Burnout Mechanic

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As If

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Burnout Mechanic
« on: May 14, 2014, 06:25:07 AM »
According to "The Four Stages of Burnout" model (Mark Gorkin), professional burnout works like this: If Results, Rewards, Recognition and Relief are continually withheld from a hardworking person who constantly gives their all, that person will begin to advance through these four stages in order: (1) Exhaustion, (2) Shame/Doubt, (3) Cynicism/Callousness, and (4) Helplessness/Crisis.

This system is designed to model that dynamic.  It is especially intended for *W-style games focusing on high-stress high-performance jobs, such as cops, military, EMTs, doctors, nurses, private detectives, etc.  It's intended for the sort of player who's into complex characters, conflicting emotions and deep roleplay; I wouldn't really suggest it for casual players.

NOTE: The fourth stage "Crisis" may include an attempted suicide, whether consciously intended or not.  Note that this is a potentially loaded topic, and the MC should have a clear idea of the player's lines and veils before going there.  This thread is an excellent place to get your bearings on thinking about this subject.


Burnout Points work on a "countdown clock" similar to hits.
You basically have 6 of them before entering the next stage of burnout.

Every 24 hours, the workload of each Client/Job causes 1 BP to be acquired automatically.
In addition, game events may affect this value in play:

• Any 6- roll
• Losing something to a rival
• Any sort of Bad Relationship scene
• Getting screwed on pay, conned or misled
• Being passed over for a promotion or sweet assignment
• Getting dissed/misquoted in the news, name spelled wrong
• Getting transferred to a crappy location
• Being belittled by a respected character or someone with rank
• Having sex with strings tied to it, the kind you wish you hadn't
• Losing a competent underling
• Losing a night's sleep
• Going on a bender

• Get a new job/client
• Any 10+ roll
• Getting 1 XP for anything else
• Getting paid in full or fairly compensated
• Winning an award, being treated to a luxurious meal/drinks
• Being assigned or inheriting something valuable or useful
• Getting mentioned in the news, interviewed, photographed
• Getting a promotion or transfer to a better location
• Having an important character acknowledge their debt to you
• Having sex with nothing negative about it
• Hiring/acquiring a competent underling
• Taking two days off

When you take your 6th Burnout Point, you enter the next STAGE OF BURNOUT.  Write it on your sheet (in pencil) and clear the BP clock.

1) Exhaustion (Physical, Mental and Emotional)
2) Shame or Doubt
3) Cynicism or Callousness
4) Failure, Helplessness or Crisis

Each time you progress to a new stage of Burnout, you must choose one of the following symptoms.  NOTE: Choosing the same symptom multiple times IS allowed, provided they are each uniquely defined.

[ ] penalty to professional efficacy, ability to perform (-1 to one stat)
[ ] mood swings, neuroses, forgetfulness, anger (roleplay)
[ ] chemical dependencies, self-medication (roleplay)
[ ] inability to support/tolerate those who depend on you (roleplay)

The Stages work the same backwards as forwards: As BP are reduced, you go back down through the stages one at a time. As each stage is left behind, its symptom is removed. If the character has an opportunity to take an extended vacation between sessions (at least one week for each Burnout Stage), the character may be assumed to have recovered in full - but only if the player wishes them to.

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« Last Edit: May 14, 2014, 07:18:12 AM by As If »