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Player Character to Player Character interaction - Social Combat

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  • Player Character to Player Character interaction - Social Combat

    Hello everyone.

    To elaborate on the subject, this is something in my opinion that can cause a lot of issues because generally a lot GM/STs believe that players should not make social rolls against each other, which to my knowledge is something thats dates back from the earlier days of dnd. In my opinion when players are doing social interactions between each other with their characters, it's actually the player's own personal attributes, skills, talents, knowledges, etc. it gets based on rather the characters, even though it's their character they're roleplaying / representing. I'm aware that the the rules state that between roleplaying between players, for better of for worse, generally supercedes roleplaying, whether it be good or bad. However it's a rule in the game that I think is actually one of those rules that allows players to achieve various things in the game through social endeavors and efforts, that solely is based on the player's actual personal circumstances and performance, like attributes, skills, etc.

    Also, I would like to also emphasize on that any action the players do while roleplaying their characters, are actions that THEIR character does, not the players, which also includes social actions between player characters - social combat. So for instance player roleplaying his/her character trying to persuade another players character should be treated as a persuasion action, as it's the character trying persuade another character, not a player to trying to persuade another player.

    To give a few examples.

    Example #1
    Player 1 is exceptionally gifted socially, well spoken, very charismatic, knowledgeable, manipulative, can be very deceptive - the perfect schemer - player 1 is playing character A.
    Character A is not any of the things listed above, but the player plays this way, especially with/against the other players, who's characters might actually wouldn't have been persuaded, deceived, manipulated, etc. by the character, but player-wise is by player 1.

    See a problem? I do.

    Example #2
    We flip the above, so know it's the character thats able to do all of the things that player 1 could in the previous example, and the player thats not able to do any of those things. So in the social situations between the players where there are character to character social interaction (social combat if you will), the player is not able to achieve any of the above things in game in relation to the other players, where his/her character would've been able to do so.

    Again, it's the same type of problem.

    Example #3
    Player 2 is very intelligent and knowledgeable, but not always very good at expressing him/herself ie. making a good points and not really the persuasive type, even though the player is very knowledgeable and intelligent - player 2 plays character B. Character B is also very intelligent and knowlegdeable, but also good at expressing him/herself ie. the persuasive type. However despite the character being good at this, the player almost never convinces the other player's character of anything, due to the player lacking this skill personally.

    ..If we then flip example #3, then we have we have the same as in example #1, a player that it is able to do things character actually isn't and can get away with it simply because of that rule.

    Personally I feel that players should be a lot more bound by whats on their character's sheet, especially when it social interaction between players. I'm not saying there should made rolls constantly when there is being done social interactions between players, but I do feel that players needs to be kept in line of whats on their characters sheet rather than not. Also, I'm not advocating for something where you can just make a strong social type character and just steamroll the other players characters, to the contrary, but I do feel it's important that EVERY player is kept in line.

    This is how I think I think it could be handled without making anyone able to steamroll others.

    Generally, when the rolls are called for, it's to create a disposition towards whatever is put forth for the characters in question. The rolls are then interpreted and told to the individual players how their character would be dispositioned towards what was put forth. The ST can make note of this, to keep track of if the players are or aren't consistently playing their characters more in line with whats actually on the sheet.

    Example.
    There are 4 characters, 2 of them aren't any good at occult, one them dabbles or knows a fair amount and the last could be considered an occult expert. The occult expert puts forth a suggestion on how to deal with a supernatural problem (which the player might have had a hard time explaining or even knowing about) the coterie is currently facing, so it calls for a roll. The player tries to explain the idea/argument, which he/she was just told by the ST after rolling his Int+Occult where a good amount of successes were scored prior to the explanation - this explanation could easily have been told in secret in another room. The first two characters either don't get many success or they fail outright (not botch), the third character scores a good amount of successes but don't really beat the amount of successes that the occult expert got, and even if so it wouldn't necessarily change the outcome by much. But the two who failed or scored really low would be more inclined to agree (if any had botched their character's roll they would certainly agree), the one with the fair amount of occult knowledge would not necessarily agree due to the character being able to potentially spot holes in the occult experts argument. And if the character scored way more successes than the occult expert, then the character would be less likely to agree.

    In the example just above, the players are free to decide if their characters would actually agree or disagree, based on their character's disposition on what was put forth. The main point is that no one is actually forced to agree or disagree, but their characters disposition matters a great deal in relation to keeping the players more in line with whats on their character's sheet. Which also IF actually enforced would help build character, and not necessarily how we actually want it to. But remember it's a storytelling game - about personal horror.

    What do you guys think?

    Personally I think it's important to keep players in line with their characters, and these rolls help with achieving that. Plus also, it's way too easy to use your own personal attributes, skills, abilities, etc. where your character doesn't have these and thus abusing your personal advantages to gain an ingame advantage in relation to the other players with respects to player character to player character interaction (social combat). How would this be possible? Quite simple, the player can basically just sack the social skills, other skills and attributes he/she personally has and assign points differently, to become even stronger in other aspects. This gets exceptionally skewed if its a social heavy campaign with a lot of player character to player character interaction, where social actions never gets called a roll because it's between players.
    Last edited by Incarnate; 10-11-2018, 11:47 PM.

  • #2
    I think you are going way farther into this with dimishing returns.

    A smart and manipulative player will always have an advantage in games regardless what type of character they play. Your job as the ST is to occassionally bap them over the head when they try to get away with too much. A less insightful or devious player regardless of character is a lot like a young child, the ST/GM/DM always has to keep an eye on them. It's your job to every now and then give them hints or remind them of things in their favor. No amount of excess rules or mechanics will ever change this basic reality.

    Now as far as PvP social interactions, I go with the basic rule of thumb "what is best for the game" thus if it is in the best interests to flip a coin and who called it is the winner, so be it. On the other hand I am just as happy to have the two players role play the exchange and the one that actually makes the best role play arguement wins.

    The problem is that you can accidentally end up essentially punishing a smarter player just because some one else isn't good enough to be on the debate team.

    In the end if the group has fun with it, then it works. If you are really at odds with this notion, try talking to your group and see what they would suggest as an alternative. For all you know one of the players doesn't care that much about rolling out tons of dice just to win what amounts to a debate about chocolate vs vanilla.

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    • #3
      Make them roll but give extra dice to the one that makes the better argument.

      That way you are respecting the difference in social stats , making worth the investure in them instead of making it a dump stat but also rewarding the effort of your players.


      Hunger pool

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Incarnate View Post
        However it's a rule in the game that I think is actually one of those rules that allows players to achieve various things in the game through social endeavors and efforts, that solely is based on the player's actual personal circumstances and performance, like attributes, skills, etc.
        I don't see this as a large problem versus the payoff it provides.

        Also, I would like to also emphasize on that any action the players do while roleplaying their characters, are actions that THEIR character does, not the players, which also includes social actions between player characters - social combat. So for instance player roleplaying his/her character trying to persuade another players character should be treated as a persuasion action, as it's the character trying persuade another character, not a player to trying to persuade another player.
        The difference to me is that the way a character's autonomy is dictated in a player on player social roll situation (as opposed to say combat or relating with an NPC) is just fundamentally unsatisfying and unenjoyable. It isn't that I don't see your point, but the solution very often leads to something that isn't fun.

        Personally I feel that players should be a lot more bound by whats on their character's sheet, especially when it social interaction between players. I'm not saying there should made rolls constantly when there is being done social interactions between players, but I do feel that players needs to be kept in line of whats on their characters sheet rather than not. Also, I'm not advocating for something where you can just make a strong social type character and just steamroll the other players characters, to the contrary, but I do feel it's important that EVERY player is kept in line.
        And I would advocate for talking to players if they seem to be actly wildly out of sort from their character. There's no need for dice rolling to fix what seems like an underlying player issue.

        Generally, when the rolls are called for, it's to create a disposition towards whatever is put forth for the characters in question. The rolls are then interpreted and told to the individual players how their character would be dispositioned towards what was put forth. The ST can make note of this, to keep track of if the players are or aren't consistently playing their characters more in line with whats actually on the sheet.
        That seems reasonable. Though, I'd say a bit superfluous if you're about to note someone playing off-type anyway.


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        • #5
          I use a "carrot and stick" approach for social combat between PCs in my games, which tend to see a moderate amount of PvP.

          If the loser goes along with whatever the winner is trying to persuade or browbeat them into doing, they receive a small amount of XP.

          If the loser doesn't want to go along with the winner's browbeating, they can resist at the cost of 1 Willpower per difference in successes rolled. For example, if PC #1 rolls 5 successes to interrogate PC #2, and PC #2 rolls 3 successes not to crack, they lose 2 Willpower if they don't want to spill their guts. The winner receives the XP award instead of the loser (as "compensation" for having their better roll invalidated).

          My players have been pretty happy with this system so far. They appreciate how it allows them freedom of choice while still making dice pools matter, as high rolls provide strong incentive to go along with their results.


          Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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          • #6
            After 14 years of gaming, in 1998 I decided to approach these issues with the biggest carrot-stick I have: XP. My current approach to vampire chronicles -- an approach that has served me well for 20 years now -- is as follows:

            * Everyone gets one automatic XP per session, plus one additional XP at the end of each "Chapter" (usually 5-7 sessions).

            * The group gets one XP (each) if things move forward in some significant, interesting way, but *loses* one XP if they really don't. This helps everyone remember not to spend 3 hours debating whether to open the door or not. If things are just sort of meh in the game, then no point is given or taken.

            * Up to one XP can be earned by a player per session for moments of pure awesome. This must be endorsed by the other players at the table and approved by the GM. There's a cap of two per session (for two different players) on this type of XP.

            * Successfully negotiating a "climax" scene (fighting the big bad, negotiating the truce with the werewolves, whatever) can also get the group as a whole 1-2 bonus XP, but that's not *usually* the way my games are structured, so it's usually not an issue.

            * Then on top of that, there's 0-3 XP awarded for role playing. My players know -- because I tell them -- that "roleplaying" means playing their characters' nature, demeanor, IC knowledge, AND STATS. Thus, half (or more than half) of XP is based on the quality of role play. Player #1 in the example above would very quickly get VERY tired of getting 2-3 XP less than everyone else.

            I wield this tool unapologetically and without remorse. And like most correctives, it turns out that the more willing you are to bring down the hammer, the less often you actually have to do so.

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