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Old 09-14-2018, 01:41 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Fanaticism

Fanaticism [-15] is a mundane, self-imposed, mental disadvantage. You are dedicated to a cause – a belief, deity, nation, or philosophy – and put it ahead of everything else. If this demands obedience or loyalty to a leader or a code of behaviour, you do this unquestioningly, and can’t take them as separate disadvantages. Fanaticism dates from GURPS 1e, in much the same form as today.

Fanaticism is a state of mind, not of morality. One can be fanatical about a worthy cause, or an evil one. Extreme Fanaticism is a variant, where you won’t hesitate to die for your cause, and view suicidal missions calmly. You also get +3 to Will rolls to resist Brainwashing, Interrogation and mind control if yielding to them would endanger your cause. This is still only worth [-15].

Fanaticism isn’t rare as an option on published templates, although it’s usually limited to character types where it’s either dramatically appropriate (Examples in Action, Discworld, DF, Horror, Madness Dossier, Infinite Worlds, Monster Hunters, and Supers) or culturally appropriate (Banestorm, Fantasy, Britannica-6, Mars Attacks, Martial Arts, Reign of Steel, Space, and Tales of the Solar Patrol). Banestorm Hashishin all have Extreme Fanaticism, but many serve for years as “sleeper” agents, showing that the disadvantage doesn’t demand precipitate action. Banestorm also shows us that Christian fanaticism wasn’t all that rare before the Enlightenment; Crusades has further examples. Bio-Tech has only a very crude way of removing this disadvantage, while Boardroom & Curia shows what an organisation needs to have fanatical followers. Powers allows Fanaticism as a disadvantage for maintaining the use of powers based on moral certainty; Social Engineering allows refocusing Fanaticism via Brainwashing, more easily than creating a fanatic. Extreme Fanaticism can be remarkably like a 15-point Zombie Motivation.

Fanaticism can be a surprisingly playable disadvantage, if it’s aligned with the campaign objectives. I’ve played it as never willing to give in, even if you’re terrified, but not keeping you from making plans or using appropriate caution to accomplish the objective. It doesn’t keep you from having dependents or loved ones, but they do take second place. It’s pretty easy to manipulate a fanatic, but in a setting with clear friends and enemies, that doesn’t happen constantly. Monster Hunters plays Fanaticism (The Mission) in much this way, and Special Ops and SEALs in Vietnam regard it as an acceptable disadvantage for special operators.

Have your players been fanatical?
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Old 09-14-2018, 03:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Fanaticism

Back in 3e, in a black ops campaign 'ripped from the headlines' we played from 2002, one PC had Fanaticism (US Safety) combined with Unfazeable.

A major theme of the campaign was the rest of the PCs developing PTSD, moral quandaries and crippling guilt issues, but the fanatic (game mechanically as a result of his Unfazeable), never questioned any of the horrible things he did.

Granted, the PCs were field agents and so never formally interrogated anyone, which meant that he didn't torture with the same relish as Jack Bauer, but that was merely because of division of labour. He certainly kidnapped people based on suspicion and used extraordinary rendition to send them to allied nations with no compunction about torturing them.

Most memorable thing about him is probably the many Determinator things he did in combat. While other, saner PCs took cover from automatic weapons fire, the fanatic stood his ground and aimed at the machine gun operator while standing in the open with .50 caliber bullets throwing up sand all around him, finally taking him out with a single shot to the forehead.

Once, the fanatic also leapt on an accelerating car, punching a knife into the baggage compartment to help him hold on and then, inch by inch, climbed into the broken rear window using his two knives as climbing spikes, while the terrified driver floored the car.

Good times.
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Old 09-14-2018, 04:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Fanaticism

Dungeon Fantasy games where the players refuse to back down, retreat, compromise, or surrender when faced with overwhelming force, even when it becomes painfully obvious mid fight that you're getting whipped. I swear these players should just slap Fanatacism: Kill Monsters on all their character sheets and be done with it.
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Old 09-14-2018, 06:53 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Fanaticism

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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post

Dungeon Fantasy games where the players refuse to back down, retreat, compromise, or surrender when faced with overwhelming force, even when it becomes painfully obvious mid fight that you're getting whipped. I swear these players should just slap Fanatacism: Kill Monsters on all their character sheets and be done with it.
If I know a player well enough to guess that they'll jump into the conventions of the campaign with both feet and give no ground, even when "reality" as it exists there is equally uncompromising, I always suggest Fanaticism. Wording sometimes presents a challenge; e.g., "Fanaticism (Action-Movie Justice)" for a GURPS Action cop seems cheesy, but everyone will grasp that "Fanaticism (The Law)" means the same thing in context. That's a small thing, though . . . some players so aggressively pursue the genre or campaign premise that I'm fine more-or-less giving them 15 points as a reward for making things more immersive for the other players.
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Old 09-14-2018, 07:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Fanaticism

Are there rule provisions for balking at something too extreme for the cause? Or for developing doubts? Or is that something that is part of pure roleplaying, possibly followed up with some sense of guilt or secret disadvantage, or a requirement to buy off the disadvantage?
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Old 09-14-2018, 07:34 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Fanaticism

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Originally Posted by cptbutton View Post
Are there rule provisions for balking at something too extreme for the cause? Or for developing doubts? Or is that something that is part of pure roleplaying, possibly followed up with some sense of guilt or secret disadvantage, or a requirement to buy off the disadvantage?
I'd call it roleplaying the process of buying off the Disadvantage.
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Old 09-14-2018, 08:25 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Fanaticism

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Originally Posted by cptbutton View Post
Are there rule provisions for balking at something too extreme for the cause? Or for developing doubts? Or is that something that is part of pure roleplaying, possibly followed up with some sense of guilt or secret disadvantage, or a requirement to buy off the disadvantage?
IDHMBWM - is there a control roll for this disadvantage?
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Old 09-14-2018, 09:37 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Fanaticism

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IDHMBWM - is there a control roll for this disadvantage?
Nope! As a "self-chosen" disad, it's like Vow, Code of Honor, etc. If you take it, it's because you really do believe in your cause that strongly, and are expected to roleplay that.
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Old 09-14-2018, 12:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Fanaticism

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
If I know a player well enough to guess that they'll jump into the conventions of the campaign with both feet and give no ground, even when "reality" as it exists there is equally uncompromising, I always suggest Fanaticism. Wording sometimes presents a challenge; e.g., "Fanaticism (Action-Movie Justice)" for a GURPS Action cop seems cheesy, but everyone will grasp that "Fanaticism (The Law)" means the same thing in context. That's a small thing, though . . . some players so aggressively pursue the genre or campaign premise that I'm fine more-or-less giving them 15 points as a reward for making things more immersive for the other players.
Action Hero cops are regularly playing fast and loose with the law for their own interpretation of justice.
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Old 09-14-2018, 01:50 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Fanaticism

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Have your players been fanatical?
I once wrote this on a character sheet:

[1] "What really matters.": Perk: Controllable Disadvantage: Extreme Fanaticism (philosophy: prevent the permanent extinction of sapience) (1).


This was meant to tie in in interesting ways with their Obsession (Immortality), in a setting where there was no certainty about how dangerous any given existential risk would be. The effect was to provide +3 Will vs brainwashing when they were able to justify their actions as being morally just, with a few acceptable mental side-effects as they did.
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