Social Combat?

Open Discussion on all things C&C from new product to general questions to the rules, the laws, and the chaos.
Scurvy_Platypus
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Social Combat?

Post by Scurvy_Platypus »

So as I was driving into work today, I was thinking about the various systems (rule bits) that are in C&C, and rpgs in general. In D&D now, fighters have all sorts of funky things they can do, Mages do too... but social interactions are still a one-roll deal.

C&C continues this general trend. Primes essentially substitute in for skills, but you still wind up having combat be a multiple step process, and bargaining /bluffing / whatever is a one shot deal (obviously this might vary depending on the DM).

So I was thinking, maybe to try and get people more interested in roleplaying through a negotiation / bargaining / whatever, make it into a limited form of combat. That way you can have a back-and-forth kind of deal like combat has, and players can roll more than once... possibly still winning despite an inital bad roll.

What I'm thinking is that the attribute being used (for example Cha) would act as the base. The "AC" of the opponent would be based on the "opposite" attribute (for example Int). So for example, a Thief gets caught messing around with a door late at night. The wandering guardsman is suspicious and demands to know what's going on.

The Thief says, "Nothing, I was trying to find my key" and rolls against the guard's Int. The guard has an Int of 12, so that's the number the thief has to beat. If he scores a hit, he does 1d4 "damage" (meaning the guard has 8 points left). If Cha was a Prime, the DM might allow a 1d6 to be rolled for damage instead.

The guard though isn't completely stupid. "Look, I don't see a key around on the ground, and searching for a key doesn't mean leaning against the door with your ear pressed to it." He rolls and comes up with a natural 20 against the Thief's Cha (which is a 16). He rolls a d4 and scores a 4, doubling that since it was a "critical" and deals 8 "damage" to the Thief.

The Thief sighs. "I was trying to see if my wife was awake... you know how cranky they get when you've been out tipping back a couple with friends. Last time, I almost lost an eye when she threw a plate at me." He rolls, scores a hit and rolls a d4 again, and gets a 2 (the guard is down to 6).

And so forth. As you can see, the Thief isn't exactly lucky right now... He's barely ahead (8 points) of the guard (6 points). A couple more rounds, and the Thief will have either convinced the guard, or he'll be hauled in.

There's a couple of tweaks that can be done, for example taking into account whether a stat is a prime or not, and whether the player actually adds in details. The better the detail, a bonus is applied to the "hit roll" or the "damage" that's done.

It's not a "complete" system, but might be worth fleshing out a bit for those that aren't into combat as much as the social side of things. Thoughts?

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Post by serleran »

I never use rolls for "social interaction." If the player cannot roleplay it, they cannot do it. The game is supposed to test the limits of the player and the character... not the character alone. Now, if you're just simply unable to roleplay the character because you have no idea how to bluff or negotiate, yet still have a "merchant style character," then I wonder why you created it, since you're not able to roleplay it. The dice are not to be used for everything.

However, that said:

Some sort of back-and-forth thing is appropriate for bargaining, especially, where its common for someone to say "10%" responded by "5%" or whatever, until some agreement is reached. Wouldn't be too hard to implement something like that in C&C if one were inclined.

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Post by Breakdaddy »

It's not a bad way to do things, but I dont roll for social interactions at all (exception: I *DO* roll reaction rolls when its a potential combat encounter). We just roleplay out the whole thing. I never really cared for D&D's Bluff/Sense Motive system since it takes away from the whole Roleplaying aspect of the game. Your system lies somewhere in between, and appears viable enough to use.
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BeZurKur
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Post by BeZurKur »

That's pretty cool, Scurvy_Platypus. I wonder, though, if the back and forth "combat" is appropriate for all social situations. The combat round is definitely a precursor and indicator of the Chainmail roots and it works there, but I question whether social combat is best served the same way. Still, the idea of a unified and consistent system is alluring. If I'd go that route, I'd make the combat handled with a single roll to bring it to par with other skill use. Obviously that would mean rewriting the whole combat. As is, C&C is still an action based game.

As for the whole, roleplay it out thing: I don't think that it means there shouldn't be a system in place for social situations. I like to roleplay combat through descriptions. When my players do the same, I sometimes award a small bonus for it. I don't see why the same cannot be done for social situations, awarding cool lines and persuasive arguments with a small bonus. I don't make the player running the babarian with an 18 strength press 200lbs in my dining room, so why should we demand a player to be charming because he has a bard with an 18 charisma?

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Post by Combat_Kyle »

An interesting idea, but like Serleran I tend to force my players to roleplay themselves out of a situation. I have one player that if allowed to fall on dice rolls that is all he will ever do. But put some ambiguity out there and force him to role play man he can be a great player. But once again the simple beauty of C&C will allow this to work just fine. Thanks for sharing.
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Post by BeZurKur »

Just curious: to the CK's that judge the players instead of the characters in social situations, does anyone ever take Cha as a prime and if so, how do you rule it in?

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Post by DangerDwarf »

For mine, I largely rely on their ability to RP. Rolls do happen from time to time as well, primarily when the player's RP is borderline succesful as to their intended goal,with modifiers applied based on their RP.

I use Charisma rolls for other things from time to time as well. Times when numerous characters are in various areas about town seeking information springs to mind. If roleplaying every little encutner while they search for small ruomors or clues doesn't do much to advance the storyline...it's dice time.

Another time for Charisma checks is after a session and a player wants to hit the market and pick up supplies. As the player is resupplying his rations, oil, rope, whatever sometimes they ask if they can make a charisma check in an attempt to get a better price. A good roll might land them a % off of their total spent.

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Post by PeelSeel2 »

I do not neccessarily rely on the players ability to Role-Play his character, but more on their ability to effectively communicate what they are trying to do, and what effect they hope to achieve through social interaction. Then if I feel it needs a CHA check, I let them.
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Post by Witterquick »

The only instances where I ask for a CHA roll in social situations are usually when, because of the nature of the gaming-table interaction, the PC's couldn't realistically tell a particular thing.

Case in point: this Friday the PC's will be attending a party. Can the PC's tell that two of the guests appear to be a bit too friendly, or will it go right over their head? I could just tell them, but that doesn't reward the PC's who did take high CHA's as prime.
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Post by Treebore »

I think I am closest to peelseel in this. I have the player tell me what they want to do and how they want to go about it.

Especially when my players are 10, 13, and 14 years old!

Even for adults. I might press them at the issue, using roleplay to do it, but what I am looking for is modifiers. If I like what they say I'll give them good modifiers. If I don't they will get negatives. Then I roll. Basing the TN on the characters CHA.

So I could actually use the OP's idea to help me determine the outcome, but kind of like in his example, roleplaying modified by these rolls he has come up with.

Why do I do this? Because most people are like Serleran, they suck at being a salesman. Very few people know how to bargain or haggle. I do, so I look at it like a "mini" class on how to haggle. I roleplay it a bit, to give the player a little bit of "realism" in how to broach the subject, find and start a point of negotiation, and how to end it as favorably as possible.

Plus how if your a woman, show off your cleavage if your negotiationg with a male. (Works wonders for my wife in the markets in Mexico, and occassionally here in the US at flea markets.)

So that is why I would use a system like this. So people who don't know how to haggle can play a merchant, and maybe learn a bit about how to be a merchant.

I take this seriously enough that I credit D&D and roleplaying with my being able to amass such a large gemstone collection in about 6 years, and becoming a gemstone cutter/cabber and good enough jeweller to carve/mold/cast my own stuff. With my wife doing the truly artisitic pieces we have done. I'm still what I like to call a "cookie cutter" jeweller.

So I take players wanting to roleplay a merchant very seriously. I incorporate as much of my real life lessons as I possibly can. Especially to my kids. You never know where they may be inspired to go or do later in life. Playing Thief/merchants definitely paid off for me.

Heck, my wife still likes to call me Pakitani, who is may favorite thief/mage/merchant that I ever played. Plus playing him is why I started looking into gemstones in real life, and why I have the skills and collection that I do. Crazy ain't it?
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
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Post by serleran »

There are major reasons why something like Strength doesn't require the player to act it out. One, it might be dangerous. Two, in the game, Strength is associated to real-world values such as pounds which dictate, automatically, whether the character can succeed in lifting something or not, and three: it is the most obvious characteristic possessed by a character.

To roleplay a character, the player must be able to relate to that character, in some way. If the character is diammetrically opposed to everything the player is, there is no reason the player should be playing it, other than "to broaden experiences." However, if the player is completely inept, the character is too, since the player determines the success of the character, and not the other way around.

However, its not like I just do not allow a character if its something you really want to play... but I will expect your best effort, and if you're trying your best to play something you're not experience at, I'll let it slide a few times, but after a while.... you'd best have learned, and adapt. The game is about as much player learning as it is character advancement at my table.

Now, as for Prime for Charisma... yeah, there are some benefits, other than the massice number of awesome effects it helps avoid, like being able to get noticed, or leading people, or intimidating, or all sorts of other things, depending how the player uses it. High Charisma also works against a character, too, since the nice and wonderfully magnetic guy will be the one the beggars remember when the town guard comes to question them about that disturbance, and he'll also be the one asked to perform great deeds by others, since he has that "special something" that marks him a hero.

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Post by Treebore »

I do hope you remember my comment about "suck as a salesman" being about your response to being shipped TLG stuff to sell at Cons.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Post by serleran »

Of course I do. However, one does not need to be a "bright and shiny personality" to be effective at playing a character with a high Charisma. I would not roleplay a merchant (for many reasons, one being I think it would be boring,) but I would a thief, especially one that was deceptive and full of schemes. Players should be tested and challenged more than their characters. Its what makes the game interesting, and actually deserving of "victory." At least, I know I'd rather solve a riddle than roll a die and succeed, for example.

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Post by BeZurKur »

serleran wrote:
There are major reasons why something like Strength doesn't require the player to act it out. One, it might be dangerous.
If the person is even reasonably close to be able to press the 200 lbs, he probably already knows how to do so safely. If he doesn't know, then he mostly likely can't to begin with. Neither possibility would prevent him from playing the barbarian in my games.
Quote:
Two, in the game, Strength is associated to real-world values such as pounds which dictate, automatically, whether the character can succeed in lifting something or not
In some cases, yes. But in most, it is arbitrarily determined just the same. Take for example Bjorn attempting to push a statue onto the kobold Krublet from PH p. 108. I don't think anyone really figures out how many pounds of force it takes to topple the statue and then compare it to the lifting capacity. The typical CK looks to the stat and eyeballs it, like he does with every stat.
Quote:
and three: it is the most obvious characteristic possessed by a character.
Okay, how about Dexterity then? My point is we play these games to imagine and even pretend. If I want to play a sauve bard and lady's man, it shouldn't matter if I haven't scored in the last 18 months (uhm... I mean just for example, you know. No really, it's just an example! ) Also, there are certain qualites that extend beyond dialog. If I actually tried a James Bond come on in a bar, I'd probably get slapped and a drink poured on my head. For James Bond, it gets him inside the secret base. That is an 18 charisma.

Anyway, thanks, guys. I don't want to hijack the thread, and I really think that discussing how you handle charisma is pertinant to the OP's request. I rule those situations similiar to Treebore and PeelSeel2 (BTW: fascinating story, Treebore.) I mentioned it because I think Scurvy_Platypus brings up a good point regarding the game: it has detailed mechanics for combat, but not much else. Ultimately, that makes C&C an action role-playing game.

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Post by Scurvy_Platypus »

Just so everything's clear...

The point of what I posted wasn't to try and somehow usurp roleplaying, and replace it with dice rolling. I was merely thinking aloud about the common occurance in rpgs about combat systems that do all sorts of stuff for combat, and then social interaction is a bunch of talking and a die roll. I mean heck, quite a few rpgs come with admonishments not to simply say "I swing at him" and roll, but to describe it in detail. Of course my experience has been that the majority of the time, that's what you hear.

Or to put it in a different light, I'm willing to bet a pretty fair number of people would be cheesed off if combat boiled down to the player giving a nice long description of what the character does, and then one die roll determines whether or not he wins the battle. And no, I'm not talking death as the result either. Just a simple loss of the combat.

I'm playing in an Eberron game with my wife (a newbie to gaming) and after one game where she had a number of interaction with NPCs, I asked her why she didn't put more effort into the negotiations with the NPCs.

She said, "Why bother? Sure it's roleplaying and it's fun, but past a certain point, it's pointless. Maybe the DM is giving me modifiers, but I have no way of knowing. All I see is that no matter how brilliant I might be, all I have to do is have a lousy roll, and my 15 minutes doesn't mean anything. Sure I had fun roleplaying, but we're playing a game too. If I'm putting forward an effort on something, I want a payoff."

Since nobody is going to really like having combat abstracted _down_ to a bunch of descriptions and a die roll, I thought I'd post a relatively simple way of moving social interactions _up_. Not to the full level of combat, but a bit so that social interactions aren't virtually ignored by the system. That's all.
I mean, I guess using what I posted above, you _could_ have the following exchange:

Player: "I argue with him"

DM: "Roll"

Player: "19"

DM: "He seems to be considering your argument, and then argues back"

etc.

Then it _would_ match a lot of combat in rpgs. Jokes aside, I guess I'll just figure this one out myself. Thanks for the thoughts though.

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Post by DangerDwarf »

BeZurKur wrote:
If I want to play a sauve bard and lady's man, it shouldn't matter if I haven't scored in the last 18 months (uhm... I mean just for example, you know. No really, it's just an example! )

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Post by serleran »

I guess I'm just one of those few who don't need a rule for this kind of thing.

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Post by Combat_Kyle »

Ok to clairfy, I don't let players just make a roll to convice the barkeep to give them a discount, but if the player makes an genuine attempt to roleplay I will then let him make a CHa check to either assist in the transaction or to help smooth the attitudes of NPCS. Thus CHa is still a very important stats in my game.
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Post by Treebore »

You know, you could create a gaming session around this mechanic idea. Where all the "combat" will involve resolving critical roleplay events.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Post by Rhuvein »

Scurvy_Platypus wrote:
Or to put it in a different light, I'm willing to bet a pretty fair number of people would be cheesed off if combat boiled down to the player giving a nice long description of what the character does, and then one die roll determines whether or not he wins the battle. And no, I'm not talking death as the result either. Just a simple loss of the combat.

Indeed, that's why I make it a habit of rewarding good RP effort with XP. I've flat out told my players, that "I swing my sword" vs. "The tired but determined fighter, looks for an opening against the orc chieftain, and then seeing it, swings his sword in a mighty downward arc hoping to end this battle" is not going to yield any XP. But something like the latter will gain it much more.

But ultimately dice rolls resolve the conflict and that's OK. Too me the RP'ing is what balances and enhances the game to make it more than just rules and dice. RP'ing brings the game alive.
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Post by Treebore »

Rhuvein wrote:
Indeed, that's why I make it a habit of rewarding good RP effort with XP. I've flat out told my players, that "I swing my sword" vs. "The tired but determined fighter, looks for an opening against the orc chieftain, and then seeing it, swings his sword in a mighty downward arc hoping to end this battle" is not going to yield any XP. But something like the latter will gain it much more.

But ultimately dice rolls resolve the conflict and that's OK. Too me the RP'ing is what balances and enhances the game to make it more than just rules and dice. RP'ing brings the game alive.

Hey! Thats old fashioned DMing...Oh...thats right. You are old.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Post by kelro »

Quote:
I guess I'll just figure this one out myself

I hope you will post what you figure out and put into actual play, I would be interested to see.
I like some social mechanics myself as well, right now we have just been doing Charisma checks when the character attempts to manipulate an NPC into doing something they dont want to do (lower prices, spill the beans about aiding the bad guys, etc.).

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Post by Maliki »

serleran wrote
Quote:
I never use rolls for "social interaction." If the player cannot roleplay it, they cannot do it. The game is supposed to test the limits of the player and the character... not the character alone. Now, if you're just simply unable to roleplay the character because you have no idea how to bluff or negotiate, yet still have a "merchant style character," then I wonder why you created it, since you're not able to roleplay it. The dice are not to be used for everything.

I have the players role-play social encounters, but I keep in mind the characters, race. class and charisma when deciding how the encounter goes. I don't rely on a random dice roll, but I realize that not everyone is great "role-player" and don't want to discourage players from having their characters attempt things.
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Post by BeZurKur »

Scurvy_Platypus, your wife's observations are spot on. Sometimes it takes a new player with a fresh perspective to question elements of the game that the veterans have long ago accepted. Your wife addressed the following points:

* a payoff for effort

* to know the payoff

I say grant it to her. First, 15 minutes roleplaying a negotiation might be too long, especially if you have other players at the table. However, if a player gives a good description that uses elements to his or her advantage, grant a +2 bonus and tell them about it. This encourages vivid description, whether it is a sword strike or bluff at a card table. Some GM's feel that breaks the illusion of really being the character, but if it adds to the description then it adds to the feel, IMO. My experience has been it is more fun for everyone at the table. I also use Rhuvein's mechanic to reward good RP with XP.

Also, as a quick aside, there actually are a few games that abstract combat to a narrative and a single roll. Combat prowess is just as important -- not more or less -- as other defining attributes of the character. In these games, however, the roll usually comes first then the player narrates the outcome based on the roll.

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Post by Dakhysron »

I agree with Maliki. Taking it a bit further, very few gamers have the equivelent of an 18 charisma. I almost never roll dice to determine a social interaction (in fact I can't remember the last time I did), but if it's something very important to the character or party or story, then the player really has no chance of actually roleplaying an 18 charisma and, I think, a roll is called for.

The same applies to any of the statistics. How many people can really relate to a magic-user with an 18 intelligence? I too, enjoy solving puzzles and riddles myself and players have fun solving problems too. (Our group is composed of engineers.) But there are times when I will allow an intelligence check, if the character has a very high intelligence. Hmm... I guess you could turn this around too. What if the character has a 3 charisma? Do you let the player roleplay through a social exchange? If they truly play a 3 charisma, then they are pretty much guaranteed failure! Sounds like fun!

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Post by Rhuvein »

Treebore wrote:
Hey! Thats old fashioned DMing...Oh...thats right. You are old.

Hehe, I am indeed old(er), but I believe your eldest child is older than my eldest chilid, so that makes you old(er)!
In fact, since I don't have the vast gaming experience that you do, Tree, so I think you should be our elder statesman on these forums!
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Post by Treebore »

Really? You haven't been gaming for more than 21 years? I thought you started a bit earlier than that. Your oldest child is younger than 1 4 (spaced to avoid that darn smiley glitch!)?

What happened? You one of those guys who spent their early years too drunk and high to get their "real life" started? Or were you the other stereotype where you were too wrapped up in work?

Or was it a non-stereo-typed situation?

I waited to age 26 to have my first kid (that I know about). Which was pretty unusual for the Navy people I hung around with. They all had 4 to 8 year old kids by the time my wife and I had ours. So I wasn't any stereo type that I am aware of.

Just to confirm, you are older than 40?
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Post by Rhuvein »

Treebore wrote:
What happened? You one of those guys who spent their early years too drunk and high to get their "real life" started? Or were you the other stereotype where you were too wrapped up in work?

Hehe, yeah something like that. We got started in '78/'79, but it didn't last long as everyone in my group was doing the above and starting their careers and having girlfriends.

In addition to having a girlfriend, full time job and then attending computer school at night, I had no time left for gaming.
And then I started with computer gaming for the next 20+ years and only returned to RPG'ing in 2004.

So I guess I'm a newbie/grognard or a grognard newbie! 14

As to my age, you missed my post in the intro thread. I'm the same age as . . . Robert J Kuntz!
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Post by Treebore »

I don't know what his age is. I just know it is a bit older than me.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Post by Rhuvein »

Treebore wrote:
I don't know what his age is. I just know it is a bit older than me.

Yeah Rob's age is too cryptic. How about the following - all our age:
Kevin Costner

Mick Jones (Clash)

Bill Gates

Chow Yun Fat

Bill Paxton

Donatella Versace

Ray Liotta

Eddie Van Halen

51!

_________________
Count Rhuveinus - Lejendary Keeper of Castle Franqueforte

"Enjoy a 'world' where the fantastic is fact and magic really works!" ~ Gary Gygax

"By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes:" - Macbeth
Count Rhuveinus - Lejendary Keeper of Castle Franqueforte

"Enjoy a 'world' where the fantastic is fact and magic really works!" ~ Gary Gygax

"By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes:" - Macbeth

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