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Old 06-17-2014, 02:18 AM   #1
Sindri
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Default Psychological Stress House Rules

So I'm messing with house rules for psychological stress and I figured I'd see what other people have done since I know a number of people have done things like this and it would be nice to collect them in a thread anyway. What modifications of things like mental fatigue and Horror's Stress and Derangement or new systems in the same general style have you come up with?
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Old 06-17-2014, 05:47 AM   #2
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Default Re: Psychological Stress House Rules

Never found anything that didn't feel like more book keeping and actually enhanced play.
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Old 06-17-2014, 09:46 AM   #3
Kromm
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Default Re: Psychological Stress House Rules

In my secret-agents campaign, I use a simple house rule:

After each assignment, the PCs must make a Will roll. If the job involved killing, torture, or similar unpleasantness, there's a penalty equal to the Fright Check penalty for encountering bodies in the state or number involved, whether the PCs witnessed those acts or committed them. Even if there's no physical violence, a roll is required at no modifier. Disadvantages liable to be triggered by the events of the mission (e.g., Charitable or Selfless if the bad guys were starving innocent villagers) give -1 per -5 points of value.

Failure (and 14+ is automatic failure) leads to new or worsened mental disadvantages agreed on with the player. Points of problems equal margin of failure. Quirks and smaller disadvantages accumulate gradually into bigger issues.

Immediate downtime to recover – one month of recreation per point – can prevent this psychological trauma from becoming permanent. A Psychology roll (usually from a friendly PC), allowed once per month, can even reverse a point of old damage.

This isn't terribly realistic (PTSD is a lot more serious than this), but it explains campaign pacing (missions separated by downtime) and why somebody on the team needs to know Psychology. It also somewhat pressures the players to find less-bloody solutions to problems. And it makes easily ignored disadvantages rather relevant after each adventure.
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Old 06-17-2014, 09:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: Psychological Stress House Rules

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
In my secret-agents campaign, I use a simple house rule:

After each assignment, the PCs must make a Will roll. If the job involved killing, torture, or similar unpleasantness, there's a penalty equal to the Fright Check penalty for encountering bodies in the state or number involved, whether the PCs witnessed those acts or committed them. Even if there's no physical violence, a roll is required at no modifier. Disadvantages liable to be triggered by the events of the mission (e.g., Charitable or Selfless if the bad guys were starving innocent villagers) give -1 per -5 points of value.

Failure (and 14+ is automatic failure) leads to new or worsened mental disadvantages agreed on with the player. Points of problems equal margin of failure. Quirks and smaller disadvantages accumulate gradually into bigger issues.

Immediate downtime to recover – one month of recreation per point – can prevent this psychological trauma from becoming permanent. A Psychology roll (usually from a friendly PC), allowed once per month, can even reverse a point of old damage.

This isn't terribly realistic (PTSD is a lot more serious than this), but it explains campaign pacing (missions separated by downtime) and why somebody on the team needs to know Psychology. It also somewhat pressures the players to find less-bloody solutions to problems. And it makes easily ignored disadvantages rather relevant after each adventure.
I kinda like this method better, especially the part where you put in campaign pacing, because I tend to like pacing but struggle to come up with a good reason of why a PC wouldn't just jump into danger the very next day. There's a lot of mechanics in GURPS that don't come into play if you don't have spaced events.
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Old 06-17-2014, 10:28 AM   #5
Kromm
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Default Re: Psychological Stress House Rules

For context: My course in that campaign follows a knife-edge between merely aping realism to add grit (like the Bourne stories) and waxing so realistic that the story wouldn't be fun to play out (like le Carré's work), all without falling off and landing in the blatantly unrealistic realm of James Bond movies. Thus, I'm trying to avoid both completely dumping psychology and turning my campaign of international intrigue into a grim drama about wounded warriors with PTSD.
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Old 06-17-2014, 11:10 AM   #6
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Default Re: Psychological Stress House Rules

I also like that pacing method.

I've lately used Maz's SLA-GURPS stresspoint hybrid, but this needs more bookkeeping.

In latest campaign I have made Magery powered by stresspoints instead of Fatigue Points.
There is a Pyramid sample article about magic stress, too.
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Old 06-17-2014, 11:42 PM   #7
Sindri
 
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Default Re: Psychological Stress House Rules

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
In my secret-agents campaign, I use a simple house rule:

After each assignment, the PCs must make a Will roll. If the job involved killing, torture, or similar unpleasantness, there's a penalty equal to the Fright Check penalty for encountering bodies in the state or number involved, whether the PCs witnessed those acts or committed them. Even if there's no physical violence, a roll is required at no modifier. Disadvantages liable to be triggered by the events of the mission (e.g., Charitable or Selfless if the bad guys were starving innocent villagers) give -1 per -5 points of value.

Failure (and 14+ is automatic failure) leads to new or worsened mental disadvantages agreed on with the player. Points of problems equal margin of failure. Quirks and smaller disadvantages accumulate gradually into bigger issues.

Immediate downtime to recover – one month of recreation per point – can prevent this psychological trauma from becoming permanent. A Psychology roll (usually from a friendly PC), allowed once per month, can even reverse a point of old damage.

This isn't terribly realistic (PTSD is a lot more serious than this), but it explains campaign pacing (missions separated by downtime) and why somebody on the team needs to know Psychology. It also somewhat pressures the players to find less-bloody solutions to problems. And it makes easily ignored disadvantages rather relevant after each adventure.
Seems like a well crafted set of rules. How has it ended up affecting the PCs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GodBeastX View Post
I kinda like this method better, especially the part where you put in campaign pacing, because I tend to like pacing but struggle to come up with a good reason of why a PC wouldn't just jump into danger the very next day. There's a lot of mechanics in GURPS that don't come into play if you don't have spaced events.
It can be nice to spread the events of a campaign out a bit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glimmerman View Post
I also like that pacing method.

I've lately used Maz's SLA-GURPS stresspoint hybrid, but this needs more bookkeeping.

In latest campaign I have made Magery powered by stresspoints instead of Fatigue Points.
There is a Pyramid sample article about magic stress, too.
They're nice rules, I had read over them before posting this. How have you found it to work in play?

I don't remember reading the pyramid article. It's always fun to come across samples I haven't read before.
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Old 06-17-2014, 11:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Psychological Stress House Rules

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sindri View Post
Seems like a well crafted set of rules. How has it ended up affecting the PCs?



It can be nice to spread the events of a campaign out a bit.



They're nice rules, I had read over them before posting this. How have you found it to work in play?

I don't remember reading the pyramid article. It's always fun to come across samples I haven't read before.
Well, it is old enough that it's for 3rd Ed, so...
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Old 06-18-2014, 12:08 AM   #9
Sindri
 
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Originally Posted by The Benj View Post
Well, it is old enough that it's for 3rd Ed, so...
And I haven't got around to doing a systematic read through of the third edition pyramid samples so it's cool when I get pointed to interesting ones I haven't read yet.
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Old 06-18-2014, 10:25 AM   #10
Kromm
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Default Re: Psychological Stress House Rules

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sindri View Post

Seems like a well crafted set of rules. How has it ended up affecting the PCs?
The most obvious effect has been that the players insist on getting downtime for the PCs so that they don't become hopeless messes. That's fine with their nominal superiors, who are after all an "enlightened" cabal out to make the world a better place. Their backers understand that psychological trauma is a real thing, and that less-active, sane operators are more useful than constantly active, crazy ones who will create more problems than they solve. In short, it has led to more believable pacing.

It has also led to including a party member (Qoqa) who knows Psychology and taking her counsel seriously.

It has led to another party member (Anabel) acquiring a bevy of minor-but-annoying problems. She's has a bit of Lady MacBeth syndrome. Let's just say that being clean is very important. She has also vomited over Bad Things.

Most of the others have staved off permanent problems thanks to the downtime and the party shrink. But . . . what has actually happened is that they've used the points earned toward negating psychological harm to buy off their old "ordinary folks" disadvantages instead of the new cold-killer disadvantages. That is, their disadvantage points have stayed fixed but represent something different and a bit scarier. I allow this, as it's within the spirit of my intended rules: The PCs are no more messed-up but they're twitchy in ways that show evidence of their actions.
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