One of the themes I’d been planning on putting front-and-centre in Last Fleet, my BSG-like PBTA game, was suspicion and distrust. The mechanic I used to make it happen was Social Conditions. Put simply, when someone did something that put their loyalty or reliability in doubt, they’d get a Social Condition that described what people thought about them. “Drunkard”, “traitor”, “criminal”, that sort of thing. The effect of a Social Condition is twofold: first, they give you a penalty when you make a relevant roll - e.g. harder to get access to secure areas if people think you’re a traitor; second, there’s a general fictional effect that people may respond to you as though the Social Condition was true, which at higher levels could mean they try to get you fired, or throw you in the brig, or similar.
The problem is, they don’t seem to be coming up very often and (perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising) they don’t seem to have much mechanical impact. So now I’m trying to think through my options to drive this theme home.
Apart from Social Conditions, I’ve already got the theme coded into the game from other angles:
- MC Moves and MC Threats. I can make NPCs suspicious of the players, and give the players reasons to be suspicious of NPCs - including actually putting traitors, plotters and criminals in my NPC base.
- Playbooks. The Scorpio playbook is a sleeper agent with a scary move that makes them do bad things in their sleep, or similar. The Gemini playbook is a cult leader, politician or criminal with their own agenda.
So I guess the question is, is that enough, or do I need to make the Social Conditions harder-edged or more salient somehow? Or come up with some other way to make distrust and suspicion more central to the mechanics?
Any ideas or reactions welcome.
ETA:  Battlestar Galactica