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Old 02-27-2015, 11:40 AM   #1
AchyuthC
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Default GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

I've been toying with the idea of adapting Burning Wheel's Duel of Wits to my upcoming game, since I'm so in love with that mechanic.

For those who might be unfamiliar, it's basically a system that codifies argument and rhetoric into something resembling combat, only using skills like oratory instead of brawling, a body of argument (will, essentially) instead of hit points, and moves like 'make a point' or 'make a rebuttal' instead of attack and defend. It also has you plan your moves in sets of threes (called volleys) and then see how your moves match up with the ones your opponent makes (basically like rock, paper, scissors but you pick three moves ahead). Obliterating your opponents body of argument lets you achieve your intended goal (say, you talk down the reckless barbarian chieftain from rushing enemy lines), but the more dents and nicks you take to your own will force you to make compromises (the barbarian chief agrees not to rush immediately, but he's definitely doing it soon!).

I know I could model it just using a basic skill check and abstract the whole conversation from that, but I've had a lot of fun in my experience with the mechanic and I'd love to adapt it to my preferred system.

This is all to say, I know it's a long shot, but I was wondering if there was anyone that could help me adapt it into the skills and attributes of GURPS? I've been having a tough time doing that on my own. Thanks!
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Old 02-27-2015, 12:23 PM   #2
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

This is covered as a topic in GURPS Social Engineering, but it doesn't use a combat-like structure at all; it's just competing Influence rolls, and possible complementary skill rolls to help out in various ways. Though there are a couple of techniques in the appendix, I think—notably the Irony technique, which emphasizes undermining the opponent's argumentative credibility.
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Old 02-27-2015, 12:25 PM   #3
Joe
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

Do it! I love this idea.

Many systems, including GURPS, break combat out into its own little tactical minigame - and increasingly new games are trying to find ways to break social interactions out into little tactical minigames, too. I welcome this trend!

I was hoping that GURPS Social Engineering would do this for GURPS, but it didn't. (It did some really brilliant other stuff, don't get me wrong, but not this).

(Edit: Ah! Ninja'd by the Social Engineering author himself...)
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Old 02-27-2015, 12:54 PM   #4
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

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I was hoping that GURPS Social Engineering would do this for GURPS, but it didn't. (It did some really brilliant other stuff, don't get me wrong, but not this).
Yeah, I saw people proposing that sort of thing, but I find the whole idea alien. The structure of combat mechanics makes a fair amount of sense to me as a stylization of the process of combat; but I find it hard to imagine why anyone would think that the process of social interaction and persuasion could be stylized in the same way. It seems like using a hammer, not even to drive a screw or tighten a bolt, but to tie a knot. So I don't feel able to offer detailed suggestions for how to do it.
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Old 02-27-2015, 01:06 PM   #5
Dwarf99
 
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Default Re: GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

It would be pretty easy to envision a will based "argument" score, modified by social disadvantages like stubbornness, bully, confused, etc. Those could actually modify the attack modes you use (if you're a bully, that could effectively be +Striking Strength). If I were doing it, I'd go |cp cost|/2 for the modified argument (HP) score, and use will for the base strength of an "attack" and modify it using |cost|/5 for effective thrusting damage. Maybe let the player use swing damage if they depict their argument particularly well.
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Old 02-27-2015, 01:40 PM   #6
AchyuthC
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Default Re: GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Yeah, I saw people proposing that sort of thing, but I find the whole idea alien. The structure of combat mechanics makes a fair amount of sense to me as a stylization of the process of combat; but I find it hard to imagine why anyone would think that the process of social interaction and persuasion could be stylized in the same way. It seems like using a hammer, not even to drive a screw or tighten a bolt, but to tie a knot. So I don't feel able to offer detailed suggestions for how to do it.
I'll definitely take a look at Social Engineering and see if it'll help me out, though by the look of what you said it seems like I might just have to model something myself. I can see the viewpoint that it's a little ridiculous to try and push social interaction into something akin to turn-based mini-game, but in my experience it brings out the passion and the skill/technique of a really heated debate. It's to be used sparingly of course (so no devolving into rounds of rhetoric combat over who gets the last chair).

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Originally Posted by Dwarf99 View Post
It would be pretty easy to envision a will based "argument" score, modified by social disadvantages like stubbornness, bully, confused, etc. Those could actually modify the attack modes you use (if you're a bully, that could effectively be +Striking Strength). If I were doing it, I'd go |cp cost|/2 for the modified argument (HP) score, and use will for the base strength of an "attack" and modify it using |cost|/5 for effective thrusting damage. Maybe let the player use swing damage if they depict their argument particularly well.
That's a great starting place, thank you! It would be really interesting if some advantages gave a bonus to certain methods of oratory like you mentioned. Switching between swing/thrust damage might get me that rock-paper-scissor style I want. I think I'm going to also have to list the set of skills and maneuvers you can use for a duel of wits, and which can be used for which.

I'll see what I can cook up with that as a base, thanks guys.

Last edited by AchyuthC; 02-27-2015 at 01:46 PM. Reason: Formatting
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Old 03-01-2015, 01:47 AM   #7
Dwarf99
 
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Default Re: GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

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Originally Posted by AchyuthC View Post
That's a great starting place, thank you! It would be really interesting if some advantages gave a bonus to certain methods of oratory like you mentioned. Switching between swing/thrust damage might get me that rock-paper-scissor style I want. I think I'm going to also have to list the set of skills and maneuvers you can use for a duel of wits, and which can be used for which.

I'll see what I can cook up with that as a base, thanks guys.
You're welcome. Glad to be of service. I use similar methods for tweaking Derived Stats on BESM 3. Plus I'm always looking for off the wall ways to do things.

You could also base your "Argument" damage thresholds off the FP loss table.
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Old 02-27-2015, 01:50 PM   #8
Ulzgoroth
 
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Default Re: GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Yeah, I saw people proposing that sort of thing, but I find the whole idea alien. The structure of combat mechanics makes a fair amount of sense to me as a stylization of the process of combat; but I find it hard to imagine why anyone would think that the process of social interaction and persuasion could be stylized in the same way. It seems like using a hammer, not even to drive a screw or tighten a bolt, but to tie a knot. So I don't feel able to offer detailed suggestions for how to do it.
I think a social conflict minigame that doesn't resemble combat mechanics might be as or more satisfying. But combat engines come easily to the RPG designer's hand, so...
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Old 02-27-2015, 02:50 PM   #9
whswhs
 
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Default Re: GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
I think a social conflict minigame that doesn't resemble combat mechanics might be as or more satisfying. But combat engines come easily to the RPG designer's hand, so...
There is a point to unification of mechanics. But if I were going to do that, my impulse would be to stylize combat as Quick Contests or regular contests, resolving its outcomes more holistically and less blow by blow, rather than to try to assimilate other things to combat.

But I also see a point to having mechanics that describes things accurately. If mechanics hasn't been created, I'm willing to try to think about what mechanics is appropriate rather than just using something that was designed for a different purpose.
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Old 02-27-2015, 06:43 PM   #10
Joe
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: GURPS: Adapting the Duel of Wits

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Yeah, I saw people proposing that sort of thing, but I find the whole idea alien. The structure of combat mechanics makes a fair amount of sense to me as a stylization of the process of combat; but I find it hard to imagine why anyone would think that the process of social interaction and persuasion could be stylized in the same way.
I have a lot of sympathy for this view - stylizing some social interactions as tactical minigames can feel oddly abstract. (I should also reiterate how much I enjoy GURPS Social Engineering for other reasons.)

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Originally Posted by AchyuthC View Post
Yep, I agree with you Joe! Combat is awesome and exciting of course, but I love the idea of exploring other areas of the game to see what can be made mechanically interesting about those as well.
You say this better than I did. I would put it like this: collective storytelling is great fun, but can also be hard work to sustain all the time. Having good rules for tactical combat - which we really do in GURPS - is great in part because it offers you a time in which the game mechanics do a lot of the work of storytelling for you: they automatically create little micro-situations in which the players have to make meaningful choices, there is a lot of dice rolling and thus the chance of surprising and unexpected things happening; the stakes are usually quite high - and so on. Thus combat really works well in a roleplaying setting, and most campaigns see a lot of it.

I'd love to have some GURPS mechanics that would do the same thing for social interactions - that way, I could run a campaign that emphasized social stuff rather than fighting, but was still tactically dense, with the game mechanics doing a lot of the storytelling work for us, as above.

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
I think a social conflict minigame that doesn't resemble combat mechanics might be as or more satisfying. But combat engines come easily to the RPG designer's hand, so...
I think this is probably right. The idea of doing "rolling to hit", doing "damage" etc seems odd in this context. Some of the systems I've sen have used metaphors of positioning rather than destruction, but none have really cracked it, in my view. Fun challenge, though.
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