What are beliefs about and how does Psychology change that?

So a recent thread made me question Psychological changing of beliefs.

Now it is, of course, one of the most messed up things a character can do to another. To hell with frying his brain, lets make him our love puppet instead.

Bad stuff.

But I question what that does to the idea that Beliefs are part of the social contract - “This is what I am insterested playing.”

By a PC or NPC changing your character’s beliefs aren’t we then saying “this is what I WANT YOU to be playing?” Isn’t that sorta breaking the social contract? I mean, if you have some uber psychologist running around changing the PC’s beliefs isn’t then the GM ultimately contructing what the game’s about?

Or is the refusal of the connection die meant as a part of that social contract - “I trust you enough that I will allow you to dictate part of what you think I want this game to be about?”

The connection die ritual is key. “I am risking the possibility that you will change one of my beliefs in a way that my character will not like, and I trust you enough to do that in a way that I will relish playing.”

EDIT: Remember, it is against the rules of Burning Empires to be a dick.

Well, a Psychologist can fry anyone’s brain, not just someone he is connected to. The connection die just makes it easier, right?

Also, remember that there are supposed to be serious consequences for breaking the Code. If anyone, PC or NPC, is running around willy-nilly mindraping people, he should get the smack laid down on him by the nearest Foundation.


Lastly, when a psychologist writes a new belief for a player, that player gets to choose which belief he loses/changes.

For example, in our most recent BE game, Luke’s FON Vara convinced my psychologist, Julian, to rewrite the mind of Bob’s vaylen-obsessed Kernn, Draj.

The Psychic-duel played out (after Draj attacked Vara and Julian, activating Julian’s “only use psychic force when in danger” instinct), with the new belief being: “Julian is my trusted friend and advisor. I will consider his advice as if it was a command from the Forged Lord himself.”

Bob had several beliefs he could have gotten rid of, and the one he was playing in the scene was: “Vara is a traitor, and I will personally behead her.”

He dumped another belief, kept the Vara belief, took Julian’s belief - and continued to attack the Vaylen FON (she beat him in the combat roll).

beliefs are about what you want to play out, psychology does screw with that, but you can always change beliefs in burning empires. the best way to do so, is nail the belief, earn persona for it, and get what you want too.

for example

i played a character who had two rival psychologists battling in her head. i chose to let them both in, accepting both connection dice, even though i didn’t have to. this truly made her a puppet for many scenes, as one pyschologist dueled the other in my character’s head. she became the battleground.

in one session, the GM FoN psychologist changed my belief to ‘you will marry me.’ i chose the belief that was farthest from coming true to replace. in the next scene, i married the guy, changed my belief right back to what it was and nailed that belief as well earning a massive 4 persona points for playing out two other beliefs as well. the thing about changing beliefs with pyschology in BE is that they can always be changed back.

giving a character trait is where you really screw a character, cuz the traits stick… the same psychologist gave one of our rebel 2nCs trait ‘devout royalist’ and for the rest of the phase she sided with one of our enemies… that was really nuts

Yeah, I tend to give traits through Psychic Duels rather than Beliefs. Occassionally the situation is desparate enough that a Belief is the only way to go. But generally, traits are much more subtle.

It can often be very easy for everyone to spot a rewritten Belief. The character is suddenly acting contrary to everything he was formerly about. Whereas with traits, characters still pursue their Beliefs as if they were normal, but there’s a little short in the wires.

Additionally, as Jon points out, you can’t easily get rid of a trait. You can’t fulfill it and go back to normal. You have to get that sucker voted off!

Writing in new Traits is diabolical, dude. I hadn’t considered the “it must be voted off” aspect of it.


“the psychologist’s statement of purpose […] can include the addition of a character trait or the modification of one of the target character’s Beliefs or Instincts.” (pg. 585)

I read that as being able to modify an existing Belief, rather than rewrite it completely. You can add traits whole cloth, but you can only bend Beliefs. Otherwise, I could see some pretty silly Beliefs happening (“You are my devoted slave” … “My life is worthless. I will commit suicide at the first available opportunity”).

Then again… maybe psychologists are supposed to be that scary? The example in the book only adds a trait, not a belief.


Thanks for chiming in with an answer to this thread. Much appreciated.

In the future, please check the dates for the threads to which you are responding. If it’s more than two months old, you can consider it dead.


Well, I woulda started a new topic, but this thread was still the newest in this forum before I posted, so I didn’t think it technically counted as necromancy…


Think not of the newest in the forum. Think of the other people in the thread. After 3 months, do they still need their question still answered? More than likely, if the discussion’s died, any new issues can be addressed in a new thread.