"Forcing" the opposition to spend scenes?

I’m not sure if this is a question or just something I’d like to noodle over with other BE devotees. Maybe it’s a question I think I already have an answer to, but I want to check my work.

Some uncertainties have come up in the BE game I’m playing in and in the BE game I’m running about whether winning a Duel of Wits can “force” an opponent to spend scenes - a builder, a conflict, or whatever. To use an example from the game, if I win a compromise in a Duel of Wits and require my opponent to make peace with an enemy of his, is he required to use a builder (or even a conflict) to do that, or should the group just assume an interstitial will do?

My answer (and the one I’m sticking to in the game I am running) is “maybe.” What’s the fiction require? If he’s an enemy, it probably doesn’t follow for an interstitial alone to convince him to make peace - but it just might! Let’s get to the scene, roleplay it out, and if it’s necessary to fire up a builder or conflict (which’ll depend a lot on the enemy’s BITs, I should think), we’ll do so. Some players think that’s…I don’t know if “unfair” is precisely how they put it, but they think it sounds off, but as part of the resolution of the Duel of Wits we should assume these events happen, since they were agreed to when we set Bodies of Argument. I countered that a Duel of Wits compels an action, and it follows that if you agree to do something you may be expected to put scenes down to back it up. Then there was some discussion about optimal Duel of Wits strategy, aiming for stuff that’s likely to force your opponent to burn scenes to accomplish if you win your Duel of Wits intent, but I wasn’t really interested in taking it to that level.

What’s the general consensus on this?


Well, it’s a tricky one.

On the one hand, if as a duel of wits compromise I agree to swear fealty to you if you replace my burnt-out Iron, it’s perfectly reasonable that you’d need to spend a builder (or at least a test or two) getting some Iron for me. Likewise if PC “Frank” is fighting with PC “Jill”, and then Frank in a Duel with a GM character is required to make peace with Jill, it makes sense that he’ll need to offer her something.

On the other hand, if I, as GM, with GMFON “Billy,” hit you with a Duel in which I force you as a compromise to make peace with GMFON “Wanda,” and at that time it seems like Wanda would of course be cool with that (maybe she’s getting her ass kicked and has already asked for a cease-fire but you turned her down) and then when you open up an interstitial to say “Remember when you wanted that cease-fire? I’m willing to sign now” but all of a sudden Wanda won’t play ball? That’s rather under-handed.

So yes, it is absolutely legit to request compromises (or stakes, of course) that require someone to spend a scene. (They don’t necessarily need to do so this maneuver, though.) It’s a dick move, though, if you ask for a compromise that looks like it’s about one thing (as, for instance, Billy trying to save Wanda) but all along I know that I’m going to twist it into something else by using the fact that it’s a Duel consequence as leverage.

It’s also probably legit for the PC in my “bad” example to just say “Well, the compromise requires me to make peace, which I am willing to do, but it doesn’t require me to give anything else up. So, Wanda, I’m declaring peace as of right now. If you want to keep fighting, though, I’ll consider that a fresh casus belli.”

EDIT: Also, remember that a conflict scene doesn’t have to end the moment someone’s dispo hits zero. If a compromise or BoA result requires one party to make a concession, and it makes sense for that to be part of the same scene, that’s legit. This is especially true of duels that take place in official surroundings. It’s even possible to make a test or two if appropriate. If we have a formal debate in High Court, and your victory forces me to speak in support of your war declaration, I could make an Oratory test right there that you could use as a linked test for some other court political test you were going to make.

Devin’s got it.