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Old 04-11-2023, 03:01 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: New England
Default Talent/Spell of the Week: Persuasiveness

This IQ 11 Thrown spell does what its name implies by making its subject more able to convince others, and it confers a +2 to reactions rolls. It has a modest casting cost of 2ST, with a renewal cost of only 1ST per minute. Persuasiveness is ideally suited for a mentalist wizard, though could make a particularly effective lone spell at the disposal of a rogue, courtier, or merchant, or even a sidekick/apprentice who has to make their suggestions seem like their master's. I like this spell, but it has issues that need to be dealt with.

The thing that strikes me as odd about Persuasiveness is that its description implies that it only works in an attempt to convince someone when using a relevant talent (it offers Charisma as an example). This can't possibly be right. One would think that the spell would let anyone be more persuasive, and having a social talent like Bard, Sex Appeal, Courtly Graces, or Scholar would just make the subject even more convincing. And, so we have the puzzle of how to interpret the rules' mention of using the spell combined with a talent.

Once you've figured out, you are confronted with what precise mechanics to use to persuade someone to do something. The opposed roll (a.k.a. "contest") described on ITL p. 8 is the most likely choice. It uses 3d versus a relevant attribute for the characters involved, with success being determined by margin of success. If using this method, it seems fair for social talent bonuses to add to the attribute rolled against (almost certainly IQ), and for the spell to let the enchanted character roll one die fewer. Of course, players will undoubtedly want to convince people to do things things that would be counter to the NPC's interests; if one is trying to convince jailers to let you out of your cell, it would be perfectly reasonable for the GM to require additional dice--probably a lot more. But, in every case, Persuasiveness lessens the difficulty by one die.

When considering the reaction roll bonus, what happens if the subject of the spell already has talents that give them a +2 o +3 bonus? Does the magic give no additional benefit? ITL p. 7 would have us say that it gives no bonus beyond the +3 max. Somehow, that doesn't seem right, either. But, maybe the ultra coarse-grained 1d reaction roll just can't cope with modifiers beyond +3 (reaction rolls probably deserve their own thread in House Rules).

I know of one GM who holds that anyone who has been convinced to do something by the subject of a Persuasiveness spell will become aware of the magical influence when the spell ends. Given that the persuaded are not the subjects of the enchantment, I don't think that they should. Instead, they might doubt their judgement, asking, "What on earth was I thinking when I agreed?!?!" I'd go further to say that the subject also will not be aware of the enchantment; they'll simply know that they were pretty darn convincing (or not, depending on how the dice roll).

Sometimes when I've used Persuasion against the PCs, some of the players were unhappy with being told that an NPC was so convincing that their characters were persuaded to do something they didn't want to do. It can be hard to bring them around without letting the cat out of the bag that magic was the reason, so be prepared if that information is best kept secret.

Conversation Starters
  • Do you require the use of a social talent to allow Persuasiveness to work?
  • Other than those already mentioned, what talents or spells would be especially effective when combined with Persuasiveness?
  • What character types do you think might get the most use out of the spell?
  • How often does Persuasiveness come up in your games?
  • Have you used it against the PCs? How did the player/s respond to being told their characters were persuaded?
  • Do you allow the spell to give reaction roll bonuses beyond +3
  • What was the most outlandish success or spectacular disaster resulting from the use of this spell in your games?
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Anthony Shostak
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control, house rules, influence, magic, social

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