The Skill ‘Intimidation’ in Cyberpunk 2020
Author: David KNIGHTHAWK Simpson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Intimidation: More Than Quoting Dirty Harry
Ever been to Muscle Beach, watched some of the body builders pump iron and think to yourself, “I wouldn’t want to meet them in a dark alley”? That is intimidation by physical means. Intimidation has a lot of opportunities for use, but too few GM’s take this skill into account during their gaming. Players also seem to underestimate its abilities and benefits. Why waste bullets when you can just scare them away?First, intimidation on its own; intimidating people, not in a face-down situation (which is primarily looks and a contest of wills) is frequently misinterpretted. Think of bullys. They rule through their reputation and intimidation. Initimidation (skill), COOL (stat), BODY (stat), relative size (characteristic), and REP, this combination should be used for mass (as in multiple-person) intimidation. Physical size matters, because instinctually we feel inferior or submissive to something larger than ourselves. (Majority of people think twice when talking to someone significantly taller or larger than themselves, and remember, your characters are SUPPOSED to be people, too.)
Second, the more physical side to Intimidation; lifting someone off the ground, bending a lead pipe, or crushing a mug with your metal hand all require something – STRENGTH FEAT rolls! When you try to gain an upper hand using physical force, it is a good idea to have the brawn to back up your attempt. On the other hand no little old lady is going to lift a footbal player six inches off the ground (on average). Though she might be able to rip a phonebook in half (there are techniques to that) she is not physically capable of such a herioc feat of lifting a 200+ pound man off the ground (GM’s, this is where LOGIC must prevail in your game). When using STRENGTH FEAT as or assisting to intimidation, take it into consideration with the intimidation roll.
Last, but not least, intimidation and face-downs. Most face-downs have a preliminary intimidation phase. I usually work it this way, the winning side gets the difference between the inimidation & “save” (for lack of a better term). Ie: Player 1 gets a 20, Player 2 gets a 18; Player 1 gets a +2 to his face-down roll. In The case of a tie intimidation roll, no bonus is awarded. If the defender wins the check, he gains half the difference (rounded up) to his face down roll. If there is no attempt at intimidation before the face-down, no modifiers apply to the face-down roll.
Role-Playing Intimidation and Other Like Skills
Okay, let’s face it, rolling to determine the effects of intimidation and other like skills is great, but what about realism and details? We play this, and other RPGs as ACTORS! We are playing these characters, like a role in a play! Our use of dialogue gives them life. Without the players, these characters are merely numbers on sheets of paper. So, if you play in an RPG, you had best be prepared to role-play, and not roll-play. Now, getting back to the point about intimidation & rolls, I generally give a little bonus or a little extra effort if the player gives me a good intimidational action or line of dialogue. Telling me the character says, “I can handle 10 of you,” or, “You and what army?” will get a lot less “subtle” points or effort out of me than someone who comes up with, “Back off CHOOH-head before you get flatlined and left for a messy pickup,” while cracking his knuckles or slowly sliding his rippers into a combat position. A good dramatic stand off is more interesting than the equivalent of two over-sized, metal-clad bickering children. Remember, don’t roll it when you can make a role out of it.