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[Hurt Locker] Torture mechanics

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  • #46
    Originally posted by WHW View Post
    It's in a book that monetizes violence as a interesting, fun-to-include part of your Chronicle - which basically frames things like "how to cyber bully" or "how to trigger people" as material you might want to get and use in your game. It fetishizes combat and violence by turning various skillsets to hurt people as Cool Things To Buy In Order To Improve Your Character (Merits). Again, I find this singling out of Intimidation to be extremely hypocritical, especially in context of both rest of the book and Beasts existence as a game line.
    I mean, I don't think the aim of the discussion of torture is to say "torture is bad and you shouldn't include it in your game." It's to say "torture isn't an effective tool for getting someone to talk."

    I also challenge the assertion that Hurt Locker presents violence as a fun thing to use in your game. Rather, it's about violence as a serious subject to include in your game. Cyber bullying, intentionally triggering trauma victims, various skills and techniques for hurting people, and yes, torture, are valid things for games to address. But of those subjects, torture has a history of being portrayed inaccurately in fiction (and some non-fiction), so Hurt Locker made a point of addressing that inaccuracy.


    Onyx Path Forum Moderator

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    • #47
      If you rant about one thing being terrible and horrible, but not ranting about something else literally next to it, it looks like you approve of one and have no beef with it. "The Hard Way" is a mess - it wastes space meant for expanding mechanical uses of skills using it instead as a place to drop a political manifesto (I would be OK with it as a sidebar), it's basically a cop out for any reader interesting in actually doing what the section was supposed to do (give you more things to do with certain skills) - which is a problem, because Intimidation skill is really unsupported in comparison to other social skills that get plenty of use in magical powers, Merits and other mechanics; and by being the only thing that is criticized and objected to, it naturally makes all other things look like OK things to do. It's inconsequential, bad writing, kinda reminding me of the ridiculous "GUN CONTROL IS SOMETHING USED BY EVIL GOVERNMENTS IN TERRIBLE PLACES ON EARTH TO CONTROL AND CURB THEIR POOR GUNLESS CITIZENS!!!" rant that reared it's head in one of the open dev documents.
      ...but oh, wait, there *is* a content warning for triggers and abuse. In a sidebar. Leaving the actual entries on these things to do their job.

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      • #48
        Originally posted by WHW View Post
        If you rant about one thing being terrible and horrible, but not ranting about something else literally next to it, it looks like you approve of one and have no beef with it. "The Hard Way" is a mess - it wastes space meant for expanding mechanical uses of skills using it instead as a place to drop a political manifesto (I would be OK with it as a sidebar), it's basically a cop out for any reader interesting in actually doing what the section was supposed to do (give you more things to do with certain skills) - which is a problem, because Intimidation skill is really unsupported in comparison to other social skills that get plenty of use in magical powers, Merits and other mechanics; and by being the only thing that is criticized and objected to, it naturally makes all other things look like OK things to do. It's inconsequential, bad writing, kinda reminding me of the ridiculous "GUN CONTROL IS SOMETHING USED BY EVIL GOVERNMENTS IN TERRIBLE PLACES ON EARTH TO CONTROL AND CURB THEIR POOR GUNLESS CITIZENS!!!" rant that reared it's head in one of the open dev documents.
        ...but oh, wait, there *is* a content warning for triggers and abuse. In a sidebar. Leaving the actual entries on these things to do their job.
        What I'm saying is, I don't think The Hard Way is about torture being terrible and horrible. It's about dispelling a misconception about the use of torture. Could it have been handled better? Probably. But its purpose, in my assessment, is not to admonish torture, but to clarify its function.


        Onyx Path Forum Moderator

        My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

        Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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        • #49
          And the book literally states that it explicitly isn't about educating people.
          What This Book Isn’t
          This book is not a thesis on violence and its effects on
          humanity. We deal with some psychological issues and social
          issues related to violence and brutality, but always from the
          idea that ultimately this is still a game. Any concepts and
          rules we present are designed to deliver stronger play expe-
          riences, not to teach you about human psychology. Not to
          say that reading up on psychology and sociology can’t help
          your chronicles, but any given shred of a topic addressed
          with serious, sensitive, real-world implications deserves
          more word count than we’ve devoted to the entire idea of
          violence in this book.
          We’re also not dictating how your games should flow,
          or what they should feature. Our tone here exists to foster
          certain experiences at the table; but as this is a supplementary
          book, it’s made to supplement your chronicle, not be the sole
          focus. Harping on the darkness of violence can get draining
          and pessimistic quickly, and frankly, it can become a labor;
          a chore. Ultimately, we play storytelling games to have fun.
          So if your players want the occasional skull-cracking without
          thinking about the sound of a bone breaking or the social im-
          plications of ending a life, that’s okay. Do what works for your
          troupe. This is a storytelling toolkit, not a political doctrine.
          "The Hard Way" is pretty much literally everything Hurt Locker literally says it doesn't want to be. It tries to educate you on real life psychological effects of torture? Check. It places educating you over enhancing game experience? Check. Does it judge you for wanting to include torture in the game, strongly implying that you shouldn't? Check. It harpes about darkness of violence? Check. Does it sound like a political doctrine instead of storytelling toolkit? Check.

          If you want to push political doctrine, do that in a sidebar. No one forced you to pick Torture as a focus of expanded Intimidation skill. If you don't want to write rules for it or make it a narrative device, pick something else! Give people ability to project aura of authority, be a goddamn Batman, or whatever else.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by MCN View Post
            No. ." This is "something offensive that needs to be addressed." Forcing Doors on PCs exist.
            See it now Charlequin?


            Offense is rarely given, but often taken.

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            • #51
              Originally posted by K9ine View Post
              See it now Charlequin?
              Yes, thank you for pointing it out.

              Originally posted by WHW View Post
              And the book literally states that it explicitly isn't about educating people.

              "The Hard Way" is pretty much literally everything Hurt Locker literally says it doesn't want to be. It tries to educate you on real life psychological effects of torture? Check. It places educating you over enhancing game experience? Check. Does it judge you for wanting to include torture in the game, strongly implying that you shouldn't? Check. It harpes about darkness of violence? Check. Does it sound like a political doctrine instead of storytelling toolkit? Check.

              If you want to push political doctrine, do that in a sidebar. No one forced you to pick Torture as a focus of expanded Intimidation skill. If you don't want to write rules for it or make it a narrative device, pick something else! Give people ability to project aura of authority, be a goddamn Batman, or whatever else.
              I don't agree with your assessment of The Hard Way as it relates to What This Book Isn't. I would argue that it falls under "we deal with some psychological issues and social issues related to violence and brutality, but always from the idea that ultimately this is still a game." It doesn't teach about the psychology of torture, it merely states that torture doesn't actually work the way it's presented in most fiction. And rules for torture are provided, they just happen to be under Breaking Hearts, which has two other mechanics under it as well. As I've said before, I don't disagree that the Intimidation entry of Biolent Skills may not have been the best place for the content addressed in The Hard Way, but I don't think the content itself is a problem. In fact, I think the book is better for including it. Should it have been a sidebar instead? Sure. But I don't think it should have been left out.


              Onyx Path Forum Moderator

              My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

              Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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              • #52
                Run yesterday first session of Beast and my players, free from Integrity limits, used Torture on one of mooks. I today reviewed my homebrew opening rules in this light, onto Second Draft. I changed Open Door action times, added Physical Tilt option as bonus to it and written variant Open Door actions based on more combat rolls.

                ‘Torture to get information’ based on Social Maneuvering
                In this rules based on Social Maneuvering, 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 is treated as Hard Leverage, and typically takes only 1 minute. ( More exotic techniques can take much more time for each Opening Door action, but with higher bonus to it and dangers of killing victim. ) 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. Making Physical Tilt ( like Arm or Leg Wrack ) on victim gives bonus +2 to Opening Doors. Typical torturer roll is Presence/Dexterity + Intimidation or Strength/Dexterity + Brawl/Weaponry with Health damage bonus as success, 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.


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                • #53
                  on Romanticizing Torture, will say nearly 20 years ago when I first got in to white wolf

                  I created a shadowlord Judge of Doom who carried around a torture kit.

                  I understand romanticizing it a little, it shows how fanatical you are.

                  In real life more then a few cases HAVE Managed to get confessions out of people with torture.

                  sometimes condoned by the government sometimes not, and if the government learns of it (or at least is forced to acknowledge it) They deny all prior knowledge set the guy free and try for an out of court settlement


                  see case of

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakae_Menda
                  Last edited by Prince of the Night; 10-02-2018, 11:07 PM.


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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Prince of the Night View Post
                    In real life more then a few cases HAVE Managed to get confessions out of people with torture.
                    The arguments towards inefficacy aren't saying that you can't get a confession.
                    They're saying that you might as well flip a coin to see if it's actually true or not, because they're just going to tell you what they think you want to hear. Maybe that's the truth, maybe not.

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                    • #55
                      And more like "roll a d20 and only a 20 is verifiable true, and even then you'll want to corroborate" than a coin flip by most studies. Even if the victim thinks they're relating to the truth to their torturer (aka something that sneaks past most supernatural powers that would apply to help), they're likely getting stuff wrong by accident or exaggeration.

                      Confessions aren't about getting to the truth, they're about good PR. Humans are wired to feel more comfortable with laying blame on someone that confesses. It alleviates our apprehension and guilt over assigning blame and punishment because the person has acknowledge their blame and need to be punished for the good of the group. It's cathartic for the bad guy to confess their crimes rather than maintain their innocence the whole time (there have been multiple TV shows where the confession is the pay off for each standard episode). Obtaining a confession is basically never about the pursuit of the truth, and always about making the public feel good about the punishment about to be inflicted on someone in their name; even if people know intellectually that's the case.

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                      • #56
                        Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                        Run yesterday first session of Beast and my players, free from Integrity limits, used Torture on one of mooks. I today reviewed my homebrew opening rules in this light, onto Second Draft. I changed Open Door action times, added Physical Tilt option as bonus to it and written variant Open Door actions based on more combat rolls.

                        ‘Torture to get information’ based on Social Maneuvering
                        In this rules based on Social Maneuvering, 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 is treated as Hard Leverage, and typically takes only 1 minute. ( More exotic techniques can take much more time for each Opening Door action, but with higher bonus to it and dangers of killing victim. ) 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. Making Physical Tilt ( like Arm or Leg Wrack ) on victim gives bonus +2 to Opening Doors. Typical torturer roll is Presence/Dexterity + Intimidation or Strength/Dexterity + Brawl/Weaponry with Health damage bonus as success, 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.
                        Okay, I'm going to put aside the usual problems here and just point out that you don't need a special system for torture to make someone tell you the truth(sooooooooooooooooooo offensively stupid)-and instead point out that's basically an extended roll. Adapting Social Maneuvering into basically a clunkier version of that is a waste of your time and theirs.

                        Actually, I need to ask-since this isn't about a situation where the adjusting moods and opinions of the target matters(Hard Leverage is more a matter for when a long game falls flat), and there doesn't appear to be a time pressure in this brief mention....actually, was there any stakes to this that called for a die roll? Is the mook actually someone who is, like, somehow actually a damn loyal and hard lipped asshole? Because On what little is here, the minimum you probably actually needed was a normal Intimidate roll, IF THAT.

                        Mooks often aren't given a lot of information because they are expected to squeal. If You are going to actually have an information acquistion going on, it seems like it would come from someone who actually has stakes in not telling you. For Mooks, you break their arms, ask if they'd like the other one broken or if they'd rather tell you where the guy who gave him orders is, and then move on once he's squeals.

                        Finally, reminder, Torture is not good for getting the truth, Torture is good for getting the person to appease you in order to make you stop.

                        Beasts wanna torture, fine-I want to play a Beast who straps someone upside down on the top of a tower and torture them slowly to death just to custom craft a Chamber-but know what it's fucking for and stop glamorizing it as effective for things it isn't. It's bad enough it gets glamorized at all.


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                        The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                        Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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                        • #57
                          The whole World of Darkness, and by extension the Chronicles of Darkness, is a game of personal horror. It's precisely the reason for the whole game's very existence. And there is no horror more personal than torture. Some people are going to want to run games about that. Some people are going to want to run games where the players weigh the costs, pitfalls, and benefits, pick up that chance die and roll it. Some people will want some crunchy rules to model it.

                          And Hurt Locker falls flat because it doesn't deliver any GOOD mechanics for that, so this thread exists. All the political grandstanding, moralizing, and insisting torture doesn't work does not change any of the former points. In point of fact, it highlights exactly why more thought and wordcount should have gone into the mechanics, showing in stark detail why torture doesn't work well. Force players to grapple with confirming unsubstantiated claims made under torture. Don't tell them torture is wrong and bad at what it's supposed to do, show it in the gameplay. Give torture a few advantages, like amount of time taken, so players feel it has a place, but make it terrible at getting at the truth. Make it the bad option it's supposed to be, so when the chips are down, the players really have to think about it.

                          Like, when a torture roll succeeds, the storyteller rolls a chance die in secret. Success means the victim speaks verifiable truth. Failure means they don't know the actual truth, know nothing but spin a story, or tell the truth in such a skewed manner it doesn't help the characters. Dramatic failure is a failure, yet any attempts to verify the story come up true. Somehow. Hey, it's a strange world we live in, I'm sure there's an example somewhere you can point me to, and we're talking about a game with magic here.

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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by KageMCS View Post
                            The whole World of Darkness, and by extension the Chronicles of Darkness, is a game of personal horror. It's precisely the reason for the whole game's very existence. And there is no horror more personal than torture.
                            That's got literally nothing to do with what "personal horror" is as a concept.

                            And Hurt Locker falls flat because it doesn't deliver any GOOD mechanics for that, so this thread exists. All the political grandstanding, moralizing, and insisting torture doesn't work does not change any of the former points.
                            Babbling about "political grandstanding" doesn't make "trying to break someone down through the inflicting of pain and suffering so that they'll tell you what you want to hear - a thing which is not interchangeable with the truth - can be modeled by an extended process of learning and exploiting the target's breaking points to apply Conditions that make them more likely to tell you what you want to hear" a bad mechanic.

                            Don't tell them torture is wrong and bad at what it's supposed to do, show it in the gameplay.
                            It does that. That's what "torture inflicts breaking points and applies Conditions and conspicuously does not provide good information on its own" shows.

                            There's a thing that's often observed about combat systems in RPG mechanics, which is "if your combat mechanics take up a disproportionate amount of space in your game's rules, people are going to think your game is supposed to use combat scenes often enough to justify that amount of detail." It's one of the criticisms leveled at the inclusion of Skills like Computer and Animal Ken, it's presumably one of the reasons for 2e's development of subsystems like Social Maneuvering and the Chase and Investigation rules, and it absolutely has a bearing on any expansion of the rules to torture past 1e Core's original "torture is a sample Intimidation Specialty and a sin against Morality 2."

                            If you give torture a particularly involved and specific system you tell players that this is a game where you're expected to torture people often enough to justify spending multiple pages on it, which doesn't happen in quite the same way if you just talk about ways to find out characters' breaking points and inflict Conditions on them.

                            Hey, it's a strange world we live in, I'm sure there's an example somewhere you can point me to, and we're talking about a game with magic here.
                            This is the laziest excuse imaginable to apply to a mundane use of a mundane Skill.


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                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                              snip

                              This is the laziest excuse imaginable to apply to a mundane use of a mundane Skill.
                              In a world with explicitly supernatural elements.

                              All the rest?

                              "Forsooth! I am slain in honourable combat by the better man. Had I but shuteth up, I would not be in such a plight."

                              Happy? Now, on to the systems!

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                              • #60
                                Originally posted by KageMCS View Post

                                In a world with explicitly supernatural elements.

                                All the rest?

                                "Forsooth! I am slain in honourable combat by the better man. Had I but shuteth up, I would not be in such a plight."

                                Happy? Now, on to the systems!
                                Extended roll, apply bonuses and penalties for intimacy or distance to target's breaking points, tools to keep them from fading out vs factors that would escalate that, etc.

                                Took a total of five seconds for that.

                                EDIT: Alternatively, it is a subset of Investigation or Social Maneveuring(not for the tortured themselves, per se, but definitely for anyone invested in their misery) and therefore falls under the purview of the steps of those sub-systems. A subset of a sub-system.

                                Torture for torture's sake rather than something servicing the trouble of "so much time until basically torture doesn't work", "need information to piece together the whole picture", and "need to appeal to a person I want to do something for me that would not benefit from me fucking them over" is either die rolls or just the result of RP with mechanics applied* for getting things out of the way.

                                I thought of that while pissing.

                                *Here meaning "Slap on conditions and damage as ST feels is needed."
                                Last edited by ArcaneArts; 10-08-2018, 07:24 PM.


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                                The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
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