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2012-02-09 Social Skills Revisited

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The article The trouble with social conflicts was cross-posted from Stargazer’s blog to Google+ where I wrote something like the following, inspired by -C’s recent blog post on player skill:

We act stuff out to be entertaining, but in the end I think I use a system that is close to (but less codified) than what Courtney Campbell suggests in his On Ignorance of Skill Based Play blog post. I have NPCs react to quantifiable issues (wants to be bribed, wants help fighting the devils, wants to do the right thing, and so on – Courtney calls them needs, traits and desires) and I’m open about them. A little smalltalk will reveal them and then players can act on them or they can ignore them.

If you don’t want to get rid of skills, I guess you could have skill tests to help players discover more of these needs, traits and desires.

But the most important point is this: If you feel uncomfortable with a player’s acting performance dominating play, then laugh when it’s funny, gnash your teeth when it’s stupid, but at the end of the spiel, look at your NPCs needs, traits, and desires. If none of them are satisfied, then it didn't work.

As a point of personal preference, I enjoy the acting at the table because it’s funny. That’s why I prefer not to replace social interactions with dice rolling. But that doesn’t mean that social interactions cannot be quantified. Have a list of needs, traits and desires ready and pick two.

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