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BrotherlyMauler
2018-08-08, 03:45 PM
Long story short. I got into D&D many years ago for the tactical combat and roleplay. But our campaign ended and my DM wants to do a politics heavy game.

I love our DM, and I am confident I will enjoy his game, with or without combat. Thatís not the problem. The problem is, I have never played a highly political game and have no idea what to do. At all...

What advice could you pass to an inexperienced person like myself? Are there helpful resources on playing political games well? Maybe a book I could read? A movie I could watch? A handbook some playgrounder has made? Iím not really sure where to begin, and I donít want to be a dead weight for the party.

Pelle
2018-08-08, 04:15 PM
You could read The Prince?

BWR
2018-08-08, 04:24 PM
It really depends on what sort of setting, what sort of mechanics you'll use and what sort of politics the GM will focus on; a game of V:tM will play our differently than a L5R game, which will be different from Mythic Europe which will be different than Thyatis, which will be different than Taldor which will be different than Alphatia, etc. Will you be working with or working against other players? What sort of social position will you start with? What sort of power structures are in play: religious? monarchical? democratic? communistic? (money/wealth always works)

There are a few things which should be universal, however.
1. politics is social. You need a character who is sociable, has the right skills and an interest in it. Don't play a murderhobo or a loner.
2. politics is about people. NPCs will be the meat of the game. Interact with them, find out everything you can about them. Insinuate yourself into their circle of friends. You need to know who has the power to do what, what they want, and what sort of things they like
3. politics is about deals. Helping people to indebt them to you, business deals, intimidation/blackmail, pressuring less powerful opponents, absorbing others to increase your power base

On a side note, one thing I actually enjoyed about L5R 4e was how they really made the various courtier Schools focused on various methods of gaining political power: trading favors, always having the right stuff at hand, intimidation, blackmail and skullduggery, PR and flattery, or just being a really friendly person everyone likes.

There are plenty of books about how the be a successful politician or businessman, but for my money, the most accessible and enjoyable introduction to the details of politics is the comedy show "Yes Minister/Yes, Prime Minister". Granted, it's a modern Western democracy and many details are probably less than applicable to other settings, but the general mindset and the erosion of morals shown in the character of Jim Hacker over the series is great. It is as far as I am concerned the best comedy ever made. Just make sure to watch the original 80s run and not the reboot.

Koo Rehtorb
2018-08-08, 06:44 PM
Please don't do a political game in D&D. Use a system that's designed for it.

BrotherlyMauler
2018-08-08, 07:10 PM
Please don't do a political game in D&D. Use a system that's designed for it. It will probably be really freeform and a step away from the D&D system. He plans on us mostly relying our own skills, instead of skill checks. Itís one reason why Iím nervous. I havenít exactly been great, historically, regarding my personal diplomatic skills.

Darth Ultron
2018-08-08, 07:15 PM
Movies to watch:

The Manchurian Candidate
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Dave
Wag the Dog
Bulworth
The American President
Election
The Distinguished Gentleman
Citizen Kane
Dr. Strangelove
Primary Colors
And any movie with 'Nixon', 'Kennedy', or 'Churchill' in the name

TV: House of Cards, The West Wing, or Spin City

Calthropstu
2018-08-08, 07:51 PM
For House of Cards, I recommend watching the british version. The American one was crap in comparison.

But, before you do any of this let's confirm a few things.

1: Will you be doing political maneuverings behind the scenes, in the public eye or working within an organization?

2: Is this for futuristic, modern, past, fantasy?

3: Will you be starting with followers or getting them as you go along?

4: How much of a bastard do you want this character to be?

5: How much optimization do you wish to employ?

6: What system will act as the games chasis?

RazorChain
2018-08-08, 09:01 PM
A Political game is about getting something, Riches, Power, Favours, Fame, Influence or realizing some ideal or a goal. Usually you try to do it in a non violent manner although war is just continuation of Politics.

What is boring about D&D in the political arena isn't the social mechanics but the structure of the game, you can realize all above by going into dungeons and killing monsters and taking their loot, then you just realize your goals through personal power and ridiculous amounts of wealth.

Game of Thrones is an excellent start where everyone is vying for power and prestige

The Prince is more about governance than anything else and got Machiavelli a bad rep because his objectivity on the most logical/practical ways to aquire and retain power and go about governing. The people of the time were more concerned about honor and prestige than practicality.

Politics even on small scale are fun because everyone has a motivation and a goal. Let's just take office politics. Your coworker is a incompetent dumb ass and you want him gone as he manages to sabotage things inadvertently for you and make you look bad because his mistakes relfect badly on your small team. So your goal is to get him out of the way for the good of everybody.

So what do you do? Most people won't go and just murder him because then they are in a heap of trouble, the consequences are too dire. You could hire an assassin but that costs you a lot of money you might not have and could be traced to you if you were unlucky. Most people don't resort to those means. You could speak to your boss about his incompetance and try to have him fired, but let's say your boss has a motive for keeping him around....he's a relative or the boss is commited because he doesn't want to acknowledge the mistake he made by hiring your coworker in the first place so he just tries to gloss over your coworkers mistakes.

No you have to do something else, make an alliance with everybody at the office and that you refuse to work on projects with the incompetent coworker, forcing your boss' hand to do something. Or you work towards having the incompetent fool promoted to project leader so he can fail disastrously, hopinng that he gets fired. You could collect enough data and showcase your coworkers incompetence to your boss' boss and how your boss is glossing over his mistakes.

These are just an office politics where you have the goal of getting somebody fired, now move to a grander scale and you'll have a lot of fun. But the most fun is when you are proactive, a player in the game.

Saintheart
2018-08-09, 06:25 AM
Go read 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Sufficiently superficial for application in an RPG, lots of examples, and an interesting read even if you'll feel like you'll need to have a shower afterward.

Eldan
2018-08-09, 06:57 AM
Depending on your group, you could actually have a lot of fun playing an outsider. Be from another country. Don't know the local manners. Be somewhat brash and very direct. Take a no-nonsense approach.
Just because the game is about politics does not mean you have to be a politician. And just because you're a politician doesn't mean you have to be a highly successful Machiavellian genius.

Second, think more about your character's motivations and personality. Make yourself a checklist. Here's a few ideas:

1. In what social class did the character grow up? What does that mean? How would they act based on that?
2. What does the character want in life, in the abstract?
3. What are their steps to achieve this? What are concrete goals?
4. What kind of people does this character hate? What kind of people does this character trust?
5. What is my character's biggest flaw in personal interaction?

You can make all of these very short. Even generic. Honestly, for most groups "Hates overly polite people" or "Doesn't trust priests" or "Thinks dwarves are uncultured" are absolutely enough. Write it down in front of you to remember it. Then you play out that quirk whenever appropriate. Don't feel bad about starting with clichťs, you can refine the traits as you go along.

denthor
2018-08-09, 09:33 AM
Play a Rogue
Doublesided clothing
Daggers
Cloaks

Basically hit man

If fighter or wizard. Body gaurd

Take skills like

Animal husbandry
Animal handling
Cook
Shoe maker
Knowledge local Leo Gets what you want Leo Gets

Mission Impossible

tomandtish
2018-08-09, 02:04 PM
Honestly, also good to clarify with your DM what they mean by a politics heavy/highly political game.

Are we talking one where the players are actually involved in political decisions? Or one where political decisions are the primary influence on the course of events. They aren't automatically the same thing.

Even Game of Thrones has both examples in it. Some characters (Daenerys, Cersei) are actively involved in the "political decisions" side.

Others, like Arya, Bran, and Bron are heavily involved in the results of political decisions, but they aren't really making them.

Some start one way and end the other (Jon).

So make sure you and your DM are on the same page when they say political game.

PinkSpray
2018-08-10, 09:55 PM
Depending on your group, you could actually have a lot of fun playing an outsider. Be from another country. Don't know the local manners. Be somewhat brash and very direct. Take a no-nonsense approach.
Just because the game is about politics does not mean you have to be a politician. And just because you're a politician doesn't mean you have to be a highly successful Machiavellian genius.

Second, think more about your character's motivations and personality. Make yourself a checklist. Here's a few ideas:

1. In what social class did the character grow up? What does that mean? How would they act based on that?
2. What does the character want in life, in the abstract?
3. What are their steps to achieve this? What are concrete goals?
4. What kind of people does this character hate? What kind of people does this character trust?
5. What is my character's biggest flaw in personal interaction?

You can make all of these very short. Even generic. Honestly, for most groups "Hates overly polite people" or "Doesn't trust priests" or "Thinks dwarves are uncultured" are absolutely enough. Write it down in front of you to remember it. Then you play out that quirk whenever appropriate. Don't feel bad about starting with clichťs, you can refine the traits as you go along.

This.

Stress that characters should have at least one exceptional social skill (persuasion/diplomacy, deception,
intimidation). Then they can contribute. Then, based on their backgrounds, make social interaction have
broad consequences that affect individuals, groups, and even entire kingdoms/cities.

Political = dramatic. When the players make a decision, that choice should impact the environment. Give
their decisions social weight. Good or bad.

Tanarii
2018-08-11, 04:34 PM
Raise armies. Conquer. That counts as politics. :smallamused:

If you read The Prince, make sure you go into it with the understanding that it was satire. Taking it seriously is like taking Swift's Modest Proposal seriously.

Haldir
2018-08-12, 01:22 PM
You could read The Prince?

Always practical advice.



Re: Need advice: How to play highly political games

Please don't do a political game in D&D. Use a system that's designed for it.

Love that this advice always crops up. I usually suggest an alternative, use a system that you're familiar with or a system that is so simplistic you can't screw it up. Learning new systems for individuals games is for the birds.


Tanarii
Re: Need advice: How to play highly political games

Raise armies. Conquer. That counts as politics.

If you read The Prince, make sure you go into it with the understanding that it was satire. Taking it seriously is like taking Swift's Modest Proposal seriously.

I wholeheartedly concur with this sentiment. If you're playing a political game in the vein of D&D, you will be around armies, and it will be fun and you'll make lots of rolls.

Frozen_Feet
2018-08-12, 01:59 PM
Just play a few games of Diplomacy for practice and you're good to go. :smalltongue:

Faily
2018-08-12, 06:03 PM
Love that this advice always crops up. I usually suggest an alternative, use a system that you're familiar with or a system that is so simplistic you can't screw it up. Learning new systems for individuals games is for the birds.

This!!!


Also, seconding the suggestions of others:
- Study up on the setting, take notes of cultural aspects.
- Interact with NPCs. Be interested in them. Make friends.

TheYell
2018-08-12, 09:51 PM
If you have time you could read "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" by Lawrence of Arabia. He had a lot of intrigue among the Arabs, among the French, and among the British factions in the Middle East.

My favorite part is where he wanted 2000 camels for riding, and the British command wanted them for carry supplies; so he put out that the British had mistakenly harnessed 2000 riding camels for freight duty (no such thing as a riding camel) but he knew the British aristocrats would pretend to be experts on the subject of animal breeding. He got his camels. Like he said, sometimes the best way across a square is along three sides.

Narmoth
2018-08-17, 02:20 PM
You could run it also in D&D. One important thing to keep in mind is to put wording above diplomacy rolls. Have a clear task for the players to accomplish in the beginning, so they get used to using diplomacy. And you remember to include other solutions than only using diplomacy. Ease the players into the idea by starting small, with clear options "support X to gain Y og support Z to prevent Y"

Kitten Champion
2018-08-17, 02:58 PM
I found the advice from the Fear the Boot podcast regarding political factions and how to create/utilize them pretty useful.

Here (https://www.feartheboot.com/ftb/index.php/archives/5338).

YohaiHorosha
2018-09-19, 09:55 AM
Don't be intimidated by the concept of "political".

It's a roleplaying style shift.

Without knowing more, your GM is probably talking about "more talking, less stabbing."

Classically, Vampire the Masquerade does this (different versions to different effect), as does most of White Wolf games. There are several Powered by the Apocalypse games are also do politics well (setting is sooooo varied, and I'm partial to Monsterhearts). But really, the concept shifts mechanics away from "how do I fight a thing" to "how do i achieve social cachet".

In my experience, the best way to figure out how you're going to roleplay in that shift is to get a really good sense of character motivations. White Wolf does so by marrying your character to a social group, which often colors your character's perspective. Other systems have interesting other mechanics and choices, but regardless knowing your character's backstory, motivations, and ambitions will dictate how you play. They are more important in this type of setting than in DnD (or any other hack and slash rpg). Focusing on character, you'll actually end up being political without intending on doing anything. And, remember, if you're playing your actual character, within the setting, there is no right or wrong way to play it.

kyoryu
2018-09-19, 10:36 AM
Politics is simply the art of getting what you want.

The most important thing in a "political" game is understanding who the NPCs are, and what their goals are. Then you can work on alliances, etc., and other complications.

It should be very sandboxy. Actually, not a sandbox - a pool table. When the players do a thing (any thing), this will cause balls to knock around the table and have side effects. Good players will make their moves in such a way that it sets up future moves, or to block moves from others as a side effect. The best players will make their moves in such a way that there is minimal impact apart from what they want. Sometimes a whispered word is sufficient...