View Full Version : A diplomatic dilemmia!

2012-04-27, 09:35 PM
Good evening playground,

The party I DM for is soon going to be in a situation to host and mediate a series of important peace talks between a few nations and organizations which aren't getting along. They don't have any ties to the area, nor are they on one side or another, but they have both short- and long-term reasons to see peace brought to this area.

Now the party itself comes from all walks of life, but none of them are diplomats by any definition of the word- this is going to be seat-of-their-pants negotiations, as fair as they can be.

Now, the specifics that I want to get across and all that are mostly set, but it seems to be missing some flair- I'm interested in some 'random encounters' within a diplomatic setting. Assassins or anarchists or other groups out to spoil the talks only go so far, and I'm stumped as to how to give them a little more bang for their problem solving buck. So I pose this to you all- what kind of challenges would a party have to face at a negotiating table?

Thanks in advance!

2012-04-27, 11:06 PM
Some possibilities:

*) Somebody who has a crucial vote or the ability to cause problems starts fishing for a bribe.
*) Somebody who has a crucial vote or the ability to cause problems starts fishing for a reluctant PC.
*) Two people from the same side make a condition of their support the ruination of the other one. Neither is particularly evil, but both are a little corrupt and dislike one another.
*) Arguments over what order the dinner will be served in, as each nation believes that they deserve the main course and it would be an insult not to have said course be from their homeland. For bonus points, several of the nations or organizations have conflicting dietary restrictions.

2012-04-27, 11:50 PM
Nations can also argue where they sit at the table, how many people get to sit at the table, and how many people get to be at the negotiations. In D&D they can also argue about how much magic should be allowed at the negotiations.

Also, don't forget to bring sex into it. Seductions can happen. Political marriages as well. A good old macguffin magic item could also show up.

And you did say anarchist, but terrorists may be showing up to the meeting as well. You may have meant that when you said anarchist, but they're different things.

Protestors who picket the meeting and keep the diplomats from entering?

2012-04-27, 11:53 PM
One of the Diplomats/Representatives/Whatever is from a nation with some sort of cultural quirk...which involves being horribly offended by some trivial thing, like shaking hands or eating left handed. They threaten to storm off if this happens in front of them.
The translator needed for one particularly important negotiation becomes overstressed and drinks himself silly. A new one must be found, immediately. Hilarity ensues.
Someone who's vote is very important asks the PCs to take him on an adventure through the local city, hoping to escape the pressures of political life for a day among the lower classes.

2012-04-28, 02:30 AM
The greatest challange I think, and like some people have mentioned, should come from the dramatis personae of the talk themselves: the diplomats.

More than representing their nation's well being, they represent their nation's pride. These are important people and this cannot be done without them, and they know it. Both have come to make sure that not only are their nations grievances settled, but it's pride also intact. Both sides are there to make sure that it is their nation that won.

The slightest inclination of bias towards the other nation (a better seat, being served food first, better rooms, being consistently offered deals first) should be enough for the other sides diplomat to withdraw to his/her quarters in protest and refuse to come out until reparations have been made.

Moreover, all this is spiced up by the presence of the mediators. Since the PCs have a vested interest in actually securing the peace and the diplomats know this. The diplomats can and should abuse this to the breaking point, tasking the players to convince the other side of the most outrageous demands or the "peace is off". Refusing to budge or even hint they'd accept anything less until they recieve a palatable offer.

They'd also be followed by entourages containing all sort of people. Most notably spies, who will with various means try to filitrate the other side and figure out what it is they want. If caught the diplomats will deny all knowledge of this but if succesful will give their diplomat an edge which they'll use to pressure the other side.
And yes, they can and will use personal vices against the other diplomat. Happily in fact. Diplomats do not fight fair.

So not only should the PCs have their work set out for them in just trying to get the diplomats to talk and negotiate. They'll also have to, every day, counteract the diplomats attempts to fight dirty.

2012-04-28, 06:12 AM
Who decided which nations where invited?
Could there be a small nation/tribe/whatever which was overlooked (or deliberately left out) but who might send a representative and demand to be heard any way? Maybe a group that's "officially" part of another nation but is clamouring for independence (or refusing to be conquered).

2012-04-28, 05:30 PM
An innocent case of food poisoning has both sides at eachothers' throats, each claiming foul play!

It's up to the PC's to diffuse the situation. Maybe the food poisoning wasn't so innocent afterall? Find out who is out to break up the negotiations.

2012-04-28, 06:10 PM
One side brings out an unexpected diplomatic problem. "I just received word that agents from craplackistan were caught trying to infiltrate the pooplackian outpost across the border! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!" Basically, events are either taking place, or being claimed to have taken place, just to throw off talks in one direction or another. Then its up to the party to try and straighten things out. There is also the "Fair Game" style of negotiations. That was an episode of the Stargate series where one of the Goa'uld used the peace talks to kill a rival and blame it on another party. Basically, you get a murder mystery, or at least an assault mystery to solve and in the mean time try to stop open war from breaking back out.

Jay R
2012-04-30, 09:31 AM
If you can find it, I strongly recommend the adventure module Ambassador's Tale, for Flashing Blades, by Fantasy Games Unlimited, especially the first episode.

2012-04-30, 10:49 AM
A few thoughts:

I'd concentrate on making sure that your "personification" of the nations at the table is rigorous - what does each nation want, what are they willing to give up for it, who will they not work well with etc.

For a good crib, look at the minutiae of 1600-1800 Europe - just pick an interesting 30 year period and the changing alliances therein, and then work out some reasons for the changed alliances, and then use that as your basis.

Work out what would happen if the PCs were not at the table, and that gives you the basis for the plot. Then start throwing the assassins around. Also good are kidnappings - might provide a more active interlude to break up the talking.

Remember that the diplomats will assume that the PCs are cut of the same cloth, so will attempt to compromise them in reputation/bribe them/charm them etc

2012-04-30, 11:37 AM
There's a scenario in Dungeon 144 called Diplomacy that may give you a few good ideas for your campaign.