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Old 12-01-2017, 02:51 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bestial

Bestial, normally [-10], is an exotic mental disadvantage, at least with respect to people brought up in a civilisation. It first appeared in Fantasy Folk for 3e, as a racial disadvantage, but would apply to humans brought up by wolves or chimpanzees. It is a component of the Wild Animal meta-trait.

The essence of the disadvantage is animalistic behaviour. You don't understand the rules of civilisation at all, having no concept of property, no idea of morality and no insight into why people behave in such strange ways. You have no skills that depend on the ideas or tools of civilisation, and no defaults in them either. Intimidation and Area Knowledge are about your limit in IQ-based skills.

You run from or attack anyone who threatens or frightens you. If people leave you alone, you'll do likewise, unless they seem like food. You're quite capable of recognising people and remembering how they treat you, within the limits of your IQ, and even having friends and enemies. You may understand concepts like territory and dominance, and act on them, but this depends on the details of your background.

While this behaviour may be quite annoying to civilised folk, you aren't eligible for an Odious Personal Habit disadvantage for it; that is rolled into the price of Bestial. However, you can take OPH for other habits or behaviours that aren't specifically beast-like, and if your Bestial behaviour is as annoying as a [-15] OPH, the GM can price Bestial at [-15]. It's likely going to be easier to play a Bestial character who isn't hugely intelligent. The GM may limit it to characters with IQ less than 10, or even less.

Bestial is not a common disadvantage in published GURPS material. Discworld has a quirk-level version for mostly-civilised predators, and gives feral dogs and domestic cats the full version. Banestorm has some good advice on role-playing Bestial creatures, and Bio-Tech has uplifted dolphins that suffer from it, and a nanodrug that can induce it ... temporarily ... honestly! DF has Allies and things to summon with this disadvantage; Horror has ways to acquire it yourself, and Madness Dossier makes that simple. Locations: Hellgate doesn't make it quite so easy, and the Madness spell in Magic does it at random. Several Monster Hunters creatures have it, and Space has suggestions about uplifting. And then there's Zombies... Bestial zombies can't use equipment, which reduces their usefulness as troops. They aren't civilised, but nor do they have experience of being an animal, so they may well behave like small children. They can't co-operate in fights either. Really, we need some better zombies than these!

Personally, I've never used this disadvantage. I could see an interesting game based on lycanthropes gradually buying it off, or a shaman or Discworld witch with animal companions. What have you done with it?
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Old 12-01-2017, 03:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bestial

It's the inability to understand property that I find the hardest to get. Many normal animals have favorite toys and familiar objects they prefer and may guard. And that's just mammals. We all know many birds love possessing/stealing objects for play or nests.

Even if we assume the disadvantage means understanding one's own property is okay but not others'... I had a cat that did understand my property somewhat. When he got upset at me he would pretend to swat at my 2 liter of soda even when it wasn't near me at the time.
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Old 12-01-2017, 03:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bestial

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
It's the inability to understand property that I find the hardest to get. Many normal animals have favorite toys and familiar objects they prefer and may guard. And that's just mammals. We all know many birds love possessing/stealing objects for play or nests.

Even if we assume the disadvantage means understanding one's own property is okay but not others'... I had a cat that did understand my property somewhat. When he got upset at me he would pretend to swat at my 2 liter of soda even when it wasn't near me at the time.
Presumably there's a difference between "territory" and "property"; the latter seems to be an abstract concept that requires a legal framework to enforce it.
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Old 12-01-2017, 03:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bestial

If we went that route, then large portions of humanity don't understand property. I doubt that that's what was intended.
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Old 12-01-2017, 04:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bestial

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
If we went that route, then large portions of humanity don't understand property. I doubt that that's what was intended.
I don't think that is true unless you are counting infants and Bestial isn't the just the disadvantage of not understanding property.

I doubt the intent is for it to include not understanding territory, since many examples are territorial.
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Old 12-01-2017, 04:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bestial

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
It's the inability to understand property that I find the hardest to get. Many normal animals have favorite toys and familiar objects they prefer and may guard. And that's just mammals. We all know many birds love possessing/stealing objects for play or nests.

Even if we assume the disadvantage means understanding one's own property is okay but not others'... I had a cat that did understand my property somewhat. When he got upset at me he would pretend to swat at my 2 liter of soda even when it wasn't near me at the time.
I take it as "not understanding the concept of property being a reciprocally transferable thing". You can't participate in a deal like "I want that shiny rock so I will give you this blanket". You can beg for the shiny rock, or take it when nobody is looking or fight the possessor for it, but you can't trade for it
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Old 12-01-2017, 05:21 PM   #7
Flyndaran
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bestial

So it's not at all about concept of property? It's about concept of complex bartering systems and trade? That's not at all obvious from the write up.
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Old 12-03-2017, 03:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bestial

As I see it, Bestial essentially prevents your character from participating in civilisation without a keeper. Can't buy a meal, can't go shopping, can't rent a room, etc.

I can see that that might sort of work in a dungeon bashing game where you're spending most of your time away from society, and your mates can look after you on the rare occasions you're in town ("go and play in the lion pits while we talk to the duke" "Mongo like!"), but in the games I typically run it would be so crippling as to make the character unplayable.

Clueless is also -10, and I'd call this much more damaging than that.
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Old 12-03-2017, 04:29 AM   #9
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bestial

Bestial is mostly an NPC/creature disad, Iím sure. I imagine that plenty of people have never written it on a character sheet, but have used it implicitly countless times when GMíing. Any time you play a wild animal encounter vaguely correctly, youíre playing out Bestial, whether itís written down or not.

By which logic, itís in the rulebooks mostly for completeness and to allow animal companions to be statted out.
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:02 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bestial

Bestial characters in social-heavy situations are potentially interesting, but are effectively playing a different game from normal PCs. Which might pose significant game focus issues.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
So it's not at all about concept of property? It's about concept of complex bartering systems and trade? That's not at all obvious from the write up.
The wording is "You cannot
understand property in the human
sense, but (depending on your race)
you might understand territory and
avoid doing damage to objects on
anotherís territory."

So some grasp of possessions is maybe a slight stretch, but no more than that. And taking the incomprehension as specific to human refinements on the concept of property, not necessarily excluding 'this is my favorite termite-hunting stick - mine! That stick is yours.'

Though it might exclude the latter sentence, or the former, in some cases. Bestial covers a significant behavioral spectrum. It's definitely a disadvantage where just putting the name and point cost on your sheet does not sufficiently specify what you'll be about.
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