I'm sorry, but I'm not going to discuss it yet. I have not, as I myself propounded, tested it.
I am going to talk about something I'm prepared to swallow as a final result to my machinations, which I believe firmly the remainder of the D&D world will not: that your stats are going to limit you from doing things which your mind, as a player, wants to do. Things which have been so absorbed as being part of playing D&D, that an alternative, even a moderate one, will be firmly denied.
Here is the problem that occurs to me, the one that I am working on mechanically. Suppose that a three character party moves forward to confront four guards, with the intention of talking their way through. Let's say the characters are first level and that this is their first encounter. Here are a few things I would like to have happen:
- I would like the characters to have an opportunity to roleplay; existing cards would be implemented at appropriate moments, but with the playing of the cards I would like the players to be able to make a moderate stab at actually doing in roleplay what the card says.
- I would like more than one character to be able to play a card, and for the cards to enhance one another, so that Player 1 could play a card which would support Player 2's action.
- I would like it if the guards did not behave as a unit; I would not even like it if the lead guard was counted on as a crutch to handle the multiple effects of the interation. I would want all guards to have the possibility of being convinced independently.
- I would like it if this 7-person conflict could be sorted out in under five minutes.
- I would like it if the guards had a chance to convince the players not to continue trying to talk their way through.
In any ordinary D&D scenario, Player 3's question might be in the minds of one of the players, usually the least confident player, or the one with the least experience. It is never a question that will arise in the mind of a willful player, who counts on his rhetoric to carry him through, particularly if the player is very familiar with the DM's playing style.
But just suppose the confident player is the one that has the 9 wisdom. To my mind, any REAL mechanic with REAL influence on the player's game play ought to FORCE the confident, experienced player who knows the DM well to adopt Player 3's point of view. In other words, he should be actively discouraged by the guard's identification and demeanor, and be compelled to say, "Uh, guys, I don't see how we're doing any good here. Let's go." Even if the player doesn't want to.
Moreover - and here is where I am really going to depart from the herd - this reaction from the player should in no way result from an action the player has made, but should INSTEAD result from an action the guard has made. This is a central argument I have been making since the beginning. For the IMech to work, and work meaningfully, it can't break down to a wisdom check made by the player. The player does not roll the guard's die in a hand-to-hand combat ... therefore the character cannot be free to 'roll the guard's die' in an interactive 'melee.'
No, no, no, the guard must have the power to stamp his feet, slap his scabbard, invoke the symbol on his chest and say, "MOVE ON!", so that the player actually has no choice but to do so. Seriously. No choice.
Now before you think to yourself how terribly, terribly wrong that is for D&D, think for a moment how, if the guard does 18 damage to the player with 4 hit points, the player actually has no choice to do anything except die. As the title says: tough shit for you.
This is something thoroughly accepted in D&D. Not pleasant. Certainly not wanted by the player. But nevertheless something the player has to choke down with their Cheetos. Believe me when I say that until players have to choke down the IMech too, in circumstances where the players don't have so much as a die roll, it won't have any teeth at all.
At present, I already know how to make this happen. I have a pretty good idea on how to conduct the interaction so that all the points above are covered. It's only a beginning, however. And it only really addresses this one situation (though I can see how others might be resolved). This is the reason I'm keeping it to myself.
The falling down point remains, however, how different this would be for D&D, as described above. Which doesn't bother me in the least. I'm not nostalgic. I just want a good game. I have as much invested in the 'traditional' game of D&D as I have in New Wave from the early '80s, when I was young, in high school and humping girls on the dance floor. Sure, I listen to Blondie and the Cars now and then. Those were good times. But new music has been recorded since then.
Change is life. I'm proposing the possibility of saying to the player, "No, you can't decide to attack the guard now - you're intimidated and you don't have the nerve to pull your sword." If that makes you queasy, then we don't have anything left to talk about. On the other hand, if that lifts the scales off your eyes, then we're going someplace.