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Character Interactions

Character interaction is very important in Torg - probably more important than in most other roleplaying games. There are specific ways each type of interaction can affect people, some of them quite powerful. Except for charm and persuasion, character interactions can be used during combat to give a character an advantage over an opponent. In adventure fiction, combat is never just two characters exchanging blows with each other. Insults are thrown to anger an opponent, quick moves are made to confuse them and smart fighters outwit their slower opponents. These are the kinds of things covered by the interaction skills that can be used in round play; maneuver, trick, test, taunt and intimidation. With the exception of maneuver, these skills can also be used out of combat, along with charm and persuasion, to influence the behavior of other characters. Use of the interaction skills is covered in their descriptions in Chapter Three. The results of their use are determined by reading the result points of the action on the Interaction Results Table.

Intimidate, Test, Taunt, Trick and Maneuver Results

The effects of stymied, unskilled, break, and up only last for one round. They are not cumulative; a character affected by two stymied results in the same round is still only stymied for one round, not two, and only loses her first reroll, not her first two rerolls. The duration of a setback or player’s call will depend on the exact effect used. Simple effects should only last for a round, but more complex effects may last longer. For example, if the player’s call on an intimidation was to cause the opponent to surrender, he will surrender; he won’t stop fighting for one round and then start fighting again the next round.

Near-Miss

Near-miss is an optional rule. With a near-miss, there is a chance that a failed action could still succeed, even though things are still bad, or maybe even getting worse. A near-miss can occur when a character misses an important difficulty number by one or two points. If the situation is a completely clear cut yes or no, if there’s no way the action could continue, then a near-miss is a normal failure. But a near-miss can be a great dramatic tool in the right situations; Indiana Jones in the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark had a near-miss result when he leaped over the pit in the South American temple, and then had to haul himself up the seemingly endless vine. If that had been treated as a normal failure, he wouldn’t have been able to grab the vine and ultimately pull himself out, he would instead have fallen into the pit and probably died. Not exactly the best way to start a story! Near-misses can be great fun if they’re played right, certainly more fun than the alternative sometimes. While the gamemaster should not go out of her way to turn every action failed by one or two points into a near-miss, it should at least be considered for most life-and-death situations when one die roll decides everything.

INTERACTION RESULTS TABLE

Result Points      Intimidate/        Test Taunt/     Trick Interrogate Charm/         Persuade                Maneuver

S                          Stymied              Stymied                    Enemy                              Loyal                        Fatigued

1                          Stymied              Stymied                     Enemy                             Friendly                    Fatigued

2                          Stymied              Stymied                     Enemy                             Friendly                    Fatigued

3                          Stymied              Stymied                     Hostile                             Neutral                     Fatigued

4                          Stymied              Stymied                     Hostile                             Neutral                     Fatigued

5                          Unskilled            Unskilled                    Hostile                             Neutral                     Stymied

6                          Unskilled            Unskilled                    Hostile                             Neutral                     Stymied

7                          Unskilled            Unskilled                    Neutral                             Hostile                     Stymied

8                          Unskilled            Unskilled                    Neutral                             Hostile                     Stymied

9                          Unskilled            Unskilled                    Neutral                             Hostile                     Stymied

10                        Setback              Setback                     Neutral                             Hostile                     Unskilled

11                        Setback              Setback                     Neutral                             Hostile                     Unskilled

12                        Setback              Setback                     Friendly                            Enemy                     Unskilled

13                        Setback              Setback                     Friendly                            Enemy                     Unskilled

14                        Setback              Setback                     Friendly                            Enemy                    +1 Unskilled

15                        Break Up/           Setback                     Loyal                                Enemy             +1 Setback/ Fatigued

+2                       Player’s Call        Player’s Call              Loyal                                Enemy               +1 Player’s Call

The damage from a fatigue result is normal damage and requires the normal amount of time to heal. See “Types of Damage” and “Healing” later in this chapter for more information about shock point damage.

Fatigued: fatigue result inflicts two shock points of damage on the targeted character. (Note that some types of armor and equipment in Chapter Thirteen might increase the amount of shock damage caused by a fatigue result.) The damage from a fatigue represents the effects caused by the character wasting his energy responding to the motions and actions of the maneuvering character.

Stymied: The targeted character loses the first reroll she would otherwise normally get for any reason. If a character never has an opportunity for a reroll during her next action, stymied has no other effect. A stymied result will cancel out the benefits of an up result, and vice versa.

Unskilled: The targeted character cannot use any of his skill adds during his next action, all action totals and passive defense values will be based off of raw attribute values instead. Heroes and Villains lose their roll again on 20’s while unskilled and mooks lose their roll-again on 10’s while unskilled. Other unskilled use penalties are not applied; the character has not lost the skill, just the benefit of his adds.

Setback: Setbacks make life rougher for the targeted character. The most common setback is to cause the character to lose their next action. Setbacks are discussed in more detail in Chapter Five. The player’s call on the interaction can often be used as a guideline for determining a setback result.

Break: During a break, the targeted character will flee the battle or concede the conflict if she is unable to harm her opponent or in some other way improve her situation during her next action. Characters who break will flee or concede after failing to improve their position.

Up: The character who performed the interaction receives a free additional roll to add to their normal roll on their next action against the targeted character, like getting to reroll the die on any result instead of just on 10’s and 20’s. This reroll from an up condition cannot be countered with a Hero Point, though it can be canceled by a stymied result, and vice versa. A Hero Point may be spent normally to gain another roll on top of this reroll.

Player’s Call: As outlined in the skill descriptions, the player must state before rolling the die the exact effect he wants the interaction to have on the targeted character. With a player’s call result they get the effect they wanted.

Charm, Interrogate and Persuade Results

Charm is used to improve the target character’s attitude towards the interacting character, persuasion is used to convince the target character to do something for the interacting character and interrogation is a use of the intimidation skill to get information out of the target character. The results listed in these two columns deal with the attitude of the target character, either towards the interacting character or towards the information he’s being interrogated about.

LoyalLoyal characters are strongly committed to the characters that have earned their loyalty. They go to considerable lengths to guarantee the safety and well being of the characters to which they are loyal and will do almost anything those characters ask of them. Although they are still motivated to keep themselves alive, some loyalties transcend even self preservation. Information about which they feel loyal to is just as fiercely guarded and protected.

Friendly: Characters with a friendly attitude have reason to believe the other to be worthwhile in some sense—they may share common goals or values, enjoy each other’s company, or believe that there is something intrinsically valuable about each other. Friends support each other in small ways— sometimes large ways if needed. Information about which they feel friendly is information they would normally only give to someone they like or trust.

Neutral: Neutral characters have no reason to like or dislike another. People who are neutral may seem friendly or standoffish but they have no actual emotional investment in the character toward which they are neutral. The flip side is that such characters aren’t out to exploit those toward whom they are neutral. “Live and let live” is a good motto for theneutral attitude. Neutral information is something they don’t have any particular reason to withhold from anyone.

Hostile: Characters with a hostile attitude toward someone have contempt for or feel threatened by that character. The character may be intensely jealous, or the two characters may belong to rival factions. The hostility may stem from long-held prejudice or recent events. Hostile information is something of little enough value that there’s no danger in it being known by someone the character does not like.

Enemy: An enemy is a character who seeks to destroy the other character. The destruction need not be physical and immediate, but each misery and defeat an enemy can inflict on his opponent fulfills a personal goal. The difference between hostile and enemy is that a hostile character will usually avoid the undesirable character while an enemy will go out of her way to antagonize the person she hates. Enemy information is something so inconsequential or obvious that there’s no reason not to tell it to anyone.

Enemy+1: This result is not an actual attitude. Some uses of charm and persuasion require getting a result higher than the target character’s attitude so this result provides a level above enemy

Using Charm

The difficulty number for a charm attempt is the willpower value of the target. If the target does not have willpower, use the target’s Mind instead. The other factors involved are the target’s attitude toward the charmer, and the charmer’s attitude toward the target (which are not necessarily the same). Players may choose the attitude they want their character to adopt toward the target, announcing their choice to the gamemaster. Once they choose an attitude, they need to roleplay it appropriately. For instance, if the player declares that her character is friendly, but acts in a truly selfish or manipulative manner, the gamemaster should point out that this is hostile behavior. If the player amends her action, there is no penalty. If she does not, the gamemaster should ignore the player’s stated attitude and treat her as hostiletowards the other character. The base attitude of nonplayer characters is determined by the gamemaster according to the character and situation. A successful charm temporarily increases a character’s attitude by one level, although his base attitude (the original attitude of the character) remains the same. Any subsequent charm attempts still use thebase attitude to determine the level of success needed. To continue charming a character in a single scene (anothercharm attempt may always be made in a future scene), the charmer must receive a result which is at least one levelhigher than the base attitude of the target. This is a continuing success.

 

Using Persuasion

Persuasion is used to get another character or creature to agree to do a certain thing or accept a certain course of action. The difficulty number for persuading someone is their willpower or Mind value.

Only one persuasion attempt may be made on a character about any one issue or suggestion, unless the gamemaster decides there is a good story-related reason to allow another attempt.

Example: At a small refugee camp, a Viking takes offense at an imagined insult and decides to mop the floor with Quin. Quin doesn’t really want to fight the guy, nor does he want to get smashed by him. Becky describes the Viking smashing things, throwing insults at Quin and waving his spear around, with Quin dodging in and out amid the tents while trying topersuade the tribesman not to skin him alive. She gives Quin three chances at persuasion, with a round or two between each attempt, in Order to make the scene interesting.

Pressing the Issue

When a character fails a charm, or only gets the minimal level of success necessary, no further charm attempts may normally be made in that scene without pressing the issue. This means trying to charm one more time in the face of a potentially negative reaction from the target character. If this extra charm roll is successful (at any level) the target’s temporary attitude improves by one more step, and no further charm attempts may be made in that scene, nor may the issue be pressed any further. The danger is in failure. If a character fails while pressing the issue, the target’s base attitude worsens by one step and the temporary attitude changes to the new base attitude.

Persuasion takes into account the target’s attitude, much as charm does. As with charm, the persuading character needs to get a result equal to or greater than the target character’s attitude to be successful. The difference is that persuasiongoes against the target character’s temporary attitude rather than their base attitude, so using charm beforepersuasion can makes it easier to persuade someone to do something.

If the persuader gets a success level equal to the target’s temporary attitude, the target agrees to the persuader’s request in exchange for something of roughly equal value. The payoff must be immediate unless the reward is great and the target has genuine reason to believe he will receive the reward.

If the persuader gets a success level one step higher than the target’s temporary attitude, the target character agrees to the proposition as stated by the persuader, with no strings attached. This result is only possible if the outcome of the proposition has some value to the target; that is, the target must believe there is some self interest to be served by going along with the persuader’s suggestion – if not right now, then soon. The self interest can be anything from direct monetary reward, to recognition, to knowledge that he is doing the right thing (as he sees it.) If this is not possible, the result is treated as described above for getting a result equal to the target’s attitude. If the persuader gets a success leveltwo steps higher than the target’s temporary attitude, the persuaded character will follow through on the suggestion with all possible effort and speed if the target character agrees with the fundamental aim of the course of action suggested by the persuader. Target characters with an attitude of hostile are usually unlikely to agree with the persuader, in which case the result should be treated as a result one level above the target’s attitude. Note that it is not possible to get two steps higher than enemy on the Interaction Results Table.

Example: Quin is trying to convince the Viking to stop threatening him. The Viking’s base and temporary attitude towards Quin are both hostile since Quin doesn’t have time to try and charm the Viking before attempting to persuade him. If Quin gets a result of enemy+1 on the Persuade Column, two steps higher, the Viking will immediately stop attacking Quin if there’s any reason he might agree to stop. Perhaps he is only attacking because honor demands it for an insult, but he doesn’t really believe that Quin meant to insult him. On the other hand, if he has no real reason to stop attacking Quin, it should be treated as described next.

If Quin gets a result of enemy on the Persuade Column, one step higher, the Viking might stop attacking if he feels that he’s getting something in exchange for stopping. If Quin’s persuasion attempt included an apology for causing offense, that might be sufficient to satisfy the Viking’s need for compensation. Or maybe

Quin offers to buy the Viking a drink or has something else that he offers in exchange for the Viking halting his attack. If the Viking doesn’t see anything of value though, it should be treated as described next. If Quin gets a hostile result on the Persuade column, the same level as the Viking’s attitude, the Viking will stop attacking Quin if he offers up something valuable in exchange; something the Viking feels is a suitable payment for the insult he thinks Quin paid him. Maybe Quin has to offer up something expensive, like a new battle-axe to replace the Viking’s old axe. Or perhaps he has to let the Viking humiliate him publicly the same way the Viking thinks Quin insulted him. If Quin doesn’t offer up something suitable in exchange, or didn’t even get a hostile result on his persuasion attempt, the Viking refuses to stop attacking him. It is not possible to persuade a character to do something that is completely against her nature or ethical principles. One of the prime tricks of evil characters is to misrepresent a situation and the choices so that persuasion is possible, i.e. producing false evidence against a hero as part of a persuasion attempt to make a target take harmful action against the hero. Even in situations where persuasion is possible, the gamemaster may wish to apply modifiers to the difficulty based on what is being asked of the target character. Moderate risk, such as the chance of losing considerable money or prestige or there being a real chance of physical danger, should be worth at least a +3 modifier. If the situation involves high risk, such as a guaranteed chance of physical harm to oneself or loved ones, the difficulty should be increased by at least +5.

Haggling

Haggling is a special back-and-forth use of persuasion where each person participating in the interaction is trying to convince the other of something. It is most often used when a character wishes to sell or purchase something and the price needs to be negotiated rather than being a predetermined amount. Not every purchase that can be haggled has to use these rules; haggling can often be done purely by roleplaying out the exchange between the characters. But in cases where a character may be better (or worse) than the player when it comes to swinging a deal these

BASE PRICE/ATTITUDE CHART

Offer Attitude

Bargain Friendly

+/-1 Neutral

+/-2 Hostile

+/-3 Enemy

A “bargain” is a price that is much less than the item’s actual worth or an offer that is much more than the item’s worth. “+/- is a price or offer within one point on the Value Chart, “+/- is within two points and “+/- is within three points.

Example: Terrill is in a town when a dagger in a nearby stall catches his eye. The normal price of a dagger (as given in Chapter Thirteen) is $50, which is a value of 9. The merchant, noticing Terrill’s interest, tells him that the dagger is “only “$200. Two hundred is a value of 12, three above the dagger’s normal cost value, which means Terrill’s attitude is enemytowards this offer. Terrill counters with an offer of $40, which is a value of 8. This is one below the dagger’s normal cost so the merchant is neutral to Terrill’s offer.

Haggling is conducted in round play. Each character attempts to persuade the other into accepting their offer or price on whatever is being sold. This requires getting a success level one step higher than the target character’s attitude. If during a round neither character succeeds in persuading the other, both must adjust their offers to be one point closer on the Value Chart to the other person’s offer. In most cases this will improve each character’s attitude by one step, increasing the likelihood of someone being successfully persuaded in the next round. If during a round one character successfully persuades the other, the other character will accept the character’s offer or price. If both characters successfully persuade each other, they agree to split the difference. Both character may choose at any time to stop haggling and either meet the other person’s offer or call off the deal and stop negotiating.

Example: Terrill tries to persuade the merchant to take his offer of $40 for the dagger while the merchant wants Terrill to pay $200 for it. Terrill has a willpower skill of 12 and a persuasion skill of 10 and is enemy towards the merchant’s offer. The merchant has a willpower skill of 11 and a persuasion skill of 14 and is neutral to Terrill’s offer. Becky announces that Terrill has the initiative in the first round and gets to go first.

Alan rolls on Terrill’s persuasion skill and generates a 14. That is only three result points, which is a neutral result on the Persuade Column. He needed to get better than the merchant’s attitude so he is not successful this round. Becky then rolls for the merchant and gets a persuasion total of 16. This is four result points, also a neutral result. This is below Terrill’s attitude so the merchant also fails this round. Since both failed, Terrill must raise his offer and the merchant must lower his offer. Terrill raises his offer to $60 and the merchant drops his price to $150. Terrill’s new offer is a value of 9, still within one point of the item’s actual cost so the merchant remains neutral. The merchant’s new price is a value of 11, two value points higher than the cost, which lowers Terrill’s attitude to hostile. In the second round, Becky says that the merchant has the initiative and gets to go first. She generates a persuasion total of 18, another neutral result, and again fails to persuade Terrill. Alan generates a total of 17 for Terrill, also another neutral result and another failure.

Both sides must improve their offers again. Terrill goes up to $70, a value of 10. This is high enough for the merchant to see it as a “bargain” so his attitude becomes friendly. The merchant drops his price to $100, also a value of 10, which improves Terrill’s attitude to neutral. Becky announces that Terrill has the initiative.

Alan generates a persuasion total of 14 for Terrill, a neutral result. Since the merchant is now friendly this is a success! But the merchant still gets to make his persuasion attempt. Becky generates an action value of 15 for a neutral result, which is not successful since it’s not higher than Terrill’s attitude. The merchant accepts Terrill’s offer of $70. If Becky had generated an action value of 19 or higher the merchant would have a hostile result on the Persuade Column and also been successful in that round. If that had happened, Terrill and the merchant would have split the difference between the two offers and Terrill would have paid $85 for the dagger.

Clearing the Mind

Player characters and other possibility-rated characters are generally tougher to dazzle and confuse than Mooks because of their superior attributes and skills, but they are not immune to the effects of charm and persuasion. Fortunately, there is a way for characters to shake off the effects of charm and persuasion, a chance to clear their minds.

To do this, the player (or gamemaster for non-player characters) makes a Perception check for the character; the difficulty number is the character’s own Mind. If the result points are equal to or greater than the result points of the latest charm or persuasion attempt against him, the charm or persuasion is negated. If an enemy character made the suggestion, add +3 to the bonus number for clearing the mind. If a character clears his mind, he is safe from the effects of charm and persuasion by that opponent for the rest of that act.

Interrogation

Interrogation is handled much like a persuasion attempt except that the character uses her intimidation skill and the attitude levels apply to how the target feels about the information the interrogator wants, not how the target feels about the interrogator. The better the target’s attitude towards the information, the harder it is to get them to reveal it. Personal information and closely guarded secrets might be something the target feels loyal or friendly about, while information about a casual acquaintance or an event that didn’t involve the character personally might be something they would tell to most people (neutral) or even to people they don’t necessarily like (hostile or enemy). The goal of the interrogator is the break the target’s resistance and force him into revealing information he wouldn’t normally give the interrogating character.

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