Sunday, October 2, 2016

Social Engineering: How to Negotiate Long Term Relationships

You win, we flip a coin, I win, we play
guess the closest number.
The rules for negotiation are scattered all about the many books and not easily found all in one place, so what I will try to do today is make a reference to a bunch of sections of the book. Note, negotiation is, like all other social obstacles, a roleplaying experience, so the idea isn't to boil a complex game playing experience down to nothing but dice rolls, but to more easily put yourself into an objective space when role playing to understand whether or not the negotiation is a success. It is a tool, and not a surrogate for subjective judgement.

The Simplest Process

In negotiation, what we start off with is both sides having something that they can bring to the table to help the other, and the end goal is that both parties come to a mutually beneficial arrangement, using these assets as some kinda collateral. You present an argument, and then this is resolved as an influence roll (Basic Set - Campaigns, p.359.) which gives us a reaction rating depending on the influence results, and the values of these reactions can be found on p.560 - 561.

Adding Social Engineering

In Social Engineering we have a lot more options for mechanics. The first step is to make a good impression, with advice given in pp. 17-20 in Social Engineering. When the impression is made the next step is to either get a reaction from the other party or to roll for influence, usually one or the other, with Diplomacy being an interesting subversion. The GM may secretly reference p.76 of Social Engineering for a barometric reading of initial loyalty of the other party.
Once a starting loyalty is established, the player may continue to deepen the relationship using rules on p.40 for building trust. Building trust requires time, good-faith interactions ending amicably, and seeking appropriate relationships with appropriate parties. If a trusting, mutually respectful relationship is formed, rules on p.43 for using the loyalty metrics, and further deepening the relationship can be found.
At this point, the relationship is strong enough that the player can convert the relationship into an ally, contact, or patron. This is not in the book, but I might consider the time working towards the development of the relationship as a discount towards purchasing the advantage. I'm thinking maybe a character point per each week of developing the relationship or for each trust building interaction that takes place.

Interactions With Organizations

In the context of Social Engineering, a lot of the previous information is still relevant, but negotiations with large groups have a few more steps.
First, one needs to interact with the organization gatekeeper (see p.47) who will, upon a successful interaction, make way for more direct requests. Typical influence mechanics can be used as per p.47, but there is also the possibility of Going Through Channels on p.48.

Adding Boardroom and Curia and Pulling Rank

This book especially enhances interactions with organizations in specific. Using the rules from Social Engineering, p.16 of Boardroom and Curia adds information on how to calculate turn-around time for requests and negotiations. The same page has an aside associating an organization's type(s) with assistance types from Pulling Rank. Using this as guidance, one might have some guidance as to whether a particular request of an organization is particularly appropriate or not. Social Engineering - Pulling Rank is more of a guideline to giving hard benefits for the Rank advantage, but it can be helpful in this way as well.


So, in summary, it seems like the workflow a player may follow is something like this:
  • Negotiate with the gatekeeper of an organization. (Social Engineering p.47) If this is successful, you are allowed to speak to decision makers, otherwise you may need to build loyalty (Social Engineering, p.40) to even continue.
  • Befriend a decision maker and prove your trustworthiness by doing favors aligned with the mission of the organization. (Social Engineering, p. 40)
  • Make the request for a permanent relationship using normal negotiation mechanics (Basic Set - Campaigns, p.359) Consider the appropriateness of the request as per the organization type (Boardroom and Curia, p.16)
  • Optional: For a long term relationship, consider establishing an Ally, Contact, or Patron advantage. Further strengthen bonds by deepening loyalty.  (Social Engineering, p.43)


  1. I do love me some posts that cover the more "role"playing aspect of roleplaying.

    1. I have inquiring players with grandiose plans, and I'm not a socio-political genius, so I gotta be ready for when they put things into motion.


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