Eliminating social stats


  • Admin

    Give me a gut check (hopefully with your thoughts to go with it) here, people.

    During game design, one of the potential ideas for its systems is to eliminate all social mechanics from it. That means no 'charisma' or 'manipulation' mundane attributes and no powers that sway emotions or decision-making.

    The intent behind this is to cut down on incidents where social attributes like that are ignored either way ('no, I get you rolled six successes on lying, but...'), not have to deal with 'how much sway' a given attempt produced given I've never been satisfied with how social damage has been implemented before in the games I've played, but also to eliminate concepts that try to browbeat others into TS.

    In that schema commander/bard type traits which buff allies (PCs and NPCs) in different ways would still be present.

    The question for you; is this worth the tradeoff? Is the loss of systematized Littlefinger-like archtypes reasonable for what the game would gain in return? I put that in bold because obviously characters could still be able to roleplay lying and being as manipulative as they can get away with, but not with code backing it up.

    Thoughts?


  • Pitcrew

    My recommendation is to keep social stats but make them usable only versus NPC as part of moving plots or major events around which handily eliminates their use for TS.

    Players need to learn to role-play their social machinations against other players and not rely on dice to tell them how well they lied. If you want to tell a good lie, then tell a good lie, don't tell a bad lie backed by immense social stats which forces everyone else to look quite stupid for falling for you.


  • Admin

    @Salty-Secrets I thought about that. The problem then is I would need to sell the traits at a steep discount, which seems to undervalue them, since they would be less bang for your buck than other skills.

    If you can buy Punch with 5 XP and can then punch PCs in the face then I can't sell you Lie for 5 XP if you can't use it the same way.



  • @Arkandel said in Eliminating social stats:

    @Salty-Secrets I thought about that. The problem then is I would need to sell the traits at a steep discount, which seems to undervalue them, since they would be less bang for your buck than other skills.

    If you can buy Punch with 5 XP and can then punch PCs in the face then I can't sell you Lie for 5 XP if you can't use it the same way.

    If vs PC action is allowed then all things should be equal. As stated if you are allowed to punch someone, they are allowed a dodge action/defense/whatever mechanic for physical violence. The same should be true for manipulation, mind control, whatever.

    The difference here is consent and our personal view on "things". As a player if my PC were PKed I'd be ok. If my male PC was dominated and then forced to go down on some dude, I'd be not ok. But it is something that could happen.

    With that said I'd say in a situation like that I the player shouldn't be forced to play out the event and it should be faded to black. Just like I shouldn't be forced to play out my characters death; we just know it was the outcome (here I mean like screaming as the head is sawed off or some other grusuem event).


  • Coder

    Please retain all aspects of the system that would allow me to force NPCs into TS. kthnxbai!



  • @ThatOneDude addresses this much better: provide defenses and means of evasion.

    I handled the PCvPC vs. PCvE/NPC issue by making all PCvsPC consent-based, which covered the physical and social equally. (I am also looking at options for above: having defenses and means of evasion/etc. built in as social defenses in the same way most systems have physical ones if I get back to doing a thing.)


  • Pitcrew

    One method for resolving this is making PvP impossible except with GM approval for special cases. Now players cannot punch one another without OOC consent, so you don't have any issue.

    If you want to keep PvP, I have an idea where social stats give access to resources. Instead of being able to roll dice that forces another PC to do something, instead the social started player can bribe the other character with those resources.


  • Politics

    @Arkandel said in Eliminating social stats:

    During game design, one of the potential ideas for its systems is to eliminate all social mechanics from it. That means no 'charisma' or 'manipulation' mundane attributes and no powers that sway emotions or decision-making.

    I like this, but --

    The intent behind this is to cut down on incidents where social attributes like that are ignored either way ('no, I get you rolled six successes on lying, but...'), not have to deal with 'how much sway' a given attempt produced given I've never been satisfied with how social damage has been implemented before in the games I've played, but also to eliminate concepts that try to browbeat others into TS.

    -- I don't think the motivation is correct.

    I have always believed that the problem is using these powers to twist another into playing in a way that would otherwise be contrary to the choice they would make for their PC. The problem is depriving agency, not the use of social stats themselves. And it's never a fair trade-off: no one balks when a vampire uses telepathy to determine if someone's actually lying, but sometimes make a stink when a player rolls a set of dice to make people believe their character's lie.

    If social stats are limited to how a character appears, I'd be fine with that. Rolling social stats to give the appearance of being charming, innocent, or honest when one is concealing true motives is important. In a way, it's almost defensive: a guard is suspicious that a knight is lying his way past, but that knight seems so honest and caring -- he couldn't be a liar -- so he lets him through despite his better judgment. The knight isn't twisting the guard's behavior; he's giving the guard no cause to mistrust him.

    It's a hard thing to balance. I know that, in my own system, I've reduced the social stats down considerably to a single stat: Guile. Guile's important to have as a tactician as much as a merchant, and comes into play in combat and the economy.



  • I think, if you are only selling physical stats and skills, you are giving a big, big advantage to players who are just good roleplayers. (And I say this as one of those good roleplayers, imho.) They already have that advantage. They make friends faster, better. They get into more plots and involved in more things. If they now don't have to buy their social skills and just play how good they are, then now you give them the opportunity of being powerful combat beasts and social masters at the same time, because where else would you put your XP?

    I think you'd lose a lot of the archetypal characters you are wanting because yeah, you could still /play/ Littlefinger if you are good enough. But now you can play Littlefinger without having to back it up with stats, and also make Littlefinger a master magician or knight or etc.



  • @Ganymede said in Eliminating social stats:

    @Arkandel said in Eliminating social stats:

    During game design, one of the potential ideas for its systems is to eliminate all social mechanics from it. That means no 'charisma' or 'manipulation' mundane attributes and no powers that sway emotions or decision-making.

    I like this, but --

    The intent behind this is to cut down on incidents where social attributes like that are ignored either way ('no, I get you rolled six successes on lying, but...'), not have to deal with 'how much sway' a given attempt produced given I've never been satisfied with how social damage has been implemented before in the games I've played, but also to eliminate concepts that try to browbeat others into TS.

    -- I don't think the motivation is correct.

    I have always believed that the problem is using these powers to twist another into playing in a way that would otherwise be contrary to the choice they would make for their PC. The problem is depriving agency, not the use of social stats themselves. And it's never a fair trade-off: no one balks when a vampire uses telepathy to determine if someone's actually lying, but sometimes make a stink when a player rolls a set of dice to make people believe their character's lie.

    If social stats are limited to how a character appears, I'd be fine with that. Rolling social stats to give the appearance of being charming, innocent, or honest when one is concealing true motives is important. In a way, it's almost defensive: a guard is suspicious that a knight is lying his way past, but that knight seems so honest and caring -- he couldn't be a liar -- so he lets him through despite his better judgment. The knight isn't twisting the guard's behavior; he's giving the guard no cause to mistrust him.

    It's a hard thing to balance. I know that, in my own system, I've reduced the social stats down considerably to a single stat: Guile. Guile's important to have as a tactician as much as a merchant, and comes into play in combat and the economy.

    But couldn't you /deprive agency/ with physical stats? IE: I grapple you and force you to stay when you want to leave. Or using force/violence I could make your PC do something they normally wouldn't. That's why to me it just makes sense to have a like for like system, that has like attack/defense. Then follow up with the "if you don't feel good with what's happening then fade to black or whatever."

    I love the idea of a social monster (vampire form WoD VtR 2nd Ed majesty/dominiate/nightmare). Against players I hate it because I don't play the PC as I should because I know some people aren't going to be ok with being manipulated by dice in RP. But really, maybe the issue has to do more with how people associate with their PCs? In my earlier example I used being forced to give a guy oral. To me this isn't anywhere near anything I would enjoy or even dig watching. Just personal preference. But if my pc got forced into doing the do then it is what it is. I just don't want to write it :)

    I mean I can get the impartant parts summarized to build off of later...



  • I think it is more about what the designer thinks works.

    I think why design powers that let you control others, but not all those social skills that have swayed nations and changed the course of lives daily?

    I also think that unless you play a tactically rich game for chases, stealth, politics, or warfare, you are either passively digesting random dice roll kill fests, or your are all about the experience of your character and the effect they have on other players.

    In that latter case, it's all a matter of what you think can be done with social skills and WHY. Is it all about the masterful manipulator, or is it largely about what is in the subject, and using that to your advantage?


  • Coder

    @Arkandel said in Eliminating social stats:

    @Salty-Secrets I thought about that. The problem then is I would need to sell the traits at a steep discount, which seems to undervalue them, since they would be less bang for your buck than other skills.

    But wouldn't that be true for a lot of skills? I mean, charging skills based on utility is a perfectly fine system, but I would think you'd want to use it across the board and not just for social skills. Punch is way more useful than Computers in most MU*s, for instance.

    ETA... @ThatOneDude said :

    But couldn't you /deprive agency/ with physical stats? IE: I grapple you and force you to stay when you want to leave.

    It depends on how you define agency. If you define it as the ability to choose your character's thoughts and actions then nothing short of literal mind control can deprive a player of agency. Even if you tie my character down, I still have control over how they react to that event. If your dice say I believe your lie, though, I no longer have control over my character's thoughts and actions.

    Other people will have different definitions, of course, which is why there have been approximately 250 billion pages of arguments here about "social combat".



  • I think it works best when the system accounts for social started beasts being allowed and able to affect the environment. Combat monsters might be able to punch through your face. Social monsters can make a phonecall and suddenly the local police are tweeting that you're being sought for petting underage puppies, suspect is armed and dangerous, if seen please call Crimestoppers for the thousand dollar reward. Social characters should be liked by and in the world, and have the influence to absolutely wreck someone's life from a distance in the same way a physical sort can wreck their life close up. But most games don't account for, support or encourage that sort of play either.


  • Pitcrew

    The problem is that power will always be accorded to the dude with combat stats, because the damage you suffer by humiliation or by having your character's financial interests harmed, etc. is abstract --

    But losing your toon is permanent. And that's the only real hard bedrock of power that's ever existed in a social game, especially WoD.

    I've had this argument with people I liked, who went 'ISN'T SO' but then I remembered the toons they made and the plots they ran, and, well... yeah.

    Pretty sure experience bears me out.


  • Admin

    @faraday said in Eliminating social stats:

    @Arkandel said in Eliminating social stats:
    But wouldn't that be true for a lot of skills? I mean, charging skills based on utility is a perfectly fine system, but I would think you'd want to use it across the board and not just for social skills. Punch is way more useful than Computers in most MU*s, for instance.

    Oh it would be. That's why in my system I don't want to have filler skills; if I need to bundle a bunch of them together to make it work then so be it.

    But I don't want to have Punch and Mapmaking, then charge the same for them. In that respect Gany's "Guile" idea works better for my purposes.


  • Politics

    @ThatOneDude said in Eliminating social stats:

    But couldn't you /deprive agency/ with physical stats? IE: I grapple you and force you to stay when you want to leave. Or using force/violence I could make your PC do something they normally wouldn't. That's why to me it just makes sense to have a like for like system, that has like attack/defense. Then follow up with the "if you don't feel good with what's happening then fade to black or whatever."

    By "agency," I mean intent and thought, rather than actual ability. As mentioned by another, grappling me is different than using some power or social ability to prevent me from resisting. You could physically force me to back down, or do it via power. I personally don't mind someone depriving me of agency, but it is a sticking point for others due to past histories, creepers, etc.


  • Coder

    I am of mixed emotions on this. I've always sort of noticed when people cannot RP their Amazing Stats and Skills at all, instead relying entirely on dicerolls to do the brute forcing for them.

    A character with a very high Dex + Firearms roleplaying out a scene with lame, ridiculously overacted and over-the-top poses of backflip shots and leap -dive shots at the local kid's shooting booth at the county fair... it's just as eye-rolling as someone with a high App + Seduction roleplaying the slinky, smoky-eyed nymph who wants to be all Jessica Rabbit/Marilyn Monroe while serving coffee in the college Starbucks.

    I don't care if you rolled 10 successes. Your pose is ludicrous and scene-breaking.

    Oh, wait, this was about other things, wasn't it.... damnit.



  • So desice, is this a game where you people try to support one another being something they aren't, or a measurement of their ability? Cuz I am giving all of you a fat 0 in "being a vampire". Except Ganymede. Ganymede gets an 8.


  • Pitcrew

    Setting aside the "roleplaying vs rollplaying" and "mind control and agency" discussions entirely, I would say that whether or not you have social stats should depend on the type of game that you want. If you want a game based around combat awesomeness and (IC but not OOC) social drama with no real teeth, then removing social skills works just fine. But if you want a political game, or a game with any real politics, where the ability to lie and convince matters... you really kind of need social stats, or else (almost) everyone will be perfect IC liars whenever they want to be.


  • Admin

    @Misadventure said in Eliminating social stats:

    So desice, is this a game where you people try to support one another being something they aren't, or a measurement of their ability? Cuz I am giving all of you a fat 0 in "being a vampire". Except Ganymede. Ganymede gets an 8.

    This is a political game. I expect and want to generate both friction and the means to resolve it in non-lethal ways.

    On the other hand as mentioned before I don't want to have undervalued attributes or powers. The reason I put this question out is to see if it's worth the tradeoff of doing away with the headaches of using social stats versus potentially depriving the game of 'officially' supporting certain concepts through code.

    However:

    @Meg said in Eliminating social stats:

    I think, if you are only selling physical stats and skills, you are giving a big, big advantage to players who are just good roleplayers.

    I can't think of a better endorsement than that, even if @Meg didn't mean it that way.



  • @Arkandel said in Eliminating social stats:

    @Meg said in Eliminating social stats:

    I think, if you are only selling physical stats and skills, you are giving a big, big advantage to players who are just good roleplayers.

    I can't think of a better endorsement than that, even if @Meg didn't mean it that way.

    'Good' roleplayer is subjective in this circumstance and I should have clarified. Good being, I am charming and I can write the pretty words. Good being, people tend to like me OOCly. Good being that I have no social issues that might prevent me from realizing how to play people ICly.

    Good does not include people that might be awesome people that are struggling to find hooks. Good does not include people that add to the game, even if not everyone likes their pose style. Etc etc.


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