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Old 09-16-2018, 07:36 PM   #1
whswhs
 
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Default On being Feared

One of the player characters in my current fantasy campaign is a necromancer. The player's build for her included Social Regard (Feared) 3, which I would take to reflect partly her wearing ritual garb that marks her as a dealer with the dead (bone jewelry, for example) and partly a supernatural aura created by the ghosts that her presence potentiates.

It's characteristic of Social Regard that while you get the bonus all the time, it's sometimes inconvenient. In the case of Feared, for example, it's specified that others who react to you favorably do so more or less as if you had made an Intimidation roll; they never quite feel relaxed or friendly in your presence.

So now Nergul is looking to acquire some hirelings. And that had me wondering: If they agree to work for her, won't they be doing so partly out of fear, not daring to turn her down or insist on favorable treatment? Could their status as hirelings, in fact, be taken as involuntary (per pp. B518-519), with rolls to see if they have poor attitudes and perhaps reduced loyalty?

What if she doesn't want that effect? I don't think it's quite right to say she can just turn it off; being Feared is the result not of her choosing to intimidate people, but of their recognizing what she is and reacting to the knowledge. Are there ways she could avoid the issue?

Perhaps, for example, making a suitable Influence roll to get them to take the job could sublimate the effect in some way—especially if she rolled versus Diplomacy, and got a better result than the reaction roll allowed.

Does all this make any sense? Am I on the right track in saying that Feared can't just be "turned off" when it's not wanted?
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Old 09-16-2018, 08:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: On being Feared

Interesting question.
Barring the Switchable modifier or specific circumstances I agree it cant really be turned off.
I would base the initial NPC reactions on the reaction roll without the modifier and then add in the modifier.
Example: Roll 10 is Neutral but with +3 becomes Good.
So the effects are mostly as if rolled a Good reaction but the attitude is as if it were only Neutral. This avoids penalizing the player who spent as much on it as if they had Charisma but gives a different attitude for roleplaying purposes.
Over time the reaction can be upgraded with good treatment, indicating they trust her more but still have that underlying fear.
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Old 09-16-2018, 08:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: On being Feared

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
I would base the initial NPC reactions on the reaction roll without the modifier and then add in the modifier.
Example: Roll 10 is Neutral but with +3 becomes Good.
So the effects are mostly as if rolled a Good reaction but the attitude is as if it were only Neutral. This avoids penalizing the player who spent as much on it as if they had Charisma but gives a different attitude for roleplaying purposes.
So you don't think the effect is as severely limiting as if they were slaves, wives in forced marriages, or that sort of thing? That may well be valid. Could you discuss how you might roleplay the employee's attitude, though?
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Old 09-16-2018, 09:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: On being Feared

Hello,

I think “social regard” should not be a switchable advantage (that’s like being a president and saying “no, don’t treat me as president, I am no body”. The “social” feature of the advantage does not depend enterely on the PC but also on the “culture”). If I really want something that depends on me, I would pick the “awe” advantage from powers with the modifier “switchable” (for example).

If it’s too late for changes, and you want the underlings...

What if they are unfazeable? Or what if they are fond of being friendly to dangerous creatures? (Was it xenophilia?). Or maybe they are fanatics of their leader. What if “they are not familiar” with necromancy and they don’t care because they have that disadvantage which gives you a very basic understanding of the world (“mundane” maybe?) That would be the “positive ways” I would propose to get “favorable” underlings for such a creature.

Or do you want to give her unreliable (and probably coward) underlings?

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Old 09-16-2018, 09:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: On being Feared

I would say that hirelings should only be treated as involuntary if the Feared person is actually shortchanging them on their pay or otherwise taking advantage of them. The Social Regard will make them think twice about saying "No" to the mob boss/inquisitor/sinister magician/supervillain/dragon but if their new employer refrains from abusing them they'll frequently be very loyal because of their low initial expectations and the way being the employee of a person with Social Regard reflects on their own status by proxy. There's a certain pride to be taken in working for a fearsome person. It means you're part of something impressive.

At the same time of course if they haven't actually acquired the same Feared status they'll never really more than lackeys to the Feared person. They'll always be too cautious of giving offense to be real friends.
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Old 09-16-2018, 11:07 PM   #6
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I would say that hirelings should only be treated as involuntary if the Feared person is actually shortchanging them on their pay or otherwise taking advantage of them (...)
The thing here is that (as far as I understand) NPC's reaction rolls towards the PC with "Social Regard, Feared" are always modified to become an "intimidation roll"; so they are "automatic influence rolls".

And influence rolls are deliberate.

Then, if the roll is good, it will be a good initimidation roll. And if it is bad, it will be a bad intimidation roll. Which is independent of being good to an NPC or not... and at least the first impression will be something like "this guy is going to do something really bad to me if I don't help him!" (good roll) or "this guy believes I am impressed by his ridiculuous "god of death" attire, but he won't have his way..." (bad roll).

If this necromancer wants reaction rolls different than "being feared" (i.e. using diplomacy), then he might have to start (always) from "Second Reaction Rolls". And IMO have at least 3 modifiers: (1) the result from the "automatic reaction/influence roll" accordingly to the reaction table, (2) the modifiers for starting from a secondary reaction roll and (3) the innapropiate "circumstancial effect" of asking for henchmen/help/allies while "being a feared creature (using intimidation in the first place, albeit automatic)".

Otherwise...

Why did you buy "being feared" if you want to play from a "neutral possition" when convincing people?

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Old 09-16-2018, 11:51 PM   #7
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The thing here is that (as far as I understand) NPC's reaction rolls towards the PC with "Social Regard, Feared" are always modified to become an "intimidation roll"; so they are "automatic influence rolls".

And influence rolls are deliberate.
That's not quite what the definition says. Rather, it says, "as if you had successfully used Intimidation skill." That's similarity rather than identity.

Quote:
Then, if the roll is good, it will be a good initimidation roll. And if it is bad, it will be a bad intimidation roll. Which is independent of being good to an NPC or not... and at least the first impression will be something like "this guy is going to do something really bad to me if I don't help him!" (good roll) or "this guy believes I am impressed by his ridiculuous "god of death" attire, but he won't have his way..." (bad roll).

If this necromancer wants reaction rolls different than "being feared" (i.e. using diplomacy), then he might have to start (always) from "Second Reaction Rolls". And IMO have at least 3 modifiers: (1) the result from the "automatic reaction/influence roll" accordingly to the reaction table, (2) the modifiers for starting from a secondary reaction roll and (3) the innapropiate "circumstancial effect" of asking for henchmen/help/allies while "being a feared creature (using intimidation in the first place, albeit automatic)".

Otherwise...

Why did you buy "being feared" if you want to play from a "neutral possition" when convincing people?
Well, the player created the character more than four years ago, and her concept of her has evolved in the course of play. So now I need to think through how this will actually work.
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Old 09-17-2018, 01:00 AM   #8
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Default Re: On being Feared

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
So now Nergul is looking to acquire some hirelings. And that had me wondering: If they agree to work for her, won't they be doing so partly out of fear, not daring to turn her down or insist on favorable treatment? Could their status as hirelings, in fact, be taken as involuntary (per pp. B518-519), with rolls to see if they have poor attitudes and perhaps reduced loyalty?
Involuntary doesn't fit... but roll on the table anyway, it might give you interesting ideas that helps you develop the NPC further. If she's getting +3 from Social Regard, then a potential -1 or -2 loyalty because she scares them is still a net gain. The guy who is rabidly opposed to serving her probably has an easy way out - just do badly at the interview so she doesn't want to hire him.

Quote:
What if she doesn't want that effect? I don't think it's quite right to say she can just turn it off; being Feared is the result not of her choosing to intimidate people, but of their recognizing what she is and reacting to the knowledge. Are there ways she could avoid the issue?
I wouldn't say the issue can be avoided, but it can be addressed. And she addresses it by doing work in the interviewing process.

Assess their motives (Social Engineering p. 25) to pick out a candidate who wants the job rather than just being afraid to say no.

After that, interact with them in ways other than the scary kind. Show kindness, invite input, address their fears. Let the player pick a strategy and then roll an appropriate skill based on that. If the necromancer consistently behaves in a fashion that makes her come across as approachable, then maybe they can learn to get over the Social Regard.

Or not, it is part aura. But at least the better they do on their social skill (Leadership? Diplomacy? Administration?) then the better they can make an impression on the hireling of being more than just scary.
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Old 09-17-2018, 01:08 AM   #9
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Default Re: On being Feared

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Originally Posted by Hide View Post
The thing here is that (as far as I understand) NPC's reaction rolls towards the PC with "Social Regard, Feared" are always modified to become an "intimidation roll"; so they are "automatic influence rolls".
.
And the hirelings will be intimidated. Their interaction will always be flavoured with fear until they acquire the same Social Regard. But that doesn't mean disloyal or even coerced. It just means "afraid of their boss".
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Old 09-17-2018, 01:42 AM   #10
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That's not quite what the definition says. Rather, it says, "as if you had successfully used Intimidation skill." That's similarity rather than identity.

Well, the player created the character more than four years ago, and her concept of her has evolved in the course of play. So now I need to think through how this will actually work.
Indeed; however, isn’t the decision of taking the advantage ultimately deliberate? Perhaps the solution shouldn’t be so straight when a PC knows the way he takes...

Sometimes advantages can be inappropriate. It is like playing a “trascendentally beautiful” character, if such a PC would not like to attract the unneeded attention, she/he should go extra lengths to mitigate the advantage for whatever reason in game (I.e. doing cover ops).

Maybe I should have started giving my opinion after these questions... Why do you ask in the first place? Is she looking forward to being “less fearful”? Or do you want to create a situation “tuned” to her advantage?

Supposing your player has been playing continuously these 4 years, with the same PC, I guess she had room to make “adjustments”... And after 4 years the advantage is still there; so there should be a reason.

Maybe my previous opinion was kind of “cold”, I like exploring the mechanics; in this particular situation, I would take the path which leads to the most fun for you and your friends. Because you know them (and it usually is our ultimate goal in GURPS).
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