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Old 03-02-2015, 04:23 AM   #28
Join Date: Oct 2012
Default Re: GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Yes, and Social Engineering provides options using regular contests, quick contests, and reaction rolls, and also using other abilities to aid themóby perceiving the other person's motives, by deceptive manipulation, by analogs of deceptive attack such as Irony, and by simple complementary skill rolls, for example. I'm just not convinced that you can run social interaction by an analog of combat mechanics without making it totally abstract and detached from the actual beliefs and motives of the people involved.

My working approach to mechanics, I should say, is to ask the player, "What are you doing?" or "What are you trying to accomplish?" and then look for a mechanic that fits their description. I don't usually give them a list of mechanical options and ask them to focus on that; that moves the game too far away from narrative for me. It rather makes me think of Hero Wars, which had a single mechanic for resolving everything and called for the players to first play out the abstract contest, determine who had won, and then go back and make up a narrative to fit. What I'd prefer, as far as possible, is to first do the narrative, figure out where to apply game mechanics for success or failure, victory or defeat, within the narrative, and thus have "who won" emerge from the storytelling (which emerges from the world description, but that's a different discussion).

I certainly won't say that other people shouldn't engage in abstract social combat if that entertains them. But to me it sounds about as exciting as eating unseasoned cheap tofu.
I think I'm starting to understand your point a little better, you seem to be against taking agency away from the player by forcing them to abide by an arbitrary mechanic that doesn't really replicate anything concrete in the real world. I would argue that all a 'duel of wits' system would do is make the already existing level of abstraction (quick contests, reaction rolls, etc.) more tactically engaging. Instead of one diplomacy roll deciding the quality of argument placed in a crucial moment, the participant has to make a number of decisions to navigate a series of mini-battles with an ebb and flow, losing and gaining advantage as he or she struggles to enforce their will. In my experience of Burning Wheel, breaking down those kinds of rolls into combat-like rounds also brings out a lot of really great roleplaying.

That's not to say you're wrong to think that, and such a mechanic might even be against the overall 'philosophy' of GURPS; I haven't been playing all that long and I'm still getting a handle on the system.
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