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Old 12-08-2017, 12:12 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bloodlust

Bloodlust [-10] is a mundane mental disadvantage, with a self-control roll (SCR). It appeared at GURPS 3e. Once you're started using deadly violence, you want to finish the job, making sure your opponents are dead.

For dungeon crawls, or battles against the Horde of Evil, this isn't too bad. You lose time making sure you've scored a kill, which reduces tactical flexibility, but it reduces the incidence of surprises. Bloodlust becomes far more problematic in more "civilised" combat. You need to make an SCR to take a prisoner, avoid a sentry, accept a surrender, or otherwise avoid killing. If you fail that SCR ... you'll kill, even if that's against the law or your orders, gives your presence away, or wastes ammunition. You aren't always a killer: you can use your fists in a tavern brawl, but anyone who pulls a knife in that brawl is likely to die. This is a bad trait for a duellist or gladiator, or a modern policeman or soldier.

There seem to be two ways to play Bloodlust: as someone who truly likes killing, and rarely tries to resist it, and as someone who has good reason for hating a common type of opponent ("The orcs killed my wife and children") and tries to resist it when fighting others. The latter type of character may well try to buy it down, or limit it to specific enemies. Flashbacks might also fit as a related disadvantage.

Bloodlust is a reasonably common option on published templates for combatants, although it tends to be reserved for the less refined personality types, demons, and so on. AtE 2 has a section on gangs' attitudes that's good for calibrating degrees of depravity, and Banestorm has several species with Bloodlust and very alien psychology. Bio-Tech has some engineered soldiers with built-in Bloodlust -- someone clearly made an error in the specifications. DF Dark Ones always have Bloodlust, as do assassins, and Denizens: Barbarians offers the Wrath power modifier, which requires Bad Temper, Berserk or Bloodlust. Horror points out that this disadvantage can fulfil the behavioural requirements of a Divine power modifier, for evil gods, and Madness Dossier has several ways to induce it.

Infinite Worlds' Gotha virus causes Bloodlust, among other disadvantages, and the book also has a low-tech super-soldier variant with this disadvantage. Technical Grappling points out that a character with Bloodlust will need an SCR roll to avoid doing damage with chokes, and Power-Ups 6: Quirks has a quirk-level version. Social Engineering points out that some militaries weed out recruits with this disadvantage, or Berserk, and Space's alien-design system bestows it on low-empathy carnivores. Tactical Shooting has Bloodlust help with Cool Under Fire fright checks, and Tales of the Solar Patrol has Focussed Bloodlust [-5]. Zombies has Bloodlust, in spades: zombie-slayers, weird assistants, and many, though not all, zombies.

What trouble has Bloodlust caused for characters in your games?
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Old 12-08-2017, 05:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bloodlust

While one accepts that a disadvantage (or any trait) has to have a set price, this is a good example of one that's of wildly different value in different campaigns.

I agree that in civilised settings it's rather more playable with a specific-group limitation.
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Old 12-08-2017, 05:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bloodlust

Bloodlust with a high Self-Control roll is a fairly plausible result of military training and combat experience. The character may be rigidly disciplined about adhering to rules of engagement and never using lethal force capriciously, but once something has been determined to be a legitimate target and/or a threat, the accepted method of dealing with it is rapid and decisive neutralisation.

Outside fantasy and super-science, less-than-lethal methods are simply less effective at ending threats with minimal risk for your side than engaging the target with your best weaponry. And few soldiers are trained to use half measures once they decide that something warrants lethal force. They engage and keep firing until there is no chance that there is any further threat. Termination with extreme prejudice becomes a trained reflex once something is classified as a 'threat' and a valid target under the RoE.

Even using melee weapons or unarmed techniques, the intent is rapid incapacitation and that generally entails inflicting potentially lethal damage. Techniques for dealing with an armed threat don't stop at a disarm or takedown, these are followed by ruthless strikes or stomp kicks to vital areas until the opponent is physically unable to pose any further threat. And the brutal follow-up attacks may be a part of the trained response to a threat, ingrained into the muscle memory that is a lot more reliable than intellectual analysis while under the effects of adrenaline.

I like using Bloodlust for basically decent, likable characters who don't like killing, but understand it is a somewhat unavoidable consequence of events escalating to the point of violence. They may consider the view that there is such a thing as non-lethal combat naive, and, as a consequence, are generally predisposed to prefer almost any other solution to the use of violence.

This can create interesting contrasts when chacacters with a different background assume from their actions in combat that they are cruel murderers, when the philosophical difference between the characters may be minimal and both may be heroic, moral people.

By contrast, Bloodlust is an unambigiously villainous trait when possessed by characters who are at all likely to start fights. A staple of murderous NPCs, but rare for any PCs I'd play.

I don't think I recall a case where a PC's Bloodlust got him in trouble. I remember an NPC Ally failing the SC roll in a street fight with some rapier-wielding bravos once, which got her and the PC with her arrested and tried for manslaughter. The victim was gently born and they were pretty clearly guilty, but a discreet bribe and a quick jail-break got them on a fast ship out of town.
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Last edited by Icelander; 12-08-2017 at 06:09 AM.
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Old 12-08-2017, 08:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bloodlust

A PC in a long-running, violent fantasy campaign has Bloodlust, as do quite a few NPCs. I call for a Self-Control roll, with a bonus, even in a supposedly nonlethal fight, to see if the character escalates the situation, his 'killer instinct' taking over. In those cases, if he fails, I'll give him another chance at Self-Control if the enemy is knocked unconscious, flees, or begs for mercy. Which I don't do if the fight started out lethal.

It's a little harsher than going by the book, but in my experience, cases where lethal weapons are brought to bear but the goal is not to kill are just very rare.
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Old 12-08-2017, 08:16 AM   #5
Jasonft
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bloodlust

Keep in mind that Bloodlust is unlikely to be the only mental disad that a PC (or NPC) takes. One or more turns as Bloodlust and Code of Honor and Sense of Duty duke it out are not implausible. Effectively the individual is stunned for a couple rounds while their disads have what amounts to a contest of skills. Played right it won't even break Stealth.

It also helps if their allies know the person wants to kill enemies until they are absolutely dead. Be sure to give allies a chance to stop them or give a direct order against killing if it would fit the dynamic.

That being said, Bloodlust means you want to kill enemies and not leave them alive to hurt you (or your friends) later. Roleplay it. Tell the sergeant you can take out that sentry without anyone knowing. Advocate killing that captive. You will **** off those squeamish pacifists, but this is war dammit!

[EDIT: Can also apply to enemy organizations. Deliberately doing as much damage as you can to their property or reputations should the opportunity arise works for Bloodlust too. Especially if that organization is a recurring enemy.]

Do NOT just take it for ten easy points.

Last edited by Jasonft; 12-08-2017 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bloodlust

I have never been in a real fight so I'm not 100% sure, but I do believe I have that disadvantage.

Every situation I portray myself where I have to defend myself against a threat I feel the rage building up inside me to a scary degree even though the action only happens in my imagination. If just imagining such situations gives me such rage, what would happen if I actually had to defend myself? Would I be able to stop myself once the threat has ended or would I be carried away in my rage to the point where I keep kicking the body on the ground?

Also, how much of a limitation would it be to take a self-defense only version of bloodlust? Say you can avoid sentries (or force their surrender through superior firepower, or subdue them with less-than lethal force) if they are "just doing their jobs" (say rent-a-cops guarding a building you plan on hitting for sensitive files that shows that corporation x has funded terrorist/conspiracy group y that you really hate and the guys have zero clue about it), but anyone who plans on doing you serious harm (say a rapist or someone trying to murder you) or someone you really want dead (members of terrorists/conspiracy y will get the axe from you if you discover them) gets killed?
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Old 12-08-2017, 02:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bloodlust

That sounds more like a sanity saving rationalization for Bad Temper.

As a kid, I had a very bad one. The most I could do was steer it away from causing my brother serious harm. Lots of objects suffered damage.

In Game terms what are the observable effects? You kill only enemies where any court would call lethal force justified self defense? That's not a disadvantage in Gurps' terms.
The guilt you may experience from it may be one though such as nightmares, etc.
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Old 12-08-2017, 02:16 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bloodlust

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasonft View Post
Keep in mind that Bloodlust is unlikely to be the only mental disad that a PC (or NPC) takes. One or more turns as Bloodlust and Code of Honor and Sense of Duty duke it out are not implausible. Effectively the individual is stunned for a couple rounds while their disads have what amounts to a contest of skills. Played right it won't even break Stealth.
I don't think this is supported by published rules, though it's certainly in keeping with some media.
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Old 12-08-2017, 07:01 PM   #9
Jasonft
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bloodlust

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
I don't think this is supported by published rules, though it's certainly in keeping with some media.
It's the way I always played it. If you have one disad saying 'Do this thing' and another disad saying 'Don't do this thing' I do a quick roll off if I am in doubt. Results weighted towards disads worth more points of course.

Desire to kill the sentry versus direct standing order to not kill the sentry. As an example.
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Old 12-08-2017, 08:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bloodlust

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasonft View Post
It's the way I always played it. If you have one disad saying 'Do this thing' and another disad saying 'Don't do this thing' I do a quick roll off if I am in doubt. Results weighted towards disads worth more points of course.

Desire to kill the sentry versus direct standing order to not kill the sentry. As an example.
...This description does not account for your previous assertion that they would be effectively stunned for a couple rounds...
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