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Old 12-20-2016, 02:55 PM   #41
wellspring
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

I might consider this as a use of a significant number of Impulse Points (a la serendipity). IE a limited retcon of a non-antagonist NPC's political position. I'm not sure a PC would ever have that much luck/fate/joss/karma available for them to spend.

A lot of it depends on how you perceive what the Doctor did.

One possibility is that while arguing with the PM, the Doctor was aware of the historically precarious position she was in. Either due to his knowledge of her future history or his Time Lord sense of the stability of particular historical facts in the timestream. If you go with that, then she's in a dangerous position and doesn't realize it, so the Doctor's threat is to take advantage of that situation that he perceives and she doesn't. (In other words, he can't topple PMs whenever he wants; he only made the threat because there was this uncommon opportunity to carry it out.)

The next possibility is that this was some kind of infectious mind-control on her subordinates or head fakery against her. In other words some kind of (possibly psi or psi-assisted) social attack.

Or he used his Time Lord powers to know the precise way to change history at a given time. Remember the one where the Doctor changes into a normal human but then when a kid is endangered he throws and apple and a complex series of events kicks off that results in the kid being saved due to that perfect throw at the right moment? He might simply be using some kind of super-precog ability to know exactly how to act to reshape history in a given moment.

I suppose there's a fourth possibility: off-camera he uses the TARDIS to fly back in time and set up the conditions for her fall off-camera and unbeknownst to her.

Doctor Who is inconsistent enough that it could be any of these. The problem with abilities like this is that they're so hard to define that it's very hard to make it work from a game balance point of view. It might as well be magic and what magic he can do in this episode might not have anything to do with what magic he can do in the next.



(And yes this was a case of Ten's worst moment. The deed is done, for better or for worse. Ten admits that she's a great PM. And he doesn't tear her down, he threatens her basically if she doesn't grovel and beg forgiveness. Then in a later episode he admits he was wrong. So basically it was a case of a temper tantrum of his personal moral aesthetics causing him to upend an entire civilization. In other words, the Doctor was vindicating exactly what his enemies' critique of him is.
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Old 12-20-2016, 04:02 PM   #42
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

6 words is nothing.
In a short story by Asimov called "Spell my name with an S" a being prevents a world war by changing one letter in one name. (This is done on a bet, and he later decides to triple the odds change another letter and bring back the world war.)
So I say again 6 words is nothing.
This is a "deus ex machina" ability that IMHO should not be reduced to skill levels. It's simply the ability to know everything and predict how every single action no matter how small would effect them. (Super precognition to the n-th degree) a smaller scale of this was displayed in Lucifer season 2 episode 5.
When Uriel makes very small changes like moving a skateboard about an inch and that causes a chain on events that ends with a car crash 5 minutes later.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwHa6a3dyCQ

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Last edited by adimar; 12-20-2016 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 12-20-2016, 05:28 PM   #43
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

Quote:
Originally Posted by adimar View Post
When Uriel makes very small changes like moving a skateboard about an inch and that causes a chain on events that ends with a car crash 5 minutes later.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwHa6a3dyCQ
Something very like this is explored in the film Lola Runs.
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Old 12-21-2016, 12:02 PM   #44
wellspring
 
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

Quote:
Originally Posted by adimar View Post
6 words is nothing. This is a "deus ex machina" ability that IMHO should not be reduced to skill levels. It's simply the ability to know everything and predict how every single action no matter how small would effect them. (Super precognition to the n-th degree) a smaller scale of this was displayed in Lucifer season 2 episode 5.
When Uriel makes very small changes like moving a skateboard about an inch and that causes a chain on events that ends with a car crash 5 minutes later.
Maybe you're right that it's best not to try to model it in game mechanics at all. That's why I was thinking Influence Points, though, because from the player's perspective it's more about being able to change Fate, with the skateboard or the spelling or the six words basically being "material components" in the magic.

OTOH, in parallel universe and time travel stories, you have major recurring themes about divergence and convergence. Divergence, or the butterfly effect, where I sneeze on a dinosaur and when I get back it's raining donuts. Convergence, where I kill baby Hitler and someone else rises to take his place. Hell, even historians argue about the impact of great forces of history versus "crap happens" events that seem to swing on trivialities.

It feels important enough to have some way of handling in a game, though I agree that how to to it in a balanced way is very hard. Infinite Worlds does a nice job IMO. Usually you're in a world where convergence applies, but there are paratemporal "windows" that open up occasionally that let you justify butterfly effect stories when you want one.
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Old 12-21-2016, 11:57 PM   #45
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

Quote:
Originally Posted by adimar View Post
This is a "deus ex machina" ability that IMHO should not be reduced to skill levels. It's simply the ability to know everything and predict how every single action no matter how small would effect them. (Super precognition to the n-th degree) a smaller scale of this was displayed in Lucifer season 2 episode 5.
When Uriel makes very small changes like moving a skateboard about an inch and that causes a chain on events that ends with a car crash 5 minutes later.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwHa6a3dyCQ

Adi
There was a villain named Dice on the short lived series "The Cape" who had this as an explicit superpower.

In the specific case of the Doctor, he's been shown to have the ability to detect crucial moments in time (at least in the new series) so I agree that's a more likely justification than high social skill. Probably the most obnoxious thing he did in the course of the show.
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Old 12-23-2016, 06:19 PM   #46
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

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Originally Posted by Infornific View Post
There was a villain named Dice on the short lived series "The Cape" who had this as an explicit superpower.

In the specific case of the Doctor, he's been shown to have the ability to detect crucial moments in time (at least in the new series) so I agree that's a more likely justification than high social skill. Probably the most obnoxious thing he did in the course of the show.
But on the bright side, one that he outright admitted was a serious mistake.
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Old 12-24-2016, 04:29 AM   #47
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] "I could bring down your Government with six words."

I'd probably say that this is a combination of two or three kinds of Psy-Ops (SE62) (Undermining trust, giving information, and a whispering campaign) with viral "marketing". I'd also say that since it targets specific people in a limited group, rather than a specific demographic in a large group, a regular Approachability roll (SE25) is more appropriate than market research.

The core of the social attack is a Quick Contest of Psychology (Applied) + Going Viral vs. Alex' Will. Psychology (Applied) + Going Viral is complemented by Politics or Savoir-Faire (High Society), and penalized by the reverse of the modifiers Harriet has on Loyalty Rolls towards Alex.

I'm not entirely sure what success and critical success would mean; probably giving Harriet some penalty to Loyalty Rolls against the target population, and/or giving the target population some bonus to their own social rolls to convince others that Harriet is temporarily unfit to do her job. On a critical success maybe even inflicting the target population with a Delusion.

Really though, if you want this to work you'd probably want to work multiple angles; Giving (false) Information that Harriet is tired, starting a whisper campaign in the populace that Harriet is tired so it filters up to the politicians, making individual politicians believe Harriet is tired, and finally pushing for the vote of no confidence.

The last part is best done by finding someone who'd benefit greatly from Harriet losing that vote, and giving them an opportunity to do so.
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