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Old 03-13-2020, 12:37 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Social Disease

Social Disease [-5] is a mundane physical disadvantage. You have some kind of disease that can’t be readily cured, is not fatal in the short term, and is only transmitted by close unprotected physical contact. Anyone who knows about it reacts to you at -1, and automatically resists any seduction attempts you make. This disadvantage appeared during the 3e period, possibly in Cyberpunk.

The symptoms of the disease are deliberately left undefined, since its nature will be setting-dependent. An incurable disease in a society with magical or ultra-tech healing will be different from one in a realistic Crusades campaign.

This is a disadvantage for gritty-grimy role-playing, rather than heroic fantasies. It doesn’t show up in many GURPS supplements: Bio-Tech re-purposes it for representing unusual symbiotic bacteria or nano-machines that don’t like being spread to other beings, and provides an example of curing it. Social Disease can be a guilty secret in Horror, and Britannica-6, and there are perk and quirk versions in Power-Ups 2 and 6 respectively. It shows up in the dispossessed humans of Reign of Steel: Will to Live, and Zombies has a [-10] version for carriers of zombie plagues.

I’ve never used this disadvantage, as player or GM, and don’t feel I’m missing much. Has it been significant in your games?
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Old 03-13-2020, 06:01 PM   #2
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Slocial Disease

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Social Disease [-5] is a mundane physical disadvantage. You have some kind of disease that can’t be readily cured, is not fatal in the short term, and is only transmitted by close unprotected physical contact. Anyone who knows about it reacts to you at -1, and automatically resists any seduction attempts you make. This disadvantage appeared during the 3e period, possibly in Cyberpunk.
Yeah, it comes from Cyberpunk. Note that the cyberpunk genre originated in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when it wasn't at all clear how that, or the social reactions to it, were going to play out, and this trait is in there to model some of the ways it was spun in fiction that responded to that. Not that it does a particularly good job, since that fiction might have the response be anything from society wide changes in sexual behavior to Reputation, Social Stigma or Secret (possible execution). Since those existing social disadvantages would've covered the range better anyway (and basically do in the variations you point to below), it's not very useful even if you want to tell stories in this space.
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Old 03-14-2020, 10:08 AM   #3
TGLS
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Slocial Disease

So would it need many changes to represent something like covid-19? Assuming "Close Unprotected Physical Contact" isn't a euphemism, it feels like it could work.
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Old 03-14-2020, 11:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Slocial Disease

Covid-19 is so transient. You will be free of it (or dead, but that's rather rare unless you're old and/or have other diseases already) after a month or two. I would certainly suggest that anyone who show signs of a communicable disease should a reaction penalty, but it should be something that can't be treated permanently.
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Old 03-14-2020, 05:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Slocial Disease

Wouldn't the disease (COVID-19) have to have some easily discernible physical symptoms for this disad to apply? Most if not all of the symptoms are identical to the common flu.
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Old 03-15-2020, 02:29 AM   #6
namada
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Slocial Disease

Y2K much?...
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Old 03-15-2020, 02:55 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Slocial Disease

I've used Social Disease to represent someone HIV-positive in the '80s and '90s (guy was a heroin-addicted womanizer, no less), and to represent someone in the Age of Sail with syphilis. (Both in the "we have no cures, and treatments are few and far between" time frames for those diseases.)

Both times, I wasn't sure how else to represent having these diseases, or how the effects would play out in the game world. As a "catch-all" for covering all possible effects of these diseases, it worked as a placeholder until the characters could - if possible - be respecced to fit how the world reacted to them better.
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Old 03-15-2020, 05:06 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Slocial Disease

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Originally Posted by Phantasm View Post
I've used Social Disease to represent someone HIV-positive in the '80s and '90s ... and to represent someone in the Age of Sail with syphilis.

As a "catch-all" for covering all possible effects of these diseases, it worked as a placeholder until the characters could - if possible - be respecced to fit how the world reacted to them better.
Seems like a decent approximation to me!

Last edited by johndallman; 03-16-2020 at 12:00 PM. Reason: Remove obsolete line
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