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Atomisk

Social Encounters & Sucker Punching Afterwards?

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So me and my group recently ran into this issue and I wanted to know if this is something that concerned anyone about how the rules worked in regards to this(since we had determined it was run incorrectly for a few reasons which prompted my question). The scenario was as follows:

We are playing a superhero game and everyone has a power(all with their own talents to upgrade them) and I'm an esper(Telekinesis & Telepathic Attacks). However, we had tracked down a get away driver and convinced him to meet with us by feigning intrest in his services. Once we got him, we entered into social combat we inflicted strain exceeding his threshold and he yielded instead of getting incapacitated per the rules and gave up the name of the guy who hired him(goal completed!). However, after that was all said and done and he was already leaving(Social Encounter finished, people recovered strain per normal) when my character and another player realized that there wasn't anything stopping him from tipping off our real target, and my character made the, admittedly, brash action of following him alone and getting into a combat with him after our social one and trying to do strain to him(with my psychic attack).

Now, this didn't work out as planned for several reasons. First, there was some miscommunication about how my powers work with the GM(which is a whole other thing) so he wouldn't let me target his stain so I was forced to do physical damage which would have been fine if he was a regular rival(since strain should have translated to wounds). Second, he had built a character who was supposed to be a rival but actually had both a strain threshold and a wound threshold, something normally reserved for Nemesis characters. And third, once I figured I could still attack his strain with a stun weapon he informed me he had fully healed the character's strain threshold after the social encounter. These things, combined with the addition of some bad rolls, I went down and the other characters had to pick me up off the ground afterwords.

Needless to say I was a little peeved, but after game and I cooled off we got to talking about why the GM had done the things he had and some things were honest mistakes: the character was built on the fly, he forgot he shouldn't have had strain and wound thresholds), his home-brewed rules on powers is a thing that admittedly needs more work/clarification, etc. But the healing to full, was because in his mind it "doesn't make sense for a character to be weak after a social encounter" and this became a whole discussion within the group on how things should be treated going forward.

Our group ended up pretty split on the subject so I wanted to see how often did this actually come up in a game for other people. So I ask: Have you ever had a combat encounter following a social encounter where an adversary was sucker punched or take out more easily than they should have been? And if so was it a detriment to the game? I frankly think it won't come up that often since it seems easy to avoid with Nemesis' character, not to mention that after a social encounter characters should get to recover strain either way(I'd even rule that minions/rivals would get to heal wounds too then, but I'm not the GM here).

Edited by Atomisk

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This is a tough call. I've been in a similar situation and usually rule based on the nature of the session. By default pushing an NPC to exceed their Strain Threshold in a social encounter is similar to combat. The NPC is removed from the encounter in some way (after capitulating). Whether that's getting angry and storming off, curling up into a ball and crying, etc..

 

Because of that; it rewards players not trying to constantly force other people into bending to their will without compromise. At least in my games it promotes players to not obliterate NPC's (socially) so they can keep interacting with the NPC.

 

In the specific situation you presented I would probably either just not allow a combat encounter to follow. In the same way that after sending an enemy to 0 strain in combat you can't just wake them up and fight them all over again. Or I would have the NPC recover all the strain, but add boost/setback to checks because of the previous encounter (to both player and NPC).

 

In general make an NPC exceed their strain threshold should mean the NPC is removed from the encounter in some way. So I would usually default to the first option; mainly because in this situation it sounds like the social encounter concluded and the NPC capitulated so that resolved. So trying to get more out of the NPC (that has already given what they have) seems counter to the intention of the system.

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Meant to look this up last night, but forgot, however, in FFGs Star Wars system (the progenitor of Genesys), I'm almost certain that there is an "Optional Rule" to give a Rival a Strain Threshold in "special circumstances".

I bring that up because that might mean there is a similar option in Genesys... but again, I forgot to look it up. And if that rule is there for Genesys, your GM might have (albeit, apparently unknowingly) not been cheating you too hard.

Setting that aside, in this (and virtually any) situation, in my opinion, the narrative should be allowed to continue on, freely, following the Social Encounter in whatever way the players wanted it to proceed.

That means if there is no circumstance preventing it (like good social decorum), if a PC wanted to go and jump the guy afterward, then they can do that. I would inflict appropriate narrative consequences (like, moving forward, people would be less likely to work with the PCs in a social fashion, and if they did, the PCs would have penalties to positive social interactions), but if that's what the PC wanted to do, imposing a meta-restriction on that makes no sense to me.

Moving from there, I would have held the Rival to the same Strain recovery rules as PCs are held to - in this circumstance he should have gotten just one Discipline/Cool Strain Recovery roll, as normal.

That would mean, the Rival would likely still be near their Threshold, and the physical encounter should proceed as it would normally be handled. Narrative gameplay until it needs to become structured, so on, so forth.

The important part is that the GM shouldn't hold onto any NPC as a "Mary Sue", they should be bounded by the rules that Rivals and Characters in general are bounded by. So, in my opinion, no "free", full Strain Recovery (this normally requires rest, right?). If the GM wants that to be a thing for an NPC there needs to be a mechanic behind it. An item, Talents, at the very least, a Story Point flip. Something.

Also important is that the GM needs to remember they have narrative consequences at their disposal to discourage this type of "cheap shotting". But if the PCs want to be the kind of ppl that take cheap shots, they should be allowed to be those type of ppl, IMO.

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14 hours ago, Noahjam325 said:

This is a tough call. I've been in a similar situation and usually rule based on the nature of the session. By default pushing an NPC to exceed their Strain Threshold in a social encounter is similar to combat. The NPC is removed from the encounter in some way (after capitulating). Whether that's getting angry and storming off, curling up into a ball and crying, etc..

 

Because of that; it rewards players not trying to constantly force other people into bending to their will without compromise. At least in my games it promotes players to not obliterate NPC's (socially) so they can keep interacting with the NPC.

 

In the specific situation you presented I would probably either just not allow a combat encounter to follow. In the same way that after sending an enemy to 0 strain in combat you can't just wake them up and fight them all over again. Or I would have the NPC recover all the strain, but add boost/setback to checks because of the previous encounter (to both player and NPC).

 

In general make an NPC exceed their strain threshold should mean the NPC is removed from the encounter in some way. So I would usually default to the first option; mainly because in this situation it sounds like the social encounter concluded and the NPC capitulated so that resolved. So trying to get more out of the NPC (that has already given what they have) seems counter to the intention of the system.

I see where you're coming from, but what do you mean that you "wouldn't let that happen" in regards to a combat after a social encounter? Cause I don't see what's stopping a character from chasing after them(as I did) even if they storm off/whatever. At worst it becomes a chase, but that's just another encounter no?

Also I feel that healing them to full is a bit heavy-handed but that's why I'm asking about how common this is in the first place, so that might be the way to go.

2 hours ago, emsquared said:

Meant to look this up last night, but forgot, however, in FFGs Star Wars system (the progenitor of Genesys), I'm almost certain that there is an "Optional Rule" to give a Rival a Strain Threshold in "special circumstances".

I bring that up because that might mean there is a similar option in Genesys... but again, I forgot to look it up. And if that rule is there for Genesys, your GM might have (albeit, apparently unknowingly) not been cheating you too hard.

Setting that aside, in this (and virtually any) situation, in my opinion, the narrative should be allowed to continue on, freely, following the Social Encounter in whatever way the players wanted it to proceed.

That means if there is no circumstance preventing it (like good social decorum), if a PC wanted to go and jump the guy afterward, then they can do that. I would inflict appropriate narrative consequences (like, moving forward, people would be less likely to work with the PCs in a social fashion, and if they did, the PCs would have penalties to positive social interactions), but if that's what the PC wanted to do, imposing a meta-restriction on that makes no sense to me.

Moving from there, I would have held the Rival to the same Strain recovery rules as PCs are held to - in this circumstance he should have gotten just one Discipline/Cool Strain Recovery roll, as normal.

That would mean, the Rival would likely still be near their Threshold, and the physical encounter should proceed as it would normally be handled. Narrative gameplay until it needs to become structured, so on, so forth.

The important part is that the GM shouldn't hold onto any NPC as a "Mary Sue", they should be bounded by the rules that Rivals and Characters in general are bounded by. So, in my opinion, no "free", full Strain Recovery (this normally requires rest, right?). If the GM wants that to be a thing for an NPC there needs to be a mechanic behind it. An item, Talents, at the very least, a Story Point flip. Something.

Also important is that the GM needs to remember they have narrative consequences at their disposal to discourage this type of "cheap shotting". But if the PCs want to be the kind of ppl that take cheap shots, they should be allowed to be those type of ppl, IMO.

I'm coming from FFG's Star Wars system too. I thought it was 1:1 at first, besides the lack of talent trees bust stuff like the Social Encounters gives it enough different to shake me up sometimes! Anyways I don't recall an Optional Rule to give them a Strain Threshold there, but even if there is a rule for it I don't care so much about that anymore(since rule or not, it was an honest mistake and I'm okay with that). Just trying to be constructive at this point, and trying to see how common this has come up in a game vs how much of it is corner-casing.

I think I largely agree with you though, I want to at least try it all RAW for this first. I was okay with the consequences of my fellow players and any negative repercussions for doing what I did but I was more concerned about him tipping things off since we didn't think about it till he had left and the social was over.

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Sorry if I wasn't clear. What I specifically meant was that I wouldn't have made it a structured combat encounter (with initiative rolls).

 

The situation you presented it sounds like the group spent enough time deliberating that it gave the NPC a chance to get away. So I would have resolved it within a single check. E.g. an athletics check to chase down the NPC or a survival check to track them down. With success being you found him/her and you can deal with them like you would any other "incapacitated" NPC since that already happened from the social encounter. Failure would just be they got away before you realized your mistake.

 

In general I wouldn't have my players chase down an NPC they just defeated and run a whole new encounter like that.

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It totally makes sense for a character to be weak after a social encounter. Mental exhaustion is as real and debilitating as physical one, and the game models both using the same mechanic of Strain.

I'd say let the NPC recover Strain with a Discipline/Cool check, just as the PCs do, and that's their new total for the second encounter.

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If the party lets the driver go, he gets away. If they have second thoughts and try to chase after him, that's when the bad guys show up.  Or, they find the driver -- but he's already dead in an alley...and THEN the bad guys show up.

It IS a narrative game, after all -- keep the story moving!

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On 11/20/2019 at 3:28 PM, Atomisk said:



Now, this didn't work out as planned for several reasons. First, there was some miscommunication about how my powers work with the GM(which is a whole other thing) so he wouldn't let me target his stain so I was forced to do physical damage which would have been fine if he was a regular rival(since strain should have translated to wounds). Second, he had built a character who was supposed to be a rival but actually had both a strain threshold and a wound threshold, something normally reserved for Nemesis characters. And third, once I figured I could still attack his strain with a stun weapon he informed me he had fully healed the character's strain threshold after the social encounter. These things, combined with the addition of some bad rolls, I went down and the other characters had to pick me up off the ground afterwords.

Needless to say I was a little peeved, but after game and I cooled off we got to talking about why the GM had done the things he had and some things were honest mistakes: the character was built on the fly, he forgot he shouldn't have had strain and wound thresholds), his home-brewed rules on powers is a thing that admittedly needs more work/clarification, etc. But the healing to full, was because in his mind it "doesn't make sense for a character to be weak after a social encounter" and this became a whole discussion within the group on how things should be treated going forward.

Our group ended up pretty split on the subject so I wanted to see how often did this actually come up in a game for other people. So I ask: Have you ever had a combat encounter following a social encounter where an adversary was sucker punched or take out more easily than they should have been? And if so was it a detriment to the game? I frankly think it won't come up that often since it seems easy to avoid with Nemesis' character, not to mention that after a social encounter characters should get to recover strain either way(I'd even rule that minions/rivals would get to heal wounds too then, but I'm not the GM here).

Page 390 of the EoTE Core rulebook states that GMs can track strain on certain rivals. 

Its a good way to make rivals more flexible than full on making them a nemesis. I do it often.  So as precedence I would say that its no problem at all that he created 

As for the sucker punch question--It hasn't been an issue in my groups. But that is because they normally either talk to folks or fight them (not a lot of mixing it up). I would say that they would, as you suggest get to recover some strain/wounds per normal rules. The GM could spend a Story Point to say they get a second wind (at least 5 strain automatically), theoretically they could have stim packs or what not. But honestly it doesn't come up enough to be an issue.

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