Social Maneuvering

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Re: Social Maneuvering

Post by magus666 » Fri Apr 08, 2016 6:23 pm

This whole topic has gotten WAY into the TL;DR. However, I think the question is are we going to use Social Maneuvering as written in 5.0, or am I missing something?

I think the real point is, do you want to play by the mechanics, or don't you? For some grand and glorious reason, people seem to think that mechanics for social maneuvering, social combat, or whatever you want to call it, are optional, because actually playing by them is destructive to some mythical thing called "player agency". On the other hand, these are usually the same players who are fanatics about sticking to the mechanics about everything else (especially when it is someone else who is not). If you want complete "player agency", then you really should be playing some diceless game system. In any game system where you have dice, and specific mechanics, "player agency" is always something of myth, at least the way it is being used here.

"Social Maneuvering" may not be combat, but it is a way in which one player takes away a certain amount of "player agency" from another, and that is as it should be. As mentioned before, if someone shoots me IC, I don't get to say, no, I don't WANT to take that much damage. Or if I am doing something sneaky and someone else is investigating it, I don't get to say, no, I don't WANT them to find out what I'm doing - because that takes away my right of player agency. Is it EXACTLY the same? No it's not, but the parallels should be obvious to anyone paying attention, and that's why Social Maneuvering has options that other "competitive" mechanics in the CoD don't.

Regardless of that, I don't think that NOT using them is a viable option. Without them, we are back to where we are now, with Social Primary PCs being basically a joke. "I want to punch PC X in the face". Great, roll your dice and see what happens. "I want to investigate what PC Y is doing". Sure, make the roll, and see if you figure it out. "I want to convince PC Z to do this". Oh, nonono, not unless the player of PC Z WANTS to do that!! Oh, and you have a Manipulation of 5 and Persuasion of 5, and they have a Composure/Resolve of 1? Doesn't matter!! Can't take away that "player agency" and make them do something!! That's nonsense.

There ARE abilities called MANIPULATION and PERSUASION for a reason. Sure, in a TT game, for which these rules are written, you probably don't usually HAVE to use them on other players, they are most likely in your same group (cabal, pack, etc) and have at least similar goals within the story. Plus, if you are TT'ing with them, they are probably also friends OOC. In the chat, it's entirely different, other PC's form a large percentage of your "adversaries". Maybe not (or maybe) violently, involving combat, but certainly jockeying for positions, information, etc. IC. No, social abilities and skills aren't "Mind Control". But in the real world, where (as far as we know) supernatural powers don't exist, there most certainly ARE people called Politicians, Salesmen, Con Artists, etc, who use those mundane attributes and abilities to convince people to do all KINDS of ridiculous things that they wouldn't do otherwise. So saying, well my PC only has a Resolve of 1, but you can't talk me into doing something I don't want to (because....PLAYER AGENCY!!!) is not only completely unrealistic, it's metagaming. Sure, there may be consequences for them afterwards...just the same as if I walked up to someone in a bar and punched them in the mouth, I could end up in jail...but you can't just it doesn't happen.

That's why there ARE Stats for those things. I'm certainly not saying that EVERYTHING should be reduced to dice rolls, it IS a role playing game after all, but this is a specific case where dice HAVE to be used. A player might be shy and awkward, playing a character with Manipulation 5. Or vice versa, they might be very glib, but playing a PC with Manipulation 1. If the rule is, just talk it out IC, then the shy player gets no benefit from all the xp he spent on Manipulation, while the glib one has no penalty from his abysmal attribute. And on the other side, why spend lots of XP on Resolve when you can simply say...nope, I don't want to do that, so my PC says no too? (Yes, there are OTHER uses for those attributes, that isn't the point here.)

Needless to say, the option to accept a Condition or Tilt INSTEAD of doing whatever they are trying to manipulate or persuade you to do, is a great thing. It definitely adds to the role playing flavor.

Yes, I have just made my OWN TL;DR post, but basically just putting in my two cents saying that we NEED the mechanic, just "talk it out ic" isn't really a good option.
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Post by Wolfpact » Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:00 pm

All of this, right above me here.

Invest in social stats. Buy Composure and Resolve.

Or accept people saying "no, I don't want shot" as valid.
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Post by Xyld » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:58 pm

While I admire the tenacity that is being displayed by the opposition, the position taken completely ignores all of the voices that have argued that the current system in place has fundamental flaws that can and have been exploited in a myriad of ways to disproportionately unbalance the game. Without change, this will continue and many think it is unacceptable. The viewpoint also ignores that the new Chronicles of Darkness rule-set which incorporates Social Maneuvering into many aspects of play. Many people have voiced their opinions and despite appearances, maintaining the status quo is not what anyone is arguing to preserve - the opposition's stance is based on fear total loss of control of their characters (and have hinted that there would be vigilante action to maintain their philosophy). It is evident that there are strong opinions on both sides, but instead of selfishly polarizing and destabilizing the community by continuing to fight, why not work to come to a consensus on a compromise that will defend against the worst fears of those who champion "player agency" and empower those who want better Social rules to govern the chat?

The first step is to agree to common ground
As a player on Wanton Wicked, I recognize that I am not my character and MY CHARACTER IS NOT ME. The character is a figment of my imagination, just like any other product of fiction. I merely guide my character in a single story amongst a plethora of individual stories that simultaneously overlap and interweave in a common, shared environment. My character's story may be the most important story in the world to me, but by playing here, I acknowledge that all of the stories of all other participants are equally important.

To play the game, I realize and fully accept that i will act and react to the random elements of environment, actions Of NPCs and actions of other player characters. My character has the right to succeed and to have positive experiences, but that does not exclude the possibility of suffering losses, setbacks or having negative experiences - all of which may happen at the hands of a Storyteller or another player's character. I also recognize that in any good story, suffering loss and setbacks is to be expected and something to embrace and overcome. As a player in game partially governed by random die rolls, I accept the inevitable reality that I cannot win all the time and that in losing, I will do my best to act like an adult and accept any and all setbacks that befall my character.
Hopefully we can move forward from here.
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Post by Regentwill » Fri Apr 08, 2016 11:10 pm

I guess part of the problem is really convincing a character to do something that they just wouldn't do, for instance? What if a up and coming Carthian Ventrue decides to rock those social dice to convince, say, an Invictus to betray his Prince and attempt to assassinate him? Or a Daeva invites, through seduction, a werewolf to join her back at her place?

What I mean is, where do we draw the line? We could say "Rolls will have an effect on the opposing character, but can not force them to do something that is against their nature." But, isn't that kind of what we have in play right now?

How can we enforce what someones character considers "Against their nature" and even if we could, should we?
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Post by Ephsy » Fri Apr 08, 2016 11:59 pm

Regentwill wrote:I guess part of the problem is really convincing a character to do something that they just wouldn't do, for instance? What if a up and coming Carthian Ventrue decides to rock those social dice to convince, say, an Invictus to betray his Prince and attempt to assassinate him? Or a Daeva invites, through seduction, a werewolf to join her back at her place?
Both examples are feasible, given the proper motivations. Vampires stabbing each other in the back is practically a trope. A werewolf is no less susceptible to anyone's charm than a mortal.

Let me repeat that: In order for someone to be convinced to do something, there has to be a give and take, and a motivation to allow yourself to be swayed.

It'd then becomes the job of the one attempting to maneuver someone else to provide justifiable motivations for a character to act as they want. What does the invitus character gains from deposing the prince? is the prince a proven incompetent despot? would he be named sheriff in an hypothetical new praxis?
Regentwill wrote:What I mean is, where do we draw the line? We could say "Rolls will have an effect on the opposing character, but can not force them to do something that is against their nature." But, isn't that kind of what we have in play right now?

How can we enforce what someones character considers "Against their nature" and even if we could, should we?
Would the thing you're being asked for risk you a breaking point? Like betraying a packmate? Then it's completely within your right flatly state "No".

That's a good basic measure. There's still scenarios in which such a thing could be arranged. Nobody is a murderer... until they are.
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Post by magus666 » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:47 pm

I am nothing LIKE an expert on the new Social Maneuvering system...I've perused it a few times, that's the most I can say. However, if I understand the system, and the application of Doors, it would be highly unlikely that anyone would be able to walk up to a stranger (or worse, someone who has actual reason to be suspicious or hostile) say a few words to them, make a die roll and....poof! That person is willing to go commit a murder, or just go home with them for the night....UNLESS they were already leaning in that direction.

The BASE number of Doors that need to be opened is the lower of Resolve or Composure. Well folks...if you CHOSE to make your PC easily manipulated with a Resolve of 1, or ready to fly off the handle at a moments notice with a Composure of 1...then you really should be prepared for people to take advantage of that. If NOT, you are starting with a minimum of 2 doors. Going off to murder someone, Prince or not, is probably a breaking point for almost anyone, so...2 more Doors (convincing them to go home with you for the night, that depends on the person :) ). Acting in opposition to a Virtue, or preventing achieving an Aspiration? Add more Doors.
Now, an EXCEPTIONAL Success opens, at most, 2 doors. Most successful rolls only open one. And for all but Perfect Impressions (which is going to mean someone you really trust, or someone who IS using Supernatural abilities of manipulation and persuasion) its a MINIMUM of 1 hour between rolls. Thats PLENTY of time to decide...IN CHARACTER...hey, maybe I don't want to do what that person is suggesting...and walk away. It would seem that letting things get to the point where all the doors have been opened on something major would and should take a whole lot of time and effort if the PC was actually opposed to doing it in the first place, and this would give them ample opportunity to take other actions to counter it. Yes, the opened Doors stay open (and perhaps they should automatically CLOSE again after some set time period, say one Impression level down? but that another issue) but you have the option to take other actions.
In the example given, that Carthian wants to convince the Invictus to assassinate the Prince. Well, that Invictus is PROBABLY going to have, at best, an Average Impression of the Carthian. But even if the Carthian is REALLY smart and manipulative and has this well planned, even if the Invictus has an EXCELLENT Impression of him, its still going to take some significant doing to convince him to kill the Prince. And even if the Carthian make an EXCEPTIONAL SUCCESS on whatever method he is using to convince the Invictus, he's only going to be able to open a couple Doors, and then has to wait another hour. At that point, unless the Invictus' PC's PLAYER is amenable to the idea, the PC can find reason to excuse himself, and leave. And at THAT point he can go find the Sheriff or whoever, and say...hey, you know this guy? Well, he was just suggesting that someone should kill the Prince....and odds are, someone is going to have a long talk with that Carthian...probably involving pointy things.
The point of going against the character' "nature" is valid, but that just raises the question of...what IS the characters nature? Isn't that largely defined (mechanically) by Virtues and Vices, Breakpoints and Aspirations, etc? And these are already taken into account in the system, by increasing or decreasing the Doors, and altering the Impression. Are you that werewolf? Did you CHOOSE to make your vice Lust? Did you CHOOSE to let that guy/girl buy you drinks at the bar? Well, you as a player might know that could be a bad idea for you to go home with that Daeva vampire, but sorry, if you stuck it out that long...that might just be what's happening. Just because it's a bad idea, doesn't make it out of character. (And, of course, you STILL have the option of offering an Alternative...)
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Post by Regentwill » Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:56 pm

Honestly, I don't see a lot of people with Resolve AND Composure at 3 each, you would have to build a character entirely around avoiding doors being opened to resist. If someone scores an exceptional and the opposing player has 2 doors (Remember, that's AVERAGE.) they instantly open all of your doors. I don't know the system perfectly, but I know there is also styles and merits that allow you to open more doors as well, aren't there?
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Post by magus666 » Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:26 pm

the opposing player has 2 doors (Remember, that's AVERAGE.), thats average BASE number. As mentioned, lots of things add to this number. Also too, that would, logically, be the average base number for normal mortals, but the PCs aren't normal mortals, are they? The fact that you DON'T see a lot of PCs with both Resolve and Composure at 3 each (although I actually do, albeit mages mostly since they get a free +1 dot in one of those), should tell you something, since I see a whole LOT of PCs with Strength or Stamina 5, or Dexterity 5,or Intelligence 5, etc. These Attributes are usually considered less valuable than those other ones. Perhaps now they won't be.

And yes, although I can't name them offhand, I'm sure there are merits and styles that allow you to open additional Doors. And if someone spends the XP to focus on something like that, shouldn't they be allowed to benefit from it, just as other PC's benefit from whatever they spend their XP on? If they are SUPPOSED to be highly manipulative and persuasive, and have the stats to back it up, shouldn't they be ALLOWED to be? Again, it's still highly unlikely that...short of using supernatural abilities, which isn't what we are talking about...anyone is going to be able to make a single roll and talk someone else into doing something that is "against their nature", either causing a breaking point, preventing an aspiration, violating a virtue, etc. Getting them to do something that ISN'T against their nature, but that the PLAYER simply doesn't want to do is another issue entirely. Take the book example of the student who wants to borrow the old tome from the professor. Ignore his superior Attributes and his Virtue. Say the Professor and Student were both PCs. Now the PLAYER of the Professor might not want to give the book to the Student PC for whatever reason - they know it has important information that the PC doesn't know about, or maybe the players just dont LIKE each other. Is that metagaming? Sure, but let's not pretend that can't happen. If the Professor PC only has two Doors to open to get him to lend out that book, and the Student PC gets an Exceptional Success....should the Professor's PC just be allowed to say...nah, I don't wanna? Oh should the mechanics of the situation say....yes, they persuaded you?
Last edited by magus666 on Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Xyld » Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:00 pm

For everyone's benefit, I broke this down directly from the WoD-GMC rules. If the new book updates/changes these, go with that.
  1. Declare the PC's intended goal
  2. Base Number of Doors = lower of COMP or RES
  3. Modifiers
    1. Breaking Point for the Character - +2 Doors
    2. Prevent a Character from resolving an Aspiration - +1 Door
    3. Acting in opposition to a Virtue - +1 Door
    4. Other - Doors may increase depending on circumstances*
  4. First Impressions
    1. Impression and Time per Roll
      • Perfect Impressions = 1/turn
      • Excellent Impressions = 1/hour
      • Good Impressions = 1/day
      • Average Impressions = 1/week
      • Hostile = Cannot Roll
    2. Using subject's Vice - move interaction 1 step up the chart
    3. Soft Leverage (Gifts and Bribes) - Use of Merit dots for a certain amount of time - move interaction 1 step up the chart.
  5. Failed Rolls
    1. Failed rolls impose a cumulative -1 on further rolls.
    2. These penalties do not go away with successful rolls.
    3. ST (perhaps in this case, the defending player) may choose to worsen the impression level by one.
      • Character takes a Beat
      • If new Impression is hostile, the attempt cannot move forward until it approves.
  6. Aspirations
    1. If the manipulating character presents a clear path and reasoning to help the other character achieve an Aspiration, remove a door.
    2. If opportunity presents itself and manipulating character pulls out of offer, close two Doors.
  7. Utter Failure
    1. The player rolls a dramatic failure on attempt to open door (take a Beat)
    2. Target realizes he/she is being lied to or manipulated - feels betrayed or conned.
    3. Impression level reaches "hostile" and remains so for a week of game time.
  8. PvP Resolution
    1. Go with the flow - manipulated character takes a Beat.
    2. Offer an alternative
      • Subject player may offer a beneficial alternative (not a twist of intent)
      • Initiator's player chooses a Condition to impose on the subject that makes sense within the context of the scenario.
  9. Forcing Doors
    1. State character's goals and approach and roll immediately
    2. Current number of Doors applies as a penalty to dice roll
    3. If successful, proceed to resolution as normal.
    4. Failure renders subject immune to further efforts at Social Maneuvering from that character.
    5. Hard Leverage that requires character to suffer a breaking point removes one Door (if modifier is -1 or -2) or two Doors (-3 or more)
  10. Influencing Groups
    1. Requires Excellent level impression or forcing Doors
    2. ST determines Doors using highest Resolve and Composure in group, also 3 Aspirations, a Virtue, a Vice, and relative integrity.
    3. Most members will abide by the roll.
  11. Successive Efforts
    1. After opening all Doors and resolving action's goal, may try to influence person or group again.
    2. Subsequent efforts begin with one fewer Door.
    3. If attempt failed or Hard Leverage was employed, add two Doors.
    4. Modifiers are cumulative, minimum 1 Door.
*See the book for more
I hope this helps
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Post by magus666 » Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:21 pm

Indeed. I think that the issue of FORCING Doors might need to be examined. This is an area that COULD, from the way it is written, be badly abused by PCs with very high dice pools for Social Maneuvering. Die pool penalties just usually can't keep up with the kind of pools PCs manage to accumulate. "Oh, you have 5 doors that prevent me from talking you into committing this horrible act? Well...Ill just subtract 5 from my dice pool of 20...." Now THAT would be a problem, yes. That is an area where it might be necessary to can't do that to another PC. You CAN use Hard Leverage though.
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Post by praetor » Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:30 am

his is an area that COULD, from the way it is written, be badly abused by PCs with very high dice pools for Social Maneuvering
How, is this any different form people abusing physical combat pools???

That's not really a relevant argument. Least not that portion. Anyone can legitimately abuse anything with the right high die pools.
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Post by Xyld » Sun Apr 10, 2016 9:37 am

I agree with Praetor, no one is complaining about a Physical-based Werewolf's ability to potentially tear through an opponent on the first round of combat before anyone can act. I do think there are potential tweaks that can be made to the system to keep things a little more fair, but a giant-ass die-pool is always going to do what a giant-ass die pool is going to do.

Personally, I knew a pretty, young actress who worked with Kerry Washington who gave up certain success and a bright future to join a cult. Go figure.

1. This system is fairly simple and assumes that the interactions of two people remain between two people and will be inviolate. That does not reflect how a MMO-chat or the real world works. PCs talk to each other about all kinds of crap, especially in coffee shop situations. That potentially gives people the ability to convince others out of something they have been "forced" or "coerced" into doing (if it hasn't happened already). What happens if two characters successfully Maneuver the same person into doing two different things that can only have one outcome?

How would tracking all of this happen? I don't know. It certainly adds a level of complexity to the process and potential for abuse.

2. Mentors might not do much mechanically in this game, but in CofD they have a greater effect by allowing PCs access to dots they might not normally have? The STs might not have time to play this out, but perhaps mechanically by touching base with a Mentor might allow a bit of rational thought to seep into a character's brain? As a use of that background, maybe remove a number of Doors per dot or somehow modify the results of something that is clearly NOT in the character's (or the Mentor's) long-term interest?

3. Perhaps a clash of wills to initiate Social Maneuvering in the first place? I've shut the door on the faces of Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and salespeople before, but I've also allowed some to make their pitch against my will. That could save a lot of time and effort.
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Post by Xyld » Sun Apr 10, 2016 10:15 am

Just a few more thoughts....

4. No house-ruling needed to spend a WP to boost the lower of the Resistance traits to give an extra Door or two for a lob-sided character. This assumes the character will spend WP through the entire process.

5. Using powers to open Doors (as opposed to merits) affects characters mental processes. This means that mental shields and the like would defend against such a thing. I don't know the rules for such things at the moment, but I imagine that there would be a clash of wills or something mechanical going on.

6. Just being able to sense Supernatural influence is being exerted over a person could potentially ruin the chances of that power working (according to the rules). True "mind-control" powers would not be affected, but powers that open Doors could trigger 7B from my outline. Wits + Empathy or Subterfuge vs. Manipulation + Subterfuge to detect if that trigger of Unseen Senses or the equivalent determines if the person is being Supernaturally swayed.

7. PCs should be immune to Influencing a group.
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Post by magus666 » Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:28 pm

Well, the issue with Forcing Doors is the one that started this whole discussion in the first place - I think. Social Maneuvering is NOT Mind Control. The rules for Social Maneuvering, make convincing someone to do something that they probably wouldn't want to do possible, but difficult and time consuming. Forcing Doors on the other hand, is just - huh??
Honestly, I am reading out of the original GMC book so perhaps the rules for Forcing Doors have been modified or at least clarified a bit. But what I am seeing says - if you don't want to wait for Opening Doors the normal way, you can try to force them. Unfortunately it doesn't say HOW this occurs (since, although Hard Leverage is a topic under it, it is totally different mechanics). Nevertheless, it says -
When forcing Doors, state your character’s goal and her
approach and then roll immediately. The current number
of Doors applies as a penalty to the dice roll. If successful,
proceed to resolution as normal.

Now, unless I am completely misreading that, that means that if you are successful (IE, 1 or more suxx) ALL Doors are opened, since you are now going to the resolution stage, where the subject either can do what you ask, or offer an alternative. SO....we have a theoretical PC who has 15 dice in their pool. (Note: I dont know if this IS a reasonable number, but given the way players stack abilities, attributes, merits, etc. who knows?) They walk up to the negotiator at the peace summit and say to the negotiator - "hey, take this gun and shoot those two delegates in the head, ok?" Our negotiator has Resolve and Composure 5, his Virtue is Pacifism, etc. So...lets say he has TEN Doors to open. Well.... the PC's pool of 15 minus 10 is still 5 dice, pretty good odds of getting at least 1 suxx, and the guy saying - "Yanno, thats a great idea!"
THAT is nothing short of Mind Control, and is the issue we were trying to avoid.
Of course, depending on how these things are working, maybe the PC's CAN'T get pools that high WITHOUT resorting to supernatural abilities (A mage boosting their Manipulation attribute to ungodly levels, or something like that) and under those circumstances, maybe that is not TOTALLY unreasonable.
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Post by Mephi » Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:16 pm

There is a reason that its called Forcing Doors. Because its Not Nice. You're using force of some kind. Maybe physical force, threat of job loss from having higher status in the company, blackmail, something. Every example of Forcing Doors in every book involves the use of cooersion in some way. All magical powers that use Forcing Doors involves being scary or threats of some kind. You don't go up to someone and ask them nicely, and then call it a Forcing Door maneuver. You actually have to be forceful. In your example, you're literally using the same approach as someone using Soft Leverage to convince, but somehow calling it Forcing Doors for some strange reason. That just doesn't make sense. I mean, in the above example the target doesn't even ask "Why would I do that?" We need interaction - this is a two way street of give and take, not a single line.

Because, lets be realistic. In fact, we HAVE to be realistic. The very first paragraphs of the Social Manevering system talks about how if a maneuver isn't plausable, then it simply doesn't happen. Its a flat out "no!" So, if you take approaches that don't make sense, then there's every right to say that it simply doesn't work. Would you allow someone to build a car if they didn't have the proper tools or parts? Of course not. Cause lethal damage in combat without a weapon or a FS that allows it? Of course not. This is no different - you need to actually have a reason.

Furthermore, just because it happens in one roll doesn't mean that its suddenly mind control. We still have the fact that you get to pick to either follow along, or take a Condition that you don't have to follow. Time was never the factor that kept Social Maneuvering balanced. Its the fact that players have a choice once the roll is completed.