Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

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Master_of_Ritual
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Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby Master_of_Ritual » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:05 am

I've looked at some past comments on the subject, and it seems like there are a lot of people who don't like Social Status as a primary Characteristic. I'm inclined to agree. It seems that social status is highly context-dependent, and it wouldn't come into play if you were using an assumed identity, for example. I can see how high status could give a person a more impressive bearing. I could also see how it could make someone into a haughty prig (eg. Simon Tam, Fitzwilliam Darcy). It seems easy enough to call SOC "Social Aptitude" and treat it pretty much like D&D CHA. But before I go ahead with making that change in my game, I'd like to hear from any people who prefer keeping it as is, and want to lay out a case for doing so.

Edit: I should mention that I'm using a homebrew setting. In it, one's social status is not recognized from world to world as much as it seems to be in the Third Imperium.
Last edited by Master_of_Ritual on Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
Linwood
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby Linwood » Tue Aug 18, 2020 4:30 am

That’s the way I typically use SOC in gameplay. The drawback is - like your example shows - is that social aptitude doesn’t necessarily align with social rank. I think you could address that pretty readily in your setting.

One problem you’ll have to consider is character generation. A number of Careers use SOC for qualification, survival, and/or advancement. in some cases it’s obvious SOC is used to denote class (can’t get in the Noble Career unless you are one..). In others it may be social aptitude that fits (survival rolls maybe?).

You may want also think about whether social rank should be a modifier to character generation in other ways. A high-rank character might get a bonus to enter certain Careers and/or a penalty to enter others (a boon/bane in some cases?). Maybe it has an effect on benefit rolls, although that gets tricky (+1/-1 DM? Plus or minus an entire benefit roll? Or maybe one extra cash roll allowed for high social rank and one less for low rank?)

Awarding an automatic 0-level skill based on social rank is a thought too. Skills like Carouse, Diplomat, and Persuade might be a good fit for that use.

Keep in mind social ranks are common in almost every culture. Nobles might set their ranks by title. The wealthy might compare the size of their accumulated wealth (or visible display). Scholars and scientists might judge status by the number and/or quality of their publications (or the number of citations - demonstrating impact/influence in their field of study). Athletes might set social rank by physical prowess or number of competitions/trophies/titles. I think it’s more playable to generalize it by thinking in terms of influence, achievements, and/or authority (I’m thinking of wealth in terms of influence here).

Looking forward to seeing where this goes....
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby Geir » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:21 am

There's a fairly detailed write-up on Effective SOC in the Traveller Companion. It mentions Effective SOC, which can vary by situation and location and alternative characteristics like Charm (CHA) and Wealth (WLT) that can take its place, depending on the situation. So it might make sense for SOC to stay as a characteristic relevant to the home culture, adjust according to differences in location and culture, and use CHA as a personality modifier and WLT for buying power and perhaps how the character is accustomed to living.
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby Sigtrygg » Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:49 am

Soc is a really important characteristic within some settings and cultures. Like it or not human culture is heavily influenced by a hierarchical structure that evolved when we were little more than great apes.

Break it down.

Soc represents class - which strata of society were you born into, in which strata were you educated? Your general outlook will be heavily influenced by this.
Soc also represents wealth, which often goes hand in hand with social class bit not always due to the third leg of the tripod.
Soc finally represents sociopolitical ties, connections and influence.

In some societies noble titles may go with this power structure, in others there will be no titles but you will still know who your social 'betters' are.

Suddenly winning the lottery increases your wealth, but it will take some time before you can buy your way into the golf club, tennis club and the like, but you will be able to send your children to better schools and grant them membership of said clubs - hence the children of the self made often find themselves as higher soc than their parents.
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby AnotherDilbert » Tue Aug 18, 2020 11:50 am

SOC as a characteristic makes no sense in todays western world, but it does in a class society.

In a true class society it takes generations to change class, you simply have the class of your patents, period. It has almost nothing to do with wealth. Money and wealth is steered towards the upper classes, not the other way around, i.e. you become wealthy by having the right class and connections, you do not become higher class simply by making money.

Class is ingrained in the way you speak, behave, and dress. The lower classes are expected to pay deference to any higher class. If they don't it's "uppity", and it's handled by societal pressure or worse...

Dirt-poor nobility is still nobility.

Think of 19th century Britain, as an example: Industrialists and merchants could become immensely rich, yet the upper classes looked down upon them as middle class with delusions of grandeur. Their grandsons might become members of the upper classes by buying strategic marriage alliances.

In Scandinavia or northern North America, that have never been feudal, that might seem ridiculous, but that is how most of the world functioned fairly recently.



In the current western world societal status is much more like Vargr Charisma that changes with circumstances and challenges. Having a good job makes you fairly high status, but lose it and you might end up homeless with very low status. Regain your income and you quickly regain your status. This is not what Traveller SOC describes.



I would argue that by having SOC as described by RAW as a basic characteristic makes the OTU a true class society. That means that if a noble addresses you, you tug your forelocks and when they say "Jump!", you jump, or suffer the consequences.

At least that is how the Imperium works, any local system might be different.



In a class society having SOC as a DM on societal interactions is reasonable, your SOC represents your family's influence and how much power you can bring to bear on the other party. If you have higher SOC onlookers and authorities will basically automatically side with you.
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby Reynard » Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:09 pm

For 40 years, I always kept it simple. Social Standing (SOC) was the characteristic influencing social interaction whether natural or practiced. If a particular variant of Traveller Universe features social hierarchy prominently then it also influences your place in such society. It adapts but still basically allows characters to take actions between social creatures.
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby Sigtrygg » Tue Aug 18, 2020 1:16 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 11:50 am
SOC as a characteristic makes no sense in todays western world, but it does in a class society.
Which classless western world do you live in?
Is there a class hierarchy still in existence in the UK? Yes
France? Yes
USA? yes, they refuse to admit it but the wealth families that have now run theri country for over a hundred years are a form of nobility - a sure sign is when families start to occupy political positions inter-generationally such as congress, senate and even a couple of families swapping the white house between themselves.
We call it by a different name but the rich families that can pass theri wealth from generation to generation are a different class to people who must work for a living to make ends meet, who in turn are a different class to those who rely on welfare.
In a true class society it takes generations to change class, you simply have the class of your patents, period. It has almost nothing to do with wealth. Money and wealth is steered towards the upper classes, not the other way around, i.e. you become wealthy by having the right class and connections, you do not become higher class simply by making money.
History doesn't support your argument, there are plenty of examples of families moving up the social scale in only a generation or two, it can take a lot longer for a downward, but you are right in that it takes wealth to achieve the transition.
During the industrial revolution the easiest way to change your family was to marry into the tier you desired - many industrialists married their children off in order to to secure a higher position in society.
Class is ingrained in the way you speak, behave, and dress. The lower classes are expected to pay deference to any higher class. If they don't it's "uppity", and it's handled by societal pressure or worse...
Yup, and it is still prevalent in the western world.
Dirt-poor nobility is still nobility.
And a good way to move up the social scale if you have the wealth to do so.
Think of 19th century Britain, as an example: Industrialists and merchants could become immensely rich, yet the upper classes looked down upon them as middle class with delusions of grandeur. Their grandsons might become members of the upper classes by buying strategic marriage alliances.
They also bought political status by buying a seat in the House of Commons or in a couple of cases noble titles - so you agree that changing class can be done in a generation now?
In Scandinavia or northern North America, that have never been feudal, that might seem ridiculous, but that is how most of the world functioned fairly recently.
Scandinavian countries that have never been feudal - which one? The USA grew from a feudal Great Britain and class was still ingrained they just pretended their slave owning landed nobility were patricians rather than nobility. I note they still maintain an officer class in their armed forces...
In the current western world societal status is much more like Vargr Charisma that changes with circumstances and challenges. Having a good job makes you fairly high status, but lose it and you might end up homeless with very low status. Regain your income and you quickly regain your status. This is not what Traveller SOC describes.
If you have to worry about losing your job and house you are not upper class... it's why I split my analysis of Soc into three parts - wealth status and influence.
I would argue that by having SOC as described by RAW as a basic characteristic makes the OTU a true class society. That means that if a noble addresses you, you tug your forelocks and when they say "Jump!", you jump, or suffer the consequences.
At least that is how the Imperium works, any local system might be different.
I agree, and it is an often overlooked fact about the Third Imperium that it is feudal and you do what you are told by your masters and betters.



In a class society having SOC as a DM on societal interactions is reasonable, your SOC represents your family's influence and how much power you can bring to bear on the other party. If you have higher SOC onlookers and authorities will basically automatically side with you.
I agree, within the Third Imperium Soc is a necessary characteristic.
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby AnotherDilbert » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:39 pm

Sigtrygg wrote: Which classless western world do you live in?
Is there a class hierarchy still in existence in the UK? Yes
France? Yes
USA? yes, ...
If it is not permanent it's not class in the real sense.

Yes, current western societies have plenty of income and status differences, if probably less than most societies in history, but it's based on non-permanent factors such as fame and money. People move up and down the scales all the time.

In a class society class is basically fixed at birth.


I'm not american, but I vaguely believe the US still has remains left of the old class structures, e.g. in the right circles in New York old money families have higher status than new money?


Sigtrygg wrote: History doesn't support your argument, there are plenty of examples of families moving up the social scale in only a generation or two, it can take a lot longer for a downward, but you are right in that it takes wealth to achieve the transition.
Yes, of course you can change class, but that is the rare exception, not the rule as it is today. Rates of social mobility changed a lot over time, even in feudal societies, but remained low.

Even in medieval Europe there were institutional exceptions, such as the Church, where you could make a class career and be recognised.

Sigtrygg wrote: During the industrial revolution the easiest way to change your family was to marry into the tier you desired - many industrialists married their children off in order to to secure a higher position in society.
Theoretically only girls moved up in class, rich middle class men marrying genteel women might move up in status in the middle class, but did not enter the upper class.

Which is why I mentioned grandchildren; the surest way to for a rich middle class family to move upward was to marry a rich daughter to a poor well-born man: their children would have both a name and money.

Sigtrygg wrote:
Class is ingrained in the way you speak, behave, and dress.
Yup, and it is still prevalent in the western world.
Not even remotely like the 19th century. There is a reason french revolutionary parties were divided into e.g. culottes and sans-culottes. In Sweden the main parliamentary parties in the 16th century were called the Hats (hattarna) and the Caps (mössorna), with the Hats basically representing the upper classes.

Sigtrygg wrote: Scandinavian countries that have never been feudal - which one?
Norway, Iceland, and Sweden hence Finland. Denmark was almost feudal, but nothing like the rest of Europe.

"Nobility" exists in Sweden and Norway, but has nothing to do with feudalism. Farmers have never been serfs. Nobles had no formal authority over anyone but the tenants on their land and had nothing to do with the legal, judiciary, or government systems. No land was held in fief to the state, but could be bought and sold as any other property. If a nobleman wanted to have land, he had to inherit or buy it, just like anyone else. Most farmers owned their own land and had no obligations to any noble.

Sigtrygg wrote: The USA grew from a feudal Great Britain and class was still ingrained they just pretended their slave owning landed nobility were patricians rather than nobility. ...
Serfdom has never been practised in the US or Canada as far as I know.

Plantation owners were not a formal noble class, just rich individuals who owned a lot of land.

In a feudal system the state formally owns all the land and the nobles administrates a district in hereditary fealty, and the peasants belong to the land (serfdom).


Sigtrygg wrote: If you have to worry about losing your job and house you are not upper class... it's why I split my analysis of Soc into three parts - wealth status and influence.
Agreed, but the difference between, say, SOC 5 and SOC 9 is to a large part your income or job, I suspect more in the US than in Europe.

The rich play by their own rules, but they can still go broke, and many new fortunes are created continually. The difference between, say, SOC 12 and SOC 14 is just relative money and can change.

I agree we can get better results by dividing the characteristics into sub-characteristics, but it becomes too much bother for a game, in my opinion.
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby Linwood » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:57 pm

Sigtrygg wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 1:16 pm

USA? yes, they refuse to admit it but the wealth families that have now run theri country for over a hundred years are a form of nobility - a sure sign is when families start to occupy political positions inter-generationally such as congress, senate and even a couple of families swapping the white house between themselves.
I don't know that we (in the US) are all that reluctant to admit that we have our own unique class-based society, although acceptance of that being true is far from universal. Plenty of studies documenting wealth disparities and multi-generational effects that certainly appear class-related (note I'm lumping ethnicity into this). The recent protests here are making some aspects of this harder for people to ignore.
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby Condottiere » Tue Aug 18, 2020 10:59 pm

1. It's a way to simplify character interaction with society; if you want something more realistic, you have to use GURPS.

2. Having gone across a wide gamut of societies and their strati, it's usually a combination of networking and presentation.

3. Some professions or callings are outside standard castes, like religious figures and foreigners, especially if they're rare.
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:40 am

Master_of_Ritual wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:05 am
I've looked at some past comments on the subject, and it seems like there are a lot of people who don't like Social Status as a primary Characteristic. I'm inclined to agree. It seems that social status is highly context-dependent, and it wouldn't come into play if you were using an assumed identity, for example. I can see how high status could give a person a more impressive bearing. I could also see how it could make someone into a haughty prig (eg. Simon Tam, Fitzwilliam Darcy). It seems easy enough to call SOC "Social Aptitude" and treat it pretty much like D&D CHA. But before I go ahead with making that change in my game, I'd like to hear from any people who prefer keeping it as is, and want to lay out a case for doing so.

Edit: I should mention that I'm using a homebrew setting. In it, one's social status is not recognized from world to world as much as it seems to be in the Third Imperium.
Social Standing is the most important Characteristic in Mongoose Traveller. Non-role-players have a very tough time with it though. But once the light goes off in a player's head, they are very glad that SOC is in Mongoose Traveller.
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Re: Advantages of keeping SOC as is?

Postby Linwood » Wed Aug 19, 2020 5:50 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:40 am

Social Standing is the most important Characteristic in Mongoose Traveller. Non-role-players have a very tough time with it though. But once the light goes off in a player's head, they are very glad that SOC is in Mongoose Traveller.
I don't think I've heard that viewpoint before. Care to expand on that thought? I'm curious....

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