In the game, you will often interact with player and non-player characters socially. However, there may come a time when you and another creature are at odds and rather than exchange blows, you try to resolve the disagreement through words.
Any time you are trying to change the opinion of another creature or convince them to do something for you either through pleasantries, logic, subterfuge or coercion, you are entering a social interaction.
Social interactions vary in difficulty depending on the nature of the situation and those involved in the interaction. Some interactions are as simple as one skill check. Others are more complicated, requiring multiple successful checks between multiple party members (see more in Skill Challenges).
Social interactions will primarily involve rolling for social skills. There are four primary social skills in the game: Charm, Deception, Instigation , and Negotiation. All four are within the Charisma skill group.
However, you may be called upon to make other skill checks to aid you in the conversation, especially if you are involved in a more complicated skill challenge. For example, you will use Performance to wear a disguise and act in a role, Corporate when you are discussing a business contract, High Society when you are pleading in a courtroom, or even Cosmology when you are debating navigation with a ship’s captain.
Since conversations can be fluid and change between topics, the skills required in a current situation can be discussed with your GM.
Difficulty of a Social Interactions
The difficulty of a social interaction is dependent on several factors, many of which are beyond your control. The two most important are creature’s social defenses (Insight and Presence) and a creature’s social cover in a situation.
- Social Interaction DC = Social Defenses + Social Cover Bonus
Beyond these elements, you can also gain advantage or disadvantage when making a social skill roll based on your features or other aspects of your approach.
The main obstacle to a social interaction is another creature’s social defenses. A creature has two social defenses, Insight or Presence, both of which are derived from a creature’s Charisma score. The initial DC of any social interaction will be based on the Insight or Presence of a creature.
Insight relates to a creature’s ability to discern your intentions and predict your actions. When making Deception or Negotiation checks, you roll against a creature’s Insight.
Presence is the force of a creature’s personality and how well they can control their emotions in a social situation. When making Charm or Instigation checks, you roll against a creature’s Presence.
Social cover is a modifier that represents other obstacles in a social interaction that may boost your presence or insight. Social cover comes into play when your emotions, opinions, knowledge, ideology, or beliefs run counter to the social engagement. This is personalized, and what is counter to one person’s beliefs may not be counter to another persons.
The extent of the boost given to your social defenses when this occurs varies based on how offensive the approach is to you. The GM will determine what level of social cover you receive in a situation but you can always express your rationale for receiving more or less social cover.
All of these attributes together provide metaphorical cover to a creature against your social attacks.
Degrees of Social Cover
Social cover works similar to cover in regular combat. The amount of cover you have is determined by the GM. However, you can influence the decision by explaining why you would have social cover.
When interacting with other creatures, the GM may tell you the amount of social cover someone has based on your approach or you can try to obtain it based around other checks such as through Wisdom skills like Corporate, High Society, Streetwise, or Secret Society, if applicable.
There are three degrees of social cover.
Half Cover. Half cover is a +2 bonus to your social defense. You gain half-cover when a creature’s approach is awkward given your assessment of the situation but what is being asked or discussed doesn’t go against your core beliefs. A few examples where Half Cover could be applied include:
- Charm. When a creature tries to compliment you regarding a recently failed task.
- Deception. When a creature tells a lie that doesn’t influence your opinions regardless of its truthfulness.
- Instigation. When a creature with a lower rank than you attempts to insult your skills.
- Negotiation. When a creature offers you a trade for an expendable object you already have.
Three-quarters cover. Three-fourths cover is a +5 bonus to your social defenses. You gain three-quarters cover when a creature’s approach goes against your knowledge or expectations of the situation, but it is not inconceivable or against your core beliefs.
- Charm. When a creature tries to encourage you to attempt a potentially dangerous action.
- Deception. When a creature tells a lie that is hard for you to believe but you don’t have first-hand knowledge or reliable facts to counter it.
- Instigation. When a creature that is outnumbered threatens to kill you.
- Negotiation. When a creature presents a reasonable course of action that is supported with counter-intuitive information.
Full Cover. Full cover is an automatic success for your social defenses. You gain full cover when a creature’s approach is ridiculous, inappropriate, or goes against your core beliefs as a person.
- Charm. When a creature that you know killed your father tries to seduce you.
- Deception. When a creature tries to tell a lie that you know with evidence or first-hand knowledge is factually wrong.
- Instigation. When a creature vaguely threatens you but does not know your identity or location.
- Negotiation. When a creature tries to make a clearly unequal trade, such as a simple device for an astral ship.