I’m sitting here with a page in front of me.

I do a lot of sitting while I’m thinking. Sometimes I lounge, but usually not. Showering is also helpful for thought, as is pacing. I pace a lot when I can guarantee my path will be unobstructed. I need a “garden.”

This page has all those terms I listed on it, most of which actually represent subsystems from 1e, 2e, and 3e. And then there’s some stuff I thought about during my Cultural Anthropology class. Reciprocity.

There was one big thing I forgot to put on my list.

“Obligation,” as in the Obligation system from Edge of the Empire.

Lots of D&D heroes are rags-to-riches stories. EotE heroes are more like start-up businesses. In D&D, you work your way up to a stronghold and followers. EotE however, starts your group with a spaceship and a mountain of debt.

From a certain point of view, I really like this feature.

First of all, your mountain of debt represents a clear and present danger to your group. Abstract though it may be, your encounters are often tied directly to your characters’ deeds, past or present. Without need for pages of backstory.

You write “Debt” on your character sheet, followed by a percentage.

The GM adds together the Obligations of the entire group, which determines the likelihood that the party’s backstory is going to come gunning for them.

I don’t know if it’s a strength or weakness of the system that your character can never be truly “debt-free.” It’s worth noting not all Obligations are financial. Some are familial. Some are personal flaws or obsessions.

In a sense, this is exactly what I want from a “society” mechanic. Characters are always connected to society at large, and you can fill in the blanks as you go.

Let’s say you have a “spice” addiction. That’s a social flaw.

When your number comes up, you really need a fix, and you might desert or backstab the party in order to get it. It’s a lot more personal than The 13th Age Icons. But almost as abstract. Is there enough variety in Obligations though?

I like the idea of indebting the PCs to some group for say, their starting equipment. I mean, that’s a pretty big concentration of wealth right there — possibly on par with that of a spaceship in EotE. It might fill in a gap.

Maybe the next question I should work on then, is whether this Obligation system can be made to work within the framework of an entire society (the PCs’ society) to represent NPCs, as well. Like factions. And the campaign villain.

I wonder if you could fit an entire culture on a d20 roll?