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Old 08-29-2019, 02:46 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: No Sense of Humor

No Sense of Humor [-10] is a mundane mental disadvantage. You donít understand any kind of humor, and never try to use it. You are always earnest and serious, and assume that everyone else is, too. Most people react to you at -2 when they discover your oddity. This disadvantage appeared in Compendium I for GURPS 3e.

Like all disadvantages, this one can require interpretation. You can presumably learn that other people have this thing called ďhumorĒ, although itís very silly, and you canít see why they waste time on it. You might even learn to recognise some forms happening, as slapstick or puns, and youíll certainly learn to recognise its after-effects. It just all seems so pointless. This disadvantage needs to be distinguished from Clueless, which tends to limit your wit, and Low Empathy, which limits your understanding of humor, but doesnít destroy the concept for you.

No Sense of Humor is a reasonably common option on published templates. It usually indicates someone whoís very focussed with no time for distractions, devoted to duty, anti-social or just dim. Itís part of the Automaton meta-trait, which represents minds with no self-awareness or creativity, and also shows up on aliens, golems and so-called Homo Superior. Bio-Tech psychosurgery can give you this disadvantage, and plenty of Horror and Madness Dossier inhuman opponents have it. Power-Ups 6: Quirks has several limited versions, which arenít all that rare in real life (e.g., few contact lens wearers have any sense of humor about grit in their eyes). It can be a result of Psionic Powers crippling, and Space and Template Toolkit 2 use it in their racial personality design systems. TT2 adds Intolerance (Any form of jokes or play) as a step beyond this disadvantage. Transhuman Space: Changing Times NAIs are capable of coping with jokes in human speech, but they donít try to make any. Ultra-Tech robots can have a programmed sense of humor, which isnít very good, but is bound to be better than the Funbot in one classic Paranoia scenario. Most Zombies have No Sense of Humor; ones that donít are probably even worse.

In a role-playing game, which is an inherently absurd activity, lacking a sense of humor has, in itself, vast potential for comedy. Playing it can be hard, but is worthwhile: the roles played by Margaret Dumont in the Marx Brothersí films are a good example.

My best encounter with this disadvantage came when I built a set of example characters for a RogerBW convention demo scenario, set on board a passenger-carrying airship. I gave the Captain No Sense of Humor, and the Chief Steward no Diplomacy skill, just Fast-Talk, as role-playing challenges for the players. I had not realised how these would interact. The scenario is not intrinsically comic, but every time itís run it turns into a comedy.

Have you had fun with this disadvantage?
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:01 PM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2007
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: No Sense of Humor

I've mostly used it for Neural Net robot characters for 3E Robots, but it has also shown up in one or two aliens over the years. While some situations ended up being humorous when seen from the outside, the characters and situations where NSoH mattered were usually played with a more serious tone.

Some of the robots ended up buying off the disadvantage later, simply because that was what their personal story were leading towards (ie. a neural network developing a complete personality).
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:34 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: No Sense of Humor

I've had fun with this Disadvantage, as I enjoy GURPS and almost certainly have it in real life. I expect I'm getting by using relatively high levels of Savoir-Faire to compensate. I don't tend to take it on characters, though, as it feels sort of like cheating/free points for me. As you say with the Marx brothers, one person with this trait can actually enhance other's enjoyment.

We've had a few other people start with it, but it tends to be one of the first things bought off; people who have a "sense of humour" figure out pretty quickly that they don't like having it turned off or removed, even if each of them has to find this out for themselves once.
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Old 08-31-2019, 12:41 AM   #4
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: No Sense of Humor

In GURPS 3E Uplift 2E, the Businesslike Quirk was introduced as a quirk-level version of NSH. Dour, a -5 point disadvantage, combined a limited form of Businesslike with limited Intolerance. In both cases, while you can recognize humor for what it is and can play, you see little point in such activities and don't engage in them by preference. In the latter case, you disapprove of humor, play, and other frivolous activities and react in a mildly negative way towards people you consider to be insufficiently serious.

GURPS 3E Uplift 2E also linked NSH trait to the spectrum of traits described as Playfulness, with Compulsive Behavior (Play) being the opposite of NSH.

For whatever reason, none of these traits made it into GURPS 4E.

NSH is highly appropriate for aliens who either lack a sense of humor or have a sense of humor so strange that the vast majority of other species don't understand it and vice-versa.

If you are a member of a species which has NSH as a racial trait, the ability to recognize humor - even if you don't understand it or use it yourself - might count as a Perk. You still suffer the -2 reaction penalty from species who possess a fully-developed sense of humor, however, and might need to make IQ or skill rolls to recognize when an alien is joking.

NSH potentially overlaps with traits such as Clueless or Oblivious. It is potentially redundant with traits such as Killjoy or Low Empathy.

Combine Clueless, Gullibility, or Oblivious with NSH to create the classic "straight man" comic character. Your constant inability to understand humor and the nuances of social behavior makes you the perfect foil for comedians. The same combination of traits might be appropriate for an autistic spectrum, small child, or mentally-challenged character in a more serious campaign.

Combine NSH with traits like Bad Temper, Bully, Code of Honor, Compulsive Behavior, Intolerance, Obsession, or Sense of Duty to create scary villains or anti-heroes. They're always serious, treat harmless pranks as serious attacks, and never smile except perhaps in grim satisfaction or cruel anticipation. At best, their sense of humor is limited to dark irony, bitter sarcasm, and sadistic practical jokes. They tend to dress in black, operate at night, and leave lots of bodies behind. Think of the darker portrayals of superheroes such as Batman, Punisher, or Wolverine.
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Old 08-31-2019, 05:05 AM   #5
Phil Masters
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: U.K.
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: No Sense of Humor

I have a character (in John's game, funnily enough) who started out with No Sense of Humour, but eventually bought it off (replacing it with Quirk: Bone-Dry Sense of Humour). There was a sense that somebody had developed the sufficiently refined instrumentation required to detect his sense of humour, which had always been there really, and he'd got sufficiently used to dealing with people that he could identify jokes and refrain from dissecting them too compulsively.

I think the character, being French and from the early 18th century, was inspired in this respect by a line from a film set in that place and time, in which one courtier, who'd been to England, explained to another that the English were strange people who didn't have wit, like civilised Frenchmen, but had this strange thing that they called humour.
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Old 08-31-2019, 08:21 AM   #6
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: No Sense of Humor

Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
I think the character, being French and from the early 18th century, was inspired in this respect by a line from a film set in that place and time, in which one courtier, who'd been to England, explained to another that the English were strange people who didn't have wit, like civilised Frenchmen, but had this strange thing that they called humour.
I have sort of a quirk-level analog of this. I sometimes fail to recognize humor, or fail to notice it because I've gotten interested in analyziing the humorous scenario; and my response to comedy is unpredictableóI can think of a number of widely liked comedies that I find tedious or even actively unpleasant (I can't endure Young Frankenstein). But I actively enjoy wit.
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A human being should know how to live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse. Specialization is for insects.
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Old 08-31-2019, 08:41 AM   #7
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Forest Grove, Beaverton, Oregon
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: No Sense of Humor

I think everyone has that to at least a "sub-quirk" level with a type they just can't find humorous.
For example, I utterly do not get the sadistic slapstick genre exemplified by the Three Stooges.
A good pratfall, on the other hand, may act as the humor version of a jump scare, and I can at least appreciate the coordination required.

I loved mugging as a kid, because those were about the only facial expressions I could read.
Could one make a No Sense Of Humor with probably a large limitation of only when body language and facial expressions are required?
Beware, poor communication skills. No offense intended. If offended, it just means that I failed my writing skill check.
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disadvantage of the week, no sense of humor, no sense of humour

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