The cool system is in place to represent the toll that day to day life in the apocalypse takes on the people of the world. Over the course of the game you will spend points of cool (represented by cards or tokens held on your person) to use abilities. You also lose cool when exposed to dangerous or stressful situations. You gain back cool through rest, relaxation, skills, eating and drinking. It is important to note that the Cool System is self-administered.
You will spend cool whenever you perform an action that requires it. This includes actions such as performing surgery, crafting supplies or brawling an opponent. You will know when to spend cool for these skills based on the skills themselves.
You will lose cool in a large variety of situations based on your characters personality and history. It is likely that you will lose more cool than you spend over the course of a game. While each threshold for cool loss is individual and personal there are a number of base triggers which should be seen as the recommended thresholds. These are:
-Every time your character suffers a point of damage
-Every time your character kills another human being or attempts to
-Every meal you miss
-After missing two meals, every hour after the second meal time, lose a cool.
Aside from these, when you lose cool is up to you and your understanding of your character. This will be expanded prior to the game and will likely change during the game. For example, perhaps the first body you see rattles your character enough to lose a cool, but it is unlikely that the third or fourth will.
Regaining Cool Passively
You can regain cool in a number of different ways. There are many skills that allow you to regain cool through activities such as therapy, religion and alcohol. These skills and those using them will inform you of when and how much cool to regain. However much like the cool system as a whole, it is self administered. If you finally achieved a goal you have been working towards for some time, feel free to regain some cool, within reason.
Characters should also regain cool when they sleep. If you feel your character had a restful nights sleep, regain half your cool.
Being affected by cool
Since cool represented your characters mental and emotional fortitude, it affects your mood as well as your ability to perform certain actions. Every character responds to the stresses of survival in different ways, but take the below examples as a starting point for how to realise it in your roleplay.
Being reduced to 0 cool results in a mental breakdown. This breakdown essentially makes a character non-responsive or non-functioning for a period of time reflecting the character. This might manifest as a fit of violent rage, a complete shutdown, fits of crying and screaming, quietly rocking or something else befitting your character. After this breakdown has passed is complete, the character is returned to 1 cool and must be treated by a character with the counsellor skill in order to gain any more. Once they have reached at least half their maximum cool via counseling they may again regain cool normally.
Artyom is a Networker based around exploring the wasteland. He has a total of 5 cool (Traveller, Helping Hand and Status: Networker). While at full cool Artyom is hopeful and generally upbeat. He shares his stories readily and perhaps embellishes some details. At 3 or 4 cool his is focused and serious. At 2 cool he snaps and is prone to shouting. At 1 cool he is vicious and prone to shoving or other minor displays of violence. At 0 cool he flies into a rage and destroys furniture or other objects. He is likely to physically attack people who attempt to stop him.
Regaining Cool – Counseling
The Counsellor skill allows characters to counsel characters through the traumatic experiences that they have experienced. These sessions of counseling are a great opportunity to work through a characters experiences and expand their emotional range.
A character with counseling can treat one character at a time an it requires a quiet space with minimal interruptions. For every point of cool the patient wishes to regain, the session takes at least five minutes. The counselor must spend 1 cool at the beginning of every 15 minutes of treatment. Losing and regaining cool occurs in real time, as such if the session is interrupted for whatever reason, the patient still regains cool for at least every 5 completed minutes but the counsellor also loses spent cool.
Treatment for a character who has been reduced to 0 cool is understandably more intense. This treatment is the same as a standard counselling session except that the time is extended to 10 minutes per cool regained the counsellor must spend 1 cool at the start of every 10 minutes During this treatment a counselor should roll a twelve sided dice and consult the long term trauma table and reveal the outcome gradually over the session as a part of the roleplay.
In addition, characters with the specialist counsellor skill can diagnose and treat long term traumas as per the rules on page 36.