Strata

Social Rank

Death may Die is not a purely military game. While characters might be military and have military rank, in Death may Die characters are just as likely to be nonmilitary professionals, mercenaries, or others. Because of this, RQI doesn’t quite have the same significance.

Regardless, society is, by its nature, stratified. While wealth, gender, culture, race, sexuality, faith, and other factors might all play parts in the stratification of society, the major impetus is status. Status is the relative social empowerment of a person. Even an impoverished moral degenerate of disfavored gender and improper race might be a well-regarded member of that ignominious group.

The character’s social status is reflected in his Standing.

Gaining and Losing Standing

Starting Standing

A player character’s starting Standing is generated in the same way as RQI.

Losing Standing

A character who, at the end of a game, has suffered half his Clout in Oversight has injured his social position. He no longer keeps up with social commitments, fails in performing basic social functions, etc. He loses two points of Standing (this might be offset by gains).

If the character has lost all Clout to Oversight at the end of the game, he’s lost track of all social presence and commitment. He is, in many ways, no longer a social creature. He functions with features in common with severe Asperger’s syndrome, borderline and/or schizoid personality disorders, etc. He loses 5 points of Standing (again, this might be offset by gains).

Failure in social commitments can occur by other means. If the character fails in a mission objective or fails to fulfill the needs of an employer, beneficiary, etc., he may lose a point of Standing. This generally indicates a general “hit” to someone’s perceived social value. This isn’t a scandal, this is an actual label of true unreliability. The character has demonstrated that he’s not as valuable to society and the people around him as people once thought.

In general, loss of support characters, connections, etc., have their own costs already associated (often gaining Oversight), so additional Standing loss shouldn’t be involved unless something truly unusual applies (for instance, the character’s objective is to get a supporting character to a specific location).

Gaining Standing

Significant achievements mean gaining recognition. If the character achieves something that would obtain significant renown, either in a specific organization with which the character is associated or with society in general, he gains a point of Standing. It would take something truly widespread and well known to gain two points of Standing for a single act.

Improvements might provide a turnover of Standing, indicating the character spending time forging social ties and self-promoting. This may be anything from getting performance reviews, publishing academic articles, working on major work commitments, etc. A low improvement provides 2 points of Standing, a medium improvement provides 4 points of Standing, and a high improvement provides 6.

Standing and Strata

The Standing score generates a Strata. This may not be a literal rank system (though in the military it is). It is, for most characters, an abstract reflection of the character’s social position, and functions in many ways as Rank does in the core rules of Magenta.

Standing Rank Max Retinue (Odd Type) Max Connections
1-2 1 0(0) 1
3-4 2 1(0) 2
5-9 3 1(0) 3
10-14 4 2(1) 4
15-19 5 2(1) 5
20-29 6 3(1) 6
30-39 7 3(1) 7
40-49 8 4(1) 8
50-69 9 4(1) 9
70-89 10 5(2) 10
90-109 11 5(2) 11
110-129 12 6(2) 12
130-159 13 6(2) 13
160-199 14 7(2) 14
200-239 15 7(2) 15
240+ 16 8(3) 16

Effects of Strata

Retinue

Characters may have a retinue of supporting characters for assistance. These are subordinates of some kind or another – they aren’t “just friends,” though they’re theoretically on friendly terms. They automatically Trust the character, though Loyalty may develop.

These are Supporting Characters. They cannot themselves have retinue, though they may gain all the other benefits of their Strata. Their possessions are not automatically the possessions of the Main Character who “owns” them, though they aren’t likely to begrudge a loan. However, they might expect treatment in kind. Treating retinue as less than people is likely to cause them to stop trusting the character.

If a member of the retinue is permanently out of commission (such as by death), their lead takes suffers a point of Oversight. Retinue may automatically recover in some careers, but in general, a character may opt not to replace lost retinue. Similarly, most characters may opt not to fill retinue “slots” as they become available.

A lead may also choose to “dismiss” retinue. This will allow the character additional spaces in retinue. This counts as permanently putting a member out of commission, and accumulates a point of Oversight.

Type of Retinue

Retinue generally come in a type that would be naturally subordinate to a character. In the military, this means people in the same unit of lower rank. Meanwhile, if you’re an academic, this likely means other academics. The GM should allow for some leeway in deciding this – a professor might have a librarian support, while a corporate executive might have an aide or secretary.

However, not all of your retinue need be “from your camp.” With a high enough Strata Rank, one or more of your retinue might be from anywhere. The executive might have a bodyguard, while the Special Forces soldier might have an emplaced journalist or an intelligence officer. The maximum number of “odd type” supports you may have is listed in parentheses.

Standing and Strata of Retinue

Members of the retinue generate their Strata by adding their Clout and Drive and any modifiers for Gifts. Do not add 10. Their maximum Strata is enough to put them one Strata Rank below the lead.

Pets, AIs, and Tulpas

A character may have Supporting Characters who aren’t widely accepted as people. These might include AIs, Tulpas, and significant pet animals. These fill “slots” of retinue, but they do not cause Oversight to lose. Note that these creatures must be significant. Dummy AIs, pet hamsters, limited summons, and the like don’t count towards retinue.

Connections

Anybody who has a social life has a social network. This social network will include a number of connections. These are people who aren’t directly associated with the character but who the character can contact. Superiors and co-workers within the character’s organization don’t count towards this list, even though the GM might employ them using the same system as connections.

The player doesn’t need to “pre-define” connections. If the character needs to know somebody, the player may suggest to the GM that the character knows someone in particular. The GM should approve it. The connection’s maximum Strata Rank is equal to the character’s Strata Rank plus half his Clout (round up). In addition, the connection should make some kind of sense.

Losing Touch: Once set, the connection is permanent until lost. A connection may be “dismissed” like retinue, but this costs a point of Oversight. A connection may come to dislike the character, which breaks the connection (and costs Oversight). However, the connection isn’t tied to the character – the connection may perish, drop off the grid, or just drift away.

At the end of every game, roll Gossip for every active connection (you may not Rote this task). On a roll of 1, that connection “vaporizes.” This does not cost Oversight.

Access

One might think of “Access” as a second attribute. When a character attempts to acquire gear, this uses a Resources trait, which is similar to a skill, to determine exactly how much the character can get. However, obtaining those goods may require spending Access.

Access is spent like Attribute Points. They can Push or Risk a Resources roll. Rare goods might require up-front spending before even making the attempt to get it. Access doesn’t actually reflect money or goods to purchase. They reflect access and availability. How much of the market is available to you, how readily is your money accessible, and what is your credibility among sellers such that they’re willing to sell to you before others?

You have a number of points of Access equal to your Strata.

Strata

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