Emotions, also called (emotional) states or moods or feelings, are statistics or traits that represent the strength of a character's various emotions, and the character's ability to be effective in the game world when experiencing those emotions.
Emotions as primary statistics
Emotions can be used as a statistic in a role-playing game's resolution mechanic, in which case the specific emotion being used is an indication of the internality of the character (a form of emoting). Using emotions as a primary trait set therefore requires an assumption that characters in the game will have a broad emotional range, making it more suitable for dramatic games (in which emotions are heightened and may cause problems) and wholesome pastoral-like games (in which emotions are expected and welcomed), rather than action-adventure, romance or horror for example.
Lists of emotions used as primary statistics are generally derived from theories of basic emotions. Leaving out an important one, such as 'fear', can lead to gaps in emotional coverage and therefore nothing to roll when needed.
Using emotions as primary statistics often requires more rules than a more straightforward set such as attributes, in order to reflect how emotions change over time and interact with each other. One way is to have using an emotion influence the character's long-term emotional state, often by marking a condition or adding a player resource. For example, in Michtim, players can earn Mood Markers for using an Emotion, which gives bonuses for that Emotion and penalties to using certain other emotions; in The Veil, using an emotion spikes its intensity (a mark on a track) and reduces another emotion's intensity, and if the intensity track is filled then the character is overwhelmed and has trouble processing emotions properly until they use another one at a penalty. In such cases, emotions are usually paired off with one or more other emotions on the list that they oppose; increasing one emotion's intensity reduces the intensity of its opposed emotions (similar to floating complementary stats).
Example games with emotions as primary statistics
Emotions have been used as the primary statistic for resolution in the following games:
- Michtim: Fluffy Adventures by Georg Mir. Michtim uses
- Anger (opposes Love and Grief)
- Joy (opposes (Grief and Fear)
- Love (opposes Fear and Anger)
- Grief (opposes Anger and Joy)
- Fear (opposes Joy and Love)
- The Veil by Fraser Simons. The Veil uses
- Sad (opposes Joyful)
- Mad (opposes Powerful)
- Scared (opposes Peaceful)
- Joyful (opposes Sad)
- Powerful (opposes Mad)
- Peaceful (opposes Scared)
Emotions as conditions
Some games that use consequences or conditions to mark harm instead of hit points include emotions in their standard list of conditions that can apply. For example, Masks's list of conditions is Afraid, Angry, Guilty, Hopeless and Insecure, all of which are emotions (but, unlike the lists above, not all basic emotions).
Emotions as bonuses
Some games use stats like emotions as optional traits or stats that provide bonuses in certain contexts. For example, the Intimacies from Exalted 3rd edition, the Passions from Mythras, the Passions in Pendragon, and traits in Legends of Wulin.:1
- Stephen Morffew (2018-06-24). "Applied Emotionality: A new trait set for Cortex Prime". Step into RPGs. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
- Civil Savage et al. (since 2020-07-21). "Any games where emotions can help?". RPG.net forums. Retrieved 2020-08-26.