SOCIAL CONFLICT RULES
The following sequence describes how a Social Conflict works in Rogue Trader. To start with, it details the most basic and likely scenario—that of a single player character engaging in a Social Conflict with a formidable NPC. There are also expanded rules to incorporate much larger conflicts, with paired or entire Compact based attacks against rival groups or gaining the will of large crowds.
In a social confrontation, the participants’ Willpower, Fellowship, Profit Factor, and occasionally, Perception characteristics are used. The base system is as follows:
Willpower determines how many “rounds” a confrontation lasts. In an abstract way, it reflects a participant’s health. Every time a player or NPC loses a round his Willpower is diminished. Once all Willpower is lost, then the participant is effectively beaten. He may not be physically harmed, but his resolve to continue the confrontation has gone, and he becomes very suggestible.
Fellowship is a measure of how well the participant is at verbal sparring, debating, or in winning over an aggressive audience. An Explorer who sits back and relies on mechanical dice rolling to do the talking is at a considerable disadvantage. Explorers with quick minds, who are able to improvise with cutting rejoinders and their own dazzling wit, can overcome a foe who relies solely on his superior Fellowship Characteristic.
Profit Factor carries much figurative weight in a Social Conflict. Bystanders are much more likely to listen to a participant with a higher Profit Factor, as he is more imposing with a greater reputation. An opponent with less Profit Factor can be easier to intimidate and cowed in front of his peers. In a Social Conflict, Profit Factor is a resource that a player can use strategically to ensure victory over his adversary. In some instances, a participant (normally an NPC) will not have any
Profit Factor. In these situations the GM should temporarily assign Profit Factor to the participant on the basis of the forthcoming encounter. The Game Master can use Table 9-12: Example
Profit Factor Scores on page 307 of the Rogue TraderCore Rulebook to gauge likely Profit Factor levels.
Perception is used during the conflict at the Game Master’s discretion to note how the opponent is fairing in the ongoing verbal and mental exchange. The more Willpower an adversary loses, the more the physical effects show and this, in turn, can be used to further the advantage. For example, a Successful Perception test allows the player to note that his opponent is sweating profusely on his forehead, or that his left cheek has involuntarily started to tick as he fails to deal with another acerbic remark.
The Characteristics outlined are utilised in the following way during a Social Conflict. Note that the sequence assumes two participants, a Explorer vs. an NPC (a Player vs. the Game Master). Their are rules for expanding this later in the chapter.
1. Note Values: Once the GM has designated the participants are in a Social Conflict, the player and GM note down their character’s respective current Willpower and Profit Factor values.
2. Bid Profit Factor: In a Social Conflict, the participants’ Profit Factor level temporarily acts as a bidding reserve. The more Profit Factor is bid, the more devastating a metaphorical blow one could do to the opponent. However, if your foe comes out on top, a Explorer may have bet his reputation badly. Both participants secretly bid an amount of Profit Factor. This is effectively “spent” and is taken from their Profit Factor reserve for the duration of the confrontation.
3. Verbal Contact: The players (or GM) now have achance to directly influence the scene. The participant with the highest Fellowship has the choice of going first or second (in following rounds, the victor of the previous Fellowship test gets the choice). The participant then gets a chance to say something regarding the issue at hand, or, most likely, a withering put down or insult about his opponent. The second participant will get to respond in a similar fashion. The length and subjects of these diatribes depends entirely on the context of the scene. However, a good rule of thumb is to keep each participant’s contribution to the equivalent of a short paragraph (about 5–10 seconds of actual speech), as this keeps the combat short and snappy.
4. Determine the Victor: The Game Master will now decide who has performed the best. He is judging not just on inherent wit, but how in-character each contribution was (note that in many cases, the GM is judging his own input. Of course, most Game Masters are beyond reproach [REDACTED]. The winner receives a +20 modifier to the following test.
5. Fellowship Test: The participants must then take an Opposed Fellowship test. If both participants fail, then this round has ended in stalemate. Either all parties feel they have (rightly or wrongly) gained the upper hand, or the spectators have failed to come to a consensus on who was winning in that round. Any bid Profit Factor is lost and play repeats from Stage 2. In this instance of an Opposed Test, if the number of Degrees of Successes is tied, then the participant with the highest bid Profit Factor wins instead of the usual situation where a party with the highest Characteristic bonus wins.
6. Lose Willpower: Assuming there is a victor, then the losing participant removes 1d5 Willpower from his total. Any Profit Factor the victor bid is then revealed (if it has not already come into play) and this is added to the lost Willpower total. Profit Factor that the loser bid is lost.
7. Physical Manifestation: If the losing participant takes more than 10 Willpower in a single round, then some physical manifestation of that mental blow shows (sweat, ticks, squirming, stuttering, etc). If the GM thinks it appropriate, a Successful Perception test allows the rival to spot the participant’s discomfort. In the following round, if this information is deftly used by the winning participant in the Verbal Contact stage, then he gains a +30 modifier instead of the +20 bonus should he win the phase.
8. Victory or Defeat: The Social Conflict continues using stages 2 through 7 until one party loses all of his Willpower. The remaining participant is considered the winner. The triumphant Explorer immediately regains all lost Characteristic values, bringing him back to normal levels. The losing party recuperates half his Profit Factor and Willpower as well. The rest returns at a rate the GM decides. A nominal rate is five points per hour, but this is at the GM’s discretion and can be exploited for full narrative effect; for example, the loser now has a much weaker Willpower for the next few hours and so is easier to manipulate or far more suggestible.
TALENTS AND TRAITS
Just like other tests in Rogue Trader, some Skills, Talents, and Traits can affect Social Conflicts. Skills have already been mentioned, in that a character can use a Skill instead of his Fellowship for the Opposed Test if appropriate, and the player’s performance in the Verbal Contact stage is commensurate to a Skill in his repertoire. However, Talents and some Traits can have variable possible effects in a Social Conflict.
The following entries taken from Table 3–1: Social Conflict Talentson page 64 describe how a Talent works specific to a Social Conflict.
Air of Authority
The character was born to command; bystanders and opponents cannot help but take note of what he is saying. In addition to the normal benefits, when making a Command Skill Test in a Social Conflict add a +10 bonus in addition to any other modifiers.
The character is devoid of sentiment and is seldom swayed by the emotions of others. In addition to the normal benefits (especially that Seduction Tests automatically fail against him), when in a Social Conflict any attempt to Charm the character gives him a +20 to the Opposed Test in addition to any other modifiers.
The character can influence large audiences. In addition to the normal benefits, when in a Social Conflict against more than one opponent, including crowds, the character saps 1d10 instead of 1d5 Willpower against all foes if he used Charm or Intimidate in the Opposed Test.
The character’s voice has a particularly baleful quality. In addition to the normal benefits, in a Social Conflict this character will get +10 to the Opposed Test if he uses the Intimidate Skill. Using any other Skill or Fellowship incurs a –10 modifier.
The character can inspire hatred in others. In addition to the normal benefits, in a Social Conflict this character gives all other Explorers on the same side an additional 10 Profit Factor into their reserves for this encounter only.
The character is a gifted impersonator. In addition to the normal benefits and stipulations, in a Social Conflict if this character mimics his foe to ridicule and disparage in the Verbal Contact stage, then the opponent loses 1d10 rather than 1d5 Willpower should the character win the round.
Nerves of Steel
The character remains calm and impervious to intimidating behaviour. In addition to the normal benefits, in a Social Conflict the character gains +20 in the Opposed Test if his opponent uses the Intimidate Skill.
The character has specialist knowledge when it comes to a certain group or organisation. In addition to the normal benefits, in a Social Conflict involving a member of the group the character has ties with, he gains an additional 20 to his Profit Factor reserve for this encounter only.
The character has an innate ability with unknown languages. In addition to the normal benefits, in a Social Conflict the character gains +20 to all Opposed Tests when going against an opponent who is speaking in a different language.
The character’s face does not stick in people’s memories, and few would consider conversation, let alone verbal sparring, with such a bland countenance. In addition to the normal benefits, in a Social Conflict the character gains +20 in addition to any other modifiers when he is using the Deceive Skill in the Opposed Test. However, a character with this Talent must halve his Profit Factor reserve before the Social Conflict begins