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On Behavioral Realism

Reynard

Legend
One thing to consider is that just because combat takes up more page space in the books doesn't mean it's more important in the game. It means that the designers thought it is more difficult to effectively model on the table than other aspects of play.

And if you DO believe page count is indicative of import, then obviously the only thing that matters in D&D is magic.
 

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DrunkonDuty

Adventurer
One thing to consider is that just because combat takes up more page space in the books doesn't mean it's more important in the game. It means that the designers thought it is more difficult to effectively model on the table than other aspects of play.

And if you DO believe page count is indicative of import, then obviously the only thing that matters in D&D is magic.
Re. designers and what they model and why: although it's impossible to know exactly what an artist had in mind when they created a thing it is possible to take some educated guesses. If a designer thinks that modelling combat is difficult and requires a great deal of detail I would say that's because they're thinking hard about combat and all the minutiae of it. If that same designer then covers all social activity with a single dice roll that is compared to a chart that gives some very broad and poorly defined results then they are not thinking all that hard about the minutiae social activity.

(please for the love of dog don't accuse me of hating combat heavy systems or any such crap. I play HERO, I love overly complicated combat systems.)

Given this I think page count does imply how much import a given aspect of RPG has in a given system. It's not everything in determining how players wind up playing, probably not even a majority of it (I suspect the majority of it will be the table(s) people play with.) But I think when a person reads a rule book they will find their play-style drawn towards that which the rule books draw the most attention to.

So yes, magic is very important in DnD. No, it's not everything to the game, just as it's not every page in the rule books. But it's a very big part of the game, just as it's a very big part of the rule books. Likewise combat. And social activity... isn't as much.

Can players play against this inferred (see, I'm not even suggesting that it's designer implication) style? Yes, one can certainly do that. I do that all the time. But doing so encounters what I called "resistance" in my previous post. Perhaps inertia would have been a better word. To go against the inertia, one (as a GM or player) has to go to various efforts. Exactly what efforts will depend on the types of inertia being encountered. Maybe you need house rules. More Session 0 discussion. Constant reminders while playing to stick to/avoid a given style of play. Different types of dice. More caffeine. Ear plugs to block out the whining.

So yes, one an play anything one wants with any system one wants (even LARPs!) But different games give more or less weight to different aspects of RPGs.
 

I think if you want to know what a game is about as presented, you look at what actions are rewarded in play. So for D&D, what is that? What activity is promoted by the rules in the form of XP for the characters?

Generally, killing monsters or NPCs.

Sure, this can be tweaked or alternate activities can be rewarded or whatever else...yes. But when you do make changes, are they okay on their own? Do you need to change other parts of the system as a result?

So if I want my D&D game to focus on courtly intrigue, and I decide that the PCs will earn XP by furthering their goals through manipulation and spying and deception, but then I have all the activities resolved by individual skill checks....I don’t know if that’s all that compelling. Such a game may be fun to the group if they’re invested in it and if the GM really does a good job with it and narrates well and has interesting scenarios.

But as far as mechanics go....”I want to trick the count into thinking I’ll support his bid for power....I roll Deception....I got a 17” isn’t all that compelling on its own.

D&D is malleable, for sure. But there may be other systems that can get the desired effect more easily. Or perhaps a few rules or concepts from those games can be ported to D&D. There are different ways to approach it based on what the GM and players may want.

In the case of the OP, it sounds like they’re not looking for a new system by any means. The GM would just like if the characters behaved like actual people would.

This doesn’t require a new system. It needs a conversation to get everyone on the same page and then maybe some minor tweaks to get things to work.
 

Lwaxy

Cute but dangerous
Luckily,most of my players behave like normal people (of their race) would do. So you may find the goblin and the kobold,and maybe the wood elf, camping outside the city, but the rest would happilypay for an inn.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Luckily,most of my players behave like normal people (of their race) would do. So you may find the goblin and the kobold,and maybe the wood elf, camping outside the city, but the rest would happilypay for an inn.
I think if you have a goblin, kobold and wood elf all camping together, they already aren't acting like normal members of their races. ;)
 

Reynard

Legend
I think if you have a goblin, kobold and wood elf all camping together, they already aren't acting like normal members of their races. ;)
I know you were being cheeky, but those are very different things. Adventurers are already outliers. I wouldn't expect them to generally act like conformists, just like people.
 

Lwaxy

Cute but dangerous
Hehe in my world, there is a lot less good vs evil,most people are neutral and this group has a very good reason to be together, that is, preventing an ancient undead evil no one else believes in to return.
 

chaochou

Adventurer
One thing to consider is that just because combat takes up more page space in the books doesn't mean it's more important in the game.
Presumably you also feel the reverse is true, then?

A game made up of dozens of pages of social rules and a small section on how to adjudicate a dice roll for combat would - in your opinion - be giving both elements of play equal importance.
 

pemerton

Legend
One thing to consider is that just because combat takes up more page space in the books doesn't mean it's more important in the game. It means that the designers thought it is more difficult to effectively model on the table than other aspects of play.
I don't want to spend too much time on this, because it's a bit of a tangent to your OP; but I think anyone who thiks that combat is more difficult to effectively model than social interaction and conflict is mistaken. Combat can be modelled by single opposed checks (qv Prince Valiant, Burning Wheel, HeroWars/Quest) or even by free narration (qv Cthulhu Dark).

Maybe a lot of weight is being carried by the word effectively? But then we're back to focus and emphasis - if a modelling of combat isn't effectivei for a group unless it includes positions that change over the course of resolution (in D&D versions this is a concern that peaks with 4e, but is clearly very present in 5e with all its rules for both chosen and forced movement and positioning) then that tells us something about where the group's interests lie.

If what a group enjoys about the more detailed combat resolution process is the sense of unfolding and compelling fiction that it generates - We're going to be overrun? No, thank heavens, the mage saved us with that Web spell - then that might be transferable to other topics of fiction that are compelling in their resolution. If what a group enjoys abuot the more detailed process is its tactical or wargaming component, then maybe not - it's possible to have tactical social resolution rules for a RPG (eg Duel of Wits, or the action point rules of the original HeroWars) but they may be a bit less :natural" or appealing than tactical combat rules.

How different is an opposed fellowship roll to an opposed Charisma roll? Is it modified by past interactions and some sort of score that represent the relationships involved? There are DMG rules that can be used to do the same thing, or it can be kept even easier and just create a downtime activity for the joust that includes a roll to gain the favor of the crowd, a new paramour, or gain the sponsorship of an existing paramour. The two knights would compete in that one roll, and then go about the joust. The sponsorship would literally be one success or failure in a series of tests to see how well they do in the joust.
Prince Valiant is similar to (and predates) HeroWars/Quest, in that many activities can be resolved via single opposed checks or via a series of checks, based on pacing considerations as much as in-fiction considerations; so the fiction of the situation can evolve through play, which changes the context of each check and the fictional framing and components that feed into it.

Rolemaster is a very different game, but the way its Influence static manoeuvre chart is set up can tend to produce re-rolls with a modification before producing outright success - so likewise in play it can produce the dynamic of a scene that unfolds over time, with new action declarations and associated fiction feeding into each check. (RM doesn't do PC vs PC influence very well, though - the resolution procedure assumes PC vs NPC.)

Someone else woudl have to judge the best way to get 5e to produce this sort of outcome. For PC vs NPC a skill challenge-like framework might work. For PC vs PC social "hit points" might work. But I think it can be worth thinking about how to give the desired fiction "heft" and just plain duration in the resolution process.

But knights founding a chivalric order? That is...classic D&D? I mean, I can’t imagine that not happening in a game with the same themes as Prince Valiant.

<snip>

Absolutely no rule in 5e D&D actually pushes you toward dungeons, or worrying about treasure, or being homeless. For goodness sakes, your background can be Noble, or Knight, right in the PHB.
I think that a focus on "treasure as PC build" which is an element of 3E and 4e, and perhaps of some 5e play given what has come out in this dicussion, can be something that pushes play away from the direction the OP is interested in.

I think the 6 to 8 encouters per day pushes towards dungeons - or similar situations that contrive a relatively high rate of encounters - which is why upthread I canvassed a change to recovery rates as a possible thing.

I also think the 6 to 8 encounters per day can push towards a high level of GM curation over how the plot of the game unfolds - so as to ensure the reality or at least the threat of that number of encounters - and I think that can push against a certain sort of spontaneity or "levity" in play which (I think) can be more conducive to some of these human-oriented plotlines, which also by their nature probably need to be driven more by the players than the GM.

As far as military orders are concerned, I don't have a good sense of how common that is in D&D but I don't see many posts about it. There tends to be an assumption that a paladin's horse is something of a liability or at best a "ribbon" because horses don't work in dungeons; and there doesn't seem to be a lot of mechanical support for military leadership as a focus of play. (The 4e DMG even pushes against that with its remark that "allies" tend to refer to a small group of 8 or so rather than larger mlitary units; I don't know if the 5e DMG replicates this approach.)

But I think the issue of military leadership and forming warbands whose exploits are a focus of play withoutt the game turning from RPG into tabletop wargame is probably another thing that is a bit tangential to the OP.
 

Reynard

Legend
I don't want to spend too much time on this, because it's a bit of a tangent to your OP; but I think anyone who thiks that combat is more difficult to effectively model than social interaction and conflict is mistaken. Combat can be modelled by single opposed checks (qv Prince Valiant, Burning Wheel, HeroWars/Quest) or even by free narration (qv Cthulhu Dark).
That would actually be a nice little D&D sidebar: Conflict as an Opposed Check or something, that explicitly lays out that not every fight needs to be a square by square, hit point by hit point slog. I know lots of GMs do this in some form or another, but having the designers tell them it is okay would go a long way to avoiding some of the pitfalls combat encounter design. Not that I think you should only ever engage in full tactical combat when the fight is "important" but sometimes you just want to move on. I could almost see a mechanic like the Journey mechanic from TOR/AiME where it even models a little of the resource expenditure on such a fight.

Of course, I also want a robust social conflict system that is as deep and granular as the combat system. I built one once but my players revolted (the same group by and and large that inspired this thread, now that I think about it).

Anyway, good tangent. probably thread worthy itself.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don't want to spend too much time on this, because it's a bit of a tangent to your OP; but I think anyone who thiks that combat is more difficult to effectively model than social interaction and conflict is mistaken. Combat can be modelled by single opposed checks (qv Prince Valiant, Burning Wheel, HeroWars/Quest) or even by free narration (qv Cthulhu Dark).

Maybe a lot of weight is being carried by the word effectively? But then we're back to focus and emphasis - if a modelling of combat isn't effectivei for a group unless it includes positions that change over the course of resolution (in D&D versions this is a concern that peaks with 4e, but is clearly very present in 5e with all its rules for both chosen and forced movement and positioning) then that tells us something about where the group's interests lie.

If what a group enjoys about the more detailed combat resolution process is the sense of unfolding and compelling fiction that it generates - We're going to be overrun? No, thank heavens, the mage saved us with that Web spell - then that might be transferable to other topics of fiction that are compelling in their resolution. If what a group enjoys abuot the more detailed process is its tactical or wargaming component, then maybe not - it's possible to have tactical social resolution rules for a RPG (eg Duel of Wits, or the action point rules of the original HeroWars) but they may be a bit less :natural" or appealing than tactical combat rules.

Prince Valiant is similar to (and predates) HeroWars/Quest, in that many activities can be resolved via single opposed checks or via a series of checks, based on pacing considerations as much as in-fiction considerations; so the fiction of the situation can evolve through play, which changes the context of each check and the fictional framing and components that feed into it.

Rolemaster is a very different game, but the way its Influence static manoeuvre chart is set up can tend to produce re-rolls with a modification before producing outright success - so likewise in play it can produce the dynamic of a scene that unfolds over time, with new action declarations and associated fiction feeding into each check. (RM doesn't do PC vs PC influence very well, though - the resolution procedure assumes PC vs NPC.)

Someone else woudl have to judge the best way to get 5e to produce this sort of outcome. For PC vs NPC a skill challenge-like framework might work. For PC vs PC social "hit points" might work. But I think it can be worth thinking about how to give the desired fiction "heft" and just plain duration in the resolution process.

I think that a focus on "treasure as PC build" which is an element of 3E and 4e, and perhaps of some 5e play given what has come out in this dicussion, can be something that pushes play away from the direction the OP is interested in.

I think the 6 to 8 encouters per day pushes towards dungeons - or similar situations that contrive a relatively high rate of encounters - which is why upthread I canvassed a change to recovery rates as a possible thing.

I also think the 6 to 8 encounters per day can push towards a high level of GM curation over how the plot of the game unfolds - so as to ensure the reality or at least the threat of that number of encounters - and I think that can push against a certain sort of spontaneity or "levity" in play which (I think) can be more conducive to some of these human-oriented plotlines, which also by their nature probably need to be driven more by the players than the GM.

As far as military orders are concerned, I don't have a good sense of how common that is in D&D but I don't see many posts about it. There tends to be an assumption that a paladin's horse is something of a liability or at best a "ribbon" because horses don't work in dungeons; and there doesn't seem to be a lot of mechanical support for military leadership as a focus of play. (The 4e DMG even pushes against that with its remark that "allies" tend to refer to a small group of 8 or so rather than larger mlitary units; I don't know if the 5e DMG replicates this approach.)

But I think the issue of military leadership and forming warbands whose exploits are a focus of play withoutt the game turning from RPG into tabletop wargame is probably another thing that is a bit tangential to the OP.
Here’s the thing. That social sequence resolution doesn’t sound any different from 4e or 5e D&D. You can use a single check to determine how it goes, or a check per part of the sequence of events, depending as much on pacing concerns as on fictional concerns.

And you can absolutely do several opposed rolls for PC vs PC stuff, or a single opposed check, or even separate, simultaneous checks/challenges against the same DC(s). These all work entirely within the framework of 4e or 5e D&D, with no fuss.

Also, as much as people on forums act like 6-8 encounters is a rule, it isn’t. It isn’t a mechanic of 5e D&D, it’s advice.

As for founding organizations, IME it’s very common, which is why things like Colville’s Strongholds and Followers KS campaign did over 2 million. One weakness of 5e is that it still has very little support for that sort of thing in terms of any official mechanical benefit.

However, hirelings, and the downtime system, actually provide most of what is needed to get more out of that, you just have to build that into a specified system.

My group is actually going to be doing an Age of Chivalry campaign inspired by the same stuff as Blue Rose. I will probably buy the new Blue Rose to mine for setting stuff, because it shares the “social politics” I want for the campaign, as well as the setting aesthetics, but I’ll be running the game in 5e, and just like my capers and my mysteries, it’ll run really well in 5e, I’m sure.
 


Celebrim

Legend
So yes, magic is very important in DnD. No, it's not everything to the game, just as it's not every page in the rule books. But it's a very big part of the game, just as it's a very big part of the rule books. Likewise combat. And social activity... isn't as much.
I think that there is a huge hole in this thesis and it has to do with the difference between modelling the physical skills of a player character versus modeling the mental skills of a player character.

If you have a physical skill like "jump" or "run", then a the players physical skill is completely unrelated to that. No matter what the physical capabilities are of a player, in a table top RPG they don't extend into the imagined universe (they could if we were running a combat LARP of some sort). The players ability to run can't influence how the character runs, jumps, or swings a sword.

The same is not true of mental abilities, including social abilities. No matter what the mental capabilities are of the player character, the player's mental abilities always extend into the game universe. A player that lacks good judgment will have a very hard time playing a character that has good judgment. A player that isn't a humerus wit, will have a very hard time playing a character that is one. A player with poor memory and reasoning skills will have a very hard time playing a character with great intelligence. We can sort of help the character along, but it is absolutely important to realize that not only can we not fully bridge this gap through some sort of simulation of mental and social abilities, but we would not want to. If in fact we could fully simulate the mental abilities of the player character, then the game would cease to be a game and become a simulation. The player character would make it's own choices based on dice rolls, and the player would cease to be a player and become an observer of the character only.

So it is absolutely important to understand that there is a difference between the goals we have for the game with respect to physical abilities of the character and mental abilities of the character. For example, for the game Pendragon there is no 'Intelligence' score for a a character at all. It should not be inferred from this that problem solving or making intelligent choices is deprecated as core goal of game play.

Combat abilities and athletic abilities are not easy to model in an imagined game world, but they are easier and less information dense than mental abilities and social abilities. Most RPG systems have some degree of what I call 'cinematic experience' as a core goal of game play. By that I mean that they want the experience of play to tend to produce a transcript in the player's mind which resembles a movie. That is to say, when the players have a fight with a monster, they want the player to imagine the sequence of exciting events that transpired as the players fought the monster. When trying to achieve a cinematic experience in combat, it aids the imagination of the players if various concrete events happen during the fight - someone throws a spear, someone is bitten, somone is hurled to the ground, a healer heals someone, a caster hurls some magic, or whatever. Different systems go into different levels of granularity to help achieve this concretely imaginable result that is the exciting transcript of combat. The idea is to as closely as possible realize the imagined fight without going into so much bookkeeping it distracts from the excitement of the event by becoming the most salient play activity.

What about social abilities? What thing can we do at the table that most resembles social interaction and is most cinematic in the same way combat rules achieve cinematic results? The answer turns out to be social interaction. The thing that is most like a scene in a movie where characters talk, for whatever reason that they talk, is simply acting out the scene by talking. It turns out that quite the opposite of what happens with combat, the more rules simulation that you add to a social conflict, the less it actually produces a transcript of dialogue and the less it resembles the thing you are trying to simulate. Social interaction is in fact the most cinematic way to simulate social interaction.

So what this means is that there turns out to be almost no direct relationship between how many rules you have for adjudicating social interaction and how much the game intends for social RP to be a central pillar of play. And in fact, in my experience the game designers that have gone all in with the intention of making social interaction the central pillar of play by sort of intuitively taking the sort of rules we have for combat systems and creating social combat systems complete with maneuvers, reputation points, and simulated social combat actually end up creating an incoherent system where social interaction is minimized in importance. After all, if social interaction is simulated as combat, then the transcript of play resembles combat by other means and not actual role play. All that is really need for a game that involves a lot of social interaction is thinking about the game being about social interaction and making that rewarding. As far as rules go, I've never seen anything actually be more effective than just a simple test to see if a proposition challenging an NPC's beliefs (or sometimes a PC's beliefs) worked and maybe to what degree. Anything more than that actually detracts from social focused play.
 

Eric V

Adventurer
Is there some sort of in-between here? I totally get what you're saying, but taken to its conclusion, wouldn't that mean no one could really play an 18 CHA bard (for example)?

In most games I have been in, the player engages in social interaction with the DM, and then the mechanics take place with a + or - depending on the effectiveness of said social interaction. That way, the introvert can still walk on the wild side by playing a high CHA character. It also allows for less verbose players to say "I try to persuade him of my point of view, bringing up points x, y, and z" without acting it out.
 

Oh, so they don't go on adventures? They stay home and farm and raise children and just try to get by?
I'd like to expand on my previous (somewhat flippant) comment.

I might say, "Good thing Frodo and Sam didn't behave like normal Hobbits."

To which a certain flavor of roleplayer might say, "That's because Frodo had Tookish blood, and Sam was driven by an extraordinary love and loyalty."

Right!

So the question is, what is special about your character, that leads them to behave in ways un-like "normal" members of their race/culture?

And, I would add, you don't necessarily have to figure that out during chargen. You might have some kind of inspiration into that question several (or many) levels in. And you might even have that inspiration because you want to rationalize an action you are taking for metagame reasons. I think that's totally, 100% fine, for two reasons:
  • As DM, I don't want to waste neurons trying to figure out when you are making decisions for RP reasons, and when it's for gamist reasons. You be you.
  • The gamist objective might be the impetus behind a really great character idea. Win-win!
 

MGibster

Hero
I'd like to expand on my previous (somewhat flippant) comment.

I might say, "Good thing Frodo and Sam didn't behave like normal Hobbits."

To which a certain flavor of roleplayer might say, "That's because Frodo had Tookish blood, and Sam was driven by an extraordinary love and loyalty."
I think it's important to note that most adventurers aren't normal people. Either by circumstances or choice, these folks are bucking the norms of their society. With that said, Frodo and Sam still acted like people which is what makes Lord of the Rings such a compelling story.

The problem isn't that players play their characters differently from the norm. The problem is when players treat their characters as game pieces rather than characters.

As DM, I don't want to waste neurons trying to figure out when you are making decisions for RP reasons, and when it's for gamist reasons. You be you.
Hear! Hear! And quite honestly, sometimes it's better for players to make decisions for gamist reasons in order to actually move the plot along! And you're right, you don't have neurons to waste on that kind of thing. You've got other things to worry about.
 

And you might even have that inspiration because you want to rationalize an action you are taking for metagame reasons. I think that's totally, 100% fine, for two reasons:
  • As DM, I don't want to waste neurons trying to figure out when you are making decisions for RP reasons, and when it's for gamist reasons. You be you.
  • The gamist objective might be the impetus behind a really great character idea. Win-win!
Yeah, this is really relevant, I think, and something that is often cited as a problem. I think largely because many people tend to not differentiate between making the "decisions in the best interests of the character" and "making decisions that the character would make". There's a difference between these two things, as evidenced by the staggering frequency with which people act in ways which are not in their best interests.

Also, there really isn't a problem if there are two reasons for a decision....one for the player ("attacking these bad guys will be fun") and one for the character ("I have no sense of caution and don't understand consequences").

And I think this is probably what's going on here is that the system in place is not supporting that duality, so you have characters behaving in ways based on player desires, without a corresponding fictional justification.
 

MGibster

Hero
Yeah, this is really relevant, I think, and something that is often cited as a problem. I think largely because many people tend to not differentiate between making the "decisions in the best interests of the character" and "making decisions that the character would make". There's a difference between these two things, as evidenced by the staggering frequency with which people act in ways which are not in their best interests.
And in defense of the players, there's a good possibility that "bad decisions" have so often led to such overwhelmingly negative results that it pushes away any thought of playing their character.
 

DrunkonDuty

Adventurer
Celebrim, you bring up some good points.

I agree that combat should be modelled by the system. Otherwise we start hitting one another with nerf bats. Pop culture reference here: "Do you want LARPing? Because that's how that's how we get LARPing."*

But combat can be modelled with a single die roll. The same way that social interaction is in DnD.

I also agree that social interaction can be roll-played without any dice or system at all. But, as Eriv V pointed out in #194, having no system can be unfair to players who are less socially adept, or who struggle to get into character.

Neither of which points intersect with the point I was making:
If a game system as written puts emphasis** on a given aspect of RPG it will lead to more emphasis on that aspect of RPG in the playing of that RPG.
Caveats: It's not a 1:1 ratio. At some tables it may not happen at all. It's not even the biggest motivator in how a game will play out.

As a corollary I then posited that going against the perceived emphasis of a particular game system will lead to a certain amount of inertia that will need to be overcome. (Types of inertia and ways of overcoming/ failing to overcome it varying from case to case.)

Haweyefan, I agree wholeheartedly. Rewards in play are a huge part of how a given game winds up playing out; be it the style, the end goals, or what mechanical systems actually end being used. And I think it is a direct cause of what was mentioned in the OP about players having their characters camp outdoors rather than spend a limited game resource for the illusion of comfort. (Sorry if this has already been pointed out, I kinda jumped from page 1 to page 9 of this thread.)

Virtual & Covid-19-free hugs, y'all.


*in case it needs pointing out, combat does not actually have to have a system as LARPing is perfectly fine way to get your RPG on.

** I am equating page count to emphasis. There are other ways of applying emphasis, the broader community has a lot of impact on gaming styles, but my thesis is referring to the emphasis from game systems as they are written in the rule books.
 

pemerton

Legend
I don't see CHA and social mechanics primarily as a way of allowing shy players to play extrovert PCs (though sometimes that might be a happy side-effect).

I see it as playing the same role as any other mechanic - a device for working out what happens in the game.

When there are two players whose PCs are sitting in a tavern drinking and boasting and arguing about who will win the favour of the lovely Violette, how is this to be resolved? We're not going to actually go to a pub, drink and boast - that would be ending the session and taking up a different social activity. I'm not interested in adjudicating which rival has won over the other. But a contest on Fellowship, factoring in Brawn or Presence as appropriate (is this roll about the drinking, or about the boasting?) is fun, and gives us an outcome that flows from the fiction much as combat mechanics do when they come into play.

So what this means is that there turns out to be almost no direct relationship between how many rules you have for adjudicating social interaction and how much the game intends for social RP to be a central pillar of play. And in fact, in my experience the game designers that have gone all in with the intention of making social interaction the central pillar of play by sort of intuitively taking the sort of rules we have for combat systems and creating social combat systems complete with maneuvers, reputation points, and simulated social combat actually end up creating an incoherent system where social interaction is minimized in importance. After all, if social interaction is simulated as combat, then the transcript of play resembles combat by other means and not actual role play.
Is this based on actual play with DitV, Burning Wheel, HeroWars/Quest, Cortex+ Heroic, Prince Valiant, and similar systems? Or D&D 4e skill challenges? Or even Classic Traveller, which has a reaction roll system for resolving many social interactions

It's very different from my experience of play in those systems. An action declaration in social interaction resolution involves a player saying what his/her PC is saying - either directly as performance, or via indirect speech. An action declaration in combat resolution generally involves a player saying who the PC is fighting with, and how.

These are different things: different framings, different considerations factoring into the resoution, different resulting fictions.
 
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