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Author Topic: Boosting social interaction  (Read 1762 times)

VengerSatanis

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Boosting social interaction
« on: September 28, 2022, 12:48:43 PM »

A lot of OSR games focus on combat, some focus on exploration.  I'm trying to find new ways (or those currently unknown to me) to make social interaction the dominant pillar.

Here's what I don't want - social interaction mechanics that actually replace social interaction and roleplaying with a bunch of dice rolls.

Here's what I'm currently doing to get there - using Divine Favor (kind of like 5e's inspiration) as a meta-currency.  Players get Divine Favor when they interact socially between encounters + roleplay elements of their background.

What else am I missing?  What can I do to further juice social interaction in my OSR game?  Are there other OSR games that make social interaction the primary pillar and I just don't know about it?

Thanks,

VS

Wrath of God

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2022, 04:25:38 PM »
Honestly that sounds like all those terrible "I'm gonna raise my players like kids" advices I heard in internet.
Extra XP for making funny voices. Extra XP for excellent acting.

Problem of course is that those things way more than actual achievements "in-verse" fall under GM bias. And less GM bias, the generally smoother game, and less bad feelings.

So my take is a) social dominant OSR game does not really seems like good idea. Simply saying - OSR games are derived from engine where S.I. was like not neglected but not central focus of game. Better to find game that is more directly about it IMHO. b) if anything - rather than apply some subjective rewards for players engagement - judge and adjucate them for actual accomplishments in social field. If they neglect social area they gonna have less allies, less henchmen, less contacts to solve difficult problems. And on the other hand - being active in interacting with world - in civilised and helpful way gonna open many ways to fluorish - access to Mage's Guild for Wizard with spellbooks to learn from, land granted to Cleric for new chapel of his god, being vassal of some powerful lord - options are numerous.

And if you want to give additional boost to that - treat earnings from such accomplishments - like taxes for Warrior Lord as part of his XP for Gold, so you get XP for being of high social status.
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rpgSeeker

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2022, 04:33:13 PM »
You can do subsystems for social interaction but you don't use mechanical subsystems you use setting subsystems. 'Setting devices' might be a better term for it.

Old school world of darkness was golden for this. Factions, sub factions, each subfaction is its own identity, culture, attitude and in setting group, lots of focus on character personality, tons of loyalities, to your self, your group, your sub faction, your faction, your cause, and of course the background and perk system was littered with npcs your character was connected to. And social interaction was a completely legit way to resolve conflicts, be it trough subterfuge, negotiation, persuasion, intimidation intrigue or social backstabbing.

But you if you want to encourage social interaction you really need to build out the setting for it. Which dnd tends to leave pretty vague.

blackstone

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2022, 12:39:33 PM »
The rules for Honor and Fame from Hackmaster 4e might work.


VengerSatanis

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2022, 01:39:08 PM »

All worthy replies.  Thanks, everyone!  If anyone has more suggestions, I'd love to read them...

Angry Goblin

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2022, 02:30:01 AM »
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.

Tod13

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2022, 08:36:26 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.)
« Last Edit: September 30, 2022, 08:38:30 AM by Tod13 »

Tod13

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2022, 08:42:34 AM »
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.

We play very differently -- AG's response was the site sandbox setup. But, even in preset adventures managing NPCs is an issue. So, for NPCs which aren't central to the plot, I use a couple of short random tables for their personalities and motivations and often special skills/abilities. For most NPCs I'll have these before the game, but they're easy to roll for unexpected NPCs or foes that you didn't expect the players to interact with.

It worked well for our games and was easy for me to manage, as the descriptions were very short and easy to note next the the other characteristics.

Tod13

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2022, 08:49:23 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.


Tallifer

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2022, 08:57:13 AM »
I think XP is a great way to shape  the roleplaying that makes it worthwhile  for you to run. I reward XP for journals, art, maps, doing quests and killing monsters. I can understand if someone who gets their jollies out of funny voices and in-character dating would award XP for such. ;)

Angry Goblin

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2022, 10:00:54 AM »
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.

We play very differently -- AG's response was the site sandbox setup. But, even in preset adventures managing NPCs is an issue. So, for NPCs which aren't central to the plot, I use a couple of short random tables for their personalities and motivations and often special skills/abilities. For most NPCs I'll have these before the game, but they're easy to roll for unexpected NPCs or foes that you didn't expect the players to interact with.


Sandbox to some extent, though the decisions I force them to do have to do with a prepared plot, but I leave the intepretation and the methods open.
I do have encounters that connect to larger plotlines along with "sidequests", which can become longstanding plotlines if driven forward by players.

Lets say I would want the innkeeper to be knighted and become a bailiff of a manor and the surrounding villages under a some higher-up nobleman. Then I´d have to come up with situations which could drive the actions of the players towards that goal.

VengerSatanis

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2022, 01:44:50 PM »
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. 


VengerSatanis

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2022, 01:45:28 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?

VengerSatanis

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2022, 01:50:36 PM »
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.


VengerSatanis

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Re: Boosting social interaction
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2022, 01:52:51 PM »
I think XP is a great way to shape  the roleplaying that makes it worthwhile  for you to run. I reward XP for journals, art, maps, doing quests and killing monsters. I can understand if someone who gets their jollies out of funny voices and in-character dating would award XP for such. ;)

Generally speaking, yes.  However, I mostly run one-shots... which is terrible for that kind of reward system because it's mostly new players and characters, or the level changes based on how long they've been playing the same dude, or the scenario's base difficulty.