Friday, June 5, 2009

Swashbuckling: Standing and Social Class

[Note: This is heavily inspired by Flashing Blades and the Size/Scale rules in "Spirit of the Sword" -- which are themselves adapted from the Weight Factor table in SotC. And thus, the circle is complete.]

[Note Too: Also, there's a reference here to Elan. This is known as Will in "Spirit of the Sword" and Chi in "Spirit of the Fist." They all work the same way: Spend a point of it before a roll to replace a Fudge die with a d6.]

One's place in society is a matter of no small importance in the swashbuckling genre. Here, it's represented through your Standing and Social Class (SC).

Standing is rated on the ladder like a skill, but one that's outside of a character's skill pyramid. In some circumstances, it can even be used as a skill, but for the most part it's an indicator of a character's standing in society. If you have someone with Fair (+2) Standing and someone with Mediocre (+0) Standing, you know right away the latter's in more or less a subservient position. Standing can also be used to modify other skill rolls, such as Rapport, or limit their effectiveness, such as with Connections. Social attacks are defended against with Standing, as well.

(Why outside the skill pyramid? Because Standing needs to be a fluid thing. Musketeers get promoted; nobles get disgraced. And I think all of that should be able to happen without having to shift a character's skill pyramid around.)

Standing starts at Mediocre (+0) by default. Right now, I'm thinking that a character could take a boon that increases his Standing by +1 (but that the only way to get this boon would be to take a specific kind of phase in character creation: Position). This would be the only way a starting character could increase his Standing. Of course, if you want to start with a lower Standing than Mediocre (+0), you're free to do so at no charge. As stated earlier, Standing can increase or decrease with promotions or demotions, and traveling to a foreign country can have a negative impact on a character's Standing as well.

Social Class limits the ways individuals of disparate Standing can interact in opposition. For every 2 points by which your target's SC is greater than yours, you must spend a point of Elan to inflict a social consequence on them even on an otherwise successful attack. For example, if a banker (SC 3) attempts to spread a scandalous rumor about the Count D'Arcy (SC 5), even if he obtains three shifts on his Connections roll he'll need to spend a point of Elan to deal the Middling social consequence his skill roll earned.

When making a Connections roll to gather information on an individual, SC limits the people with whom you actually have connections. Apply the absolute value of the difference between your SC and the target's as a penalty to your roll. This reflects the fact that it's harder to discover things about someone who's outside your normal social circles, whether higher or lower in station. For example, a mere infantryman (SC 2) trying to discover the name of a captain's mistress (SC 3) will have the difficulty of his Connections roll increased by +1, but that captain would have an equally hard time gathering information on the trooper. Yes, this does make it virtually impossible for the King of France to learn much of anything about a peasant -- but that's why he has people of lower Social Class in his employ. This strikes me as perfectly reasonable in a highly stratified society. (I know the old "Let them eat cake" incident is somewhat apocryphal, but the point is that it's believable. And this supports that sort of thing.)

Standing Example SC
Heavenly (+10)
The King 12
Glorious (+9)
The Queen, Princes 10
Illustrious (+8)
Grand Duke, Cardinals, Royal Ministers 8
Magnificent (+7)
Archduke, Royal Order Masters 7
Formidable (+6)
Dukes, Generals, Noble Order Masters 6
Superb (+5)
Counts, Archbishops 5
Great (+4)
Viscounts, Royal Officials, Magistrates 4
Good (+3)
Barons, Knights, Colonels 3
Fair (+2)
Captains, Bankers, Fencing Masters3
Average (+1)
Sergeants, Minor Officials, Wealthy Merchants
Mediocre (+0)
Troopers, Merchants, Priests2
Mean (-1)
Embarrassing (-2)
Shameful (-3)
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