Games of Social Conflict

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Games of Social Conflict

Postby Michael Hopcroft » Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:15 pm

What are good ways to handle things in True20 when the pricnipal conflicts in a campaign are social rather than physical? Some examples would be the intrigues of a royal court, a camapignb centered around higgh-stakes rivalries in a profession (such as the struggle for leadership in a suddenly-decaptiated organzied crime organization, or a campaign where it is of enormous signficance to find out who is the best chess player in the world), or the romantic struggles and intrigues of a presticious school.
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Re: Games of Social Conflict

Postby Jonathan Moyer » Fri Jan 06, 2006 6:35 pm

Michael Hopcroft wrote:What are good ways to handle things in True20 when the pricnipal conflicts in a campaign are social rather than physical? Some examples would be the intrigues of a royal court, a camapignb centered around higgh-stakes rivalries in a profession (such as the struggle for leadership in a suddenly-decaptiated organzied crime organization, or a campaign where it is of enormous signficance to find out who is the best chess player in the world), or the romantic struggles and intrigues of a presticious school.

I think your best bet would be to look into the Dramatic Conflict rules in Spycraft 2.0 and base your social conflicts off that.
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Postby Dragonspawn » Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:20 pm

Roleplaying will obviously take on a very important roll in such campaigns.

I also reccommend checking out Atlas Games "Dynasties and Demagogues" as an excellent source book on courtly intrigue and political struggles.

Green Ronin's "Advanced Classes: The Noble" is also handy for that kind of campaign.

Blue Rose might also give you some good ideas for a romance/courtly intrigue type game.

Also, I highly reccomend you read over rich burlew's alternate rules for the diplomacy skill here:
http://www.giantitp.com/Func0010.html

Within the True20 rulebook itself you have lots of options... be sure to make maximum use of feats like "Well Informed", "Master Plan", "Inspire", "Suggestion", "Taunt", "Leadership", "Contacts", and "Connected".

Also remember the "bluff" skill can be used for seduction.
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Postby aaronil » Sat Jan 07, 2006 11:07 am

Good answers, I agree wholeheartedly.

I am curious, how do you handle social conflict now? And how do you feel that True20 isn't working to run an exciting social conflict?

Social conflict has more specific and variable goals than combat or a chase scene. Thus, what constitutes the end game is very much decided by the various sides involved in the conflict.

In a combat you are trying to subdue, buy time, train, teach, or even murder. In a chase you are trying to get away, distract, catch, or overtake (as in a race).

In a social conflict, you could be trying to heal a madman, seize the reins of leadership, get others to do your dirty work, win a political debate, court case, or other contest, court your beloved, sow distrust in a community, etc. The goals are very much player-defined.

I think a social conflict should always start with a discussion of the end-game and the consequences for failure. Here's an example:

Aaron (Narrator): Ok, so last session your reputation was totally smeared by that dastardly scribe, and your relations with your fiance's family totally ruined. Arasteh (the fiance) is in tears. Should you ever appear in her father's court (her father is a qadi - a judge) again, he certainly will give you your eternal reward.

Jarett (playing Rafiqi): That scribe so has it coming to him, but for now I'm content repairing my relations with Arasteh's father. That's a social conflict, right?

Aaron: Yeah, between you and Namvar al-Qadi. Namvar's goal is to make sure his daughter marries into a noble family and is promised a good future, all the better if her future husband is pious and scholarly. What's Rafiqi's goal?

Jarett: I want to repair my good name, at least with Namvar and the rest of Arasteh's family. Who knows, the qadi is fairly influential, maybe word will get around that I'm not a crook?

Aaron: Well, you are a crook, aren't you?

Jarett: That's beside the point!

Aaron: Right now you are notorious (see Reputation rules). It sounds like you want to restore your fame, and also to improve the attitude of Arasteh's family toward you, right? So, now let's decide on the consequences.

At this point, the opposing parties decide the consequences of their rival's failure. Thus, Jarett decides what happens if the qadi fails, and Aaron decides when happens if Rafiqi fails.

Jarett: OK, if the qadi fails he is so ashamed of having been swayed by the popular hype about that he decides to invite me over for dinner and gives me preferential access to Arasteh over her other suitor.

Aaron:Sounds good. If Rafiqi fails the qadi has had it up to here with his conniving and bluffing, and forbids Rafiqi from ever setting foot in his house again or from speaking with Arasteh. Agreed?

Jarett: Agreed!

Aaron: OK, now let's play out a critical scene.

A critical scene is a snap-shot of the larger social conflict at the height of its drama. Thus, Namvar has just found some of Rafiqi's love poems to Arasteh right when Rafiqi arrives. Depending on Rafiqi's succeess or failure, he gains a bonus/penalty to his check.

Aaron: The qadi was like putty in your hands. You could talk the leaves off a tree in summer time! You've got a +4 bonus on your Diplomacy check.

They make opposed Diplomacy checks, and Jarett wins. Thus he gets to make a short monologue of victory describing how the social conflit goes down.

Jarett: Rafiqi spins tale after tale of the misfortunes which have befallen him, tales which would make a hardened street orphan cry. He quotes the Qur'an on the virtues of forgiveness, and he deprecates himself in every way. For five days in a row he appears in the qadi's court accused of some insignificant crime by one of his accomplices, and each time he pleads, in his own defense, that he committed his actions out of love. The scam ends with it being revealed it was all an accident, and there was no criminal. At long last, after realizing the earnestness of Rafiqi's love for Arasteh, the qadi repents of his harsh judgment.
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Postby The Shadow » Mon Jan 09, 2006 2:30 pm

*raises brow* "That dastardly scribe"? I think I'm offended. ;)

This scene was especially funny to me given what Abdul's plans are upon meeting Namvar al-Qadi...
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

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Postby aaronil » Tue Jan 10, 2006 3:37 pm

Not you! The other dastardly scribe! :)
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Postby The Shadow » Tue Jan 10, 2006 5:58 pm

aaronil wrote:Not you! The other dastardly scribe! :)


Oh! That dastardly scribe!

The really funny thing is, the remark above is actually serious! :)
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

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Postby JongWK » Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:01 pm

Dynasties and Demagogues is a cool book, though it might have more crunch than expected.
My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
--Thomas Paine
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