Journey: Social

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Let's start talking about social combat in Journey.


Social combat is a lot more fluid than physical combat, in that there are a lot of directions to take.

In essence, a social combat is defined as two or more opposing parties putting forth viewpoints and making arguments against each other or to bolster their own position. The goal may be to make a third party agree with one or the other, or it may be to change the other person's position to match your own.

As mentioned, social combat is a lot more fluid in that it must, by necessity, have higher points-of-contact than physical combat, in order to accurately model what is happening in-world. Just as individuals in a combat must maneuver to be near each other, and thus have a physical location, two social combatants must have a conversational location, which - unlike physical combat - is defined by those involved in the social combat. This location shifts as the conversation goes on, much as individuals on a tactical grid maneuver.



The type of social conflict in question. Mediate is seeking to find a middle ground between two parties, such as in haggling. Debate is a situation in which two individuals are trying to convince each other to change their position. Appeal is an attempt to convince an individual to agree with you, who is not necessarily arguing back.
Each mode behaves slightly differently in terms of goals and mechanics. However, they share the same fundamental framework.


A basic social combat "weapon." Measures are the basic means by which an individual may perform all social combat-relevant actions. For purposes of EG2, measures are a type II skill.
Basic measures are bluff, flatter, intimidate, liaison, plea, insult, refute, deflect, object, reaffirm, and proof.


Methods are the means by which you present your argument, and your general approach to social conflicts in general. Where a measure is your specific message, your method is the means by which it is presented - the tune that makes the melody. In EG2 terms, methods are a type I skill.
The stances are diplomacy, manipulation, and command.


This is the central line of the social combat, except in mediation, in which there are two indicators. Individuals on the same side of an indicator all agree with the argument's stance, generally set by whoever initiated the argument. At the end of a social conflict, all individuals involved modify their ethos according to which side of the indicator they are on, by means of gaining experience towards the relevant virtue.

Certainty Points (CP)

What was once called "social hit points," these are a measure of your belief in your stance and your conviction to stand by it. Measures can be used to both increase this amount and reduce it, but you can never have more than your initial CPs in a given argument.

Argument Type

Similar to damage types, argument types help define the sort of argument being presented, such as a logical argument or an emotional one. Your ethos helps define your resistance and vulnerability to different sorts of arguments, and the virtue set used in an argument helps or hinders different argument types. Using logic damage against a strongly Red individual will not be helpful, and the strength of Logic-type arguments will be reduced on the Red side of a Blue / Red virtue set.

Aplomb Points (AP)

Aplomb is a measure of your ability to keep your cool and maintain a level head in an argument. You begin an argument with AP equal to the max of your Wisdom attribute. You can expend aplomb to make a particularly impassioned argument, increasing its effectiveness, while "underhanded" social tactics of your opponent - or a barrage of points - reduce your aplomb.
You can regain aplomb by taking an action on your turn in the argument to compose yourself.
If your aplomb drops to zero, you can no longer participate in the argument. If you were the only participant arguing for your side, the argument ends, and the outcome of the argument is decided as though it had ended normally. While you can engage in the same argument with an individual if either participant ran out of AP the last time the argument was had, your opponent begins with one fewer AP for each time the discussion has been had in the past - if this would reduce their AP to zero or fewer, they are no longer willing to listen to your arguments on that point, and you automatically lose any such argument.
If an NPC in an argument is out of AP and loses the argument, you win the argument but your reputation with them drops, as you won through "unfair" means. Depending on the nature of the argument, this may make your opponent actively hostile towards you.


There are three types of argument: mediation, debate, and appeal. We'll cover debate first, as that is the way social combat has traditionally been examined and designed in the past. The other two variations are not that distant from debates, but are different enough that they need to be covered separately.

Argument Types

Argument Damage Types
Type   Type
Kinship vs Malice
Duty vs Autonomy
Logic vs Impulse
Ruse vs Candid
Callous vs Insight

This is the list of argument damage types.

  • Kinship represents an argument for harmony, morality, and altruism. It is opposed by malice.
  • Malice represents an argument for selfishness, paranoia, and animosity. It is opposed by kinship.
  • Duty represents an argument for law, responsibility, and conformity. It is opposed by autonomy.
  • Autonomy represents an argument for liberty, creativity, and freedom. It is opposed by duty.
  • Logic represents an argument for reason, forethought, and caution. It is opposed by impulse.
  • Impulse represents an argument for emotion, spontaneity, and action. It is opposed by logic.
  • Ruse represents an argument for deception, control, and manipulation. It is opposed by candid.
  • Candid represents an argument for honesty, tradition, and instinct. It is opposed by ruse.
  • Callous represents an argument for individualism, apathy, and self-interest. It is opposed by insight.
  • Insight represents an argument for empathy, community, and interdependence. It is opposed by callous.

A given argument type is less effective in a conflict with a virtue set that it corresponds to, in terms of ethos color. Thus, logic arguments will be less useful in a Blue / Red conflict; likewise, so will impulse arguments be less effective.

Similarly, individuals have varying resistances to different types of arguments. An individual with a strong Green ethos will be rather resistant to any Blue- or Black-based arguments: malice, logic, ruse, and callous arguments will be less likely to work against such an individual, given their strong Green virtues. However, Green arguments - candid and insight - will generally work better, as these tend to go along with the individual's beliefs, and thus he is prone to listening to them more.

An individual who has a high rank in an ethos has heard many arguments of that color before, and thus is able to "see through them" and not be readily swayed by them. Likewise, an individual with a low rank in an ethos is not familiar with that color's argument strategies, and thus is prone to be more moved by them.

...alright, calculation time!

For each color, you gain resistance to its opposing argument types equal to your rank in that ethos. You then subtract your rank in each ethos from your resistance to its argument types.

Example: You have rank 3 in White, rank 2 Blue, rank 4 Black, rank 2 Red, and rank 5 Green.
Your white gives you resist 3 to black and red arguments.
Your blue gives you resist 2 to red and green arguments.
Your black gives you resist 4 to white and green arguments.
Your red gives you resist 2 to white and blue arguments.
Your green gives you resist 5 to black and blue arguments.
Your subtotals are - white, 6; blue, 7; black, 8; red, 5; green, 6.
You then subtract your rank in each color for these numbers.
Your final totals are - white, 3; blue, 5; black, 4; red, 3; green, 1.

These values function much like Damage Mitigation, but for social measures rather than incoming damage. Whenever a measure is used against you, any damage it deals - be it against your CPs, APs, or argument HPs - is reduced by your resistance to arguments of that color.

Methods and Measures

Okay, so let's do some definitions of methods and measures.


To use a method, make a skill check with the skill in question. This is an opposed check, which is opposed by a skill check made by your target; the skill used by your opponent is the same one you are using (thus, if you use banter, your opponent defends with banter). The same skill is used to represent your opponent's familiarity with the tactics you are using: attempting to use banter or manipulation against a con-man, for instance, may not go so well.

If your check succeeds, you have managed to make an impression with your argument, and it has its desired effect. For every multiple of your opponent's check that you succeed by, you reduce the target's resistance to your argument by 1 point, regardless of your measure's argument type.

Example: You are attempting to command a guard to let you pass. Your Command skill is at 1d6+1d10, while his is at 1d4+1d4. You both roll; you get a 12, while he gets a 5. You win, and because you won by 7, you reduce your target's resistance to your argument by 1, regardless of what argument type the measure is. If you had rolled a 15, you would have reduced his resistance by 2, and if you had only rolled a 9, you would not have reduced his resistance at all.
Root - Attribute: Charisma
XP Cost/Rank: 3 + 2/rank
With this skill, you are able to communicate your ideas in a jovial tone, providing witty banter while also making your point.
When you would use a social measure, you can use this skill to provide the avenue for your argument.
When using this skill in a Blue- or Green-aligned half of a social conflict, you treat this skill as one rank lower.
Measures you use in conjunction with this skill of Red or Blue argument types are treated as one rank higher.


Root - Attribute: Spirit
XP Cost/Rank: 3 + 2/rank
With this skill, you are able to issue proclamations, both of truths and your wishes, and be heard.
When you would use a social measure, you can use this skill to provide the avenue for your argument.
When using this skill in a Green- or Red-aligned half of a social conflict, you treat this skill as one rank lower.
Measures you use in conjunction with this skill of White or Black argument types are treated as one rank higher.


Root - Attribute: Charisma
XP Cost/Rank: 3 + 2/rank
With this skill, you are able to present your arguments in a level-headed, straightforward manner.
When you would use a social measure, you can use this skill to provide the avenue for your argument.
When using this skill in a Blue- or Black-aligned half of a social conflict, you treat this skill as one rank lower.
Measures you use in conjunction with this skill of White or Green argument types are treated as one rank higher.


Root - Attribute: Intelligence
XP Cost/Rank: 3 + 2/rank
With this skill, you are able to twist words and meanings, either saying more than you are or insinuating your opponent has said something they did not mean to say.
When you would use a social measure, you can use this skill to provide the avenue for your argument.
When using this skill in a White- or Red-aligned half of a social conflict, you treat this skill as one rank lower.
Measures you use in conjunction with this skill of Blue or Black argument types are treated as one rank higher.



When you use a measure, you declare what argument type it will be. Note that some measures have restrictions regarding the argument types they can be. In general, however, any measure can use any argument type of your choice, at the time you make the argument.

deflect, object.

Root - Attribute: Wisdom
XP Cost/Rank: 1 + 2/rank
You fudge the truth a bit, or perhaps a lot, making an argument you know you can't back up.
This social measure cannot be used to deal White or Green damage.
If this measure is successfully interrupted by a Blue argument, your own argument takes damage equal to the damage this measure would have dealt.


Root - Attribute: Intelligence
XP Cost/Rank: 2 + 2/rank
You provide objective evidence for your position.
This social measure cannot be used to deal Red or Green damage.
Blue arguments cannot be used to interrupt this measure.


Root - Attribute: Charisma
XP Cost/Rank: 2 + 2/rank
You warm up to your opponent, complimenting them while making an argument.
You can only use this measure as an interrupt to prevent a measure used against your argument or on an attempt to move an indicator.
You cannot use this measure on arguments; it must be used on an individual's CPs.


Root - Attribute: Charisma
XP Cost/Rank: 2 + 1/rank
You use threats or an overbearing personality to get what you want.
This social measure cannot be used to deal White or Blue damage.
You can only use this measure to target your opponents, not yourself or your own argument.
Using this measure causes your opponent to lose 1 AP, regardless of whether or not this measure has any effect.


Root - Attribute: Charisma
XP Cost/Rank: 3 + 3/rank
You use tactful arguments, not too forceful, not too lenient, to make your point.
This social measure can be used as any argument type, and for any social action.


Root - Attribute: Spirit
XP Cost/Rank: 2 + 2/rank
You plead with the target to understand your position.
This social measure cannot be used to deal Black or Red damage.
If you use this measure against an opponent's argument, your opponent loses 1 AP, regardless of whether or not this measure has any effect.


Root - Attribute: Intelligence
XP Cost/Rank: 2 + 2/rank
You attack your opponent directly, challenging their beliefs or their arguments.
This social measure cannot be used to deal White damage.
Using this measure causes your opponent to lose 1 AP, regardless of whether or not this measure has any effect.
If your target attempts to interrupt this measure and fails, make a basic skill check with this measure, and add the result to the damage dealt by this measure.


Root - Attribute: Intelligence
XP Cost/Rank: 3 + 2/rank
Rather than present your case, you attempt to dismantle the argument of someone else.
You can only use this measure on an opponent, not on yourself or your own arguments.
This social measure can be used as any argument type.


Root - Attribute: Charisma
XP Cost/Rank: 1 + 2/rank
You brush off an argument, giving a quick reason as to its irrelevance.
You can only use this measure as an interrupt, and only to interrupt measures targeting you or your argument.
This social measure can be used as any argument type.



Step 1: Setting up the conflict line in a debate.

A debate always has at least two components: one indicator, and two principle participants. While more participants may exist, these two set the bounds of the argument - they are the foundations on which the argument lies, and if one's opinion is swayed, the argument is over.

Note that, in some debates, it may be possible that one individual is arguing against multiple individuals, with different ethoi and convictions. In this case, a different line needs to exist for each pairing: this is to track argument effectiveness against each opponent.

Example: You are attempting to convince a bandit king to stop harassing a given road. Also in the room are his various minions, as well as his right-hand man. While the minions are largely irrelevant to the discussion - they'll do what their boss says - the right-hand man may not agree, and must be swayed separately. This argument will have two conflict lines, with you on one end of both, and the bandit king on one and his right-hand man on the other. Arguments you make affect the two differently, while arguments either makes affect your argument the same.

Mediators, in particular, have specials designed to assist them in winning over crowds of people. While non-mediators can attempt to do so, it is much easier for a mediator.

In addition, at this stage, the particular virtue set most pertinent to the argument needs to be determined, as per the ethos subsystem. There is no mechanical means to determine the virtue set - this requires a degree of arbitration on the LM's part, to ensure that the virtue set chosen most reflects the nature of the discussion.

Example: You are attempting to convince the king to not attack his neighbor, who he believes has attacked his kingdom unprovoked. This argument seems to most closely correlate to the Caution / Impulse virtue set, though it could also be argued that this falls under Harmony / Animosity or Trust / Paranoia.

If an argument would seem to fall under multiple virtue sets, you can set up multiple social conflict lines, one for each virtue set. In such an instance, all individuals must be on the same side of the indicator for all social conflict lines. In such an instance, you make one argument at a time, which is then applied to both lines.

Example: Continuing the king example, the argument winds up being a complex social conflict, with both a Caution / Impulse and Trust / Paranoia virtue set conflict line. To convince the king, you must get him on your side of the indicator on both lines.

Note that the virtue set used helps define the "terrain" of the conflict - some argument damage types are less effective in given virtue sets, while others are more effective. Thus, while you can make only a single argument, it may be more effective on one line or the other, thus requiring you to vary your arguments and appeal to all the relevant virtue sets in the conflict.

Step 2: Participant certainty points.

Once the requisite conflict lines have been constructed, the participants need to be placed on the line. An individual's Certainty Points (CPs) are based upon the virtue set used for the conflict, as well as the participant's Spirit (soul endurance).

Formula: Max CP = max(0, Virtue Rank - Opposed Virtue Rank) + max(Spirit)
Example: You are in a Responsibility / Freedom argument, and are arguing on the side of Responsibility. You have a Responsibility rank of 4, a Freedom rank of 1, and a Spirit of rank 3 (1d6). Thus your total CPs for this argument are 9 ([4 - 1] + max[1d6]). If your Responsibility rank were lower than your Freedom rank, you would count that as a 0 - while you can argue for a position you do not believe in, you will be much easier to sway to the opponent's viewpoint, given your bias.

From this, we can see that an individual who believes strongly in a given virtue will not be easily swayed, while an individual who has great experience in both, but has not made a strong choice, will still be relatively easily swayed.

If you are in a complex social conflict - that is, there are multiple virtue sets involved - your CPs vary on each conflict line dependent upon the virtue set. Effects that modify your CPs on one conflict line do not modify it on another (shoring up your resolve in a White / Red conflict has little effect on your conviction in your stance in the Green / Black aspect of the argument).

Note that mediators have access to talents and specials that allow them to improve their CPs, gaining an edge in social conflicts.

Once all relevant participants are placed on the conflict line, the conflict proper can begin. Unlike in physical combat, where speed and tenacity triumph, arguments tend - tend! - to be somewhat more civil, with one individual making a point, then the other. They tend to be reasonable exchanges of ideas and points, rather than an attempt to pummel the opponent with a verbal barrage (though that, too, is a viable tactic).

Action costs for social measures are based on Acumen, rather than Speed. This reflects the fact that more intelligent individuals are able to form cogent thoughts faster, and - indeed - can put forth complicated arguments in the span that normal folk can only form a few basic ideas.

Step 3: Arguments begin.

Thus, much as in combat, each of the principle participants rolls for initiative, with the highest going in tick 0, and everyone else in tick (highest init - their init).

On each participants' turn in the initiative order, they can perform one of the following actions. Each has an associated measure, while mediators have access to specials which are more varied and allow for greater options or effectiveness.

  • Reduce opponent's CP.
  • Reduce opponent's AP.
  • Reduce opponent's argument's HP.
  • Increase own CP.
  • Increase own AP.
  • Improve own argument's HP.
  • Move an indicator.

The following actions are interrupts, meaning that they can be used in response to an opponent taking an action (and, in turn, cause your next turn to be delayed, because you were talking before it came up). Interrupts always cause AP damage for the individual you are interrupting.

  • Prevent lowering of someone's CP.
  • Prevent lowering of some argument's HP.
  • Prevent movement of an indicator.

In the picture representation of Step 3, at right, both A and B have chosen to increase their own argument's HP. That process will now be explained.

Your argument's hit points are represented on your opponent's side of the indicator, which - in debates - always begins at the 0 mark on the conflict line. The argument's hit points represents that you have made arguments, but not that your opponent has necessarily "bought in" to your ideas - you have merely presented them.

In order to make your ideas take hold in your opponent's mind, you must move the indicator - this represents providing solid conclusions derived from your argument, representing the virtue you represent overcoming the opposed virtue. Individuals on your side of the indicator agree with your argument, and when your opponent's CP mark is on your side of the indicator, you have won the argument.

Step 4: A moves the indicator. C, who initially agreed with B, now agrees with A.

In addition, an argument's HP cannot be reduced to below the indicator. Thus, once the indicator has moved, the argument whose HP it has moved into cannot be reduced below some positive number, while its opposed argument can be reduced to negative HPs. An argument suffers no penalties for being at negative hit points.

The indicator cannot be moved beyond the bounds of the arguments' HPs. Thus, once your argument's HPs have been reduced to the indicator, your opponent must move the indicator further to further reduce your argument's HPs.

Note that, when attempting to interact with any value on the conflict line, the position relative to the center-point is very important. Remember that the virtue set is defining the "terrain" on which the argument is taking place. These two virtues define the two halves of the conflict line, divided right down the middle, where the indicator begins (in a debate). When your argument reaches into your opposed virtue, all measures you use are affected by that virtue - primarily in terms of how argument types (logic, emotion, etc) are impacted. Likewise, when the indicator moves into a virtue's territory, attempts to move it become similarly effected. Note that only the starting point of the argument or indicator is considered - if you manage to move the indicator from the Blue side to the Green in an argument, for instance, it is affected only by the Blue side's effects, not the Green's.

Important: If an argument or indicator to be affected is at the zero point of the conflict line, arguments made to move it are considered to be in their opposing virtue's area of the line. Thus, in our example of a Blue / Green conflict, Blue's first attempt to move the indicator is made as though in Green's area, and Green's first attempt is made as though in Blue's area (again, only if the indicator is at the zero point).
...the journey of a thousand miles...
...begins beneath your feet...
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