Thursday, 25 June 2009

adventures without violence: politics

The question was asked (by siskoid) - why not politics? And why not? Now while I'm more used to violent politics (I blame civil wars, insurrections and terrorist attacks and that's just the 15th - 17th century) there are those situations where violence gets you nowhere; if it did Dangerous Liaisons would be a very different story indeed. There are numerous other political situations where violence is no solution at all.

While this may seem to be a charisma-fest; there are functions for those who treat any kind of intellect or interaction-based attributes as their dump stat. Consider the Renaissance courtier Castiglione, whose Book of the Courtier mentions that courtiers should be physically athletic and attractive as well as skilled in oratory and verse. Perhaps that rogue gets to show her skill with throwing stars to provide some diversion for jaded nobles to open the door for other things...

The noble courts are home to intrigues in history since Babylonian times; from gossiping court functionaries to influential factions arranging social events like feasts or hunts, when a goblet falls in court, everyone hears the impact. Of course, court has social mores; games of skill, romantic liaisons, wagers, showing off what you spent some of that money on, trying to outdo your peers in sport to win royal acclaim - that kind of thing.

From such small acorns do Olympic games grow. How else would you demonstrate the strength and skill of a nation in such a visible manner? It's no coincidence that a number of contests in the Olympics involved the use of weapons though in a non-lethal manner. The tradition of athletic games continues to this day and huge amounts of money are spent on contests in order to find royal or presidential favour and to also size up potential opposition.

Diplomatic missions are one time you do not want violence. The tension of negotiations with another nation may be fraught enough - imagine two nations, neighbours by geography but with divergent ideology; ranging from French Revolution-style smuggling of noble relatives to liberty to ensuring war over a simple misunderstanding is averted (examples include Mars Attacks! and Dr. Strangelove) before violence gets out of control.

A chancery (or court of law) is another instance. Maybe not an entire adventure (unless you are a fan of A Few Good Men) but certainly more than a few encounters could be spent in court; the hearing is perfect episodic structure and the research and preparation beforehand would make it interesting - criminals defending their interests? Never! Add the presence of magic or psychic powers and suddenly you have a whole new dimension to 'reading their rights'.

The creation of a business has been mooted before and could be an adventure. Getting money may require negotiation with merchants, nobles, criminal syndicates or moneylenders; the caravans that many adventurers wind up guarding need to buy goods in one location and then sell them at another for profit. Naturally your business must deal with the local goverments and they will want their share of your good fortune.

1 comment:

  1. Non-violent missions I find are great, providing the game provides mechanics for them. I know that statement is going to cheese some people, but I like rolling dice. I find it tactile and fun, I find the randomness adds tension. If you can add the randomness, tension and strategy that causes combat to be so prevalent to social conflict you've got a winner. When I was doing an overall of my older, clunkier social conflict mechanics a few days ago I recieved alot of suggestions on the blog for other systems to look at, you might want to scroll through the comments there to see if any of them, or piecemeal, suit the style of gameplay you want. Burning Wheel I believe was one named bandied about.


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