10 July 2018

Conversation System

Drawbacks

  1. You or your players may find this to be a dry procedure at first, even though it's very simple and should mostly be familiar.

Benefits

  1. Ensures that no player dominates all conversation in a game.
  2. Makes Charisma relevant to conversation without rolling under it.
  3. Prevents conversations from stretching out forever as players endlessly question and attempt to manipulate an NPC.
  4. Helps a GM to adjudicate NPC responses in such a way that the GM may be surprised by the result. This prevents railroading and can make things more fun for the GM.

Notes

I need your feedback on Bribes. Assume an equipment list/currency from Labyrinth Lord, if that helps. What should I change to make it more reasonable?

I modified this procedure from Beloch's post on Papers & Pencils. His post was likewise based on Courtney Campbell's system.
They've been using a version of this for years. My version has only seen one game so far, but it's very nearly the same as theirs, and it worked. 

Mine is different from Beloch's in that it is noted in a simpler, more referenceable fashion and has a couple of minor changes that make it a bit more universally applicable. It also has a conversation initiative system to 1. Ensure that no player dominates all conversation in a game. 2. Make Charisma more relevant to conversation.



Conversation System

This is a structure, not a strict procedure. It is an adjudication tool. This means that you should change things as necessary, even in play, to keep your game coherent.
  • At the start of a conversation encounter, every PC must make a Charisma check. The lowest successful roll goes first.
  • After every successful PC has taken a conversation action, those who failed the Charisma roll may take conversation actions.
  • The first PC to act makes a reaction roll (2d6.) That roll is compared to the reaction table to determine how the NPC reacts.
  • The result also determines how many conversation actions the party may attempt before the NPC is done talking and wants to end the conversation. The referee should note this number down in a place visible to the players, if possible. (Example: If the NPC reacts with a 7, the players get 7 conversation actions.)
  • If the players force a conversation to continue past the point that an NPC wishes to leave, their reaction will be reduced by 2 for each round they are kept against their wishes. If their reaction reaches 2, the NPC will end the conversation in annoyance, hostility, or an outright attack.

Conversation Reaction Table




2d6 Reaction Category Conversation Actions 
Attack None 
3-5 Hostile - 2 
6-8 Indifferent 
9-11 Talkative +2 
12 Helpful +4 

Every communication will fall into one of four basic categories: Banal, Give, Take or Convince.
Once an action is resolved, the referee reduces the number of remaining actions by 1.

Banal

Simple conversation, most questions, and other minutia. There is no chance to fail.

Convincing

Telling a lie which the NPC has cause to doubt or making an argument against something the NPC believes.

<6: Displeased. Reaction drops by 1 category6: Unconvinced. 9: Trepidatious. Will think about it. 11: Fully convinced.

Situational modifiers of 1 or 2 may occasionally apply. Players who expect something in exchange for nothing should take a penalty; players who offer much in exchange for little should get a bonus.

Giving

Telling a joke, offering compliments, giving gifts, listening to a person’s long winded opinions, etc. When giving, roll 2d6 and add relevant modifiers.

<6: Unimpressed. 6: Interested. +2 conversation actions. 9: Intrigued. +1 to next Taking or Convincing attempt. 11: +1 to your reaction with this NPC.

Taking

Making a request or a demand, negotiating, offering a bribe, asking questions the NPC may not be inclined to answer.

<6: upset. reaction drops by 1 category4: refusal. 6: meet halfway. 9: agrees. 11: agrees and offers more.

Special cases:
Intimidation modifies the result by the difference in average level between the two groups. Receive a bonus or penalty of 1 for each level.

Bribe: the baseline for an NPC is equal to 250GP*level. (Level 0 NPCs have a baseline bribe of 100GP.)

For each social/wealth "level" an NPC has above "commoner," add a 0 to the end of the result.

Increasing or decreasing the amount by 50% will modify the Taking result by +/- 2.
Example: for a level 2, low social-status character, the baseline bribe is 500 gp. Increasing or decreasing this amount by 50% (750 gp or 250 gp) will modify the bribe by +/- 2.

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