From desire to obsession

1 11 2007

I’ve been thinking about the mechanics for deciding how Dependencies fail, and how they can turn into obsessions in their own right. This is what I’ve got so far; it’s sort of sketchy, and needs refinement.

You have twelve Dependency points, which you divide between 2-4 Dependencies. When your Dependencies are allotted, choose your Triggers– the things which tempt you to indulge in your Obsession. Some Triggers can (should!) be based on your Dependencies– things which can happen regardless of whether you’re attempting to use them to resist Obsession or not. And keep in mind, the sensitivity of a Trigger should be in proportion to its importance to you– if you have “Best friend 2” and “Girlfriend 10,” you might be Triggered when your best friend stands you up for already established plans.. But you might be Triggered if your Girlfriend didn’t call to say good morning. The more you are invested in something, the more you expect from it.

When you face a Trigger, you have one of three choices:

  • Allow yourself to give in. If, for whatever reason, you feel it’s best for your character’s story to relapse, that’s fine.
  • Spend a point of Resolve. This allows you to automatically resist the Trigger without a roll, although you do lose the point of Resolve when you do this. The next time you complete a step, however, you get all your spent Resolve back.
  • Use a Dependency. Dependencies are a gambling mechanic, as outlined below:

Decide which Dependency you’re going to use, and declare it. Then, roll a d10; if you get between 1-3, your Dependency fails you somehow, and you lose your point of Dependency. If you get between 4-7, your Dependency succeeds, but not well enough; you keep your Dependency Point, but have to continue trying Dependencies until you get a real success or lose all of your points. If your roll is between 8-10, it succeeds; your Dependency gives you exactly what you need, and you gain an additional Dependency Point for that Dependency.

When you hit 12 points in any given Dependency, it becomes an Obsession. Treat the act of getting that 12th point the same way you’d treat losing your points and relapsing! All of your Obsession Points refill to twelve, and go back in the cup, and you have to spend everything in there resisting recovery and damaging relationships until you can finally come back and start recovery.

As you become more invested in your various Dependencies, keep track of the intensity of your Triggers and alter them accordingly.

It’s starting to look like this game is going to need a fancy character sheet, something at which I’m not particularly good. Hmmm..




3 responses

1 11 2007


When you hit a Trigger (I’m interested in your thoughts, by the way, on what a given Dependency might look like, with some example triggers at different levels of dependence), you’re flung into that needy state.

When you’re needy, you can do three things: You can be stoic, which is draining; you can backslide, which we know about already; or you can take refuge in another dependency, which is a temporary solution usually, but it keeps you going.

If you are stoic or you backslide, then that’s the end of that particular story.

But if you seek refuge in dependency, it’s a little more complicated. Sometimes your dependency fails you; then you lose some of your dependence on it. Sometimes it satisfies you, which gets you out of the cycle of need, but it also draws you closer to becoming obsessed with that thing.

But sometimes, this is the neat bit…you get to engage with it, but it still leaves you feeling needy, and then you’re at square one.

Am I reading that right? I’m not sure I understand why a dependency’s failure makes it decay…

1 11 2007

Okay, here’s where things get complex. Like, I guess the mechanics aren’t that complex on their own? But the dynamics are. Hopefully, anyway. This is what I’m hypothesizing and hoping this achieves:

When you lose all of your Dependency Points and Resolve Points and all you have left is Obsession, you’re in relapse. So losing points is increasing the emptiness inside of you, essentially. I do not know how to express it mechanically, especially with the new mechanic where you can gain Dependency Points on your way to Obsession, but losing points does not necessarily (in my ideal version of this game) disinvest you from that Dependency. It’s like spending temporary willpower in Exalted.. it does not change your Dependency rating.

So this is what I’m trying to do, psychologically.

Let’s say your Dependency is your lover. No, wait, I keep using people as a Dependency, because this is a game about dysfunctional relationships, which makes me think people. Let’s do something different– let’s do Religion. Let’s say you start at Religion 6.

You spend the evening in counsel with the minister at your church, and you feel invigorated. Religion 7! You go to prayer meetings, they’re successful. Religion 8! You pray.. And feel nothing. You’re expecting this overwhelming anointing and there’s nothing there. That’s a Trigger. You decide to fight the Trigger with more religion– you fast for a weekend. You end up feeling hungry and alone. You lose a Dependency point. There’s an emptiness there, and it gnaws.

So the more you have, the more you demand– so the more you have, the more likely you are to be disappointed by it, or end up overtaken by it. The less you have, the more likely you are to be overwhelmed by what you’re fighting, but you expect less of the world around you. Like I said a couple posts back– a level 2 dependency is on the level “Nothing is Enough” and a level 11 dependency is on the level “Why Aren’t You Enough?”

The only healthy answer is Resolve, “I am Enough.”

1 11 2007

Ooohhh…. I’m starting to see. So level and points are independent measures? Cool.

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