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Old 10-04-2019, 01:58 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Obsession

Obsession [-5* or -10*] is a mundane mental disadvantage with a self-control roll. You have a goal or objective, and everything in your life revolves round it. This disadvantage appeared in Compendium I for GURPS 3e.

Everything you do has to be rationalised as working towards or supporting your goal. If you need to do something that doesn’t accord with your obsession, you need to succeed in a self-control roll. If you fail, you neglect it and carry on with your purpose. This differs from Compulsive Behaviour in that it isn’t a habit, which you might be aware is a bad idea, but a purpose. Unlike Fanaticism, this doesn’t need to have principles or philosophy behind it: “Become the world’s greatest bubble-gum blower” is a perfectly valid obsession.

The base price is [-5] for a short term goal, and [-10] for a long-term one. Those base costs are modified for your self-control number. If the obsession is likely to cause bad reactions (you’ll have a hard time concealing it from anyone who knows you), take another disadvantage, such as Odious Personal Habit or Delusion to cover that. If you achieve your obsession, take a new one, or buy off the disadvantage.

The Nightmares disadvantage can cause temporary Obsessions, and reasonably sensible goals can be taken as quirk-level Obsessions. Obsession is a fairly common option on published templates, although they tend towards being semi-rational; barking mad obsessions are generally the work of loose-hinged players. For example, Discworld wizards are often obsessed with their current project, and Action heroes with something related to their story role. Obsessions are useful as motivators for constructs, ghosts, villains, and anyone who dedicates their life to something specific. Bio-Tech can prevent Obsessions via genetic engineering, and remove them by less subtle means, while Fantasy has a weaponised affliction of Obsession. Horror has ghosts with uncontrollable Obsessions, and many kinds of opponent whose sanity has been eroded by an Obsession, while Madness Dossier can cause Obsessions with memes or brain implants. Monster Hunters are often obsessed, and Applied Xenology has an especially limiting version; Steampunk’s Shocking Revelations can cause Obsessions. Zombies don’t usually have enough of a mind to be obsessed, but would-be zombie-masters often are.

How have Obsessions warped your games?
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:14 AM   #2
RogerBW
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Obsession

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Everything you do has to be rationalised as working towards or supporting your goal. If you need to do something that doesn’t accord with your obsession, you need to succeed in a self-control roll. If you fail, you neglect it and carry on with your purpose.
As so often, if played strictly it would be likely to make a character non-viable as a member of a party, unless their obsession were something like "get rid of all the monsters in Florida" in which case it's what they'd be doing anyway. It would have to be selected very carefully not to go to one extreme or the other.
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Old 10-04-2019, 11:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Obsession

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As so often, if played strictly it would be likely to make a character non-viable as a member of a party, unless their obsession were something like "get rid of all the monsters in Florida" in which case it's what they'd be doing anyway. It would have to be selected very carefully not to go to one extreme or the other.
I disagree about "being careful not to select for support of the campaign premise".

As a GM I'm generally perfectly fine with this result, also note, even if the Obsession lines up 'perfectly' with the campaign premise, it means that when curves and grey areas are in play the Character is far less willing to bend and is against 'breaking premise'.

Take the "get rid of all the monsters in Florida", this includes useful monsters, even non-destructive, harmless ones. Ones that could be a boon to the party. It also tends to preclude trips up to Georgia to get rid of monsters up there, unless the trip's promised result was aid in ridding Florida of monsters.
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Old 10-04-2019, 11:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Obsession

I did a search for the term in my game notes and my comments on this forum, and I was surprised at how often the word appeared on a character sheet as opposed to when talking about theories.

My first gurps character had mind control, specializing in the slow and sure variant (where you add traits to your victim). Obsession was a really good trait to implant in someone's head: it was cheap, and it kept them focused where you wanted them.

I've seen obsession (revenge) a several times, both as a player and as a GM. Its useful to note that the character in question isn't trying to stop the evil plot, save lives, or prove himself, but to inflict harm on the enemy. Monster Hunters gives every champion the ability to pick a "motivating attribute". The characters all go on the adventure together, but they have slightly different goals.

Several players I've seen have had goals they're working on that are kind of abstract. "Become Greatest Swordsman". "Mystically discover the Pysche","Establish Trade routes". These can be derailing, but often they just provide color and complications for the group, and in a functional group, they work well. Usually they are tasks that require extra effort but not much travel beyond what the main group is doing. They also differ in importance depending on the strength of my premade story and the degree of "sandbox" in the game.

Fey I build usually have an obsession: an equivalent of food they need to survive or an emotion they get kicks and giggles from. This usually turns up in monster hunters, so I think something like 75% of the hits I got for obsession were Monster Hunters related. I've stuck it on other supernatural entities as well.

I've found myself limiting the amount of obsession a player can take to [-15]. One guy was taking a bunch of them. I told him they were capped at [-15].

Quirk level obsessions can be a lot of fun. The life doesn't revolve around them, but they do enjoy the activity a lot. I've seen hunting, painting, and learning new musical instruments.
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Old 10-04-2019, 03:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Obsession

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I've found myself limiting the amount of obsession a player can take to [-15]. One guy was taking a bunch of them. I told him they were capped at [-15].
Personally, I would never allow a player to take more than one Obsession, period. It goes against the basic function of the disadvantage.
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Old 10-04-2019, 03:56 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Obsession

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
I disagree about "being careful not to select for support of the campaign premise".

As a GM I'm generally perfectly fine with this result, also note, even if the Obsession lines up 'perfectly' with the campaign premise, it means that when curves and grey areas are in play the Character is far less willing to bend and is against 'breaking premise'.

Take the "get rid of all the monsters in Florida", this includes useful monsters, even non-destructive, harmless ones. Ones that could be a boon to the party. It also tends to preclude trips up to Georgia to get rid of monsters up there, unless the trip's promised result was aid in ridding Florida of monsters.
Indeed, I think that's the trick - it can't be an exact match for the campaign premise or it's just free points, but it can be what e.g. Trail of Cthulhu might call a Drive, a reason why you carry on acting like a PC even when it might make sense to stop.
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Obsession

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Indeed, I think that's the trick - it can't be an exact match for the campaign premise or it's just free points...
Again, I disagree. I'm fine with it being "free points" because 1) it means the Character (and Player) is 100% invested in the campaign premise, and 2) it's never, ever, just "free points".

The rare handful of times I've seen Obsession come up, it's always thrown a wrinkle or two into the works at some point in the game. Likewise for any other 'free points' Disad I've ever seen.
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Old 10-05-2019, 06:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Obsession

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
This disadvantage appeared in Compendium I for GURPS 3e.
I believe that it first appeared in the GURPS 2E Riverworld supplement as well as a number of later GURPS 3E works. In Riverworld, it was possible to have -15 point Obsessions, but that option was dropped in GURPS 4E

Obsession is good for modeling internally motivated monomaniacal behavior as opposed to a Vow which represents a conscious choice to accomplish a particular goal or to behave in a certain way, although the two disads can be quite similar.

Realistic OCD is better modeled using the Compulsive Behavior disad.

Since Obsession is more of a roleplaying disad rather than one which imposes penalties or limits combat options, it's potentially free points in campaigns where there isn't much chance for an Obsessive character to achieve their stated goal or where the Obsession clearly works to the character's advantage (e.g., "Master Kung Fu" for a martial artist who already spends hours in training each day and who is always attempting to boost his unarmed combat performance). In such cases, Obsessions should just be treated as Quirks.

It's also a disad which requires GM permission and input, since the player and the GM must agree on the obsessive character's goal and where the GM has to work the PC's Obsession into play while not allowing it to overshadow the other PC's motivations.

For NPCs, it's a classic villainous motivation, especially the more sympathetic types.

Last edited by Pursuivant; 10-05-2019 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 10-06-2019, 09:27 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Obsession

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Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
For NPCs, it's a classic villainous motivation, especially the more sympathetic types.
It's also a good heroic motivation. See for example the Count of Monte Cristo, or Mahasamatman in Lord of Light, or the Batman.
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Old 10-06-2019, 10:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Obsession

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
I disagree about "being careful not to select for support of the campaign premise".
I agree with the donkey. 10pts for "My PC is always going to bite the hook hard" is a bargain - for the GM.

Additionally, it can be fun as heck. Cray PCs usually are unless the player is "That Guy."

Since I am a "disads are mostly for fun, not for points" heretic, this is an easy sell.
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