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Drachasor
2011-08-21, 12:47 AM
So I've been interested in seeing games that do non-combat conflicts really well and how those systems work.

I've played a number of RPGs. AD&D, D20 games, 4th Edition D&D, The Dresden Files RPG, Sorcerer, the old world of darkness games..hmm, maybe a couple others. I'm not sure I'd say any of them had a really awesome non-combat conflict system (and I'd say D&D variants typically have the best combat systems). FATE was maybe the best of those, though the maneuver system sometimes feels pretty clunky.

Anyhow, anyone play any RPGs with non-combat conflict systems that felt smooth, fun, somewhat realistic, and had depth?

Knaight
2011-08-21, 12:53 AM
Synapse is brilliant.

Basically, every character has quantified motives that are derived from their life and background. The social skills inherently interact with these motives, and appealing to strong personal motives is the effective way to influence people. The best part is, the author has clearly studied enough psychology for the motives to be accurate and largely comprehensive.

Drachasor
2011-08-21, 12:58 AM
Yes, I am planning on taking a look at that (in fact I made this thread in response to your post regarding Synapse in another thread).

Knaight
2011-08-21, 01:00 AM
Yes, I am planning on taking a look at that (in fact I made this thread in response to your post regarding Synapse in another thread).

I kind of suspected as much. However, I also didn't go into detail there, so whatever. Some notes on Synapse.
1) It is entirely free.
2) You can download it right now.
3) It is made to professional quality.

Drachasor
2011-08-21, 01:09 AM
I actually can't download it now, because I am going to bed.* I shall find it and look at it in the morning, however.

*Such a statement could result in long debates on whether free will exists or not, but let us leave that for another time and thread.

Arbane
2011-08-21, 01:29 AM
I like the way Weapons of the Gods handles social influence - it's not "oh, you failed the resistance roll? Now you MUST DO THIS", it's "The courtier's 'discovered' a Chi Condition stating you've wanted to do X all along - play along with it, and your character gets a bonus." (Not playing along with it gets a corresponding penalty.)

Totally Guy
2011-08-21, 02:12 AM
I really like the way Burning Wheel does social conflict.

This is a big ol' play aid from the new edition that came out this month. It's the Duel of Wits.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v44/macdonnell/DuelofWits.jpg

First of all the two players both write in their Statement of Purpose. This is the the thing that must happen should you you win. The result is binding and if you cannot accept the other person's Statement of Purpose you can walk away from the conflict before it starts or escalate to violence immediately after the conflict.

Next the players generate their Body of Argument. This is a dice roll to determine your social "hit-points" of your argument.

After that you script out an action (detailed on the right) for each of the three Volleys. Point, Avoid, Dismiss for example. You'd choose ones that match your skills and you'd consider the skills your opponent has. You'd also consider how difficult to roleplay they would be, I find feints hard to do.

The other player reveals his first choice. You each roleplay your part out. And then you roll the dice according to the action interaction matrix.

This continues until somebody's Body of Argument hits zero. The winner gets his Statement of Purpose and the loser gets a compromise on his Statement based on how much the winner lost.

After using this a few times it becomes an absolute godsend to our games and it's opened up so many new alleys to us that were previously inaccessible.

A player once wanted to have the Big Bad, an evil wizard, repent his evil ways and abandon his evil plan.
The Big Bad could have walked away but instead I put his Statement of Purpose that his plan would continue and the player character would work for him from now on.
The player didn't walk away from that either.

In the there was a draw. Both statements happen! From the words we had said at the table we then made a bargain. The BBEG would work together with the player to build a Moral Compass to stop the BBEG from "losing his way". Until that was done the evil plan would continue only until the Moral Compass could show him it was totally evil. It was a fantastic dynamic, the other players, even better when the other players were told the new plan and disagreed. :smallwink:

Knaight
2011-08-21, 03:36 AM
I actually can't download it now, because I am going to bed.* I shall find it and look at it in the morning, however.
Well, actually, if you assume that the capacity to exhert influence over...

*Such a statement could result in long debates on whether free will exists or not, but let us leave that for another time and thread.

Wait. Nevermind.

mathemagician
2011-08-21, 08:51 AM
Another vote for Burning Wheel. It wraps up the entire social interaction, and you have your choice of how you roleplay it out. You do not have to come up with a long speech, just say enough to justify the action you wrote down, and a proper dialogue will come out of the entire series of interactions :)

Vortling
2011-08-21, 09:58 AM
Not the most in depth of systems out there but I enjoy how PDQ runs its social conflicts. Specifically it uses the same base mechanic it uses for its other conflicts. It's not the deepest system as far as social mechanics go but I'm a fan of the design simplicity. You can get it free here (http://www.atomicsockmonkey.com/freebies.asp)

Glimbur
2011-08-21, 09:12 PM
Legend (http://www.gralamin.com/legend.pdf) has a social system which looks much better than 3.5, but that's not saying a lot. Succeeding at skill checks gets you tokens, which can be bid to compel actions from the other party. It looks kind of light on rules, but I'd be willing to try it out.

Requiem_Jeer
2011-08-21, 09:16 PM
It would be remiss of me to not mention Exalted's Social Combat system. You have social stats, and can do so many things with them it isn't funny. You get bonus dice for actually having good arguments, and everyone has a 'motivation' and 'intimacies', which are strong emotions towards a thing or idea, and you get bonuses for targeting them.

Neon Knight
2011-08-21, 10:49 PM
It would be remiss of me to not mention Exalted's Social Combat system. You have social stats, and can do so many things with them it isn't funny. You get bonus dice for actually having good arguments, and everyone has a 'motivation' and 'intimacies', which are strong emotions towards a thing or idea, and you get bonuses for targeting them.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid I have to disagree most strenuously. Exalted is a mechanically distressed game under the best of circumstances, but social combat is one of the places where it falls apart in the most chaotic of ways.

First off, those socials tats you mention are not created equal. It depends on the exact Exalt type in question, but typically certain skills will have more powerful and useful Charms (read: "spells", or supernatural abilities), and a large part of your power in Exalted stems from Charm use.

Also, stunt bonus dice are a small pittance that pale in comparison to the large die pools Exalts throw around casually, without even spending Essence (read: mana. It's basically a resource you spend to do supernatural stuff). The Essence and Willpower regen you can get from stunts is more important. (It's also true that to some extent, dice and the size of your dice pools aren't necessarily the important thing in any Exalted fight. Your Charms, the size of your Essence Pool, and the rate at which you spend Essence can be much more important.)

Exalted Social combat has the interesting factor that Willpower (another resource) is used as your social/mental "health", but you can also spend Willpower to use Charms (read: "spells", or supernatural abilities) and to do things like resist effects caused by Charms. Willpower is more difficult to recover than Essence, and you don't get much of it (until the character gen rules got errated, you really didn't get very much). In theory, the best time to hit someone with a social attack is after they've just done something that involved them spending Willpower, like crafting something epic or fighting an entire army of tough badguys.

Another potential issue is that Exalted uses a tactical timing system for combat. In social combat, it doesn't come up that much unless

The final thing I'd also like to mention is that Exalted social combat is nowhere realistic, largely because it isn't trying to be. Exalted is a world where there are certain beings you simply don't talk to, because with one sentence they can utterly destroy your will and personality. There are some people you either attack on sight or immediately flee from, because any chance you give them to speak is an instant where your very being might be threatened as keenly as if they were swinging a sword at you.


___

Personally, I've never found a social combat system that I'm truly at peace with. In particular the "agree to a set of conditions, punch him in the face, or run away" type systems have always rubbed me the wrong way (if only a little). Certain variants of the models used by Fate 3.0 games (Dresden Files, Strands of Fate, and the like) to be alright, although that's because they use the same mechanics they use for normal combat resolution, and those work out just fine.

Drachasor
2011-08-22, 12:29 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll take a look at them all in order. If anyone else has other good ideas, please share them. Hmm, I had a friend suggest L5R, but the system that sounds extremely setting specific.


Personally, I've never found a social combat system that I'm truly at peace with. In particular the "agree to a set of conditions, punch him in the face, or run away" type systems have always rubbed me the wrong way (if only a little). Certain variants of the models used by Fate 3.0 games (Dresden Files, Strands of Fate, and the like) to be alright, although that's because they use the same mechanics they use for normal combat resolution, and those work out just fine.

Yes, the best I've encountered has been "ok." Hence the thread. Well, I'd actually say "not horrible" rather than "ok."

Drachasor
2011-08-22, 09:42 PM
Ok, I've read through Synapse's rules (well, I skipped the combat and magic sections), and I think the document must be wrong or something.

Hmm, basic conflict mechanic:
Ok, there are 7 attributes (between 1 and 12), and each one has 3 possible talents you can pick up.


Every conflict has a difficulty and associated talent (and hence associated attribute, A). As a base you roll a number of d6's equal to the difficulty.
Subtract one die if you have the associated talent.
Subtract one die if you have an appropriate skill (which have experience levels, some integer number, S).
Roll the dice and add them up, this is R.
If R < A+S (roll < attribute number + skill experience), then you succeed. So the higher your skill and experience, the easier it is to do harder stuff. Makes sense.


Less-thans always sound clunky to me, but no biggie. (Side note: roll two 1s, no matter how many dice you roll, and your skill goes up by 1).

Social Conflict:
There are 22 motivations in the game. It sounds like a lot, but it looks pretty nice. They have stuff like Absolution -- desire to apologize/confess for wrongs you've done, to Construction -- desire to build/make stuff, to Exposition -- desire to deliver information, to Revenge -- desire to Kahn it up. They range in value from 1 to 10.

Ok, this sounds really cool.


Conversations:
When you make a roll to influence someone, the GM may require that you specify what Motivation you are appealing to in your target. The GM will subtract the Motivation that you chose from the targetís strongest motivation and provide you with a modifier to subtract from your die results.

For example, you chose to appeal to a targetís Cooperation. The GM consults their notes and this individual has a Cooperation of 4 and their highest Motivation is a 6. The GM tells you that you can subtract 2 from your die results.

Err...what? I don't get that.
So if, I appeal to Mr. Vow of Poverty's Acquisition (e.g. greed, we'll assume it is 1), and his highest motivation is Obligation (desire to help others, we'll assume it is 6), then I subtract 5 from my die rolls?

Doesn't that mean it is easier to appeal to the least motivating things in a person? Oh, and the example conversation at the end of the book has the GM tell a player to add 4 to their attribute for picking a good Motivation...which is not what the Conversation section says at all. Are they just adding the relevant motivation to the A+S side? I could see that (and then subtracting a higher motivation if it would be opposed).

NPC's also have dispositions, which seem like they can be really strong. Negative disposition adds dice, positive subtracts dice. Not sure how I feel about that, seems perhaps a bit too much of a weight.



So, I'll have to try out some tests of this once I see how it is supposed to run. Definitely like how everyone has a nice list of Motivations with weights. That's awesome. One thing I like about it is it really helps give players something concrete to work with. One thing that I've seen to be trouble in a lot of RPG social conflicts is the lack of a concrete base to work from can leave players floundering.* This very nicely avoids that.

*FATE has this problem, since aspects can be anything and can potentially be hard to guess or hard to apply (especially if you are lacking in FPs, which makes the game seem a bit too dependent on them). Motivations, in comparison, are much more straightforward.

Edit: Interestingly, the rules on taking actions seem to indicate this is intended to be a pretty heavy Simulationist game. At least, it seems rather difficult to act against your strongest motivation in a given situation (and the motivations cover almost everything).

Drachasor
2011-08-25, 11:43 PM
Just read over Burning Wheel. It looks interesting, but hard to judge the balance of various actions vs. each other without playing it out, I think.

Does it produce really, really odd exchanges? It sort of seems like it would since you lay out 3 actions you take in order during each volley.

Assuming all that is fine, it seems pretty neat structurally speaking -- by that I mean I'm not as certain about some of the aspects of the resolution mechanic in the game,* but that's a bit different than the structure of social conflicts.

*Just stuff like helping, advantages, disadvantages, and so forth.