Not only is conflict a situation of swords and overt violence or even grand strategy and planning. Sometimes words are combat, both threats and witty barbs, which threaten a person’s emotional well being opposed to their physical or mental well being. This emotional well being is is tracked by Morale and can be just as deadly as a wound from a blade, eroding a character’s will to continue fighting and clouding their minds with doubt and fear. Sometimes a physical or mental attack also affects Morale, and in these cases both effects are rolled separately and apply damage independently, in the order chosen by the attack.
Making a Social Attack
There are three ways to make a social attack. The first and most obvious are with skills: Intimidation, Influence, and Animal Handling. Intimidation allows a character to manipulate a target’s fear. Often this is used to get information or to change someone’s mind with threats of violence or other negativity. Influence is a more subtle method, sewing negative thoughts such as fear, doubt, or even inciting anger, jealousy or pride (in the right circumstances). In addition Influence can also be used to heal Morale damage by inspiring positivity as well. Finally, Animal Handling can also be used to make social attacks against animals. The same guidelines apply to it as do the Influence skill. These skills all rely on communication to work, whether it is verbal or body language.
The second manner of making social attacks are abilities and advantages, such as an undead monstrosity projecting an aura of hopelessness or a magic spell of crippling embarrassment. Like Focus targeting abilities, if the ability has the desired effect of weakening will, spreading fear, or otherwise manipulating emotions, it is probably a social attack. This is any unwanted emotional state, and a love potion would damage Morale just as surely as the fierce wail of a banshee.
The final way to make a social attack is roleplaying. For instance, in a sports game an injury to the star quarterback would damage the Morale of the whole team, even though none of them were targeted directly by a social attack. The GM is final arbiter of these circumstantial social attacks and aides, and many times they go hand in hand with mental attacks like ambushes and betrayals.
Social attacks use Discipline for defense.
Dealing Social Damage
Once the attack is ruled a success and the NDV is determined, the only thing remaining is to apply the appropriate condition. Social attacks give Morale conditions, which are, in order of least to greatest: Unnerved, Shaken, Disheartened, and Demoralized.
- Unnerved: The unnerved condition applies if the NDV is between 0 and 2. This is the equivalent of feeling slightly nervous or agitated, such as when hearing a noise at midnight when you are supposed to be home alone or getting called on in class while daydreaming. That feeling of butterflies in your stomach. A character can have up to 3 of these before they start being upgraded.
- Shaken: The shaken condition applies when the NDV is between 3-5. This is the shock of a something serious, like getting a glimpse of something waiting in the shadows, your crush blabbing your secrets to the school bully and his friends. The feeling of your heart skipping a beat. A character can have 2 of these before they begin upgrading to the next level. Characters take a -1 penalty to all skills per condition at this level.
- Disheartened: The disheartened condition applies when the NDV is between 6 & 8. This is the equivalent of being surrounded and outnumbered by enemies, or your best friend telling you that he was only using you to get help with his homework. Horror but not yet despair. A character can only have one condition at this level before upgrading. In addition, due to the trauma, any use of skills takes an additional -2 penalty.
- Demoralized: This condition applies when the NDV is greater than 9. A character whose Morale is so afflicted is essentially disabled, being to terrified or otherwise overcome to function, overwhelmed by the awesome events transpiring around them. A character with the demoralized condition can still make actions, although they must make a Discipline roll and are restricted to a single simple action per Turn. Their movement speed is also halved. Failure on the Discipline roll means the character falls unconscious. Any action taken while disarrayed upgrades the highest Focus condition by one level as their mind succumbs to the confusion of their situation.
Characters recover morale by a combination of discipline and time. What this means is that a character can take a recovery action and make a Discipline roll to downgrade any Morale conditions, with success shifting all Morale conditions down by one level and shifting another level for every 3 degrees of success thereafter. The roll takes a penalty equal to the highest level of morale damage (see chart below). Characters, regardless of tone, can take a recovery at the end of combat. A successful Influence roll grants a bonus to the recovery roll equal to half the degrees of success.
In addition, a character can take a quick recovery during combat to recover Morale. This takes a full turn and the roll takes a -4 penalty. Morale conditions that come from environmental effects (depressing locations, auras of despair) can only be recovered once the character is removed from those situations.
Recoveries and Quick Recoveries can be taken separately for each type of damage (Injury, Focus, or Morale). Taking one does not preclude taking others, however each must be rolled separately as they each rely on different skills and attributes.