in the Shadow of Greatness


December 8, 2004

Would you like... Attribute for that?

"I think that mechanically handling social conflicts in a satisfying, balanced manner is one of the Great, Unsolved Mysteries of RPG-design."

I suppose there are many ways to deal with this, and depending on the meta of what the texture of social conflict might feel like in the genre you're going for, you might be more or less happy about the answer.

In Amber, *is* there a stage of social conflicts?
Not that we would learn this easily from Merlin or Corwin, mind you.

I insist there is such a social stage. Amber does have a culture and society we know precious little about. But I do suppose that Florimel is master of this stage.

In effect, what I'm supposing is that we read ten books about dramatic conflicts that don't impinge much on Social Things, so we have little idea how they might work.

Someone else could argue quite well that the Practical overrules the Social in any stress test (like war or sorcery or dueling) but would this be true of politics or parties or arranging marriages?

What if we had an inverted set of Attributes meanings for non-Practical uses (ie Social)? What if those represented resources instead of conflict? So spending your attributes Socially meant recouping NPCs, allies, invites, gossip, and esteem?

Could we even automatically assign those values by reversing the rank values we 'bid' so fervently for in auction? Could this list create the inverted values of the Attributes we know and love? Society would respond *how* to the person with the:

Strength = inverted = innocence
Psyche = inverted = sincerity
Endurance = inverted = tenderness
Warfare = inverted = schmooze

Do the above resources mean anything in an Amber game?

I agree that I don't want to limit roleplaying by 'capping' the wit or social additions of the Players to their characters, but giving them resources might be a way to help them rping the social side.
"In hothouse, mostly closed social orders (like most historical aristocracies), our social lioness may gather a lot of negative power and be feared. Amber's nobility may have a lot of that but I personally don't see Zelazny's royals putting up with it, or paying it much mind. They aren't ringed with the toadies and manipulators that make such a system work."
—R. Trimmer

Filed under : Aha!, Amber at 08.12.2004