Saturday, July 11, 2009

Busy Day, Only time for torture.

I've got a hectic week upcoming so my update schedule will probably slow, but not below my original goal.

That said today's flaw is about something that comes up eventually. Torture. Eventually, everyone has come to the point where they capture someone who has information they don't want to share. Fear the Boot had an episode on this, saying it usually breaks down one of two ways. Either the guy talks immediately, the guy will never talk or the players spend thirty minutes describing horrible things they do until he talks. For some people this may be enjoyable, others probably don't really want to get into this. But the need to get information from people who don't want to share it is important.

Piecemeal has one bard skill that deals with this, Interrogation. Isn't that a fancy way of saying Torture? No. Interrogation is purposefully left more broad to include such things as playing "good cop/bad cop", cross examination in the courtroom, holding someone over a balcony, and yes, torture. The only reference to torture is simply one announces how many body points of damage they are dealing to the target. Isn't that glossing over a PC's (or NPC's) actions? Yes. Totally. I also gloss over the fact that PC's use the washroom. I do not expect the PC's to intimately describe each bowel movement including colour, texture and specific odour. If it comes up, simply announcing that they are performing the act is enough.

Why is this good?

1.) Graphic descriptions of interrogation is not something everyone wants to go through.
2.) The ability to get information from unwilling people is required in many games.


With some groups, the hand waiving of torture may make some people far less hesitant about performing it. This can be a problem if you want to stress the serious nature of torture. If this is the case, you could simply require that any actual torture (use of damage) a listing of the types of torture that are going to do. Not always, not graphically, but as a reminder.

As I recently retooled the social conflict mechanics. (see here and here ), I may try and refurbish the interrogation rules to sync up better.


  1. I am rather confused.
    Where would the description of torture practises be written up for someone to read?
    --Or, do you mean that the skill, then, removes the need for even mentioning it in the game-play?

    Why is bloodletting a detailed combat mechanic while other forms of brutal treatment of a fellow sentient not OK?
    --If folks think that putting the screws to someone is less civilised than gutting them in combat, I think there is a serious disconnect going on somewhere.

    I suppose I've lost too much innocence in my life to see a difference between the two activities, and would go on by saying that merely wounding and leaving for dead a victim of combat is itself a form of long and drawn-out torture.

    I better stop now.

  2. long debates on morality between types of behaviour and why they are acceptable always boils down to the concept of nudity to me (bear with me). If it came down to letting your kid see a TV show with massive amounts of full frontal nudity or a large amount of fighting, academically we all know that being violent is worse than being a nudist. But almost all of us (myself included) would choose to let kids see violence before nudity. It may not be logical, but its the way we are as a culture. I mean pokemon is just fancied up dog-fighting and it is targeted to kids.

  3. I see.
    Not sure how does that ties into not representing Torture for what it is, but I'll pass on that.

    In any case, I am glad you have a mechanic you like.
    No need to respond.