The General Idea
The system is built upon a few main ideas. Namely, that:
Motivated conversation is preceded and bounded by Reaction Checks. The check is used to see if the motivated part of conversation should continue. Reaction Checks are basically DC checks, with the DC being pulled around as in tug-of-war with the players’ conversation.
To tug around the DC, characters have social Sway, Aspects, and Vulnerabilities. Sway and Aspects are used to pull the conversation in the direction you want. However, Aspects are a double-edged sword in that a clever speaker can take advantage of them to pull the conversation in a direction you don’t want.
Motivated conversation happens in character, with the players rolling Reaction Checks at pivotal moments of the conversation, and passing around tokens for the rest of the conversation. The tokens represent tugs on the DC.
- people enter conversations with one or more motives, and no one wants to fail to achieve these motives but may be willing to compromise
- by nature, people tend to either push for their motives or negotiate for them
Charisma Modifier: Hidden Depths of Character – Any Charisma modifier is split up into two pools: Impact and Sway. All characters and monsters can only use a maximum modifier of +10 for Sway, with the remainder going into Impact. Starting characters divvy their natural Charisma modifier between the two pools as they want, but the choice is permanent. The division will occur for monsters and NPCs too, and may be different from monster to monster even within the same species. For example, a Beholder (Monsters Manual) has a natural Cha mod of +2. Any particular Beholder may have the modifier split up as:
All characters cannot go below the minimums of: Impact (-4), Sway (-4), and Impact+Sway (-4). Anything less and the character becomes catatonic per the normal rules of Ability Damage. If your character suffers Ability Damage to Charisma, you choose which pool it affects.
Impact – Impact is how heavily you affect other people based on pure impression alone. This can be due to appearance and mannerisms, but it represents something more primal. Across cliques, cultures and species, the effect of Impact becomes more unpredictable. It is typically used only once for any new person you meet, during the Reaction Check (with exceptions being if, for example, the person loses their memory or you are disguised well.)
Sway – Sway indicates your ability to move people over to your point of view. Unlike Impact, which loses power over time, Sway becomes more powerful the longer people interact, and can work across species and cultures. Choosing to divvy a point of Cha-mod into Sway (instead of Impact) has an additional XP cost, even for beginning characters. By allowing your character to start with < +0 Sway, you gain additional XP.
Aspects – An Aspect is both a social strength and vulnerability. An Aspect is a personality trait of the character, and must be described using an adjective and a . Some Aspects are active, meaning the character must make use of it to cause an influence; e.g. Persuasive. Others are passive, meaning they can cause an influence without the character’s intentional use, though they can also be used intentionally as well; e.g. Beautiful. Aspects can be
Vulnerabilities – A social vulnerability is anything that an opposing character can take advantage of. Vulnerabilities aren’t necessarily weaknesses. They can include any needs, wants, genuine social limitations, or even personality traits of the “victim”. For example: thirst, lust, shyness, and fear of snakes are all vulnerabilities. So too are any beliefs, opinions, and knowledges (or lack thereof) of the victim.
- Impact (-1) Sway (+3)
- Impact (+0) Sway (+2)
- Impact (+1) Sway (+1)
- Impact (+2) Sway (+0)
- Impact (+3) Sway (-1)
- Impact (+4) Sway (-2)
Reaction Check – The Reaction Check is rolled after an attempt to open the lines of communication with another character. It is basically a DC check, with the roll being:
The modifiers on the left are for the character attempting to initiate conversation, and the modifiers on the right are for the character being talked to. Meeting or beating the check means the other character is at least listening, though whether they acknowledge it is another matter.
Sway Check –
System Creation Notes
A few qualities of the system I want right off the bat. In any social situation, with the *sole* exception of spell domination (such as a charm spell), the player has the final say in the character’s choices. This is in the spirit of Simon’s “do not take away a player’s ability to play” concept. In our game, there should be little to no actual domination spells, but there can be plenty of ‘nudge’ spells that simply alter a character’s functioning in social encounters, somewhat.
Social domain, what is it? It’s about COMMUNICATION. There are six elements in a successful communication exchange.
5) Communication Medium