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Old 10-03-2017, 05:24 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Addiction and Alcoholism

Addiction and Alcoholism are both Mundane disadvantages; Addiction can be mental or physical, but Alcoholism is always physical. Addictions can range in value from [0] to [-40], depending on the cost of the substance, its effects and its legality, while Alcoholism is [-15], or [-20] if it's illegal. A [0] Addiction is worth [-1] as a quirk, if you want.

The rules on drinking, intoxication, the effects of addiction, and freeing yourself from it are on B.439-441. They're fairly simple and cinematic, and require you to buy off an Addiction if you successfully withdraw. However, you aren't allowed to buy off Alcoholism, which is why it's a separate disadvantage; you're always subject to relapses. These disadvantages date from GURPS 1e, and haven't changed much since then.

Some behaviours that are referred to as "addiction" in the present day, usually by defence lawyers or tabloid journalists, would be Compulsive Behaviours under GURPS. GURPS WWII has Compulsive Behaviour (Binge Drinking), which means you drink a lot when alcohol is available, but can stand to be without it, at least for a few weeks. After that, you'll try to improvise. This makes sense for soldiers and sailors without access to drink while on operations; with unrestricted access to drink, they'll have to buy off the Compulsive Behaviour, or become full-scale alcoholics.

The Discworld RPG has a way to buy off Alcoholism in instalments, as far as quirk level, which looks good for any game. Alcoholism seems distinctly more common on published templates than Addiction, presumably because alcohol is more socially acceptable than addictive drugs in many cultures, including that of most GURPS players and writers.

Banestorm has Sahudanese spirits with Addictions, and there are weirder addictions in Fantasy. High-Tech points out that some medicines can be addictive, Horror has advice on using dependency for psychological horror, and Madness Dossier takes that up to 11. Low-Tech has realistic addictions from before the rise of the pharmaceutical industry, and Magic has a spell to relieve addiction -- a little -- and ways to be addicted to magic. Mysteries has Compulsive Behaviour (Heavy Drinker) for hard-boiled types training for Alcoholism; Power-Ups 6 has lots of ways to embellish that, and Power-Ups 8 shows how to use these as required disadvantages for an ability. Psis has addictions to psi-drugs and telepathy, and Space to FTL travel, virtual reality or brain stimulation. Tactical Shooting points out that both disadvantages can be the result of self-medication after failed Fright Checks. Tales of the Solar Patrol has some SF drugs, while Thaumatology has addictions to performing magic, spiritual energies, and injected gems. Ultra-Tech has addictions for robots and cyborgs, and the symbolism of Zombies as drug addicts is pretty obvious.

These were the first two disadvantages I ever saw played, in my first GURPS session. We knew the world somewhat from playing D&D in it, and the referee was trying to convert it to GURPS. We were youths being conscripted into a militia; one player had been reading too much William Burroughs and took a big Addiction, while I took Alcoholism. New draftees were confined to barracks for the first three weeks, and no drink was available. Oops. My character actually managed to withdraw from alcohol, thanks to good HT, but relapsed the first time he went near a bar. The other new character found that it wasn't all that hard to escape the barracks at night to commit crimes to enable him to buy drugs, it was just that between doing that plus basic training, he collapsed after a few days due to simple lack of sleep.

I haven't used these disadvantages since then, as a player. I've used Addiction (Tobacco) quite a bit in writing character sheets for historical figures at TL6: at that time it was normal for people with money and high-stress jobs.

What laughs or tragedies have these disadvantages produced in your games?
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Old 10-04-2017, 08:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Addiction and Alcoholism

The irrevocable nature of Alcoholism makes it unique among disadvantages, I think, and suggests that Steve follows the AA orthodoxy that alcohol is uniquely hard to give up. This is not a universal view.

A chemical addiction is really a Dependency that doesn't take off quite as many hit points, sometimes combined with a Compulsive Behavior, and I feel that a ground-up rewrite of GURPS could usefully remove these special cases.
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Old 10-04-2017, 08:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Addiction and Alcoholism

I will admit that I usually prefer compulsive behavior over addiction. Its less finicky to price, requires less tracking of the last time you used it, and so forth. Compulsive behavior also tends to be more flexible.
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Old 10-04-2017, 02:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Addiction and Alcoholism

I've used variations on addiction in fantasy games to model variations on the "cursed" items theme. That worked OK. In a Cyberpunk game I tend to use addictions more, "better living through pharmaceuticals" has been the catch phrase of a couple of characters in games that I have run.
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Old 10-04-2017, 04:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Addiction and Alcoholism

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
I will admit that I usually prefer compulsive behavior over addiction. Its less finicky to price, requires less tracking of the last time you used it, and so forth. Compulsive behavior also tends to be more flexible.
Actually, I've long thought that properly modeling the behavior of addicts really should involve both Addiction and Compulsive Behavior. With just Addiction, there's no urge to indulge whenever you get the opportunity - someone can technically use it the one time per day to stave off withdrawal, and then say "no thanks, I'm good" every other time someone puts it in front of them. While someone who has just Compulsive Behavior (use Drug X) will want to indulge as often as they can, but has no consequences for stopping using it, aside from feeling miserable and being angry at everyone.

To balance this sort of thing, since Addiction already has mechanics to cover how legal and expensive your drug of choice is, I would only ever give an extra -5 (modified for self-control) for Compulsive Behavior (use a drug). So someone could take Addiction (Tobacco) and Compulsive Behavior (Smoking, -12) for a total of -10 points, or they could be a pack-a-day person and take Compulsive Behavior (Smoking, -9) for a total of -13, or be a literal chain-smoker with Compulsive Behavior (Smoking, -6), for a total of -15. That seems about right to me.
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Old 10-04-2017, 04:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Addiction and Alcoholism

Chemical dependency is only partly connected to addictions.
When I was on anti-anxiety medication, running out suddenly was very bad news. Withdrawal was horrible. But I wasn't addicted.
When it stopped working for me, I tapered down without incident.

But back in my Diet Pepsi days, I was mildly addicted. In that I would scrounge change from relatives' floors to get just one more soda. I wouldn't steal from furniture or wallets, but I would push the boundaries of my morality.
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Old 10-04-2017, 05:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Addiction and Alcoholism

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Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
With just Addiction, there's no urge to indulge whenever you get the opportunity - someone can technically use it the one time per day to stave off withdrawal, and then say "no thanks, I'm good" every other time someone puts it in front of them.
For some drugs, that seems to work. Under the old UK regime, which ended in 1964, people on maintenance doses of medical-grade opiates don't seem to have sought additional supplies much, if at all.
Quote:
To balance this sort of thing, since Addiction already has mechanics to cover how legal and expensive your drug of choice is, I would only ever give an extra -5 (modified for self-control) for Compulsive Behavior (use a drug). So someone could take Addiction (Tobacco) and Compulsive Behavior (Smoking, -12) for a total of -10 points, or they could be a pack-a-day person and take Compulsive Behavior (Smoking, -9) for a total of -13, or be a literal chain-smoker with Compulsive Behavior (Smoking, -6), for a total of -15. That seems about right to me.
That seems to cover the range of tobacco addicts nicely.
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Old 10-04-2017, 06:20 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Addiction and Alcoholism

One could also round out such characters with odious personal habits. Odors, flicking butts, etc. Appearance often suffers from certain drugs as well.
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