A Meta-Mechanic

The Slakiv investigation into the Sons of Du Van Ku continues apace.  But that doesn’t stop the approaching series of adventures in Fair Vickelt; rather, it hastens their approach.

It should be noted that those who ply their trade in the Archipelago will not only be measured in terms of their personal statistics, but as a group: the party as a whole will have its stats tracked in several metrics.

Honor is how straight the party plays.  This is not how good they are, per se, nor how well they follow Fair Vickelt’s labyrinthine laws.  Rather, it is a measure of their reputation for keeping their word, for how much trickery they employ, for whether they honor their debts, avenge wrongs done to them and their allies, and the like.  Almost all potential employers and allies, and even enemies, respond well to a good Honor score.

Brains is how much cleverness and finesse the party brings to the table.  Crazy hijinks and kick-in-the-door tactics in the course of a mission detract from the party’s Brains score; evidence of planning, demonstrating a broad and deep knowledge base, or resistance to being duped will add to it.  A high Brains score will close some job opportunities (nobody wants a mook who questions orders) and open others.

Shininess is whether the party is perceived as a force for good or not.  In a culture rife with corruption, violence and hired blades, a reputation for Shininess doesn’t require one to donate one’s life savings to the poor or help poor old ladies for free; the baseline is more akin to ‘saving the guy’s life first and not asking for payment until after,’ ‘minimizing civilian casualties,’ and ‘not ripping people off.’  Shininess may overlap with Honor, or may conflict with it, as in choosing mercy over vengeance.  Some groups will not hire or befriend the party unless it has a certain minimum Shininess; others will treat it as an enemy if this score gets too high.  Of course, vice-versa is also true.

Results is the bottom line.  Does the party accomplish what they set out to do?  Did they avoid collateral damage in the pursuit of their objective?  Do they consistently generate customer satisfaction, or consistently slay monsters and win treasure, etc.?  Obviously, the higher the party’s Results score, the more demand there will be for their services, and the higher fees they can charge… and, if they make an enemy, the more likely that enemy is to consider them a threat and use deadly force.

The above are global stats – the party, collectively, has one Honor score that they all share as long as they associate with each other, representing how honorable they are viewed as being by the populace at large.  One could even think of the sum of the points in these four scores as an ur-meta-stat, Fame.  In less nebulous terms, though, the party will also have a Rep score from the point of view of each entity in the area.

Rep (short, obviously, for “reputation”) is the measure of how that specific group or individual views the party.  If for some reason the party acquits itself with Honor, Brains and Results – but in an incredibly secretive way, or simply so far away from civilization that nobody knows other than one employer, ally, enemy, etc. – then this will be reflected in their Rep for that entity only.  Similarly, an act taken on one group’s behalf against another, no matter the broader effects on their other meta-stats, would raise their Rep with the employer and lower their Rep with the injured party.  A negative Rep with a group can mean anything from social snubbing to assassination attempts and open attacks on the street.  When the campaign starts, all Rep scores will be zero (or N/A, if you will) for all groups until they interact with the party somehow.

Note that it is possible to get negative points, or have a negative score, in any of these stats.  A party that consistently lies, cheats, and steals will quickly accumulate negative Honor and Shininess, even as their reputations for Results (and probably Brains) increase.  Not just that, but both negative and positive points will be tracked for each stat, perhaps even at the same time.  Saving a man’s life but only after his house is destroyed in the attempt will gain both negative and positive Results points.  Sacrificing a few innocent lives for the greater good will gain both negative and positive Shininess.  Most interactions with third parties will depend mainly on the net score, but smart NPCs will take both sides of the equation into account when interacting with the party.

Next up: Aside from passing mentions in previous posts, who are the power players in Low and Fair Vickelt?  Further insights into Archipelago culture and society to follow.

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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2 Responses to A Meta-Mechanic

  1. dudecon says:

    Neat set of characteristics for groups… Why not use these for individuals as well?
    Do you keep track of groups of groups (organizations of adventuring teams, or alliances of city-states, etc)?

    • Confanity says:

      I was experimenting with a “factions” approach to the sandbox, where the party as a whole could make friends or enemies of various groups and be given quests, or resources like information and material aid. There are lots of ways you could fiddle with the system, no doubt. That said, I don’t think you need different levels. If all the parts of a “group of groups” have the same opinion of a party, then one Reputation score is enough to describe what they all think of the party; if they’re not all the same, then the higher-level Rep score becomes useless. For wide-scale or individual reactions, I would just use the party’s perceived Brains, Shininess and so on.

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