"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Friday, December 3, 2010

I make a Diplomacy roll

I have been having a couple of crazy weeks at work which has adversely impacted my gaming and my surfing of the blog-o-verse. However, I have managed to catch a bit of Ryan Dancey's discussion about social mechanics.

Trollsmyth has made a number of posts on the subject starting with this one that I have found interesting.

Upon my return to RPGs a couple of years ago, I took great interest in the social mechanics that had been introduced to all of the new games that had appeared in my absence from the hobby. At first, I bought into the argument why should a player who is not as social adept as their character suffer while another player who has never had a sword can effectively play a great warrior. However, as I quickly returned to my roots of old-school D&D I relearned the fact that the need for social mechanics in the game is redundant with a relationship between player and DM. Afterall, one of my favourite things about playing RPGs is that it is a social activity.

That being said, my favourite B/X has a couple of subsystems which can quickly handle social situations - the Reaction and Morale systems. Both of these systems are meant to give the DM quick and easy guidelines for the resolution of such situations but are not meant to be the sole method for determining the outcomes. If the reaction roll for an NPC is positive but the characters are determined to be a bunch of A-holes to NPC there should be consequences.

This quote from Trollsmyth really encapsulates how I feel about the subject:
What it means is you should not have mechanics for social interaction if the goal of the game is to have the players interact socially. In the same way that the combat rules in D&D mean that the players don't have to actually swing swords in the air, mechanics to handle social situations mean the players don't actually have to engage in any sort of social interaction.