View Full Version : More Detailed Social Rules [d20]

2010-01-28, 08:37 AM
This is an attempt to create a new system for handling relationships and interactions between characters. It's mostly intended for Starlight, but it should be easy to port to your own d20 variant.

Personally, I think social interactions should probably have slightly more coverage in the rules than D&D actually provides, and they shouldn't necessarily be handled in the same way as all other non-combat events.

At the same time, a character's alignment and/or nature should probably have an impact on a character's response to different situations.

Based on that, and also on grabbing elements from Exalted, TROS, and a few other games and shoving them into a melting pot, I came up with the following rough draft:

The Bookkeeping

To use this system, you need a general idea of what the character believes - or at least, what they might be starting to believe. These traits are grouped into two categories - the character's Code, and her minor goals.

Every character is assumed to have some kind of Code - for some characters, this code is less of a law or oath and more related to the character's personal ambitions. Each code contains a number of elements, which can be any of the following types:

Principles. Ethical beliefs held by a character, such as "Always treat people as an end unto themselves, never as a means to an end".
Allegiances. Individuals or organisations which have the character's loyalty or support.
Pacts or Oaths. A long term, binding pledge to serve a particular entity or organisation.
Alignments. Allegiances to an objective truth or a cosmic force. Each axis is a separate code element. Player characters should avoid alignments unless they have the approval of the rest of the troupe.
Virtues. Strong positive aspects of a character
Drives. A desire to bring about a particular event.

Note that at least half of the Code elements a character has should be Drives. A character may have any number of elements of a particular type, but may not take two identical or highly similar elements.


Confidence measures the degree to which a character believes in what she is doing. It can vary for a number of different reasons, most notably when the character completes or fails a goal, or decides to act either in accordance with or against her code.

If, during a scene or an encounter, a character takes a significant risk in following her code, or succeeds in a difficult task which advances her code, she gains a point of Confidence.

A character who accomplishes one of her goals gains one point of Confidence immediately, and the goal is subsequently removed.

Every scene where a character violates her code, or acts against one of her goals, she loses two confidence points. A character also loses one confidence point if she fails to pursue on of her goals given the chance, but may attempt to remove the goal.

At a particular time every day - chosen by her player - each character may either add one to her confidence or attempt to change some of her goals.


Under construction, but I think you can see where this is going.

Note that characters cannot gain goals that contradict their code, and giving a character a goal that contradicts one of her existing goals requires that you first remove the conflicting goal (a much harder check).

Any character can gain a goal as a consequence of persuasion, but they are often worth following. If you dislike a goal, as long as your character has a decent intelligence or charisma score, it's unlikely to do you much harm.

And even though PCs are susceptible to mundane mental influence, they still never really lose control of their characters as long as they're careful. The only obvious way to get into an "I don't control my character" situation is to ask for it really.

Baron Corm
2010-01-28, 08:50 PM
I don't see any rolling, heh. Are these actual rules and mechanics, or just a general idea? Or are you just not finished typing it out yet?

2010-01-29, 10:43 AM
I haven't typed the skills out yet - this is just the first half of the fix.

The main point here is to work out how to make players vulnerable to Diplomacy without jumping down the pit of "Stop playing my character!"

The first half - the code - is used to establish in game terms what a character will or won't do. It's deliberately pretty loosely defined.

The character's goals are basically things they've decided to do or things they've been persuaded to do. They get a small benefit for fulfilling them and suffer a penalty for ignoring them, but they aren't actually being tied down.

That's where Confidence comes in. I need to figure out a use for Confidence that leaves it useful but non-essential. Originally it was just going to be "pick a dice roll made for the character, roll twice and take the better result", but I'm worried that might make it too good.