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Old 09-27-2019, 12:55 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Oblivious

Oblivious [-5] is a mundane mental disadvantage. Youíre a specific kind of nerd, blind to other peopleís motivations, although you do understand emotions normally, unless you have additional disadvantages. You have -1 to both using and resisting all Influence skills. This disadvantage appeared in Compendium I for GURPS 3e.

The apparent weirdness of peopleís desires, and the awkwardness this creates in social interactions doesnít automatically give reaction penalties, although extremely social types might well be Intolerant of you, or feel that they should behave that way, which amounts to much the same thing. By itself, Oblivious is a fairly survivable disadvantage, although adding it to Absent-Mindedness, Clueless, Easy to Read, Fanaticism, Lecherousness, Obsession, or any other disadvantage that skews your social relationships is likely to have effects beyond the sum of the parts. It canít be combined with Low Empathy.

Oblivious is a reasonably common disadvantage option on templates for people who are absorbed in something specific, or out of their usual surroundings. Discworld adds Totally Oblivious [-10] where the skill penalties are -4, applied to your defaults, since you canít learn the skills at all. Aliens: Sparrials are often Oblivious among aliens, since their emotions donít smell right. It makes sense for Strangers From Earth in Fantasy: Portal Realms, and itís one of the lesser things that personality-modification drugs can do to you in Horror: Madness Dossier. Thereís a quirk-level version of Oblivious in Power-Ups 6, and Powers: Enhanced Senses makes it a side-effect of Hypercognition powers. Psionic Campaignsí Homo Superior are often Oblivious, and itís a possible side-effect in Psionic Powersí crippling rules. This disadvantage is used in Spaceís alien-psychology design system, and is quite common on stiff-upper-lip Steampunk templates.

I might have quirk-level Oblivious myself. I donít think Iíve ever used it on a character, or GM'ed a character with it. Has it caused confusion in your games?
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Old 09-30-2019, 04:40 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Oblivious

I may have some of this myself, but I know people who have it way worse than I do, and the GURPS 4e approach is to model the "way worse" version. I think it may be a little close to home for me, as most of my PCs tend to be at least a bit "cool" and I enjoy doing social interaction in games.
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:36 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Oblivious

Oblivious is one of those disads where I'm comfortable with the player buying it down to at least the perk level. I am, fundamentally, Oblivious, but I've put a lot of effort over the decades into building skills to compensate for it. In GURPS terms this is almost certainly best handled by reducing it to the Quirk level than putting 4 points (or more!) in some kind of Social (or Psychology) skill.
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Old 09-30-2019, 10:00 AM   #4
Flyndaran
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Oblivious

That's certainly the more points-sensible and quicker to game method.

I'm now confident enough to say that I've bought my issues down to Oblivious. It's a hassle, but not a major problem for basic social communication, IMO.

Many characters are likely to have an above default IQ making that -1 to skills even less of an issue.

I don't think most hyper social people look down on us. Worse, some will try to take us under their wing and "bring us out of our shell" and "teach" us how to socialize.
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Old 09-30-2019, 10:03 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Oblivious

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
I may have some of this myself, but I know people who have it way worse than I do, and the GURPS 4e approach is to model the "way worse" version. I think it may be a little close to home for me, as most of my PCs tend to be at least a bit "cool" and I enjoy doing social interaction in games.
Obliviousness and Low Empathy are about difficulties understanding, not antisocial feelings or social phobias.
It's an "I don't get it", not a "I don't want to get it or even deal with it".
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Old 09-30-2019, 12:03 PM   #6
Joseph Paul
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Oblivious

Hmmm. So in a setting with Sparrials for instance how to deal with this disadvantage if roughly half the game time is with beings alien to a Sparrial contingent and half the time it is not? When is it fair to make this mandatory?

If a race is suddenly exposed to a race they can't read very well do the lead elements having to cope suddenly get this disad and the -5 points? Or just the disad?
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Old 09-30-2019, 12:55 PM   #7
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Oblivious

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Originally Posted by Joseph Paul View Post
Hmmm. So in a setting with Sparrials for instance how to deal with this disadvantage if roughly half the game time is with beings alien to a Sparrial contingent and half the time it is not? When is it fair to make this mandatory?

If a race is suddenly exposed to a race they can't read very well do the lead elements having to cope suddenly get this disad and the -5 points? Or just the disad?
Well first of all, disadvantages created in play almost never give you points. At most they act as some kind of tradeoff for losing a different one like Secret or Enemy.

And no, encountering an alien species and not being able to read them isn't Oblivious. Oblivious applies to every species including your own. You simply aren't on the lookout for the signals that tell you what other people are feeling.
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Old 10-01-2019, 09:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Oblivious

It almost makes sense to define Oblivious as a sort of "anti-Talent", although with 7 skills affected the base cost should be -10 per level.

The -10 point version described in GURPS Discworld appears to combine a group of Incompetence quirks with the regular version of Oblivious, wiping out the expected -10 per level progression for an "anti-talent."

Depending on how commonly Influence Skills are used in the game, Oblivious might be underpriced. Certainly, the Totally Oblivious option is potentially very crippling in comparison to its point cost since it wipes out default use of Influence skills for all but the smartest characters.

OTOH, overlap with traits like Callous, Clueless, Gullibility, Low Empathy, or Xenophilia might effectively give free points to a socially hapless but otherwise competent character.

Additionally, unless the GM is strict about requiring Oblivious characters to make skill rolls for normal social interactions, or ruling that traits like Oblivious also give penalties to Reaction Rolls, this trait doesn't interfere with normal social interactions, as compared to traits like bad Appearance or Reputation, OPH, Social Stigma, or Stuttering.

The real problem with Oblivious is that it just affects a group of skills, rather than being a hindrance to any roll where understanding of motives is required.

For example, an otherwise Oblivious character suffers no penalty to use skills where inability to interpret motives or social context would logically be a problem, such as use of Body Language, Carousing, Criminology, Gesture, Intelligence Analysis, Lip-Reading, Merchant, Observation, Politics, or Psychology skills.

Likewise, Obliviousness might actually give you a bonus to resist certain types of Influence rolls, such as attempts to resist subtle Intimidation or Sex Appeal, or to pick up on subtle attempts to influence your emotions using skills such as Fast-Talk or Panhandling.

In any case, penalties shouldn't apply to tasks where there is no need to interpret motives, such as using Diplomacy skill to recall diplomatic protocols or Savoir-Faire to dress properly or follow expected standards of behavior.

Finally, it could be argued that all attempts to use Body Language skill are affected by Oblivious, since people with this trait often have trouble detecting or interpreting facial expressions and body language.

Limitations might apply if you only have a penalty to resist or use affected skills, if penalties don't apply to use or resistance of one or more of the listed skills, or if penalties only apply when dealing with certain types of people.
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:00 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Oblivious

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Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
It almost makes sense to define Oblivious as a sort of "anti-Talent", although with 7 skills affected the base cost should be -10 per level.
Anti-talent is very emphatically not a thing. It is way too open to abuse.

If you want your PC to be bad at a set of skills just don't buy them, or get the incompetence quirks.

There are some disads that give skill penalties as a side effect of modeling how the person with the disad works, but with rare exceptions these skill penalties are not explicitly worth points.

For Oblivious, the points are, IMO, primarily from the RP implications, since PCs usually get to choose how social skills affect them and this restricts that.
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:03 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Oblivious

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Oblivious [-5] ...

I donít think Iíve ever used it on a character, or GM'ed a character with it.
I have seen it used for points by players who were already planning to play their PC that way. Not hugely common, but there.

This is probably because while players skew nerdy, PCs don't.
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