I’m slowly converting Yoon-Suin to Dungeon World, making the mechanics fit and reinforce the fluff, and one thing…

I’m slowly converting Yoon-Suin to Dungeon World, making the mechanics fit and reinforce the fluff, and one thing…

I’m slowly converting Yoon-Suin to Dungeon World, making the mechanics fit and reinforce the fluff, and one thing that stood out to me was the caste system. On the one hand it’s a pervasive thing in the setting and thus the players should have to deal with it a lot (especially between themselves); but on the other hand I don’t want to really force them and remove their agency…

So far, I see 3 options:

– Use it as an “automatic leverage” for Parley. The easiest solution, but feels boring.

-Make a general move that gives you 1 XP if you obey an order by a higher caste character that goes against your interest. This is the coolest from a player’s POV: you’ll have to weight the pros (delicious XP!) and cons (depending on the exact order), making you doubt whether to just obey a higher-caste bad guy. The conflicts between PCs would be guaranteed. The downside is, it looks easily abusable and the mechanic could spiral out of control. But then again, almost every mechanic in DW is abusable, it’s not a game for selfish pricks.

-Make it part of Make Camp, just like alignments/drives. You obeyed the higher caste’s orders, you get 1 XP. This is the middle ground; not as abusable as the previous one, yet more visible than the leverage. As a downside, a character could just ignore the caste system once they’re “covered” for this session… It just doesn’t feel right for something that most people just obey without much thought, as an essential part of their society.

Your thoughts?

8 thoughts on “I’m slowly converting Yoon-Suin to Dungeon World, making the mechanics fit and reinforce the fluff, and one thing…”

  1. Something to keep in mind: taking away agency isn’t a Sin as long as you do so with Consent. You can talk to your players and say: I am interested in playing in this world with a strict caste system and exploring what that means – it will likely mean you won’t be as able to say no to some people nor able to directly take on some people. Is that something you are interested in exploring with me?

    I would think long and hard about using the XP carrot. The characters might not explicitly abuse the system but it almost certainly will speed up character advancement. As such they are going to become more and more powerful and more and more able to justify bypass the caste system entirely.

    If the caste system stuff is important then it should be built into the mechanics, sure. But caste systems generally are built using sticks, not carrots. You are punished for stepping outside of them, not rewarded for sticking to them.

  2. Removing the environment a player is playing in removes more agency than enforcing it. When you do that, you’re taking away their ability to play the game.

  3. Michael Bacon I’m not sure what you mean by “removing the environment a player is playing in.” Do you mean changing the rules mid-game or mid-campaign? Or do you mean drifting from RAW? (ie you can only add on to, not remove from the rules) I certainly would not recommend the former. Especially without any sort of discussion with everyone involved and full consent of all affected.

  4. I’m not talking about rules, really. I’m talking about describing a caste system and then acting as if there is no caste system. If it doesn’t apply to the players, it doesn’t exist.

  5. ktrey parker

    Nice! But I’m not sure I could use your social system (other than as inspiration) since DW leaves little space for modifiers. But I LOVE your gear lists.

    Shane Liebling

    Castes are literally the first thing mentioned in the setting, as the most noticeable aspect of their society for a foreigner. They even define the races: slug-men can only be wizards/merchants/clerics because there’s no way they ever get their hands dirty like a lowly human, and crab-men are mostly defined by (other than, well, being crabs) being so low in the social order they can only be disposable slaves. Humans are in the middle, divided into a dozen castes so they cannot unite and oppose their slimy overlords.

    Sure, we can express it only with fluff, “the slug-man oligopolist stays silent for a few seconds, in shock (since it’s hard to process a mere human may stand up to him), then erupts in rage and calls for his guards to hack your limbs and throw you to the roaches”. It’s cool and it would happen anyway, but what I want to represent with this mechanic, is not the conscious fear of the possible consequences, but that it’s unthinkable/unnatural to people in that society. Players are of course unlike most people, but I think they should doubt and feel uneasy about disobedience.

  6. Cent Kralizec Yeah, the modifiers don’t quite gel in DW, but the main angle here was emphasizing it’s pervasiveness by applying it to every roll, even combat :). It’s brutal and unavoidable…in practice it does lead to a lot of players wanting to be Slug-Men though.

    Maybe some custom moves? When you attempt to speak without the appropriate deference to your betters roll +CHA. Miss could synergize nicely with Rivals.

    I’d be tempted to just tack on a Caste Attribute by race/profession that can go up/down based on social climbing. Or even maybe do this through Tags+Fiction. The hardest thing to really reconcile is “Be A Fan Of Your Players” here…so possibly just emphasizing it in the fiction to “non-heroes” could give it enough juice. I know players who absolutely loathe snooty nobles oppressing the downtrodden. If you can make a Dragon terrifying through fiction, the same might be possible for enforcing caste behaviors, etc.

    Glad you like the Gear List! I noticed the book didn’t have much by way of equipment (which is completely fine, because the setting is simply so marvelously “Season To Taste”) but I wanted some more flavor here 🙂

  7. Totally agree! I guess I just mean that unless the players are explicitly not from the locale the mechanics should hinder them if they try to push against the caste system as opposed to help them if they work within it.

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