Jump to content

How common are Total Psychological Complications?


pawsplay
 Share

Recommended Posts

Defender has Code Versus Killing (Common, Total). Over the years I've seen it often implicitly assumed this is a common Silver Age trait, but I find myself questioning that. As written, if Defender is confronted with a quandry, he has to spend a full phase affected by this Complication, and then make Ego rolls at -5 to go against it (if the GM allows it all). That may or may not be a realistic portrayal of Defender, who is a character sheet and not a comic book character written over and over again across the decades. Superman is often cited as an exemplar of Code Versus Killing, and yet every major version of Superman (excepting maybe a brief run of the Super-Friends) has killed. If anything, he has Code Versus Killing (Common, Strong). If confronted by a true dilemma, he spends a phase trying to think around it, and if necessary he starts making his Ego rolls until he convinces himself to act (typically, wiping out a military style invasion force, or killing a foe that is both too powerful and too irrational to be reasoned with or contained). (And yes, I mean every version; Christopher Reeves' Superman takes out Zod as well as the nuclear man, and the DCAU version wastes a bunch of White Martians).

 

Ron's Champions Now paraphrases Psychological Limitations in a somewhat different way:

Quote

Psychological Your hero holds a well-defined, deeply-felt position or opinion. Its justification, morality, or rationality are not rated in points.
Provocation

Happens sometimes 5 points
Happens a lot 15 points
Response

Stated opinion, visible expression 0 points
Irrational 5 points
Meltdown, defined as collapse, flight, or otherwise non-functional response 10 points

 

Again, while a hero's reluctance to kill may be a strong part of their character, it appears to me that the most severe level of Psychological Limitation is pretty rare even for thinks like Code Versus Killing, or Bushido, or other Psychological Limitations.

 

Does anyone have a different interpretation of Total, or house rules about it? Do you think they shouldn't be that common, and discourage Total limitations except where truly warranted? Have you tweaked these Complication rules? Do you think Defender's PsyLim is really that powerful?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back in the day, I recall "The Code," as one of the GMs in that long-ago group liked to call it, as generally played as something the character just wouldn't do.  Not blow a phase or make a Ego roll, just, not even on the table.  The breakdown and drama would come if the hero accidentally killed someone or even just felt responsible for indirectly causing, or failing to prevent, a death.  

 

As for Superman, yeah, now he kills people while fighting for truth, justice, and all that stuff.  And so does Batman - alternate-world Batmans (batmen?) can even become serial killers.  It seems like it's been fun for writers to have erstwhile lily-white heroes get their hands bloody, from Frank Miller in the 80s (when it was kinda outside the box) on to today, when it's just sad.

 

OTOH, I'm pretty sure the George Reeves Superman, for instance, never killed anyone.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote

 Christopher Reeves' Superman takes out Zod

 

No, he didn't murder Zod.  He de-powered them all and turned them over to the US military (the extended cut has this scene).  The theatrical cut looks pretty painful (throwing him across the room into a wall then collapsing into mist) but is not absolutely lethal.  But the original Superman comic golden age in the first few issues deliberately, intentionally killed several people (including a tinpot dictator he threw over a forest at the horizon). Batman famously carried a couple of .45 automatics, and used them like the Shadow.

 

Psychological complications are never absolute, because they are not meant to be.  Physical complications are inescapable, no matter how hard a man without legs tries, he cannot jump or run without some sort of prosthesis.  But psychological complications shape character and thought, they are worldview, and people can break free of them, even if it is extremely difficult.  Such as Superman very reluctantly killing someone when he can find no alternative to deal with them.

 

Codes vs Killing used to be extremely common, even assumed in comics for several reasons, such as the comics code, selling primarily to kids, and writers who'd seen well more than enough death in their lives from war service.  But the main reason is this: its troubling enough to imagine super powered beings roaming the earth dispensing what they think is justice without having them also willing to use those powers to just off someone.

 

Superheroes were also always meant to be icons, leaders, examples.  They were meant to be people who inspired the world to be better, and find a good way rather than the easy and emotionally satisfying way.  They followed an absolute, objective code of behavior which they meant to lead others to as well.  The limited series Kingdom Come did a pretty good job showing what happens to a world where superheroes decide they don't need to follow any sort of code or be an example.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Christopher Reeves throws a de-powered Zod into a pit. I guess you can interpret otherwise but it looks, if not instantly fatal, at least something likely to cause death. Clip.

 

But anyway. With Code Versus Killing (Common, Total), if aliens invade in warships, you have to break out a lot of hand-cuffs. And in general I would say that's not how it works in the comics or movies. But I'm interested in examples of heroes apparently operating exactly like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

37 minutes ago, pawsplay said:

Christopher Reeves throws a de-powered Zod into a pit. I guess you can interpret otherwise but it looks, if not instantly fatal, at least something likely to cause death. Clip.

Depends on the tone of the movie really. If it was a serious deadly movie? Yeah. Since this is silver Age Superman not necessarily. Although the deleted clip would have made it much clearer.  Bye I thought the old chestnut is if you don’t see a body, a villain isn’t dead?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote

With Code Versus Killing (Common, Total), if aliens invade in warships, you have to break out a lot of hand-cuffs

 

Code vs Killing almost always is restricted to your own species.  CvK doesn't usually mean can kill NOTHING but it means "cannot kill people".  Superheroes routinely slaughter monstrous aliens without blinking an eye because they're clearly just monsters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

Code vs Killing almost always is restricted to your own species.  CvK doesn't usually mean can kill NOTHING but it means "cannot kill people".  Superheroes routinely slaughter monstrous aliens without blinking an eye because they're clearly just monsters.

I feel like it'd extend to sentient creatures, and to pets and even cute fluffy animals, in a setting where there are other sentient species and the like, which is most conventional supers, IMHO.

 

But, sure, non-sentient robots & monsters, go for it, like an old Sat morning cartoon.  ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even superman wipes out aliens without blinking despite himself being from off planet.

 

In the Superman vs Muhammad Ali comic he destroys an alien armada including all the aliens on board, for example.  When they did the big summer Invasion event all the superheroes wiped out lots of aliens.  Its like a comic book loophole to codes vs Killing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

Code vs Killing almost always is restricted to your own species.  CvK doesn't usually mean can kill NOTHING but it means "cannot kill people".  Superheroes routinely slaughter monstrous aliens without blinking an eye because they're clearly just monsters.

 

That's interesting in this context because Superman's species is Kryptonian.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just want to point out that Code Versus Killing (Common, Total) doesn't mean the character cannot kill.  It means that the character will suffer some sort of major repercussion. 

 

As for exactly who the Code vs applies to. That should be designated when purchased.  I could have a  Code Versus Killing (Common, Total) for Golden Retrievers.  I can wipe out a town with no remorse, but don't let me see anyone messing around with the dog.

 

Superman is portrayed as applying CvK to the Earth and those who he considers the "good guys" or "innocents". But he has demonstrated that while he finds it distasteful, he will kill those that threaten those under his protection.

 

 

21 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

No, he didn't murder Zod.  He de-powered them all and turned them over to the US military (the extended cut has this scene).  The theatrical cut looks pretty painful (throwing him across the room into a wall then collapsing into mist) but is not absolutely lethal. 

 

That's odd.  I remember the scene with Supes deliberately taking him by the neck and snapping it.  Did they re-edit everything to make it better?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

That was the crappy grimdark remake.  We were talking about the Christopher Reeves Superman II version.

 

Thank you :yes:

 

I  thought I was beginning to lose things in the upper cabinet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Spence said:

I just want to point out that Code Versus Killing (Common, Total) doesn't mean the character cannot kill.  It means that the character will suffer some sort of major repercussion. 

 

As for exactly who the Code vs applies to. That should be designated when purchased.  I could have a  Code Versus Killing (Common, Total) for Golden Retrievers.  I can wipe out a town with no remorse, but don't let me see anyone messing around with the dog.

 

Superman is portrayed as applying CvK to the Earth and those who he considers the "good guys" or "innocents". But he has demonstrated that while he finds it distasteful, he will kill those that threaten those under his protection.

 

 

 

That's odd.  I remember the scene with Supes deliberately taking him by the neck and snapping it.  Did they re-edit everything to make it better?

He's talking about Superman II, you might be talking about Man of Steel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clark expended all his options in stopping Zod. Death was all that was left.

2 hours ago, Spence said:

I just want to point out that Code Versus Killing (Common, Total) doesn't mean the character cannot kill.  It means that the character will suffer some sort of major repercussion.

 

A person with a Total CvK will not kill unless there are no other options. This is up to and including stopping more homicidal-thinking teammates/other heroes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote

Clark expended all his options in stopping Zod. Death was all that was left.

 

Only in bad writing world.  In this crap writing world, a family just sat in one place in a corner refusing to move while someone's death beam scorched slowly along the wall toward them, and somehow the man who could not stop a guy from turning his head was able to magically gain the strength to literally twist his head suddenly to break his neck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

Only in bad writing world.  In this crap writing world, a family just sat in one place in a corner refusing to move while someone's death beam scorched slowly along the wall toward them, and somehow the man who could not stop a guy from turning his head was able to magically gain the strength to literally twist his head suddenly to break his neck

 

Just a point: the family didn't sit in there refusing to move, they were too scared too move. If they refused to move in that scene, it's because they felt nowhere was safe. But yeah, there's alot of bad writing in movies, like when the the writers make the Avengers public enemy #1 because they wanted them as fugitives, etc etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote

like when the the writers make the Avengers public enemy #1 because they wanted them as fugitives, etc etc.

 

Yeah Civil War was a nadir in bad plotting and writing.  I can see it working out that way eventually like it did in the comics but not like 2 weeks after superheroes showed up.  Captain America III was just "I wanna do Civil War" and crap ideas.  There was a lot of bad writing in the Avengers movies, it just gets eclipsed in the wow, explosions!  and emotional manipulation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Tech said:

like when the the writers make the Avengers public enemy #1 because they wanted them as fugitives, etc etc.

How hard it would it be to sell a rampaging green monster, a rich white man using highly-illegal military technology, an Aryan supersoldier, and a self-described 'god' purported to be worshipped by white supremacist prison gangs, as bad guys, really?  

 

And if elderly conservatives rise to their defense, point out that they're working with a Russian spy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Opal said:

How hard it would it be to sell a rampaging green monster, a rich white man using highly-illegal military technology, an Aryan supersoldier, and a self-described 'god' purported to be worshipped by white supremacist prison gangs, as bad guys, really?  

 

And if elderly conservatives rise to their defense, point out that they're working with a Russian spy.

 

You can sell it and there will be some people that believe it(God, don't we have ample real life evidence of that) but you've got to have some kind of bad acts to overshadow all the previous good ones. So, green monster, that was a softball lobbed across the plate but the other three, nothing but positives. Rich white guy stopped being a war profiteer, alien god is a bro and the Aryan super-soldier has a glittering track record and an iconic and well deserved sterling reputation. It wasn't the public that turned on them, it was the politicians.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, Grailknight said:

 

You can sell it and there will be some people that believe it(God, don't we have ample real life evidence of that) but you've got to have some kind of bad acts to overshadow all the previous good ones. So, green monster, that was a softball lobbed across the plate but the other three, nothing but positives. Rich white guy stopped being a war profiteer, alien god is a bro and the Aryan super-soldier has a glittering track record and an iconic and well deserved sterling reputation. It wasn't the public that turned on them, it was the politicians.

 

Movie-wise, the public also knew the Avengers saved them from an alien invasion.

Writing-wise, the writers set up the situation for the Avengers to become 'bad guys'. It could've been written many different ways but there's alot of bad writing that goes for movies nowadays. Here's the split: some writers like to look at real life and use it to bash heroes because the writers have become jaded, other people like to look at real life and write to lift the viewer up to give hope; too many writers go the first route.

 

As for the original discussion, it depends on the campaign. A great many of the heroes in our campaign have strong Code vs killing, one of mine has a total CvK.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Superman has killed. As many haters as he's had Byrne and Stern bae done the best jobs of it all IMHO.

 

On an alternate Earth, Superman killed the Phantom Zone criminals - after they killed every one else on the planet. He mourned and he hated that it was left to him to act as judge, jury and executioner. Captain America has killed in war. "Kill or be killed". He slayed Baron Blood because he knew it had to end and that was the only outcome to stop him.

 

Code vs killing, any level means you don't do it indescrimitely(sp). The Superman of the Justice Lords lobotomized people with his heat vision. If Batman killed the Joker no-one would be THAT upset - but it's not on Batman to do such a thing. 

 

Pages are from Stern's and Byrne's run on Captain America in the 1980s.

snapshot(3).jpg

snapshot(4).jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As much as they are upheld as standards of a Silver Age Code Versus Killing, the evidence suggests Cap and Superman both have a merely moderate Code Versus Killing, and with both having a carve-out for honorable participation in an actual, existential war. And Batman, depending on the version, might have a merely strong CVK. I really am not having much luck identifying any actual comic book characters with a total CVK. Cap avoids killing, Superman is so powerful he feels obliged not to, and Batman regards himself as a private citizen without the authority to perform executions. But none of them actually condemn the taking of life entirely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 4/28/2021 at 5:42 PM, Opal said:

How hard it would it be to sell a rampaging green monster, a rich white man using highly-illegal military technology, an Aryan supersoldier, and a self-described 'god' purported to be worshipped by white supremacist prison gangs, as bad guys, really?  

 

And if elderly conservatives rise to their defense, point out that they're working with a Russian spy.

And don't forget that Captain America once lead a team of two former terrorists and an ex-criminal who once had a relationship with a Russian spy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...