Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-16-2020, 04:29 PM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sadism

Sadism [-15] is a mundane mental disadvantage with a self-control roll. You enjoy indulging in cruelty, be it mental, physical or social. This disadvantage dates from GURPS 1e, and hasn’t changed fundamentally since then.

This is a notably “evil” disadvantage, and the GM is given explicit permission to ban it for PCs, and reserve it for NPC villains. Combining it with Bully lowers the barriers to indulging it, not that those are especially high: you only get to attempt a self-control roll when there’s a pragmatic reason you should not engage in cruelty. People who know you’re a sadist react to you at -3, unless they’re sadists themselves, or come from a culture that holds life in low regard. It would seem possible for this disadvantage to be Aspected (-20%) to a particular form or style of cruelty.

Sadism is sometimes regarded as a sign of an unstable mind, and is used as an example disadvantage that would disqualify a character from having a Security Clearance, although that depends on the government in question. It wasn’t a requirement in Stalin’s USSR or Hitler’s Germany, but it wasn’t a problem unless you showed it off or had very limited self-control.

Many GURPS supplements advise against allowing Sadism for PCs, and use it for villains and monsters. Horror makes a great deal of use of it, and Madness Dossier can, of course, cause it via technology. Lands Out of Time has PC templates that feature Sadism as an option, either through the corruptions of power or the trauma of displacement; Mars Attacks’ Martians have racial Sadism. Technical Grappling has details on Sadism in martial-arts competition, and Mysteries points out its role in crimes. Power-Ups 6 has quirk-level versions and embellishments, and Age of Sail: Pirate Crew includes plenty of sadists.

I’ve never put this disadvantage on a PC or NPC character sheet. I’ve been accused of being cruel to villains: an allied NPC had been kidnapped, and following the trail, we found him, unconscious, in a coffin in a hearse, outside a house that the kidnappers were in. Removing him stealthily to get him clear before any shooting started was just sensible. Putting earth in the coffin to about the same weight was an attempt to hide the fact that he’d been rescued, since we wanted to know how the kidnappers planned to get him out of the country. Honestly. Since the obvious answer was “submarine”, I did hope that the substitution would go undiscovered until the coffin was on board the submarine, but this didn’t work out.

How has this disadvantage worked in your games?

Last edited by johndallman; 01-17-2020 at 01:42 AM. Reason: "should not engage"
johndallman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2020, 06:06 PM   #2
evileeyore
Banned
 
evileeyore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: 100 hurricane swamp
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sadism

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Combining it with Bully lowers the barriers to indulging it, not that those are especially high: you only get to attempt a self-control roll when there’s a pragmatic reason you should [not] engage in cruelty.
1 - I think you're missing a "not" in this sentence.

2 - There is nothing in the RAW about "lowering barriers", however, I understand that if you're in a position to get away Sadism, you're clearly in prime position for Bullying.

Also, the base cost of Sadism allows for you to 'narrow the field' to only Mental cruelty just fine (or Physical cruelty). Nothing requires physical Sadism by the RAW, so I don't see the need for Aspecting (unless your really narrowing the field).

Quote:
I’ve never put this disadvantage on a PC or NPC character sheet.
I don't write up NPCs, but I have run Sadist NPCs. Sometimes having a puppy-kickingly evil villain really is necessary.

Never seen it on a PC, though the other 'contenders' often show up (Bloodlust, Bully, Callous*, Intolerance).



* A few times I've seen Callous taken as "Sadist, but I can turn it off on a whim".
evileeyore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2020, 06:22 PM   #3
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sadism

I have used Sadism for a number of NPCs, and psychological sadism is relatively easy to get away with. For example, a 'mean girl' archetype could indulge in Sadism by telling a girl that she slept with that girl's boyfriend in order to hurt her or by telling all of the girl in her school that a particular boy was inadequate in bed in order to hurt him (or visa versa). She would not even need to be telling the truth, she would just have to better at lying than her victim is at detecting lies.

Psychological sadists can also more effectively play the long game than other sadists for maximum pain and suffering. A man could start dating a woman, sleep with her for a few months, and then reveal to her in a family event that he had been cheating on her with her sisters, best friends, or whatever the entire time. During his cheating, he could have been lying to the women he was cheating with, telling them that they were the only one while he slept with their sisters, best friends, or whatever the entire time. It is even better if the women he is cheating with are married, as the final reveal could end up destroying dozens of families.
AlexanderHowl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2020, 07:13 PM   #4
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sadism

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
It is even better
Or rather, worse.
__________________

© copyright Brett Evill
Discussion of FLAT BLACK
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2020, 07:56 PM   #5
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sadism

Well, better from the perspective of the sadist.
AlexanderHowl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2020, 08:55 PM   #6
gmillerd
 
gmillerd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sadism

Not to normalize the IRL issue, but its pretty common in this world and in stories its crazy common; without looking at Stalin or over the top GoT characters, nor child abusers "no more hangers", and the like.

The joy in pin pointing woe upon others when they are most vulnerable. Forcing people to beg or compromise, further engorging them.

Supervisors at work with no lives and extreme power trips; piety time off games, scheduling people into work-life issues for no reason, "I'm gonna need you to go ahead and come in tomorrow. So if you could be here at around....9 that'd be great"

The workplace is full of people that love exploiting, holding others back, keeping people under their thumb, cultivating sycophants in middle management to dance for scraps, etc.

The love of manufacturing a web to ensnare people, counting and documented, holding things over people, playing people off each other, making people dance, ugh.

Co-workers with frequent opportunistic amnesia, messages left unforwarded, baiting phrases in peer assessments, etc.
__________________
NearByGamers | "Look after the universe for me will you, I have put a lot of work into it." -- Doctor Who
gmillerd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2020, 09:49 PM   #7
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sadism

A lot of that is probably better represented by Bully, Jealousy, or Laziness, though I agree that Sadism is more common than one would expect.
AlexanderHowl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2020, 01:45 AM   #8
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sadism

Quote:
Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
1 - I think you're missing a "not" in this sentence.
Yes, fixed.
johndallman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2020, 08:02 AM   #9
Anders
 
Anders's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sadism

This is not a disadvantage I would want any PC in my campaigns to have. It's off limits. I'm certain that you can tell very interesting stories with such characters, but they are not stories I'm interested in telling.
__________________
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...” Marcus Aurelius
Anders is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2020, 08:09 AM   #10
ericthered
Hero of Democracy
 
ericthered's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: far from the ocean
Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the Week: Sadism

I've never stuck this on a PC, or had a player try to. I don't think I've ever stuck it on an NPC, at least not officially.

I play some pure evil demons as though they had sadism. Some are more analytical about their evil, but sadism is quite appropriate for a demon.
__________________
Be helpful, not pedantic

Worlds Beyond Earth -- my blog

Check out the PbP forum! If you don't see a game you'd like, ask me about making one!
ericthered is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
disadvantage of the week, sadism

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:01 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.