Social combat in Dungeon World
My campaign calls for the PC to leave dungeon delving behind and switch their fighting kit for the fine garments of a courtier.
While Parley is a move I intend to use a lot, it is not always appropriate. They might have to simply and politely convince someone of something and/or do not have leverage on the said person.
Hence I am trying to come up with social combat mechanics to cover this type of situation. I want a system which requires players to actually think and argue their position but does not necessarily relies on their oratory skills (not everyone is a born actor/orator) or simply rely on the GM agreeing or not with the player . I confess the following has a lot to do with the social combat system in Burning Wheel.
The combat takes place in two phases which are themselves subdivided in sub-phases:
I. PREP PHASE
This takes place before the actual social combat
a) Each protagonist starts by summarizing clearly and concisely his/her argument/belief in the upcoming debate (“I believe the following:… “)
b) Each protagonist define his/her argument’s Hit Point using the table below for reference:
“This is an argument/belief I believe in but do not pay much attention to”: 10HP
“This is an argument/belief I believe in strongly that I am willing to publicly debate”: 15HP
“This is a core argument/belief and I could kill for it”: 20HP
“This is a core argument/belief I am willing to die for”: 25HP
c) The protagonists agree among themselves and beforehand the consequences of wining/losing this debate (“If I win, you will agree to this and that and take the following action. If I loose, I will agree to this and that and take the following action”). The GM insures that both outcomes are of a similar magnitude and in accordance with the arguments Hit Points (a character will not do something drastic/ illegal/which goes against his core beliefs if he or she has lost only a small argument).
II. COMBAT PHASE
The debate actually starts. The PC takes a Debate Move
When you Debate with an opponent, speak an argument in favour of your position. Let the GM speak his. Roll 2D6+CHA and see below:
10+: You have just done a masterful/highly moving demonstration. Reduce your opponent’s argument Hit Point by 1D6. Furthermore, you may choose one of the following:
• Ignore your opponent intelligence modifier when rolling the D6 for damages
• Reduce his argument Hit Point by a further 1D6. He however reduces yours by 1D4
7-9: You have the upper hand in the debate but your opponent also scores a few good points. Reduce his argument’s Hit Point by 1D6. He reduces yours by 1D4
6-: You are lost for words as your opponent ram in his argument. He reduces your argument’s Hit Point by 1D6
• Intelligence acts as armor. When a character reduces his argument’s Hit Point, subtract to the damage any positive Intelligence modifier he or she may have. This applies equally to NPC (Your run of the mill bad guy has a modifier of 0. A particularly craft full and suave big bad boss may have a modifier of +3). You may not regain argument’s Hit Point this way.
• You have to speak. If for whatever reason the player cannot in good faith come up with a new/unheard argument in favour of his her position, assume that the result of the 2D6+CHA is 6-
• The GM has to speak. If for whatever reason the GM cannot in good faith come up with a new/unheard argument in favour of his her position, assume that the result of the 2D6+CHA is 10+
• If you have reduced your opponent’s argument’s Hit Point and your argument’s Hit Points are still positive, you have won the debate. The consequences of the debate agreed in the prep phase take effect.
• If your opponent has reduced your argument’s Hit Points to zero and his are still positive, he/she has won the debate. The consequences of the debate agreed in the prep phase take effect.
• If both yours and your opponent arguments’ Hit Point are reduced to zero, the debate is inconclusive. You agree to disagree and stay on your original positions.
What do you think of the above rules and what would you do differently?