[agon] running non-combat battles?

hey folks,
after a rousing good time playing Agon at Nerdly, I ran it for my regular group last night.
It went pretty well - my group has a low attention span, so play went slowly, but everyone really enjoyed it on the whole.

The one thing - as Antagonist - that bugged me was how the rules tend to gloss over a lot of the fictional positioning, especially in battles, especially in non-physical "battles" (extended contests).
I worked up a set of "weapons" (inspired by Burning Wheel) for non-physical battles, and I'm debating whether to use them or not. They would certainly ground the fiction a lot more in situations like these, and my players are used to taking things through with people, so we definitely need to hash out a "fix" for this issue.

Any suggestions? I can post the "social weapons" list if folks are interested and would be up for giving a little feedback.


  • Zac,
    Would love to see your social weapons list.
  • Yeah, sounds great Zac! Post your weapons of social conflict please :)
  • edited May 2012
    Kk! Here you go...

    Positioning: it's abstract. In physical combat, it's the distance between you and your opponent.
    But what if you're having an argument, trying to shame someone, etc?
    When you engage in an emotional battle, you will deploy speech as your weapon. Public vs. private context matters.

    When you socially position yourself or another, say how you're trying to bring them closer or push them away, and then roll name die + orate (in public) OR insight (in private) vs. their name die + orate or insight. If you win, your opponent must move first (or you can force them to move somewhere, on your turn), and like normal, you can only force someone else to move if they rolled worse than you.

    In an emotional battle, your distance is your emotional distance, a measure of how emotionally engaged or removed you are from the situation.
    Note - - the “starting distance” table applies exactly the same. The more intimate your physical circumstances, the more emotionally intense the moment is between you.
    Get distance to start ignoring or telling them off to dissuade them, or go for the jugular by spilling their darkest secrets.
    Just like normal, take a penalty for being out of optimal range. A shameful revelation is most painful when shared with onlookers, but sometimes a whispered reminder of things forgotten is the most painful thing of all. For that matter, if you are trying to snub them and you're very close together, it's going to be a challenge to get emotionally distant (literally) so as to effectively ignore them.

    Here are some social attacks, which you declare at the beginning of each round (except debt):
    when you betray someone's secret to others, you may attack them with your name + insight + d8+1, range 5-6 - in public. Betraying their secrets is a violation of trust, and they will not listen to any talk of debts owed, this exchange – i.e. you cannot use a “shield”. (betrayal/bow)
    when you remind them of their darkest shame, you attack using insight, range 1 - in private. Split 2d6 any way you like between your hands. (reminder/sword)
    when you refuse to let them speak to you, you may attack with your name + cunning + d8+1, range 5-6. Cannot use a debt to protect yourself when you don't even want to engage; that is, you cannot use guilt on someone and ignore them at the same time. (refusal/bow)
    when you personally insult someone, you may attack with your name + orate + d6+1, range 2-4. You can carry an insult in either (insult/javelin)
    when you deliver a shocking message, you get 1d6 and 1d8; they go in opposite hands. You attack and defend using orate. (message/spear)

    EXCEPTION: if you remind them of their debt to you, for the rest of the battle you may defend using your name + d8 + cunning unless you need to drop it to use a betrayal. (debt/shield)

    Here are some special “maneuvers” you can use.
    Misdirection: if you involve a bystander or change the subject, roll your name + cunning vs. your opponent's name + orate; each success puts them off by -2 on their next roll. If you fail, reduce your cunning by 1 step.
    Dismissal: pick an enemy within 2 range bands. If you talk over them, roll your name + orate vs. your opponent's name + spirit; if you win, you knock one of your opponent's “weapons” from their hand for x exchanges, where x = your victories on your roll. If you fail, their words are still heard by those present.
    And Furthermore: if you have a message or an insult in your left hand, you may elect to attack a second time, using that weapon's dice in your left hand instead of using them for defense during this exchange.

    Here is how armor works:
    Each fact listed below, if it applies to you, gives you one die of armored protection as normal. First piece grants d6, 2nd bumps it to d8, 3rd bumps it to d10, but each piece also penalizes -1 to one stat or type of stat.
    Unlike physical armor, social “armor” is equipped by giving out information (true or false) about yourself, along the following lines:

    Of gentle birth: you're a hero, aren't you? If you reveal yourself as such, you rise head and shoulders above your foes, as far as honor is concerned. But a noble repute is demanding; -1positioning because you must use words befitting a nobleman. (greaves)
    Unknown to me: if you choose to pretend you do not know them, or you really do not know them, in truth, then you may speak more freely, for you are unburdened by personal loyalty. Also take -1insight because you either do not know them personally or you must not let on that you do. Their reaction to this is their own affair. (helm)
    The mission: if you have pressing business and needs must have this person's cooperation (even if that means they need but leave you alone), you may impress upon them the gravity of your task. If you do so, your honorable purpose is your protection. Take -1orate because speaking of duty weighs down your words with import. (breastplate)

    Note that each of these could apply to each side of the conflict. They need to, or the sides would have to fight for who got to “claim” one or all, and that would make “social” armor work too differently from physical armor for my liking.

    Wounds are a risk in battles of all sorts. But when you are defeated by emotional wounds, you do not die, but must be consoled, comforted, or spiritually restored to become whole again. However, you heal them as you would physical ones.
  • oooh, that is wonderful Zac! Thanks for sharing :)
    As you say, very Burning Wheel / Mouseguard, but in a distinctly Agon-esque sort of way. It also feels a little Chronica Feudalis with the step dice for varoius traits and aspects. I'm now thinking of getting a pack of those Tarot cards myself, there has to be a way of tying them (as an oracle or situational randomizer or something) into this mechanic....
  • edited May 2012
    This is part of an attempt to drift Agon into more familiar territory for me; I enjoy competitive stuff but I'm rarely satisfied unless I can be pretty deeply emotionally invested in the scenario, and I figured fleshing out the social conflict rules could be a way of achieving that..

    Still, my main goal was to make Agon more rooted in the fiction; every time I play, there's a strong component of that "flying through the game" that Vincent has talked about. I don't think the range band helps with this issue, even though it is quite elegant and simplifying.
Sign In or Register to comment.