You are extremely susceptible to pain of all kinds. Double the "shock effect" of any injury – e.g., if you take 3 points of damage, DX is at -6 on your next turn. You always roll at -4 to resist physical torture. Whenever you take a wound that does more than 1 hit of damage, you must roll vs. IQ to avoid crying out (possibly giving away your presence). Barbarians, soldiers, thugs, etc., will react to you at -1 if they know you have this disadvantage.
(Thanks to several people for suggesting this – especially Craig Brown, who had the best version.)
This disadvantage comes in three grades: Mild, Severe, and Crippling. The character must roleplay his shyness! If the disadvantage is later "bought off," the affected skills will go back to normal.
Mild Shyness: Uncomfortable around strangers, especially assertive ones. -1 on any skill that involves dealing with the public: in particular, Acting, Bard, Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Leadership, Merchant, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, Streetwise.
Severe Shyness: Very uncomfortable around all strangers; tends to be quiet, even when among friends. -2 on any skill that involves dealing with the public.
Crippling Shyness: Avoids contact with strangers whenever possible. Incapable of public speaking. May not learn any skill that involves dealing with the public; -4 on any default roll on such a skill. (Thanks to Scorpia for suggesting this disadvantage.)
This is the opposite of Combat Reflexes; you tend to "freeze up" in a combat situation. It's not worth more as a disadvantage, simply because most people who have it find out at an early age . . . and then steer away from careers in which they might face danger. This is not the same as cowardice; you don't have to roleplay fear. Your mind may be brave, but your body betrays you.
In any situation in which personal harm seems imminent, roll against your HT. You do not roll until the instant in which you first need to fight, run, pull the trigger, etc. A successful roll means you can act normally. A failed roll means you are frozen, as though you'd been taken by surprise (see p. B106). You must roll every turn, at +1 to your effective HT each turn, to break the freeze. A quick slap from a friend will also give +1 to your cumulative chance of coming out of it.
Once you unfreeze, you will not freeze again until the fight is over or you reach safety. Then you will again be susceptible to freezing, the next time danger threatens.
A character with this disadvantage suffers from a strong desire to see his foes dead. He must go for killing blows in a fight, put in an extra shot to make sure of a downed foe, choose violent and messy options when stealth might be better, etc. An IQ roll is necessary to accept a surrender, or even take a prisoner under orders. And a player who always tries to make this IQ roll may be judged guilty of bad roleplaying!
This seems like a crippling character flaw, but many fictional heroes suffer from it. The point to remember is that the character is not a fiend or sadist; his animus is limited to "legitimate" enemies, whether they are criminals, enemy soldiers, feuding clansmen, or alien scum. In an ordinary tavern brawl, he would use his fists like anyone else. On the other hand, a gladiator or duellist with this disadvantage would probably be a very unpopular competitor!
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