So to recap, here’s what’s up with social conflicts in MYZ:
* There’s no defense opportunity. if you get targeted by a Manipulate, it’s entirely on the Manipulator whether they succeed or fail. Granted “success” may not extend beyond “you’ll do it but you can ask for something back.”
* If you take all your Empathy damage (from excess Manipulate successes) you’re Broken in exactly the same way as if you had physically damaged or exhausted yourself. You can literally sow so much fear/doubt/confusion that your opponent exposes himself to mortal danger due to being broken. In PvP, players are very reticent to break another player.
Things we’re thinking about:
* Go to what we know, which is the Burning Wheel scheme of social conflict: Either you say no (and the attacker has to exceed some # of damage, i.e. your Empathy, so basically Mutant RAW), or you counter-argue (both sides roll Manipulate and most successes win, but there’s no way you’re breaking each other’s Empathy), or you leave the scene or situation. That middle solution is the system to be worked out.
* Mental/emotional Broken is perhaps treated differently than physical Broken (i.e. strength or agility). Right now any Broken has the same game impact: you can do nothing but Maneuver (i.e. no actions of any kind), and you open yourself up to being killed by an opponent. The enormous threat that comes along with breaking Empathy or Wits I think is problematic. It makes the RAW solution above scary to carry out in a way that it is not in Burning Wheel.
I still struggle with this! And last night the “let’s talk this out” solution was so very good. It actually felt more honest and intense than if The Dice told someone to fold up and do as they’re told. And, yeah, I totally get that all the old problems arise from that: the more persuasive player tends to get what they want, regardless of character abilities.
The conflicting agendas of “I want my good talker to be able to talk good” and “Real conversation produces very satisfying outcomes when we’re all honest brokers” … feels very nearly unbridgeable, given the tools we have available to us.
I think my personal goal right now is to cook up actual Player Versus Player social conflict procedures, where both sides want something but they want to roll just in case they don’t have to compromise. At the very least, I think the illusion of “defense” will feel better if the dice need to come out.
Ooh, an idea: What if both sides just simultaneously attack each other? There’s no me-reducing-your-successes. We’re both trying to succeed and possibly Break the other. Hm.