Sunday, June 9, 2013

Adventurers’ Syndrome

The unfortunate nature of war is such that when people return from it, they are forever changed, at least most of them are. We see this in the number of PTSD cases coming home from war, and I think most of us can see that this was an issue long before we labeled it PTSD. On top of the likely physical scaring, there is emotional scaring. Do we put these into our games though? In a full on role-playing game, these sort of emotional issues could add an enormous amount of color to the game. It wouldn’t just be the one issue; it could be one or more of a multitude of issues. Think about it this way: As horrible as real war is, imagine what it would be like facing the undead, especially those (vampires and ghouls) who can turn those they attack. Imagine how much worse it would be to be in an underground whatever and constantly having traps around you, monsters dropping from ceilings, and magical spells that you can’t even name. If you didn’t come back a little jumpy, then something must have been wrong with you from the start. I do put this into my game, but only on a limited basis. The one I do use is “cold blooded killer”. I remember my first D&D characters. We’d use that sleep spell and then go around cutting throats when they were all asleep. Really? We just cold bloodedly killed a dozen orcs or whatever. I’m not saying you have to stop them from doing that, but do it in my campaign and you’ll never be able to talk to an innocent again without terrifying them (unless you use Acting skill, for acting like a normal person). Innocents can sense when they’re talking to a cold blooded killer - they can see it in your eyes. It’s scary! I’m starting to develop Adventurers’ Syndrome - not one thing in particular, but a list of mental issues that I think adventurers would likely develop while out in the field. I’m thinking that there should just be a chance that after every harrowing adventure, you get an emotional scar or two. A small chance, but by the time you’re a master adventurer, you likely have a problem. The problem is that I don’t want to put too many numbers on it either. If I put percentages around being a cold-blooded killer, then we may as well be playing an MMO. Still ... Some ideas I’m playing with: jumpy (reacts without thinking, typically violently), depression, haunted by ghosts (no really haunted by ghosts), sociopath, manic, adrenaline junkie (needs the risk), death wish or maybe believe self to be invincible, cold and unfeeling, obsessed with something, often something completely unrelated to whatever caused the trauma. I’m still thinking!

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