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Old 03-22-2012, 10:10 AM   #11
JCurwen3
 
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Default Re: Fright Checks and Soiling Yourself...

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Originally Posted by Phaelen Bleux View Post
In general, I think the realistic result of severe psychological stress is either vomiting or loose bowels, but generally after the stressful incident (more like Post Combat Shakes).

Although, as Aesir pointed out, lightening the load can help with the Flight response (birds often do it prior to taking off) and can be defensive (urinating/defecating in the attackers mouth to discourage predation in the moment), usually it's better to wait for negative physiologic reactions until after the danger is passed.
Waiting until the danger has passed doesn't actually seem realistic. I mean, some stuff, in the vein of "post-danger shakes", may happen. But by and large the idea is that many people react to frightful (or disgusting) things with visceral, knee-jerk reactions. For instance, I'm not squeamish or generally afraid of much at all, but the sight of anything touching anyone's eyes (including inserting contacts), or even the threat of seeing it, would, in GURPS terms, force me at the very least to have to make a Will roll to avoid suddenly looking away (it's probably closer to the seconds time range mental stun results on the low end of the Fright Check table).

I have to say that I personally have never experienced personally, known, or had related to me anyone ever urinating, defecating, or vomiting as a result of disgust or horror (one case as a result of laughter in a friend of a parent). But I guess I also haven't run with a squeamish crowd (or a very large one, so it's admittedly not a particularly representative sampling). So I have to be up front about the fact that I'm going by what I've read and seen across fiction. So what you say might generally be true.

On the other hand, the Fright Check table seems to disagree, since those effects happen "on the spot". Then again, it's a game mechanic, and I'm not entirely sure how much research went into its realism. I mean, other than a second or so of mental stun I've not experienced any of that; I'm more of a fight-or-flight (mostly fight) guy. My general feeling is that a more realistic rules-descriptor reaction to fear would usually be represented by either going Berserk (or at least just being forced to make All-Out Attacks and maybe Committed Attacks), or being forced to attempt a Retreat, with me leaning much more towards the former. But I guess those reactions don't fit the horror genre and they're perhaps not sufficiently game mechanically disadvantageous. And also I may be atypical; that too.

But I guess that all leads me to a question... how representative / realistic is the Fright Check table? I know it is pretty much unchanged from 3rd Ed, and it probably goes back much further. Not that being a legacy thing is bad, if it was right-ish from the start.
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Old 03-22-2012, 10:30 AM   #12
Phaelen Bleux
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Default Re: Fright Checks and Soiling Yourself...

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Originally Posted by JCurwen3 View Post
but the sight of anything touching anyone's eyes (including inserting contacts), or even the threat of seeing it,
The menace reflex is a physiologic autonomic response. If it is missing, it generally means there is something wrong with the neurologic system. People can get around it, obviously, to put in contacts and the like, but it is hard-wired to be there.

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vomiting as a result of disgust
Then you've never done a post-mortem on a cow that has been out in the field for 4 days in July!
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:58 PM   #13
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Default Re: Fright Checks and Soiling Yourself...

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Then you've never done a post-mortem on a cow that has been out in the field for 4 days in July!
HA, yes I imagine that is quite disgusting. But I would think that's more a physical reaction to a noxious smell, sort of similar to a kind of inhaled syrup of ipecac. I've experienced varying degrees of nausea from being around certain horrific putrescent odours. But I wouldn't compare that to a Fright Check result indicating nausea... it isn't psychological, it's physical (or, potentially, the mind is preemptively making you nauseous / retch to prevent you getting sick from exposure). Some people only have to see something like that, or it's the idea, and there's no smell involved, and that's purely psychological. That phenomenon is one with which what I'm not familiar.

On the other hand, I have noticed I seem to have a weird kind of perk where my emotions are almost entirely disconnected from my sense of sight (with the exception being that one squeamish "menace response" about seeing or thinking about anyone's eyes being touched, my own, others, even sometimes cartoon characters). I've never experienced any emotional reaction from seeing anything. Now, when hearing is in the mix, I feel, and I feel most strongly when I actually engage and talk about what I've experienced. But sight and feelings don't intersect in me; I also am completely devoid of visualizing or creating any mental pictures (it all is more like lists of textual descriptors in my head), and I'm guessing that has the same root cause. The latter thing caused me to take a serious dip in my math grades in high school geometry, if I couldn't convince my teachers to allow me to solve the problems algebraically instead of bothering with what to me were confusing squiggles that slowed my brain down to a crawl but to others were useful graphs and shapes; fortunately in university they never cared if I took an algebraic approach instead. Give me a table of numbers over a stupid graph or chart any day!
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