Games Design - [Dead of Night 2] Bad Habits

Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Apr 4th 2010

One of the rules that I've added to Dead of Night second edition are bad habits. Victims in Dead of Night still have attribute pairs, specialisations and survival points, same as ever, but players can also choose a bad habit or two.

Think of a bad habit as a horror movie cliche personal to that character. So a character might have the bad habit “sneaks out for a cigarette at every opportunity”, and when they sneak off for a fag when they should be guarding the camp, they earn a survival point. It’s a simple enough rule, and hardwires in certain behaviours to each character.

I’ve shamefully stolen the concept of bad habits from James Mullen, who first suggested them over here. One of the things he quickly found when using bad habits was that players would shamefully milk them at every opportunity. And who could blame a player from running off to smoke a cigarette whenever it was their go – the odds are hardly on their side, after all.

So I've tweaked the rule a little, so the key to a bad habit is that a survival point is only awarded when a character acts on their bad habit in such a way as to put themselves or another character at risk, they gain a survival point for doing so. So simply running off for a cigarette at every opportunity won’t net the character any benefit, but lighting up on the porch when they know the werewolf is out looking for them might.

I had quite a bit of success using the Seven Deadly Sins as bad habits, and I know James sometimes throws in two or three different bad habits per character so there's a breadth of choice as to how you work them in, but the other times I've used them they've been a bit hit and miss as to whether they get used. Anyone got any good examples of bad habits that might actually get some use in a game?

Posted by: Joe Prince On: Apr 5th 2010

I think you can get a lot of scope from addictions, obsessions and compulsions.

Addicted to liquor.
Obsessed with shoes.
Compelled to burst into song...

Could you use bad habits like aspects in FATE where the GM can compell their use at an inconvenient time?

Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Apr 5th 2010

Those examples are a good way to look at it, actually - a neat way of describing a bad habit.

As for using them as compels - you could, yes, but in Dead of Night players tend to be on the look out for any opportunity to gain a survival point anyway, so I'm not sure there's that need. Players should play to their bad habits (and get rewarded for doing so) in the course of the game.

Posted by: Gary Bowerbank On: Apr 5th 2010

If you're not going to use Compels - and I don't think you should - as you say, its more for the players to bring it in (this increases intra-party "oh no, what are you doing!?" factor), then I'd make sure you've specifically flagged this in your new text.

People playing one of your (or Mullen or Dorward's) game may well Get This as it will be facilitated in such a way, but if there's no rule on it, its definitely worth labouring in the text (for people coming at it cold) that players should be encouraged to behave in a certain way regarding their Bad Habits.



Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Apr 6th 2010

It won't hurt to hit it up a notch in the text.

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