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  • giorgis 10:52 pm on May 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    The Social Conflict Exchange 

    Most roleplaying games do not have in-depth mechanics for social interactions. In some, thought has been placed, and there are a few skills covering several types of interactions and even progress rolls, while in others it could be left out to a single personality attribute.
    This isn’t so much a problem in social tabletop RPGs where, there is a conversation between two different persons. One, the Game Master, emulating the NPC, and the other, the Player, emulating their PC.
    In solo roleplaying this missing link, is even more pronounced, since the GM and Player, both come down to the same person.
    While playing some crunchier combat systems I noticed, that sometimes, the increased effort to run them, payed off, as there was ample narrative feedback.
    So this is an attempt, to create a social interactions mechanics framework, to drive the conversation, and maybe return interesting results in the process, while reducing mental effort and player bias.
    I was very much inspired by several topics discussed in Solo RPGs: Let’s Talk About Dialogues YouTube video by RPG Tips.

    Conflict, in the scope of this framework includes major social interactions, not petty squabbles or small talk. It’s what makes or break you. Consider the equivalent of combat, but with no swords drawn.
    You try to convince someone, questioning their beliefs, lie to them about a fundamental truth or scare one into betraying their own.

    There are three dispositions with two ends of the spectrum each.
    (Defiance/Fear)
    (Hate/Love)
    (Suspicion/Trust)

    The Levels for each disposition go from 1 to 6 for Defiance to Fear, Hate to Love and Suspicion to Trust. You can write them down, but I recommend using three different colored six-side dice to represent each value as it changes through the exchange.
    I’d suggest Black for Fear, Red for Love and White for Trust, but go with whatever dice colors you have.

    Examples:

    • A town guard captain searching for fugitives in the player’s description could have the following dispositions: Trust 1, Love 3, Fear 3.
    • A fellow street urchin who saw their escape could have the following disposition: Trust 5, Love 4, Fear 2.
    • A civilian who doesn’t want to be bothered in case they find trouble, and is scared of meeting outlaws could have the following disposition: Trust 2, Fear 4, Love 3.

    Level 3,4 borders on indifference.
    Level 2,5 has strong feelings.
    Level 1,6 is a major driver. It’s what dictates the NPC’s actions towards the protagonist.

    You can choose the level of each disposition, roll randomly (1d6), or even hide it and reveal it afterwards to decrease metagaming. In that last option, you can also try to ‘read’ the disposition through the use of a skill such as perception (see further below).

    Some game systems have specialized social skills, while others could be so broad as to even have just a generic social attribute. In any case, depending on the success or failure of the attempted skill, and by how much (critical/marginal), the dispositions are modified by one level, as defined in the table below.

    ActionConCharmPersuasionIntimidation
    CS+L+L+T+F
    MS+L,-T+L,-T+T,-L+F,-L
    MF-T-L-T-F
    CF-L,-T-L,-F-T,-F-F,-L

    So a marginally successful charm attempt would both increase the Love disposition but also decrease Trust. Whereas a failed charm attempt would decrease the Love disposition.

    The exchange ends, whenever a disposition reaches (or remains at) level 1 dictating failure or level 6, dictating success. If the result is contradicting, having both 1 and 6 at the same time, then its a draw, and another attempt must be made, until the number of successes doesn’t equal the number of failures.

    Examples:

    • The protagonist tries to Con the town guard captain that they saw the fugitives heading in another direction and fails. This means that Trust remains at 1, and the captain doesn’t fall for their ruse. He draws his sword and sounds the alarm.
    • The protagonist tries to Persuade the street urchin that if they help them escape, they will reward them, and they are successful, raising the Trust to 6. The street urchin decides to risk their skin and take them through the back alleys and lay low in his shack.
    • As they stumble upon the civilian, the protagonist draws his finger across his neck, while making a gesture to stay silent, Intimidating them successfully. Fear increases to 5 while Love decreases to 2. The civilian still considers his options. These guys look scary, but maybe his hatred for outlaws will outweigh his fear and he will sound the alarm.

    The dispositions changes are not necessarily long term.
    If for example the protagonist tried to Intimidate a close friend into abandoning their cause, and this reduced their Love, it could last only for a few days. Feeling hurt, heal over time, just like wounds in battle.
    Likewise, a conned guard who let the protagonist into the compound, won’t still have increased Love disposition once they find out the truth.

    Note:
    While performing the skills, do not forget to add any modifiers, according to the game system.
    A bribery attempt would have a bonus or penalty according to the bribe. A persuasion attempt to a close friend would have a bonus. An intimidation attempt when you are outgunned would have a penalty.

    Reducing metagaming:
    If the player knows beforehand the dispositions of the target NPC, then they can choose which skill to use or avoid the social exchange altogether, thus giving them an unfair advantage.
    To reduce this advantage do the following:

    • Before starting any exchange, do a Perception or relative roll, to see if the protagonist can ‘read’ the target’s intentions. Apply any modifiers.
    • If successful, then either decide the disposition, roll randomly, or ask the Oracle. In any case, you know. Optionally, depending on the level of success, you may know only one or two of the three dispositions.
    • If unsuccessful, or partially successful, then if you decide to go ahead with the social exchange, then, run the first round of the exchange, and roll/ask the Oracle for the dispositions afterwards. This way, there is an extra risk involved. It’s implied that after exchanging a few words, you have understood what their disposition is.

    Now I need to playtest these rules, and post the results. I’m thinking a high diplomacy, low combat one-shot.

     
    • Manfred 10:14 am on October 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Hi,
      Interesting approach. Have you playtested it and posted the results somewhere?
      Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • giorgis 5:20 pm on October 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Hi,
        Unfortunately I haven’t playtested it. It’s something that’s been sitting in the back of my head but never gotten around to doing it. My current MERP sessions are combat-heavy so I don’t know if I’ll be able to squeeze it in.

        Like

        • Manfred 10:33 pm on October 6, 2020 Permalink

          OK, no worries. Let us know when you get round to it.

          Liked by 1 person

  • giorgis 9:12 pm on May 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    The Wardens of Gahyrst. Ep01. 

    It’s been some time now that I got the solo wargame Five Leagues From The Borderlands. I wanted to try it a while now, I think this is the right time.
    I have a nice bunch of fantasy 15mm minis to start with. I also want a change of pace with regards to my regular solo roleplaying. Something different that requires less brain effort.

    Since I’m a sucker for story continuity I will use Evie’s company as my band of heroes, with extra followers.

    Heroes

    Name Evie Gustav Rudiger Ardus
    Agility 1 1 1 2
    Speed 5 4 5 5
    Combat Skill 0 0 0 0
    Toughness 4 4 3 3
    Will 1
    Luck 2
    Skills Library Leadership,Parry
    Weapons Long Bow, Dagger Sword Bastard Sword Bastard Sword
    Armor Light Armor Light Armor Full Armor, Helmet, Shield Partial Armor
    Notes Avatar Retainer

    Followers

    Name
    Nature Outcast Drifter Roving Wanderer Stout Yeoman Angry Villager
    Skill
    Weapons Sword Self Bow, Dagger War Axe Staff
    Armor Militia Armor Light Armor
    Notes Witch Slayer

    Gold Marks 12
    Medicinal Herbs 2
    Story Points 1

    Evie and her company returned to her hometown of Eerfeld. There, she found that her father, Baron Vogel, had been summoned to the capital months ago, never to be heard from again.
    The manor was derelict. The villagers scared. Bandits and brigands roam the countryside. Orc and goblin marauders cross the river ever so often and an uneasy chill clouded the people’s hearts and minds as dark forces stir in the shadows.
    No one is willing to pay allegiance to the Vogel name.
    In an effort to restore peace and prosperity to the region and her family name to its former glory, Evie has reinstated the Wardens of Gahyrst.
    Her close compatriots stand with her, Gustav and Rudiger, joined by Ardus, her father’s steward still guarding the ruined manor.
    Four more brave souls have joined her, answering the call to drive off evil from the land.

    Current village: Eerfeld (3,2,3)
    Village 2: (1,1,1)
    Village 3: (3,3,3)

    Turn 1

    Swindled: Lose 4 Gold
    Study: Success: Evie: Medicine
    Labor: 2 Gold
    Adventuring: Roadside & Combat Encounter
    Roadside: Hunter: Unfriendly: Corruption: +1 Dark Secrets
    Combat: Outlaws: Renegades: Encounter while traveling
    Number: 8+Sergeant (+1 Toughness), 2 Bowmen
    Terrain: Distance 13″, Overgrown Ruins
    Initiative: 6: –

    A peddler runs his cart on the village of Eerfeld. “Talismans! Protect yourselves from evil”
    “Look! Look what I bought” the so called witch slayer, essentially an outcast drifter says to Vogel. “This magical garlic scented bird cage can keep vampires at bay!”
    Evie looks with disdain. “How… much did you pay for it?”
    “4 gold marks my lady” He answers.
    Evie takes it to return to the peddler, but he’s nowhere to be seen.
    “You’ll work the fields to make up for the money you cost us.” She tells the outcast. “I’ll be at the old church library, see if we can find something useful.”
    Her efforts proved fruitful as she found passages explaining how to perform healing.

    On their way, they meet with what seems to be hunter. He has strapped a bow over his cloak, and a big skinning blade hangs without a scabbard, from his belt.
    As they cross paths, an uneasy feeling overwhelms Evie. She can’t tell if it’s the stinking dirty visage of the man or the way he met her gaze, but something struck her as off. It’s not only after he has vanished from her line of sight that she recomposes his image. He was carrying a bag dripping with blood and the blade had dark dried blood all over it. She would have asked him to stop and show his bag, but now he’s gone. How could she have missed it? What clouded her mind?

    Combat
    Due to the miniatures at hand I switched the Renegades with goblins. It was pretty arbitrary, but I can live with it for now.

    The wardens heard sinister laughter from ruins near the road. Carefully they go to investigate, only to fall upon a band of goblins.
    Soon swords are unseathed, bowstrings drawn and combat ensues.
    Evie cast an arrow, hitting its target, but it pierced through cloth, missing flesh.
    Two spearmen charged, one at Evie and one at Rudiger. Evie used her sword skill to push him aside, while Rudiger, with sheer strength manages to break of the greenskin’s guard and hit him with his blade.
    An arrow hits Rudiger, but doesn’t pierce his heavy armor. Another one hits Evie in the chest.
    As the two opposing groups come together, closing in on the ruins, Ardus dispatched a goblin, while Evie, clutching her chest, falls to the ground…

    A handful of minutes later, the fight is over. Rudiger, covered in blood stands by Ardus. He wipes of his blade and seathes it. The angry villager who had joined them is the only other man standing. Rudiger thinks he should ask his name, but now he must tend to his fallen comrades, and first of all, Evie.

    aftermath

    I roll on the aftermath tables.

    Evie: Serious Wound. I use medical herbs: Dead. I use Lucky Break.
    Gustav: Knocked out.
    Outcast Drifter: Dead.
    Roving Wanderer: Knocked out.
    Stout Yeoman: Knocked out.

    Found: victims: receive 3 Gold Marks
    Items: Warhammer, Pistol
    Threat reduced by 1

    Rudiger tends to Evie’s arrow wound with some green moss, but the Angry Villager intervenes.
    “Stop it! You’ll kill her. That doesn’t go on cuts! Only on bruises.” It is only by sheer luck that the leader of the wardens survived.
    Most of the group is back in fighting shape. Their wounds superficial. Except the outcast drifter, the witch slayer. He didn’t make it, and the warband made a proper grave to put him in.
    Ardus scoured through the ruins only to find the corpses belonging to the victims of the goblins. He took some private possessions found to return them to the families. Among the loot was a Warhammer and a pistol. A very useful weapon.
    As they return to the village, and give the victims possessions to their families, some villagers offer a few gold marks to the adventurers as gratitude for giving them closure.

    End of first Campaign Turn


    Session Summary

    Had so much fun!
    The game flow was fast and easy. I mean yes, I had to go back and forth between some rules and tables, but after repeating a few times, I got the hang of it and could run the combat without much trouble.
    I actually intended to write down the actual play in detail, but I got so carried away that I didn’t want to stop my game to take notes, believing I could reconstruct the battle.
    I was so wrong. The flow may be fast, but so dense. There’s so much happening I can’t believe it can be resolved so quickly.
    On purpose I avoided optional rules. I want to learn the gropes before delving deeper. Also there’s so much food for narrative. All those random events. One could even run minirpg games there (e.g my roadside encounter), converting to their system of choice. Might do it in the future.
    The game is deadly but can be forgiving. Had to spend my one-off Lucky Break to avoid losing my avatar. Was lucky with the rest of the warband (3/4 just knocked out).
    My only gripes so far is the fact that I have it in a crappy office print. Its worth a proper printing. And also that I don’t have all my minis painted to run all possible scenarios!
    Now that I’ve settled on it, I need to roll some story about who or what Gahyrst is and maybe draw a map and name the villages.

     
  • giorgis 12:53 am on May 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Solipsism,   

    A monster’s bounty – A weird cyberpunk fantasy adventure – S1E05 

    Brief summary: Lt. Athen Smarte is a Hunter. Solitary warriors who hunt down and dispatch warp monsters. In the last session she was assigned a mission to recover data from an abandoned Hunter base before the corporate antagonists got to them. She’s on site, supported by a hired hacker.

    I just discovered solipsism which may be the key to unlock my adventure in this vaguely defined setting. I’m going to give it a go, and run this mission with this.
    For the Oracle, I will use solipsism’s oracle. If I feel confident, I may include False Presuppositions at double digits (11,22,33…) and Interventions from MUNE counting at +2 results.

    I’m going to use the Chart 4, for a faster mission.
    Defining the 4 Features
    A – Ocano Point Base Gate (start here)
    B – Barracks
    C – Armory
    D – Offices

    Defining the 6 elements
    a – Mission Data
    b – Mao Hsai Goons
    c – Goblins
    d – Alarm
    e – Weapon
    f – Corpses

    I start randomly at 0403

    0403
    Go To: A (5750)
    knowledge 0

    5750
    A
    Elements
    7727 requires blue key
    Outgoing Paths
    B (6897) 0

    I decide that there is some chance to gather some information about the site and find out if it has been used (knowledge adjective). Athen will roll her survival.

    Athen: Survival (d6): Success+
    Q: Are there any sings of goblin use? (Extremely Likely): 94: Exceptional Yes

    Athen and Quinn are at the gatehouse gathering information. The base has been abandoned for so long, but there are some signs of use. Athen looks under the pile of dirt in the corner, and she discovers steel arrows and arrowheads. Barbed and crooked.
    “Goblins” she mutters, and braces her sidearm, signaling Quinn to keep his head low.
    The nearest building they can get to without risking being caught in the open is the barracks, so they make a path to it.

    6897
    Go To: B (9647)
    dark +1

    The adjective is dark and the modifier is +1. I suppose that the darkness gives them plenty of cover. They have a +2 to their stealth rolls.

    9647
    B
    Elements
    b identity +2
    e occult -1
    Outgoing Paths
    9895 +1

    The elements are Mao Hsai Goons with an Identity adjective at a modifier of +2 for Athen, and the Weapon with an occult adjective at a modifier of -1 for Athen.
    I’ll check the Outgoing path after I have played out the scene.
    So the weapon is something occult related, and the -1 modifier, makes me think it’s possibly cursed. In my mind this fits to be a goblin curved sword.

    I’m not quite sure about the goons, so I’ll ask the oracle
    Q: Are the goons alive?
    A: Yes

    As Athen and Quinn enter the barracks under the cover of darkness, they see flashes of light, coming from the far end. Someone is here. Athen peeks and sees some armed men, wearing corporate armor, looking around in the barracks. They are discussing about a curved wicked serrated blade that one of them is holding out.

    I could have Athen try to overhear them, but I think she won’t risk it. After all, her mission’s the data. They will try to sneak past them.

    Athen: Stealth (d6+2): Success+
    Quinn: Stealth (d4+2): Success

    9895
    Go To: D (4992)
    neglect -1

    Any Oracle questions in this part have a +1 modifier.

    Athen and Quinn sneak past the mercenaries, and reach what seem to be the old Okano Base offices. They seem neglected and in total disarray. Computers destroyed. Monitors trashed and keyboards missing all the keys.

    4992
    D
    Outgoing Paths
    9946 +2

    Quinn looks at all the trashed gear and shakes his head as he sees even the results of a fire. “I doubt there’s something usable here. Even if I could link up, the corruption here would be immense.”
    Athen nods. “Let’s keep looking. I don’t want to mess up because we failed to find a hidden terminal.

    9946
    Go To: C (4141)
    transformation 0

    The main adjective here is transformation. Interesting.

    4141
    C
    Elements
    f history 0
    ? alien -2
    Outgoing Paths
    5016 -2
    6971 0
    9056 0 requires a green key

    We’re at the armory. Element f is Corpses and the adjective is history, so this is pretty straightforward. Maybe when the base was abandoned, they didn’t have the time to abandon everything and some hunters stayed behind to gather weapons from the armory and they were caught by the enemy and killed.
    Now the ? is a random element with the alien adjective. I’m not thinking space aliens here, but something completely out of place.

    So there are four categories of elements, I’ll try first to narrow it down.
    I get description: rain, strange noises, an ocean breeze, radio signals.
    Portent: School

    The duo enter what seems to have been the armory. She flashes her torch around. No weapons here are useable anymore. They all are bent, broken or rusty.
    What stops them with mouths agape, is what they see in the center of the room. A pile of corpses, rotting, one on top of the other. On the walls at the far end, surrounding the pile, scripts written in blood cover a tapestry of made of skin. As if someone was trying to take notes in an unknown language.
    Athen had heard stories of orcs and goblin shamans who cast warp magic to have used an unknown alphabet.
    But what makes her want to puke her guts, is what they see further. Some corpses have been dissected in a brutal manner, while others seem to have more than two arms or legs, and they seem fused as if they were connected while their owners where still alive.
    Without thinking further, she grabs Quinn and gets out of, to the nearest door.

    I choose to follow 5016, even if it’s at -2.

    5016
    Dead End
    weak

    Instructions state that: Dead End
    Although there is a guaranteed Path to every location, some Paths lead nowhere. This is a
    \Dead End.” If you hit a Dead End, you go nowhere. You are free to interpret a Dead End
    any way you wish. You may wish to impose a consequence on your characters for hitting
    a Dead End. For example, upon hitting a Dead End, your characters must return to the
    beginning: \A”.

    I choose that some dark warp magic has affected them. They need to make Vigor rolls at -4 (due to the -2 modifier) to resist it.

    Both she and Quinn can barely walk out of the armory. Something in this place has really made their mind clouded. She feels so dizzy she stumbles outside.

    Athen: Vigor (d8): Success++
    Quinn: Vigor (d6): Success

    So I give them the chance to return to A.

    Weakened and dizzy, the duo returns to the gatehouse. They look at each other.
    “Did…did you feel that too?” Quinn asks.
    Athen nods. “It wasn’t just what we saw Quinn. The Orcs had some sinister magic at work here.”

    Q: Is Quinn willing to go back in?
    A: No

    So Athen will have to persuade him.
    Athen: Persuasion (d4): Failure

    “Come, let’s go.” She gets her head back together and extends an arm to Quinn. He doesn’t take it and shakes his head. “I don’t care about the guild payment. I’m not going back in there. This was supposed to be a data snatch, not some occult ritual. I’m out of here Smarte. You’re on your own.”
    Seeing Quinn walk away, the Lt. knows she can’t grab the data on her own. She can only hope the orcs didn’t leave anything intact. She holsters her sidearm and walks away.

    Session Summary

    It was a short session, but a breath of fresh air! Solipsism is a quite different way to run an adventure, but I was amazed at the flow. Yes it’s quite linear, but there are many options and variations that allow modability to suit different ways of play.
    I really liked how I didn’t have to think too much to connect everything together, as the Master Table did all the work for me.
    It’s a bit stronger on the narrative side, since it errs more on the side of CYOA gamebooks than freeform RPGs, but if one wishes they can start asking questions to the oracle to reduce it to a crunch.
    Also I was worried there was going to be metagaming involved, but the adventure ended without me finding half the elements, so they possibly could never have been there (the data or alarm for example).

     
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