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MyGURPS - Preserving The Polarity Of Weirdness Magnet

Preserving The Polarity Of Weirdness Magnet

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Why is Weirdness Magnet almost universally considered a fun and harmless trait? It seems to be a common meme among both players and GMs. "Weirdness Magnet? Yeah, that means neat stuff happens to me. Nothing bad, just weird, y'know?" Even the authors of GURPS for Dummies exacerbate the situation with comments like, "...we enjoy being the one who will have strange and possibly wonderful things happen randomly." (Admittedly, these are the same dummies who say that the Judo skill gives you "two attacks and two parries per turn" and recommend taking the Do Nothing maneuver in combat when you lack things to do.)

Weirdness Magnet is a -15 point disadvantage. Worse than Unluckiness. Worse than the worst case of Overconfidence. Worse than constant Nightmares. As bad as a crippling Delusion or a Great Vow, or a combination of nasty Supernatural Features. It isn't "strange and wonderful" -- it's a seriously negative trait.

Read the key parts of the description. "Nothing lethal happens to you, at least not immediately..." The implication? That events can certainly unfold which end up being life-threatening in the long run, and that the strange events can certainly be dangerous (if not immediately lethal). "But most of the time it is terribly, terribly inconvenient." This is something which should be causing consistent annoyances in the PC's life -- not something which makes their day fun to talk about at the office.

A PC with Weirdness Magnet is giving the GM permission to screw with his character in every way, shape, and form -- as long as it's out of the ordinary. Hauntings should keep him up at night. The demons that invite him to tea should show up at work, costing him his job and driving local priests to kidnap and exorcise him. Aliens should communicate with him by possessing his car, crushing it into a mouth through which they can talk.

The -2 reaction should be roleplayed -- once people know what's going on, they'll be afraid to be around him for obvious reasons. The sole exceptions, of course, "are parapsychologists, fringe cultists, unhinged conspiracy theorists, and thrill-seekers, who follow you around!" These crazies range from useless fools who get in the way to nosy bloggers who spill the details of the character's nightly activities all over the internet.

In essence, Weirdness Magnet can be thought of as Cursed (Inconveniences Only, -80%) [-15] or perhaps Unluckiness (Activates Multiple Times Per Session, +50%) [-15]. It's a mandate for the GM to harass and inconvenience the character as often as he wants, with an emphasis on the strange and bizarre.

With that said, there are still plenty of players who will want to be Weirdness Magnets, just like there are players who love powerful Phobias, being Absent-Minded, and so on. That's great -- I've always said a GM's job is to please the player by torturing the PC. But GMs, please make sure they go into the choice with open eyes, and make sure that they get their full -15 points worth of inconvenience and trouble. Otherwise, this might as well be a Perk (Cool stuff happens to me) [1] and should be charged as such.

Thanks to James for thoughts on followers.

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