As an alternative to the dialogues described, I have two ideas for a diplomacy mechanic:
(I realise that this isn't quite on-topic for the thread, being unrelated to this specific game; these are just thoughts that came from reading the discussion about the diplomacy system, and which I think might work within such a game.)
One might have a variety of "diplomacy abilities" just as one has combat abilities, with successful gameplay relying on which abilities one chooses to use in a given situation: someone is undermining you at court—do you use "spread rumour" (which requires that that you have an appropriate "clue" item to provide the seed of the rumour), gamble with "baseless lie" (for which you might get skill buffs), or use some other skill? This might in part replace the dialogue trees: instead of entering dialogue and choosing a conversation option marked as a lie, which involves an invisible skill-check, you instead choose the "lie" ability from an ability bar, then select a target (which might call for some judgement: different characters might be susceptible to different lies, which one might learn through conversation and rumour). Your character then enters a brief conversation with the character (perhaps including some degree of "fine-tuning" of the lie in order to (hopefully) improve the lie's chances of success, and finally step back and wait.
The result might be like a battle, played out over a longer time-scale and without the bloodshed (on your own hands, at least): enemies are assassinated or cast out of court, allies have their standing improved and do favours for you, etc.
Another, simpler option might be allowing only a single path through each dialogue tree, and delaying many of their effects (such as the spread of a rumour) over time; again, the effects of a given option might depend on the character being spoken with, making each dialogue a matter of judging what to say when, and to whom.
edited 13th May '14 10:50:43 AM by ArsThaumaturgis