How Influence Struggles work (or at least how I understand them to work)

12|31|09 - 9th of Hepsilose (Time of Whispers)

 

Hi there! 

It's the end of the year in our world, but Aarklash has only entered its forth season called "Time of Whispers" one week ago. It's the time of intrigues there, preparations for the next spring (and its wars) are made everywhere.

So, I thought it would be a good time to share with you an entry I made at the official Confrontation boards a while ago, concerning the Influence system which is used in Cadwallon to do the intrigues that are a part of this very season. Hope it is a useful bit of information!

 

Have a happy New Year everybody out there! Will see you all soon! :D

 

Cheers,

Birger (better known as carthinius)


How it works: 
Influence Struggles are used to resolve interaction between characters. The Influence Struggle offers some kind of social combat instead of a simple one-roll-resolution (thus, it should be considered as an option for special situations – you don’t need to do a Influence Struggle everytime your PC want to buy simple things for a lower price, but that’s just a suggestion). 

An Influence Struggle works like combat: Every opponent has a certain amount of Influence Points depending on his current objective (similar to Health Points), every „hit“ needs to overcome the Mastery („social defense“) of the target and produces a certain amount of „damage“ adding up to reach the level of Influence the target has determined at the beginning oft he opposition. 

Instead of Confrontation abilities, a character uses Interaction abilities to gain Influence – or to reduce the amount of IP the opponent has already accumulated. It depends on the ability and how it is used. Let’s have a look at „Confound/DIS“ for example. It allows a character to use it as an action or a reaction. As an action, a character gains 1 IP to force a Confession; gambles may increase the number of IP gained with an succesful test of Confound/DIS. 
If Confound/DIS is used as a reaction, it is possible to reduce the IP gained by the opponent by 1 IP (or more if gambles are taken). 

To determine the amount of IP a character needs, you have to choose an objective he wants to fulfill. The rules state that you should do it by formulating a sentence, but it is important to tell WHAT you want to do, WHO is involved or the target and HOW IMPORTANT your objective is – every part is important for calculation your amount of IP. (see tables at p. 248) 

After every opponent has determined his IP, the struggle begins. It is an opposition, thus you have to use the rules for Oppositions (p. 125ff.). Most of the Interaction abilities can be used to gain or reduce IP; sadly, there is no list for it which shows what can be achieved with a certain ability (but I added a short one at the end of my post). There are abilities that are limited for only one kind of objective (Confession, Deal, or Manipulation), others only allow to gain IP with gambles because they are affecting other gaming aspects in the first place (like Command/DIS). 
The opponent who reaches his level of IP, fulfills his objective and wins the Struggle.

 

Note: I only used the dice roll results to show how the Influence System works. In the "real game" the Attitude scores are always added to the result of an Ability test, but to keep it simple I ignored them. 

Example 1a: 
Boyd (POT: 3, MAS 4) wants to buy an item of average value from the merchant Hulvis (POT: 2, MAS 4). Let’s say it’s a Short Sword, both available and legal. Boyd wants to barter with Hulvis about the price (10D). His objective is „I want a 30% discount“. It’s a DEAL (Influence Level 3) and it will be a loss of unimportant ressources for Hulvis (+1), which makes a total of IL 4 which Boyd needs to reach. (It’s the GM’s discretion to set the consequences – if the GM thinks that Hulvis will lose more than unimportant ressources he may change the modifier, but it would be very unusual, considering it‘s a simple Short Sword. If it was an artifact or Hulvis‘ own weapon, okay... but now we are talking about a simple weapon!) Hulvis wants to sell the weapon (Deal: 3), but he is a merchant and wants to avoid any discount at all (+1 for loosing unimportant ressources)… the GM may consider discounts are against his drives as a merchant (additional +1), but I think it would be inappropriate. 

Thus we have an IL of 4 for both opponents. Boyd (Action Pool 2, Reaction Pool 1) starts the first round and tests Barter/SUB. With two dice he tries to overcome the MAS of Hulvis. Hulvis (AP 1, RP 1) announces that he wants to react with Barter/SUB and rolls his one die. He gets a result of 5 which replaces his MAS for the current round. Boyd rolls 3 and 6 and gains 1 IP. Hulvis tries to Barter/SUB with his one die, but Boyd announces that he wants to react with Barter/SUB; he rolls a 6. Hulvis rolls a 6, too – actions always win a tie (p. 124), and Hulvis gains 1 IP, too. 

Round 2. Hulvis chances his distribution of dice to AP 2, RP 0. Boyd (AP 2, RP 1) announces a gamble +1 and rolls his dice. He gets 4 and 6, beats the difficulty of 5 (MAS +1 gamble) and gains 2 IP (for a total of 3 IP). Hulvis tries Barter/SUB, but Boyd reacts with Crook/OPP and rolls 5; Hulvis‘ IP are reduced by 1 (for a total of 0 IP). Hulvis tests Barter/SUB with a +1 gamble and gets 3 and 5. He equals the difficulty of 5 and gains 2 IP (for a total of 2 IP). 

Round 3. Hulvis changes his distribution of dice to AP 1, RP 1, Boyd changes his to AP 3, RP 0. He tests Barter/SUB, Hulvis reacts with Barter/SUB and rolls 5. Boyd uses all his dice to Barter/Sub and rolls 2, 3 and 6. He gains 1 IP and fullfills his objective: Hulvis has to give him discount and Boyd gets a new sword for 7D. 

Example 1b: 
Of course, the situation could be completely different: What if Boyd wasn’t alone, but with his pal Glordt (POT 3, MAS 4)? Well, at first sight, there would be just a slight change; since it is possible to do a coordinated attempt of bartering aiming at one single individual (while it is not allowed to barter with multiple opponents), the IL for Hulvis (POT: 2, MAS 4) raises up to 5 (Deal: 3 +1 for loosing unimportant ressources and an additional +1 for the second character involved). Glordt and Boyd are also allies and are allowed to add their gained IP. But Glordt has his own motives: He wants to steal an item while Hulvis argues with Boyd. Since it is not an Interaction, this motivation can’t be part oft he Influence Struggle, but takes place in the opposition! 

Boyd (AP 2, RP 1) starts the first round and tests Barter/SUB. With his two dice and an additional die from Glordt (AP 1, RP 2) he tries to overcome the MAS of Hulvis. Hulvis (AP 1, RP 1) announces that he wants to react with Barter/SUB and rolls his one die. He gets a result of 5 which replaces his MAS for the current round. Boyd rolls 3, 4, and 6 and gains 1 IP. Glordt tries to Feign the merchant and rolls one die for a result of 3; the actual MAS 5 is higher, Glordt doesn’t succeed. Hulvis tries to Barter/SUB with his one die, but Boyd announces that he wants to react with Barter/SUB; he rolls a 6. Hulvis rolls a 6, too – actions always win a tie (p. 124), and Hulvis gains 1 IP (of 5 IP he needs to reach for fulfilling the objective). At the end oft he first round Glordt uses his last die to chance his favorable attitude to OPP. 

Round 2. Boyd announces a gamble +1 and rolls his two dice and the one from Glordt’s RP. Hulvis wants to react with Barter/SUB and rolls his one die for a result of 6. But Boyd gets 5, 5, and 5 for a total of 7, beats the difficulty of 7 (MAS +1 gamble) (because ties are won by the action roll) and gains 2 IP (for a total of 3 IP). Glordt tries to Steal/OPP an item from Hulvis (knowing he is distracted). Since compulsatory gambles delay the moment the victim will recognize the robbing, Glordt takes a gamble +1 and rolls his two AP dice and an additional free die for being favored by the additude with a result of 7 (3, 6, and 6); it’s a tie with Hulvis‘ MAS; Glordt succeeds and got an tiny item without alarming Hulvis from his counter (and because the item isn’t worn by Hulvis, Glordt gets a free gamble, too – his robbery will be discovered in two rounds from now). Hulvis tries Barter/SUB, but Boyd reacts with Crook/OPP and rolls 5; Hulvis‘ IP are reduced by 1 (for a total of 0 IP). Hulvis tests Barter/SUB with a +1 gamble and gets 3 and 5. He equals the difficulty of 5 and gains 2 IP (for a total of 2 IP). 

Round 3. Boyd changes his to AP 3, RP 0. Boyd tests Barter/SUB, Hulvis reacts with Barter/SUB and rolls 5. Boyd uses all his dice to Barter/Sub and rolls 2, 3 and 6. He gains 1 IP and fullfills his objective: Hulvis has to give him discount and Boyd gets a new sword for 7D. 
Now Boyd and Glordt have to leave Hulvis‘ shop very quickly, because there isn’t much time left until the merchant finds out what happened… 

Example 2: 
Another example. Cyliss wants to force an Usurer to tell her where she will find the Court of Ashes. 
It is a Confession (1), and the Usurer will be in mortal danger if he tells anyone about the position of the Court (+5), and it is completely against his will (+1). Thus, Cyliss needs to reach a level of 7 to fulfill her objective. The Usurer wants her to leave him alone, which is a Manipulation (4) and against the will of Cyliss (+1); the Usurer nees to reach an Influence level of 5. 
Well, maybe it will be a bigger problem for Cyliss to know where the Court of Ashes lies than for the Usurer being a traitor… 

There are still some questions that need an answer. I've added them below - if you have any idea or suggestion please drop me a line in the comments! 


Problems with the Influence System (which need to be solved): 
- Often it is not very intuitive to determine the objective and the level of IP. 
- the problem of wrong +/- indicators for modifiers. Why should the information of a contact RAISE the IP you need to reach your goal? 
- why is it so much easier to get a Confession? 
- there are situations that can’t be broken down to fit the given modifiers; especially there is no hint what happens if the opponent can’t do what he is asked for? Well, yes, lying, making false promises or faking his actions, but there is no clue in the rules. 

Interaction Abilities and their consequences

Ability Effects of Action Effects of Reaction Page
Analyse Target doesn't benefit from adding rule and free dice from favorable attitude; gambles are free gambles for future reaction tests. - 167
Argue + 1 IP; gambles increase the number of IP. Result is new MAS for current round 168
Barter Deal; + 1 IP, gambles increase the number of IP. Result is new MAS for current round 168
Command Only gambles achieve IP. - 170
Confound Confession +1 IP; gambles increase the number of IP.  Target looses 1 IP; gambles increase the number of IP lost. 171
Crook Deal + 1 IP; gambles increase the number of IP. May affect several targets. Target looses 1 IP; gambles increase the number of IP lost. May affect several targets. 172
Distract Target doesn't benefit from adding rule and free dice from favorable attitude; gambles increase the number of IP or are free gambles for future tests. May affect several targets. Target doesn't benefit from adding rule and free dice from favorable attitude. 174
Feign Allows to transfer one of the target's die from one pool to the other; gambles increase the number of dice. May affect several targets.   Result becomes the character's Defense. 177
Fool Manipulation +1 IP; gambles increase the number of IP. May affect several targets.  Target looses 1 IP; gambles increase the number of IP lost. 178
Intimidate Target has to change its Attitude (to OPP, SUB or DIS); gambles achieve IP or allow to affect several targets. Result becomes the character's Defense. 181
Seduce + 1 IP; gambles increase the number of IP. - 186
Taunt target has to change its Attitude to the previous Attitude (for example, DIS to SUB); gambles allow to change the Attitude for more levels then only one or to achieve IP. May affect several targets.  - 191

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