Hello scoundrels, I’m looking for a little help from fellow MCs. My question is simple :
How do you make Social scores interesting ?
I’ve ran two such scores yet and it amounted to the PCs asking over and over again for someone to cooperate, until a “they’re convinced clock” filled up. I had ideas rivals to show up or for a fight to break up, but they did not roll too badly and it would have felt unfair. Sure, there are some onlookers who learned some things from seeing them conspire, but that’s mostly offscreen for now.
I know you shouldn’t let players roll twice for the same thing, but if all they try is go up to the guy and list arguments, I don’t see how to push them to try another angle.
So I’m all ears. Do you have trouble with Social scores too ? If not, what’s your secret ?
Try splitting up the main clock into a bunch of smaller clocks. For social scores, I often use Rob Donoghue’s long con idea as a starting point.
While Rob’s post is about running a lengthy con, it’s inspired how I’ve run quite a few smaller social scores. I adjust the number of clocks, what they’re for, and their length to fit my needs. The core idea is to create shifts in the conversation as trust and/or suspicion changes.
By dividing up the conversation into several clocks, the players can’t just tick the final clock the whole time, asking the same thing over and over. They have to act in a way that makes sense for the first clock. Once they’ve filled that one, then they’re onto the next; all the way till they reach the final ‘decide now’ clock.
This lets you say:
Sure, you can just waltz up and try convince the NPC to decide X (whatever the goal is), but it’ll have zero effect. They don’t:
- know who you are
- believe there’s a problem, or
- trust you’d be able to help if there was.
This sets the players more specific things they need to achieve than just ‘convince NPC’. They can do that through conversation, but often they come up with other creative ways to tick some of the social clocks. For example, here’s a score I wrote about a while back on G+ using this approach. The players hooked the NPC’s interest mainly by running linked scores where they incognito blew up all the NPC’s stuff.
You know what ? That’s exactly what I needed !!! I wish I’d seen that when prepping Thanks a lot !
The most interesting ones I have done was when there was interesting things happening.
There is opponents (either the one getting convinced or the ones that currently control them), there is danger (ridicule, loss of status, new enemies, accidentaly giving too much info away, traps or straight up violence) and then there is a nice location with constraints and possibilities (A conference room makes it difficult to talk in private, a bar gives the possibility and risk of drunkedness or on the docks at midnight where ambushes are likely).
Social harm could be like the effects from bullying.
Effects on a bullied or shamed character can include:
• Social isolation (lvl. 3 Harm?)
• Feelings of shame (lvl 1 Harm)
• Sleep disturbance (lvl 1 Harm)
• Changes in eating habits (lvl 1 Harm)
• Low self-esteem (lvl 1 Harm)
• Symptoms of anxiety (lvl 1 or 2 Harm)
• Psychosomatic symptoms (stomachaches, headaches, muscle aches) (Lvl 1-3 Harm)
• Poor performance (lvl 1 Harm)
• Symptoms of depression (Up to lvl 4 Harm - Shamed into committing suicide)
The psychosomatic effects would apply to physical actions too.
It could also be social stigma.
Less effect because people distrust your lies. Lvl 1 Harm: Distrust.
Or a good old religious social lvl. 3 Harm: Excommunicated/Shunned. Where no one will hear, see or talk to you until the harm is ‘healed’ by penance.
From the rulebook:
Seduced is a lvl 2 Harm.
But it all depends on what works for the story - what seem plausible and interesting.