Social Conflict fm the comments

I started to answer this in comments, but realized that it would take up far too much space. This refers to my earlier post:

What benefit do you see offsetting the greater numbers of characters who will have swathes of the world poisoned against them?
So far as I can tell you’re saying, “Characters won’t do so many horrible nasty things to each other if there’s a Culture stat by which the other characters can punish them.” Am I reading that right?

In a word, yes. But no. I think I would have pictured the glass as half full.
Characters will seldom be defenseless in the face of horrible nasty public abuse by Warfare, Psyche, or Strength since there is now a Culture stat by which the NPCs and PCs can reward, further, and progress the PC drama with approval of peers and a cast of thousands.

Call me a simple soul, but I don’t comprehend the focus on pain, punishment, and poison rule-space in rpgs or why it is the preferred reading. My bewildered idea of why you have rules about Bad Things is so that you can have choices about them.
I believe in characters that ‘stick’ in your mind and heart; characters that relate to other characters. Any guidelines for further relationships, for complimenting them and initiating them are what I was thinking as overall benefit.

More than a few folks apparently —and this could be just the intolerance of today’s world— see the dark power of rules and how those rules might be leveraged to push other folks around.
I suspect that’s because they’ve personally been burned, bruised, and baffled by harsh competitive rpg play. I’m really sorry about that. I don’t think that is fun. It’s not what I’m thinking about.

Will a Culture Attribute help you play a throne war? I suppose it will since it hands out a new niche to spotlight. Will it help you win a throne war? I imagine a Social Character would say, ‘yes’ because the cultural battleground might be preserving the realm. Will it put you on the throne? I don’t know. I doubt it. My version of Oberon wasn’t a particularly social genius. You might get to be the power behind a stable throne.

pure fancy:
Flora, as a middle child so to speak, may just have the best ideas about getting along in a dysfunctional and intimate circle. Random, as the youngest, probably understands getting pushed around, but his social bias might baffle and frustrate him. Benedict, as the oldest survivor, is just tired of the lack of Grace in those below him.

Who wants Culture rank in their concept niche?
Trend-setters, Priests, entertainers, politicians, diplomats, saints, spies, ministers, older PCs who are well-versed in dozens of cultures, gurus, wise women, and policy makers of noble lines.
From the above list you can draw your imagined benefits.
Who wants low culture rank in their concept niche?
Lunatics, young PCs who are shocked or baffled by reactions, innocents, strangers in a strange land, loners, thugs, PCs without empathy, PCs raised by wolves and/or artificial intelligences.



  1. If competitive play isn’t what you’re thinking about, why make a stat? Once there’s a stat, you have to recognize that some characters will be good at it, and some bad, and it’s going to come up in play. Is it viable to be bad at Social? I’d say it isn’t, not in Amber… Amber is all about interacting with your family through various means. If someone wastes you in that arena of conflict, you have basically nothing to do.
    In my experience, reining in terrible things is about culture?gaming-group culture. People say things like, “Dude, don’t kill his mother! That’s just wrong!” Thinking back to terrible situations that have happened to me, it was in games in which some real person involved turned out to be morally incompetant.

  2. The problem with the social stat is the same sort of problem you run into with the warfare stat: what the hell does that really mean? It covers a lot of turf, some of which may be inherent to the character and some of which is effectively social skills. And the social skills really should be culturally modified if you were getting into nitty-gritty details.
    On the other hand, most people have no problem with the mechanics of warfare, so from a mechanics point of view, I don’t see the quarrel other than customary usage.
    I don’t worry about jerks abusing the rules because I’ve learned that no rule can protect me from jerks. I have a rule about that: I don’t play with jerks any more. Not that I think a social stat would be prone to more abuse than Psyche; I wouldn’t game with the GMs or players involved in a number of mindrape or puppeting stories, all of which I think are significantly worse than anything you’re likely to get out of abuse of a culture stat.
    Along the lines of social stats, this Forge thread might be of interest to you.

  3. I think all the examples I gave are competitive, they just don’t have to be “harsh competitive.”
    I think where things get bent out of shape is when the competition is first-most in the minds of a few or all players rather than the role.
    Social could help you with a PC concept, or throne war, or normal campaign. ‘Help’ certainly in a competitive sense of refining a PC or giving more choices.
    ‘Bad’ at Social is relative and interaction with your family is a ‘drama system’ that has more than six axis of conflict. It is near certain that someone in the family is going to be ‘last rank’ at warfare, psyche, endurance, strength, stuff, or pattern.
    Even more ‘unlevel’ competition is when some PCs have choices that others do not even have. Sorcery is such an example. Trump is such an example. Building a PC involves making decisions which result in ‘nothing to do’ about some contests.
    OTOH, I think I see why so many folks are opposed to introducing a Social yardstick—it treads too close to personal.

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