Political Intrigue, social combat and negotiation mechanics

jedion357's picture
October 7, 2012 - 7:02pm
Just kicking ideas around

How could we do political intrigue within the SF game/setting?

How could we run social combat?

How can we run negotiations or a negotiation mechanic?

note political intrigue could be within any number of forms besides political: corporate, cadre, military etc.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

OnceFarOff's picture
October 7, 2012 - 8:34pm
I've been reading the Strands of FATE rules lately, and they have an interesting mechanic for this. They actually use the same mechanic for combat, wealth and social (and psionics) but each is derived from a different core attribute and has what they call "Stress Tracks" which are how much 'damage' someone can take before a consequence occurs. Essentially, there is a driving attribute for the particular type of "contest" which is controlled by a base attribute and then skills come into play. The amount of "damage" is dependent on the governing attribute and by related skills as well.

So the personality score in this case would be used to judge the effectiveness of an offensive action vs a defense. I imagine that mundane skills would have to come into play here as well though. Just some initial, off the top of the head thoughts.

jedion357's picture
October 8, 2012 - 4:23am
ok so rather than role play social combat its roll play social combat? since I included the word combat with social I suppose its a bit of a "duh" this is the game mechanic for real combat so lets adapt it for social combat.

Not knowing anything about Strands of Fate i would work this up for SF in this way

PER is your STA for social combat

situational combat modifiers are things like under dressed, social standing, current alcohol use, race bonus- vrusk with comprehension get a big bonus and dralasites with lie detection get a small bonus

Psych-social skill could be used (as one might use beam weapons vs projectile weapons skill)
(other Zebs or SF2000 skills suggest themselves for social combat and I'm sure some things on the skilled frontier skill system would work as a "social combat skill"

The ability score that modifies the combat roll is either INT or LOG (player's choice) damage is of course not real- just leaving a dinner party or encounter restores 1/2 of the lost PER, The rest comes back at a rate of 5-10 PER/hour

like there is a wound penalty for 1/2 STA a person reduced to 1/2 PER could get a "wound penalty" as well- perhaps label it something like wounded psyche.

The above is very simple and looks like the rest of the rule system which is good too but it does reduce this to a Roll play vs role play. not sure I want to embrace it too heavily.

One thought I had was a social combat chart- player and referee square off- on the chart is a list of "social strategies" to be employed- each chooses one and reveals their choice. the choices made compared against the choices made by the opponent determine standing for next round. Next round- new choices of strategy are made and revealed which impacts standing for next round.

To impliment this I suppose we could use PER again as the STA (or we could even get fancy and say your Psyche stamina is 1/2 PER + 1/2 LDR or whatever)

The chart would have things like Thick Skin, Aggressive, Passive etc. someone employing thick skin would be very hard to have a hit score agains their PER or Psyche stamina but would also not be poised to do damage themselves in turn, someone being aggressive would poised to score a hit but would also be vulnerable to having a hit scored on them, etc (there'd have to be a lot of thought put into the social strategies and how they impact the social combat)

something like this could set the player in a situation where they have to evaluate what they are doing and make a strategy change to "win". It might also be used to provoke an NPC to a rash decision (like a rash rush into combat)- the player wounds and wounds an NPC with social combat till his PER is battered and then goes for the big push where the NPC must make a PER roll or react in a manner consistent with the way the PC has been provoking him.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
October 8, 2012 - 7:41am
Karxan made a comment in the firestarter thread about it being a good scenario for kids and since this thread was fresh in my mind it resonated with it. I'm really liking the idea of social combat as a mechanic for adventures involving kids- using it in place of classic combat does a few thing: 1) it teaches the kids that problems can have other solutions besides physical force and models some of those solutions as well as rewards them.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Karxan's picture
October 8, 2012 - 7:17pm
Jedion, That is great about teaching kids. I had never thought about that as a teaching tool. If you set it up right, It would be an excellent way to teach critical thinking on an understandable scale for children. A game that you have to make choices in to resolve a social issue, rather than my sword against yours.