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In My Traveller Universe Detail what parts of Traveller you do (or don't) use in your campaign.

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  #1  
Old January 16th, 2009, 06:51 PM
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Default The problem with SOC

For the longest time, I've just accepted SOC as a characteristic like the others, but nowadays I'm having a bit of trouble.

IMHO, SOC represents the level of privilege, wealth and influence an individual commands within mainstream Imperial society. So, you want to get a bunch of bureaucrats to do what you say, and roll SOC + Admin for example. If you're a well-heeled individual, even if you're not a noble per se, you should be able to get the clerks to hop to it, given enough of a background in the ins and out of admin. And consequently, if you're a bum off the street, you're going to get nowhere. No problems there.

But here's the thing. Mainstream Imperial society doesn't obtain everywhere -- not even close. If I have a character with a SOC of 3, living on the fringes of polite society, he may be a king of the street. Consequently, an Imperial baron may exercise considerably less influence in the slums of a ramshackle startown at the edge of a shadow port. So SOC is a very context-dependent attribute that nevertheless gets treated the same as DEX or END in character generation.

How do I justify to a player who has put his top number into SOC that while he can avoid prosecution for smuggling charges at the Imperial customs desk, he can't talk his way out of getting beat up in a dark alley?

A related question -- should I assign multiple SOC values for the same character based on the social context?

Last edited by Renaissance Man; January 16th, 2009 at 06:54 PM..
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Old January 16th, 2009, 07:27 PM
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Dave's take sounds a bit like mine. High SOC is fame (i.e. popular, well liked, etc). Think media stars, good heads of state, and such. Low SOC is infamy (i.e. unpopular, disliked, etc). Think criminals, bad heads of state, and such. Mid SOC is neither, just average Dick and Jane. The more extreme your SOC the more likely you'll be recognized for it.

So high SOC will get you noticed and usually smooth the way, provide benefits, and so on, even in the lower SOC crowd (even criminals will recognize your value).

And low SOC will get you noticed too but not usually in a smoothing the way or beneficial manner, even in the lower SOC crowd (even the criminals who'll turn you in for the price on your head or to take the heat off themselves).

That kind of thing.
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  #3  
Old January 16th, 2009, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renaissance Man View Post
But here's the thing. Mainstream Imperial society doesn't obtain everywhere -- not even close. If I have a character with a SOC of 3, living on the fringes of polite society, he may be a king of the street. Consequently, an Imperial baron may exercise considerably less influence in the slums of a ramshackle startown at the edge of a shadow port. So SOC is a very context-dependent attribute that nevertheless gets treated the same as DEX or END in character generation.
It's no harder to play than INT or EDU. Classic Traveller discusses what you mention above--that SOC will fluctuate in different circumstances. The number is meant for Third Imperium society, but that society, as you note, is not always strong or even present on some worlds.

So, the GM must adjust SOC to suit.



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How do I justify to a player who has put his top number into SOC...
Well, you must be playing MGT. I am totally against allowing players to adjust stats to taste. Note that in the other official versions (CT, MT, TNE, and T4), a player cannot adjust stats to taste unless using a house rule. I'm not sure about the licensed versions of Traveller (T20, GT, THero).

But, you can still play it. Just remember to adjust it when necessary.

CT even recommends moving SOC up or down based on the player's play of the character during the campaign. If he's a noble but doesn't act like one, he won't be perceived as one--and all that.
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Old January 16th, 2009, 10:12 PM
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You can't move the stats around in MGT either S4. House rule it is.

In a very real sense if I am a low class street thug and I have managed to corner a Baron (or higher) in an alley, I have a binary choice in front of me. A. Tune him up, rob him and go on my merry way, (where are his bodygaurds?) with the very real risk of turning up painfully dead in a few days time (echoes of Pulp Fiction). Or B. Apologize and offer to show the bastard the way back to the safer streets for a small fee, and live to see a few more months or years.

I try not to run mindless or apallingly stupid criminals, of course there are some out there to be sure. Those on the street tend to be much more aware of the possibilties of retaliation. Money can buy a whole lotta hurt.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 03:14 AM
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For me, the thing with SOC in Traveller is that it represents your standing in general Imperial/accepted Interstellar society. For example, no matter where he goes, the former King of Greece will always get doors opened for him and be treated well by strangers once they realize who he is. It matters not that he doesn't rule anymore or even live in his titled country - he's a king. And I think the SOC stat works fine for that general idea. Besides, in RL, how many times have you heard of gangs attacking upper society types? Of course not - they sadly attack each other, because that's who's nearby to be attacked. They're not stupid either - they know they hit an upper type and all hell might break loose with regard to police protection, etc.

That's my take anyway - the SOC stat works just fine.

S4, while your playstyle preferences are your own, I would say the described situation can still happen in CT. A character can have rolled a high SOC, and since they can't move it, they are "stuck" with it. Then they can end up in the Other career, in which case, they are supposed to be "lower class" criminal types (based on the skills Other gives).

Again, the idea is, how to explain it? Not that high class people can't be crooks (you could even argue all are crooks if you're feeling marxist that day) but the chance of one on the streets doing crimes is slim.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 03:23 AM
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Originally Posted by ThunderChilde View Post
You can't move the stats around in MGT either S4.
Actually, you can. It's one of the rules I detest about MGT.



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S4, while your playstyle preferences are your own, I would say the described situation can still happen in CT. A character can have rolled a high SOC, and since they can't move it, they are "stuck" with it. Then they can end up in the Other career, in which case, they are supposed to be "lower class" criminal types (based on the skills Other gives).

Again, the idea is, how to explain it? Not that high class people can't be crooks (you could even argue all are crooks if you're feeling marxist that day) but the chance of one on the streets doing crimes is slim.
Like UWPs, the UPP can be a springboard for imagination and creativity.

High SOC character that goes into the Other career?

I can think of several ways to play it.

...A crimelord.

...A noble who has lost his House.

...The wayward son of a wealthy family. Disowned. Maybe addictions led him here.

...A noble of a House that has lost its holdings.

...The bastard son of who never knew his connection with royalty.



...I can go on and on.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 03:29 AM
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Cool Naw, unnecessary

That's what streetwise is for! So you have the Baron of whatsit, but he has sufficient streetwise to overcome any barriers of that sort. Off in the fringe, streetwise is your friend. The only thing a down and out likes better than his own kind is a wealthy patron that doesn't talk down to him. Now, back in Imperial Space, that SOC gives him the privilege he deserves through imperial culture.

Now, I know you're on the T5 forum, a nod to that would be making a human from a frontier area that has a different characteristic than Soc, because that's how his culture interacts. Take the Vargr Charisma, for example. Force of personality may have a greater effect for a culture that is less stratified. It doesn't have to be as volatile as Vargr Charisma, but it might count for half when applied to the many administrative tasks that a high SOC can breeze you through in a stratified society. A high appropriate skill will counter that lack. But it any situation of a non rigid nature, it would apply just as much as anything else. Interviews, recruiting drives, persuasion attempts, seduction processes (enter wolf-whistle here) etc.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 05:19 AM
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Yeah, use of streetwise would be my take, too. It replaces soc in the alleys. (maybe use 3 x Street instead of Soc)

I'm not sure about the retaliation deterrent - how is the street punk gonna know that the guy in the designer suit with the bulging wallet who's just walked down the wrong alley is actually the sector duke out on a bender? The punk won't figure out who his mark was until the battlecruisers land...

The main problem I have with soc is figuring the difference between a sector duke and the duke of some backwater dirtside principality. Are they both soc15? does the dirtside duke get an honorary knighthood and soc11? Or what?

Last edited by Icosahedron; January 17th, 2009 at 05:22 AM..
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Old January 17th, 2009, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icosahedron View Post
Yeah, use of streetwise would be my take, too. It replaces soc in the alleys. (maybe use 3 x Street instead of Soc)

I'm not sure about the retaliation deterrent - how is the street punk gonna know that the guy in the designer suit with the bulging wallet who's just walked down the wrong alley is actually the sector duke out on a bender? The punk won't figure out who his mark was until the battlecruisers land...

The main problem I have with soc is figuring the difference between a sector duke and the duke of some backwater dirtside principality. Are they both soc15? does the dirtside duke get an honorary knighthood and soc11? Or what?
Streetwise is a good way to look at it, and I'd agree.

As for the retaliation deterrent, it's the one that works right now, IRL. While there ARE crimes against upper-class people now and then (like you said, guy waling down street with bulging wallet is a wonderful target) in general, crimes by poor people against rich don't happen as often as we might imagine. Now crimes against middle class on the other hand...
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Old January 17th, 2009, 12:05 PM
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There are many ways of looking SOC, I tend to follow that SOC is the understanding that the Imperium is still largely a class based society. Classes are fairly fluid until you get to about SOC B-C, then the society becomes much more rigid and this becomes the sustainers and propigators of Imperial Culture (that you asked about earlier). Therefore, the Imperium crystalizes around a feudal mentality and sustains it through the loyality/fidelity to a concept of nobility. This as we know from MT is constantly being challenged and eroded by the economic and social forces at play in the Imperium which is why Dulinor wanted to transform the whole Imperium into a collection of Liberal Democracies with himself installed as the President-for-Life. Therefore, the Imperium uses SOC as a reflective way of exerting command and respect...so for a simple formula: SOC = Status + Class therefore, indeed I can see how a crime lord may have a high SOC but still be ostercised outside of his sphere of influence for what Traveller rightly or wrongly assumes is that a culture of nobility is what people would aspire to rather than the baser instincts. Which is partially confirmed by historical analysis....how many criminals become pillars of the community in the next generation or at least remembered & glorified as such (eg. Sheriff Jarvis).
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