This page is my attempt to create house rules for social-fu that succeed in the following three criteria:
1) Social-fu is fast to resolve and fun. The Exalted are still cool, extras are still extras, and the game doesn't have to stall for an hour or more every time a PC wants to fast-talk his way past a guard or persuade a captive to give up his evil ways. These rules require only a single roll to resolve, with an option for opening a "debate" that will allow the target of a social effect to actively defend.
2) The player is happy: his social-fu works reasonably often, you don't need more than a few charms to do reasonably well as a social character, you don't need enormous numbers of successes to accomplish anything reasonable.
3) The ST is happy: the ST feels that the rules for social-fu are reasonable, important NPC's aren't helpless against social effects. The number of successes needed scales reasonably with the power of the effect the PC is trying to obtain.
These rules expand on and clarify the rules for social Abilities as they are presented in the Core. I have attempted to expand the granularity of the system without generating a whole new mechanic by differentiating between the power and duration of a social effect, and noting any circumstances that may make the roll easier or more difficult.
The base difficulty for any social roll is the sum of difficulty of the social effect (1-3, corresponding in part to previous categories of standard, challenging, and legendary difficulty) and the duration that effect will last (0-3, for scene, episode, story, and permanent durations).
||Difficulty||Power of social effect, with examples||
||1|[ Minor effect (previously standard effect)
Sway a friendly target into making generous donations. Lead 100 men.
Inspire group of defeated troops. Convince an extra to divulge important information.|| ||2|[ Moderate effect (previously challenging effect)
Sway a hostile target to the point of ecstatic episodes. Lead 1000 men.
Inspire a group of untrained and terrified volunteers. Convince an important NPC to divulge any information.|| ||3|[ Major effect (previously legendary effect)
Gain complete control over the behavior of the target. Lead innumerable men.
Quickly train and motivate any group of misfits for war. Recruit the target to your cause.||
||Difficulty||Duration|| ||0|[ scene (minimum 15 minutes)|| ||1|[ episode (minimum 1 day)|| ||2|[ story (minimum 1 month)|| ||3|[ permanent||
Add the difficulties for Power and Duration. This base difficulty is then increased or decreased according to circumstances:
||Difficulty||Circumstance|| ||+1|[ social effect is in conflict with a target's virtue of 3 or more|| ||+1|[ per x2 people affected (does not apply to Performance)|| ||+1|[ per relevant social charm target has activated (such as Harmonious Presence Meditation or Loquacious Courtier Technique)|| ||+1|[ some prior influence is present to prevent social effect (such as prior orders, or religious indoctrination)|| ||+1|[ if attempt to use social effect is hurried (such as in combat)|| ||+1|[ if attempting to convince a social superior, and social status is relevant|| ||+1|[ if attempting to convince someone character knows to be much more powerful|| ||+1|[ if character is in greatly disadvantaged situation (for example, character has been captured)|| ||-1|[ if plenty of time is available|| ||-1|[ if circumstances are greatly to the advantage of the character (for example, a captive audience)|| ||-1|[ if attempting to convince a social inferior, and social status is relevant|| ||-1|[ if attempting to convince someone who believes themself to be much less powerful than character|| ||-1|[ if social effect is in accordance with a target's virtue of 3 or more|| ||-1|[ if target finds the character sexually attractive||
The difficulty should be announced to the character before he attempts a roll.
Exalted cannot be manipulated into (directly) suicidal actions, nor against actions that directly contradict their Nature. Mortals and extras however, can. Charms can bypass that restriction, even for Exalts, according to specific Charm descriptions.
Any PC or important NPC may spend 1 temporary willpower to subtract their permanent Essence in successes from any social roll targeting them. Extras may never defend in this manner.
Optional rule: Debate
With this optional rule, the above rules for setting a passive difficulty represent the target's innate resistance to social effects in the current situation -- a measure of the target's stubbornness, if you will. Certain circumstances may permit a more active defense: the target may choose to initiate a debate with the character.
Debate may be initiated only in appropriate circumstances. For example, there must be enough time for a back-and-forth argument to take place. Certain social effects preclude debate, such as speaking to a crowd, although in that case it may be possible for an individual to debate on behalf of the crowd. Appropriately stunted social effects may also deny any possibility for argument. In order to debate a social effect boosted by social Charms, the defender must either use his own social Charms, or spend 1 temporary willpower to overcome the power of the essence fueling the social attacker's arguments. Only PC's or important NPC's may invoke this option. Extra's may never debate a social effect boosted by social Charms.
Mechanically, a debate occurs when the social attacker announces his attack. The defender declares that he will debate the effect. Both then roll the appropriate Attribute + Ability pools, boosted by any appropriate Charms and/or stunt bonuses as normal. The resulting successes are compared to each other, and the greater number wins the debate. The winning roll is preserved and the resulting successes are subtracted from the difficulty to overcome the loser's "passive" social defense. Because of this, initiating debate is risky; the losing party in a debate becomes that much more likely to succumb to the winning party's social effect. Both the "attacker" and "defender" are at risk in this manner.
Fast-talking your way past a guard:
Power 1 + Duration 0 (it is the guards duty to stop intruders, but there are only minor personal consequences for the guard if he fails
+1 Prior orders have been given to the guard to prevent unauthorized people from passing.
-1 Character has demonstrated nobility, and is clearly socially superior to the guard.
Giving a difficulty of 1. The guard is an extra, so may not defend against the effect.
Attempting to convert a captive Yozi cultist into loyal obedience:
Power 3 + Duration 3 (life changing result)
+1 Religious indoctrination makes this cultist a zealot
-1 Cultist is currently being held captive
-1 Character has already demonstrated the power to subdue the cultist
Giving a difficulty of 5. If the cultist is not an extra, the difficulty may increase even further.
Attempting to convince a young Dynast to join the cause of a Solar Anathema he has just engaged in battle with:
Power 3 + Duration 3 (life changing result)
+1 Dynast has a Valor of 3, and doesn't want to back down from this fight
+1 Prior religious indoctrination dictates Anathema are to be hated and feared
+1 The attempt is being carried out in combat
Giving us a difficulty of 9, this may be increased by the Dynast’s Essence if he spends 1 willpower.
A Solar steps before a crowd and begins exhorting them to a expel the local Immaculates in a nearby temple. The Solar is using the Charm Masterful Performance Excercise, and so the crowd (composed of extras) is unable to do more than listen and agree. A Dragon-Blooded Immaculate steps in and begins debating the Solar on behalf of the crowd, pointing out that he is Anathema and not to be trusted. The Dragon-Blooded is able to initiate debate by using the Charm Memorable Performance Technique. Both make their arguments, and roll dice. When the total number of successes from their Charisma + Performance + channeled Virtues + Stunt bonuses + Charms have been totaled, the Dragon-Blood has 12 successes and the Solar has 13. The Solar has won the debate with 1 extra success. He subtracts one from the difficulty of convincing the crowd:
Power 2 + Duration 1 (Kicking out the Immaculates is a big step, and will take most of a day)
-1 for 1 extra success on the debate
Giving a difficulty of 2, easily less than the 13 successes the Solar made.
Ok, a system like this needs a lot of comments and playtesting. What do people think? -Madwand
- I Dig so far, but how about Gender, appearance and Sexual orientation? Say the guard is male and hetero, and the PC is an appearance 2 female. I could figure out stuff for this of course, but this adds more rules and crunching which goes against what you're trying to accomplish. Hmm.... Still like though ~ BrigandRansom , trying not to gum up a fast system
- Attempts at physical seduction should often be done using Appearance rather than Charisma or Manipulation as the rolled Attribute. I haven't mentioned much about Attributes or Abilities above because I don't beleive that much needs to be changed about their use from the Core. That said, the list of circumstance modifiers I gave is probably not complete, perhaps we can think of others to add? -Madwand
- Done. I'm avoiding adding more than a single -1 for a single effect (other than size of audience) in the interest of simplicity. -Madwand
I've further expanded and clarified these rules in response to critisism. Specifically, I've made the base difficulty equal to the sum of the difficulties of the power and duration of the desired social effect. I've also provided a further option for social defense by activating relevant social charms. -Madwand
New optional rule added: debates! There is now an option for very social characters to engage the social attacker in a back-and-forth argument, winner take (almost) all. Comments? Does it make sense? -Madwand