Daily Archives: February 1, 2018

[Let’s Study: Infinity RPG] Part 5c: Psywar


Infinity isn’t just about the guns and tech, if anything, the most thorough of the types of conflict given attention in the game falls to Psywar.

Much in the sense of “social combat” in many modern systems today, Infinity’s take on psywar covers all aspects of social interaction as long as it is meant to change someone’s mind. From board rooms to back alleys, and advertising campaigns to scoring a first date, the psywar conflict system can be used.

Take note that the operational word here is “can”. Not every interaction needs to be funneled through the psywar system.

The essential core of Psywar consists of Metanoia— literally, to affect the changing of someone’s mind. Doing this requires:

  • Gaining either direct or indirect access to your target.
  • Making Psywar attacks in order to create Metanoia, then using the Metanoia Effects to change the target’s beliefs, emotions, reasoning, or actions.

Basic Interactions

Given that there’s no need for a full psyops system in every engagement, Infinity has a few basic interactions outlined that can resort to a simple one roll. These cover persuasion, negotiation and intimidation attempts.

The One Metanoia Conversation

A separate “middle ground” version makes a social encounter into a race to be the first to deal Metanoia on the opponent. It’s gamier than the basic interaction but isn’t a full blown psyop.

Social Zones

Similar to the Infowar section, Psywar also has zones.

Social Zones are a bit different in that they’re more measures of scale. There are four broad types of social zones:

  • Person – Each NPC is treated as it’s own Social Zone.
  • Group – Groups are a network of people who share something in common, but individually count as their own Social Zone. These can be pretty much anything from a hobby club to a secret society. A group is mechanically represented by their Social Zone Effects.
  • Location – Locations, like groups, form a dyadic link between people who frequent that space. What makes locations notable is the fact that they can be accessed via other non-social means like stealth or hacking.
  • Event – A time-bound and perhaps reoccurring event also can serve as a dyadic link. This can be a worship service, or some other sort of occasion that can be exploited by someone looking to enact psyops on a target joins these events.

Access is the key factor in all of these zones. In order to move between two social zones, a character must first gain access to the dyadic link which connects them. This means either being at the right place, the right time, or knowing the right people to make the connection.

Human Terrain Mapping

The first step to Psywar is to figure out the social network surrounding the target. This often begins with figuring out the closest Contact Point to engage. This is usually calculated as a base of 4 modified by the difference in Social Status between the target and the psywarrior.

They can then make an Average difficulty Analysis or Lifestyle test to find the Contact point. Momentum can be then spent to reduce the number of zones on a 1:1 basis to a minimum of 1. Momentum can also be spent to discover alternative Contact Points.

At this stage, the psywarrior can also identify as much of the target’s Social Network, mapping out the various social zones surrounding the intended target, and helping them figure out the ideal approach.

Social Zone Effects

Social Zone Effects model the zone’s social relationships and attitudes with the rest of the social network. These include emotional ties, codes of conduct, community standards, traditional customs, legal obligations and the like.

Examples given in the book include Insular zones that are hostile or suspicious to outsiders, or zones that exhibit a Loyalty or Enmity to a person or cause.

Psywar Actions

Psywar actions are less numerous than those in Warfare but that’s because a lot of the actions taken are skill checks that depend on the approach being taken. That said there are a few actions that are specific to it, such as Bolstering allies to grant Morale Soak to allies, Disengaging from a social encounter, or Rallying people around themselves.

Psywar Techniques

Since you don’t really have equipment or weapons for Psywar, you have techniques instead. These are different tools or approaches that can be used to overcome a target’s Resolve. These include Deception, Intimidation, Negotiation, spreading Rumors or even Seduction.

Metanoia Effects

Psywar inflicts its own particular brand of interesting effects upon successfully inflicting Metanoia upon a target. These range from Making or Breaking a Social Connection, Forcing someone to take a particular action, Forge Friendships, Gain information or Influence Beliefs.

Psywar is complex because of its scope, but also perhaps because of the vocabulary. Concepts like Metanoia, Dyadic Links and Intransigence needed to be brought up early ahead of time, to make them much more easier to understand. They had sidebars for Metanoia, but Dyadic Links and Intransigence had me looking up Google as English isn’t my first language, and I suspect that these terms aren’t exactly commonplace.

That said I loved what they tried to do with it. From my read through it feels like a solid attempt to build a scalable social combat mechanic that has enough moving parts for those who want it, while still having a variant that can be applied by people who don’t.

If you’d like to read along, you can grab the PDF from DriveThruRPG for only $24.99!

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