View Full Version : System Suggestions: Courtly Intrigue & Social RP?

2011-07-07, 01:28 AM
Alright, Playground, here's the deal:

I'm in the preliminary stages of planning a new side campaign for my group. This campaign will be vastly different from anything they've ever done before, with the main focus being on courtly intrigue and social interaction (with the cinematic combat they're used to playing a much more minor role). While I would like to use a system that they're already familiar with, I must confess that all but one of them have only played D&D, and nothing else. However much I like both Pathfinder and 4e, neither system is really built with mechanics geared toward wholly non-combat play.

Thus, I am in the market for a new system to suit this campaign. Preferably, that system would meet the following criteria:
Include mechanics for social interaction as a primary feature. Dealing with myriad NPC will be the main focus of the whole campaign.
Support non-social interactions as well, albeit as a secondary feature (if necessary). I feel like this shouldn't have to be said, but I've seen some indy system that were all about social characteristics and nothing more—I want the occasional stealthy foray into the castle grounds at night, the sword fights for the sake of honour, even if they won't be the main focus.
Be compatible with a mediaeval fantasy setting. Maybe you know a really awesome sci-fi rpg that's all about interplanetary political intrigue, but I have a very specific setting in mind already.
Run with a (reasonable) level of simplicity. This isn't a major concern, as the campaign will most likely by done online, which means I can hide much of the mechanic side from my players in the background. However, I still don't want them to have to worry terribly much about learning an entirely new system instead of focusing on the actual role-play, and unnecessary mechanics are exactly that: unnecessary.

I don't know if these are unreasonable criteria, but I put them forth with the knowledge that you folks collectively know much more about the various RPGs out there than I do. If you can think of some system that is well suited to games of social interaction, courtly intrigue, and other such things, please don't hesitate to bring them up. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Many thanks,
— Enix18

2011-07-07, 02:13 AM
You basically described Houses of the Blooded.

2011-07-07, 04:39 AM
Burning Wheel, with the Duel of Wits subsystem in heavy use should cover this perfectly.

2011-07-07, 09:55 PM
Rokugan (Legend of the Five Rings) does this pretty well, but it's pretty tightly married to the setting which is a Fantastical Feudal Japan/China Amalgamationland.

Social classes have social superpowers in largely the same way fighters have fighting superpowers. There's not a huge amount of nuance to the core of the system, where most of the game is various flavors of opposing rolls, but it does have the simplicity you might be looking for.

If you're shopping around for a setting as well as a system, check it out, but if you have specific ideas about the setting you intend to play in, it might not gel very well.

2011-07-08, 12:05 AM
Thank you guys for the responses!

Legend of the Five Rings is actually a great suggestion. I love the system from what little I've played of it, and it definitely suits the theme of intrigue and social sparring. Of course, moving to Rokugan would mean abandoning the setting I already have in mind—not impossible, but definitely something I'll have to give considerable thought. L5R will have to go on the backburner for now, though I really appreciate the suggestion.

Burning Wheel looks like a promising alternative, although I admit that I've only barely looked into it. I'll have to do some more reading, but so far this is a good candidate.

Again, any suggestions are welcome! While I like the few ideas that have been put forth thus far, I'm still very much open to other possibilities.

2011-07-08, 12:38 AM
There's always GURPS as well -- lots of social *and* sneaky non-combat skills, there are explicit mechanics for things like social status and personal wealth, all skill rolls are made with 3d6, and combat is as simple or complicated as you want to make it.