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High School social structure

Started by Allan, June 03, 2005, 04:38:02 AM

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This is a tangent from the Misery Bubblegum thread How do you win at High School?.  The discussion continued into private messages, but with Tony's permission I reprint them here for the benefit of anyone else interested in designing around High School social dynamics.

Allan wrote:
[In Sweet Dreams] Characters have a Caste (Athlete, Goth, Princess, etc) ... Characters regain Confidence by behaving according to their Caste, and receiving the approval of their peers. But, all the Castes promote some kind of self-destructive or cruel behaviour. Characters who go along with the system will be the most Confident, while those who fight it lose Confidence and become depressed (unless they develop a support group of real friends which can help them regain Confidence outside the Caste).

TonyLB wrote:
"Characters regain Confidence by behaving according to their Caste, and therefore receiving the approval of their peers," or

"Characters regain Confidence by behaving according to their Caste, and also regaing confidence by receiving the approval of their peers."
In other (probably even more confusing) words, is the Caste a monolithic entity, which inspires confidence even without the intervention of any peers? Or is the Caste merely an umbrella motivation that helps to drive PC and NPC peers into approving Caste-affirming actions?

Could you have a Caste of one? Would it grant confidence to its sole member?

Allan wrote:
great question!  Castes form a monolithic structure which itself regenerates Confidence.  Players and Guide could describe this as receiving the approval of peers, or as the character fulfilling the Caste Agenda by and for themselves.

There's this great scene in "Gleaming the Cube" where Brian (the Rebel), when he is at his lowest, most depressed, going alone to a parkade to practice slow, meditative skateboarding moves.  Rebels mostly regain Confidence through loud parties and shocking pranks, but here Brian regains Confidence from privately pursuing the Rebel Agenda of excellence in his underground art form.

It is possible to have a Caste of one, the Loner Caste.  Loners have fewer Contacts, but they have natural resistance to gossip and rumors.  Loners regain Confidence by conforming to the aloof, distant, independant Loner stereotype, acting to protect their secrets, and finding real friends outside of the Caste system.

It is also possible to publicly belong to one Caste, while secretly being another Caste inside.  These characters have to regain Confidence secretly.  

It is also possible for anyone to regain Confidence from real friends, family, pets and lovers (PCs or Contacts), outside the Caste system, but this is limited to one healing per helping character per Story (about 3 game sessions).
Sweet Dreams - Romance, Espionage, and Horror in High School
The Big Night - children's game with puppets

In Progress:  Fingerprints
Playing:  PTA, Shock


I think the notion of the Caste of One is a terrific goal for people to drive towards.  So the question of how you can define a Caste, and how you can modify it to more closely support you in specific rather than people like you in general, is a big deal.

But that's isolating, isn't it?  Part of becoming the person you are is often admitting that you don't have the things in common with others that they thought you did.
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum


Let's not forget the outcastes! There are, after all, people you can't fit into any true category. They often get grouped together because no-one else can really agree on what they are. Some don't care and get ostracized for it. Others care but can't figure out where they want to belong.

I was among the latter. In high school, I was labeled unclassified and, for some trivial reason, thought that getting classified was important. Think the Other group in Safe Havens: There are Samanthas and there are Jennys. I was a Jenny, but I had friends all over the place. They were more of the Samantha variety
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