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The parley action is the primary action players take while in downtime. While the action takes place in real time, it's an opportunity for players to reflect on the adventure and dive deeper into their PCs' inner concerns, fears, and hopes.

Running Parley

When you run the parley action, you decide whether players have the option to converse with NPCs and/or other PCs. Typically, parley is conducted between two players, but it's possible to do three by alternating the spotlight between them. More than that and it becomes difficult to derive a deep back and forth conversation if everyone is itching to interject.

Facilitating Discussion

Once you've determined who's talking to whom, go around the table and have a player start the conversation with their partner, based on a random prompt (see the Example Parley Prompts table). This conversation should happen in first person, though for players who don't like talking in voice, it's OK to have that back and forth in the third person (e.g., the player says: "Barbara is skeptical of what you're saying, so she tells you she can't trust you," rather than in voice, "What you say is questionable at best. I'll soon learn how much your trust is worth.")

Be the Glue in the Conversation

Your job in the downtime is to act as the glue in the conversation. When there's a pause or a player is uncertain how to respond, you can fill the dead air by further describing the scene, summarizing the stakes of the conversation, or asking the uncertain player how she feels about a specific aspect of what's been said. The goal is to create a safe space for players to embody their characters and grapple with how they're feeling in the moment.

Framing the Downtime

The conversation ends when the PCs either have a revelation (moving the story forward), or come to an impasse (creating a conflict). As the GM, you want to frame the scene in the same way a director might frame a scene in an HBO drama: look for a fitting exit that preserves the momentum of the conversation by moving the spotlight to another pair of players.

Prompting the Parley

Like the other downtime actions, the parley action can be facilitated by having the player whose turn it is to parley roll on a randomized table that reflects the nature of the conversation. You can give each player their prompt first, so they have time to ruminate on the subject matter, then return to the first player in the rotation in reverse order.

Example Parley Prompts

1A Deep-Seated Fear
2A Moment of Triumpth
3A Great Loss
4A Desperate Hope
5An Unrequited Love
6A Sorrowful Betrayal
7A Naive Longing
8A Harrowing Escape
9A Terrible Regret
10A Transformative Pleasure
11A Devastating Humiliation
12A Cruel Decision
These prompts were used in an adventure into the astral veil during "A Quest of Queens."

Rewarding Parley

There are a number of options available to you to reward the parley action, although it is not necessary to reward the action every time. Sometimes players just need to decompress after a harrowing encounter, or are itching to understand each other, and that may be its own reward.

Furthermore, unless the parley is attempting to convince an NPC of something (in which case we'd look to a contested roll to resolve), there is no need to roll anything after a PC engages in parley to determine the nature of the reward.

Consider some of the below options as examples. The reward should always be shared between the players who were paired together in their part of the parley. For the below, as long as a future roll involves the two players acting in concert, they can make use of the reward:

  • Advantage. The PCs each receive 1 roll with advantage in the future.
  • +2 Forward. The PCs receive a +2 on the next roll that involves the two of them.
  • Bond Tag. The PCs create a single story tag that reflects the nature of their conversation, and which can be invoked only once, by either of them.
  • Fate Points. It's rare to award players with a fate point for engaging in parley, but if the interaction is particularly strong, there's no better mechanical benefit in OSR+.

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