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Old 10-03-2017, 04:24 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Addiction and Alcoholism

Addiction and Alcoholism are both Mundane disadvantages; Addiction can be mental or physical, but Alcoholism is always physical. Addictions can range in value from [0] to [-40], depending on the cost of the substance, its effects and its legality, while Alcoholism is [-15], or [-20] if it's illegal. A [0] Addiction is worth [-1] as a quirk, if you want.

The rules on drinking, intoxication, the effects of addiction, and freeing yourself from it are on B.439-441. They're fairly simple and cinematic, and require you to buy off an Addiction if you successfully withdraw. However, you aren't allowed to buy off Alcoholism, which is why it's a separate disadvantage; you're always subject to relapses. These disadvantages date from GURPS 1e, and haven't changed much since then.

Some behaviours that are referred to as "addiction" in the present day, usually by defence lawyers or tabloid journalists, would be Compulsive Behaviours under GURPS. GURPS WWII has Compulsive Behaviour (Binge Drinking), which means you drink a lot when alcohol is available, but can stand to be without it, at least for a few weeks. After that, you'll try to improvise. This makes sense for soldiers and sailors without access to drink while on operations; with unrestricted access to drink, they'll have to buy off the Compulsive Behaviour, or become full-scale alcoholics.

The Discworld RPG has a way to buy off Alcoholism in instalments, as far as quirk level, which looks good for any game. Alcoholism seems distinctly more common on published templates than Addiction, presumably because alcohol is more socially acceptable than addictive drugs in many cultures, including that of most GURPS players and writers.

Banestorm has Sahudanese spirits with Addictions, and there are weirder addictions in Fantasy. High-Tech points out that some medicines can be addictive, Horror has advice on using dependency for psychological horror, and Madness Dossier takes that up to 11. Low-Tech has realistic addictions from before the rise of the pharmaceutical industry, and Magic has a spell to relieve addiction -- a little -- and ways to be addicted to magic. Mysteries has Compulsive Behaviour (Heavy Drinker) for hard-boiled types training for Alcoholism; Power-Ups 6 has lots of ways to embellish that, and Power-Ups 8 shows how to use these as required disadvantages for an ability. Psis has addictions to psi-drugs and telepathy, and Space to FTL travel, virtual reality or brain stimulation. Tactical Shooting points out that both disadvantages can be the result of self-medication after failed Fright Checks. Tales of the Solar Patrol has some SF drugs, while Thaumatology has addictions to performing magic, spiritual energies, and injected gems. Ultra-Tech has addictions for robots and cyborgs, and the symbolism of Zombies as drug addicts is pretty obvious.

These were the first two disadvantages I ever saw played, in my first GURPS session. We knew the world somewhat from playing D&D in it, and the referee was trying to convert it to GURPS. We were youths being conscripted into a militia; one player had been reading too much William Burroughs and took a big Addiction, while I took Alcoholism. New draftees were confined to barracks for the first three weeks, and no drink was available. Oops. My character actually managed to withdraw from alcohol, thanks to good HT, but relapsed the first time he went near a bar. The other new character found that it wasn't all that hard to escape the barracks at night to commit crimes to enable him to buy drugs, it was just that between doing that plus basic training, he collapsed after a few days due to simple lack of sleep.

I haven't used these disadvantages since then, as a player. I've used Addiction (Tobacco) quite a bit in writing character sheets for historical figures at TL6: at that time it was normal for people with money and high-stress jobs.

What laughs or tragedies have these disadvantages produced in your games?
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