A Path to Steam
Self-Control and Buying Off Disadvantages
SELF-CONTROL FOR MENTAL DISADVANTAGES
Many mental disadvantages do not affect you constantly – you may attempt to control your urges. An asterisk (*) appears next to the point cost of any disadvantage that offers a
chance to resist. For each disadvantage like this, you must choose a self-control number: the number you must roll on 3d to avoid giving in. This modifies point value as follows:
You resist quite rarely (roll of 6 or less): 2 x listed cost.
You resist fairly often (roll of 9 or less): 1.5 x listed cost.
You resist quite often (roll of 12 or less): listed cost.
You resist almost all the time (roll of 15 or less): 0.5 x listed cost.
Drop all fractions (e.g., -22.5 points becomes -22 points).
The “default” self-control number is 12: you must roll 12 or less on 3d to avoid giving in to your problem. This lets you use disadvantage costs as written. Choose a self-control number of 15 if you wish to have a tendency toward a disadvantage instead of a
full-blown case. A self-control number of 9 will regularly limit your options. A self-control number of 6 can be crippling (especially with genuine psychiatric problems).
Note your self-control number in parentheses after the name of the disadvantage on your character sheet. For instance, if you can resist Berserk on a roll of 9 or less, write this as “Berserk (9).”
In circumstances that are likely to trigger your problem, you may opt to roll 3d against your self-control number to see whether your disadvantage actually affects you. If you roll less than or equal to this number, you resist your disadvantage – this time. Otherwise, you suffer the listed effects. This is called a self-control roll.
Like all success rolls, self-control rolls are subject to modifiers. Exceptionally mild or severe stimuli can give bonuses or penalties. Drugs and afflictions can make you more or less likely to give in. Other disadvantages can make you irritable, reducing
your odds of resisting. See the disadvantage descriptions for details.
Example: Your self-control number is 15, but you are in a highly stressful situation that gives -5 to your self-control roll. You must roll 10 or less to resist your disadvantage.
You never have to try a self-control roll – you can always give in willingly, and it is good roleplaying to do so. However, there will be times when you really need to resist your urges, and that is what the roll is for. Be aware that if you attempt self-control rolls too often, the GM may penalize you for bad roleplaying by awarding you fewer earned points.
Optionally, the GM may permit you to use one unspent character point to “buy” an automatic success on a self-control roll. Points spent this way are gone for good, but there will be times when staying on the straight and narrow is worth the sacrifice. In this case, the GM should not penalize you for bad roleplaying, because you are penalizing yourself!
Note that high Will helps you make Fright Checks and resist supernatural emotion control, but it does not improve self-control rolls – not even for disadvantages with effects identical to these things. Mental disadvantages represent an aspect of your
personality that you cannot simply will (or reason) away. This is part of what makes them disadvantages!
Self-Imposed Mental Disadvantages
Certain mental disadvantages – Code of Honor (p. 127), Disciplines of Faith (p. 132), Fanaticism (p. 136), Honesty (p. 138), Intolerance (p. 140), Sense of Duty (p. 153), Trademark (p. 159), and Vow (p. 160) – are not psychiatric problems, but beliefs or codes of conduct. Such “self-imposed mental disadvantages” share three features that distinguish them from other mental disadvantages:
• They can be “bought off” with earned points at any time. People really do wake up in the morning and resolve to live their lives differently for no apparent reason!
• They cannot be caused by Afflictions (p.35), drugs, brain surgery, and similar “quick and dirty” behavior alteration. Such techniques can create a pacifist or a maniac, but you need magic, Mind Control (p. 68), or prolonged Brainwashing (p. 182) to impose anything as complex as a code of conduct.
• They can be used with the Pact limitation (p. 113) as conditions to which you must adhere to retain certain supernatural powers.
“BUYING OFF” DISADVANTAGES
You may use bonus points to “buy off” many disadvantages – whether you started with them or acquired them in play. This costs as many points as the disadvantage originally
gave you. If the GM permits, you may buy off leveled disadvantages one level at a time. Likewise, you can buy off those with self-control numbers gradually, by raising the self-control number. In both cases, the point cost is the difference between your former
level and your current one. For more on buying off disadvantages, see Chapter 9.