Fading Suns and Flaming Heresies
There are times when a character cannot control his emotions and must try to check them: A noble who is gravely insulted, an Inquisitor trapped in a den of sinners, a merchant who is cheated out of his life’s savings, etc. When the slight is grievous enough, a roll should be made to determine how well a character succeeds in governing his reaction. The gamemaster decides whether or not a situation requires a roll.
Roll Calm plus an appropriate skill. If the character is at a society ball and must maintain his composure, roll Calm + Etiquette. If the character is in a terrifying situation and trying to stay calm against fear, roll Calm + Impress (or Stoic Mind). If a street gang leader threatens the character but he wants to stay cool, roll Calm + Streetwise. In addition, there may be modifiers to the roll depending on the situation; use the standard bonus and penalty chart.
If successful, the character is in control of her actions. If the roll fails, the character succumbs to whatever undesired emotion plagues her: anger, fear, sorrow, lust, etc. This is usually a momentary lapse of reason, lasting for a turn or so, but the results of that lapse may affect the character for a long time afterwards: That Scraver chief did not appreciate you throwing your drink in her face. Your apologies immediately afterwards fell on deaf ears and you can look forward to a small feud for months or even years to come.
A character’s passionate reaction should remain in character: A serf insulted by a noble may be humiliated and angry, but she will probably not leap up and knock him from his mount, although a Muster guildmember might, especially if her comrades are there to back her up.
In general, a character’s behavior is decided solely by the player. But when a player refuses to play within the boundaries of his or her own character concept, the gamemaster may require the player to make a roll to govern the character’s urges. For instance, Jill is playing a hotheaded Hawkwood named Eleanor. Eleanor is insulted terribly at a party by an upstart Hazat boy, who implies that she hands out sexual favors like candy. Jill knows that this character is connected to her rivals and is trying to goad her, but Eleanor does not know this. There is a disparity between player and character knowledge. Nonetheless, Jill says that Eleanor will ignore the Hazat’s insults.
The gamemaster thinks this is drastically out of character for Eleanor, so he requires that Jill make a Calm + Etiquette roll for Eleanor not to fly off the handle at the snotty Hazat. Since Eleanor is a Hawkwood, she suffers from the family pride (the Prideful Curse: -2 Calm), and may fail the roll. This should not be viewed as a penalty, however, but a wonderful opportunity for roleplaying. The gamemaster should never use forced rolls to punish players, only to lead them into intense roleplaying situations they might otherwise miss due to their lack of roleplaying chutzpah.