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[Hurt Locker] Torture mechanics

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  • [Hurt Locker] Torture mechanics

    As Hurt Locker book is generally great, but not delivering proper rules for ‘Torture to get information’ ( only condescending ‘Torture as means to hurt people’ in Intimidation Violence Skill section ), so I start this topic to devise house rule mechanics for running Torture scenarios as characters trying to get info from target of it. If you do not agree with this topic premise, best would be to leave it here. You stay? Great, let’s get going.

    I think that good rules model for ‘Torture to get information’ would be Social Maneuvering and it’s Doors of target. But this time, it’s that Doors are psychic barriers target of Torture is putting to not share info. General number of Doors and those added by Breaking Point of target are all the same as in normal Social Maneuvering. The true difference is in First Impression – in Torture mechanics we totally skip this part of Social Maneuvering system. Instead, each roll to Open Door takes one hour and is treated as Hard Leverage. As to Health damage of target each point of Lethal damage done in is counted as +1 bonus and each 2 Bashing damage works as +1 bonus in this round of Opening Doors. Typical torturer roll is Presence or Dexterity + Intimidation with Health damage bonus, most often contested each time by Resolve + Stamina roll of target. In this rules, Hard Leverage do not open automatically Doors! After each Opening of Doors target can take Offered Alternative and end Torture. BUT each information thus gained will be treated as Tainted Clue in Investigation system.

    Example: Mark is cop that was kidnapped by Yakuza. Gangsters wants to know where are drugs police got from last action against mafia. Of course, Mark do not want to tell them – at least till his partner and rest of forces do not found him on closed construction site Yakuza is torturing him. Both sides look over torture Goals – Yakuza has ‘Determine the locations of drugs‘. For Mark it will be Breaking Point as he is extensively fighting with drugs on the streets. Player counts Mark’s Doors now – lower of Resolve and Composure is 3 for him, Yakuza getting it’s Goal will be Breaking Point for him as assessed before and Mark has ‘Defeat Yakuza’ as Aspiration on his sheet. He has also ‘Dedicated’ ( to his work ) as Virtue, so it ends with 7 Doors to open on Mark side. Yakuza brute get’s to his work and start to beat the information from Mark – doing 4 Bashing damage he get’s +2 bonus to his roll on Presence + Intimidation, ending in 8 dices. It’s contested with Marks Resolve + Stamina that is 6 dices. Gangsters won, but as the dicepools were nearly equal, in next hour Yakuza up their game – they take exotic knives that are put in Mark’s non-vital organs and by doing 4 Lethal damage, brute get’s dicepool of 9 dices. Mark, on the other hand, has almost full Health boxes full beside one, so he has -2 penalty to rolls – and by this contest only on dicepool of 4 dices. Yakuza gets Exceptional Success and opens 2 Doors in one action. Still, Mark is offered just to tell them all they need. There are only 4 Doors left after 2 hours of ‘working out’ Mark…

    So what are your thoughts on rules proposition?
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 02-22-2017, 03:07 AM.


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  • #2
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
    As Hurt Locker book is generally great, but not delivering proper rules for ‘Torture to get information’ ( only condescending ‘Torture as means to hurt people’ in Intimidation Violence Skill section )
    It gives a pretty coherent reason why not.


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    • #3
      CofD doesn't give rules for torture as a means of gaining information because torture doesn't work as a means of gaining information. I don't disagree that a system for violent use of Intimidation would have been appreciated, but torture as a means of gaining information specifically isn't what that system should have been, and isn't something that needs a system.
      Last edited by Charlaquin; 02-21-2017, 07:36 PM.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
        CofD doesn't give rules for torture as a means of gaining information because torture doesn't work as a means of gaining inspiration. I don't disagree that a system for violent use of Intimidation would have been appreciated, but torture as a means of gaining information specifically isn't what that system should have been, and isn't something that needs a system.
        The thing I missed was a more in-depth description of what torture actually does. I mean, it's all very well saying it doesn't work but that's not very helpful. How does it not work?


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
          CofD doesn't give rules for torture as a means of gaining information because torture doesn't work as a means of gaining inspiration.
          Unless you are Arisen with that one Affinity.


          Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
          Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Michael View Post

            The thing I missed was a more in-depth description of what torture actually does. I mean, it's all very well saying it doesn't work but that's not very helpful. How does it not work?
            The goal of torture is to get the target to tell you what you want to know. The problem with torture is that the target tells you what they think you want to hear.

            Even if you can get them to talk, you don't have any more assurance that what they say is the truth. It's maybe useful for confirmation, but as far as new info goes, it's pretty near worthless.

            EDIT: This isn't directed at you, since you seem to already know. Hopefully it answers someone else wondering about the same question, though.
            Last edited by Vent0; 02-21-2017, 07:36 PM.


            Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
            Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Michael View Post

              The thing I missed was a more in-depth description of what torture actually does. I mean, it's all very well saying it doesn't work but that's not very helpful. How does it not work?
              It doesn't work because short of breaking someone down it's not likely to make them give away anything they don't want you to know, and once you have broken someone down they'll tell you anything they think you want to hear, whether it's true or not.

              EDIT: like, there's ample resources if you're interested in researching further on the psychological effects of torture and why they're counterproductive to the goals of getting information out of someone. A quick google search will turn up multiple articles and book recommendations on the subject.
              Last edited by Charlaquin; 02-21-2017, 07:40 PM.


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              • #8
                I'm struggling to word this. My point isn't about whether it works or not, it's what does it not working look like?

                Or maybe: If your players insist on torturing someone, what kind of behaviour does the victim exhibit?

                Honestly, trying to write this I think they might have been on to something with not including it.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael View Post
                  I'm struggling to word this. My point isn't about whether it works or not, it's what does it not working look like?

                  Or maybe: If your players insist on torturing someone, what kind of behaviour does the victim exhibit?
                  Well, each Breaking Point the PCs force on the victim opens one of the victim's Doors, and when all of their Doors have been opened, they take a Persistent Condition, starting with Broken. After that, they become unlikely to refuse the PCs' demands or attempt to break contact with the PCs of their own accord unless seriously triggered for fear of retaliation from the PCs.
                  Last edited by Charlaquin; 02-21-2017, 09:39 PM.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Michael View Post
                    I'm struggling to word this. My point isn't about whether it works or not, it's what does it not working look like?
                    Auto-Taint the Clues that you gain from torture.


                    I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
                    An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
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                    • #11
                      With treating Torture as only ways to make people into Breaking Point, there is no reason to use them in first place. But we all know that intelligence agencies and military use torture, from time to time, not only to scare their enemies.

                      And once more I repeat - if you agree with Hurt Locker basic take on Torture ( 'it's not working as information gathering' ) just leave this topic. I really do not want this to become great debate to use or not use Torture in game. It's made for people that do want to have this as more 'we will crush his spirit'.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                        With treating Torture as only ways to make people into Breaking Point, there is no reason to use them in first place. But we all know that intelligence agencies and military use torture, from time to time, not only to scare their enemies.
                        Psychological warfare has far more to do with it than you would think, and the times it is (attempted to be) used for gathering information, that's largely because of the widespread misconception that torture is useful for coercing people to reveal (reliable) information. There is honestly a great deal of research out there that discredits this misconception, and proves that it is in fact counterproductive to that end. Google it if you don't believe me.

                        Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                        And once more I repeat - if you agree with Hurt Locker basic take on Torture ( 'it's not working as information gathering' ) just leave this topic. I really do not want this to become great debate to use or not use Torture in game. It's made for people that do want to have this as more 'we will crush his spirit'.
                        This isn't an argument about whether or not torture should be used in game. That's up to you and your players. Your players can even attempt to use it to coerce people into giving information if they want to. What I am arguing is that the attempt should lead to a psychologically damaged victim who will tell the players anything they think their torturers want to hear. Because thats what happens in real life, and because this misconception of torture as a reliable means of gaining information is pervasive and pernicious and it is irresponsible to continue to spread that misconception through our hobby. I'm sorry, but this is not an issue I will just walk away from.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
                          Auto-Taint the Clues that you gain from torture.
                          This can be helpful to topic. I will update first post on this idea.


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                            Because thats what happens in real life, and because this misconception of torture as a reliable means of gaining information is pervasive and pernicious and it is irresponsible to continue to spread that misconception through our hobby. I'm sorry, but this is not an issue I will just walk away from.
                            So we will have return to the Wisdom debates from Mage forum? I indicated this topic for house rules take on things on Torture. If it's not clear enough, I will redact opening post. Going for 'this is totally wrong, this it not how real world works like' is pretty useless here - I write those rules to emulate 'Hollywood take' on this - it surely will be flawed upon real world take, but as some other system in CoD mechanics engine, like relative easy healing or other simplifications. It's a game and work of fiction - some tropes or simplicity are to be expected and used in some home games.

                            If you do not agree with premise of House Rule, just do not particiapte in discussion of it. I must remember here your own words to 'taking things in other topic' when clearly my view of Wisdom not worked with majority? If you think it's not clear in topic - you can freely change it to '[Hurt Locker] Torture Rules Hack' or something like this.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                              So we will have return to the Wisdom debates from Mage forum? I indicated this topic for house rules take on things on Torture. If it's not clear enough, I will redact opening post. Going for 'this is totally wrong, this it not how real world works like' is pretty useless here - I write those rules to emulate 'Hollywood take' on this - it surely will be flawed upon real world take, but as some other system in CoD mechanics engine, like relative easy healing or other simplifications. It's a game and work of fiction - some tropes or simplicity are to be expected and used in some home games.
                              "It's just a work of fiction" and "I'm emulating genre tropes, not reality" is fine when we're talking about things like over-the-top action, or magic powers, or what have you. The issue here is that it's a huge problem that media portrays torture this way. It glorifies, or at least downplays the seriousness of a heinous act, and the fact that it is portrayed this way so much in fiction is what leads to the widespread misconception of what torture actually is and does. You yourself pointed out that real world governments engage in torture as a means of interrogation and intelligence gathering. Well, that happens because so many people mistakenly believe that torture is actually effective for those ends, and people believe that in large part because of its portrayal in fiction. So no, "it's just fiction" doesn't work to excuse it here. We should be working to dismantle dangerous zeitgeists like this one with our fiction, not reinforce them.

                              Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                              If you do not agree with premise of House Rule, just do not particiapte in discussion of it. I must remember here your own words to 'taking things in other topic' when clearly my view of Wisdom not worked with majority? If you think it's not clear in topic - you can freely change it to '[Hurt Locker] Torture Rules Hack' or something like this.
                              If this was just a matter of me disagreeing with the premise of your houserules, as was the case with the Wisdom discussion, I would absolutely stay out of it, and encourage others to do the same, just as I did then. But there is a greater issue behind the house rule in this case. We are talking about perpetuating a dangerous myth, which is still acted upon by real governments and militaries, despite long having been discredited. I repeat, it is irresponsible to portray torture as a reliable method of coercing someone to reveal information in our fiction.


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