Draft: Parley (Rewritten)
Short version: Here’s my stab at rewriting Parley to be more applicable, flexible, and useful in Dungeon World. Comments and feedback appreciated!
A few weeks ago, Johnstone Metzger posted a really insightful discussion of how Parley has problems:
I end up having to think about whether a PC actually has leverage or not. … [N]ot considering leverage very thoroughly can result in NPCs doing things for reasons that don’t actually make sense, but if I actually take the time to think about whether or not the weird, inhuman NPC could be swayed or not, rolling for parley feels like an extraneous obstacle because I’ve already decided what should probably happen. In essence, it asks for a great deal of decision-making to happen in the time right before the roll, instead of after. And then I’ve already decided the leverage is either no good, or enough that the NPC should just say yes, and either one can make Charisma seem like an extraneous, useless stat.
You can read the whole thing here (and if you haven’t already, you should!): https://plus.google.com/+JohnstoneMetzger/posts/1aGUjQTU6Nc
Sure enough, I’ve had plenty of trouble with Parley myself. I’m consistently finding that it doesn’t trigger when we think it should, or we just decide that it’s Defy Danger with CHA, or we struggle to resolve the promise/concrete assurance outcomes.
I’ve tinkered with alternatives before, but never found anything I though was substantially better. But the idea from Freebooting Venus, of using a Ritual-style list of requirements/consequences… that struck a cord. And the idea that the attempt to provoke a reaction could reveal said requirements… that really got me thinking.
Plus, I wanted it to be clearer that the PC’s attempt to persuade the NPCs, the thing that triggers the role, it might be enough by itself.
So, here’s an attempt at doing that. Feedback appreciated!
Bonus: this revision still works with playbook moves like “When you Parley using threats or intimidation, roll STR instead of CHA.” (It doesn’t really work with moves that are like “your approval always counts as leverage,” but I’m okay with that because I think moves like that are bad.) It also keeps moves like I am the Law or Charming and Open still viable. I am the Law provides a specific, reliable way of provoking specific reactions from anyone, and Charming and Open lets you learn things without trying to manipulate someone.
Bonus 2: You could make this move work PC vs. PC pretty easily, just replacing the GM with the target PC’s player. The target PC’s player would have to play their character with integrity, but I think that’s a fair assumption to make.