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Social Conflicts (3pp)

Physical combat is not resolved using a single skill roll versus a DC, so why should social interactions be so reductive? Trying to talk an NPC into going along with a suggestion may require understanding the NPC’s motivations, shifting their emotional state and then finally requesting that they do something for the player characters.

A PC and an NPC can have a conversation that goes back and forth without having to initiate a social conflict. So long as both parties involved freely accept the outcome of the discussion, and the free-flow of information, then the DM and players can role-play the encounter without resorting to resolving a social conflict.

When the conversation becomes strained, and a willing participant begins to hesitate, then they become an unwilling participant. This is when the social conflict rules will come into play.

The person initiating a combat sets the saving throw DC and the victim must perform a Passion (Wis) or Reason saving (Int) throw. The saving throw depends on the methods used by the individual initiating the attack. If they try to use logical verbal methods for obtaining a desired result, then it will force the defender to save versus a Reason saving throw (Intelligence-based). For any other methods that are more emotionally driven, the defender will need to make a Passion saving throw (Wisdom-based).

  • Question base DC 8
  • Provoke base DC 6
  • Compel base DC 4

DC = base + relevant skill*

* Relevant skills add proficiency if you have proficiency in them (Deception , Intimidation , Persuasion , etc)

Question

The Question action is used when someone is trying to coerce information from the defender. The success rate is high for this type of social action. If a piece of information reveals something personal about the victim of this attack, then the attacker gains a String on the defender (see below).

Provoke

The Provoke action is used when someone is trying to make someone else feel an emotion by applying a social condition. The success rate is moderate for this type of social action. When applying benevolent social conditions, the defender does not need to make a saving throw roll, but can only benefit from a single benevolent social condition at a time.

Compel

The Compel action is used when someone is trying to make someone perform an action that wouldn’t contravene their Characteristics. The success rate is low for this type of social action.

If the victim succeeds their save, they are immune from further social attacks of that nature for a period of 24 hours (unless the DM rules otherwise).

Saving Throw = d20 + Wis* or Cha* modifier

* If combatants have proficiency in Wisdom or Charisma saves, they also add their proficiency modifier.

Strings boost Social save DC by +2 per String

Strings

The Question action is aimed at getting information about someone. Knowledge is power over someone you want to influence. Divination spells and devices such as crystal balls can grant someone Strings.

Assisting

When you are performing a social attack or defense, you may have a single other individual assist you. This person must be present and aware of the social combat and may be a PC or NPC. If they do choose to assist, they add their Charisma or Wisdom modifier to your DC or save. Anyone who has assisted, may not initiate their own social attack this round.

Characteristics

Both PC’s and NPC’s should have a list of characteristics that defines their values, morals, ambitions and fears. This adds an emotional and personal facet to the PC/NPC that will help guide their actions and the reasons behind them. Player characters build their characteristics when they choose personalities, backgrounds, ideals, flaws and bonds. Alignment also falls under characteristics.

Someone who has failed their saving throw versus a Compel cannot be made to perform an action that contradicts one or more of their Characteristics.

Alternative Rules

Some groups of players may want to be the ones rolling, leaving the NPC to set the social DC. This is easily achieved by reversing the mechanics.

DC set by NPC:

Question DC 14 base + Wis/Cha* Provoke DC 16 base + Wis/Cha* Compel DC 18 base + Wis/Cha* PC rolls a d20 + Strings + Skill* * add proficiency if applicable

Social Conditions

This section introduces new emotional conditions in the game. This allows both PC’s and NPC’s to feel emotions. These conditions have out of combat effects, but some even impact combat. Social conditions are applied via the Provoke social action. Unless specified otherwise, social conditions will go away after a long rest. Some conditions may come about as a result of an event (ex: grief as a result of the death of a dear friend).

Social conditions can stack if they make sense. The DM may rule that one Social condition will negate another.

In some cases these are explicitly stated in the description.

A limit of 2-3 simultaneous conditions should be enforced as to not overwhelm the role-play of the character.

The “object” referred to in these conditions may be a sentient being or an inanimate object/place.

Adoration

Effect: While the presence of the object of your adoration, you are more confident and feel supported.

  • Social Saves are at -3 versus the object of your adoration. In their presence, your Social DC’s are boosted by +1.
  • In combat you will put their interests first, protecting them in the process. Move +5’ if moving towards them. If you stand next to them, you confer a +1 AC bonus to the object of your adoration.

Removal: The object of your adoration shatters your impressions.

Anger

Effect: You are filled with irrational rage and fury at an object or at an event/circumstance.

  • You gain +1 on your Social saves, but also suffer a -2 on your Social DC’s.
  • Your melee and thrown attacks deal +1 damage, but your AC suffers a -2 penalty. Roll a d20 as you cast a spell. Non-damage spells fail on a roll of 1. Damage spells deal 1 extra damage die on a roll of 19 or 20.

Removal: A long rest.

Apathy

Effect: You feel emotionally crushed and impotent. Your actions are shadows and your zeal is dashed.

Your Social saves are made at a disadvantage

You automatically roll 1 on initiative. Your attack actions are Weak (deal half damage) and your move is Weak as well (movement rate cut in half).

Removal: After a personal victory that overcomes the weight of past failures.

Awe

Effect: You are humbled by a place, thing or person that takes your breath away.

  • You apply a +1 bonus to your Social DC’s, but suffer a -2 on Provoke and Question saving throws.
  • Your Move is +5’ if your object of awe is visible. You take a -2 attack penalty as you show off, adding your proficiency bonus to damage dealt by melee attacks.

Removal: A long rest as long as the object of awe is no longer visible

Brave

Effect: Someone has used their Persuade skill or Compel action to inspire you to great heroism. If afflicted, remove the Frightened condition.

  • You suffer a -2 on your Question and Compel Social saving throws, but gain a +1 bonus on your Provoke DC.
  • You are unlikely to back down from violent confrontation. Facing a creature with a CR higher than your level, you gain +1 attack and +1 on damage. You will refuse to retreat even if losing the fight.

Removal: A long rest or another Social condition being applied to you

Desire/Lust

Effect: You will abandon logic and reason in order to obtain the object of your overwhelming desire.

  • Question and Compel Social saves have disadvantage versus the object of your desire.
  • In combat you will lay down your life for the preservation of the object of your desire.

Removal: A long rest.

Disgust

Effect: You will prioritize getting the object out of sight and out of mind, even if it means by violent means.

  • Your Provoke Social saves are at +3 while Question and Compel suffer a -2 penalty. If you attempt to rally others to remove the disgust, you gain a +1 DC bonus.

Removal: A long rest as long as the object of disgust is no longer visible.

Frightened

Effect: You have been traumatized by something or someone.

  • Your Social saves versus the source of your fear have disadvantage. You lose and cannot gain the Brave and Joy conditions.
  • You have disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls while you are within 30’ of the object of your fear.
  • You cannot move closer to the source of your fear.

Removal: A long rest as long as the object of horror is no longer visible.

Grief

Effect: You suffered a terrible loss that hangs over your mood and actions. This condition removes Joy and Brave and makes you immune to them while you grieve.

  • Your Provoke saves are at +2, but your Question saves are penalized by -2. If you are Provoked to Anger or Apathy, you have disadvantage on your saving throws.
  • While an ally has 0 HP your attacks are made at disadvantage.

Removal: After a long rest, roll a d6, on a result of 1, the condition is removed.

Joy

Effect: You are filled with a natural high bestowed upon you by an individual, event or place.

  • You have a -1 penalty vs Question saves, but gain a +1 DC on your Social attacks.
  • You gain advantage on saves vs spells and any spells that heal you add +1 for each die rolled.

Removal: If you suffer from any other Social condition, remove this condition.

Trust

Effect: You place unwavering trust in someone.

  • You get a -3 penalty vs Question saves versus the person you trust. You will aid them when they are in social combat.
  • You automatically succeed stabilizing the person you trust and visa-versa.

Removal: The object of your trust breaking the trust.

Many emotions are complex with many elements contributing to its onset and eventual removal. The DM should adjust the parameters of the emotional condition based on the specifics of the situation.

Should an emotion stress an individual past their breaking point, the DM should consult the madness table for possible side effects.

Social Powers

Anyone can perform a social attack as a bonus action, or a social defense as a free action. Creatures and player characters can also have powers that grant bonuses or apply negatives to those actions. An example of a social power granting a static bonus would be:

Bully: Grant nearby allies +1 Social Attack DC

An example of a social powers that performs the action with a bonus or negative would be:

Agitator: Perform a Provoke Attack with +2 DC

Item Effect Cost
Crown +2 Compel DC 100 gp
Royal attire +2 Question DC 55 gp
Sultry dress +2 Provoke DC 8 gp
Belt of heads +1 Social Attack DC n/a
Warband banner +2 Compel save bonus 15 gp
Jarl’s decree +2 Question save bonus 100 gp
Letters from home +2 Provoke save bonus n/a
Arm-ring +1 Social save bonus 10 gp

Social Equipment

Some equipment grants bonuses to different types of social interactions. Below is a sample that the DM can use to design many more based on their game world.

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Creatures from Fairy-Tale and Myth © Andrew Valkauskas 2019 © Published by Pendelhaven Authors Andrew Valkauskas, James Kerr