NPC Disposition

A handful of suggested mechanisms to gain NPC trust and perhaps manipulate their other mental values:

  1. “Chat” command – Any level – Skill check against Speech, trains it mildly, low boost to speech
  2. “Teach” command – Speech 2+ – Teaches them a recipe. Trains in the relevant skill a small amount. Low boost to speech.
  3. “Train” command – Speech 4+ – Trains them in a skill 1 level. Takes the same amount of time as it does for them to train you.
  4. “Entertainment” command – Any level, but effectiveness raises at higher Speech and with better tools-- Requires stereo system (on), handheld game system, or a handful of other things
  5. “Motivate” command – Speech 7+ – Skill check for a short term boost to trust.
  6. “Smoke” command – Any level, but only some NPCs accept – Smoke a cigarette and laugh about the end of the world. Requires cigarettes and the health drawbacks from smoking them.
  7. “Read” command – Works on multiple NPCs – Read a novel aloud. It turns out suspension of disbelief is a lot easier at the end of the world.

Also, is there a writeup anywhere on what the values shown when you select an NPC in debug mode affect?

I plan to add 2 and 3, but without speech skill limit. Instead it will time out their training timer, meaning it’s either NPC training you or you training NPC.
Higher speech skill could speed up the time it takes for the NPC to gain a skill level.

Rest: no.
It has to either be automatic (NPC just gaining trust for being around you, possibly scaling with your stats/skills) or to consume limited resources (“limited” meaning capped per resource type - say food, drugs, meds).
There won’t be manual NPC cheering, because that would require regular chatting up all of the NPCs around. That would be quite tedious.

I plan to make NPCs get hungry. At first they probably won’t starve, just get hungry, whiny and debuffed. When hungry, feeding them would boost their trust a bit. Same for thirst.
Later on NPCs allowed to use some drugs or “toys” - books, handheld game systems, stereo systems - would slowly gain trust, while consuming batteries, book chapters and of course drug charges.
But that will probably have to wait until I get “dining zones” up, where NPCs can go to find food automatically, to avoid forcing player to manually feed each NPC each piece of bread.

…And, what, Speech would just passively train from being around NPCs long enough? Because as it stands, you read books to raise your ability to talk to people. And that’s… just kind of absolutely ass backwards.

Books generally only allow training up to some small level.

I’d prefer it to mean something (even if just a tiny bit).
Getting it to lvl 1 could come from just not being a total shut-in nerd with no allies, but not above that.
So not just standing around talking about weather and zombie butts, but when training NPCs (to a cap), when doing speech checks to recruit or scare off NPCs and finally from being trained in speech.

It’s totally fine for speaking to be “NPC-locked”. It’s one of the two skills for which it makes perfect sense that you can only get huge levels in by being taught by someone who learned it before cataclysm.