One of the coolest parts of White-Wolf games, in my opinion, is that they usually offer the ability for Social Combat to be just as exciting as physical or mental combat.

How can I run Social Combat in a D&D/D20/Pathfinder game?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I assume you're not interested in 4e responses? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 5:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, I'd be MOSTLY interested in 3e/3.5e responses. But, I think a 4e response could easily be implemented in earlier versions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Josh
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 5:34
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you describe what is so good about the white-wolf social combat for DnD players who have not played White wolf? \$\endgroup\$
    – GMNoob
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 7:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think Exalted, a White-Wolf's epic fantasy game, did it best. I'm going to vaguely describe it. When making your character, you could focus on any of the attribute groups–physical, mental, social–as your main concentration and then select powers surrounding that focus. Social powers would let you to win arguments or lead large groups of people. Social combat was an extension of a Social-based characters fighting "socially" to win an argument or sway someone. You would get rounds, like normal combat, and would roll your Social "attacks" whittling down your opponent to win a social situation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Josh
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I liked it because you didn't need to be an amazing orator yourself, but you could sway kingdoms and convince courts. Obviously, D&D/D20/Pathfinder has a smaller scale–you don't play Gods–but I think it would be fun to have an intense extended social combat/conflict. \$\endgroup\$
    – Josh
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 18:09

2 Answers 2

  • In 4.0 you could run a skills challenge. (@okeefe I was too slow looking up a link. :( )
  • In 3.5 you could use the given social skills like bluff, diplomacy, sense motive, etc. to create opposed rolls between characters.
  • You could house rule your own system like Burning Wheel's Duel of Wits
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is enough here to implement or build what I need. Duel of Wits is a great example. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Josh
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 2:17

You could attempt to adapt 4e's skill challenges into other D&D variants and use them for social encounters.

If your game revolves around social encounters, however, consider using a different system.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm unfamiliar with skill challenges from 4e. It sounds like it might be the answer, however. \$\endgroup\$
    – Josh
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 22:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ In a nutshell: Skill challenges are a series of related skill checks across different skills working toward a common goal. Usually it's multiple PCs participating and helping each other rather than a single PC facing the challenge alone. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 23:17

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