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Old 11-19-2015, 09:55 PM   #1
VariousRen
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Default Being self aware of mental disadvantages

If a character has a metal disadvantage, how aware are they of that disadvantage, and how much can they do to prevent that disadvantage from coming into play?

For example, if I have a mage who has pyromaniac (SCN 15) does he realise that learning fire spells is a bad idea, and would he have to make a self control roll to turn down the opportunity to learn fire spells? Or, on the other hand, can the mage purposefully avoid fire spells to ensure that his mental disadvantage comes up far less often?

Another example would be curiosity during a long over land trip. Would the curious PC be allowed to willingly lock themselves inside a carriage with the windows blocked in order to avoid being drawing towards investigating things as he travels?

My first instinct is that by default people are aware of their mental disadvantages and can take steps to avoid them coming up (avoiding curious things, not learning fire spells, ect). If someone wasn't aware of their mental disadvantages, they would have delusion (I don't have X disadvantage), with the severity of the delusion based on the severity of the disadvantage.
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Old 11-19-2015, 10:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: Being self aware of mental disadvantages

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Originally Posted by VariousRen View Post
If a character has a metal disadvantage, how aware are they of that disadvantage, and how much can they do to prevent that disadvantage from coming into play?
It depends. Certainly some Disads could hardly help but be known to the character. It would be hard to have a severe Phobia and not know it (unless you have never been exposed to the stimulus for it, or everyone has it...but in the latter case it would not exactly be a Disad anymore).

Many people are aware of their Disads, though they are usually referred to as 'character flaws' or 'weaknesses' or occasionally 'strengths'. A person with Bloodlust is likely to know it if he's been in violent situations much, though he may nor may not see it as a flaw in himself. Likewise, it's more likely than not that someone with Kleptomania knows there's something unusual about himself.

Other Disads are subtler. It would perfectly possible to suffer from Sadism or Xenophobia/philia and not recognize either trait as either disadvantageous, or even unusual. Lecherousness could easily be rationalized, especially if the character is often successful in pursuit of it. Gluttony or Greed are easy to rationalize, or even not even recognize or perceive.

It would be easy to be in denial about Stubborness, and probably in character: "I am NOT stubborn, how many times do I have tell you that?! I am NOT FREAKING STUBBORN! If I've told you that once I've told you that 3051 times!"

You could have the Honesty Disad and not recognize it in yourself, or even realize that it's unusual, and in most places and times it would be seen as a virtue, at least if not combined with really bad judgement.

But it all depends on the person and the Disad.

Quote:

For example, if I have a mage who has pyromaniac (SCN 15) does he realise that learning fire spells is a bad idea, and would he have to make a self control roll to turn down the opportunity to learn fire spells? Or, on the other hand, can the mage purposefully avoid fire spells to ensure that his mental disadvantage comes up far less often?
That's entirely a matter of the character. You could have a very self-aware character who sees a love of fire in himself, and he might or might not have to do a self control roll to avoid learning the spells if the chance came. This is where the 'roll playing' part comes in, there is more than one way to roll-play a Disad. You could have Pyromania but it only kicks in at point of action, that is, when there's an immediate chance to start a fire. Or you could have it 'always on'. (The GM might reasonably say the first version is worth less points.)

In the first case, yeah, the mage would have to roll for self control every time a chance to learn fire magic appeared, and then roll at a worse penalty to not use it. The later mage could refuse to learn them, because he knows that once he knows them, he'll probably end up using them when he shouldn't.

(Sort of like some alcoholics can stay out of bars relatively easily, but can't stop themselves if they get inside. Or if I know I just can't resist Sara if she comes on to me, but for whatever reason I know I should resist (one or both of us is married, she's a villainess, it could start a civil war, whatever), so I make a point of not being alone with her.)

People are not automatons, and Advantages and Disadvantages can be played in different but equally reasonable ways. Though if the player seems to be switching back and forth between the different approaches in a calculating way, it's quite reasonable to penalize the points.

Last edited by Johnny1A.2; 11-19-2015 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 11-19-2015, 11:09 PM   #3
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Being self aware of mental disadvantages

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
It depends. Certainly some Disads could hardly help but be known to the character. It would be hard to have a severe Phobia and not know it (unless you have never been exposed to the stimulus for it, or everyone has it...but in the latter case it would not exactly be a Disad anymore).
I disagree. There's a 1st season episode of the caper TV show "Leverage", in which the female thief character is revealed to be very phobic of horses.

But as far as she's concerned, it isn't a phobia: Horses are dangerous.

She'd compare her phobia of horses with my "phobia" of starving tigers with a history of man-eating. As far as she is concerned, her avoidance of horses is perfectly rational (that episode also uses cinematographic techniques to show how frightening and large the horse is from her point of view - a GM can use somewhat verbal techniques to help the player roleplay her character's phobia, e.g. "The horse is looking at you. As you move around the room, its eye keeps following you. Clearly it's just waiting for the right opportunity to strike").

Characters will be aware of their fears, yes, but a crucial element of a phobia is the irrationality, and characters will rationalize their fears.
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Old 11-19-2015, 11:15 PM   #4
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Being self aware of mental disadvantages

That example is a Phobia PLUS a Delusion.
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Old 11-20-2015, 12:27 AM   #5
Railstar
 
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Default Re: Being self aware of mental disadvantages

I would consider this a perfect opportunity for Disadvantage Embellishment Quirks to reflect a character who is ignorant of their flaws.

Curiosity and isolation is soemthing I would require a self-control check for. What's outside? What about now? And now? Now? Part of the problem with curiosity is nearly everything becomes interesting. The very fact that you can't see outside is reason enough to check outside.

Pyromaniac wizards being cautious with spell selection would be perfectly acceptable to me just because it's interesting. The idea that a mage would specifically avoid schools of magic due to the temptations it might cause them is something you can roleplay.

Generally, controlling circumstances to avoid psychological triggers is a large part of how to manage psychological damage, so I think it is perfectly realistic.
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Old 11-20-2015, 12:44 AM   #6
evileeyore
 
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Default Re: Being self aware of mental disadvantages

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Originally Posted by VariousRen View Post
If a character has a metal disadvantage, how aware are they of that disadvantage, and how much can they do to prevent that disadvantage from coming into play?
Question part 1 - It's up to the Player.
Question part 2 - Minimal. Otherwise it's not a disadvantage and thus worth no points.

Quote:
For example, if I have a mage who has pyromaniac (SCN 15) does he realise that learning fire spells is a bad idea, and would he have to make a self control roll to turn down the opportunity to learn fire spells? Or, on the other hand, can the mage purposefully avoid fire spells to ensure that his mental disadvantage comes up far less often?
In my games he'd have to check his self control to avoid wanting to learn Fire Spells... because as far as the PC is concerned, fire is awesome and it would be awesome to be able to find/create/control it! Why woudln't he want to learn Fire spells?!?!

If the Player deliberately tried to avoid fire, fire powers, and triggering the disad, I'd make them buy it off.

Quote:
Another example would be curiosity during a long over land trip. Would the curious PC be allowed to willingly lock themselves inside a carriage with the windows blocked in order to avoid being drawing towards investigating things as he travels?
I don't think you understand what being curious means. The character would want to look out the window! Think about all the cool stuff he's missing out seeing!

On the other hand, no, I wouldn't be making them constantly check to want to run off investigating every 'interesting' thing they saw.... unless that was part of the adventure. But once the carriage stopped...



Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
That example is a Phobia PLUS a Delusion.
That's also the exact phobia/delusion that Garrett of the Garrett Files book series has. He knows horses are as smart as people, they just have everyone else fooled and hate him because 'he learned their secret'.
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Old 11-20-2015, 01:00 AM   #7
Balor Patch
 
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Default Re: Being self aware of mental disadvantages

Some disadvantages are completely involuntary and the mana dependent nymph striving to avoid the no mana zone is perfectly acceptable. However, disadvantages about choices, and control checks, wouldn't be done if the character didn't want to do them. They will always have a rationale and routinely violating that is bad role playing.

If the wizard likes the feeling of power starting fires gives him then he's going to learn fire spells so he can feel the power. If the cleric is curious because understanding the world is why the Good Gods give reason to mankind then deliberately avoiding learning is blasphemy.

Maybe the character can realize that a bigger issue trumps their rationale. This is what control rolls are for.
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Old 11-20-2015, 10:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: Being self aware of mental disadvantages

Modifiers to Self-Control rolls are your friend.

An alcoholic who has recently quit drinking might roll at +4 to not head to a bar and get a drink. If they pass by a bar, they might roll at a +2. In they have to enter a bar, they might roll at -0 to not get a drink. If someone pours a drink for them and puts in front of them, they might roll at -2. Etc.

Someone with Pyromania might roll at +4 to not head to the wizard school and learn a fire spell. If they meet a fire-spell teacher at an inn, they might roll at +2 to not ask for a lesson. If someone told a fire mage with Pyromania that there was an unguarded origami exhibit down the road, they might roll at +2 to not visit it because they know that once they see those little, paper figures, they will probably be rolling at -4 to not burn something.

Someone with Curious might roll at +4 to tape up the windows of their carriage and lock the doors in preparation for their road trip. If they succeed, they might claim a +2 on the trip to not start peeling at the windows to get a peek. If they failed however, the best they can do is slouch down in the seat and roll at +0 (instead of +2) when they know they are riding over new territory.
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Old 11-20-2015, 11:08 AM   #9
oneofmanynameless
 
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Default Re: Being self aware of mental disadvantages

I generally assume that, as long as the character has a meaningful self-control roll, they are aware of the problem to some extent (although they may not think of it as a problem.) This is because the circumstances under which you make self-control rolls are when you're character things it would be a bad idea to indulge, not just whenever the opportunity arises. However, I think the self-control roll applies whenever you would take an action to avoid indulging, regardless of whether you're trying to avoid indulging right now or sometime later.

For example, if you were curious and wanted to lock yourself in the back of a truck so you wouldn't have to make any self-control rolls on a journey you'd have to make a self-control roll to do that, "Just think of all the big red buttons I won't be able to learn about if I do this!"

Or, if you're a pyromaniac wizard and some offers to teach you a fire spell you definitely have to make a self-control roll to say no if you want to try to say no (it's perfectly legitimate rollplaying to just not roll on the self-control roll and learn the fire spell!) Likewise, if you learn that the mage guild in town is teaching fire spells you'd have to make a self-control roll not to try to find the time to go learn some. You're teammates can use social skills to give you bonuses and penalties if you're using Influencing the PCs, and your GM can give you bonuses and penalties as they see fit based on how difficult/easy they think it would be to resist.
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Old 11-20-2015, 01:02 PM   #10
VariousRen
 
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Default Re: Being self aware of mental disadvantages

I like the idea of using modifiers on the self control roll to allow people to avoid their disadvantages, basically setting themselves up for success. If someone has a self control number of 15 they can avoid potential problem situations without any roll as long as they make sure to think about it ahead of time ("I know ignite fire will just end badly, I better just focus on learning Shield"). If that same person has a self control number of 9, even a +4 bonus only gives them a number of 13, which gives a pretty good chance to fail ("Well, I'm sure just one little spell won't be a problem. I'll keep it under control, I swear").

What would be appropriate modifiers to apply? Perhaps something like this?

+6: Second hand possibility ("My friend knows a guy who could teach you ignite fire")

+4: First hand possibility ("I could teach you ignite fire if you have the time one day")

+2: First hand possibility right now ("Just take a seat, I can show you the basics for ignite fire in 20 minutes")
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