So what are the very best ways that social interactions have been turned into Moves in PbtA games? I’m looking through my library now, and obviously there are lots of takes on this. I’m thinking about both PC-to-PC as well as to-NPC interactions here.
I’m gonna think through the games I’ve played and have direct experience with. This stuff is always so hard to eyeball without some AP behind it.
In Apocalypse World you’ve got both Go Aggro and Seduce or Manipulate Someone. SoMS is pretty solid, yeah? XP if they go along or lose a highlighted stat? It leverages advancement, which I think is probably a legit lever more than half the time. Go Aggro is marvelous because the decision point is so juicy on both sides of that equation. And they both combo well with Read a Person and Read a Sitch.
Urban Shadows is more hands-off. Persuade an NPC is, obviously, only for NPCs. Mislead, Distract or Trick isn’t explicitly social but it isn’t explicitly not social either. Mostly the social juice is in the Cash in a Debt, with Refuse to Honor a Debt the downside to not doing the thing. That injects debts into everything, which is fine, but I’m sure we’re not the only ones to kind of…not really work the debt economy as well as we could have. But mostly, it seems, there’s not really much “hey PC, listen to me be reasonable/charismatic/scary” that’s mechanized.
Sagas of the Icelanders is super hands-off! Only the women have social moves, although Look Into Someone’s Heart is a super-effective meta-manipulation system (answer me honestly, so that when I act on the information I know you were an honest broker) and combines nicely with earning bonds. I dig it. Personal favorite.
Dungeon World is just terrible and I know everyone knows it. Parley is NPC only. Sure models ye olde D&D well, though: I’m not sure anyone has ever hit a PC with another PC’s CHA.
Monsterhearts 1E has Strings, which are pretty good. I do kind of like these meta-manipulation systems that introduce an economy into the action (i.e. offer an XP if you do the thing). Otherwise we just have Manipulate an NPC, which obvs is NPC only and is IIRC functionally identical to Apocalypse World’s version of the same move.
Night Witches has uh…Act Up, I think, is mostly the thing you can do. Pretty hands-off but combines with Read a Sitch Eyeball nicely. Reach Out doesn’t actually feel like it’s in the same zone as what I’m thinking about: you’re connecting and bonding (more like an Intimacy move), not leveraging someone.
The Sprawl has Fast Talk and Play Hardball, and they’re both functionally identical to Apocalypse World’s equivalent moves. Hard to argue about reinventing the wheel when the wheel works well.
The entirety of interpersonal action in Undying is baked into the Meddle metagame. Impossible to compare that to anything else.
Cartel does conventional stuff like Pressure Someone (do it or take pseudo-damage), but Get the Truth is interesting and very situationally specific: basically you pick how they can’t lie to you. I only saw the move in action once, seemed okay, just narrow. Make an Offer is another “do it or take damage” move. Given the constant role of Stress in the game, it’s a fine choice.
Epyllion has conventional choices as well: Convince a Dragon is just Seduce or Manipulate and Mislead or Trick is straight out of Urban Shadows. But Stand up to an Older Dragon is neat (NPC only!) and very specific to the game.
What’s your favorite take on moves-oriented social interactions? Hands-off like Dungeon World or pay/harm schemes like Apocalypse World and other? Something different?