Social Combat

The “Social Combat” system

Negotiations

  • The set of topics which are to be covered during negotiations is determined by the participants taking part in them. At any point new topics can be introduced to the negotiations.
  • The number of sessions which make up a set of negotiations is dependent on the sides taking part in the negotiations. It can be any number of sessions as long as more than one side is interested in negotiating and there is something left to negotiate.
  • “Winning” a set of negotiations doesn’t necessarily mean the “losing” side automatically accepts a deal (unless they have to for whatever reason). It is almost always an option for a side to walk away from the table and to accept the consequences of doing so.
  • “Victories” on each topic are tracked across a set of negotiations (a victory is awarded each round, while a victory is awarded to both sides in the case of a draw) and determine which side has gotten their idea over best. The ratio of victories determines the scaling of the topic towards the winning side (clear cut victories result in the winning side having their way; close victories results in a compromise leaning towards the winning side; and a draw means a full compromise between the sides will be chosen).

The Session

  • Each participant starts a session with a number of “Social Hit Points” equal to his or her Cha-based Will save.
  • A session can be of any number of rounds.
  • The session ends when only one side has Social Hit Points remaining or if a majority of the participants agree to end the session.
  • The side that “wins” a session gets to choose a single topic for a free “victory” unless the session ends prematurely. The topic must be one which was discussed during that session.

The Round

  • Each round, each participant with Social Hit Points remaining rolls initiative (modified by intelligence, not dexterity).
  • The first speaker chooses a topic of discussion and participants take their actions in initiative order.
  • The first speaker can choose to Abstain, make a Factual Argument, or Delay (see Actions below).
  • The first speaker can choose a Delay action in order to pass the choice of topic to the next participant in initiative order.
  • If two speakers have equal initiative order the speaker with the higher modifier goes first. If still even, they roll off to see who goes first.
  • Each successive speaker chooses an action (see below) on their turn.
  • A critical miss (a roll of 1 on a d20) means the roll does not count for the speaker’s side.
  • Each side adds together the rolls from each of the speakers arguing for their side. A side wins a round by having a higher total value of all their successful rolls than the opposing side. The winning side gains a victory on the round’s topic.
  • Speakers from the losing side lose 1 Social Hit Point.
  • In the case of a draw all speakers lose 1 Social Hit Point and both sides gain a victory for the topic.
  • Speakers with 0 Social Hit Points can’t participate in the round.

Actions

  • Abstain
    • By choosing to abstain, you take no part in the round, but you also do not lose any Social Hit Points if your side loses the round.
    • If you wish to cast a spell you do so by choosing to abstain. Note that casting a spell during negotiations may cause other effects at a negotiating table (such as: “WHAT THE FUCK, MAN!!!”), unless you can mask the casting.
  • Factual Argument
    • You attempt to make points about a topic which further your side’s argument in the negotiations.
    • Skills: Any relevant skill other than Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate.
    • Resolution: Roll a D20, add the modifier from the skill you’ve chosen, and add the total value to your side’s round score.
    • Minimum DC: Certain skills require a minimum amount of ability to be effective (all Knowledge skills, for example). If the minimum DC is not met (as determined by the DM) the roll will not count towards your side’s total.
  • Supporting/Detracting Speech
    • You attempt to add to your side’s position without adding factual detail by trying to diminish your opponent’s line of argument or by attempting to support the point of view of your compatriots. You cannot use a supporting or detracting speech as the first speaker in the round.
    • Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate
    • Resolution: Roll a D20, add the modifier from the skill you’ve chosen, and add the total value to your side’s round score.
    • Challengeable: When a participant attempts a Supporting/Detracting speech action and uses the same skill (Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate) for the same topic, anyone from the opposing side may make a skill challenge as an immediate action.
  • Skill Challenge
    • When you are next in the initiative order, or you are delaying until a specific speaker’s action, you have the opportunity to challenge the argument of the speaker preceding you and thereby nullify their argument.
    • You use your ability in the matching skill of their action to attempt to nullify their argument.
    • The Skill Challenge action can only be used when the previous speaker used a Factual Argument or Supporting/Detracting Speech action.
    • Resolution: Roll a D20, add the modifier from the relevant skill and compare your roll with the roll of the speaker being challenged.
      • Success: Your roll is higher than the previous speaker’s. Add the total of your roll to your side’s round total, while your opponent’s roll is not counted for his side’s round total.
      • Failure: Your roll is lower than the previous speaker’s. Your opponent’s roll is added to his side’s round total, while your roll does not count for your side’s round total.
      • Draw: Your roll and the previous speaker’s roll are equal. Neither your roll, nor the previous speaker’s roll, count for either side’s round total.
  • Topic Challenge
    • You attempt to change the topic of the round. You use a Social Skill (Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate) against the combined sense motive rolls of all non-abstaining speakers who do not want the topic changed.
    • Resolution: Roll a D20, add the modifier from the relevant skill and compare your roll with the combined Sense Motive rolls of all non-abstaining participants who do not want the topic changed.
      • Success: Your roll is higher than the combined Sense Motive rolls of all participants who do not want the topic changed. You change the topic to a new topic of your choosing, and the total rolls of both sides made in the round for the previous topic are reset to zero. Your roll to change the topic does not count towards your side’s total.
      • Failure: Your roll is lower than or equal to the combined Sense Motive rolls of all participants who do not want the topic changed. You fail to change the topic and your roll does not count towards your side’s total.
  • Delay
    • You can choose to delay until after someone else speaks. If that person abstains (through choice or by delaying themselves), you lose your opportunity to speak but still take Social Hit Point damage if your side loses the round.

Extras

  • Passive Skills
    • Passive skills are called for by either the players or the DM as actions are taken and the rounds pass. These rolls may result in bonuses to future rolls or may allow you to glean further information about the ongoing negotiations. In some circumstances a passive skill can be used actively if the PC can make a case for its relevance.
  • Hero Points (Optional)
    • A hero point is effectively a super power at the negotiating table. Hero Points can be used to give you additional benefits or to give additional benefits to your side.
    • A PC can never have more than one Hero Point at a time.
    • A Hero Point can be used to do the following:
      • Immediate Challenge – You initiate a Skill Challenge or a Topic Challenge immediately after another speaker’s turn. The immediate challenge is in addition to your regular turn in the round.
      • Extra Turn – You are quick to speak or you like to have the last word. You give yourself an extra chance to speak at the beginning of the round (declared before initiative) and thus choose the topic or at the end of the round (declared before the last speaker’s turn ends).
      • Revive – You can use your Hero Point to restore 2 Social Hit Points to any speaker at the table with 0 Social Hit Points. This decision is made at the beginning of the round and the revived speaker speaks immediately before or after you (decided when expending the Hero Point).
    • Hero Points are acquired by:
      • Rolling a natural 20 on a D20 roll during your action
      • Choosing the topic (first speaker in the round) and having your side win the round

Terms & Definitions

  • Negotiations
    • A set of sessions which encompass a number of participants and any number of topics relevant to the point of the negotiations.
  • Session
    • A set of rounds which encompass a number of participants and a number of topics chosen from the agreed upon list.
  • Round
    • A round encompasses each participant taking an action in initiative order and results in the award of a victory to one side or the other, or both in the case of a draw.
  • Side
    • A set of negotiations may have multiple topics on which the different participants may take different points of view. Each round the participants may choose which side they support when they take their action and thus the number of participants supporting a side can vary from round to round.
  • A Win or Winning A Round
    • A “win” for a side occurs when the total value of the rolls for all participants supporting that side is greater than the total value of the rolls for all participants not supporting that side.
    • “Winning” a round awards a victory to the side with the highest roll value for the topic that was discussed that round.
  • Victory
    • A “victory” is the abstraction of successfully negotiating in favour of a topic, which counts across the sessions which make up a set of negotiations.

Skills & Usage Examples

  • Appraise
    • You have an inherent understanding of the value of items, equipment, land and people’s time.
    • This skill allows you to argue the value of things to prove a point (either by truthfully valuing something, or untruthfully overvaluing/devaluing something as it fits your needs).
  • Bluff
    • You are skilled at embellishing a line of negotiation which you don’t fully believe in or agree with. You are also skilled at dismissing a line of negotiation which you believe in, but are not arguing for.
    • This skill allows you to negotiate in a manner which is slightly untruthful, or to add or subtract from another’s argument through misdirection (grandstanding, avoiding the topic, pontificating, etc).
    • Bluff is one of three skills (along with Diplomacy and Intimidate) which can be used to challenge the current speaking topic. A successful bluff challenge against the speakers of the opposing side who started the topic will allow you to change the topic and thus restart the negotiating – clearing all rolls to this point in the round (including yours).
  • Craft
    • You understand a crafting process and can speak about it authoritatively.
    • This skill which allows you to negotiate about any aspect of crafting process (materials, time, requirements, etc).
  • Diplomacy
    • You are skilled at calming tensions, speaking calmly and directly, and at carrying a line of negotiation without adding hard factual data.
    • This skill allows you to negotiate in a direct and honest manner by cutting through deceit and false arguments (often by stroking egos, pointing out fallacious arguments, using archaic procedures to force the topic in a specific direction, or just having the wherewithal to cover a compatriots misstep to save face).
    • Diplomacy is one of three skills (along with Bluff and Intimidate) which can be used to challenge the current speaking topic. A successful diplomacy challenge against the speakers of the opposing side who started the topic will allow you to change the topic and thus restart the negotiating – clearing all rolls to this point in the round (including yours).
  • Intimidate
    • You are skilled at frightening others, causing others to lose composure, or bullishly presenting your arguments in a fierce manner.
    • This skill allows you to negotiate in a direct and bullish manner by raising your voice or forcefully demonstrating at those across the table (pounding your fists on the table, yelling, veiled threats to step outside, causing others to lose composure or simply making an aggressive show).
    • Intimidate is one of three skills (along with Bluff and Diplomacy) which can be used to challenge the current speaking topic. A successful intimidate challenge against the speakers of the opposing side who started the topic will allow you to change the topic and thus restart the negotiating – clearing all rolls to this point in the round (including yours).
  • Knowledge (Arcana)
    • You have great knowledge about all things arcane and can speak authoritatively on the subject.
    • This skill allows you to add to or detract from an argument concerning arcane topics.
  • Knowledge (Dungeoneering)
    • You have great knowledge about dungeons, underground fortifications, the behaviour of laired monsters, and the means of successfully navigating a dungeon.
    • This skill allows you to add to or detract from an argument concerning dungeons, underground fortifications or monster lairs.
  • Knowledge (Engineering)
    • You have great knowledge about fortifications and constructions.
    • This skill allows you to add to or detract from an argument concerning methods of engineering or when discussing construction times, construction quality or difficulties in creating new constructions.
  • Knowledge (Geography)
    • You have great knowledge about where places are, how far apart things are, and the locality of organizations from small towns to large kingdoms.
    • This skill allows you to add or detract from an argument concerning location, distance, borders and other matters of a geographical nature.
  • Knowledge (History)
    • You have great knowledge of general history.
    • This skill allows you to add or detract from an argument concerning what has happened in the past.
  • Knowledge (Local)
    • You have great knowledge of local goings on and recent local history.
    • This skill allows you to add or detract from an argument concerning what has happened recently or concerning localized knowledge.
  • Knowledge (Nature)
    • You have great knowledge of natural effects and of the nature of things.
    • This skill allows you to add or detract from an argument concerning nature, natural effects, the behaviour of natural creatures and the environment.
  • Knowledge (Nobility)
    • You have great knowledge of noble structures, noblemen and those who rule.
    • This skill allows you to add or detract from an argument concerning the rights of nobility, current noblemen and anything pertaining to the laws of noble rule.
  • Knowledge (Planes)
    • You have great knowledge of the outer planes, the inner planes and the spaces between the planes in addition to the beings that populate them.
    • This skill allows you to add or detract from an argument concerning any of the planes or the beings which inhabit them.
  • Knowledge (Religion)
    • You have great knowledge of the religions of the realms, the customs of religions, the powers of deities and the numerous different religious sects.
    • This skill allows you to add or detract from an argument concerning religions, religious practices & customs and deities.
  • Linguistics
    • You are capable of understanding and interpreting strange or unusual languages for your benefit.
    • This skill allows you to throw new light on existing contracts or to structure the interpretation of language such that it benefits your argument.
  • Perception
    • You have a keen observational eye for noticing and interpreting physical changes in your environment during a negotiation.
    • This is a passive skill which is used after another’s action to interpret their physical actions or to notice physical changes.
  • Profession
    • You have ability when it comes to performing a specific profession.
    • This skill allows you to add or detract from an argument concerning a specific profession.
  • Sense Motive
    • You have a keen observational sense for noticing and interpreting social changes in those around you during a negotiation.
    • This is a passive skill which is used after another’s action to interpret the actual meaning behind the words being spoken to gain an understanding of their motives or the characterization of their speech.
  • Spellcraft
    • You understand the nature of magic and how magic works.
    • This skill allows you to add or detract from an argument concerning spells, spellcasting or magical effects.
    • This is also a passive skill which you can use to determine if someone is using magic to aid in their negotiations.
  • Survival
    • You understand how to survive in different environments, the difficulties of surviving in the wilds, the difficulties in hunting other creatures and beings, and at least the basics of tracking.
    • This skill allows you to add or detract from an argument concerning living in the wilds, hunting and tracking, or using wild environments to your benefit in order to survive.

Examples

Example 1 – Simple Negotiations over the sale of an estate, 1 v 1

  • Kaelen approaches a local estate owner to purchase his estate. The man isn’t interested in selling, but realizes he is being strongarmed and tries to make the best of it.
  • Participants
    • Kaelen (Will save = over 9k) – wants to buy the man’s estate at a low price
    • Random Estate Owner (Will save = 2) – doesn’t want to sell his estate at any price
  • Topics
    • Sell/Not Sell
    • Price
  • Session
    • Round #1 (K – 10 + 1 = 11, REO – 15 + 2 = 17)
      • REO chooses Sell/Not Sell as the Topic
      • REO Uses Knowledge (Local) @ DC 5 = 7 + 6 = 13
      • K uses Diplomacy to appeal to him as a nobleman = 11 + 9001 = 9012
      • REO loses 1 SHP (down to 1)
      • Sell/Not Sell = K 1 – 0 REO
    • Round #2 (K – 11 + 1 = 12, REO – 5 + 2 = 7)
      • K chooses Price as the Topic
      • K uses Appraise = 8 + 1 = 9
      • REO challenges K’s appraise = 8 + 2 = 10
      • K loses 1 SHP (down to 9k)
      • Price = K 0 – 1 REO
    • Round #3 (K – 13 + 1 = 14, REO – 9 + 2 = 11)
      • K chooses Price as the Topic
      • K uses Knowledge (Engineering) @ DC 10 = 5 + 5 = 10
      • REO uses Knowledge (Local) @ DC 5 = 6 + 6 = 12
      • K loses 1 SHP (down to 8999)
      • Price = K 0 – 2 REO
    • Round #4 (K – 4 + 1 = 5, REO – 15 + 2 = 7)
      • REO chooses Price as the Topic
      • REO uses Appraise = 12 + 2 = 14
      • K uses Diplomacy to question REO’s land rights = 17 + 9001 = 9018
      • REO loses 1 SHP (down to 0)
      • Price = K 1 – 2 REO
  • Final
    • Kaelen chooses a Price extra victory from winning the session (Price = K 2 – 2 REO)
    • Topics
      • Sell/Not Sell = K 1 – 0 REO
      • Price = K 2 – 2 REO
    • REO realizes that any further negotiations would result in more losses and grudgingly accepts the result of the negotiations agreeing to sell while getting value between his asking price and Kaelen’s offer price. Alternatively, REO could’ve walked away from the negotiations, but decided that angering the new Duke of Kir isn’t in his best interests.

Example 2 – Negotiating Land Usage Rights with Itinerant Farmers, 1 v 2, using Hero Points

  • A local farmer approaches the Duke of Teth to discuss the size of land allotments and how much of the production is kept by the farmer and how much goes to the Duchy of Teth. A local elder, interested in the proceedings, joins the negotiations to represent other local interests.
  • Participants
    • Paran (Will save = over 9k) – wants half of production from owning the land
    • Local Elder (Will save = 3) – is interested in representing locals rights
    • Local Farmer (Will save = 2) – is interested in getting as much land as possible while maintaining current production tax levels.
  • Topics
    • LF – Land allotment size
    • LE, LF – Production rights (how much goes to whom)
    • LE – Surplus Sale (Paran’s aid to sell surplus to foreign buyers)
    • LF – Surplus Sale (Paran to buy the surplus)
  • Session #1
    • Round #1 (P – 2 + 6 = 8, LE – 1 + 3 = 4, LF – 7 + 1 = 8)
      • P chooses Production Rights as the Topic
      • P uses Knowledge (Nobility) = 1 + 10 @ DC 10 = 0
      • LF uses Profession (Farmer) = 16 + 5 = 21
      • LE Abstains
      • P loses 1 SHP (down to 9000)
      • Production Rights = P 0 – 1 LE/LF
    • Round #2 (P – 17 +6 = 23, LE – 14 +3 = 17, LF – 16 + 1 = 17)
      • P chooses Production Rights as the Topic
      • P uses Knowledge (Nobility) @ DC 15 = 14 + 10 = 24
      • LE uses Knowledge (Local) @ DC 10 = 5 + 8 = 13
      • LF uses Diplomacy to support LE = 1 = 0
      • Production Rights = P 1 – 1 LE/LF
      • LE & LF lose 1 SHP (2 and 1 respectively)
      • P gains a Hero Point
    • Round #3 (P – 11 + 6 = 17, LE – 5 + 3 = 8, LF – 18 + 1 = 19)
      • LF chooses Land Allotment as the Topic
      • LF uses Profession (Farmer) = 13 + 5 = 18
      • P challenges LF = 8 + 6 = 14 = 0
      • LE Abstains
      • Land Allotment = P 0 – 1 LF
      • P loses 1 SHP (down to 8999)
      • LF gains a Hero Point
    • Round #4 (P – 16 + 6 = 22, LE – 1 + 3 = 4, LF – 12 + 1 = 13)
      • P chooses Production Rights as the Topic
      • P uses Knowledge (Local) @ DC 10 = 6 + 10 = 16
      • LF uses Profession (Farmer) = 5 +5 = 10
      • LE uses Diplomacy to support LF = 3 + 7 = 10
      • P uses a Hero Point to speak again
      • P uses Knowledge (Nobility) = 10 + 10 = 20
      • Production Rights = P 2 – 1 LE/LF
      • LE & LF lose 1 SHP (1 and 0 respectively – LF eliminated)
      • P gains a Hero Point
    • Round #5 (P – 18 + 6 =24, LE – 13 + 3 = 16)
      • P chooses Production Rights as the Topic
      • P uses Knowledge (Nobility) @ DC 10 = 1 = 0
      • LE uses Knowledge (Local) @ DC 5 = 14 + 8 = 22
      • Production Rights = P 2 – 2 LE/LF
      • P loses 1 SHP (down to 8998)
    • Round #6 (P – 16 + 6 = 22, LE – 16 + 3 = 19)
      • P chooses Production Rights as the Topic
      • P uses Knowledge (Local) @ DC 10 = 16 + 10 = 26
      • LE Abstains
      • Production Rights = P 3 – 2 LE/LF
    • Round #7 (P – 14 + 6 = 20, LE – 4 + 3 = 7)
      • P chooses Production Rights as the Topic
      • P uses Knowledge (Nature) @ DC 10 = 11 + 10 = 21
      • LE uses Diplomacy to change the topic = 17 + 7 = 24 vs. 8 + 6 = 14
      • P to aid in selling to foreign buyers is the new Topic
      • P uses a Hero Point to speak again
      • P uses Appraise = 2 + 9 = 11
      • Production Rights = P 4 – 2 LE/LF
      • LE loses 1 SHP (down to 0 – LE eliminated)
    • Final
      • Paran chooses a Production Rights extra victory from winning the session (Production Rights = P5 – 2 LE/LF)
      • Topics
        • Land allotment size = Paran 0 – 1 Locals
        • Production rights = Paran 5 – 2 Locals
        • Surplus Sale (Paran’s aid to sell to foreign buyers) = Paran 1 – 0 Local Elder
        • Surplus Sale (Paran to buy) = Paran 0 – 0 Local Farmer
      • The locals wish to resume talks in the morning and Paran agrees as his dice can’t possibly fuck him again???
  • Session #2
    • Paran adds Lauryll’ana to the Negotiations to represent “Local’s needs”
    • Round #1 (P – 7 + 6 = 13, L – 15 + 2 = 17, LE – 1 + 3 = 4, LF – 11 + 1 = 12)
      • L delays until after P
      • P chooses Production Rights as the Topic
      • P uses Knowledge (Local) @ DC 10 = 7 + 10 = 17
      • L uses Diplomacy to support P = 9 + 20 = 29
      • LF uses Profession (Farmer) = 7 + 5 = 12
      • LE uses Knowledge (Local) @ DC 10 = 15 + 8 = 23
      • 46 vs 35 = Locals lose
      • Production Rights = P/L 6 – 2 LE/LF
      • LE and LF lose 1 SHP (down to 2 and 1 respectively)
    • Round #2 (P – 15 + 6 = 21, L = 12 + 2 = 14, LE – 9 + 3 = 12, LF – 12 + 1 = 13)
      • P chooses Production Rights as the Topic
      • P uses Knowledge (Nature) @ DC 5 = 6 + 10 = 16
      • L uses Knowledge (Nobility) @ DC 10 = 17 + 10 = 27
      • LF uses Profession (Farmer) = 5 + 5 = 10
      • LE uses Diplomacy to change the topic = 11 + 8 vs 15 + 5 & 11 + 8
      • 19 vs 39 = Topic doesn’t change
      • Production Rights = P/L 7 – 2 LE/LF
      • LE and LF lose 1 SHP (down to 1 and 0 respectively – LF eliminated)
    • The Local Elder calls for an end to the negotiations and all sides agree.
  • Final
    • Topics
      • Land allotment size = Paran 0 – 1 Locals
      • Production rights = Paran 7 – 2 Locals
      • Surplus Sale (Paran’s aid to sell to foreign buyers) = Paran 1 – 0 Local Elder
      • Surplus Sale (Paran to buy) = Paran 0 – 0 Local Farmer
    • Paran successfully negotiates for half of the local itinerant farmer’s production in return for a slightly larger land allotment. The sale of the farmer’s surplus to the Duchy of Teth is not included in the agreement as it was not discussed, while the local elder agrees to revisit the matter of foreign sales at a future date.

Social Combat

Vaelor / Thyl'ith / Lotharia Campaign Eliirion