Social skills: What's the difference between Persuasion & Oratory. ... and more?

So I chose Oratory for my character, to emulate the old sword&chivalry-movies were the hero has a nifty beard, perfect teeth and swagger. I would push Little John from the bridge and tell him to “dry up, my friend, and come join my adventures!” & I won’t be afraid to ruffle up some nobles, since I’m charismatic and charming - and possess a witty tongue. (Could only afford the one trait, though.)

Now, our group is diverted upon how to understand the social skills. I claim that ‘Oratory’ can be used face-to-face*, not just to rouse and stir the masses. I claim it’s the ability to lend credence and strength to an argument/position/belief, by diction and assertivity. I point to ‘Persuasion’ which specifies it’s an ability to come to an agreement, most often by trading favours/agreements.

*) but might suffer additional failure clauses like the target getting insulted or annoyed, or even having a Ob.-penalty attached, since not everyone enjoys beeing told what to do/believe.

‘Falsehood’ is the ability to lie and employ subterfuge to make targets come to decisions (I want) using false knowledge/knowledge set in a different (wrong) light.

‘Ugly truth’ is the ability to strip down situations and arguments to their naked core for all to see, but is hardly a way to get friends.

‘Intimidate’ is bullying and threatening someone to agree/perform, but can easily make enemies.

‘Soothing Platitudes’ is the ability to compliment and suck-up, but not neccesarily without style, and can also be used to avoid having to take a stand on something.

‘Seduction’ - I really just get one use of it, … oh, and the girly variant that seem to be performed at Routine-Ob. all the time. In the Duel of Wits it can be used to incite , I really don’t understand how, but then I’m to a Man of the World.

‘Command’ - is using curt imperatives to achieve action/ (or inaction), best used on those used to beeing commanded; soldiers, pupils,…

I tend to go by what the skill does in DoW, and by what actions in the fiction it makes sense for.

So, I could see allowing any sort of big speechifying to be Oratory. Even if it is to an audience of one. It would depend on the tone of the game though, as Oratory to individuals and pairs really does give it an old school Robin Hood movie feel. Though, the target audience’s nature as well as size matters—those used to being motivated by speeches may be more comfortable with that method even one-on-one. Likewise, you could probably use Rhetoric a whole hell of a lot in academic settings. It would just make you a bit of a standoffish doof but in a game set in a university or whatnot there are going to be several of those and being out argued matters in a way that it doesn’t always in other contexts.

Oh, and Seduction Incites are getting your opponent’s blood boiling—just not via anger.

FWIW, this is how my friends and I always handle it.


At BWHQ, people would throw dice at you for trying to use Oratory on an audience of one.

Yeah, unless you’re demonstrating your speechifying ability (it would be totally appropriate if you were trying to convince a grey eminence to back your candidacy by showing that you know how to woo a crowd) Oratory ain’t much good one-on-one.

Your swaggering skill is probably Conspicuous as much as anything else.

People tend to think, feel and behave very differently when they’re acting as a part of a group from when they’re acting on their own. Whether or not you beleive something will be influenced at least partially by what the other group members believe, and they’ll be influenced by what you believe as well. A skilled orator can capitalize on this fact to set up a series of positive feedback loops, ultimately winning over even the most skeptical of minds by the power of social proof. People are much less susceptible to this when acting on their own, as there are no other people around for the manipulator to set up positive feedback loops with. That’s not to say that an individual can’t be manipulated, but the techniques for doing so are sufficiently different to warrant being a different skill.

If the iconic Robin Hood scene was worthy of a test in an actual game I would call it a Rhetoric test.

Rhetoric is formal logic. It’s presenting facts in an organized fashion. You’re winning them over with logic rather than emotion. Oratory is, as others have mentioned, public speaking: in other words, making speeches. It’s not meant to persuade a single person, but to rouse a crowd, or at least a third party.

If a player insisted on using Oratory one on one, I would whack a massive +ob on the test, plus the price of failure would be being punched in the face for behaving like a twat / committed to an asylum for being mentally unstable.

That’s odd. I remember learning about the rhetoric of Henry V when we studied Shakespeare and he was all about rousing and inspiring people. I was certain it meant persuasion through strength of character and inspirational feelings. But looking at a wikipedia it doesn’t look like it was actual rhetoric after all.

Rhetoric is, according to both standard usage and the book, the use of thoughts and ideas to create a strong, convincing argument. Formal rhetoric makes a study of that, in fact. It’s perfect for DoW; in a one-on-one argument you’d better be arguing with someone of relatively high class or you’re going to sound like a stuck-up nabob.

Oratory is for making speeches. Think about making a speech to one person in real life. You can do it, but it will seem very weird. Normally, one on one, you have a conversation.

Command isn’t exactly a social skill. You could lobby to use it to browbeat a soldier into doing what you want because you sound like an officer, but that’s not what it’s for. It is, instead, for commanding those you have authority over. Keep them in line, keep them moving, keep them from freezing in battle.

Great thread/discussion. :slight_smile: My second BWG session last night included three pivotal Duel of Wits situations and this helps clear up the differences between a few of the skills a lot better in my mind.

As someone who’s gut reaction when presented with a dispute is to do the real life equivalent of a Rhetoric roll with a FoRK from Ugly Truth, let me say that, yeah, trying to use social skills that are inappropriate to the situation can have some nasty consequences, even when successful. Really, it all comes down to Task and Intent.

Also, I could see Command as being used to capitalize on percieved authority combined with the click-whir effect to short circuit people’s critical thinking Milgram-style and get them to do things that the wouldn’t if they actually thought about it. Of course, this requires that the speaker have some kind of social capital to use os leverage, and introduces all kinds of interesting potential consequences of failure.

Rhetoric is basically what you learn in debate class: how to construct a strong, logically sound argument. Unless you can find some facts about the nutritional value of cookies, however, it won’t be much good convincing your mom to let you have another.

I lost my first post, but the gist of it is that I’m pretty sure I see agreements made around our board games using many social skills besides Persuasion. Haggling, Falsehood, Soothing Platitudes and Ugly Truth beeing popular, but both Rhetoric and Oratory see their use, as well as Stenorious Debate and sometimes something that looks like Intimidaton. In some even Seduction plays a roll, though I certainly never fall for some batted eyelashes! Sometimes it seems like the Bargaining skill is beeing used as well, yes the one that deals with devils. :wink:

I’ve used different discussion-skills in other situations as well.

Is the skills really so tightly defined that misuse warrents dice-throwing? (Pun not intended…:P) And don’t Gandalf mainly use Oratory and Intimidation against the non-ringbearer hobbits?

Is one-one-one social rolls always Persuasion, even if I shout and threaten?

I agree, but I made a statement that the use of skill could be a character-statement as well, or at least say something about the pressure the character is under:

[i]Arggh! Dammit, now we’ll lose our main force in the Ghoul Marshes! I don’t have time to work my silver-tongue! (G5 Persuade) “My King! This is madness! How can you trust the Duke on his mere word?! How can you even be sure his scouts are in the marshes?! You can’t throw away the main bulk of your army on the word of someone who’s got that much to lose! Don’t you see the goatee!?!!”

GM: The knights are closing in…

While they do I prepare my B2 Oratory! Can I get a roll? Intimidation- and Strategy-FoRKs? Do I get an advantage for the Goatee? [/i]

I also said I could be inclined to only give a +1Ob. Maybe the King appriciate curt and to-the-point speakers? At least in times of war? For failiure clause I wold add that half the knights think him uncouth and the Duke’s laying him for hatred, but the scene was great - and surely he can’t beat Ob.7, right? :slight_smile:

We chuck dice with very little provocation. Luke usually starts it.

This will be our new house rule. Michael. Consider yourself warned!


No, of course not. Many social skills can be used one-on-one, not just Persuasion. It’s just that Oratory is never one-on-one. Everything else you listed is legitimate, assuming that one of your fellow-players is a Dwarf and thus able to use Stentorious Debate. Rhetoric is a bit of a stretch, actually: it specifically deals with the construction of arguments more than generalized logic. Compare Rule of Law, for instance. If you were for some reason creating gamer characters, I’d absolutely make a School of Thought skill for game rules interpretation rather than relying on Rhetoric. (To give an example, saying “that’s a straw man argument” is an appropriate use of Rhetoric, saying “No, those effects fire simultaneously so both units are still in action until the end of the phase” is kinda iffy but I guess it’s closer to Rhetoric than anything else).

This is a pretty simple principle. You know how you’d throw dice at a player who suggested that he should be allowed to use his B5 Club skill to fight with a sword because his burly ogre-man is just so brutish that he swings it like a club? Likewise you should throw dice at a player who suggests that his charming swashbuckler-man is just so fancy-pants that he should be allowed to use Oratory to talk to one person because he’s playing to the imaginary audience he carries with him. Oratory is, as the rulebook clearly states, a public-speaking skill for addressing crowds. Can you use Bowyer to build a house or Ditch-digging to climb a wall? Of course not.

There are always exceptions. If your character is trying to convince another that he should be the one to give a speech later, he could use Oratory to demonstrate that he’s a great speaker. But that’s a fringe case.

In most cases, it’s clear. Think about what the skill represents, and imagine using it the way you want. Does it make sense? If you’re playing a completely hammy game in which everyone is Othar Tryggvasson, maybe Oratory comes up more. But be aware that that’s not going to make dashing characters, that’s going to make monologuing nuts.

I’ve looked everywhere in BWG, but I can’t seem to find a rule that stipulates a dice-size for table-top use. Last night NkEnNy threw a really big one, and my character ended up bleeding from the arm. If this rule is missing, I’m afraid we’ll one day see worse.

On topic: What skills works on the GM, it seems only Soothing Platitudes and Falsehood functions to any degree - and my Rapier Wit-trait only brings about dice-tossing. It would be nice for a reprint of the adventure-burner with this added, or at least an article on the wiki.

Sometimes they’re the same.

I do agree with Wayfarer, in that in most cases it’s open, though Persuasion seems very easy to justify.

The cool things about not starting out with Persuasion (even though I’m a courtier):

  1. Playing a nice-guy who’s always tempted to lie is really cool.
  2. It’s hard getting what you want = much goody - but hurtful :’( - failures
  3. Will-tests for stat abound, often as rewards for desperate failiures.