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Old 12-24-2017, 02:21 AM   #11
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Callous

Callous protagonists tend to be anti-heroes, I think, but they don’t have to be complete monsters, and they can be, yes, pragmatists or people who’ve adapted to unrelentingly tough jobs. They can be the type to provoke a “Thank God she’s on our side” reaction — the unit sniper or stealth killer — and they can project a chilly professionalism that’s simultaneously frightening and impressive; “He’s a real b*st*rd but he always gets the job done, no fuss”.

All of which said, they’re not necessarily the most interesting characters to watch or roleplay. Some degree of empathy is needed for character complexity in an action story; someone who just gets the job done can be a bit of a playing piece or a plot mechanism. But the James Bond movies still get an audience.

I play Antoine as a bit of a dry comedy character, at least in my head. He doesn’t relate to people terribly well, but that can be funny, and I’ve focussed on giving him abilities that Just Get The Job Done, without anyone else having to understand what the job is.

(It’s “becoming a supernatural archetype in his own right”, in fact.)
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Old 12-24-2017, 10:05 AM   #12
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Callous

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I've only seen one PC played with Callous, but it was played to the hilt, and worth more than [-5].
I thought I'd had this on one of my PCs in your games, but (according to my character archive) apparently not.

As described it's quite close to what used to be called sociopathy: "other people don't matter/aren't real, only my feelings are important". But I suppose it's less restrictive than Bully, in that it doesn't need to affect your behaviour a lot of the time; you can always justify acting pleasantly by saying "I need this person to think positively about me so that they'll do something I want later".

Some would argue that all humans do this kind of manipulative calculation all the time (but most of them are good at hiding it). I'll admit I do it sometimes…
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Old 12-24-2017, 01:33 PM   #13
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Callous

I suspect that a lot of (real-world) Callous people act fairly pleasantly a lot of the time, because hanging out, sharing jokes, and even making friends is still more fun for them than being a surly loner. But if bad stuff happens to anyone, they don’t really care. They might help a friend, because that makes life easier and more pleasant overall, but it’s not because they care about the other person much as such.
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Old 12-24-2017, 02:15 PM   #14
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Callous

Few problems, some interesting challenges.

The only time it felt like a problem was for my necromancer, who got some sponsorship on the basis of “you have spooky magic, we want to learn spooky magic from you”, and she had a hard time taking advantage of it because of the -3 to Teaching. Kind of got around this by having her broker deals between demons and her recruits, essentially outsourcing the Teaching to evil spirits for training apprentices. It had it’s limitations, but worked for someone who didn’t want to invest too much personal time into teaching magic.

Occasionally had problems when someone she’d used Intimidation on held a grudge, but the penalties from Callous never felt like they came from Callous… they felt like they came from mistreating the person, and the rules for Callous were just a convenient penalty that saved the GM having to calculate just how angry they were.

But I don’t often use Intimidation on people I plan on working with in future.

Other times, I invested a point in Acting to conceal how cold-hearted my character was, so she could form long-term relationships with people when it was important to her. Ultimately ended up spending more points in Acting & Teaching than she got from Callous, but I liked it because Callous meant something on the character sheet to say “she is willing to do horrible things when it suits her.”

Callous to me is the prerequisite to treating people as commodities. Keeping prisoners in Suspended Animation as living batteries for Steal Energy or Leech, using them as human sacrifices to demons once they started nearing death, and then animating the corpse as an undead servant (as well as binding the soul as another undead servant…). Efficient, but a level of thorough in-depth exploitation that is difficult to explain for a character without Callous.

I would certainly expect the reaction penalty from Callous to apply if someone found out about her “pantry.” Also to normal bystanders, not even victims, just witnesses, because as soon as an Intimidation roll sounds appropriate she went straight to the bad place.

One time a bunch of thugs attacked her girlfriend, and she managed to knock several thugs out, but one managed to take girlfriend hostage.

It was a tense situation, because the thug initially wasn’t willing to accept a “let her go and you can run” offer.

So she took out a large knife and began carving off the face from an unconscious thug, using First Aid to keep him alive. “I have enough medical knowledge to keep you alive for weeks. Knowing that, and seeing this.” *holds up Exhibit A, while licking off some of the blood from her other hand* “Do you want to be the guy who hurt my girlfriend?”

Good news: successful Intimidation roll.

Bad news: failed Fright Check for the girlfriend.

Their relationship took something of a hit because of it. Up until then said character had used Acting to fake being a halfway decent person. But now her girlfriend doesn’t trust her anywhere near as much, which is expected to cause trouble in the future. Still waiting to find out what the trouble will be...
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Old 12-24-2017, 02:19 PM   #15
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Callous

They could be Callous to everyone, but that disadvantage doesn't preclude making very specific friends or loved ones.
The stone cold killer who will kill ANYONE that harms his cat, for example.
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Old 12-24-2017, 02:37 PM   #16
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Callous

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They could be Callous to everyone, but that disadvantage doesn't preclude making very specific friends or loved ones.
The stone cold killer who will kill ANYONE that harms his cat, for example.
I use a limitation to exclude people from Callous, because being Callous toward enemies only is a much lesser Disadvantage.

I agree that such a limited Callous makes for an interesting concept, one that many players really enjoy.
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Old 12-24-2017, 03:13 PM   #17
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Callous

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
I use a limitation to exclude people from Callous, because being Callous toward enemies only is a much lesser Disadvantage.

I agree that such a limited Callous makes for an interesting concept, one that many players really enjoy.
I've thought long and hard about using a limitation on Callous to represent that, and ultimately I think it depends on why they exclude that person.

Do they legitimately care about the person's emotions in and of themselves? Then, yes, that's Limited Callous.

If it's more, "This person makes me happy. I care about their emotions only to the extent that I don't want to make them unhappy, because that means they will stop making me happy." — then I would not limit Callous.

I will leave the arguments about which interpretation (or both, or neither) is the more realistic archetype to someone else.
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Old 12-24-2017, 04:21 PM   #18
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Callous

I could also see a Callous character as a “feelings aren’t important” mentality.

The parent whose interpretation of wanting what’s best for their child means pushing the child to succeed, pushing them to excel, getting them to work hard… even if that’s not what the child wants, even if it means stressing the child.

Another character I had was a mercenary captain with Callous, Code of Honour: Professional & Sense of Duty: Company = “look after my men at all costs” mentality, so he would happily go pillaging the homes of civilians or brutalising peasants because it’s safer work for his troops than sending them into fights against dangerous opponents. I think he kind of cares how they feel, although he doesn’t really consider how getting them to do horrible things might count as moral injury to his men, but I think caring how they feel is part of his self-image as a “good captain.”

So there’s a professional pride there as a motivation. In this case, caring about the person’s feelings is part of his self-identity, so it’s still partly a means to an end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Celti View Post
If it's more, "This person makes me happy. I care about their emotions only to the extent that I don't want to make them unhappy, because that means they will stop making me happy." — then I would not limit Callous.
This could also be possible without consciously thinking about it in those terms.

As I see the necromancer in my earlier post, she likes her girlfriend, and wants her girlfriend to be happy, but if her girlfriend was unhappy and needed to talk about what was bothering her then said necromancer would be sufficiently bored by discussing it to have a difficult time putting in the effort to help with her problems. Essentially she’d look for a method of cheering her up that’s fun rather than the one that helps her the most.

So she can want her to be happy, but has a hard time truly taking an interest.

And ultimately, in a tight spot, if backed into a corner, the idea that something might upset her girlfriend wouldn't stop her. As evidenced by the face-flaying incident.

It might not be true to say she doesn't care at all about her feelings, but she certainly doesn't care all that much.
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Old 12-24-2017, 05:18 PM   #19
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Callous

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Originally Posted by Celti View Post
I've thought long and hard about using a limitation on Callous to represent that, and ultimately I think it depends on why they exclude that person.

Do they legitimately care about the person's emotions in and of themselves? Then, yes, that's Limited Callous.

If it's more, "This person makes me happy. I care about their emotions only to the extent that I don't want to make them unhappy, because that means they will stop making me happy." — then I would not limit Callous.

I will leave the arguments about which interpretation (or both, or neither) is the more realistic archetype to someone else.
I would base the decision on effect, not justification. Sense of Duty works with Callous, but unless you limit Callous so that it excludes the person cared for, the character will still not care about their feelings, just their well-being.

This means they still suffer the skill and reaction penalty with regards to that character, even if they are motivated to help them through Sense of Duty.
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Old 12-24-2017, 05:46 PM   #20
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Callous

You seem to be interpreting it to be far worse than -5.
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