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Old 09-10-2011, 09:30 AM   #1
kdarc
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Aarhus, Denmark
Default One social trait, multiple society?

Social traits are a great thing in GURPS, and one of the things I really like about in contrast to many other RPGs. However, they recently got me thinking about some things and some doubts I have.

In my current fantasy game, the group has this far pretty much stayed in one region (populated by dwarven merchant-cities, province of a large multi-racial Empire) and that hasn't posed any real problems. However, in an upcoming game with another group of players, the plot I have devised takes them across several provinces, each with its own people and culture - and not all of these are part of the greater Empire, so differences would be even greater.

My issue is that many social traits (such as Social Stigma, Social Regard, Legal Enforcement Powers, etc.) are tied to one society. Attitudes differ from place to place. In a setting where one nation treats mages with admiration and respect (Social Regard), another might treat them with hostility and hate (Social Stigma).

How should this be handled? And especially in regard to when players deal equally with several cultures? In the example from above, should a mage from the accepting society buy Social Regard and a mage from the other buy Social Stigma? I don't want my players to feel cheated for buying certain advantages.
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:43 AM   #2
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Re: One social trait, multiple society?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdarc View Post
Social traits are a great thing in GURPS, and one of the things I really like about in contrast to many other RPGs. However, they recently got me thinking about some things and some doubts I have.

In my current fantasy game, the group has this far pretty much stayed in one region (populated by dwarven merchant-cities, province of a large multi-racial Empire) and that hasn't posed any real problems. However, in an upcoming game with another group of players, the plot I have devised takes them across several provinces, each with its own people and culture - and not all of these are part of the greater Empire, so differences would be even greater.

My issue is that many social traits (such as Social Stigma, Social Regard, Legal Enforcement Powers, etc.) are tied to one society. Attitudes differ from place to place. In a setting where one nation treats mages with admiration and respect (Social Regard), another might treat them with hostility and hate (Social Stigma).

How should this be handled? And especially in regard to when players deal equally with several cultures? In the example from above, should a mage from the accepting society buy Social Regard and a mage from the other buy Social Stigma? I don't want my players to feel cheated for buying certain advantages.
This was one of the things that was brought up in the Social Engineering playtest. I don't know if it made it into the final draft though. Bill came up with a pretty nifty way of handling it and after much discussion I thought it came up to a nice build.

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Old 09-10-2011, 09:43 AM   #3
whswhs
 
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Default Re: One social trait, multiple society?

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Originally Posted by kdarc View Post
How should this be handled? And especially in regard to when players deal equally with several cultures? In the example from above, should a mage from the accepting society buy Social Regard and a mage from the other buy Social Stigma? I don't want my players to feel cheated for buying certain advantages.
You're probably going to find this frustrating, but there will be a detailed treatment of this in GURPS Social Engineering, with at least a couple of different options. The quick summary is that you should normally pick a reference society, and define the cost of traits in terms of that. The proper choice of reference society is the one where the campaign will mainly take place.

All the characters in a given campaign should be defined in relation to the same reference society. For example, if you were running a campaign set in 1910, where one of the characters was a lord of the jungle raised by apes, and another was a renegade Martian allied with humans, you would give the jungle lord Low TL 6 [-30] and the Martian High TL 3 [15], both in relation to the TL6 society around them. How they were regarded by the apes or the other Martians is irrelevant; the campaign isn't set in Africa or on Mars.

Bill Stoddard
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:49 AM   #4
kdarc
 
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Default Re: One social trait, multiple society?

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
You're probably going to find this frustrating, but there will be a detailed treatment of this in GURPS Social Engineering, with at least a couple of different options. The quick summary is that you should normally pick a reference society, and define the cost of traits in terms of that. The proper choice of reference society is the one where the campaign will mainly take place.

All the characters in a given campaign should be defined in relation to the same reference society. For example, if you were running a campaign set in 1910, where one of the characters was a lord of the jungle raised by apes, and another was a renegade Martian allied with humans, you would give the jungle lord Low TL 6 [-30] and the Martian High TL 3 [15], both in relation to the TL6 society around them. How they were regarded by the apes or the other Martians is irrelevant; the campaign isn't set in Africa or on Mars.

Bill Stoddard
Well, this is clearly another foul ploy to increase my anticipation for Social Engineering! Bad jokes aside though, that is a quite relevant point. The good thing about the setting then is the fact the players are will be within the larger Empire of the setting, so Imperial society could set the standards. I guess that one could toy around with Accessibility limitations, but that seems a bit contrived. Lucky thing my players are the type to turn murderous when it comes to this stuff.

Thanks for the quick reply!
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Old 09-10-2011, 10:57 AM   #5
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Default Re: One social trait, multiple society?

Completely incidentally, my own approach to this in the absence of Social Engineering was merely to apply the modifiers for "group size" (etc.) from Characters' treatment of things like Reputation. It's a bit of a gruesome solution and fairly arbitrary, but it does work... kinda. You just treat the "group size" as a "knowledge/encounter size." Thus, for example, if your Barbarian Prince has a given Status in Obscure-country, that's all good and well. To the main campaign barely anyone knows anything about said campaign, so the "group size" is reduced accordingly.

Sure, it creates a very dynamic character sheet but one also imagines that just as in the real world and individual's "presence" changes depending on what circles they move in.

Edit: I just realised that I said the same basic thing as above. My bad.

Last edited by Kage2020; 09-10-2011 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 09-10-2011, 11:33 AM   #6
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: One social trait, multiple society?

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Originally Posted by kdarc View Post
. Lucky thing my players are the type to turn murderous when it comes to this stuff.

!
Yes, that is fortunate...

The accessibility approach was fiercely debated during the Social Engineering playtest...at least by me. I didn't like it because it would lead to incredibly complicated builds that had to account for every culture in the world that the player characters might visit. I much preferred the simple, "If you are playing in a Homeline Infinite Worlds campaign build your character as a Homeline character."
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:36 PM   #7
kdarc
 
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Default Re: One social trait, multiple society?

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Lucky thing my players are the type to turn murderous when it comes to this stuff.
D'oh! Meant the quite opposite, that they are NOT the type. That is the punishment for writing forum posts when you haven't drinked your coffee I guess.
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:37 PM   #8
kdarc
 
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Default Re: One social trait, multiple society?

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Yes, that is fortunate...

The accessibility approach was fiercely debated during the Social Engineering playtest...at least by me. I didn't like it because it would lead to incredibly complicated builds that had to account for every culture in the world that the player characters might visit. I much preferred the simple, "If you are playing in a Homeline Infinite Worlds campaign build your character as a Homeline character."
Good point, that was what I was thinking about the Accessibility. And convuluted character building is always a thing to be feared IMO...
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:38 PM   #9
daniel_gudman
 
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Default Re: One social trait, multiple society?

My feeling is... have the players build characters according to where they came from; eg, a wizard respected in Magetopia would buy "social regard" (maybe at reduced price if Magetopia is small), regardless of how wizards are considered in Imperial Paranoialand (although if IP is huge it might also affect "social regard" in Magetopia). So, I haven't said anything different than anyone else.

But, it's not just about reaction roles, it's also about how the character feels about society and their role therein. A character that is "well regarded" has a different self image than a character that is "feared and distrusted". I mean, if it's something completely outside of the character, that's not part of them at all, that's not really different than the reaction modifiers they get for being dressed really well. That's equipment, not character points.

But, that dissonance between "accustomed role in home society" and "normal role in this society" is analogous to a great sword-master without a sword, or with the wrong sword, etc. It's not like the skills and abilities are gone, they're just in a non-optimal situation.

It's Crisis and Opportunity. I'd let players turn these problems into interesting encounters that get rewarded with character points for development. In terms of point accounting, it's an investment that pays dividends rather than delivering value now.
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:54 PM   #10
Refplace
 
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Default Re: One social trait, multiple society?

So whats the latest word on when we will see this?
I do not think I have heard anything about it since it left playtest.
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