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Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?


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I'm still on 5th (or 4th), so I don't know if any of the 6th edition material addresses the subject, but how do you define fear in your games?

 

It's one of those effects that you really have to have an idea what mechanic you're going to be using for it so characters who want to be resistant to it, or to inflict it, know how to build. In the real world, weapons evolve to defeat defenses, and defense to resist the weapons, and so on. So, if it may come into play, it seems prudent to choose a mechanic to use for it.

 

So, what is it? Mind Control with a single command? PRE attack / Defensive PRE? Marbles in a skull-shaped jar? (Ok, that's sanity, but I couldn't think of anything else.)

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

I'm sure some people will post interesting and unique ways to handle it, but imo the default seems to be that scaring someone is a function of PRE and PRE attacks (possibly with some complimentary skill rolls) and that being fearless is a function of PRE as defense (and pre-6E to some extent EGO).

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

Fear is normally a function of Presence modified by circumstance and action. This is handled under the Presence Attack rules.

 

Fear can be constructed as a power, like Mind Control, but such builds are usually restricted to cases where fear is the product of an "unusual" special effect like superpowers or spells.

 

If I recall correctly, one may defend against a presence attack (or even interaction skill) using Ego or Presence - whichever is greater.

 

I handle presence attacks as opposed characteristic rolls using the margin of success to determine level of effect rather than calculating it like an attack roll.

 

I also allow people to purchase resistance [fear] to modify defensive Ego or Presence rolls vs. fear, if they wish.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

You have to start with what you mean by Fear. Here are the aspects I see:

 

Shock - that initial burst of fear that creates that flight or fight response.

Dread - the slow build up of dread that ultimately leads to despair.

Terror - the realization that your understanding of reality (mundane or cosmic) has been undone, ultimately leading to long lasting mental damage and insanity.

 

I think Hero does Shock just fine, both mechanically and as an effect. Dread and Terror however are a bit more open.

 

Dread could be addressed by a PRE Drain. Dread can be acquired either through Atmosphere (spooky tension) and in the aftermath of Shock (Aftershock?).

  • Atmosphere should be a PRE Drain, but low point level. 1 PRE per 2 points of failure on an EGO roll (modified by the creep factor). There should be a way to "snap out of it" and "focus" either by character action or the interplay of Complications and such (e.g my DNPC is threatened which may suspend the penalty but then require another EGO roll after the situation is resolved to reconcile "what could have happened to my baby", which may make things worse).
  • Aftershock could require an EGO Roll, -2 per level of PRE Attack (i.e. +0 is -2, +10 is -4, +20 is -6, etc.). The same 1 PRE per 2 failure seems appropriate here too.
  • A shot of whiskey, a smoke, a shower, a good meal, sex - anything that makes us feel human and alive could provide a recovery of some of that PRE loss.

Terror would be appropriately handled in a couple of ways, possibly multiple effects. Modeling it Cthulhu style, I see it as both a Severe Transform (partial) and Mind Control, both linked to the Shock results. Would this be an actual power? Not really - it is an Environmental Effect, although monsters that generate Terror perhaps should pay for them. Regardless, here are the effects:

  • Disorder is measured by the EGO damage delivered by the Transform effect, something like 1/2d6 per level of PRE Attack (like Aftershock). Each stage of the partial transform (Cosmetic at 1/2 EGO, Minor at EGO, Major at 1 1/2x EGO, and Severe at 2x EGO) comes with associated mental disorders that are retained until that level of transform is completely healed.
  • Insanity is an immediate Mind Control effect specific to the moment. Characters would get Breakout rolls as normal. If the character crosses and EGO Transform threshold, the Mind Control effect will remain, possibly at half effect as the new disorder acquired by the character.

Hope could be introduced to a survival horror game that can be used almost like Heroic Action Points relative to Shock, Dread, and Terror to avoid or overcome the effects.

 

Those are some notes off the top of my head that I have been kicking around. I keep meaning to write them up, but my players aren't all that interested in horror so I never seem to have the need.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

I'm sure there is a way, once some of the mechanics are tweaked properly, that the Disorder effect (EGO damage) is handled as the BODY of the PRE Attack result.

 

I also like the contest of skills approach, and usually in my non-horror games I use EGO rolls, with appropriate modifiers, to determine any EGO damage or disorderly effect either to reinforce the Dread or Terror concepts above, or even the Shock effect. I dislike a single PRE Attack roll affecting all characters with the same level of effect. I prefer a uniform penalty to PRE or EGO rolls based on what would be the PRE Attack with a modifier equal to +4 minus 1 per 1d6 PRE Attack (e.g. a 7d6 PRE attack is a -3 EGO or PRE Roll). The effect is +1 level per 3 points of failure, so failure by 1-2 is PRE +0, failure by 3-5 is PRE +10, failure by 6-8 is PRE +20, etc.)

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

I'm still on 5th (or 4th), so I don't know if any of the 6th edition material addresses the subject, but how do you define fear in your games?

 

It's one of those effects that you really have to have an idea what mechanic you're going to be using for it so characters who want to be resistant to it, or to inflict it, know how to build. In the real world, weapons evolve to defeat defenses, and defense to resist the weapons, and so on. So, if it may come into play, it seems prudent to choose a mechanic to use for it.

 

So, what is it? Mind Control with a single command? PRE attack / Defensive PRE? Marbles in a skull-shaped jar? (Ok, that's sanity, but I couldn't think of anything else.)

 

It could be created as a Drain vs Dexterity or Speed, at Range, to represent their hesitation/fear to react,

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

In one PBEM game I ran, I had a player buy "Fearless" as a Psych Limit.

 

Not a particularly high PRE, no limited only vs. fear PRE, no Mental Defenses.

 

Just a Disadvantage.

 

I didn't particularly have any fear users on the roster, and don't generally use PRE attacks against PCs anyway, so no worries, right?

 

The main NPC team mentor was a very powerful gravity manipulator who had self/power control issues. (Was actually responsible for the death of his team, which was the legacy team for this group, but this never came out in game.)

 

Well, the PC in question spent a few turns antagonizing him, playing up the rebellious angle. I described his reaction, grabbing a steel doorframe, putting indentations in it with his fingers, and describe his gravity powers activating as a feeling of the PC's stomach doing flip flops.

 

The player writes me back, essentially yelling at me not to tell them how to play their character, because it says right there in their disads that they're FEARLESS!!!!

 

Given that I never told them they were in fear of anything, and only described a physical sensation of being affected by a power they couldn't quite identify, I figured that if I ever did actually use a fear power on the character, which never bought fear defenses, I'd really be in for it. I had to explain that a) I never mentioned the word fear, and B) he didn't have any defense against fear anyway. Maybe a small modifier to PRE attacks from the psych limit, but that was about it. Game went south pretty fast. Argumentative group more concerned with one-upmanship than real gaming with only a couple exceptions.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

As I recall, I had written up and used an otherworldly incarnation of fear for one of my games. I built him as having an extremely high PRE and reputation (along with sufficient number of NPCs to 'inform' the Players about the reputation ^^). Then I built a two fold attack to complement the PRE. One was a Mental Illusion's attack to make the PCs 'experience' their worst fear, and the other was a Mental Transform that worked in Tandem with the MI to transform the personal into a slightly derange and fearful version of themselves (major Transform vs EGO or PRE - whichever was higher). The Enemy wasn't suppose to be one for them to beat, but more of a story moment.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

As to the "fearless" guy. I would have never allowed that. I would have let him have something like "reckless" or "just plain stupid", but not a bonus of "fearless". At least not without spending complementing points to give them that effect.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

I agree with the others:

General asumption is, that Fear is PRE attacks. Afaik Nekrull even has a lot of extra PRE (+50 or +60) only to incite fear. Limited PRE or Striking Appereance can be used for this. Batman-style intimidation characters woud propably have a reputation.

 

For something more reliable (PRE attacks suffer from repetition penalty and require GM-allowance), Mind Controll with Single Command might be the way to go. Things like "shows them thier greatest fear" is a good sfx for this.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

Looks like a case of miss-communication here.

 

I have to agree with Pattern Ghost's character on the "Fearless" concept. To me, it means exactly what it says. Assuming he took Total Commitment, then someone using a PRE attack on him would be like trying to intimidate Mr. Data. "Interesting. You have great physical strength. I believe melee combat with you would be an unwise decision."

 

Gravity affecting the internal balance of the character is another item entirely. What the GM said is literally "Your stomach is doing flip flops." What the player heard was "You are scared."

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

Looks like a case of miss-communication here.

 

I have to agree with Pattern Ghost's character on the "Fearless" concept. To me, it means exactly what it says. Assuming he took Total Commitment, then someone using a PRE attack on him would be like trying to intimidate Mr. Data. "Interesting. You have great physical strength. I believe melee combat with you would be an unwise decision."

I wouldn't say he is immune agaisnt fear, just because of a Total Level "Fearless" Complication. He does recieve the full Bonus (-3d6 on the Fear based PRE attack) for the complication. When this isn't enough, then he is apparently facing a fear far beyond his "immunity" or something "more" than just fear.

 

I think even Data, despite having no emotions (and an appropirate limitation "No Emmotions", was often affected by presence attacks. You can often see him being "starteled" by something someone sayed and having to think about how to respond. This could of course just playing to be human (as both against the Borg Queen and his last fight agaisnt Lore emotion based attacks failed in short time).

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

I need to add, in retrospect, that the group is probably right. I confused a psych limit with a physical complication. If it had been a physical complication, then my example would work better.

 

People take not of this, somebody retracting an internet argument.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

The trouble with Fear is that it affects different people in different ways, and that sort of thing is always going to be complicated to model. Moreover most players will not, unless they are really keen role players. want to let their PCs soil themselves, however appropriate such a reaction might be.

 

You could argue that the fact that you can build Fear in many different ways simply reflects reality: some types of fear will affect some people more than others.

 

If I were you, I would be circumspect with using a Fear attack against PCs unless it is a Cthulu type game where they know they will be getting into that sort of thing. If you are going to make one anyway, consider using a purely mechanical effect rather than forcing players to role play (a lot of the time they can be selective about what role playing is: they think it is realising their vision of their character, and what it really is is accurately portraying, both in build and play, their vision of their character, subject to the strictures of the mechanics of the game).

 

A Drain to OCV is a pretty good one. They can still survive as well as ever but become useless at attacking stuff, which might encourage a strategic withdrawal, which, from a distance and in a certain light, could be considered as Bravely Running Away (Sir Robin).

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

Personally, I don't see multiple ways of doing Fear as a problem. There are multiple ways of instilling bravery, lust, or other emotional states, as the Empathic power examples state.

 

in regards to players not liking their characters to be "forced" to react a certain way, well that's really a sign of players I'd avoid.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

It seems to me that if fearless is bought as a limitation then it should a limitation and would only come in affect when fear would be the right choice. Otherwise, the players is getting paid to be invincible to an affect. If he wants to be invincible affect, he should be doing the paying.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

It seems to me that if fearless is bought as a limitation then it should a limitation and would only come in affect when fear would be the right choice. Otherwise' date=' the players is getting paid to be invincible to an affect. If he wants to be invincible affect, he should be doing the paying.[/quote']

 

Yeah.

Fearless Complication means - Reckless...will enter into lethal situations without blinking. Volunteers for suicide missions, attacks major baddy who popped off to him. Will do anything to avoid what he consider's cowardice. It's a relentlessly macho limitation.

 

Having that personality encounter an overwhelming force would still have his mind shatter and wet himself...even if he was the last to do so...if he doesn't have any powers to defend against it.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

If I were you, I would be circumspect with using a Fear attack against PCs

 

I'm with ya on that. I was just created the thread to generate some random discussion. In a supers campaign, I don't inflict fear based emotion control on PCs. There are a lot of other emotions that are more fun to inflict. I don't do PRE attacks, either. If they come across a high PRE NPC, I just describe how impressive the character is and let them RP how they will.

 

A Drain to OCV is a pretty good one. They can still survive as well as ever but become useless at attacking stuff, which might encourage a strategic withdrawal, which, from a distance and in a certain light, could be considered as Bravely Running Away (Sir Robin).

 

That's a pretty neat idea. Of course, Captain Fearless now has to buy PRE, Mental Defense and Power Defense... Then again, he could just buy a high EGO to cover the first two, and Power Defense for the last. If "Only vs. Fear Effects" is a -1 limitation or better* for most defenses, then it still wouldn't be too tough to be pretty fearless.

 

*I think it may be worth more than -1 for something like Power Defense.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

I'm with ya on that. I was just created the thread to generate some random discussion. In a supers campaign, I don't inflict fear based emotion control on PCs. There are a lot of other emotions that are more fun to inflict. I don't do PRE attacks, either. If they come across a high PRE NPC, I just describe how impressive the character is and let them RP how they will.

 

 

 

That's a pretty neat idea. Of course, Captain Fearless now has to buy PRE, Mental Defense and Power Defense... Then again, he could just buy a high EGO to cover the first two, and Power Defense for the last. If "Only vs. Fear Effects" is a -1 limitation or better* for most defenses, then it still wouldn't be too tough to be pretty fearless.

 

*I think it may be worth more than -1 for something like Power Defense.

 

The Fearless talent is built thusly: Mental Defense 20pts (only vs fear effects -2); Power Defense 20 pts (only vs fear effects -2) 14 pts.

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Re: Fear Itself: How do you handle it in your campaigns?

 

It seems to me that if fearless is bought as a limitation then it should a limitation and would only come in affect when fear would be the right choice. Otherwise' date=' the players is getting paid to be invincible to an affect. If he wants to be invincible affect, he should be doing the paying.[/quote']

 

Yeah.

Fearless Complication means - Reckless...will enter into lethal situations without blinking. Volunteers for suicide missions, attacks major baddy who popped off to him. Will do anything to avoid what he consider's cowardice. It's a relentlessly macho limitation.

 

Having that personality encounter an overwhelming force would still have his mind shatter and wet himself...even if he was the last to do so...if he doesn't have any powers to defend against it.

I agree partially. While it is true that complciations should primarily be limiting, they always have a "positive" effect when you are targetted by PRE-Attacks, Interaction Skills (see Persuasion, 6E1 85) or Mind Controll (6E1 253).

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