Thursday, January 19, 2017

Building the Diplomat and a Matter of Law


Everything I've done over the past few weeks has been building up to the diplomat.  Cultural distancing mechanisms provide more than just interesting flavor for new cultures, they also represent obstacles that the diplomat excels at overcoming.  She masters languages and traditions so as to present herself and her position in the best possible light when negotiating with a strange culture. She also understands organizations, in part because she belongs to one (a diplomatic corp), she represents another (typically her government) to another, more hostile organization.  She is a creature of law, negotiation and cultural niceties, the picture of elegance itself (er, after a manner of speaking).
Anakin Skywalker: So this is what you call a diplomatic mission?
Padm√© Amidala: No, these are "Aggressive Negotiations"
Except we don't want to play that character, do we?  This is Star Wars, not Star Trek!  I'll take a look at the more honest assessment of a diplomat later when I do Heroes of the Galactic Frontier, but the point here is to have an awesome action character who happens to be a diplomat.  Leia blasted storm troopers and killed a mob boss while in her unmentionables, and Amidala took on monsters in a gladiatorial arena and retook her homeworld with an army of frog-people and a kid.  The "diplomats" of Star Wars aren't really diplomats in the classic sense.

Thus, we must pull the same trick that we did with the Officer: We must understand the rules for negotiation, to know what the Diplomat should be good at, and then find ways to make those same skills equally useful to an action scenario, thus building a diplomat who is actually realistically decent at negotiation, if a GM ever wanted to use it in his game, but then ensure that she's equally useful in a typical action scenario.  The Officer turns his strategic excellence into making master plans, foreseeing unexpected twists, and foiling distractions and ambushes.  We need to understand how being a good negotiator can be turned to your advantage in an action scenario.

The Art of Negotiation

GURPS Social Engineering goes into negotiation in quite some detail on pages 65 and 66 under "Alliances and Diplomacy."  In essence, the core skill we need is Diplomacy, with a smattering of Psychology and Intelligence Analysis.  So far so good, as all of these are useful Action skills!  If we want to form lasting Alliance, we need Law, assisted by Diplomacy. High Will helps too.  Law, here, reflects the ability to carefully craft an agreement that the other party will agree to, a sort of "influence through excellent use of the law."

More broadly speaking, this is an expansion of the Building Trust rules from Social Engineering (page 40), which makes sense, as building trust and expanding relationships is what a diplomat does.  Building Trust in most cases is just a basic reaction roll or a social influence roll.  For the latter, our Diplomat will have, of course, Diplomacy (which helps the reaction roll as well!), and having high reaction modifiers wouldn't hurt: A beautiful, well-dressed (Fashion Sense), high Status, reputable, charismatic diplomat is much more likely to earn the trust of an ally.

Building Trust mentions three points that might be slightly less pertinent to a diplomat: looking for someone with whom to build a relationship, using a go-between to find someone suitable, and approaching someone. These natural offshoots of what a diplomat does might be worth pursuing.  In principle, a go-between is a contact, which is definitely something a Diplomat wants.  Approachability is interesting: It effectively amounts to making a Perception-based Influence skill-roll to see if someone in the crowd is particularly susceptible to your charms, and then "cutting them out" of the crowd, to appeal to them directly more than the rest of the crowd (the dancer who puts on a nice dance but focuses his finest charms to one maiden in the crowd and gives a rose to her specifically), or you can use Empathy, which is another trait useful for the Diplomat.

Cutting out would seem to be an interesting technique, not just for a diplomat, but for the con artist, and any other socially manipulative character.  It's also interesting for diplomats for another reason: under the alliance section it notes that courtship is often used during a negotation.  It is, perhaps, no mistake that Leia was both a diplomat and a princess, as a princess was traditionally used as a bargaining chip during a monarchial negotiation!  Sealing a deal with a marriage might be the sort of thing that happens in Psi-Wars (especially if one of our heroes is in love with said princess that is being married off...).  Drawing romance into politics might be an intriguing element, and not just for diplomats.

If we want to expand both our political and social acumen, mastery of understanding motives and relationships might help a diplomat immensely.  The former is Body Language and Empathy, while the latter is Per-based Psychology or Politics (or Leadership or Sociology or Anthropology, etc).  For Politics, we need Administration, Law and Writing for administrative politics; for democratic politics, you mostly need Politics and perhaps Public Speaking and a variety of complementary skills like Expert Skill (Political Science) or Sociology.

Of course, we don't need to actually use the above rules.  I might include cutting out in Psi-Wars 2, though it's not strictly necessary.  What we're looking for here is how a diplomat would really work, and then looking for skills that might be interesting in an action scenario.  For example, Expert Skill (Political Science) is dreary and tedious, but wins elections. Politics, Public Speaking, Diplomacy and Psychology, on the other hand, are also useful, but have rubber-meets-the-road uses in an action scenario.  Thus we can reasonably say that a character with these could be a diplomat, even though her primary focus is, in fact, action!

A Matter of Law

So far so good, but we have a sticky problem.  Law is key in long-term negotiations, as well as administrative politics.  But what is it actually good for in Psi-Wars?  Or in Action, for that matter?  It's listed in Action as a valid thing you can take, and several characters have it, and thus I've been including it on my templates... but for what purpose?  What does Law do?

From the perspective of Social Engineering, it does everything I've just described, plus it helps you during a trial, and that's it.  That's all Social Engineering discusses.  That's fine, from its perspective, because that's the only real impact Law makes on social engineering.

Having more of a focus on Action, Action 2 has a different tack on Law.  It can assist social engineering with cops, it can help you falsify police records, and it can ensure that all of your evidence (and the arrest you made) is permissible in court.  If you notice a trend, it's that every reference to Law is to Law (Police).  It's not contract law, or courtroom law, it's just law as it pertains to cops, because cops are action heroes and lawyers are not.  This works fine for our Bounty Hunter, but it's problematic for a Diplomat, who doesn't use the law in the same way.

However, we could draw inspiration from how Action uses Law (Police) to work out how Law (International) might work.  When it comes to manipulating police with Law, Savoir-Faire turns out to be more important, but that's likely to be true when dealing with dignitaries as well.  When using a skill to act as a compliment for your social engineering, that is, to add a little oomph to your high pressure social tactics, Politics might seem more appropriate as dignitaries might be more concerned with who is interested in what, but Law might help, in pointing how a particular course of action violates a particular agreement.  Law (Police) might let you falsify police records.  Could Law (International) let you do the same with a treaty?  That seems unlikely, and falsifying credentials (that one is a diplomat) falls under Forgery. What about the equivalent of seeing if your evidence is permissible? That amounts to a Law roll to see if you did everything in accordance with your Legal Enforcement Powers. The same might be if someone did everything within the bounds of their Legal Immunity.

So, we walk away with two possible uses of Law (International): That you can use it to pressure dignitaries, or to get a little extra out of your diplomatic immunity, and to make sure everything you did falls under your diplomatic immunity.  In fact, you might even have some contests between Law (Police) and Law (International) if a bounty hunter is trying to catch a corrupt diplomat (say, an imperial viceroy who's been smuggling relics off the planet).

This suggests that Diplomatic Immunity is a central element of the character, which is hardly surprising as that's what a diplomat is.  It makes the character concept a little less flexible (you can't be, say, a criminal negotiator), but it might still be an interesting concept to explore.

Building the Diplomat

The diplomat combines an excellence in negotiation, cultural mastery and organizational power. The diplomat’s high levels of rank, administrative acumen and her talents benefit her when “Pulling Rank.” Her high levels of diplomacy can outright replace any reaction modifier with little risk to herself, but diplomats also have the option of excelling at having high reaction modifiers. Furthermore, the diplomat always begins with language and a cultural familiarity of the player’s choice: determining which culture the diplomat connects with goes a long way in defining a diplomat as a character. Finally, the diplomat enjoys diplomatic immunity and a mastery of international law, allowing her to know what she can get away with and what she can’t.

Diplomats rival the Mystic below for worst fighter in Psi-Wars. A diplomat does have nominal combat skills and basic training in stealth, appropriate for any Action character, but a diplomat vastly prefers peaceful solutions to violent ones, which is reflected in her disadvantage options.
When building a diplomat, consider what culture she represents and to what culture they speak. A diplomat is almost always a stranger in a strange land, but which strange land says a lot about her.

This can be further customized with additional contacts or favors. Furthermore, consider how much leeway the diplomat has from her organization when choosing your level of Duty: low levels of duty don’t necessarily mean you’re not on the job often, but that your organization gives you plenty of leeway, while high levels of duty means you’re often on call, perhaps from a rather demanding dignitary or tense negotiations, or you simply have a highly rigid hierarchy to which you must adhere.


Attributes: ST 10 [0], DX 12 [40]; IQ 14 [80]; HT 10 [0]

Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs; HP 10 [0]; Will 14 [0]; Per 14 [0]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 6.00 [10]; Basic Move 6 [0]

Advantages: Administrative Rank 4 [20], Cultural Familiarity (Any) [1], Diplomatic Immunity [20], Hard to Kill +2 [4], Intuitive Statesman +1 [10], Language (Any, Native) [6], Lucky [15]; Choose 25 points from IQ +1 [20], HT +1 or +2 [10/level], Perception +1 to +2 [5/level], Will +1 to +2 [5/level], Accent (Any) [1], Alcohol Tolerance [1], Ally (Robot, 50%, almost all the time) [9], Appearance (Attractive, Beautiful or Very Beautiful) [4, 12, 16], Charisma +1 to +4 [5/level], Contact (Foreign Dignitaries, State officials, Royalty; Skill 15, 18 or 21, 9 or less, Somewhat Reliable) [2, 3 or 4], Contact Group (State department, intelligence agency, local tribes; skill 12, 15 or 18, 9 or less, somewhat reliable) [5, 10 or 15], Cultural Adaptability [10], Cultural Familiarity (Any) [1], Sensitive or Empathy [5 or 15], Fashion Sense [5], Favor (Any) [Varies], Hard to Kill +1 to +3 [2/level], High Heeled Heroine [1], Honest Face [1], improve Intuitive Statesmen to up to +4 [5/level], Language (Any) [varies], Language Talent [10], No Hangover [1], Penetrating Voice [1], Rapier Wit [5], Pitiable [5], Resistant to Poison +3 [5], Sartorial Integrity [1], Serendipity [15], Signature Gear [Varies], Signature Ship [varies], Voice [10], Wealth (Comfortable or Wealthy) [10 or 20], or upgrade Luck to Extreme Luck [30] for 15 points or upgrade Rank to Rank 5 [25] for 5 points.

Disadvantages: Choose one of Duty (9, 12 or 15 or less) [-5, -10 or -15] and between -5 and -15 (to a total of -20) points on Chummy [-5] or Gregarious [-10], Code of Honor (Gentleman’s) [-10], Compulsive Carousing [-5*], Honesty [-10*], Obsession (Conclude a specific peace agreement) [-5], Overconfidence [-5*], Pacifism (Reluctant Killer or Cannot Harm Innocents) [-5 or -10], Sense of Duty (Team or Nation) [-5 or -10], Truthfulness [-5*]; Choose another -30 points from the previous disadvantages of from ST -1 to -2 [-10/level], Basic Move -1 or -2 [5/level], Cowardice [-10*], Overweight, Fat or Very Fat [-1, -3 or -5] or Skinny [-5], Gluttony [-5*], Greed [-15*], Laziness [-10], Low Pain Threshold [-10], Post-Combat Shakes [-5*], Secret (Past cover-ups) [-5 to -20], Squeamish [-10*], Vow (Adhere to the word of any agreement) [-5], Vow (Adhere to the spirit of any agreement) [-10], Vow (Refuse no request for aid) [-15], Unfit [-5] or Very Unfit [-10], Xenophilia [-15*], Workaholic [-5].

Primary Skills: Administration (A) IQ1 [1]-14; Diplomacy (H) IQ+41 [16]-18; Law (International) (H) IQ1 [2]-14; Politics (A) IQ1 [1]-14; Savoir-Faire (E) IQ+2 [8]-16; Choose one of Current Affairs (Headline News, People or Politics) all (E) IQ+21 [2]-16, Public Speaking, Propaganda both (A) IQ+11 [2]-15 or Psychology (H) IQ-1 [2]-12;

Secondary Skills: Beam Weapons (Pistol) (E) DX [1]-12; Stealth (A) DX [2]-12; ● Either Brawling (E) DX+1 [2]-13 or Karate (H) DX-1 [2]-11; ● Either Judo (H) DX-1 [2]-11 or Wrestling (A) DX [2]-12; ● Choose four primary skill options or from Dancing (A) DX [2]-12, Area Knowledge, Current Affairs (Any), Gesture all (E) IQ+1 [2]-15, Acting, Connoisseur (Any), Fast-Talking, Merchant, Writing (A) IQ [2]-14, Intelligence Analysis (H) IQ-1 [2]-13, Sex Appeal (A) HT [2]-11, Body Language, Lip Reading, Observation (A) Per [2]-14 or Intimidation (A) Will [2]-14

Background Skills: Computer Operation (E) IQ [1]-14; Navigate (Hyperspace) (A) IQ-1 [1]-13; Pilot (Starship) (A) DX-1 [1]-11; Vacc Suit (A) DX-1 [1]-11; and 20 points chosen from a background lens.

*Modified by Self-Control Rating

1: +1 from Intuitive Statesman
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