This is a Skill Combat page. If you do not wish to use the Skill Combat rules variant, do not read this page.
The Art of Conversation
Rolling rules are just slightly different for interacting with other people, such as the various traders and medical professionals that litter the wasteland. All rolls for Speech, Barter, and Gambling are made in secret by the Overseer, but here is how they work.
When speaking to an NPC, the Percentile roll is divided between the Player’s Speech Skill and the NPC’s. (0 + the Player’s Speech Skill, - the NPC’s JC) makes the range of success, and (100-the NPC’s Speech Skill + the Player’s JC) makes the range of failure. Any area not contained within these two ranges (or where they overlap) is the “Zone of Disagreement”. Finally, the critical ranges are (0 + Luck of Player + Bad Luck of NPC) for critical success, and (100 – Luck of NPC – Bad Luck of Player). For Barter and Gambling, substitute the appropriate skill into the Speech slot of those equations. So what does all that mean? Well, you’ll soon find out.
NOTE: Bad Luck = 10 – LK
Jim the Raider, our sample Speaker
To show the combat rules with actual numbers, here is a sample character. S.P.E.C.I.A.L: 126.96.36.199.4.9.7
Judgment Class (JC): 3(CH) +2 (Leather Jacket) = 5
Critical Success Zone: 0 + 7(LK) = 7% or less
Critical Failure Zone: 89 + 7(LK) = 96% or more
Speech: 6 (CHx2) + 4 (IN) + 6 (PE) = 16%
A Battle of Words
Convincing someone to believe you, give you better deals, or even believe that you’re playing a game by the rules involves building trust. When a conversation begins, the NPC will have a trust value equal to 1/50th the talking player’s Karma (rounded down) + 1/50th the NPC’s Karma (rounded down). Good NPCs are more trusting, and evil NPCs are more suspicious. Likewise, being an evil player will mean trying harder to convince (or trick) people that intentions are pure. Trust is added to the range of failure AND the range of success. Building trust shifts the zone of disagreement, but does not change it. It will, however, make succeeding a lot easier.
NOTE: Gambling and Speech work exactly the same way. The only difference? Speech is rolled between topics, Gambling is rolled between games. You cannot choose to bypass social rolls when they are demanded.
Jim the Raider isn’t the most charming fellow in the wastes, so his Speech skill is only 16. He’s chatting up a doctor to try and convince him to give a better deal on arm surgery. While talking won’t lower the prices, it’s a fast way to build trust, which can then be applied to the Barter roll. For each major topic brought up during a conversation, a speech roll is made by the Overseer. Any result falling in the “Zone of Disagreement” has no effect on the Trust meter, but any success increases it by the player’s CH and any failure decreases it by the NPC’s CH. Criticals double this change.
If the doctor has a speech skill of 40, then that would mean that 1-16 is a success, 60-100 is a failure, and everywhere in between is a zone of disagreement. Also, if the doctor’s LK is a 4, that would mean that 1-13 is a critical success, and 93-100 is a critical failure. Being a raider with -250 karma, the doctor is hesitant to trust, and so it starts at -5. Also, the doctor’s JC is 7 and Jim’s is 3. Putting in for all of those modifiers, that means 1-4 is a success, 58-100 a failure. Bad news for Jim. The Overseer rolls a 62, which means the trust drops by the doctor’s CH, which is a 6. Trust is at -11, and the success window has disappeared. However, it is not impossible to turn a mind around… a critical success is still a success even if a regular success is impossible.
Finding the conversation hopeless, Jim decides to just bite the bullet and get his arm fixed. Bartering works just slightly different than Speech. For the first time during a day that a player does business with a merchant, Barter is rolled (Just as Speech, with the exact same calculations save “Barter” in place of “Speech”). Each zone applies its regular rules for Trust, but also manipulates the markup/discount. A success from the first barter attempt will give the player a 5% discount for all purchases involving that merchant that day, and a failure will cause a 5% markup. Criticals double the discount or markup. While this may not seem a lot, each subsequent barter with that merchant treats the previous discount/markup as the starting price. Bartering two days in a row gives the chance to increase the discount, or make the markup worse. Since the roll is automatic, though, the player will need to be charming, or do some favors, to get the best price.
NOTE: Merchants will not discount more than 75%, and neither will they markup more than 75%.
Jim tries to barter for a better price on the surgery. Needless to say, even without looking at the skills, he fails. The standard price this doctor charges for medical work is 100 caps, and with the 5% markup it becomes 105 caps. Which isn’t too bad, but continued use of this doctor could cost a pretty penny if the failed barters add up. Not to mention more serious medical work would make a 5% markup MUCH more devastating. Jim pays the caps and has reconstructive surgery, recovering his lost hit points and repairing both portions of his arm. He is low enough level where the doctoring is enough to heal to full, but that may not always be the case.
The art of Bribery
When building trust the honest way isn't pracitcal, sweetening the deal with a few caps may be practical. Here's where the untrusting evil NPCs are beaten! 100 caps, +the karma of the bribe recipient, is the cost to gain 5 trust points. The minimum bribe is 15 caps, though, so the math won't let you gain trust through extortion.
A favor for a favor
Short on funds and with a surplus of time? Merchants may have errands for players to run that will increase their trust value, based on the difficulty of the job. Small trips give trust bonuses of 5-10 points, but big things (Like saving their children from a radscorpion nest) can give trust bonuses of 20-30 trust. But beware, failure causes a congruent drop in trust.