Favors Cluster

A new verb cluster was suggested: favors. This would replace deals, largely because deals are too complicated. In effect, the “favors” system boils down to an emotional currency that I will call “obligation”. When Joe does a favor for Mary, she gains an obligation to him. However, obligation is a two-way relationship. When Joe does that favor, he perceives that she owes him an obligation, and she perceives that she owes him an obligation — but those two values are not necessarily the same. For example, suppose that Joe gives Mary geraniums, but she doesn’t like geraniums. Thus,

Obligation[Mary, Joe, Joe] > Obligation[Mary, Joe, Mary]

Unfortunately, this gets me right back into circumferential relationships — which I have always regarded as poisonous to the design. However, I am not designing for anybody other than myself, so perhaps I can get away with it. Ugh, I hate to think of the programming requirements. 

Granting a favor creates the possibility of calling in the favor at some point in the future. “You owe me!” is the argument used. 

The big problem with favors is defining the list of verbs that can be used for favors. In terms of physical actions, there’s not much; we’re not going to see anything like “Hey, Gawain, could you lend me 40 head of cattle until Tuesday?” Indeed, given the time scale of the game, loans of any kind seem useless. I could populate the game with lots of tradeable props (baubles, weapons, armor, horses, etc), but that strikes me as overly mechanical in style. Moreover, trades like this only make sense when characters determine the value of a prop in narrow personal terms. Gawain has to like a sword less than Kaye likes it in order for Gawain to make sense in giving it to Kaye. Perhaps I could have some physical actions such as saving one’s life in battle, but that seems a bit overdone. 

No, I think that the core components of a favors cluster would be actions related to interpersonal relationships. “Hey, Gawain, I’m trying to get Iseult to go out on a date with me; could you put in a good word for me?” or “Galahad, Ector is accusing my people of stealing some of his cattle; could you talk to him for me?” 

The central problem is figuring out how to formalize the sentence structure of a request for a favor. Like this:

{Subject} {requests favor} {DirObject} that s/he do {3Verb} to/with {4Actor}

I don’t like it; it’s too vague. I think I have to revert to the model used in Gossip in which we employ circumferential relationships as sources of gossip. Thus:

{Subject} {gossips to} {DirObject} that {3Actor} feels {4Attribute} {5Quantifier} towards them (the DirObject).

“Ector gossips to Nimue that Galahad trusts her absolutely.”
“Kaye gossips to Mordred that Iseult likes her a little.” 
“Galahad gossips to Arthur that Uriens seems very disloyal.” 

The great thing about gossip (defined as sharing circumferential information) is that, with a cast of 16, it is immensely complex. Each character has 210 statements that he can make to every other character. That’s over 3,000 statements possible for the entire cast. And that’s just for one class of relationship. I’ll be having at least 3 classes of relationships, making up 9,000 statements. And of course, relationships change with time. From Arthur’s point of view, obtaining all the information he needs would require 210 statements from the other characters — and even then, there will be differing values presented to him. Nimue might say that Galahad hates Arthur, while Kay might say that Galahad likes Arthur. So Arthur will need to assess the likelihood that a character is telling the truth. 

Which brings us to lies. I’ve always struggled with the problem of bringing lies into the mix, and I think that I have hit upon a solution. A lie is not decided upon at the moment; it must be planned ahead. Suppose, for example, the Uriens is snubbed by Mordred. Uriens reacts to the snub by deciding that he wants to hurt Mordred. He decides to spread a lie about Mordred. He must then decide upon the person he wishes to lie to as well as the nature of the lie. 

This topic is too complicated to discuss here; it requires its own essay.