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  • Griautis
    started a topic Yet another presence vs manipulation thread

    Yet another presence vs manipulation thread

    There's a few threads about this yet, and none of them solve my main gripe and problem with them. For context, feel freet to check them out here, here and here.

    In one of the threads WHW made this post

    I tried that advice, but it ended up with these roll being simply flavored by their Attribute, and offering no real (other than fluff) difference between them; it also pretty much encouraged my players to always phrase their actions so they use bigger of their Social Attributes; which is fine, but slowly starts to make clear that there is no real difference between them (as in, other than "roleplay in certain way") and it would be pretty much ok/better to stockpile points in only one and ignore the other. Which is somewhat sad to me. I want each Attribute to have a certain personality and identity behind them; you can't really use Intelligence to do Wits work, or Wits to do Intelligence's work; they have very clear images of "what they do" and their place in great scheme of things. I have problem with finding that place for Mani and Presence.
    And here's my main problem and question/reason for this thread. How do you make these two attributes distinct in your games? Why shouldn't a player just choose one, stock it up to max and leave the other one at 1? Assuming that he can explain and put the difference in his background. Is the only difference between the two - flavor in how you describe your action, while capabilities are more or less the same (except a few corner edges, but those differences are nowhere close to where Str vs Dex or Int vs Wits stand...).

    If there are no clear differences, how would you suggest going about to introducing them?

  • Basilistik
    replied
    I defined Presence as physical gestures accompanied with a couple of words, a short sentence at most. Manipulation as the inverse, lots of words and complex explanations (basically everything else). So the haggle example would be resumed by methodology, the first is a short sentence probably accompanied with a wink, a show of cleavage, pleading eyes or whatever that's Presence. The second is way more elaborate and complex explanation so Manipulation. For me, the key is to differentiate what's more important, the gesture or the words.

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  • Pluvinarch
    replied
    My take is that Presence is a blunt show of your charisma, but an honest show. You can be charismatic, dreadful, intimidating, cheerful, etc, but you are using an obvious emotional palette that the target can see and respond accordingly.
    It is like saying "I want this specific thing!" and the target will help you with your goal because they admire/fear/respect you. Or you fail at the roll and the target doesn't help you. They may resent your emotional show but they won't resent you for being "dishonest" about what you want.

    Manipulation, as the name implies, also requires your emotional palette but it is more geared towards the TARGET emotional palette and turning it subtly towards your goal.
    It is like saying "YOU want this specific thing, don't you?" and the target will help you with your goal because they have been subverted into thinking that doing this is better for them. If you fail the roll the target will probably resent you for being dishonest and manipulating them.

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  • Verge
    replied
    My take: intent, scope, and particularity are the difference. Presence is for broad strokes, like shifting the emotional tenor of a target, or establishing oneself in a scene. It's for attraction and repulsion, for breaking inhibitions or chastising deviants. Presence is a catalyst for actions that the target would expect to take normally when confronted with an appropriate stimulus.

    Manipulation is specific, tailored, and means subverting the target's own consciousness and actions to your needs. A character needs to use Manipulation to move another off their natural path. For example, use Presence to scare a fireman from entering a blaze, use Manipulation to coerce him into starting one. This attribute doesn't lend itself to large scale actions, unless the target audience is susceptible and easily leveraged, for whatever reason.

    Yeah, methodology does play a part, and should be accounted for, but the target's nature should never be discounted. A dedicated husband might be overwhelmed by a woman's Presence, causing him to question his fidelity and throw him into a spiral, but it would take Manipulation to get him to abandon his vows. A less faithful man, on the other hand, might be prone to cheating and simply needs the Presence to seduce him.

    Put briefly, Presence is when the target needs an opportunity or arousal to act, and Manipulation when the target needs a justification to divert from their habitual or conditioned behaviors.

    Leave a comment:


  • Charlaquin
    replied
    Originally posted by Michael View Post
    You clipped the example I gave.
    Hmm... Quoting it here for thouroughness:

    Originally posted by Michael View Post
    To my mind, Manipulation would be useful for stuff like keeping a conversation going in the direct you want. The High Presence/Low Manipulation person might be good at talking but bad at keeping track of the questions they want asked. However, that's pretty hard to roleplay.
    There seems to be a disconnect here, because I'm not seeing how this is an example of a player RPing a social interaction in a direct (i.e. Presence-based) way is different from a player describing a physical action in a direct (i.e. Strength-based) way

    Originally posted by Michael View Post
    My point is that a lot of people don't describe social actions, they play them out.
    My point is that this is a distinction without difference.

    Leave a comment:


  • Michael
    replied
    Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
    How is a player with high manipulation who describes an indirect approach to their social actions whenever possible any more “working around the system” than a player with high Dexterity who uses fine manipulation methods rather than direct application of force whenever possible to achieve physical goals?
    You clipped the example I gave. My point is that a lot of people don't describe social actions, they play them out.

    Leave a comment:


  • Miirik
    replied
    Originally posted by Griautis View Post
    If you need to move a boulder out of your way you can't easily switch from using strength to dexterity, which in social situations is easy.
    I think you’re mixing approaches and goals, which is making Presence and Manipulation less distinct for your games than they are. Moving the boulder can’t be done with Dexterity because the approach is based on power, not finesse. But the goal is not to move the boulder—it’s probably to get past the boulder. Moving the boulder is just the approach. The player could have also chosen to squirm around the boulder (Dexterity), which would mean the boulder would remain an obstacle to future passerby, including themself if they come back this way (the consequence).

    Social rolls are exactly the same. I think Charlequin said it well:

    Originally posted by Charlequin
    Roleplaying social interactions...[is] just a description of the character's approach.
    But it sounds like you want to know when certain approaches would be made impossible. I guess you might ban Manipulation when a subject can’t hear the PC, and ban Presence when a subject can’t see or touch the PC?

    Leave a comment:


  • Charlaquin
    replied
    Originally posted by Michael View Post

    I think the sentiment comes from it being kinda true.
    How is a player with high manipulation who describes an indirect approach to their social actions whenever possible any more “working around the system” than a player with high Dexterity who uses fine manipulation methods rather than direct application of force whenever possible to achieve physical goals?

    Leave a comment:


  • Michael
    replied
    Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
    I think, because there is less separation between describing a social action and actually doing it than there is between describing a physical action and actually doing it, people (especially GMs) have a tendency to view roleplaying social interactions as an attempt to work around the system, when really it's just a description of the character's approach.
    I think the sentiment comes from it being kinda true. To my mind, Manipulation would be useful for stuff like keeping a conversation going in the direct you want. The High Presence/Low Manipulation person might be good at talking but bad at keeping track of the questions they want asked. However, that's pretty hard to roleplay.

    Obviously GMs can call out players roleplaying outside what their characters are supposed to be, but that's a very unsubtle tool.

    Leave a comment:


  • Primordial newcomer
    replied
    two examples for when to use presence or manipulation

    if you want to inspire (or intimidate) a group of people immediately, manipulation would not work as it's too subtle.

    if you want to to do a backhanded threat, presence likely wouldn't make sense, as such a threat would require more finesse

    Leave a comment:


  • Charlaquin
    replied
    If I'm understanding premise of the thread correctly - that Presence and Manipulation are functionally interchangeable despite being narratively distinct, while the other Power/Finesse attributes are distinct both narratively and functionally - then I don't agree with that assessment of the mechanics.

    The problem, as with social actions in most RPGs, is that people don't often separate between the approach and the outcome with social actions the way they do with others. Yes, you can get a better price on something with either presence or manipulation, but that is the outcome. You can likewise open a locked door with either strength or dexterity, depending on your approach (picking the lock vs. breaking it). So the idea that Power/Finesse attributes other than Presence and Manipulation can't be used to accomplish the same goals doesn't hold up for me, nor does the idea that the only difference between Presence + Persuasion and Manipulation + Persuasion is flavor. Each requires a different approach to the social situation. I think, because there is less separation between describing a social action and actually doing it than there is between describing a physical action and actually doing it, people (especially GMs) have a tendency to view roleplaying social interactions as an attempt to work around the system, when really it's just a description of the character's approach.

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  • Tessie
    replied
    Originally posted by Griautis View Post

    I like this for differentiation, thank you.

    @proindrakenzoi yup, all that makes sense too, most likely falling under general "world should make sense."

    Anyways, I'll try Tessie's suggestion.
    I hope it helps.

    Leave a comment:


  • Griautis
    replied
    Originally posted by Tessie View Post
    stuff... simplifying the situation to a general action, applying the most fitting Attribute to that action...stuff
    I like this for differentiation, thank you.

    @proindrakenzoi yup, all that makes sense too, most likely falling under general "world should make sense."

    Anyways, I'll try Tessie's suggestion.

    Leave a comment:


  • proindrakenzol
    replied
    To me Presence and Manipulation are more about the lasting impact than the initial roll.

    A Presence roll indicates the user is focusing the target's attention on the user, a Manipulation roll is focusing it on something else.

    Presence + Intimidation is a roll to make the target scared of the user. If the target's fear of the user is ameliorated, then the impetus fades or goes away. Conversely, if the target is scared enough of the user then they could begin to act in ways they feel will avoid arousing the user's ire, even if the user isn't present or aware of what's going on.

    Conversely, Manipulation + Intimidation makes the target scared of something else; "the law", "God", "ex-wife"; the target is less likely to be in a situation where they feel comfortable risking the wrath of whatever the user convinced them to be scared of, and they're less likely to remember the user, but they're also not going to try to ingratiate themselves to the user.


    Presence + Subterfuge would be boldly and convincingly lying, Manipulation + Subterfuge would be tricking them into drawing their own false conclusions. Certain lies might be easier with the former or the latter.

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  • Tessie
    replied
    Originally posted by Griautis View Post
    But that's the thing, often how the action is presented can be the deciding factor.
    As an example:
    You're bartering the price of some service down.
    "Hey, just let the price down, mkay?" - Presence + Persuasion
    "Look, i'm hard strapped for cash right now and I might not be able to buy it at all. It's in your best interests to sell, right. Moneyz and all." - Manipulation + Persuasion
    Take a step back and look at the situation from a new perspective. Simplify it. Both examples are someone attempting to haggle down the price. We'll such attempts the haggling action. What is the Attribute that most fits the haggling action? It's Manipulation, imo.
    The two presentations are just flavouring to the haggling action, but once you've decided what Attribute the haggling action should use you're just flavouring it through the presentation. The former might be someone who has a high Presence that bleeds over into how they use Manipulation, but the action itself is still Manipulation regardless of how you flavour it.

    There's nothing wrong with the presentation influencing the dice pool, but it should not happen so often that two traits become interchangeable. To counteract that tendency I recommend that you start by simplifying the situation to a general action, applying the most fitting Attribute to that action, and then apply your well-defined action to the situation, letting presentation become flavour in these cases.

    Leave a comment:

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