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Old 04-15-2018, 03:56 PM   #11
lordabdul
 
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Default Re: Fear and Madness

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
You are missing something. To pick a Fright Check Table entry, you roll 3d and add the margin of failure.
Yes, I was aware of that, but maybe my math is off?

Except for a couple exceptions (13 and 16), acquiring new traits from Fright Checks happens only around 22 and above... and in my experience so far, with Fright Check penalties routinely between -3 and -7, it's very rare to get that high. The average 3d6 roll is 10 so you need a margin of failure of 12 to get to the "good stuff" on the table, which means rolling against -2 as the effective Will, so that's a -12 penalty to the Will roll for the Fright Check (something that could happen in the presence of a Great Old One, but not really for anything else... unless, again, there is some kind of "downward spiral" to stack up penalties).

This is obviously all for average rolls, but there are still twice 50% chances of ending up with something less horrible, which is, I think, a final 25% chances of having a new mental disadvantage with that -12 penalty? Is that right?

Of course we can consider that picking up permanent disadvantages is only for exceptionally bad rolls, or exceptionally bad situations... but as a result, after maybe 2 years of campaigning in a horror setting, there's maybe 1 or 2 times that someone acquired a new trait, and I believe one of those times it was actually because they got the 13 on the table.

That doesn't mean the Fright Check system as-is isn't working, I mean apparently people seem happy (I assume they don't have the same requirements for their game)... but the problem I'm wondering about is when this is getting used a lot (as in a Horror campaign), if it turns into a "roll to figure out if you freeze" system, instead of a "roll to figure out if your character's sanity deteriorates". The first one could become this tedious thing that gets in the way of action scenes, while the second one is an actual opportunity for roleplaying.

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Edit: Horror has a bunch more variations for Fright Checks on pp143-45.
Yeah, I think I'm going to go with the Stress and Derangement system (because it does have this downward spiral thing I'm looking to replicate from CoC) -- and I assume as soon as you run a horror campaign, it makes sense to look into GURPS Horror.
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:09 AM   #12
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Default Re: Fear and Madness

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Originally Posted by lordabdul View Post
Yes, I was aware of that, but maybe my math is off?
Your math is not off at all ... But ...

First of all, I have to apologize. Most of my GURPS campaigns are Cthulhu campaigns. So, When I speak about Fright Checks, I usually speak about Fright Checks in Cthulhu stories, which means Fright Checks which are made very often! What I say is not true for more ordinary horror stories where Fright Checks are rarer ... And where penalties are also lower.

In Call of Cthulhu stories, as you perfectly know it, Fright Checks are very common. More common that combats, actually. And penalties are quite high.

Let's take an example to better show what I want to mean: the most famous Cthulhu adventure, The Haunting (Walter Corbitt's house). And just consider that we use the conversion rule described in Cthulhu Lives!, the article published in Roleplayer #22 - which has also been used in Cthulhu Punk (if I remember well).
"To figure the exact penalty, total up the maximum Sanity loss possible. (GURPS characters don’t get Will rolls to avoid Sanity loss, so if there’s a listing such as 1d6/1 point, it means 6 possible Sanity.) Divide this number by two, and round down. This will give you the Fright Check penalty.
Example: An adventure states that reading a given book will invite 2D8 Sanity loss. The maximum Sanity loss from a roll of 2D8 is 16. Divide this in half, and you can tell any GURPS Horror players who read the book that they must make a Fright Check at -8. (Exception: seeing one of the Outer Gods usually invites 1D100 Sanity loss! Treat this as a Fright Check -20.)"
Here is the Fright Check that characters will have to do in the Haunting.
  • Reading Walter's Corbitt's diary: -2.
  • Seeing the flying knife: -2.
  • Seeing someone being controlled by Walter Corbitt with his Dominate spell: +0 (at minimum).
  • Being attacked by the rats: +0 (at minimum).
  • Seeing Walter's Corbitt body: +0.
  • Seeing Walter Corbitt moving: -4.
Of course, penalties are not high here. But there are still 6 Fright Checks to make, that is 6 chances to get a high score on 3d + margin of failure. And it is just a short introductory adventure!

So, imagine now a longer adventure like Masks of Nyalathothep.

Sooner or later, Player Characters will inevitably get a mental disadvantage. And once they will have it, they won't anymore be able to get rid of it (while you can always recover from Call of Cthulhu sanity loss). So every character (who doesn't die before) will eventually have two, three, or more mental disadvantages ... And being enforced to roleplay all of them will really give the players the feeling that their characters are insane ...

That is what I wanted to mean.

But I still perfectly do agree with you: if you really want to get the true feeling of Call of Cthulu adventures, the stress and derangement rules described in Horror are much better than that mere cumulation of mental problems.

Last edited by Gollum; 04-16-2018 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 04-29-2018, 03:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: Fear and Madness

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Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
Of course, penalties are not high here. But there are still 6 Fright Checks to make, that is 6 chances to get a high score on 3d + margin of failure. And it is just a short introductory adventure!

So, imagine now a longer adventure like Masks of Nyalathothep.
As it happens, I'm in the middle of running Masks :) And so far, my experience doesn't match with your experience. What happens is that Fright Checks are generally for immediate threats -- as opposed to stressful but otherwise nonthreatening situations (like seeing a corpse). So in the vast majority of cases, failed Fright Checks result in the character being stunned or otherwise freezing, and then being gravely injured (and taken out of the campaign for a long time, or for good) or killed on the spot. This means that it doesn't leave a lot of opportunities for the characters to get mental disadvantages -- like I said, we are half-way through Masks (we just started the Kenya chapter) and I think only a couple mental disadvantages (including one quirk) were acquired.

We started mixing it up a bit by interpreting some "you're stunned for xd6 turns" results with more varied things (as recommended in GURPS Horror) but you still end up with the same problem -- it's just a little less boring.

I'm probably going to play with a few other suggestions from GURPS Horror... but I'm wondering where the difference in experience comes from? Maybe you're better at setting up "mood" scenes before the fight scenes, which then gives more Fright Checks to roll?
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Old 04-29-2018, 04:26 PM   #14
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Default Re: Fear and Madness

Pyramid #103 - Setbacks has the stability points system, which has short-term and long-term gameplay effects.

Once you lose enough stability points, you start getting afflictions or even new disadvantages.
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Old 04-30-2018, 12:41 AM   #15
Gollum
 
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Default Re: Fear and Madness

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Originally Posted by lordabdul View Post
As it happens, I'm in the middle of running Masks :) And so far, my experience doesn't match with your experience. What happens is that Fright Checks are generally for immediate threats -- as opposed to stressful but otherwise nonthreatening situations (like seeing a corpse).
Our different experience may come from here. In my games, seeing a corpse triggers a Fright Check. I follow the rules described in Basic Set, page 360, very harshly.
"What counts as “ordinary” depends on the characters and the setting. This is one place where a character story can be helpful! An ordinary, 21st-century American might have to make Fright Checks for encounters with monsters, dead bodies, and the supernatural."
I also use a lot of negative modifiers, as described page 360, especially:
"Apply -1 if the area is physically isolated, -1 at night or in the dark (or in daylight, if you’re a night-dweller!), and -2 if you are (or think you are) alone."
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Originally Posted by lordabdul View Post
So in the vast majority of cases, failed Fright Checks result in the character being stunned or otherwise freezing, and then being gravely injured (and taken out of the campaign for a long time, or for good) or killed on the spot.
Being stunned is also what happens most often in my games. And here, I have to admit that much as I am harsh with Fright Checks, I am cool with freezing effects. I avoid killing characters when it happens.

Actually, I may have chosen GURPS rules because the lethality is very low compared to Chaosium’s rules. There is a high probability of unconsciousness between 0 and -HP. And when a character is unconscious, I consider that the monster or foe doesn’t kill him. Either he believes that the character is already dead, or he prefers fleeing discreetly (not being noticed is important for Cthulhu Mythos creatures; otherwise, they would have whole armies against them).

Likewise, I am very happy that my player characters don’t become too crazy too fast. As you noted it, getting mental problems is quite rare: Fright Check results of 13, 16, or 22 and more. But, as I said it, when it happens, characters cannot anymore get rid of it. Unless having a very long course of therapy …

Thus, our different experiences may mainly come from my very specific manner of running games. If you consider that seeing a dead body is not the same kind of fear than seeing a Cthulhu creature, I warmly recommend you the Stress and Derangement rules (Horror, page 141-142). I didn’t use it yet, but I am thinking more and more about doing it.
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Old 04-30-2018, 03:18 AM   #16
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Default Re: Fear and Madness

Normally, if a character's effective level is less than 3, they can't roll at all (p345.) However, it does say Skill there, not Level. Since your max Will is 13 for Fright Checks, and you *need* to be able to make that roll in order to make the math work for the rest of the Fright Check mechanics, and you could easily have penalties of -15 on a roll, based on Fright Check Modifiers (p360), I'd think some changes to the wording of p344 is in order (Base Level vs Effective Level. Or does that not apply to attribute rolls, and I simply can't find that rule?

Anyway, as to the OP's situation, have you considered creating a custom Fright Check Table which better reflects your desires?

As for the math & potential modifiers on p360, I count -27, -6 of which are unlikely in PCs (-2, Combat Paralysis & -4 Cowardice), assuming a botch on the will roll of 18, that's a potential fail by 32. Then you add 3d6 to that. I think that's the worst case scenario, if I've got it right. So perhaps it's the conversions you're using that are the problem with you not hitting high enough on the Fright Check Table?

Note that Lovecraftian horrors are oozing with malice and dreadfulness beyond incomprehensibility to human beings - they are far beyond "normal" monsters - so, if you're giving them less than a -6 for the "monster" penalty, I think you're doing it wrong right there. I might even go so far as to say they should all be -10.

Last edited by namada; 04-30-2018 at 06:39 PM. Reason: Missed some required capitalizations & added clarifying remarks.
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Old 04-30-2018, 12:08 PM   #17
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Default Re: Fear and Madness

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Originally Posted by lordabdul View Post
As it happens, I'm in the middle of running Masks :) And so far, my experience doesn't match with your experience. What happens is that Fright Checks are generally for immediate threats -- as opposed to stressful but otherwise nonthreatening situations (like seeing a corpse). So in the vast majority of cases, failed Fright Checks result in the character being stunned or otherwise freezing, and then being gravely injured (and taken out of the campaign for a long time, or for good) or killed on the spot.
I don't know that particular campaign, but if you are being faithful to Lovecraft, then stunned people should rarely be the target of attacks.
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