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Old 03-08-2019, 12:22 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Killjoy

Killjoy [-15] is a mundane physical disadvantage, although a very rare one in normal humans. You have no functional pleasure centre in your brain, changing your motivations in many ways. This disadvantage appeared during the 3e period, probably in Cyberpunk.

You cannot feel pleasure, of any kind. If you once had pleasure centres, you may remember what pleasure was like, but the GM has the option to rule that you can't, or that the memories lack meaning. You have -3 on all use of skills where pleasure is important, specifically including Carousing, Connoisseur, Erotic Art and Gambling. If you try to use those skills, you will suffer reaction penalties, of -1 to -3, when your lack of appreciation becomes clear, although bad reactions indicate rejection or ridicule, rather than violence.

Some societies might inflict this condition via some kind of brain modification, as a punishment. It seems definitely cruel and unusual, but has the advantage that the victim won't seek revenge, being unable to take any pleasure in that. There are minor upsides, in that you're immune to the Ecstasy condition and Sex Appeal skill.

Killjoy is occasionally found on published character templates, usually for people who have been modified too much, or servants of Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. Plus Zombies. GURPS supplements suggest various uses for it, as a prisoner-control technique in AtE; a drastic cure for compulsive pleasure-seeking in Bio-Tech, or a punishment applied by undead in Fantasy. High-Tech points out that it can be an effect of psychiatric medication, Horror has it as a consequence of serious problems with one's conscience, a spiritual Affliction, or a disadvantage of robots, and Madness Dossier naturally has ways to cause it. Thaumatology offers it as a side-effect of Magic Resistance, and Alchemical Baroque as a consequence of a ghost's decaying humanity. Transhuman Space: Changing Times has a version with a -20% limitation Will still seek revenge, in a calm way. and Ultra-Tech has implants that can cure it.

This is another disadvantage I've never used, and haven't hankered for. Have you?
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Old 03-08-2019, 12:52 AM   #2
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Killjoy

Killjoy would be part of the Tranquil package were anyone to do GURPS Dragon Age. One of the many horrors of that setting is a treatment they subject mages to when they decide that the mages are too weak and incapable to resist demonic possession. It removes the capacity to feel more emotion than slight discomfort, removing Magic Aptitude, and granting Killjoy, Incurious, No Sense of Humor, Oblivious, Selfless, Social Stigma. But on the bright side you do get Unfazeable and Immune to Lyrium Poisoning. Since the Enchantment College doesn't exist in Dragon Age, only dwarves, Tranquil and elves can enchant things.
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Old 03-08-2019, 01:59 AM   #3
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Killjoy

One thing that puzzles me is the absence of Killjoy on AI templates, even on LAIs/NAIs. I seriously considered taking it for my AI character in a campaign, but decided not to for a bunch of subtle reasons in this specific case (and am likely to choose differently when playing a different AI).
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Old 03-08-2019, 02:44 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Killjoy

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
One thing that puzzles me is the absence of Killjoy on AI templates, even on LAIs/NAIs.
I've found it possible to role-play LAIs who enjoy things. One really liked talking to people; another was fond of opera. The extent to which these feelings were pre-programmed, as compared to emerging from their development, or being deliberate choices by the AI was never explored.
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Old 03-08-2019, 03:07 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Killjoy

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Some societies might inflict this condition via some kind of brain modification, as a punishment. It seems definitely cruel and unusual, but has the advantage that the victim won't seek revenge, being unable to take any pleasure in that.
That never made any sense to me. Why should a lack of pleasure centers prevent a character from deciding rationally that retribution is called for and then meting it out coldly and dispassionately?

Whether from pragmatic self-interest or selfless motives, a character may want to discourage such state violations in the future. If everyone who was subjected to Killjoy were to decide to devote his remaining life to retribution upon those responsible, it would be a powerful deterrent. And the fact that he has little to live for should make it even more rational for the character with Killjoy to decide that his Hades-like half-life is fair trade for the righteous infliction of vengeance, manifested by an appropriate agent.

Far from all fictional portrayals of retribution assume that the agent of vengeance gains any enjoyment from the process. From what I remember of being a child (and so a soulless monster without conscience or empathy), the times when I decided to inflict violence on my schoolmates in retribution, I generally did so in order to prevent any re-occurrence of the offence to which I was responding.

In GURPS terms, a Code of Honour or Sense of Duty might demand violent retribution to an offence even if the avenger has no emotional investment in the process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
This is another disadvantage I've never used, and haven't hankered for. Have you?
I have to confess I never featured it, but now that I consider it, I kind of want to.
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Old 03-08-2019, 06:19 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Killjoy

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
That never made any sense to me. Why should a lack of pleasure centers prevent a character from deciding rationally that retribution is called for and then meting it out coldly and dispassionately?
Oh, that's one of those weird alien concepts said to motivate some people who aren't murder hoboes right? "Justice" or something like that.

But no, Killjoy doesn't make very much sense. It exists to model a very specific cyberpunk trope that doesn't actually mesh up that well with the way brain works either - I've pointed out before that the reward system is both more distributed and more fundamental than required for it to work as written. You could not inflict this without doing much more horrible brain damage than just "you don't feel pleasure", and it's far, far more severe - in the experiments that inspired the idea the damaged rats don't bother to *eat*.

Several cyberpunk traits have been mechanical problems from the beginning - it's a list that included Alternate Identity, Zeroed, Secret, Social Disease, and Terminally Ill. Killjoy isn't even in the Disadvantages section - it's in a sidebar with a couple other kinds of intentional brain damage. But there were some slight problems with the Cyberpunk playtest, what with the Secret Service apparently doing the reality checking....
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Old 03-08-2019, 06:22 AM   #7
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Killjoy

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I've found it possible to role-play LAIs who enjoy things. One really liked talking to people; another was fond of opera. The extent to which these feelings were pre-programmed, as compared to emerging from their development, or being deliberate choices by the AI was never explored.
That's a possibility. But what stood out to me was that this seems to be the only possibility explored throughout both UT and THS, even for NAIs.
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Old 03-08-2019, 08:15 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Killjoy

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
That never made any sense to me. Why should a lack of pleasure centers prevent a character from deciding rationally that retribution is called for and then meting it out coldly and dispassionately?
I have seen recent psychological research that suggests that the split between cold rationality and emotion is not as sharp as all that. There are people in whom certain braiin centers, the ones that identify "for me" or "against me," are disabled from functioning. They also can't make reasoned decisions. They can spend hours saying, "On one hand, if I do A, this will happen, and on the other hand, if I do B, this other thing will happen." But they can never sum it up as "doing A is better than doing B." So they can't make rational decisions.
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Old 03-08-2019, 08:17 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Killjoy

I've never used it in play. I've seen it go through what I call the "curiosity arc" many times, though. Inexperienced players put it on their sheet during a first-draft, read the description and then remove it once they understand what it really is.

In terms of using it as a punishment, I always thought of it as a last-ditch attempt at reform. If someone's neurology is so messed up that they are getting pleasure from all these terrible criminal acts and we can't redirect it, then the only recourse is to burn out their pleasure center. So sad, but better than killing them.
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Old 03-08-2019, 11:48 AM   #10
Andreas
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Killjoy

It seems really strange to me that this trait gives a large penalty to Gambling skill when all the listed uses of that skill don't really have anything to do with pleasure... (" tell you if a game is rigged, identify a fellow gambler in a group of strangers, or “estimate the odds” in any tricky situation", to win a gamble and to spot a cheater).
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