Aberrant 2.0 Social Systems

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Sway

Making a character do what you want is simple, in practice. Any logical combination of Attribute and Ability can be used to attempt to create Sway, which the subject may resist via straight Willpower and bonuses from Wits/Enhancements, or a related Attribute + Ability combination if so desired. Unsuccessful attempts to generate Sway create a cumulative +2 difficulty penalty for rolling the same attribute/ability combination during the scene, and a cumulative +1 difficulty penalty for any other attempts to create Sway. Botching extends the penalty duration for the rest of the story, or permanently if the character was attempting to create Intimate Sway.

By default, this roll is over the timeframe of one day, which covers several hours' worth of schmoozing someone. Reducing the time taken for this roll increases difficulty:

  • 1 hour: +1 difficulty
  • half-hour: +2 difficulty
  • 10 minutes: +3 difficulty
  • 5 minutes: +4 difficulty
  • 1 minute: +5 difficulty

Each net success over the opponent's defense and the difficulty creates one point of Sway of the given type (Casual or Intimate) which can be used to make the target take a desired action. The first action costs 1 point of Sway and each action past that costs 1 additional point (so the second costs 2, the third costs 3, etc.), so if you wanted for someone to "stop chatting, tell your friend to go home, and go help me with this project", that would cost 3 points of Sway, one for getting your lab partner to stop chatting, another to make him ask his friend to leave, and a third to help you with your stuff. The opponent may resist with Willpower, paying 1WP to cancel out 1 action. If canceled with WP, any attempt to demand a similar condition automatically fails for the rest of the scene.

Extending the influence of any single action for a scene costs 1 additional point, extending them for a session costs 3, and extending them for an entire story costs 5. Extending your influence longer, to years or even permanently, can easily cost far more successes than that and is the result of weeks or months of constant influence.

Casual

Casual sway has no significant emotional component and is generally short lived. It is most useful for forming the basis of a personal relationship, creating vague positive or negative feelings, or getting minor favors done which might cause some trouble for the other character, but is not capable of doing anything more than that. Getting your captor to hand you his gun is not something casual sway can do, but it might let you stall him for long enough to build a rapport. Casual Sway cannot be extended past a scene, and fades at 1 point/day.

It requires 2*willpower successes worth of Casual Sway to start creating Intimate Sway. For most normal people, that requires days of work, but a particularly capable Nova may be able to become your best friend in a handful of minutes.

Intimate

Intimate sway has an emotional component, and attempting to build it also renders you vulnerable to similar attempts, for it requires bonding and understanding the other party as a person (or pretending to be, you could be a sociopathic asshole after all). Intimate sway can allow you to make a target act against his morals or ideology, take actions which might cause them serious trouble, have them abandon long-held beliefs or change the target's opinion on an important issue, or even temporarily change the character's Demeanor. The few things it cannot do are change the character's Nature, make them take actions that directly lead to self-harm (such as jumping off a bridge or in front of a bus) unless they're already inclined towards that, or permanently change their personality.

Bonuses and Penalties

There are social "weapons" that can be used to give bonuses to Sway attempts, such as Influence, Backing, Fame, high appearance, having a loaded gun to the victim's head, threatening his children, so on and so forth. These bonuses tend to increase the dice of the person attempting to Sway others, or may alternatively increase the difficulty of resistance. On the flipside, social "armor" exists that protects against Sway. Having a ideological or ethical objection to the task requested (+1-5 diff), negotiating from a position of strength (+1-5 diff), being requested to perform an action which could be dangerous to life or social standing (+1-5 difficulty) are all examples of potential "social armor".

Similarly, if you're the one staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, difficulty penalties can often be insane. A Mega-Charismatic Nova with no non-social powers staring down the barrel of a shotgun (+3 difficulty to Sway) against fanatics who absolutely loathe the Nova and what he stands for (+5 difficulty to Sway) might still be able to talk his way out of the situation if he's good enough and has enough time... but if he's about to be executed in a minute (+5 difficulty) that's a total of +13 difficulty and the opposition can roll to resist beyond that and will almost certainly pay Willpower to resist your condition of "don't shoot me". For that there is another system.