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» nWoD Social & Mental Combat Rules, A primer, please read! ^_^
 Posted: May 30 2012, 02:37 PM
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Social Combat Primer

Calculating Social Combat Advantages

Social combat requires a number of advantages similar to those used for physical combat, such as initiative and defense, they are as follows:


(Social Initiative modifier)
Presence + Manipulation

At the start of social combat, all involved characters roll one die and add their dominance modifier to the result. This is their Dominance rating for the scene and functions like Initiative.


(Social Defense)
Wits or Manipulation, whichever is lower

Guile is subtracted from social attacks against the character similarly to defense. However, in the event of multiple social attacks against her, she does not lose Guile following each attack, but instead loses it at the start of the turn. Guile is decreased by 1 for each social opponent beyond the first.


(Social Health)
Composure + Highest Social Skill

Nerve represents a kind of social 'health' in social combat. The balance of power as it were; losing Nerve is the result of say losing an argument or being hit with a particularly scathing insult. Nerve is the character's social *backbone*.

Social Combat in action

Stage One: Intent

The character that initiates social combat requires a certain goal. For simple social banter, no combat is necessary, but sometimes, you may want to convince another character to do something, but perhaps the player isn't too keen on it, or perhaps the character wouldn't just be a pushover in the matter. So before social combat even occurs, the instigator, or attacker, must have a goal in mind, known as the Intent. The Intent can be almost anything, examples include 'I want to seduce her', 'I want to convince him to make a bad investment', or 'I want to make him look bad in front of Elysium'

Stage Two: Determine Dominance

Roll a single die for your character and add your Dominance modifier. The character with the highest result will go first.

Stage Three: Attack

Social attacks can come in a variety of forms, some might be poetic arguments, others scathing insults, and still others might be nothing more than a well placed menacing stare. Determine the kind of social attack you wish to make, and then assign an appropriate combination of an attribute and skill. The above examples forever might warrant, in order; Manipulation + Expression, Manipulation + Socialize, and Presence + Intimidation. Attacks follow the basic formula of:

Social Attribute + Social Skill - Guile +/- modifiers

The defender then counters with a social attack of his own. Perhaps he strikes back with a witty insult of his own, or breaks apart the other's argument.

Stage Four: Resolution of Turn

Compare the successes gained by each party in social combat. The character with the highest number of successes during this turn of Social combat has “won” the round. All other participants lose a number of points from their Nerve equal to the successes gained by the winner of the scene. The winner gains that amount to her Nerve if she has room in her pool (her Nerve points may not exceed her maximum Nerve pool). On a tie, the win goes to the character with the highest Dominance Modifier (not the highest Dominance rating for the scene). If that still results in a tie, then nobody is considered to have won the round, and all Nerve points remain the same.

Stage Five: Resolution of Social Combat scene

Social combat continues for as long as participants choose to be involved (they can of course choose to stop responding to arguments and insults and walk away, thus ending social combat, though this is not always easy or recommended). The other way for Social combat to end for a participant is to lose all their Nerve. This means succumbing to the attacker's Intent. Succumbing to the intent means that, whatever the attacker was hoping to have happened will happen. This has to be within reason, as determined by the Storyteller. Without the use of supernatural powers, a character cannot be made to:

Physically harm himself
Physically harm another
Do something entirely counter to his character (“I want him to burn his favorite book”)
Do something entirely counter to his well-being (“I want to convince him to go up to the crime lord and thumb him right in the eye”)
Perform an impossible action (“I want her to disappear”)

A character CAN choose not to succumb to the intent, but this requires the expenditure of a Willpower point. In addition, the character loses his Guile against all other social attacks that night.


+1 to +5 Appropriate Social equipment (brandishing a weapon for Intimidation, offering a bribe for Persuasion, giving a gift to seduce, showing fake evidence to confirm a Subterfuge attempt, etc.)
+1 Target is family or someone you've known must of your (un)life.
+1 If you have higher blood potency. Note that this only applies if neither party has obfuscate 2 active.
+1 Character wears convincing clothing (a nice suit for a salesman, a sexy haute couture outfit for a seducer, a rough biker’s outfit for threats of ass-kicking).
-1 If the opponent has higher blood potency
-1 For every mild derangement possessed by opponent (derangements aren’t helpful to those who possess them, but they can hinder attempts to convince or unnerve such individuals)
-1 Character wears inappropriate clothing (golf outfit for threatening, a frumpy frock for seducing)
-2 For every severe derangement possessed by opponent
-4 Language barrier (character doesn’t speak the same language, must rely on body language)

When a character with derangements attacks another character, she takes a penalty half that imposed on the other character's attacks. That is to say if a character has a severe derangement which results in a -2 to attacks against her, she suffers a -1 herself to attacks.


Any character with a full Nerve pool can benefit from +1 die to any Composure + Resolve rolls, including frenzy rolls or rolls to resist the effects of Derangement.

However, just as with wound penalties, low Nerve incurs penalties. These penalties apply to social rolls only (including those outside of social combat!). If the character only has his 3 last nerve dots left, he incurs a -1 penalty, which increases to -2 if he only has the last 2 dots left, and -3 for if he only has one nerve dot left.

If the character reaches zero nerve, he feels as if he's lost all self-confidence, and incurs a full -5 penalty to all social rolls. A vampire suffers a -3 penalty to all rolls to resist Frenzy, whereas a changeling suffers a -1 penalty to Clarity degeneration rolls. Both suffer -3 to any roll to resist the effect of a Derangement.

1 Nerve dot is regained upon first awakening in a day, just like Willpower; however, if for some reason the character is unable to regain willpower in this way, he is also unable to regain Nerve. The only other way to regain Nerve is by taking it in Social Combat.

This post has been edited by Blacktrench: May 31 2012, 02:46 AM
 Posted: May 30 2012, 08:18 PM
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Posts: 155

Mental Combat Primer

Calculating Mental Combat Advantages

Mental combat is apprised of a collection of advantages that guide the character's deftness (or lack thereof) in Mental combat scenarios; they are as follows:


(Mental Initiative)
Intelligence + Wits + Resolve

This isn't a modifier; you never roll a die to add to this. It determines the order of Mental combat events, just as Initiative does during a Physical confrontation; that being said, not every Mental combat scene will require one to know who goes first. Consider that, in a chess game, the turns are preordained; one cannot "get the jump" on the other.


(Mental Defense)
Intelligence or Wits, whichever is lower

Acumen serves as the character's defense against incoming mental attacks like Defense does in Physical combat.

Gray Matter

(Mental health)
Intelligence + Resolve

Gray Matter serves as the Health track that helps to determine how much progress one's opponent makes against your character. As you lose Gray Matter your character finds it more and more difficult to think.

Mental Combat in action

Stage One: Determine Time Frame

Physical combat does literally turn-by-turn. Mental combat doesn't need to work that way. At the beginning of Mental combat the storyteller and party decides a time frame fitting the Mental combat. A move in a chess game can take place in three seconds, but it can takes minutes. Alternately, two scholars debating academic theories through written correspondence may receive a letter every week, making one turn equal a week. In cases where a turn in Mental combat is longer than a Physical combat turn (three seconds) the storyteller can decide that the character can perform other actions during the "turn."

Stage Two: Determine Intent

It is possible that the intent of each character in Mental combat is "to win," however Mental combat is often about trying to achieve some kind of result that goes beyond the mere mark of success; the vampire hunting his prey through the forest hopes to, well, catch his prey. The prey hopes to escape. Stakes may also be used, literal or abstract; two characters playing chess might play for a set of literal, spoken stakes. The winner might get to expand his domain, for instance. The loser might have to give up a favored servant. Abstract stakes might not be know to the characters. The two scholars fighting over academic theory might unknowingly be putting up a dot in Status: Academia; the winner gains one, the loser forfeits one.

Stage Three: Determine Aptitude

Compare the Aptitudes of each character involved in the scene, the highest goes first, then next-highest, all the way to the lowest. It certain situations this may not be necessary such as a chess game. In such a case, skip this step.

Stage Four: Attack

Mental attacks may not be against one's opponent; but it is an attack against his "game." A character outguesses and outwits his opponent's efforts—hoping to untangle his knot, so to speak. The player describes how she wants to make her attack—in a chess game, she might say, "I play defensively, reserving my big guns for the later-stage game." In the battle of academic theory, she might say, "I suspect my opponent's going to take a stuffy academic route, so I'll instead go for something that dazzles—less facts, but more flourish." The above examples might warrant, in order; Wits + Academics, or Intelligence + Expression. The vampire hunting his prey might make an Intelligence + Survival roll, while the prey might attempt a Wits + Stealth roll. Both Physical and Social Skills can apply during Mental combat, though only Mental Attributes should be used. Attacks follow the basic formula of:

Mental Attribute + Appropriate Skill - Acumen +/- modifiers

Stage Five: Repeat, Resolve

Continue the turns, just like with Physical combat, until one character's Gray Matter track is entirely filled up. When that happens, that character has lost Mental combat. The victor's intent is fulfilled, and if any stakes were on the table, they come to pass.


I will not upload a list of mental modifiers due to the fact that Mental combat covers a way wider spectrum than Social or Physical combat and frankly I am too tired to think of any at the moment.

Gray Matter

When you begin to lose Gray Matter it will decrease your characters mental performance as your character only has so much "mental energy" to go around. Just like with Health, one begins to accumulate penalties to mental rolls at the last three Gray Matter boxes (-1, then -2, then -3). When a character reaches zero Gray Matter he is completely "fried" and incurs a -5 to all mental rolls.

Characters regain one point of Gray Matter per day but not when involved in a Mental combat. However, unlike with Health or with Nerve, it is very easy to "reset" one's Gray Matter—choosing not to regain one's Willpower point upon awakening (in other terms, spending that Willpower to achieve an effect) allow the character to erase all damage from the Gray Matter pool. It allows him to awake mentally refreshed.

This post has been edited by Blacktrench: May 31 2012, 01:52 PM
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