Persuasion a +6 Charisma and Combat

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Semper Mortalitas
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Persuasion a +6 Charisma and Combat

#1 Postby Semper Mortalitas » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:22 pm

Greetings Savages,
Last night I finished the first session of our rebooted Deadlands Reloaded campaign (curse the holiday game killer). At this session we had a new player who created a character that had Charismatic, Attractive and Very Attractive as Edges. This of course yields a +6 bonus to Charisma and an automatic success at Persuasion and Streetwise rolls baring any major modifiers to the skill use of course.

The player wanted to use the Persuasion skill in combat. One case where the party was being robbed he talked to the bandits about their business plan and how the risk vs. gain for the robbery was very high on the former and exceptionally low on the latter.

The player is very well spoken and I must admit that I enjoyed the interaction very much and allowed the combat to end then another PC saw an opening and fanned the hammer at the bandits.

He is aware that this will not work on a werewolf or the walking dead for example and he will be picking up Snakeoil Salesman on his first Advance.

My question is this;

1) Should Persuasion be allowed to be used in combat?

2) If it is, should everyone go on hold? A new round be dealt if someone attacks?

3) Is what the player wants to do simply a Test of Wills using persuasion? Even if the deal he is proposing is not a bluff.

I want to be fair to the PC, he is an excellent role-player but I also do not want to turn every encounter with a human opponent into a diplomatic debate. So, how would you handle this situation?

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#2 Postby Savage Yinn » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:51 pm

PotSM has an Edge called Seducer, which allows Persuasion to be used as a test of wills in combat (with the charisma bonus).

Don't forget that Attractive works on people who would find you attractive.

That's a +2 and +6 for your Very Attractive character :)
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#3 Postby Dylan S » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:52 pm

Your profile picture is nightmarish. What is it?

I've also had players using Persuasion in combat over the years, and I don't think there's an easy answer for it. I think you should allow the context to decide. While you don't want a high-persuasion character to be able to circumvent all combat, neither do you want to negate the possibility of a negotiator character who can diffuse combat and come to terms. What I recommend is this: decide during the fight how mad and/or determined toward violence the villains are. This is entirely up to you. If you determine that they're too far gone to listen to reason (say, they're on drugs, they're terrified, they're enraged, they're trained killers/soldiers, they've been told beforehand to take no prisoners, etc.), then run combat normally. If, however, you decide that the NPCs could arguably be talked down (they started swinging because of an insult, they're common thieves, they're scared, they're confused, they're considering the cost/risk factor you mentioned) then allow a persuasion roll with suitable penalties to talk a single NPC or a group (your choice) to stand down.

Role-playing factors and context become very important here. For example, an NPC will be unlikely to stand down if the player's own group doesn't lower their own weapons. An NPC would be more likely to stand down if he's grappled, beat up a bit, or otherwise seems to be losing. If the player talked someone out of combat, and then that person was attacked, that would ruin further credibility entirely. So consider these things, rather than leaving it to a simple system. And don't be afraid to just say, "No. They're not willing to listen," when it's appropriate, or likewise give massive penalties to the attempt.

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#4 Postby skylion » Sun Jan 10, 2010 6:44 pm

I've always had it that Persuasion is open to people willing to listen. A bandit isn't likely to listen to a bunch of that tin-horn sissy talk. Sure, it might make some sort of sense in the moment, but the bandit part of their brains will kick in and that is the part of the brain that holds the gun and thinks things like, "your belongings always belong to me, thanks for holding them for a spell".

Yeah, the rules makes sense, and the Edges all line up, but as a GM you have to obey rule #1 at the table. Everyone has fun. So unless your "face" is part of the master plan, your gunslingers and such are gonna feel left out.
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#5 Postby Semper Mortalitas » Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:19 pm

Wow fast replies :)

First to Savage Yinn; Yep I have POTSM and used that with one of my villain's but you are correct about the Attractive Mod more on that later.

To Daylan S; Thank you for the compliment on profile pic. I wish I could help you but it has been so long I have forgotten where I found it on the internet. You are right I was running it as a straight fight, but when he first proposed a parlay the leader was dead so they were willing to listen and let the PC'c go. Then one PC got trigger happy :blam:. (Always wanted to use that Emot.)

Both you and skylion are correct, it does come down to the GM saying "Nope to much shootin going on here for them to listen." Also skylion you and Savage Yinn together pointed out something. If the target of the Persuasion/Streetwise doesn't find you attractive due to sexual orientation the +4 for Very Attractive should not be a Modifier.

Thank you for the fast replies.

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#6 Postby Dylan S » Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:52 pm

As a follow-up, I'd say that you should allow a persuasive character to talk folks out of combat especially when the combat is taking too long, is irrelevant to the story, has a foregone conclusion, etc. Having played a persuasive character recently, I can say that even in these "trivial" cases, it's still extremely satisfying to talk NPCs into lowering their weapons.

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#7 Postby SlasherEpoch » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:12 pm

As a way to avoid combat, I think Persuasion works just fine.

As a way to stop combat when each side is at a stalemate, Intimidation, Persuasion, and just simple bribery works great.

If it comes up in every combat, then the player is grandstanding. Generally speaking, I prefer that combat occurs when diplomatic options have failed.

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#8 Postby Lord Lance » Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:13 am

Just for clarity Attractive gives you +2 Charisma, and Very Attractive gives you +2 more, for a total of 4 Charisma.
They are background edges, so the player have to invest all his starting "points" on those edges, and he can't take later edges like ambidextrous, brawny etc. nomore (eventually the master could choose to permit this).
Noble can give you another +2, and there is Charismatic for another +2.

However using Persuasion in combats maybe could "freeze" the combat for a couple of rounds, with the character speaking with the enemy boss finding a nice (and rewarding) solution to stop the rumble. If the player can't come with a good deal (money? informations? the asking for a duel between just he and the boss? etc.), the combat should restart soon.
Finally, if other characters break the cease-fire, the combat should restart immediately (using Standoff! rules), and the attitude of the enemy should collapse.

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#9 Postby jerepp » Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:21 am

Officially in DRL there is the Snakeoil Salesman edge that allows persuation to be used as a test of wills. (I think, don't have my book here)

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#10 Postby Sitting Duck » Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:24 am

IIRC Snakeoil Salesman merely provides a bonus to Persuasion rolls. Slipstream has an Edge called Ladykiller/Femme Fatale which allows using Persuasion in a Test of WIlls.
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#11 Postby robert4818 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:34 am

Semper Mortalitas wrote:Both you and skylion are correct, it does come down to the GM saying "Nope to much shootin going on here for them to listen." Also skylion you and Savage Yinn together pointed out something. If the target of the Persuasion/Streetwise doesn't find you attractive due to sexual orientation the +4 for Very Attractive should not be a Modifier.

Thank you for the fast replies.


Attractive is attractive regardless of gender. It is just the base opposite of Ugly.

What I would say is a couple of things.

First is to have your character define what their characters good looks are like. There is a vast difference (especially in male characters) between someone who's attractive from a high-brow, refined, city life, and someone who's attractive from a frontiersman, old-west life. Unless the character actually pays attention to that aspect, then he can stand to temporarily lose this bonus until he does start paying attention.

Women are a jealous bunch. They tend to, at times, hate on those who are more attractive than them. You can easily change a positive modifier to a negative one around certain groups of women.

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#12 Postby Clint » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:13 am

Sitting Duck wrote:IIRC Snakeoil Salesman merely provides a bonus to Persuasion rolls. Slipstream has an Edge called Ladykiller/Femme Fatale which allows using Persuasion in a Test of WIlls.


Snakeoil Salesman does both.

Really, the thing I would keep in mind (as far as combat goes) is that Persuasion will change a target's attitude, but it won't change their goals.

A person in combat with you is most likely to be Hostile, maybe Unfriendly, and at best Neutral in rare instances. Persuasion can only increase those attitudes by one or two levels.

The trick though is that as I said it changes the attitude not the goal. If the bandits are out to rob your group, then they are going to rob your group unless possibly they were Neutral and changed all the way up to Helpful. The difference is in how they will rob the group.

Hostile - Kill them and take their stuff
Unfriendly - Give them a chance to turn over *all* of their gear and leave them.
Neutral - Give them a chance to turn over all of their money and valuables but leave enough food/water and a few weapons to be found or get to safety.
Friendly - Take all the money and valuables (unless of strong sentiment like wedding rings), leave any transportation and all the weapons (unloaded) far enough away to escape.

Heck, even Helpful might say, "Give us all your cash, and we'll watch your backs until the next town so no one else bothers you."

Anyway, ultimately, the question becomes whether the goal is more of an issue than the attitude.
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#13 Postby Semper Mortalitas » Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:09 am

Greetings,
You know I have been lurking these forums for a long time and only post when I have a real question or feel my input is actually going to be beneficial. However it STILL amazes my how supportive and helpful this forum is compared to others. :-D

Ok on with my thank you's.

SlasherEpoch; I think your points are valid. I try to make sure my NPC's are not just cookie cutter mooks. "I never liked Zeke anyway. I'm listnin." <-actual dialog from the game after the leader was killed and the "face" man started talking.

Lord Lance; I apologize for being unclear he is a "Noble" only in the sense of his background as a British Noble in the states looking for excitement. His true Edges are Attractive, Very Attractive, and Charismatic total of +6. Your idea of "freezing" the combat is close to what I did. Then one of the PC's decided to Fan the Hammer so I gave him the initiative like he was on hold and ran it from there.

robert4818; I will agree with you about the defining of your looks for a male. A British born Noble all "gussied up" would have a different Modifier in Tombstone than in Boston. I may or may not agree with you on the Attractive is Attractive part. I need to do some more thinking on that (sociologically not rules wise)

Clint; Once again you hit the nail on the head. Persuasion does not alter intent only attitude. I think your post is what most of us, myself included have been trying to say here.

Thank you all. My next post will concern the results of the combat AFTER the Diplomacy breakdown. Thank you again everyone.

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#14 Postby Sitting Duck » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:21 am

Semper Mortalitas wrote:SlasherEpoch; I think your points are valid. I try to make sure my NPC's are not just cookie cutter mooks. "I never liked Zeke anyway. I'm listnin." <-actual dialog from the game after the leader was killed and the "face" man started talking.


Heh. That kind of reminds me of the flashback scene in the Firefly episode Out of Gas where we learn how Jayne joined the crew.
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#15 Postby Takeda » Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:23 am

One thing though ... sexual orientation has nothing to do with whether the Attractive or Very Attractive Edges should work. The only real difference is that unless they are sexually attracted to the gender of the Pretty Boy/Girl they their interest won't be sexual.

Lots of studies have found the attractive people get treated differently. They even had studies where they made a really pretty/handsome person look more ordinary and applied for a job and got nowhere and later came back all dolled up and was hired on the spot ... enthusiastically even. Like it or not we are a species that makes a lot of judgements and decisions based on looks alone. This isn't just a male hiring a female or visa versa this was woman hiring woman, man hiring man too.

The difference on the reaction table will be that they like you if it comes out your way. If it is the right sexual orientation it will likely be that they are hot for the character too to some degree or another. Keep in mind that attraction is a double-edged sword. If someone is hot for you and you do something that makes them feel jilted or rejected the reaction roll could be penalized by the Attractive/Very Attractive modifier as a component to 'How Jilted' they feel. I.E. If someone is a real catch and you were having little puppie dog daydreams about them, having them give you the brush off can be even more painful. Having someone you could take or lose brush you off isn't a big deal.

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#16 Postby Vinzent » Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:04 pm

I wonder, with so many edges that increase Persuasion, if it wouldn't be better to only increase Charisma by +1 per.

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#17 Postby SlasherEpoch » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:54 pm

Vinzent wrote:I wonder, with so many edges that increase Persuasion, if it wouldn't be better to only increase Charisma by +1 per.


Nah, I think most people don't go all out on Charisma. Ya get by with Charismatic or Noble, mostly.

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#18 Postby Lord Inar » Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:50 am

Vinzent wrote:I wonder, with so many edges that increase Persuasion, if it wouldn't be better to only increase Charisma by +1 per.


Three out of four of those edges are background edges, so unless you define your character to be total Charisma from the beginning (which negatively impacts doing a lot of other things) the best you'll do is +2.

Also, if a character has pumped a lot of bumps into Charisma, why not let them occasionally influence a battle in some way, maybe by occasionally allowing them to add their Charisma as a modifier to a Smarts trick, especially if some prior event hinted that it may be relevant (the bad guys were leering at the character earlier, or the character was mistaken in the bar for some movie star, or something like that)

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#19 Postby strongbif » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:33 pm

Takeda wrote: Lots of studies have found the attractive people get treated differently. They even had studies where they made a really pretty/handsome person look more ordinary and applied for a job and got nowhere and later came back all dolled up and was hired on the spot ... enthusiastically even. Like it or not we are a species that makes a lot of judgements and decisions based on looks alone. This isn't just a male hiring a female or visa versa this was woman hiring woman, man hiring man too.
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It's known as the Halo Effect- physically attractive people are attributed more intelligence, competence, and capabilities than plain ones, based solely on looks. It is theorized to be part of a larger pattern of human behavior in which we make shortcut decisions based on just a single environmental cue. This tendency is strongest for decisions we don't feel are important or when startled or threatened. It's actually a bit shocking how much of our behavior is governed by automatic responses, until you consider that we're trained in those responses from infancy because they're useful to both the individual and the human species most of the time.

Thus, I too prefer to apply Attractive across the board when a given NPC doesn't feel strongly one way or another, or when forced to make a snap decision (such as being fast-talked out of combat- especially when the leader and two other robbery-mates just got put down).
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#20 Postby Dylan S » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:11 pm

Yes, the beauty bias (as it's called in psyc) certainly does exist. There are limits to it, however. For example, a person acting as judge in a mock trial will give a beautiful person a more leniant sentence on minor crimes, but when it comes to serious crimes such as assault or murder, they will not show bias.


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