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Old 05-05-2014, 09:50 PM   #1
BraselC5048
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Default Social Engineering: Trying to figure out how to run a situation

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out how to use Social Engineering for the social side of this situation. Briefly, there's a group of a dozen of what are basically street thugs, with a recognized leader, (who also controls who gets paid) although certainly not disciplined anything in way of military or police.

They're being paid to take the PC and well, not exactly defined, but likely some combination of kidnapping, beating up and intimidation. They're all armed with crowbars, tire irons and the like, and the leader has a revolver in his jacket, although he won't take it out in a normal fight.

They have a fairly well-ingraned social stigma that regards the PC as completely not a threat. (The PC just loves that, makes life a lot easier). They also don't have anything indicating the PC is a threat, and she certainly doesn't look like one, and while they've been told the PC is "dangerous," they don't have specifics, and they don't really believe it anyway. She's is unarmed, and they have her backed into a dead end alley. The smallest thug is likely twice the weight of the rather tiny PC, although there isn't a 20% height difference, at most only perhaps 10-15% for the tallest one.

They'll likely simply try an intimidation roll, which they expect to pass easily given the huge modifiers. (What exactly is the modifier to considering a nice looking women a threat in a fight in 1930's America? Pretty hefty, but what's the number?). In the off chance it fails, they'll probably be a little uncomfortable, but will move in anyway to attack. (Wouldn't hit a girl is also deeply ingrained, but these aren't exactly gentlemen, and they'll do it, although somewhat awkwardly and reluctantly.)

On the other side, and they don't know this, the PC is a very high point martial artist, is completely unconcerned, thinks she can takes them all on (and likely can), not in the slightest bit intimidated, is if anything looking forward to the fight, (and has Overconfidence too), and is also being paid, in this case to more or less "take them out."

Besides which sets of rules to use in the first place, first thing I'm wondering is what the thugs think their intimidation modifier is (not knowing the very important things about the PC above), as well as what the "not a threat" modifier is (female in the US in the 30's), and how exactly it would affect them when they fail (I assume GM's judgement, and a penalty to the first round of combat)?

Second, at what point/points do you roll to see if they stay around after they start dropping, and would they get a bonus or penalty to this roll?

It'll all be over in well under 20 seconds. If they do run, the PC will chase them down, but only as far as the street. I figure it might take them a couple of seconds after several of them go down to realize the fight's not going their way, and in that time a few more of them will have gone down. The leader will likely be the last one into the fight, and as such likely the last one of them standing.
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Old 05-05-2014, 10:17 PM   #2
'Grape
 
Join Date: May 2012
Default Re: Social Engineering: Trying to figure out how to run a situation

The thugs should not know whether their intimidation attempt was successful or not. If they're reliant on fear to coerce their victims and have limited experience in actual fighting, then they might be slightly perturbed by the crack in their facade. However, the world is full of people who are too stupid to be intimidated, and the thugs have probably seen it before. I don't think they should be sufficiently worried about someone who stupidly chooses to fight back to warrant a penalty.

The relative ease of intimidating a woman in 1930's America would probably best be reflected as a penalty to the victim's Will roll to resist. The victim's belief in her own weakness is more important than the strength of the thugs. They might get +2 or so for being able to flaunt their demonstrably greater size and strength.

You might model their reluctance to harm the victim was something like Pacifism (Cannot Kill), but in a modified form. The thugs will roll at a penalty to hit, and they might feel bad about it later. They also might not strike at full ST. However, this seems to clash with the use of crowbars, which are quite damaging. The preferred tactic would probably be to attack en mass and knock her down with shoves, followed by lots of kicking until she gives up.

Whether they would respond to unexpected resistance by attacking with increased ferocity or by retreating is anyone's guess. You might use Reaction rolls for this, with better reactions indicating flight and lower reactions leading them to stop pulling their punches. Once the PC shows signs of her skills, some of the thugs are likely to back off and evaluate.
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Old 05-05-2014, 11:53 PM   #3
David Johnston2
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Re: Social Engineering: Trying to figure out how to run a situation

Quote:
Originally Posted by BraselC5048 View Post
Besides which sets of rules to use in the first place, first thing I'm wondering is what the thugs think their intimidation modifier is (not knowing the very important things about the PC above), as well as what the "not a threat" modifier is (female in the US in the 30's), and how exactly it would affect them when they fail (I assume GM's judgement, and a penalty to the first round of combat)?
...well obviously they won't think in terms of intimidation modifiers at all. They'll assume automatic success in a case like that and will be surprised when that doesn't doesn't happen and she actually attacks. Just use the usual rules for partial surprise. (She'd only get complete surprise if they didn't know she was there.) As for what the roll modifier would actually be if she was just some noncombatant, it would be at least +3 to their effective skill. for outnumbering her and I'd add +3 for her lack of familiarity with violence anyway. As it stands I'd give her about a +4 to her will for her knowledge that these guys are nobody compared to her. And an automatic success if she happens to be Overconfident.

Quote:
Second, at what point/points do you roll to see if they stay around after they start dropping, and would they get a bonus or penalty to this roll?
As a rule of thumb I'd normally assume that in the absence of a successful Leadership roll, a unit of NPCs will break when they lose half their force and are either outnumbered or have failed to inflict noticeable damage on their opponents.
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Old 05-06-2014, 12:31 AM   #4
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Social Engineering: Trying to figure out how to run a situation

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Originally Posted by BraselC5048 View Post
Second, at what point/points do you roll to see if they stay around after they start dropping, and would they get a bonus or penalty to this roll?
Depends on the situation, and it's realistically really random. Plus, given that you've got a cinematic martial artist, realism may not be the target. I'd give the PC a roll to influence which way they go after taking down 2-3 of them; it's intimidate to make them run, not sure what it is to make them stay and fight.
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Old 05-06-2014, 08:35 AM   #5
Genesis
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Default Re: Social Engineering: Trying to figure out how to run a situation

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Depends on the situation, and it's realistically really random. Plus, given that you've got a cinematic martial artist, realism may not be the target. I'd give the PC a roll to influence which way they go after taking down 2-3 of them; it's intimidate to make them run, not sure what it is to make them stay and fight.
Maybe Fast Talk: "Is that all you've got, boys? You can do better than that!" Maybe even Sex Appeal.
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Old 05-06-2014, 09:11 AM   #6
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Social Engineering: Trying to figure out how to run a situation

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Originally Posted by Genesis View Post
Maybe Fast Talk: "Is that all you've got, boys? You can do better than that!" Maybe even Sex Appeal.
I was going to say some sort of Savior-Faire (Low Society), but then realized that's basically Streetwise, which is what you should use here. Acting (to make it look like she's terrified and just getting lucky) might also work.

As for retreating, I'd say after the first few failed attacks and knockdowns, the leader will need to make a Leadership (or Intimidation) roll to prevent the more cowardly from running off (if he fails, they'll probably lose a third or so of their group). If the thugs continue to be ineffective, he'll probably need to roll each time another is dropped! If they at least think they've still got a chance, another will be necessary to prevent the entire group from scattering once they've lost a third of their number (including if the first third scattered - they could have a cascade failure of sorts). If he can keep them together then, the next will probably be once they've lost a total of 2/3 of their group. After that, he'll probably need to roll each time they lose someone. If the leader is ever lost, they scatter (unless the PC convinces them to stick around with a successful Streetwise roll). Taking out the leader is pretty much an automatic scattering.

For Intimidation, the character would make an opposed roll against the leader - he tries to keep them together while she tries to get them to run off. If she's trying to keep them there, Streetwise can augment or replace the leader's roll. Finally, if the leader decides it's time for a retreat, but she doesn't want them to leave, it's an opposed roll between her Streetwise and whatever the leader's influence skill is - and the leader should probably get a bonus, what with this being his gang.

If she wants to prevent all of them from escaping, her best bet is going to be to use some parkour (I assume she has Acrobatics) to get behind them, trapping the gang in the dead-end alley. If she can drop their leader in the process, a Fright Check may be called for - they try to rout, but there's nowhere to go!
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Old 05-06-2014, 09:43 AM   #7
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Lawrence, KS
Default Re: Social Engineering: Trying to figure out how to run a situation

1. Do they actually have the Intimidation skill? This seems like a situation where they would rely on the target's reaction roll in a potential combat situation to ensure compliance. Modifiers to the reaction would be +3 for her being outnumbered, +1 if the leader actually displays his handgun, total +4. The typical reaction would be "too formidable to attack," which I think is actually a realistic evaluation for her to make. Even if the handgun stays concealed and you cut the bonus down to +2, she'd still be in the range where she'd prefer to go her own way.

Conversely, they would totally not react to her as a threat, not even if she displayed unaccountable combat abilities; at most that might make some of the hesitate.

2. If they do actually try to intimidate her, I don't think they're going to rely on specious intimidation, so no Fast-Talk. Streetwise may be a relevant complementary skill, for a +1 modifier. As you describe the character, she probably has a level or two of Fearlessness, and a high starting Will. The odds are slightly in her favoróbut either a Good or a Bad outcome realistically will result in her preferring not to start a fight.

Conversely, if she tried to intimidate them (assuming she has the skill), she might get +1 for a complementary skill, but she'd have -3 for relative numbers; display of exceptional combat arts would give another +1. The odds are against her intimidating them. Even if the fight has started, they simply won't have time to reevaluate the odds.

Bill Stoddard
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:57 AM   #8
Curmudgeon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Default Re: Social Engineering: Trying to figure out how to run a situation

You might change the common armament of the street thugs a bit. They can probably slip a tire iron down a pant leg without it showing too badly, but unless the crowbars are short, they're more likely to be carrying brass knuckles, bicycle chains, baseball bats (especially if someone carries a baseball, "Why, officer, we're just getting up a game.") and possibly they'll add weapons 'found' at the scene like iron bars and 2 x4's.

The thugs are only being paid to beat her up, which for some gangs is just routine business. (The Purple Gang of Detroit supposedly had a price list during the Depression Era listing prices for the specific violence they were to inflict: a broken leg, two broken legs, a broken arm, broken ribs, etc.) The PC is being paid to "take them out" which I would read as a euphemism for kill. While the gang might break and run if they're losing a mere fight; as soon as she kills, or even seems to kill a gang member, even accidentally, the rules of engagement are likely to change drastically.

The gang will now be motivated both to avenge their fallen comrade and to preserve 'face' that a 'mere woman' could kill one of them with her bare hands. While there was a strong social rule about not hitting a lady, (which was even subverted in some of the movies, "She was no lady.") there was also a seeming disconnect where men, who wouldn't dream of striking a woman, wouldn't have a problem with killing her because 'Gee, I don't want to hurt her; I just want to kill her. What kind of a monster do you think I am, anyway?'

So, after the first death, the weapons will be deployed if they haven't already been. Blows will be intended to be lethal and the leader will draw his revolver and either wait for an opportunity to shoot her, or order the other members to back off so he can have a clear shot.

YMMV.
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Old 05-06-2014, 12:24 PM   #9
Gedrin
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Default Re: Social Engineering: Trying to figure out how to run a situation

You can make this encounter much more dangerous if you change the weaponry. Arming a substantial number of them with heavy chains (read: Flails), and things get a lot more difficult to defend against.

It's a pretty good "upgrade" you can give them, and might be a nice touch for the rematch fight.
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Old 05-06-2014, 12:54 PM   #10
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Social Engineering: Trying to figure out how to run a situation

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Originally Posted by Gedrin View Post
You can make this encounter much more dangerous if you change the weaponry.
It's hard to judge the encounter without seeing the character sheet of the PC, but as described this is a plenty dangerous encounter for anyone short of a mid-level superhuman.
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