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RARodger

When have you resolved social challenges in encounter mode?

56 posts in this topic

phild said:

For me, priorities are to make social encounters easier to just launch into, to give clarity to what a "default" social skill does as opposed to the bought Action cards, to allow social encounters to have a real tactical ebb and flow, and to make sure any system doesn't need existing action cards to be changed at all.

I think the simplest solution to achieve these ends quickly and easily is:
 - Influence needed = between 1 (for simple checks) and target's WP (to persuade them of something they don't want) 
 - Need to define standard action cards for social skills, to provide the social combat baseline, using comparison between basic combat cards and advanced combat cards to inform this.

Do this, and social encounters can be launched at a moment's notice. I may do some work on this, and then pass over to someone who knows how to make pretty action cards :-) 
 

 

Within my house rules, me and my party definied the following rules regarding social encounters and basic action cards:

Due to the lack of a basic social action card, like Melee Strike or Ranged Attack act for combat situations, player characters may use the Perform a Stunt action card to Influence their target. This is done by using the card normally as described in page 68 of the Player’s Guide. The following limitation applies though: In a given encounter, a single PC can only achieve 1 successful "Influence" with the Perform a Stunt action card per skill (i.e. Charm, Guile, Intimidate, Leadership).

Understanding that with the simple succees line of the Peform a Stunt you achieve an "Influence" result, and also agreeing that not all the skills are equally appropriate for all social encounters, e.g. an Intimidate skill check may not be the best option (or it can even go against the PCs interests in the case of a chaos star result) to convince Lady Ludmilla to go with you to the Mascarade Ball.

The idea behind is that by limiting the amount of uses per encounter of a given skill, players who want to have a bigger impact in social encounters will need to buy extra action cards.

I believe that this is not the best option, since by analogy, there is no limitation on the amount of uses of the Melee Strike or Ranged Attack action cards. But given the difference in mechanics between the two type of encounters i.e. wounds and critical wounds versus stress, shame and a progress tracker, and typically the difference in the amount of "opponents" involved, we have found it so far a good aproximation.

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Yepesnopes said:

Within my house rules, me and my party definied the following rules regarding social encounters and basic action cards:

Due to the lack of a basic social action card, like Melee Strike or Ranged Attack act for combat situations, player characters may use the Perform a Stunt action card to Influence their target. This is done by using the card normally as described in page 68 of the Player’s Guide. The following limitation applies though: In a given encounter, a single PC can only achieve 1 successful "Influence" with the Perform a Stunt action card per skill (i.e. Charm, Guile, Intimidate, Leadership).

Understanding that with the simple succees line of the Peform a Stunt you achieve an "Influence" result, and also agreeing that not all the skills are equally appropriate for all social encounters, e.g. an Intimidate skill check may not be the best option (or it can even go against the PCs interests in the case of a chaos star result) to convince Lady Ludmilla to go with you to the Mascarade Ball.

The idea behind is that by limiting the amount of uses per encounter of a given skill, players who want to have a bigger impact in social encounters will need to buy extra action cards.

I believe that this is not the best option, since by analogy, there is no limitation on the amount of uses of the Melee Strike or Ranged Attack action cards. But given the difference in mechanics between the two type of encounters i.e. wounds and critical wounds versus stress, shame and a progress tracker, and typically the difference in the amount of "opponents" involved, we have found it so far a good aproximation.

I would not put such restrictions to the use of the Perform a Stunt action. Its purpose is to give players freedom to fully use their imagination. This rule also poorly simulates for example an encounter where character uses different kind of charming tricks to persuade Lady Ludmilla (he sings a serenade, kisses her hand, etc.).  Stunt is a difficult and risky action compared to well practiced specialiced actions learned through experience. I would just add more challenge or misfortune dice to the Perform a Stunt check. 

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Thug said:


I would not put such restrictions to the use of the Perform a Stunt action. Its purpose is to give players freedom to fully use their imagination. This rule also poorly simulates for example an encounter where character uses different kind of charming tricks to persuade Lady Ludmilla (he sings a serenade, kisses her hand, etc.). Stunt is a difficult and risky action compared to well practiced specialiced actions learned through experience. I would just add more challenge or misfortune dice to the Perform a Stunt check.

Agreed. But somehow I want to motivate my players to buy social action cards, the same way they are motivated to buy combat action cards to have a good action cards rotation during the duration of a combat. If in a social encounter you can accomplish everything with a successful opposed skill check (with or without the Perform a Stunt action card), which is the point on investing exp on social action cards?

Another option would be the one mentioned by Hedge Wizard. Where without the proper social action cards you need to roll three+ hammers to obtain an "Influence" result.

I am looking for ideas.

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in our group any social "action" is roleplaying. if i want to influence somebody a simple die roll will never be enough, i will have to have good arguments etc.

the amount of "influence" of your words is then determined by the GM by both, what you said and the acting characteristic you would have used (Fel usually, but sometimes ST for intimidate)

so for us social actions have never really been looked at, but reading this thread makes me wanna look through them after all!

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RARodger said:

HedgeWizard said:

 

Many of the social actions have a successful result of "influence the target." If you use that as a base, say requiring x Influences in a scene, that's a good start. Then, you limit the ability for non-social PCs (or standard social actions) to influence the target. So anyone can roll a charm, or deception test, but it requires more than a mere success to "influence" - perhaps a critical or a multiple (3+) successes.

 

 

Interesting, I hadn't thought about the lack of "influence the target."

But here's a thought, using, say, the basic Melee Action still deals wounds and hurts NPCs without eliminating them. What's the analagous effect for charm? If "influence" equals winning in the same way eliminating an opponent equals winning in combat, what's the middle step? In the Duel of Wits rules it's Shame…

I guess basically what I'm asking is, what can you still do with a basic charm success since you should still be able to do something. (In the same way you can still hurt/stress an opponent with Weapon Skill.)

RARodger said:

HedgeWizard said:

 

Many of the social actions have a successful result of "influence the target." If you use that as a base, say requiring x Influences in a scene, that's a good start. Then, you limit the ability for non-social PCs (or standard social actions) to influence the target. So anyone can roll a charm, or deception test, but it requires more than a mere success to "influence" - perhaps a critical or a multiple (3+) successes.

 

 

Interesting, I hadn't thought about the lack of "influence the target."

But here's a thought, using, say, the basic Melee Action still deals wounds and hurts NPCs without eliminating them. What's the analagous effect for charm? If "influence" equals winning in the same way eliminating an opponent equals winning in combat, what's the middle step? In the Duel of Wits rules it's Shame…

I guess basically what I'm asking is, what can you still do with a basic charm success since you should still be able to do something. (In the same way you can still hurt/stress an opponent with Weapon Skill.)

Charm adds to the final argument pool, or to a following check. The point of a straight charm check isn't to influence per se, but rather to get them to like you which makes them more compliant when you actually DO ask them to do something for you, or give you something. So I usually award 1 or 2 fortune dice on their next check (or the check of the agent), or I add them tot he final argument pool.

Again, I try to keep things fairly fluid and not rely on rigid rules. So if a single PC is socially engaged with someone, and trying to get them to divulge a secret, they may spend a round or two charming them - chatting them up if you will, getting them to lower their guard - before pulling a Perform a Stunt social action with bonus fortune awarded for the successful charms.

Some of this is cribbed from the excellent social encounter system in ASOIAF RPG (with a little burning wheel). It's analogous to setting an opponent up in combat to deliver the final blow, but the setup isn't damaging them, but perhaps positioning them so you can kick them off the ledge ;)

For straight-shot encounters (e.g. trying to haggle a deal with a vendor) it's a straight single test typically where a success is a success regardless of action used, but I often provide better outcomes overall to people who invest in social actions (rewarding that style of play).

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nephtys said:

in our group any social "action" is roleplaying. if i want to influence somebody a simple die roll will never be enough, i will have to have good arguments etc.

the amount of "influence" of your words is then determined by the GM by both, what you said and the acting characteristic you would have used (Fel usually, but sometimes ST for intimidate)

so for us social actions have never really been looked at, but reading this thread makes me wanna look through them after all!

This is how I *used* to run social encounters from say 1984 - 2005. But player's don't always come up with great content, or some players are less inclined to be verbally persuasive in real life, but they're playing a character who can charm a snake out of its skin.  Allowing them to roll with modifiers in any system allows them to play that role without having to BE that type of person.

However, when players come up with something particularly craft, or witty, or smart as part of their conversation, I award fortune dice.  Stuff like this is why I LOVE the new dice mechanic in WFRP.  It allows you to layer in modifier dice quite reasonably without worrying about actual modifiers, tables, or other typical trappings of RPGs.

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Yepesnopes said:

Thug said:


I would not put such restrictions to the use of the Perform a Stunt action. Its purpose is to give players freedom to fully use their imagination. This rule also poorly simulates for example an encounter where character uses different kind of charming tricks to persuade Lady Ludmilla (he sings a serenade, kisses her hand, etc.). Stunt is a difficult and risky action compared to well practiced specialiced actions learned through experience. I would just add more challenge or misfortune dice to the Perform a Stunt check.

 

 

 

Agreed. But somehow I want to motivate my players to buy social action cards, the same way they are motivated to buy combat action cards to have a good action cards rotation during the duration of a combat. If in a social encounter you can accomplish everything with a successful opposed skill check (with or without the Perform a Stunt action card), which is the point on investing exp on social action cards?

Another option would be the one mentioned by Hedge Wizard. Where without the proper social action cards you need to roll three+ hammers to obtain an "Influence" result.

I am looking for ideas.

Ok, now I see the problem clearer. Here's an idea: The action cards represent "special powers" that cannot be performed using the Stunt card. For example, your character meets some rich nobleman and lies to be the noble's long lost cousin. This is so outrageous lie that the character fails automatically and is sent to prison, unless, he has the Honeyed Words card! Or in another example a character wants to challenge somebody in duel, but there are no willing opponents. This attemp becomes impossible unless the character has Come, Face Me! action card. Would this mechanic give your players motivation to invest these cards, so that their characters can do almost impossible acts?

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nephtys said:

in our group any social "action" is roleplaying. if i want to influence somebody a simple die roll will never be enough, i will have to have good arguments etc.

 

Do you make players lift heavy objects to see if they make a strength check? :-)

OK, a silly rhetorical question, but the point is valid. This makes it impossible for more reserved players to effectively play a socially adept character, which seems overly limiting given that we're talking fantasy role playing here.

I might award a bonus fortune die for a great bit of roleplaying, but even then it would be relevant to what I know of the skills and aptitudes of the player - if I know he's pretty introverted and shy, and doesn't like to speak in-character at all, any effort to do so will get the reward.

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phild said:

Do you make players lift heavy objects to see if they make a strength check? :-)

well, i see you want to nit pick. well, we are "role-players". so if i can convince a witch hunter not to burn me by rolling a die…well, to us that does not work. if you just want to roll dice and do what a card tells you  -  play cards

if we take the role out of roleplaying all there is left is playing, welcome to tabletop

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nephtys said:

phild said:

 

Do you make players lift heavy objects to see if they make a strength check? :-)

 

 

well, i see you want to nit pick. well, we are "role-players". so if i can convince a witch hunter not to burn me by rolling a die…well, to us that does not work. if you just want to roll dice and do what a card tells you  -  play cards

if we take the role out of roleplaying all there is left is playing, welcome to tabletop

So how do you play the "role" of someone who is super intelligent? How about the "role" of someone who is an expert tracker? How about the "role" of a master swordsman? And why should these abilities get a different treatment to that of a silver-tongued diplomat?

I wasn't nit-picking, I was raising a genuine point about how the game mechanics provide parity for all people to play all potential roles equally well. I would argue that by linking one specific facet of the role to real life ability, you may actually be limiting role-playing more than someone who uses the game mechanics available to them to allow any person to play any role. By insisting on role-playing, you're limiting the range of viable roles.

All subject to the mantra of Maximum Game Fun, and stick with what works for your group of players.

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Thug said:

Ok, now I see the problem clearer. Here's an idea: The action cards represent "special powers" that cannot be performed using the Stunt card. For example, your character meets some rich nobleman and lies to be the noble's long lost cousin. This is so outrageous lie that the character fails automatically and is sent to prison, unless, he has the Honeyed Words card! Or in another example a character wants to challenge somebody in duel, but there are no willing opponents. This attemp becomes impossible unless the character has Come, Face Me! action card. Would this mechanic give your players motivation to invest these cards, so that their characters can do almost impossible acts?

This of course will be an option, but it implies that I have to more or less memorize all the specific actions which are covered by the already existing social action cards. lengua.gif

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HedgeWizard said:

Charm adds to the final argument pool, or to a following check. The point of a straight charm check isn't to influence per se, but rather to get them to like you which makes them more compliant when you actually DO ask them to do something for you, or give you something.

Great point. Thanks.

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HedgeWizard said:

Many of the social actions have a successful result of "influence the target." If you use that as a base, say requiring x Influences in a scene, that's a good start. Then, you limit the ability for non-social PCs (or standard social actions) to influence the target. So anyone can roll a charm, or deception test, but it requires more than a mere success to "influence" - perhaps a critical or a multiple (3+) successes.

Charm adds to the final argument pool, or to a following check. The point of a straight charm check isn't to influence per se, but rather to get them to like you which makes them more compliant when you actually DO ask them to do something for you, or give you something. So I usually award 1 or 2 fortune dice on their next check (or the check of the agent), or I add them tot he final argument pool.

Again, I try to keep things fairly fluid and not rely on rigid rules. So if a single PC is socially engaged with someone, and trying to get them to divulge a secret, they may spend a round or two charming them - chatting them up if you will, getting them to lower their guard - before pulling a Perform a Stunt social action with bonus fortune awarded for the successful charms.

Some of this is cribbed from the excellent social encounter system in ASOIAF RPG (with a little burning wheel). It's analogous to setting an opponent up in combat to deliver the final blow, but the setup isn't damaging them, but perhaps positioning them so you can kick them off the ledge ;)

For straight-shot encounters (e.g. trying to haggle a deal with a vendor) it's a straight single test typically where a success is a success regardless of action used, but I often provide better outcomes overall to people who invest in social actions (rewarding that style of play).

I like this approach, but it leave at least one doubt. Do you eliminate the assit manoeuvre in your social encounters? or does it adds up to the fortune die granted by the skill check?

An assist manoeuvre grants a fortune die without the need of any roll, but as I understand you ask for an skill check (opposed?) to add one or two fortune dice.

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We have never really used assist outside of some basic, obvious checks. E.g. Assist to lift something, assist to search a room, assist on first aid. If you want to assist someone to achieve a goal in a conversation, that takes some kind of action on your part - same as in combat. The only real, non-action "assisting" I can imagine in combat comes from things like flanking, or feinting as a distraction, perhaps throwing out a chair in someone's way. The first is already accounted for, and we read the other two as actions. But I try to keep that somewhat defined otherwise everyone will be assisting everyone and therefore everyone gets the fortune die rendering it moot. 

Another option might be for you to adopt the ASOIF/Burning Wheel/Mouse Guard methodology of assigning a disposition to the participants (i.e. social "wounds") and which each success dealing a certain amount of "damage". In this model you can have standard checks (charm, guile, etc.) result in 1 damage per success, while the social cards that "influence" might do 2 or 3 points of "damage". This would bring it more in-line with combat where participants who aren't strong in melee can still do some damage in the fight.

I threw together a social encounter sheet moons ago - again, I use this as a guide and don't follow it slavishly in game. I do what makes sense for the PC and the scene, but it reminds of certain modifiers and affects I might want to add to a final argument pool (or a straight check):

Social%2520Engagments.png

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PS - one of these days, when I have some free time I plan on re-working that overview (there are some errors in it) as well as incorporate the nobility/shame stuff.

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HedgeWizard said:

PS - one of these days, when I have some free time I plan on re-working that overview (there are some errors in it) as well as incorporate the nobility/shame stuff.

Since you've seem to have thought about this a lot, and I assume you actually use these techniques at the table, can you speak to my original question? I'm still trying to get a sense of how people transition from story mode to encounter mode in social encounters.

I also hadn't thought of translating the Burning Wheel style of building supporting actions into a main action into building a die pool in WFRP. I can see that working well, each character taking actions that contribute dice to the pool…

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I would like to thank all of you for your wonderful insights, I've been reding this topic prior to our session from 2 days ago and they were really helpful.

If you are interested you can find the results of our "social combat" in our latest session MP3.

www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/the-black-monolith/adventure-log

Session 4.

I hope those of you with reservations or those that are apprehensive (like I was) can find some use or inspiration in it. Feel free to comment.

It was difficult to prepare, but even though all the dice were in a bad mood we had a wonderful session and a great learning experience.

I don't believe you need to choose between Roll or Role playing, you can do both. Even though I would like to see some more official or even custom fanmade Social actions.

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captaincutlass said:

I don't believe you need to choose between Roll or Role playing, you can do both. Even though I would like to see some more official or even custom fanmade Social actions.

I look forward to listening to it.

And I agree with the above sentiment. Hell, I've seen people roleplay with Diplomacy and Monopoly. As far as I'm concerned if you make choices appropriate to your character, whatever the mechanics are that is roleplaying.

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RARodger said:

captaincutlass said:

 

I don't believe you need to choose between Roll or Role playing, you can do both. Even though I would like to see some more official or even custom fanmade Social actions.

 

 

I look forward to listening to it.

And I agree with the above sentiment. Hell, I've seen people roleplay with Diplomacy and Monopoly. As far as I'm concerned if you make choices appropriate to your character, whatever the mechanics are that is roleplaying.

10 out of 10!

we have been playing social encounters mostly without rolling dice for like 10 years now and so we have a hard time getting to it. with that our veteran players know how to roleplay their characters quite nicely and that normally makes rolling unnecessary, as they do exactly what their character would do.

for new players….once we get a new player i will try to implement that, so to maybe make it easier for him to get into the system and roleplaying per se. but still, i fear that once you just have to roll dice to convince someone of your point a new player will never connect with his character or get into it and play a role…

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nephtys said:

 

but still, i fear that once you just have to roll dice to convince someone of your point a new player will never connect with his character or get into it and play a role…

 

 

I have never seen these two things to be related. Playing a character (one with drives, needs, ambitions, etc), and rolling to see if an NPC is influenced by a PC are two totally separate things. 

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Doc, the Weasel said:

nephtys said:

 

but still, i fear that once you just have to roll dice to convince someone of your point a new player will never connect with his character or get into it and play a role…

 

 

I have never seen these two things to be related. Playing a character (one with drives, needs, ambitions, etc), and rolling to see if an NPC is influenced by a PC are two totally separate things. 

Indeed, Doc.

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As ever, I think all of our views are probably broadly the same, but an online discussion like this makes nuances seem like fundamental philosophical differences. I think the trick is to balance using the game mechanics sufficiently to allow a player's vision of their character to take shape, whilst still encouraging players just to actively roleplay up to the limit (or maybe a tiny bit beyond) their individual comfort zones. I'm sure in truth, we all do it to some degree - although I know I could definitely try to do it a bit better.

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phild said:

Though if Shame becomes the "generic" threshold for all social actions, I'm inclined to rename it Influence threshold or Intrigue or something more generic than Shame, which is very specific to noble-on-noble social duelling.

 

Yes, I do think Shame as the concept is kinda narrow if we think of how broad social encounters could be. So changing the name to represent that seems like a good idea to me.

At the same time,  the mechanic of Shame is so simple that it could even be translated to other situations where shame wouldn't be the primary focus. As soon as I read those rules, I was thinking that if the PCs engaged a Professor from Nuln College and are trying to convince him that some noble is a witch, they could find themselves discussing different theories about what happened in the murder scene last night and about how Hedge Magic works, and so they could be aiming each others "Reason", being a treshold made by Intelligence plus trainings in Education, for example. As we know, a Battle of Wits isn't really about what's truth, but how each argument is shown and how it can be applied to what the other person has already said.

If you are so willing, you could easily keep track of different tresholds like that, basing a social encounter in Reason, but also tracking Shame as some characters might be trying to get the Professor's assistent out of the conversation by stating how the young man's lack of disposition to be in the murder scene because of the body lying there would count him out as a collaborator in this matter, as well as his eagerness to impress the family of the noble in accountance to his clear lust directed to the Noble's young and beatiful daughter.

That's the beaty, to me, of a variable that disappears at the end of the encounter: you can use similar mechanics to create the variable that would fit your encounter, and then translate it to any other variable that would linger and that has stronger ties to the rest of the system, like Stress.

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 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:

  1. Something that was no more complex than combat
  2. 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. 

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I would like to somehow integrate "critical" shame.  Normally it goes away between encounter.  Anybody have any thoughts on integration?

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRsOYmd6KKrx138PQTnLBo

 

jh

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