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    Sanity & Insanity

    Bed Intruder
    Bed Intruder

    Posts : 203 Join date : 2010-11-27

    Sanity & Insanity

    Post by Kromel on Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:57 pm

    Central to the game, sanity will and its loss will be mostly expanded upon during the game proper.

    When investigators encounter a sanity-threatening situation, the keeper may ask for a Sanity roll. The players roll a D100 for each of their characters. A success is a roll equal to or less than the investigator’s current sanity points. A success may result in little to no sanity loss (relative to the situation), while a failure will result in a more serious loss to sanity. For example, finding a mangled human corpse will usually require a Sanity check, failing which will mean losing 1D4+1 current Sanity points. In contrast, only 1 point is lost if the check succeeds.

    Within a reasonable interval (the keeper decides) no sanity is lost above the maximum possible for a specific type of horrific event or being. For example, should an investigator lose a total of 5 Sanity points for finding mangled corpses, this event will not affect him further for a duration that may range from days to weeks. Once that period passes though, the horror of them will rise up freshly in any character.

    Sanity points can be increased by keeper award, increasing a skill to 90%, defeating unnatural entities, or by psychotherapy. Psychiatric medications may also prove useful, and will may also help avoid the symptoms of insanity (at the cost of possible side-effects).

    Should an investigator lose enough Sanity points, insanity may ensue. General types of insanity are temporary insanity, indefinite insanity, and permanent insanity.

    Temporary Insanity – If an investigator loses 5 or more Sanity point at the consequence of one Sanity roll, he or she has suffered enough emotional trauma that the keeper must test the character’s Sanity. The keeper asks for an Idea roll. If the Idea roll fails, then the investigator has repressed the memory, a trick that the mind uses to protect itself. Perversely, if the Idea roll succeeds, then the investigator recognizes the full significance of what has been seen or experienced, and goes temporarily insane. The effects of temporary insanity begin immediately.
    When the temporary insanity is over, a mild phobia might remain as a reminder of the experience, but the most likely souvenir will be some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Indefinite Insanity – If an investigator loses a fifth (round up fractions) or more of current Sanity points in one game hour, he or she goes indefinitely insane. Indefinite insanity may remove a character from play for some time. The average duration for indefinite insanity is 1D6 game months.
    The symptoms of some indefinite insanities are continuous (amnesia, depression, and obsession, for example). Other indefinite insanities are transient and only manifest themselves at particular moments (multiple personality or dissociative identity disorder, conversion disorder, intermittent explosive personality, etc.). Both sorts of symptoms offer good opportunities for roleplaying.
    For such situations and stresses that investigators come to know, some sort of anxiety disorder can often be the most appropriate.
    For instance, after a life-threatening event, a person persistently re-experiences the trauma in some way, perhaps through images, dreams, flashbacks, or mental associations. There are marked symptoms of increasing anxiety. Dissociative symptoms may also follow.

    Permanent Insanity – Investigators who reach zero Sanity points go permanently insane. “Permanently” may mean a game year or a lifetime. In real life, an asylum patient stays in an institution an average of four years and some months. In the game, the duration of permanent insanity is entirely at the keeper’s discretion.
    No difference between indefinite insanity and permanent insanity exists, except as prognosis made by an attending psychiatrist and confirmed by a judge. In the real world, all insanity is indefinite insanity, since no one in real life can hope to predict the future as accurately as a Call of Cthulhu keeper.

    Many disorders, especially congenital conditions, offer little hope of recovery. Lovecraft concludes more than one story with the intimation that a lifetime of madness for the narrator will follow. Now and then a quiet release might be made from a local asylum. Some thin, unnaturally pallid person, almost unrecognizable after soul-wracking terrors, can walk shyly into downtown Arkham or elsewhere, cast keen eyes about, and attempt to plumb the surrounding darkness, but no player should count on such privilege as a right.

    Playing Insanity

    The threat of insanity in the Call of Cthulhu rules characterizes the Mythos in a way which allows no compromise. Exposed to it, few sane humans freely choose the Mythos, for the Mythos is intrinsically loathsome and foul. The connection of sanity points and Cthulhu Mythos points emphasizes the power of the Mythos, which corrupts and ruins by proximity and association. The sanity rules prove to us our own fragility. All that which we thought so strong becomes delusory and false, while madness sometimes becomes a necessary condition for truth.

    If an investigator has even one point of Sanity remaining, the player has firm control. The aesthetics of how the player chooses to present a nearly-mad investigator represents the essence of roleplaying. As the investigator weakens, evidence of the weakening should become apparent. Thus near-insanity calls for stronger roleplaying, not for less player control.
    Such an investigator should speak about his mental condition, so that the others understand the situation, and can act with due regard and sympathy. It is not good roleplaying to murmur “My guy’s Sanity points are low.” Such a statement is dull and makes nothing happen. But a player who can vividly describe his investigator’s anxiety or terror, and relate how that affects the game, deserves applause.

    If an investigator has ten or fewer Sanity points, he or she certainly knows the situation is serious. In such straits in real life, most people would pull back from the action and perhaps put themselves in sanitariums. So should investigators.

    Investigator insanity characterizes the power of the Mythos by causing the investigator to adopt behavior which is limited in what it can achieve, yet expressive and interesting to roleplay. Even an indefinitely-insane investigator does not always have to be parked in a sanitarium, if a good alternative can be negotiated with the keeper. The choice can be serious, or conceivably eccentric and twisted, or even ridiculous, but it should not upset the tenor of the game.

    As a minor example, suppose that an investigator shows insanity by obsessively insisting on wearing two hats day and night. He argues that were he not to do so, his head would be unprotected if he tipped his hat to a lady while the sky was falling. Since the hats can be seen, keeper characters freely notice and comment or criticize the foible. No restaurant will seat them, since their behavior is so uncouth. That two-hatted madman never left the game – the game widened to accommodate him.
    A player may try to act out too many elements of his investigator’s insanity. If that gets in the way of the game, the keeper must quash the interruption. Not to do so would be unfair to the other players.

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