Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Grassroots Movement

Something I truly enjoy about working on the new sage tables is the direction I find myself pursuing at the drop of a hat. Today, for instance, in working on the study of history, I looked up the phrase "practical use of history" and found myself looking at a page describing and attacking the American Tea Party.

And my imagination went ding-ding-ding-ding-ding.

The result was an ability called Grassroots Movement. The content is available through the link, but I am so proud of the work I've done on it (took me hours), I'm going to repost it here (including the content on the links relating to the different speeches the character can make).

Through the use of history and speaking directly to others, the character is able to influence others towards adopting political policies that were once held to be historically true within the region where the character speaks. The historical context must be real, but the motivation of the influenced people to reclaim that context need not depend upon other circumstances and realities that were true of that time in history.

There are limitations to what the movement can achieve, yet nevertheless the people of the immediate region that can be reached by word-of-mouth may be encouraged to adopt legislation, demand the stepping down of a new authority, a decrease in taxes, greater adoption of the region's traditional religion, the execution of criminals or political enemies of the state and civic improvements, as well as the end to an existing war or the initiation of war.

The character must express a desire to speak to as many people as possible within the space of one week. During that week, the character will influence up to 1d6 persons per point of charisma. If the character is a cleric who has established a congregation of not less than 50 regular parishioners, the character influences 1d8 persons per point of charisma rather than 1d6.

The total will indicate the % chance of the movement 'catching fire' that week. If the percentile roll is a failure, the character may continue to agitate throughout the next week - however, the character must discount 4 points of their charisma the second week. If the movement fails again, the succeeding week the character must discount 8 points of their charisma. This continues until either the movement catches fire or the character fails to have sufficient charisma to produce a percentile chance.

If the movement catches fire, this will mean that those influenced by the character will themselves seek to spread the word. The character will now roll 1d6 (or 1d8) for every person previously influenced. This will represent the total number of influenced persons that week. The final total - hereafter referred to as the 'crowd' - needs to carefully recorded and kept.

This number will, at the end of the week, join together and seek out the character, calling for leadership. The character that has initiated the grassroots movement is then free to give a speech suggesting one of five policies: the speaker may rabble-rouse the crowd; the speaker may rally the crowd to march upon an authority capable of making a change and deliver the crowd's demands; the speaker may incite the crowd to passively disobey the state; the speaker may encourage the audience to agitate for desired change in a peaceful, obedient manner; and finally the speaker may have a change of heart and call for the crowd to disperse.

Rabble-rousing

An effort that can be undertaken by any character who has gained the rapt attention of a crowd in excess of 20 persons. Rapt attention is defined as a pre-established willingness of the crowd to willfully acknowledge the character's desires. Rapt attention may be gained through deed, personal authority over the crowd or an attempt to initiate a grassroots movement.

To rabble-rouse, the character delivers a speech intended to transform the crowd into a mob, inciting violence against a given person or structure, in order that the individual be killed or the structure be destroyed. To achieve this, the character must make a strength check (strength of voice and apparent personal ability to carry forth the request is in doubt here).

It is presumed that the crowd is willing to become violent once the speaker sets out to encourage violence - however, if the strength check fails, the crowd will begin to argue amongst themselves. Within ten or twenty minutes, others will appear and the mob will swell from 2-5 times its previous size - whereupon they will begin to fight among themselves. Soon a full-throated riot will result, so that every building within a one mile radius has a 1 in 20 chance of being torched or destroyed through looting. Since the crowd will have divided into factions, the first will set out to perform the character's original wish - destroying every public building within reach - while the latter faction will take it upon themselves to attack the character or the character's possessions. Presume that the number in each faction is equal to the original size of the crowd before the character began to speak, +/- 10%. The riot will last from 5-15 hours before finally dispersing.

Consequences - If the strength check succeeds, the crowd will organize as a vigilante force itself as directed by the character and set out as best they can to perform the actions desired. If it is possible to destroy buildings they will, if they are able to find the villains, they will do so. However, the crowd's anger will diminish once 2-12 hours have passed, whereupon they will begin to disperse.

Once the speech has been delivered, local authorities will become aware of the crowd. They will require 1 hour per 20 persons in the crowd to gather forces and take action against the mob or vigilante force. During this time they will seek the person responsible. A percentile roll is made; if the number is higher than the character's charisma, the character is betrayed and the character's name will become known to the authorities. Otherwise, the character will remain unknown. The character will have 10-120 minutes of warning that the betrayal has occurred, enabling them to flee or submit willingly to arrest. A trial will follow.

Rally

An effort that can be undertaken by any character who has gained the rapt attention of a crowd in excess of 10 persons. Rapt attention is defined as a pre-established willingness of the crowd to willfully acknowledge the character's desires. Rapt attention may be gained through deed, personal authority over the crowd or an attempt to initiate a grassroots movement.

To rally a crowd is to encourage them to head off towards a given location in order to perform a purpose, most commonly to make a show of force that an authority cannot ignore, but potentially to move to a location for the purpose of being deliberately disobedient to the state. The distance travelled by a march may potentially be no further than across a street, but it may also mean travelling for dozens of days towards a far-off objective. To sustain a longer march, the character must continue to rally the crowd onward.

No success roll is required if the march can be managed in a period of less than one hour. At that point, however, the character must make a wisdom check. If the wisdom check fails, the crowd will quickly diminish to half its size during the second hour. The remainder will stay the course until the first full day has passed, this being 24 hours. If, on the other hand, the wisdom check succeeds, the crowd will swell in size by 10 to 40% throughout the day.

From then on, at the start of each new day, the rallying character must make another wisdom check. So long as the check is successful, the crowd will continue to gain in size by 10-40% each day. However, with each night it will become apparent that many of these people have not brought adequate food or means to manage the journey. Steps must be taken to provide one third of these people with food (2 lbs. each per day) and blankets (one each, plus additional numbers as the crowd continues to swell). If violence or plundering is used visibly to provide these, there is a 10% chance each day per incident of violence that the crowd will explode into a riot, ending the march.

Persons needing blankets or food that do not receive both will melt away after one day, along with companions they have brought with them or met along the way, diminishing the crowd in number by themselves and one other.

There is no appreciable result if the daily wisdom check fails once - this will mean only that the crowd does not gain in size that day. However, if the daily wisdom check fails twice in succession, the crowd will shrink by 10%. If the daily wisdom check fails three times in succession, the consequences will be dire.

Evaluation - Upon having failed three times, the crowd will demand an evaluation of the march itself. Both sides will be heard throughout that day and no progress will be made. The rallying character will be permitted a chance to speak - at this point, the character may choose to rabble-rouse, disperse the crowd or continue to rally.

If the character presses to rally, the character must now make a charisma check - if this is successful, the crowd will diminish by 20% overall but the march will continue (if the next day the crowd grows again, it will indicate that many of these who left returned). The rallying character will be considered to have a clean record and may therefore fail twice again (even right away) without an evaluation.

If, however, the charisma check during the evaluation fails, then the march will largely fail as well. A mere 10% of the crowd's number will remain, while the remaining 90% will depart.

The DM may choose to adjust the character's charisma check if pertinent information can be offered to the crowd that they did not previously possess.

Resolution - If the purpose of the march is to perform an act of disobedience, the rallying character must at the end of the march make a speech addressing this action (see Civil Disobedience).

However, if the crowd has made their way to address an authority, either a public or private individual, their appearance will arouse the individual to address the crowd, either directly or through an intermediary. The crowd and the character are free to make their request. To achieve their goals, the addressed individual must make a morale check to resist the change (see standard morale). A -1 adjustment to the morale check is made for each 100 members in the crowd.

Should the morale check fail, the addressed individual will make a well-meant concession towards the crowd's desires. This concession will likely not be a complete agreement, but should be sufficient to indicate a change in attitude and belief, compelled by the crowd.

If the morale check succeeds, however, the crowd will be forcibly dispersed by whatever means the addressed individual possesses, with the likely arrest of several persons including the rallying character. It may not be possible at this time for the character to speak again with the crowd, either to rabble-rouse, disperse them or cause them to disobey.

Civil Disobedience

An effort that can be undertaken by any character who has gained the rapt attention of a crowd in excess of 30 persons. Rapt attention is defined as a pre-established willingness of the crowd to willfully acknowledge the character's desires. Rapt attention may be gained through deed, personal authority over the crowd or an attempt to initiate a grassroots movement.

Civil disobedience is the passive unwillingness to obey laws established by authorities, most commonly paying taxes but also including any participation in socially approved activities. To encourage the crowd to participate, the character must make a constitution check.

If this check fails, the crowd will express their agreement to take part - but 90% of them will have returned to their usual behavior within 1-4 weeks. There is nothing that can be done about this - it indicates the crowd simply does not believe strongly enough in the character's will.

On the other hand, if the check is successful, the number of participants will increase by 20 to 50% weekly until the state hears of what's going on and sets out to take action. This will take from between 4-10 weeks, and typically manifests as the arrival of an army or similar military appearance.

Resolution - The grievances of the disobedient will have aroused the state to address the crowd through an intermediary, who will by now have become aware of the situation. The overseeing authority (the king, local noble or premiere bureaucrat) must make a morale check to resist the change. A -1 adjustment to the morale check is made for each 250 disobedient persons.

Should the morale check fail, the addressed individual will make a well-meant concession towards the crowd's desires. This concession will likely not be a complete agreement, but should be sufficient to indicate a change in attitude and belief, compelled by the populace.

If the morale check succeeds, however, the crowd will be forcibly compelled to obedience by whatever means the state possesses, with the likely arrest of several persons including the rallying character. It may not be possible at this time for the character to speak again with the crowd, either to rabble-rouse or disperse them.

Agitate

An effort that can be undertaken by any character who has gained the rapt attention of a crowd in excess of 20 persons. Rapt attention is defined as a pre-established willingness of the crowd to willfully acknowledge the character's desires. Rapt attention may be gained through deed, personal authority over the crowd or an attempt to initiate a grassroots movement.

Agitation is a call for passively obtained justice through ordinary political channels, using influence and debate over a period of time. To encourage the crowd to participate, the character must make an intelligence check.

If the check fails, it will indicate that after the character's speech there followed a lengthy period where the crowd discussed the issue, debated and deliberated upon it, but ultimately come the next day no true resolution was reached. At this point, the attempt to initiate the crowd to success is considered a failure and the opportunity is lost.

If the intelligence check is successful, however, then a resolution has been reached and the crowd that is present that day will begin a peaceful grassroots movement on their own accord. The character should then judge the eventual size of the movement at ten times the size of the crowd that gathered to hear the character speak.

This final number should then be compared as a percentage of the total population of the smallest political entity that surrounds it. This percent then becomes the chance of the local powers fully adopting the proposed policy. This roll is then made one month after the movement has reached their resolution.

If the roll should fail, then another roll is made three months after the movement's resolution. Another roll is then made 9 months after the resolution, then 27 months, then 81 months and so on, until such time as the resolution passes or the matter is simply put off endlessly.

No negative consequences shall be brought against the initiating character.

Disperse

An effort that can be undertaken by any character who has gained the rapt attention of a crowd of any size. Rapt attention is defined as a pre-established willingness of the crowd to willfully acknowledge the character's desires. Rapt attention may be gained through deed, personal authority over the crowd or an attempt to initiate a grassroots movement.

To disperse a crowd is to cause them to surrender their anger, their will or their desires in order to send them on their way, separately, safe and sound. The character must make a charisma check. A successful roll will disperse the crowd, which may take some time - typically a number of minutes equal to the square root of the number of individuals making up the crowd.

A failure to disperse a crowd will cause them to cease listening to the character - even if the character was responsible for assembling the crowd. Once gathered, the crowd may do any of the following (roll a d20):

  • (1-3) crowd will riot with no specific aim in mind; 1 in 20 of all buildings within a mile may be threatened.
  • (4-12) crowd will select a leader of their own and set off the put their grievances to the nearest authority.
  • (13-19) crowd will steadfastly refuse to obey any and all laws for a 24 hour period before dispersing.
  • (20) crowd will select a leader and resolve to agitate for peaceful change.

Conclusion

Having reconciled the effects of each (details to be found in the links), the character must now move on. If the character wishes, they may attempt again, beginning from a new location, but this will guarantee arrest of the character following the movement no matter what policy the character attempts. Still, the character may attempt to incite another violent act, another march, another call to disobedience or further pestering of the government if the character so wishes.


Let me stress - ALL of the above content was conceived of and written in full during the last four hours.

14 comments:

Maxwell Joslyn said...

I love it! It makes me wonder what other "large-scale" or "population-affecting" actions might provide for fun gameplay when rules are made for them. I can't remember if you use a Bard or not, but these would seem perfect as a Bard sage skill.

Is there any chance that certain sage skills will be shared between classes, in cases such as this? It does seem that there could be some overlap. Ranger/Druid comes to mind immediately.

I also have a question about the Standard Bearer amateur ability for the Heraldry sage skill. What is the justification for that being a sage ability? I understand that knowledge is needed to know the right standard to bear, but why is the actual ability to grant a benefit restricted to those with Standard Bearer?

Speaking of Heraldry and, dare I say, "cross-class" sage skills: it seems that Heraldry might make sense for the Fighter, illiteracy or no. I know you're keeping the sage skills close to your chest, but could you tell me at least whether the Fighter sage skills will go on this "leader of men" direction?

Finally: could you elaborate for me the conceptual differences between what are traditionally* called "thief skills" and the sage skills? I understand the difference with sage skills that primarily provide knowledge of techniques, creatures, magical formulae, etc. However, with abilities like Grassroots Movement, the line between "something you know" and "abilities you have" seems thinner. Is the Thief's improved ability to sneak not a kind of sage skill: based on class, with power (partially) dependent on level, and enhancing the things one can do well?

*I say 'traditionally' because I believe you employ a different, more logical system where everyone can climb, steal, sneak, etc, but thieves and assassins do it best; as opposed to the silly thief percentile rolls in Gygax.

Wandrille Duchemin said...

A very interesting set of rules!

One can finally PLAN and start a crusade.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Plenty of grist for the mill, Maxwell.

First off, I don't really see 'grassroots movement' as a Bard thing at all. I suppose I have a very definite, different idea about the classes than you do. Throughout history, clerics have been very definitely interested in politics, as public behaviour so often reflects the demands that a religion requires. Right from the start of civilization, clerics and governors have operated hand in hand, beguiling the population in order to ensure absolute rulership.

Bards are interested primarily in art. While yes, some artists DO get involved in politics, the vast majority of them do not in any way. While you and I can name some performers in the present who are politically involved - Tim Robbins, Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Ronald Reagan, Hugh Grant, Glenda Jackson - we could just as easily name 30,000 without any interest in politics at all. I'll point out, too, in the case of Reagan, he early on moved away from acting in order to run the Actor's Guild for awhile, before deciding that wasn't enough personal power, leading him to the governorship of California and ultimately to the White House. In other words, he QUIT being a bard so he could be a boss instead.

The grassroots idea reflects the way the Tea Party used history to create an agenda of not paying taxes, as the signers of the Declaration of Independence had not imposed income tax. I can't think of any artists associated with the Tea Party except for Ted Nugent, who is NOT representative of my idea of a bard.

Given the number of screaming christians in the Tea Party, I think cleric suits the ability far more rationally.

(to be continued . . .)

Alexis Smolensk said...

As regards cross-training.

I've talked about this before. There are opportunities for cross-training built into the character generator, though it is rare and the amount of cross-training is minimal. On the other hand, a character can always choose to be multi-classed.

Just because a fighter COULD find value in heraldry doesn't make it logical for every fighter to have that opportunity. A player in the NFL might have a degree as a medical doctor, but it isn't likely - most players don't have the brains, the time, the resources or the mindset to hammer away at school as well as football, and HEY: a guy like that sounds like a multi-classed to me.

The 'COULD' argument, to me, just sounds like more chafing at that class structure - which is just a lot of boo-hooing because a character doesn't want to be a cleric just so they can use all the cool cleric skilz. I do hope you change your mind about kowtowing to this sort of thinking - its a slippery slope that leads straight to point buying. I said enough about that last week.

(continued . . .)

Alexis Smolensk said...

As regards sage skills in general and my playing it "close to the chest." I'm not, actually. I've talked about virtually everything I have planned, I've posted the work I've done on the Work Blog, on this blog and on the Wiki. I rush to remind you that 24 hours ago I hadn't the slightest inkling of the grassroots movement skill. I invented it, wrote it, then shared it. How much more open do you require me to be?

I haven't talked about fighters and thieves because I haven't written ANYTHING on those subjects. I can tell you that the fighter will likely include studies on logistics, tactics, equestrianism, making of armor and weapons and weapon proficiency. Thieves will be primarily concerned with money; mages with practical science and engineering; illusionists with theoretical science (or possibly reversed) and assassins with death. The bard will be all about the art. A monk will probably reflect some clerical studies, some druidic.

Beyond this and what I've posted, I'm sorry, I just don't know. I'm making this up as fast as I can. I will add that EVERYTHING will likely get folded into the sage system - from the proficiencies that fighters get now, to thieving skills, the making of poisons, ranger tracking, etc. How I can't say. This is taking huge amounts of time and effort, while taking me places I never considered going. Right now I see it as a monumental task without a foreseeable end.

(continued . . .)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Let me make another point about the speeches. You'll note that I've written them on the wiki so that, given the right situation, ANYONE can give a speech and make the necessary rolls. While the grassroots movement produces the crowd, there are other in-game things that might offer a rapt audience to a player character - whereupon the various speeches - rally, rabble-rouse, agitate or civil disobedience can be called for by the player. The only thing the sage ability contributes is that it makes a crowd at will.

Think about it - a CLERIC goes around talking to everyone in the community, getting them stirred up. Why? Because its a cleric, and religion has great importance in everyone's life. Could a fighter put this sort of pressure on a community? A mage? A thief or a bard? No! Communities listen to community LEADERS, and this does not include ordinary soldiers, artists, scientists and businessmen. Not unless they FIRST make a name for themselves as something other than their class.

Only a cleric is automatically awarded respect just for being a cleric. If this isn't evident to you, then there is a great deal about the way religion works (and its influence on others) that you don't know. I suggest asking your local minister to let you go on rounds with him to the hospital or elsewhere, to see how people react to him AS A PERSON, simply because he wears a collar.

(continued . . .)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Very well, the standard bearer ability.

Yes, anyone could wave a standard and bear it forward. But who could explain the meaning of that standard, the IMPORT, better than someone who knows everything about it? Think of the time spent in the camp prior to battle, as the character relates every detail about the image, telling stories about how it came about and how it changed the lives of people in the kingdom! Consider the power of the speaker, choosing words that carve a worshipful attitude towards the standard, not just as a flag but as a HOLY icon of power and meaning! When the herald carries it, the reminder of all those things is fixed in the combatants mind, so that they are driven to gain that +1 to hit and morale. Yes, anyone can carry the symbol, but the herald is not just 'anyone.' The herald has gained a respect becoming the herald's knowledge and personality. To pursue heraldry as an ability is to promote this perception.

I hope all this helps explain my perception somewhat. I've only taken the time to try and change your mind about these things in order to raise your thinking past some of the ordinary assumptions people tend to make.

Eulalios said...

One of the storied motivations for Men and Magic was an impulse to simulate interactions more significant than "I hit it with my axe.". You've succeeded in knocking that for six. Or do you Canucks instead knock it out of the park?

Issara Booncharoen said...

That post and your explanations have for the first time tempted me just to steal your system wholesale rather than continue to try and improve what I have now, fortunately the sage system seems a long way from completion and the drive to self improvement is a thing.

Unrelatedly the description of the herald standard bearer ability gave me another idea for the heraldry sage class. You know the story about Constantine getting his men to paint the symbol of christainity on their shields? I imagine an expert or sage heraldry expert (and high level priest) could give a speech or go person to person, getting people to paint a symbol on their shield or stitch a symbol on their clothing (the cross from the first crusade) to give a certain ammount of people the standard bearer bonus for a certain amount of time, or for a certain task.

Matt said...

About the Bard,

The Bard may have ways to get the rapt attention of an already assembled crowd.

The Cleric can walk into town and start spreading the word of change, so that after a period of time a large group of people have assembled for him to address. The bard on the other hand might be able to compel the attention of an entire room of pub patrons, or of a number of folks who are out and about in a market, at a town square, or in a theatre. The key difference is that the Bard's method only works so long as the people are already mostly assembled for some other reason.

If he is able to change the focus of at least 20 people from their normal tasks to his art that would give a him the rapt attention of a crowd to then enact a policy.

I imagine a Bard playing a song or doing some other street performance to get attention, and then segueing into a political point. This would also mean that the Bard may be forgoing any monetary gain from his performance.

This may not fit with your experience with musicians, which is far more experience than I have. Just tossing an idea at you.

Oddbit said...

From experience with Alexis in the past, I have a feeling the bard will have it's own relevant skill.

At some point he mentioned his stance on the expertise of bards vs rogues.

Rogues are experts on understanding money, where it comes from and where it goes.

Bards are experts on people...
I have a feeling they will have a method to gather a rapt audience.

That said, throwing a party and turning a toast into a tirade on what SHOULD be done could easily be gathering a 'rapt audience' as well...

Alexis Smolensk said...

You may feel assured that the Bard will indeed approach all this from a very different point of view.

Maxwell Joslyn said...

Alexis: have read your responses. No time to reply to them at the moment but I appreciate you taking the time to explain your thoughts.

Maxwell Joslyn said...

OK.

Alexis, with regard to "crosstraining:" I'd forgotten your character generator had a setting that sometimes allowed cross-training of sage skills. At time of writing I was suggesting a method of active sage skill selection, but the rare generator output is a better way. Your point.

As far as "close to the chest," I apologize for that. I do remember you using that phrase to me regarding sage skills at an earlier date, about the Fighter and others, but I could obviously have thought harder about it; furthermore, some Google searches restricted to your site don't turn up the phrase in that context. So perhaps I was mistaken.

I do understand the leadership ability of religious figures, thank you: but I didn't give the class-neutral descriptions enough thought. Understood.

Finally, Standard Bearer. I understand your perspective on that better now. I think adding a line or two of your response to me to the wiki entry for Standard Bearer would be a good decision. It could give players an idea of how characters with the ability might act. Obviously it's not some kind of straitjacket, but players searching for inspiration when playing might look to such things. What do you think?