GamemasteringRules Lawyering

Social Conflict in Savage Worlds vs. Real Life

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US, a traditional day for overeating, misremembering history, getting stuck at airports, and, of course, family arguments. Fortunately, Savage Worlds has a rule for social conflicts – how would this apply to a tense Thanksgiving dinner?

Let’s say that Aunt Thelyria is a staunch supporter of Ugnar the Ruthless, while Cousin Celenor has been protesting Ugnar’s treatment of the indigenous troll population for the last year at Barthok’s School of Wizardry and Bartending. Odds are, this contentious political issue is going to come up at the table. If treated as a Savage Worlds social conflict, this means that Thelyria and Celenor will make opposed Persuasion rolls over three rounds, and the margin of success will determine the outcome. Here’s the catch, though – you need a defined outcome for these rules to work. What are Thelyria and Celenor actually trying to achieve? If they are attempting to convince the family patriarch, Ulthar, to support or oppose Ugnar’s run for re-election as Prime Overlord, then the margin of success could have a concrete outcome, and the winner might sway Ulthar’s vote.

If, on the other hand, each is trying to convince the other, what would “winning” look like? Let’s say that the persuasion rolls looked like this: Round 1, Celenor 6, Thelyria 7 (1 success for Thelyria); Round 2, Celenor 12, Thelyria 2 (3 successes for Celenor); Round 3, Celenor 7, Thelyria 10 (1 success for Thelyria). These results give a net of one success for Celenor, which means, in game terms, that he has “won” the argument, and that Thelyria would grudgingly acknowledge that maybe Ugnar’s troll policy needs some review.

Sadly, in real world terms, most arguments between Celenor and Thelyria end with both convinced that he or she is right and the other person is naive, stupid, cynical, or some combination of the above. Plus occasional storming away from the table, food throwing, or dish breakage. Next Thanksgiving, consider a house rule that Ugnar’s behavior is off the table. Either that, or make everyone make a Persuasion roll and decide everything that way.

​ “Dad, I’m sorry, but you just don’t have the Charisma Edge and a d12 Persuasion.”

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