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 Social Interaction System

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TheDiddler
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PostSubject: Social Interaction System   Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:14 pm

Social Interaction System
 
The idea for this came from here: Angry GM Article
 
Most social interactions in a game are easily resolved through role-playing possibly coupled by a single skill check. In those situations, the following system need not apply. Instead, this system is designed to allow social confrontation (persuasion, deception, intimidation, et al) to feel more like a combat encounter. The system allows for swaying back and forth, “attacking” and a goal that can be reasonably achieved with consequences of for failure.
 
Right off, a reminder of the above. If as the DM I think that a player’s request in-character is reasonable and the NPC doesn’t have a reason to disagree, I will simply allow good RP to sway that goal. If a little conflict is needed, a single roll will do the trick.


The System
 
Obstacles
When an NPC is unwilling to allow a PC’s goal to be achieved without conflict, they are said to have an Objection or Obstacle to the player’s desire. These Obstacles will be rated from -1 to -5 with -1 being a minor concern (“I don’t really like elves and you’re one”) and -5 being an overwhelming concern (“You murdered my entire family; I’m not listening to you ever”).
 
Incentives
As an aside to this, some NPCs might have Obstacles in place but be somewhat willing to allow for the interaction to take place. Additionally, a PC might create interest. These are called Incentives and are rated from +1 to +5 with +1 being minor (“You’re kind of cute”) to major (“You’re my betrothed and I love you”).
 
The Goal
Within this system, the goal is to convince the opposing NPC to achieve a 0 or better status. This achieves success on your goals. Each roll could grant a +1 or -1 based on success or failure. In addition, dramatic success (20) or dramatic failure (1) could cause multiple successes or failures.
 
If instead the players reach -5 the interaction is a failure and they must suffer the consequences.
 
Additional Tools
Certain Role-Play factors will come into play to potentially influence the mechanical effects based on what a character says. These will be referred to as Flattery and Insults

  • Flattery includes things your character says that may potentially grant Advantage on your social roll. These are things your character could have learned or planned for in advance and use as a tactic to achieve your purpose.
  • Insults are the opposite. These are things you might say in game and not realize that your phrasing is insulting in a minor or major way. These could create Disadvantage on the roll or lead to an automatic failure (Major Insult). With Major Insults, I will likely give you an Wisdom (Insight) Save to realize your error before you make the comment.

 
The Example Interaction: Convincing the King
King Rodrick of the Enchanted Valley lives peacefully nestled in the heart of his kingdom. The players, being the wandering adventurers they are, recently encountered a number of orcs at the border of the Valley where it meets the Dark Forest. They realized very quickly that these orcs were a scouting party and that an invasion was imminent. They convinced the local Duke to set up defenses and then journeyed to the heart of the kingdom to convince Rodrick.
 
Rodrick despises the local Duke. They are cousins and the Duke made disparaging remarks at Rodrick’s wedding.
 
Rodrick feels perfectly safe in his kingdom and is obstinate in his belief that the Enchanted Valley is safe.
 
Rodrick truly desires the safety of his kingdom even if he is somewhat incompetent.
 
Here we see the beginning stance:

  • Objection: Hates the Duke (-3)


  • Objection: Doesn’t believe PCs (-2)


  • Incentive: Desires Safety of his kingdom (+2)


Total Start: -3
 
Agrykos: “Send your men or your kingdom will perish.” [Rolling Intimidation with a success] +1 for a new total of -2
Rodrick to Orion (he trusts warriors more): “What do you think?”
Orion: “If you don’t send people and your kingdom falls you will be thought a total fool.” [Persuasion with a success]. This creates a new Incentive (Desire to be remembered as Wise +1) for a total of -1.
Coryn: “If you don’t send men and the Duke succeeds you will be forever remembered as an utter failure.” [This is a minor insult in comparing the Duke to the King and Coryn gets Disadvantage. He fails the roll]. New total is -2.
Creegan: “I’m going to smash in your goddamn face if you don’t get off your ass and do something.” [Charlie gets a Wisdom (Insight) save and succeeds, preventing him from using these exact words and causing a Major Insult.] Status quo.
Doake: “You will only need to send a few men. We will help pick them and you can keep the rest in safety. You will be seen as forever wiser than your grandfather.” [Audun granted Doake the bit of knowledge that Rodrick wants to be better than his grandfather. Doake gains Advantage for the Flattery and rolls Deception to sell the lie because more than a few men WILL be needed. He rolls a natural 20 and gets +2]. New Total is now 0.
 
The party succeeds.
 
Failures could have easily led to a total disaster at the start and if Creegan had not succeeded on his Insight Save.

DM Note: This idea is meant to flow organically and not slow down the game. Therefore I will probably only mention with brevity the Obstacles and Incentives the PCs already know. This allows for "information gathering" to grant greater knowledge on these facts AND potentially give you information on how to Flatter and Avoid Insult.

It is also meant to be fun and not be MetaGamed all to shit. If it simply becomes a "let's do this to get this bonus and this and blah blah" and ceases to feel appropriate, I'll probably drop it. We all know how to do this without it feeling silly.

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C Thomas Hand
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The wisest words fit into pithy sayings.

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