Tag Archives: seduction

Genre Thought: Seduction in RPGs

I just got done watching the James Bond movie Goldfinger.  What struck me the most about it is that James saving the day hinged on one critical act, one that he pulls off in each movie – that maneuver we like to call “banging ’em to the good side.”

All his spycraft, sneaking and superspy gear and all were thwarted one after the other.   Goldfinger totally had him at his mercy, wrecked his supercar, crushed his tracking device, had a squad of Koreans sitting on his ass, and the next morning nerve gas was going to kill 40,000 Americans and then a dirty bomb would put a crimp on Fort Knox.  He only had one tool to turn to, and that tool turned the icy professional evil minion Pussy Galore into a total narc in one go.

I so want to do this in an RPG.  Sadly, seduction isn’t part of most of them, or even if allowed at the table is more of a route to quick jollies or a color-only NPC relationship and not really impactful to the plot.  But what if it were?  In another sub-group of our local gaming group, they were running Curse of the Crimson Throne and one of the PCs was a priestess of the goddess of lust, and used her wiles several times to get what she wanted, but it was a bit of a pain to adjudicate; the default D&D interpersonal stuff is too simplistic.

Let’s go back to the best likely source to model this – the actual James Bond RPG!  I picked up this lovely back in the day.  Never played it with its real rules, but did use it for a Feng Shui James Bond game.  Anyway, they have a NPC attitude track very familiar to 3e/4e D&D players – Opposed, Antagonistic, Neutral, Friendly, Enamored.  They have a whole page/subsystem dedicated to persuasion, seduction, and interrogation in turn.   For Seduction, it’s what we nowadays would call a complex skill check.  They define five stages of increasingly high difficulty:

  1. The Look
  2. Opening Line
  3. Witty Conversation
  4. Beginning Intimacies
  5. When and Where?

If you succeed all the way through the path, they reroll their reaction with a large positive modifier.  There are several of Bond’s seductees that don’t hesitate to stay bad.  (Although even they seem to not be able to resist coming back for more sometimes.)

This seems totally easy to convert to d20.  Historically, seduction has been modelled by Bluff vs Sense Motive.  I don’t know that I like that.  It’s one thing if you’re telling the waitress you’re a millionaire looking for a new wife to get a hummer in the bathroom, but many seduction attempts aren’t really deceptive per se (any more than any human interaction)…  James is usually pretty direct about his intentions, though he tries to state it in a more charming way than “I’d like to bone you.”  I prefer Diplomacy.  Or Intimidate if you’re in prison I guess.  Anyway, I’d think you could use your CHA-based social skill of choice.  (Insert Animal Handling joke here.)  What’s the difficulty?  Flat DCs?  No, that’s stupid.  Sense Motive doesn’t make sense unless it’s a bluff, and resisting via Diplomacy seems odd.  Will save is generally the measure of willpower, but there you have save vs. skill scaling problems in 3e. You want to take their current attitude into account, too (though, humorously, the Bond game does not; it’s as easy to seduce an opponent – and really, if you want this to be genre appropriate you probably don’t want that as a modifier).

It’s not d20 if you don’t have some feats to modify it!  Here’s some feats James Bond might have (besides the predictable “better at this” feats):

Slave to the Booty

If you succeed in a seduction attempt against a target, they temporarily move one component on the alignment scale in a direction of your choice.

Comin’ Back For More

If you succeed in a seduction attempt against a target, they are more liable to give in to, or even initiate, additional seduction attempts.  They get a -5 penalty on rolls to resist these attempts.