Friday, May 6, 2016

Disadvantage: Compulsory Adventuring Disadvantages

A character forced into an adventure
because of a dependent disadvantage,
an Obsession (Travel to Paradise Falls),
and potentially a light version of
Weirdness Magnet.
I was thinking about how disadvantages feel like they can be put into a few different categories.
The most basic disadvantage is the type that makes you bad at doing something the "normal" type of characters can usually do. In this simple form, they usually can be reverse engineered as
-x reaction/attribute/secondary characteristic (Accessibility, A particular circumstance, -y%)[z]
But with a little bit of extra fluff and flavor to explain why you have the penalty in that given situation.
Then you have the type that makes it impossible to do a thing. Can't see, can't lie, can't fight unless in self defense, can't deal with spiders, etc.
A third basic type that I can think of are the type that force you to do a certain thing. For a GM these can be really good seeds for adventure plots and storylines, and if it leads a character to do the type of things you want to do anyways, it might be close to free points. I mean, a good GM should find a way to make it inconvenient, at least sometimes, but if you are the type of player who just likes doing the types of things you are obligated to do, is it really that painful of an obligation?
This post is a kind of index of the third category, focusing mostly on The Basic Set, but if anyone can think of similar plot grist disadvantages in other sources, I'd be happy to include them.

The Basic Set

  • Addiction (p.122) - the right addictions to very rare or highly illegal substances can be the impetus for a quest. Also Dependency (p.130) for a slightly different bent on the same theme of requiring something that could be rare to be functional/survive. Also Uncontrollable Appetite (p.159) for a supernatural, and more allegorical, but still real need.
  • Chummy/Gregarious (p.126) - This could force a character that finds herself alone or a stranger in a strange land to need to make a connection with someone. A long quest to fit in, acclimate to a culture, make friends, and eventually buy contacts or allies for companionship could ensue.
  • Code of Honor(Various) (p.127) - Several codes of honor require reciprocation for favors rendered, or retaliation for slights dealt. Being compelled to perform a grand gesture for someone who saved your life, or avenge the death of a beloved crewmate can be the catalyst of a long journey.
  • Compulsive Behavior(some!) (p.128) - A lot of these are pretty spurious and are more like minor inconveniences being forced to act on an impulsive urge, but some, especially the types introduced in Dungeon Fantasy can spur a player onto bigger and greater commitments. Especially, Compulsive Vowing, or Compulsive Inventing for example. See Obsession (p.146) for a disadvantage that represents building towards a more long term compulsion.
  • Cursed (p.129) - This is a terrible disadvantage of memetic proportions, but it does come with a built in quest to resolve the curse.
  • Dependents (p.131) - If a player has dependents, the disadvantage cost is associated with how often they come into trouble, how emotionally invested the character is in the dependents, and how difficult it might be to help them when it is required. This can spur players to anything as mundane as "I need help making rent because I got stuck with some bad hospital bills" to probably, at the most extreme end, hostage and kidnapping. These type of spurious requests probably dictate a type of dependent with a low frequency of appearance; a different feel from a dependent that would appear often or constantly.
  • Duty (p.133) - This is a literal obligation to do something. A duty can lead to very cohesive adventures and make creating a consistent story easier. The disadvantage is pretty customizable with different options giving different types of "missions." See also Fanaticism (p.136)
  • Enemies (p.135) - Somewhat of an analog to the Dependents disadvantage with several of the same considerations, but turned on its head.
  • Intolerance (p.140) - This can be invoked to give a player a target they need to act against. The adventure could be the act of Intolerance (prevent a hated force of "evil" from doing something,) or it could be the fallout of acting out in an inappropriate way (Being put on trial for a hate crime.)
  • Secret (p.152) - A Secret usually leads to blackmail situations or covering up inadvertent evidence to avoid social snafus. Secret Identity (next page) is similar.
  • Trickster (p.159) - This self control disadvantage can compel a user to do some dangerous things with dangerous people. I wrote a post about this disadvantage here.
  • Vow(Some) (p.160) - Some vows are more an inconvenience in the form of removing options from a character, but some are a slightly different angle on compulsively getting tied up in things that other people would rather leave well enough alone.
  • Weirdness Magnet (p.161) - This controversial disadvantage means being tied up in things that don't make sense or that aren't normal, among other things. If you don't mind the social ramifications of otherworldly and improbable beings meeting with you and requiring your help at inconvenient times, it can be a fun disadvantage. Similarly Xenophilia (p.162) could function this way, but in reverse, compelling a player to search out and befriend the unusual.

Other Thoughts

I was thinking about ways to help players help me. I think sometimes it is difficult for someone to know what they want out of a game or where they want to go with a character, but the right disadvantages can relieve some pressure while giving a character some flavor. I think having too many of these can tear a character in so many conflicting directions that it could be frustrating for the player, and unsatisfying for the GM (Good news, player! Someone has photographs of you assassinating that free world leader and is threatening to put it on the internet, your stalker has hired a band of thugs to rough you up, and your son is in the hospital with a rare disease, the only cure is a continent away! Have fun, while I figure out how to make sure all the other players have a fair chance at being represented, and not gimping any of those three plots while dealing with the main plot!) But definitely, 1 or 2 of the listed disadvantages can add an interesting diversion or complication every now and again.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...