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-   -   How "Serious" are Disadvantages? (http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=171072)

DevoutGuardsman 11-09-2020 10:56 AM

How "Serious" are Disadvantages?
 
Was having a discussion with another GURPS GM as to the relative severity of Disadvantages. My argument was that Impulsive, Overconfident, Gluttonous, Short Attention Span etc aren't exactly "extreme" in the sense that they are vast outliers from the general population and are liable, and even quite likely, to turn up in a random sample from the general human population, with Self-Control adjusting the relative severity of the condition. For example, Impulsiveness at 15 or less might be a fairly regular Disadvantage that crops up in the human condition, and roleplay-wise, would resemble an occasional ducking out of a debate to go and do what you wanted anyway.

His argument is that having these Disadvantages at all would indicate a constant compulsion and is thus a psychological extreme, regardless of Self-Control or roleplaying capacity.

I'm curious: do Disadvantages function like constant compulsions or are they viable as occasionally acting in a specific way? Or is it up to roleplay.

Ulzgoroth 11-09-2020 11:14 AM

Re: How "Serious" are Disadvantages?
 
Well, "constant compulsion" isn't far wrong, but I question what makes that a "psychological extreme".

I'd generally be okay with giving more or less 'normal' people such disadvantages with easy Self Control numbers...but that's because there's a certain rules passage I generally ignore:
"You never have to try a self-control
roll you can always give in willingly,
and it is good roleplaying to do so.
However, there will be times when you
really need to resist your urges, and
that is what the roll is for. Be aware
that if you attempt self-control rolls
too often, the GM may penalize you
for bad roleplaying by awarding you
fewer earned points." (Characters p121)

According to that, no matter how easy self-control is it's inappropriate to even attempt it except in rare and critical cases. Which means that while the Disadvantage might not ruin you as an adventurer because you can overcome it when you really need to, it would dominate the rest of your life.

I think that's dumb, and would allow/use self-control rolls any time the character has any reason to keep their impulses on a leash. But that's a house rule really.

Stormcrow 11-09-2020 11:15 AM

Re: How "Serious" are Disadvantages?
 
Mental disadvantages are meant to inform your roleplaying choices and impact your tactical choices. You get character points for deliberately choosing to hinder your character by acting according to your disadvantage, and you must make self-control rolls whenever the GM says there's a chance that you'll be compelled to act according to your disadvantage.

In general, mental disadvantages are not constant compulsion. If you have a Bad Temper, you're not compelled to blow up at every person who causes you any stress, but you'll get character points if you do it at an inopportune time that makes the adventure more interesting, and if you seem to be ignoring stressful situations, the GM might call on you to make a self-control roll. You don't need to attack the cashier if your burger is a minute late.

You're also free to interpret the disadvantage within the bounds of its description. A teacher with a Bad Temper might scream with clean language at a student causing them stress, while a soldier with a Bad Temper might get into a fist fight with a comrade causing them stress or open fire on an enemy causing them stress. Most mental disadvantages don't cause you to act like a psychopath.

AlexanderHowl 11-09-2020 11:22 AM

Re: How "Serious" are Disadvantages?
 
The seriousness of most disadvantages come from their point value. For example, Phobia (Enclosed Spaces; 6-) is worth -30 CP because the character will likely be useless in enclosed spaces and, if subjected to them, may actually go completely insane. In general, the question is more of what the character/player can live with rather than anything else.

For example, a character with Allure 4, Appearance (Handsome), and Voice can probably live with Lecherousness (12-) and Xenophila (12-) because their amorous attempts are usually seen as complements (or seen as charming foibles). A character with a normal reaction bonus will face sexual harassment lawsuits with the same disadvantages while a character with a negative reaction bonus might get shot for approaching the wrong person.

Anders 11-09-2020 11:28 AM

Re: How "Serious" are Disadvantages?
 
A person with Lecherousness is, on the other hand, very vulnerable to people trying to seduce them. This can be exploited in all sorts of ways.

ericthered 11-09-2020 11:28 AM

Re: How "Serious" are Disadvantages?
 
I think that by RAW, things are pretty extreme, but in practice, at least among the random people on the internet I've played with (and I've played with quite a few), the disadvantages are rather muted. They are usually present, but we're not perfect actors, and there is some pressure to take disadvantages to fill out your sheet, but not to play them perfectly and punishingly. And as a GM, I already have a lot to do to make the game work without doing unfun things like telling you you're playing your character wrong.

Sometimes it will become apparent that someone is blatantly not playing their disad, but if that's not the case, most groups will let it slide.

CarrionPeacock 11-09-2020 11:49 AM

Re: How "Serious" are Disadvantages?
 
The disadvantage themselves are very serious, they're very compulsive and in several past discussions the prevailing opinion was that ordinary people might only have quirks instead of actual mental/physical disadvantages.
However the books themselves doesn't seem to agree with itself as every official template fills the character with -50 or so points worth of disadvantages.

SimonAce 11-09-2020 11:49 AM

Re: How "Serious" are Disadvantages?
 
I don't much like the disadvantage rules myself. To be honest they are kind of crufty in some ways.

Because of that I often just give the points instead and let people take play what they like which was a standard option in the 3rd Edition Compendiums IIRC

Disadvantages are reasonable and quite playable if you manage them in game a bit.

Generally limiting extreme reactions is the best way, a PI with Lecherousness and Quirk Redheads! doesn't necessarily have to run across the street or mess with mobsters girl but he certainly can be distracted for a few second or suffer hefty penalties to social manipulation (say detect lies) when a Redheaded Femme Fatal come into this office

The general rule being "if you can't roleplay it, don't take it." and the unofficial one is "don't take ones that don't fit the game or annoy other player's"

Cinematic examples abound and include some strong reaction.

Indiana Jones and his Phobia "Snakes" , the modern forms of Batman with Cannot Kill Pacifism

These are on all the time but rarely require self control rolls occasionally. For that matter Dr. Maura Isles from the TV Police Procedural Rizzoli and isles has Truthfulness and literally undergoes phobia roles if she tries to lie, Its played for laughs but it works.

Thamior 11-09-2020 12:16 PM

Re: How "Serious" are Disadvantages?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth (Post 2352911)
Well, "constant compulsion" isn't far wrong, but I question what makes that a "psychological extreme".

I'd generally be okay with giving more or less 'normal' people such disadvantages with easy Self Control numbers...but that's because there's a certain rules passage I generally ignore:
"You never have to try a self-control
roll you can always give in willingly,
and it is good roleplaying to do so.
However, there will be times when you
really need to resist your urges, and
that is what the roll is for. Be aware
that if you attempt self-control rolls
too often, the GM may penalize you
for bad roleplaying by awarding you
fewer earned points." (Characters p121)

According to that, no matter how easy self-control is it's inappropriate to even attempt it except in rare and critical cases. Which means that while the Disadvantage might not ruin you as an adventurer because you can overcome it when you really need to, it would dominate the rest of your life.

I think that's dumb, and would allow/use self-control rolls any time the character has any reason to keep their impulses on a leash. But that's a house rule really.

"Never have too", "Too often", "May penalize". I'm reading it like it's kind of at GM's discretion. And that GM can take into account the severity of disadvantage, how often is too often, etc. This passage is there to facilitate roleplaying. And good roleplaying is awarded with bonus points in GURPS.

Otaku 11-09-2020 12:39 PM

Re: How "Serious" are Disadvantages?
 
Many Mental Disadvantages do not affect you constantly - you may attempt to control your urges. (p.B120)
versus
You never have to try a self-control roll - you can always give in willingly and it is good roleplaying to do so. However, there will be times when you really need to resist your urges, and that is what the roll is for. Be aware that if you attempt self-control rolls too often, the GM may penalize you for bad roleplaying by awarding you fewer earned points. (p.B121)
It is good that your Self-Control number doesn't automatically correlate to a specific outlook about your Disadvantage. It only describes your target number should you choose to resist... and some people struggle with a vice but rarely succeed in resisting, while others can easily resist even though they normally see no issues with indulging (and thus don't). What is not good is that, after all these years, I'm still not sure how to properly model someone trying to overcome a Mental Disadvantage.

Should the character who embraces their Gluttony (12) get the same points back as a character who is trying to overcome it? What about the character in between; not wallowing in their gluttony but not seeing anything [i]too[/i wrong with it, either? How about roleplay penalties and bonuses: is it as simple as "I promise I'll eventually buy that off, or at least, buy it down?" and now my character goes from being docked points to maybe earning an extra one for constantly rolling against my SC to avoid partaking?


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