Inner-Party conflicts and how to solve them


Pathfinder Society

Silver Crusade

Hi,

I recently ran a scenario which ended with a moral dilemma. The choice was basically between "We can work together with these crooks and really help the Society or we do what's 'right'."
This ended in a seemingly unsolvable conflict between our paladin (who wanted to work with the crooks, arguing that the Society's work at the worldwound was more important than the wishes of a few people who wouldn't even really be harmed, just imprisoned with high comfort) and the ranger who refused to even budge a little.
Democracy was quickly abandoned because both character were convinced their way of doing it was the right one.
This went on for quite some time and when they left the room to argue out of earshot of the crooks (where the paladin tried to explain to the ranger that they could still go after them AFTER they had what they wanted - though it would take at least a few months ingame) I decided that the villain used this very moment to attack. The group was missing two party members, the discussion didn't really go his way and most important of all our time ran out, so I had to act.

Still - it did not feel too good to basically say "Time's up, roll initiative".
It occured to me to just say "Okay, your characters will not budge here. How about you to an OOC vote and if you lose your character will be convinced?", but that didn't sit right with me.

How do you solve seemingly unsolvable inner party conflicts?


This is partially a game design problem. Look at the core rules. If we want to resolve something with combat, there's a whole chapter on how to do that. Plus a chapter on equipment, much of which is used in combat. Plus a chapter on spells, much of which is used in combat.

Now, look at the chapter on persuading others. Don't see one? Hmm, that may be the root of the problem. Since the machanics for this are 'just RP your character', there's no system to resolve disagreements.

This is also why in-party didagreements often turn into fights. Because that's the only conflict resolution in the game.

Best solution in character is probably teaching players how to negotiate. Use 'yes, but...' Instead of 'no' at the beginning of your sentence. If that fails, try opposed Diplomacy checks, or break out the social combat deck.

Out of combat, inform the players that if we don't, as a group, come to some sort of a decision, there's no adventure, just two hours of shouting. Since no one came for that, we, as a group, have to move on. If you feel SO strongly, your character has the option to bail from the group, and you'll get a chronicle right now, and everyone else gets to keep playing.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Starfinder Superscriber

What might help here is some sort of "Democracy clause" in the PFS Guide to OP. (Since this is a PFS forum, we're talking PFS solutions, rather than generic solutions for all home games.)

This could even be written in character.

The Pathfinder Society knows that when it sends its field agents on missions, they can come across questions and situations where the right decision is not obvious. It is natural for agents working together on a mission to disagree on the right choice of action. In the field, it can be impractical to defer to your Venture-Captain for advice in such a situation. It is important to remember that "Cooperate" is a core value and charge to all Society field agents. Agents are encouraged to make their case for their own position. However, if a situation arises where different conflicting choices are available to a group of field agents, and consensus cannot be reached, then the choice of actions that the agents take will be determined by a vote of all field agents present. Those who disagree with the situation will recognize that even if they disagree with the choice of the group, it is their duty as a member of the Pathfinder Society to support the group's decision.

I've seen games more or less ruined (devolving into nothing but bickering situations) because players are playing characters with unswerving codes of honor who refuse to budge from what they think their character sees as the right thing to do. This can be interesting from a story perspective, but it's not entirely consistent with some of the built-in assumptions of most RPGs. (That is, a party of three to six heroes each of whom considers herself to be the main character in the story.) If you want the game to work, you almost have to create a character willing to budge and bend a bit in order to work with others. Yes, that cuts off some character concepts, but some character concepts realistically wouldn't stay together with other strong personalities long term.

Disagreement and debate between party members can be roleplaying gold, but if it devolves to bickering, or if you get past the interesting roleplaying bits and just have people refusing to work together, or (worse) if it devolves to PvP because nobody wants to budge, then it becomes annoying and frustrating rather than interesting roleplaying. I have not really seen this much myself in PFS games, but have seen a number of PBEM and PbP "home games" basically destroyed by it. If it is a common enough problem in PFS, it might be worth writing in a resolution, and also adding a "duty to the Society" clause so that paladins and the like will see the reason to go along with it.

Silver Crusade

Anonymous Visitor: If this weren't a PFS game, I'd have no problem with characters going at each others throats or turning the whole thing into an adventure of itself (seemingly budge, then acting behind the party members back) - however, this is a PFS game, so that is not an option.
The "bail from the group" thing is really not an option though - if you were really opposed to something you'd try to stop it, not just turning a blind eye. I see your point, though.

Thank you, rknop. I never really noticed that paragraph.
So that's a written statement of "If your character really, really does not want that to happen and he's alone with his, he will have to suck it up and deal with it." - that is really, really good to know. If a character repeatedly refuses to bow to the majority's choice, do you think it would be reasonable to threaten actions by the (ingame) Venture Captains? (Theoretically, of course. I do not think it would come to that from an OOC point of view, but you might never know)

EDIT: ...I cannot read. You did not cite the Guide but merely suggested to add a paragraph like this, right? Well...yeah, that might be a good idea...

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Anonymous Visitor 163 576 wrote:

This is partially a game design problem. Look at the core rules. If we want to resolve something with combat, there's a whole chapter on how to do that. Plus a chapter on equipment, much of which is used in combat. Plus a chapter on spells, much of which is used in combat.

Now, look at the chapter on persuading others. Don't see one? Hmm, that may be the root of the problem. Since the machanics for this are 'just RP your character', there's no system to resolve disagreements.

This is also why in-party didagreements often turn into fights. Because that's the only conflict resolution in the game.

This is kind of like blaming game design for having two players bring Mountain Dew to the game instead of one of them bringing Mountain Dew and one of them bringing Cheetos, because the game did not provide adequate information on how to handle game snacks etiquette.

Real life social skills are life skills, not game skills. I would no more expect my Pathfinder Core Rule Book to have extensive sections on social interaction than I would my high school math book. Real life social interaction are way too complex and variable to be covered in a game rulebook, and what works for one group of people may not work for another.

Having a game mechanic that allows you to "get your way" in game would result in power gamers cheesing the mechanic in order to bully everyone else at the table. That's even worse than giving no solution at all.

Dark Archive 5/5 5/55/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Upper Midwest aka Silbeg

Blackbot, I can't say I wouldn't have done anything differently, but I do like rknop's idea. As a GM I wouldn't force the issue, but might suggest to the players that their training has taught them that sometimes a vote is needed, in order that the mission be completed. As long as it doesn't cause something like a Paladin to fall, that is.

I would also drop hints that the folks that they are dealing with are starting to get annoyed, as a warning that they should hurry up and decide.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

In this particular case (I assume you're referring to the same adventure as in the PFS GM forum), I think the paladin was rather on a dubious path. As in, morally hazardous.

In the more general case, if it looks necessary to step in as GM, I'd propose the following;

1) if players can't reach consensus, I suggest they take a vote.

2) if one choice would actually go so far as to risk a paladin falling or similar fate to a PC, I'd suggest that player gets a right to veto, based on the "don't be a jerk rule". He doesn't have to exercise his right, but it's entirely fair for a player to refuse to lose his character.

As a GM, you must be upfront with players of paladins and similarly precarious classes on whether their decision would constitute a fall risk.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber
Blackbot wrote:
Thank you, rknop. I never really noticed that paragraph.

I accidentally misled. That paragraph isn't in the PFS Guide... I was proposing that something like it should be.

Dark Archive 5/5 5/55/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Upper Midwest aka Silbeg

Still, I think that it was pretty well thought out.

I may copy it, and print it out in case I run into a situation like this. Could come I. Handy (or just get laughed at!)

Silver Crusade

Ascalaphus wrote:

In this particular case (I assume you're referring to the same adventure as in the PFS GM forum), I think the paladin was rather on a dubious path. As in, morally hazardous.

In the more general case, if it looks necessary to step in as GM, I'd propose the following;

1) if players can't reach consensus, I suggest they take a vote.

2) if one choice would actually go so far as to risk a paladin falling or similar fate to a PC, I'd suggest that player gets a right to veto, based on the "don't be a jerk rule". He doesn't have to exercise his right, but it's entirely fair for a player to refuse to lose his character.

As a GM, you must be upfront with players of paladins and similarly precarious classes on whether their decision would constitute a fall risk.

I didn't consider the paladin falling a risk here. I'm one of those GMs who tend to be lenient with this - if the paladin kills the virginial sacrifice as a last resort to stopping Asmodeus from walking the earth, I won't let him fall, but expect him to roleplay the torment his conscience will give him. But that's really leaving the path of this topic.

I also don't think I ran into too many situationes in the society where a paladin could fall. Though no situation survives player contact, right?

I think something like Silbeg mentioned could work - "Be reminded that you are all pathfinders. To cooperate is one of the three foremost duties as a pathfinder and your training taught you that sometimes the mission is more important than your personal quarrels. As a pathfinder agent you are considered a valuable member, but everyone else in your group is, too, so a pathfinder only considering his own agenda will not be tolerated for too long."

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Spain—Madrid

Ascalaphus wrote:

In this particular case (I assume you're referring to the same adventure as in the PFS GM forum), I think the paladin was rather on a dubious path. As in, morally hazardous.

In the more general case, if it looks necessary to step in as GM, I'd propose the following;

1) if players can't reach consensus, I suggest they take a vote.

2) if one choice would actually go so far as to risk a paladin falling or similar fate to a PC, I'd suggest that player gets a right to veto, based on the "don't be a jerk rule". He doesn't have to exercise his right, but it's entirely fair for a player to refuse to lose his character.

As a GM, you must be upfront with players of paladins and similarly precarious classes on whether their decision would constitute a fall risk.

I don´t like veto rule. In that case, what is the reason to discuss with a paladin? You are going to lose always.

I consider better if paladin sincerely tried to convince rest of the group of not to follow that way. In that case, the group actions have no paladin fall consequences. Is not paladin´s player fault, and rest of group feels a liberty of action sensation.

5/5

Agreed with Miguel here.

Instead, let everyone explain thier feelings once, the give one vote. Explain that if a pally votes no and group does it he will not fall.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Fair enough; my main concern is that other peoples' decisions don't ruin a character. Holding the paladin blameless if he's outvoted works for me as well.

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