D&D 5E (+) Social Mechanics Optional Modules

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, I’m curious what social mechanics modules folks would add to the game, if they could.

Rules:

You can’t change the extant rules, you can only add to them.

No crapping on other people’s ideas.

No arguing about whether optional social mechanics are even a good idea at all.

So, what ya got?

I have some ideas for porting some of the conflict rules of my game to D&D to model tense social scenarios where turns and distinct stances and moves feel good, and I’m working on investigation and relationship rules, but I want to see some other ideas first! (And I prefer to make my own ideas just another post in the thread)
 

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JEB

Legend
Hmm, your first rule eliminates the immediate two options I would suggest - either replacing social skills with "social combat" in parallel with physical combat, or remodeling physical combat to resemble social skills (victory through high skill checks). I have my own homebrew system I've been fiddling with on and off for years that kind of tries to do both, but it's very hard to get it right. (Sounds like you're considering something along the same lines.)

If we're sticking with only adding things... perhaps some kind of "social HP" (extrapolated from Wisdom instead of Con?) that can be depleted by various social attacks (either based on existing social skills or new ones, like insults or public humiliation or the like), and once it's depleted your morale or spirit or whatever is broken. "Healing" that HP could come from compliments, others defending you against bullies, etc.

There's probably room to add "social maneuvers" akin to combat maneuvers as well, associated with various social skills. Could connect to the previous.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I use a dialect and fluency level rule.

Characters associate a number 1-5 to all their languages associated to their fluency.
Any language, you have between 2-4 has a dialect or accent.

You need fluency level 1 to say greets and communicate basic info. You speak Hulk speak in the language.
You need fluency level 2 to say greetings, communicate basic info, and talk about your occupation (adventurer).
You need fluency level 3 to say greetings, communicate basic info, talk about your occupation (adventurer), or talk about your background.
You need fluency level 4 to hold a conversation in most setting.
You need fluency level 5 to hold an advanced or technical conversation in most settings.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
The 3e sourcebook Power of Faerun had a chapter on politicians / public approval which might have mechanics that would help (afb and do not remember). The chapter on merchants had rules for making / losing money running a business that could be adapted to the goal "persuade a group" instead of "make money".
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I created a small and relatively minor set of game rules for my Theros campaign regarding philosophical Debate. They pretty much follow the conventions of standard D&D combat (and take into account some of the changes in the Skill list I made for this campaign.) I have yet to actually playtest or use these rules (the group will probably be in a situation where they need to make argument soon) so I have no idea if they ultimately will be useful... but like combat and Skill Challenges, having a gameside ruleset for the players might help them and me aim for a goal and know if/when it gets reached when conversing in character.

Debate

  • Debates are social combats between two philosophers or politicians.
  • To start a debate, initiative is rolled, a 1d20 + INT, WIS or CHA modifier (player’s choice).
  • Each participant has a Social Attack, a Social Armor Class, and Social Hit Points.
  • Social Attacks are roleplayed and then a check is made by rolling INT (Rhetoric) against their opponent’s Social AC.
  • A person’s Social Armor Class is equal to 10 + WIS (Insight) modifier.
  • A person has a number of Social Hit Points equal to their CHA (Presence) modifier.
  • A successful argument (social attack beats the target’s social AC) causes one point of social hit point damage.
  • When a participant in an argument loses all social hit points they have been defeated in the argument.
 

Larnievc

Adventurer
I came up with a really simple system. If you want to manipulate the tax officer to not charge you ‘adventuring’ tax you need to get three successes. You can try any skill with any ability once. DM (me) sets the DC based on what I think is appropriate. If you try something stupid or take too many roles to get three successes you fail.

Very similar to 4ed skill challenges but I could never be bothered to write them out.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
If you are proficient in a creature's language and make a DC 15 Intelligence (language) check to show fluency, you gain advantage on Charisma-based ability checks with that creature.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I generally use the Audience system of AiME. It works in 3 steps.

0) The DM determines or roll the initial Attitude of the NPC toward the group, using the DMG rules.

1) One player makes Presentation, meaning they open the discussion by presenting their group and asking what they require of the NPC. Its a DC 15 Charisma check and the player can add its PB if they share a language with the NPC. A success improves the reaction of the NPC toward the group by 1 step. A failed check by more than 5 means the party in in Askance, meaning the rolls in the next steps are make with Disadvantage. A failed by more than 10 means the Attitude of the NPC is lowered by 1 step!

2) The party makes their offer and argue with NPC, trying to leverage their Ideal/Bond/Flaw/Trait. A player can use Insight to deduce one of the NPC I/B/F/T. Each offer by the players add (or remove) a +1 or +2 bonus for the Closing check.

3) At the end of the discussion, one player makes a CHA check, adding all bonus from the previous step. Compare the result to the Conversation chart in the DMG p244. The DC in that chart are replaced instead with the roll of the Closing check.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Skill Challenge for Interaction

After a period of interaction, the character can make an Insight check to figure out what this person is all about. Success suggests Knowledge skills that can be used to add things they favor to the conversation.

Knowledge skills, reputation and past actions can raise or lower the target's opinion of you temporarily, granting a bonus to Persuasion and Deception with that character. Bringing up certain subjects or taking certain opinions can grant instant bonuses and penalties, sometimes even automatic failures as they no longer want to talk to you.

Persuasion and Deception can either convince them to a certain action or permanently change their opinion of you.

Characters can 'pregame' this by doing research or listening to gossip as a replacement for the Insight check.
 

Some thoughts that intersect with 5e's default Social Interaction (Pictionary/Wheel of Fortune esque) mechanics:

(1) Torchbearer has a social hierarchy built into its system called Precedence. This is a scheme 0-7 of relative values for social strata. Your relative value tells you what sort of social conflicts you're able to engage with socially vs other parties.

Something like this could be ported into 5e with Adventurers getting +1 Precedence per Tier (starting at 0). Feats could either (a) improve your Precedence level (along with giving you a + Charisma) or (b) let you ignore Precedence differences with a particular subset on the Precedence hierarchy.

The difference between an Adventurer's Precedence and the NPC's Precedence = +5 DC/-5 DC per difference (or 0 difference if same Precedence).

EDIT - This can also be integrated into Background quite well: you get +1 Precedence with those of the social strata related to your Background.

(2) Conversation occurs organically in the social conflict. However, players have 3 turns at DC 15 (with Precedence differential above) in the course of the conflict to do the following:

* Reveal NPC dramatic need/leverage. This MUST be accomplished in order to move to (3). Without uncovering this, you cannot successfully resolve the social conflict.

* Uncover IBTF. Success on this will grant you Advantage in (3). A failure on this equals some complication to the challenge. The fiction changes and the situation changes. Mechanically, things change in concert with this. Perhaps a 2nd NPC shows up and actively works to end the social conflict early; the player loses 1 of their 3 turns. Perhaps the NPC is opaque and impossible to read. Instead of Advantage on (3), you get Disadvantage because they will surely take the worst reading of whatever you say. Perhaps you've attained leverage but now the NPC's partner arrives on scene and they reveal themselves to be "the pants-wearer." Now you have to learn their dramatic need/leverage in order to procced to (3).

* Subvert Precedence differential. Success is effectively flattening the social order (Precedence) by 1 for this conflict. You've said something or revealed something that knocks the NPC down a peg. Failure here likely means they take offense and their Precedence increases by 1 for any subsequent moves or for (3) (meaning the DC increases by 5).

Regardless, whatever you do, your say what you're doing and then you make your move. For instance, Uncover IBTF might be something like "I notice you've got a stable of the finest race horses. Do you ride yourself or is it beholding the beauty of the horses in full gait that is your passion." <Player then says something like I want to see how deeply she cares about these horses. If this is her great passion in life, that is how I'll get her to help us - looking for leverage> Player rolls Wis Insight DC 15 (NPC has +0 Precedence advantage).

The player has spent 1/3 turns. If successful, they have leverage and they can move to (3). If not, they're going to have to spend further turns on getting leverage. Further, the player can immediately go to (3) once they have leverage if they don't want to risk failure on any of turns 2 and 3 and complicating their situation.

(3) Straight-forward. You've got leverage. Now you make the Charisma (whatever) check to cement the social conflict. Say what you want (using the leverage/dramatic need and any IBTF that you have successfully uncovered) and roll your dice. DC 15 +/- 5 or more for Precedence difference with or without Advantage.

Success equals you get what you want.

Failure equals the NPC either takes offense and now you've got a problem (perhaps you lose 1 Precedence for those in this NPC's strata until you do something to resolve that...perhaps future random encounter tables are now populated by this NPCs cohort...or perhaps they show up as complications in other related social conflicts) or they give you what you want but they want something significant and immediate in return.
 
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BookTenTiger

He / Him
Personally, I would create a Social Encounter System based on the abilities in some Backgrounds. Take Soldier, for example:

Soldier said:
You have a military rank from your career as a soldier. Soldiers loyal to your former military organization still recognize your authority and influence, and they defer to you if they are of a lower rank. You can invoke your rank to exert influence over other soldiers and requisition simple equipment or horses for temporary use. You can also usually gain access to friendly military encampments and fortresses where your rank is recognized.

There's a lot of language in there of things your character can do. The background feature doesn't give you advantage, or a reroll, or expertise. You just can.

In one of my first 5e games, a player had a Bard with a Soldier Background. When he encountered some guards, he was able to just command them, no rolls necessary. It was a really powerful moment, and really fun for the players.

I'm not saying take all the rolling out of social encounters. But I do think it would be interesting to have a system that just gives your character the ability to mold or influence social encounters. Make social moves big and powerful and swingy!

Mechanically, I'm not actually sure what this would look like. But I'll mull over it and post some ideas later!
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I think the reputation and influence rules from the old d20 A Song of Ice and Fire RPG could easily append to any edition of D&D, but esp. any with an extant social skills system. I used them in a 3E campaign I ran based on the theme of low birth rank nobles who turn to adventuring to bring glory to their houses and build their own names.

Below is quick adaptation (for 5E) of the rules I used for 3E, with the caveat that I am not sure it would work as well with 5E as written - but is meant to give an idea of how it works. Oh, and the text uses examples from my Out of the Frying Pan campaign (since it had just completed) so they'd be familiar to my players.

Reputation represents the qualities for which individuals and groups are known. Every character can have a Reputation chosen when they gain their first point of reputation. However, a reputation needs to make sense for the character within the context of the campaign.

Reputation represents what is known and believed about a character, not necessarily what is true. Reputations do not need to be known by everyone, and the bonuses (and penalties) only apply for interactions with people who are aware of and believe the reputation.

Reputations consist of a descriptor and a bonus. The descriptor is a phrase or word that denotes the qualities the reputation describes. The bonus is the magnitude of the reputation - the effect the reputation has on people's opinions. Higher-rated reputations are more well-known, and are believed more strongly by those who know of them, and tend to bring more attention for good or ill. The DM may rule that a character will have to assume an additional reputation with a newly gained point if it does not make sense that the character's existing reputation would grow.

For example a character might be known as Honorable +2, Beautiful +3, or more evocatively, Brilliant Swordsman +2, Divinely Mad +1, Sea Dog +4, Unyielding Champion +5, or more specifically Hunter of the Happet Wood +3, or Giant-killer +2.

Reputation points are gained based on class. I had a whole table for it that I won't try to recreate here.

The Effects of Reputation
  • Bonus to social skills (Deception, Persuasion, Intimidation, Insight) when appropriate.
  • Penalty to social skills when appropriate.
  • Bonus to [[Influence]] checks when appropriate.
  • Color NPC initial reactions when appropriate (at the DM's discretion).
In some cases, the DM may rule that a reputation only has a partial effect and only half the bonus/penalty will apply in that situation.
Acting Against Reputation
In most cases, minor or secret acting against reputation has no effect on that reputation. However, repeatedly acting in a manner contrary to reputation, or doing so even once in a public and/or extreme way (such as news would carry) can lead to the loss of reputation at the DM's discretion, and the points will be returned to the character to be respent in an appropriate way.

For example, Martin the Green has the reputation Milquetoast +4. However, if he gave an impassioned speech on behalf of the gnomes of Garvan to the king of Gothanius before the full court, he might undo that reputation, perhaps making him Outspoken +2 or Friend of Gnomes +2 (with two points to be allocated later).

Positive Light/Negative Light
Reputations generally have two sides to them, and reputations that may seem negative can often be useful in certain situations. While Martin's Milquetoast +4 might act as a penalty when trying to use the Intimidate]skill, it could be useful to Deceive someone who thinks him too meek to try to lie. Or might help with Insight, if the person being interacted with thinks Martin is too slow to act to bother hiding his true feelings very well. Something that sounds like it'd be positive all of the time, like Hunter of the Happet Wood +4, could very well backfire in crucial situations and act as a penalty. In this case, wood elves might take offense at a human being known as such, for example.

Another more general example might be someone who has a reputation for being Brave +3, might come off as overconfident in some circles and that quality might be seen in a bad light.

Reputations may also be known but still be regarded neutrally since they have nothing to do with the situation. For example, [he Silent One's Eyes of the Eagle +2 would have no effect when the ranger was trying to bluff an innkeeper to into letting him into someone else's room.

Stacking Reputations/Conflicting Reputations
Reputation bonuses DO NOT stack. If more than one of a character's reputations would apply in the same situation only the higher one is applied. This is the case for reputations seen in both positive or negative lights. Conflicting reputations, however, CAN offset one another.

Changing Reputation
The DM may decide that events in the story of a campaign or the actions of a character have somehow changed the character's reputation. In this case, the DM simply declares that the character's actions - or the perception of the actions - has given the character a new reputation, increased a reputation the character already had, or decreased a reputation.

It is important to note that while players get to initially decide where their reputation points go, these points are equally the domain of the DM, and may be changed at any time if deemed appropriate. Typically, however, removed points are left to the player to allocate along guidelines set by the DM as suggested by the actions of the character and the events of the campaign. Players are encouraged to work in-game to establish reputations they'd prefer, or to counteract reputations they may have developed along their way against their will.

Saving Reputation Points
Characters are not required to spend their reputation points right away, and may save them to allocate them as the game goes on and a particular reputation becomes clear. Note however, that no character can have //no// reputation, and not spending the points at all will effectively mean leaving it up to chance and the DM. Even a character that wants no notoriety, might develop a reputation as Quiet, Loner, Conceited or even Mysterious.

Influence is a measure of how much loyalty a character commands, primarily based on their standing in society, but also by means of friendship, blackmail, trickery or even cult of personality. It is meant to represent groups and people the characters can manipulate and/or command. In other words, it allows the character to dictate the actions of those they have influence over (within reason).

Even when influence is not actively used, it still determines where a character's loyalty lies and who is allied with that character, and to what degree.

Influence consists of an identifier and a bonus. The identifier indicates on whom the influence applies, while the bonus is the level of effectiveness gained by that particular influence. A character might have influences such as Academy of Wizardry +10, Ferryman's Guild +5, Satchel Greyish +2, or Red Lantern Gang +8.

Gaining Influence
Characters gain a number of influence points (ranging from 1 to 4) at each level depending on their class. This number is modified by Charisma. In the case of a negative Charisma modifier, the gained influence points cannot be less then 0. If a character's Charisma modifier is permanently adjusted, their influence points are adjusted accordingly for each character level.

It is also possible to gain influence by acquiring feats such as, High Favour, Political Connections, Servant of the Church, Streetwise, and Leadership. Some backgrounds can also increase influence.

Secret Influence: With DM approval, a character may spend influence on secret influences. The DM spends any points spent this way on one or more existing influences or new influences. Secret influences allow a character to have followers, patrons or protectors who are loyal, but the character will never be entirely sure of the identity of this ally. Sometimes, secret influence can be allocated on a foe or rival whose long-term plans involve helping the character in a seemingly loyal way. When this time or agenda passes, the DM will re-allocate the points, just as any influence points might be re-allocated in game based on the circumstances of the campaign.

Maximum Influence
Characters may not invest more influence points in an individual or organization than 2 times their character level, and no more than +20 influence may ever be spent on an individual.

Influence on Player Characters
While player characters cannot spend influence points to have control over PCs and NPCs cannot spend their influence points to have power over a player character, that does not mean that NPCs and organizations do not have direct or indirect influence on player characters that is not noted by means of points.

Often having influence over a person or organization means there is a commensurate amount of influence on the PC that is an obligation to be handled by means of role-playing. For example, a |priest of Ra could clearly spend points to have influence in the church hierarchy, but being a member of that church also means that that character has obligations and loyalties to that church as well, with consequences for not fulfilling them.

Players should always discuss the nature of their influence over an organization or an individual before allocating points to that person/organization.

Uses of Influence
While it is impossible to note every possible application of influence, here are some common examples:
  • Ability to ask for and receive shelter/haven
  • Access to news rumor and gossip
  • Ability to call for service from those of lower social rank
  • Requesting favors from your peers
  • Being responsible for those beneath you in command
  • Fulfilling your obligation to those above you in command

Individual vs. Organizational Influence: Influence over an individual can only be used against that individual. Influence over an organization may be used against any member of that organization, but may also be more difficult to use than an individual influence. Typically, people are more invested in their own concerns than that of any group, organization or noble house. To reflect this, when an organizational influence is opposed by an individual influence, a -10 penalty is imposed on the use of the group influence. Now, on occasion, it may be that an individual would put the organization before his own interests, but in those cases the DM will ameliorate the -10 penalty to some degree with a circumstance bonus.

In cases where a target may use their own organizational influence to resist an influence attempt, this -10 penalty does not apply.

Influence Checks
There are three basic kinds influence checks. In each case, the person attempting the influence rolls (d20 + influence bonus + 1/2 relevant reputation + Cha Mod). Keep in mind, influence is not an all or nothing endeavor, degree of success matters:
  • Passive Influence:** The character need only roll against a set DC to influence someone who is passive or unconcerned about the issue at hand. This does not mean that the person does not care, but rather he just needs to be convinced and is not dead-set against a notion. A passive influence check is typically used in amicable relationships, when the request might inconvenience the target. The DCs for these checks vary from DC 10 (simple request) to DC 20 (moderate inconvenience) to DC 30+ (dangerous, expensive or illegal). An example of a passive influence check might be Martin the Green using his influence on Ethiel to allow him use of the library in Aze Nuquerna.
  • Opposed Influence: An oppose influence roll is used when the target is not receptive to the idea at all. He or she is stubborn, unconvinced and even actively opposed to the idea. The opposed roll could represent blackmail or threats, a reminder of promises made, or convincing words. The target rolls an opposed Insight check modified by 1/2 relevant reputation, and by attitude towards the influencer. Helpful -10, Friendly: -5, Indifferent: +0, Unfriendly +5, Hostile +10. Also, the target may substitute another appropriate skill or influence in place of Insight, but in that case he or she suffers a -10 penalty to the roll. In any event, both rolls can be modified by prevailing circumstances as determined by the DM. An example of an opposed influence check might be Martin the Green trying to get Alderman Silvestri to release his companions from jail.
  • Removed Influence: This is similar to an opposed influence check, however, it involves a third party's influence over the target when what is asked of the target is not in his best interest. It is easiest to explain with an example. If Martin the Green were trying to use his influence to get the royal guards to allow him and his companions to enter the royal apartments when the king's orders are to not allow anyone one in, this would be an example of removed influence. The king's influence (even though he is not present) works against Martin's influence as watch-mage of the realm. In this case, the target's opposed check is modified by the influence bonus of the removed party + Wis Modifier + 1/2 relevant reputation + circumstance modifiers. Additionally, the -10 organization vs. individual penalty usually applies in this situation. Removed Influence is also when persons you have influence over act in your best interest without your asking or being present. An example of this might be, Finn Fisher running to warn Richard the Red of the presence of the Company of the Impervious Ward even though the latter never specifically asked him to do this. Richard's influence on Finn is enough for the latter to work in the former's interest, especially when there is little or no cost or danger to him. In these cases no roll is necessary.
Degree of Success
* Failure by 15+ (Overwhelming Failure): You have completely failed to sway your target. You may have given tremendous insult, or come across as weak and naïve. In rare circumstances, the target may now consider you a nemesis or otherwise work to oppose you.
* Failure by 7-14 (Major Failure): The target openly refuses you with strained politeness, or is offended, or embarrassed by your effort. The target may work against you, as a fierce competitor, a nefarious rival, or even consider you untrustworthy.
  • Failure by 1-6 (Marginal Failure): The target is unable to help you, and may be distressed, anxious, or apologetic about the situation.
  • Success By 0 (Marginal Success): The target helps you minimally, fulfilling obligations to the letter of the command, and rarely doing any more than explicitly asked.
* Success by 1 to 6 (Minor Success): The target helps you, but only after a lot of convincing or demands a great deal in return. Though the target will help to the letter of the command, he or she may not fully support the spirit of the command.
* Success by 7 to 14 (Extreme Success): The target helps you to the best of his or her ability. You have convinced the target of your cause, and he or she will contribute as possible. The target will consider sacrificing a great deal for your character.
* Success by 15+ (Overwhelming Success): The target goes beyond any reasonable expectation to help you with your cause. With the right motivation, the target may be willing to risk everything for your character.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Hmm, your first rule eliminates the immediate two options I would suggest - either replacing social skills with "social combat" in parallel with physical combat, or remodeling physical combat to resemble social skills (victory through high skill checks). I have my own homebrew system I've been fiddling with on and off for years that kind of tries to do both, but it's very hard to get it right. (Sounds like you're considering something along the same lines.)

If we're sticking with only adding things... perhaps some kind of "social HP" (extrapolated from Wisdom instead of Con?) that can be depleted by various social attacks (either based on existing social skills or new ones, like insults or public humiliation or the like), and once it's depleted your morale or spirit or whatever is broken. "Healing" that HP could come from compliments, others defending you against bullies, etc.

There's probably room to add "social maneuvers" akin to combat maneuvers as well, associated with various social skills. Could connect to the previous.
In my own game, I went with Fatigue, which can be gained physically, emotionally, mentally, etc, Toughness which is set by the higher of Fortitude or Will, and Trauma, which has different tracks for physical and mental.

This way you can use a skill like Influence (Flyting) to apply insult as a combat maneuver, you can headbutt someone with Hand-To-Hand (Striking) to win an argument, etc, and it inflicts fatigue and potentially Trauma.
I use a dialect and fluency level rule.

Characters associate a number 1-5 to all their languages associated to their fluency.
Any language, you have between 2-4 has a dialect or accent.

You need fluency level 1 to say greets and communicate basic info. You speak Hulk speak in the language.
You need fluency level 2 to say greetings, communicate basic info, and talk about your occupation (adventurer).
You need fluency level 3 to say greetings, communicate basic info, talk about your occupation (adventurer), or talk about your background.
You need fluency level 4 to hold a conversation in most setting.
You need fluency level 5 to hold an advanced or technical conversation in most settings.
How does one determine fluency?
The 3e sourcebook Power of Faerun had a chapter on politicians / public approval which might have mechanics that would help (afb and do not remember). The chapter on merchants had rules for making / losing money running a business that could be adapted to the goal "persuade a group" instead of "make money".
Yeah! What I’ve been doing without any real formality is doing exactly that with the Downtime mechanics.
I created a small and relatively minor set of game rules for my Theros campaign regarding philosophical Debate. They pretty much follow the conventions of standard D&D combat (and take into account some of the changes in the Skill list I made for this campaign.) I have yet to actually playtest or use these rules (the group will probably be in a situation where they need to make argument soon) so I have no idea if they ultimately will be useful... but like combat and Skill Challenges, having a gameside ruleset for the players might help them and me aim for a goal and know if/when it gets reached when conversing in character.

Debate

  • Debates are social combats between two philosophers or politicians.
  • To start a debate, initiative is rolled, a 1d20 + INT, WIS or CHA modifier (player’s choice).
  • Each participant has a Social Attack, a Social Armor Class, and Social Hit Points.
  • Social Attacks are roleplayed and then a check is made by rolling INT (Rhetoric) against their opponent’s Social AC.
  • A person’s Social Armor Class is equal to 10 + WIS (Insight) modifier.
  • A person has a number of Social Hit Points equal to their CHA (Presence) modifier.
  • A successful argument (social attack beats the target’s social AC) causes one point of social hit point damage.
  • When a participant in an argument loses all social hit points they have been defeated in the argument.
I’d actually be interested in a 5e-powered game that used this model for combat.
I generally use the Audience system of AiME. It works in 3 steps.

0) The DM determines or roll the initial Attitude of the NPC toward the group, using the DMG rules.

1) One player makes Presentation, meaning they open the discussion by presenting their group and asking what they require of the NPC. Its a DC 15 Charisma check and the player can add its PB if they share a language with the NPC. A success improves the reaction of the NPC toward the group by 1 step. A failed check by more than 5 means the party in in Askance, meaning the rolls in the next steps are make with Disadvantage. A failed by more than 10 means the Attitude of the NPC is lowered by 1 step!

2) The party makes their offer and argue with NPC, trying to leverage their Ideal/Bond/Flaw/Trait. A player can use Insight to deduce one of the NPC I/B/F/T. Each offer by the players add (or remove) a +1 or +2 bonus for the Closing check.

3) At the end of the discussion, one player makes a CHA check, adding all bonus from the previous step. Compare the result to the Conversation chart in the DMG p244. The DC in that chart are replaced instead with the roll of the Closing check.
I am building a similar structure in my game for conflicts, investigations, parlays, and ritual workings. Each has some widgets particular to it, but they have a optional Prep work, opening/initiative round, and then go in 3-phase rounds until resolved. The main differentiation comes into the types of actions being taken, and how each type of scene is resolved.
Torchbearer has a social hierarchy built into its system called Precedence. This is a scheme 0-7 of relative values for social strata. Your relative value tells you what sort of social conflicts you're able to engage with socially vs other parties.

Something like this could be ported into 5e with Adventurers getting +1 Precedence per Tier (starting at 0). Feats could either (a) improve your Precedence level (along with giving you a + Charisma) or (b) let you ignore Precedence differences with a particular subset on the Precedence hierarchy.
I like that a lot. I think using that idea, I’d give each class and background a scenario wherein they can ignore the hierarchy, like a Bard getting an audience, but they’d still have to work harder to get anything out of it if they’re lower in the hierarchy. Maybe only backgrounds.
 



I like the strixhaven ideas. You get pts for interacting with NPCs. If we took it and expanded it
When you have 2 points in they become a friend, and give a simple boon, when you get -2 they become a rival and give a bane. If you get 3 points in, you get them to be a beloved, where you basically get free extra inspiration per beloved each long rest, you can have beloveds up to your Prof bonus, and the beloved inspiration stacks, so 2 beloveds equals 2 inspiration for free per Long rest

imagine if there was a 10pt swing, so 0 to start, -2 for a bane -5 for a major enemy bane, +2 for the boon, +5 for beloved (not needing to be romantic)

now let the boons be things outside of school (hey your friends with the blacksmith so he makes you free caltrops and discount and time on making weapons/armor. or Hey your friends with the princess so you get cool perks in her kingdom)

maybe find away to somehow do World of Darkness style Contacts/Allies/Fame/Mentor
 


Each of the three mental stats provides a derived characteristic useful for "dispute" (the social equivalent of "combat.") Intelligence provides Wit, the dispute equivalent of Initiative, e.g., those with high Intelligence are "quick-witted." Charisma provides Belief Class or BC, the dispute equivalent of armor class or AC; it is your self-confidence, your ease with which you deflect the manipulations of others. Wisdom is the basis of your "Counter Points" or CP (analogous to HP), which measure your ability to handle being countered (exactly as HP measure your ability to handle being hit, not how well you hit).

I would then attempt to define dispute roles, as in, more-or-less cohesive packages of behavioral goals a character might have and which they should have some starting/innate facility with. You can have the "person of few words" types, who are hard to dislodge but must wait for the right opportunity to dish out a simple, devastating retort. You have the bright and flashy types that call attention to themselves or lead opponents on verbal wild goose chases (consider Flash in that one episode of Justice League where he defends Green Lantern against an accusation of planet-murder), less concerned with making effective points and more with harrying or confusing the opponent. You have the incisive intellectuals, who build up a case from solid foundations. You have the heartstring-pullers, who make risky (emotional) plays but win big when they succeed. Etc.

With enough of these roles (I would think 3-5), you can then start creating an actual game of the process of winning a dispute. By these lights, a formal dispute is something very serious--the kind of thing that might be treated as a major and difficult Skill Challenge in 4e. Skill Challenges thus become a useful intermediate step, between the ultra-simple "make your case and roll a die" (useful for a lot of situations, but kinda boring if it's your only option), and the complex and weighty "disputes," which involve a serious back-and-forth and may even result in allies "falling" (either excusing themselves from the deliberations or, if it makes sense, possibly even showing sympathy for the opponent's side!)

The goal would not be to make absolutely ALL social encounters work like this. That would be pretty pointless, not to mention actively worsen the rules. Rather, it would be to spice up an area of rules that all too often ends up being either absolute freeform "mother-may-I" (and thus grating because it's hardly different from merely "playing the DM") or absolute "whatever the singular die you roll says is what happens" (and thus grating because, y'know, that's a crazy simplistic way of representing a huge swathe of human interaction).

I wouldn't want it to develop to the full breadth and complexity of 4e combat rules. But having something with a bit more heft to it--where it feels like you really have to work and strategize for your success--seems like a useful tool for including in the DM toolbox, even if some (or many!) groups simply don't choose to use it.
 

I've toyed around with a basic system i've yet to put into practice.

Basically there are 7 levels of attitude towards the PCs a la reaction rolls (neutral and three negative and three positive). Each of these attitudes allow you to ask for certain things.

So neutral might mean you can ask for information and get an honest answer. You may ask them a favour of a minor inconvenience if there's something in it for them.

If you are liked, they may do that favour for free. If you are disliked you may need to succeed on a check. If you are hated they will never do you a favour or tell you information. Etc. (There's a whole table of examples).

Persuasion rolls or performance in some cases are used to temporarily change attitude by one step. So if you speak to a guard who is neutral towards you then they might tell you who to speak to to get permission into the castle but they certainly won't let you in (a major risk). You have to be admired for that (2 levels up). You could try and use persuasion to get them to like you, but that's still 1 level too low. They might do something smaller though, like tell you which guard is a pushover.

For someone to have a more permanent opinion of you there has to be a significant event. So if you have helped the guard win over his love so he likes you, you might be able to persuade him to push him over the edge and allow you to sneak in. If you saved his child so he admires you, he'll let you in no roll required.

I could go on but i'll cut it here.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
My system goes into/adds to social interactions through a couple of avenues.

1) Certain classes have a given feature that assists their interactions in situational circumstances.
  • Ex. 1: Thieves get "Rogue's Guile" (early, I want to say at 2nd or 3rd?) that lends a bonus to skill rolls to deceive (persuasion), Insight rolls to assess another -and if they are trying to deceive you, and/or to notice others in your vicinity attempting to use roguish skills or talents: using sleight of hand to pick your or your buddies' pockets, cheating at games of chance in front of you, surreptitiously draw their weapon, etc...; using stealth to hide or move silently within your view; using persuasion to flim-flam you, bilk you in a negotiation, out right lie, etc...
  • Ex. 2: Fighters -again, I think from 2nd level on, maybe 4th- get "Veteran's Camaraderie." This gives them interactive bonuses with our warrior types of equal or lesser level than they are. Some of that "respected peer/bro's-in-arms" thing that people from the military or law enforcement seem to have. So, the Fighter is probably going to do pretty well having to deal with, say, your average soldier/troop, that 0 or 1st level town guard, and other warriors you come across. To contrast, Cavalier's get "Courtly Courtesy" which is interactive bonuses to/with other knights (of equal or lesser level), evoking awe and cooperation from commoners and servants (squires, stableboys, etc...), and respect and possible assistance from nobles.
And each kind of class have something in that vein. It's not going to make you the best orator or super-socialite everywhere. But it's going to give your character some instances, at some points in play, where they can shine in a social/interactive situation.

For 5e's purposes (or 5.5/6e's incorporation) you could just make these discreet Feats that are permitted to certain class types and/or species and/or levels.

2) The second is basically something that 5e already has/does, Inspiration/inspiration dice, just implemented differently. You've seen it in different RPGs, I'm sure. Something like "Fame/Infamy" points or "Popularity, different games call it different things. The '80s Marvel Superhero rpg called it "Karma" I think. If I'm remembering correctly, it was basically: if you build up your goodwill/heroic feats and notoriety, you accrued "Karma points." Then you could spend them to increase or extend your powers/abilities beyond their typical use or power level.

This is kinda the same thing.

But instead of it being a random -when the DM decides to give you Inspiration points (though that is totally possible as well), or a Bard with you doles some out- you get an automatic point per level from 6th on. In my system, I call it "Renown." But call it "Karma," call it "Inspiration," call it "Infamy" it's all the same thing. The characters are becoming noted and that bolsters their ability to act, including a bit of sway over the "normal folks" of the world.
  • You can use those points "per day." They refresh each morning.
  • You can use the point to re-roll a d20 of whatever type or to add a die (d6 or d8, depending) to a specific kind of roll. You must, of course, declare which way you're spending it before you roll.
  • They can also be used to automatically shift creatures with less HD than your level reactions towards you -whether this is done with deception or intimidation or just plain impressed by your "awesomeness," can be fluffed however works for the situation. Presumably this is for the better...but then, if you wanted to incite a group of goblins to lose their cool and chase/attack you (instead of the innocent farm folk they're about to skewer), you could do that too. But making the wary merchant agree to part with that dohicky you really need/want at a price he might not otherwise, because you are so clearly a great (capable, handsome, admirable, heroic, et al) champion, is handy too.
There are, of course, other "feats" or "backgrounds" (as 5e would deem them) for players to choose that can boost their social skills and interactive prowess.
 
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