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Old Hat Monsters: The Potential Hidden Threat

Old Hat Monsters: The Potential Hidden Threat

The Feast in the House of Levi, Paolo Veronese, 1573, Oil on canvas“Indifference, to me, is the epitome of all evil.” ― Elie Wiesel

We gamers like to dwell in worlds that differ greatly from our own. Perhaps this is because the world around us fails to make sense in the way the worlds on the pages of our books and in our mind’s eye can. Despite the fantastical elements, despite the physicality and tangibility of evil, there is a sense of right and wrong our world sometimes lacks. It harkens back to the stories of childhood when we could easily tell the good guys from the bad guys and the world was black and white.

As a writer and game designer, I am always aware of the necessity of folk to suspend their disbelief and immerse themselves into what I have created to gain the fullest sense of enjoyment. It’s a joy that GMs can share with their peers, and when it comes together, the worlds we make in our imaginations become almost tangible for a moment.

The template I’m about to present is my take on a sociopath. Know your players before introducing it or simply do not mention the mechanics. I say this again as a caution: Know your players. If they want to mix in moral shades of gray, don’t break immersion if you don’t have to.

That said, this week I’ve made a template based off common traits of a sociopath. This can be any humanoid—a killer, a thief, or an ally to the party. It’s a template that mixes strengths and weaknesses and can be used a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. The character you build can be as varied as any person in the real world who has some degree of sociopathy—it’s up to you how you wish to use this template. So, join me after the jump as Old Hat Monster’s presents the sociopath template.

The sociopath (CR +1) is available to player character races only. The sociopath can be a functional member of a community or a criminal element. There’s no outward physical difference, thus they hide in plain sight.

Alignment cannot be good-aligned; lawful is rare but possible

Type/Size/AC/HD are all unaffected

Feats Combat Reflexes (sociopaths seeking to wound or kill take any opportunity presented to attack)

Skills +2 to Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidation, Disguise; –4 to Sense Motive (sociopaths can be socially charismatic and adept at deceit and intimidation; they lack the empathy required to excel at sensing the motives of others)

Weaknesses –2 to Will saves (having no attachments means having less motivation to fend off mental assaults)

Offensive Abilities

Decisive and Efficient (Ex)—Sociopaths do not pause to consider the consequences of striking and attack to deal the most damage. They gain a +2 bonus to initiative in any round they are striking in melee, and they gain 1d6 extra damage any time an opponent is flat-footed against them.

Defensive Abilities

Collateral Damage (Ex)—A sociopath can damage any unattended item or make a free combat maneuver against an ally as a part of a withdraw action. Some use this to sacrifice expendable allies or cause damage to cover an escape.

Suggested Uses

This character can be a red herring in a mystery set-up or a secondary threat in a city-based encounter (this is best if the character acts as an ally first). He or she could also be a villain who has everyone fooled.

Did I get this right? Was there more you wanted to see? I’ll take one crunch request for the first commentator and do basic character concepts for every other commentator that requests it.

5 thoughts on “Old Hat Monsters: The Potential Hidden Threat”

  1. Introducing elements of psychology to round out character builds is an interesting and hard thing to do, in my opinion. If you’re interested in doing more research into personality disorders and the like, here are some notes for you:

    The Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was released at the American Psychiatric Association’s Annual Meeting in May 2013, and since then several articles have been posted about how this manual offers new criteria for personality disorders, among other topics. You can also take a peek at The World Health Organization’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. Additionally, a quick Internet search of the term “sociopath” could provide you with a wealth of information (vet it!) to help you add more real-world elements to round out character development. (One article you might find interesting discusses the show Sherlock: “Stop Calling Sherlock a Sociopath! Thanks, a Psychologist.” <http://io9.com/5933869/stop-calling-sherlock-a-sociopath-thanks-a-psychologist> [Read the comments, too.]) All of this type of reading can help you provide roleplaying depth as well as statistical depth to your characters.

    And, again, know your fellow players and know your GM—comfort levels are an extremely important consideration at your gaming table. I worked with someone with a family member who was being treated for a condition, and that, in itself, can make folk very sensitive to how you portray a character in your game.

  2. This is fantastic and I’d love to see some PCs try and go up against this guy. I’m not sure about the Will save weakness though–sociopaths are nothing if not selfish and they likely to take bonuses on Will saves rather than to take penalties. I’d replace the -2 with a +2.

    But, you’d need another weakness. Given sociopaths inherent separation from the rest of the human race, what about a weakness that makes them unable to take advantage of bonuses granted to a group of people like the party? Or they’d need to fail a saving through to take advantage of such spells… So, the sociopath could take advantage of a cure light wounds spell directed directly at him, but wouldn’t (or would need to fail a save to) be affected by a bless spell.

  3. @ Allen the Will penalty is partly to keep the CR down to a +1, and partly because I believe that part of what would make someone strong against mental attack is their attachments. Call me a romantic but I think love makes us stronger not weaker.

    @ Miranda I did think of throwing the link I used as a reference when designing this. Great minds think alike I suppose. I didn’t like the title change but as an editor that’s your perogative.

    @ DMCal try it on an expert when they are low level. It’ll make a nasty surprise.

  4. I really like it. I think it is interesting and makes the characters more rounded. It gives something different for the characters. There are bad guys who are bad, they do it for the money.. but this is totally different. good job

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