Here's a thing I've been noodling on this topic for the last 6+ months. Taking queues from the social combat rules form ASOIAF RPG (Game of Thrones) as well as Mouse Guard (Burning Wheel light) we want to try adapting the combat rules.
Principles we wanted:
- Something that was no more complex than combat
- Something where even non-social oriented could affect the outcome, but the strength was given to socially invested characters
Cribbing from ASOIAF we call these "Social Intrigues". MOST rolls are still one-and-done. One check and they're resolved, but when you need to convince someone who is resistant, or they have opposing goals they're trying to get the PCs to commit to, etc. we go for an Intrigue.
Roll Initiative as normal. PCs and NPCs declare an overall goal, which if they defeat their opponent(s) they will get (though it may be modified ala Burning Wheel such that if they just barely succeed, they have to accommodate the loser in some way). Changing goals mid-Intrigue allows their opponent to recover 1/2 of their overall Intrigue Hit Points (IHP). Difficulty of the overal checks is determined in part by Goals (something ridiculous should be modified accordingly), along with any of your standard social engagement modifiers.
- Intrigue HP = 3x WP + ranks of Discipline + Noble Ranks
As in combat, you have a damage output and a resistance modifier.
- Influence Damage = Characteristic (usually Fel) + Ranks in applied Skill (e.g. Charm) + Recharge Rating from the Action Card used.
- Intrigue Resistance (IR) = WP + x2(Ranks in Discipline)
Follows standard encounter rules in terms of initiative, etc. (E.g. min damage is 1 for successful attacks that don't breach IR). I also have a house rule for regular & social combat: 3 extra successes over the greatest success line of the action used allow you to add your related skill ranks to overall damage. E.g. 3 ranks of WS would add 3 damage. 1 Charm rank would add 1 damage.
By using the Recharge rating, it gives PCs who have invested in Social cards a very strong benefit, but it allows non-social characters the opportunity to affect the outcome as well (just as weak combat characters can help to bring a foe).
We haven't tested it thoroughly, but it has worked very nicely so far.
The last related modifier. +1 challenge if opponent's Noble Rank is higher, -1 challenge if opponent's Noble Rank is lower.