I just read an article by +Kasimir Urbanski that made me think about what is required to design good social encounters in adventures.

Combat encounters tend to be real easy to setup, especially in systems like D&D which feature threat ratings per monster and standard tactics as part of a monster manual.
Adventures also tend to feature a ton of info for the (almost inevitable) combat too as most npc's get stats with their favourite weapons.
As such even total newbies like me manage to roll their own. It's not that hard and failing that you can call of the reinforcements you had planned or add extra (or cheat).

But what about social encounters that are important to the plot/adventure ?
How do you plan those ?
Do you approach it like one of those puzzles the party has to solve and plan a few hints for players who do skill checks ?

Are there any games that feature some kind of 'social combat' mechanic or have more advice than "just roleplay it" ?

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