In my last entry, I discussed new triggers for exposure to Ostracism, and some concrete methods of dealing with both the Isolation and Ostracism conditions. I want to talk a little bit more about the thought, the implications, and how mechanics can reinforce each other to create a stronger game setting/environment.

First, let’s take a look at one of my design goals. I want players to be interested in dungeon-crawling and hob-nobbing with the local gentry. Rather than relying on complicated rule systems like combat in Dungeons & Dragons (for example), I want something more abstract, like encounters and skills in Arkham Horror.

Something I have to do to bring these systems together is have a pretty universal system for meting out “consequences.” These are the conditions I came up with, Contagion, Dehydration, Exhaustion, Starvation, Isolation, and Ostracism. They have an affect on a character regardless of their current location or even situation.

Four of the conditions are physically and/or mentally-oriented. They’re pretty easy to understand. Food, water, shelter, and health/cleanliness. The other two conditions are, by necessity, more abstract than the previous four. Isolation and Ostracism are intended to form a bridge between adventure, excitement, and social advancement.

The more time an adventurer spends in towns and settlements, the more like an outcast they’re made to feel. There is no place in a civilized world for someone like them, and the wild, exotic, dangerous places call to them. The more time they spend away from civilization, the more disconnected they become, dulling the excitement.

Settling down to a life in society is typically less dangerous, but without the proper mindset, can be just as deadly as any adventure. Old enemies around every corner, looking for an opportunity to remove the hero. Adventures carry inherent danger. Heroics may lead one to take larger risks, until things spiral out of control.

I figure, Expeditions in town are the only way to conduct negotiations or subterfuge. Expeditions on the road can lead to encounters and exploration. Expeditions in the wild are the only way to conduct investigations of dungeons. Each rest taken away from town increases Isolation while each rest taken in town increases Ostracism.

Plumbing the depths of an ancient ruin may be the only way for most adventurers to “get away” from the predictability of a mundane or palatial life, restoring feelings of agency and individuality. On the flip side, reconnecting with “average people” may be the only way to get in touch with one’s own life, restoring one’s sense of balance.