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Status in BRP/Merrie England/Crusaders of the Amber Coast


HierophantX

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I'm having some trouble with how Status is supposed to work. It seems that Status specialties are a measure of your status within an organization, but then it's also supposed to be a measure of your financial status in general? That doesn't seem to work, AND it seems to be an onerous burden for player characters who are required to spend points on Status to determine your wealth status, and then what do they have left to spend on standing within their respective organizations?

Am I fundamentally misunderstanding something? Is Status broken or is this a matter of presentation?

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I suspect that Status is another one of the more setting specific elements of BRP.

Since in my settings I use a currency ro measure the characters' wealth and ability

to buy stuff, I use Status as a measure of the characters' credibility, influence and

reputation in their specific part of a society, for example with modifiers to their so-

cial skills (e.g. bonus when using social skills with those of lower status, malus when

using social skills with those of higher status). As I use it, a character's initial Status

depends mostly on his profession, and it can only change because of the character's

publicly known successes (the more they benefit his peers, the more the Status in-

creases) and failures (the more they harm his peers, the more Status he loses). A

certain Status can also be a prerequisite for a specific position (e.g. no guild master

with a Status of less than 65 %).

However, this is only one way to use Status, there are certainly others, too.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

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It really gets complicated when your setting includes many factions or nationalities where Status is relevent.

Here are some setting details to illustrate the problem...

Setting AD 1140, Coastal Cumbria.

2 of the characters in the story are exiled Gall-Gaels of good family whose Grandfather was granted Tarbert Castle in Kintyre by Magnus Bare-Leg King of Norway (and the Isles). 10 years ago, Scots raiders out of Knapdale in their contempt for the laws of hospitality, treacherously gained admission to the fort and you know the rest. The family priest, also an uncle, got the boys out and took them to his home Abbey, Furness, where the boys are raised and educated.

When the story begins, basically the boys have the following Status-relationships:

Furness Abbey/Savinac Order - Where they have spent the past 10 years and an organization that has a plan for them.

Gall-Gael(Culture) - Their native culture of the Isles, their standing among "their" people.

Norse(Culture) - As Gall-Gaels they are sort of country cousins to their Norwegian kin. Default modified -5 or -10 from Gall-Gael Status

Presumably their Status in England (Furness is IN England after all) would be modified by their relationship with the Abbey

So when they are blowing 50 points or so on Status in chargen, to where do these status points acrue?

It's my game so I can tweak the rules as I like, but I'm trying to understand the intent of the rules as written.

Is this Status just meant to represent social class? But in which society? How do they generate the awards necessary to enhance their social class when it seems (as illustrated in CotAC, for ex), that you get the rewards for doing things that advance the interests of the organization. It almost seems like Status could function abstractly like Glory in Pendragon, for instance, but it doesn't really work because of how you have to spend points on it and how difficult it is to advance. If a character gets knighted, on the battlefield, for example, even if he isn't granted land, that could be more than a 20 point bump in Status as it's written. But it isn't clear how a character would get their "generic" status increased to the level where a knighthood would be appropriate, whereas, it's totally clear that a character could increase their status with "England" by having a good reputation word of which would get to the powers that be and eventually a land grant or the right to bid on a royal office might someday matriculate to the character.

Before I make official my own interpretation of this system, I just want to understand what the original rule meant.

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Let us see how it works in Crusaders. I have included detailed rules for status in the Campaign in order to make an example of how status might work. CotAC is an extreme, but very suitable, example, because very few people outside the city of Riga will own or use coins in Livonia, so keeping track of coins carried is extremely unrealistic.

Let us say that our character starts the game as a mercenary employed by the Brotherhood. He will have Status (Livonian Order) at a certain score, defined at character creation and increasing as soon as he does something useful for the local Komtur. This represents how favourably the Komtur and the Brothers see him, so it is both a "status" and a "relationship" thing.

However, it is also a means of determining if he gets a certain item he wants. If our character is a mercenary, and wants to buy better armour in Riga, his reputation will help him find it, as the blacksmith will surely favour this loyal servant of the Brotherhood in case the demand for armour suits exceeds his production capability. Note that this is even more true for the Brothers themselves, as they make a Vow of Poverty and all of their equipment is assigned to them by the Komtur. Assuming he wants to buy a magic charm of Healing from the local Ragana, instead, he must have the Status (Baltic) skill to deal with this pagan hag and persuade her to teach him magic. The Status roll simulates both the Ragana testing his reputation among the natives, and the character himself getting hold of some livestock to give her, as she will certainly not accept silver.

Must a character have a different Status skills for all organizations? Well, yes, and no. If he is a diplomat, he will end up having a good score with several factions. In all other cases, the Status with his main faction will suffice, provided that the setting has a clear definition of which Statuses can replace which others. I have provided these rules in CotAC on page 105, also as an example of how to use Status with multiple factions.

Let us go back to our example. Suppose our character does not have the Status (Baltic) skill, but has a high status (Livonian Order). The rules say that he can replace any Status (Baltic) roll with a Difficult Status (Livonian Order) or Status (Bishopric) roll. Essentially, this represents our character confronting the woman and telling her "Give me what I want or Brother Manfred will come and burn your hut, witch!" Since the Ragana is afraid of Brother Manfred, she will probably comply. Similarly, you may use your Status (Livonian Order) to persuade the Bishop, as the two organizations are more or less friendly.

Of course, there must be some degree of approximation in this. If your character is dealing with the Hansa, status with the Bishopric or Order is usually not significant, However, the GM might determine that your reputation with the Bishop has been reported to the Hansa and allow you a Difficult roll. Similarly, reputaion with all the Baltic tribes is handled with one single skill, but a person in good standing with the Letts is not necessarily also a friend of the Aukstaiciai, who raid the Letts every other season, so modifiers could be applied.

In the end, it is a matter of how many factions you have in the game, and whether a Status specialty may replace another because the people in an organization may have heard of the good reputation your character has in another. If the factions in a game are really, really many, it might become too difficult to handle them, and you might wish to track things differently. This is why the only place where this is detailed in our publications is CotAC, which has a restricted number of factions in play. Doing this in The Celestial Empire would be simply impossible.

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A person could have a low Wealth score but a high Status score amongst the Gaels, so he would be treated with honour amongst his own folk. Amongst the Normans, for example, the fact that he has high status amongst the Gaels means nothing to them, however he could play on his importance to Gaels to get some benefits amongst the Normans.

People could be respected in the Church but despised by the people, or respected by Normans and hated by Saxons and so on.

My gut feeling is that a PC who is respected by or has a high Status amongst different communities should have to spend points on different Status skills/specialities. If you want to optimise, then spend them on Wealth as that generally helps everywhere.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Well, Paolo's got it. Iwanted to emulate the CotAC status system but my setting might be too complicated.

Factions:

Savinac Order/Furness Abbey

Cistercian Order

Augustinian Order

Archbishop of York

Archbishop of Nidaros

Kingdom of Scotland

The Isles (which has a modified status in Scotland, Ireland, Norway)

Angevin Kingdom

And those are just the baseline. Once, er, I mean if, the characters fail in their scheme, then they're off on Crusade II and they get a whole new setof factions.

What's the best way to deal with this?

So Simon, you're saying that there's Status-Wealth and that's just generic wealth lvl and should be maintained as a separate skill from Status(culture/faction)? Presumably then wealth lvl should have a basic modifier towards your social status in every context (I don't know who that foreign savage is, but he's wearing good armor and rich garb...)?

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Sorry, I was in a cafe earlier and couldn't give a longer reply. My internet connection at home has returned, for the time being, if a bit shaky.

Well, Paolo's got it. Iwanted to emulate the CotAC status system but my setting might be too complicated.

Ah, I am not overly familiar with the Status system on CotAC - I'll have to check it out properly.

I doubt that your situation will be more complicated than the unholy mess of Statuses that make up the Crusaders in the North.

Factions:

Savinac Order/Furness Abbey

Cistercian Order

Augustinian Order

Archbishop of York

Archbishop of Nidaros

Kingdom of Scotland

The Isles (which has a modified status in Scotland, Ireland, Norway)

Angevin Kingdom

Unless they have actual connections with the Archbishops of York and Nidaros, I wouldn't bother using Status for them. As the PCs become more well-known then they might gains status with each Archbishop, but at the moment they would be either vaguely known or unknown.

If you are planning a campaign where the Orders are pitted against each other then Status (Order) might be useful. However, if you are not then do you really need a status for each Order?

The Angevins didn't rule until Henry II's time, so for your date it should be Norman Kingdom. That allows you to use the status in the lands that the Normans have conquered, e.g. Siciliy.

I wouldn't bother deriving different Statuses either. If you have Status (Gaels) then have an implicit relationship with the Norse, but don't make it a specific Status, unless the PCs have strong interaction with them. So, they might start off as the poor nephews of McTarbert who the Norse know because their grandfather helped Magnus Bare-Leg, in which case they would use a modified Status(Gaels) roll in their dealings with the Norse. However, once they have dealt with the Norse a few times then they can build up a Status (Norse) which they can use instead, so rather than "You know, those poor nephews of McTarbert", they become "You know, those monks who rid us of the dragon that plagued the Isles" or "You know, those monks that stormed Castle Tarbert and chopped the head of the laird - look there it is on top of that pike!".

And those are just the baseline. Once, er, I mean if, the characters fail in their scheme, then they're off on Crusade II and they get a whole new setof factions.

What's the best way to deal with this?

Yes, they can. The important thing is to work out which factions are important enough to the plotline to have their own Status scores. The Byzantine Emperor is very important at the time and has the Varangian Guard, which may well contain kinsmen of the PCs, but do they need a Status skill for him - probably not until they go to Byzantium and join his guard.

It is easy to go overboard with factions and statuses. I'd keep it as simple or as complex as you think suits the game. If the PCs use the same Status skills over and over again then they are the important ones and the ones that should be developed.

So Simon, you're saying that there's Status-Wealth and that's just generic wealth lvl and should be maintained as a separate skill from Status(culture/faction)? Presumably then wealth lvl should have a basic modifier towards your social status in every context (I don't know who that foreign savage is, but he's wearing good armor and rich garb...)?

Status (Wealth) should be used as a modifier to other situations. There are BRP rules to do this (I think you add 1/5th of the skill if applicable).

So, yes, you could say "Who's that savage? I have no idea who he is but I like the cut of his cloth" or "Who's that savage? I hope he doesn't think that buying expensive clothes will impress me" or "Who's that savage? Obviously not a man of God otherwise he would wear more modest clothing" or whatever.

You could have someone who is the grandson of a very important man, say the King's Bodyguard, who has a very low Status (Wealth) but has a very high Status (Gael) because of that. You could also have a very rich foreign merchant on his first trip to the Isles with a very high Status (Wealth) but a very low Status (Gael). In a contest between the two, who will the locals trust? It depends.

So, Status is very much a hand-wavy setting-dependent skill.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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My understanding of status is not exactly the same: I don't see it as a measure of the reputation, but as a rank in the society, or as the importance you have in this society, shall it be mundane or symbolic. You can be a very hated king, you're still a king : the fucntion makes the status.

If you see things like this, you can simplify things a lot. A bishop, whatever his order, is still a bishop for every one: I don't see the point making a difference between the orders. And a Gael king will be certainly considered differently by the normands than a gael farmer, just because he's a king. Status can be seen as a measure of the importance of a character, which may have some negative effects: an ennemy wanting to make an exemple or to break the resistance of a tribe will preferably try to kill its king: higher status is bad is this case ! But in the other hands, killng a king or a knight or a religious leader will certainly put you in big trouble, while killng a begglar won't, wahtever their tribe/nation/order. And when negociating, you'll want to negociate with somebody having the same status in his group.

for thsi reason, I think that status can be, when not universal, at least transversal and doesn't require a too big granularity. Stay simple.

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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Factions:

Savinac Order/Furness Abbey

Cistercian Order

Augustinian Order

Archbishop of York

Archbishop of Nidaros

Kingdom of Scotland

The Isles (which has a modified status in Scotland, Ireland, Norway)

Angevin Kingdom

As I see it, your characters need only two Status values, those for the Savinac Order

and for their Gaelic Clan, everything else can be handled with default modifiers, unless

the characters actually join another one of the factions.

The various branches of the church (Cistercian Order, Augustinian Order and the Arch-

bishops) will use the character's modified Status with the Savinac Order, the Kingdom

of Scotland and the Lordship of the Isles will use the characters' modified Status with

their Gaelic Clan (unless the characters act in the name of the Savinac Order), and in

the Norman Kingdom the characters' status will depend on whether they act as mem-

bers of the Savinac Order or as members of their Gaelic Clan.

In my view Status is the characters' standing within a specific group they belong to,

beyond that group foreigners will judge them based upon their individual preferences

and prejudices (""People with red hair are not trustworthy", etc.) or based upon their

membership in a faction (default value), but unless a character has some high office

in his faction they will rarely have an idea of the character's actual standing in the

faction - this would be "insider knowledge".

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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My understanding of status is not exactly the same: I don't see it as a measure of the reputation, but as a rank in the society, or as the importance you have in this society, shall it be mundane or symbolic. You can be a very hated king, you're still a king : the fucntion makes the status.

And who said otherwise? My example of "Brother Manfred will burn your hut" is exactly this: you do not get what you want because your friends are loved, you get it because they are hated and feared. The Status roll is simply there to check whether the witch believes that you are friends with Brother Manfred.

As for the rest, Rust and Simon are probably right and you can have a Status (Cistercian Order) that gives you a Status (Any order or bishopric) at -20 or something, exactly as you do for Etiquette or Culture or Language. If you are well known to the Cistercians, the Augustinians may think you are a half-heretic, but they will not regard you as an ingnorant or a godless man, and this remarks Status. Remember, Status means that they cannot dismiss you as non-important, not that they will love you.

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It is a limit of any kind of skill-based simulation. You cannot raise your generic "fighting capability", just your skill with a given weapon. Still, practice tells you that anyone with fighting experience is more dangerous than an unskilled guy, with any weapon. Corrections to this require intensive use of complementary skills. It is up to you whether to adopt the "generic skill" way - OpenQuest does this even for combat - or complicate things to make them more realistic.

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And who said otherwise?

Apparently not you ;)

I used the wrong wording: it was just a remark concerning the status as a measure of wealth, of good reputation or the necessity to create specialized status, all things which have been mentionned here and there. As Simon said, it is a matter of how complex you want to make it, but I'm more for the simple version: I think it could then even be used for The Celestial Empire.

Unless I want a very diplomacy oriented campaign, I would use no more than a couple of status in a setting (even only one of possible), but instead limit what you can expect from a status roll with a foreigner (blind obedience from your followers or polite refusal from a froreigner looking at your folk with disdain). This however cannot be simulated with a skill.

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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