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Old 12-15-2016, 07:54 AM   #1
vicky_molokh
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Default [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

Greetings, all!

I'm curious: what are the ways to replicate this feat in GURPS, especially as a grand feat of social engineering?
Spoiler:  


A short sentence said at the right moment to the right person ultimately results in a PM receiving a vote of no confidence after a while.

Now, I know it's tempting to just say that it's an Affliction with a Negated Advantage, but that doesn't seem to accurately reflect what is happening here. It seems like instead of a very narrow brute force ability, the scene was an illustration of a character deeply specialized in social tricks ("Talking. It's what I do!").

So what is it? Some sort of Propaganda success by a ridiculous margin? If yes, any way of estimating how much of a margin is required to replicate this or similar feats? Or perhaps this is something different?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-15-2016, 08:10 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

Politics-30.
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Old 12-15-2016, 08:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

Very cool thought exercise. My impulse reaction though is that this is not a case of a character ability specifically, but a case of the player being wonderfully clever. The player knows something useful, and puts it to use extremely well.

I might ask for a roll from any of...
  • Acting
  • Carousing
  • Current Affairs: Politics
  • Diplomacy
  • Enthrallment
  • Fast-Talk
  • Fortune-Telling (it's about reading people and saying something they might believe right?)
  • Performance
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Public Speaking (since it's a general skill of speaking well, I think this would need to succeed by a lot)
  • Savoir-Faire (perhaps some custom or another would be enough to make a politician bow-out)
  • Sex Appeal
  • Sociology
  • Strategy (if the situation has military components, this might lead you to something that would depose a politician)
  • Streetwise

Of course, the skill called for would depend on how the player is trying to play it. And if they can pull off 6 word sentence that makes me as the GM think that the character they're trying to influence would be so significantly affected, then I'd try to find the right skill and ask for a roll (and give them a hefty bonus for the great role-playing).
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Old 12-15-2016, 08:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

Isn't this just threathening to use a pretty hefty Favor*, which can be called in with six words, to add a bonus to an Influence roll?

If the character has a lot of these, consider giving him a Modular Ability that can be used for Allies, Contacts, Favors, Patrons and suchlike, maybe with some Limitations to represent that if he chooses to call upon Unwilling aid and/or do something very dramatic (like bringing down a government), he cannot use it among that group of people again for a while.

*Presumably from a majority of MP, whether by party lines or a voting block formed around some issue.
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Old 12-15-2016, 09:13 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Isn't this just threathening to use a pretty hefty Favor*, which can be called in with six words, to add a bonus to an Influence roll?
No. The six words in question are "Don't you think she looks tired?" addressed to the PM's surviving underling, as quoted in the OP.
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Old 12-15-2016, 09:21 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

Whatever I'd make them roll normally, then at -10 for instant use. Same as single round first aid being -10

As for specific rolls . . . . Quick Contest of Politics? I'd probably give the incumbent +8 or so to avoid dethroning? I think incumbents usually have advantage

If you can beat Politics +8 with your Politics -10, then you are a groovy political dude
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Old 12-15-2016, 09:21 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

I think this specific example is a use of the History skill by a time traveler.

There are lots of points in history where a small, precise change would seem to make a huge difference. For example, it should be pretty easy to save the Archduke Ferdinand and thus, presumably, stop WW1. And if you've seen multiple possible timelines, then you have a pretty clear view of what could be your root cause of an event. So, he might know what brought down the Harriet Jones government and what didn't, what particularly moment was especially critical, and he could precipitate it at that moment.

In a sense, this is like classic social engineering, in that he's finding the one point in a system where he can break it and applying the exact words necessary to do it, but like real social engineering (the hacking kind) it requires extensive technical knowledge that lies outside of the purview of social skills to turn a seemingly innocuous statement into something powerful.
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Old 12-15-2016, 09:49 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

At least part of it seemed to me to be Psychology, to set up a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy against someone who showed signs of paranoia. Her downfall was in part due to her wearing herself out in attempts to stave off whatever disaster the Doctor had set up.
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Old 12-15-2016, 02:39 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

What about this?

Perhaps what we're looking at here is an absurdly high level in a Wildcard social skill (e.g. Talker!), used first as a substitute for Psychology to read the relevant parties' personalities and see how they would react, then Politics to work out what the likely sequence of consequences and ramifications are, maybe then Propaganda, or similar, to work out how best to spread the appropriate rumor given those variable, etc, etc. The Wildcard skill is also providing points that can be used to buy successes - and these points are being spent so as to make each of these rolls a critical success.

Waddaya think?
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Old 12-15-2016, 03:00 PM   #10
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Default Requires a mix of things --

Politics, obviously. An clear idea of the things that can bring down a government and the judgment as to choose the right things.

Psychology -- noting the natures of the key people, and taking this into account when making the manipulation.

Bard or Diplomacy -- how to make the fatal words acceptable.

History -- to provide the data to inform all the above.

Another example:

[Spoken casually to David Cameron]

"A referendum will demonstrate public support."

Six words.
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