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List of social actions - When GMs make Social stuff too easy, games degenerate into one-roll boredom


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#1 Emirikol

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 04:04 PM

I'm working on a project..just crossposting here for anyone who is interested. My The Enemy Within is deliberately loaded with social trait player characters.  I'm going to give each of the characters one or two of these social action cards for free to encourage further play in the social realm.

We're using the "Influence/Shame" mechanic from Lure of Power and I intend to use it more with simple Opposed Check and Competitive Check difficulties on short tracks (for example, first person to win two rounds of conversation).  The difficulty is determined using Willmanx's rule:  characteristic minus 2 plus the normal black die modifiers, rather than the standard opposed characteristic rule (which is really just too easy).

I'll proably stick a random roll chart behind this rather than have them min-max to their best.  the difficulty per stance is listed behind as Purple or black.

Basic-- Perform a Stunt (Fellowship) 

CORE+Adventurer's Toolkit / Player's Guide (p274+)

Big City Bravado (G/R)b
Conundrum (G/R)-
Devious Manoeuvre (G/R)-
Exploit Opening (G/R)b
Fake Out (G)-®b
Fear Me! (G/R)bb
Fluster (G/R)bb
Formal Diplomacy/Informal Carousingg (G)bb®P
Honeyed Words (G/R)--
I Thought We Were Friends (G/R)b
Inspiring Words (G/R)bb
Scrutinise (G/R)b
Staring Contest (G/R)-
Steely Gaze (G/R)-
Trivial Knowledge (G/R)-
Twisting Words (G/R)-
Winning Smile (G/R)-
 
Lure of Power 
Blather  ®Pb (G)P
berate/belittle ® bb(G)b
bad witch hunter (R/G)--
Compose yourself (both)PP
Bribery (R/G) b
Bolster (R/G)Pb 
Feel for the Moment (R/G)PPb
Don't you know who I work for? (R/G)b
Crack a Joke (R/G) b
Intuit Intention (R/Gb
Flirt ®bb(G)b
Quip (R/G)-
Perfect Gift (R/G)PP
Obfuscate/Elucidate (R/G)P
Skeleton in the Closet ®P(G)-
Sermon (R/G)PP
Sage Advice (R/G)-
Twist the Knife (R/G)-
Teller of Tales (R/G)PP
Style and Grace ®PP(G)Pb
 
Black Fire Pass
Litany of Grudges-Dwarf (G)PP®-
Social Drinking (G)PP®P
Dwarf Stubbornness-Dwarf (G/R)-
Foam in the Moustache (R/G)PP
 
Other sets do not contain social actions (unless I missed something)
note to self * NEED MANEUVERS FOR SOCIAL ACTIONS
 
jh
 


#2 khaali

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 08:19 PM

Hi,

There are a few very good social cards for crowd-control in LF8 pullout section

http://www.liberfana...F8download.html



#3 Yepesnopes

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 02:17 AM

Emirikol said:

I'm working on a project..just crossposting here for anyone who is interested. My The Enemy Within is deliberately loaded with social trait player characters.  I'm going to give each of the characters one or two of these social action cards for free to encourage further play in the social realm.

Reading this I guess you have a quite combat oriented group? or do you typically play quite combat heavy games?

Or may be your players find the social action cards not that appealing?

This is the main issue in my group. While we find combat action cards add "somenthing" (typically more damage, critics, attacking more opponents…) to combat; social action cards on the other hand do not seem to add much to social encounters. There is the Winning Smile and Staring Contest cards that grant you an easy "Influence" result, but for the rest of the cards, we find that they do not give that much (1 white dice here and there) as to justify the 1xp cost to buy them. Typically we resolve social encounters with just skill rolls (charm, intilidate, guile…) and role play (or the perform a stunt action card if you prefer).

Emirikol said:

The difficulty is determined using Willmanx's rule:  characteristic minus 2 plus the normal black die modifiers, rather than the standard opposed characteristic rule (which is really just too easy).

We find that this "problem" does not only appears in social encounters, but extends to all areas of the game appart from combat (which is highly lethal). Typically succeeding Hard (3d) and even Daunting (4d) checks is somthing a character with as few as 10xp can achieve quite regularly.

Due to this, we decided to totally remove fortune dice in characteristics from the game.

Emirikol said:

I'll proably stick a random roll chart behind this rather than have them min-max to their best.  the difficulty per stance is listed behind as Purple or black.

Can you further explain this?

Cheers,

Yepes


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#4 valvorik

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 05:40 AM

I haven't seen Wilmanx's rule before, interesting - is there a source/expansion laying it out?

I feel you on the fact Players seem not to take social cards as much as they could, though I admit mostly to a reaction of "just wanting to rub their nose in it", which the first part of the new Enemy Within provides lots of opportunities to do.



#5 Emirikol

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 07:06 AM

Combat heavy group?

Our groups have always been social-heavy, rogue types that run away from combat (because I kill characters left and right in combat)..but, I've got a new player who is used to games where there is no "social mechanic", so the loudest PLAYER gets to do all the talking and everything is solved through negotiation (which is good), but regardless of whether or not a character is actually 'good' at negotiation.

Currently our group is:

Fop, Gambler, Bailiff, Initiate of Morr, Pistolier

 

Social cards not adding much power compared to a combat card?

As I indicated above, the problem is that the hobby of Roleplaying Games (tabletop, not that 'so-called' roleplaying online), ends up without a social mechanic..or worse..the mechanic is a bad one.  Example of a bad social mechanic: roll-once. if you succeed, then the king gives you all of his money..roll once..if you succeed, the guard lets you by..roll once, if you succeed, the peasant tells you all the clues of the town…roll once, if you succeed, the priestess will heal you.. etc.

This is made worse in games where, as I stated above, the LOUDEST player hogs all social action, even if his character is a Trollslayer with a Fellowship of 2.

Well, I've always had significant social consequences in my games.  In the past (and at games I run at conventions), it takes people a moment to realize that if they min-maxed their character as a combat - monkey with zero personality and zero social action cards, they're not going to have to start thinking outside the box.  Some people get it.  Some don't.

It took me a while though to finally read through the Social/ Influence rules in LURE OF POWER.  So, I was doing pretty much what I was saying about a "bad" social mechanic, and maybe sometimes having people roll another time, but I really didn't go beyond that.

Why is it that combat can last 16 rounds, but a social or other skill check is typically relegated to a single dice roll, which comes down to "pass or fail?"

Therein lies the problem..which can be made worse though by some of the more inane checks being drug out.

 

Losing bonus white characteristic dice

I've been toying with this idea for a long time.  I much prefer skill specializations, rather than the universal "bonus."  This is already in my house rulebook, but I haven't completely on what to get back in return for careers like the Peasant, etc. that have a larger number of fortune characteristic bonus dice than other careers.  Maybe there doesn't need to be a balance I suppose :)

 

They all get a bonus social action card (to help encourage that) and it will be randomly drawn rather than min-maxed.

I've found that when players have cards, they tend to use them.  Like you, I've always felt that I was weak on the utility of the cards.

 

Difficulty is sometimes too easy in this game

I typically play at a higher difficulty anyways. I don't increase the purple dice on my checks, I usually add 2 or more black dice instead.  That way, I can get cancellations without too many chaos stars coming up.  Yes, the success rate is still very high, but the side-effects of every action are often felt.  Now that I'll be adding maybe 2-3 checks per "major" test, I need it not to drag  on  forever and still be interesting.

Because of the chaos stars, my games run more like a game of FIASCO than one of just pushing the  button.  I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing, but my players have come to expect it.

 

I don't feel that it's difficulty to increase the difficulty of this game for any rank of character, as I've got a good handle on what it takes to do that statistically.

If you look at a standard one-purple action with a trained character being in the success range of 89% (http://laakmann.free.fr/wfrp/), then simply remembering that the following will bring success down:  2 more blacks brings it to 77%.  Add another purple and you're looking at 60%.

How a GM can mentally set difficulty
3Blue 1green 1yellow 1white 0black 1purple success: 89% 3 Success: 47%  
3b 1g 1y 1w 2bk 1p Success: 77% 3 success: 32%  
3b 1g 1y 1w 0bk 2p Success:74% 3 success: 32%  
3b 1g 1y 1w 2bk 2p S: 60% 3 S: 21%  
3b 1g 2yellow 1w 2bk 2p S: 71% 3 s: 32%  

 

GMs should take a moment and look at these kinds of things.  RUn some numbers and see if it is just worth your time to ALWAYS have more purple or black dice as the standard in your game.

THE ONLY DIE THAT INCREASES SUCCESS SUBSTANTIALLY IS THE YELLOW DIE.  Add on epurple and 2 black to the easy difficulty and you've got yourself "normal" challenges.  Anything less than that probably isn't worth rolling for.

If you start yoru campaigns out with a characteristic max of 4, you begin with a balanced game.  White dice only add about 6% to a success..but they add up!

 

Valvorik wrote:  I feel you on the fact Players seem not to take social cards as much as they could, though I admit mostly to a reaction of "just wanting to rub their nose in it", which the first part of the new Enemy Within provides lots of opportunities to do.

Absolutely, and I intend to continue that trend.  

 

It's one of the things about Edge of Night that I felt was just plain wrong.  You've got Nobles hob-nobbing with the player characters (rat catchers and trollslayers), and everyone's supposed to just be getting along swimmingly.  Well, I look at it this way:  You don't have any social skill in your group?  Well, this scenario's going to punish the **** out of you and there will be consequences, just the same as if you were playing a "high level combat adventure."

A group of one-trick-battle-ponies going into The Edge of Night or the beginning of The Enemy Within should be just like a group of peasants going to Castle Drachenfels.  They should be getting their butts handed to them..with consequences.

The biggest mistake that Graeme put into TEW was the phrase, "they're just naturally gossipy."  Screw that.  Nobody's talking to outsiders in my game until they either earn it, or have some skill at it.  Lucky for my group, they do, and I want to reward that..but at the same time, I've moved towards a little formality of the dice rolls to balance the uber-outgoing personality of one of the players :)

 

 

jh

 

 

 

..



#6 Yepesnopes

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 08:00 AM

I think that having social action cards and deciding how many rolls (influence results) you need to resolve a social encounter are detached things.

Typically when I set a social encounter I decide beforehand how hard to "win" it will be, i.e. how many "influence" results will be needed. I do this typically with a counter, or progress tracker (call it as you want). I also try to decide how the NPC(s) react to the different "social" skills (guile, charm, leadership…). What I was trying to bring to disucssion is if social action cards are really worth the xp cost. At the end of the day, a PC can use role play plus an apropriate skill roll (perform a stunt if you want to call it like this) to try to influence a NPC.

For example, does a PC to have the "Honey Words" action card in order to lie to a NPC?

Like this, there are other social action cards that I don't find their use, Formal Diplomacy, Flirt, Bribery… in the sense that a PC should be able to do it with out the card, or at least I think so.

Other cards, like for example the conservative side of Crack a Joke, give a bonus that I find is not enough to justify its xp cost. In this particular case, you can achieve the same effect with a simple assist manoeuvre, right?

Cheers,

Yepes


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#7 Emirikol

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 08:40 AM

Good points, I think that it emphasizes though too something that an ex-player of mine brought up:  Does a person have to have double-strike card to use two weapons?

You and I have talked about this with Flirt and Bribe (or crack a joke) in that YES a person can do those things with perform a stunt, just the same as a person could use Perform a Stunt to do the "two weapon strike"), but are they worth spending X.P. on?  Well, they are if the GM makes social situations matter more.

You're already GMing it the way that I want to move towards:  multiple success influences required.  What I intend to REMOVE from the game is when a player just makes some crap up or recites a movie line and expects me to give them a bonus or just automatically give them a success socially with the NPC.

In the end, I'm not going to give players a "roleplaying" bonus for a good speech unless they have some information that /actually/ would influence the NPC.

Without intending to make social stuff boring, I want them to use those skills more and not give away anything just because a PLAYER has the personal gift of gab :)

 

[edit: added ] Liber Fanatica #8 (pull-out section)

1.        Solemn Glance (G)Pb®Pbb

2.        Putting it As it Is/Verbal Fireworks (G)PP®P

3.        Debater/trained Voice -enhance(G/R)--

4.        Look At'em Mommy's Boys!(G)Pb®Pbb

5.        Pulling the Plug/Tongue Lashing (G/R)P

6.        Scrimshank/Not Bothered (G)P®Pb

7.        reading the Crowd/Chat'em up! (G)bb®P

jh



#8 khaali

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 09:10 AM

Well, there are many actions that anybody can try that are made into action card, "grapple" for example. The way I see it, if you want to grapple whitout having bought the card, you can, but difficulty is increased (at least by a purple dice). Because you're not used / trained to this action.

Honey words, and other social actions… it's the same. If the character isn't used to that kind of acting, he'll have a high chance to look like a fool and waste it.

If the character is used to that kind of social posture, than the player have to buy the cards with XP. This is basic RPG system.

 

In my opinion, The third edition didn't go far enough with action card. 90% of the cards are for combat situation, even support ones. If your character is combat oriented, you have plenty of possibilities to use XP, plenty of action card to chose from in order to personalize your combat style, ect.

OIf you have a Mage or a Priest, well, you can buy spells.

If you have a non-combat, non magical character : social, literate, or rogue (ranald non violent style), you have very limited solutions to use your XP. You'll just have a couple of skills to improved.

It is logical that not every combat-oriented character should know how to use 2 weapons at the same time. It's a special training, a path that only some of them choose. The system permits that.

But also, it is logical that not every rogue-type character chould know how to pick locks. If you're a purse-cutting kind of bandit, you probably don't know. Neither do you know how to make a false document. Problem: there is only one skill, and no action cards.

I am working on making my own action cards for those characters. I have made:

for rogues: Falsification lockpicking, advanced lockpicking, disarm traps, climbing, shadowing, prepare intrusion

for litterate people: Identify spell, legends lore, search in library, rhetoric arguments

For country people: Track, hide own tracks, find herbs

I intend to do many more. I will probably post the cards to this forum, but I must translate them first (English is not my usual langage, sorry burla)

 

I am new at WFTP3 and haven't started playing yet but I know my players, they like urban investigations scenariis, and seldom play combat oriented characters. So I must get prepared.



#9 Yepesnopes

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 09:30 AM

Khaali, I agree partially with what you say.

Indeed, wfrp 3 action cards are about combat (even spells are mostly for combat), and I agree that there is a lack of action cards to support other aspects of the game at the same level as combat is.

On the other hand, I firmly believe that there cannot be an action card for each action a GM or a PC can imagine, it is just impossible! and that is why the Perform a Stunt exists (which is nothing else but a card that tells you "roll for a skill check"), but then -Where should the designers stop creating action cards?- Should designers and fans create endless amount of action cards to cover all stunts seen in movies, comics, pc games, books…one card to lie to your mother, one card to lie to your sister, one card to forge a document in Times new roman, one card to forge a document in Arial bold…or should simply remove all action cards and let GM and PCs decide on the fly?

I would rather prefer option 2, a game with simply no action cards like Star Wars Edge of the Empire, I think that is the way to go in an RPG.

Cheers,

Yepes

 


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#10 khaali

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 10:18 AM

Yepesnopes, I understand very well your point.

But still. A newly created rank 1 thief will have +1 in skulduggery, and high Agility / Int. Maxing those means +3 in skulduggery, and 6 in Int and Ag. Not many XPs to become the best thief in the world. And when he'll have +2 in skulduggery, he'll be an excelent in lock pick, traps… even if the character keeps only stealing from people in the street and has never touch a lockpick.

If you don't create actions card for thief, what else? split the skill in several skills (Lockpicking, traps, pickpockets and so on)? If you think about it, it's not very different from having 1 skill and action cards…

There is another problem: in RPGs, there is a real pleasure in having the charcter evolving, getting more abilities. If noncombat-oriented charcters have not enough actions cards, they won't evolved very well. The players will have to use their XPs to buy cards and skills that aren't logical for their character.



#11 Emirikol

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 12:16 PM

I agree on the proliferation of actions, but I'm quite satisfied with the 47 social actions that we do have.  

On a related note: One of the problems I always felt held D&D (pre 4e versions) back was that there was a spell to solve every problem.  There was a class/role to solve every problem.  In fact, they still encourage having all "roles" filled so that you can solve every problem.  The benefit of WFRP3 is that there are lots of ways to solve problems, but none are a sure-fire thing (except maybe Thunderous Blow and Troll-feller strike ;)

I think what I'd like to see is not more "flirt" or "bribe" cards, but rather they should have been Advanced from the start.  Otherwise, what's the point of Perform Stunt?  

As for rogue abilities and stuff, this is what I mean.  I don't want to see a card for "track."  I'd rather see "Advanced Tracking" maybe or something like that.

I think SW goes too far in eliminating and simplifying such things, but it also has the luxury of having used WFRP3 as their playtest engine so they can have a clean reset.  Guaranteed that SW will be well more bloated than WFRP3 ever was with special abilities if FFG is as predictable in their business model as we have seen with their other products..plus, it's normally common practice to make the PLAYERS buy the books rather than the GM.

Anyways, here is a complete probability calculator as well:  https://dl.dropbox.c...b/diceprob.html

jh



#12 Yepesnopes

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 06:30 PM

khaali said:

 

But still. A newly created rank 1 thief will have +1 in skulduggery, and high Agility / Int. Maxing those means +3 in skulduggery, and 6 in Int and Ag. Not many XPs to become the best thief in the world. And when he'll have +2 in skulduggery, he'll be an excelent in lock pick, traps… even if the character keeps only stealing from people in the street and has never touch a lockpick.

 

 

I agree, and that is a problem that arises from how wfrp 3 is designed. In this game you can wildly min /max your character, and you need very few XP to be very proficient in what you do. This was an issue detected from the very begining when the game was released, and one of the many points that made some of the "old school" rpg gamers stay away from the game.

khaali said:

 

If you don't create actions card for thief, what else? split the skill in several skills (Lockpicking, traps, pickpockets and so on)? If you think about it, it's not very different from having 1 skill and action cards…

 

 

Indeed, I would rather split skills than create action cards that tell you what you can do and what you cannot do. May be It is just a matter of taste.

 

Finally, thinking on what you guys say, there would be something in between having no action cards and having an insane amount of cards (many useless). In the FATE games (or at least in The Dresden Files) characters, apart from skills, have something call stunts (they also have powers, which would be like the spells in wfrp) which are there to enhance the use of skills. They are exactly what action cards are (or should be) in wfrp3 (I guess the designers of wfrp3 took the idea from somewhere) just that in contrast to wfrp 3 there is no fix list of stunts, there is just a guide on how to create stunts and a few examples per skill entry. GM and players work together to create unique stunts for the skills of each PC. Also there is no stupid recharge mechanic (sorry for the use of the word "stupid", I know there is people who likes the recharge mechanic), but stunts cost certain PC resources to activate, like if they would cost 1 fortune point to activate.

Cheers,

Yepes


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#13 dvang

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:50 AM

I just want to point out that most of the written scenarios have social situations resolved by using a track. It isn't just a single social check roll.  You need to extend this to apply to most, if not all social situations.

The party needs a number of successful checks to sway the person.

Trying to talk your way past a guard? Set up a 5 space track, or something similar. The guard starts neutral (or slightly hostile). The PCs need to move the track towards the 'friendly' end. A mix of roleplay and social action checks move the token one way or another. At the hostile end, the guard finally calls for reinforcements and attempts to apprehend the PCs.  The friendly end, they convince the guard they are on legitimate business (or what have you).  

Additinoally, you can include Shame and the rules from LoP.  Thus, social encounters can be run more like actual physical combats.  Rather than calling it "Shame", call it "influence". Treat "influence" like social wounds until there is a victor.

 



#14 valvorik

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 10:29 AM

Absolutely re the tracks etc.  I admit this is just sinking in for me, I've often used tracks but sometimes not (essentially if I prepped it track, if players free-formed their way into it not).  WFRP is not about "hit/miss", "succeed/fail" so much as "probably succeed, how well - fast enough to cut down the counter-actions and not suffer too much?"?  That is how combat works, it needs to be how interesting social or other non-combat stuff works. 

This also allows "the opposition" to benefit from the "dice favour acting party" phenomenon" which a simple test to succeed by player does not.

Even "nature" may make a "roll against you" during a trip, particularly if you don't make enough successes fast enough.

This thread has me thinking more though.  I think I will make most skill checks be "perform a stunt" being clear "triple success does not get improved outcome, 2 steps on track etc." and "single bane can be bad" - if you want "two influence steps on track with one roll" you should take a social action card.

BTW - WOWZA, cool dice probability calculator.  Great guide for GM's even if not fiddling rules just to have idea of what the odds really are and how throwing in a few misfortune changes them etc.

Rob



#15 Emirikol

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 05:18 PM

.>This thread has me thinking more though.  I think I will make most skill checks be "perform a stunt" being clear "triple success does not get improved outcome, 2 steps on track etc." and "single bane can be bad" - if you want "two influence steps on track with one roll" you should take a social action card.

 

 

I like that idea :_)  I've already stolen it for my H.R. book (version 10 almost finalized once my players and I get done deciding a couple things. )  One of my players is playing a social character and he feels that I should not give out a free social card.

I am pretty usre that we are getting rid of the the Fortune Characteristic Die.  There's no purpose for it except to escalate character power, which I then  have to ramp up more black dice just to oppose and keep things from being a 99% success rate.  I think I'm just going to make that otherwise a "wild card" for them to spend on whatever as an in-career.

 

jh



#16 Yepesnopes

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 06:47 PM

Emirikol said:

I am pretty usre that we are getting rid of the the Fortune Characteristic Die.  There's no purpose for it except to escalate character power, which I then  have to ramp up more black dice just to oppose and keep things from being a 99% success rate.  I think I'm just going to make that otherwise a "wild card" for them to spend on whatever as an in-career.

That is exactly what I have done with them.


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#17 RARodger

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:16 PM

Yepesnopes said:

I think that having social action cards and deciding how many rolls (influence results) you need to resolve a social encounter are detached things.

Typically when I set a social encounter I decide beforehand how hard to "win" it will be, i.e. how many "influence" results will be needed. I do this typically with a counter, or progress tracker (call it as you want). I also try to decide how the NPC(s) react to the different "social" skills (guile, charm, leadership…). What I was trying to bring to disucssion is if social action cards are really worth the xp cost. At the end of the day, a PC can use role play plus an apropriate skill roll (perform a stunt if you want to call it like this) to try to influence a NPC.

I had a thought about this recently. I think it's important to decide not just how many influence results you need, but why. So like you need first to get the barkeep to even talk to a small band of heavily armed psychopaths. Then you might need to convince him you're not actually sent by Ziggy. Then you have to convince him that the information you're looking for won't come back to bite him in the ass. Finally you have show him how it would benefit him.

Okay, that might be way too many influences, but the idea is that by giving context to each of them it will inform which cards could work and what happens if any given one fails.

As for letting characters act without a card… my general rule of thumb is I'm much more forgiving of when and how and against who you can influence when you're using a card instead of just a skill check. It's not perfect, but…



#18 Yepesnopes

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:00 PM

RARodger said:

As for letting characters act without a card… my general rule of thumb is I'm much more forgiving of when and how and against who you can influence when you're using a card instead of just a skill check. It's not perfect, but…

It is an option, it just feels wierd to me to penalize a player's idea because his PC does not have an action card.

I feel ok without using action cards, there are no action cards for example for perception rolls (follow trails, awaraness…), or for lockpicking, or for climbing a wall…

Warhammer 3 is a game where action cards have been heavily focused on combat. In that aspect it is like D&D 4 but with action cards instead of lists of especial habilities. It looks like that they wanted to do something similar for social encounters, but they fell short and only achieved it in a…30%?

Cheers,

Yepes


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#19 RARodger

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 02:56 AM

Yepesnopes said:

Warhammer 3 is a game where action cards have been heavily focused on combat. In that aspect it is like D&D 4 but with action cards instead of lists of especial habilities. It looks like that they wanted to do something similar for social encounters, but they fell short and only achieved it in a…30%?

Cheers,

Yepes

Well, I agree with that. I guess what I mean by 'more forgiving' is that action cards should be for doing stuff you just shouldn't be able to do. Like charming people who hate you or something or talking yourself out of getting caught red-handed. That's more what I mean by 'more forgiving.'






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