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-   -   [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back (http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=152503)

johndallman 10-27-2017 03:49 PM

[Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back
 
Bad Back is a Mundane Physical disadvantage, available in two levels, "mild" [-15] or "severe" [-25]. Whenever you make a ST roll, or roll 17+ on an attack or defence during melee, or on an athletic skill, such as Acrobatics or Lifting, you need to make a HT roll to avoid "throwing" your back out and suffering pain. This roll is harder, and the pain worse, if you have the severe level of the disadvantage, and on a critical failure of the HT roll, you can take actual damage. The disadvantage was created during the GURPS 3e period, but I'm not sure exactly when.

High Pain Threshold reduces, but does not eliminate, the pain, and Fit or Very Fit will help with the HT Rolls. A realistic character with Hunchback should have this disadvantage too, but this is not mandatory. It's possible to acquire a temporary case of Bad Back through bad luck on extra effort rolls while digging.

Action and similar genres are usually incompatible with this disadvantage and Bio-Tech has rules for treating it with physiotherapy or surgery. Reich-5 "science" from Infinite Worlds can cause it, but Low-Tech massage can relieve it. Martial Arts' advanced hit location rules provide a way to acquire this disadvantage, and Technical Grappling points out it makes you more vulnerable to attacks against your spine.

I don't think I've ever taken this disadvantage on a PC, partly because I know several real people who have something like it. I tend towards using disadvantages that I can live with, or which the character thinks are proper behaviour. Since I seem to be good at failing dice rolls to avoid disadvantage effects, I try to avoid ones that will be crippling.

Flyndaran 10-27-2017 04:47 PM

Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back
 
Some real people with hunchbacks from scoliosis don't have Bad Backs. They have restricted lung capacity and reduced endurance but can still throw down physically.

Railstar 10-27-2017 06:29 PM

Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back
 
Mostly I’ve avoided it. -3 DX for the rest of combat due to a poor attack roll is a virtual death sentence, the alternative being if you have enough HT to make it a non-issue… in which case it feels like cheating to take it. So I’ve never taken it “as written” for a PC.

One character did have a triggered form of it, inspired by the Towton Graves, in which the bodies of men-at-arms were shown to have their scapula separated into multiple parts due to vigorous childhood exercise. So this character, who was trained as a knight, would suffer Bad Back after receiving magical healing (because it would try to repair those bones, which were better off being separated). However, it never came up, because magical healing was virtually always after combat for him, and he usually had the opportunity to fix his back before the next combat. The accessibility was -80%, and it was really more effective for how he’d plan around the problem than for the problem itself.

However, the thread did give me an idea. Another character is based around the theme of using Alter Body or other spells to manipulate flesh and bone, a bit like the Tzimisce from Old World of Darkness. Bad Back disadvantage is a very good way to represent a flawed structure for those creations.

Overall, I see it as prohibitive for characters who routinely make ST-rolls, and irrelevant for most characters who don’t.

johndallman 10-28-2017 08:06 PM

Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Railstar (Post 2131352)
However, the thread did give me an idea. Another character is based around the theme of using Alter Body or other spells to manipulate flesh and bone, a bit like the Tzimisce from Old World of Darkness. Bad Back disadvantage is a very good way to represent a flawed structure for those creations.

Makes sense to me. Like many disadvantages, this one is at least as useful for representing such problems as it is for designing player characters.

AlexanderHowl 10-29-2017 03:03 PM

Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back
 
It is actually a fairly common disadvantage in the modern campaigns that I have been involved in, usually explained as a side effect of a career ending injury for former police, veterans, etc. It is a good disadvantage for horror and mystery games, where combat ready characters need explanations of why they are not serving police, active military, etc.

Hellboy 10-29-2017 03:31 PM

Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back
 
You could probably design lesser versions by buying "Not Bad Back" with various limitations. Bet a lot of people would have quirk levels.

Railstar 10-30-2017 09:52 PM

Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by johndallman (Post 2131495)
Makes sense to me. Like many disadvantages, this one is at least as useful for representing such problems as it is for designing player characters.

Combine this with what you said earlier about using disadvantages you can live with, this works even better for those cases because monsters are more expendable than PCs are. Even a PC's monstrous ally, if the PC has the spells to create it in the first place, can be assumed to be replaced should it ever die due to Bad Back at an inopportune moment.

RogerBW 10-31-2017 11:38 AM

Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back
 
I don't have this disadvantage, but I've experienced a crippling back pain such that I was at about -5 to DX and at least -3 to IQ from distraction for a few minutes. I'd like a milder version of this disad to represent people who are getting a bit creaky but don't completely come to pieces.

sir_pudding 10-31-2017 06:23 PM

Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by RogerBW (Post 2132070)
I don't have this disadvantage, but I've experienced a crippling back pain such that I was at about -5 to DX and at least -3 to IQ from distraction for a few minutes. I'd like a milder version of this disad to represent people who are getting a bit creaky but don't completely come to pieces.

Isn't that what Minor Handicap is for?

Verjigorm 10-31-2017 07:15 PM

Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Back
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by RogerBW (Post 2132070)
I don't have this disadvantage, but I've experienced a crippling back pain such that I was at about -5 to DX and at least -3 to IQ from distraction for a few minutes. I'd like a milder version of this disad to represent people who are getting a bit creaky but don't completely come to pieces.

For normal people, Bad Back is probably the result of a critical failure of a lifting check. It happens all the time, especially to people who don't follow proper form when lifting, even light things.


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