Social Combat

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Social Combat
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Social Combat is a dice-based system for resolving disagreements, originally printed in Danse Macabre, p.127-.

Dominance Modifier (Initiative) Presence + Manipulation

Guile (Defense) Lower of Wits or Manipulation

Nerve (Health) Composure + Highest Social Skill


brandishing a weapon for Intimidation
offering a bribe for Persuasion
giving a gift to seduce
showing fake evidence to confirm a Subterfuge attempt, etc.
a nice suit for a salesman
a sexy haute couture outfit for a seducer
a rough biker’s outfit for threats of ass-kicking

The Combat

Declare Intent

Determine Dominance


Social Attribute + Social Skill—target’s Guile +/—other modifiers

Turn Resolution

Combat Resolution

Social combat may continue for as long as any and all participants choose to be involved, though it ends for any participant who has lost all Nerve. Losing Nerve means losing the Social combat. Losing the Social combat means not only dealing with the ramifications of having no Nerve (see “The Nature of Nerve,” p. 137), but also succumbing to the intent of the attacker.

Physically harm himself
Physically harm another
Do something entirely counter to his character (“I want him to burn his favorite book”)
Do something entirely counter to his well-being (“I want to convince him to go up to the Prince and thumb that fucker right in the eye”)
Perform an impossible action (“I want her to disappear”)
A full -5 penalty on all Social rolls
A -3 penalty against any Resolve + Composure rolls made to resist frenzy or the effects of derangements.

Combat Maneuvers

Ambush (Surprise)

The character ambushes a target in Social combat with an unexpected assault—the character must possess some means of actually surprising the target, of course, and the Storyteller will be the ultimately arbiter of whether or not this is possible.

Back the Play (Teamwork)

The character chooses to not make a play of her own, and instead decides to back up or bolster another character’s Social attacks. This works like a Teamwork effort[1]. The character must make the same roll as the subject she’s attempting to bolster (if she’s backing up the efforts of another character making threats using Presence + Intimidation, she must submit to the same roll). Successes gained on the roll are added as dice to the subject’s subsequent roll (in this turn or the next, following order of Dominance).


The character “holds” his attack for this turn, making no Social rolls (meaning, in effect, he’s contributing nothing to the conversation and conflict). He instead lets the conversation play out, ideally measuring what would be the best approach (i.e. thinking before speaking). By taking no action and measuring the situation, he gains +2 to his roll on the next turn of Social combat. This is cumulative; for each turn he holds his attack and weighs his options, he gains +2 (to a maximum of +5) dice.

Salt the Earth

The idea here is that the character so completely befouls the conversation, it allows her to win this scene of Social combat but largely destroys the relationship held between the two characters. The attack should be in some way scathing or otherwise inflammatory—boldly tearing down the Prince’s policies and ruining his good night, revealing the target’s deepest and darkest secret for all to hear, or speaking an insult that cuts straight through the bone and might as well be a willow branch aimed right for the target’s unbeating heart. The character gains +5 to his attempt on this turn. In addition, if the character wins this turn, then the victim loses all Nerve and the character wins the entire Social combat scene. However, this has a drawback: the relationship is effectively poisoned. The character from now on suffers -5 to all subsequent Social rolls made against that target. This penalty needn’t be permanent, but the character will need to work overtime to mend fences. Losing those penalty dice could be the function of an entire story (reducing the penalty by one per game session where the character makes appropriate amends).

Throw Up Walls (Dodge)

The vampire attempts to throw up Social walls and become effectively unflappable for the turn. The character may do nothing else during this turn of Social combat; she can’t say anything beyond a cursory few words (“Go away,” “Fuck off,” “Don’t have time”). She may double her Guile score for the remainder of the turn. She can declare that she’s going to use this Social maneuver at the beginning of the turn regardless of her Dominance, provided she hasn’t yet acted. Like with Guile, throwing up walls reduces by one per participant beyond the first.

The Edge

A character who wins a Social combat—or has all participants bow out of the conversation early, leaving that character the default victor—gains the Edge. The Edge means that the vampire can now exult in his predatory success. Currently the only benefit conferred by the Edge is the +1 modifier to subsequent social combat. All other usage[2] is not allowed.

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