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  • Questions about how and when to use the social combat rules

    I'm relatively new to Exalted, and I'm running a game with a group who are also new to the system.
    I have a few questions, and I'll probably need to ask a couple more as we explore the social combat system more.
    Hopefully you folks can point me in the right direction!

    1. I understand that to use the various social combat tactics available you need to work with or create intimacies for the target character, but I don't understand how the process of discovering intimacies is meant to work in-game. If a player wants to learn if an NPC has anyone they care about, then it seems very fourth-wall breaking for me to let them observe the NPC for a minute and then conclude that the NPC loves her wife more than anything (defining intimacy) or hates her boss (minor intimacy) if her wife and boss aren't even on her mind, let alone present.

    2. In a recent scene one of the players was impersonating an NPC and wanted to convince a group of guards that he really was the character he was impersonating. In the actual scene I felt his roleplaying was close enough to the real person that I didn't ask for a roll, but if he had been acting more out of character for that NPC, would that lead to a social combat situation (and if so, how would you model that?), or would it be purely an ability based roll (and if so, which ability, Larceny? Perform?)

    3. More generally, the players have often tried to trick NPCs by lying to them in order to get them to do what the PCs want or persuade NPCs with logical reasons why the NPCs should go along with their ideas. In cases like those should I be using the social combat rules? The players aren't trying to appeal to emotion/intimacies at all, they're using deception or logic. It's something that, depending on the target, could work well in real life, but I'm at a bit of a loss for how to handle this sort of thing in the game mechanics.

    Thank you for reading!

  • #2
    Originally posted by 99wattr89 View Post
    1. I understand that to use the various social combat tactics available you need to work with or create intimacies for the target character, but I don't understand how the process of discovering intimacies is meant to work in-game. If a player wants to learn if an NPC has anyone they care about, then it seems very fourth-wall breaking for me to let them observe the NPC for a minute and then conclude that the NPC loves her wife more than anything (defining intimacy) or hates her boss (minor intimacy) if her wife and boss aren't even on her mind, let alone present.
    Discovering intimacies is the job of the Read Intentions action (Exalted Core, p. 218). The important thing to note is that, while Read Intentions can generally pick out intimacies, it is limited (barring charms) to what can reasonably be determined. My rule of thumb is that the context of intimacies (e.g., "he loves someone" or "she has a Principle regarding moral behavior") is easier to determine than the target of a tie or exact definition of a principle, and that stronger intimacies are more likely to be potentially revealed in a scene than weaker ones. I assume defining intimacies are discoverable in any scene except where I think it would be completely unreasonable for them to come up, major intimacies are discoverable in any scene where the subject of the tie or principle they embody could come up, and minor intimacies are generally only revealed in scenes where the target of a tie or principle actually does come up.

    Also note, however, that the player has to choose the general category for Read Intentions, and if the NPC has no intimacies that relate to the category, you don't get anything (or, rather, you get "they don't have any intimacies that relate to that"). In a social scene, there might very well not be enough time to repeatedly Read Intentions to get all or even most of an NPC's intimacies, or repeatedly doing so might get you noticed as being unusually interested in scrutinizing someone (NPCs get their own Read Intentions actions to read a character's general intent in a scene, remember!).

    Originally posted by 99wattr89
    2. In a recent scene one of the players was impersonating an NPC and wanted to convince a group of guards that he really was the character he was impersonating. In the actual scene I felt his roleplaying was close enough to the real person that I didn't ask for a roll, but if he had been acting more out of character for that NPC, would that lead to a social combat situation (and if so, how would you model that?), or would it be purely an ability based roll (and if so, which ability, Larceny? Perform?)
    I probably wouldn't use the full social conflict rules for this, no. The initial roll to impersonate someone would be a disguise roll (Exalted Core, p. 224). The guards should get a (Perception + Awareness) roll to spot the character as a fake if they interact with them for more than 5 minutes, or if they do something you thought was out-of-character for the person they were impersonating (with a bonus if it was seriously out-of-character). I'd generally treat a good description on the part of the impersonator explaining the flaw as being a "retroactive stunt", adding the appropriate number of dice/successes to the original (Intelligence + Larceny) roll to disguise themselves, or boosting their Guile against attempts on the part of the guards to read their intentions and uncover sinister motivations.

    Originally posted by 99wattr89
    3. More generally, the players have often tried to trick NPCs by lying to them in order to get them to do what the PCs want or persuade NPCs with logical reasons why the NPCs should go along with their ideas. In cases like those should I be using the social combat rules? The players aren't trying to appeal to emotion/intimacies at all, they're using deception or logic. It's something that, depending on the target, could work well in real life, but I'm at a bit of a loss for how to handle this sort of thing in the game mechanics.
    Those sound like appropriate uses of the social influence mechanics, yes. Not all attempts to get someone to do something require intimacies to be leveraged. In particular, Bargain actions (Exalted Core, p. 216) usually depend on offering something the target wants in exchange (but doesn't have to have an intimacy towards), and Threaten actions are similar, except you're offering "do what I ask and I won't do this thing you don't want".

    Also, both lying and logic absolutely have their place when you are trying to leverage an intimacy. If someone has an intimacy of "I respect the Immaculate Order", then lying to them and claiming to be an Immaculate monk could certainly help getting that intimacy to help persuade them of something!

    A logical argument is useful, but if you're trying to get someone to actually do something (without reward), you'll generally need an intimacy to justify it in any case - logic is a tool, used to construct a good argument, but it still needs to be used with a "target". An argument isn't logical in a vacuum. Personally, I'd say that an argument constructed logically is probably one rolled with Manipulation as the attribute, because I generally define Manipulation-based social influence as being "about" the target, trying to find things they will believe and leveraging their motivations. That's what a good logical argument is to me, one that systematically explains why doing what you're asking will align with the target's own desires, and addressing objections.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by 99wattr89 View Post
      social combat
      Social influence.

      In addition to Read Intentions, and generally discerning the broad strokes of a character's Intimacies based on observing or learning about their actions and relationships, I think that there can be a lot of fun to be had from attempting persuasion from a position of ignorance, and discovering the extent of a person's motives and connections by feeling out how far they can be directed to act for any given subject.

      Originally posted by 99wattr89
      3. More generally, the players have often tried to trick NPCs by lying to them in order to get them to do what the PCs want or persuade NPCs with logical reasons why the NPCs should go along with their ideas. In cases like those should I be using the social combat rules? The players aren't trying to appeal to emotion/intimacies at all, they're using deception or logic. It's something that, depending on the target, could work well in real life, but I'm at a bit of a loss for how to handle this sort of thing in the game mechanics.
      A character's Intimacies still form the basis of whether or not they care about what you're trying to lie or argue for.

      An argument being logical is not incompatible with it being motivated by principle or emotional ties, because logic is not an independent thing, it's a system of reasoned priorities to achieve a desired goal. Making a logical argument about how to fight the Realm is only going to matter to a character who cares about fighting the Realm, or some consequence that they can be convinced will arise from doing so.

      What do you envision a logical argument that is devoid of Intimacies to even be?

      (I know Kelly is already saying most of what I am, and rather more comprehensively)


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      • #4
        Thank you very much for your very helpful response!

        Originally posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
        Discovering intimacies is the job of the Read Intentions action (Exalted Core, p. 218). The important thing to note is that, while Read Intentions can generally pick out intimacies, it is limited (barring charms) to what can reasonably be determined. My rule of thumb is that the context of intimacies (e.g., "he loves someone" or "she has a Principle regarding moral behavior") is easier to determine than the target of a tie or exact definition of a principle, and that stronger intimacies are more likely to be potentially revealed in a scene than weaker ones. I assume defining intimacies are discoverable in any scene except where I think it would be completely unreasonable for them to come up, major intimacies are discoverable in any scene where the subject of the tie or principle they embody could come up, and minor intimacies are generally only revealed in scenes where the target of a tie or principle actually does come up.

        Also note, however, that the player has to choose the general category for Read Intentions, and if the NPC has no intimacies that relate to the category, you don't get anything (or, rather, you get "they don't have any intimacies that relate to that"). In a social scene, there might very well not be enough time to repeatedly Read Intentions to get all or even most of an NPC's intimacies, or repeatedly doing so might get you noticed as being unusually interested in scrutinizing someone (NPCs get their own Read Intentions actions to read a character's general intent in a scene, remember!).
        How much supernatural or superhuman inference should be possible with good rolls? Could you observe an NPC and realise they live by a strict moral code if all they're doing is quietly reading a book? Could you tell any details? I'm very anxious about telling the PCs things that I can't reasonably justify them noticing, but I also don't want to make social combat impossible.

        If the player won't be able to determine the target of the intimacy in a lot of contexts (such as who the person an NPC loves is, if that person isn't present or being discussed), does that mean that PCs should be expected to spend time preparing in advance of important social combat scenarios, looking into the connections and background of the target?


        Originally posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
        I probably wouldn't use the full social conflict rules for this, no. The initial roll to impersonate someone would be a disguise roll (Exalted Core, p. 224). The guards should get a (Perception + Awareness) roll to spot the character as a fake if they interact with them for more than 5 minutes, or if they do something you thought was out-of-character for the person they were impersonating (with a bonus if it was seriously out-of-character). I'd generally treat a good description on the part of the impersonator explaining the flaw as being a "retroactive stunt", adding the appropriate number of dice/successes to the original (Intelligence + Larceny) roll to disguise themselves, or boosting their Guile against attempts on the part of the guards to read their intentions and uncover sinister motivations.
        So rather than having the PC roll dice based on their social skills when they start interacting, I can have the guards roll against the PC's guile instead and their roleplay can stunt Guile rather than an active roll! Thank you for a great summary here!


        Originally posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
        Those sound like appropriate uses of the social influence mechanics, yes. Not all attempts to get someone to do something require intimacies to be leveraged. In particular, Bargain actions (Exalted Core, p. 216) usually depend on offering something the target wants in exchange (but doesn't have to have an intimacy towards), and Threaten actions are similar, except you're offering "do what I ask and I won't do this thing you don't want".

        Also, both lying and logic absolutely have their place when you are trying to leverage an intimacy. If someone has an intimacy of "I respect the Immaculate Order", then lying to them and claiming to be an Immaculate monk could certainly help getting that intimacy to help persuade them of something!

        A logical argument is useful, but if you're trying to get someone to actually do something (without reward), you'll generally need an intimacy to justify it in any case - logic is a tool, used to construct a good argument, but it still needs to be used with a "target". An argument isn't logical in a vacuum. Personally, I'd say that an argument constructed logically is probably one rolled with Manipulation as the attribute, because I generally define Manipulation-based social influence as being "about" the target, trying to find things they will believe and leveraging their motivations. That's what a good logical argument is to me, one that systematically explains why doing what you're asking will align with the target's own desires, and addressing objections.
        Based on what you're saying I think that I should encourage the PCs to try to focus towards one of those 3 in their action, rather than things playing out more like a debate.

        Where I'm particularly fuzzy is when it's hard to say which action to aim at.
        Can a bargain include things like 'I know you don't like me, but if you let me do it my way we're more likely to get results, and that helps us both'?
        Or would that be better handled as trying to persuade the NPC to carry out a task, even though they don't really 'do' anything?
        Or is it an attempt to instill an intimacy of trust towards the PC/weaken a distruct intimacy (and so potentially not be possible of the target dislikes the PCs a lot)?

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        • #5
          Thank you for your reply too, it definitely adds a very useful second perspective!

          Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

          Social influence.

          In addition to Read Intentions, and generally discerning the broad strokes of a character's Intimacies based on observing or learning about their actions and relationships, I think that there can be a lot of fun to be had from attempting persuasion from a position of ignorance, and discovering the extent of a person's motives and connections by feeling out how far they can be directed to act for any given subject.



          A character's Intimacies still form the basis of whether or not they care about what you're trying to lie or argue for.

          An argument being logical is not incompatible with it being motivated by principle or emotional ties, because logic is not an independent thing, it's a system of reasoned priorities to achieve a desired goal. Making a logical argument about how to fight the Realm is only going to matter to a character who cares about fighting the Realm, or some consequence that they can be convinced will arise from doing so.

          What do you envision a logical argument that is devoid of Intimacies to even be?

          (I know Kelly is already saying most of what I am, and rather more comprehensively)
          Discovering intimacies as the PCs try to get their way is a really interesting thought - I was picturing a flow where you first identify intimacies, then determine a course of action, then execute it, but having to try without having all the info and think and redirect things as they go would definitely liven social influence situations up a lot!

          I've been thinking of intimacies as being inherently emotive, but your approach to how to tie them to logic makes a lot of sense - I think I better see how to handle a PC maknig a logical argument without targeting an intimacy - by trying to identify an intimacy that is benefited by the facts presented in the logical argument.

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          • #6
            Some additional things to consider:

            Don't be afraid to talk to your players. Exalted, generally, works better with a large degree of transparency and communication at the table. Especially when you start factoring Charms in, the player(s) might not want to handwave past something like that bluffing the guards situation; maybe there's a Charm reset condition they want to hit, or they might think of a clever use of a social Charm once they guards believe they're the NPC. There is nothing wrong with just saying, "Hey, with your RP, do you just want to skip any rolls with these guards and move farther along, or break out the dice and take the Stunt bonus?" You get to communicate that you're not really planning on having the guards be a further obstacle at this point, and the players is basically picking their reward; narrate past an obstacle as a sure thing without needing to worry about bad dice rolls or spending resources they might want later, or getting a boost if they want to get the dice out.

            On more a more social specific front, remember that humans don't actually respond that well to logic if you're trying to get them to do something they weren't already very inclined to do. Most people aren't well trained to know the difference between an argument that sounds good, and an argument that is good, so they rely on their preconceptions, beliefs, and experiences to guide their responses. Or in Exalted terms... they rely on their Intimacies. If the logic conforms to their way of thinking, they'll see it as convincing, and not if not.

            Lying isn't that different. It's a lot easier to get someone to buy into a lie that comports with what someone thinks is true, than getting them to really believe something that doesn't mesh with their world view.

            The method here really shouldn't determine if you use the social conflict rules or not as the ST. The results do. Think about what the goal of the action is. If the players are trying to lie about something they're concealing on their person in the hopes a passing suspicious guard goes away? The goal is concealment, and should probably go to the Crimes and Investigations systems if not just be a freeform roll. The guard is going to walk away on their own without the players doing anything as long as the players don't give the guard reason to snoop more. If the characters are maybe too red-handed for their skills and their goal shifts to convincing the guard to go away.. then we break out the social conflict rules; because the goal is to get the guard to do something the guard wouldn't be doing on their own.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
              Some additional things to consider:

              Don't be afraid to talk to your players. Exalted, generally, works better with a large degree of transparency and communication at the table. Especially when you start factoring Charms in, the player(s) might not want to handwave past something like that bluffing the guards situation; maybe there's a Charm reset condition they want to hit, or they might think of a clever use of a social Charm once they guards believe they're the NPC. There is nothing wrong with just saying, "Hey, with your RP, do you just want to skip any rolls with these guards and move farther along, or break out the dice and take the Stunt bonus?" You get to communicate that you're not really planning on having the guards be a further obstacle at this point, and the players is basically picking their reward; narrate past an obstacle as a sure thing without needing to worry about bad dice rolls or spending resources they might want later, or getting a boost if they want to get the dice out.

              On more a more social specific front, remember that humans don't actually respond that well to logic if you're trying to get them to do something they weren't already very inclined to do. Most people aren't well trained to know the difference between an argument that sounds good, and an argument that is good, so they rely on their preconceptions, beliefs, and experiences to guide their responses. Or in Exalted terms... they rely on their Intimacies. If the logic conforms to their way of thinking, they'll see it as convincing, and not if not.

              Lying isn't that different. It's a lot easier to get someone to buy into a lie that comports with what someone thinks is true, than getting them to really believe something that doesn't mesh with their world view.

              The method here really shouldn't determine if you use the social conflict rules or not as the ST. The results do. Think about what the goal of the action is. If the players are trying to lie about something they're concealing on their person in the hopes a passing suspicious guard goes away? The goal is concealment, and should probably go to the Crimes and Investigations systems if not just be a freeform roll. The guard is going to walk away on their own without the players doing anything as long as the players don't give the guard reason to snoop more. If the characters are maybe too red-handed for their skills and their goal shifts to convincing the guard to go away.. then we break out the social conflict rules; because the goal is to get the guard to do something the guard wouldn't be doing on their own.
              Thank you for your reply! I'm going to have to remember when 'giving' the PCs the win to let them have the option of playing out a victory with some dice if they have a mechanical goal.

              I feel like something really clicked for me when you mentioned the idea that a lot of NPCs won't actually engage with the logical reasoning of an argument if it goes against what they're inclined to do! I think this has been a blind spot for my players and I, as we're all quite literal and logically-oriented people. I think I also better understand why intimacies are generally the 'only' way to get anywhere. Perhaps you could potentially model a person who really does listen to an engages with your argument's logic or your lie (even if they weren't inclined to do what you wanted) as having an intimacy relating to logic, debate, truth or something like that.

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              • #8
                I will say that, applying the Orichalcum/Golden rule, there might be occasions in which its reasonable to model a character's approach to influence by rolling some stats besides the social ones.

                Not on all occasions, not as a default alternative, but if it's a circumstance where one intends to go for a character laying out a sequence of pros and cons and elaborating on how they can serve another character's purposes, something like Intelligence + Lore feels valid to me.

                Just because you're describing some scenarios and personalities in which modelling with things like Charisma and Presence don't feel altogether satisfactory.

                Although... that might be better suited to using the Lore rules to introduce facts, and then those facts can be used as the basis for giving credibility to a more conventional social roll. I think... that might get a bit more heft, since it's harnessing Lore's big mechanical hook in this Edition.


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                • #9
                  Introducing facts and then leaning on them for a social roll seems to make sense. After all, part of presenting the facts to somebody is... well, presenting them. The same facts might get through to more people depending on your capacity to effectively communicate them, which doesn't necessarily correspond to one's intellect.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 99wattr89 View Post
                    How much supernatural or superhuman inference should be possible with good rolls?
                    This is a tricky question! You don't want to give away too much information on a regular Read Intentions roll, because that tends to make charms rather redundant. On the other hand, you don't want to invalidate the actual skill of the PC, either. While (Solar) charms are, of course, supposed to represent skill too, I find that there's still some distinction in how it feels to just roll (Ability + Attribute), possibly with some Excellency dice, vs. explicitly activating a charm.

                    All that said...

                    Originally posted by 99wattr89
                    Could you observe an NPC and realise they live by a strict moral code if all they're doing is quietly reading a book? Could you tell any details?
                    If it was a defining moral principle, yes, I'd probably allow you to find out that the intimacy existed. Consider the following description, and see if it makes sense to you:

                    "As you watch, Sesus Ravila sits down under the tree in the park, opens a novel, and begins reading at her bookmark. She doesn't appear to have noticed you. As she reads, you can see small expressions cross her face - a smile at a pleasant interaction, a chuckle at a particularly funny turn of phrase. Then, as she continues reading, her face clouds, a frown developing. After a few more pages, the frown gets deeper, and finally she twists her lip in obvious disgust. She closes the book, sighs in disappointment, and gets up to leave, leaving it behind on the grass."

                    I think it would be reasonable, from that description, to deduce that she does have a moral code of some sort, which was offended by what she just read. Now, details of that code are another matter. I wouldn't give out details based on just that scene I just narrated, just that a code exists. However, if you could steal the book and figure out what she was reading, you might have a shot!

                    Originally posted by 99wattr89
                    I'm very anxious about telling the PCs things that I can't reasonably justify them noticing, but I also don't want to make social combat impossible.
                    I'd err on the side of letting them know intimacies, personally. NPCs have Guile to disguise that, and if they're supernatural beings, they probably have charms to help with this kind of thing as well. Use those, if you're concerned about the PCs learning too much. Bear in mind, though, that if you never give out anything useful, it kind of downgrades the investment players have made in Socialize.


                    Originally posted by 99wattr89
                    If the player won't be able to determine the target of the intimacy in a lot of contexts (such as who the person an NPC loves is, if that person isn't present or being discussed), does that mean that PCs should be expected to spend time preparing in advance of important social combat scenarios, looking into the connections and background of the target?
                    For important characters, I would say absolutely the PCs should be planning and preparing, yeah! This is something real-life persuaders do in real life, so I'd expect skilled characters in Exalted to do the same. Bear in mind there's explicitly a Guile penalty for someone who thinks they're unobserved, which suggests to me that PCs are expected to be trying to sneakily observe others and do Read Intentions on them - it's something the game expects to happen.

                    Originally posted by 99wattr89
                    Based on what you're saying I think that I should encourage the PCs to try to focus towards one of those 3 in their action, rather than things playing out more like a debate.
                    Yeah, Persuade, Bargain, and Threaten are the big ones to use when you're actively trying to convince someone to do something. The other social actions tend to support those three in some way.

                    Originally posted by 99wattr89
                    Where I'm particularly fuzzy is when it's hard to say which action to aim at.
                    Can a bargain include things like 'I know you don't like me, but if you let me do it my way we're more likely to get results, and that helps us both'?
                    Or would that be better handled as trying to persuade the NPC to carry out a task, even though they don't really 'do' anything?
                    Or is it an attempt to instill an intimacy of trust towards the PC/weaken a distruct intimacy (and so potentially not be possible of the target dislikes the PCs a lot)?
                    I'd probably handle an argument like that as a Persuade action, trying to leverage an intimacy relating to practicality or reasonableness. However, it could easily be a bargain action as well, depending on how its stunted. It's usually reasonable to let the player decide exactly what sort of action they're attempting, as long as there's a reasonable description. Here's some rules of thumb I use to figure out which action is which, though:
                    • A Persuade action involves a target's intimacies in some way - it assumes that there's something the target either likes or doesn't like on an emotional level, and brings that up.
                    • A Bargain action will generally involve offering some kind of concrete reward, that the person making the argument can believably deliver.
                    • A Threaten action, as I said before, is kind of the opposite of Bargain, in that it involves the person making the offer plausibly promising not to do something, in exchange for the target's cooperation.
                    So, the "do it my way, and we'll both benefit" is more of a Persuade action to me, because unlike Bargain, it doesn't involve the talking character offering anything concrete, and even if they do spell out specifically how it benefits the target, it's still not something they're really delivering, being more a benefit of the situation as a whole. To be a Bargain, I'd expect the argument to be more along the lines of "Look, I know you don't like me, but if you agree to do it my way, I promise I'll give you that thing you want".

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                    • #11
                      One thing that hasn't really been pointed out yet is that players don't have to actually know a target's intimacies to take advantage of them. So it's perfectly okay for them to make a guess based on what they know about the character and hope that they hit an intimacy. People usually have positive intimacies towards others who they work with or who help them, and negative intimacies towards people who cause problems for them. Dynasts likely have intimacies to the Realm and their great house, and so on. Sure, sometimes you'll run into that dynast who is exiled to the threshold because he's on poor terms with his house, but anyone that the players have had much interaction with they can probably guess an intimacy or two of.

                      Another thing to keep in mind is that Read Intentions doesn't have to be used passively. You could stunt a read intentions action to find out who someone is in love with as bragging about how much more beautiful/clever/wealthy your love is than everyone in an attempt to egg your target into challenging your claim and namedropping their love. Or just making small-talk and subtly steering the conversation in a direction that might make them react in a way that would clue you in. Depending how subtle you are, this may make it easier for others to figure out that you are investigating something, but it also broadens the sorts of things you can reasonably find out a great deal.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Wandering View Post
                        One thing that hasn't really been pointed out yet is that players don't have to actually know a target's intimacies to take advantage of them. So it's perfectly okay for them to make a guess based on what they know about the character and hope that they hit an intimacy.
                        I pointed it out. In the second reply of the thread.


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                        • #13
                          You also don’t need to target intimacies that directly support your argument either. If you’re trying to convince someone to take up arms against the Realm “I hate the Realm and all it stands for.” Isn’t required. If they have an intimacy of “I respect and honour my ancestors.” You could try to tell them that the Realm is nearby, and soon they’ll come for them, destroying their heritage and subjugating the nation their ancestors built! So they must fight!

                          Of course you could also be a Realm diplomat and tell them that if they make war on the Realm they will he crushed, and the empire will raze everything their ancestors built to the ground. For the sake of their legacy, do not plunge your nation into fruitless war and ruin!


                          Which of those is logical? It’s debatable. But a good exalt can make either of those statements feel like a universal truth.

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                          • #14
                            I’m sorry I didn’t directly reply to some folks sooner, allow me to correct that. And what a treasure trove of advice I’ve come back to, you folks could write a book on this!

                            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                            I will say that, applying the Orichalcum/Golden rule, there might be occasions in which its reasonable to model a character's approach to influence by rolling some stats besides the social ones.

                            Not on all occasions, not as a default alternative, but if it's a circumstance where one intends to go for a character laying out a sequence of pros and cons and elaborating on how they can serve another character's purposes, something like Intelligence + Lore feels valid to me.

                            Just because you're describing some scenarios and personalities in which modelling with things like Charisma and Presence don't feel altogether satisfactory.

                            Although... that might be better suited to using the Lore rules to introduce facts, and then those facts can be used as the basis for giving credibility to a more conventional social roll. I think... that might get a bit more heft, since it's harnessing Lore's big mechanical hook in this Edition.
                            Thank you for your reply! It makes sense to sometimes deviate from the traditional pool as you say, but this thread has helped a lot with showing me how to avoid that becoming the norm. If my players had their way they’d probably use pure logic in every social encounter, like a team of wuxia vulcans.

                            Originally posted by Beans View Post
                            Introducing facts and then leaning on them for a social roll seems to make sense. After all, part of presenting the facts to somebody is... well, presenting them. The same facts might get through to more people depending on your capacity to effectively communicate them, which doesn't necessarily correspond to one's intellect.
                            This is definitely something I need to suggest to my players, as you and Islator Levi say! I really like the idea of nudging my players towards using Lore to boost social rolls!

                            Originally posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post

                            This is a tricky question! You don't want to give away too much information on a regular Read Intentions roll, because that tends to make charms rather redundant. On the other hand, you don't want to invalidate the actual skill of the PC, either. While (Solar) charms are, of course, supposed to represent skill too, I find that there's still some distinction in how it feels to just roll (Ability + Attribute), possibly with some Excellency dice, vs. explicitly activating a charm.

                            All that said...


                            If it was a defining moral principle, yes, I'd probably allow you to find out that the intimacy existed. Consider the following description, and see if it makes sense to you:

                            "As you watch, Sesus Ravila sits down under the tree in the park, opens a novel, and begins reading at her bookmark. She doesn't appear to have noticed you. As she reads, you can see small expressions cross her face - a smile at a pleasant interaction, a chuckle at a particularly funny turn of phrase. Then, as she continues reading, her face clouds, a frown developing. After a few more pages, the frown gets deeper, and finally she twists her lip in obvious disgust. She closes the book, sighs in disappointment, and gets up to leave, leaving it behind on the grass."

                            I think it would be reasonable, from that description, to deduce that she does have a moral code of some sort, which was offended by what she just read. Now, details of that code are another matter. I wouldn't give out details based on just that scene I just narrated, just that a code exists. However, if you could steal the book and figure out what she was reading, you might have a shot!
                            I think that’s a fantastic illustration that makes perfect sense to me – getting imaginative and being elaborate with the descriptions brings a lot more plausibility and a sense of reality to the interaction, in a way that just saying ‘from how she reads it’s clear she lives by a strict moral code’ doesn’t. And what a fun idea that would be for a gameplay moment that could never come up in other systems!

                            Originally posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
                            I'd err on the side of letting them know intimacies, personally. NPCs have Guile to disguise that, and if they're supernatural beings, they probably have charms to help with this kind of thing as well. Use those, if you're concerned about the PCs learning too much. Bear in mind, though, that if you never give out anything useful, it kind of downgrades the investment players have made in Socialize.
                            That makes sense, as in your excellent example earlier, I think the solution will be creativity and elaboration on how the PCs learned what they did – and a rugged defense when there are things that I hope for them not to learn too easily.

                            Originally posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
                            For important characters, I would say absolutely the PCs should be planning and preparing, yeah! This is something real-life persuaders do in real life, so I'd expect skilled characters in Exalted to do the same. Bear in mind there's explicitly a Guile penalty for someone who thinks they're unobserved, which suggests to me that PCs are expected to be trying to sneakily observe others and do Read Intentions on them - it's something the game expects to happen.
                            That also dovetails nicely with both the nature of the observations we talked about in the example scene and the otherwise very momentary nature of social interactions – by incorporation research, espionage and the like into social interactions the system seems a lot more well-rounded and complete.

                            Originally posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
                            Yeah, Persuade, Bargain, and Threaten are the big ones to use when you're actively trying to convince someone to do something. The other social actions tend to support those three in some way.

                            I'd probably handle an argument like that as a Persuade action, trying to leverage an intimacy relating to practicality or reasonableness. However, it could easily be a bargain action as well, depending on how its stunted. It's usually reasonable to let the player decide exactly what sort of action they're attempting, as long as there's a reasonable description. Here's some rules of thumb I use to figure out which action is which, though:
                            • A Persuade action involves a target's intimacies in some way - it assumes that there's something the target either likes or doesn't like on an emotional level, and brings that up.
                            • A Bargain action will generally involve offering some kind of concrete reward, that the person making the argument can believably deliver.
                            • A Threaten action, as I said before, is kind of the opposite of Bargain, in that it involves the person making the offer plausibly promising not to do something, in exchange for the target's cooperation.

                            So, the "do it my way, and we'll both benefit" is more of a Persuade action to me, because unlike Bargain, it doesn't involve the talking character offering anything concrete, and even if they do spell out specifically how it benefits the target, it's still not something they're really delivering, being more a benefit of the situation as a whole. To be a Bargain, I'd expect the argument to be more along the lines of "Look, I know you don't like me, but if you agree to do it my way, I promise I'll give you that thing you want".
                            Ahhh, the phrasing differences really clarify the situation and the difference. I’m seeing now how much more roleplay-focused the use of the system is – in systems like D&D the words the players choose tends to just give a modifier on the roll – where as here we need to take a much more holistic approach, with the mechanics and the roleplaying being inextricably linked.
                            Thank you once again!

                            Originally posted by Wandering View Post
                            One thing that hasn't really been pointed out yet is that players don't have to actually know a target's intimacies to take advantage of them. So it's perfectly okay for them to make a guess based on what they know about the character and hope that they hit an intimacy. People usually have positive intimacies towards others who they work with or who help them, and negative intimacies towards people who cause problems for them. Dynasts likely have intimacies to the Realm and their great house, and so on. Sure, sometimes you'll run into that dynast who is exiled to the threshold because he's on poor terms with his house, but anyone that the players have had much interaction with they can probably guess an intimacy or two of.

                            Another thing to keep in mind is that Read Intentions doesn't have to be used passively. You could stunt a read intentions action to find out who someone is in love with as bragging about how much more beautiful/clever/wealthy your love is than everyone in an attempt to egg your target into challenging your claim and namedropping their love. Or just making small-talk and subtly steering the conversation in a direction that might make them react in a way that would clue you in. Depending how subtle you are, this may make it easier for others to figure out that you are investigating something, but it also broadens the sorts of things you can reasonably find out a great deal.
                            I think my players have been afraid to try to act on unknown intimacies, but this is a great illustration of when a guess can be worthwhile – and if the guess misses the mark that can also be revealing and interesting!

                            The example of a creative stunt to draw out otherwise impossible or unfeasible amounts of information is also really helpful – as is the idea that you can potentially risk other negative effects to get more info! Thank you!

                            Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                            You also don’t need to target intimacies that directly support your argument either. If you’re trying to convince someone to take up arms against the Realm “I hate the Realm and all it stands for.” Isn’t required. If they have an intimacy of “I respect and honour my ancestors.” You could try to tell them that the Realm is nearby, and soon they’ll come for them, destroying their heritage and subjugating the nation their ancestors built! So they must fight!

                            Of course you could also be a Realm diplomat and tell them that if they make war on the Realm they will he crushed, and the empire will raze everything their ancestors built to the ground. For the sake of their legacy, do not plunge your nation into fruitless war and ruin!


                            Which of those is logical? It’s debatable. But a good exalt can make either of those statements feel like a universal truth.
                            This is an excellent point – thank you!

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                            • #15
                              The funny thing about Vulcans, and one of the ways that Star Trek gets logic correct, is that they're often portrayed as being fairly good at figuring out what makes other people tick and what they value, and appealing to those directly.

                              That applies even between Vulcans; different ones have different values, preferences and priorities. They can even disagree on what is a logical pursuit or course of action.


                              I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                              Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                              https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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