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An NPC ally of a character of mine has a debilitating disease (I have chosen MS).

What mechanical effect would this have on the character? I don't think it would be covered by the flaw mechanic as the NPC wouldn't get to decide when to give in to the flaw, and I think NPC don't need to recieve XP as incentive to roleplay. I'd like to represent it as the abilities of the character being unreliable (in the sense they could have good or bad days of MS).

I'm basing this unreliability on this quote from Wikipedia

MS takes several forms, with new symptoms occurring either in discrete attacks (relapsing forms) or slowly accumulating over time (progressive forms).[6] Between attacks, symptoms may go away completely, but permanent neurological problems often occur, especially as the disease advances.

Emphasis mine. I'm mostly interested in the relapsing form.

However I don't know enough about this disease or the mechanics of nWoD to say how to represent an unreliable ability score.

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I think your emphasis on "unreliable" is a little misplaced. It's an NPC, which means your Storyteller will be handling the rolls. Good roll? Good day. Bad roll? Bad day. Random chance and no specialties will give plenty of variance in results. –  Jadasc Dec 30 '11 at 21:47
    
But then the character is no less debilitated than a PC who roles badly. I was under the impression that haing MS meant you could have good/bad periods. I'm going to edit the question based on this. –  Pureferret Dec 30 '11 at 21:56
    
Perhaps my most recent edit would be helpful to you? –  Jadasc Dec 30 '11 at 22:47
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The easiest and most consistent way to reflect this would be to give the character lower than normal Physical attributes while retaining average or typical Physical skills. Having a degenerative disorder seems like a good reason to give someone a Strength or Dexterity of 1.

However, you've made it clear that you'd like the mechanics to also reflect that this ally's performance is unreliable -- that is, sometimes the MS surges in potency and the ally is useless to you. My recommendation is to calculate how many Merit dots the NPC is worth as, say, a Mentor or a Retainer, and then reduce the value by 1, showing that your access to him is limited by his health.

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+1 after I get my votes back. –  Pureferret Dec 30 '11 at 14:55
    
That is a very good way to show their unreliability. –  Pureferret Dec 30 '11 at 22:48
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@Pureferret Thanks. It occurred to me that, when undergoing a flare, it's not that he'd be performing those tasks poorly; it's that he'd be too sick to do them at all. The solution followed from there. –  Jadasc Dec 30 '11 at 22:50
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