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Social Conflict

Not all matters are settled with violence. If interests between the players and NPCs are strictly opposed and violence is not desirable, off the table, or just rude, the first step is, of course, talking it out. To prevent negotiations from boiling down to a matter of opinion (with players and Warden both feeling like their side of the story is ‘correct’), you can use the following system.

Social conflict has the following steps:

1. The Stakes

Both parties define what success and failure would look like. The players state what the desired outcome of the negotiation would be (within reason), and the Warden will state what the outcome of failure would be.

2. Determine Composure

Composure acts as the HP of negotiations. It is equal to one’s WIL. Loss of Composure does not mean loss of WIL. If a side of the argument consists of multiple members (like a party of Player Characters), use the average WIL Score (rounded up) as Composure.

3. Making A Point

Next, pick what type of argument you wish to make. There are 3 types:

  • Attack. You accuse, argue, intimidate or challenge – anything to drive your opponent back.
  • Defend. You use your best facts, logic, arguments, and rationale. You’re sticking to the core of the issue as best you can.
  • Flourish. You charm, flirt, seduce or taunt in an attempt to break your opponent’s focus (and perhaps to lighten the mood, too).

The Warden is advised to determine which 2 types of arguments best fit the NPC. Expert negotiators might choose all 3. Furthermore, the Warden should let the fiction inform the type of argument. If the party made a good Attack in the previous round, the NPC might choose to Defend. Attentive players should be able to somewhat predict what is going to happen!

Both Warden and Players pick their argument in secret and then reveal them at the same time.

4. Resolving The Round

Both sides reveal their arguments.

  • Defend beats Attack. The other party is clearly trying to get under my skin, and it’s clear their arguments are weak.
  • Flourish beats Defend. I know I have the facts on my si- did… did they just wink at me? Is it warm in here, or is it just me?
  • Attack beats Flourish. You can flutter your eyes at me all you want, you’re still clearly a child pretending as they belong at the grown-up’s table.

If one argument beats another, the winning side gets to deal 1d8 damage to the losing side’s Composure. The losing side still deals 1d4 damage – arguing always costs energy, concentration, and effort.

If both sides choose matching arguments, the resulting shouting match (of insults, facts, or compliments) deals 1d6 damage on both ends.

Before you roll, look at the arguments and try to imagine what both parties might argue at each other, using the argument types as prompts. Next, the losing side briefly acts out or describes their side’s argument and rolls the damage dice. Now, the winning side gets to retort - they too describe or act out their counterpoint, and roll the damage dice.

5. Repeat & Result

Repeat steps 3 and 4 until one side’s Composure has been reduced to 0.

If both sides’ Composure reaches 0 in the same round, you agree to disagree – and can return to the negotiation table when you’ve both cleared your heads. This generally means that the status quo remains as-is.

Feel free to interpret ‘losing composure’ in various ways; in some contexts, it might mean nothing, but in others, it means you get thrown out of a fancy costumed ball.

Wardens should use the outcome of each previous round as input for the next. In our example, the mayor might be likely to Attack next - he won the previous round, time to go on the offensive!