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Resolving conflict and achieving outcomes without combat

A question for @Manbearcat and @Ovinomancer - what establishes the scope of outcomes possible in your BitD game?

Having the editor pull or change the story seems clear enough - without knowing too much about the BitD setting, that seems like its well within what one might ask an editor to do. Otherwise there wouldn't be much scope for action declaration vis-a-vis the editor at all.

But what about outcomes that more radically impact the presumed interests of the editor (in publishing all the news that's fit to print, etc)? Manbearcat's post about Sauron sets out some of the basic mechanical elements that would apply, but also notes that "The Clock setup really depends upon the context of the situation overall and the specifics of what you want and what Sauron doesn't want to give up." In the context of this thread, this is what I was particularly hoping to discuss.

Genre conventions and established fiction. Declaring an action to convert the editor to a loyal compatriot, for instance violates genre conventions -- such things are in the genre of romance, not the gritty scrabble of the criminal underworld. However, it still could be done, because it's possible, but that's going to be a process, not a single action.

What @Ovinomancer has posted + the scope/goal of a Score + the rules of the game.

The scope of what you're talking about seems to me to be basically a hostile takeover of the Ink Rakes:

Ink Rakes (ii): The journalists, muckrakers, and newspaper publishers of Doskvol.

That (ii) means Tier 2. So, if you're going to aim for a hostile takeover of the Ink Rakes (meaning persistently dictate outright what is published), that is going to involve (a) going to War with them (this is a -3 Faction Status situation w/ mechanical riders) which is a process unto itself and (b) putting them into such an untenable situation that your Social Score (to declare a cease-fire) incentivizes both a cessation of hostilities AND effectively turning over their operations to the Crew...and then the social conflict of the Score is successful. Ink Rakes (as an institution of Duskvol...any individual journalists may have integrity/courage) would absolutely rather live on their knees than die on their feet.

A Tier 2 Institution w/ Weak Hold (like the Ink Rakes) has resources they can marshal to help them in this (the typical, encoded resources available to a Tier 2 Faction + Allies who either want a free and independent press or institutions that have a role in getting the press they want). However, they absolutely would be vulnerable to a hostile takeover like this by a sufficiently capable/backed Crew. But that takeover would earn fallout in the way of (a) negative Faction with other Trade/Institutions/Gangs in the city, (b) an encounter with the Crime Boss of the ward, and (c) Faction/Setting Clocks that would be actuated during downtime (that the PCs could address via Downtime Activities themselves) which would have consequences for the Setting/Crew when they "go off".
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I'm not familiar with the system. What determines what a critical success roll is (is it always two sizes?) and what the critical success roll accomplishes? How does it differ if I try to convince Sauron to do something vs trying to convince a lesser being?
@Manbearcat gave a great answer for how Blades works. However, I'd like to comment that Sauron, or something Sauron-like, is out of genre for the game, so it's not really a question that makes sense. MBC did a good job extrapolating, but even there the threats are just below what Sauron is.

However, you could use FitD for a game where you might be convincing Sauron of something, but the context, genre conventions, and game specific adjustments are going to he doing way more work than the core mechanic, which is just going to give an answer posed by thise things. This, I think, is the important bit: the mechanics resolve the question posed, but the question that is posed is very much dependent on quite a lot of things. When you say, "can you change Sauron's mind" there's lot of of things missing here to understand how this question is posed to the mechanics. Just looking at what counts for a success on a roll doesn't get to what's necessary to engage the mechanic to begin with. I'd need quite a lot of extra information to really know what question is being posed to the mechanics by your query.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Thats why narrative systems that treat combat as being essentially the same as overcoming an obstacle (eg Social and Physical Stress tracks) are great. You can attempt to defeat an opponent through combat or social interaction and at the end should get the same outcome - you beat the challenge and move on.

It can be done in DnD IF the DM agrees to play along too

(its also one reason I liked playing Orbril the Gnome - combat wasnt optimal and finding more creative means to bypass opponents was essential)
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
Yeah this brings up a thing Ive been thinking about.

I think maybe D&D could use some sort of skill for moxy.
A Moxie (or whatever-it-would-be-called) skill would be incredible for D&D. And I love the idea of keeping it that general, since you could easily combine it with other kinds of skill rolls. A warrior-type with moxy is inherently different from a bard with it.

I'd also love to see more feats in that direction.
 

@Manbearcat gave a great answer for how Blades works. However, I'd like to comment that Sauron, or something Sauron-like, is out of genre for the game, so it's not really a question that makes sense. MBC did a good job extrapolating, but even there the threats are just below what Sauron is.

However, you could use FitD for a game where you might be convincing Sauron of something, but the context, genre conventions, and game specific adjustments are going to he doing way more work than the core mechanic, which is just going to give an answer posed by thise things. This, I think, is the important bit: the mechanics resolve the question posed, but the question that is posed is very much dependent on quite a lot of things. When you say, "can you change Sauron's mind" there's lot of of things missing here to understand how this question is posed to the mechanics. Just looking at what counts for a success on a roll doesn't get to what's necessary to engage the mechanic to begin with. I'd need quite a lot of extra information to really know what question is being posed to the mechanics by your query.

Yup. The scope for something like Sauron would be the Emperor in Blades in the Dark.

The Emperor is absolutely not on the table in Blades in the Dark. The closest thing would be a Magnitude 6 supernatural entity (Demon, Ghost, etc).

In my Dungeon World/Blades hack however, a Sauron like entity would be on the table (my prior game with @darkbard had the primary antagonist being an Archfey...the primary antagonist in my game with @prabe is a Primordial...those are both Sauron equivalent)!
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
A Moxie (or whatever-it-would-be-called) skill would be incredible for D&D. And I love the idea of keeping it that general, since you could easily combine it with other kinds of skill rolls. A warrior-type with moxy is inherently different from a bard with it.

I'd also love to see more feats in that direction.
Absolutely!
 

Campbell

Legend
Exalted Third Edition has a more personal take on social influence that is very grounded in prepared details, but still has some very defined limits and ways to convince characters. Each character (PC and NPC) has a list of defined intimacies (things they care about) in 3 levels of potency (minor, major, defining). In order to convince someone to do something it has to appeal to one of their intimacies and you have to beat their Resolve.

It takes a Minor Intimacy to convince a character to perform an inconvenient task. Something that poses some mild danger or inconvenience, but will not effect their livelihood or pose a serious risk of injury. The kind of thing that takes no longer than a single scene to perform.

It takes a Major Intimacy to convince someone to perform a serious task. This includes things that carry a serious personal risk, like convincing a peasant to join your militia or convincing someone to smuggle contraband for you. These tasks can take an extended period of time and might even require personal commitments like joining an organization, or leaving home and taking up residence in another city.

It takes a defining intimacy to convince someone to perform a life changing task. This is pretty much anything not considered unacceptable influence.

Unacceptable influence includes:
  • attempting to strengthen or weaken an intimacy without something else equally strong backing it up.
  • a persuasion attempt without an intimacy strong enough to do so. Attempting to convince someone to do something life changing with a minor intimacy perhaps.
  • Any influence that would cause a character to kill themselves or would result in certain death.
  • Any influence that would cause a character to completely abandon a defining intimacy. Delaying them for the moment is still possible.
Part and parcel of the way it works is that you can instill new intimacies, and strengthen and weaken existing intimacies through extended social influence. So a dark lord might have a Defining Intimacy of I will chain the world to my will because in my strength it will find purpose. While they have that defining intimacy you will never be able to convince them to give it up completely unless you can get them to care about other things just as much and eventually more.

The tension in that situation is that no exchange in Exalted is one sided. Sauron would also be working on Gandalf, trying to convince him the world is better off with the strong ruling over the weak.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
This is a sentiment I see around here, and sometimes on Twitter, but rarely IRL.

So, interestingly, I am real, and alive. So you are seeing this sentiment "in real life".

For most of us, D&D has tighter rules for those things which benefit most from tight rules.

D&D has tighter rules for combat because it came from wargames, which are all about combat, and the game has maintained that focus for its history. It has nothing to do with "what will benefit". It is just a traditional design choice for the game.

I don’t want tight rules for social conflict unless I’m playing a game that really focuses on that as a primary play element, in which case I prefer an optional variant rule there.

Chicken, meet egg. The game doesn't focus on non-combat, so there aren't many non-combat rules. Since there are not many rules, the players don't have many reliable choices, and don't choose non-combat resolutions. What you are saying is not inconsistent with my assertion.


IOW, for a lot of gamers, the number of rules don’t tell them what the nature of the game is, they nature of the rules and what they can do with them does.

The proportion of the rules devoted to a given topic is not independent of the nature of the rules.

If you don't think that's so, please - find us a game whose rules are predominantly about X, but X is not central to the nature of the game.

D&D says, and I see new players clock this immediately all the time, “you can try anything, and the rules will get out of your way, but combat needs balance and resolution that isn’t a conversation, and so we have specified it in a fair amount of detail.”

The goal seems to be not to make a combat game, but to make a game where the rules only come up when they are helpful.

Looks at 3e rulebooks. Looks at doctorbadwolf. Looks back at massive glut of 3e rulebooks.

Nope. I think you are incorrect there.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Looks at 3e rulebooks. Looks at doctorbadwolf. Looks back at massive glut of 3e rulebooks.
3e is the worst edition of D&D , and one of the worst TTRPGs. That doesn’t have anything to do with my argument.

But hey, you seem to be in a mood to reply to a considered post about opinions with a bunch of rudely dismissive snark and claims of objective fact, so…feel free to just not interact with me anymore here.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
A Moxie (or whatever-it-would-be-called) skill would be incredible for D&D. And I love the idea of keeping it that general, since you could easily combine it with other kinds of skill rolls. A warrior-type with moxy is inherently different from a bard with it.

I'd also love to see more feats in that direction.
Isnt that what inspiration is?
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
Isnt that what inspiration is?
If only! Inspiration is such a fickle and limited mechanic, and not something you can invest in as a player. And you can't even have more than one inspiration at a time, so make sure to spread out your at-the-table standup routine or whatever. It's one of my least favorite things about 5e's system, to be honest.
 

So, interestingly, I am real, and alive. So you are seeing this sentiment "in real life".
Perhaps you're just an AI?
From here, it can be hard to tell, especially given the recent bleeding edge AI results.
Most people do conflate "in real life" and "face to face" - many don't believe what they see online is in anyway reliable data. This has gotten considerably more common over the last 4.5 years... expecially in the US

3e is the worst edition of D&D , and one of the worst TTRPGs. That doesn’t have anything to do with my argument.
Funny, but the widespread adoption of it shows more that you just don't agree with the buying public, rather than it being an objectively bad game.

After all, if it were truly a bad game, it wouldn't be the game that saved the brand.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Funny, but the widespread adoption of it shows more that you just don't agree with the buying public, rather than it being an objectively bad game.

After all, if it were truly a bad game, it wouldn't be the game that saved the brand.
Neither of these statements follows.

It's entirely possible that it "saved the brand" simply because it was new dnd, it was basically playable, most groups hacked it into something halfway decent, and it was new DnD after the utter failure of the last several years of TSR.

Regardless, I stand by my sentiment. Terrible game. I'd rather have to make a dnd clone from scratch than play 3e ever again. Pathfinder is marginally better, in that they fixed many of the glaring "this is simply poorly made" issues and didn't intentionally make a bad game so that munchkins could feel cool when they broke the very easily broken game, but it's still a tedious mess.
 


Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
Is anyone familiar with the game Shin Megami Tensei? The fifth installment is being released in November.

In these games, there are "Demon Negotiations" that can occur. In these demon negotiations, you can ask for a peaceful end mid-combat based on the situation and enemy type.

Enemy is weak-willed? They'll want to offer an item, money, or even their assistance in exchange for their life. Enemy is brutish and headstrong? They're likely to demand the promise of more power to join you. Enemy is tricky? They may just ask for your money and flee.

These are some of the ways enemies may act in D&D as well and it adds to the realism and sense of authentic NPC's rather than fodder meant to be slain by your blades.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The world (or at leas these boards) would be a much better place if folks didn't phrase statements of personal preference as statements of objective fact.
Or if people recalibrated their assumptions to give others the benefit of the doubt by default.

It isn’t especially natural to add caveats to every statement, nor do I think it’s reasonable to expect folks to do so.
 

MGibster

Legend
Another thing D&D, and many other games, lack is a way to use social skills, empathy, and other non-tangibles, during a fight. Which is odd, considering how much talking happens in a fight in fiction.
You know, I really hadn't thought of this at all. I suppose I've been so busy trying to keep track of the actions of all the NPC combatants that I've almost completely ignored meaningful dialogue during combat. I'm going to have to remedy that. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You know, I really hadn't thought of this at all. I suppose I've been so busy trying to keep track of the actions of all the NPC combatants that I've almost completely ignored meaningful dialogue during combat. I'm going to have to remedy that. Thanks for the suggestion.
For sure! I try to usually have any named NPC say something on their turn, and occasionally have an unimportant enemy do so as well so that the “minions” never quite become just amorphous goons.
 

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