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> My take on social skills, Sorry if I should have necroed the last thread instead of starting new
sunnyside
post Apr 15 2008, 08:19 PM
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I've seen a lot of people posting different issues they have with social skills. I don't feel so bad about them so I figured I'd share my 2 cents.


The first thing I notice is that a lot of people thing that when you get a whole lotta hits something fantabulastic and ridiculous should happen. However we don't see that mechanic in other similar skills. What we do see are a couple levels of results that can be achieved with a different number of hits. Usually four, sometimes five.

As an example of what I'm talking about consider Assensing. You could make an adept that can put down twenty or so dice for an assensing test, and of course they could use edge. So maybe they get 10 hits.

What do they get? They get the 5+ result same as if they got 5 hits. That's the information that you can assence, you found it, good job, but that's all you're going to get. They get the "general cause of emotional impressions", not the whole backstory.

So in a social situation I'll generally have a couple levels of what someone could negotiate to, or what someone could be convinced to do at different threasholds. And then we'll see if you can get it.

Note that this isn't screwing the social adept over. They're still getting something for all those extra dice. Specifically they're getting consistency. If I have NPCs with 5 levels of thresholds that can be reached a super face can reach them regularly, and without edge. Same as any other specialist.

Of course they're also getting the ability to ignore ridiculous numbers of modifiers. As for that, well, welcome to SR4, it's like that with everything. Your sammie can probably do this:
http://www.youtube.com/v/zTYofGwUX6g&hl=en

If you don't like it do something crazy like have the modifiers change the target number instead of the dice pool. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/grinbig.gif)


Next is the "should a player be able to call a woman fat, roll a pile of dice, and have her love him for it?"

Well, to that I quote the rules. (If that's OK here)
QUOTE (BBB)
Etiquette can also be used to negate a gaff made by the
player that the character is unlikely to have made. In this case,
the player makes an Etiquette Test against a Threshold equal to
the severity of the gaff (1 minor, 2 medium, 3 severe, 4 disastrous).
If successful, the gamemaster should treat the mistake as
if it never happened, or as if the character was clever enough to
conceal it before anyone noticed.


With players like that make judicious use of this.



The final thing I hear people talk about is role playing vs roll playing. Can they just not say anything and roll a pile of dice? Or, in the other extreme, does it just come down to the players charisma and social skills and the characters stats don't matter? Especially in the case when mister shy decides to become a face.

Well, for one if the situation is an extended one where they're just shmoozing a room or asking questions of lots of different people I'll often just roll the dice and then pick it up with the player when something interesting happens that deserves more detail.

But fundamentally I think less charismatic people should be given a shot at being a face, but they need to be encouraged to try to come up with something. Personally I just give them a little time to think and don't shush the other players who will tend to start trying to give advice. What they say as a player can affect things like what possible outcomes could be at different thresholds or I could apply it as a target modifier. Generally I cut them some slack as long as they're trying and getting better.

As for the silvery tongued devil who put a 1 in charsima and didn't get any skills, but likes to wow the NPCs with their own skills, I let them try and give them their modifiers, but their character will occasionally betray them (as the dice dictate). For example having them indeed say what the player does but while staring right at the females chest and then glancing over to stare at the waitress. So on and so forth.

That's just me. Sorry this got long.


EDIT: Thought of one other thing that's important. Sorry to make this longer.

Anyway it's important to remember that a number of the social skills also give you information. In the BBB it specifically mentions negotiation being used to tell if someone is lying, Perception+charisma being used to tell if someone doesn't actually belong, and ettiquite+cha to figure out what is proper in a given situation even if you're new to it.

But really a BIG part of being good at these skills is the details you pick up and understanding what they mean. Giving this information to the players is important if you want to move from the abstraction of a straight roll to actually acting it out.

I think a big part of why a lot of faces have a problem is they are faced with a blank, faceless entity and told to come up with something smooth. Whereas their character may well notice things. For example a skilled boyfriend will notice when the girl he's out with is occasionally glancing at something, has them walk by a certain store a couple times, or will notice if the subtly mentions something. Less skilled ones will miss it (personally sometimes I make it sometimes I don't, they're sneaky). Also after getting married I assure you that shopkeepers know to look for new wedding rings(that are fully shiney without scuffs) as part of their negotiation skill.

So maybe tell your face, and only the face, choice tidbits that indicate just what to compliment the Johnson on, or tell them which NPCs are only pretending to like each other. As dice dictate. This will give the player something to work with and make the role playing flow much better.
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Lionhearted
post Apr 15 2008, 08:26 PM
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Cant help it.. but when I see a clip from a swedish movie with the team america theme in the background, shivers down my spine..

However, Thanks for the rest.. I'd really had a hell making out how to use social skills
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stevebugge
post Apr 15 2008, 08:34 PM
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This is a group by group issue, and as long as everyone in the group is on the same page either the just make the roll or play the role (or something in between) is fine. I've found most of the problems occur when you have a mix of players who just care about the dice and players who want to be method actors in the same group. My bias is towards more role play and less dice except in combat, and I am biased towards multifunctional not highly tuned characters that have some depth. I am aware that it's not the only way to play, but that's the way I enjoy playing and the style I enjoy GMing for most.

As for the other part, if it's a set threshold test as described there really isn't an advantage for getting a large number of excess successes. 5 is as good as 6 or 8 or 14. Having a huge dicepool really is best for opposed tests, where you need a lot of net successes.
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sunnyside
post Apr 15 2008, 08:57 PM
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QUOTE (stevebugge @ Apr 15 2008, 03:34 PM) *
As for the other part, if it's a set threshold test as described there really isn't an advantage for getting a large number of excess successes. 5 is as good as 6 or 8 or 14. Having a huge dicepool really is best for opposed tests, where you need a lot of net successes.


First off all to reliably get 5 hits you'd need a dicepool of ~18. I'd consider that to be big at least.

But beyond that it's still an opposed test as well. I'm not making this up, this is how the book describes it in its vague way.

Take the Mitshuma example. First they roll off an opposed test, and, in this case, the result for the net "2" threshold would be "lets them in but checks up on them later."

In the next example they have their "3" threshold as they guy letting them in and also letting them in through the back.

I'm just saying that, like other threshold type situations it caps out at 4 or 5 instead of some crazy bizzaro level 7 result.

And that when a player describes what they want to achieve you should consider threshold as well as modifiers as part of the equation (i.e. if you want to con a guard to NOT check up on you later you'd use the same modifiers as the example and require three net successes. And if they get 4 the guy might ignore something once that indicates you aren't what you said.)
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WeaverMount
post Apr 15 2008, 09:51 PM
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Here is my issue with that read. Pornomancers can eat ever single listed penalty in the book and still rock all over people who aren't spec'ed out of social defence. Even just a lightly optimized face (12-14 dice) can eat a -8 (from Enemy" and "Result Disastrous to NPC") and still roll 4-6 dice. If the subject has a stat of 3 and has to default on the skill they are boned. A charisma of 3 and some missing social skill covers a lot of people. Remember this means your face should be able to talk know enemies into doing disastrous things as long as they aren't professional grade social people. IMO that is silly.

Now yes yes, you can and should invent what ever modifiers you like as a GM, but then the situation you get into situation where as GM basicly just pick if a roll is possible or not.
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sunnyside
post Apr 15 2008, 10:30 PM
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Clearly you need to watch the above video I posted of the average SR4 street Sammie in action again. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/rotate.gif)

Seriously if you have a problem with that just filling to an SR3 system wen the modifiers move the TNs instead of the dice pools might make you happier about a whole range of things. For example I don't like that a rigger can hop on their motorbike, play chicken with a citymaster, and then just plow through it unscathed due to the ramming rules. It's just SR4.

However the social situation is again somewhat mitigated by how you seed your thresholds. Read the example again. The face won the rolloff with the guard, but the guard still checked up on them later.

It's not neccesarily that the enemy loves you forever. But maybe you've managed to make them think they can get some special time with the virgin sacrifice before the ritual. Or maybe you play on their fears of being betrayed by their boss to get some effect.

As I GM I'd say it's just another thing you need to consider as you put an adventure together. You have an idea what physical security is like, you know what the magical situation is, and you know whats in the computer system and what guards it, similarly what might a face be able to exploit with your NPCs?

Oh and remember one of the skills isn't "make the person do whatever the heck you want."

Lets review the actual skills you have at your disposal.

Con: This makes people believe stuff. Take the example Ashely does NOT simply walk up to the guard, say they're a shadowrun and ask to be let in The point of the con is to convince the guard that she's actually an employee, and therefore to let her in.

Negotiate: This one involves some give and take. I'd allow it's use in bribing or some such if the person cares about that. But also isn't useful for "I'm a shadowrunner just let me through"

Ettiquite: Giving time this can raise someones opinions. But the SR scale only goes up to friendly, it doesn't continue to worshopful. Just because someone thinks I'm a cool dude doesn't mean they'll their job for me (in game and real life terms this just sets the stage for a later con or some such).

Intimidate: This is the closest to "do what I want just because." But the person is doing it through intimidation. Risky business. Again everything they want might not be an in the thresholds of options. Some things might be. For example a mister scary might convince someone to call for backup or something even if they're tied up. Or maybe unnerve them so they leave the person to go enjoy a long trip to the bathroom. But it might not be an option to get the person to untie them, since the poor guard is, after all, scared of them.


What I'm saying is, first, make sure what they're trying to do fits within the scope some something they can actually do via the listed skills(this removes much of the ridiculous stuff). Next decide what factors modify target numbers and decide what the thresholds are, roughly. And then work with it. You aren't just telling a high roller yeas and no. You're giving them shades of grey results. They're accomplishing things even if they aren't shooting the moon.

And as part of it try to keep feeding them the sort of info they'd be picking up on. Let an hour pass with an ettiquite roll as they manage to sneak some info out of a guard about another guard that will be with them later to give them a seed for a con roll. Stuff like that.

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WeaverMount
post Apr 15 2008, 11:28 PM
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First off class/travel kept made it take over an hour to complete my post and so I missed on of yours.

I'm not calling your take unworkable. I think it's a good fix, but it's a compete house ruing. BBB 57 "Note that thresholds are never applied to Opposed Tests." This is kinda what an opposed test means if you bet them you won. No matter how marginal the victory. More generally the types of things you are talking about like the extra details for faces is also house rules.

All that said you basically are doing what my table does. We are big on niche protection. A decker with 4 ranks in data heavens and Matrix gangs, and (story allowing) just go start a matrix scene and expect to get somewhere. Similarly the face just gets to go start a social scene and expect the GM to create one where they to can get somewhere if they are good. To further than end We give the face social ques. The rigger just gets to know about drones etc. All this is assuming they spent points, have the backstory, and play the part.
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sunnyside
post Apr 15 2008, 11:57 PM
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Alright so by their wording they aren't using "thresholds" but in effect it's what they're doing.

Again look at the examples. The number of net successes on the opposed test matter, with different numbers of successes corresponding to different responses.

Call it whatever you want.

The way to manage it is to use a combination of "successes they have to get after winning the opposed test" along with the dice pool modifiers.

Note that part of this is that a player can't just say to a guard "Hey let me in and then don't check on me". Instead they hope their bluff that they're an employee is so smooth that the guard doesn't bother. Hence the "successes they have to get after winning the opposed test" to get the final result the want.

Though I might let them try a second con attempt to say that every time someone does a check they get bothered for ages or something like that to get another roll. But I'd probably treat it like a retry or extended test.

The only thing houserulish about it is that I don't think additional successes after a point result in retarded things happening. The book doesn't say anything on the matter either way. Just that there are a number of successes and the GM decides what happens based on that. But there is precident. Most things are limited like that. If you're trying to escape in a vehicle and you roll more successes than you need you still need to win at escaping twice more, assensing is like that, roll all you want but vehicles still have some top speed. Lots of stuff.

And remember, regardless, there isn't a "do what I say" roll. You can con, intimidate, or negotiate. Forcing your player to operate within those contexts removes some of the stupidity.
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WeaverMount
post Apr 16 2008, 01:39 AM
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Ok, I'm don't have issue with 1 net hit being the most marginal success, and 4-5 being the most possible. Groovy. But The threshold is still capped at whatever the mark rolls. You should not be able to con someone who thinks you are an enemy into doing some disastrous to themselves even for a second. Playing with the threshold, or TN is absolutely a house rule. And you have to do something to keep this from happening. I like your ideas. But not RAW apologists.
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sunnyside
post Apr 16 2008, 03:05 AM
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Well if you don't like people doing crazy things despite ridiculous conditions you'd just have to houserule it one way or another. Either change the core mechanic or live with it. Or I suppose you could patch up one thing and just live with others.

However I get the feeling you're still missing something important. It's a con. The point is making them believe something which is not true. For example lets say the observant face hears something over the intercom and realizes the guards weren't listening, and also knows that they're called "group Beta" from listening in to earlier conversation, and also knows that we was brought to waypoint Chi earlier. He might drop into the conversation something like "Its so exciting here. I wonder who group Beta is and why they were just told to go to radio silence and report to waypoint Chi."

If he does it right(which is the point of his mad skills) they might believe him and hustle out of the room cursing each other for not paying attention to the intercom. That's how a con works. The face doesn't just ask them to leave.

In doing something like that it's important that the neccesary pieces of the puzzle are there. Like you can't use the climbing skill without a wall you can't con without a lie.

The trick is that requires something elaborate like above. Just rolling dice would abstract that whole process. But at the least I'd expect the GM to come up with something like that as flavor (I.e. at the least player rolls die and GM describes the above ruse). Or you could give the face the tidbits of info above and expect the player to assemble them into a credible con. Up to you. I'd like the latter, but it takes more time and effort.

Remember there is no "do what I want" skill. It's either a con, a negotiation, or an intimidation. Or I suppose in social situations you could use ettiquit to make someone do something because it's proper or whatnot, but that's not going to come up in a run too often.

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WeaverMount
post Apr 16 2008, 04:12 AM
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> Well if you don't like people doing crazy things despite ridiculous conditions you'd just have to houserule it one way or another.
yup. Therefor the social rules are dumb without a little bending. I'm saying that your bends are slight, consistent, and sound very fun to run. Also feel like we shouldn't let the devs off the hook. Some simple thought exercises should have exposed how silly these rules are, not to mention play testing.

And yes I very much do get how you use skills in context. I tried explain my take on what social skills can and cannot do (very similar to yours) to a player. Their social adept counted as at least an apprentice pornomancer. In the discussion included them saying "If I can't talk people into shooting themselves in the face social skills are gimped". This plus the fact that they could make very compelling RAW arguments for pulling stuff only little less crack makes me really not like the rules for this. And yes yes all systems break down at the edges, but 12-16 dice is enough to get non-sense from the social rules. This forces us to make fixes just to handle a basic arc-type.
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b1ffov3rfl0w
post Apr 17 2008, 01:04 AM
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QUOTE (sunnyside @ Apr 15 2008, 10:05 PM) *
Well if you don't like people doing crazy things despite ridiculous conditions you'd just have to houserule it one way or another.


Really, it's not house ruling. It's like how you don't have to make a Perception test to notice something obvious, or an Agility test to walk up a flight of stairs. There's no reason why you should let a large number of hits translate to something completely impossible or implausible happening, unless of course that's your style of game (which is fine too).

Negative modifiers, on the other hand, yeah, those can really stack up, and it's pretty amazing that someone convinces the security guard to let him in even though he's an Ork covered with blood and is holding an empty handgun in one hand and a severed thumb in the other, and the place is on alert. But a high Con skill involves figuring out what someone wants to hear, so Fred (which it says on his badge) just might accept that you were shapechanged by the eco-terrorists attacking the compound and you need him to help you get to the medkit right now.

"Fred, it's me, Bob -- there's too many of 'em, you gotta let me in."
"But you're not Bob. Bob's a human, and you're an Ork --"
"A wizard did it."
"And you don't have a uniform --"
"Wizard."
"And you're covered in blood--"
"WIZARD!"

See, that's something pretty off-the-wall, but sort of fun/interesting maybe. The other kind of high-dice-pool hijinx seems to be along the lines of:

I look in the mirror, appear momentarily to consider combing my hair, and then decide not to. Dozens of teenage girls throw themselves at me, even though I am more than thirty years old and live over a garage. Aaayyyyyyyy.
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b1ffov3rfl0w
post Apr 17 2008, 01:09 AM
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QUOTE (WeaverMount @ Apr 15 2008, 11:12 PM) *
Their social adept counted as at least an apprentice pornomancer. In the discussion included them saying "If I can't talk people into shooting themselves in the face social skills are gimped".


I think that's kind of silly. I mean, if you really want to play it that way, that's fine, but there's certainly no reason you should have to. If a player wants to be able to talk people into shooting themselves in the face, he should play a magician.
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WeaverMount
post Apr 17 2008, 01:44 AM
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That's basically what I said.

BTW the wizard bit was pretty funny. Not sure if I'd let it fly IMG, but pretty funny
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b1ffov3rfl0w
post Apr 17 2008, 04:33 AM
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Whenever you see something that doesn't make sense, a wizard did it.

(From an episode of The Simpsons, but in SR it kind of makes sense.)
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