Kessa
 member, 550 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Thu 31 May 2018
at 20:04
Die Rolls vs Free Will
I had a game I ran a while back where a player had a habit of trying to seduce every dynamic female character he ran across. This created some issues for me as a GM since my NPCs were pretty developed characters with their own life goals-- none of which usually involved waiting for the first stranger that talked pretty to them to take them home. Not that there weren't NPCs like that around-- he just didn't target them.

I was never really happy with how I chose to resolve that specific issue, so I'm curious how other people handle balancing rolls that affect another character's (PCs or NPCs) inherent agency?

This can be paralleled by instances where one PC rolls a nat 20 and then tells another PC they have to go jump off a cliff (or something equally ridiculous) that won't kill them, but certainly doesn't make any sense for them to personally do.

Does a high enough roll win out regardless of how another character feels, or thinks?

Do you turn it into a process so it takes more than a single lucky roll to sway another character's convictions/ better judgement?

Do you just recast the context of the rolls?

Do you omit rolls all together and have them play it out? And then judge if it was worthy of capitulation?

Is it all just "part of the fun"?

Something else?
donsr
 member, 1321 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 20:20
Die Rolls vs Free Will
it would depend on how  deep your game is? I have  100s of NPCa,  and they all have their own  personalities.

 If you Game  has  RP worth having,  the PC's  action and  the way they come off in posts, should  effect the   NPC's reactions... sure?  Dice rolls   could be there for   those   'extreme' chances, but  for RP games, the PCs  should  have  to work for it.

 PC   with PC? that's different , the players have to  work that out.
Nintaku
 member, 598 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 20:26
Die Rolls vs Free Will
It's an inherent misunderstanding of how diplomacy/persuasion rolls work in most RPGs. I've seen very few instances in which success on a persuasion check makes a character do what you want. Most often, what I see is persuasion checks modifying a character's Attitude trait. Usually it goes something like:

Hostile <-> Unfriendly <-> Indifferent <-> Friendly <-> Helpful

If they don't want to do something, they just won't, unless either you're threatening them with harm and have the ability to make them think you're willing and able, or if they really really want you to like them and are thus willing to put themselves through things they wouldn't otherwise do to please you. If PC Steve is trying to seduce NPC Nah, then his successful persuasion check might increase her disposition from Indifferent to Helpful (usually the result of a critical success on these matters), but if she has no reason to go to bed with him, she can still refuse. She'll just shoot him down gently. On the other hand, NPC Nope might be brought from Indifferent to Helpful from the roll, then the suggestion of getting a room might make her drop to Friendly, or even Unfriendly, depending on her personality, how she was approached, etc.

I have never, in twenty years, seen anyone run like this but me. But the D20 system and Savage Worlds are both built like this, at the very least. I remember there were a bunch of others, but I don't have enough books on hand to check more systems immediately. You may want to delve deep into your game's system to see how their persuasion rules really work, and thus see if your PCs can force their will with the roll of dice, or if your NPCs are allowed to be their own people.
Eur512
 member, 780 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 20:35
Die Rolls vs Free Will
When players are trying to use diplomacy rolls to convince and NPC, I assign a difficulty based on the pre-existing ideals and values.   Since these are often unspoken, they don't get to know the difficulty but may deduce it by interacting with the NPC.

This can work for anything from seduction to attempting to negotiate a military alliance.

Consider among those values and ideals certain pluses and minuses based on the status of the character- is the PC a kinsman?  Belongs to the same cultural group?  Occupying a position of trust?  Is there prejudice involved- "I don't respond to requests from THOSE people, ever!"

With values and ideals, consider also, "red lines"- some people will not do certain things no matter what.  An NPC might be the "death first!" type who would never take a bribe to betray the kingdom.  Or seduction wise, might consider "facial hair" or possibly "a lack of facial hair" to be an absolute no-go turnoff.  Doesn't matter what the character rolls if the pre-existing value is "not gonna happen".

For complex issues it might be stepped- that is, the first roll is just to get the NPC to consider considering it, and it might take several more to get where the PC wants to be.
evileeyore
 member, 91 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Thu 31 May 2018
at 20:39
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Nintaku:
I have never, in twenty years, seen anyone run like this but me. But the D20 system and Savage Worlds are both built like this, at the very least. I remember there were a bunch of others, but I don't have enough books on hand to check more systems immediately.

GURPS also runs this way.  You just shift disposition, you don't mind control someone via a social skill.

Unless the skill is literally Mind Control.  I mean then, yeah, mind control away.
Kessa
 member, 551 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Thu 31 May 2018
at 20:58
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Nintaku:
It's an inherent misunderstanding of how diplomacy/persuasion rolls work in most RPGs. I've seen very few instances in which success on a persuasion check makes a character do what you want. Most often, what I see is persuasion checks modifying a character's Attitude trait. Usually it goes something like:

Hostile <-> Unfriendly <-> Indifferent <-> Friendly <-> Helpful

If they don't want to do something, they just won't, unless either you're threatening them with harm and have the ability to make them think you're willing and able, or if they really really want you to like them and are thus willing to put themselves through things they wouldn't otherwise do to please you.


I'm familiar with this and I've used it a fair amount, but I still wind up with (in this instance) a player who wanted to know how many times he had to make ridiculous rolls to get someone to go home with him and how mechanically he should have already reached that point x# rolls ago. Probably, this is due largely to the neglect of the social interaction improvement scale you note in other games he'd been in, but it still creates a perceived difficulty of showing "fairness" where die rolls are concerned. Which really leads into what you and Eur512 are talking about...

Eur512:
With values and ideals, consider also, "red lines"- some people will not do certain things no matter what.  An NPC might be the "death first!" type who would never take a bribe to betray the kingdom.  Or seduction wise, might consider "facial hair" or possibly "a lack of facial hair" to be an absolute no-go turnoff.  Doesn't matter what the character rolls if the pre-existing value is "not gonna happen".


Having to reinforce that, no, there are somethings that this character just isn't going to do no matter what you roll. But, if characters are built with doing that one thing in mind, is that in some way cheating that character out of something?
NowhereMan
 member, 212 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 21:03
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
quote:
But, if characters are built with doing that one thing in mind, is that in some way cheating that character out of something?


No. If a character was built around stabbing things with a sword, would it be cheating them out of something should they encounter an enemy they could not stab?
gladiusdei
 member, 692 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 21:07
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
I understand your feeling of difficulty.  It seems unfair on the surface to tell a socially focused character with a +30 persuasion he can't convince the young woman in front of him to like him.


But, in reality, it is fair.  Like Nowhereman said above me,  The game is designed to allow heroes to overcome difficulties, but those abilities always have limits.  No one can accomplish everything they set out to do, and often in thesocial areas of many rpgs, people expect to be able to do things they can't really do.

Characters, and players, like this actually frustrate the heck out of me.  Especially when their social skill use makes the entire party sit and wait while the character attempts to accomplish everything by talking.  Its really disruptive to gamesand like D&D, and shadowrun.  It doesn't help that it was the overwhelming majority of character types I'd get applying to my games.

Ultimately,you can either just put your root down and say no, you can't seduce every woman you meet, or you can throw out a few intentional sacrificial NPCs and guide him toward them.  Maybe that would soften the blow.


Or have him seduce a jealous underworld crime boss who sends agents to drag him back to her, or a succubus who wants to feed on him forever.  Make him second guess his tendencies.
biscuit
 member, 32 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 21:12
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Or let him have his way but fade to black, so he gets what he wants but finds it unrewarding.

But make it quick and short. Either yes or no on the first try and then move on.

Make it too easy and it becomes boring.
Kessa
 member, 552 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Thu 31 May 2018
at 21:14
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
NowhereMan:
quote:
But, if characters are built with doing that one thing in mind, is that in some way cheating that character out of something?


No. If a character was built around stabbing things with a sword, would it be cheating them out of something should they encounter an enemy they could not stab?

Is it dissimilar from someone stabbing a dragon (something by all rights you should be able to stab) with absurd damage and then being upset that they did no damage, because it's only really vulnerable to spells? In theory it should work, but behind the scenes reasons dictate that it doesn't. Again, just coming back to the perception of "fairness," from the player's perspective. I don't disagree, but it does get ugly with players who don't track with what you're saying, or why. Or, how it's not just a random choice you've made to deny them something they feel they've earned.
NowhereMan
 member, 213 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 21:18
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Well, if you're using a system where the diplomacy/persuasion rules work as written above, "earned" in that case means "willful ignorance of the rules", so their perception of what is fair is flawed in the first place. Like evileyore said above, persuasion isn't mind control.
Kessa
 member, 553 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Thu 31 May 2018
at 21:31
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
gladiusdei:
But, in reality, it is fair.  Like Nowhereman said above me,  The game is designed to allow heroes to overcome difficulties, but those abilities always have limits.  No one can accomplish everything they set out to do, and often in thesocial areas of many rpgs, people expect to be able to do things they can't really do. 

Yet, doing what you shouldn't be able to normally do is the lure of RPGs as a whole. You get to be someone you aren't and do things that you normally wouldn't do. So, does that diminish the lure and enjoyment of this medium of fun, by learning you still do have limitations even in excess of THE RULES?
gladiusdei:
Characters, and players, like this actually frustrate the heck out of me.  Especially when their social skill use makes the entire party sit and wait while the character attempts to accomplish everything by talking.  Its really disruptive to gamesand like D&D, and shadowrun.  It doesn't help that it was the overwhelming majority of character types I'd get applying to my games.

I don't mind them taking time to talk and RP things, but it's when it gets to the point where the rest of the group can already tell you how the exchange is going to go and takes bets on how much of their time the argument about it is going to take, that irritates me.

gladiusdei:
Ultimately,you can either just put your root down and say no, you can't seduce every woman you meet, or you can throw out a few intentional sacrificial NPCs and guide him toward them.  Maybe that would soften the blow.


Or have him seduce a jealous underworld crime boss who sends agents to drag him back to her, or a succubus who wants to feed on him forever.  Make him second guess his tendencies.

I do like both those ideas for that specific situation! ]:)

But in in the larger scope, say "no," but provide other options/ outlets where they can use whatever ability and succeed to their expectations? To help mitigate the malcontent?
gladiusdei
 member, 693 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 21:34
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Honestly, it sounds like you're dealing with one specific player who refuses to listen,  my advice would be to just talk to him straight.  Say that this isn't how the system works, and his actions really take away from the enjoyment of the game for everyone else, especially you.  If he still refuses to listen, then just say no and tell him to deal with it.

If he's amenable to the alternate targets of his constant affection, then that might be a solution.

This message was last edited by the user at 21:35, Thu 31 May.

engine
 member, 607 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 21:46
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
The rules will not solve a situation like this. Nor will the GM simply putting their foot down.

You need to talk to this played about what the two of you want out of the game, and talk about it in specific terms. Just because the rules allow something, doesn't mean that thing is fun or interesting, or that everyone has to go along with it. Everyone at the table should be free to express what kind of game they want to play and what they want the players and characters to focus on. If there's a mismatch, then that needs to be resolved.

I find that stuff like this is about control. It happens with Diplomacy, Perception, huge defenses, unavoidable attacks, perfect Stealth and anything else that makes the character immune or able to ignore certain aspects of the game. There's a very good chance that the player simply wants the randomness and will of the GM and other players removed from that aspect of the game, as far as their character is concerned. Trying to prevent them from doing that by invoking rules or fiat will just drive them to obtain their control in other ways.

And I don't mean to imply that desiring that control is a bad thing. But there's no point in wrestling with a player over control of the game. Stop the game and talk to them. Come to an agreement about who has control over what. If you have to, find a different game that divides up control differently.
Kessa
 member, 554 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Thu 31 May 2018
at 22:03
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
I should clarify, I'm asking how others handle a particular type of situation where NPCs or PCs own desires are theoretically mitigated or diminished by die rolling. The example game/ PC mentioned is over and, should it be restarted, it won't have that player/ character in it anyway-- for unrelated reasons. So, it's less about how to handle that player and more how to handle these sorts of situations. I'm just using my example as, well, an example of the counter arguments from players you might get.

The thought behind trying to help me solve that specific issue is still appreciated, though. ^_^
gladiusdei
 member, 694 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 22:08
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
One thing you could do to help avoid this specific problem in the future is set out the rules if social skills in your game ahead of time.  Say they modify attitude but do not control actions, and that there are some things NPCs will not do no matter how high you roll.

This may also lead to players not investing so heavily in those skills.
donsr
 member, 1322 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 22:12
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
In  my post above. If you are only  using Die rolls  to  answer the  question, its not a good thing, unless you'er in a Dice  rolling-arena  style  game.

 NPCs  should be able to act on thie r own, regardless of dice rolls. The  GM/DM  should have   enough 'life' in an NPC  to have them act on thier own, which..in the end.. would mean A PC can't  count on a high stat.

 In RL  we all know  very good lookign, or charming people who are jerks, and   folks  won't do much for them, outside of hanging around...other folks  might not have  that charisma , but you  would like to  do what you can to help.


  In the end?... one solid rule. Its you game  you make the call..there are other games out there  for the players  to play, if they are not happy.
engine
 member, 608 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 22:15
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
I may be misunderstanding the kind of situation you mean, but I think my answer applies generally. If a player thinks an NPC should act a certain way and you don't, then you'll probably be best served by talking it over.
Kessa
 member, 555 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Thu 31 May 2018
at 22:16
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
NowhereMan:
Well, if you're using a system where the diplomacy/persuasion rules work as written above, "earned" in that case means "willful ignorance of the rules", so their perception of what is fair is flawed in the first place. Like evileyore said above, persuasion isn't mind control.

I think this is really important to explicitly state. There is a big difference between persuasion and mind control and I feel like that gets lost a lot with expectations from die rolls and actual influence descriptions.
gladiusdei:
One thing you could do to help avoid this specific problem in the future is set out the rules if social skills in your game ahead of time.  Say they modify attitude but do not control actions, and that there are some things NPCs will not do no matter how high you roll.

This may also lead to players not investing so heavily in those skills.

This seems really key. And it's rehashed so much in game discussions, but being on the same page is so important. Sometimes there are mismatches that you don't catch until later, but as engine says, even then it isn't too late to sit down and talk through things to come to that understanding.
Genghis the Hutt
 member, 2523 posts
 Just an average guy :)
Thu 31 May 2018
at 22:17
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
quote:
So, it's less about how to handle that player and more how to handle these sorts of situations.

House rule. Diplomacy can only move a target one point along this list with a meaningful interaction:
Hostile <-> Unfriendly <-> Really don't care <-> Meh <->Acquaintance <-> Friendly <-> Helpful
Your first interaction can be a meaningful one, then further ones can only come as per your DM/GM, which might be once a day or once a week, etc.
Kessa
 member, 556 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Thu 31 May 2018
at 22:24
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
engine:
I may be misunderstanding the kind of situation you mean, but I think my answer applies generally. If a player thinks an NPC should act a certain way and you don't, then you'll probably be best served by talking it over.

No, it still works. I agree completely with the need to discuss points of contention.
engine:
I find that stuff like this is about control. It happens with Diplomacy, Perception, huge defenses, unavoidable attacks, perfect Stealth and anything else that makes the character immune or able to ignore certain aspects of the game. There's a very good chance that the player simply wants the randomness and will of the GM and other players removed from that aspect of the game, as far as their character is concerned. Trying to prevent them from doing that by invoking rules or fiat will just drive them to obtain their control in other ways.

I had not really thought of it in terms of control, but I can remember times in games that would fit very well. There really ought not be that sort of issue in a game, I feel, but it happens anyway. I have to wonder if it's caused by other experiences where players feel their GM or ST is their adversary rather than there to facilitate a good experience for everyone, but regardless would have to be handled individually.
evileeyore
 member, 92 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Thu 31 May 2018
at 22:44
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Kessa:
I'm familiar with this and I've used it a fair amount, but I still wind up with (in this instance) a player who wanted to know how many times he had to make ridiculous rolls to get someone to go home with him and how mechanically he should have already reached that point x# rolls ago.

In this case after they'd made a few 'very good' rolls I'd alert them that though the target is becoming more friendly with them, the NPC is sending the "Nope, not ever gonna happen" signals (or just have the NPC out right state it).

In the case of Player vs Player social rolls, I just begin swatting the offensive Player about the head and shoulders with a rolled up newspaper.



NowhereMan:
Kessa:
But, if characters are built with doing that one thing in mind, is that in some way cheating that character out of something?

No. If a character was built around stabbing things with a sword, would it be cheating them out of something should they encounter an enemy they could not stab?

Exactly!



Kessa:
Is it dissimilar from someone stabbing a dragon (something by all rights you should be able to stab) with absurd damage and then being upset that they did no damage, because it's only really vulnerable to spells?

If someone is getting upset that they aren't 'getting their way', they can deal with that themselves.  If they become an issue at the table (or OOC Post threads) then they can leave the game and go play elsewhere.

Kessa:
I should clarify, I'm asking how others handle a particular type of situation where NPCs or PCs own desires are theoretically mitigated or diminished by die rolling.

The NPC will simply have their actions or response altered.  I'm not sure what you're asking here...


How about an example:

The Dread Pirate Roberts never leaves a victim alive.  Their reputation is built upon this!  They take the PCs captive somehow (presume the PCs lost the ship-to-ship fight and the subsequent boarding action).  One PC makes a desperate social check, summoning up all the character's wit, charm, seduction, cunning, diplomacy, etc skills.  They get a phenominal result.

This goes either one of a few ways for me:

1 - The Dread Pirate Roberts never really 'never takes prisoners', it's just that no one ever talks.  So TDPR makes them a deal, they like the plucky PC and have decided not to kill them today.  The PCs are free to joint the Pirate's crew or die.

2 - TDPR is going to put them to death, but TDPR crew (or part of the crew) decides to turn on the pirate captian giving the PCs another chance to win their freedom.

3 -  TDPR and crew take penalties to their actions based on their emotions being swayed (ie pirate attacks lack oomph or waver, their hearts aren't in it, maybe one looks the other way while a victim flees or hides, etc).


Actually 3 is how I run it when one PC (or NPC) successfully 'social attacks' another PC.  The social attack victim will find their actions penalized if those actions don't line up with whatever the attacker was trying to convince them to do.