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> Social Conflict System, How do you handle PC arguments?
TheGothfather
post Oct 26 2007, 06:57 PM
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So, after running an SR4 campaign for over a year, and then in-between campaigns playing a one-shot Burning Wheel demo, I've become concerned about the lack of a decent social conflict system in Shadowrun.

Now, the point of this is not PC vs. NPC interaction - this kind of conflict (like Negotiations) can be handled easily by Opposed Tests. But PC vs. PC conflict is usually ignored by the rules. In most groups I've played in, social skills are not used against PC's, but rather, the conflict is roleplayed out, often without any clear resolution. So, I came up with this sort of unrefined system for settling arguments, inspired by the Burning Wheel. The following is geared toward one-on-one conflict. I'm still trying to figure out how multiple characters could work in this. Any and all feedback on this houserule would be appreciated.

Social Conflict Resolution

This system uses an Opposed Extended social skill test to determine the outcome of a social conflict between two characters. Note that it is intended to be used with both PC vs. NPC and PC vs. PC conflict. These rules assume that the optional rule which limits the number of rolls in an extended test to the amount of dice in the character's pool (e.g., a character with a dice pool of 8 can only make 8 rolls to reach the threshold) is being used.

1. Both sides of the argument must decide and agree to the terms of the argument. This is essentially stating, "If I win, you do this, and if you win, I'll do that. Once both sides agree to the terms, the conflict can begin.

2. Determine the threshold for the extended social skill test. This will be the sum of Will + Charisma. Appropriate augmentations from cyber/bioware, spells, or adept powers apply.

3. The conflict is handled by making an extended social skill test against the threshold determined in step 2. Any appropriate skill will work here, although Negotiation will probably be the most commonly used.

The only non-standard thing about this test is that instead of the interval being measured in time, it's measured in statements, with each roll being one statement. The statements are made by each side involved, and then the dice are rolled.

4. The conflict is resolved if one of the following happens: one character meets the threshold, thus winning the argument; both characters reach the threshold at the same time, in which case the argument is a stalemate, and they then have to agree on compromises; one character has run out of available rolls, and thus looses; or, finally, both characters run out of extended test attempts, and then, just as if both had met their thresholds, major compromises must be made and agreed upon.

5. Win, lose, or compromise. This part is fairly easy. The agreed upon terms are carried out in favor of the winner. This does not mean that the loser's mind is changed. He/she is still free to hold a grudge and seek revenge. In fact, the loser always has the option to escalate the conflict to combat. If the loser has generated any hits during the exchange, then he's earned some compromises. While the winner still gets what he wants, but he has to make some concessions, based on the margin of failure of the loser.

I don't think this is necessarily perfect, or even usable. It's just an idea, and, if anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear about it.

All edits are marked in red.
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deek
post Oct 26 2007, 07:21 PM
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This came up in our game in the second session (over a year ago). At that time, we all agreed that PC v. PC conflicts had to be resolved without dice...

I like what you are trying to do, but players don't like dice to determine what they can and can't do when reacting to other players...I'd be curious to see how this works through play, but I'm not sure many players are going to be okay with this type of system.
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Eryk the Red
post Oct 26 2007, 07:29 PM
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I'm with Deek on not liking dice controlling players like that, but I understand why it would be desirable sometimes. It's the same reason we allow social rolls to manipulate NPCs. I am an uncouth person. My character, however, is a skilled negotiator and conman. Other player is very clever. His character is uncharismatic and weak-willed. In player to player arguments and debates, the first player will lose. The character with those skills does not benefit from them.

I don't know how bad of a problem this really is (depends how you look at it), but it's weird that my character's charisma works on everyone in the world except for this select few. It's off-putting, especially since you wouldn't resolve player-to-player combat with an actual fistfight. You'd let the dice do it.

Luckily, this hasn't been an issue in my game. I've only felt the need to make social rolls between PCs when one PC lies to another, and the players both know the truth but the character might not.
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Eleazar
post Oct 26 2007, 07:41 PM
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It really all depends. I think dice should be used, because they help reinforce the type of character that was built. If I am doing a negotiation against the face of the team and I am a brute samurai, he is going to come out on top most of the time. Realize all the social modifiers would come into play too. The face might have a lot of dice, but depending on the situation he could have a heck of a lot of negative dice pool modifiers. People with low charisma and no social skills are easily manipulated in Shadowrun. That is just the way it is. Rolling the dice ensures that the PCs are role-played as they were built. Oddly enough, logic and intuition do not seem to play a role into how easily socially manipulated a PC is.
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TheGothfather
post Oct 26 2007, 07:41 PM
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QUOTE (deek)
This came up in our game in the second session (over a year ago). At that time, we all agreed that PC v. PC conflicts had to be resolved without dice


I can see that, but the problem is that when you settle conflicts without dice, the advantage doesn't necessarily go to the character built for advantages in social situations, it goes to the better roleplayer, which isn't, IMHO, fair.

In my last game, a lot of the intra-party conflicts were won by a character who had a social dice pool of 3. That just doesn't seem right to me. Also, does the face's tailored pheromones magically stop working against other players? It seems inconsistent that the rules shouldn't apply universally.

QUOTE (deek)
I like what you are trying to do, but players don't like dice to determine what they can and can't do when reacting to other players


Ah, but that's why the first step is setting the terms. Both players have to agree to them first before any dice are rolled. Perhaps I'll adjust the rules so that it's an opposed extended test, and compromises have to be made if the looser generates any net hits by when the argument is done.
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Fortune
post Oct 26 2007, 07:45 PM
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QUOTE (TheGothfather)
... but the problem is that when you settle conflicts without dice, the advantage doesn't necessarily go to the character built for advantages in social situations, it goes to the better roleplayer, which isn't, IMHO, fair.

Technically, the 'better roleplayer' should play the character he has properly, which would mean purposely losing his argument to the PC with the more appropriate social stats. ;)
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TheGothfather
post Oct 26 2007, 07:48 PM
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QUOTE (Fortune)
Technically, the 'better roleplayer' should play the character he has properly, which would mean purposely losing his argument to the PC with the more appropriate social stats.


True. I should have said better debater, or most clever player.
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Fortune
post Oct 26 2007, 07:52 PM
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Then maybe the solution is to have a talk with your players out of game and explain the situation as you see it. They might not be aware of the problem, or at least not that it bothers you as much as it (possibly) does.
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PlatonicPimp
post Oct 26 2007, 08:04 PM
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This always comes up, and I think the reason most players hate letting dice rolls decide who wins is that it robs them of the chance to make their arguments. The system you describe gives each person the chance to make their arguments, with the dice only determining if the characters are swayed or not. (in fact, if the dice say that the character isn't swayed, but the player is, the player can change their mind anyway.) This gives everyone both the chance to convince each other IRL, and make use of their character's negotiating skills.

In fact, this seems an awful lot like the conflict resolution system from Dogs in the Vineyard. Are you familiar with that game?
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TheGothfather
post Oct 26 2007, 08:06 PM
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Well, it's not so much of a problem, as it is a failing that I see in the system. The mechanics don't bolster the roleplaying, and vice-versa. I think that players in an RPG often forget the G part when it's inconvenient.

Also, something like this could create much more opportunity for good RP action at the table - remember, this isn't designed as a mind control rule. The loser doesn't have to like it, even though he's agreed to it. Hell, he can always escalate to violence if he wants a way out.
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TheGothfather
post Oct 26 2007, 08:08 PM
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QUOTE (PlatonicPimp)
In fact, this seems an awful lot like the conflict resolution system from Dogs in the Vineyard. Are you familiar with that game?


I played a variation of it at a con earlier in the year, and it was fantastic. This was a little more inspired by The Burning Wheel, but I wanted to ditch the scripting mechanic from that system.
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Simon May
post Oct 26 2007, 11:03 PM
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For most arguments and conversations, bet they PC v. NPC, or PC v. PC, I generally prefer to role play it out. That being said, sometimes you need a clear victor to be able to move on. In those case, I have the characters involved make rolls. It does occasionally happen between PCs who simply can't agree, and doing it that way keeps a serious fight from breaking out.
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DTFarstar
post Oct 26 2007, 11:04 PM
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I am mostly against using dice to resolve PC conflicts for two reasons, I have played with some real idiots who would build social characters and then try to use then to force the rest of us to go along with their really stupid ideas. Ideas even their character would know were stupid, but that they thought were brilliant.

The second reason is simply this - I am a clever and charismatic player and if we let dice start deciding PC to PC arguments then I might actually stop winning all of mine, which would make me sad.

I once had a GM(DM actually, this was DnD) who would give modifiers to your in game roll for how persuasive you actually were in your argument and your portrayal of your character. I don't think I lost a single diplomacy or bluff check the whole campaign(Spanning some 14 levels) and I think I put like 8 skill points total into them. It was a nice little fringe benefit.

Chris
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TheGothfather
post Oct 26 2007, 11:23 PM
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QUOTE (DTFarstar)
I am mostly against using dice to resolve PC conflicts for two reasons, I have played with some real idiots who would build social characters and then try to use then to force the rest of us to go along with their really stupid ideas. Ideas even their character would know were stupid, but that they thought were brilliant.


Yeah, but a system like the one I've described makes you agree to the terms of the argument beforehand. No one can force anyone to do anything that they absolutely refuse to do.

QUOTE (DTFarstar)
The second reason is simply this - I am a clever and charismatic player and if we let dice start deciding PC to PC arguments then I might actually stop winning all of mine, which would make me sad.


Of course, losing an argument could lead to some interesting roleplaying situations later down the road, which could make the game more fun
;)
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Glyph
post Oct 27 2007, 02:32 AM
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I think the biggest problem with SR's social skill system is that it assumes someone who doesn't have high social skills is more easily manipulable by social skills, which isn't always true. A lot of times, the most anti-social people can be the hardest to convince to do something - and it's not because they have "high Willpower", either.

I can live with the flaws of the system when it is used to quickly simulate things like negotiating pay from the Johnson, blending in at a go-ganger rave, and so on. But it breaks down more for me in player vs. player mode, where everyone else suddenly goes along with whatever the face wants to do.

Unfortunately, although your system is very well-thought out and fairly balanced, it is still going to almost insurmountably favor the face. It's like resolving conflicts by having the face get in a target shooting contest, pitting his 7 dice against the sammie's 18 dice. Only the other way around.

It's a thin line to walk, I know. You want people to be able to roleplay their own characters, without them being bigfooted by the social skill monsters. But on the other hand, someone who allocates a lot of points to social skills should get what he or she paid the build points for.

Ultimately, my recommendation would be to let the players roleplay their interactions out. The rules don't convey all of the subtle nuances of actual human interaction. Leave them out unless the game bogs down and some kind of quick resolution is needed. Penalize bad roleplaying, though. As Fortune pointed out, a Charisma: 1 character who is glib and smooth is not a good roleplayer. If he can win the argument while talking and acting like a troll with an abrasive manner and a crude sense of humor, that's different.
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Nikoli
post Oct 27 2007, 02:47 AM
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How about this, for every die in your pool, you get 5 seconds to state your arguement. No more.
The face gets time to make a good arguement (as is their talent) while the unsocable lout has to stammer it out in about 15 seconds or less.
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Wounded Ronin
post Oct 27 2007, 02:58 AM
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QUOTE (Nikoli)
How about this, for every die in your pool, you get 5 seconds to state your arguement. No more.
The face gets time to make a good arguement (as is their talent) while the unsocable lout has to stammer it out in about 15 seconds or less.

This one sounds the most fun.
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Nikoli
post Oct 27 2007, 02:59 AM
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To me it would give the better of both worlds. Your skill investment means something and your personal skill is mimalized yet not trivial.
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Jack Kain
post Oct 27 2007, 04:50 AM
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Charisma has nothing to do with a good argument. You can convince someone with a bad argument using good charisma or say conning them. So the face may to totally flat wrong and an idiot in this matter who has no idea what he's talking about. But because he's charismatic he convinces someone.

But a good argument is constructed logically. And if you think it isn't maybe you should take Logic class in collage as you obviously need it.

Lets look at this, argument you have the Elf Face vs the Troll there arguing over how to get into the compound. The Elf Face Adept (who rolls 20 Dice on social skills) says they should go in from the left because he's left handed.

The Troll who rolls (4 dice on social skills) knows for a fact the other side is filled with traps such as pits filled nanowire and hidden gun emplacements, because when he beat the crap out that guard earlier he stole the security layout.

Should that argument be decided on a social skill test or based on how good the actually argument is?

Only magic should take away a character free will. If I had a GM who imposed this system on me. I would leave the table and not play with them again. Its like the same immaturity of D&D players who try and use there awesome charisma skills to sleep with NPC's or even other PC's.
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Riley37
post Oct 27 2007, 05:02 AM
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QUOTE (Eryk the Red)
...you wouldn't resolve player-to-player combat with an actual fistfight. You'd let the dice do it.

Wimp.
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Nikoli
post Oct 27 2007, 05:07 AM
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I never said arguements needed to contain logic, and often the more heated the arguement, the less logic to be made use of. Now a discussion is an entirely different matter.

Given that said troll likely has at best equal logic att. to the elf face, his best bet is to simply say, "Here, I got this of that guard over der what I mugged the crap out of."
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Glyph
post Oct 27 2007, 05:56 AM
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I'm with Jack. There should be no need of a "system" for resolving PC disagreements. They already have one. It's called "roleplaying".
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TheGothfather
post Oct 27 2007, 05:57 AM
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Wow... I go out for a few hours and get a lot of good responses! Awesome!

QUOTE (Glyph)
I can live with the flaws of the system when it is used to quickly simulate things like negotiating pay from the Johnson, blending in at a go-ganger rave, and so on. But it breaks down more for me in player vs. player mode, where everyone else suddenly goes along with whatever the face wants to do.

Unfortunately, although your system is very well-thought out and fairly balanced, it is still going to almost insurmountably favor the face. It's like resolving conflicts by having the face get in a target shooting contest, pitting his 7 dice against the sammie's 18 dice. Only the other way around.

It's a thin line to walk, I know. You want people to be able to roleplay their own characters, without them being bigfooted by the social skill monsters. But on the other hand, someone who allocates a lot of points to social skills should get what he or she paid the build points for.


Yes, it does give the advantage to the face, who spent BPs and nuyen for high social dice pools. And I think that's fair. Just as fair as the sammie rolling 18 dice against a character with a Reaction of 4. When you spend points on something, that makes it important to the player. I don't see why that should go away when it comes down to interactions between PCs.

Also, everyone seems to be ignoring the issue of compromise. It's likely that a character with a dice pool of 4 or 5 will get at least a couple of hits over the course of the exchange that don't get negated by the social monster's massive dice pool. That means that the face won't get everything that he wants. He's likely to make at least some compromises. Which also means that a character with a low social dice pool can play to lose, by framing the terms of his argument in such a way that he'll get some good compromises. And, yes, this does promote a certain amount of metagaming. But on the other hand, we are playing a game, and that usually entails some strategy.

QUOTE (Nikoli)
How about this, for every die in your pool, you get 5 seconds to state your arguement. No more.
The face gets time to make a good arguement (as is their talent) while the unsocable lout has to stammer it out in about 15 seconds or less.


Do you mean instead of rolling the dice? Because I think that would bog down the game. One of the points is to not bog down the game with a lot of arguing, and it seems silly to sit there with a stopwatch timing the players as they come up with arguments.

QUOTE (Jack Kain)
Charisma has nothing to do with a good argument. You can convince someone with a bad argument using good charisma or say conning them. So the face may to totally flat wrong and an idiot in this matter who has no idea what he's talking about. But because he's charismatic he convinces someone.

But a good argument is constructed logically. And if you think it isn't maybe you should take Logic class in collage as you obviously need it.

Lets look at this, argument you have the Elf Face vs the Troll there arguing over how to get into the compound. The Elf Face Adept (who rolls 20 Dice on social skills) says they should go in from the left because he's left handed.

The Troll who rolls (4 dice on social skills) knows for a fact the other side is filled with traps such as pits filled nanowire and hidden gun emplacements, because when he beat the crap out that guard earlier he stole the security layout.

Should that argument be decided on a social skill test or based on how good the actually argument is?


Yes, it should be based on a social skill test. We're not talking about who is logical, or who is right! People are often swayed by emotional arguments. Politicians win elections with them. The Church of Scientology bilks people out of millions with appeals to emotion. Companies play on your emotions and desires to make you buy their stuff. I don't think that I'm off-base on my way of thinking here.

Now, I could see basing the threshold on, say, Logic + Charisma. That's not such a bad idea. But, we're talking about a hot-tempered, passionate argument here, not a formal debate. Ad hominem, non sequitur (sp?), and strawmen are all fair game. The point is to get your way. But, again, we can mitigate a good deal of brutal social bashing with good enforcement of compromises.

Also, in your example, you forget about the first step in this houserule - setting the terms of the argument. Some compromises are already going to be made before any dice are rolled, since both parties have to agree to the terms before the arguments start flying.
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TheGothfather
post Oct 27 2007, 06:03 AM
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QUOTE (Glyph)
I'm with Jack. There should be no need of a "system" for resolving PC disagreements. They already have one. It's called "roleplaying".


You seem to be implying that I'm trying to get rid of roleplaying. Quite the contrary. I'm trying to use rules already available in the RAW to promote roleplaying while resolving a conflict.
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Glyph
post Oct 27 2007, 06:27 AM
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Well, you know your group, so maybe they need some kind of system.

I will say that I like your system a lot better than how some GMs rule on social skills. Judging by previous threads on the subject, some GMs treat social skills like mind control, letting the face get nearly any result with enough successes.
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