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Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever


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While this question applies specifically to my Traveller Hero game, I wanted to post it here to attract a wider audience for potential answers/feedback.

 

The short question is: how to simulate claustrophobia susceptibility (aka cabin fever)?

 

The longer background is this: in Traveller, characters are 'stuck' aboard their ship for a week at a time while the ship is in Jump space. While there is usually lots of work to do (ship's maintenance and the like) and the entertainment system is packed, eventually the walls start to close in - even for the most experienced spacer character. One exception I can see currently is the character who is born in space and lived their entire life in the confines of ships.

 

I was thinking of doing something like this:

 

Assign everyone a 'cabin fever score' based on their EGO (or 2x EGO), plus points from any Resistance Talent. For characters with an actual Claustrophobic Disad, reduce the Cabin Fever score by the disad point value. Maybe adjust the base score based on character concept and background. So, an ex-Navy character who spent their entire career aboard ships might have a higher base than a normal citizen.

 

Character type                       Base Score
Standard Traveller Character           EGO x 2
Well Travelled                         EGO x 3
Rookie space traveller                 EGO
Professional Spacer                    EGO x 4
 (Navy, Scout, Belter,etc)
Spacer, born and bread                 EGO x 5

 

For every day in space (aboard ship) take 1 point away. Space stations or large ships maybe only take a 1/2 point or 1/4 point away. For every day planet side, give one point back. For actual R&R/Shore Leave time, 2 points back per day (either planet side or resort space station). When you get to 0 points, you have a claustrophobic episode.

 

Aroooo

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

Cabin fever and claustrophobia are two separate things. The former is essentially going "stir crazy," the latter is fear of enclosed spaces. Futher, extended periods shipside almost never result in claustrophobia, even on submarines, which are the closest analogy for spaceships that we have. On the other hand, it does frequently result in cabin fever, which can have some very unpleasant psychological underpinnings. People who do not normally suffer from claustrophobia having claustrophobic epiosodes on submarines is largely a product of dramatic fiction playing on popular misconceptions and related fears.

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

[singing]

I've got cabin fever, it's going to my brain

I've got cabin fever, I'm totally insane!

[/singing]

 

Now that I've gotten that (mostly) out of my system....

 

Given Von D-Man's quite correct clarification on the difference between "cabin fever" and actual claustrophobia, I think you have a reasonable system going there for characters going "stir crazy."

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

From WikiPedia (if you trust that as a source):

 

"Cabin fever is a condition that produces restlessness and irritability caused from being in a confined space. The actual term is slang for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a party is isolated and/or shut in, alone or together, for an extended period."

 

But you are right; cabin fever is what I'm looking to simulate. I used the term claustrophobia mainly to give the conversation a frame of reference.

 

Aroooo

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

From WikiPedia (if you trust that as a source):

 

"Cabin fever is a condition that produces restlessness and irritability caused from being in a confined space. The actual term is slang for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a party is isolated and/or shut in, alone or together, for an extended period."

 

But you are right; cabin fever is what I'm looking to simulate. I used the term claustrophobia mainly to give the conversation a frame of reference.

 

Aroooo

 

Sometimes wiki is on the mark, sometimes not. In this case, not.

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

While this question applies specifically to my Traveller Hero game, I wanted to post it here to attract a wider audience for potential answers/feedback.

 

The short question is: how to simulate claustrophobia susceptibility (aka cabin fever)?

 

The longer background is this: in Traveller, characters are 'stuck' aboard their ship for a week at a time while the ship is in Jump space. While there is usually lots of work to do (ship's maintenance and the like) and the entertainment system is packed, eventually the walls start to close in - even for the most experienced spacer character. One exception I can see currently is the character who is born in space and lived their entire life in the confines of ships.

 

I was thinking of doing something like this:

 

Assign everyone a 'cabin fever score' based on their EGO (or 2x EGO), plus points from any Resistance Talent. For characters with an actual Claustrophobic Disad, reduce the Cabin Fever score by the disad point value. Maybe adjust the base score based on character concept and background. So, an ex-Navy character who spent their entire career aboard ships might have a higher base than a normal citizen.

 

Character type                       Base Score
Standard Traveller Character           EGO x 2
Well Travelled                         EGO x 3
Rookie space traveller                 EGO
Professional Spacer                    EGO x 4
 (Navy, Scout, Belter,etc)
Spacer, born and bread                 EGO x 5

 

For every day in space (aboard ship) take 1 point away. Space stations or large ships maybe only take a 1/2 point or 1/4 point away. For every day planet side, give one point back. For actual R&R/Shore Leave time, 2 points back per day (either planet side or resort space station). When you get to 0 points, you have a claustrophobic episode.

 

Aroooo

 

 

Seems like a pretty good and simple way to handle. If you want to go into more detail you may want to take into account how skills like PS:Counseling, SS: Psychology and even PS: Recreation director or Morale officer might be of some help in stemming off the effect. Skills like Meditation might help or VR technologies (if that doesn't exist in Traveler, sorry)

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

Seems like a pretty good and simple way to handle. If you want to go into more detail you may want to take into account how skills like PS:Counseling' date=' SS: Psychology and even PS: Recreation director or Morale officer might be of some help in stemming off the effect.[/quote']

 

You could also include Resistance: Unwashed Sedentary Loner to your talents list allowing characters to ignore the effects.

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

Cabin fever and claustrophobia are two separate things. The former is essentially going "stir crazy' date='" the latter is fear of enclosed spaces. Futher, extended periods shipside almost never result in claustrophobia, even on submarines, which are the closest analogy for spaceships that we have. On the other hand, it does frequently result in cabin fever, which can have some very unpleasant psychological underpinnings. People who do not normally suffer from claustrophobia having claustrophobic epiosodes on submarines is largely a product of dramatic fiction playing on popular misconceptions and related fears.[/quote']

 

It's true that submariners don't usually have claustrophobic episodes, but that's largely because those subject to claustrophobic episodes are weeded out in the screening and training process. Those who make it through to actually be stationed on subs are simply not prone to that kind of behavior. If the background of Aroooo's campaign doesn't stipulate that, or postulates a more general space travel that everyone does regardless of mental status, then it could and would be a serious issue.

 

I think Aroooo's construct looks pretty solid. Nexus' addendum is an important consideration too, as are the facilities of the ship in question. A large utilitarian ship would probably offer fewer recreational and diversionary opportunities than a smaller luxury vessel, for example, and therefore the smaller but more luxurious vessel might allow people to keep their minds off their situation longer and more completely. You might consider giving each ship a modifier based on facilities as well as size.

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

I think Aroooo's construct looks pretty solid. Nexus' addendum is an important consideration too, as are the facilities of the ship in question. A large utilitarian ship would probably offer fewer recreational and diversionary opportunities than a smaller luxury vessel, for example, and therefore the smaller but more luxurious vessel might allow people to keep their minds off their situation longer and more completely. You might consider giving each ship a modifier based on facilities as well as size.

 

 

I think a facility bonus is a good idea too.

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

Seems like a pretty good and simple way to handle. If you want to go into more detail you may want to take into account how skills like PS:Counseling' date=' SS: Psychology and even PS: Recreation director or Morale officer might be of some help in stemming off the effect. Skills like Meditation might help or VR technologies (if that doesn't exist in Traveler, sorry)[/quote']

 

I like the idea of using character's skills to offset walls creeping in - furthers the role play aspect; as well as giving each ship an 'attribute' of sorts for how cramped it is or may feel. I'm trying to avoid creating any special talents or anything that would further take points away from character development just to simulate cabin fever.

 

Aroooo

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

You could also include Resistance: Unwashed Sedentary Loner to your talents list allowing characters to ignore the effects.

 

I thought about it, but I'm trying not to add anything that players would have to spend more points on - especially the ones that are already built. I may though, as a 3 or 4 point talent for the born and bread characters. I'll expand the system a bit and post it for comment.

 

Aroooo

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

On a more serious note, Aroooo,

I think you have an interesting start.

 

(FYI - that would be "Born and Bred" - foodstuffs probably don't have that much of an effect ;))

 

Situationally, I would decrease the speed of "degradation" in large, uncrowded ships,and increase it in smaller or overcrowded ships.

 

You could probably create a factor based on the percentage of overcrowding.

 

So, if a Scout/Courier (with 4 total cabins) has 8 people in it, then there would be a X2 factor on the "cabin fever". However, in a 400 ton Subsidized Merchant (5 crew cabins, 13 passenger) is carrying only 11 people as opposed to its normal 22 (full complement of non-low berth passengers and crew), the degradation of morale would be at a X1/2?

 

Or something like that. Being in a massive ship that is under crewed would have other stresses.

 

Thinking about it all, I would do it as a morale modifier of sorts... A lot of thought should go into it, but...

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

Here's what I have so far, not including Silbeg's recent comments. I like the percentage of overcrowding idea. I'll have to see how to work that in.

 

Cabin Fever

 

Cabin fever is a condition that produces restlessness and irritability caused from being in a confined space, when a character or group is isolated and/or shut in, alone or together, for an extended period. To simulate the breaking point, assign characters a 'Cabin Fever Score' based on their EGO, as modified by character concept and background (see table below), plus points from any Resistance Talent (on a one for one basis). For characters with a Claustrophobic Disad, reduce the Cabin Fever score by the disad point value.

 

Character Type                       Base Score
Standard Traveller Character           EGO x 2
Well Travelled                         EGO x 3
Professional Spacer                    EGO x 4
 (Navy, Scout, Belter,etc)
Spacer, born and bred                  EGO x 5
Rookie space traveller                 EGO

 

For every day in space reduce Cabin Fever score by one when aboard a standard ship. Space stations, large ships, or cruise liners reduce the Score by 1 for every 2 to 4 days. For every day planet side, add one point to the Cabin Fever score. For actual R&R/Shore Leave time, award 2 or more points back per day; or simply reset the Cabin Fever score back to its start value. Cabin Fever score can never go above starting value, but it can go below 0.

 

When you get to 0 or less points, start making EGO rolls - one per day. Treat a negative Cabin Fever Score as a modifier to the EGO roll. If you are at -2 Cabin Fever, your EGO roll is 9+(EGO/5)-2. If you fail your EGO roll, you have a claustrophobic episode. The exact nature of the episode is up to the player and GM, but it should be appropriate to the situation, the story, and the negative value of the Cabin Fever score. For example, if your Cabin Fever score is 0 and you fail your EGO roll, the episode should be relatively minor, such as a a hysterical outbreak that requires sedation. If the Cabin Fever score is -4 and you fail the EGO Roll, perhaps you suffer major hallucinations and attack your fellow crew mates or passengers.

 

Characters or NPCs with appropriate skills like PS: Ship's Steward, PS: Counseling, SS: Psychology, PS: Recreation Director or PS: Morale Officer may use their skills to increase the ratio of Cabin Fever points lost, or negate them altogether (GM's discretion). Ships equipped with special recreation areas, lounges, onboard R&R facilities, etc. may increase the ratio of Cabin Fever points lost. For example, a standard space liner may have a ratio of 1 point per 2 days. A luxury cruise liner may have a ratio of 1 per 5 days to account for extra wide corridors, large rooms and meeting/dining halls, and dedicated stewards.

 

Aroooo

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  • 3 years later...

Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

According to your scale your noob spacer person would be good to go for 8-10 days at a time. If that’s the time frame your after your on the right track.

Couple of questions to see if you like the way it works:

1) What are the average lengths of space travel to deliver goods (where the new guy becomes experienced)?

2) What type of jumps do you want your average spacer to handle without any issue? I'm thinking your x3 or x4 people would be part of that list.

3) how are you structuring your game in the way of long jumps? As a sailor you do find that past the 30 day mark most people start showing signs of "grumpiness" and it's pretty much a guarantee over 60 day.

I like the situational adders that people have mentioned. You can also have people purchase EGO with a -1 limitation "Only to reduce the effects of long space flight" to indicate training in dealing with the issues.

Also how do you obtain the different multipliers to your ego score? Do you have to buy them or are they granted to you after a given time?

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

It's true that submariners don't usually have claustrophobic episodes' date=' but that's largely because those subject to claustrophobic episodes are weeded out in the screening and training process.[/quote']

There is also a great difference between a submarine and a Traveller Ship. A Submarine could always go to the surface. And you could, at least at a certain deep, use the escape equipment and survive.

A Ship in traveller can't. When you are in Hyperspace, you are in Hyperspace. Any malfunction of the drive, and the remains of your body are lost between the stars.

The same is true for planet/jumpoint flights: Any mayor problem with your drives and the best they can do is transform your uncontrolled ship into small, uncontrolled metal pieces so you flare up in the atmosphere instead of hitting something.

 

I think Aroooo's construct looks pretty solid. Nexus' addendum is an important consideration too' date=' as are the facilities of the ship in question. A large utilitarian ship would probably offer fewer recreational and diversionary opportunities than a smaller luxury vessel, for example, and therefore the smaller but more luxurious vessel might allow people to keep their minds off their situation longer and more completely. You might consider giving each ship a modifier based on facilities as well as size.[/quote']

Also, suddenly Cold Sleep Chambers have an interesting side effect: The people in there don't suffer mentally from the travel. You just go to sleep and awake at the target (or never, but that is a different problem).

On large passenger ships a "Manager for Recreation" may be a nessesarity. But perhaps the "Stewards" are there for exactly that sort of thing. I mean there is only so much laundry to make and food to cook for X poeple in two weeks.

Also, escape pods should be clearly visible and accessible (it gives them the "I know where to go feeling").

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Re: Simulate Claustrophobia/Cabin Fever

 

One I think that cabin fever would be kind of rare among crew members that have spent any time working on a ship. Any crew member that had any mental issues like that would be weeded out during their first term working on a starship.

 

On top of that most state rooms are quite roomy on a Traveller Starship. 3m x 3m is the average crew stateroom size(Using Mongoose Traveller Deck Plans). Plus even a scout courier (the smallest Starship In game) has a huge common area for recreation.

 

I think you are making something out of nothing. Traveller Spacers are a well trained hardy bunch. With most PC's having from 8-16 years experience in Space Travel before the campaign starts.

 

BTW most of the time spent on a starship is spent moving from jump point to the nearest habitable gravity well. Remember that Jump is very chancy withing 100 Diameters of a gravity well, and large suns have a HUGE 100Dia Limit. So with a 1g or 2g ship one can spend weeks moving to a habitat or habitable world. Also, this doesn't even talk about that hardy group of spacers that Mine the asteroid belts(AKA Belters), spending months in modified Scout/Couriers alone. It's best to assume that PCs are built of better things than average people.

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