No one ever said balancing advantages and disadvantages in a roleplaying game was easy. This has certainly proved true with the Haunted by Nightmares flaw in Witch Hunter. Two of my players took it for their characters, I’m sure assuming that it would be nothing more than an occasional issue. After all, how debilitating can bad dreams really be.
The reality of it is that the nightly D4 Resolve roll requirement is pretty tough to make consistently if your character isn’t built to do that. Think about it, if you are rolling 6 dice (3 in Courage and 3 in Resolve), you need to roll 7 or above on 4 of these dice (or roll one or two 10s). The practical effect of this is to leave both of these characters with a nearly perpetual -1d modifier to ALL rolls. Which is kinda lame. I’ve given them some wiggle room as one is a skilled healer and a specialist in herbalism, so she regularly tries to produce tonics to easy the impact of these nightmares. Even then, with a +1 or +2d bonus, it can be tricky business to make this roll.
So after doing some thinking and a bit of research into how other games handle it, I’m going to change this flaw up to make it a bit less punishing. Not too much, but enough to keep it from being an issue every single game session (unlike a lot of other flaws that are far more situational).
Here are two alternative “fixes.” I prefer the first option as it seems more in keeping with the spirit of the original, and that’s what I’m going to incorporate into my game. However, the alternative would work well too.
Haunted by Nightmares (Revised)
You are stalked in your sleep by some terrible event from your past. You have great difficulty sleeping.
Effect: Each night, make a Routine (D3) Resolve roll. If you fail, your character gains no rest and suffers a -1d penalty to any Natural and Exceptional Healing rolls the following day. Also, for one scene, determined by the GM, your character suffers a -1d penalty to all action rolls as those nightmares prove eerily prescient.
You may not use Lucky to reroll this test. An apothecary can produce a tonic (requires a D4 Heal (Herbalist) roll) that helps to induce a dreamless sleep and grants +1d to this roll.
Alternative Effect: Each night, the GM rolls a d10. On a 1 or 2, your character suffers horrible nightmares and must make a Challenging (D4) Resolve roll. If failed, your character gains no rest and suffers a -1d penalty to all action rolls. You may not use Lucky to reroll this test. An apothecary can produce a tonic (requires a D4 Heal (Herbalist) roll) that helps to induce a dreamless sleep and grants +1d to this roll.
Fun with Player Agency (Optional)
If using the first option, award the player a hero point for explaining how his or her nightmare apply to the scene in question.
Dick GM Move
Rather than a blanket bonus for the herbal tonic, here is a more insidious option.
Dream Leaf Tonic
Material Cost: 0.25 RP/dose
This herbal tonic helps to reduce the impact of vivid dreams and nightmares in the subject, and can produce a “dreamless” sleep. Brewing the tonic requires a D4 Heal (Herbalist) roll. Imbibing before sleep grants a subject with the Haunted by Nightmares flaw a +1d bonus for every two successes to their Resolve roll to resist the effect. Unfortunately, the tonic is known to have addictive qualities. Each time it is taken, the subject must also make a D1 Endurance roll. If failed, the tonic ceases to have an effect (permanently) and the subject becomes addicted to it.
Addiction: The subject must consume the substance on a daily basis. If denied the substance for more than 1 day, the character suffers a cumulative -1 to all Defenses each day until he or she receives a fix. If the character succeeds at a D4 Will roll, +1d for every two days denied the substance, the addiction is broken.
Note that Addiction is not a Flaw. It is too easy to break free of the influence.