What is a social mechanic? Social mechanics are how player characters can influence other player characters (and NPC's). What WoD (and diaspora/fate) are are action adventure games.
WoD has a few "social" skills but they are poorly executed and they are not a "social mechanic".
Also, there is no specific mechanics to cover other social type situations. For example, if I want to play a political game, I can't. We can talk politics, but when we *play* the tools are skills and combat.
This confuses me. I don't know how you separate out "skills" from "social mechanic" when some of those skills are social ones. D&D (3.5) has a social mechanic(s): diplomacy, bluff, intimidate, and so on. You can arguably add Charm, et al. spells to that list, too. I'm playing Witcher 2 nowadays, and that's a good example of implementation charm as a social skill.
By comparison, Burning Wheel and Mouseguard have what is essentially social combat (which I believe is better implemented than BW's normal combat but that's neither here nor there).
Does Josh just mean by "social mechanic" something like social combat? Or, maybe more correctly, that it has to involve something along the lines of different "maneuvers" like rebuttal, etc. so that D&D's admittedly paltry skill checks don't qualify as a "mechanic"? I'd say that they are both mechanics, as I think that term is quite general, just one set is much more elaborate than the other, but it could be a terminological confusion. Further, I'm also confused b/c, if I am recalling correctly, BW's and MG's social combat really is just a set of stringed skill checks with maneuvers to modify them -- that's how everything in that system (more or less) works.
If what is meant that they don't have an elaborate or really well-developed social mechanic, or even that a real social mechanic is buried in a splat book somewhere (Requiem for Rome, I believe, or Mirrors), then I think those are true statements. I just think it might be confusing to other people when you frame it as "they do not have a social mechanic" -- that doesn't seem strictly true or at least requires a very specific meaning of the term "mechanic" that is not obvious to me. Although to be fair, I've heard this quote totally out of context.
And, further, I agree that White Wolf is, mechanically, an action-adventure game that often tries to want to be a political social intrigue game but doesn't actually do much to support it. It mostly just supports mind-whammy action-adventure.
P.S.: what games have good social mechanics in them? Besides Burning Wheel, which I am already familiar with and may decide to cannibalize anyway.