COMPATIBILITY: These rules suggestions assume that your game has a significant number of skills or skill-like traits. It further assumes that if those skills are used in combination with an ‘attribute’, that they could be separated and linked with another attribute relatively easy on the fly. If none of those are true of your game, this plug-in is likely incompatible.
WHAT IS THIS?
Thog the Barbarian, socially inept idiot, is the champion of drinking contests, and they love him. Forsythe from accounting is hugely dull to outsiders, but his stories about the copy room key and, ahem, where it’s been, were the hit of the company picnic. Sometimes, social aptitude has very little to do with being generically diplomatic or intimidating or any such thing; sometimes, it’s all about the context. That’s what these suggestions are all about.
Most experience GMs have had a moment at some point where they allowed a non-social skill to be used socially. If Marius wants to impress the Countess by improvising poetry, well, poetry isn’t a social skill necessarily, but we’ll treat it like diplomacy for this; Marius can use his charm in place of his wits to make the roll. By deliberately and explicitly creating situations where this kind of thing takes place now and then, the GM can give their players opportunities to use their characters in new ways. Here’s how:
PLAYER-DEFINED “PICNIC SKILLS”
From the opposite side of the game, if the number of skills a given character actually has is relatively small, it can be interesting to have players go through each skill they possess (or a set number of them), and consider these things:
THE EXTREME VERSION
The somewhat more intense version of this idea is to dispense with social skills altogether, and use everything else as social skills. This isn’t as odd as it sounds. For groups that prefer to roleplay out social interactions, only resorting to the dice when there’s a factor that’s hard to play through involved, many of those skills are secondary appendages, a cruft that can be done without; the value is in acting it out, and the ‘normal’ die rolls are a factor that doesn’t actually deserve to be weighed into the equation. By restacking the actually social elements that are actually useful to this style into other skills, the excess can be done away with. For other groups, social interaction rules (and even social conflict rules) can drive a game forward in new and awesome ways. In such groups, while this extreme is likely a bit much, changing up the mechanics in the ways described earlier can still act as the equivalent of setting fight scenes in different kinds of terrain (ones where, say, night vision or balance become deeply important); such changes can put a new face on game bits that might otherwise be a little too predictable.