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Old 02-13-2020, 03:55 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sense of Duty

Sense of Duty [-2 to -20] is a mundane self-imposed mental disadvantage. You feel that you have a duty to help or care for some group of people, ranging from an individual [-2] to every living thing [-20]. You place their interests equal to or ahead of your own, at all times. This disadvantage appeared in the first edition of GURPS, and hasn’t changed much.

A Duty disadvantage is enforced externally; Sense of Duty is based on your own feelings. Behaviour like this is already assumed in the pricing of the Ally, Dependent and Patron disadvantages, so you can’t take a Sense of Duty towards such people. NPCs who know you have a Sense of Duty towards them, or others they care about, will react at +2 when deciding if they should trust you under dangerous circumstances. If you go against your Sense of Duty, the GM may penalise you for bad role-playing, although they should be willing to consider justifications. The Basic Set specifically describes having a Sense of Duty towards adventuring companions, and offers the option for the GM to require it. It also gives the GM license to override character actions under such circumstances, which seems a bit heavy-handed to me.

Sense of Duty is a very common disadvantage option on published templates. The more interesting targets for them include “Alien Masters”, “Assassin Cult”, “Crime Victims”, “Cybernetic Microbes”, “Honest Folk”, “Host Vehicle”, “Lord of the Vines”, “Secret Masters”, “Small Animals”, and “Zombies”. There aren’t many rules additions for this disadvantage, but Fantasy has Sense of Duty to places, rather than people, and Power-Ups 6 has rules for scaling it down to a quirk. Social Engineering has important rules on multiple Senses of Duty, which should be considered before taking them.

Sense of Duty seems like a good way of modelling stable relationships between NPCs, who aren’t eligible to have Allies or Dependents under RAW. It seems possible to have a Sense of Duty towards a mundane job that isn’t a Duty, from personal experience.

I quite often take this disadvantage on my PCs, since I find it easy to play, which is always helpful for disadvantages. How has it been important in your games?

Last edited by johndallman; 02-13-2020 at 04:10 PM. Reason: Punctuation
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disadvantage of the week, sense of duty

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