Always a challenging task: playing social interactions, intrigue, interpersonal interactions. You must balance between the use of the rules/mechanics vs having chats with your players and role-playing the scene. The Core Rulebook does cover this a bit on page 229 (Managing Social Conflict & Intrigue), but I’m very much interested in experience or advice from everybody.
One little trick I used in a recent game was what I called ‘Momentum budget’, which is really just a ‘first roll, then play’ machanism. So, when our player (manipulative aristocrat character) started having a chat with an NPC to interrogate him, first I asked the player, what’s his main intention, strategy, how does he communicate with the NPC.
He explained that he wishes to play on the concerns and guilt of the NPC to open him up, convincing him that the PC is his only friend who can save him from his angry superriors, and the NPC must trust him. Based on this, I requested a single Communication vs Discipline contest, and we agreed on the relevant drive as well (Power, by the way - this young aristocrat was trying to get a future lackey for his intrigues). The player passed splendid, with four Momentum to spare.
After the roll, we started actually roleplaying the situation. I knew that the player will successfully convince/trick the NPC, so I quickly drove the conversation in this direction. Soon, the NPC was clearly broken, very frightened of what will happen with him, and being completely open to the PC’s suggestions. At that point, I reminded the player that he has a budget of 4 Momentum. He can keep any for the Momentum pool, but he can also use them to get extra information from the NPC or to give him new traits for the future representing their conversation. We kept roleplaying the chat, and whenever we reached an interesting milestone, we paused for a second, and I asked him if he wants to spend a Momentum for extra results - and continued the conversation accordingly.
This worked pretty fine as a balance between rule mechanics and role-play opportunity.
Any similar experience or other ideas from anybody how to handle such situations?