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Author Topic: Eclipse: Social Interaction Mechanics  (Read 4058 times)
Ben O'Neal
Member

Posts: 294


« on: March 28, 2004, 06:35:41 PM »

Eclipse: Social Interaction Mechanics

The social interaction mechanics in Eclipse are fairly complex in theory (in practise they are pretty straightforward), and may or may not be intuitive or even make any sense at all depending on how you understand psychology. I'll admit up-front that these mechanics are not 100% comprehensive, but I feel that in terms of what they do allow/cover compared to their complexity I have found a good compromise. I'd also like to make a little disclaimer right now and say that whilst these mechanics might seem very Freudian, I am not an advocate of his theories of self, but I do find that they are sufficiently simple and comprehensive to turn into a mechanic.

To understand the mechanics at all, you may need to stretch your imagination a bit to see where I'm coming from. For starters, for the sake of simplicity, I am taking a completely egocentric view of all interaction. This means that a relationship is not defined by an abstract "thing" that exists like some kind of invisible link between two people, but instead is defined by the feelings of the individuals involved. Furthermore, I have boiled down the basis of the feelings involved as being defined by how an individual feels about their self in relation to the other person, as opposed to how the individual feels about the other person per se. For example, if you like someone, it is not the case that you hold a complete construct of that person within your mind which somehow brings you happiness, but instead that something about that person makes you like yourself. That "something" could be anything, from how they would make you look good in public (whether by being beautiful themselves or by being a favourable comparison), to the compliments they shower you with. But the underlying reason you like them is not "they said I was pretty", but "the things they say make me like myself more". Does this make sense so far? I hope so, because if not, then the rest might be even harder to grasp.

So the core principle I am working with is the concept of ones Ego. For the sake of mechanics, I am using two types of Ego -the Core Ego, and the Social Ego. The Core Ego is defined as the central ego; the way you feel about yourself when alone, and is fairly stable over time and situation (I say "fairly" stable, because it can change, as will be seen later). The Social Ego is defined as how you feel about yourself in relation to/in the presence of another person, and is only important in relation to/in the presence of that other person. You only have one Core Ego, but you have as many Social Egos as you have established, each one specifically "keyed" to a specific other person. Still with me? Good!

There are 9 attributes, 5 of which are important for social interaction (yes I understand that killing other people is a form of social interaction, but that's not what I mean right now :)

Power      -Not applicable for Social Interaction
Constitution   -Not applicable for Social Interaction
Speed      -Not applicable for Social Interaction
Agility      -Not applicable for Social Interaction
Crystal      -Memory and learning potential
Fluid      -Perception, analytical ability, logic, quick-thinking, complexity of thought
Flame      -Emotional aptitude, sensitivity, compassion, interpersonal understanding
Beauty      -External and internal physical attractiveness
Influence   -Persuasiveness, force of will, influence on the fabric of existence



Core Ego
The Core Ego shouldn't be too hard to understand. It simply measures how good you feel about yourself. The Core Ego runs along a positive/negative scale with a centre of 0. A negative Core Ego means you are depressed/don't like yourself etc. Obviously a positive Core Ego means you like yourself. Theoretically, there is no limit to how high or low ones Core Ego can be, but when your Core Ego hits -50, you are intent on killing yourself.

Your Core Ego is calculated by the modifiers for Flame, Beauty, and Influence added together, and you then subtract your Crystal and Fluid modifiers. My reasoning for the negative influence of Fluid and Crystal is that more intelligent people and people with better memories are more likely to engage in introspection and have higher standards for themselves. This is my half-arsed attempt to factor the Freudian concept of "Super-Ego" (to really take this into account would make all social interaction far more complex that it already is, and then I'd have to include the "Id" concept, exacerbating the problem further).

There are benefits/penalties for having a high/low Core Ego. These are organised into "brackets" (if someone could suggest a better term, I'd be happy to hear it), like [+1 to +10], [+11 to +20], [-1 to -10] etc. I haven't yet figured out all the benefits for all of the brackets, but below are the ones I'm pretty positive will be final:

[-50 onwards]   -Suffer -5 to all rolls, -3 to all attributes
[-41 to -50]   -Suffer -4 to all rolls, -2 to all attributes
[-31 to -40]   -Suffer -3 to all rolls, -1 to all attributes
[-21 to -30]   -Suffer -2 to all rolls
[-11 to -20]   -Suffer -1 to all rolls
[-1 to -10]   -No penalties
[+1 to +10]   -No benefits
[+11 to +20]   -Benefit from +1 to all rolls
[+21 to +30]   -Benefit from +2 to all rolls
[+31 to +40]   -Benefit from +3 to all rolls, +1 to all attributes
[+41 to +50]   -Benefit from +4 to all rolls, +2 to all attributes
[+50 onwards]   -Benefit from +5 to all rolls, +3 to all attributes

I will most likely provide a brief qualitative summary of what such Core Ego scores might mean in terms of personality changes and outlooks and stuff, and I'm pretty sure I'll have other benefits from some of the brackets when I think of them.

While it might look as though a bonus to rolls and a bonus to attributes is redundant, it isn't. A bonus to attributes can increase things (like derived attributes) that do not require rolls, such as a spellcaster's Flow Pool, a character's Luck, Learning Thresholds, and many other things.

Aside from increasing the important attributes (Crystal, Fluid, Flame, Beauty, and Influence), there is no way for any character to directly influence their Core Ego.



Social Egos
Like the Core Ego, Social Egos are measured on a bipolar scale with 0 as the centre. A Social Ego score is interpreted as "how I feel about myself: -regarding that other person -in relation to that other person -when I'm around that other person". In this way, the Core Ego could be interpreted as "how I feel about myself: -regarding myself -in relation to my ideals -when I'm alone". Unlike the Core Ego, you can have more than one Social Ego, and all Social Egos start at 0. You only need to record a Social Ego if you wish to establish some sort of relationship with another person, or if they establish one with you (I'll get to this a bit later). Social Egos are recorded on your character sheet as: SE (name of person) ##. For example, if my character felt good about himself in relation to a girl named Mary, on my character sheet I would have SE (Mary) +14.

As with the Core Ego, there are benefits/penalties for having high/low Social Egos. These bonuses come in two forms: to rolls made in the vicinity of the person (in the same room if indoors, or within 600ft outdoors), and to rolls made against the person (regardless of whether the roll will be beneficial or detrimental):

[-50 onwards]   -Suffer -5 to rolls in vicinity, +5 against, -5 to Core Ego
[-41 to -50]   -Suffer -4 to rolls in vicinity, +4 against, -4 to Core Ego
[-31 to -40]   -Suffer -3 to rolls in vicinity, +3 against, -3 to Core Ego
[-21 to -30]   -Suffer -2 to rolls in vicinity, +2 against, -2 to Core Ego
[-11 to -20]   -Suffer -1 to rolls in vicinity, +1 against, -1 to Core Ego
[-1 to -10]   -No penalties
[+1 to +10]   -No benefits
[+11 to +20]   -Benefit from +1 to rolls in vicinity, -1 against, +1 to Core Ego
[+21 to +30]   -Benefit from +2 to rolls in vicinity, -2 against, +2 to Core Ego
[+31 to +40]   -Benefit from +3 to rolls in vicinity, -3 against, +3 to Core Ego
[+41 to +50]   -Benefit from +4 to rolls in vicinity, -4 against, +4 to Core Ego
[+50 onwards]   -Benefit from +5 to rolls in vicinity, -5 against, +5 to Core Ego

"Now hold on!" I hear you say, "shouldn't I get a bonus to rolls made against someone who makes me feel good about myself?". No. This is why doctors aren't allowed to operate on people they know. Also, it makes it harder to be charming to someone when you are infatuated with them, because you are not thinking as clearly as you should be able to. It also makes it harder to offend someone who makes you feel good, not because it's harder for them to be offended, but because it's harder for you to muster your best offence (works for attacking people who make you feel good too, of course).

Conversely, if you're in the same room as someone who really pisses you off, you're not going to be at your best when picking the lock to free all of you, but by golly, you'll really whack them when push comes to shove. Now is as good a time as any to mention that killing someone is a swift way to remove a negative Social Ego from your character sheet.

All Social Egos deteriorate at a rate of 2 points per week, and thus require maintenance if you don't want them to fade away. By "deteriorate", I mean "normalise", by moving closer to 0. Maybe someone made you feel really bad about yourself a while ago, but it was months ago, and now you don't really feel anything regarding them. Maybe that chick was really hot and you felt like Adonis that night, but it was over a year ago, and now you're not sure you'd even recognise her or bother to say hello.

Also, notice the bonuses to Core Ego. Having many people who make you feel good about yourself can be a great way to make you feel good about yourself all the time. Conversely, having more enemies than friends is a good way to lower your Core Ego. But can you simply establish 8-10 really strong (+50) Social Egos to raise your Core Ego to 50+? Not easily, for two reasons. Number one, you can only directly effect your Social Egos by Affronting others (Affront is a skill, I'll get back to it later). Otherwise, the only thing you can do is alter other people's Social Egos. This will become clearer in a moment when I talk about how you actually interact with others and their Social Egos. But first, the second reason you can't just "make lot's of great friends": Love.



Love and Hate
When one of your Social Egos for a specific person reaches +50, you have fallen in love with them. This is perhaps my favourite two-edged sword ever. Basically, what this means is that something about that person (you may or may not know what it is, it's up to you) makes you really feel good about yourself. Maybe it's the potential for happiness you see with them, or maybe it's just that they would look so good in bed with you, but they make you feel great about yourself in general. Another way of looking at this is not that they make you feel good about yourself in general, but that they are always on your mind, and this constant salience is what is making you feel good. Either way, being in love has the following consequences:

-Your Social Ego for that person becomes a hybrid Love Ego, being a combination of both a Social Ego and a Core Ego, carrying all the consequences of both.
-Your new Love Ego (being part Social Ego) only deteriorates at a rate of 1 point per week, thus requiring maintenance unlike a Core Ego, but not as much as a Social Ego.
-The bonuses of this Love Ego stack with any afforded by your Core Ego.
-The only way to remove this Love Ego is to lower it to 0.

-Your Love Ego becomes linked with the other person. Any time that person takes Social Ego damage from another person, you take the same damage to the same Social Ego. For example, say your Love Ego is keyed to a girl named Jane, and some other girl named Sarah insults Jane, causing Jane's Social Ego towards Sarah to go down 6 points (in other words, making Jane feel bad about herself in relation to Sarah). Your Social Ego towards Sarah would then go down 6 points as well, regardless of whether or not Sarah used to make you feel good.
-If you ever meet another person who has a Love Ego keyed to the same person as your own Love Ego, your Social Ego towards this new person instantly becomes -30.
-If the person to whom your Love Ego is keyed ever dies, you subtract your Love Ego from your Core Ego, and your Social Ego for their killer instantly becomes -50, which just so happens to be...

Hate. When one of your Social Egos for a specific person reaches -50, you become consumed with hate for them. The Consequences of hating someone are basically the opposite of those for loving someone:

-Your Social Ego for that person becomes a hybrid Hate Ego, being a combination of both a Social Ego and a Core Ego, carrying all the consequences of both.
-Your new Hate Ego does not deteriorate.
-The bonuses of this Hate Ego stack with any afforded by your Core Ego.
-The only way to remove this Hate Ego is to raise it to 0.

-Your Hate Ego becomes linked with the other person. Any time that person takes Social Ego damage from another person, you gain the damage to the same Social Ego. For example, say your Hate Ego is keyed to a girl named Jane, and some other girl named Sarah insults Jane, causing Jane's Social Ego towards Sarah to go down 6 points (in other words, making Jane feel bad about herself in relation to Sarah). Your Social Ego towards Sarah would then go up 6 points, regardless of whether or not Sarah used to make you feel bad.
-If you ever meet another person who has a Hate Ego keyed to the same person as your own Hate Ego, your Social Ego towards this new person instantly becomes +30.
-If the person to whom your Hate Ego is keyed ever dies, you add your Hate Ego to your Core Ego, and your Social Ego for their killer instantly becomes +20.

In summary, both love and hate can provide powerful plot engines. But perhaps the best part, is that characters have incredibly limited options for actually directly affecting their own Social Egos -they must instead rely on others to affect their Social Egos. This next section deals with exactly how and why...



Interaction
Social interaction in Eclipse relies on two things: Egos and skills. Egos are the clay, and skills are the hands that mould it. There are 8 skills important for social interaction: Affront, Calm, Charm, Coerce, Diplomacy, Discipline, Sense Motive, and Perform.

Affront (Fluid or Flame): This skill allows you to insult, provoke, dismiss, offend, and engage in witty repartee. This skill is the only skill which can be used to raise your own Social Ego towards another person. To use this skill, you simply make an Affront check (d20 +skill ranks +either your Fluid modifier or your Flame modifier) targeted at the person you wish to offend. They can then oppose your check with their own Affront check (witty riposte), a Calm check (causes you to damage your own Social Ego), a Discipline check (ignore your insults), or a Sense Motive check (they discover why you are trying to Affront them). In all cases, you make your check, then subtract their check. If the result is positive, you have won, and you deal the result as Social Ego damage to their Social Ego for you, AND you gain the same amount for your Social Ego towards them. For example, John is in a bit of a mood, and wants to make himself feel better by insulting Bill. He rolls his Affront check, and gets, say, 19. Bill is feeling a bit tired tonight, and he knows John is in a mood, so he just wants to try to ignore John. Bill rolls his Discipline check, and gets, say, 14. John subtracts Bill's 14 from his 19, and the result is +5. John's remark was particularly scathing, and Bill's SE (John) goes down by 5, whilst John's SE (Bill) goes up by 5. It should be noted that there is one other way to avoid the consequences of an Affront, and that is to challenge the offender to a duel to first blood. If you win, your SE (them) becomes 0, and their SE (you) becomes 0. If they win, you double your negative SE (them) (remembering that adding a negative to a negative is a bigger negative).

Calm (Flame): This skill allows you to neutralise someone’s Social Ego towards you, either by making them feel better if they are feeling bad, or bringing them back down to earth. To use this skill, you make your Calm check (d20 +skill ranks +Flame modifier) against the person you wish to calm. They can oppose your attempt to calm them down with an Affront check (as described above), a Coerce check (reverses the effect of your attempt), a Discipline check (ignores you), or a Sense Motive check (they discover your intentions for calming them). For example, Bill wants to pull John back into line, but doesn't want to Affront his friend. Bill makes a Calm check, and gets. say, 19. John wants to continue his run, by pointing out that Bill is a bit soft if he can't handle John's comments, so he opposes Bill's Calm with an Affront, and rolls, say, 14. Bill wins by 5, and so John's SE (Bill) moves 5 points closer to zero, regardless of where it was before. A Calm check can only ever move a Social Ego towards 0.

Charm (Flame or Beauty): This skill allows you to impress, compliment, cheer-up, flirt, and in all ways make a person feel good about themselves in relation to you. This skill can be opposed by Affront (as above, but deals double damage), Calm ("I think we should just be friends..."), Charm (willingly accept Charm attempt, double SE gain), Discipline (ignore attempt), and Sense Motive (as implied). For example, Bill is feeling a bit down after John's little bitchfest, and so he turns to flirtatious Lisa to see if she can cheer him up. He rolls his Charm, and gets, say, 19. Lisa likes Bill, and so she responds to him with a Charm check. Bill wins by 5, and because Lisa used Charm, she was willingly accepting his charm, so her SE (Bill) increases by 10 (double 5). Notice how this has not made Bill feel any better yet, but because she now likes Bill a bit more, she is more likely to Charm him in return.

Coerce (Influence): This skill allows you to persuade, browbeat, encourage, and convince other people to do something you want them to, either give you information, or pick up your laundry. This skill can be opposed by Affront (refuse, and ensure they don't ask again), Charm (politely decline), Discipline (resist), or Sense Motive.
For example, after flirting with Bill a bit, Lisa feels that she should try to convince John to take his feelings out in some other way, rather than lashing out at friends. She rolls 19 (who saw that one coming?). John decides to resist with a Sense Motive check, to see if Lisa is saying this because she has feelings for Bill or if she just doesn't like John, and he rolls a 14. He doesn't get any useful information, but because Lisa won, John agrees not to pick on Bill anymore. Note that Coerce is one of the very few skills that is simply a win/lose outcome.

Diplomacy (Flame): This skill is the only skill that allows you to affect the SE'sof other people in relation to people who are not you. In other words, Lisa can use Diplomacy to change how John feels about Bill, or vice versa, without having their SE (Lisa) affected in any way. Diplomacy can be opposed with Affront, Discipline, or Sense Motive. For example, after convincing John to not pick on Bill anymore, Lisa tries to repair the damage to Bill's SE (John). She rolls Diplomacy, and gets 19. John wants to know why Lisa is trying to stick up for John, so he opposes with Sense Motive. Lisa wins, and Bill's SE (John) goes up by 5. Diplomacy is the only skill that the player using it can decide what the effects will be. For example, Lisa could have instead dealt 5 points of damage to Bill's SE (John) if she had chosen to convey different information, like telling him that John really hates him. In this way, Diplomacy is a powerful tool for manipulation, just don't let anyone's Sense Motive checks succeed!

Discipline (Constitution): Discipline is not an action. It is a skill useful for resisting all sorts of things, like many skills and a few spells and effects like fear. If you succeed in a Discipline check, you have successfully resisted whatever it was you were trying to resist.

Sense Motive (Fluid or Flame): This skill allows you to resist a bunch of skills by discovering the motives behind their use. The idea is that if you know someone is only insulting you because they are drunk, then the insult carries no weight, or if you know someone is only charming you to make you reveal the name of the assassin you hired, then you are immune to their charms. As with Coerce, success on a Sense Motive check is a yes/no situation, and if you succeed, the GM/other player must tell you why they are doing something.

Perform (Beauty or Influence): This skill has uses other than those relevant to social interaction as I've presented here, like earning a reputation, but it does have one nifty use perfectly relevant to social interaction. When you wish to use the skills Affront, Charm, Coerce, and Masquerade (another skill), you can first make a Perform check, subtract 25, and add the result (if any) to the aforementioned skill checks. In this way, you are using your skills at elaboration and subtle theatre to add unbeatable flair to your insults, sincerity to your charms, weight to your Coercion, and believability to your masquerade.



Summary
In a sense, you are judged "not by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others", to quote the Wizard of Oz. Affronting others might be an easy way to increase your SE's, but by it's nature it is lowering other people's SE's, thus increasing your number of enemies and thus chances of meeting an untimely death. Your best chances for having a successful character might be to be friendly with others, and hope that they are friendly with you in return. But your character can also be just as successful if they are particularly witty and have many high SE's that all came from Affronting others, meaning that they also have alot of people who don't like them.
If you kill someone who had a lover, you just made a strong enemy. Likewise, if someone kills your lover, they just made a strong enemy.
Whilst I have kept all the examples above simple for the sake of presentation, the dynamics of the social interaction skills with the bonuses from Core Ego and Social Egos make for some very interesting interactions. In particular, it is beneficial to travel with friends, and perhaps even with someone you love, for the bonuses afforded by always being in their proximity. The fact that they are friends also means that you will suffer penalties to rolls made against them, making "friendly banter" less dangerous, to a degree (who knows, you might roll a 20 when they roll a 1 and so begins a bout of fisticuffs between friends that can only be settled by a third party?).

Finally, my plan is to have +2 bonuses to all social interaction skill checks made by players who role-play at least a description of what their character is doing, if not exactly the words they say.

Thanks for reading so far! Sorry I couldn't explain it all more concisely, and I hope that most of it made sense to a degree.



Questions
First off, what do you guys think overall? Is it worth the mental effort that went into its creation? Does it have potential? Would anyone use it? Which parts need more clarification (I know there's some!)?

Secondly, if anyone actually understood it enough to answer this question, is there anything obvious that I'm missing? Are there any small changes that would make things easier/more comprehensive?

I think that maybe if I explained the Social Egos as "how you feel about a person" rather than "how you feel about yourself in relation to a person" it might help people's comprehension, even though it wouldn't be entirely accurate in describing what exactly is going on (like why Affronting someone lowers their SE and raises your own). Should I even care to explain what is going on? Or should I just use ideas that are simple for people to understand, and then point to the deeper meaning when they have questions?

Any other comments/suggestions/questions/criticisms are welcome!

-Ben

P.S. Really, thanks for reading this massive post!
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Ben O'Neal
Member

Posts: 294


« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2004, 09:25:52 PM »

Ok, before everyone jumps in and floods this thread with questions...

I have come to the conclusion that I'm not a fan of every Social Ego starting at 0. So I have fixed that, and in doing so have created a mechanic for "First Impressions", which I think is rather neat and ties in well. Here's how it works:

Every character has an attribute called "Presentation". This score measures the visual aesthetics that they present, which play a large role on first establishing a relationship with them. Your characters Presentation is given thus:

Presentation = Beauty modifier +apparel modifier.

The beauty modifier part is straightforward, but the apparel modifier is the overall bonus to your presentation afforded by your clothes/jewellery/make-up. All items of clothing and jewellery and make-up have two scores: Presentation modifier for males, and Presentation modifier for females. If a guy is wearing a dress, it will lower his presentation score. If it's a frilly dress with lace and embroidery, it will lower it much more. Put the same dress on a female, and it will raise her Presentation score. Make sense? So an item of clothing will be presented as Name (F, M), where F = the Presentation modifier if worn by a female, and M = the Presentation modifier if worn by a male.

All apparel items are divided into categories. I'm thinking about 5: rags, common, fine, extravagant, and exquisite. Rags and common apparel have negative modifiers, fine clothes have no modifier, and extravagant and exquisite apparel have positive modifiers.

For example, my character has a Beauty modifier of +4 (the raw score is 14). He is wearing fine trousers (-1, 0), fine boots (0, 0), a fine shirt (0, 0), and an extravagant coat (+1, +2). So in total, his Presentation score will be 6 (4 from his beauty, 2 from his coat).

So how does this work for a first impression? Well, everyone will have a Presentation score, and when two people establish a relationship (like by initiating conversation for the first time), then you simply compare the two Presentation scores, and take the difference. This difference is then added to the Social Ego of the person with the lowest Presentation, and subtracted from the Social Ego of the person with the highest Presentation. This is probably best explained with an example, so that you can understand the concepts behind it:

I'm Bob. I initiate dialog with a girl named Jane. She is clearly a noble, and I am a mere merchant. My Presentation is 6, and hers is 18. The difference is 12. So before anything actually happens, my SE (Jane) becomes +12, and her SE (Bob) becomes -12. What does this mean? It means that I'm looking at her and seeing something really pretty, that I want to get a whole lot friendlier with. She's looking at me and seeing a mangy dog, and she'd much rather not be seen talking to me. Does this make sense? I hope so, because it sure makes sense to me!

I think this first impression mechanic works really neatly to explain the gaps in social classes, and how a typical noble might relate to a typical commoner. It's also neat because it allows you to use it for all sorts of things, like "No-one is allowed into the High-Lord's banquet unless they have a Presentation score of 20" (obviously you'd use different words in-game), which gives a neat goal for players to reach if they want to crash the party. Well, I think it's neat anyway...

There are a few more things that I haven't mentioned, which I will save until people are ready for them, like how social interection mechanics relate with combat mechanics, and reward mechanics (reputation), and all that. Basically, I see a triangle between social interaction, combat, and rewards, in how they all link and provide feedback with each other. But I'll save all this for when people have grasped what I have presented so far.

Also, I am quite open to negative feedback, so if anyone wants to tell me "this idea is crap/too complicated/unrealistic/unworkable/whatever", I am willing to listen, and maybe even drop the whole idea and make Eclipse solely about killing crap quickly and interestingly.

-Ben
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Autocrat
Member

Posts: 69


« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2004, 06:52:59 AM »

well, as no one else has, I will......

I think it's great.
It covers almost every need you have for social encounters.
I'll admit its wordy and long winded, and looks complicated, yet the actual thought behind it is simple, the math is clear, and whats more, it works!
   A little to long for my current system, yet beats the hell out of most social systems I've seen.

   I take it social interaction is important in your system!  (Not really a question, more like an obvious statement really!)

So, how do you quantify the characters personalities, or don't you?  Do you have things like morality and ethics, alignment, social attitudes, things that make the character aggressive, passive etc. depending on the circumstance or instance?
Just wondering, as the systems seems to be situation based, not taking any character or personality into account apart from how they feel about themselves and how others view them. .If things like ethics, honour etc were introduced, I think you'd not only have a fairly complete system, but a nice socio-moda as well!

I like it!
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Well, I'll try in here and see what I can find.....
Autocrat
Member

Posts: 69


« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2004, 06:53:44 AM »

well, as no one else has, I will......

I think it's great.
It covers almost every need you have for social encounters.
I'll admit its wordy and long winded, and looks complicated, yet the actual thought behind it is simple, the math is clear, and whats more, it works!
   A little to long for my current system, yet beats the hell out of most social systems I've seen.

   I take it social interaction is important in your system!  (Not really a question, more like an obvious statement really!)

So, how do you quantify the characters personalities, or don't you?  Do you have things like morality and ethics, alignment, social attitudes, things that make the character aggressive, passive etc. depending on the circumstance or instance?
Just wondering, as the systems seems to be situation based, not taking any character or personality into account apart from how they feel about themselves and how others view them. .If things like ethics, honour etc were introduced, I think you'd not only have a fairly complete system, but a nice socio-moda as well!

I like it!
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Well, I'll try in here and see what I can find.....
Spooky Fanboy
Member

Posts: 585


« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2004, 07:04:35 AM »

On the one hand, I heartily approve of giving social exchanges the same weight as combat. It adds a touch of realism to the game, and has the added benefit of allowing players who may not be socially swift an opportunity to roll  the results in case their dramatic abilities fail. I am a big fan of this, as players should be allowed to play characters different from themelves.

OTOH, just like the Dying Earth rpg, you run into situations where the PCs have been socially out-maneuvered and the players have to play them accordingly. I've noticed over the years that one thing players hate more than dying is giving up control of their character, which is how being socially beaten or mind-controlled ends up being played. Since Dying Earth strives for a dark, dry comedy, that game can get away with it. Since your game appears to be shooting for a more standard protagonism, how do you plan to "soften the blow" of players being tricked into doing something stupid and dangerous, or does that not concern you?
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Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2004, 07:23:13 AM »

Quote
I've noticed over the years that one thing players hate more than dying is giving up control of their character


That's a good observation, but I think its missing what I consider the real issue.

What I think players hate is not having any actual impact on the game or story.  Traditionally, the only impact a player gets to have on the game/story is through their character.  So taking away their character takes away their impact.

So I don't think its the rules that effect their control of character that they react against, I think its removing their ability to have their desires reflected in the game and being turned into passengers that they react against.

If you have a game where the players ability to assert their desires over the game is assured by means other than strictly through their character, then having mechanical requirements on the character becomes much less onerous.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2004, 03:01:07 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
If you have a game where the players ability to assert their desires over the game is assured by means other than strictly through their character, then having mechanical requirements on the character becomes much less onerous.
Well, in this case, I think that he's giving the players some "control" in the form of the outcome of the social conflicts that they can "inflict". That is, just like combat is a way for players to enforce their will upon the game in terms of what creatures live and die, etc, so, too will this method do the same.

That is, yeah, the PCs can be "controled" with a roll. But so, too can they "control" if they win. So I think that players can learn to accept this sort of play.

Mike
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Ben O'Neal
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2004, 07:55:27 PM »

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Well, in this case, I think that he's giving the players some "control" in the form of the outcome of the social conflicts that they can "inflict". That is, just like combat is a way for players to enforce their will upon the game in terms of what creatures live and die, etc, so, too will this method do the same.

That is, yeah, the PCs can be "controled" with a roll. But so, too can they "control" if they win. So I think that players can learn to accept this sort of play.

Yeah, that's exactly my opinion. The more I reflect on the nuances of this mechanic, the more I see the huge variety of options opened through the control it brings. It's also handy to give an in-game explanation of many things, like, as I've mentioned before, the seperation of social classes, and also things that are often overlooked, such as why people aren't often "adventurers", and prefer to stick with their social groups. Why? Well because they've invested time and effort into building up a large social network, and they in turn benefit from this network, whereas if they were to leave everyone, and travel, they would lose this benefit that they worked hard to get.

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What I think players hate is not having any actual impact on the game or story. Traditionally, the only impact a player gets to have on the game/story is through their character. So taking away their character takes away their impact.

It's interesting that you mention this, because IMHO, this mechanic affords players the potential to control the amount of impact they have, to the point of driving it. A character with a high Diplomacy skill could wreak havoc in a single night's courtroom ball, by pitching lords against other lords. If someone wanted to play the "dark and mysterious wanderer", they would build up a high Discipline skill, rending them almost invincible to the machinations of most others (but because it's always an opposed roll, there will always be someone who can "break through the barriers"). Furthermore, it gives some real sense of satisfaction to such a player in measuring just how much of a "menacing baddass" they really are, especially if they also have a high Affront skill.

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OTOH, just like the Dying Earth rpg, you run into situations where the PCs have been socially out-maneuvered and the players have to play them accordingly.

How is this different from being out-manoeuvred in combat? Only in combat, the consequences can be far more dire.
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Since your game appears to be shooting for a more standard protagonism, how do you plan to "soften the blow" of players being tricked into doing something stupid and dangerous, or does that not concern you?

How do I plan to soften the blows? I don't! If a character wants to fight a dragon, it's their stupid fault if they die. If they want to try to outwit a king or professional con-man, then that's their stupid fault. I love the idea that merely interacting with others can be just as perilous as wandering a haunted forest at night. To me, that sort of danger = fun!

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I think it's great.
It covers almost every need you have for social encounters.
I'll admit its wordy and long winded, and looks complicated, yet the actual thought behind it is simple, the math is clear, and whats more, it works!
A little to long for my current system, yet beats the hell out of most social systems I've seen.

Thanks! You know, I can't think of a damn thing this mechanic can't do (that it should be able to do). I, too, admit that it is very hard to convey the concepts concisely, and it does look scary until you play around with it a bit.

But it's funny you bring it up about using it in your system, because my friend and I today were discussing adapting it to D&D, and I discovered, much to my delight, that this mechanic is almost entirely independant. Change the die types, change the scales, add some skills to your system, and BAM, it fits into everything I can think of. I think the only hurdle is the underlying concepts.

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So, how do you quantify the characters personalities, or don't you? Do you have things like morality and ethics, alignment, social attitudes, things that make the character aggressive, passive etc. depending on the circumstance or instance?
Just wondering, as the systems seems to be situation based, not taking any character or personality into account apart from how they feel about themselves and how others view them. .If things like ethics, honour etc were introduced, I think you'd not only have a fairly complete system, but a nice socio-moda as well!

I designed this mechanic with two goals in mind: one, it had to cover as much as possible as simply as possible, and two, it had to be flexible to interpretation. Because the mechanic only deals with the entirely egocentric and subjective "how you feel about yourself in relation to others", Social Egos can be interpreted any way you wish. If you have a negative Social Ego towards someone, are you the type who will kill them? Take it out on others? Brood? Try to "make-up"? Leave town and wait till your Social Ego normalises? As you can see this mechanic allows all of these things, but doesn't dictate which one a player will choose. I think this is a good compromise, but that's just my opinion.

Things like personality are entirely open to interpretation, mainly becuase this is congruent with what I've learnt in psychology, but also partly because it retains character freedom. I've already given an example of the "dark and brooding" character having a high Discipline, but a gossipy old woman would simply have a high Diplomacy, whilst a pretty girl who always has everything done for her would have a high Charm skill. All the mechanic does is allow character concepts to become integral to the game and able to be levered to the players advantage.

Things like ethics and stuff are a bit vague and wishy-washy for me to be able to pinpoint in a mechanic, but if you can think of some way to mechanise them, be sure to let me know!  On the other hand, I really would love to implement honour. Hmmm, tricky I'm sure, but surely it can be done!

One idea I'm throwing around is that if TRoS asks the question "what is worth dying for?", maybe Eclipse could ask "what is worth killing for?". My idea is to have ones Core Ego decrease by a number of points equal to your Flame modifier every time you kill something. This would be the default condition, and there would be abilities like "No Remorse" which would eliminate this but cost 2 ability points, or "Justifyable Homicide", which would negate this only if you kill in self-defence at a cost of 1 ability point. I dunno, maybe this would be disincentivising killing too much, especially in a medieval-type fantasy world where killing is a lot more common than it is to us. Also, I don't want "uber-abilities" which no-one would not take, and perhaps these would become such things. What do you guys reckon?

I must admit that I am proud of this mechanic, but perhaps not for the reasons one might think. Why am I proud? Because it makes choosing what to wear a tactical decision, like choosing what weapon you will wield. To me, that is soooooo cool! Having a measure that says that my character looks too classy for his comrades is hilariously fun to me.

Also, now sitting around the campfire before bed can be just as fun and interesting as taking out a goblin tribe. It's challenge, goal, method, and reward all rolled into one! Huzzah!

Although I won't be putting it into Eclipse (too much complexity already), I'm already playing with an idea for a mechanic that governs fashion sense, like colour co-ordination, styles, details (lace, embroidery, other frilly bits), era, and all that stuff. I just think the very idea that making sure your character looks as cool as possible has a definite impact on their effectiveness and how others see them is too awesome.

If anyone would like to whack this mechanic in their system I'd be happy to help and know how it turns out. In a few weeks I'll be sticking it in D&D so I'll let you guys know how I did it and if it works.

-Ben
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Ben O'Neal
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« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2004, 05:56:21 PM »

Just thought I'd ask a quick question (or two):

While I was going over my rulebook the other day tidying things up a bit, I thought "if clothes can have a big impact on the impressions people make, why can't weapons too?" So I went through and gave every weapon a Presentation modifier, using the logic that expensive or "gentlemanly" weapons (like rapiers, katanas, pistols) should add to your presentation score, and "barbaric" weapons (like clubs, axes, hammers and big swords) would detract from it. Thus a peasant with a huge axe will have a lower Presentation score than one without, causing any nobles they meet to have an even lower SE towards them, and simultaneously increasing the peasants SE towards the noble (they are more confident with the axe). I reckon this is cool, especially because it makes choosing your weapon important for the situation.

So my first question is: Does this seem reasonable? Is there a problem I am not seeing? How are players likely to respond (based on similar things that have been tried in the past)?

Ok, yeah I know that was actually 3 questions, but they were all based on the same idea, so :P

But then I thought, "wouldn't it be cool if carrying a Bloody Big Sword not only made you look baddass, but also helped with things like Coercing or Affronting people, and maybe even made it harder to Charm them (or easier?)." All I'd need do do is add a new modifier or two to each weapon, but I'm wondering how much coolness is too much to handle. Right now, every single weapon has at least 3 numbers: attack speed, attack power, and presentation (or accuracy, range, and presentation for ranged weapons).

So my second question is/are: Based on the experiences of people here, how much complexity is too much regardless of the benefits? Would this idea even warrant itself as a benefit? Or would it simply be a "meh" thing? Also, is my subjective view on the effects of weapon presence likely to be challenged too often to make play enjoyable?

Finally, if anyone at all has any questions for me regarding anything about Eclipse, feel free to ask away!

Thanks,

-Ben
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2004, 06:35:05 PM »

I think that if you want equipment modifiers to do that kind of thing, then you might want to use a constant modifier and vary the way it affects the check - you might add the modifier to First Impression but subtract it from Looking Innocuous or something. I dunno.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2004, 09:05:39 AM »

Sounds cool. I'd imagine that some ceremonial weapons are very impressive, but just too large or ornate to actually be wielded effectively in combat. Lots of stuff you could do with this.

Mike
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Ben O'Neal
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2004, 07:35:21 AM »

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Sounds cool. I'd imagine that some ceremonial weapons are very impressive, but just too large or ornate to actually be wielded effectively in combat. Lots of stuff you could do with this.

Yeah, thanks Mike! You just inspired me to work out a way to calculate the cost of a weapon based on its Presentation score and other stats so that characters can commission custom weapons. Cheers!

Ok, just been toying with some ideas whilst driving to see my family for Easter, and I thought I'd throw them out here to see what you guys thought (the ideas, not my family). Two ideas: one for making social interaction even more of a plot engine, and one for honour.

But first, the easy one. I'm already using the idea that when the object of your Love Ego dies, you subtract that Love Ego from your Core Ego, and I feel that this is a nice risk/benefit thingy to help drive plots and make characters protective of their loved ones. But I was thinking, "shouldn't the same concept work for friends?" I mean, if my best friend died I'd feel pretty shit, and if all my friends died I'd feel really shit, so my idea is twofold: if the object of any positive Social Ego dies, you subtract that Social Ego from your Core Ego. If the object of any negative Social Ego dies, you add that Social Ego to your Core Ego. This incentivises two things: protecting your friends (and maybe being cautious about who you become friends with, which I think is kinda cool), and killing your enemies (and maybe even seeking out enemies to kill to boost your Core Ego). IMHO, this works kinda like the pull of the Dark Side of the Force, by making killing attractive because of how easy it is to gain benefits, but makes being nice harder but more worth it in the long run (many high Social Egos boost a Core Ego, but also provide their own benefits, whereas if you only have negative Social Egos and you kill them, you'll only have the benefits of the Core Ego). I think this is cool, and also representative of the reality of losing friends (I don't know about the reality of killing enemies, cos I haven't really done much of that myself).

My second idea is far less coherent. I've had quite a bit of trouble trying to define what honour actually is. I need to know what it is so I can figure out how it can work properly. I've got a rough idea so far, but unfortunately it might make things rather complex. The idea is that you have an Honour score, which is basically analogous to your Core Ego, but functionally different. It would restrict your Core Ego to within a range of your Honour score, like within 10 points or something. So if my Honour was 12, my Core Ego could never be lower than +2 or higher than +22. It would also restrict Social Egos that other people hold about you. So it would restrict your friends' Social Ego towards you, but not your Social Ego towards them, but the range of the restriction would be greater, like 20 or something. So if my Honour was 12, my friends could never have a Social Ego towards me lower than -8, or higher than +32. So Honour would affect how you feel about yourself, and how others feel about you, but not how you feel about others.

I'm not 100% sure of this idea yet, I kinda like it in a way for the restrictions it brings and the incentives to being honourable, but I dunno. My biggest problem is figuring out how the hell you would raise or lower your Honour. I mean, I'm Australian and living in the year 2004. Honour doesn't really exist anymore, and if it does, I don't know what it is unless I see it. Like I can watch a movie and say "that's honourable", but I couldn't describe it if you paid me.

So two questions which I would much appreciate help on:

What do you guys think of my first idea with the consequences of friends/enemies dying and the incentives/challenges to play that come from this mechanic? and,

What the hell is honour, and would it function the way I've described?

Thanks,

-Ben
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Andrew Martin
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Posts: 785


« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2004, 04:54:08 PM »

Quote from: Ravien

My biggest problem is figuring out how the hell you would raise or lower your Honour. I mean, I'm Australian and living in the year 2004. Honour doesn't really exist anymore, and if it does, I don't know what it is unless I see it. Like I can watch a movie and say "that's honourable", but I couldn't describe it if you paid me.
...
What the hell is honour, and would it function the way I've described?


http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=honour
and:
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=honor

The definition that seems most appropriate is:
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That which rightfully attracts esteem, respect, or consideration; self-respect; dignity; courage; fidelity; especially, excellence of character; high moral worth; virtue; nobleness; specif., in men, integrity; uprightness; trustworthness; in women, purity; chastity.
This definition of honour is based on internal qualities, which are reflected in outward actions.

Perhaps you need more personality traits like the above, rather than just the one?

And the reason why you're so cynical about honour is this alternative definition of honour:
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Esteem due or paid to worth; high estimation; respect; consideration; reverence; veneration; manifestation of respect or reverence.
which is based on surface appearance only, without consideration of internal qualities.

Consider:
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=corrupt
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Synonyms: corrupt, debase, debauch, deprave, pervert, vitiate
These verbs mean to ruin utterly in character or quality: was corrupted by limitless power; debased himself by pleading with the captors; a youth debauched by drugs and drink; indulgence that depraves the moral fiber; perverted her talent by putting it to evil purposes; a proof vitiated by a serious omission.
...
Changed from a state of uprightness, correctness, truth, etc., to a worse state; vitiated; depraved; debased; perverted; as, corrupt language; corrupt judges.
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Andrew Martin
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« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2004, 06:43:06 PM »

Other good references for Honour include the Wikipedia entry at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honour
Which also describes the cultures of Law and the contrast with cultures of Honour.
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Andrew Martin
Alf_the_Often_Incorrect
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« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2004, 05:31:26 PM »

Great system, probobaly the first of its kind, but I don't think mechanics should be placed on social interaction; it takes all teh fun out of roleplaying! Something in the nature of the odd charisma check adds realism and balance, but it should be based primarily on roleplaying. Of course, that is just my opinion and I am Often_Incorrect, so just do what you think is best!
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