View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Calyrian Knights: Social System

Waterdeep Merch
2018-01-14, 03:22 PM
Calyrian Knights is a campaign setting that I am running that has needed extensive homebrew systems. As a setting, it is meant to treat magic and the supernatural as wondrous and the world itself as very dangerous, with challenges extending beyond the typical combat or traps. These systems are designed to emphasize these points and work in tandem.

Social System:
Making a More Convincing Argument
Dungeons & Dragons has, historically, handled social concepts with a simple d20 roll plus any relevant modifiers versus a static number; or, in an attempt at verisimilitude, the same against a simple d20 roll plus any relevant modifier. Part of the reason for this is that roleplaying is supposed to take a greater emphasis on socializing, and another part is that D&D is intentionally designed around a fight/loot/survive dynamic. Whatever the case, the system itself is very loose when dealing with socializing. This isnít a problem when you have strong DMís and roleplayers that need no incentives to ham up their interactions, but without the safety net of hard rules to fall back on, wallflowers can feel put out. It doesnít help that the system itself gives few incentives to try it out.
My intention in designing this system is to create a more structured and nuanced method for dealing with social interactions that have firm, easily understood rules behind them with some of the dynamism that exists in the combat portion of the game. I fully understand and admit that this system is not appropriate for every game, even in the majority. This will be most useful in games that have players (or a DM) who arenít great at improv and regularly deal with high stakes diplomacy or politics. It may be somewhat useful in games with excellent roleplayers, given entire sessions with little to no combat and a lot of talking, if only to keep a gamist atmosphere.
Itís also neither necessary nor desired to use this system in every social interaction. It would be best to limit this to important events and the occasional difficult NPC.

The Basic Mechanics
Social encounters are defined similarly to combat, and thus need Ďsocial stat blocksí the same way monsters and NPCís need regular stat blocks. Like in combat, thereís an initiative, armor class, and a hit point total, though named different things and derived from different attributes.

Social initiative (SI) measures the speed at which someone first makes themselves known and speaks up. As this is a measure of a personís presence, the attribute that adds to this is Charisma. This functions much like initiative does, and determines turn order during a social encounter. You roll a d20 and add your Social Initiative bonus (if any) to the roll. Unlike regular initiative, a speaker on each side of any given argument gets a turn after the last speaker of a different argument had a turn, and no one on the same side of an argument may have a turn until a speaker for every argument has had a turn.
On your turn, you may nominate a different speaker other than yourself to get a turn instead. Doing so will cost you a point of Ardency (detailed later). If the argument leader does this, then the person he passes to is the new argument leader (also detailed later).

Your Social Initiative bonus is equal to your Charisma modifier + any regular initiative boosts except for your Dexterity modifier.

Wit measures how well you can deflect social faux paus and competing arguments, and how well you keep from being baited in conversation. This is overseen by both the Intelligence and Charisma attributes. This statistic works a lot like Armor Class does. Whenever someone makes an argument, rebuttal, or threat, their skill check must be equal to or higher than their targetís Wit to affect them.

Your Wit is equal to 10 + your Intelligence modifier + your Charisma modifier.

Ardency (AR) measures the amount of social convincing or abuse you can withstand before either breaking or agreeing with someone. Ardency is overseen by the Wisdom attribute. It has three levels, depending on what a person is trying to be convinced to do- simple, moderate, and difficult.

Simple (S) AR is used for tasks that the target would ordinarily be willing to do, but may have a small reservation or two.
Moderate (M) AR is used for any suggestions that the target has a serious concern with, or is usually against one of their core principles.
Difficult (D) AR is used for anything that the target is normally against, and requires either extreme circumstances or threats, certain or believed, in order to convince them.

Your Simple Ardency is equal to your Wisdom modifier + your proficiency bonus.
Your Moderate Ardency is equal to your Wisdom score + your proficiency bonus.
Your Difficult Ardency is equal to twice your Moderate Ardency.

Like HP, Ardency has both a current and total amount. Unlike HP, Ardency starts any given argument at maximum, and lowers or raises any time a specific argument is brought up with them, even at different times and with different people. For NPCís, generally assume that they raise their current Ardency on any given issue at a rate of 1 for every day since the last time they spoke of it.

Ardency loss is typically performed with a d6 + the relevant attribute used in the skill that was utilized.

In an argument with multiple people on the same side, each side of the debate nominates an argument leader- typically the first person to speak. Use their Wit value for the argument at hand. If a character loses all of their Ardency before an argument is finished, they are either convinced by their opponent or at a loss for how to convince them and may not make any further checks against their opponent until the completion of the argument. They may choose to instead argue on behalf of their original opponent with their Ardency reduced by what they have lost thus far, but they are under no obligation to do so.
When an argument leader has lost all their Ardency but others on their side have yet to lose all of theirs, one of the remaining characters is chosen as the argument leader.

Likes, Dislikes, Interests, and Apathy can give boons or deficits to the persuader. They can reference specific skills, spells or spellcasting, concepts, people, things, or anything else.

If someone Likes something, then any argument that involves it gains advantage if spoken of in a positive way, or disadvantage if spoken of negatively.
If someone Dislikes something, then any argument that involves it gains disadvantage if spoken of in a positive way, or advantage if spoken of negatively.
If someone is Interested in something, then mentioning or referencing it removes twice as much Ardency.
If someone is Apathetic towards something, then mentioning or referencing it removes half as much Ardency, rounded up.

While Likes and Dislikes depend on the argument leader, each character in an argument uses their own Interests and Apathies to determine Ardency loss.

Example Argument-
The players have been granted an audience with the local king after slaying a dragon that had been menacing the kingdom. When they approach, a seneschal intercedes on his kingís behalf. He thanks the players for their help in ridding them of the dragon, but argues that the kingdom cannot afford to pay them anything beyond gratitude for their service.
The seneschal is now the kingís argument leader. He rolls a deception check against the party, who nominates their silver-tongued bard as their argument leader. He rolls a 14- a reasonably convincing argument- against the bardís Wit, a 15. The bard scoffs, pointing out that the very castle they stood in seemed to have a glut of gold and the peasantry seemed well enough off.
The fighter rolled impressively high on his Social Initiative, so he goes next. Wishing to emphasize his friendís point, he mentions that the kingdom is renowned for its wine trade, which certainly hasnít been suffering recently. He rolls a history check, and happens upon a subject that the seneschal likes, thus gaining advantage. This gives him a mighty 18, blasting right past the seneschalís Wit of 14. He then rolls a 4 on a d6 with a bonus +2 from his Intelligence modifier for using a history check, thus reducing the seneschal and kingís Ardency by 6 (4(d6)+2(skillís attribute modifier)).
The seneschalís Simple Ardency would have been surpassed, but this issue is not so simple as to be settled so easily- heís using his Moderate Ardency, as this is considered a day-to-day task for the crown and while they do not wish to part with anything, they could certainly manage well enough if they spared the players some coin. The king decides he does not need to speak yet, and lets his seneschal continue handling the players at the cost of a point of Ardency. Though impressed by their knowledge, he decides to change subjects and relate that the crown has plans to expand into the lands previously unavailable to them due to the dragonís roosting, and that they will need a fair bit of coin to do so. He rolls a nature check, managing a 16. This bypasses the bardís 15 Wit. He then removes 4 points of the partyís Ardency value.
The bard uses the same form of Ardency as his opponent, and thus is using his Moderate Ardency, which is a 13 at the start. Now at a 9, heís still not very convinced of the seneschalís argument. Going next, he decides to try simple persuasion by pointing out that rewarding heroes for saving the kingdom may invite other such deeds in times of need. He rolls his persuasion check, getting a 16, and gets past the seneschalís Wit. Next, he rolls for Ardency loss, removing 9 Ardency thanks to his high Charisma score.
With the seneschalís Moderate Ardency of 14 now depleted by 15 points, he is convinced that the players have the right of it. He looks to his king, and says that perhaps the crown can spare some small offering for its heroes. The king, however, has a Moderate Ardency of 18- he is not as convinced as his seneschal by the bard and fighterís honeyed words. He says he has no wish to make his kingdom awash in adventurers looking for glory and riches, and that he is losing his patience with them. He makes an intimidation check, scoring an 18. He deals a sizeable 10 Ardency loss due to his commanding Charisma.
The 14 Ardency loss is enough to deplete the bardís Ardency in its entirety, alongside the fighter (13 as well) and the rogue (at 14). They are cowed by the king, and at a loss for words. The partyís cleric, however, has a 17 Ardency, and as the last remaining player gets a turn. The cleric, who used to be an outdoorsman himself, decides to relate that their defeat of the dragon this time may not be final- other dragons and beasts may take roost where they slew the one, and that the occasional adventurer may be necessary to ensure the lives of the vintners he wanted to send there. He rolls a survival check, gets a 17, and bypasses the kingís Wit of 16. He deals a good 8 Ardency loss, but the king happens to not care what happens to his vintners- he is Apathetic to them- and only loses 4 Ardency. Still, with 19 Ardency lost, the king realizes he has no ground to stand on. In a huff and wishing to keep face, he agrees to the playersí terms.