Archive for July 11th, 2008

Class in Agonia

2008 Jul 11

Eric and I had a discussion yesterday about how to implement the class-based distinctions I was interested in having, but we haven’t really settled on a solution yet, though we proposed several. Help?

 me: basically, i think what’s going to happen is non-nobles roll their Master’s Name, as if they’re minions
  all their acts are for the glory of their lord
 Eric: Huh. So it’s an either-or, then?
 me: where nobles roll their own Name
 Eric: You have either a vassal die or a name die, but nobody has both..
 me: yeah, they’re functionally the same, but mostly color
4:40 PM i want to get at class differences somehow
 Eric: Why? Serious question regarding its functional appeal to you.
  Color? Shaping interpersonal conflict?
4:41 PM Something else?
 me: that’s a critical part of the crusaderpunk flavor for me, heirarchy
  the uncaring and largely incompetant state + religious bureaucracy
4:43 PM Eric: I think “state” is a bit of a misnomer, since the political system in Europse that you’re talking about can be justly described as institutionalized armed robbery, but more importantly, how does that inform play?
  If my vassal die and Sean’s name die are mechanically identical, I’m not sure how much I “feel” the difference.
 me: i’m not 100% sure, which is why the implementation is confused
4:44 PM there could be mechanical things, like only allowing nobles to roll Orate in conflicts to pick scenes
  or having debts work differently between nobles and commoners
  but i’m not sure if that’s worth the trouble
4:45 PM Eric: Off the top of my head, you might consider breaking the symmetry of the two. Maybe nobles get their name die to combat rolls, but not to ability rolls, and vassals work the opposite.
  The nobility is founded in monopolization of violence, after all.
4:46 PM And that certainly forces a hierarchy: the plebes are better at all the actually-useful, productive skills, but the nobles can bully them constantly.
4:47 PM So, the useful production of the nobility is face-stabbing others and not-face-stabbing you.
  The useful production of everyone else is everything else.
4:48 PM Thoughts?
 me: yeah, that sounds right
  i like the nobles in the group having leadership, but the peasants not being thrilled to assist them
  passing lots of d4s etc.
4:49 PM perhaps the nobles can chain-delegate Oaths to people who owe them Oaths?
4:50 PM Eric: Armed coercion is certainly a way to encourage dissent. While you’re at it, you could change the default scene-choice ability from Orate to something violent.
  Say, everyone picks their best Battle skill. The nobles bring in their name dice, since its a battle skill, and the peasants get hosed.
4:51 PM me: you could do something simple like allow the nobles the real power on choosing scenes but giving the peasants a bonus to refresh
4:52 PM like a +2 to all refresh rolls
 Eric: I feel like that’s pushing the theme of hierarchy away from play and into rules quirks.
 me: and nobles get +2 to Orate in scene choosing
  fair enough
  rules complexity is not what i want, necessarily
4:55 PM Eric: If your rules encourage me as a noble to bully or physically threaten my team-mates to get my way, then a hierarchy based on physical coercion is emergent through play. Regardless of implementation, I think that’s a good goal to shoot for: incentivize the nobles strongly to be bullies to their non-noble partymates.
4:57 PM me: right, and that works well because it’s a competitive game anyway
  inter-party resentment drives play
 Eric: That could be asymmetric glory rewards for challenging scene-framing (nobles get glory when they win, peasants don’t), bonuses to do so, both, or whatever, but yeah. Other asymmetric rewards would be things like bonus oaths.
4:58 PM Ideally, the peasants have something similar on their side, say bonus glory for craft-related successes or something.
4:59 PM Anyway, heading to a meeting.
 me: later, thanks
5:01 PM how about: peasant oaths to nobles are not cancelled until you help a noble actually succeed on a roll?
  so you can keep passing d4s, but you’re likely to stay in debt
6:29 PM Eric: Hmmm…
  seems very abusable to me.
6:30 PM You’d need to be careful about the rule.