what happened, our memories will focus on that imagined movie of the game more even than they will what actually happened at the table. And for most players of a tabletop RPG, that is the aesthetic that attracts them to play.

Now I want to contrast that transcript of play with the transcript of a non-RPG like Chess. Chess produces a transcript that is a series of movies by each player: something like "White plays Knight to f3" "Black plays Knight to c6, check". This is also an enjoyable experience that can be replayed but it's a very different aesthetic of play to what most RPG players want. This transcript is different because it comes from a different aesthetic of play. I say most players because I have met players that insist that what they want from an RPG is a very complex form of fairy chess that produces a transcript that is basically like the transcript of chess only more complicated, but by the fact that games that support this sort of transcript have pretty much disappeared from the market (if indeed they ever existed) I think we can say that's not a common aesthetic. Players that want that probably are now playing something like "Slay the Spire" or "Card Hunter" (both excellent games).

The sort of person that says, "I want social interactions to be as engaging and deep as combat interactions" has some implied aesthetics of play. They might be the sort of person that wants to produce that Chess like transcript of play only that they want the social interactions to also have a Chess like transcript of play, but I would argue two things. First, that those people are rare and aren't a big market. But secondly and maybe more to the point, those people don't care where the moves in the transcript of play came from. There is nothing really missing from their game if there is no social interaction because it's all tactical moves anyway. There isn't really any aesthetic being unfulfilled for them if the whole game is already combat. In fact, there response to "social interaction isn't fulfilling my aesthetic of play" is probably not "we should do something about the rules" but to just forgo social encounters except maybe as meaningless "cut scenes" that don't produce the right transcript of play and get to the good stuff.

The sort of player or designer that tackles "we need to fix the rules so that social interactions are as engaging and therefore as important to the game as combat", doesn't want more combat. They want more social interactions. And they want those social interactions to show up in the transcript of play as part of the artistic "movie" or "novelization" of the game we originally talked about that is so attractive to most players.

OK, with me so far? Does all that make sense? Because we've got a long way to go.

So it turns out there are actually two very different ways to produce an RPG transcript of play. Both can end up with the exact transcript of play, but they get there from very different recordings of play and practices of play. And that's what I have to address next, but this post is already getting too long.
 

Celebrim

Legend
So given that the goal is to produce a particular sort of transcript of play or if you will "movie of the game" there are at least two different ways to do that.

The first way we could do that is the way the vast majority of groups already do it. They play out the scenes using a set of rules to arbitrate the propositions in the scenes with players declaring their actions and roleplaying them out, and DMs responding to that by arbitrating the actions and declaring the results. If your goal though is to produce a particular transcript of play, this is a maddeningly frustrating way to go about things. If your goal is to capture reliably certain common tropes of fiction and emulate genre it can be very difficult to do this using "playing it out" as a methodology.

The alternative is to hash out the transcript in much the same way that a group of screenwriters tasked to write a script by committee would do it. The group collectively decides through some process what the transcript is going to be, talking over what they want to achieve and what they think will be a good story and crafting it as they go with certain big story points already worked out as being really desirable.

Both methods can potentially produce the exact same transcript of play but the experience of the game will be very different if you are a participant in the two groups. In the first group, the experience of play is like being a character in the book or the movie. It is the book or the movie of you and your friends, and you are acting out in it real time learning the story as it happens with the dramatic excitement that that implies. At the end of it, if everything works, it's like having a private movie that only you shared that you were yourself a participant in.

But the other method of play produces an experience of play not that different from being the screenwriter that made the movie. You still produced the story and you were still participant in it, and the experience of play can still be fun (especially since above all else, both methods are social) but it's not the same sort of experience. You really don't need to play anything out. You can just say it happened and it goes into the transcript the same way. The big reveals can be something you collectively decided was the best for the situation ahead of time. You get the creative energy of "Let's have Darth Vader be Luke's dad!" and everyone goes, "Oh that an awesome idea. That's perfect.", but you don't get the same experience as sitting in the theater going, "No. That's not true! That's impossible!" right there along with Luke the way the "play it out" people do when everything goes right. As a result, there are aesthetics of play that don't get fulfilled or don't get as much fulfilled by the story by committee group as the "play it out and see what happens" group. Arguably, the "play it out" group have a hard time producing as reliable of a cinematic transcript as the committee group, and so maybe they get frustrated with that, but there is a tradeoff here.

My argument is that almost everyone in the group of people attracted to the idea of Social Encounters with as rich of a rule set as combat come from the "play it out" school of gaming. They want their games to produce narratives that are a lot less "meaningless combat" and more like the movies and novels that they love, but they aren't wanting to forgo the experience you get from "playing it out" because the fun of playing it out is the biggest part of the fun for them. The people in the game by committee group don't need rules particular to social combat to make it as much a part of their game as any other part. They are perfectly happy to just decide that some sort of conversation took place through whatever methods they use to come to collective agreement. In a sense, they already have sufficient rules to make any part of transcript, since whatever part of the transcript it is, they can always just hash out what they think is best for the scene. A bunch of rules for playing out social encounters would only make it more likely that it would all "go wrong" and produce something other than what they all agreed was the best result.

So keeping in mind what the people who want detailed and engrossing rules for social encounters actually want - the experience of being inside an engrossing and engaging story - and how the plan to get there (by "playing it out"), I'll will now try to explain why the tool they have chosen is so wrong for the job that it will never actually produce the experience and transcript of play that they want. They have in fact tasked themselves with a job that is impossible.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
So, I actually encountered a social combat system in recent years, and kind of fell in love with the idea. Now, I don't think it would work in DnD as written, because my friend was designing his game from the ground up to include these concepts. DnD doesn't work like this, and so it would need to be a sub-system at best.

Now, before we get into arguing the exact mechanics, I think it is more important to talk about two things.

1) The goal of the system

2) When to execute it.


And the biggest thing I think gets missed or messed up when people make social combat systems is that they try and make the system and assume that point #2 is "Always". But, this is the biggest difference between combat combat and social combat. If you have a party of level 15 adventurers walking down a wooded path, and you have three completely normal goblins jump out of cover and attack the party... well, most of us wouldn't have those goblins even exist, and those who do wouldn't bother to have the party roll for initiative. Those goblins are defeated and the party loses no significant resources in the process. We do not want unimportant combats.

But we do want unimportant social interactions. If those PCs then get to a fort and the guard refuses them entry and demands to know who they are... we don't want to skip this. Even if there is no question the PCs are going to get in, this is part of the glue that holds the game together. And, frankly, this guard isn't going to be worth pulling out the social combat system for, the standard rolling is perfectly fine for this scenario.

So, when do we want to use this system after we make it?

The best use of my friend's system came when I was running one of his Demo's for a con. The game is set in mythical Japan and so concepts such as losing face from being visibly upset were things he wanted to emphasize. The players had been tasked with determining the origin of a Void creature which had been terrorizing the city, but while they had some evidence that a particular government official was involved, it wasn't enough to bring to the Daimyo. And they were running out of time.

So, they decided to confront the noble to try and get him to confess. They rolled a social skill check, as we had been doing the entire night because we were using the simplified rules for the demo... and they failed. But they were frustrated with this failure. They KNEW it was him, but obviously you can't just keep rerolling the dice til you succeed. And this is when I brought up the system. I'd let them take their first attempt as a failed first strike, and we'd go into a social combat. If they lost, then they lost, they would be shamed for accusing the noble, and they wouldn't achieve their goals. But if they succeeded.... then they basically would have argued their way into a success via the different methods available to them.

And this is when I think a social combat system shines. This is the "dramatic scene" moment where the argument happens and we zoom in on the clash of wills. And, actually, DnD has a system that we can use to model this with some very simple changes.

Skill Challenges.

Take the base idea of the mechanics of a skill challenge. The players can roll any skill they want, if they can justify it, to apply to the challenge. But instead of the success/failure resolution, figure out a hit point system. Maybe allow a character to have hp equal to their level + a multiple of their Charisma or Wisdom Modifier. Then you can have "damage" done by looking at the modifier of the skill. Insight could be used to set an interlocutor up for a more devastating blow, giving them vulnerability to the next players "attack", defenses could be based on proficiency or raw stats.

The math of how to set up HP and skills for attacking and damage is utterly mutable, but the key point is that both sides need to have HP and the ability to attack and defend, and everyone has to agree to the resolution of the combat. And what this allows for is more in-depth adjudication of those dramatic RP scenes we like, giving everyone more chances to participate. Meanwhile, the main system remains in place and is still used to 90% of the circumstances.

I've meant to build something like this for ages, just never sat down to hammer it out.
 

Celebrim

Legend
So, all that introduction, here is the core of the argument:

A) In reality, social encounters aren't very much like combat and are nothing like combat most of the time.

A lot of the time people who smith rules for a living end up focused on the best-case scenario instead of the general case. In this case, they had an existing tool they understood really well - combat rules - and so they started looking for examples of social encounters that matched the idea of combat. And sure, if you start out with that as a premise, you can start finding analogies between things that happen in a social encounter and things that happen in physical combat. Maybe you think, "When someone delivers an insult on someone, that's like an blunt attack on them." And so you can start thinking of an argument as being like a combat where each side is making attacks on the other and trying to deliver wounds and then at the end of it they "win" in some way. And as long as you focus on the best case and the sort of scenes where that analogy holds in some manner, then it can if you squint seem like you could adopt combat rules to social encounters.

But it falls apart in the general case. Is attacking my ego really the same as attacking my reputation? Is slaying my reputation really the same as killing me? Like while there are some analogies here, slaying my reputation usually only means embarrassing me with respect to a particular group. But if I'm dead from physical combat, it's not something you have to know about in order for it to be effective. Think about all the different consequences of "losing" a social encounter, and how little control that the "winner" necessarily has over those consequences. Thank about things like reaching a mutually agreeable bargain. Think about the various different stakes that can happen in a social encounter. Let's say the thing at the table in question is, "Does the person believe the lie?" Like most of the time in reality I try to lie to someone doesn't work like combat. Usually lies work something like a critical hit that automatically "wins" the encounter, in as much as the hearer normally takes the statement at face value. The more combat that happens in the "Does the person believe the lie?" scenario the less likely it is that the lie is going to be believed. So how with the same combat system are you going to work out "lie resistance" as opposed to "persuasion resistance". And if your answer is something like saving throws, well doesn't that undermine the whole "complex rules for social combat" intention? How many pools of social hit points do we need?

Consider also how group dynamics work in a social encounter. Does seduction really work more reliably when eight people attack the target compared to one? Is it really true that the more people who are talking the more persuasive the argument becomes?

A lot of people claim that it's arbitrary that RPGs ended up with complex rules for combat. I've argued before that that is not the case. I argue that Combat (and simulations of combat, like sports) are almost unique in the opportunities that they provide for team play where participant has repeated meaningful choices to make. Social encounters allow for a lot of repeated meaningful choices, but they don't actually provide for the same level of teamwork. We can imagine specific cases where teamwork might produce a good outcome, but if we start looking at the general case for combat more is almost always better, whereas in social encounters more is almost always irrelevant.

All of this means that all complex combat rules actually offer no real inspiration for a functional system for playing out a social encounter. Remember the goal of the "play it out" people is to produce transcripts of play that feel natural for the situation. Turning a social interaction into social combat turns out not to do that, and the more you try to fit the square peg into the round hole the worst it actually gets. In very limited scenarios yes a combat like mini-game might capture the feel of social encounter as a social combat, but those scenarios are so rare that it almost more encourages the game master to craft the mini-game for the specific scenario without the need for generic rules that turn out in practice to be anything but generic.

Ironically, if you did routinely rely on social combat rules to arbitrate your combats, you end up with a transcript of play that looks more like the one Chess produces. This isn't satisfactory to the people who originally embarked on the project.

If you look at successful games with social combat, you are looking at something like 'Dogs in the Vineyard' and even then, Dogs in the Vineyard doesn't pretend that social combat is a perfect parallel to physical combat. It has rules that distinguish the two in ways that are congruent with our understanding of how social combat would actually work. And it also feels less like the sort of engrossing social combat you are imagining and more like (though not completely like) the process of play of "work it out by committee". It's still on the spectrum of "play it out" but there are ideas like negotiation of stakes to the scene that are more like consensus and collaboration than what you normally do in "play it out".

B) Most importantly, adding complex round by round rules to a social encounter always makes the experience of the social encounter less like the experience of being inside the "movie" or "novelization" of the story rather than more like being in the "movie" or "novelization of the story.

Why do we bother to have complex rules for physical combat at all? Why do we bother to have rules for grappling? Why do we bother with things like flanking or stabbing someone in the back? Why do we care whether a player can trip the monster in a fight and working out whether it is harder to trip a brontosaurus compared to a kangaroo? We do we care whether a spear is longer than a sword and whether that should give the spear wielder some advantages? Why do we decide that if we are doing melee combat simulation, we might not care too much about the exact facing of a figure, but as soon as we are simulating jet fighter combat we very much do? Why care that padded armor is not as effective as plate armor against many sorts of attacks?

There are a lot of bad answers to those questions that tell us more about the person given the answer than they do about combat rules. I would argue that all the good answers to those questions boil down to that the people creating the complex rules for physical combat felt that those rules would produce an experience and transcript of play that felt more like watching exciting combat in movie or reading about it in a novel than if we didn't have complex rules. In other words, if we have complex rules that we are using in our combat, then what we do in play and imagine about that play more resembles actual combat to us than if we had less complex rules. By adding all this complexity, we are trying to be less abstract and produce more coherent combat that is easier to imagine. What we want after we've resolved the combat is to remember those exciting moments: like when the character jumped on the back of the monster and stabbed it, when the character pushed another character down the stairs, when the character fended away the panther with his spear and well all the concrete stuff that is easy to imagine and evocative to do so. We don't want to remember: "I hit for 5 damage", "OK, now I hit for 12 damage." Complex combat rules are an adaption to try to get the transcript more like we want it to be - cinematic in the way stage combat from one of our favorite movies is, for example.

The more detail we add to the system, the more the visualization of the combat in the transcript looks like combat.

And we have to do it this way because we don't really have a choice unless we LARP out the combat, and even then that doesn't really work because of the limitations in staging a combat on accurate terrain, limitations imposed by safety of the participants, limitations imposed by the fact we don't actually have flying dragons to play their parts in the combat and so forth. Highly granular combat systems are the closest we can get to cinematic combat in a tabletop RPG. They are the least abstract way to create the transcript. We might concede some granularity and realism for the sake of speed of play (because again, if it plays too slow it won't give us that experience of being in the novel or movie) but we probably would like really concrete if we could manage and still play it out without slowing things down. Because that's what makes things fun to the "play it out" people.

But it turns out social encounters are nothing like this. The more details and rules we add, the less the play out like the experience of the social interactions in our favorite movies and novels. The more details and rules we add to a social encounter the more abstract they tend to become when we play them out. "I choose the move Witty Retort" is nothing like actually making a witty retort and having the rule for a "Witty Retort" does nothing to help us imagine a Witty Retort. Contrast that with having a rule for disarming a foe and how that helps us to imagine the foe being disarmed.

However, the "play it out" people have a process of play that actually is concrete and conforms very closely to the experience of being inside a novel or movie. And that is, they just act out the social encounter. It turns out that acting out the social encounter is the most concrete and immersive transcript of the play you can have. In fact, it's arguably much more like the experience of being in the novel or movie than even the most detailed combat system creates. Just acting it out using acting ability turns out to be the very closest thing to watching people act a scene out using their acting ability. Go figure.

And every time you interrupt it with a rule, no matter how good your reason for doing so, is still a tradeoff from that concrete transcript of play that acting out the scenes in character gives you. So what tends to happen here is that the very people who most wanted immersive and engaging rules for social combat are the most disappointed and least engaged by them, because they find out that in play they are actually working against their own aesthetics of play.

Which is why I think almost all systems that encourage you to act out the story in the traditional manner gravitate to a small number of die rolls to arbitrate crucial tests in the encounter with difficulties and stakes that are very elastic and up to the judgment of the GM, and there has been and probably never will be a hugely successful social encounter combat system.
 
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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Thought 1: “Social Combat” suggests to me that if you lose, you don’t just fail to get your desired outcome, but that the NPC does get theirs.* Which would mean that a PC might, for example, be forcibly persuaded to do something the player doesn’t desire, which is a big no-no for me.

Thought 2: But what if the player agrees to that beforehand, in what is essentially a bid in poker? Or raise, if you can adjust it on the fly. I.e., “I will try to deceive the guard into letting us in, and if I fail I will inadvertently let slip that we are really there to steal the royal seal.”

I could get behind something like that.

*To expand on that, if you fail to kill the dragon, it probably does not leave the game in the same state as if you hadn’t even tried. You’re possibly or probably dead. For “social combat” to be analogous, the loss state has to be worse than the state prior to the combat.
 

Reynard

Legend
Thought 1: “Social Combat” suggests to me that if you lose, you don’t just fail to get your desired outcome, but that the NPC does get theirs.* Which would mean that a PC might, for example, be forcibly persuaded to do something the player doesn’t desire, which is a big no-no for me.
Why? Why in the context of a game in which we are ostensibly inhabiting the physical, mystical, cultural and social actions and consequences of an alternate personality, why is "social" special?
 

Celebrim

Legend
Thought 1: “Social Combat” suggests to me that if you lose, you don’t just fail to get your desired outcome, but that the NPC does get theirs.* Which would mean that a PC might, for example, be forcibly persuaded to do something the player doesn’t desire, which is a big no-no for me.

I consider this a special case of thinking about it and realizing social combat is really nothing like physical combat at all. For example, you probably have no problem conceding that a character can be knocked unconscious and dragged off to jail against their will, something provided for in many systems. But the truth is in a social encounter, you can be as obstinate as you want and never have to yield anything. We have any number of Enworld threads as proof of that. So what do you do for "combat" in situations where "social hit points" are infinite?

Thought 2: But what if the player agrees to that beforehand, in what is essentially a bid in poker? Or raise, if you can adjust it on the fly. I.e., “I will try to deceive the guard into letting us in, and if I fail I will inadvertently let slip that we are really there to steal the royal seal.”

Which would be very much along the lines of what 'Dogs in the Vineyard' actually does. And I consider DitV probably the best take on this and while I am not a huge fan of the setting, there are a massive number of "talking it out" stories from classic Star Trek to Jane Austen to Sherlock Holmes were if I wanted to run that game I'd probably use DitV.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I have tried a number of social systems in other games, including "social combat". Not once have I seen such systems improve roleplaying...not once.

In theory, such systems allow players to socialize in ways they aren't comfortable normally, just as a weak person can play a super strong barbarian, the socially awkward person can play the smooth talking con-artist. But in reality, I find such systems just hold back good role-players rather than prop up weak ones.

So while the theory seems reasonable to me, it just doesn't seem to work in play. When it comes to social mechanics, less truly is more.
 


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