Looking at one formula for social interactions may give us what we need to determine a standardized method of negotiating with the local rulers in our fantastic game of Dungeons of the Catan Horror. The basic formula goes like this: introduction, bargaining, conclusion. If we’re talking essays, you’d have one paragraph to tell the ruler what you want, two to tell them why, and one paragraph for wrap-up.

So, let’s break it down then, like we’ve actually got a social encounter that we’re trying to resolve. We have our introduction, and I think we should be able to do a lot of things with this. For instance, the player may present the ruler with a gift, essentially bribing them to listen, they could perform a nice song, lie to get their attention, or make big, loud threats. This is the most flexible part of the audience.

The players can make up to three attempts during the introduction phase, even if the Challenge has a complexity of one, such as for a simple trade, and only requires four successes. Failures count against this total, so if the players flub two introduction attempts, they can only make one more before they have to move on to the matter at hand. Introductions are the only checks that allow for “gifts” (bribery).

The players must attempt at least one introduction, and how they perform during the introduction phase will impact the rest of the audience. Each successful attempt during the introduction phase grants the players a cumulative +2 bonus to all attempts during the conclusion. Each failed attempt during introductions imposes a cumulative -1 penalty to all attempts made during the bargaining phase.

Once they’ve completed the introduction phase, the players move on to the bargaining phase, where they present their reasoning for whatever goal they have, provided with supporting evidence and whatnot. The Bargaining Phase can take much different forms depending on which faction the player is negotiating with. The spiritual faction will accept Religion, while the military faction will accept Intimidate.

The players can make up to ten attempts as part of the bargaining phase, and these attempts are most dependent the faction in question, any Resources required for construction, and the goal of the negotiations. Intellectual leaders will value knowledge and reasoning, Military leaders will value action and results, Spiritual leaders will value insight and compassion, and so on, and so forth.

The players must attempt at least one bargain.

If the players haven’t reached the number of successes necessary to complete the Challenge, or if they volunteer to move on after having made at least one Bargaining attempt, they move on to the Conclusion. Successful introductions pay off, as the players get a +2 bonus to each Conclusion attempt for each.

The players can make up to three attempts during the Conclusion, but it’s entirely possible for them to never reach this stage, if they wind up spending all of their time in Introductions and Bargaining. If they don’t come up with enough successes to complete the Challenge after three attempts, they fail the Challenge.

Participating players gain experience from the Negotiation Challenge, whether they succeed or fail, assuming they complete at least four successful attempts. In the case of a simple Challenge, (complexity 1) this is the same as completing the Challenge successfully. They gain experience as though they had defeated an enemy of a level equal to the Challenge.

For every two successes after that, they gain experience as though they defeated another enemy of the appropriate level. Your earliest audiences/negotiations will be against 4th-level rulers and their courts, and therefore, completing a complexity-one Challenge is worth the same experience as a 4th-level monster. Completing a complexity-three Challenge is worth three monsters.

In Summary:

1. Introduction Phase (1-3 attempts):
The players make at least one, and at most three, separate Introduction attempts before moving to the Bargaining Phase. Each successful Introduction attempt grants a +2 bonus to attempts during the Conclusion, while each failed attempt imposes a -1 penalty to attempts made during the Bargaining Phase.

2. Bargaining Phase (1-10 attempts):
The players make at least one, and at most ten, separate Bargaining attempts before either completing the Challenge or moving on to the Conclusion. If they failed one or more attempts during the Introduction Phase, each of their Bargaining attempts suffers a cumulative -1 penalty for each failed Introduction attempt.

3. Conclusion (0-3 attempts):
The players make at least one, and at most three, separate Conclusion attempts before completing the Challenge. If they attempt three Conclusions before attaining the minimum number of successes for the Challenge (4, 6, 8, 10, or 12), they gain experience points but their negotiations fail.

Each successful attempt during the Introduction Phase grants their Bargaining attempts a cumulative +2 bonus, for each successful Introduction attempt.