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Ghaundan

Fear and the horrendous, unexpected effect it can have on combat. Solutions?

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Yesterday my group had a panic OW because one player didn't show, so we started a quick session with some old characters. I was GM'ing, and I noticed it had been awhile because I made a mistake I've done several times. I used an enemy with fear.

This has turned BAD before. Our commissar has shot more comrades then we care to think of (they run the second their player character fails a fear roll afterall, and the commissar doesn't like cowards). It has left players sitting there bored trying to "snap out of it" for most if not the entire combat.

Does anyone have any decent houserules to fix this? I like the idea of fear, them gaining insanity and/or recieving negative modifiers for fighting against enemies or in situations they find disconcerning, but currently it's too..wonky. It can render characters useless and simply get them killed through no fault of their own. 

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We have always ruled that one PC can give +10% to another PC by slapping him or something like that.

 

Also there are a couple of talents, like jaded, fearless etc., that help or makes PCs and/or comrades immune against fear or pinning.

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Here's a thing, jaded is okay. It "fixes" it by making it irrelevant, removes the problem but also removes the point of fear to begin with. Fearless I'm always hesitant to give my players. I've allowed it to ONE, Jankair Klahaus because he never once showed fear. Talents, in my opinion, are not just things you buy willynilly. They're supposed to reflect your character's personality and skill. Jankair charges into melee even though he's at -2 health....somehow he never managed to die.

I don't let people who show cowardice pick fearless, because....they're not.

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I have always felt that the Commissar's "Summary execution" ability was poorly conceived and doesn't fit with their nature. Instead, I house ruled that when a Commissar performs a Summary execution, it removes all fear and pinning effects that are currently affecting the Squad he is attached to. This is also how it works in TT btw. 

 

Also, There is a leadership talent called "into the Jaws of hell" that makes comrades immune to fear and pinning so long as the character does not break. I Interpret this to include anyone directly under the command of said character (Which is how it works in RT.). This makes your Sergeant even more useful to the squad since at higher levels He/She can render the entire squad immune to fear! Of course if the leader becomes a casualty then I would enforce an immediate fear roll on the entire party since it was the leaders will that was holding them together!

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Personally I find fear near useless against my current party. High willpower, Unshakeable Faith and several members of the party having Jaded or Fearless, it's usually largely useless, and those that get scared, get Terrified out of it shortly thereafter.

Sure, it can kill a party, but it can also leave them quaking and having to re-evaluate where they stand in a battle. I like it, personally. Just wish there were more things with a higher Fear rating than 1.

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Well, here's the thing: I don't let my players use talents they don't RP. None of them have shown alot of faith so no unshakeable faith is off the table. Jaded and fearless has the same issue, and it simply takes fear off the table. If removing it is the best solution you have it's kind of just reaffirming that the fear system is bad.

 

I'd want a bit more variation with the fear rating as well, but that's a simpel thing to buff :P

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Ghaundan: The game system doesn't let you 'RP' fearlessness because fear is just a roll, prior to getting the Talent. The whole point about spending xp on talents is developing NEW capabilities with your character. A character who spends xp on Fearless has 'developed' into a fearless character, it's not reflecting the idea that they were fearless all along. Jaded is similar. You've created a problem where you don't allow your characters to buy these talents, then you come crying to us that it's overpowered. Well, do the detective work and figure out that it might be your own fault. 

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My house rule:

 

By sheer force of will, one can force themselves to act coherently in the eye of utter madness and terror. For each point of fear rating overcome by this, gain 1d5 insanity points. Furthermore, all tests are -5% harder per point of fear rating overcome.

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Remember the "Only the Insane Shall Prosper" rule - you simply don't care about horrors with fear rating lower than half your InsB. After 80 insanity there is little left in this galaxy capable of impressing you - and things that still can are usually more than capable of slaying you and everyone around you before you manage to open your mouth to scream, so running away in fear might really be your only option.

 

That, and having a nightmarish hallucination of a fallen friend for a "comrade", is why I love roleplaying 80+ insanity.

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Ghaundan: The game system doesn't let you 'RP' fearlessness because fear is just a roll, prior to getting the Talent. The whole point about spending xp on talents is developing NEW capabilities with your character. A character who spends xp on Fearless has 'developed' into a fearless character, it's not reflecting the idea that they were fearless all along. Jaded is similar. You've created a problem where you don't allow your characters to buy these talents, then you come crying to us that it's overpowered. Well, do the detective work and figure out that it might be your own fault. 

Well, yes, a character can fail a fear test. That's not what I'm really talking about. It's more how the player portrays and develops his character. The commissar in question has never shown an ounce of hesitation, he's charged machinegun nests, enemy officers, when our group's ogryn went ballistic because of a fear test he said "I'll grapple him". Yes, he could have failed the characteristic rolls and yes of course characters develop. But if they don't RP it, they either don't get to buy a talent or don't get to use it until they act like the talents/traits they supposedly have.

A character is defined by the actions of the player, not how well he rolls on a test. At least the way I play.

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Hmmmmm... So far there has been alot of discussing going on about the things that makes you ignore fear tests.
Talents like Jaded, Fearless and "Into the jaws of hell"

If the best (mayhaps only) solution to a problem, is beeing able to ignore it, then that is a big problem you got there.

While i do like the implications fear can have on players in combat, both mechanically and theme-wise, it does strike me as a big minus if the only things that can "fix" the problem is beeing able to ignore it.
So instead of discussing ways to not have fear in the game, maybe we should try and see what can be done about things like the fear table. 

Personally i think the biggest problem is being stuck/frozen in terror (Fear table: rolls between 61-100. Can be achieved without failing your initial fear test so imo the biggest/most common problem here). It is a tad too random for it's own good in that you might have characters "sit this one out" because of really unlucky willpower rolls. Yes, it might only last 1 round, but it might also last 5 rounds! Maybe... Tone it down to a round or two of beeing stunned? Keep the; -10 to all tests for the rest of the encounter etc. etc. that comes with it and uhm...barrgh!
I dont really have a creative solution to this other than toning it down and making it less random regarding your "punishment" for failing your fear test. I know we're playing a dice based game buuuut i'd like to have abit of a limit for how random this can be.

Edited by Cortezz

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Well, yes, a character can fail a fear test. That's not what I'm really talking about. It's more how the player portrays and develops his character. The commissar in question has never shown an ounce of hesitation, he's charged machinegun nests, enemy officers, when our group's ogryn went ballistic because of a fear test he said "I'll grapple him". Yes, he could have failed the characteristic rolls and yes of course characters develop. But if they don't RP it, they either don't get to buy a talent or don't get to use it until they act like the talents/traits they supposedly have.

A character is defined by the actions of the player, not how well he rolls on a test. At least the way I play.

 

 

Fearless isn't stupid, which is what you seem to be making it out to be. A fearless ranged attacker does not run into melee with a Bloodthirster, she keeps her **** distance and engages it from afar. What she definitely doesn't do is stand stark still and scream. Fearless is all about keeping your cool when things get hairy; what you're referring to is more like the fear-negating effects of Frenzon or Frenzy. 

 

Do you make your characters RP Swift Attack? Or Crushing Blow? "You haven't been rolling high enough on melee damage rolls to justify Crushing Blow on your character, Steve."

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No, fearless isn't being stupid. The commissar is, but he's also fearless. He's a melee nut, but he doesn't have to be. When asked to do something he accepts the task. No trying to sneak out of it or asking for safer courses of action. 

How would I make them RP that? I've already said I don't base a character on his rolls, so you must have missed that. And the talents have requirements for physical fitness to be able to do such things. I don't make my players RP physical attributes, do you?

I might make the ogryn RP his frenzy now that I think about it, so far it's been a rather boring affair with "I activate frenzy".


Still, none of this adresses the issue where a singel, not too hard, fear roll can render the majority of a party useless based on a one dice roll. It completely screws up the balance in my encounters and I'm considering chucking most of the shock table in the ditch because of it.

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He sounds like a typical commissar to me. I don't see a problem with letting him take jaded, NoS, fearless etc. Commissars should have that right out of the schola. The only reason they don't is an attempt at not making them so OP they can't be included in the core book.

Edited by DeathByGrotz

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No, fearless isn't being stupid. The commissar is, but he's also fearless. He's a melee nut, but he doesn't have to be. When asked to do something he accepts the task. No trying to sneak out of it or asking for safer courses of action. 

 

If his commander suggested a suicidally stupid course of action, we he attempt to change his superior's mind? If, in his estimation, he was being ordered to throw his life away for no tactical gain unbeknownst to his superiors, would he do it?

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No, fearless isn't being stupid. The commissar is, but he's also fearless. He's a melee nut, but he doesn't have to be. When asked to do something he accepts the task. No trying to sneak out of it or asking for safer courses of action. 

 

If his commander suggested a suicidally stupid course of action, we he attempt to change his superior's mind? If, in his estimation, he was being ordered to throw his life away for no tactical gain unbeknownst to his superiors, would he do it?

 

 

"The difference between stupidity and courage is measured in success." scenario I suspect lol.

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No, fearless isn't being stupid. The commissar is, but he's also fearless. He's a melee nut, but he doesn't have to be. When asked to do something he accepts the task. No trying to sneak out of it or asking for safer courses of action. 

 

If his commander suggested a suicidally stupid course of action, we he attempt to change his superior's mind? If, in his estimation, he was being ordered to throw his life away for no tactical gain unbeknownst to his superiors, would he do it?

 

I don't know, I haven't tried. He's not the sharpest chainsword in the guard, but so far he seems to believe the emperor will see them through anything thrown in their way, and cowardice. I'll agree, he's over the tip between bravery and stupididty, but that doesn't mean he's not brave. 

My problem with fear is that...either it does nothing, or it can render half the group drooling in a corner for no real reason. Anyone have any decent houserules where I can get something in the middle?

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Fear belongs to the group ofgeatures that can change player's character behaviour only by rolling a dice. That's why I avoid using it. I may be, but only if I find my players scared, which is seldom. There's no point in annoying them when they are fully relaxed or rolling over tge floor laughing.

I also seems that for you, Ghaundan, cowardice is not part of a role playing. There is no bigger mistake. It's a pillar of it and it's crucial for a very existence of bravery. If all your players play brave characters, there is no reason to distinguish this virtue.

What I find annoying in the sessions is lack of fear amongst players. They often walk into traps like a little babies having only the most stupid plan tou can imagine in their minds. No second thougths, no imagination. That's just not giving a crap. Certainly not bravery.

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Cowardice is, our heavy gunner bolted when he was alone giving suppressive fire and a mutant snuck up on him and his comrade. His comrade died, he ran.  The ogryn refuses to go into dark places (i HATE that ogryn), and is often scared. The commissar isn't, the rest of the group I've refused to buy fearless because their characters tend not to be fearless.

What their characters are like I leave to the players, but fear is a big part. The ogryn scared the oil out of a tech priest when he wanted to ask for shiny bits (his big dream is to become a bone 'ead), and failed miserably. Screaming shiny bits to his face and confusing the poor priest.

That happens, and isn't bravery, I'll agree. But often they also get paranoid at EVERYTHING. I just wish I had more stable fear rules that doesn't risk leaving half the team drooling.

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Personally, I feel that fear rules add a nice complication to the game. Scary things scare people and yes, that means PC can also be scared, even if their players are not. However, its no fun if the dice declare that your character can't do anything but scream in fear for multiple rounds.

 

Hence my own two options:

 

Other players can kick an afraid character in the nuts to snap him out of it (or shoot him in the leg etc.). Its an automatic hit and  causes 1d5-2 wounds, min 1 wound to the PC but the PC is ready to go.

 

The PC can spend a fate point to snap out of it.

 

 

Either way gives a penalty to the PC for not making his WP roll but doesn't prevent him from joining in the fun at al. And it allows the tougher PC's to kick the wimp in the nuts.... :P

Edited by ranoncles

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I already detailed my house rule earlier in this thread.

 

Snapping out of it etc. is basically the terrify use of the command skill. It's already in the rules.

 Yeah, but with a kick in the nuts, any player can get another to snap out of it without needing the command skill. It does inflict some damage on the receiver though so its not quite a get out of jail free card.....

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I already detailed my house rule earlier in this thread.

 

Snapping out of it etc. is basically the terrify use of the command skill. It's already in the rules.

Sorry for skipping your comment! I'll defineatly tell them about it, and pray the commanding officer doesn't fail his fear test.

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