Author Topic: Negotiations in game  (Read 3001 times)

Shallazar

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Negotiations in game
« on: September 01, 2015, 12:32:10 AM »
Dear RPPR,

Long time fan, and lover of Tom. I've a question that stems from my recent Red Markets Beta but could be applicable to almost every RPG.
Negotiations in games.I find myself having trouble adopting a stance other than the usual Default Price for Default Service that I've grown up with as someone who doesn't haggle or really negotiate much at all in real life. As a GM I want the back and forth to make sense, not take too much time, stay on point and communicate terms, give the players enough story, immerse the players, and not devolve into rehashing any of the above information. Any tips on how to role-play either a NPC Quest giver, either direct or proxy, or Hostage-taker, or other negotiator types to achieve the best negotiating scenes?
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trinite

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Re: Negotiations in game
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2015, 05:54:23 PM »
You can use mechanics to make it easier, like Red Markets does. Even if you're not going that crunchy, maybe let the players roll skills to get good suggested lines of argument. If you have time to prep for it, make sure that your GM-side negotiating person has some weaknesses or complex angles to their position. What *specifically* do they want, beyond simply the best price number? Maybe they want to build a relationship with the PCs, or express a particular emotion, or they have a particular aspect of the product or service that they are especially interested in. Work on expressing those thoughts and feelings in dialogue.

Use these tools to think of the negotiation not just as a conflict, but as a story. The conversation and negotiation can reveal information, open up plot points, explore character motivations, and more in addition to settling on a price.
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Shallazar

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Re: Negotiations in game
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2015, 12:02:33 AM »
You can use mechanics to make it easier, like Red Markets does. Even if you're not going that crunchy, maybe let the players roll skills to get good suggested lines of argument. If you have time to prep for it, make sure that your GM-side negotiating person has some weaknesses or complex angles to their position. What *specifically* do they want, beyond simply the best price number? Maybe they want to build a relationship with the PCs, or express a particular emotion, or they have a particular aspect of the product or service that they are especially interested in. Work on expressing those thoughts and feelings in dialogue.

Use these tools to think of the negotiation not just as a conflict, but as a story. The conversation and negotiation can reveal information, open up plot points, explore character motivations, and more in addition to settling on a price.

In my example (RMbeta) The NPC wanted someone to ease the passing of his grandmother from casualty to pile of dust. He wanted it done quickly because he wanted to leave the enclave and move north as soon as possible. Spots were If you're On time You're late, Grandmas Boy and He wanted to be sure that it was done professionally and not an amateur butcher job.

But when it came to the negotiation I just kind of flubbed around. Is there some standard banter? Or what makes a good negotiator, like as a vocation? by trying to withhold the elements of the job that he needed the NPCs service for I felt I didn't have enough to say to make it a good scene. It was only three rounds, and mechanically everything went splendidly and during the scams I was able to RP the references with more personality than the plot dispenser/task master/negotiator.

Do you have any example negotiators? or films I should watch for inspiration? My reservoir is currently dry.
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Cthuluzord

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Re: Negotiations in game
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2015, 08:58:42 AM »
Quote
In my example (RMbeta) The NPC wanted someone to ease the passing of his grandmother from casualty to pile of dust. He wanted it done quickly because he wanted to leave the enclave and move north as soon as possible. Spots were If you're On time You're late, Grandmas Boy and He wanted to be sure that it was done professionally and not an amateur butcher job.

But when it came to the negotiation I just kind of flubbed around. Is there some standard banter? Or what makes a good negotiator, like as a vocation? by trying to withhold the elements of the job that he needed the NPCs service for I felt I didn't have enough to say to make it a good scene. It was only three rounds, and mechanically everything went splendidly and during the scams I was able to RP the references with more personality than the plot dispenser/task master/negotiator.

Do you have any example negotiators? or films I should watch for inspiration? My reservoir is currently dry.

Try to remember that the negotiator is "rolling" for skills every round -- just as the PC is -- with the only difference being that the Market isn't actually touching the dice. Roleplaying still needs to be catered to the skill being exercised. This guides how I play most scenes, though I never tell my players what the NPC client is "rolling" unless its a Sensitivity check to read a spot.

For Persuasion, the client usually just explains some aspect of the job and follows up with a persuasive appeal to drive the price down. Something about not being able to afford too much, or an appeal to how his family/people are in need, or a reminder of the client's stature in the community, or an assurance that the contract will be calkwalk. If it would get some sort of consolation from the provider, that's usually the endcap for a Persuasion round.

For Intimidation, mention competition, or the threat of poverty in the Loss, or a negative rep spot. Bully the players.

For Sensitivity, I always end on a question: "You're not one of those that forgets they were once people, are you? You don't like to see them suffering out there anymore than I do, right?" The client is sacrificing a turn to learn one of the provider's spots, but they need to cause a break in the negotiators poker face first.

Deception I make pretty obvious, with lots of tells and obvious evasions. Remember, Deception can move price down regardless of the Sensitivity rolled by a PC. There's no real way to call someone out as a liar when you want their money. The most you can learn is to be wary and find the information by other means.

Leadership isn't roleplayed at all. It represents all the physical aspects of a negotiation in body language, posture, and tone. Just roll it to open and close negotiation as a strictly mechanical determiner.

If you're playing on a provider's spot, cater the clients speech to the spot. If working a weak spot, be menacing and threatening. If working a soft spot, be emotionally manipulative and inflame the PCs sympathies. Tough Spots depend on the character's background. For a Latent, the client might mention the prejudice they face and how that means they need the bounty so much more. Alternately, the same spot could be played against the PCs nobility with an argument that it's safer for the Latent to take on the burden of the contract as opposed to the poor, unwitting competition.

If the client's spot has just been played against them, adjust according to what the player rolled. For Persuasion and Deception, remain oblivious to the emotional manipulation (because it obviously worked). For Intimidation, play it begrudging with a promise of future vengeance. If the roll to play the spot fails, have the client call the provider on their bullshit, though the price still moves as the client realizes this negotiator isn't an amateur and does the homework.

Shallazar

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Re: Negotiations in game
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2015, 08:04:24 PM »
I think that just about cracked it for me. I hadn't been seeing the NPC as using skills and so had no handle on their tactics during negotiation.  It makes a great deal of sense now that it has been spelled out like that. Initially I was more concerned with making sure I had the rules of negotiation down (according to play-test feedback they thought it was simple and fast moving), than I was with making sure I could RP a good negotiation scene. Using the skills as angles of approach or coding their rhetorical tactics is going to make a big difference, especially depending on the personalities of different NPCs.

Wealthy Grandma's boy is of course more concerned with the professionalism of the taker group he contracts with since price is almost no object. Just wants to make sure their willingness to take the job at a lower price isn't indicative of their amateur status.

Other Market Characters are going to negotiate differently based their aims, pocket depth, and personalities.

I think other RP challenges could be handled by me using Fixers for the Market Characters more often and give me a chance to develop them as characters as they would remain the same depending on where the job is coming from.
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