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Old 06-14-2019, 12:46 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Manic-Depressive

Manic-Depressive [-20] is a mundane mental disadvantage, with a special self-control roll. Your mood swings between overwhelming enthusiasm and depressive withdrawal, as a cinematic version of the real-world condition of bipolar disorder. This seems to have first appeared in Compendium I for GURPS 3e.

You switch unpredictably between two different sets of disadvantages: Overconfidence and Workaholic when you’re in the manic phase, or Chronic Depression in the depressive phase. Your self-control roll for all of these disadvantages is your Will. That wasn’t changed at 4e when Self-Control Rolls were separated from Will, presumably because it’s too complicated, and few characters will take this disadvantage anyway. Your personality changes along with the disadvantages, very extroverted when manic, very introverted when depressed.

At the start of each session of play, you have 50:50 odds of being in either phase. Each 5 hours of game time, roll 3d, and on a 10 or less, you start switching to the other phase, which takes an hour. This implies you wake up in a random phase each morning. If you’re faced with an emergency, roll 3d, and on a 10 or less, you switch to the other phase immediately. Sometimes this can be helpful, and sometimes it creates an extra problem.

This is a pretty crippling disadvantage for an adventurer, and rare on published templates, showing up on artists, musicians, serial killers and some uplifted animals. Bio-Tech regards it as the kind of mental instability that can be genefixed at TL9, and mitigated by drugs. High-Tech: Pulp Guns points out that it’s a good reason for denying someone a firearms license. It shows up on a couple of Madness Dossier character templates with alternative sanity, and of course it can be inflicted. Monster Hunters Crusaders, Gifted and a few Holy Hunters can also have it, and Power-Ups 6 has a far less dangerous quirk-level version. Some templates from Psis can have this disadvantage, acquired through suffering, and Steampunk has a TL5^ treatment that’s safe, honestly. Tactical Shooting makes it a possible symptom of PTSD, along with many other mental problems.

This is a problem that’s easier to cope with in stories where everything is controlled by an author, rather than a shared creation with some random events. It’s worth having in the system as a symptom, but have you ever seen a PC or significant NPC with it?

Last edited by johndallman; 06-15-2019 at 04:38 AM. Reason: Forgot value.
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