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Author Topic: Cool uses of disabilities in games  (Read 3301 times)

jhkim

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Cool uses of disabilities in games
« on: February 22, 2020, 08:49:58 pm »
So inspired a bit by the thread Essay: "GURPS and the Fate Accessibility Toolkit", I'd be more curious about what cool gaming situations people have had that involved disabilities. This is a thread about what's been positive about gaming, though, rather than complaining about other people's takes.


Thinking back, the first campaign that I GMed back in undergrad was a Hero System superpowered game in a more realistic setting. One of the PCs had electrical powers - and he had been shot in the back and was on the edge of death. I ruled that his spine had been severed - but over the course of his recovery, he found that he could still use his legs by using his powers, but that would require constant concentration. We re-worked his disadvantages and stats to reflect this. That gave his character a really interesting arc over the rest of the campaign, including how his girlfriend and he dealt with the change.

My favorite case, though, was a one-shot game from a few years ago based on the sci-fi TV series Alphas -- where the main characters had low-level neurologically-based powers, each with an associated psychological/neurological downside. When all my players created their own alternate team, it made for a fascinating struggle for them to cover for their weak spots.

Among others, the PCs there included one who had perfect muscular control but couldn't relax and thus was always exhausted - only able to walk with a cane. Another had perfect accuracy paired with OCD. Another was able to recognize patterns but had a fear of crowds. They were investigating a new age woman who could cause hallucinations, who lived in a urban hippy house - where a big crowd of hippy-like young people were living in this old run-down house. Without realizing it as GM, suddenly the players burst back at me that this was a perfect trap for them. As I described it, the old house had steps with no railings, plus it was dirty and cluttered, and crowded with drug-taking people. Having those tightly-linked down sides gave a new perspective on what was challenging for characters.

What are other people's cool experiences of disabilities in games?

Spinachcat

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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2020, 10:21:48 pm »
Here's the game I want to play.

I gain the magical ability to take Fred Hicks and inflict all of my brother's disabilities upon him, and my brother could then have a functioning body and brain for the first time in his life. Then Fred can experience all that amazing, exciting fun that disabilities bring to your life and my brother could do lame, boring mundane shit like walk and talk.

That would be a VERY fun game.

SHARK

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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2020, 10:46:18 pm »
Quote from: Spinachcat;1122833
Here's the game I want to play.

I gain the magical ability to take Fred Hicks and inflict all of my brother's disabilities upon him, and my brother could then have a functioning body and brain for the first time in his life. Then Fred can experience all that amazing, exciting fun that disabilities bring to your life and my brother could do lame, boring mundane shit like walk and talk.

That would be a VERY fun game.

Greetings!

Indeed, my friend. I think all of this "deep effort" to include disabilities and focus on disabled characters is honestly pathetic, pandering, disrespectful, and entirely in poor taste.

I don't find anything funny about it, or particularly "sensitive" to include such rules in a game. It's bullshit.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
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Snowman0147

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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2020, 11:02:21 pm »
As a person with a mental disability I can say this.  FUCK ANYONE ONE THAT DRAGS DISABILITIES INTO ANY GAME!  Can we just have our fucking escapism where we play as people that are far better and more heroic than us?  Can we just do that?

Omega

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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2020, 12:44:52 am »
Quote from: Snowman0147;1122837
As a person with a mental disability I can say this.  FUCK ANYONE ONE THAT DRAGS DISABILITIES INTO ANY GAME!  Can we just have our fucking escapism where we play as people that are far better and more heroic than us?  Can we just do that?

Yeah but some of us think its interesting to play this stuff in the game. Rather than as some virtue signalling garbage.
Or because we are handicapped ourselves. It is why it is in my own book wayy the hell back. I also proposed adding it to Albedo when was working on a sadly unpublished 3rd ed.

Snowman0147

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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2020, 12:53:52 am »
Quote from: Omega;1122838
Yeah but some of us think its interesting to play this stuff in the game. Rather than as some virtue signalling garbage.
Or because we are handicapped ourselves. It is why it is in my own book wayy the hell back. I also proposed adding it to Albedo when was working on a sadly unpublished 3rd ed.

Okay I cannot really get pissed off on those who want to play on hard mode.  At least they know that actually having disabilities actually sucks ass.  Still acting like having disabilities is a good thing irks me.

Omega

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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2020, 01:04:58 am »
Quote from: Snowman0147;1122840
Okay I cannot really get pissed off on those who want to play on hard mode.  At least they know that actually having disabilities actually sucks ass.  Still acting like having disabilities is a good thing irks me.

hah. In my book I made it very clear that these were disabilities and they could and would hamper the character that took.

Brad

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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2020, 12:14:08 pm »
I mean, if your character is blind, that sort of makes you immune to the gaze of a basilisk, medusa, and possibly the charming ability of vampires. But it pretty much also means you're not going dungeon delving, so what's the point? I suppose you could play a blind linkboy or something who has memorized a particular path; wouldn't need to waste torches unless you're walking with someone.

If you're playing in a supers game and can be Daredevil, being blind isn't even an inconvenience, it's just a feature. Blindness is a -50 in GURPS, and even then that seems pretty underpriced, but if you have "Eyes don't work, but I can basically visualize the world in greater detail than any normal human", that's a -1 Quick and probably 20-30 points of Advantages. Makes sense for Daredevil, but if you just have the -50 disadvantage, you better be the best Bard in existence.

RE: "cool uses for disabilities", how would that even work? I know a guy who got his leg blown off in Afghanistan, it was funny as hell when he'd pull off the prosthetic and freak someone out. I don't think that has much of a purpose in the context of an RPG, though.

Eric Diaz

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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2020, 01:34:27 pm »
In D&D 5e (and other D&ds, probably), it would be easy to give a PC blind-sight 60 feet in exchange of blindness. Even if the PC could fight normally, his range and perception would be limited... Seems balanced and interesting, IMO, since some monsters work like this already.
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« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2020, 01:37:45 pm »
Quote from: Brad;1122912
I mean, if your character is blind, that sort of makes you immune to the gaze of a basilisk, medusa, and possibly the charming ability of vampires. But it pretty much also means you're not going dungeon delving, so what's the point? I suppose you could play a blind linkboy or something who has memorized a particular path; wouldn't need to waste torches unless you're walking with someone.

If you're playing in a supers game and can be Daredevil, being blind isn't even an inconvenience, it's just a feature. Blindness is a -50 in GURPS, and even then that seems pretty underpriced, but if you have "Eyes don't work, but I can basically visualize the world in greater detail than any normal human", that's a -1 Quick and probably 20-30 points of Advantages. Makes sense for Daredevil, but if you just have the -50 disadvantage, you better be the best Bard in existence.

RE: "cool uses for disabilities", how would that even work? I know a guy who got his leg blown off in Afghanistan, it was funny as hell when he'd pull off the prosthetic and freak someone out. I don't think that has much of a purpose in the context of an RPG, though.

Yeah, in GURPS you could do it a few different ways. Blindness with a mitigator, or Blindness + Detect or any combination of sense-based advantages. Generally this ends up being a positive point total if you are going for a Daredevil or Zatoichi type. Of course you are right as far as the Quirk-type judgement call; a Disad isn't worth points if it's not actually disadvantageous as you point out. But that would be on the GM to sniff-test for a given campaign. For example I know many GURPS GM's do not award points for being Terminally Ill as in many campaign types it will never come up, similar to Longevity/Unaging which many people change to Perks and so as not to charge elves for the privilege of living thousands of years for example (which almost never shows up in any D&D game IME).
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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2020, 03:53:51 pm »
I played a wizard who sacrificed one of his eyes to gain wisdom like Odin did. Was actually quite interesting; I wore an eyepatch over that eye whenever I played him just so I could get into the mindset of not being able to see out of that eye. That way whenever I was imagining a scene being described, the "blind" side wasn't actually being visualized. I also got into the habit of turning so my "good eye" was facing the player/GM when he was talking to someone.

He had a penalty to anything relating to vision and that included projectile based magic, and while it did make my rolls worse, interestingly the rolls were usually already bad enough that the penalty didn't matter. It caused me to have him focus on magic that wasn't projectile based and didn't involve being able to judge distances, perceive depth, or anything that required visual tracking.
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Omega

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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2020, 07:32:50 pm »
Right. This was actually something I touched on in my own book and others have too. If you have a disability that is somehow countered by something else then you effectively do not have a disability and do not get the points. That or it has to be bought off somehow with a counter power that mitigates it.

In my own book I just told the players that they could easily make a character who is a quad amputee that gets about via magically manifested limbs, prosthesis limbs, etc. And it effectively gains or costs nothing as its just there for background. It is when the disability does not have a counter in place that changes things. I also pointed out that to get a 'cure' would be quest level endeavors as the setting was low magic overall so finding someone to say craft you some artificial legs or some sort of centaur-like conveyance might take time.

Speaking of. In the old Free LANCERs superhero setting for Top Secret one of the example PCs is an inventor who lost his legs. So he created for himself a robotic centaur lower body he uses as a prosthetic. (he couldnt get a bipedal mode to work.) These sorts of workarounds are perfectly fine as people are working on these in the real world and theres been some surprising advances. We even looked at the possibility of a robotic exoframe for Kat before she passed away as those are getting more and more viable with each passing year.

One other thing that people tend to miss that I like to point out.

Being born with a disability is immensely different from gaining one. A person born blind has had to grow with that as a natural part of their world. A rare few gain what is called "compensation senses" which is a heightening of one or more other sense. A person who is disabled at some point on the other hand has to deal with not only having to adapt to a strange new world essentially. But also the psychological impact of the loss. Some unfortunately suffer the CP2020 equivalent of cyberpsychosis.

jhkim

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« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2020, 10:57:22 am »
Quote from: Brad;1122912
I mean, if your character is blind, that sort of makes you immune to the gaze of a basilisk, medusa, and possibly the charming ability of vampires. But it pretty much also means you're not going dungeon delving, so what's the point? I suppose you could play a blind linkboy or something who has memorized a particular path; wouldn't need to waste torches unless you're walking with someone.

If you're playing in a supers game and can be Daredevil, being blind isn't even an inconvenience, it's just a feature. Blindness is a -50 in GURPS, and even then that seems pretty underpriced, but if you have "Eyes don't work, but I can basically visualize the world in greater detail than any normal human", that's a -1 Quick and probably 20-30 points of Advantages. Makes sense for Daredevil, but if you just have the -50 disadvantage, you better be the best Bard in existence.

RE: "cool uses for disabilities", how would that even work? I know a guy who got his leg blown off in Afghanistan, it was funny as hell when he'd pull off the prosthetic and freak someone out. I don't think that has much of a purpose in the context of an RPG, though.

Brad - I included some examples in my OP, and some others have added their examples. I'd hope you could respond to those.

I don't recall having a blind PC in any of my games, but I can easily imagine various middle ground between someone who is useless and Daredevil, particularly given science fiction or fantasy abilities. Someone could be able to navigate nearby spaces -- but be unable to see in the distance, read signs, shoot people, etc. This could be by cinematically enhanced other senses, tech sensors, magic, or whatever.

Eric Diaz

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« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2020, 05:37:09 pm »
In one of Elric's books he has a whole army of blind soldiers to fight his cousin, who has a mirror that steal minds (or something).
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* OSR: One page hacks is my answer to retroclones. Would love to take ONE PAGE from YOUR book!
* 3e vs. 4e vs. 5e - Can you trip an ooze? Does it require miniatures?

Omega

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« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2020, 09:22:57 pm »
Right. There are cases where a disability becomes a boon. Thats a no-brainer.

A Blind person is going to be immune to a Medusa or a Mirror of Life Trapping in D&D.
A hearing impaired person is going to be immune to Sirens Harpies, Banshies, etc.
A person that cant walk on their own and is using some sort of hovering conveyance wont trip off pit traps and pressure plates.

and so on.

But these tend to be few and far between. Though like in Star Trek it could become a plot hook for a teamup. For example a blind person working with a medusa. Or only a deaf person can help the banshee find peace. Only a person without legs can pilot the centaur battle suit. And so on.