I dunno how many of you have heard of or read the source material for or actually played The Amber Diceless Role-Playing Game, so I thought I would share something about it I was reminded of recently.
One of the things it had was a "sort of" skill point system, but unlike other RPGs, in Amber you could go into debt for your skill points.
The thing is, if you do that, things begin to go "bad" for you - you become unlucky. mildly or majorly depending on the size of your debt. The idea was that these points didn't just represent skill progression, but also your outlook on life. If you went negative, it meant you saw the world as negative, and it responded in kind.
Years later, this also came up in cognitive therapy I was undergoing for my depression. They had many names for it, but the best was "filtering," it boiled down to - if you're depressed, you tend to filter out things that don't reinforce your depression. If you're angry, you tend to filter out things that don't reinforce your anger. When you're depressed, you find the most negative connotations in things people say to you, even if the words are neutral or kind. When you're angry, you find the most hostile connotations in things people say to you, even if the words are neutral or peaceful.
In cognitive therapy this was taught so that you could learn to remind yourself whenever you hear something to stop and think about it twice and go over it logically and see if it's really as depressing or hostile as you thought.
But I've also found it to be a tool for assessing other people's characters -- at it's simplest level, when someone is constantly accusing everyone else around them of something, it's probably more a reflection on their self than the people around them.
Just some stuff I was thinking about and remembering.
By the way, another cool thing I learned about assessing people back in high school is the value of alcohol in this regard. People become more who they really are when drunk - and so you know someone who is really comfortable when themselves and projecting their honest self normally when the only change you notice is in their grace and speech slurring, not in their behavior.
incidentally (I guess by now we're into the "P.S." zone), it works the other way around, as well -- if you you have a positive outlook you tend to filter out negative things. if in Amber DRPG you have an excess of skill points, good things happen to you...