Flinging words and body language rather than swinging fists and body slams.
The maximum amount of Willpower Strain you can take equals your SOUL stat. The GM tracks them in secret, just like Wound Points (add onto the GM monitor for characters). Basically, they serve as an abstraction for "psychological combat" and a character's resolve, just like Wound points reflect how much physical punishment a person can take, Willpower Strain reflects how much more outside influence and inner turmoil you can endure before suffering a nervous breakdown.
Aside from this, you can also "strain" your Willpower to get some goodies, these cost you 1d10 Willpower points however (the GM rolls so you don't know):
- Negate penalty shifts for a roll
- Take two actions simultaneously without any penalties
- Flip-flop or re-roll a shoddy roll
- Trigger a passion effect without the proper passion stimulus
What happens when you fill your quota of Willpower Strain entirely? You're totally burnt out and suffer a nervous breakdown. Although that doesn't really constitute as a clinical state of mind, it is related to a sense of depression and apathy.
It means you'll give in to any form of influence, which also means that you might end up suffering more stress checks against the Self meter, and everything begins to glide out of control. A nervous breakdown lasts until you fully lose all
your Willpower Strain points again.
You normally lose a number of Willpower Strain points equal to the ten's digit of SOUL per day. You can double that rate if the character gets to satisfy his or her needs (which amounts to indulging your Obsession and Philiac urges and plenty of recreation otherwise).
Whenever you trigger a Passion according to your Stimulus (not by "buying in" with Willpower Strain), you automatically lose 1d10 Willpower Strain points.
People with exceptional SOUL stats can do more. If you have more than 55 points in the SOUL stat, you can permanently sacrifice a point to either resist an influence completely (even if the psychological attack was scored with a crit!), or to erase all your Willpower Strain points at once.
New Free Skill: Wit (MIND)
An equivalent of "Initiative (SPEED)" for psychological combat.
Starts for free at character creation at half the MIND stat's rating and you can raise it with bonus points or buy extra points with XP, as is usual for any skill.
Essentially is handled like a regular hand-to-hand fight, for all purposes of the rules. You may want to stretch the approximation in timing from 3 seconds per round to anything you feel is fitting, though.
The free skill "Wit (MIND)" and the MIND stat play exactly the same role in these situations as Initiative and Speed do in a physical combat. If physical combat and psych combat would happen to converge, you'd just have to track both seperately and simultaneously! You know, in order to reflect how one guy can punch people in the gut quicker than anybody else, even though someone else can obliterate anybody's ego before the others could utter anything.
The biggest difference in between psychological combat and physical combat is that the psych combats aren't necessarily calling for major checks. Not all psych combats are duels of wits where a bomb's timer is ticking or something big is at stake or there's some form of danger, but if they are, it turns everything to major checks, of course.
Just like in a regular fight, you can "dodge" psychological attacks if you do nothing but; for this you declare that you're doing nothing but using retorts, glib responses, pauses that are very awkward and in disfavor of the psychological attacker - generally, all the stuff that lets you blow off the psych attack by trivializing, ridiculing, or belittling it.
Then, if you get attacked, roll the most appropriate social skill. Just like physical dodging, you can't defend against any person whose current Wit score in the psych combat is higher than yours, unless on the following round you declare to continue your psych defense at the beginning of the round.
Even if you fail the psych defense roll, the Strain points it costs to resist the psych attack are halved.
A psych attack or defense is done with any sort of social skill, normally SOUL-type skills. The GM may allow you to use a MIND-type skill as well, if you use your well-founded
knowledge for arguments or insults or knowledge against the other person, but in this case the MIND-type skill is capped by the most relevant social skill it would default to.
The GM may even allow you to use a BODY-type skill like "Beefcake" or "Intimidating Abs" or "Seduction" instead of the regular skills - as is - if they are appropriate to the form of psychological attack.
Psych attacks are by no means mind control, and they're not all-powerful, either. As long as it would provoke a fairly reasonable form of reaction or influence upon another person or people, you can declare any kind of impact your psych attack will have on the other person, whether it's meant to trigger a Passion, scare someone with intimidation into blurting out the safe's code, force a surrender, or shimmy a zany favor out of someone.
Successfully bypassing their psych defenses doesn't need to mean it works, though. While most people will just give in rather than take Willpower Strain if it's something that's remotely agreeable with them (like actually freezing up and surrendering when cops aiming guns at you yell in unison "FREEZE! DROP YOUR GUN!"), more stubborn people or just those who can't comply out of other reasons will gladly take the Willpower Strain and force you to bust out more psychological tricks and knacks. They, of course, will typically try to maneuver you out of doing such by using psychological attacks of their own, which leads to a full-blown psych combat.
Resisting a successful psych attack will cost you a number of Willpower Strain points equal to the sum of the dice rolled for the psych attack, just like a hand-to-hand attack in physical combat. If the roll was a successful 32, that's 5 Strain (3+2) it would cost the opponent to resist your psych attack.
At the GM's discretion, if the attacker riffed off of the target's personality traits (Obsession, Passions, Paradigm), the Strain cost is increased by +3 for each trait called in against the target.
For example, if Alex knows that Carly's Obsession is building sentient toy cars and promises him a whole bunch of parts to build toy cars if Carly just does what he's asking him to, three points would be added to the Strain cost. If Carly's noble trigger is even in fact "The Children
", Alex could offer the toy car parts and drop the line that Carly could donate some of them to an orphanage that Alex has established; this would increase the Strain cost by six points because it hits two soft spots with Carly!
Matches and crits have added whammy: the Strain cost to resist a match success is equal to exact number rolled as a match. A 33 rolled in the psych attack would cost 33 Strain points to resist.
Crits are special - they're just so smooth or suave or on-the-spot that they don't cost any Strain points, but they can't be resisted either, unless the target has more than 55 in the SOUL stat and opts to burn a SOUL point permanently. Strain won't cut it against crits.
Finally, you can't really go against a person's nature whenever you resort to psych attacks. If the form of influence or mental attack would go against the target's personality (again, meaning their Obsession, Passions, or Paradigm), you'll have to face the facts and see that it doesn't work well.
The Strain point cost to resist anything that would go against the core of your personality is massively reduced. It costs only 1 point to resist a regular psych attack success, or 2 points to resist a match success, or 5 points to resist a crit (yeah: you can even resist crits if it goes against your nature).
For example, Alex furthermore offers Carly a position as a functionary or man of power in the government, but unfortunately does not know that Carly's Rage trigger is "The Fat Cats in Washington
" and the man loathes all authorities with a fiery passion. Although Alex scores a match success of 44 on the psych attack to woo Carly this way, Carly only needs to spend 2 points of Willpower Strain to resist it because it offends his Rage passion.
Wratts | profile | Jul 09, 09 | 4:47 am