Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-22-2016, 12:38 AM   #1
lordabdul
 
lordabdul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Default GURPS Social Engineering and "super negotiator" character

Hey all,

One of my players wants to make a character that's basically a "super negotiator". Apart from the obvious advantage of having a PC with a lot of Reaction Roll bonuses, the goal is to give him a chance to "defuse" any potential combat situation by first trying to communicate with the NPCs (and if it fails, proceed to shoot them in due form).

Of course I immediately ran back to my PDF collection, screaming "Finally! I can use GURPS Social Engineering!". In there I found a couple pages pertaining to this particular type of situation. However, I'll often need to come up with appropriate penalties for each particular group of NPCs.

The one I'm first interested in are "evil cultists". We're playing Call of Cthulhu adventures using GURPS, so these are the type of NPCs most often chasing you... what kind of penalties should I apply to Reaction Rolls? I get the impression I would treat them as a "mob" (p70) with at least "intolerance" towards the PCs and "indoctrination", for a total of -6, plus some additional -1 to -4 if they are under more or less direct orders to kill or kidnap the players?

Second is how Public Speaking factors into this situation? It's referenced throughout the book for other situations, but not so much about calming down a mob? I imagine I would use it as a "complimentary skill" to give +1/+3 to the Reaction Roll?

Last is how to handle the situation when there's only a handful of enemies. Maybe you just have a couple of hired killers after you... when you confront them, how hard is it to distract them, turn them, offer them more money to let you go, etc? The same applies if, say, an FBI negotiator wants to prevent someone from killing a hostage. I didn't see anything about this situation but I may have missed something?

Thanks!
lordabdul is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2016, 05:35 AM   #2
NineDaysDead
 
NineDaysDead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: GURPS Social Engineering and "super negotiator" character

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordabdul View Post
Hey all,

One of my players wants to make a character that's basically a "super negotiator". Apart from the obvious advantage of having a PC with a lot of Reaction Roll bonuses, the goal is to give him a chance to "defuse" any potential combat situation by first trying to communicate with the NPCs (and if it fails, proceed to shoot them in due form).

Of course I immediately ran back to my PDF collection, screaming "Finally! I can use GURPS Social Engineering!". In there I found a couple pages pertaining to this particular type of situation. However, I'll often need to come up with appropriate penalties for each particular group of NPCs.

The one I'm first interested in are "evil cultists". We're playing Call of Cthulhu adventures using GURPS, so these are the type of NPCs most often chasing you... what kind of penalties should I apply to Reaction Rolls? I get the impression I would treat them as a "mob" (p70) with at least "intolerance" towards the PCs and "indoctrination", for a total of -6, plus some additional -1 to -4 if they are under more or less direct orders to kill or kidnap the players?

Second is how Public Speaking factors into this situation? It's referenced throughout the book for other situations, but not so much about calming down a mob? I imagine I would use it as a "complimentary skill" to give +1/+3 to the Reaction Roll?

Last is how to handle the situation when there's only a handful of enemies. Maybe you just have a couple of hired killers after you... when you confront them, how hard is it to distract them, turn them, offer them more money to let you go, etc? The same applies if, say, an FBI negotiator wants to prevent someone from killing a hostage. I didn't see anything about this situation but I may have missed something?

Thanks!
How many points are you giving this PC? Are they limited to normal traits, or can they actually be "super"? What about Cinematic traits?
__________________
Ebaying:

Last edited by NineDaysDead; 01-22-2016 at 05:39 AM.
NineDaysDead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2016, 06:02 AM   #3
weby
 
weby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Default Re: GURPS Social Engineering and "super negotiator" character

The specific penalties should kind of depend on the effective skills.

It is not fun for others if the talker can always talk though any situation and they cannot showcase their skills and the opposite where if the talker can never succeed in his skill rolls it is frustrating to him.

I tend to do the following when setting any challenge:
I look at the PC skills and decide what type of challenge it should be:
Automatic - No roll needed as long as someone says they are doing it
Trivial -Where even totally wrong party member has reasonable chance of success if they have a point in the skill
Easy -Where the right party member will succeed almost all the time even if having to use improvised tools or a bit less time.
Medium -Where the right party member would have to actually try, as in have his tools take full time and such to get a 13- or so probability
Hard -Where the right party member will need to try really hard, bringing in extra resources like complimentary skills, helpers and whatever to get a 11- or 10-)
Almost impossible - Where even with all the normally available bonuses will not get the effective skill above 6-
Impossible- No roll allowed, have to find another way.
__________________
--
weby's gaming stuff: http://weby.roto.nu
weby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2016, 12:44 AM   #4
lordabdul
 
lordabdul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Default Re: GURPS Social Engineering and "super negotiator" character

Quote:
Originally Posted by NineDaysDead View Post
How many points are you giving this PC? Are they limited to normal traits, or can they actually be "super"? What about Cinematic traits?
No "super" traits, "cinematic" traits are on a case by case basis (for instance, I'm still debating whether I authorize "Enthrallment" for this game).

Quote:
Originally Posted by weby View Post
It is not fun for others if the talker can always talk though any situation and they cannot showcase their skills and the opposite where if the talker can never succeed in his skill rolls it is frustrating to him.
Yes, good point, I'll have to discuss this with the player, thanks.
lordabdul is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2016, 04:19 AM   #5
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: GURPS Social Engineering and "super negotiator" character

From having played a character like this, and seen others... This approach can work for opponents who haven't definitely decided to fight. It doesn't work for fights that are underway, unless the PCs are definitely winning, and offer something preferable to defeat to their opponents.

Barring actual mind control, you can't talk to people who simply aren't interested in talking.
johndallman is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2016, 06:29 AM   #6
NineDaysDead
 
NineDaysDead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: GURPS Social Engineering and "super negotiator" character

Dealing with Cultists:
Firstly take the brotherhood perk:
Quote:
Originally Posted by perks page 17
One narrow group of potential foes – military unit, monster species, street gang, etc. – doesn’t like you but remains neutral toward you if you stay out of their way. They must know you’re there. Thus, this perk only works if you’re visible and identifiable.

If the perk is mundane, it’s usually the result of being known to the target group. For instance, mobsters might avoid killing the boss’ son, while soldiers probably won’t gun down their old commanding officer.

If the perk is for fantasy monsters, like zombies, the things ignore you as long as you aren’t hostile. Perhaps you simply don’t smell like food!

Members of this group will shove you aside if you get between them and anything or anyone they’re out to attack, break, eat, rob, etc. If you do anything more hostile than get in the way, or refuse to step aside, you become a valid target. Of course, letting them act unhindered may make you an accessory to a crime . . .

Brotherhood guarantees an automatic good reaction in return for your respect. As with all NPCs, some encounters with the affected group may involve predetermined reactions; these override your perk. Supernaturally controlled NPCs may likewise ignore it.
This should buy you time to talk.

Next consider the the Passing Appearance perk; which suggests that being immune to one type of Intolerance (Race, Sex, etc) is worth 1 point. It might be reasonable to justify Immunity to one type of intolerance for 1 point, or all Intolerance for 10 points (Based on Cultural Adaptability).

Next consider taking Empathy or Sensitive so you can bypass any Indomitable the cultists might have.

Next consider taking Indomitable and Unfazable so Cultists can't use influence skills on you.

Next consider taking Social Chameleon, so that your lack of Rank: Cultist doesn't hinder you.

Next become Reaction Monster, buying as many reaction bonuses as you can. Reputation: Cultists, small class, all the time +4 [6] is probably the cheapest you can buy.

Next consider taking Luck (Aspected, Social Interactions, -20%)

Next buy up influence skills; note Intimidation can be used in combat:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Benefits -- many of which others have already pointed out -- include:
  • Intimidation is the only Influence skill that works during action scenes, like combat and chases. Once you're there, you've automatically dismissed all other options.

  • Bonuses to Intimidation come from things that adventurers do well. Some don't cost points for reaction bonuses: waving around weapons, killing, using creepy powers, etc. Others actually stem from disadvantages, such as Appearance (Monstrous), Callous, and negative-but-scary Reputations. No other Influence skill enjoys so many easy, free bonuses.

  • Normally, Intimidation is the only Influence skill useful against groups.

  • A good Intimidation roll can cause a Fright Check, which can produce many lasting, potent effects.
I've GMed GURPS for decades, and the rules for Influence skills haven't materially changed in that time. My hands-on experience has been that Intimidation is the most consistently useful Influence skill! The others have their niches, but Intimidation works in an adventurer's most common situation: when staring down a horde of armed bad guys who've studied on killin' you.
__________________
Ebaying:

Last edited by NineDaysDead; 01-23-2016 at 06:33 AM.
NineDaysDead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2016, 06:36 AM   #7
vicky_molokh
GURPS FAQ Keeper
 
vicky_molokh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kyv, Ukraine
Default Re: GURPS Social Engineering and "super negotiator" character

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Barring actual mind control, you can't talk to people who simply aren't interested in talking.
The problem I always had with GURPS' social mechanics is that there's this all-or-nothing cutoff point, and no gradual shift. The effectiveness of a mythically competent negotiator hinges on whether the GM has set the mood bool of the NPC to 'negotiable' (in which case all those Reaction Modifiers will make a huge difference*), or to 'non-negotiable' (in which case they have no effect whatsoever, not even asking for a last chocolate bar before being executed). There's no way to make the switch gradual.

And a character concept of a mythically skilled diplomat who can negotiate things that are deemed non-negotiable with people who are deemed non-negotiable** . . . has to be represented by someone who isn't skilled at Diplomacy at all but rather takes some sort of mind control ability, which is kinda lame and crude.

* == I have the impression that Reaction Modifiers are generally a better way to go than pumping an Influence Skill; yes, some RMs are better than others, some are very conditional etc. etc. But they're still mechanically better overall, and have broader applicability, point for point.
** == One word-combo that I found useful for discussing such situations and feats is "against one's better judgement", i.e. being convinced to do something that of course nobody would do if thinking clearly, but that's the point of having a mythic-level social skill - getting someone not to practice the better judgement.
__________________
Vicky 'Molokh', GURPS FAQ and uFAQ Keeper
The Eye of Eclipse Phase. A Discord server focusing on Roleplaying, Sci-Fi, Transhumanism, and discussion of other assorted topics, from tech to boardgames, from politics to philosophy.
vicky_molokh is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2016, 07:08 AM   #8
NineDaysDead
 
NineDaysDead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: GURPS Social Engineering and "super negotiator" character

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
The problem I always had with GURPS' social mechanics is that there's this all-or-nothing cutoff point, and no gradual shift. The effectiveness of a mythically competent negotiator hinges on whether the GM has set the mood bool of the NPC to 'negotiable' (in which case all those Reaction Modifiers will make a huge difference*), or to 'non-negotiable' (in which case they have no effect whatsoever, not even asking for a last chocolate bar before being executed). There's no way to make the switch gradual.
Yes there is. You could apply penalties. Something like:

-0: normal 'negotiable'
-1
-2
-3
...
-18
-19
Not possible: 'non-negotiable'
__________________
Ebaying:
NineDaysDead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2016, 07:25 AM   #9
Mailanka
 
Mailanka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Default Re: GURPS Social Engineering and "super negotiator" character

Quote:
Originally Posted by NineDaysDead View Post
Yes there is. You could apply penalties. Something like:

-0: normal 'negotiable'
-1
-2
-3
...
-18
-19
Not possible: 'non-negotiable'
Intimidation effectively has this penalty in Action (perhaps other books too, but I remember it from there): -5 for in combat. And there's quite some rules for using Fast-Talk or Public Speaking in the midst of combat for distracting people. I actually had a bunch of rules worked up for my Galactic Frontier for what I called "Social Combat," in the literal sense of using social skills in combat. I believe I had it all pegged at -5 for combat. Talking someone into betraying his side in the midst of combat, for example, is something that comes up surprisingly often, though I would hasten to add that it needs to have a proper place. You can't just point to a mook and say "Hey, switch sides!" But if you've shown mercy to the beautiful assassin working for the power-mad mastermind, and you've come to understand her better and why she's doing this, then in the midst of combat, you could point out how what he's doing actually hurts those she's trying to protect or her values or whatever, and perhaps talk her down, or talk her into turning on the mastermind.

It's really common in James Bond stuff. Luke does it to Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. Star Trek often features "combat negotiations" like this, such as Kirk talking down the Klingons in Day of the Dove.
__________________
My Blog: Mailanka's Musing. Currently Playing: Psi-Wars, a step-by-step exploration of building your own Space Opera setting, inspired by Star Wars.
If you want to support me, check out my Patreon!
Mailanka is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2016, 09:00 AM   #10
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Re: GURPS Social Engineering and "super negotiator" character

Just a reminder:

Look at pages 8 in GURPS CHARACTERS and pages 495 in GURPS CAMPAIGNS before you worry too much about how to handle player characters with Super negotiator capabilities.

Two methods for handling reaction rolls (aside from the fact that you could have already determined or pre-determined that the NPC is not going to be swayed by charisma or anything else for that matter due to fanaticism or hatred or even mindless stupidity) are:

1) have a predetermined penalty to reaction rolls (or bonus!) in advance of the encounter playing out.

2) have a limit to the best or worst reaction possible before you even roll the dice.

But it doesn't have to end there either. Suppose for example, a group of NPC's are supposed to attack the party because if they don't - their heads will be severed from their necks - sort of a come home victorious or don't come home at all kind of thing. The negotiator PC with all of his social skills, may very well be the ONLY one whom the cultists do NOT capture and take back to their leaders because they like him enough to cut him some slack. They capture the rest of the party, but pointedly tell the negotiator to get lost. That puts a whole new spin on the potential ending of an encounter. The combat still occurs, and the negotiator's skills and role playing did bear fruit.

How the NPC leader responds to the player characters after the fight might be based upon the following criteria and ONLY the following criteria - charisma or good looks being of no consequence to the NPC leader...

-1 if 10% of his raiding party is destroyed or out of commission for more than a month

-2 if 20% of his raiding party (ditto the rest above)

-4 if 50% of his raiding party (ditto above)

-8 if 75% are rendered ineffective or dead.

He's not reacting to the player characters, he's reacting to the events themselves. That the reaction's results will determine what happens to the players is a fine but subtle point.

And finally:
Sometimes it pays to adopt the mindset of the NPC's as if they were your player and the ONLY player you have instead of being the GM running ALL of the NPC's. Imagine the surprise that can be had when the players are facing a foe whose numbers and advantages will likely mean defeat for them, only to find that while they are close to losing the contest, one of their foes steps back and starts on his own, to fight against his comrades. After the dust of battle settles, the NPC who was an enemy, and now a seeming friend, tells one player character "My father's life was spared because your father saved him. When he repaid your father by not killing him when he was ordered to, he lost his life. Now you OWE me if you have anywhere near the same honor as your father."

what is going to go through the minds of the players? How will the one react to the debt of honor? Is it a trick by the mastermind - a sacrifice of pawns to get someone in close to his enemies so that the erstwhile betrayer is really now a double agent working against the players. What if the body language skill of the player determines that the other is lying when he tells the touching story of honor? Does the player kill the actor out of hand, or does he work to turn the actor into a REAL asset/friend who will betray his master (ie turning an agent to your own side). Round and round it goes...
hal is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
social engineering

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:16 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.