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Old 10-17-2019, 03:01 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: On the Edge

On the Edge [-15*] is a mundane mental disadvantage with a self-control roll. Your self-preservation instincts are not reliable, and you frequently take excessive risks in the face of mortal danger. This disadvantage first appeared in GURPS Cyberpunk for 3e, and hasn’t changed in its essentials.

You need to make a self-control to avoid or back down from a life-threatening situation. You can re-try that roll after each success roll or reaction roll relating to that situation, but not otherwise.

For example, in a potential combat situation, reaction rolls and influence skill rolls may happen quite frequently, every turn or so. But if you’ve set off on a long and dangerous journey, the GM might not ask for any rolls until you’ve been travelling for several days. Once you’re in combat, this disadvantage is even more serious. Each time you start a turn, you need to make a self-control roll, or make an All-Out Attack, or otherwise do something stupidly risky.

Most people will react to you at -2, because you’re “obviously crazy.” The select few who understand that survival is secondary to bravery react at +2.
Clearly, this is not a disadvantage to take unless you want lots of high-stress situations in play, or you’re feeling very nihilistic. Overconfidence will help you find more dangerous situations, and Daredevil will help you survive them. Being a low-tech melee fighter who wears lots of armour and doesn’t bother making defence rolls might work, in which case, see if the GM will let you take Berserk as well!

On the Edge is a reasonably common disadvantage option on published templates, usually found on types who do very dangerous things and are either proud of it, or cracked. It is a cliché for Aliens: Sparrials, who haven’t had it engineered out via Bio-Tech. Horror has special kinds of Delusions with effects like this disadvantage, and like most mental disadvantages, Madness Dossier has tools to cause it. It’s a possible result of Awe and Confusion in Powers, of power crippling in Psionic Powers and of Shocking Revelations in Steampunk. On the Edge is part of the Adrenaline Addict motivational lens in Supers, and of PTSD in Tactical Shooting.

I’ve never used this disadvantage as a player or GM, since I like to keep my characters around for a while. I did have a long-lasting character who was quite brave, and also sure that many things weren’t as risky as they seemed. How many On the Edge crackpots feel that way?
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Old 10-17-2019, 05:37 AM   #2
WingedKagouti
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: On the Edge

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I did have a long-lasting character who was quite brave, and also sure that many things weren’t as risky as they seemed. How many On the Edge crackpots feel that way?
Such a character could definitely be On the Edge, perhaps with a high self-control roll. But they could also be Overconfident. Or have a Quirk version of either.

I feel that in general, On the Edge lends itself to campaigns where both players and GM are fine with and expect (potentially pointless) character deaths with a pinch of nihilism mixed in. Horror and Cyberpunk are IMO both prime candidates for this style and Cthulhupunk even more so.
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Old 10-17-2019, 08:19 AM   #3
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: On the Edge

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Originally Posted by WingedKagouti View Post
I feel that in general, On the Edge lends itself to campaigns where both players and GM are fine with and expect (potentially pointless) character deaths with a pinch of nihilism mixed in. Horror and Cyberpunk are IMO both prime candidates for this style and Cthulhupunk even more so.
But then the environment can do a fine job of killing characters without this disad. With it, they’ll just drop like flies. I’ve played characters who were insufficiently careful of their own safety in (not especially nihilistic) CoC games, and it was just boring.

OtE is a perfectly valid concept as a character definition tool, but I’ve never used it and might well ban it in play as a GM if anyone asked. PCs in most games can usually survive okay with a modicum of caution, but OtE deletes that modicum, so either the character dies fast, the GM has to play favourites to prevent that, or the other players get annoyed with the crazy character because they keep getting the party into trouble and needing saving.
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Old 10-17-2019, 08:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: On the Edge

Does that also apply to jumping the chasm rather than waiting for the rope bridge to get rigged, or pulling the mysterious level in the corridor?
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Old 10-17-2019, 08:25 AM   #5
RogerBW
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: On the Edge

In some groups and for some players, a mild form of this counts as part of "is a player character".
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Old 10-17-2019, 08:43 AM   #6
Michele
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: On the Edge

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Originally Posted by cptbutton View Post
Does that also apply to jumping the chasm rather than waiting for the rope bridge to get rigged, or pulling the mysterious level in the corridor?
As to the chasm, it depends. If it's a reasonable width for a jump, it seems more like you have Impulsiveness - even if a failure still means death. If it's clearly not a certain thing that you'll succeed, or actually there seems to be a good chance you'll fall, then it's On the Edge, yes.

As to the mysterious lever, that's nearly exactly the definition of Curious ("What happens if I push this button?").
On the Edge requires "in the face of mortal danger"; a lever is not immediately and obviously such a danger. Now, naturally, if you know for a fact that every lever in the dungeon activates a deadly trap, that changes the perspective...
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Old 10-17-2019, 12:28 PM   #7
Toptomcat
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: On the Edge

As printed, in most Basic Set games, On The Edge is very limiting for a -15 disadvantage.

In a lot of games, On The Edge is closer to Terminally Ill or Cursed- a near-guarantee that your character will swiftly and messily perish within the first few sessions. In any game that sees a fair bit of melee combat and uses the Martial Arts rules for Telegraphic Attacks, for instance, an All-Out Attack in inappropriate circumstances is practically a death sentence.

I suspect that we have here is something of an inverse Combat Reflexes- a trait given a price that's not quite reflective of its actual value to the PC because of genre or metagame considerations.
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Old 10-17-2019, 12:39 PM   #8
Ţorkell
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: On the Edge

I remember playing a character with OTE years ago in a one-shot cyberpunk adventure. Took all sorts of stupid risks, and was the only character to survive the adventure.
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