Social 'Combat': the hill I will die on (because I took 0 things for physical combat)



  • Obligatory thread to cut down on off-topic discussion for Dark Age Vampire fun.

    Firearms attacks with 5 successes are abstract, because we assume you aren't holding the gun upside down, pulling the trigger with your thumb while your eyes are closed (note to self: use this for future gunbunny).

    Social dice rolls, meanwhile, are often opposed because of an assortment of reasons. The one I am going to discuss first involves similar assumptions: that a 5 success persiasion roll involves adequate body language, tone, facial expressions, reaction to social cues (possibly via an empathy roll), and... anything else I am forgetting. Social cues that people often do not include in their poses, so the cannot even be attempted to be responded to.

    Further, we operate solely through a text medium. How many times a day do you see the words 'Text does not convey sarcasm'? I see it in nearly every discussion.



  • @jennkryst

    Can you clarify what you're trying to convey with this post? Are you trying to bring up the idea that a social conflict dice roll should consider those factors you list out?


  • Coder

    @bobotron I think it's the fact that people don't really care about how someone poses a punch, and then rolls dice, to get the effect, but people seem to care /fucking mightily/ about how a social thing is posed and how it conveys to dice.

    So in essence, Dice are Dice, they convey what the pose cannot, so why is there such resistance to social dice?


  • Politics

    @jennkryst said in Social 'Combat': the hill I will die on (because I took 0 things for physical combat):

    Firearms attacks with 5 successes are abstract, because we assume you aren't holding the gun upside down, pulling the trigger with your thumb while your eyes are closed (note to self: use this for future gunbunny).

    They are abstract to a point. Presuming your gun has a weapon damage bonus of 7, the result of your roll is 7 points of damage. If your target is mortal, that damage is lethal; if a vampire, that damage is bashing.

    These are things I can look up and evaluate from the book.

    Social dice rolls, meanwhile, are often opposed because of an assortment of reasons. The one I am going to discuss first involves similar assumptions: that a 5 success persiasion [sic] roll involves adequate body language, tone, facial expressions, reaction to social cues (possibly via an empathy roll), and... anything else I am forgetting. Social cues that people often do not include in their poses, so the cannot even be attempted to be responded to.

    From what you're writing here, I have no idea how I'm to react.

    What are you trying to use the roll for? Are you trying to persuade someone to buy into your explanation as to why you threw a rock at them? Are you trying to persuade someone to sign over the deed to their house? Are you trying to persuade someone to give you some of their salt-water taffy? Are you trying to persuade someone into putting the lube up their anus in preparation for a rough bout of anal sex?

    The social combat system from The Danse Macabre isn't built for most of this. It's not really that good for the sort of sensual talk that may accompany a request for bum sex, and it's sort of overblown for an attempt to get some candy. It seems to be better geared towards public oratory or social situations, where one is trying to knock someone's Status down or convince them to do something while all eyes are on them.

    And the Doors system? Also, not really good for any of the above examples. Except maybe the sex bit; it might take a bit of greasing up to convince me to do that (pun!).

    I honestly don't give two shits how a thing is posed, and I don't really care what I'm to be convinced of, as long as the other person doesn't mind how my PC reacts to what has happened.


  • Pitcrew

    @lithium said in Social 'Combat': the hill I will die on (because I took 0 things for physical combat):

    @bobotron I think it's the fact that people don't really care about how someone poses a punch, and then rolls dice, to get the effect, but people seem to care /fucking mightily/ about how a social thing is posed and how it conveys to dice.

    So in essence, Dice are Dice, they convey what the pose cannot, so why is there such resistance to social dice?

    Most RPers don't know much about actual combat. They don't have RL experience with it. (And, IME, RPers who do have RL experience with it do get annoyed at people posing things in a wildly inaccurate sort of way.)

    Every RPer has RL experience with negotiation. Manipulation. Persuasion. It's an everyday aspect of everyone's lives. A lot of RPers are generally bothered by things they find to be improbable. It's just that the knowledge of what's improbable in certain areas varies drastically.



  • It sounds like an argument saying that:

    1. for whatever reasons (long standing RPG history of abstraction, easy in video games, lack of real world expertise) RPG players are fine assuming that excellent combat randomizer results are the product of excellent in fiction actions,

    2. that for whatever reasons (long standing RPG history of absence, railroaded decision trees in in video games that feature it at all, assumption of personal) real world expertise) players are fine assuming that excellent social influence randomizer results must be accompanied by personalized to that players perception of excellent in fiction social actions to ever be given any credit at all.

    This is an old discussion. Topics previously brought up:

    Player control of actions and attitudes is critical to enjoyment of play. They may not expect a certain outcome, and it may be something the Character doesn't like, but it takes the Players acceptance to have effect.

    Mind control is a long standing phobia and point of contention. Even in comic super hero games, where mind control is a trope.

    If characters can't use social skills, then they shouldn't be in the rules.

    if Players can't help out with RP social influence then they are being bad Players. It's a form of cheating.

    Some Players pose not just lazy, but terrible approaches to social influence.

    It is considered too close to telepathy to help a Player describe actions that would socially influence another Players character.

    If a Player likes one Players RP or TS or whatever more than anothers, they have their characters be easily swayed utterly loyal etc in service to that Player they like, yet turn around and resist with all the systems might when a Player they don't like, don't like the RP of, or something else.

    Some Players use social influence to force disgusting actions on the other PLAYER, via both Players in game Characters, by passing the idea that everyone should be in this to create enjoyment for themselves AND others.

    No one can decide, and if it is decided, stick to an overall approach per game of its Player Vs Player, or cooperative play.

    It is or isn't cheating to rely on your own social skills, writing skills or popularity, and to have social influence without any such game stats. (stolen from Bobotron)

    These do not all agree, just examples.



  • @lithium

    That's what it read to me too, but I didn't want to assume. It goes back to the continuing 'I am not my character, my stats matter just as much, and often more, than my ability to type it out'.

    If a game has stats, those stats must matter. Whether that's punching or stabbing a dude, weaving baskets underwater or hacking systems, or using your silver tongue to convince the Captain of the Guard to allow you into the guardhouse. The rest of it depends on your intent with the game. I've been on tons of statted games with no social stats, and players were extremely reasonable about intimidation, trickery, lies and such. Conversely, the couple of games where I've been on that had social stats either 1) gave no real backing to those social stats, or 2) suffered from the same issues I have crop up in LARP - I am my character, thus my agency is infringed upon if you use your Lies Stat @ Eleventybillion.

    The biggest thing to do is ensure that it's straightforward what your expectations are and what you'll enforce.

    I've enforced this in many LARPs where players expect to rely on their own personal social skills, and don't invest into their character's social stuff. And I've gotten equal amounts of pushback as well as adherence.


  • Pitcrew

    I'm not really sure what the focus of this post is supposed to be but I'll say this, I'm a fan of social combat being played out just like or in a similar way to physical combat. If I have a character that I think should fight like an MMA pro I invest points in it and go with the +rolls. If I want someone who is super willful or is a seduction master or an expert politician it's "Well, then we just RP it and things go your way" and I don't like that.

    I want to invest points into the things my character is good at and have it played out with rolls, you know? I'm not my character and I like taking some of the decisions out of my hand. If the roll fails, I roll with it and RP accordingly.

    Now I see why some people have a problem with that type of a system, I just don't. To me there's not much difference between physical combat "fuck, my character is dead" and social combat, "fuck, you seduced my character and now we've slept together ICly" or something like that. Now everything has context, sure, and these are just broad strokes but, in essence, I'm a fan of social combat.


  • Politics

    @zombiegenesis said in Social 'Combat': the hill I will die on (because I took 0 things for physical combat):

    To me there's not much difference between physical combat "fuck, my character is dead" and social combat, "fuck, you seduced my character and now we've slept together ICly" or something like that.

    See, I'm the same way, mostly because people who end up succeeding in the second part often find themselves saying what you say in the first part.


  • Coder

    @lithium said in Social 'Combat': the hill I will die on (because I took 0 things for physical combat):

    So in essence, Dice are Dice, they convey what the pose cannot, so why is there such resistance to social dice?

    For me, I hate social dice because I've seen them abused too often in the past. Someone posing a completely ridiculous argument and barely even trying to be convincing, but bam, social dice. It completely breaks immersion. This is a text medium; our roleplay is all words on a screen.

    I've also seen "Oh, hey, baby, you want some of this?" +roll seduction. The actual RP is so bad and unseductive, the situation is so completely wrong, the person is completely not my character's type, etc.

    If someone can't write persuasion persuasively, or write seduction seductively, then I'd rather just go do something else. Mandatory Social PVP Combat on a game just screams 'beware, bad rpers here' to me. I might play there anyways, but I'll have one foot out the door until I am proven otherwise.



  • @ixokai

    Let's leave aside 'completely ridiculous argument' because I don't think anyone is going to reasonably argue that 'Hey baby, wanna fuck? +roll' is a valid instigator for Social Conflict. But let's say, someone actually tries and puts forth effort, but YOU (the blanket you, the observer) don't feel that their attempt is 'good enough' even though they tried to do what they could.

    But we (blanket we, the community) don't take this same thing into account, GENERALLY, when someone poses firing a particular type of gun the wrong way, or stab for 'movie vital parts' or whatever. Why do we apply it to one, but not to the other? It's a double standard, to a point.

    I'm going to give an anecdotal example here from the last LARP I ran.

    I had a player who played with us, who was not at all socially adept and diagnosed with actual social disorder. He wanted to play a highly social character and had a concept and chose a Daughter of Cacophony. And he tried his goddamn head off to BE social, even if he, the player wasn't the best at it. And so we relied on the Social Attribute and Skills he purchased, with some coaching from the STs and acquiescence of understanding he's TRYING from players to roll with his Social Challenges.

    At what point, really, does putting all the value on the immersion and verisimilitude HURT the game? And at that point, what's the point of even having any type of social stat to waste points on? I mean, being honest, even though we're a text-based community we are not a community of professional writers, and many people have social issues that hinder their roleplay, even if they are actively trying.



  • Felicia can kill a man with a single pull of the trigger. Any man. Any time. Felicia can't just talk a faithful monk into joining an orgy for the glory of Satan, regardless of how amazing her eyes are (they change color) or her mastery of body language. Does she have a few months to plot his downfall, causing him to question his faith and everything he believed in? In that case... maybe.

    Killing someone is a lot easier, as it should be.

    Also, the vast majority of my character's personality and beliefs aren't on her sheet. They are inside my head. How does the system interact with that, if not by way of invoking player agency to some extent?

    If my character gets shot, they get shot. If they are fed false information, then they are fooled. But if they get talked into doing something in a way that is incompatible with my understanding of how the character thinks and feels, that's a problem. I try to be flexible, I'll bend even for the sake of OOC convenience, but I can only bend so far. Past a certain point, if the character is doing things I can't make sense of, that contradict everything I envisioned them as being, I'm done. They're no longer my character and they're no longer playable. I also don't play rosters, so those are safe!


  • Pitcrew

    If I've got Medicine I can heal someone, right? How many successes do I need to bring someone back from the dead? I've got 5 Int, 5 Medicine, Professional Training-5: Doctor and skill specialties in Western medicine, Eastern medicine, first aid, trauma surgery, elective surgery, and patient care. Look at all the points I've put into that! Look at how massive my rolls are! How can you maintain that it is fair that I can't bring someone back from the dead. You're invalidating my character concept.

    Skills have limits. I'm not saying I'm against 'social combat' but there have to be some pretty clear limits as to what it can do, and unfortunately IMO those limits are probably not going to make the pro-social combat people happy. They don't give you the ability to force another PC to do something (except with some very limited margins such as forcing a character to 'be intimidated').

    If you want to be able to force another character to do something then you need to purchase supernatural powers. Likewise, if I want to heal health levels of damage it doesn't matter how much I spend on my skills, attributes, and non-magical merits. I have to purchase some sort of supernatural ability to heal.


  • Pitcrew

    Smart people fall for stupid, obvious stories all the time. Case in point.

    Many RPG players have the Dunning-Kruger effect to the max when it comes to social manipulation - they continuously and markedly exaggerate their character's ability to make good decisions under social pressure or manipulation, and by and large, make their decisions about whether their character finds something IC persuasive based on the OOC factors of absolutely knowing that something is a game, and being able to step back and consider a hundred different factors that their PCs couldn't or wouldn't. And they're not generally willing to buy social resistance skills to actually reflect a character who would be able to do that, because they don't even recognize that what they're doing is not IC.


  • Pitcrew

    In one of the many (many) threads on MSB about social systems/combat over the years, someone had what I felt was a really great analogy in regards to combat systems vs social systems and the amount of consent overall. (Was it @surreality?) I can't remember all the specifics, but -- it's not really equivalent to "someone posed their gun the wrong way" for the instances people have issue with. It's more like "someone swatted my character with a stick and expected them to die." And that's really what people object to. If you point a gun at someone's chest and fire it, even if you're posing something wrong about the gun or how the character is holding it or WHATEVER, we can all still understand that a bullet to the chest means serious injury. To me, that's more like -- someone had the right idea in how to approach a persuasion, but had some small details off. But issues come up when one player decides what their social weapon is without any real thought or consideration for how incorrect a weapon it is for dealing with the other character.


  • Pitcrew

    Out of curiosity has the irony of this argument ever been pointed out? Some people want to maintain that through social manipulation even deeply held beliefs can be altered while being intractable in their rather trivial belief about implementing such a thing in game.



  • @the-sands
    That's false equivalency. But, sure, if you're in the right area with the right equipment, and the situation could dictate it, you can restart their heart, though perhaps the rules say they're braindead now but they're ALIVE, or they're horribly disfigured and scarred or they are paralyzed from the neck down. And yes, I'm being explicitly facetious in my response there, but it answers your exact question.

    Regarding skills having limits, I don't think anyone here has said they don't. What we're stating for discussion is that social skills should have something behind them if they are an explicit part of the system. I think most of us have consistently put forth the conceit that 'No, social stats cannot make you do certain things' and have posited tons of things (typefuck being the primary culprit, because all the time THIS DISCUSSION comes up because of the community's fucking skeezy behavior).

    I can think of tons of instances where people are manipulated in media without social powers. And your example is EXPLICIT in stating 'limited margins' such as intimidation, which is what most of us HAVE BEEN SAYING this whole time.

    But any system requires buy in. Well, I guess looking at the examples and reasoning presented in the many times this thread has been repeated, except physical conflict. But that's because we are TRAINED that Physical Conflict should have a system behind it.

    And sometimes, I'm sorry, but sometimes losing player agency because of the system has to happen. It's Bad Metagaming to not adhere to things that are implicit in the system.

    If I blow out your kneecaps with called shots that are recorded by the system and you have Conditions or whatever from those, that should be no different than me making a successful Lies roll to get you to speak out of turn and reveal some type of information.

    Also, I don't think anyone has said anything about 'deeply held beliefs'. In fact, those of us who have posited social resolution systems here have stated that there should implicitly be things that Social Conflict can NOT do/change. Typefuck, change your sexual orientation, make people fall in love, the list goes on. But there are some things that it should, both in the short term (telling a convincing lie and getting information; torture and intimidation vis a vis leverage to get BIG secrets).

    @Roz
    In my ideas for a social system, a shit approach wouldn't even start a Social Conflict. But again, all of this requires player buy in and willingness to understand that, sometimes for the story (and remember, we're here in a 'text based medium to play story games, not wank an e-peen character sheet' right? Yes, I'm being deliberately facetious again) your agency will be lost. Roll with it as much as your agency to go out and RP is lost if your kneecaps are blown out and you have a system-dictated 2 weeks of hospital recovery time.


  • Coder

    After previous conversations, I sort of think the best way to handle it is that you can affect how other people perceive you, but not necessarily other things. I.e., I can convince you to perceive me as trustworthy (and possibly even 'more trustworthy than James over there' during an argument where James and I are both trying to sway your opinion), but I cannot necessarily convince you to change your own beliefs and positions. I can convince you to think I'm an honorable individual rather than a scoundrel, but I cannot convince you to change your own world-view.

    To use peasoupling's example, Felicia would not be able to convince the faithful monk to join an orgy for the glory of Satan. But she might be able to convince the faithful monk that she's trustworthy, and then slowly begin her campaign of gradual corruption.

    That allows for social actions that make sense. "I want to know this secret", you aren't playing "convince the person to tell you the secret", but "convince the person you're trustworthy and can know the secret." Maybe the person still refuses, because it's important to them to tell no one—not even trustworthy folks—but it gives a hook that's probably easier to agree on.



  • @sparks

    That's a good way of articulating it, the creation of 'trust'. But the community has harmed itself badly with the things that constantly lead to this round and round discussion.


  • Coder

    I designed a LARP once, where people had <x> uses of various skills.

    It had many social skills, of which these were two:

    1. The target character believes that you (character) believe that you are telling the truth. This is different than "the target believes you" because if you say the sky is purple then this is asking the target character to believe something that is absolutely stupid to believe, but if you say the sky is purple and the target believes that you believe it, then there's something to build upon.
    2. You can ask the player how the character would generally react to a certain statement or question, before making the statement or question. That is, let me read your character and then change what I do based on the new information.

    It was incredibly basic, but I realize now that it goes to what @Sparks is saying: You can't make other people do something, but you can still gain information or hide information in a way that doesn't overwrite player's ability to respond.

    The only way physical combat completely removes player agency is character death and other very major situations. You can threaten all you want, but it's up to the player to decide how the character responds.

    I like systems like that.

    --

    edit:

    I also like systems like Apocalypse World, which is so good at differentiating character and player that choosing how your character gets boned by being forced to do something is actually incredibly fun.

    I don't want to say there's only one way to approach social interaction with stats.