I mentioned social currency in my post yesterday about social conflict.
I currently have five “denominations” I’m working from — which grew from combining lists drawn from Bliss Stage and Dogs in the Vineyard.
Social currency includes varying degrees of Intimacy, Integrity, Injury, Identity, plus a new one I added under the working title, “Infinity” — mostly to keep my pattern of nouns that begin with the letter ‘i.’
Really, it probably started with me calling them “intangibles.”
Anyway each denomination is organized into five grades starting with something fairly mundane like a sideways glance across the room, eventually progressing to something with a lot of narrative weight to it.
Ideally an intangible is something intrinsic to a single character — and often enough it isn’t actually something that can be traded, which is what makes it interesting. I think the 2000 remake of Bedazzled sums it up nicely:
“Can’t sell your soul anyway.
[…] Because it doesn’t really belong to you in the first place.
[…] It belongs to God. That universal spirit that animates and binds all things in existence. The Devil’s gonna try to confuse you, that’s her game. But in the end, you’re gonna see clear to who and what you are, and what you’re here to do.”
Characters have all these conflicting values and ideas about what makes them who and what they are. Which are all simply parts of a puzzle everyone has to solve — for themselves — to answer the question, “what is important?”
In plain terms, each player has twenty-five bargaining chips, and as a group exercise — the players must decide which ones to spend to accomplish their goals. Race will modify how they work, since I’m using race as much for its cultural content as its physiological component.
Deceit – Secret – Share – Truth – Faith
Looks – Breath – Sweat – Kiss – Sex
Glare – Curse – Fists – Blood – Death
Image – Name – Mind – Heart – Soul
Hours – Weeks – Years – Lifetime – Eternity
A Reckoning, as may be suggested by its name, occurs whenever someone or something shows up to “collect.” Since the implied setting is inherently very magical, you might have a faerie show up to claim a kiss and (due to cultural differences) try to make off with your soul. Or your shadow.
Obviously, this idea of intangibles is also really important to the Rituals-and-Spellcasting part of the game, which describes how to turn intangibles into frighteningly-tangibles. I am nothing if not thorough.