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Old 02-07-2015, 07:48 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Diplomacy

Diplomacy is the IQ/H social skill for being or seeming reasonable at people. It lets you negotiate, make compromises, and generally get along with others. It's the hardest of the Influence skills, but it has major advantages over the other ones. It works as an Influence skill in any non-combat situation, allows a reaction roll as well as a skill roll and lets you use the best outcome, and doesn't alienate the target on a failure. You can also use Diplomacy to predict the outcome of a negotiating strategy, or choose the best course of action for negotiation. Overall, it's pretty good, and one of the characteristic skills of GURPS: no other game system I've played has something so useful, effective and safe.

Diplomacy defaults to IQ-6 or Politics-6, and Politics defaults to Diplomacy-5. It's a possible prerequisite for Group Performance, as an alternative to Leadership or Intimidation. Having Diplomacy at 20 gives you +2 to all reaction rolls, if you can talk, but this rule is a holdover from 3e, where achieving that skill level was considerably cheaper: 16 points bought Diplomacy at IQ+6 under 3e, whereas it now only gets you IQ+3.

Diplomacy modifiers are +2 for Voice, -3 for Low Empathy, -1 for Oblivious, -1 to -4 for Shyness, and -2 for Stuttering. Talking is clearly important, and DF2: Dungeons makes it clear the skill is penalised for poor language comprehension. It also takes penalties for lack of Cultural Familiarity.

Social Engineering gives us more about Diplomacy. It's worthwhile for anyone who makes deals or other negotiations, and can often be a complementary skill. It works with text-only and voice-only communication, although obviously some of the modifiers won't apply. It can be useful in building loyalty and trust in a relationship, including employment, but is also the key skill for blackmail. Per-based Diplomacy is useful for finding the right people to approach for some purpose, such as the ones who know what's going on "round here". Alliances and Diplomacy provides rules for negotiations between groups, with a lot of complementary skill options. Diplomacy can also be used to avoid fights, although once they're started it won't do you much good.

Diplomacy is extremely common on templates for characters who need to at least try to be reasonable, from nurses to kings. In the high-speed world of Action, successful Diplomacy can get information from neutrals, or calm down a confrontation, and success by 5+ can get hostages released, or minor aid from neutrals. Dungeon Fantasy has rules for negotiating with monsters, and manuals for Diplomacy, and Fantasy has a section on diplomacy-based storylines. Horror points out the usefulness of Diplomacy in convincing modern-day authorities that the problem is demons, rather than teenage joyriders, and Madness Dossier covers its usefulness in mimetic campaigns (and their drawbacks in the setting). Monster Hunters has the same rules as Action and Dungeon Fantasy. Mysteries has Diplomacy as the primary skill for interviewing witnesses, and allows modifiers for Reputation, Status and possibly Rank; getting through bureaucratic defence systems is the lower of Administration and Diplomacy. There are perks, quirks, talents and wildcard skills that use Diplomacy in the appropriate Power-Ups volumes: the Influence Shtick perks are especially useful.

I've used Diplomacy a lot in GURPS games, so much so that I don't remember incidents. It tends to remove obstacles in a less spectacular way than combat. Of course, sometimes that's not the point in a game, but I'm happy to save firepower for when it's most needed.

What have you done diplomatically?

Last edited by johndallman; 02-07-2015 at 07:52 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 02-08-2015, 02:36 AM   #2
Pomphis
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Diplomacy

A mage convinced a victorious tribe to assist with ceremonial castings of Enslave on the prisoners.
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Old 02-08-2015, 04:22 AM   #3
Railstar
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Diplomacy

Now I need to invest more points in Diplomacy; even a failed skill roll can help you out (Social Engineering, p. 30 – use the better of a rolled reaction roll and the Bad reaction from the Influence roll). So worst case scenario is it provides damage control.

My main use of it was a kind of ‘social sense’ my character had; when you know the right approach to take to negotiate with someone, that can give you a lot of insight into their motivations and personality. Especially over time when you can start noticing patterns.

Who will take a bribe?
Who is eager to talk about things?
Who wants to be appreciated by the group?
Who wants praise?
Who expects material rewards?
Who wants to generally be left alone?

These are not just useful when you are the one doing the approaching. If you are working with cops and soldiers, knowing just who might take a bribe and who is driven by things like Code of Honour or Sense of Duty can be incredibly useful. At the very least it gives you a starting point for investigations.

If you do your homework, you can start using Diplomacy in advance to build up bonuses for when that Influence roll really matters. If you know what someone responds well to, you can tailor acts of kindness accordingly to provide the perfect gift. Technically the Diplomacy skill gives +1 to reactions when Building Trust, but if you know what someone reacts well to then a few win-win arrangements (that might not be important to you, but serve the purpose of building the relationship) can easily pre-arrange +2 Previous Transactions and an extra bonus for Suitability.

The list of things a character of mine used Diplomacy for:

Quickly identify the right people to befriend when joining a new group.
Establish good working relationships with win-win casual transactions.
Vet candidates to give key positions/responsibilities to (= surrounds himself with reliable people)
Assign jobs/duties within a small platoon based on what people enjoy and training them accordingly.

My favourite part of this is by knowing what to offer, the character won the loyalty of people spectacularly inappropriate on paper.
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Old 02-08-2015, 04:53 AM   #4
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Diplomacy

I'm playing a Diplomacy-oriented character in Transhuman Space. Currently skill at 18, and I'm considering taking two more levels before the final showdown of the campaign. (I'm inclined not to, because I seem to be in urgent need of raising a few other skills.) So yeah, I consider the +2 at skill 20 to be a non-negligible thing, not some sort of rudiment from 3e.
I think it's the quintessential smooth operator skill.

Over the course of the campaign, I've been quite happy with the skill. It's been used to distract gun-threatening enemies, to convert enemies into allies and forge long-term alliances with them, and to get people to divulge their secrets (though the use of Elicitation that was bought up to Diplomacy+4).

In some ways, playing the Diplomacy 25+ (after all Reaction Modifiers) character pulling off epic feats of making friends out of enemies is cooler than playing a Guns 25 combat monster pulling off epic feats of making corpses out of enemies.
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Old 02-08-2015, 06:10 AM   #5
RogerBW
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Diplomacy

For me this is the one compulsory skill for any IQ-orientated character. The gun bunny who only has one social skill may be better off with something else because he can't afford to take the one-level complexity hit (A to H difficulty) with his relatively low IQ, but anyone who's going to have to talk to people at all gets at least a point here.

Looking at my archives suggests that it's typically on half or more of the character sheets in a party. (In my WWII game, every PC has it except for the defecting GRU agent.)

Something that seems to show up quite a bit when I'm running games: the PCs are clearly out-fighting the enemy mooks, and then call on them to give up. The mooks aren't necessarily fanatics, and would probably like to live to go back to their lives of petty nastiness, but will they believe the PCs will genuinely let them go, or even let them live in captivity? Diplomacy surely helps with that.
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Old 02-08-2015, 06:21 AM   #6
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Diplomacy

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
So yeah, I consider the +2 at skill 20 to be a non-negligible thing, not some sort of rudiment from 3e.
Oh, it's good, all right. It's just significantly more expensive than it was under 3e. If I had a character with Diplomacy-16 or better, I would look carefully at other options for getting improved reactions before going for this one.
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:04 AM   #7
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Diplomacy

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Oh, it's good, all right. It's just significantly more expensive than it was under 3e. If I had a character with Diplomacy-16 or better, I would look carefully at other options for getting improved reactions before going for this one.
It's certainly expensive, but once you reach skill-18 (and my character did due to a combo of Empath Talent 4, OTJ training with memotropins, and eventually IQ 14), the [8] for two levels of Diplomacy is a reasonable thing to buy for +2 Reaction that applies most of the time. After all, it's easier to justify than e.g. buying two more levels of Charisma, and it's about as versatile (slightly less, though). It's also always with you, no matter which body you possess, unlike Voice or Appearance; even if you talk by text.
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