Ultimately, the conflict series I proposed some years ago now failed because the consequences for the players actions were not dear enough to contain their willingness to exploit the system. As I have said before, the cards were used as a "charm person," in that if the roll succeeded and the defender lacked fortitude to resist, the players could have their way with said person. This wasn't a problem with the first group of people I played with, but it became one as the system was better understood.
So I took it down, with the understanding that I would have to think about the system to determine a meaningful solution. It had not occurred to me at that time that success could, in fact, be a deterrent.
As I explained in the earlier post, it might be.
Putting aside concerns about evil characters at the moment (and acknowledging that the decision to "be evil" should not necessarily be seen as an immunity to guilt), I'm only looking for a system that gives players pause. The goal is to suspent players from simply saying, "Gosh, aren't I well-spoken and attractive; mind if you lend me all your money and the use of your house while I'm in town?" We could create a system that would cause the charismatic individual to feel some remorse afterwards for making the request, especially if the request was accepted.
It would make the DM the arbiter of bad behaviour, however ~ something I always see as a problem. A best-case scenario would be to create a list of anti-social behaviours ... but such a list would be extravagant and most likely incomplete, no matter how much work was put into it. Humans are terrifically gifted at finding new ways to be anti-social. A better strategy would be to framework anti-social behaviours so that if something new came up, it could be judged fairly not only by the DM, but also by the players.
Anti-social behaviours are those that harm or cause lack of consideration for the well-being of others; intentional acts of aggression; covert and overt hostility; and effectively contempt for others. This certainly describes murder-hobos, as we well know, but it also describes talking a guard out of doing his job and letting the party past, a favorite example of "smart role-playing" in order to avoid combat. We give experience for this.
Now, before anyone panics, and assumes I'm rushing to impose a morality on D&D, please keep calm. I'm merely digging a hole for the foundations. I'm not digging a grave here.
We have to acknowledge that the so-called "heroes" of many a campaign, particularly those on line, practice an awful lot of this sort of behaviour. For example, this infamous bit. I have little to no problem with the choices made by the party than I have with the constant identification of these persons as heroes.
But ... there are always multiple justifications for all the anti-social behaviours listed above. Those orcs we slaughtered in that dungeon were evil. Yeah. That's what they certainly were. And the children too. That guard is an employee of evil ... he ought to know better than to defend such horrible, awful people, who are protecting that stone they absolutely have no right to possess. We're not thieves if we're in the employ of Our King, who doesn't happen to have any actual jurisdiction in this country, but that is really, really not important, is it? Etcetera.
Francis Drake wasn't a pirate, he was a British patriot. George Custer wasn't a murderer of women and children, he was an American Hero. Christopher Columbus wasn't a dick in every sense of the word, he was an entrepreneur and a legal representative of Spain. Anti-socialism is a question of what social system you defend and which you denegrate.
I have a lot of faith in parties being able to justify their murder-hobo intentions; I don't want to put an end to them. All I want is to codify it, so that my party can feel content marching into a dungeon to slaughter the inhabitants for the good of the kingdom and the state, and the wellbeing of the surrounding peasant folk ... just so long as they then don't decide to burn a peasant's house down the next day because the peasant wasn't sufficiently grateful.
I don't want morality to impose its absolute will on the party ... but I would like the party to at least acknowledge that there is such a thing and that it's a little important to the fabric and structure of all this goodness and heroism they purport to defend.
|You kick that beggar. You kick him as hard as you want.|
Because you have moral superiority.
And getting that card would have to be done legitimately also, if the consequences of lowered endurance, emotional wellbeing and stomach-churning, weakness-inducing guilt were not things to be managed while killing women and children in the castle 'just for fun."
Once again, I'm mindful that this is NOT your D&D. Got it. Think of it as a thought experiment, the imposition of another hurdle that has to be overcome or a guard rail against player misbehaviour in the extreme ... which, I admit, does not seem to be considered a problem around a lot of tables that are definitely not MY D&D.
This could be a thing. Still needs some more thought.