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  • #16
    Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
    Aspirations seem like a headache to be honest. It's too soon to tell this early into the read, but I have a feeling I'll put some restriction on aspirations to only represent the character's goals and not the player's.
    Example Aspirations are good thing to point out to characters. For Mage the Awakening I made list of Obsessions ( special Aspirations for mages, like general mystical and magical researches they take ) based on characters Orders - here is list.

    My general advice for CoD games is simple - Read players characters concepts and as ST suggest what Aspirations they can take - think general motivations of characters. ALSO let them declare Aspirations in middle of game sessions, if they have free slots. By the time of second or third game sessions, if you remind them on start of game to choose Aspirations, they will take themselves all that is need and will gorge in this for all the Beats they want.

    Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
    Really? So in theory, there are enemies who are so good at defending that you're practically incapable of attacking them (if their Defense is higher than your attack pool)? I guess this is where the chance roll comes into play to give you at least a small chance of hitting a big bad?
    And Willpower points that gives almost always character +3 to any dicepool. This is why you need Willpower point pool in the first place.
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 02-19-2017, 05:44 AM.


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    • #17
      Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
      Aspirations seem like a headache to be honest. It's too soon to tell this early into the read, but I have a feeling I'll put some restriction on aspirations to only represent the character's goals and not the player's.
      Aspirations really aren't that bad, even with "negative" ones.

      One of the big things about anything that gives Beats in the game, is that Beats mostly come from plot important things: successes and failures, ups and downs.

      This is because the CofD is a horror setting at its core. Bad stuff is supposed to happen to the characters. Things like negative Aspirations are just a way to make the bad stuff as much a part of the game rewards as the good stuff, to reward players for engaging in the genre over just thinking about what's the best thing from their character's perspective.

      It might help to think of it like taking a high dot value Virtue in Exalted 1e/2e: that's a double edged sword that can aid your character or hold your character back. Aspirations are just a more fluid and flexible idea a long the same lines. Taking a high Temperance character in Exalted isn't just saying, "my character is awesome at resisting temptation," but also saying, "my character has trouble bending the rules or indulging in pleasures."

      Really? So in theory, there are enemies who are so good at defending that you're practically incapable of attacking them (if their Defense is higher than your attack pool)? I guess this is where the chance roll comes into play to give you at least a small chance of hitting a big bad?
      As noted this is correct. Though in general attacks vs. standard defense are going to have a slight edge. For the investment it's easier to keep attack pools 1-3 dice higher than defense pools, though a tough fight can easily put you into a chance die (since there are other penalties out their besides the target's defense on top of facing someone that's built for defense), but there's a lot later in the book that provides options for trying to shove it back in the attacker's favor.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
        Aspirations seem like a headache to be honest. It's too soon to tell this early into the read, but I have a feeling I'll put some restriction on aspirations to only represent the character's goals and not the player's.
        Personally, I don't bother with Aspirations at all a lot of the time. I run one-offs and short-run games more often than extended campaigns, so Aspirations don't really work for me a lot of the time. They're very easy to remove if you don't like them, just give the players a few extra Beats to compensate.

        Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
        Really? So in theory, there are enemies who are so good at defending that you're practically incapable of attacking them (if their Defense is higher than your attack pool)? I guess this is where the chance roll comes into play to give you at least a small chance of hitting a big bad?
        Without getting too much into the specific details of the violence system before you'be had a chance to read it, yes. The math slightly favors attack pools over Defense (this is one of the reasons Defense keys off of the lower of two values), but it is entirely possible for someone who specializes in Defense to reduce an unspecialized attacker's pool to a chance die. There are ways to boost your dice pools though, such as spending Willpower and making all-out attacks. Also, fights in CofD tend to be short and brutal. Not for nothing is it named violence rather than combat. One good hit is often all it takes to end a fight, unless the opponent is just in it for violence's sake (which some monsters are, to be fair).


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        • #19
          Very cool that you are doing a readthrough. I look forward to seeing what you have to say. One note, if Promethean peaks your interest, I would strongly suggest giving Promethean 2e the readthrough treatment. Promethean was the gateway through which I discovered the rest of the Chronicles of Darkness (then the New World of Darkness), and it is absolutely enthralling. 2e took a great game and made it even better. I just got by own premium print of it last week, and it is gorgeous.


          CofD booklists:
          Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire

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          • #20
            Let's keep going.


            FICTION: “HUNGRY WOLF”

            Hmm. I liked how this story ended. It was a bit short and tame otherwise.


            INFERNAL ENGINES: DRAMATIC SYSTEMS


            ROLLING DICE

            This explains how to make dice pools which I'm familiar with. But as an Exalted player, I dread the idea that 7s aren't successes anymore. I don't think it's bad to have 8s or above, but I do think it's a bit scary. I'm also not used to the fact that you reroll all 10s instead of counting them as two successes. But overall, it's simple.

            So there is no dice difficulty apart from the bonuses or penalties? Instead of saying that “you need three successes to succeed”, you always only need one success but difficulties add modifiers? And if you by some chance roll five successes, you get a beneficial Condition (which is something I'll learn about later). Seems straightforward.

            Does equipment modifiers stack or do you use the highest modifier? If my suit gives me +1 to Presence or whatever, but my cool haircut also gives +1 to Presence, do I still have +1 to Presence or do I have +2? If I can stack modifiers, are they capped at +3 unless there's an “extreme situation”? What if there are several extreme situations? The house is burning AND the ceiling is caving in AND I have a rash. Am I still at -5? Can my cool haircut reduce the penalty to -4 instead? Though I assume the coolest haircuts are quite flammable, so perhaps I should have another penalty for that.


            ATTRIBUTE TASKS

            You can roll an Attribute with another Attribute? That just blew my mind.

            It will probably take some time for me to get a feel for which Attribute + Attribute or Attribute + Skill combination suits specific actions.


            ACTIONS

            So there is no mention of threshold successes when describing contested actions. It says that the victor needs to roll more successes. I assume that an equal number of successes is a failure then?


            EXTENDED ACTIONS

            So extended actions are the only types of action (apart from contested ones) that may require more than a single success to be successful?


            RESISTANCE

            This is the first time where I learn about a type of action where the number of successes mean something; namely for violence. So the enemy's Resistance trait is their Defense which reduces a number of dice from my attack, and the number of my successes then affect the damage of said attack.


            PERMUTATIONS

            Some weapons add successes (supposedly to the aforementioned attack roll). So the combat system bypasses the whole “damage rolling part” from Exalted and does acurracy and damage as a single roll? Rote Actions seem a bit generous. I can picture some situations where they can be used though. If my “doctor character” diagnoses a wound that's easy and normally wouldn't require a roll, the fact that she's under heavy fire could be the cause of a Rote Action where her knowledge as a doctor justifies the action being easy, but the current circumstances are such that the ST wants a chance for failure.


            TIME

            Does anyone actually use the term “Chapter” to describe a story outside of the text in this book? Or do you just say “session”. I'm curious. I understand that they want a theme in the book, but everyone is going to say “let's play a session of CofD” and not “let's play a chapter of CofD.” It's pretty language, but I doubt even Rose Bailey uses that term. If she does, I apologize … but she should just say “session.”

            I know I'm nitpicky.


            WILLPOWER

            Does spending Willpower to gain a bonus stack with other modifiers that give bonuses? Remember that cool haircut I mentioned? Either way it's a powerful tool. And based on what I'm reading here, it seems fairly easy to just replenish it through your Anchors at the scene's end.


            BREAKING POINT

            This part of the book is copy-pasted from the Character Creation chapter. It's a pretty big part to just copy and paste. Finally there is some info about how it works in practice though. I can see some problems I'm going to have with one particular player of mine when it comes to breaking points. I know that I'm going to want to be generous with them, because I want to represent human nature. One of my players has a big ego and always have problems with characters that display weakness. We're going to have lots of arguments over what constitutes his Mary Sues' breaking points. Such is the life of an ST, I guess.

            The more I read about Conditions, the more silly I feel for being convinced they were just “magical effects” when I read the table of contents.


            CONDITIONS

            Here we go. Just wait for a moment.

            I'm back. Just went over to DrivethruRPG to buy the physical Condition Cards. Also got the Tilt Cards while I was there. Apparently shipping to Sweden is 27 dollars. Oh well. It'll probably be twice that when the walls are up.

            Without actually having read what any of the Conditions do yet, I get the feeling that they could really shake up the dynamic in game.


            EXPERIENCE

            Finally a description about Beats and how they work. I'm not really sure why we need to call these mini-XP Beats when we can just call them XP and then increase the costs of everything by five. If I fulfill an Aspiration to earn a Beat, why should I wait until after the game session (Hah! The book didn't call it Chapter! I knew it was silly) instead of replacing the aspiration immediately or during the session?

            So if we removed Beats, renamed them XP (sorry, Experiences), then the chart would look like this:

            Attribute: 20 Experiences per dot.
            Merits: 5 Experiences per dot.
            Skill Specialty: 5 Experiences per dot.
            Skill: 10 Experiences per dot.
            Integrity: 10 Experiences per dot.

            It does the exact same thing as converting Beats into XP, and it feels like the only reason to have Beats in the game is to keep the Experience numbers low. It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine to go around calling something what it is just to add a tad of assumed originality to a product. It's XP (experience points). Not Beats. And not Experiences. Call it what it is.


            INVESTIGATION

            Under No Hard Answers, it mentions that you should let your players come up with their own clues. I've never liked that as a player and I've never liked that as a storyteller. I have no problems with some creative freedoms when it comes to the setting around the characters, but I've never liked that “shared storytelling” concept. I want the storyteller to be one thing and the player to be one thing, and I don't like mixing the two. That's why I couldn't get into the Swallows of the South podcast.

            I was going to make a comment about how the Investigations part feels like it should be in the Storytelling chapter but then it told me that a clue is a type of equipment. Now I'm all “what does that mean?”

            And I'm not convinced. It seems like a big part of the game, but it also seems like an immersion-breaking mini game. Can't I just solve everything through narration with the occasional bonuses/penalties to actions instead of having to count elements and go “No you can't benefit from that clue anymore because you're out of elements so sucky for you that the librarian doesn't believe you and will refuse to lead you to the secret parts of the library where the next clue is. You shouldn't have used up your elements on the police guy!”

            Yeah, this clue thing is making me lose interest fast in the Investigations aspect of this game.

            “Once characters reach the required number of Clues, they're able to Uncover the Truth if that's their goal. They can do so without any additional rolls if they spend a number of Clue elements (divided however they like) equal to the required Clues for the investigation.” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

            Why can't it just be “Present a fun and suspenseful story to your players. Let them uncover a number of clues that could, if used correctly, lead them to uncover the mystery. Use the clues as elements to further enhance the story, but also present new challenges to the players as they uncover these clues.” See. All you need to do is roleplay.

            “Oh wait, we're playing Chronicles of Darkness. Go get your calculators, folks! Let's start up the Excel sheet! These clue elements won't divide themselves!”

            As you can tell, I'm not a fan of this whole clue element mini game. It feels very much like something from a board game without substantial content. I've always roleplayed investigation scenarios by letting players find actual narrated clues without any specific properties. The clues have always been what the players made of them, and the players themselves had to recognize the value of the clues as well as what to do with them. I want to present a story, where every clue is a part of that story. Please tell me that this part is optional because I can't see myself being sold on it.


            And with that, I'm going to call it for today and start with the Social Manuevering part another time.


            Ekorren's Homebrew Hub - Last Update: August 2, 2017

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
              Does equipment modifiers stack or do you use the highest modifier? If my suit gives me +1 to Presence or whatever, but my cool haircut also gives +1 to Presence, do I still have +1 to Presence or do I have +2? If I can stack modifiers, are they capped at +3 unless there's an “extreme situation”? What if there are several extreme situations? The house is burning AND the ceiling is caving in AND I have a rash. Am I still at -5? Can my cool haircut reduce the penalty to -4 instead? Though I assume the coolest haircuts are quite flammable, so perhaps I should have another penalty for that.
              Bonuses do stack, but are capped at -5 after applying penalties, and likewise penalties stack but are capped at -5 after applying bonuses. So, if you've got a total of +9 from various bonuses and a total of -3 from various penalties, you and up with a total bonus of +6 after penalties, which is over the +5 cap, so you get +5 bonus on the roll.

              Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
              Does anyone actually use the term “Chapter” to describe a story outside of the text in this book? Or do you just say “session”. I'm curious. I understand that they want a theme in the book, but everyone is going to say “let's play a session of CofD” and not “let's play a chapter of CofD.” It's pretty language, but I doubt even Rose Bailey uses that term. If she does, I apologize … but she should just say “session.”
              It's kind of like calling the GM a storyteller, or the adventure a story. Some people always do it. Some people never do it. Most people use both interchangably.

              Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
              Does spending Willpower to gain a bonus stack with other modifiers that give bonuses? Remember that cool haircut I mentioned? Either way it's a powerful tool. And based on what I'm reading here, it seems fairly easy to just replenish it through your Anchors at the scene's end.
              I'm actually not 100% sure what the RAW answer is on this. I think the bonus from Willpower can apply on top of the +(up to 5) from equipment. That's how I run it, anyway.

              Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
              Finally a description about Beats and how they work. I'm not really sure why we need to call these mini-XP Beats when we can just call them XP and then increase the costs of everything by five. If I fulfill an Aspiration to earn a Beat, why should I wait until after the game session (Hah! The book didn't call it Chapter! I knew it was silly) instead of replacing the aspiration immediately or during the session?
              I know you didn't put this part in blue or green, but it seemed important to address. First of all, yeah, you can totally just call Beats exp and multiply the costs by 5 if you want to. You wouldn't be the first. As for why you should wait until after the session to replace fulfilled Aspirations, I can answer that from experience (hah!). My first CofD campaign, I ruled that players could replace Aspirations as soon as they had been fulfilled. Aspirations very quickly stopped being about the players sending me signals about where they wanted to see the game go, and started being about the players trying to guess what would happen next that session.

              Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
              As you can tell, I'm not a fan of this whole clue element mini game. It feels very much like something from a board game without substantial content. I've always roleplayed investigation scenarios by letting players find actual narrated clues without any specific properties. The clues have always been what the players made of them, and the players themselves had to recognize the value of the clues as well as what to do with them. I want to present a story, where every clue is a part of that story. Please tell me that this part is optional because I can't see myself being sold on it.
              It is purely optional and you are not alone in disliking it. I refused to touch the Investigations system for a long time for similar reasons, though I've come up with a heavily hacked version that I am mostly satisfied with. But don't worry about it, there are only a handful of Merits that interact with the Investigation system, and it's easy to just tell your players "don't take any Merits that mention Clues, they're part of an optional subsystem I'm not using."
              Last edited by Charlaquin; 02-19-2017, 05:00 PM.


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              • #22
                Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                Aspirations very quickly stopped being about the players sending me signals about where they wanted to see the game go, and started being about the players trying to guess what would happen next that session.
                I can see how that could be a problem.


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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                  Does equipment modifiers stack or do you use the highest modifier? If my suit gives me +1 to Presence or whatever, but my cool haircut also gives +1 to Presence, do I still have +1 to Presence or do I have +2? If I can stack modifiers, are they capped at +3 unless there's an “extreme situation”? What if there are several extreme situations? The house is burning AND the ceiling is caving in AND I have a rash. Am I still at -5? Can my cool haircut reduce the penalty to -4 instead? Though I assume the coolest haircuts are quite flammable, so perhaps I should have another penalty for that.
                  You can get ANYTHING up to +/- 5 in the sum up to starting dicepool. But ST judgment is advised.


                  Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                  ATTRIBUTE TASKS

                  You can roll an Attribute with another Attribute? That just blew my mind.

                  It will probably take some time for me to get a feel for which Attribute + Attribute or Attribute + Skill combination suits specific actions.
                  Typical Attrubute rolls are Perception or 'Do I see...' roll ( Wits + Composure ) and 'Mental Resistance' ( Resolve + Composure ). There are others.

                  Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                  ACTIONS

                  So there is no mention of threshold successes when describing contested actions. It says that the victor needs to roll more successes. I assume that an equal number of successes is a failure then?
                  Equal number is a tie. Like you did not won, but your enemy also. On Olympics you may both get Gold Medal, as both went to the needed threshold.

                  Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                  EXTENDED ACTIONS

                  So extended actions are the only types of action (apart from contested ones) that may require more than a single success to be successful?
                  There are Chases, Invesitgations and Social Manuvering, but they are basiclly permutations on Extended Actions sub-system.

                  Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                  TIME

                  Does anyone actually use the term “Chapter” to describe a story outside of the text in this book? Or do you just say “session”. I'm curious. I understand that they want a theme in the book, but everyone is going to say “let's play a session of CofD” and not “let's play a chapter of CofD.” It's pretty language, but I doubt even Rose Bailey uses that term. If she does, I apologize … but she should just say “session.”

                  I know I'm nitpicky.
                  Session is all forum used. Chapter is much more books term.


                  Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                  WILLPOWER

                  Does spending Willpower to gain a bonus stack with other modifiers that give bonuses? Remember that cool haircut I mentioned? Either way it's a powerful tool. And based on what I'm reading here, it seems fairly easy to just replenish it through your Anchors at the scene's end.
                  Most of the time, you can simply burn Willpower to rise your dicepool. I even let to run with it from +5 to +8 on the roll.

                  Roleplaying Anchors is good, we always encourage to play on the Anchors. Most of the time playing on the is not that easy - Virtue one need to make something at stake and you can only use it twice per chapter/session. Vice leads to it's own complications....

                  Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                  BREAKING POINT

                  This part of the book is copy-pasted from the Character Creation chapter. It's a pretty big part to just copy and paste. Finally there is some info about how it works in practice though. I can see some problems I'm going to have with one particular player of mine when it comes to breaking points. I know that I'm going to want to be generous with them, because I want to represent human nature. One of my players has a big ego and always have problems with characters that display weakness. We're going to have lots of arguments over what constitutes his Mary Sues' breaking points. Such is the life of an ST, I guess.
                  I run Breaking Points as 'biggest penalty I give and players are lawyering to lower it' - so one character has kidnapped NPC. I treated it as making more or less the same impact as Torture - so PC on start may roll with -3 penalty. Then player argue 'but I'm doing this with my Virtue' - and get's +1, so now roll is on -2. Then he says 'but our traditions says we should do this' or 'king approved my course of action' and get's next +1, ending with only -1 to roll. Of course, there is needed to be put boundary on to how character can easy Breaking Point, but in the end, he will still roll it and still get at least one Beat of it. Players should be encouraged to try Breaking Points - more they roll but have good results, the more chance someday they will not pass the roll... ( And for each Breaking Point roll, they still get Beat, and maybe second from resolving Condition from it. )

                  Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                  INVESTIGATION
                  As you can tell, I'm not a fan of this whole clue element mini game. It feels very much like something from a board game without substantial content. I've always roleplayed investigation scenarios by letting players find actual narrated clues without any specific properties. The clues have always been what the players made of them, and the players themselves had to recognize the value of the clues as well as what to do with them. I want to present a story, where every clue is a part of that story. Please tell me that this part is optional because I can't see myself being sold on it.
                  Investigations subsystem ( just like Chase, Horrors and Social Maneuvering ) are OPTIONAL to use. ( Well, Social Maneuvering is everywhere in 2E books and connected to some secondary mechanics of characters, but still assumed to be used as option rather than forced. )

                  Investigation system works great if you got some Mystery plot in mind and want's characters to collect little evidence. Then just each Clue, really, is small part of greater puzzle. And Elements are bonuses character can use as Equipment to actions related to case, not must use in Investigation. You need general number of Clues collected, but can end with even ZERO Elements - just ending will be much more 'bloody' for characters.

                  Myself, I used is as basis for 'extensive reaserchs' ( where PCs spends days in libraries or weird occult sources to know Ban & Bane of particular Ephemeral Entity or Horror, for example ) and also not use 'players make up Clue' - it's really to much indy rpg to my taste. What I let character is to LOOK for the Clues in specific way and then I describe it -'You look in to County records? Great, roll Wits+Politics, pay 50$ bribe to working clerk and you find... the last property documents on your suspect. It get's you as one Clue with 2 Elements.' Things like that. I advise to look over in detail this topic solely on Investigations subsystem and try to use Clues Cards I invented and Mr Gone done for us.
                  Last edited by wyrdhamster; 02-19-2017, 05:21 PM.


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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                    but I've never liked that “shared storytelling” concept. I want the storyteller to be one thing and the player to be one thing, and I don't like mixing the two.
                    This is going to come up more. Like with Aspirations, a lot of CofD 2e uses the idea that the players and the Storyteller are gathering to tell a story together. Not just that the players are there to react to the GM's story.

                    Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                    As you can tell, I'm not a fan of this whole clue element mini game. It feels very much like something from a board game without substantial content. I've always roleplayed investigation scenarios by letting players find actual narrated clues without any specific properties. The clues have always been what the players made of them, and the players themselves had to recognize the value of the clues as well as what to do with them. I want to present a story, where every clue is a part of that story. Please tell me that this part is optional because I can't see myself being sold on it.
                    I have some advice here, and it is going to come in handy for the next section on Social Manuevering. Don't think of them as mini-games, don't stop and 'do an Investiagtion'. The Clues are the same as the narrative clues you had before, only this gives you a system to track how many clues the players have gathered and a system that doesn't just rely on your players' (rather than the characters') own mystery solving skills to know how to determine when it is solved.


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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by ElvesofZion View Post

                      This is going to come up more. Like with Aspirations, a lot of CofD 2e uses the idea that the players and the Storyteller are gathering to tell a story together. Not just that the players are there to react to the GM's story.



                      I have some advice here, and it is going to come in handy for the next section on Social Manuevering. Don't think of them as mini-games, don't stop and 'do an Investiagtion'. The Clues are the same as the narrative clues you had before, only this gives you a system to track how many clues the players have gathered and a system that doesn't just rely on your players' (rather than the characters') own mystery solving skills to know how to determine when it is solved.
                      Hold one moment. I'm going to give you my thoughts on Social Maneuvering right now and then we can get right back to this argument. I don't hold back in this post and am very critical.

                      SOCIAL MANEUVERING

                      My initial impressions are good. The text emphasises that social manuevering isn't mind control, which is good. However, the mention of “Doors” is another addition to the terminology that now at initial impression seems to be the “Clues” of the social system. So … I want to convince the Guard that he should let me pass without interference. The storyteller determines that the Guard has Resolve or Composure 3, which gives him three “doors”. He also has an aspiration to become employee of the month, which adds a fourth door.

                      So I need to present him with four different arguments for him to let me through? “You're not paid enough to risk your life for this.” (Door 1 unlocked). “I promise to treat you to coffee if you let me through.” (Door 2 unlocked). Ehm … “I'm going to find your children and shoot them too if you don't let me pass!” (Door 3 unlocked). Damnit, most people would have broken by now. “Eh! Could you let me pass, please?” (Door 4 unlocked) Woohoo!

                      Okay, if presented with a social action in game, my usual storytelling technique has been to evaluate the player's argument, decide how the target feels about the argument, decide whether or not he has any conflicting ideas, and have the character evaluate the possible consequences of either agreeing or disagreeing. Then the outcome of the player's roll determines the strength in which he presents this argument. There are a few steps to that too, but at least it's natural. I assume that the way I want to play this game too is for my player to present an argument and make a roll. If the roll is good and the argument is especially valid, then I would let the player succeed despite any amount of “doors” in the way. If the target is especially defensive, then maybe I could use something similar to “doors” to encourage my players to come up with additional arguments. I don't think I want to “limit myself to (Resolve or Composure)” though. I'd go by feeling here, and what feels like it'd make sense.

                      Okay, later on the book says that I can't just run the arguments in a row like that. I need different situations for different rolls with time in between depending on the impression the target has gotten of the character. That's unnecessary complexity. All of this should be written as storyteller advice with the only hard rule being “use common sense instead of relying too much on irrelevant elements such as impression level determining roll intervals.” I don't want to play a computer game where I'm told to come back tomorrow for new daily quests. I want to either succeed or fail, and if I fail, I need to come up with a new approach. The system doesn't need all this other crap. At least not if it's going to be calling itself a storytelling system.

                      I play Exalted 3E a lot and that system has a lot of crunch and a lot of fine little details that you need to take into consideration. Much of it is overly complex. However, it has a really good social influence system that focuses on what's actually important: storytelling, narrative flow, drama. I think I'm going to play social influence like that because it's easy to do in Chronicles of Darkness. You have the dice pools already. Now all you need to do is to focus on what makes sense, out of character and in character. You don't need to worry about completely irrelevant and immersion-breaking moments like “your impression level got hostile and will be so for a week now!” Why a week? Well, the chart said so.

                      I admit that this door opening system can be made to seem immersive and with narrative flow if the storyteller is properly prepared and has thought out every single door and various scenes in which the players can interact witht the target. I'm not saying that it doesn't work. All I'm saying is that it relies too heavily on charts and numbers to feel satisfying. A simple disclaimer about “ignore/change any of these rules if you feel that the players did something exceptional that should get them straight to the resolution” would be enough to please me. Then I don't have to feel like I'm playing the game wrong if I want to focus more on storytelling and less on charts.

                      EXAMPLE OF SOCIAL MANUEVERING

                      This is what I wanted to see. After my long rant, I want to be proven wrong. Let's see what it has to say.

                      Well, decide if you want to spell it Erikson or Erickson. You can't have both. I prefer Eriksson.

                      Okay, so Stacy is going to manipulate the poor Professor now instead of simply asking him if she can borrow the book. Fair enough. Sometimes you need to do that. She impresses him with her occult wisdom and opens Door #1. Now she needs to unlock three more doors for her mind control to win, but she needs more time for that. She needs to wait until the next day (for some reason not disclosed by anything other than a chart with a rule that says that she needs to do that).

                      The next day, Stacy e-mails the Professor about something related to the book, but she failed. Now he hates her enough to penalize any of her social actions by 1. Shame on her for not checking her grammar before hitting send. Last night's efforts cannot save her from this. Alas, she must now wait for a week to try again. That's the time required for the Professor to get over this horrible mistake.

                      So after a week of googling the poor Professor (she should have just broken into his library and stolen the book by now), she discovers that he wants to be a respected academic (it took her a week to google this, so she's not especially good at googling). She tells him that she has a friend who is good at ciphers and that they should totally get to read his book. She unlocks another door which in game makes the Professor (who still is disgruntled because of her bad grammar) slightly in her favor again but will still refuse to show her the book.

                      After another week of googling, she figured out that he's vain. She blatantly lies about him with tears in her eyes to make him feel good about himself. This makes him like her again. She writes him a letter of thanks with an exceptional success (she not only corrected her grammar, but used thesaurus to seem more smart). Boom! Two doors open! The Professors lends her his book, unknowing of how much Stacy's player wanted to kill herself and her storyteller for putting up with this event.

                      Now, this is how I would have wanted to run this:

                      Stacy impresses the Professor with her knowledge at the event (maybe through a good social roll as well as a roll connected to her Occult skill). This opens up a conversation with the Professor there at the event and I let the player try another approach. Stacy asks the Professor there and then if she can borrow the book, but she fails. Since the Professor has a good impression of Stacy, he laughs it off and says that he's reluctant to let anyone read it because of how valuable it is. After some conversation, Stacy's player makes a roll to profile the Professor and gains an understanding of how he wants to be respected. She tries a new, final approach, this time with a slight penalty, where she mentions her friends who's good with ciphers. This succeeds, which makes the storyteller deem the scene to have been progressive enough to let the Professor agree to show her the book. All was done in a single scene through creative roleplaying. If the Professor was more against it, then perhaps I'd want the player to rethink her strategy and try something new another day.

                      FORCING DOORS

                      I agree with some of the things written here, like how a target can be immune to further efforts if you try to force it too hard and fail. Hard Leverage makes sense as a rule too, but I'd still ignore the “doors” part and have it be relied entirely on the player's roleplay or the outcome of his roll. It's interesting how the example shows Stacy threaten the Professor at gunpoint and still only get through a single door. Hah! Now she needs to wait for a week to try to threaten him at gunpoint again.


                      I've already spent a lot of money on this game now, and now I have read two major rules (Investigation and Social Maneuvering) which both gave me a bad taste in my mouth. I hope I won't regret my purchase and that I either don't understand how “this is good” or that it can somehow be salvaged to better fit my way of storytelling. I was going to read the rest of the chapter today, but my thoughts on this social maneuvering part got so huge that I'll probably settle with this for now.

                      I want to talk about everything in this post. I came at it hard, and I really wanted to be wrong about this one. If you use this system, could you provide some examples of how you've used it in game in ways that's been enjoyable and made sense.



                      Ekorren's Homebrew Hub - Last Update: August 2, 2017

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                      • #26
                        Social Manuevering isn't for the doorman, that can be dealt with in one roll. In the example given Stacy makes a good first impression so the professor is inclined to listen to her but then her email shows that she isn't as good as he first thought she was so he doesn't prioritise her anymore. The reason fails add a penalty to future rolls is that it gives you a reason to doubt that doing what that person wants may be a bad idea.
                        As others have said both are optional and actually most of them were used in one splat core (the chase rules are from Werewolf I believe) and collected in CofD book when it came out. In other words most game lines will need to assume that you don't have access to them.

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                        • #27
                          I've been anticipating this one for a while. Social Maneuvering is, in my opinion, a great system that suffers from poor presentation, and if I ever have the time I would like to do an Actual Play focused on giving examples of how to use the SM system well. Everyone thinks it sounds overcomplicated and awful the first time they read it (I did too), but I think that's in part because the book really buries the lede in this section. The whole thing should have been presented in pretty much the opposite order.

                          First of all, I think you misinterpreted Forcing Doors a little bit. Forcing Doors reduces the whole process to one single roll. The subject's doors apply as a penalty to the roll, and if it succeeds, all of the subject's doors open. This is, basically, the process you describe as being preferable, where the player makes their argument, you determine if a dice roll is necessary and if so, what dice pool they should roll based on their approach, and the results of the roll determine how successful the argument is in swaying the subject. Doors is just a flowery name for the difficulty of the Forcing Doors roll, and it's usually pretty easy to determine - it's just the lower of the subject's Resolve or Composure, + or - 1 depending on what's being asked of them and whether that would help them fulfill an aspiration or inflict a Breaking Point. That number becomes the penalty to the roll (you can also apply further situational penalties or bonuses if you like), on a success the PC convinces the subject, on a failure they don't, and can't try again.
                          (note: I house rule that a failed Forcing Doors roll makes the subject's impression of the PC drop to Hostile, rather than that they can never engage in Social Maneuvering wit them again)

                          Now, the proximity discussion of Hard Leverage to the discussion of Forcing Doors leads many to assume that Forcing Doors is always about threatening the subject, but this is not the case. Forcing Doors is just about pressuring the subject to make a decision right now, which is what most single-roll Social actions are. Threatening the subject is one way to pressure them into immediate action, but it is not the only way. If the PC does use threats, however, they can apply any Hard Leverage they employ as an equipment bonus on the roll.

                          Now, sometimes you have ample time to try to convince someone to do something, and you don't want to risk putting them off by pressuring them to act immediately. That's what the more in-depth system is for. Instead of Doors applying as a penalty to one roll, they become a number of successful rolls that must be achieved. The impression level sets the interval at which one can attempt to open a subject's Doors, and this is another place that trips people up, because they see that a Neutral Impression takes 1 week between rolls and assume most social actions will be at a neutral impression so it will take weeks or months to get anything done. But, impressions are very easy to raise. Going from Neutral to Good only requires a minimal effort to endear yourself to the subject, no roll required. Being well groomed and polite is probably enough. Raising from Good to Excellent requires a bit more effort, constituting a roll of some kind, maybe trying to impress the subject. The impression can also be raised by one level with a gift or bribe, also known as Soft Leverage, and Soft Leverage is the only way to raise an impression from Excellent to Perfect.

                          In my games, most Social Maneuvering takes place at a Good or Excellent impression, though Perfect is not difficult to achieve if the players want it. 30-minute intervals for the roll is within the level of abstract time that many RPG conversations take place in, at least in my experience, so Excellent is often enough unless the players are in a hurry.

                          So, here's what Social Maneuvering tends to look like in my games (Bear in mind, I go by the guideline that dice should only be rolled to when the outcome of an action is both uncertain and has consequences for failure). First, the players try to endear themselves to the subject. They might talk politely in character, compliment the subject, or describe how they are behaving that might impress the subject. If I feel their effort is enough to make the subject more amicable, I make a note that their Impression is Good. If they go to great lengths, I might also ask for a roll (dice pool determined based on the approach), and if it is successful, I make a note that their Impression is Excellent. If they give the subject some kind of Soft Leverage, I bump the Impression up by 1 and make note of that. Once the PCs have made their attempts to butter up the subject, they'll make their attempts to persuade them. I'll assess their approach to determine if a dice roll is needed, and if so, what kind of roll and what dice pool. If they are persuasive enough, the subject might just give them what they want - the outcome is not uncertain, so no dice rolls needed. If the subject is reluctant, I might ask for a roll. If the PCs are pressuring the subject, I'll ask them to make a roll with a penalty equal to the subject's Doors (which is usually around 1-3). Otherwise, I won't apply a penalty, and if they succeed I'll make note that they've opened one door. In any case, I'll respond in character as the subject to indicate the subject's reaction. For example, if their Impression is Perfect, they're interested in the PCs proposition but might still need some convincing. If their Impression is Excellent, they're considering it but might say they need a few minutes to consider, and I'll narrative-time those few minutes by. If their impression is Good or Neutral, they might say they'll think about it and get back to them later. If the PCs continue to push at a Good or Neutral impression, or if they're at Excellent and need an immediate answer rather than narrating through the next half-hour, I'll call for another roll, this time with a penalty equal to the remaining Doors (usually 1-2).


                          Onyx Path Forum Moderator

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                          • #28
                            The comment towards the end and the lack of color seems to mean tear into this completely, if I'm mistaken, sorry.

                            Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                            So … I want to convince the Guard that he should let me pass without interference. The storyteller determines that the Guard has Resolve or Composure 3, which gives him three “doors”. He also has an aspiration to become employee of the month, which adds a fourth door.
                            To quote the text: "Social maneuvering is a system for applying persuasion and social pressure over time."

                            Fast talking past a guard on-the-spot generally isn't what Opening Doors is normally for, skip to Forcing Doors or have some way to get to a perfect impression off the bat (which means you either planned this and researched the guard to know his Vice and and Aspiration to use against him, or have some sort of powers that allow you to do find that out in the moment). Or just don't use Social Maneuvering for every social roll, because that's not the intent of the system.

                            If your goal is to slow befriend the guard for whatever you're up to, so when the time is right you can get past the guard, then you use Opening Doors.

                            Okay, if presented with a social action in game, my usual storytelling technique has been to evaluate the player's argument, decide how the target feels about the argument, decide whether or not he has any conflicting ideas, and have the character evaluate the possible consequences of either agreeing or disagreeing.
                            That is exactly the process of determining how many Doors a character has...

                            I want to either succeed or fail, and if I fail, I need to come up with a new approach.
                            Sorry but this just strikes me as hypocritical. You can't except that there are game design points to having multiple successful rolls be useful for long term endeavors, and then call this "crap."

                            You're praising Ex3's social mechanics (which frequently require multiple successful roles to get a larger task done), but bashing this for following pretty much the same design ideas. How is building up impressions any different from using Instill actions until the target has a high enough Intimacy towards you that you can use a Persuade action on them, and then have to keep doing so until you've exhausted them of Decision Points?

                            The only big difference here is that the CofD doesn't integrate a bunch of things in Intimacies to build these things off of, and instead the CofD just collects similar elements (Virtue, Vice, Aspirations) and factors them in as separate elements.

                            The system doesn't need all this other crap. At least not if it's going to be calling itself a storytelling system.
                            This is bullshit and you know it. "Calling itself a storytelling system means mechanics are bad!" is not a functional point.

                            You don't need to worry about completely irrelevant and immersion-breaking moments like “your impression level got hostile and will be so for a week now!” Why a week? Well, the chart said so.
                            This is incorrect. If your impression gets hostile, the maneuvering attempt fails in a week unless you do something to improve your impression in the mean time or Force Doors. Getting into a hostile impression means the other person isn't listening to you any more and you need to repair that if you want to play nice.

                            Is a week arbitrary? Sure. But how it is immersion breaking that you've pissed someone off and if you don't do something about that soon, your attempt to convince them to do you favor is going to fail (keeping in mind that it doesn't mean you can't start again even if that's an uphill climb).

                            All I'm saying is that it relies too heavily on charts and numbers to feel satisfying.
                            There's one chart.

                            And numbers are how we play the game. You need a lot more substance than this to have a really salient criticism.

                            The system relies on your reading the system and using the different parts for what they're supposed to do. Using normal Opening Doors in a Forcing Doors situation isn't the game's fault when it doesn't seem to work right.

                            You can't have both.
                            Do you really want to get into a single typo?

                            Now she needs to unlock three more doors for her mind control to win
                            Stop. You don't get to just label in mind control to support your rant without ever addressing how this suddenly became the case. When establishing the goal of the action the ST had to sign of on this being something that Stacy could reasonably accomplish with mundane persuasion and your own responses acknowledge that this is the case. Don't tell us you want to be proven wrong when you're not honestly following the example.

                            (it took her a week to google this, so she's not especially good at googling)
                            Good thing the book doesn't actually say this was a matter of a Google search. That's another you adding shit to make it look bad strike.

                            After another week of googling,..
                            Nope. Using an Aspiration to open a Door doesn't count as your action for that interval, it's a bonus on top of it.

                            Now, this is how I would have wanted to run this:
                            Of course how you would have run it isn't a good example for the book because it fails to demonstrate various permutations. That's why the example has Stacy screw up and fail, to show what that looks like in the system.

                            How you would have done it is possible in the system if you want it to be that simple.

                            Hard Leverage makes sense as a rule too, but I'd still ignore the “doors” part and have it be relied entirely on the player's roleplay or the outcome of his roll. It's interesting how the example shows Stacy threaten the Professor at gunpoint and still only get through a single door. Hah! Now she needs to wait for a week to try to threaten him at gunpoint again.
                            OK so strike three on the examples then.

                            When Forcing Doors you only roll once with a penalty equal to the number of Doors. Using Hard Leverage removes Doors automatically. So Stacy didn't "only open 1 door and have to wait a week." She reduced the Doors from 4 to 3, reducing the penalty on her roll from -4 to -3, making it that much easier for her to succeed (and she only needs one success) to get the book; and then deal with the consequences of having robbed Erickson at gunpoint.

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                            • #29
                              TLDR of my previous post - Forcing Doors is your normal, one-roll Social action you'll want to use most of the time, Doors are a standardized way to determine the baseline difficulty of the roll, and all the rest of Social Maneuvering is a system for softening someone up before making the Forcing Doors roll to reduce the penalty, and if you have the luxury of enough time, you can even circumvent the Forcing Doors roll entirely if you reduce the penalty to 0. Also, don't forget that dice rolls should only be called for in the first place if there's a reasonable chance of success, a reasonable chance of failure, and consequences for failure.


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                              • #30
                                I have not used this system. Some things I'd like to point out though.

                                Originally posted by Chronicles of Darkness, Social Maneuvering
                                Social maneuvering is a system for applying persuasion
                                and social pressure over time.
                                If the Storyteller decides the prof could be persuaded to let this random student use his precious collection in a single scene, no need to do Social Maneuvering. Go with a more organic flow of events, as you described.

                                For a character who is Cautious, has a valuable collection he is protective of, and likely has students bothering him for it all the time (maybe even other, more sinister, parties interested in "acquiring" it), maybe the one encounter at a party will not be enough without supernatural influence.
                                This is where the system shines. It allows you to have a social character use their good side in a protracted scheme-y way. The series Revenge comes to mind - so many many Doors to start with.
                                The several scenes/rolls of Social Maneuvering are the alternative to the several scenes/rolls of scouting out the place, getting gear, and trying to steal it, as it were.

                                A longer social campaign is harder to organise in a flowing organic way, and the Doors are tools to see how successful the attempts at influence are in a cumulative way, until eventually the target has enough trust towards the PC, or is just relaxed enough around them, or convinced of the commitment of the PC, or a combination of those, to help them out with something they really didn't want to help out with at first. Players don't need to know about the Doors of the target, at most an evaluation (Composure+Empathy?) of the target's disposition towards them - suspicious, un/cooperative, cautious, helpful, sympathetic, situational goodies.

                                I'd wager 90% of romantic comedies could be framed as a single Social Maneuvering sequence, with the goal of marriage or a committed relationship.

                                The interval between influence attempts is the core of the system, but notice this can be modified by Soft Leverage, which should be taken advantage of for important situations. If you try to influence a person multiple times too quickly, there is the risk of appearing manipulative.

                                Notice in the example how everything is actually quite seriously to Stacy's disadvantage: 3 and 4 in relevant attributes (not your average random NPC) , as well as the Virtue being against her.


                                Originally posted by Ekorren
                                So … I want to convince the Guard that he should let me pass without interference. The storyteller determines that the Guard has Resolve or Composure 3, which gives him three “doors”. He also has an aspiration to become employee of the month, which adds a fourth door.
                                This is a situation perfectly described by the Forcing Doors part. When waiting and subtlety aren't desired or possible - presumably one wants to enter now, not tomorrow or in a week. If Stacy's a Social girl, I'm sure she can manage a roll at -4 for those Doors. (3 in the relevant attribute, 4 in the relevant skill, maybe some tool/merit/specialty bonuses, extra if she plays to his Vice or Virtue).

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