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Old 10-06-2017, 05:07 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Amnesia

Amnesia is a mundane Mental disadvantage, about memory loss. It comes in two levels:

Total Amnesia [-25] means the player doesn't get to create the character, apart from the things that are visible in a mirror. The GM designs the character and holds onto the character sheet until memories are recovered in some way. Because the player doesn't know the character's traits, the GM will sometimes override the player's actions; the GM also makes all the character's skill rolls. IQ-based skill rolls are at -2 unless the GM feels that memory isn't important for that roll.

Partial Amnesia [-10] allows the player to create and play the character, but up to [-30] of disadvantages aren't on the character sheet and are assigned by the GM. The character doesn't know their identity, history friends or enemies.

Buying off Amnesia is only possible if you recover your memory, probably by some means related to its loss. This could have been Brainwashing, likely by an Enemy you don't remember, strange experiments or drugs, narrative-related magic, or a simple blow to the head.

Having Amnesia defined for plot purposes is worthwhile, even if players never take it. It shows up in GURPS supplements as an effect of bio-weapons (After the End), a tell-tale sign of Banestorm victims who've been dealt with by the Ministry of Serendipity or an enhancement to Mind Control. Bio-Tech deals with it as a side-effect of revival or cryostasis, but it can sometimes be cured. Fantasy has it as a Nuisance Effect of Lycanthropy and it has considerably potential for psychological Horror, showing up a lot in Madness Dossier. It's a possible effect of severe brain injuries in Martial Arts, and available as an ability in Powers and Psionic Powers. Space adds artificially induced Selective Amnesia, and Transhuman Space "shadow" mind emulations are often missing memories.

The only character with Amnesia I've ever played was in a game where characters were transported to another world, and lost a lot of memory of their origins. That is the right kind of way to use it; in the campaign plotline, rather than something a player picked for the point value. Have you ever used it?
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:00 PM   #2
Kelly Pedersen
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Amnesia

Probably worth pointing out here the closely-related trait of Delusion (False Memories), detailed in Horror. Rather than the usual obvious Delusion where you believe something false or apparently-false that causes people to react poorly to you, you instead don't remember an important event and have false, innocuous memories in their place. It pairs extremely well with Partial Amnesia if whatever you've forgotten will not only affect the plot but also your own character traits.
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Old 10-07-2017, 04:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Amnesia

The closest I've come was with Selective Amnesia: my AI character in a Transhuman Space game has memories that start with its applying for political asylum within the EU. It's worked out that it did something for the TSA during the war, but has no idea what.

(Arguably this could have been done as the Partial version but as far as I remember the GM and I didn't feel that the lost past should come up as a major important element in the game.)

For comic effect, it would occasionally come out with lines like "oh, this reminds me of that time that null pointer exception".
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Old 10-07-2017, 11:34 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Amnesia

I've fairly often played characters with Partial Amnesia — it's a great plot hook and my GMs have never seemed to mind. Total Amnesia is somewhat rarer, but has still seen a great deal of use in my group's games — one of the GMs in our group has a small tendency to, if we're taking too long arguing about what sort of campaign we're wanting to do next, say "You all wake up naked, in a dumpster, with Total Amnesia. What do you do?"
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Old 10-13-2017, 02:28 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Amnesia

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Originally Posted by Celti View Post
"You all wake up naked, in a dumpster, with Total Amnesia. What do you do?"
Call the police and get professional medical help. This is actually a bit of a problem with Total Amnesia - characters with it by definition don't remember any reasons why this might not be a good idea, so many of them ought to do something like this. Which isn't going to lead to an *adventure*.
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Old 10-13-2017, 03:19 AM   #6
Leeland
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Amnesia

Haven´t played with it thus far.
But if my dungeon fantasy character ever dies i will just give my GM a picture of an Iron golem and tell him i have total amnesia.

Wanted to do that for a long time...
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Amnesia

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
Call the police and get professional medical help. This is actually a bit of a problem with Total Amnesia - characters with it by definition don't remember any reasons why this might not be a good idea, so many of them ought to do something like this. Which isn't going to lead to an *adventure*.
But depending on the character the GM creates, the PC might discover that though they know going to the doctor or police is a smart move, they have a crippling fear of doing so if they try.

I usually only see amnesia (and only partial) in my supers games, where it totally fits genre (how many X-Men don’t remember their pasts?) and players can just have it on a whim for the points. My most recent player told me to mess with him as much as possible, so two of his unknown disads are evil twin (rival) and split personality (limited further by a trigger). Split personality is great for being an “evil GM” to players with amnesia because it’s even more disads available for the amnesiac character, and they don’t know all the personalities so they can’t prepare for them. The best part for this player was twice I had planned to bring his evil twin into play, and the player both times could not attend the sessions. The other players had already discovered the PC had split personalities, so mostly chalked up the evil twin to that.
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Old 10-13-2017, 07:02 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Amnesia

Amnesia is at least as useful as an affliction or trait added to mind control (conditioning) as it is as an advantage. You want it in a lot of cases.

I had one character who was built to use this trait, but I ended up not using it, because its effects only amounted to a quirk. The crunch of amnesia isn't about not remembering your past, its about not knowing your character sheet. He knew his capabilities perfectly well, he just didn't remember anything that happened before his middle age. And his world had been eaten by inter dimensional forces, so no one from his past was going to show up.

Ironically, that same character used mind control to give other people amnesia quite a lot. His background was a war were telepaths constantly rewrote each other's motivations to make each other flip sides.
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Old 10-13-2017, 07:11 AM   #9
Michael Cule
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Amnesia

I once used it as the setup for a large scale fantasy game in which the players awoke without their memories in an underground cave. I had asked them to choose a fantasy art card from the large collection I had accumulated for use with EVERWAY and then wrote the character around the appearance.

All they had in common was a silver wristband each of them wore and could not remove.

As they (and I) explored the world they could not remember they discovered that they were an ancient company of heroes who could once upon a time unite to form the Silver Dragon and who had a Destiny and a half...

In a way it was very 'gm-as-author' but I was careful to use the implications of what the character cards looked like to give them all the cool stuff they thought they should have from that.
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:10 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Amnesia

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Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
Rather than the usual obvious Delusion where you believe something false or apparently-false that causes people to react poorly to you, you instead don't remember an important event and have false, innocuous memories in their place.
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