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  • Presence and Manipulation

    I think that I generally have a rather good grasp and understanding on how to and when apply specific pairings of Attributes, Skills and other things to compose dicepools. One thing that always eluded me, though, was making sure that Presence and Manipulation are distinct and have their own "gameplay identity". This was always hard to me, especially in games where there are really no supernatural powers to reinforce their meanings and position (so, in Vampire it's easier, but much harder in Mage). So usually I ended up simply allowing players to use higher of these traits when dealing with social stuff, distinction being mostly in style. In rare cases where it was clear that only one is appropriate, it was pretty much always "yeah, it's Manipulation, and Manipulation only". So I've had hard time pinning down heart of "when Presence is most appropiate and what does it mean". Any hints how to look at it differently, or solutions you use yourself? Is this simply due to my players making characters and having playstyles that lean towards manipulative side of the social interactions, or is this somehow problem of my perception? How do you use and explain them, and how do you make them distinct, instead of "they are basically two different approaches, kinda like two different sugar coatings"?

  • #2
    Presence is Force of Personality... which is why it is on the Power Line.
    Manipulation is discrete, subtle and sneaky... hence why it is on the Finesse Line.

    That is how I always tend to look at it... are you using Force of Personality (Power, and thus Presence) or are you being Diplomatic/Discrete (Finesse, and thus Manipulation)?

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    • #3
      I suggest having a look at this thread:

      http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...-noob-question

      A lot of good things came out of it


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      • #4
        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.
        Thing I'm going to try out is probably using different Resistance Attributes for rolls involving them; someone trygin to Manipulate their way in might face -Wits or Composure to their roll, while someone using Presence might fight against their Resolve, I guess?

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        • #5
          Presence is better for first impressions, and for "brow beating" people. It lacks fine control. You might persuade someone, but they decide how they go about it.

          Manipulation fine control, but doesn't have much effect on the first impression. You can make someone do what you want, but that's only possible if you have their attention to begin with.

          High Presence, Low Manipulation: You draw at lot of attention, are likely charismatic, but you can't control people (beyond the simplest directions) worth crap.
          Low Presence, High Manipulation: You can move people like pawns, and are likely trust or at least respected, but most people won't even notice you or give you the time of day.

          Originally posted by WHW View Post
          Thing I'm going to try out is probably using different Resistance Attributes for rolls involving them; someone trygin to Manipulate their way in might face -Wits or Composure to their roll, while someone using Presence might fight against their Resolve, I guess?
          I'd use Resolve vs Manipulation, personally. Can you keep to your own purpose with someone trying to sway you? I'd have Composure resist Presence. Can you control the subconscious response you have to such charisma?
          Last edited by Vent0; 03-18-2016, 11:52 AM.


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          • #6
            In the real world the difference would be the time invested, Presence for an immediate response while Manipulation is used when time is spent maneuvering the target to where you want him. In game this can be harder because the players aren't really playing out the actual time spent but unless they are going for an extended role Presence is probably the more appropriate. Presence is convincing the target that you should get what you want, Manipulation is convincing them that it is actually what they want.

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            • #7
              Quick easy(/crass?) distinction:

              Presence is used for: Forcing Doors, rolls to improve first impressions and crowds.
              Manipulation is used for: All other rolls in social maneuvering (plus for social chases, if you use those rules).

              This gives them distinct functions, is clean and fits exactly the bill for strong first impressions/forcefulness of presence, vs. the tricky/slow games of manipulation. However, for this it sacrifices some nuance. I like the clarity it gives, though.

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              • #8
                Here is the way I do it.

                Presence= Honesty, Anything that is purely about looks (modeling), bluntness, and anything that's stated to require a presence roll, direct confedant seduction.

                Manipulation= Dishonesty, using pyschology to manipulate someone, Indirect seduction, things that are stated to require a manipulation roll.

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                • #9
                  Presence is very much focused on you, what you want, your magnetism, the gravitas that you carry yourself with. It's the Power attribute and similarly it's overpowering people with you.

                  Manipulation is much more focused on them. It's convincing them to make the right decision. It's appealing to what they want, tricking them into thinking it was their idea and so on.

                  To me, that's a pretty clear line.

                  The guy with High Presence is probably good at convincing you to do things for him, but it's always as a favor to him. He asks you if he can borrow your car and you're like, well, he's such an important/nice/charming guy that you do it. If he has low Manipulation he's probably not good at trying to trick you to do something, but he's got that magnetism to get people to do things specifically for him.
                  Last edited by Leetsepeak; 03-19-2016, 12:37 PM.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Leetsepeak View Post
                    To me, that's a pretty clear line.
                    Like, I had a conversation earlier this month with one of my players about how to stat his con-man character, and it came up that, jokes about the Grand Galactic Inquisitor aside, Presence is the Attribute you use for basic "pay me no mind, go back to whatever you were doing" misdirection stuff.

                    Immediate impressions in general (including first impressions) seem to fit the bill for the Attribute fairly directly - you use Manipulation if you intend to talk your way out of a situation, but you use Presence to prevent interlopers from getting close enough for that to be necessary.

                    Not for nothing is "air of authority" one of the sample Attribute Tasks.


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