Monday, January 3, 2011

Gygaxian Democracy #8: Gygaxian Social Interaction

Preamble you are allowed to skip:

My favorite games work like this, when they are GMed in such a way as to be fun to me:

-there is a problem
-the PC attempts to solve the problem
-because both the problem and the attempt to solve it are couched in terms of action in an imaginary world (i.e. the problem is "get the ruby away from the gnome" rather than "get three O's in a row before your opponent gets three Xs") the tactic used to solve the problem (successful or otherwise) creates a new problem (or set of problems) (i.e. now everybody wants your ruby.)
-the process starts over
-when this happens many times in a row it creates a little neverending story about somebody who solves problems or dies trying

(You may not like this, or prioritize it. Great. That's ok. I accept your right to be interested in something I'm not.)

Point here being: As a DM, I sit around dreaming up interesting problems to solve. The mechanics help me define the parameters of the problems and the things PCs can use to solve them.

To me, just as the point of combat and action mechanics is to facilitate the creation and in-game use of interesting dungeon puzzles and similar tests of tactical wit, the point of interesting social mechanics would be to facilitate the creation and in-game use of interesting social puzzles.

Example:

Putting players in a position to figure out how to think outside the box to disembowel a fully-statted owlbear before a fully-statted lava trap kills them is, for me, fair and fun and (a major) part of the game. However, it takes up a huge chunk of game time and if the players are not into this sort of thing, they will not like the game.

In order to justify social mechanics being as complex as combat ones, putting players in a position to figure out how to think outside the box to outwit or charm an NPC should be the same kind of challenge, but I seriously can't be fucked to think about NPCs for as long as I can to think about monsters and traps. At least not in terms of their personalities.

Why?

1- I'm not that interested in my NPCs until and unless they get some track record in the game (after all, I can write fiction whenever I want, and do. What makes them interesting isn't what they did, it's that action by the dice or PCs made them do what they did.),

2-If I don't get to use a well-designed trap or monster in an adventure, I can always have a similar one (perhaps re-skinned) somewhere else, whereas an NPC implies a whole gameworld social situation and the PCs don't want to interact with that situation then moving it around so they have to do it anyway is difficult to do without railroading,

3-Designing really good NPC interactions means much of the time at the table will be given over to NPC interactions, which isn't mostly why I'm here. I get enough of that reading books and comics, watching movies and writing books and comics and being in movies. I can have a pretend conversation with my roommate in the living room any day of the week (and sometimes do) whereas I can only put my mind to the question of how to get a gelatinous cube to absorb a beholder so I can immobilize it long enough to drop a boulder on it when I play D&D.

YOUR MILEAGE WILL VARY.

I KNOW YOU ARE NOT ME AND LIKE DIFFERENT THINGS. OK? GOOD.

But...it's about the journey and not the destination 'cause D&D the way I play is picaresque and therefore anything that happens along the way that's fun for the players and me and doesn't sap the possibilities of future fun is acceptable--any mechanic, any detail, any goal, any npc interaction, any bet, etc.

Therefore although I wouldn't want a social mechanic to be part of the 'bones' of a system I was playing in, I like the idea of an (always) optional gravy-on-top social interaction mechanic, so that social interaction can be detailed if the situation makes that seem like a good idea at the time to the players.

Using the social interaction mechanic instead of just talking to a guy would be like a PC deciding to play a bar game in a pub--they don't have to do it, but its effects are still binding on the fiction of the game if they decide to go that way and can have major effects.

Also, I think it would have to emphasize player skill over PC skill, and not in some way that just says "the player has to role-play his PC convincingly and skillfully", since if they just wanna do that then they don't need the mechanic, plus, like I said: we get enough of that at work.

Extremely important: the mechanic will require rolling on some ridiculous d100 table. The goal of the results would not be, for the most part, to simulate the statistical realities or storytelling possibilities of human interaction so much as to force the PC to roleplay in entertaining ways which exaggerate the monopoly-with-squatters effect.

Gygaxian Social Interaction Table

(roll below one time+once per point of charisma over 15 and pick the one the player likes best, if PC charisma is under under 6, roll one time + once per point of charisma under 6 and the DM picks)
(in most cases, these 'challenges' won't be secret, the player will know this is whats/he has to do...)

1-NPC talks fast and interrupts people. If the player can say what s/he wants in less than d12+6 words s/he gets it.

2-NPC talks fast and interrupts people. If the player can say what s/he wants in less than 2d4 seconds s/he gets it.

3-Conversation reveals NPC is obsessed with (conquest/unity/weasels, etc.). If player can work the word "weasel" (or "conquest" or "unity", or etc.) into every sentence of his/her request, s/he gets it.

4...

(now I have to go take a shower, and I am turning the remaining results over to Gygaxian Democracy...)
(IMPORTANT: Remember the challenges must be things that a player could conceivably fail to do properly, not just things it'll be fun to see them do.)

46 comments:

  1. 4-The NPC has an obsessive antipathy toward an unlikely thing (I.E, mountains/trees/rivers, etc.). If the player can manage to fit some way that his/her request harms mountains (or trees, or rivers, etc.) into it, they get the desired result. Otherwise, roll 1d20. If the result is 15 or above, they get the desired result. Otherwise the fog of the NPC's obsession overrules their self-interest (or whatever the players were appealing to), and they are: (Roll 1d12)

    1-Forcibly ejected from his/her presence.
    2-Accused of a crime that they may or may not have committed [to prevent the DM being restricted to using only things they haven't done yet]. Their sentence will be directly related to the antipathy of the NPC; if they hate mountains the players must do a significant amount of damage to one, if trees they must clear cut a forest, if rivers the must construct a dam, etc.
    3-Threatened with death or other dire consequences unless they agree to kill and/or disgrace someone who has been blocking their efforts to destroy/harm the object of their antipathy.
    4...(I hereby turn the remaining results on this table over to Gygaxian Democracy)

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  2. 5: NPC values brevity. Gets bored of, and ignores, any request of more than 2d10 words.

    6: NPC values verbosity. Becomes impatient with, and ignores, any request of less than 2d10 words.

    (I'm not sure I fully understood the point of the exercise. I hope I did.)

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  3. @kelvin

    #5 is kinda like stuff that I already put up and

    #6 is too easy

    but I think you get the basic idea

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  4. 6-(Standard Table) NPC values clarity. Any request that is not immediately clear, and cannot be explained in 3d10 words, or 2d10 seconds, (DM's choice) will be ignored.

    7-NPC values obfuscation. Any request that is immediately clear, or takes less than 6d10 words, or 4d10 seconds, will be ignored.

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  5. Good point. Here's an alternate:

    6-NPC is completely apathetic. Only requests that allow him or her to do less will be accepted.

    8-NPC is a hedonist. Only those requests that will provide a new experience will be accepted.

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  6. Addenda to the above: The GM might, for an added challenge, tell the players the attitude of the NPC, but keep the result of the 2d10 secret.

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  7. Something like this? First thought that came to mind as something a player could do or not do:

    9- NPC will agree with player requests if they can state it while stacking dice d20 high, one on top of the other, before the stack falls. Subtract one from dice-tower-height roll for each 3 points of PC Charisma.

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  8. 10 The man is slow in the head. You must talk with words of just one sound or he will not trust you.

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  9. 11 Words are beside the point. The interlocutor is fixated on the most obvious and special object carried by the adventurers. He/she tries to conceal interest in it but will eventually bring conversation around to it in a nonchalant way. Only giving that thing will convince.

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  10. 12-The NPC will only agree to the request if he can experiment on the (roll appropriate dice for the amount of races in the party) character. If there is more than one character of the selected race, roll as appropriate to determine the individual. Or just pick one. Your call.

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  11. Oh, and the character will have 1d6 random mutations when he or she returns to the party. The adventure must be completed without that character. Alternately, if this would deprive the player of the chance to play for this session, they can return before setting out, though 1d12 days, or 1d4 weeks of gametime will have passed.

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  12. this whole thing is a very intriguing idea!

    13. the NPC is mad/bored/cruel and will only talk to people speaking backwards. He himself will respond normally though.Additionally, he won't tolerate any grammar mistakes from his interlocutors. Misspelling a word will end up with the NPC going into a fit, insulting the speaker and refusing to respond to that person for d6 days.

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  13. ?llew sa, sdrwkcab eb ot deen sdrow oddo

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  14. -there is a problem
    -pearty attempts to solve problem
    -solving the problem creates new problems
    -rinse/repeat

    Sounds like my idea of breakfast, too.

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  15. True, although the repetition will be on a slow time scale. And I don't think he meant rinse quite that literally.

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  16. 14. PC has coughing fit while talking to NPC. NPC must make appropriate save or catch a cold. If cold is caught, aid will be denied the players unless they coddle him/her for the next d4 days -- giving back rubs, hot soup, etc..

    15. Ask player (or better yet, someone not playing) for 3 random nouns. The third given is said during conversation and NPC keeps trying to move conversation to be about that noun. Only if player can somehow realistically connect the thing to what they want will the NPC grant request.

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  17. @Adrian:

    How would #15 work? Would they simply shout out "Werewolves!", for example?

    @Zak S: I'd appreciate it if you could take a look at this (http://lunchingonlamias.blogspot.com/2011/01/vampiric-musings-or-how-do-i-kill-it.html), when you get the time.

    Anyway since my above request wasn't actually related to the post:

    16-The NPC will request that one or all of the characters take some action that is generally considered acceptable in the current locale (I.E, swimming in the market fountain, or cartwheeling through the duke's study.)

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  18. Oops. That should read "that is generally not considered acceptable in the current locale".

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  19. OH SHIT WORLD, BOW DOWN! HERE COMES KENT AND HIS FACTUAL INACCURACY AGAIN!!!!

    Seriously dude, for someone who sends me pissy emails about how you'll never read my blog again you sure do leave a lot of comments.

    Also, if you are gonna read it, you might as well read all of it and realize I play all the time.

    Y'all wanna tell Kent to go fuck himself or should I just delete his trolling ass?

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  20. I don't want to let the troll derail the thread. This idea is too intriguing.

    Zak, you're looking for things that will challenge the player, not their character, right? But related to the NPC somehow? Hmmm.

    16- Player must speak in rhyme, for at least 2d10 rhyming pairs, in order to gain the NPCs favor. Player may subtract 1 for each point of PC Int or Cha (player chooses which stat to apply) above 15; likewise must add 1 for each point of Int or Cha below 6 (use lowest score). No reduction can reduce the number of rhyming pairs below 2; no additions can raise the number required above 20. Player's speech must be on topic (DM's decision). Failure to rhyme results in NPCs disfavor, whatever that means: anger, fear, disappointment, whatever fits the circumstance.

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  21. 17) Lover of low art: Phrase the request either as a limerick or with a double entendre in every sentence.

    18) Lover of high art: Request must be a haiku or in at least 2 lines of iambic pentameter (like Shakespeare:

    daDAH daDAH daDAH daDAH daDAH/
    daDAH daDAH daDAH daDAH daDAH (must rhyme)

    Either way, player has 2 minutes+ 1 minute for either an Int or Cha 15 and up (4 minutes total if both)

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  22. 19) Addict. Produce desired substance, and sway NPC favorably. (D12: 1. Booze 2. Expensive booze 3. Hashish 4. Opium 6. Booze, shitty, in absurd quantities 7. Ladies 8. Gentlemen 9. Healing Potions 10. Coffee 11. Tobacco 12. Pastries.)

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  23. 20) Deaf. Players must ask using charades, without modern references.

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  24. 20) Forgetful - only responds to the last 3 words a PC says.

    21)Egotist- PCs must flatter the NPC to get what they want.

    22) Paranoid - PCs must link the request to a massive conspiracy (that the NPC probably mentions) to get the NPC to do what they want.

    23) Coward - NPC is a huge dick. He insults the PCs and actively hinders them. Physically he appears like he could take the PCs with on hand behind his back. The NPC will not do what the PCs want until there is a show of force, drawing a sword, grabbing his shirt, etc., after which the NPC will immediately start whimpering.

    25) Likes to gamble - In order to get the info/items the PCs need. They must gamble with the NPC, putting something of high value on the table. The bet could be anything (10% chance the bet is rigged. 50% chance to get something out of the bet just for taking it.)
    Subtable:
    1)foot race
    2)archery
    3)arm wrestle
    4)eating competition
    5)3 Card Monty (actually do it on the gaming table)
    6)Coin flip
    7)Liars dice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liar's_dice
    8)staring competition (with the DM)

    26)Obvious Fraud - NPC claims to be a highly educated noble and uses overly long and complicated words often, poorly, and with mispronunciations. As long as the PCs don't call him out, make fun of him (though extra points for sarcastic witty flattery) or make him feel stupid, they will be on the NPC's good side.

    27) Battle of Wits - NPC starts making puns, the PCs must reply with a pun 5 times in a row.

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  25. 28) NPC is a troll. Not the fun kind either. The DM and player in question must engage in a staring contest - if the player loses this is interpreted as the NPC successfully pissing off the PC without giving them what they want. If the player wins, the NPC couldn't crack them and gives in. (if the player is blind or has dry-eye syndrome or something, pick some other simple contest. Or just let them win, for Christ's sake. What's wrong with you.)

    29) NPC is a survivor of some horribly traumatic event, and will be seized by a panic attack if triggered by the mention of it. The player does not know what that event was, but knows due to vague allusions that they mustn't mention it. Furthermore, the event involved *something* related to what the DM knows the PCs want. If they can form their request in a way that doesn't mention it, they get what they want.

    For instance: The PCs want to know where the gnome is so they get steal it's ruby. The NPC once watched her father eaten alive by an insane gnome. The PCs mustn't mention gnomes or she begins sobbing and curls up in a ball on the floor.

    30) NPC interrupts player to tell a shitty joke. If the player laughs, they get what they want. If they don't (the DM should pick a really bad joke) the NPC says "Well, if you think you can do better, let's hear it then!" The player must then tell a joke. If the DM laughs, they get what they want.

    31) NPC has an incredibly thick accent. The DM tells them what they want, but only with a mouth full of something, and will not repeat themselves.

    32) NPC will mishear a key word of the DM's choosing and give an accurate response based on it. So "Where is the gnome with the ruby" may become "where is the home with the ruby" or "where is the gnome with the boobies." The player must guess which word was misheard - a correct guess and they get a corrected answer, a missed guess and they get a new false answer ("What did that lad want?" "The home with the boobies?" "Must of meant Mistress Montague's House of Pain." "That's where I sent 'em.")

    33) NPC is elderly, of same gender as player, and thinks everyone younger is an idiot. Tell them they must now multiply the results of two 20d without a calculator in 30 seconds. This represents the tedium and stress of listening to a lecture while being called "boy," "girl," "son," or "little missy." If the math problem is solved in time the player gets what they want.

    34) NPC insists on talking about something divisive. The NPC agrees completely with the player - and yet they continue to argue. A player not involved must then write down the name of a famous work of art without consulting the player in the argument. This is shown to the player in the argument, and they have 10 seconds to draw it. The DM must then guess what it is. If the DM can, the NPC realizes the player agrees with them and they get what they want.

    Substitutes for works of art could be: D&D monsters, album covers, superheroes, etc.

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  26. 28) NPC is a troll. Not the fun kind either. The DM and player in question must engage in a staring contest - if the player loses this is interpreted as the NPC successfully pissing off the PC without giving them what they want. If the player wins, the NPC couldn't crack them and gives in. (if the player is blind or has dry-eye syndrome or something, pick some other simple contest. Or just let them win, for Christ's sake. What's wrong with you.)

    29) NPC is a survivor of some horribly traumatic event, and will be seized by a panic attack if triggered by the mention of it. The player does not know what that event was, but knows due to vague allusions that they mustn't mention it. Furthermore, the event involved *something* related to what the DM knows the PCs want. If they can form their request in a way that doesn't mention it, they get what they want.

    For instance: The PCs want to know where the gnome is so they get steal it's ruby. The NPC once watched her father eaten alive by an insane gnome. The PCs mustn't mention gnomes or she begins sobbing and curls up in a ball on the floor.

    30) NPC interrupts player to tell a shitty joke. If the player laughs, they get what they want. If they don't (the DM should pick a really bad joke) the NPC says "Well, if you think you can do better, let's hear it then!" The player must then tell a joke. If the DM laughs, they get what they want.

    31) NPC has an incredibly thick accent. The DM tells them what they want, but only with a mouth full of something, and will not repeat themselves.

    32) NPC will mishear a key word of the DM's choosing and give an accurate response based on it. So "Where is the gnome with the ruby" may become "where is the home with the ruby" or "where is the gnome with the boobies." The player must guess which word was misheard - a correct guess and they get a corrected answer, a missed guess and they get a new false answer ("What did that lad want?" "The home with the boobies?" "Must of meant Mistress Montague's House of Pain." "That's where I sent 'em.")

    33) NPC is elderly, of same gender as player, and thinks everyone younger is an idiot. Tell them they must now multiply the results of two 20d without a calculator in 30 seconds. This represents the tedium and stress of listening to a lecture while being called "boy," "girl," "son," or "little missy." If the math problem is solved in time the player gets what they want.

    34) NPC insists on talking about something divisive. The NPC agrees completely with the player - and yet they continue to argue. A player not involved must then write down the name of a famous work of art without consulting the player in the argument. This is shown to the player in the argument, and they have 10 seconds to draw it. The DM must then guess what it is. If the DM can, the NPC realizes the player agrees with them and they get what they want.

    Substitutes for works of art could be: D&D monsters, album covers, superheroes, etc.

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  27. 28) Conversational Drifter - has a hard time staying on topic, will frequently trail off in mid-sentence. PCs must finish sentences quickly and succinctly in order to steer the conversation in the direction they desire. NPC can be manipulated in this way, but PCs' suggestions and arguments must still follow logical thread.

    29) Ornery Conversational Drifter - has a hard time staying on topic, will frequently trail off in mid-sentence. PCs must finish sentences quickly and succinctly in order to steer the conversation in the direction they desire. Unfortunately, NPC is also a natural contrarian. For each PC suggestion, roll 1d6. On 1 or 2, NPC accepts PC suggestion; on 3 through 6, NPC rejects PC suggestion no matter how logical or sensible.

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  28. 30) NPC is looking for an understanding.

    If the player physically nods or shakes their head in response to the NPC's question, the NPC will deem them worthy of [some benefit].

    Failure to do so will result in the PC's opinions being ignored by the NPC until the PC asks a direct question of the NPC. The NPC will then reply with another question to the character, again looking for a physical response.

    Failure to do this three times results in the character being completely ignored by the NPC.

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  29. 31-The NPC wants to marry, or at least enter into a relationship with, a randomly determined character. If the character is unwilling, or even hesitant to do so, the NPC flies into a rage (See my table above).

    If needed use the following rules to determine sexual orientation [Useful for seeing which party members he/she is interested in marrying.]:

    Roll 1d6 two times. The first result determines whether they are, and if so how strongly, attracted to those of the opposite sex. The second does the same for those of the same sex. If both results are above 0 roll a 3rd time. This result will overrule the previous two. It determines if the NPC/character is bisexual, and if so how strongly. A roll of 0 on this roll is treated as calling for a reroll of the other two. on the other two. The results are coded as follows, on a 0-5 scale:

    0-The NPC or character is most certainly not interested in those of the same/opposite gender, and may (roll 1d6 again, applies only on a second result of 0) be actively hostile to those of a non-compatible orientation.

    1-The NPC or character is only mildly interested in those of the same/opposite gender. They will carefully (far more so than if they were not getting involved with someone of the applicable gender) weigh their merits, and will be somewhat inclined against choosing them even if the benefits outweigh the problems. However once they have chosen they have few qualms about having done so, unless they would for some other reason.

    2-The NPC or character is mildly interested in those that are of the applicable gender. They will still weigh their merits far more carefully than they otherwise would, but will no longer be inclined to choose against them and will have no qualms about having done so afterwards.

    3-The NPC or character is reasonably interested in those of the applicable gender. They will weigh their merits somewhat more carefully, but otherwise will treat them as though they had rolled 4-6 on this table.

    4-6 They will treat those of the applicable gender as normal. Merits will be weighed no more carefully than they would do so if it were a standard man/woman thinking about entering into a relationship with another man/woman. In other words, what anybody would do upon seeing/getting to know them.

    [For the above situation make the following changes: The first 1-3 counts as "Not interested", regardless of what he or she would otherwise do, while 4-6 are as normal. For example: Lord Roseeater rolled a 3 on his second roll. He is only interested in the female characters; though if there are any males in the party he may express mild interest in them, they will not be considered for his marriage results. Lady Mucksniffer is interested in all members of the party, as she rolled a 6 on her first roll, and a 4 on her second. Please note that the NPC will only desire to marry one person.]

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  30. I don't know, I'm going to see how far you want to push the "player challenge" aspect, I might be doing it wrong. I suppose at some point this gets truth-or-darey.

    32) NPC entertained by circus acts. Player can try juggling 3 items while phrasing request.

    33) NPC doesn't like to drink alone. Player can opt to begin & end request with a shot of whiskey.

    34) NPC impressed by arcane knowledge. DM picks random 2-3 word phrase from spell descriptions. Player tries to identify the spell it comes from & dictate full sentence context (use of physical rulebooks is allowed; no digital sources; time limit 2 minutes).

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  31. 35) The NPC is, actually, hunted by a band of hired killers. They will attempt to take him out while having conversation with the party, and probably don't like Witnesses.
    36) During conversation, the NPC drops unconscious. Some Wizard or Demon stole his soul, and it must be recovered.
    37) The NPC is some type of shapechanging monster or insane killer. He will attempt to lure the party to a dark chamber or backroom for "more privacy".
    38) A phrase or word that will probably fall during conversation will act as a command word for a curse. The character will become a raving berserk or a mindless, drooling fellow who will follow all (simple) orders, but can't speak anymore.

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  32. 35-It is customary for the NPC (A noble) and those he negotiates with to drink something flavored with vanilla, probably milk. It comes in quart sized glasses, each of which is automatically re-filled when empty. Vanilla extract (what this is flavored with, rather than the beans themselves) has alcohol in it. Each of these glasses has a whole bottle of vanilla extract in them. After d6 glasses you will inform the players that "You notice that you are starting to feel odd, as though (insert non-obvious description of the early stages of being drunk here)." in whatever way you wish. Once they've had about d4 more glasses of this stuff one of the characters will begin to feel most definitely drunk and/or pass out depending on previously established tolerance for alcohol. At this point the players must play as though their characters are drunk. This was done purposely by the NPC (Who's been drinking plain milk the whole time, and, as such, is still completely sober) in the hopes of getting the party to agree to

    1-Marry one of his cousin's adopted daughters, a witch from the northern mountains.
    2-Steal a harpy egg from one of his rivals, who is blackmailing him with the threat of opening it in one of his subject lands. Roll again:
    1-2-The egg will be opened if the players get too near to discovering who is keeping it, or reveal that the noble sent them.
    3-4-The noble they are working for will accidentally break the egg.
    5-A vassal of their employer will accidentally break the egg, or will do so on purpose. In accidentally roll for the city. If intentionally roll for city, but restrict the results to those that are under the control of rivals, especially those that are held by the person you stole the egg from in the first place.
    6-The egg hatches on the way back to the city. The NPC is enraged, having wished to use the egg for his or her own purposes.
    3-Kill one of his rivals.
    4-Burn down the home of a specific NPC, at a certain time. He or she will insist that this is because the person will not be there at that time, but it is actually because they will be there, but not in an obvious fashion; the NPC having a desire for revenge and a cruel streak, wishes to burn them alive. The party will hear screams from within if they stick around, and/or hear rumors that a house burned to the ground, killing its occupant.
    5-Eradicate a group of:
    1-Gnolls
    2-Goblins
    3-Savage Humans
    4-Bestial Elves
    5-Bugbies (Bugbear-Brownies. They have the:
    1-Head
    2-Arms
    3-Legs
    4-Torso
    of a Bugbear. All else is as a Brownie. At the DM's discretion they may be Brownbugs, which are as above, save that they are as bugbears overall. Both sorts are chaotic good.)
    6-Jackal-men. These will be running a "Lottery of Babylon", but are not the main group. As such not all of the choices apply.
    6-Kill a hobgoblin thief, and his band of lycanthropic kobolds.
    If they agree to do so, in character, roleplaying as drunk, then the NPC will accept their request. If they fail to roleplay convincingly he will become suspicious, and believe that they mean to double-cross him.

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  33. Ugh, my post vanished between now and last night. And is on a separate computer.

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  34. I keep returning to your original post to see if I've got a handle on the concept, and whether or not something fits inside or outside the desired range. Try this:

    39) Right Here in River City - NPC is a bit thick between the ears; PCs need to make their point or request three times in order for it to land. Unfortunately, NPC is also easily bored/distracted; PCs need to make their three attempts distinctly different, and need to complete all three within 3d8 seconds. For each failure, subtract 1d8 for the rest of the conversation.

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  35. NPC is a poet/bard/freestyle battler/wannabe or fan of any of the above and insists the player/PC...

    n) speak in rhyme.

    n+1) speak alliteratively.

    n+2) talk in terms of allusion to epics or fairy tales, a la ST:TNG episode "Darmok".

    n+3) use player's choice of any other figure of rhetoric, preferably obscure, e.g. pleonasm, anaphora, synecdoche, etc.

    n+4) speak in (d4: 1 iambic, 2 trochaic, 3 dactylic, 4 anapestic) (d4+2)ameter.

    n+5) make request &c. in the form of a limerick.

    n+6) make request &c. in the form of a dirty limerick.

    n+7) sing a song for at least d4 x 10 seconds.

    n+8) accept a challenge to a sonnet/rap contest, and will have no further interaction until the player/PC furnishes a sonnet/rap. Will concede contest as long as sonnet/rap is formally correct.

    n+9) tell an epic tale of heroism before entertaining any requests or discussion.

    to get what the player/PC wanted.

    o) NPC is very sexual or interested, requires PC to flirt heavily when talking. 1-4 on d6, NPC flirts back.

    p) NPC is vain and requires PC to pay an elaborate compliment referring to 2d4 different things about NPC.

    q) NPC is a gambler and demands the PC play d4: 1 a round of craps, 2 a few (d4+2) hands of poker, 3 a roll of the roulette wheel, 4 a few hands of blackjack to get what she wants.

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  36. 41) NPC is a troll. Not the fun kind either. The DM and player in question must engage in a staring contest - if the player loses this is interpreted as the NPC successfully pissing off the PC without giving them what they want. If the player wins, the NPC couldn't crack them and gives in. (if the player is blind or has dry-eye syndrome or something, pick some other simple contest. Or just let them win, for Christ's sake. What's wrong with you.)

    42) NPC is a survivor of some horribly traumatic event, and will be seized by a panic attack if triggered by the mention of it. The player does not know what that event was, but knows due to vague allusions that they mustn't mention it. Furthermore, the event involved *something* related to what the DM knows the PCs want. If they can form their request in a way that doesn't mention it, they get what they want.

    For instance: The PCs want to know where the gnome is so they get steal it's ruby. The NPC once watched her father eaten alive by an insane gnome. The PCs musn't mention gnomes or she begins sobbing and curls up in a ball on the floor.

    43) NPC interupts player to tell a shitty joke. If the player laughs, they get what they want. If they don't (the DM should pick a really bad joke) the NPC says "Well, if you think you can do better, let's hear it then!" The player must then tell a joke. If the DM laughs, they get what they want.

    44) NPC has an incredibly thick accent. The DM tells them what they want, but only with a mouth full of something, and will not repeat themselves.

    45) NPC will mishear a key word of the DM's choosing and give an accurate response based on it. So "Where is the gnome with the ruby" may become "where is the home with the ruby" or "where is the gnome with the boobies." The player must guess which word was misheard - a correct guess and they get a corrected answer, a missed guess and they get a new false answer ("What did that lad want?" "The home with the boobies?" "Must of meant Mistress Montague's House of Pain." "That's where I sent 'em.")

    46) NPC is elderly, of same gender as player, and thinks everyone younger is an idiot. Tell them they must now multiply the results of two 20d without a calculator in 30 seconds. This represents the tedium and stress of listening to a lecture while being called "boy," "girl," "son," or "little missy." If the math problem is solved in time the player gets what they want.

    47) NPC insists on talking about something divisive. The NPC agrees completely with the player - and yet they continue to argue. A player not involved must then write down the name of a famous work of art without consulting the player in the argument. This is shown to the player in the argument, and they have 10 seconds to draw it. The DM must then guess what it is. If the DM can, the NPC realizes the player agrees with them and they get what they want.

    Substitutes for works of art could be: D&D monsters, album covers, superheroes, etc.

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  39. I think the trick to this exercise is that along with the challenge being obvious to the players it must be quickly resolved at the table without a lot of role playing or side questing and it be something actually tricky enough to be worth it. I'm not sure this is my cup of tea at the table, but I am interested to see if you can get to 100 viable entries, Zak.


    So...

    n) roll d20 and determine the corresponding consonant in the alphabet not counting "y" (i.e. 1 would equal "b", 10 would equal "m", 19 would equal "x"). You have one minute to formulate your request using only words that do not contain this letter.

    n+1) roll d20 and determine the corresponding consonant in the alphabet not counting "y" (i.e. 1 would equal "b", 10 would equal "m", 19 would equal "x"). You have one minute to formulate your request using only words that do contain this letter.

    n+2) roll d6. As n above, but for vowels plus y.

    n+3) roll d6. As n+1 above, but for vowels plus y.


    Any of those could be particularly easy or hard depending on the roll, I suppose. Come up with x or z on the first one and breeze through unless you require the services of a zebra or xylophone player. Land those letters for the second, though, and you're pretty much screwed.

    n+4) Formulate your request so that the last letter of the last word of a preceding sentence is the first letter of the first word of the next sentence. You have one minute.

    In all of the above cases, the request so formulated needs to be complete enough that the NPC in question could reasonably understand it and comply.

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  40. @Chris Lowrance:

    About #47: What if the player can't draw?

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  41. @C'nor: I think lack of skill in drawing would make that even more fun. But I'm twisted like that.

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  42. @C'nor

    You mean, what, like they don't have hands? Because if they have hands, they can draw.

    If they have a disability making it physically impossible to move a pen across a piece of paper, just reroll. They have problems enough without making a big fuss over whether the barkeep will tell their halfing rogue where the bathroom of Morgul D'hat Une is.

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  43. 48. NPC is a geek. He claims to love the work of a famous artist or author, but all he can talk about is all the things he dislikes about it, while claiming that no one else likes it as well as him. PC must stroke his ego, making him feel smart while not accidentally disagreeing with one of his one million opinions on the subject.

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