On Jeff's Gameblog he has a quick discussion of extra stats, inspired by Terminal Space's tech level stat. A few paragraphs in, he points out both how worthless Comeliness was as a stat and that people might have taken the Social Status tables more seriously if that had been a 3d6 stat instead BITD.
I agree that Comeliness was pretty much worthless. Our group only used it as a way to figure out if we had a better chance with the local barmaids.
Social status, on the other hand was either played up too much (*cough* cavaliers *cough*) or not used at all. We ignored it for most of the PCs because adventurers were seen as being on the fringes of society anyway, despite the vast riches and loads of magic they acquired on their adventures. PCs had access to kings, ministers, and high clerics on the one hand and beggars and pilferers on the other. It didn't matter where they came from, because they stepped out of that background the second they all sat down at that table at the inn. The rules even supported that by excluding a modifier to starting money based on social status.
I know some games included modifiers to starting money or equipment for all characters (not just cavaliers) based on social status, but that didn't affect things for long. As soon as the characters started grabbing loot, everyone dropped their past and instantly moved into the lower or middle upper class! I agree that's unrealistic in some senses, but it didn't really matter.
Thinking ahead to my Borderlands game, I'm trying to decide if it should matter. There are all kinds of reasons against it – simplicity, gaming tradition, ease, and so on – but there's also a strong compelling reason for it – the Castellan.
The ruler of the keep may or may not make himself available to the PCs. I like the idea of this character being a strong feudal lord, trying to hold his keep and rule his people on the fringes of civilization. He spends a lot of time maintaining what is essentially a fortified trading outpost, but he is a minor noble, invested by a more powerful feudal ruler with rights of fealty and taxation. He pays attention to standing and class. And he's not likely to associate easily with the lower classes. Since he's a prime mover and shaker that could, potentially, offer the PCs some assistance, I want to be able to play all of the aspects of the character.
So, picking up on Jeff's idea, I put together the following as a simple mechanic for including social status as a statistic. Because I want social class to have some game effects, I'm going to give a small adjustment to starting money for the extremes. I'm leaving out adjustments to reactions, bonuses and penalties for hiring henchmen, and these kinds of modifiers because I think there are too many variables to consider. I'll probably include these kinds of things in game play, but I'd rather roleplay them out and use social status as another guideline alongside charisma, depending on the situation. I'm also leaving out racial modifiers and such as well. Not all dwarves, for example, are going to be well-to-do in my world. Here's the end result:
Social Status (Soc) measures a character's position in society. High or low social status will increase or decrease a character's starting money available to purchase equipment and may affect their relations with other characters in the game. A high social status is useful for any character.
A character's social status will likely change during the course of the campaign, at the discretion of the game master.
|SOCIAL STATUS TABLE|
|Score||Social Class||Modifier to starting money|
|3-4||Lower lower class||-10%|
|5-7||Upper lower class||-5%|
|8-10||Lower middle class||–|
|11-15||Upper middle class||–|
|16-17||Lower upper class||+5%|
|18||Upper upper class||+10%|
Modifier to starting money: The starting money for the character is reduced by this percentage before purchasing equipment for the character.
Examples of the various social classes are as follows:
Lower lower class: peasants, beggars, criminals, herdsmen, laborers
Upper lower class: performers, fences, freemen, men-at-arms, poor traders, tradesmen
Lower middle class: craftsmen, petty officials, lesser military officers, poor merchants
Upper middle class: guild masters, gentry, political officials, merchants, poor knights
Lower upper class: knights and wardens, political ministers, senior officers
Upper upper class: titled nobility and royalty
Gaming content in this post is open game content per the OGL.