Fourth Draft: Parley (again)

Fourth Draft: Parley (again)

Fourth Draft: Parley (again)

So, I said I was done with this and I even changed my moves sheet to use a boring old crib on AW 2e’s Seduce/Manipulate. But then this happened.

It’s actually much closer to the root inspiration (Freebooting Venus’s Demand Something move, as described Johnstone Metzger) than any of the previous drafts. And it gives up on the Petitioner/Granter framework I was going for.

In the Demand Something move, the trigger is easily met (“When you demand something of someone”) and doesn’t require any leverage. The result then determines if there’s 1 requirement (on a 10+) or 2 (on a 7-9). But what goes unstated in the move is that the requirements can have already been met in the triggering of the move. So on a 10+, the GM could decide that they’ll do it if you have and apply leverage over them but you already did that, so whatever, they do it.

In this version, I tried to make that an explicit choice for the GM on a 10+. And on a 7-9, there will always be at least 1 requirement, no matter how well positioned you were before hand.

So, we keep the open trigger (“press or entice someone into a course of action”) without requiring the “do you have leverage” conversation, but keep the move from being mind control by allowing the GM to decide on a requirement on a 10+. And while there’s overlap in the 10+ and 7-9 results (e.g. in both cases, the GM could choose 1 requirement), I think this frames the decision for the GM in such a way that the results will feel different.

As always: feedback and questions appreciated!

37 thoughts on “Fourth Draft: Parley (again)”

  1. I like that 7-9 is “get what you want, but it costs more.” I wonder if having two criteria will actually be as interesting in play as just one criterion that is a bigger ask, but “a costlier version of the 10+ demand” sounds like a pain in the ass for the GM to come up with on the fly…

    Anyway, I think this addresses your players’ concerns. Looking forward to hearing how it does in play!

  2. I really appreciate all the thought you’re putting into these moves, and you sharing your thought processes with us as you do.

    In the new draft, I’m not sure what the design goal is of making the GM choose between 1 and 2 requirements on a 7-9. It would be simpler if the 7-9 result just said “the GM chooses 2 requirements”. What circumstances do you envision where the player rolls a 7-9 but the GM chooses only 1?

    I presume there’s no mention of the idea that the requirement (or one of the two requirements) is something that has already been met in the triggering of the move because of space constraints? Perhaps you could have it come up in one of the examples.

  3. Robert Rendell The “choose 1 or 2” is there to let the GM modulate the response based on the PC’s original approach, the size of the ask, the NPC’s instinct and so forth. One way to think about it is:

    * If the NPC would have just done it on a 10+, then pick 1 thing.

    * If you would have picked a requirement on a 10+, pick 2 requirements.

    I didn’t mention the requirements having already been met because I don’t want that to be a thing. That’s largely the intent of the “they do it or…” on a 10+, and the “choose 1 or 2” on a 7-9.

    Hmm. Maybe that needs to be clearer…

  4. For example:

    When you press or entice and NPC into a course of action, say what you want them to do (or not do) and roll +CHA: on a 10+, they’ll do as you want if you gave them a good reasonotherwise, the GM chooses 1 requirement from list below; on a 7-9, the GM chooses 1 or 2 requirements— 1 if you already gave them a good reason, and 2 requirements otherwise .

    (edit to say: hot damn, G+, your formatting marks are terrible)

  5. Jason Tocci I’ve been running through recent Parleys that have come up in my games and looking at “what would that have looked like in the new version.” The 2 requirements actually feel pretty interesting and spot on to me.

    For example, the ranger comes home to find the Hillfolk refugees drunk and idle instead of working on building themselves their homes. She goes around from group to group, scowling and berating them, dumping out booze and intimidating them into getting to work. On a 10+, I’d choose a requirement of help/participation: they’ll work so long as she’s around to keep them in line. On a 7-9, I think she’d also have to use or force or violence: one or two of them get uppity and she’s gonna have to put them in their place to cow the rest of the group (not difficult, but a meaningful decision).

    Later, the sheriff PC approaches the marshal of the town’s militia (an NPC) and tries to convince him to work the Hillfolk refugees into the militia. The marshal gives a bunch of excuses, which the sheriff rebuts by pointing out other options and playing up the urgency of the situation (various threats against Stonetop).

    On a 10+, the sheriff hadn’t really addressed the key issue (that the marshal doesn’t really know what he’s doing). So I’d chose a requirement of help/participation: he’ll need the help of one of the Hillfolk, someone respected and who knows how they fight. On a 7-9, I’d also choose appeal to or appease their ego; the marshal is well-liked and respected by the natives, and he’ll have to make sure the marshal is still seen as being in charge.

  6. I really like “press or entice,” but one phrasing I’ve used lately is: “when you give them a reason to do what you want, if they have no reason to refuse, they do it. But if they do have a reason to refuse, roll+stat.”

    And then the GM considering whether they have a good reason to refuse before the roll is actually functional, and becomes the standard 1 reason of a 10+, and the roll can function to determine how persuasive you are (ie how much work they make you do to overcome their hesitations). Or, if you can’t think of a good reason, the player doesn’t even need to roll.

    This basically results in 3 situations for me as the GM:

    1. I can’t really think of a good reason why they refuse, so they do it.

    (“You wave your sword around? Yeah, he obeys you, he’s terrified!”)

    2. The reason you give them probably overcomes their reason to refuse, but maybe not, so let’s roll and on a 10+, they do it, but on a 7-9, they push you to sell it harder (and on a 6 or less, something goes wrong).

    (“He’s scared of your sword, but maybe he can just run away? Roll the dice and let’s see if he thinks he’s got a chance.”)

    3. They definitely have a reason to refuse that you will have to overcome, but how much work will you have to do? More work on a 7-9 than on a 10+, that’s for sure (ie 2 hurdles instead of just the 1).

    (“He will totally fight you if he has to, because he’s broke and he really needs money. Maybe you could just pay him? Maybe you need to treat him with respect, too, though. Roll the dice and let’s see how dead broke he really is.”)

    So it seems to me like the 10+ choose 1 or they do it and the 7-9 choose 1 or 2 is taking all those situations into account.

  7. Johnstone Metzger so, do you find yourself choosing between 2 and 3 before the roll? Or just feeling it out after the fact.

    One thing I’m worried about with this design is: what guides the GM to decide between “okay, they do it” and picking a requirement on a 10+, and what guides them to pick 1 vs. 2 requirements.

    Framing it as “do they have a good reason to refuse” is interesting. I see how it helps distinguish between your situation 1 (no roll) vs 2/3, but I’m not really sure how it distinguishes between 2 and 3?

    Breaking it down, you’ve got:

    #1: PC’s gives reason >> no reason to refuse >> they do it

    #2: PC’s gives reason >> addresses their reason to refuse >> they do it (10+) or there’s a requirement (7-9)

    #3: PC’s gives reason >> doesn’t address their reason for refusing >> there’s a requirement (10+) or 2 requirements (7-9)

    So even if you haven’t bucketed the scenario into #2 vs. #3 before you roll, you could still judge after the fact whether the reason given by the PC addresses the NPC’s reason for refusing. Yeah?

  8. Seeing you guys really pick apart the components is fun and useful.

    What I’m inferring is that the intent isn’t actually “0-1 motivator to comply on 10+, 1-2 motivators on 7-9″—which is how it reads to me right now. Rather, it’s more like, “1 motivator to comply on 10+, 2 on 7-9,” and there’s a chance that the PCs already happened to offer a required motivator before they even rolled.

  9. Jason Tocci Cool! I like digging into the fine details on stuff like this.

    Jeremy Strandberg Yeah. I could decide between 2 and 3 either before or after the roll, depending on how much I know or have decided about the NPC.

    Like, you threaten this guy to make him show you the cave.

    Maybe all I know about this guy is he doesn’t want to do it, so I say roll for it. On a 10+, I could decide threats are all it takes, and you already did that, so he shows you the cave. Or I could say threats aren’t enough, you have to actually beat him up first. On a 7-9, I could say threats and you pay him; threats and you promise to protect him when you get there; threats and his wife can’t find out he went to the cave again. On a 6 or less, maybe I just say he runs from you, right away, or something.

    Probably, I would consider these different options after the dice come up, because each result level provides for a different range of outcomes. I decide based on what I think is reasonable for the character and what is interesting for the situation. Maybe you roll a 7-9 and so I decide this guy can’t go back to the cave because he knows he will turn to stone if he looks at it again? So I choose 2 requirements based on that.

    But maybe I’ve already decided way ahead of that he will turn to stone when he looks at it again. So the one requirement, no matter what the roll, is basically that he’ll do it but only if his safety is guaranteed. He can’t look at the cave. But a 7-9 roll tells me that he’s scared enough that he wants more than just his safety, so I choose a second requirement based on what I think this guy is like. Or if it’s a 6 or less, I get to describe things going even worse.

    Deciding between 2 and 3 before the roll, for me, is basically: how well do I know their reason to refuse? After the roll, I feel like it’s just a matter of being honest about the NPC and who they are. Maybe in the moment I decide this NPC is really hard to convince, even after a good roll. As long as the NPC feels like a real person and not a game mechanic, I think that’s legit.

    That’s why I feel like the move works well either way. I could say 1 vs. 2 reqs based on roll and then add a comment about the PC already addressing the req. Or go your way and say they do it or 1 vs. 1 or 2. I feel like your version is more casual and frames it like the game trusts the GM, while what I like about a straight up 1 vs 2 is that it demands you think about the NPC for a second and make a decision about them (and you as the GM can do that, or choose to ignore rules or elide over procedures if it’s easier and more fun to do so, as always).

  10. Jason Tocci good! I’m glad someone enjoys it. 🙂

    Johnstone Metzger I’m don’t think that structure of “choose 1 vs. 2, and maybe you’ve met one” is what forces the GM to to think about motive… I think it’s the fact that you’ve baked “reason to resist” into the move.

    Like, take this version:

    When you press or entice an NPC into a course of action, tell us what you want them to do and roll+CHA: on a 10+, the GM picks 1 requirement from the list below; on a 7-9, the GM picks 2. They’ll do what you want if you meet those requirements.

    That’s basically the same as what I’ve got now. It’s choose 1 vs. choose 2, but might be 0 or 1 that you have to meet. But it doesn’t tell me to think about the source of resistance and ask whether that’s been overcome.

    I could (and alsa, I probably would) find myself thinking “I don’t want to just give this to them, I’ll pick a requirement they haven’t met!” on the 10+.

    Compared to:

    When you press or entice an NPC, say what you want them to do. If they have no reason to resist, they’ll do it. If they do have a reason to resist, roll+CHA. On a 10+, they’ll do it if you’ve addressed their reason for resisting, or reveal why they’re resisting if you haven’t; on a 7-9, as a 10+, but the GM will choose an additional requirement from the list below… you’ll need to address that, too!

    That’s basically “0 or 1 vs. 1 or 2,” but I think the addition of a “reason to resist” is a key difference. Now, if I’m playing fair, I have to ask myself before the dice hit the table what their core reason is (if any). And that puts me in a better place to judge the 10+ or 7-9 results, I think.

    Huh! And then, the list of requirements becomes a list of reasons for resistance.


  11. Aha! Okay, this is good data. Personally, I shy away from thinking of the requirements in terms divorced from the NPC’s perspective (like: what would be good for the story, or what would challenge the PC). I want to think about the NPC’s point of view and what they want, what they don’t want, how they react, etc. If I put this move in a game, I want it to reflect that, and I’m going to write other rules around it with that assumption. So if you say the “reason to refuse” is the key thing that puts you in that mindset too, that tells me I definitely need that in the move.

    Yeah, also you’re right: they could be called resistances that you need to avoid or overcome, instead of requirements you need to meet. Obviously, “pay me” sounds more like a requirement, but “he refuses to work for free” is a resistance (an objection or reluctance, maybe) you need to do away with by paying money. And something like “she won’t lend you the car if she knows you’re going to smuggle drugs with it, so you gotta lie about what you need it for” is definitely about avoiding her objection to lending you the car altogether.

  12. Yeah, I don’t like that I lose sight of NPC motives and go based on the narrative/challenge aspect, but I’m pretty sure that I do. And I think that having a reason for resisting baked it would help avoid that, a lot.

    The more I tinker with it, though, the less enamored I am of a list of resistances. Yeah, they’re the thing you’re overcoming, but making that list is like touching infinity. And it doesn’t quite give the players a clear path forward. Like, I might tell you that they’re resisting because of their pride, but that doesn’t tell you what to do about it. Maybe butter them up? Maybe pay them for their time and expertise? Could go either way, and it’s a pretty huge matrix of personal values and social expectations in there.

    I think a list of requirements is still probably better, because it shortcuts past that complex matrix and goes straight to the actionable part.

    Now, how exactly to word all of that and not make it a mess…

  13. I like where this is going, though one little thing still nags at me… what’s the difference between “a good reason” and leverage?

    Also, perhaps there is room for some alternate outcomes on a 7-9, such as, “they do it grudgingly”, “they do it in a way that benefits them the most”, “they’ll check your story afterwards”?

  14. I think it’s pretty common to think in terms of situation outcomes or whatever, that’s what PbtA moves have been pretty good at so far. Trigger a move, roll dice, pick off a list, move into a new exciting situation. Although, the more specific and narrow you get with your genre definitions, the easier it gets to write those kinds of lists, I find.

  15. Peter J I find that “give them a reason” is easier to understand than “leverage” is, and doesn’t have the negative connotations. It feels like everyday language, less like jargon.

    Complications like that on a 7-9 are absolutely possible. You could work it in all sorts of ways. Have a list of complications that includes resistances, requirements, incompetence, and outside complications. Say that on a 7+ there’s only 1 requirement but on a 7-9, there’s a complication instead and have a separate list for those. Choose between 2 requirements and no complication or 1 requirement and a complication. Etc.

  16. Peter J sure, but you’d need to consolidate the pick list quite a bit, so that the “requirements” boiled down to just 1 or 2 choices. So something like:

    When you press or entice an NPC, say what you want them to do. If there’s no reason for them to refuse, they do it. If they have such a reason, roll+CHA: on a 10+, they’ll do it, but if you haven’t fully addressed their resistance, the GM can pick 1 from the list below; on a 7-9, they’ll do it but the GM picks 1, or 2 if you haven’t fully addressed their resistance.

    * They demand __ from you first

    * You’ll have to hurt or threaten them

    * You’ve got to trick them

    * They take things too far/get it wrong/twist it to their own ends

    * They’re suspicious/will check your story/will quickly revert to form

    * There’s going to fallout, for sure

    It’s not bad, but I’ve got two problems with it.

    The first is that I really like the nuance offered by the long list of possible requirements. I think that long list only works because they’re all requirements, variations on a theme. And if you just add complications to that long list, it’d become downright unmanageable. So you’ve got to cut and prune, sacrificing nuance in the process.

    Second: manipulation/influence isn’t a one-and-done type of thing the way a Hack & Slash or a Volley are. When you get an NPC to go along with you, it’s usually the start of something. That means there’s often time after you’ve convinced them for things to go south on their own, without the move telling us that occur. In other words, they’d be GM moves introduced on subsequent misses or 7-9s or just the players looking at the GM to see what happens. I.e. we don’t need the Parley move itself to introduce them… they’ll introduce themselves.

  17. Hmmm, I suspect mixing requirements and complication might perhaps make more sense if conceptualized something like this:

    When you press or entice someone, say what you want them to do. If they have no reason not to, they do it. But if they do have a reason to refuse you, the GM chooses 1 difficulty from the list below and you roll+CHA. On a 10+, if you can deal with it, they do what you want. On a 7-9, the GM chooses 1 more difficulty and you need to deal with them both:

    . They demand (promises of) more.

    . They do a crap job.

    . They don’t trust you.

    . They want to get paid first.

    . You need to threaten them.

    . You must deceive them.

    If you are pressing or enticing a PC, their player chooses instead of the GM.

    Still might not be enough to sell the mixed list (also depends on preferences of the specific game and group, of course).

  18. I keep tinkering with the language here. Thoughts?

    When you press or entice an NPC, say what you want them to do. If they have no reason not to, they do it. If they have a reason to resist, roll +CHA: on a 10+, they do as you want; on a 7-9, the GM picks 1 requirement from the list below; regardless, if you haven’t given them a good reason or if their resistance is strong and steadfast, the GM will choose 1 extra requirement.

    I like having that fairly in-depth “regardless” clause in there as guidance for the GM on when to pick the extra requirement. I don’t like the way the 10+ says “they do it” but the regardless says “oh, maybe not.” Nor do I like having an additional “result” like that. But I don’t want to try to force that “regardless” caveat into each of the individual results.

    Here’s the alternate (closer to what I started with):

    When you press or entice an NPC, say what you want them to do. If they have no reason not to, they do it. If they have a reason to resist, roll +CHA: on a 10+, they either do as you want or the GM picks 1 requirement from the list below; on a 7-9, the GM picks 1 or 2 requirements.

    (and then have some guidance in the discussion text on when to pick 0 or 1 as opposed to 1 or 2)

  19. The list of requirements feels like an elaboration of the trigger. Since the player is already doing something to press or entice the NPC, it’s almost like saying, “you didn’t press or entice the NPC in the way they are responsive to: the bribe wasn’t enough, but if you threaten his son’s life he’ll crack.” I like the elaboration of the terms press and entice in the explanation and wish that was baked in somehow.

    With the trigger phrase you can leave out have no reason not to by rewording the trigger to only happen when a NPC has a reason to resist, since that is the only time the move should trigger anyway.

    The biggest issue I have is with the 10+ result. The implications of the roll triggering is that what you’re doing has the NPC reconsidering their own actions. If the player’s manipulation has no chance of swaying the NPC in the first place, then maybe they shouldn’t be rolling until they take an action that could.

    All these thought lead me to a move that looks like this:

    When you coerce, bribe, seduce, or implore a reluctant NPC to do what you want, roll+CHA. On a 10+ they do it. On a 7-9, the GM will pick 1 or more of the following:

    * They’ll raise the stakes, and it’ll be costly

    * You’ll need to use a different approach as well (one you may not like)

    * You’ll need to address a specific concern that is holding them back

  20. Some random thoughts:

    It could be cleaner if “you’ve already addressed their concerns” is part of the trigger. In other words, two different moves, one is about swaying someone to do something against their nature (with harsher outcomes), and another is more of a negotiating kind of move (with milder outcomes).

    Would be easier to design for, but then you’ve got two moves. 🙂

  21. You should also seriously try the Monsterhearts “Manipulate an NPC” move (now defunct!), since it handles really well in play.

    On a 10+, they’ll do it if you offer them a bribe, threat, or motive.

    On a 7-9, the MC will tell what it will take to get them to do it.

    This accomplishes a lot of what you’re going for, I feel!

  22. I really liked how Johnstone Metzger broke it down in his example with the cave, above. Retro-engineering from that, I get this:

    On a hit, they will do it so long as you are able to offer some concrete assurances against their reservations or fears.

    On a 10+, the GM will tell you what it will take.

    On a 7-9, the GM will give you a hint and then choose 1 below, as well:

    * It will take additional cost, effort, or compromise to sway them.

    * They won’t do it quite the way – or for the reasons – you hoped.

    Ultimately, it depends on how influential you want the PCs to be. In many genres, getting away with murder on a 10+ is just about right (e.g. Apocalypse World). I get the sense you want it to be more up to the GM than that, however.

  23. Jason Shea I agree with all of your points, but disagree with your conclusion!

    Yes, the list of requirements is absolutely an elaboration on things that could influence an NPC. And the move is absolutely saying (or allowing the GM to say) “you didn’t use an approach they’re responsive to, here’s something that would work.” The 10+ result can definitely lead to a case where the PC’s approach (and their Charisma, and a little luck) has the NPC rethinking their own actions. Yes yes yes! ALL OF THAT.

    It maps to how I’ve observed persuasion, charisma, and leadership in the real world. A persuasive person puts themselves out there and provokes a reaction, then reads that reaction and adjusts their approach on the fly, overcoming objections and pouncing on opportunities.

    Gameplay-wise, the simple trigger (“press or entice”) is easy to recognize. We don’t have don’t have muck around with “did Parley trigger?”

    From there, the GM says “do they have reason to resist?” While you certainly could work that in the phrasing of the trigger, I actually really like it as a standalone “step.” It calls out the decision as an important part of the process, and demands that the GM think about their reasons for refusing.

    Having those reasons in mind is then helpful in adjudicating the 10+ or 7-9 results, and whether you choose between do it & a requirement or 1 vs. 2 requirements. If the trigger is “press or entice a reluctant NPC,” the reluctance is easy to identify but doesn’t really help as much as the reason to refuse.

    Anyhow… I’ve been running various scenarios (the examples in the document, plus a number of examples from my home games) through these iterations, and this version (with Johnstone’s “do they have reason to refuse” prompt) is the one that generates the best results. I’m looking forward to trying it out in play!

  24. For me, one of the great things about PbtA moves is when they have clear triggers and you can go from description to the dice very quickly. If there’s a discussion about “do you have leverage?” or “are you persuasive enough to get them to budge?” that feels too much like setting stakes or discussing what success looks like, at which point you might as well just switch to playing Blades in the Dark (in my opinion).

    That you can decide on the fly that it sounds like the PC is pressing or enticing, then you go to the dice, and find out even on a 10+, that you really don’t have the means to persuade this NPC, is a plus, to me. Even if you don’t get to persuade them, you still get to find out what it would take without having the GM make a move and make things more difficult for you right away. But I’m also the guy who would rather decouple success and failure from the format, too, so…

    Paul: Monsterhearts gets away with that level of vagueness because the whole game has a very tightly-constrained genre and all the elements work to focus your attention on it. In a game or genre as wide and variable as Dungeon World, saying “hey GM, just say what the NPC wants” can actually end up being little or no help at all. We’re discussing this move in isolation here (I mean, sort of, Jeremy’s specifically designing a DW-derived fantasy setting), but you also have to take into account the context of the move as it is played inside of a larger game. Sometimes you really need to put the genre in a list of outcomes inside a move, sometimes you really don’t, because you’ve got it elsewhere.

  25. Johnstone Metzger, I agree with that. Excellent points!

    I still think it’s a surprisingly effective move for this kind of thing which could serve as inspiration for a way to simplify this interaction. Worth looking at!

  26. (Incidentally, that’s always been my issue with the “go aggro” move. I’d like it to be simply triggered and rolled, but, because of the design, you need to have this conversation about whether the character really intends to hurt them or not yet.)

  27. Jason Shea I’ve gotten a little feedback from other GMs who’ve used the earlier drafts, but not much. And this newest iteration (and the iteration it’s spawning) hasn’t seen any actual play that I know of.

    It’ll definitely go into the playtesting hopper as it stabilizes.

    If anyone uses this, please let me know how it goes!

  28. Jeremy Strandberg I think the explanation text is really solid, and I love the inclusion of shame for press. The only thing in the move that throws me is pressure, which just doesn’t feel like it fits with the other stuff in that bullet point (more like force), and I also wonder if it is too vague.

    In the second example text is Caradoc supposed to say “Rhianna’s crew” instead of “Rhianna crew?”

  29. Yup, typo. Should be “Rihanna’s crew”.

    For “pressure from __,” I’m picturing something like “you can tell he’s not gonna budge for you, but the way his eyes dart toward Morwenna… yeah, he’d do it if she poured on the charm, for sure.” Or “He’s all ‘pff, whatever’ and rolling his eyes, but you know he’s got a soft spot for his gram. He snap to if she asked him do it.”

    I don’t feel like those are accounted for in any of the other bullets.

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