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Drinking in The Riddle of Steel

Started by Jason Kottler, June 27, 2003, 07:09:34 PM

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Jason Kottler

Last night was a great session.

For the first time, the PCs actually entered a tavern. One of the PCs was unhappy. She'd just killed someone, and for the first time, didn't feel good about it. The guy was obviously no match for her (CP 14 vs CP 11) and the guy she'd thought she was defending put a stilletto in her opponnent's back as she delivered a blow that would have allowed her to let the fight end without a death. So what do unhappy people do in bars?

They drink.

I didn't remember any particular inebriation rules in TRoS, and I didn't have time to go looking them up anyhow. It would have killed the flow. We were having a very role-play moment that needed to be informed by a rule procedure, so I made up these rules and applied them unexplained on the spot:

1) Social drinking - I decided that any character could have one drink (drink defined as 1 ale = 1 wine = 1 shot) per point of
Endurance without consequence.

2) Drinking to get drunk - The PC drank her fourth drink (Endurance of 4) without any sign of stopping. I asked if she wanted to continue drinking. She said, "Hell, yeah!" I decided that her exuberant disregard, her obvious intention to get drunk meant that she would consume 1d6 drinks before even considering stopping again.

At the end of that round of drinking, I had her roll endurance (4) against (6 + number of drinks "over your limit") = (6 + number of drinks - endurance). I think she had rolled a 3, so she was rolling 4 dice against a TN of 9.

This procedure was repeated several times. She wanted to keep drinking, so things were simple.

3) Drinking because you're drunk - At some point, drinkers just keep drinking, regardless of rational thought or even an urge toward self-preservation. Eventually, she wanted to quit drinking. I had her roll Will Power against (6 + the number over her limit = 16) and she failed (finally!). I ruled that she was out of control and had 1d6 more drinks. This brought her up to 21 drinks over her limit, clearly in the realm of alcohol poisoning. At the end of that binge, she rolled endurance against TN 21. She blew the roll, and obviously, chunks. A failed roll of Health vs TN 21 caused her to pass out there on the bar in a pool of her own vomit.

4) The Morning After - After she passed out, her brother carried her up to the room the PCs had taken and cleaned her up. (He'd tried to get her to quit during the "social drinking" phase and had been sternly rebuffed. He decided to let her learn the lesson on her own.) I ruled that every hour she could make an Endurance roll against 26 (the number of drinks over her limit) - the number of hours since she'd stopped drinking in order to try to wake up, to recover from the alcohol poisoning. She spent 9 hours unconscious. After she awoke, we rolled every hour again to avoid vomiting. She puked twice more over the course of the day. I ruled that each 3 hours of unconsciousness was one point of health lost, to be regained by once-daily endurance rolls, but that now that the worst was over, she could not die from this. Nine hours of unconsciousness translated to three lost health points for this 4-Health Riddle Seeker.

What made this wonderful was how well this seemed to mimic what I (dimly) remember about heavy drinking in college. You feel great for a while, you can drink all you want, then you're really drunk and there seems to be no reason to quit at all, so you drink more and more. At some point, you drink even if you want to stop, just because someone puts a drink in your hand or because you start talking to someone. Then, the bottom drops out and you suffer through endless hell as punishment for your foolishness.

The other PCs had a great time watching in awe as she made rolls vs 10+ on 4 dice to keep drinking, and laughing and taunting her as she suffered and puked. Again, this is sort of what I remember from college. Somebody drains a bottle and everyone is cheering wildly - when the bottle comes back up, the same audience scorns and derides the drinker.

Anyhow, I'll probably never run a drinking binge this formally again but it was sure fun and I thought someone else might want to see the rules, clean them up, and maybe make sense of them.
Jason Kottler -Ultrablamtacular!


Hi Jason,

Them's some detailed rules.  I don't know if any of her SAs would apply, but I might have thrown one or two points to conscience for showing how deeply the character was affected.


Jason Kottler

I am a notoriously stingy GM when it comes time to hand out experience. Last night the roleplaying on everyone's part was so good I was just stunned. I gave out 4 SAs to each player, that's how good it was. The players then had to justify to me where they wanted to put their points. The only reason I'm posting about the binge drinking is because it generated some fun mechanics.

And you know, the rules seem complicated to explain, but they all fit well at the moment and were easy to adjudicate. The best clue I had that they were OK was that nobody complained or challenged them, they all just watched in fascination and horror as one of their number tried to drink herself sick.

I have to say, this TRoS game is the best game I've run in years, and I attribute that to the quality of the TRoS system. My players are pursuing their own agendas, bringing SAs into play even when dice aren't involved, it's wonderful.
Jason Kottler -Ultrablamtacular!


Hi Jason,

I think your rules are very clear and look great.  They happen to have more rolling than I(personally) am into, but that's all cool.  

You might also want to check out some of the various threads on SAs if you haven't already.  Some folks, like you, only hand out a few SAs a night, others pour them on as characters take concrete actions towards their goals.  I (again, personally) would be very much against letting players freely assign their earned SA points, but instead award based on in game actions.  SAs work in a very, very different manner than experience points, and you might want to check some of the threads if you haven't already.

Aside from the Health loss, do you have anything specific for reducing coordination, perception, or perhaps even Willpower?  Also, is there any negation of Pain?  I wouldn't expect some massive combat bonus, but the effects are there.


Jason Kottler

Bankuei -

Normally, I hand out SAs at the moment that a player impresses me with how well he's advancing one.

Last night's "manna from heaven" SA handout was because these players roleplayed all sorts of things that aren't represented by SAs. Family conflicts. A smart player breaking everyone up by really playing his lunkhead character. "Drive: Protect my family" is an SA. "I hate to see her hurt but my sister just has to learn this on her own" is knowing your character beyond what's on the sheet and there were so many examples last night that I had to recognize it somehow.

Now, I did make players justify their SA allocations to me, and I denied a couple.

As far as other effects from drinking, it never came into play. I just rolled these rules as we went and I only really posted them here because I thought someone might be interested. I suppose I could go look at my copy of GURPS: Callahan's Crosstime Saloon for a fully developed example of drinking rules. But this was all that was necessary at the time.

If we had had a combat while drunk, I would have reduced / eliminated shock and pain, reduced CP (reflex would have been shot by this point...).  

As for all the rolling...everyone was enjoying it, hanging on the outcome of every thow. "Is she gonna hurl again?" was the question on everyone's minds. So since the players were enjoying it, (so was I, frankly) yes, we threw a lot of dice!
Jason Kottler -Ultrablamtacular!