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Apieros

Social Axiom & Disconnection

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When people disconnect, they stop being able to make contradictions. Guns won't fire, armor won't protect, etc. In most games, this is treated as an instant effect, that happens when the player rolls low. When this is applied to the Social axiom, the result tends to appear punitive and crippling.

 

How to address this? By using a new interpretation of disconnection. Originally suggested by Phil Dack, the first full explanation can be found here: Disconnection. Explanation of the benefits here.

 

The pertinent information:

 

The Everlaw of One doesn't have to operate within the limits of a 10-second round. The Eo1 operates on the scale of days, weeks, months, years, decades. Whatever is appropriate for the tool.

 

The Rule:

 

Once disconnected, any further attempts to use a contradictory tool will cause the Everlaw of One to begin removing the contradiction by causing the tool to break down (or degrade). This process continues until the tool becomes useless. Once useless, it cannot be used to create a contradiction, so the contradiction is removed.

 

The process of degredation occurs in accordance with the inherent qualities (or "characteristics") of the tool, as if it were degrading naturally. Whatever normally happens to the tool, that causes it to break, will begin to occur. This happens at a rate faster than what would usually be expected, but not so fast as to appear impossible.

 

A metal blade can become dull or rust, that is part of its characteristics, but it can't usually just disappear. The Everlaw of One could cause rust to appear, which advances much faster then expected, but not unnaturally fast.

 

What the Everlaw wouldn't do is cause the blade to melt or disappear or change into a stick. None of those could be expected normally, so the Everlaw won't cause them to occur.

 

(Nor is rust the only option. The Everlaw could do any one of a number of things, whatever the tool's characteristics allow.)

 

Metal armor could rust, or the straps attaching it can snap or come undone. Electrical faults can short out power armor (or any other electronic device). Guns can misfire, engines break down, bowstrings snap, etc. Whatever can normally break, will.

 

How does this apply to the Social Axiom? I originally suggested the solution here.

 

Tools degrade according to their characteristics. So, what are Social tools? I don't mean metaphysically, but as concrete phenomena, what are they, actually?

 

Social tools are attitudes, values, norms, conceptual frameworks, and traditions. They are standards of behavior. Habits and guidelines we have learned. They are programmed into us at a very young age. (Often before we're 18 months old.)

 

But where do they exist?

 

Neurons.

 

Values, norms, habits, etc. all exist physically in the brains of humans as specific patterns of neurons. The only place Social tools concretely exist is in your brain.

 

Can these patterns be changed? Yes, we do it all the time. (See "nueroplasticity.") When you learn a new skill, like riding a bike or using Phototshop, you forge new neural connection, creating a new path through your brain. You can change your values, this is reflected by alterations to the pattern of neurons in your brain.

 

So, Social tools. How do they degrade?

 

They degrade as the patterns of neurons in your brain change. Slowly, as neuron after neuron forges new connections and allows old connections to atrophy, you begin to see the world differently. You gradually forget the attitudes, values and norms you had and you begin acquiring new ones.

 

How long does this process take? 8 weeks or longer, under normal conditions, to affect one habit. Maybe years of disconnection before you fully lose your Social tools. The specific time-frame is flexible, according to the needs of the story.

 

So, for the Social axiom, disconnection doesn't mean immediately losing your Social tools, but rather coming "Under the Influence" of the new reality, and gradually acclimatizing to it. This is a roleplaying process, and GM's can award PE to players who do it well.

 

These rules not only solve the problems with the Social axiom, but also solve the many metaphysical problems caused by the "instant disconnection" rule.

Edited by Apieros

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While more realistic, it seems like it could be a lot more paperwork.

The actual method of implementation might need to be examined.

Will we be charting "reality damage to objects" on the character sheet?

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Will we be charting "reality damage to objects" on the character sheet?
There is no "reality damage", there's just damage. Things break. Like they do now.

 

The rules for cars overheating, wounds to gear, and the need to repair them already exist. Plus there's the rules on destroying armor in the Land Below. This interpretation of disconnection takes less work than either of those.

 

If a character discos, and persists in using a tool then it will break. Their choice not to. If it breaks, note "broken" on the character sheet. If they repair it, note that.

 

Simple.

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I don't know... the physical brain is only the origin of social phenomena in the same way that it is the origin of technological, magical and spiritual phenomena. In all of these cases, existing mental schema must change to encompass any advances or changes in the perceived environment. Social phenomena are not more purely mental than spiritual or magical phenomena.

 

The term "social" refers to interactions between individuals, so as to form a system of individuals. It is based on avenues of communication. Humans are very, very good at communication, and so we are very social. I'd say that the "tool" of social interaction is the means of communication. There isn't a physical manifestation exclusive to it, any more than there needs to be for phenomena related to other axioms.

 

What happens when a social tool breaks down? Communication fails. Empathy becomes limited; language diverges; the lack of common ground causes people to perceive other groups (and finally, everyone else) as foreign and alien. In the end, removed from all social ability, there is only the self. That self can be complex, intelligent, and capable of manipulating the physical, spiritual and occult environment, but does so as an individual. It becomes an collection of sociopaths; each person stalks through a world inhabited by things that look like him but are not people, just objects to be manipulated.

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Monarch:

 

Our disagreement about neurons, etc. is a diversion. As you described (very well), attitudes, perceptions and so forth all change. You have an insight into how fast they change and in what ways they change.

 

My suggestion is that, when a character disconnects, their attitudes don't change immediately. Instead their attitudes and emotions change the same way attitudes and emotions always change: gradually, eventually. Not instantly.

 

That's it. That's the suggestion. Everything else is a side point.

 

Speaking of side points...

 

Social phenomena are not more purely mental than spiritual or magical phenomena.
Magical spells exist as patterns of magical energy (and magic swords and dragons and…). Spirit exists in the form of Gods and miracles and Blessing Vow's.

 

They are mental, in part, but not purely mental. Social tools are purely mental (emotional, etc.). Which was my point. Spirit and Magic are a different subject, which I wasn't commenting on.

 

I'd say that the "tool" of social interaction is the means of communication.
I'm not sure what you meant by "means of communication." To me, that indicates a medium: a radio, smoke signals, a semaphore flag, a letter. Those are Technological tools.

 

When used to communicate, they convey meaning. But where does the meaning exist? Where is the meaning encoded? Where is the meaning derived?

 

In the brain.

 

I do not see how one can claim that the Social tool lies in the radio, and has no presence in the brain. I don't think you are claiming this, so I'm certain I misunderstood you, but I do not know how to interpret this sentence any other way.

 

Empathy becomes limited; language diverges; the lack of common ground causes people to perceive other groups (and finally, everyone else) as foreign and alien.
All of these are true, all of these are certainly effects of social attachments failing.

 

(And are great examples. Seriously. You have a better grasp of social decay than most people I've talked to about Torg. I'm keeping your paragraph for my notes.)

 

But where is empathy located? What, exactly is it? It's an emotion, a sensibility, which exists in the brain.

 

Language? A skill, encoded in neurons.

 

Perceiving others as enemies? An attitude, which exists in the brain and is reflected by changing patterns of neurons.

 

Thoughts, memories, emotions, attitudes, sensibilities, beliefs, etc.: all arise from the electro-chemical process of the brain. That's where they exist, and when any of them changes, the brain changes. And when the brain changes, they change.

 

And the rate of change in emotions, and so forth is determined by the characteristics of the brain. So, if the Eo1 enforces disco according to the characteristics of the tool, then with Social tools (all the phenomena you mentioned) it does so according to the characteristics of the brain.

 

My only point.

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So, if the Eo1 enforces disco according to the characteristics of the tool, then with Social tools (all the phenomena you mentioned) it does so according to the characteristics of the brain.

 

Disco. Shudder.

 

Thanks for the compliments. I've studied the topic of social psychology recently; I just finished a graduate psychology program. So, this topic is a lot of fun for me.

 

But, I would say that social tools couldn't actually be internal to a character. Internal aspects of a character are represented by skills and attributes in the game. These are not changed by any of the axioms, and generally don't change even if a character transforms. Okay, that's an open topic; it's really completely up to the game master. But, a character's intelligence (that is, Mind, Perception and Charisma) are internal. Social tools are something that are used to take advantage of social phenomena. This would be communication.

 

I'll go back to basic communication training from my military days. There are three components to communication: the sender, the receiver, and the message. This is true whether you are talking about a conversation in person, a written correnspondence, a radio broadcast, or a series of smoke signals. Clearly, some of that is only possible at certain levels of technological progress (Tech axiom), but the axioms are, in fact interdependent and interconnected to some degree. Without technology, the list could also include magical sendings, psychic telepathy, or simply body language.

 

My point was just that the Social axiom effectively acts as a limit to the effectiveness by which each of these tools can function. A low Social axiom essentially creates interference to the channels of communication. How does this manifest? In a very, very subtle manner, like an invisible barrier between sensation and perception.

 

The distinction is that the effect is external, extending into the person only as far as perception, not personality. Intelligence is not limited by the Social axiom. Since intelligence, as it is understood in our age, boils down largely to the ability to communicate (that is, understand and manipulate symbols), this makes the whole issue very muddy, I'll grant...

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But, I would say that social tools couldn't actually be internal to a character. Internal aspects of a character are represented by skills and attributes in the game.
Attributes and skills represent some, but not all, of the inherent characteristics of a person in game-mechanical terms. People have many other innate qualities, the vast majority of which fall under the heading of "roleplaying." Personality, for example.

 

These are not changed by any of the axioms, and generally don't change even if a character transforms.
Let's be clear: skills are limited by the axioms. Energy Weapons isn't native to a Tech 7 cosm. Under the Official Rules, a character cannot use Energy Weapons at all.

 

I think what you might have meant is: "The skills of a character are not changed when they disconnect or when they transform." Maybe. That doesn't mean nothing is. In fact, some things are: attitudes and morality. Law of Morality, Nile Empire. When you disconnect in the Nile, your moral character changes to match Good or Evil. Reality does affect "internal" characteristics.

 

You seem to have set up a syllogism:

 

A. Reality cannot affect "internal" qualities. (Major premise!)

B. Reality does affect Social aspects. (Minor premise!)

 

Ergo

 

C. Social aspects can't be "internal." (Conclusion!)

 

(Why the exclamation points? My History of Western Civ class finally paying off.)

 

Internally, the Major premise is incorrect. Externally, it doesn't signify (to me). Social tools, even those involving communication (and not all do), do not exist in some murky place between two people.

 

Emotions are real, attitudes are real, and the very fact that you said (in the LL thread) "true understanding of the mind requires knowledge of neuroanatomy and neurochemistry" means you know: psychological aspects of humans exist in the human brain.

 

Social tools are something that are used to take advantage of social phenomena. This would be communication.
This would include communication. It also includes moral codes, belief systems, attitudes towards family and strangers, and so forth.

 

I'll go back to basic communication training from my military days. There are three components to communication: the sender, the receiver, and the message.
And now we've wandered into my college degree: Communication Studies. :D

 

What you're describing is the Shannon-Weaver model, or the SMCR model. In the model, there are 4 components: SMCR. Sender-Message-Communication-Reciever.

 

The Sender has a Message they wish to send. They encode that message and Communicate it through some medium to the Receiver, who decodes it.

 

The Message exists in their mind, when it arrives at the Receiver, it exists in their mind. Encoding and decoding are mental processes (essentially, translating ideas and emotions into language: "I don't love you anymore.")

 

The only part of that is external - by your definition - is the medium. Which leads us to:

 

Without technology, the list could also include magical sendings, psychic telepathy, or simply body language.
I agree with all of these examples (and they are examples I would cite to explain how other axioms can cause the Social to rise.)

 

How does this manifest? In a very, very subtle manner, like an invisible barrier between sensation and perception.
And suddenly, I run into a roadblock. I do not understand this claim. Perhaps it is a logical consequence of the "Social must always be external" model, but I do not see how this can be true.

 

Set the Axiom aside for a moment, and your model of how it works. Consult your training: where do emotions reside? When a person is depressed, how does that manifest in real terms? Neurotransmitters and binding sites, right? People born with many binding sites are less happy.

 

All mental, emotional, and attitudinal aspects of a person exist physically in the brain (fine, and other areas of the body, in some cases). This is simply fact.

 

Any model of the Social axiom must bend to this fact, and if any model refuses to acknowledge it, that model is incomplete and incorrectly predicated.

 

The distinction is that the effect is external, extending into the person only as far as perception, not personality.
Do you love your mother? Is that external?

 

[Again, I'm talking about real world facts.]

 

People have emotional attachment to family members, especially children and parents (which attachments are evolutionary in origin, necessitated by our fragile young, which is necessitated by the size of our brain). Part, not all but part, of a rising Social axiom involves extending the size of the the "in-group", expanding the size of the population considered "family."

 

Nuclear family->extended family->bands->tribes->"people"->nations.

 

Emotions, attitudes, and ideas must exist in the mind of a person. True, they have to encode those and send them to convey these to others, but they exist independently of the message, before the message, and after the message.

 

Telling your mother "I love you." is the least manifestation of this. Benevolence is seen in actions, as is loyalty.

 

If you are loyal to a spouse or a king, you act that way, even when they are not present. In fact, you act that way even if they will never know you showed loyalty. (It's admirable to remain faithful to a spouse, truly stupid to tell them you were tempted by someone else.)

 

You don't have to communicate an attitude for that attitude to exist, nor do you have to communicate it for that attitude to affect your actions. Social tools are more than just communication.

Edited by Apieros

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I think we may have reached the point where we have to agree to disagree. Game rules are a form of reality mimesis, a simulation of real-world phenomena. No mimesis (simulation) can exactly model a real phenomenon without actually being that phenomenon. And we have reached the point at which the influence of an axiom (a rule to support a fictional trope) can simulate reality.

 

But, to continue drubbing on the deceased equine (hopefully the horse is dead; otherwise it's suffering mightily)...

 

Are atoms the tools of the technological axiom? That is where the physical properties that are utilized by technology originate, or, in the case of physics, are most essentially manifested. But, the way I view it, atoms aren't tools. They are the fabric of the world. Tools include the lever, the wheel, the circuit, the laser, and so on. These are concepts, Socratic ideals that can be understood by living minds and fashioned of the fabric of the universe so as to take advantage of the rules of science (or, in the Nile Empire, SCIENCE!!!).

 

I extend this to the Social axiom. Neurons, neurotransmitters, pathways, and so on are part of the fabric of the world. Specifically, the part that is capable of being the living element of the Everlaws. The tools are, again, Socratic ideals: empathy, politics, leadership, and so on. These are used in specific instances to take advantage of the rules of social science.

 

As usual, we're arguing about pretty small points, considering we seem to agree on all the more important points.

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And we have reached the point at which the influence of an axiom (a rule to support a fictional trope) can simulate reality.
I guess I have to disagree. The Social axiom can describe and define the increasing arc of knowledge of social phenomena, organizational complexity, and so forth without needing a metaphysical membrane to explain it. Real phenomena and real physical structures explain what underlies it just fine.

 

Are atoms the tools of the technological axiom? That is where the physical properties that are utilized by technology originate, or, in the case of physics, are most essentially manifested.
I have a better question for you: what are (most) technological tools comprised of? Atoms? Or a metaphysical membrane between the atoms and the outside world?

 

A knife (bronze) is a specific arrangement of atoms. A higher axiom knife (iron) is a specific arrangement of different atoms. And an even higher axiom knife (steel) is a specific arrangement of two substances which exist as atoms.

 

Technological tools are comprised of, exist as, matter and energy. That is their exact existence, what they really are, in the real world.

 

Emotions exist as chemicals, neurons, and other physical phenomena in the brain. That is what they really are, in the real world.

 

Any metaphysical theory - including axioms - has to conform itself to those facts. Otherwise, it is incomplete and flawed. The Tech axiom can, and the Social axiom can. The axioms can exist, exactly as predicated in the Rulebook, without contradicting or needing to contradict those facts.

 

We don't need to change those portions of the world, to model them.

 

Tools include the lever, the wheel, the circuit, the laser, and so on. These are concepts
These are devices, specific tools made of different materials, assembled in different ways. A lever exist as a physical object. Our understanding of it is a concept (which exists in a different physical form, in the brain).

 

I think what we may have reached isn't the limitation of the axiom to explain the material world, but the limitation of the axiom to reconcile your philosophical model of the world with the game's different philosophical model.

 

As usual, we're arguing about pretty small points, considering we seem to agree on all the more important points.
I agree.

 

And again, my suggestion is this:

 

Emotions and attitudes change slowly. The "inherent characteristics" model of disconnection solves a lot of problems, including this one. Instead of attitudes changing instantly, they change gradually just like they normally do. If you're disconnected long enough, and remain in that realm long enough, you will begin to think like them, but this won't happen in an instant.

Edited by Apieros

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Emotions and attitudes change slowly. The "inherent characteristics" model of disconnection solves a lot of problems, including this one. Instead of attitudes changing instantly, they change gradually just like they normally do. If you're disconnected long enough, and remain in that realm long enough, you will begin to think like them, but this won't happen in an instant.

 

I can't disagree with that. It's both realistic scientifically (there are no truly instantaneous processes in the known universe), and fits into dramatic tropes.

 

On a slightly (but not wholy) different take on the question, refresh my memory:

 

If a character disconnects due to using an contradictory social tool, how does he re-connect, without returning to his home cosm? He needs to use the same tool that disconnected him. Let's say he tried to set up a night watch rotation in the Living Land. Does he have to try to do that again, even though he can't? Off the top of my head, I can't recall.

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I think the way the way different social "axioms" were handled in A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court is far more satisfactory and less heavy-handed (and, frankly, more fun) than getting disconnected for saying "Wait a minute."

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If a character disconnects due to using an contradictory social tool, how does he re-connect, without returning to his home cosm? He needs to use the same tool that disconnected him. Let's say he tried to set up a night watch rotation in the Living Land. Does he have to try to do that again, even though he can't? Off the top of my head, I can't recall.

According to the published rules mages or priests who have disconnected on spells or miracles are able to reconnect without going home because they still possess the tool that they disconnected with - the tool is still in their minds, they're just unable to make it function while disconnected. I treat Social disconnections in the same fashion, the tool is still there in his head but it can't be expressed externally while disconnected. (This may or may not work with Jasyn's idea of changing brain chemistry/structures, I've only skimmed over the discussion.)

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I think the way the way different social "axioms" were handled in A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court is far more satisfactory and less heavy-handed (and, frankly, more fun) than getting disconnected for saying "Wait a minute."
Read the book, a long while ago. I'm not sure what you mean, however.

 

If you like, feel free to expand: explain what happened in the novel, why it's satisfactory, and how it can be applied to Torg.

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I treat Social disconnections in the same fashion, the tool is still there in his head but it can't be expressed externally while disconnected. (This may or may not work with Jasyn's idea of changing brain chemistry/structures, I've only skimmed over the discussion.)
In my game, I'm chucking the "remnants of Eo2 in tool" rule so that part's not a problem. Even so, the "degradation" model can answer the question.

 

A Social tool is present in the mind, so long as the person hasn't gone so long that there's no remnants of the concept left. (Years, probably, maybe decades depending on how young they were when they disconnected.)

 

In this model, suggested by Phil Dack, the Eo1 doesn't stop contradictions instantly, and (impossibly) prevent the tool from being used. It attacks the tool through degradation: the alien tool begins to degrade; the more it's used, the more rapid the degradation. At some point in this process, either the tool is gone (no more contradiction) or the SK stops using the tool (result the same). Other than hard transformations, that's how the Eo1 eliminates contradictions.

 

As for how someone acts while disconnected: Their mind comes more and more under the influence of the local reality. What was once clear and vivid memories of their former reality eventually fade. Most of this is (as Skel recommended) roleplaying notes. Give players a sizable experience bonus for roleplaying the changed attitude well.

 

Upshot: The tool is there and can be used, but the more it is used, the faster it degrades. And with Social tools, its largely a matter of roleplaying. No one is forced to instantly forget "minutes", but the disconnection still has a desired effect (Fish Out of Water becomes Under the Influence.)

 

None of the bad stuff, all of the good stuff. That's my model.

Edited by Apieros

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Read the book, a long while ago. I'm not sure what you mean, however.

 

If you like, feel free to expand: explain what happened in the novel, why it's satisfactory, and how it can be applied to Torg.

 

Apparently it's been too long since I read the book. Some research turns up what I thought to be a major theme to not be one. Disregard my reference to the book.

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Apparently it's been too long since I read the book. Some research turns up what I thought to be a major theme to not be one. Disregard my reference to the book.
Even so, you had an idea for how to handle the Social axiom. I'd be glad to hear it. Even if it wasn't in the book, it can still be a good idea.

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I can sum it up in two words: social inertia. Simply put, the PCs are not going to have any significant impact on the Social Axiom of the natives regardless of what aspects of their own Social Axiom(s) they use. At best, the natives will stare at the PCs uncomprehendingly when presented with a higher Social concept, then just dismiss them as mad or philosophers to the worst case of the PCs being attacked for trying to destroy the very fabric of the natives' society. The actions between the PCs are unaffected, but interactions with the natives are.

 

(Or, the difference in Social Axioms is roleplayed, not left to a die mechanic)

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You can also inject some confusing chaos into the mix in the form of arbitrary strangeness. The higher the Social axiom climbs, the better understood social phenomena are; the lower, the more random social dealings seem. This follows the same pattern as other axioms.

 

So, in the example of a Core Earth character trying to form a guard schedule, the game master could say it just doesn't work (if it causes a disconnection, that is). Minutes no longer seem equal to each other. The sun comes up before timepieces count out an hour of night. Sundials cast shadows that stand at angles that just don't help.

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