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Author Topic: Psychological Limitations in Capes  (Read 5118 times)
TonyLB
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« on: August 15, 2005, 06:17:30 AM »

So I'm a Champions player from way back.  Big surprise, right?  And I will admit that I sort of miss the horrible, distorted strait-jackets that were Psychological Limitations.  They always had such glimmers of greatness.

At their best, Psych-Lims were a wonderful, immovable anvil.  You put the anvil in place, put the player against it, then swung the hammer.  Over and over and over.  "Code vs. Killing," eh?  Well how about somebody who is a living, breathing BOMB?  He desperately wants you to kill him, before his uncontrollable power destroys the world.  Bang, bang, bang.  You make the players really consider, over and over, "What does it mean that I took this limitation... what does it say about world-view, and what I'm willing to do?"

And then, today, I was thinking about potential Conflicts, and I thought this:  What about a conflict "Major Victory Breaks a Law."

Major Victory is a staunch, upstanding citizen.  He would never do such a thing.  A player might well be very vested in fighting and winning that conflict.  At the least, they cannot allow it to fall to villainous hands... a villain might describe Major Victory robbing a bank, or kicking a puppy, or LITTERING!

But while the conflict is on the table, it is the anvil.  Major Victory cannot break a law.  Any law.  It's the "Not Yet" rule  If Grim Jester, in his flight from MV's fists of justice, runs across the street in the middle of the block Major Victory cannot follow him.  That would be jaywalking, citizen!

Likewise, "Major Victory fails to protect an innocent."  You just know that a villain is going to narrate that to its best effect.  So you can't willingly lose it.  But, at the same time, it's a great anvil:  Every single time you take an action for the villain you describe how it individually endangers five innocents.  Then Major Victory has to individually save them, all five, as part of his next narration.  Anything less is a violation of the "Not Yet" rule.

So there's the ridiculous side of it.  No jaywalking.  Save every single puppy.  Whatever.

Now for the non-ridiculous:  Say Major Victory knows that Victoria West, evil industrialist, is tampering with alien bio-technology in her secret labs.  "Major Victory Breaks a Law" plus "Goal:  Get a Search Warrant."

I genuinely haven't experimented with this yet.  But I get a good feeling off of it.  What do people think?  Is this a technique that you can see providing some of that same "My limitations limit me" feel?  Has anyone done this in their games?  How does it work?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2005, 09:33:43 AM »

Hiya,

Trouble is, we played the Psych Disadvantages totally differently. You sound like you took a later Hero System approach, whereas we were more in the early-Champs approach. For us, the Disadvantages were a template for scenario preparation - if someone had a code vs. killing, that meant I came up with stuff (to do, to see, to comment on, whatever) which illustrated why that code is a great thing. Same thing with DNPCs - instead of kidnapping them to make the hero do something, I played them so the hero got to show us why this NPC was "D," as opposed to someone else.

Not that we were always successful along these lines.

So here's what I'm asking: for Capes, are you really looking at something that my character cannot do? Like a Less Than Human in MLWM? Or something which provides a door to find out more depth and connections between the hero and others?

Best,
Ron
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Mark Woodhouse
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2005, 10:16:04 AM »

Isn't this just the hero equivalent of Gloating, though? Major Victory has his own personal line in the Comics Code. "Major Victory Doesn't Break The Law".
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TonyLB
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2005, 12:35:44 PM »

I'm looking, if there's something that a player resists having their character do, for that player to step up to the plate and explain why their decisions in that regard are important, rather than just a quirk.

So, say Ted (playing Major Victory) loses the "Get a warrant" but wins the right to narrate whether or not "Major Victory breaks the law."  He's got many useful options there:
  • Major Victory breaks the law, screw the search warrant, and goes in to stop the gadgets.
  • Major Victory obeys the law, and that (in the form of Inspirations) comes back at some later point to help him.
  • Major Victory breaks the law, gets caught, imprisoned, and that (in the form of Inspirations) comes back at some later point to help him.

The option he doesn't have (I think) is to say "MV isn't a guy who has issues with the law... he just happens to not break it, through no particular effort on his part, and with no particular moral importance attached."  Which is, frankly, a way that I have seen these sorts of things played out, and one that I often find unsatisfying.  It skips over both the sense that morality is (and should be) restricting and the interesting ways in which people choose to violate their own rules.
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2005, 03:23:51 PM »

Wouldn't "Major Victory breaks a law" be vetoable by Major Victory's player, as it's a goal that names him as the actor?
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
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TonyLB
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2005, 04:36:43 AM »

Okay.  "Force Major Victory to break the law"

The veto isn't about protecting players from hard consequences, it's about preventing a poor phrasing that makes it difficult for people to get excited about their relation to the Goal.
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