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Applying difficulty to opposed checks (Particularly persuasion)

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With the RAW, Charm checks are opposed by the target's own skills. The problem with this is that it gives no room to reflect the actual difficulty of what's being attempted.

For (an intentionally extreme) example, convincing someone to loan you 5 credits is a lot easier than convincing them to kill their best friend, but using the RAW (as far as I understand them), the check would use the same difficulty. This is especially problematic with high skill levels vs low skill levels where success is essentially assured. 

The only RAW option I can see would be to add setback dice, but that feels a little silly to me and doesn't match my concept of a setback. 

How do you guys handle it?

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I haven't come across this issue in game yet, but I would think the RAW difficulty for the check would depend on what you are trying to influence.  To go with your example, the difficulty of getting 5 credits would be easy (2-3) vice convincing someone to kill being indomitable (5-6), and that's not even adding in proficiency or upgrading dice.  Additionally, I think you would have to take into account the audience; are they amenable to the doing it, is it something they value, etc.  I would leave boost/setback dice for outside influences; drunk, suspicious, friendly, etc.  There's a lot of flexibility built in for a reason, to allow for better story telling.  I think the GM needs to make an honest assessment before deciding on the difficulty and it's going to change depending on the situation.

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That's if you treat it strictly as a math problem in your hypothetical which is too extreme. Step1 is always whether a roll is necessary. I would let Mr. Charmer bum 5 credits without requiring a roll ever, and I'd never let them try and convince someone to murder their friend for no reason. The dice aren't the problem. This is where the GM needs to be the GM.

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33 minutes ago, 2P51 said:

That's if you treat it strictly as a math problem in your hypothetical which is too extreme. Step1 is always whether a roll is necessary. I would let Mr. Charmer bum 5 credits without requiring a roll ever, and I'd never let them try and convince someone to murder their friend for no reason. The dice aren't the problem. This is where the GM needs to be the GM.

Yes, I know. Hence the disclaimer of intentionally extreme. Please don't get hung up on the details. If it makes it easier for you, pretend it's the difference between 5 credits and 100 or 100 and 1000 or whatever works for you. 

The bottom line is that the ask is different but the difficulty stays the same. This is the problem we are discussing. 

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It's not a problem, it's a matter of when you want there to be a roll or not.  Just like in life, some people will hand a transient $20 without batting an eye lash, some won't for any reason.  It's not a fixed difficulty, it's going to be different from person to person which is absolutely what is reflected in the combination of whether or not to require a roll in the first place, and who the roll is being made against. 

Is the goal to get 100 credits, or is to get a 100 credits from one person?  If the goal is a 100 credits I wouldn't bother with a roll, particularly if there is a Mr. Charmer in the group.  They'll stand by the space freeway on ramp and eventually get it.  If the roll is to specifically get something from a person, what the goal is will matter as to whether I allow/require a roll.  If I do require a roll I will add Boosts/Setback as appropriate for extraneous issues.

Take the credits away, whatever the goal, is it something with time they can accomplish easily, no roll.  Is it time constrained but a simple not big deal, no roll.  Is it really really hard but time is no problem, roll.  Is it both hard, and time constrained, or environmentally influenced, Setbacks.  Same species, gang, cricket team, Boosts.

It doesn't matter how good a charmer a character is, and how bad the opponents dice pool is to a charm check.  If they were just shooting at one another I am not going to allow a charm check to ask for a ride home.  If they are both rebels and the characters are headed off on a dangerous mission and the character wants to ask supply for something reasonable they will likely need I am not going to require a roll.  If the roll will create a plot choke point if they fail, I won't have them roll.

 

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24 minutes ago, ddbrown30 said:

I 100% agree with everything you said. It still doesn't address my question, but I appreciate you taking the time to respond. 

Then I have no idea what you're asking.

And, you're welcome. 

Edited by 2P51

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Now that I'm home, I've just double checked the rules and I feel that they can be interpreted such that you can add more difficulty dice when asking for more.

Quote

Charm is often an opposed check, using the subject's Presence and Cool, except in situations where the PC is trying to Charm large groups, in which case it's often a set difficulty. Of course, situational modifiers may also apply based upon the character's style of dress, species, and other characteristics. For instances in which the desired outcome is directly opposed to the target's interests, an additional Difficulty die may be added.

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When dealing with perceived rules issues, follow each rule back to the source to make sure there isn’t a resolution you missed. In this case, take a trip back to chapter 1 in the “Other Types of Checks” section.

 

“Opposed checks are often used when the success or failure of a task is strongly influenced by an opponent.” In your cases, the opponent might not strongly influence the success or failure of the task. Instead, the task itself is the strongest influencer.

 

The 5 credit loan? Almost everyone wouldn’t care so if you decide to roll then you can just set the difficulty at simple.

 

Talking someone into killing their friend? It’s impossible to think even a weak willed person could be convinced to do that, so set the difficulty at impossible (and only allow a check if the PCs get some serious dirt on the character or whatever).

 

The check variants are basically only options laid on top of the GM setting the difficulty. Don’t get wrapped up in the mechanics and just set the difficulty you think is right.

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For attempts that fit, I use an opposed check as base, then like to 1) Add a Setback for each degree running counter to the target's interests, plus inherent danger; and then 2) Require an additional Success equal to each Setback for total success, which allows for partial success at the same time it functionally models absurd attempts at social influence.

It's pretty easy to benchmark stuff, while it keeps Difficulty and Challenge cleanly tied to a target's Characteristics and Skills.

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I can see where you are coming from with your issue. The difficulty remains the same with the RAW (the opposed skill dice pool of the opponent) no matter what the roll is for.

This is where common sense and gaming experience has to come into play.

The resolution as I see it would depend on what is being asked and the morals/mindset of the person being asked. 

I would not allow a roll if the request is completely outrageous. Such as asking a well adjusted law abiding citizen to kill their best friend. Unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances  (life altering blackmail material/loved ones under the threat of death etc.)

If the person being asked is susceptible to such a request in the first place (they have a predeliction to violence, have severe mental health issues regarding social or violent interaction) then I would allow a roll.

If the request is something insignificant that has no impact on the person being asked (give away 5 credits from a prosperous individual) again I wouldn't roll it's just an RP situation based upon that person's world view, do they give out creds  or not.

The real test comes if the question  has a realistic moral or social outcome that the person would weigh up in the situation (would it impact them or someone else? Would anyone find out? What would the punishment be if they were caught?)

If they would consider the offer, then roll it adding boost / setback die as you see fit (blackmail. Alcohol. Attractiveness of the individual asking for a favour etc).

TLDNR:

Feel free to modify a rolls difficulty but only if the roll is appropriate 

Edited by SirSaiCo

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As the GM, you ARE allowed to simply deem a task impossible and say that it can't be done. It's a narrative RPG for a reason, it's supposed to tell a story. While shenanigans can be incredibly fun and hilarious, if you let the PCs roll for what ever they want, they will inevitably find a way to abuse and break the system. 

Typically, the difficulty of the rolls is based on how difficult the GM (you) need/want it to be. There isn't a hard and fast rule for it in some cases, which gives you the freedom to decide.

As for the actual number systems, look at the applicable stats: if the PC tries to charm someone with ranks in Cool or Discipline then you oppose it to that stat (upgrade the purples to reds of the same number)

Pickpocketing someone with a good sense of what's going on around them? Skulduggery check opposed to their Vigilance in addition to how difficult you deem it to be. (stealing a wallet: average check. stealing a blaster off their hip: daunting)

Just remember that YOU are the one in charge. Play it fair, but play it how you see fit.

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On 5/17/2018 at 4:34 PM, ddbrown30 said:

With the RAW, Charm checks are opposed by the target's own skills. The problem with this is that it gives no room to reflect the actual difficulty of what's being attempted.

You might review the social information in Far Horizons and Desperate Allies, they are very useful.

That said, I would just make the difficulty be whatever I thought was applicable.  When designing NPCs, for example, I often make notes about what kinds of social skills might work best on them.  Some people resent being told what to do, but are susceptible to flattery.  However, technically both Coercion and Charm might be resisted with Discipline.  Maybe the target's Discipline is only RP, but I have no problem making their roll against Coercion, say, RRPP, while their roll against Charm might only be PP, with one or more boost dice thrown in if the PC role-plays it well.

If the PC is the target, similar adjustments can be made if the player can make a good case.  Any realistic application of "but my PC would never do X, and you know this because that's how I've been playing all this time" is a good case.  Likewise, if the PC constantly shows, say, "a weakness for the ladies", then attempts at seduction can be downgraded in the NPC's favour.

It's definitely more fluid and flexible than combat, but that's a feature, not a bug.

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I would suggest 1-3 setback on top of the opposed roll and consider needing actual role play situations or opportunities in game before even granting a check that would be one and done resolution. Instead consider multiple checks may be needed and at the right time to gain someones trust or get them to do something dangerous or betray an ally.

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This is an issue I've come across as well.

First, always look at the possibility of adding Setback dice.  There are plenty of social talents that remove setbacks, so any opportunity to add them is worth embracing.  You're asking for a large sum of money?  Add a setback.  You're using Coercion against an NPC who is bigger and stronger than you?  Add a setback.  The NPC doesn't actually have the money you're asking for?  Add a setback.  Don't feel bad about having a check with 4+ setbacks on; a really good social PC will quickly strip those away, while other PCs will have to be careful how they approach difficult social situations.  Good drama all around.

However, your extreme examples are a bit different.  I would probably start by upgrading/downgrading appropriately, or just alter the difficulty accordingly.  Ultimately, you're the GM.  And this is a flaw in the RAW.  (Sidenote: Flaw in the RAW would be a great name for...something).

Alternatively, for a really big favour you could break the check down into multiple steps.  Convincing someone to kill their best friend isn't ever going to be a single sentence.  You could easily make that into more of a skill challenge type event, which might be a) more cinematic and b) more difficult (depending on how you run the challenge, of course).

Hope that helps.

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5 hours ago, edwardavern said:

Convincing someone to kill their best friend isn't ever going to be a single sentence.

Good point.  Something like would be a multi-session campaign of corruption, lies, setup and deception.  You'd have to frame the friend, have faked photos of liaisons with the wife, hack the text messages, insinuate there's a plot to kill the target to cash in on his life insurance, etc.

Not all social checks can be resolved in a single die roll.  Asking if you can roll a single skill check to make somebody kill their friend is like asking how you can one-shot a Rancor with your hold-out pistol.

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Remember to take note, all of these opposed social checks set their own difficulties based on who the target is. Example, going to be a lot easier to charm your local cantina bartender than it would be to charm Lando. The GM can always add boost or setback dice as the situation dictates.

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This is just a personal option that I use in my games whether it's pc vs npc, npc vs pc, or pc vs pc (which hasn't come up yet,  luckily), if a character is trying to convince someone to do something against their personal ideals,  upgrade once.  If it's something that is an anathema to them, like killing their best friend, upgrade 2 or 3 times.  Despair rolled in this check means they realized what you tried and no future checks are allowed. 

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On 5/17/2018 at 11:34 PM, ddbrown30 said:

With the RAW, Charm checks are opposed by the target's own skills. The problem with this is that it gives no room to reflect the actual difficulty of what's being attempted.

For (an intentionally extreme) example, convincing someone to loan you 5 credits is a lot easier than convincing them to kill their best friend, but using the RAW (as far as I understand them), the check would use the same difficulty. This is especially problematic with high skill levels vs low skill levels where success is essentially assured. 

The only RAW option I can see would be to add setback dice, but that feels a little silly to me and doesn't match my concept of a setback. 

How do you guys handle it?

Setback and Boost dice can always be applied. 

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As rule of thumb = 2 setbacks/boosts = one extra green/violett dice. 
So handing out a fist full of setbacks or boost dice can dramatically change the results. And even the core books suggest to use up to setback 4 dice as basic modifiers, just based on the situation alone.  The kessel run might add 4 setbacks as a bare minimum.  ^_^ 

Edited by SEApocalypse

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Seemed like to me, and this may be just me, but the Core books seemed to want the Difficulty to be very static and for the GM to not get nuts with purples, but like SEA said to use the Setback and Boost as your modifiers. Obviously you can adjust Difficulty dice, but I just got the impression that it wasn't what the designers felt was a good idea. This sound right to you guys?

 

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I'd also point out that some skills just aren't appropriate for particular objectives.

You aren't going to get someone to kill their friend by having a pleasant chat with them (Charm). It just doesn't work. You might be able to get them to do it via threats (Coercion), especially if you have something on them, or via trickery (Deception) by making them think that their friend is actually out to kill them, etc, especially if you have supporting evidence (real or fake). Both are liable to see some serious difficulty upgrades, but they're at least approaches that might work.

I suppose that Leadership could enter into it if there's a command structure involved and the demand is legitimate. ("I know he's your friend, soldier, but he's also been proven a traitor, and we have orders...") If it isn't legitimate then you're back to Deception.

Negotiation? Not everyone has a price, although the right sort of person will respond to this one. At a high cost.

Edited by Garran

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13 minutes ago, Garran said:

I'd also point out that some skills just aren't appropriate for particular objectives.

You aren't going to get someone to kill their friend by having a pleasant chat with them (Charm). It just doesn't work. You might be able to get them to do it via threats (Coercion), especially if you have something on them, or via trickery (Deception) by making them think that their friend is actually out to kill them, etc, especially if you have supporting evidence (real or fake). Both are liable to see some serious difficulty upgrades, but they're at least approaches that might work.

So no one ever killed their friend over a woman, but someone telling them that their buddy is out to kill them or threatening them looks promising? You totally will not end up with them teaming up on you? ?

NPC background and character background is everything on these skills. 

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