This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.

Author Topic: Boosting social interaction  (Read 1747 times)

hedgehobbit

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 986
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2022, 04:37:41 PM »
Generally speaking, yes.  However, I mostly run one-shots...

This is a horrible situation. The only effective way I've found to encourage meaningful social interactions is the get the players to actually care about the game world and its various inhabitance. If they don't care then all you're going to get out of social interactions is basic stuff like "where did you hide the bomb?" or "do you know the way to San Jose?". Things that are just part of the path to accomplishing the current objective.

In an earlier posts you said you wanted your PCs to "interact socially between encounters". Who are they supposed to interact with and why? I'm still not 100% sure what your are trying to accomplish that couldn't be accomplished just by making sure each adventures has sufficient areas for social interaction (and combat is just social interaction gone wrong.)


Tod13

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1029
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2022, 10:22:49 AM »
Interesting, re-reading my reply to Angry Goblin made me think a bit more.

The XP for role-playing is the initial hook (like AG uses for player directions).

But the GM's response is the real reward. Make the social interaction meaningful to the outcome (which many players will still measure in XP, hence the XP reward). Make it so that talking to an opponent or doing something in character but pointless is a hook for you, the GM, to hang a new direction for the encounter or entire module. That's the real reward -- my players came up with their real/fake business in the game when one of them goofily shouted while in an "abandoned" fort "Yoohoo! Cave Catering! Anyone home!" She happened to be right in front of a spy hole, which made the opponents think they really were sent on purpose.

That's great, but do the players know that or are they supposed to gradually come to such a realization about what you're doing after several sessions?

While I'd love to say to GMs in the rule section "Use what PCs say and do to change the course of events."  (and I will), I wish I had more concrete advice or rules or narrative structure to provide them.

It happens right away -- not over a long time. When they talked to opponents in a battle, they resolved the battle without getting killed, in an entertaining matter. That battle had been dragging out -- everyone kept missing anyway.

Same thing with Cave Catering. When they shouted that, the guys hidden in the spyhole talked to them. They got into the bad guy's headquarters and cooked them some food, and put a sleep potion into it. Got lots of loot and XP, for creative ideas without a lot of danger/death.

If you are looking for how to put that into simplistic terms, it mirrors what I presume you tell the players. When you get a hook for something run with it. Doesn't matter what you planned. Just have fun with what you're doing and don't let pre-conceived notions and plans get in the way of resolving issues in a fun manner.

Maybe stress the GM is not the Players' opponent. The GM is an adjudicator and a facilitator. The GM just needs to keep them grounded in the type of game being played and the bounds of game reality (adjudication). My players love gonzo. Cave Catering might not make sense in a serious dark and gritty game. But at the same time, the GM can also rearrange the world when it makes sense to let the players' plans have a chance to work (facilitation).

Having a system and GM that rewards something other than combat is base to this.

Tod13

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1029
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2022, 10:28:26 AM »
My players and I don't like meta-currency. We forget about even using it in games that use it, unless it is forced on us. And then, having to constantly use and scheme for it breaks the in-character interaction that you are looking for, turning the game into a math competition.

I think DwD Studios in BareBones Fantasy promotes it best by simply providing first a set of guidelines for you character (moral standards, personality quirks) and second just giving XP for following them in useful and interesting ways. Just having the role-playing characteristics written down helps a lot of people.

Also, don't limit this to between encounters. That's artificial -- the characters should act like themselves all the time. My players took the game in interesting directions by role-playing during encounters. Like eventually telling a foe during combat, and then proving it, they were being used by a third party for no reward. (Those foes showed up during a different module/campaign, which was fun.)

Essentially, XP is a sort of meta-currency, right?  It might stay a bit more in the background because it can't be managed by the players (like a forced investment that you can't liquidate), but it's still an incentive created by the system. 

Yes, totally agree with you.  *During* encounters is just as important.

We count meta-currency as stuff that lets the players change or influence the game through fiat, rather than planning (what they try to do) and luck (how the dice roll). XP is just measurement for leveling up. Meta, yes. But not directly related to game play, so you aren't (or shouldn't be) trying to manage XP as points during a combat or social encounter. You're just trying to resolve the encounter, which gets you XP. You don't use XP to influence combat events (spend 10 XP to change the miss to a hit) or social interaction (spend 20 XP to make an NPC enemy into a friend).

It helps if the XP for resolution is the same whether you kill the opponents (combat), sneak around them (action skills), or make friends with or deceive them (social skills).

Angry Goblin

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 57
  • Dark humour and annoying opinions since the 80´s
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2022, 12:26:24 PM »
I´m not sure whether this is what you asked for but here we go.

My RPG sessions nowdays are roughly 80% social interaction. I´m not sure to what extend I planned it so, but it ended that way and both me
and the players seem to prefer it so. There is very little social interaction rule mechanics in play also.

Firstly, the player characters of ours are not adventurers per se, but commoners in a medieval game world. If the player characters would be
classical adventurer types, their main focus would be in taking risks for the loot or whatever price looms ahead. Now that they are
commoners, there is less reasons for them to go about and risking their lives for they have farms, houses, businesses, wives and kids and so on.
The ties already can have some kind of impact on character behavior. Also, if a character is a merchant, the propability of social interaction is way higher
than for a character who is a guard at the keep. Thus, one method could be in restricting the characters to something other than "action man" types and showering them with responsibilities, whether that would be about sickly parent, pregnant wife, seat in a clan council or whatever.

Secondly, the way RPG gameplay very easily becomes is that the NPC´s and the game world are "not alive". What I mean by this is that the GM has a
challenge in making NPC´s proactive in seeking the attention of the player characters. Otherwise, the gameplay is like a computer game where by
the NPC´s are only alive if the players end up being at the same place at the same time. Sure, somebody might call this railroading, however there is
a difference in showering the player characters with plothooks and letting them choose which ones to latch on to. I utilize both. I force them to make certain decisions and others are their choosing and still, they can always choose HOW they resolve the situation, but they must do it NOW or SOON.

I´ll give an example. A player character might be an innkeeper. He might be approached by his wife because one of the kids has been bitten by a sewer rat and is now ill. His employee might state that they are low on drink or food items and need to acquire more. There might be some hobo, who has passed out on the doorway of the inn, all these force interaction based on the role and responsibility of the player character.

The character walks by a tavern, where by he meets his guild mate who asks for him to make a donation on behalf of the guild for the the widow and kids of deceased guild mate. At the marketplace, he might hear a gossip, which is a plothook which he can pursue if they want, it could be that there is a contest of sorts announced but the details are hazy enough so he has to ask around. He can witness somebody beating their dog by the streets and he can intervene or choose not to, another plothook. He goes to a apothecary to get some medicine for the kid and the shopkeeper tells that the character has not paid his medicine bill, which is untrue, but he has to clear things out. In the end the character might promise a pint of foamy drink for the apothecarist to smooth out the perceived problem and now the character has to be at a place x by the time y.

So what I basically do is that I constantly throw the players plothooks, time sensitive issues and problems via proactive NPC´s, and I always throw more at them than they can handle with their time, so they have to be diplomatic, they are always busy and when they fail to fix the roof of the neighbour in time , they have to resolve it. When the player characters are constantly busy and have to make decisions in a short amount of time, it forces social interaction on their part and the play is an intense experience, even when there is no combat or physical risk involved. This also forces the players to prioritize while knowing that when they bow to one direction, they are bending over to another direction.

EDIT: Another tip, if you want to utilize these. I personally was not accustomed to GM this kind of constant interaction which keeps the players on their toes non-stop. What I did was that I started out with one player and when I became more confortable in bombarding the single player, I took another one and so on. Basically scaling it up gradually. By utilizing these methods, I presume you can do it in any setting or rule system by ignoring the rules to large extend when it comes to social interaction and force the player´s hand with time constraint and responsibility. There is never a moment when I have to say "Sooo, what do you want to do", the players should be forced to be both reactive and proactive and at the same time.

Thanks for the response.  How about social interaction between PCs, do you have any tips for that?

I thought about this for a while and I do not have such a clear cut answer for this one. When prepping and playing, I keep a log of what do the individual PC´s know (Word or Excel sheet) and make sure that they cannot use information the player knows but the character doesen´t, sometime to their detriment, but it can often be turned in to interesting encounters and events. As the PC´s have their own businesses, families and agendas, part of the time the characters are operating individually and if the players don´t communicate in-character with each other about happenings afterwards, then their characters is in the dark regarding it. By allowing the party to split can also increase the interactions with NPC´s. Due to player group dynamics, it is often only part of the group that is active in an interactions when the whole group is together. When the group is split for a while, the less active players cannot lean on the gregarious players and their characters to do the talking for them and they need to handle the affairs of their own character, own their own.

As hedgehobbit said, I agree that the players need to care about the characters and the world to be interested in interaction and I agree that for that the oneshot´s might not be ideal. One way is to do this is to instil the previously mentioned responsibilities. I also make sure that the characters have a reputation to uphold by reminding this frequently in the interaction ("Oh, I´v heard of you, you are x, you did the xyz, didn´t you") and often the rumours that are spoken of them and to them are not correct and they can be exaggerated (broken telephone effect plus the general boredness of the gossiping commoners and the noble ladies)


Wrath of God

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 654
  • Fearful Symmetry
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2022, 02:36:48 PM »
Quote
This is a horrible situation. The only effective way I've found to encourage meaningful social interactions is the get the players to actually care about the game world and its various inhabitance. If they don't care then all you're going to get out of social interactions is basic stuff like "where did you hide the bomb?" or "do you know the way to San Jose?". Things that are just part of the path to accomplishing the current objective.

In an earlier posts you said you wanted your PCs to "interact socially between encounters". Who are they supposed to interact with and why? I'm still not 100% sure what your are trying to accomplish that couldn't be accomplished just by making sure each adventures has sufficient areas for social interaction (and combat is just social interaction gone wrong.)

Indeed if you wanna play social-heavy one-shot... just freaking use something dunno from storygame school that at least gives procedures for that. (And maybe you can pick some procedures for your bigger campaigns).
"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”

"And I will strike down upon thee
With great vengeance and furious anger"


"Molti Nemici, Molto Onore"

Wisithir

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • W
  • Posts: 127
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2022, 12:54:51 AM »
I think this is a job for tutorializing. Players may not be aware that non skill check social interaction exists, much less how to use them.

Once you’ve done that — once you’ve given the players a tool and showed them how it works and made sure they know it’s always available — then it’s on them to decide when and if to use it. And how to combine it with other tools. And how to create situations in which they can use the tool.

RPGs are open-ended. It’s on the players to come up with their own strategies. RPGs are about creative thinking, after all. About coming up with clever solutions, implementing them, and winning the day. Hell, it’s on the players to decide — to some extent — what winning the day even means. So, obviously, you ain’t gonna teach the players everything. Of course not. But when there’s a general strategy, approach, or solution to a common problem that the players never seem to think of — or can’t wrap their idiot heads around — then it’s time to step in

Mechanizing social interaction is the wrong way to do it, because the mechanical version looks nothing like a social interaction that functional humans are familiar with. Rewarding is unnecessary as it is its own reward for the benefits it can bring, at it is a powerful tool players will use once they understand that it is in their arsenal and how to apply it.

Wrath of God

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 654
  • Fearful Symmetry
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2022, 07:42:24 PM »
Quote
Mechanizing social interaction is the wrong way to do it, because the mechanical version looks nothing like a social interaction that functional humans are familiar with.

That I disagree. I mean sure some people may be taken away from immersion if that's their schtick - but you know what RPG combat also looks usually nothing like actual combat, and yet even people fammiliar with combat has no problem playing it. Because it's well GAME not theatre or real life.
"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”

"And I will strike down upon thee
With great vengeance and furious anger"


"Molti Nemici, Molto Onore"

Wisithir

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • W
  • Posts: 127
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2022, 10:30:58 PM »
That I disagree. I mean sure some people may be taken away from immersion if that's their schtick - but you know what RPG combat also looks usually nothing like actual combat, and yet even people fammiliar with combat has no problem playing it. Because it's well GAME not theatre or real life.
I suppose it is a question of whether social interaction in an RPG should be a social interaction or a minigame. Making it a minigame feels like taking the social interaction out of roleplaying, making a game instead of a roleplaying game. Exalted 2e has rules for social combat, but I do not recall its social combat being well liked.

Tod13

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1029
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2022, 09:15:25 AM »
Our GM introduced chase rules from another 2d6 game, with skills, into our Traveller game. It was actually a lot of fun -- maybe use something like chase rules for social interactions? Multiple players can contribute (or anti-contribute of course). It was fun figuring out different ways to contribute (navigation, throwing stuff, etc), which might carry over to social stuff.

Angry Goblin

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 57
  • Dark humour and annoying opinions since the 80´s
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2022, 06:41:37 AM »
Our GM introduced chase rules from another 2d6 game, with skills, into our Traveller game. It was actually a lot of fun -- maybe use something like chase rules for social interactions? Multiple players can contribute (or anti-contribute of course). It was fun figuring out different ways to contribute (navigation, throwing stuff, etc), which might carry over to social stuff.

I´v never really thought that social interaction could be seen as a chase before, that is interesting. They do have common ground though and it could work especially if the stakes are high, I think. Fx. diplomatic negotiations between warring states or forming of alliances between clans or what not.

If I am not sorely mistaken, did the One Ring rpg have a similar system, where by the group could use several social skills (one per person) to alter the outcome of the interaction? I have no idea if it has been done before though (as you mentioned Traveller) It was some years ago that I played One Ring previously and I never read the rulebook myself so can´t remember.

Lunamancer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1104
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #25 on: October 08, 2022, 10:12:16 AM »
This is something I've written about. Though probably not enough. There's a lot that can be said about it.


FUNDAMENTALS:
Fundamentally, there's an irreconcilable difference between social interaction and combat. Combat is force and requires no consent. The whole point of social interaction is to gain consent. Some examples of this may not resemble what would legally be considered consent. Blackmail, coercion, and so forth. But even in these cases, the aim is to get someone to do something. You're not doing it for them. The point is they're agreeing to do it, even if its under duress.

This isn't to say you can't treat the two similarly in terms of mechanics. It's just that, if you get that they are fundamentally different animals, it shouldn't be an automatic given that the aim should be to handle them the same. The unified mechanic, as it were, is a false idol. That doesn't mean you can't put together a final product that will appeal to the heathens and does keep the two types of activity similar where possible. It's just that if you want to do this well and get it right, you yourself cannot be worshiping that false idol.


REQUIREMENTS:
There is one and only one way "voluntary" or "consensual" action works. And that is all parties have to believe that they are better off doing thing than they would be by not doing thing. Being threatened in some manner can certainly sour the alternative, thereby making thing your best option. Or being deceived might make you think doing thing is the best way forward, even though in reality it isn't.

The key is understanding that how "best" is evaluated will be subjective. It's what's best according to the one whose consent is to be gained. Mind you, people do seemingly selfless things all the time. But that is perfectly consistent with preferring to live in a world where people help each other rather than living in a world where they don't.


HOW TO DO IT:
There are any number of ways to go about getting someone to do something. Some people refer to different persuasion styles. Some approaches are conscious of an entire list of things that are not anything I've mentioned. Still. Whether the person using the techniques knows it or not, it only works if it satisfies the above requirement. There are legit tons of books and businesses even pay consultants to do sales training that are seemingly oblivious to what actually gets a sale. They work almost entirely by luck. Hey, it's a numbers game, they say.

The most effective way of doing it consists of two basic parts. Find out what it is your counterpart values. And then demonstrate to them how what you're proposing gets them that. This even works in torture. How many times have we seen those movies or TV shows where the hero is being threatened, and that gets the villain nowhere. And then the villain turns the gun on the hero's friend or loved one.


GAME MECHANICS:
The two basic parts can definitely fit in the category of easier said than done. It's all about the execution. In real life, it takes practice. In an RPG, this is where stats and mechanics can come into play. Social skills should not be thought of in the vein of "make guy do stuff" quasi magical charm. This more than anything is probably where most people who pan the idea of social skills and social mechanics are put off to the idea. The prospect of being able to have meaningful, useful social skills in an RPG without it working like mind control has been something like the holy grail of social mechanics. A lofty goal, or highest ideal, but a lot of us believe it doesn't exist.

But it can. I've done it. It works. You've just got to stick to the two things social skills can do. Gather information. And present it. Gathering information can include things like doing cold reads or checks to tell if you think someone is lying. Presentation can be affected by the character's overall charisma, but it can also use specific skills, such as deception, to avoid any lies from being detected by those information gathering skills. The GM is the eyes and ears for the players. If an NPC has presented well, the GM is free to even feed the players false hunches or false social cues to simulate favorable to the NPC's position.


JUST LIKE COMBAT, JUST LIKE COMBAT:
Heathen worshippers of the unified mechanic idol, when they think social interaction should work just like combat, just like combat, for some reason are thinking of the most boring examples of combat imaginable. Like beating up on an orc, or something. I think of it more like fighting a werewolf. If you're not using a silver or magical weapon, it really just doesn't matter how good you are at fighting. You can't hurt the thing. If you have a silver dagger, though, that's a game-changer.

In social interaction, sometimes it just doesn't matter how charismatic you are, how skilled you are, none of it, if someone is reluctant to negotiate or you just don't have anything to offer. Unless you can find what former top FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss terms, the black swan. No presentation matters, no silver tongue, unless you are able to locate the black swan through your fact-finding skills. It's like the silver dagger you need against the werewolf. Just like combat, just like combat.


GAME PREP AND STAT BLOCKS:
For the GM who wants to boost social interaction in his or her game, you have to prepare for it. We have these great monster manuals with all these combat stats for adversaries you will face. If you're going to have NPCs with whom PCs will be negotiate, you ought to have just as good notes for those social interactions. A social stat block, if you will. Just like combat, just like combat.

Note which topics or approaches to which the NPC will be inherently indifferent. Which will annoy the NPC. And where the NPC has a soft spot. Sobbing might make one hard-ass feel bad and give you and in. Someone else might view it as manipulative and react negatively. Chief Oonga Boonga might be the sort who cannot be bought or bribed and is impervious to schmoozing, but might care about the well-being of his daughter more than anything else. You need to know this. And a PC might pick up on this fact, say, upon first encountering Chief Oonga Boonga, and he's not sure if your band is dangerous. A successful social perception check, however that works in your game, might have the PC notice that the Chief moved his body ever so slightly to interpose himself between the PCs and his daughter.


PRO TIP
Feel free to leave clues to what makes NPCs tic in places other than in encounters with the NPC. One of the things that suck gigantic donkey balls about having too much social interaction in an RPG is, unlike combat, unlike combat, you can only have one person talking at a time. And so there is a real danger in a game heavy on social interaction that most players experience 20% participation, 80% watching the head of Henry Kissinger negotiate with the Brain Balls of Spheron 1. But if clues can be found through the course of regular adventuring, there's at least some great joy in watching Henry Kissinger drop the black swan that your character discovered. And you don't even need to be good at social skills to participate in this way.

Most important of all, though, is that even though I made a lot of mention about social skills, usually the best way of uncovering the information vital to persuasion is just by asking the NPC. Engaging in dialog. Roleplaying it out. That's one of the things I love about this approach. Social skills have their place. But they don't stand in entirely for roleplay. Nor do they solely determine the outcome leaving the roleplay to be naught but "flavor text." The dialog is important to the discovery and moving things forward.


NO SPECIAL RULES ARE REQUIRED TO BOOST SOCIAL INTERACTION:
I literally use what I'm describing here in every single RPG I've run. I've never needed to add stats or rules. Most RPGs already give me all the tools I need to implement this approach to social interaction. In AD&D 1E, I use the NPC Reactions table to determine first impression. Positive responses will allow players to fairly easily gather information just by asking questions, aside from things the NPC is especially guarded about (if there are any in your social stat block). Neutral reactions indicate the NPC will be willing to answer some questions, but will not be forthcoming with information unless specifically asked. Negative reactions indicate the NPC will not be willing to engage in any meaningful way.

Any time the PCs make an "ask" of the NPC--try to get the NPC to do something--I call for another reaction roll. At this point, it is no longer an "initial" reaction, so I no longer apply Charisma reaction bonus. However, the initial reaction may serve as a modifier here--neutral positive indicates that subsequent reactions should be 55% prone towards positive, for instance. This roll should be modified according to what's in it for the NPC, and how well that matches what the NPC values. The Irilian adventure from White Dwarf included a stat on how bribe-able each of the NPCs were. It's a great example of how the right notes in your stat block make social encounters work much better.

For any important NPC, any one that I anticipate will be recurring, or beginning with the second time the PCs encounter an ordinary NPC, I track loyalty per the 1E loyalty rules. Some requests may require a loyalty check. Loyalty, of course, plays a roll in whether or not the NPC will betray the PCs.



If the OP has any questions, would like me to expand on something, give advice for a particular situation, or thinks I missed something important, I'm happy to answer.

Tod13

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1029
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #26 on: October 08, 2022, 11:50:34 AM »
Our GM introduced chase rules from another 2d6 game, with skills, into our Traveller game. It was actually a lot of fun -- maybe use something like chase rules for social interactions? Multiple players can contribute (or anti-contribute of course). It was fun figuring out different ways to contribute (navigation, throwing stuff, etc), which might carry over to social stuff.

I´v never really thought that social interaction could be seen as a chase before, that is interesting. They do have common ground though and it could work especially if the stakes are high, I think. Fx. diplomatic negotiations between warring states or forming of alliances between clans or what not.

If I am not sorely mistaken, did the One Ring rpg have a similar system, where by the group could use several social skills (one per person) to alter the outcome of the interaction? I have no idea if it has been done before though (as you mentioned Traveller) It was some years ago that I played One Ring previously and I never read the rulebook myself so can´t remember.

Not sure about One Ring -- I don't think I've even read it.

I don't know 100% of the details since the GM didn't explain them exactly but: you have a starting number and a larger goal number. A person says how they are contributing to the goal and rolls 2d6 plus whatever skill/attribute bonuses (MgT 2022 skills/attributes). The GM rolls 2d6 for the NPCs -- if the player's roll is higher the number goes up, if lower it goes down.

It is neat because everyone gets a chance to participate because you can choose to roll without any appropriate skill (or can figure out a novel way for an inappropriate skill to apply). It was a lot of fun. Way more fun than I expected from describing the rules.

For our own homebrew, I'm undecided on how much to use it. We use opposed rolls (of different sized dies) for everything anyway, which fits. And this may work well for specific and important chases, social and skill scenes (disarm the bomb, sneak into or out of the dragon's lair) -- that's the direction I'm taking with it so far. But for a lot of minor stuff, the quick and easy one die roll on each side, has the expediency of quick resolution.

Wrath of God

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 654
  • Fearful Symmetry
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #27 on: October 08, 2022, 05:35:52 PM »
Quote
I suppose it is a question of whether social interaction in an RPG should be a social interaction or a minigame. Making it a minigame feels like taking the social interaction out of roleplaying, making a game instead of a roleplaying game. Exalted 2e has rules for social combat, but I do not recall its social combat being well liked.

Social interaction in RPG will never be real social interaction.
There are RPGs that has special social procedures that could be called minigame in sort of way.

But that's not what I talk about - I talk simply about social interaction being character skillset just like his combat and exploration skills, and not something to be purely invented by GM out of his ass by his judgement of how well player is RP-ing.



Quote
Heathen worshippers of the unified mechanic idol, when they think social interaction should work just like combat, just like combat, for some reason are thinking of the most boring examples of combat imaginable.

I must say I've never seen (aside of narrative games where mechanics is not simulating at all) attempts to really put combat and social elements as same-y.
Unified mechanic usually mean - unified resolution roll - which means you let's say roll: d20+Atribute+Skill vs Difficulty or d100 under your Skill or so on. That's resolution method.
PROCEDURE of how you apply specific skills within it may wary.

"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”

"And I will strike down upon thee
With great vengeance and furious anger"


"Molti Nemici, Molto Onore"

hedgehobbit

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 986
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #28 on: October 08, 2022, 05:48:16 PM »
But that's not what I talk about - I talk simply about social interaction being character skillset just like his combat and exploration skills, and not something to be purely invented by GM out of his ass by his judgement of how well player is RP-ing.

I don't see how the GM deciding whether or not the player's argument are convincing is any more arbitrary than the GM deciding that an NPC has a Social Armor Class of 14 and 6 Social Hit Points.

I will say, though, that having the player actually talk to the GM as if he were the NPC is much more fun and engaging than any possible social minigame.

The thing is, while combat rules aren't all that realistic, they are compromise because the players cannot possibly replicate combat any other way. Yet social interactions, since it's just talking, can be replicated on the game table. That's why combat rules are needed but social rules are not.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2022, 05:51:32 PM by hedgehobbit »

Eirikrautha

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 836
Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #29 on: October 08, 2022, 06:48:25 PM »
This is something I've written about. Though probably not enough. There's a lot that can be said about it.


FUNDAMENTALS:
Fundamentally, there's an irreconcilable difference between social interaction and combat. Combat is force and requires no consent. The whole point of social interaction is to gain consent. Some examples of this may not resemble what would legally be considered consent. Blackmail, coercion, and so forth. But even in these cases, the aim is to get someone to do something. You're not doing it for them. The point is they're agreeing to do it, even if its under duress.

This isn't to say you can't treat the two similarly in terms of mechanics. It's just that, if you get that they are fundamentally different animals, it shouldn't be an automatic given that the aim should be to handle them the same. The unified mechanic, as it were, is a false idol. That doesn't mean you can't put together a final product that will appeal to the heathens and does keep the two types of activity similar where possible. It's just that if you want to do this well and get it right, you yourself cannot be worshiping that false idol.


REQUIREMENTS:
There is one and only one way "voluntary" or "consensual" action works. And that is all parties have to believe that they are better off doing thing than they would be by not doing thing. Being threatened in some manner can certainly sour the alternative, thereby making thing your best option. Or being deceived might make you think doing thing is the best way forward, even though in reality it isn't.

The key is understanding that how "best" is evaluated will be subjective. It's what's best according to the one whose consent is to be gained. Mind you, people do seemingly selfless things all the time. But that is perfectly consistent with preferring to live in a world where people help each other rather than living in a world where they don't.


HOW TO DO IT:
There are any number of ways to go about getting someone to do something. Some people refer to different persuasion styles. Some approaches are conscious of an entire list of things that are not anything I've mentioned. Still. Whether the person using the techniques knows it or not, it only works if it satisfies the above requirement. There are legit tons of books and businesses even pay consultants to do sales training that are seemingly oblivious to what actually gets a sale. They work almost entirely by luck. Hey, it's a numbers game, they say.

The most effective way of doing it consists of two basic parts. Find out what it is your counterpart values. And then demonstrate to them how what you're proposing gets them that. This even works in torture. How many times have we seen those movies or TV shows where the hero is being threatened, and that gets the villain nowhere. And then the villain turns the gun on the hero's friend or loved one.


GAME MECHANICS:
The two basic parts can definitely fit in the category of easier said than done. It's all about the execution. In real life, it takes practice. In an RPG, this is where stats and mechanics can come into play. Social skills should not be thought of in the vein of "make guy do stuff" quasi magical charm. This more than anything is probably where most people who pan the idea of social skills and social mechanics are put off to the idea. The prospect of being able to have meaningful, useful social skills in an RPG without it working like mind control has been something like the holy grail of social mechanics. A lofty goal, or highest ideal, but a lot of us believe it doesn't exist.

But it can. I've done it. It works. You've just got to stick to the two things social skills can do. Gather information. And present it. Gathering information can include things like doing cold reads or checks to tell if you think someone is lying. Presentation can be affected by the character's overall charisma, but it can also use specific skills, such as deception, to avoid any lies from being detected by those information gathering skills. The GM is the eyes and ears for the players. If an NPC has presented well, the GM is free to even feed the players false hunches or false social cues to simulate favorable to the NPC's position.


JUST LIKE COMBAT, JUST LIKE COMBAT:
Heathen worshippers of the unified mechanic idol, when they think social interaction should work just like combat, just like combat, for some reason are thinking of the most boring examples of combat imaginable. Like beating up on an orc, or something. I think of it more like fighting a werewolf. If you're not using a silver or magical weapon, it really just doesn't matter how good you are at fighting. You can't hurt the thing. If you have a silver dagger, though, that's a game-changer.

In social interaction, sometimes it just doesn't matter how charismatic you are, how skilled you are, none of it, if someone is reluctant to negotiate or you just don't have anything to offer. Unless you can find what former top FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss terms, the black swan. No presentation matters, no silver tongue, unless you are able to locate the black swan through your fact-finding skills. It's like the silver dagger you need against the werewolf. Just like combat, just like combat.


GAME PREP AND STAT BLOCKS:
For the GM who wants to boost social interaction in his or her game, you have to prepare for it. We have these great monster manuals with all these combat stats for adversaries you will face. If you're going to have NPCs with whom PCs will be negotiate, you ought to have just as good notes for those social interactions. A social stat block, if you will. Just like combat, just like combat.

Note which topics or approaches to which the NPC will be inherently indifferent. Which will annoy the NPC. And where the NPC has a soft spot. Sobbing might make one hard-ass feel bad and give you and in. Someone else might view it as manipulative and react negatively. Chief Oonga Boonga might be the sort who cannot be bought or bribed and is impervious to schmoozing, but might care about the well-being of his daughter more than anything else. You need to know this. And a PC might pick up on this fact, say, upon first encountering Chief Oonga Boonga, and he's not sure if your band is dangerous. A successful social perception check, however that works in your game, might have the PC notice that the Chief moved his body ever so slightly to interpose himself between the PCs and his daughter.


PRO TIP
Feel free to leave clues to what makes NPCs tic in places other than in encounters with the NPC. One of the things that suck gigantic donkey balls about having too much social interaction in an RPG is, unlike combat, unlike combat, you can only have one person talking at a time. And so there is a real danger in a game heavy on social interaction that most players experience 20% participation, 80% watching the head of Henry Kissinger negotiate with the Brain Balls of Spheron 1. But if clues can be found through the course of regular adventuring, there's at least some great joy in watching Henry Kissinger drop the black swan that your character discovered. And you don't even need to be good at social skills to participate in this way.

Most important of all, though, is that even though I made a lot of mention about social skills, usually the best way of uncovering the information vital to persuasion is just by asking the NPC. Engaging in dialog. Roleplaying it out. That's one of the things I love about this approach. Social skills have their place. But they don't stand in entirely for roleplay. Nor do they solely determine the outcome leaving the roleplay to be naught but "flavor text." The dialog is important to the discovery and moving things forward.


NO SPECIAL RULES ARE REQUIRED TO BOOST SOCIAL INTERACTION:
I literally use what I'm describing here in every single RPG I've run. I've never needed to add stats or rules. Most RPGs already give me all the tools I need to implement this approach to social interaction. In AD&D 1E, I use the NPC Reactions table to determine first impression. Positive responses will allow players to fairly easily gather information just by asking questions, aside from things the NPC is especially guarded about (if there are any in your social stat block). Neutral reactions indicate the NPC will be willing to answer some questions, but will not be forthcoming with information unless specifically asked. Negative reactions indicate the NPC will not be willing to engage in any meaningful way.

Any time the PCs make an "ask" of the NPC--try to get the NPC to do something--I call for another reaction roll. At this point, it is no longer an "initial" reaction, so I no longer apply Charisma reaction bonus. However, the initial reaction may serve as a modifier here--neutral positive indicates that subsequent reactions should be 55% prone towards positive, for instance. This roll should be modified according to what's in it for the NPC, and how well that matches what the NPC values. The Irilian adventure from White Dwarf included a stat on how bribe-able each of the NPCs were. It's a great example of how the right notes in your stat block make social encounters work much better.

For any important NPC, any one that I anticipate will be recurring, or beginning with the second time the PCs encounter an ordinary NPC, I track loyalty per the 1E loyalty rules. Some requests may require a loyalty check. Loyalty, of course, plays a roll in whether or not the NPC will betray the PCs.



If the OP has any questions, would like me to expand on something, give advice for a particular situation, or thinks I missed something important, I'm happy to answer.

I just wanted to say that this is an excellent, well-thought-out, response, and I appreciate you taking the time to type it out!