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Ken Murikumo
2019-03-20, 01:53 PM
Some of the recent debates got me thinking about the non-combat parts of systems. I've played 3.5, pathfinder, dark heresy, anima, M&M (3e), burning wheel and world of darkness (very briefly); and to the best of my memory, these systems use a pretty simple skill check mechanic. Want to climb a mountain: give me a climb check; want to track a monster: give me a survival check; want to intimidate an NPC: give me an intimidation check; etc... Hell, even most social situations are handled with more roleplaying than dice and stats. (Just for the record, i think roleplaying social situation is totally fine and even reward players for doing it well.)

But combat is super robust. The majority of all (player focused) game mechanics, feats, advantages, class features, spells, and so-on are combat focused. Even utility ones sometimes include clauses about combat use just in case.

So, what kind of mechanics exist to make non-combat more robust? We could pad out simple checks with more checks (even combat boils down to rolling multiple checks for each action if you see the world in a super-uninspired kind of way), but this would artificially inflate non-combat aspects.

Im interested in constructive feedback & even in sub-systems from different games; just give a simple description of how it works and even an example if you choose.

Im just looking to broaden my horizon and not trying to start a war. We have a few other threads that briefly devolved into "I hate/love combat mechanics". We do not need another.

RifleAvenger
2019-03-20, 02:06 PM
This kinda falls under "more checks to pad things out" to an extent, but in Chronicles of Darkness 2e (aka New World of Darkness 2e) there's the Door system. Basically, short term (single skill roll) and long term social maneuvering are split.

Every character has X doors, the number of which are influenced by how amiable the NPC is to the request, whether it appeals to their Virtue or Vice or Aspirations, whether the requested action would be a breaking point on the ethics/sanity scales for them, and their Resolve or Composure (whichever is lower). The frequency at which you can even make attempts to open doors is based upon the NPC's impression of you; better impression lets you attempt more often. Impressions can be influenced by things like proper setting, mannerisms, and bribes/gifts.

The rolls required don't even need to be Social skills. You can do something like Computer Use or Academics to get/do something the NPC wants and that counts for a roll. Failing a roll makes future rolls cumulatively harder. Abject failures (either a Dramatic Failure or something like the NPc learning they're being conned) can drop impression level, and if it hits Hostile, you can't roll at all for the rest of the current story or they cease being Hostile.

Extreme player actions and hard leverage (gun to your head) can potentially immediately open doors, at the cost of burning bridges with that NPC whether you succeed or fail. There are also merits and many line-specific abilities that interact with the Door system.

Overall, I think it's an improvement over "I diplomance the king" when you're dealing with long term deals, politics, and major decisions.

Man_Over_Game
2019-03-20, 03:19 PM
One that I've seen used in 4th Edition DnD that works well are Challenges, but I've converted it over into 5e to make things simpler (4e can add a lot of unnecessarily complications).

The gist is, each Challenge has a score that the players, as a team, have to surpass. The Score can be visible or hidden, depending on whether the DM feels the players should know what kind of progress they're making (or if it's just a glorified dungeon problem tracker that's hidden).

Anyway, players make a skill and total their value towards the Challenge, and any future skills from the same player get half value. However, NPCs and other players can tag in.

A good example is a Dungeon Door, with a Goal of 100. The Door can be lifted, which can cause some damage to the mechanics, but overall won't provide more than 20 points towards the goal per character. Casting spells on the Door can also mess with the mechanics, with something like Knock causing a good 30 points towards the goal. Writings on the wall, if understood, give instructions on how to access the mechanics box.

The mechanics box is revealed after the players hit 50 points in any way (if they're messing around with the Door and reach this value, it's likely because they hear grinding coming from the hidden compartment) or if they happen to find it (with a good Search or by understanding the writings on the walls) and has lots of options to assist with opening the door, including smashing it (although it probably won't close again, leaving the path open for badguys to follow the players).

The longer it takes the players to get through the door, the more time is wasted, and the more risk it presents. After enough time, badguys may show up after enough futile attempts with instructions on their person, in order to drive the party forward while also forcing them to spend more resources that they wouldn't have had they been prepared for a Door Challenge like this.

-------------------------------

The overall idea is, have a Goal value that determines when the players succeed on the larger goal, and have benchmarks at certain points (50% to being finished, 25%, etc, or certain actions can shortcut the group to those thresholds) which reveals clues or some major change that progresses the players through a new part of the challenge, and taking too long results in a bad event that hurts the players while providing an obvious solution to their current mini-part of the overall challenge. Make sure to allow characters more value as individuals rather than one person just using a ton of different skills (perhaps the highest unique roll from each character gets double value), so that the entire team is incentivized to get involved or to have the players involve NPCs.

I like this system, because it's very adaptable to pretty much any tabletop.

Kaptin Keen
2019-03-20, 03:37 PM
It's because you're supposed to roleplay social interactions.

RifleAvenger
2019-03-20, 03:46 PM
It's because you're supposed to roleplay social interactions.If player acting skill was the end-all, be-all of dealing with social situations in game we wouldn't have social skills or Charisma/Presence/Manipulation etc. stats.

As is, social interaction is one of the few areas in tabletop games with rules where the rules are frequently ignored or supplemented by player ability. While I definitely don't want to run games where social interaction is a die roll and nothing more, it's also unfair to expect shy or socially awkward players to never play a face (or for GM's with limited concept of social complexities to not have a game foundation to fall back on).

Man_Over_Game
2019-03-20, 03:53 PM
It's because you're supposed to roleplay social interactions.

Scenario 1:
Player: *Gives a grand speech about the King's duty to protect the people, and how it can be affordable, and why it's deserved*
Proceeds to roll a total of 4 out of 20.
Player: "Or...not."

Scenario 2:
Player rolls 25
DM: "I don't want you to just roll to convince them. What's your pitch?"
Player: "I don't know, uh, 'Please help us?' That's why I have a high Charisma Bard, so that he can do things I can't."
DM: "Well, your speech wasn't very compelling despite the high roll, so they don't care too much about what you had to say. But you were very attractive while you said it".

Which of these is more acceptable?
Neither.
Roleplaying means being something you're not, and Fantasy means something that can't be, and you can't always be something you can't be in a Fantasy Roleplaying Game. For those moments, a good DM and a good ruleset should be your guide.


If player acting skill was the end-all, be-all of dealing with social situations in game we wouldn't have social skills or Charisma/Presence/Manipulation etc. stats.

As is, social interaction is one of the few areas in tabletop games with rules where the rules are frequently ignored or supplemented by player ability. While I definitely don't want to run games where social interaction is a die roll and nothing more, it's also unfair to expect shy or socially awkward players to never play a face (or for GM's with limited concept of social complexities to not have a game foundation to fall back on).

What he said.

MoiMagnus
2019-03-20, 04:16 PM
I would also advise variations over the 4e challenge skills.

Our group has a variation we called we use for investigations that works reasonnably well:
1) You have a map with big circles that correspond to locations like "market place", "palace", "old woods". (Or like "Material plane", "Faery", ... just adapt it to the scale of the challenge). And links between them to show that you can travel from one to the other.
2) You roll initiative as usally. Some of those challenges migth have ennemies.
3) Each turn, you get one travel and one action (Or two travels). You describe the action you want to do, and the DM might ask for a skill check. (The length of the action vary on the scale of the challenge, it can be 10min, 1h, 1 day, ...)
4) Success of the action might give: (a) Bonuses to future actions (b) One time bonus of a nature quantumly determined when needed (c) A "Success Point" together with informations to advance the plot (possibly revealing new zones)
5) Failure of an action might give: (a) Nothing (b) Some bad stuff happening (a new ennemy appear!) (c) A "Failure Point" and the plot advance negatively
6) When enough failure points or success points are present, the chalenge ends because we succeeded and have to pass to the next step (most likely a fight) or we failed and we have to deal with the consequences (most likely a fight).
7) Ennemies might during the challenge just give us some maluses, or actually threaten us. We don't trigger "fight" unless the full team is nearby, so the ennemies are either "defeated but some ressources/time is lost" or "escapted trough some skill checks", or "they capture the PC which failed to escape them".

We tried different stuff for purely social encounters, but nothing worked better than RP them.

jayem
2019-03-20, 06:17 PM
The one I think ought to work quite well is climbing (and general hostile travel).


For climbing you could have a grid of tiles that represent the mountain.

The borders between tiles have difficulties that vary according to your skills and loads.
You have equipment that you can use to heal/feed, or to assist in traversing some terrain (ropes, etc...)
You have weather that provides a variable attritive force (depending on location).

This then leaves the choice of:
all walk quickly along the narrow ledge with kit, hoping to reach the cave before the oncoming gale.
the fast one runs ahead (sans kit) to set up a rope, the rest then use this to help them when the gale starts
shelter in poor conditions till the gale passes

And if something goes wrong then that's the start of the choices.

Mark Hall
2019-03-20, 07:18 PM
It's because you're supposed to roleplay social interactions.

https://rpgcrank.blogspot.com/2016/12/d6-social-combat.html



Why Social Combat rules? While one might argue that people should be willing to play the rolls against them (acting intimidated when they fail a Willpower v. Intimidation check, or falling for it when someone Cons you, the fact is that success in Star Wars is largely binary. HOW do I act intimidated? What is the effect of being intimidated on interactions with the aggressor? Is there a difference between falling for a Con by 1 point, and falling for it by 20 points?

In short, social combat system exist to inform roleplaying, and provide mechanical advantages and disadvantages to mechanical acts. If you choose not to invest in Willpower and face someone with a high Intimidation skill, that choice should have consequences; likewise, if I choose to invest in Willpower, it should give me a meaningful advantage when facing interrogation over Bob, who has no Willpower... Bob shouldn't be able to say "Well, my character wouldn't be scared, no matter what the dice say!" and then do as Bob pleases anyway. I paid for my character to not be scared; Bob is just declaring his immunity by fiat.

https://www.kenzerco.com/forums/showthread.php?65943-Social-Combat-in-Hackmaster&p=1313805&viewfull=1#post1313805



Inevitably, PCs will fail social conflict rolls, either due to not beefing up their resist persuasion, or simple bad luck. They may argue that their character wouldnít do that, that THEY are not convinced so their CHARACTER is not convinced, or that it ruins the fun if something other than a magical spell can force their character to behave precisely as the player wishes. This is somewhat analogous to arguing that their character DIDNíT die because the orc drove a spear through their chest, because itís no fun if they have to do what they donít want their character to do. Hackmaster is a game of choices, consequences, and, occasionally, luck eating your character like heís a bar peanut. If you chose not to invest in Resist Persuasion or other social skills, then you are going to have a similar result in social conflicts to someone who chooses not to wear armor in physical conflicts. If you did invest in Resist Persuasion and have a horrible run of luck with the dice, well, sometimes even the dragon gets killed, and heís got armor for days and hit points for miles. But, being a game of fairness, Hackmaster has a few remedies for those who donít want to do what the dice tell them.

Slipperychicken
2019-03-20, 07:42 PM
So, what kind of mechanics exist to make non-combat more robust?

Clear conditions under which characters can complete their task without random elements. I like some of the general ones mythras gives.

The activity or task is very routine to the character
The character has enough time and all the tools necessary
The circumstances and environment do not impose any stress
There are no significant consequences to failure

Situations where character ability/skill level simply determines a result. Some video games do things like this

A crafter with 25 in a craft skill automatically produces a low quality item, 50 for medium, 75 for high, 100 for very high, etc
Hagglers may automatically achieve a discount determined by their skill level
A character with X skill trained (or Y background) automatically knows information, such as how to scope out the mission area without risk, and how to learn more about the antagonists

Rules for character relationships

Shadowrun contact rules - Each "contact" is defined by what they can do for the PC, how well-connected they are, and how loyal they are to the PC
OSR henchmen/loyalty rules
Monsters and Other Childish Things also has rules for relationships

Passions, as can be found in Pendragon and Mythras. They serve to represent character traits and deepen roleplaying. Sometimes they might be invoked at appropriate times to modify skills. For example, Lancelot fighting better when Guinevere is in sight would be represented by his Love(Guinevere) passion augmenting his combat skill. In those games passions and the increase they provide are represented numerically; one might have Loyalty(England) 60%, Hate(Abusers) 30%, and Despise(Saxons) 80%. They might also be used against a character; someone trying to act contrary to a strong passion could face a penalty or debuff rather than a bonus.

Other times when skills and background elements reinforce or augment one another (i.e. a character with skill in carpentry could get a bonus to a locale check to figure out how his main competitor is sourcing materials). It can encourage players to find ways in which their characters' past experiences tie into what they're doing at the moment.

Kaptin Keen
2019-03-21, 02:14 AM
If player acting skill was the end-all, be-all of dealing with social situations in game we wouldn't have social skills or Charisma/Presence/Manipulation etc. stats.

As is, social interaction is one of the few areas in tabletop games with rules where the rules are frequently ignored or supplemented by player ability. While I definitely don't want to run games where social interaction is a die roll and nothing more, it's also unfair to expect shy or socially awkward players to never play a face (or for GM's with limited concept of social complexities to not have a game foundation to fall back on).

It's like this: You don't need to be an actor. If you're not, you can instead explain how you're going to convince the villain of his wrongful ways, and guide him onto the straight and narrow - and roll the dice to support your interaction.

If, however, you're not an actor, and you're also incapable of putting into words what it is you want to do - which point you want to get across - then no amount of rules will save you. You should propably pick another hobby. Mind - I've never met someone who couldn't do both, frankly.


Scenario 1:
Player: *Gives a grand speech about the King's duty to protect the people, and how it can be affordable, and why it's deserved*
Proceeds to roll a total of 4 out of 20.
Player: "Or...not."

Scenario 2:
Player rolls 25
DM: "I don't want you to just roll to convince them. What's your pitch?"
Player: "I don't know, uh, 'Please help us?' That's why I have a high Charisma Bard, so that he can do things I can't."
DM: "Well, your speech wasn't very compelling despite the high roll, so they don't care too much about what you had to say. But you were very attractive while you said it".

Which of these is more acceptable?
Neither.
Roleplaying means being something you're not, and Fantasy means something that can't be, and you can't always be something you can't be in a Fantasy Roleplaying Game. For those moments, a good DM and a good ruleset should be your guide.

Same reply as above. You need to interpret the rolls, that's all. In social interactions, a failed roll doesn't need to be a failed action. And anyways, if you're not going to accept averse results, you propably shouldn't be rolling dice.

But say you give an epic speech. And roll a 4. That does not mean you didn't give an epic speech. Ok? Maybe it means your audience is harder than you expected. Maybe it means there's a provocateur among your audience who cleverly disrupted your speech, heckling you at all the wrong points.

Point is, you do give an epic speech - but it doesn't gain the traction you expected. For whatever reason.


https://rpgcrank.blogspot.com/2016/12/d6-social-combat.html

Yes. Someone else thought something about social interactions. His views don't change mind, and I don't argue with links.

Yora
2019-03-21, 03:56 AM
So does robust mean more complex?

Thinker
2019-03-21, 07:38 AM
Some of the recent debates got me thinking about the non-combat parts of systems. I've played 3.5, pathfinder, dark heresy, anima, M&M (3e), burning wheel and world of darkness (very briefly); and to the best of my memory, these systems use a pretty simple skill check mechanic. Want to climb a mountain: give me a climb check; want to track a monster: give me a survival check; want to intimidate an NPC: give me an intimidation check; etc... Hell, even most social situations are handled with more roleplaying than dice and stats. (Just for the record, i think roleplaying social situation is totally fine and even reward players for doing it well.)

But combat is super robust. The majority of all (player focused) game mechanics, feats, advantages, class features, spells, and so-on are combat focused. Even utility ones sometimes include clauses about combat use just in case.

So, what kind of mechanics exist to make non-combat more robust? We could pad out simple checks with more checks (even combat boils down to rolling multiple checks for each action if you see the world in a super-uninspired kind of way), but this would artificially inflate non-combat aspects.

Im interested in constructive feedback & even in sub-systems from different games; just give a simple description of how it works and even an example if you choose.

Im just looking to broaden my horizon and not trying to start a war. We have a few other threads that briefly devolved into "I hate/love combat mechanics". We do not need another.

I find the clocks from Blades in the Dark (free SRD link (https://bladesinthedark.com/)) to be an excellent mechanic that can be applied to most any other system. Clocks are basically used to either count up or count down to something happening. They're filled in when the players do things, though it doesn't always have to be a consequence of a roll. The GM can use a 4-count, 6-count, or 8-count clock to represent how complex a situation is. Think of a 4-count clock as a circle with four quadrants. At the beginning, they might all be empty and as you progress, they fill up. The clocks should generally be visible to the players. This raises tension.

Clocks can be used in several ways:

Danger -

Counting up: Let's say that the party is sneaking around the Duke's palace, you can use a clock to represent the raising suspicion of the guards. If the guards are mostly green rookies, the GM might say that it is an 8-count clock. As the players make their way through, anytime the players do something that makes a lot of noise or otherwise announces their presence, the GM counts up by filling in wedges on the clock. If the players fail a roll very badly or do something especially brazen, the GM might choose to fill in more than one wedge. When the clock fills up, the guards throughout the palace are on alert and are actively hunting the party.
Counting down: Conversely, the situation could start with the guards being on high alert - they've caught wind that someone is trying to break into the palace. The clock could start at full to represent their alert status. As they lower their guard due to time passing or even active distractions elsewhere created by the party, the clock empties. When the clock reaches zero, the guards are no longer on alert.
Multiple clocks: The GM might have multiple people on the lookout in the palace and could divide their alertness into different ways: There's the perimeter guards, who are the most vigilant so they might have a 4-count clock keeping watch for intruders. Then, inside, there's the staff who might not care much who is inside and so have an eight-count clock, the internal guards who might have a 6-count, and the residents who might also have a 6-count. An action that raises suspicion of the internal guards might not alert the staff and vice versa.


Convincing another -

For convincing another person, I normally use a pair of clocks - one that counts up and represents when the target will give in to what the player wants and another that counts down to represent when they're out of patience. So, if the player wants to buy the +5 Sword of Awesome from the retired adventurer who runs the smithy, he might have an 8-clock to fill up to convince the smith to sell up and a 4-clock that represents the smith's patience. The player might try any number of tactics - lying, intimidating, sweet-talking, offering to do favors, etc. The GM might decide that the 4-clock represents the smith's patience for any given encounter or it might be the smith's willingness to engage the player overall. The 8-clock might be for this specific encounter with the GM practically begging for the sword or it might be a long-running task where the player is doing missions for the smith to get access to the sword.


Racing -

The PC's are fleeing from the town guards so they have a clock that represents escape. There is another clock counting down that represents when they're cornered. The PC's are trying to fill up their clock - throwing things behind them, ducking through sewers, climbing fire escapes, etc. - and so every action they take toward that fills up their clock. Any setback they have would fill up the guard's chase clock - failing a climb roll up the slick wall, trying to pry open the stuck manhole cover, etc. Likewise, the guards' successes fill up their own clocks and their setbacks fill up the PC's. If the clocks fill up simultaneously, the PC's escape to a safe house or some such thing, but the guards are still in the area.


Crafting/Research -

Crafting and research are often long-term clocks. Anytime the characters have significant downtime, the player can come back to continue working on their research or whatever item they're building or crafting. You might have linked clocks here where the first clock is designing the crafted item, the next one is gathering resources, and finally building it.


Linked -

Linked clocks are clocks that rely on one another in succession. I already referenced this in crafting, but you can use it in other applications as well. Let's say you are trying to get support for a vote in the town council about whether or not to support The Dark Lord. You might have to convince multiple people, which each time you complete a convincing would fill another pip on the main clock. You could also try using it for a danger - the full compliment of guards won't appear until they've been put on alert three times.


Mission -

Clocks are ideal for time-sensitive missions. Things that waste time increase the clock. You could also use for multi-step missions. First, you have to travel across the plains, then through the underground cavern, then across the cliffs, then finally the boss's castle.


Tug of War -

This sort of clock is one that is filled by some events and emptied for others. For example, mistreated peasantry might have a clock representing when they start a rebellion that is filled when the Duke (or other aristocracy) is cruel and emptied when the Duke is kind.


Factions -

If you have factions in your game, clocks are a great way to track their progress toward their goals. It gives a visual indicator to you and to the players for how close they are to achieving their desires. That can be good in the case of the party's allies or bad in the case of their enemies.


Combat -

I know you didn't ask for combat, but I don't want to overlook some of the combat applications of clocks. They can represent when the enemy's reinforcements are arriving, perhaps they represent the resilience of the enemy's formation (and dropping that formation would give some bonus in combat), or maybe you want to represent a boss's special armor that offers damage resistance that can be broken. I've also used it for letting players try to get to the foe psychologically - "Your commander lied to you! Those children weren't possessed by demons!"

Mark Hall
2019-03-21, 09:29 AM
Yes. Someone else thought something about social interactions. His views don't change mind, and I don't argue with links.

It's my blog, Kaptain. Saying "You're supposed to roleplay social interactions" doesn't negate the usefulness of numbers in adjudicating the situation, nor that mechanical choices have mechanical consequences... both the choice to invest, and the choice not to invest.

Ken Murikumo
2019-03-21, 09:45 AM
in Chronicles of Darkness 2e (aka New World of Darkness 2e) there's the Door system.

That's interesting. Definitely good for interactions over long periods. A good use of non-social skill in a social environment and any player worth his salt could roleplay along with a system like that. The downside is it seems like alot of leg work to adapt. (not a bad thing, as i am quite passionate about TTRPGs)



The gist is, each Challenge has a score that the players, as a team, have to surpass. The Score can be visible or hidden, depending on whether the DM feels the players should know what kind of progress they're making (or if it's just a glorified dungeon problem tracker that's hidden).

I LOVE this! It's simple, engaging, and very easy to adapt! I will definitely be using this. Thanks!



If player acting skill was the end-all, be-all of dealing with social situations in game we wouldn't have social skills or Charisma/Presence/Manipulation etc. stats.

As is, social interaction is one of the few areas in tabletop games with rules where the rules are frequently ignored or supplemented by player ability. While I definitely don't want to run games where social interaction is a die roll and nothing more, it's also unfair to expect shy or socially awkward players to never play a face (or for GM's with limited concept of social complexities to not have a game foundation to fall back on).

I didn't want to write a novel for my OP, but if I did, it would have had basically this in it somewhere. This i agree with 100%



snip

Very interesting read. I haven't had time to go through it all, but the quotes you pulled out nail the social combat issue to a T.

It seems like a delecate balance of roleplaying and rollplaying needs to be achieved.



Clear conditions under which characters can complete their task without random elements. I like some of the general ones mythras gives.
&
Passions, as can be found in Pendragon and Mythras. They serve to represent character traits and deepen roleplaying.

Those are great examples, and the passion system is something i had never even considered. Thanks for making me aware of that!



snip

I understand you are clearly in the camp of roleplay and story above all else; frankly, there is nothing wrong with this. This is how you have fun. Personally, i feel, when you use a system with lots of character stats and abilities, your character sheet needs to represent what you portray. I cant expect that my barbarian can cast spells when the system does not give barbarians access to spells.

Touching on the epic speech thing, too. If the speech really was epic, then the character sheet should represent the ability to make epic speeches. If the character has a very low speech skill and rolls a 4, no amount of roleplay can justify how it was an epic speech. His character sheet and roll do not represent that outcome. I personally reward them later if they do this but i don't hinge the speech check on players ability to speak vs. the character's.

Me & Mine usually state our intent, then roll, then roleplay how the result comes out. It actually makes for a more fun time especially when you try to intimidate, flub the roll, then play along with it and try to coerce an NPC with "do it, or else" while punching your fist into your open palm.

On the other hand, i openly encourage freeform roleplay in situations where the players do not have to roll.



So does robust mean more complex?

No, just more options. Sometimes more options adds to the complexity, but that's unavoidable.

Man_Over_Game
2019-03-21, 11:10 AM
I LOVE this! It's simple, engaging, and very easy to adapt! I will definitely be using this. Thanks!

I cleaned it up a little bit to make the overall strategy a lot easier to follow with a summary at the end, so that it's a lot easier to convert to whatever system you're playing.

Dragons_Ire
2019-03-21, 11:41 AM
I want to give a shout out to one of my favorite systems, The One Ring.

The One Ring has three major systems: combat, travel, and encounters (social). The basic resolution mechanic is roll 1d12 + 1d6 per level of skill (up to 6) and total them, comparing them to a target number - usually 14.

Encounters work roughly as follows: The NPC has a tolerance rating (usually based on the players standing and wisdom or valor). The PCs roll various social skills as appropriate (Which ones work better depends on the NPC, some may automatically fail, e.g. rolling Awe vs. Elrond). When the players have failed a number of rolls equal to the NPCs tolerance rating, the conversation is essentially over. The players can keep talking to the NPC, but they have made up their mind. The result of the encounter is based off of how many successes the PCs rolled.

Travel is also pretty well fleshed out. Players roll a number of fatigue tests (using their travel skill) based on the journey's length, the terrain's difficulty, and the time of year. Failures with an 11 on the d12 (eye of Sauron icon) result in a Hazard episode, which is an additional skill challenge for one or more members of the party.

Combat is not nearly as complex as in most systems, though.

Slipperychicken
2019-03-21, 12:06 PM
Those are great examples, and the passion system is something i had never even considered. Thanks for making me aware of that!

Absolutely. Giving characters chances to simply have things work (i.e. [no roll] "he works the lock open in seconds because he is a well-seasoned burglar, not under immediate life-threatening pressure, and his tools are good") is very helpful for both perceptions of competence, and for players' certainty in what they can or cannot accomplish. It grounds the groups' understanding of the characters in a good and elegant manner.

Another place to find a mechanic for this idea is in ACKs, where a character's level of proficiency in a trade determines how much money they make in downtime, and how many apprentices they can handle to help them out.

In an ideal situation I'd consider having 3.x-style skill tables, but identifying some thresholds and examples of things which a character can do without rolling (i.e. lockpicking 1 = automatically open a simple lock with an hours' work, lockpicking 25 = ten minutes, 50 = one minute, 75 = ten seconds, 100 = one action), making it abundantly clear of course that it is a general idea and not a comprehensive list of what can be done. That can hand some power back to players in that regard. Character sheets could even have space for listing these capabilities if desired.

Particle_Man
2019-03-21, 12:22 PM
The Prose Descriptive Quality (PDQ) systems (including the game I love, Jaws of the Six Serpents, basically has both non-combat and combat mechanics be exactly the same, with your stats being self-described and applying wherever reasonable, but also each stat taking "damage" from failure and thus being less useful in that and future encounters until "healed". Thus if you are in a non-combat situation and take damage to a mechanic more useful in combat, that can hurt you in combat later on (and vice-versa).

NichG
2019-03-21, 01:41 PM
The thing missing from roll and done systems is the sense of strategy that comes from having a space of possibilities to maneuver through. Many of the things that make combat rich gameplay-wise have to do with things like positioning. Moves don't just have an intensity, effectiveness, or probability of success - they also have hard preconditions such as line of sight, range, awareness, etc.

That's why, mostly independent of system, a scenario like 'there is an archer firing down at you from a nearby cliff' immediately suggests a variety of complexities - can you get up there? Can you attack from range? Is there cover you could use to no-sell their attack? If you have to be out in the open, how fast can you get up there?

So to make non-combat systems richer, one way is to model preconditions for being able to do things that were previously roll and done, as well as things that don't just directly 'solve' situations but instead help maneuver around the space of preconditions.

You've got a social trick that forces someone into your control, but it has a precondition that they ask you for something first. Your legal expertise gives you a move that gets someone exiled from the kingdom, but only if you have a favor token with someone of greater social rank than them. You can defeat any security measure, but only if you saw someone go through it legitimately once.

kieza
2019-03-21, 05:36 PM
I give NPCs one of several personalities, such as:

--Craven Treacher: Intimidate checks automatically succeed, but only until the NPC leaves the presence of the Intimidator. Then the NPC actively works against them.
--Loyal to the Highest Bidder: The NPC can be bribed to break a bargain, but will first offer their partners a chance to match the bribe.
--Narcissist: Persuasion checks gain a bonus as long as they are phrased in a flattering way, but the NPC will readily break any bargain that doesn't involve a contract or witnesses.
--Paranoid: When a Deception check against the NPC fails, they now treat any non-trivial claim the Deceiver makes as a lie.
--Recklessly Violent: Intimidate checks cause the NPC to attack, regardless of success or failure.
--Stubborn: When a Persuasion check against the NPC fails, they make up their mind and further Persuasion checks against them automatically fail.

I hint at these personalities, but players can also learn them by spending in-game time interacting with the NPC ("talking about the weather") and then making an Insight check. This check also reveals if they have specific motivations, e.g. "defending the city" or "getting back their family's lost honor."

I made a list of about 20 personalities once, and naturally, I put it on a rollable table.

I like the idea of the Tolerance stat, though. I might borrow that.

Kaptin Keen
2019-03-22, 12:41 AM
It's my blog, Kaptain. Saying "You're supposed to roleplay social interactions" doesn't negate the usefulness of numbers in adjudicating the situation, nor that mechanical choices have mechanical consequences... both the choice to invest, and the choice not to invest.

I just don't argue with links.

And I believe I clearly stated that any social interaction should, at some point, involve a skill roll to determine level of succes - and that said skill roll should be informed on any number of things, be they having a sound plan, or good roleplaying, or any other factors that spring to mind.

But all that is neither here nor there. The rules for social interaction are somewhat vague ..... because you're supposed to roleplay it.

That's not a statement of my preferences, nor an opinion on how best to play. It's an observation on how and why the rules are the way they are.


Me & Mine usually state our intent, then roll, then roleplay how the result comes out. It actually makes for a more fun time especially when you try to intimidate, flub the roll, then play along with it and try to coerce an NPC with "do it, or else" while punching your fist into your open palm.

This is the interesting part of your reply (sorry, not saying the other bits were boring or anything, I just more or less agree with them).

I do the polar opposite. I ask players to tell me what they want to do, then roll - and I interpret the roll based on factors as explained above in my reply to Mark. And if a player is generally not good at doing epic speeches, he can still win, if the point he's trying to get across is common sense, and the audience is receptive, and so on. He will, of course, fail pitifully if he's trying to convince them to march off to war against a stronger opponent - unless he rolls an epic succes.

gkathellar
2019-03-22, 10:43 AM
Exalted 2E had an atrocious social combat minigame, probably the single best case I've encountered for not doing that type of thing.

In Legend, we tried to do something similar, but with less of a compulsory element. It was almost completely irrelevant and added nothing to the game that "roll opposed checks" didn't also provide.

One idea I've seen that I really like is allowing players to roll for an action first, and having them describe how they attempt it after they know if they succeed or fail. This isn't quite the same thing, but I do think it could contribute a lot to non-combat proceedings.

I second Thinker's comments on Blades In The Dark and clocks, but it's worth noting that BitD also bucks the trend on combat mechanics, using the same basic rules to describe all conflict. Basically, you declare you're going to do something, and then roll a d6 to determine if something goes wrong (about 25~50% of the time) and how bad the consequences are (variable, with a number of in-system ways to cushion yourself on consequences for particular actions as character options). That works exactly as well for a swordfight as it does for a negotiation between rival crime families, which is interesting. This is not unique to BitD - any game with a universal resolution system can do it - but I would suggest that such an approach is best realized with a system where players roll for effectiveness and consequences, rather than ability to perform the task (Wushu is another example of this design approach).

JeenLeen
2019-03-22, 03:00 PM
With all its faults, one thing I like about Exalted 2nd edition's rolling is Stunts.

For a social roll, you could just roll and see what you get.
Or, you could do a compelling speech/RP thing and get bonus dice.

I've also had my DM set the DC in part on what our argument was. We didn't have to actually spell out the argument, but if we just say "I don't know, we try to convince him" the DC would be higher.
This encourages RP without shafting socially inept players.

---

I think In Nomine handles social encounters pretty well, although my 'sample size' of experencies is low.
If you do a social thing, like Lying or Seducing, you roll. If you succeed, your check digit (a d6) decreases the ease of the target to resist (e.g., to see through your lies, or resist your charms). If you fail, they don't automatically see through your lies, but it boosts their Detect Lies roll.

I really like that, since in a lot of systems it seems like you can't lie at all unless you have put a lot of experience into the equivalent of Bluff. And, if you fail, you utterly fail. It has measures of failure that let it go from "you can't tell if they're lying or not" to "something seems dishonest, but it might be a half-truth" to "they are straightout lying". It is still subject to DM interpretation a bit, but it seems a lot better, and less random, than D&D.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-03-22, 03:33 PM
I find the clocks from Blades in the Dark (free SRD link (https://bladesinthedark.com/)) to be an excellent mechanic that can be applied to most any other system. Clocks are basically used to either count up or count down to something happening. They're filled in when the players do things, though it doesn't always have to be a consequence of a roll. The GM can use a 4-count, 6-count, or 8-count clock to represent how complex a situation is. Think of a 4-count clock as a circle with four quadrants. At the beginning, they might all be empty and as you progress, they fill up. The clocks should generally be visible to the players. This raises tension.

<snip>


I like this. I've used ad hoc versions of this for specific situations, but I may just steal the idea and refine it for my own use. I can just use it privately as a DM, even without trying to introduce it formally to the players other than "I'm keeping track of things you do, and various things may trigger as a result."

gkathellar
2019-03-23, 07:24 AM
Another noncombat thing Blades In The Dark does which is ingenious: heist-movie style flashbacks to reveal how you already prepared a contingency for some new complication. This allows players to get right into the action (violent or otherwise), without having to do the lunatic-TTRPG-players-trying-to-think-of-everything trope.

Really, BitD is the game everyone with an interest in this hobby should read, even if they don't play it. It's a giant collection of Good Ideas.

Thinker
2019-03-23, 07:58 AM
I like this. I've used ad hoc versions of this for specific situations, but I may just steal the idea and refine it for my own use. I can just use it privately as a DM, even without trying to introduce it formally to the players other than "I'm keeping track of things you do, and various things may trigger as a result."


Another noncombat thing Blades In The Dark does which is ingenious: heist-movie style flashbacks to reveal how you already prepared a contingency for some new complication. This allows players to get right into the action (violent or otherwise), without having to do the lunatic-TTRPG-players-trying-to-think-of-everything trope.

Really, BitD is the game everyone with an interest in this hobby should read, even if they don't play it. It's a giant collection of Good Ideas.

Blades in the Dark and Apocalypse World are both games that teach good GM-ing habits in general that can be applied to many other games, regardless of system. They both do a good job of codifying many GMing principles.

Hand_of_Vecna
2019-03-23, 11:56 AM
You mention Burning Wheel by name, I've played Mouseguard which is a lighter burning wheel and in that if non combat is bland it's on the DM. The game has two methods of resolution simple and extended and both can be done with any skill.

If you just need to knock out a single guard or win a barfight the gamemaster can decide that this can be determined with a simple check of fighting and the extended resolution is reserved for big set memorable fights.

The same applies to non combat. You can have an extended test which includes determining sides, rolling resolve and choosing and describing actions. A debate, a chase, fording a river or preparing a banquet could all be extended tests if the storyteller deems them to be critical.

Morty
2019-03-23, 12:03 PM
Exalted 3E's social system works on the basis of "intimacies", which are things that a given person cares about. They apply to PCs and NPCs alike. They're either beliefs or ties to groups and individuals. In order to convince anyone to do anything of consequence, you need to lean on an appropriately strong intimacy - they come in "minor", "major" and "defining". Even if you have the required intimacy, others might help or hinder you. They can be created, weakened, strengthened or removed through social interaction or just over the course of play. I've found them pretty flexible and robust.

As an example, if you want to turn a loyal officer against her liege lord, it doesn't matter how well you roll, because she has a major or defining tie of loyalty towards him. So you need to erode her loyalty or provide something equally strong that does support her turning on him in order to even have a shot.

Rhedyn
2019-03-23, 12:34 PM
Rules Cyclopedia (BECMI): Rules for dominions, guilds, clans, Wizard towers, and magic item creation. No skill system, which can be more robust than a bad skill system.

GURPS 4e: Instead of tons of checks, you have tons of skills. Being good at rock climbing is not the same thing as bring good at scaling buildings, but your rock climber is better at scaling buildings than someone who doesn't know how to climb (may or may not be real skill examples but you get the point).

Ars Magica: downtime and homework is a big part of the rules set.

Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine: I'm told it's basically an RPG for slice of life anime. I bought the PDF, but I haven't really read that much of it, nor do I understand the basics of how it's played.

Cliff Sedge
2019-03-24, 11:18 AM
Check out ICRPG (Index Card RPG) by Runehammer.

It uses an effort dice system. Accomplishing a task (combat or non-) requires doing a certain number of effort points. The dice you use depend on the tool or tactic that you use. Effort points are mechanically equivalent to hit points in this regard.

For a social encounter, you can say it takes only 6 points of effort to convince/ intimate/ haggle / seduce the NPC. Depending on how the player describes how this will be accomplished, the GM can decide which dice they get to roll for it.

Basically, it's a system that treats any task a player wants to succeed at identically, mechanics-wise. Whittling down an NPC's "personality resistance" works the same as whittling down a monster's HP.

Of course, this can (and in my opinion, should) be combined with an "attack" (attempt) roll vs a GM decided DC.

Look up Runehammer / Drunkens and Dragons on YouTube for further explanation.