Fashion is Danger


So, this post is inspired by some in-game events and then some discussion on Logan Knight's recent post about fashion in D&D. Basically, the party in Fellhold got invited a feast at an earl's great hall in the city.  They asked about fancy clothes, I looked at LotFP and was like "sure, 20 silver", and they were like "but it says it can go even higher if we want."  And so I ended up with a silly ad hoc system for tracking the fabulousness (or fabulosity, if you prefer) of the clothing for some hardbitten adventurers.  This post is cleaning them up and making them more gameable and interesting.

When a characters find themselves in a sufficiently large and well-off locale (such as the big city), they may purchase fancy, ostentatious, or just plain ridiculous clothing.  Even weirder accoutrements may suit your fancy, and if so I direct you to the blog post and associated pinterest boards linked above for excellent inspiration.  Hence forward, all clothing has a fabulousness rating, as such:

Disgusting, filthy, or hopelessly unfashionable: negative
Normal clothes acceptable to people and utterly beneath the notice of the fashion conscious: 0
Fancy, extravagant, haute couture, or otherwise noteworthy clothes: 1 and higher

The fabulousness of a new outfit is determined by rolling 1d20 + 1 per 20 SP (on the silver standard) spent.  NPC fabulousness can be decided on a whim, or you can roll 1d20 plus a die size representing wealth (d4 for well-off, d6 for substantially wealthy, and so on for more and more maniacal devotions to fashion). Especially talented or noteworthy tailors, seamstresses, or visionary designers may add a further bonus.

When encountering an NPC in a fashion-conscious area (again, like the big city, less so in Dirt Town), reaction rolls are modified by plus or minus the difference between fabulosity quotients, to a maximum of 3.  Whether the roll is positively or negatively affected will depend on how the NPC would react to someone better or worse dressed than his or her self.  For example, a fawning member of court will likely be impressed by suitably rich garb, and utterly disdainful or even hostile towards inferior duds.  On the other hand, a starving gutter urchin might find all your useless frippery a slap in the face and attack on sight.  Tailor which way it will go for whom based on your game world and situation, but err on the side of fancy clothing (player characters have higher fabulousness) improving reactions in the right company so that the players get something tangible out of their investment.  This also gives a fun mechanic to discourage characters from walking straight into the King's court still covered in carrion crawler entrails and troll shit.

A further potential wrinkle (also inspired by Logan's post): you can have cliques, factions, clubs, gangs, cults, and more to create a complicated web of social landmines for fancy characters to walk into.  You can figure out different fashions or styles or markers used by different groups, and then make a positive/negative note for each other group.  Fabulousness remains absolute, but whether it affects the reaction roll up or down becomes relative to the two groups involved rather than social situation.  If you dress extremely well in the fashion started by the queen, the mistress's clique might react negatively.  If you show up to the cult of weeping knife's meeting in the style of the merchant's guild that is supporting them, they'll be impressed. In a game where you want to make this sort of thing the focus, remove any sort of inherent reaction modifiers (like orcs are -2 to humans, or cultists are +3 to mutants or whatever) and replace them with modifiers based on appearance and the intensity thereof.  Maybe these orcs treat anyone dressed as an orc as one, maybe that is their definition of orcness.

A couple of brief design notes.  First off, the huge expense and swinginess is totally intentional.  Fashion should be expensive and unpredictable.  You'll also notice that for enough money, the D20 could theoretically become unimportant, because at some point it becomes more about demonstrating how many resources your threw into an outfit and less about the merit of the design or talent of the tailor.  Finally, by capping the modifier to +/- 3, the 2d6 reaction roll remains reasonable, but really strongly biased. Since that modifier is always based on the comparison of two fabulousness ratings, there is still some effect from higher numbers (more likely to get the modifier, even if it doesn't get any bigger).  I haven't tried out the numerical side of this yet, so let me know what you think.