One of my favorite movies is Lion in Winter. There is very little action in this film. Instead there is a lot of dialog and political intrigue. Mandatory action scenes where the party must kill or be killed often bog down the session. The Lion in Winter contains threats of violence and schemes but no killing. Some of the most enjoyable gaming session I have played and run have little or no action. I remember one long gaming session where the players debated for three hours what they wanted to do. It was a wonderful opportunity as a game master to write down all the wild ideas the players came up with.
I love a gaming session where neither the players nor game master need to pick up a pair of dice or consult a rule book. The goal of role playing should be role playing not rolling dice. I find political intrigue a powerful asset in the game master’s kit.
The party wanders into a small village. One of the members of the party is a third level cleric. The village cleric (note there is only one) is only second level. The village cleric is immediately concerned the player character is after his or her job.
The village constable only want to keep the peace. He is concerned the party might cause trouble with all their weapons and equipment.
One prominent member of the town is worried the new-comers might bring in subversive ideas. He/she feels the village must protect the children from the corrupting influence of outsiders.
The key is to let the party in on the intrigue. In the scenario where the village cleric is concerned about his/her job you could have a young boy/girl approach the party and ask, “Can I be your altar boy when you take over the Sanctuary?”
Again there is no need for melee. The village cleric may even try to bribe the party to leave. This provides an opportunity for part to gain treasure or information without swinging a sword or rolling dice.