Mentality

October 27th, 2008

This attribute defines how a characters psychological reaction to a given situation and is based on physiological systems of the neuromodulators: Dopamine and Serotonin. The gives two possible results of risky individual behaviours (Dopamine) and relatively safer group behaviours (Serotonin). The two behaviours play off each other and enhance everyone’s chance of survival.

NOTICE: Updates for consideration;

  1. WarSpike Psychology 101 [part 1]
  2. WarSpike Psychology 101 [part 2]
  3. Fear [psychology expansion]

The attribute is given as a range of 1-10. To determine how a character reacts in a given situation, when called for in the rules, test the attribute as follows

Roll 1D10.

If they result is equal to or under the attribute number they act in an group manner and with the group’s interests (safety in numbers/ go with the herd).

If the result is over the attribute number the character acts in an individualistic way and functions as an individual according to their own immediate self-interest.

What defines a group is determined by the character’s values and culture (see ‘Attitudes‘). To put simply there is ‘safety in numbers’, any human will quickly figure that having friends is a very good idea. In our modern society is hard to think that this is down to fear and that we huddle together out of a need for survival, it very easy to be arrogant in our modern age. We  simply see the benefit of grouping and organising (and this is where leaders come in, and will be discussed soon). However the underlying need is fear, and all humans who have be isolated and on ‘enemy’ territory quickly realise how powerful this fear is. This is not to say that it is the only emotion contributing to this behaviour, merely the root. Fear is for survival, and lets us know we are in danger and we may not be able to cope.

Using the Tactical Sphere and an illustrative example: In wartime a given unit has been trained and has an attitude towards their fellow man of camaraderie and loyalty to the army. This binds the group of the unit. To test group bonds the entire units would roll vs the average of their Mentality and have to score under the attribute number. If they do this they will stand together even without a leader. If the fail they will think of their own self-interest and may wavier in the face of the enemy, but will think of regrouping once out of danger.

Example: A units with Mentality:6 would need to roll 6 or less on 1D10 to remain a group and act as a group. If they know each other well and have camaraderie modifier+3. This gives a total of attribute to test of 9. In times of stress they will hold on a 9 or less. In charged they will stick together on a 9 or less. However, they are limited to group or ‘herd’ behaviour and will not initiate an attack without a leader.

Not all people are like this, some thrive on fear and convert it to excitement, these are the dopamine dominant types, but such risky behaviour leaves little room for a group. With time, these risky individuals quickly find that they are not immortal and are limited when facing a group. Even an angry mob can be quite effective at taking down an individual (lynch mob). These nutters quickly work out that they need backup, that they need a mob of their own, and and a mob they can lead. Together, a group and a leader can achieve far more than if they remain separate entities. This is the basis of gangs, which lead to clans and tribes. One day this combination lead to civilization (usually via beer, agriculture for food is all well and good, but agriculture for beer as a far greater appeal to a ‘gang’ back in the day, and facilitate bonding forming a more effective gang).

A strong leader (an individual with an exceptionally low Mentality) who can effectively bully, cajole and inspire the men (or women) under their command into action, may use their Mentality to lead. Here being an individual (allied to the greater individual’s goals) is key, and strong conviction pays off. If the leader rolls over their Mentality attribute number they can impose a modifier to the group based on that leadership.

Example: A leader with a Mentality:2 would need to roll a 2 or more to impose their will on, and effect the direction of group’s aim. If the leader rolls a 1 they will act as part of the group and the group is in effect temporarily leaderless (lacks direction) until someone pull of an individual roll.

This combination of the leader’s low Mentality and the groups high Mentality is what defines how an unit acts on the battle field. The two rolls of leader and units are combined into a single roll.

Example: Using the above examples as a base, the unit leader has Mentality:2 and the Unit Mentality:6. When testing the unit’s resolve vs an enemy’s charge, the Player only needs to roll one die. If the result is 1 (under the leader’s and troop’s Mentality) the unit is immobilised, if the result is 2-6 the unit acts in accordance with the wishes of the leader. If the result is 6 or more, the unit is broken with all thinking of their own interests.

This gives quite a complex dynamic with relatively few numbers. It also highlights that a strong difference between the leader’s and group’s Mentality is needed to make an effective command (and hence society’s tendency to form into social classes).

If we also include modifiers like camaraderie, it may be possible to boost the group’s resolve to 10 or more. This would make the unit unbreakable in most initial combat engagements, yet other modifiers will quickly mount up and with enough pressure and losses any unit will break (it should be noted that some elite units all have individual goals allied with the leader, and even when acting selfishly it is towards the group).

Rule of the mob: A mob is a large unruly group of people without a specific leader (may contain many subgroups with leaders but no one is in charge of the whole mob). As such the mob is limited in what it can do as it lacks direction or moves organically to threats. A mob can not charge an equal or larger mob, they will charge a mob less than half it’s strength (this is down to a certain ‘obviousness of probability of success). Other factors may play a apart, such as an unarmed mob facing a armed unit. These are areas to address in the Tactical rule set.

In an RPG (Role-Play Game) a combination of Technique and Politico Spheres, Mentality is used in other ways, such as when a Player Character bartering. The ability to barter and sell is an ‘individual’ activity, making friends is a group activity. So to haggle with someone is ‘individual’ but to lend an item to someone is ‘group’. Those with low Mentality will haggle, those with high Mentality will pay full price (but may shop around). Friends ‘lend’ and do ‘favours’, and often nothing is exchanged other than a promise or mutual understanding.  The friendly way of doing things can be exploited by those acting as ‘individuals’ using deception to charm. Negotiation is a mixture of group when being conciliatory and switching to individual when trying to gain the upper hand.

Although Mentality is not actually used for the bartering/ haggling as that is an Action skill, it is used to determine what the character feels comfortable with. The Player can override the characters natural response, but they may gain penalties to their Action test, as the character feels uneasy doing it.

On top of this base are applied modifiers, from the modifier group. This improves the ability of the character and enable them to more consistently pull of various associated tests. For example, a character will low Mentality is individualistic, but that doesn’t make them a leader. The leader is the strongest of the individuals, and if any less powerful  individual will not comply they will be kicked out of the group (‘outsiders’ are individuals without power).

It is possible for outsiders to form groups, but this is more ‘birds of a feather flock together’ rather than an actual group as defined by these rules. They are effectively individuals with aligned goals.

Coming edits/ junk section/ due for removal;


Next up we should look at soldiers, for while they have a high group Mentality, this is mostly down to modifiers such as camaraderie. The reason being is that high Mentality will effectively limit the killing potential of the unit, once they are in the thick of it, low Mentality to dominate the enemy is needed. The soldier has to impose their will onto the enemy and that’s a individual roll. This trait turns up when soldiers are separated from the group, their self interest when behind enemy lines is to get back to their group as fast as possible, and that means they will have to make individual roles.


Example: While a Leader of a unit, or elite professional soldiers may be all for the social order and therefore all the tests they make result in the group’s interests, conscripts have a different take. Conscripts are forced to fight wars they do not wish to fight. While they may act altruistic to their fellow ‘comrades’ it is also possible that they will act selfishly when threatened. The only way to stop desertion is for the leadership to be harsh and threaten the conscripts with punishment more harsh enemy! This is why armies have ‘cowardice’ as a capital crime (punishable by death). The logic of the dilemma is simple: you can chose to fight and you may survive the battle and gain ‘glory’, or you can choose to turn tail – but you will definitely be hunted down and killed if you desert and unable to return home. The chances are you own side will find you very quickly and the places where your won side are not, are probably held by the enemy. A rock and a hard place. Most choose to fight, or at least claim they will fight until they can figure a way out. Figuring a way out usually presents itself when the leader dies.

Category: Prototype Rules Page

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