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intimidation

posted Mar 26, 2016 14:58:21 by DanielHuk
I recently buy mutant chronicles 3ed. core book. Its great and our firs game went really well. But i don't understand how social encounters work. My players want to intimidate their foes and crush their will. Some of my NPC want to use their social position and higher standing to command or intimidate PC. But im little confused how it works. I know that this will lead to opposed skill test but what to do after test ? If my PC/NPC generates more momentum and wins then the other side are compelled to do the winner bidding or the winners side rolls for mental damage ? If rolls then how many dark symmetry dice winning side rolls ? And if generates dark symmetry symbol then inflict dred ?
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3 replies
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JakeBernstein said Mar 26, 2016 20:23:32
I think the game is missing rules for "social combat" though it seems like it was intended to have it. Nathan?
-Apoc527
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Nathan.Dowdell said Mar 26, 2016 21:09:18
There weren't any planned - beyond roleplaying, use of skill tests, and GM's discretion (what is basically RPG tradition where social conflict is concerned). It's an idea we chose to approach in detail for Infinity, and now that most of the stuff unlocked during the Kickstarter is now written, we can start looking to what we can do next, so we might be able to find somewhere to put a modified version of the Social Conflict rules I've developed for Infinity.

With inflicting mental wounds in Mutant Chronicles... it's awkward. While mental damage gets used for intimidation and threats as much as basic fear in other 2D20 games, it was written mostly as a "fear of the unnatural" mechanic in Mutant Chronicles. I wouldn't necessarily use mental damage in Mutant Chronicles to represent intimidation.

I've discussed the Infinity Social conflict rules in a few cases, and while it would need a little adjustment to work for Mutant Chronicles (to address the differences to the mental damage systems), the core is flexible enough to be useful in a lot of circumstances. The full rules provide a lot more guidance - sample difficulties for tests, modifiers for circumstances, etc - but it's built to provide some mechanical structure alongside roleplaying.

Think of it less as a mechanic, and more as a type of scene; social conflict - referred to as PsyWar (Psychological Warfare) in Infinity - is to the Persuade skill as physical combat is to the Melee skill.

Social Conflict is built around a single premise: that every instance of social conflict is based around a request made by one side and denied by the other.

This is, in its basic form, a Persuade test, though it can be a Command test if you have authority over the person. You make a request - "let me pass", "give me X", "tell me about Y" - and the difficulty is determined by how reasonable the request is in context (completely unreasonable requests automatically fail, as do requests that the person cannot fulfil even if they want to). You can make a request once: fail and you need to re-frame the request by changing the context before you can attempt again.

Intimidation is an easy option: threats and fear reduce the difficulty of the Persuade test to make the request, as the target is scared into compliance. However, using intimidation makes the entire exchange hostile, which may not be helpful in the long run.

Deception is a valuable option, but it requires time and effort to make it really work. Deception relies on a Persuade test as well, opposed by the target's Insight in an opposed test, with tests modified by the target's suspicions, how reasonable the lie is, and what sort of "proof" the liar employs to support the deception. Lying doesn't get you immediate success, but it lets you change the context: pretend to be someone else, pretend to have authority you don't, falsify a threat you can't carry out (which lets you intimidate), or pretend to have something valuable you don't. However, being caught in a lie can cause problems later. This changed context might make the basic request's test easier, or it might provide a basis for a threat (pretend you've got something to blackmail someone with, for example) or negotiation.

Negotiation is a means by which you can gain bonuses on the basic request by offering something in exchange. It might be money or valuables, it might be the promise of a favour or reciprocal action (seduction is essentially negotiation in this regard), or something else the target desires that could make your request seem reasonable. Deception is valuable here as it lets you pretend to have something you can negotiate with.

Intimidation, deception, and negotiation, used singly or in combination, allow characters to get NPCs to comply. An elaborate scam might take a lot of time and effort, breaking a social conflict into numerous stages as characters seek to entice and convince a 'mark' of their legitimacy, gaining the trust they need to complete the final act of their 'long con'. Meanwhile getting past an incalcitrant guard might require just the right lie or the right bribe, and be over and done with in a couple of rolls. Trade negotiations can be a back-and-forth of offers and counter-offers, with each new offer accompanying a new iteration of the request.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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Citizen-171 said Mar 28, 2016 12:29:22
Those are good "how-to" pointers for social skill tests.

-C171
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