radioactive analysis by Laws

See Page XX – an RPG column by Robin D Laws
In Dying Earth’s persuasion contests, the disastrous result is infinitely less permanent than death. You may enter a ridiculous wager in which you’ll likely lose a few coins – already an eminently transitory commodity. You might open a door you don’t want to open, or be forced to wear a ridiculous hat. In short, your PC will suffer embarrassment.
Seems a significantly smaller setback than death, doesn’t it? But roleplaying culture, or at least a vociferous strain of it, bitterly resists any such mechanic. Control of a PC’s actions must always remain in the player’s hands. Any rule that flouts this, including Pendragon’s trait mechanic and its many descendants, is anathema.
The answer to this conundrum lies in that emotional center of the roleplaying experience, power fantasy. We play adventure games not only for excitement, but for a sense of larger-than-life mastery and control. To many players, the possibility of death is just part of the bargain. Besides, the rules are skewed so that their PCs almost never die – the bulk of the gasping and expiring is left to hordes of orcs, goons, and space mutants, all of them rich in experience points.
To many players, loss of control is much worse than death, because it’s much less imaginary. If Sir Gilbert gets impaled by at the gnarled hands of an ogre chieftain or is felled by poison gas, that’s an extreme event that has little emotional reality to it. Episodes of embarrassment, on the other hand, are something we all suffer, on an all-too-frequent basis.
To experience a split between one’s conscious desires and one’s emotional impulses, to behave in one way while knowing intellectually that you ought to be doing anything but, is to be human. For certain of us, though, the experience is so highly charged it’s positively radioactive.

Aha. Oh, does this relate well to the Social attribute debate I had with the GOO forum.

‘Kill my character, but don’t embarrass me at an imaginary social event. ‘Cause I know I can outwit any NPC inna place.’

At the same time, I like the comments on livejournal here about ‘equal risk’ being introduced to a situation rather than ‘zero sum’. One of the parameters of Social is that idea of an audience, a larger community, and that consequence can rebound on either participant.
I’ve yet to see a nice way of adding heavy Player input to light system input judged against social backdrop to resolve these things in a way that each Player can easily niche.
That is frustrating.

Amber DRPG :: revised expansion :: 17 canon attributes

*drawn from ideas started on the Amber Mailing List 2006 and inspired by any number of Amber community members over time. Thanks to J.Z. for asking the questions to begin with. Thanks to G.S. and M.C. for the excellent ‘House of Cards’ game.

My excitement and appreciation of the Amber DRPG is the spin of actually playing within such a modest game framework with good players. I have to admit my practice for years has been towards “elegant and simple” when folks talk about expanding the PC attributes, I’ve never been thrilled by the prospect.
Those conversations often show someone wants to expand the stats we already have, like Warfare being a combination of ‘tactical’ and ‘strategic’ in order to have great swordsmen who may not be great generals.
That doesn’t appeal to me. As mortals, we can never really appreciate the immortal accumulation of skills and power the Amberites enjoy. Getting more specific about it is the wrong direction.
Of late, I’m more convinced that Zelazny’s story is so much bigger than the first two books that describe a ‘throne war’ environ. The game as written does a great job of providing that ‘contentious throne war’ flavor where the princesses are neither “interested nor fit”.
Hardly surprising that Florimel is so hard to fit into the game for some GMs.