Over on this thread
, Chris from Grimm Studios said:
Iâ€™ve yet to hear a gaming story from a social system that couldnâ€™t be done with good RP.
I've heard many, and thought this would be a good place to share some stories of mechanical reinforcement being used successfully in such a way that pure RP wouldn't have done the trick.
Chris and others, I would also like to hear how great RP lead to better stories without system interference. I think we can all learn a lot from each other if we listen with honesty and don't attempt to tear down each other's play experiences.
I think the main place I've found use for social mechanics is in situations where a social roll forces a character to accept something they don't want. Where the system pushes them further into a interesting story. Using RP to flesh out two or more paths, push them hard against each other, and then DEFINITIVELY decide on one of those paths feels like something that can't be achieved through pure RP.
Here's an example from a Primetime Adventures game:
My character Hugo, an undercover cop, is gunning to take over the gang he's infiltrating, the Flacas, from their leader Miguel. It's a total power play, attempting to dominate Miguel with everything I've got, I've got a handful of cards, and the Producer (sorta-GM) doesn't have much mojo to oppose me, so I play it totally rough. Really crowing and throwing my weight around. Then the card reveal comes.
I lose. Utterly. Looking at my character, his play in the game so far, my play in the scene, and the resources on the table, I should have won in a walk, and taken over the Flacas (perhaps with grudging support/continual small sabotage from Miguel). I didn't though, I lost. Hard. And I had to narrate my own defeat. Because the stakes were big, the fall was hard, and I ended up not only being utterly dominated by Miguel, but became his lover, as well. My character, as a result of losing a mechanical conflict, became closer
to the person he was conflicting with.
This outcome would not have been possible if I had not been able to push so hard up to the mechanical tipping point, confident in the abilities my character had.
Also note that I am NOT denying the importance of roleplay in this example, just trying to establish that the effects of the system on the roleplay lead to a very different outcome than pure RP would have.