If they meant that one rank in linguistics allowed all communications in all languages without difficulty there would never be a reason to purchase neither a single talent nor a second rank in the skill…
It doesn’t say anywhere that having expertise of at least one in Linguistics allows communication in all languages without difficulty. It says that it allows a working knowledge of all languages. I guess that “working knowledge” is open to interpretation. I have a grasp of German, for example, and can understand some text and a little less speech, but I wouldn’t say I have a working knowledge of it. Perhaps there is a clue in the name. If it’s a working knowledge, I would expect that knowledge to work, i.e. to be useful in most circumstances. What do additional Talents in the Linguistics tree get you? Besides stuff like being able to reproduce regional accents and understand double entendres, you gain complete fluency in a given language. It’s your game, no doubt, and you can interpret this however you want, but I think it would be unreasonable to require complete fluency to make unmodified Persuade Tests. Also, let us not forget that the art of persuasion is not just about language. There are also sorts of nuances and subtleties which go down to the behavioural level.
I’m not sure that is true. A conman with a legendary, near magical skill in persuasion might convince the guard that he can summon the mightiest demon in hell to feast on his soul for a thousand years or whatever. Use your imagination. Is there really nothing you can think of which is worse than what his boss would do? And remember, we are talking about a feat impossible to nearly all people except for maybe a handful of highly gifted and skilled individuals. It should be possible, yes, but you are free to set the Difficulty. No doubt someone with a 14 Personality and 5 in Persuade who buys extra dice or has Talents which grant extra successes will be making D5 Tests a lot of the time. But just think about what such a build entails. Such a character is among the best in all of Hyborea when it comes to persuasion. Saying “no, you can’t do it” would be like saying to Conan, no you can’t slay the feathered ape because it is impossible.
There are actions that are impossible, even considering the level of competency of PCs in Conan 2d20.
If you encounter a fanatic cultist and want to change his belief system, there is simply no single dice roll on a single test able to do that.
You could work on that over an extended time, under very uncommon circumstances, using different means, and then, gradually, only gradually, that might happen.
In that regard I do prefer how Infinity is handling things with Intransigence, which is the number of “social harm” a character can take in regard of certain topics. The guardsman might only have an Intransigence of 1 if you want him to beat up someone for you, but an Intransigence of 4 if you want him to betray his master.
In Infinity you need more than a single Persuade test to perform such a feat of overcoming an Intransigence of 3 or 4 or more. That takes an extended amount of time, different steps in your approach to perform that - all with the chance of failure, of complications and of the target actually striking back.
The latter part is important: If you want the PCs to actually “mind control” even the most loyal and disciplined NPCS, you can count on NPCs doing that to your PCs, too.
And having a player getting told, after his or her character lost in a Struggle against a very persuasive Nemesis-type NPC in such a Persuade test, that the PC now has a TOTALLY different view on the situation, became convinced that the suspicious NPC is now the best friend who needs to be protected against the other PCs, who are utterly wrong and untrustworthy, then you see why having Persuade tests as a “magical mystery mind control” is a bad idea.
The Enslave spell does this with higher risk for the sorcerer, a major investment to even learn this spell, and only for a very short time and with the need for lots of Momentum spent to even achieve such an effect. - That balances risk and reward and it gives the NPCs a chance to resist.
The typical guardsman has probably Awareness 8 and maybe Sense 1, so TN 9 (1) on an Insight test versus a Persuade attempt by a PC.
In many groups there are PCs with Awareness of 8 or even less, and no Insight Expertise or Focus. You could easily send a Toughened-type NPC with Personality 12 and Social 3 for TN 15 (3) plus some Doom for extra dice and the PC would become a puppet in no time at all, if Persuade were that kind of “everything is possible” mind control skill.
Which it isn’t.
Consider other Skills: Acrobatics is for jumping. A PC wants to jump across the 30 meters chasm of Doom. Impossible. No even a D5 plus Momentum without number will carry this PC over this distance.
Some things are actually impossible. And that is necessary to keep the game world functioning in a somewhat plausible manner.
Conan PCs are already way too much of comic superheroes than it would fit to a sword&sorcery fantasy game, succeeding at high and very high Difficulties all the time and generating lots of Momentum on top of that. - That is the effect of having Talents that add Momentum, reduce Difficulty or add successes, etc. Those are the main cause for this high competency, even for character builds that are not the one-trick pony “cannot fail” build - Attribute 14, Skill 5/5, TN 19(5).
Having PCs with a few thousand XP, most Nemesis NPCs as listed in the core book and source books won’t be even in the same league. The PCs have more talents, higher stats, better chances and better fail-safe abilities (Complication or failure re-rolls etc.).
I don’t think that doing the impossible three times before breakfast would be a good addition to the already rich breakfast for superheroes.
There should at least still be SOME tension, chance of failure, feeling of threat or at least a challenge.
I agree. But if we are talking about a skill in which someone is literally one of the best in the world, the margin for failure should be commensurately reduced. I also think that given time, most people can be convinced of pretty much anything. Elections can even be swayed by Facebook trolls. The key of course is time. It might genuinely be impossible to talk a guard into slitting his own throat in a brief exchange which lasts five minutes. But do you really think it is unreasonable to convince someone to commit suicide, if you have the time and the expertise to do it? Suicide bombers do this all the time, and I don’t believe they all start out as maniacs. So yeah, I do think the die hard cultist can be persuaded to change his ways. I like the Infinity Intransigence rules for this and you have written about that in other posts. I think that would make a good addition to Conan 2d20. Nor do I mind if NPCs are “beefed up” a bit beyond the current version of the rules. You’ve mentioned this too in other posts, that you regularly bump up the capabilities of Nemesis level opponents. Having an NPC persuade a PC and change his or her mind is perfectly acceptable to me. That just makes for interesting RP, much like temporary insanity is in Call of Cthulhu, for example.
As for genuinely impossible tasks, like jumping 30 m or something, yes, that is a very good point. I guess it all boils down to what you might consider impossible.
This is, at least in my experience, quite the minority position. Most players I know don’t like it if their characters mind gets controlled. That is accepted to a degree with fear or insanity effects in Call of Cthulhu or with some mind control spells in D&D, but it is perceived as damage (which it is).
And having to play your character now to act according to some new beliefs that would make playing this character “unfun” for the player, that could be perceived as a fate worse than the PC’s death. (After the death of the PC you make another one which you like to play, you are not forced to play a PC you loathe to play.)
Having a curse is also unfun for the PC. Or losing a limb. Or being prematurely aged by some supernatural force. Or whatever. But I see this as temporary. There should be a way for the PC to remove the curse etc. in fact this could provide material for the next adventure! As far as being “mind controlled” goes, yeah well it is like being damaged. And just like you can get someone skilled in healing to treat regular damage, you should be able to persuade a PC that his original beliefs were correct and that he had been brainwashed. I don’t see the problem with this.
You’re arguing Wushu, “running on the surface of water” levels of skill here. This would mean a player with Max Personality and Max Persuade could literally talk someone out of their armor or clothes and that stretches plausibility and crosses into comical.
“Why is this guy fighting us naked?”
“I convinced him he’d be faster without his armor.”
This same player should NEVER have to spend gold for gear or anything, or really even go adventuring since they could walk into a kingdom and tell the king he/she is the rightful long, lost ruler.
I’m not saying you’re game is wrong if you allow this - it’s your game - but the OP said that his other players are not having fun because of this one player.
I mentioned this in my previous argument; I mentioned it’s probably possible as a long con, but not without any buildup.
So I’m sure you could convince someone that you can summon the mightiest demon in hell, but not without putting in some work. The OP’s problem was this player was basically mind tricking everyone to avoid combat encounters in the moment.
The Gamemaster is 100% free to say “no, that doesn’t work” just as I would say that it is impossible to sink a ship with the single strike of a dagger. Given enough time to work undisturbed? Sure. A single roll, even at D5? Nope.
The same goes with persuasion or animal handling. A single roll might get you past a guard or it might cause an animal to hesitate a moment. It’s certainly not going to make them a boon companion and do everything you ask. Much like the boat/dagger example, the GM is well within their right to say that the task is simply impossible. Maybe that wolf’s hunger is pushing it past the point where it’s instincts say “fight or flee”. Maybe the sorcerer has such a lock hold on the guard’s family that nothing will convince the guard to let the PCs in (unless they deduce the reason and rescue the family…).
Not everything needs to be impossible, the player is telling you that they want to be amazing at this thing and they deserve the right to get to do so. Absolutely not all the time, every time and absolutely not at the expense of the fun of everyone else. Some players get that and will reign it in. Others don’t and that’s where the GM steps in.
I agree. I think working knowledge would be enough to understand maybe the most basic things. I’ve been taking German on Duolingo for a little over sixth months, so I’m not fluent, but if someone was able to talk in very simple terms, I could probably make do.
Similarly, I’ve worked in restaurants as a line cook. I don’t know Spanish, but I’m pretty good at “kitchen Spanish.”
I absolutely agree. It’s going to take time, not a single roll of the dice. Just like it’s going to take time for Conan to kill the feathered ape. And no, I’m not talking about “wushu running on the surface of water levels of skill”. I’m talking about being the best in the world at something. As good at persuasion, say, as Conan is at fighting. That doesn’t mean that you will never need gold or want to go adventuring or whatever. I don’t see how you would draw that conclusion. It just means you are absolutely awesome at convincing someone to do things. Yes, there will be a limit, just as there is a limit even to what Conan can do with his prowess. All I am saying is that we are talking about that same rarified level of skill. Convince a guard to let you through the door? That’s a walk in the park for such a person. Convince someone to fight without armour? Difficult, but I wouldn’t say impossible. I’m not saying that I could do it. But I can’t kill the feathered ape either.
This is where we differ in opinion.
We agree that finding leverage will help get us past the guard, but using Persuade to shoot from the hip has limits too. Convincing a guard to let you through a door isn’t a one and done thing. There’s so much to consider. What is this person guarding? How important is it? Do they like their boss? Did they wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Are they being watched? Do they have any prejudices?
A master at Persuasion might get a Buckingham Palace guard to chuckle, but he/she isn’t getting past the door on just his/her charm and good looks.
However, I guess I should clarify that I’m responding to the OPs problem of one player constantly using Persuade to avoid combat. There should be some people youcan wink at and get past. If we can consider it a numbers game, EVENTUALLY you should reach someone you can Persuade, but that just means given a long enough timeline; it’s possible you won’t find a single guard at this one location. If the OPs world all of a sudden became a place where 100% of the people just couldn’t be persuaded, then that would be an overcorrection.
And one point of note: I did play a Pathfinder adventure where we avoided 3 of 4 fights because our Paladin used Diplomacy. It made sense to do so though; he didn’t negotiate us out of a fight when people had swords drawn and the GM felt his approach was natural.
I think this is the important point. One player using any skill/talent/rule etc. to override the run of the others is a serious problem. It can be addressed via rules but really and ultimately it comes down to having a discussion with the player. RPGs are a collaborative hobby and ensuring everyone at the table is having fun is your primary job as a GM.