The King is Dead

Friday, June 15, 2012

Regency/Gothic: The Power of Persuasion

I'm concerned about the use of Persuasion in the Regency/Gothic setting.

The Persuasion Skill in Savage Worlds is defined as the ability for PCs to make NPCs cooperate with them.  (Persuasion explicitly does not affect PCs.)  Savage Worlds Deluxe states NPCs "start at one of five different attitudes: Hostile, Uncooperative, Neutral, Friendly, or Helpful."  A success on a Persuasion roll (a roll of 4 on the Skill die, which can range from a d4 to a d12) changes the NPC's attitude by one step friendlier while two successes raises it by two, with a failure decreasing it by one step and a critical failure decreasing it by two.  It is one of only two skills modified by the Charisma attribute (the other is Streetwise, the ability to get answers by questioning people).

Unlike some games, Charisma in Savage Worlds is a secondary Attribute derived from Edges you can take (Edges being comparable to both Storyteller System merits and D&D feats). The default Charisma is 0. The Attractive Edge adds 2 points to it, Very Attractive (which requires Attractive as a prerequisite) raises the total to 4, the Charismatic Edge can add another 2 points, while the Noble Edge adds another 2 points.

So, in other words, you can have a Charisma score of 8.

Or, in other other words, you can have a +8 to Persuasion rolls.

The target number for successes in Savage Worlds is 4. This means a super-attractive lady or lord would have an automatic 2 successes on a Persuasion roll without even rolling the dice... and we all know characters like that are going to exist in a Regency/Gothic setting.  We all know player characters like that are going to exists in a Regency/Gothic game.

It is strongly suggested that GMs should not allow an NPC's attitude to be changed by more than two steps during a single encounter so a Hostile NPC should not become any better than Neutral during a scene.  There is, however, explicitly no resistance roll for NPCs to resist a Persuasion roll.   That whole "single encounter" verbiage implies to me that a change in attitude is permanent, so a PC should be able to convert a Hostile NPC to a Friendly one in four conversations, tops.

So it should have taken charismatic Elizabeth Bennet only two or three conversations to win over Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

That's... problematic.

I need to work up some guidelines for penalties to the Persuasion roll and what counts as a "single encounter."  Unfortunately, I'm way behind on posts and just want to get something out on the internet right now, so that will have to wait.


  1. IMO the Charisma modifier you get from Noble should be a situational one which only applies to those who respect their standing. So Elizabeth Bennet would have a rougher time using Persuasion on a bunch of hard core Marxists.

  2. That certainly makes sense to me.