Being Social

There are two ways for a character to exhibit their personality in role playing games: through actions and through words. Much of this book covers rules about actions but this section focuses on their words. How important this is to your game will depend on the players and their style of play.

Some groups focus on combat or exploration and turn social activities into just another chance to use their dice. To other groups character interaction is vital but they have little need for rules to govern it. Instead these players rely on their own abilities to express their characters' thoughts. Other groups find a midway point, switching from dice and rules to characterisation and free-form gaming as they need.

All these approaches are perfectly correct ways to play the game and Game Leaders should adapt to how the group wishes to play. Even within groups the players may vary in their ability and desire to engage in social interaction. Not everyone is good at expressing themselves and those players should not be pressured into acting out social encounters. No one expects the player of a superhero to be able to lift a car themselves and so no one should expect the player of an erudite and persuasive space captain to have the same verbal prowess.

Social actions are no different from any other form of action - characters use advantages and spend their potential. Characters can always fall back on a potential action if they lack obvious social advantages but players are encouraged to be creative in how they use advantages. When talking to an old soldier a character could use their Military Service advantage and swap war stories, or when chatting to an Englishman the character could use their Meteorology advantage to chat about the weather. Even mundane equipment can be used as a prop to support a character's anecdote. With good role playing almost any advantage can be pressed into service during social actions.

Resistance & Outcome

Any time the players wish to use their potential and advantages to talk to, influence, command or otherwise interact with a sentient being, the Game Leader must decide how it will be resolved. There are three methods that can be used, depending on the situation and the group's preferred style. They are opposed, opposed & subjective and subjective.

When a character is trying to have a short-term, clearly defined effect on a creature, such as giving an unwanted order, the action is opposed. The creature has a resistance action and may gain situation bonuses. If the character's action succeeds, the creature carries out the order or otherwise complies with the character's wishes.

For more complex situations where there are multiple possible outcomes the opposed & subjective approach can be used. This is useful when the characters are trying to gain information or assistance from someone who has no desire to help. As with the opposed action, the creature has a resistance action and gains situation bonuses. If the action beats the resistance the Game Leader judges what information or help the creature gives the characters based on the degree of success and the situation.

A purely subjective approach is best used when the character's aim is more general in nature, such as befriending a non-player character, or when a witness has no reason to distrust or resist the character's questions. The character takes actions as normal but the Game Leader does not set a resistance. Instead they base the outcome on a variety of factors including the dice roll, the advantages used and the role playing.

Social Situation Bonuses

Many factors influence how people react in social situations, far too many to be meaningfully covered in a simple dice roll. Instead, situation bonuses for social interaction focus on two aspects: what are the non-player character's goals and how easy is it to communicate?

All sentient creatures have goals. Even if that goal is to sit on the sofa eating ice-cream, it is still their goal. When creatures are given opportunities to further their goals they are co-operative and helpful. In situations that threaten their goals they become more resistant and dissenting. Everyone has many goals but the most basic for a creature is to stay alive. Given the choice, most people become very amenable when facing the possibility of death. However, there are also plenty of instances when people forgo the goal of a long life in order to further another goal. Faced with torture and death, any number of soldiers, freedom fighters, parents and religious martyrs have resisted and sacrificed one goal in order to serve another.

Game Leaders must consider the goals of the non-player characters when setting situation bonuses. If the player characters' attempts at social interaction are in conflict with a creature's goals, the creature gets a suitable resistance bonus from 1d6+0 to 6d6+0. A creature's goals can be contradictory. For example the captured freedom fighter wishes to stay alive but also wishes to protect their colleagues in the resistance. Faced with the threat of death if they do not reveal information, the freedom fighter finds their goals to be mutually exclusive. The Game Leader should decide which goal is most important at this time and use it as the basis for the situation bonus. Players should be encouraged to think about the goals of the non-player character and use them to their advantage. The torturer who promises the freedom fighter no harm will come to their colleagues is attempting to work with their victim's goals to reduce the resistance. The more the players think about the lives and motivations of the sentient creatures they encounter, the richer and more involving the game becomes.

For any social encounter to be successful, the parties must be able to communicate easily. Background noise or radio interference reduces the ease of communication and increases resistance to the action. Forms of communication that are text- or voice-only make communication harder by cutting out many of the subtleties of face-to-face meetings. Any communication which is more difficult than a one-to-one chat in a quiet venue should attract situation bonuses.

Communication requires a common language between both parties and the lack of a shared tongue will add situation bonuses. What languages a character speaks is a narrative detail left to the player to decide. Characters with specific language advantages have a particular knowledge of that tongue and can use it in social situations. It is assumed in multicultural communities there is a lingua franca that everyone can speak well enough for day-to-day living. To communicate very basic ideas mime may be sufficient. Game Leaders should not unduly add situation bonuses for language barriers, reserving them for when there is a real gap in the parties' language, culture and biology which leaves little common ground to start a dialogue with.

All forms of social encounters last one scene by default. This gives the two sides a chance to assess each other and effectively communicate. It is not generally possible to gain situation bonuses by adjusting this time scale as it benefits both parties equally. The other party in the conversation may also not wish to change the time scale.

Targeting Characters

One problematic area of social interaction is occasions when non-player characters use their skills on the player characters. Here the players' natural desire to control the actions and destiny of their characters come into conflict with the result of dice rolls. This problem is magnified when one character is attempting to use their advantages, potential and dice to control or influence another player's character. A principle of the 6d6 RPG is that players are in control of their characters' storyline and that everyone in the group cooperates to shape the game's overall narrative. Players and the Game Leader should step out of character and talk about where the story is going and the consequences of attempts to influence a character. Players who are confident they are in charge of their character's ultimate storyline are players who are confident enough to role play situations where they lose some short-term control. Dice rolls can be used be as a guide but no character should be forced to change their actions, beliefs or personality without the player's consent.

Social Actions In Combat

Any attempt at social actions in combat faces a number of difficulties. The character needs to use potential just as with any other combat action and they need a way of communicating with the target. Battlefields are noisy confusing places so range applies to social actions just as it does to missile attacks, even if communication is via radio or telepathy. Situation bonuses for the area of effect also apply. In short, a social action is no different from any other form of attack in combat and the target always receives a resistance action.

Without specific keywords or advantages, the effect of social actions is limited to potential attacks. Any attempt to baffle, fast talk, distract, confuse, confound or otherwise hamper an opponent's ability to act counts as an attack doing potential damage.

Social advantages with the Status or Status (Specify) keyword allow characters to place status effects on targets, such as Enraged or Baffled. Not all creatures may be susceptible to all effects (can a robot be enraged?) but groups are encouraged to allow a fair amount of latitude in their use. Intimidating a zombie is no more unlikely or unrealistic than hurting a stone golem with a sword. Positive, morale-boosting status effects can also be placed on allies. Using social status effects in combat is no different from any other form of status effect (see Effects), and they last for one scene unless either the advantage specifies an alternative duration, e.g. Status (Round), or the character adjusts the time scale with the appropriate situation bonuses.

Magical powers, psionics or technology may allow a character to take direct control of a victim, using them as a puppet. These are control effects and are short-lived, but the victim is completely helpless once they fail the resistance against the original attack. They require the Control keyword and this form of influence is so unnatural, the defender always gains a 1d6+0 situation bonus against the attack.

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open/mechanics/core/languages.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/06 13:45 by darth_tigger
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