One of those things I have had stewing in the back of my mind for a while (right alongside “energy types”) is emotions and their uses, advantages, and incarnations. I think I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite rules interactions from Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons was between Barbarian Rage and the Calm Emotions spell.

Emotions are kind of tough though. It’s hard to say how feeling one way or another will actually affect a character, and when you throw mind-altering stuff into combat, does it really affect different characters the same way? Several years back, I found this cool diagram showing how emotions related to one another as a color spectrum.

(It’s saved somewhere on my hard drive, and it crops up ever now and then in my design notes, usually in conjunction with charms, empathy, and psychic damage.)

Cookiemonger and I had a conversation recently that gave me something to think about. While developing one of her story settings, she concluded that actual mind alteration, like implanting messages or impulses and stuff, wasn’t feasible – and I started to think of reasons why that might be. (I might be misremembering though.)

What it brought me to today was an idea about how an emotional state might have a fairly limited effect on a character – total mind control just isn’t an option, but emotions can and are affected on a person relatively easily. They’re sort of like, I don’t know, “habitual states” that I think fall just shy of status effects.

One of the worst things to do with fear is prevent a character from attacking, whether that’s by forcing them to cower or run away. I know it’s a cool control effect for the user, but no one wants to be on the receiving end. Ever. So I had an idea. I made this “Edge” ability to grant minor numerical advantages and whatnot, right?

Well, I thought that maybe emotions could be used to either grant or deny an edge on an enemy. Let’s say you instill a foe with rage or fear, then you and any of your allies would be able to gain an edge on them easily. If you smite a foe with despair or ecstasy, then they’re unable to take advantage of any edge they get.

Nice and straightforward? I think so, anyway.

As for actually trying to alter someone thoughts – I think you’re pretty much stuck causing damage. You might think you’re telling them to do one thing or another, some self-destructive impulse that you’re implanting, but I think that just translates to damage. I don’t see a need to make it anything more than that. No stun-lock for you.