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Persuasion - How powerful do you allow it to be?

Manbearcat

Adventurer
When I've run 5e, I've run the Social Interaction resolution mechanics as a combination of a mini Wheel of Fortune + Pictionary puzzle/pantomime game, which I believe to be their intent. Its actually extremely good design and coherent with a game that is, not wholly but certainly significantly, about puzzle solving. I'm confident this was intentful design.

NPC has a concrete Ideal, Bond, Flaw, Trait n, x, y, z.

The player's and GM interact to try to "draw the picture/put letters on the board". Eventually, if the players uncover IBFT's those are used as action resolution leverage for the players to attempt to solve the puzzle (which is the win condition for the social interaction) to get some or all of what they want.
 
Sometimes. And yet, we see cases where people will risk or accept torture and death rather than be persuaded as well. I don't think it necessarily follows that because people can be persuaded, that they will be persuaded, much less that because some or even most people were persuaded everyone would be.
Sounds like a perfect opportunity to resolve that uncertainty with a check.
 

iserith

Explorer
When I've run 5e, I've run the Social Interaction resolution mechanics as a combination of a mini Wheel of Fortune + Pictionary puzzle/pantomime game, which I believe to be their intent. Its actually extremely good design and coherent with a game that is, not wholly but certainly significantly, about puzzle solving. I'm confident this was intentful design.

NPC has a concrete Ideal, Bond, Flaw, Trait n, x, y, z.

The player's and GM interact to try to "draw the picture/put letters on the board". Eventually, if the players uncover IBFT's those are used as action resolution leverage for the players to attempt to solve the puzzle (which is the win condition for the social interaction) to get some or all of what they want.
Yes, that's how it's laid out in the DMG and it works. Figure out the personal characteristics. Use to your advantage to get what you want. From a player's perspective, the optimal path is to line up your higher-Insight characters to observe and suss out the NPC characteristics while the chat is going on, then have them share that information with the higher-Charisma characters who then use it to the greatest effect during the ask. Knowledgeable characters in all likelihood have also taken the opportunity to recall lore about the NPC or the situation prior to or during the interaction which will potentially help the higher-Insight characters achieve their goals. It all feeds into each other and provides a place for most or all characters to engage in the social interaction challenge on some level.

This is why I at least train Insight or Lore skills on a non-Charismatic PC, even if those aren't my primary stats. But of course, having said that, almost no DM I've ever played under ever uses these social interaction rules so I guess I'm just standing on principle to no real effect.
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
My experience is that most DMs do not put much thought at all behind their social interaction challenges. I try to make mine at least as involved as a combat challenge with multiple objections to overcome and stakes that really matter. And because any ability check will come with a meaningful consequence for failure, the last thing anyone wants to do in my game is roll a fickle d20, so you don't see players pushing for ability checks. When they do have to roll, resources like Inspiration get spent to mitigate risk on par with combats.
Perhaps you could be persuaded to start a thread about how to build meaningful and interesting social challenges? I would love that...
 

iserith

Explorer
Perhaps you could be persuaded to start a thread about how to build meaningful and interesting social challenges? I would love that...
I think I might have done that a couple years ago maybe? I'd have to go dredge it up and see if I still agree with anything I wrote at the time (LOL). I'll see what I can do by the weekend. Playing D&D tonight and DMing on Friday so time this week's a bit limited to put together anything comprehensive. Certainly appreciate your interest.
 

DM Dave1

Explorer
My experience is that most DMs do not put much thought at all behind their social interaction challenges. I try to make mine at least as involved as a combat challenge with multiple objections to overcome and stakes that really matter. And because any ability check will come with a meaningful consequence for failure, the last thing anyone wants to do in my game is roll a fickle d20, so you don't see players pushing for ability checks. When they do have to roll, resources like Inspiration get spent to mitigate risk on par with combats.
I am now scathingly examining my own session from last night and how it could have gone better. Own worst critic and all that. A nice combat set piece I had prepared got unexpectedly turned into a social interaction that I then muddled through. Good fun was had, methinks, but I should have had a few more SI tricks up my sleeve to employ to make it truly great fun...

Perhaps you could be persuaded to start a thread about how to build meaningful and interesting social challenges? I would love that...
Yes, please! Not that I'm asking to roll CHA (Persuasion) mind you... I'd rather auto-succeed...
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
I think I might have done that a couple years ago maybe? I'd have to go dredge it up and see if I still agree with anything I wrote at the time (LOL). I'll see what I can do by the weekend. Playing D&D tonight and DMing on Friday so time this week's a bit limited to put together anything comprehensive. Certainly appreciate your interest.
Please try and tag me so I don't miss it. And no rush :)
 

iserith

Explorer
So, gaming the DM?

Just what it sounds like.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that canard, I'd be a much richer person. (Including all the times I used to say the exact same thing, though now I realize it is a bogus argument.)

I welcome you to google up any number of those arguments on these forums in which I refuted that assertion and use that as my response rather than rehash it here.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that canard,
Hey, ditto.

Oh, but I should mention: when the outcome is uncertain and there's a meaningful chance of failure...blah, blah, blah...blah, oh, and The Rules of Play, how could I forget, to have fun and tell a memorable story...yeah, that's it, all this time we were trying to have a dull time and tell a forgettable story!
 

iserith

Explorer
Oh, but I should mention: when the outcome is uncertain and there's a meaningful chance of failure...blah, blah, blah...blah, oh, and The Rules of Play, how could I forget, to have fun and tell a memorable story...yeah, that's it, all this time we were trying to have a dull time and tell a forgettable story!
Yep, all good and useful quotes from the rules books, especially from the sections that few appear to read or take seriously. I would say "goals of play" though. So no nickel there, sorry.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
But of course, having said that, almost no DM I've ever played under ever uses these social interaction rules so I guess I'm just standing on principle to no real effect.
Really?

The Social Interaction resolution mechanics are the most thoughtful and coherently designed (with respect to the game’s play premise) aspect of the ruleset. Lightweight, intuitive, hooks into the rest of the mechanics, while basically being a microcosm for the classic D&D exploratory play that the designers intended (with its Wheel-of-Fortune puzzle-solving, Pictionary M.O.).

If you’re correct (and I have no reason to believe you aren’t), that is really unfortunate.
 

iserith

Explorer
Really?

The Social Interaction resolution mechanics are the most thoughtful and coherently designed (with respect to the game’s play premise) aspect of the ruleset. Lightweight, intuitive, hooks into the rest of the mechanics, while basically being a microcosm for the classic D&D exploratory play that the designers intended (with its Wheel-of-Fortune puzzle-solving, Pictionary M.O.).

If you’re correct (and I have no reason to believe you aren’t), that is really unfortunate.
My anecdotal experience is that most DMs don't give much thought to social interaction challenge structure and many experienced DMs don't actually read the DMG where those rules are contained. And those who have often reject those rules are being unworkable or inadequate because reasons. (I had a discussion with someone whose handle I forget on this latter topic fairly recently here.)

Me, I give thought to all challenge structure, always read the DMG, and actually used the rules before I rendered a judgment on them. And that judgment is that they work just fine. They could probably use some advice on setting up stakes and make framing the challenge well, but if you already know how to do those things, the rest of the rules make plenty of sense for the reasons you stated.

[FONT=&quot]¯\_(ツ)_/¯[/FONT]
 

iserith

Explorer
Really?

The Social Interaction resolution mechanics are the most thoughtful and coherently designed (with respect to the game’s play premise) aspect of the ruleset. Lightweight, intuitive, hooks into the rest of the mechanics, while basically being a microcosm for the classic D&D exploratory play that the designers intended (with its Wheel-of-Fortune puzzle-solving, Pictionary M.O.).

If you’re correct (and I have no reason to believe you aren’t), that is really unfortunate.
Oh, one other reason occurred to me: The social interaction mechanics make use of the personal characteristics which tie into Inspiration which is itself underutilized or discarded by many DMs in my experience. I wrote a thing about this a couple years ago: The Case for Inspiration.

So it stands to reason that if you don't use Inspiration, you probably don't have the players list personal characteristics on their sheet, and you likely don't add them to your NPCs even if they are important to the adventure or campaign. Which means you probably don't see value in that aspect of the social interaction mechanics which is, frankly, the most important part of that challenge structure.
 
Back to a first-page comment:
Checks should never be allowed on other PCs. Same as the DM making checks and forcing the player to have his PC act a certain way. The player controls his PC and acts how he wants. You can fudge a bit and suggest some things and maybe say that it appears one way or the person seems to be telling the truth, but never say that he persuades you to do something, unless the PC is charmed by a spell.
I disagree with this a bit - if the player chooses to have the other person do a check, it's fine. I have seen players respond to another PC trying to talk them into something with "OK, make a persuasion roll" and decide how they respond based on the person's roll (especially if they aren't exactly sure what they want to do). Nothing wrong with that if that's what the player wants to do, but the DC for the check and how the character responds are entirely up to the player. The persuading player doesn't get to call for a roll, and the DM doesn't force the player's character to respond in a particular way.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
Agreed about combat. In the 4e context that the article I mentioned comes from, there is a pretty sharp combat/non-combat demarcation. (Sometimes it gets wonky - @Manbearcat may want to weigh in on this, but I think one of the biggest practical issues 4e GMs have talked about is how to manage this boundary that the system treats as hard but that the fiction sometimes makes more permeable. I haven't seen so much discussion of this in the 5e context, but it may be a different matter in that system.)

This reminds me of Gygax's AD&D or Moldvay Basic: eg searching takes a turn, which feeds into wandering monster checks; after three goes at listening at a door you have to wait a turn; etc.

Are there analogues of this sort of resource attrition that work outside the dungeon context?
A few thoughts on this (For those unfamiliar with 4e play):

4E

1 - The reason for the sharp demarcation between combat and non-combat resolution is because 4e is a scene resolution based game that uses differing conflict resolution schemes/win:loss conditions for combat and noncombat. Other scene resolution games use a shared resolution scheme for all conflicts (and therefore don't have this demarcation).

2 - However, this can be handled in 4e (and the discretized nature can actually be a boon) by (a) making competing (if you win at x, you don't have to worry about y) or integrated (winning at x will help you win at y) win conditions while (b) deftly handling the action economy of the simultaneously occurring conflicts (such that decision-points are actually engaging rather than muted because the opportunity cost of doing one thing over the other becomes punitive).

Grooming this skill is a fairly significant part of being (or becoming) a high quality 4e GM.

3 - On retries:

4e's noncombat conflict resolution (Skill Challenge) requires the GM to dynamically change the situation after each instance of action resolution such that a new interesting, thematic decision-point and evolved fiction faces the players.

Retries, definitionally, don't exist under this paradigm.

Like above, grooming this skill is a fairly significant part of being (or becoming) a high quality 4e GM.

Because "Change the Situation" isn't fundamental to 4e combat resolution, retries for the same thing do exist (because the fictional positioning can be unchanged post action resolution).

5e

1 - As covered above by [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION], 5e leaves retries to GM discretion (as it does most everything); DMG 237 being the appropriate text.

2 - However, 5e has 4 modes of failure in action resolution (its application in any given instance also GM discretion) outlined in its text.

a - Outright failure from a 1st order, causal interpretation.

b - Fail Forward from the Basic PDF.

c - Success at a Cost (triggered by failure by 2 or less) in DMG under Resolution and Consequences.

d - Degrees of Failure (triggered by failure by 4 or less; basically Fail Forward) also in DMG under Resolution and Consequences.

There are many important distinctions here, but the overwhelmingly important one is in 4e, GMing procedures are tightly systemitized and not discretionary (the expectation to achieve "proper play" is to follow them without deviation), while 5e GMing procedures are fully discretionary (the expectation to achieve "proper play" is for the GM to follow their instincts, abiding/ignoring/changing rules at their discretion, which is supposed to be filtered through the lens of the table's conception of "fun").
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
My anecdotal experience is that most DMs don't give much thought to social interaction challenge structure and many experienced DMs don't actually read the DMG where those rules are contained. And those who have often reject those rules are being unworkable or inadequate because reasons. (I had a discussion with someone whose handle I forget on this latter topic fairly recently here.)

Me, I give thought to all challenge structure, always read the DMG, and actually used the rules before I rendered a judgment on them. And that judgment is that they work just fine. They could probably use some advice on setting up stakes and make framing the challenge well, but if you already know how to do those things, the rest of the rules make plenty of sense for the reasons you stated.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Oh, one other reason occurred to me: The social interaction mechanics make use of the personal characteristics which tie into Inspiration which is itself underutilized or discarded by many DMs in my experience. I wrote a thing about this a couple years ago: The Case for Inspiration.

So it stands to reason that if you don't use Inspiration, you probably don't have the players list personal characteristics on their sheet, and you likely don't add them to your NPCs even if they are important to the adventure or campaign. Which means you probably don't see value in that aspect of the social interaction mechanics which is, frankly, the most important part of that challenge structure.
I have a lot more to say on that other than "that is unfortunate", but I'll just leave it at that (as my thoughts on this wouldn't be well-received here).
 

S'mon

Hero
Just for clarity - so the first attempt is rolled, and then the retries are adjudicated via the passive number? So like you say in the last para it's hard to win on a retry without very big numbers (or more mundane-level DCs).
Yes - roll first then take 10. Which may take longer too - I might say "ok a minute or so later you finally break down the door..."
 

Sadras

Explorer
I have a lot more to say on that other than "that is unfortunate", but I'll just leave it at that (as my thoughts on this wouldn't be well-received here).
Pity as I'm enjoying this line of discussion. I'm guessing much has to do about exposure to various systems and the seemingly one-way focus and dare I-say-it limited experience of many D&D gamers.

I figure that the IBFT's are just as important stats (as least for main NPCs) as the actual combat stats.
As I mentioned upthread my B10 has come to the end (1-2 sessions left), and with 9 contesting factions/individuals, including the party as 1 of them. That is a lot of IBFT's to list and think about but it is something I wish to explore further as I close up this module, and I foresee, a lot of social interactions as the PCs decide how to play it all out, who to deceive, who to trust and who negotiate with.

Your posts here with iserith have certainly assisted me in the approach to it all. I just hope to finish this campaign in the mature manner it deserves.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
But that takes this back to what I thought Ovinomancer was saying in the first place, that D&D can't be played in an improvisational manner, and that's clearly false. So there has to be more to it than that. Again, I accept that there are "No Myth" games that lack what I think Ovinomancer means by "curation", based on examples of play I've seen, but I'm not at all convinced FATE is an example of one of those games.
Yes, it is clearly false, and I haven't said you can't improvise in D&D. I said that you can't not curate.

So, let me disimpact the difference between improv and curation. Curation is the creation of story elements that are revealed to the players during play. If you decide that this NPC, which you just created improvisationally, cannot be bribed because they're too loyal to the king, then this is curation of story. This is the secret part of backstory, which can be created on the fly, that is revealed to players as they navigate the fiction the DM is weaving.

Curation is what's required for games where the players are expected to discover, navigation, and be challenged by the GM's story elements. Fundamentally, it's the difference between the GM deciding how hard this guard is to bribe do to story factors the GM has created and the outcome of the players' action resolution determining if the guard was bribeable.

The classic secret door example springs to mind. In a curated game, the result of a check for a secret door calls up the GM's prep notes to see if a secret door was placed there, and then if the roll was sufficient to find it. In a non-curated game, the player makes a check and, on a success, there's a secret door here. This works because the existence of the secret door doesn't invalidate future plans because there were no future plans.

If you recognize this example, you'll know that this example contrasts very valid ways to play, neither of which is better -- just different. So, curation is not a negative thing -- it's important that the GM in curated games be able to present the fiction according to their thinking of how things are, because these games are built on the concept that play is fun when players navigate and explore the GM's fiction.



I'm a high prep DM, but for any town bigger than a hamlet I've never been able to set up the town in advance to a degree that means I'm not improvising most of the places and interaction in the town. I don't know every bar in advance, much less what is in the bar and who runs it. Most of that tends to be made up in play based on player cues. I do have creative input into it but so far as I can tell that doesn't differentiate D&D from FATE or PtbA or anything else.
Resolutions in FATE and PbtA alter the fiction according to the player, without GM veto ability. That the GM narrates outcomes in D&D is part of the curation -- the GM sets the success and failure conditions, the difficulty of the target, and the result of outcomes according to how the GM thinks fits these support the current play. FATE and PbtA do not have this strong GM override (they have weaker mechanisms, but aren't fully Story Now in RAW form).


Ironically, this is even more true of FATE or PbtA than D&D, which typically defines the stakes of a skill check as pass/fail explicitly so that the DM has very little interpretation to do in terms of what the fortune check meant. Where as FATE explicitly empowers the GM to decide whether to give partial failure, success with a setback, and a variety of other techniques and explicitly encourages the GM to use their own judgment as to what would make a good story to narrate what the fortune roll actually meant. So while you may be right that there is a certain amount of GM fiat involved in D&D's resolution, to the extent that there is, there is vastly more in FATE. And while the FATE GM could encourage the player to narrate the consequences of the check, and some do, it's not required by the system and you can in D&D encourage players to narrate the consequences of their failures as well - and some DM's do.

Even if I accepted everything you said in your argument, it still would not prove that there is a categorical difference between D&D and FATE baked into the system. I'm not saying conclusively that there isn't, but you haven't really addressed that.
Again, the difference is that players have authorities in FATE to control and change the fiction. In D&D, they may only request changes to the fiction, pending GM approval. This is why I use the term 'curation' for D&D -- the GM must approve any changes to the fiction, and should reject changes that will be a detriment to play. What constitutes a detriment doesn't mean make play bad in and of themselves -- things that invalidate large amount of prep and story are a detriment to play sometimes in D&D and need to be avoided. This is a net good for D&D style play, although it won't sit well with everyone (nor should it). The success and popularity of D&D speak to the fact that this isn't a bad or poor way to play the game. And, there's lots of room in curation for players to even have a sense of ownership over parts of the fiction. My play is very lenient to player input and even player creation of fiction (talking outside of character backstory here), but it's a given that I, as GM, always have veto rights. In my Blades in the Dark game, I do not have veto rights as the GM -- the mechanics speak and determines who gets the say.

Let me compare and contrast how a bribery attempt works in 5e versus Blades. Hopefully this will showcase curation. First, let's say both scenarios show up unexpectedly, and the GM is doing some quick ad-lib. A roguish sort of PC has been caught up in a compromising position by a guard, and is offering a sizable bribe to escape custody.

In 5e, the DM will consider how the guards in this area fit into his campaign -- is it largely law and order, or is it more corrupt. Then, the GM will consider how this guard thinks, and compare to the amount offered This will set the DC for the attempt (or if the attempt is even allowed). A roll is called for, and if the PC succeeds, the guard accepts the bribe, if the PC fails, the guard refuses the bribe.

In Blades, the GM considers the situation - is the PC acting in a controlled situation, a normal one, or a is the PC desperate. Given that the PC just got caught, the GM will likely say this is a desperate situation. Next, the GM looks at the guard's tier (set by setting, but the Crew knows this because they got to pick the target). This compared to the PC's tier will set the effect level -- let's assume normal (even). Then the PC says what attribute their rolling (they get to pick) and a roll is made. On a success, this guard is bribeable, and the transaction occurs. On a partial, the situation is good and bad -- the guard may be bribeable but haggle for a higher bribe. On a failure, the guard isn't bribeable, or another guard shows up, or the PC accidentally insults the guard's mom -- something bad happens.

Here, in the 5e example, the DM considers their secret backstory to make determinations. In the Blades example, it's purely on the current fictional state and the known stats that determine the possible check results, but the actual check is a fixed pass/partial/fail set and the player gets to set the attribute used. Also, the player has options to increase dice rolled, improve effect, and mitigate failure, so even after the situation is set, the player can add to the fiction to improve or even change outcomes. The GM has no veto authorities for these, no counter-balancing authority. The result of the player's action determines the next state of fiction and play proceeds from there.

Functionally, FATE should play like this. The advice for FATE is spotty and poor and, in my opinion, actively fights how it should be played. It recommends that the GM should plan some things, but isn't clear that this should stop at conflict setup/world gen and allow play to generate organically by following the fiction created in play. Trying to curate a FATE game leads to bad outcomes, which pretty much is what I've seen in every example of people complaining about a bad FATE game.
 

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