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#10897192 Apr 06, 2015 at 03:43 PM · Edited 7 years ago
370 Posts

~ Roleplaying Insanity ~

A key component of psychological horror RP is losing control of your character and allowing things to go horribly wrong. Here is a method (inspired by Call of Cthulhu 7th ed.) to determine how your character might lose their mind, even if for just a little bit! All you’ll need is a Fortuna Die in game, or a D6 die at your desk.

Feel free modify these ideas to meet your own needs, or even just use the tables as inspiration for your own ideas.

NOTE: Psychological Horror RP can be unsettling and dramatic. The actions suggested here should be approached in a serious, mature manner. When in doubt, avoid becoming “too immersed” and maintain OOC communication.

Step 1: Determine your Mindset
Base this on your character’s current mental state and what sort of horror your character is facing.

Strong Willed:
You are willing to accept that there may be more to the world than you currently know, and you may have evidence or past experience to support that idea.
Passes a sanity check on a 4, 5, or 6.

Blissfully Ignorant:
You are content with the world as you know it, and you have no reason to believe otherwise.
Passes a sanity check on a 5, or 6.

Fragile Mind:
Past trauma or over-exposure to horrific things has weakened your ability to confront them.
This should be your mindset if you have suffered a Bout of Madness within the past week.
Passes a sanity check on a 6.

Step 2: Roll a Sanity Check
Whenever confronting something mind-breakingly horrific, roll a D6. You can do this in game by using a Fortuna Die or rolling a six-sided dice at your desk.

Success: Your character’s mind rejects what it has seen, either by rationalizing it as something else or by pretending nothing ever happened in the first place.

Failure: Your character accepts what it has seen, and in doing so triggers a Bout of Madness.

NOTE: Truly fathoming horror comes at a price. If everyone succeeds at a sanity check, it’s as if the event never occurred. Those who failed the check know the truth, but who would believe them?

Step 3: Determine the Bout of Madness
Your mind has just been unhinged, and you lose all self control. Roll a D6 to determine what occurs. This could last anywhere from 30 minutes to a day, and recovery can begin once the character is brought someplace safe and away from what troubles them.

1). Fugue State
Your character attempts to leave the scene. If successful, the character will assume a new identity for the duration of their madness. Afterwards, they will lose all recollection of the events that transpired. If you choose to not RP out the Fugue stat, your character may find that they have things in their possession that they should not, or certain things may be missing. If the character is prevented from escaping, they may still suffer brief memory loss or a change of identity.

2). Psychosomatic Disability
Your character becomes temporarily blind, deaf, or mute or loses function of a limb or limbs for a short time.

3). Violence
Your character explodes in a spree of uncontrolled violence and destruction directed at anyone and anything they can reach.

4). Paranoia
Everyone is out to get you. Nobody can be trusted. Someone is listening in. This has all been a trick.

5). Emotional Outburst
Your character becomes incapacitated by an emotional outbursts – laughing, crying, or screaming.

6). Faint
Your character abruptly faints.

Taking it further: Temporary Insanity
Repeated exposure to horrific things should have a lingering effect on your character, even after they recover. If your character suffers three bouts of madness in a single week, consider becoming temporarily insane. Temporary Insanity should last anywhere from a day to a week, but recovery can begin the moment the character is brought to a safe place and away from what troubles them. Roll a D6!

1). Corrupted Backstory
Your character’s inner demons should be brought out. Find the darkest moment in their backstory and propel your character into the thick of it. For example, if your character’s parents died in a fire, your character could become obsessed with setting or putting out fires.

2.) Corrupted Ideology & Beliefs
Manifest your character’s ideologies or beliefs in an extreme, crazed, and demonstrative manner. For example, a priestess may find themselves preaching the gospel of their goddess in the town square.

3). Stalking / Obsession
NOTE: If your intended target is a player character, consult with them OOCly for permission before proceeding
Select someone from your back story, and determine how they are important to your character. Your character should become focused on that character and acting out on that relationship.

4). Phobia
Your character takes every precaution to avoid something related to recent horrific events. For example, a character who has been investigating the Dahuta Cult may become afraid of water or sea creatures or even holding their breath.

5). Mania
The opposite of a phobia. Your character begins to overindulge in something related to recent events. The same character who is investigating the Dahuta Cult may become obsessed with swimming or going fishing.

6). Amnesia
Your character loses their memory, partially or completely. This could also trigger an extended fugue state where they adopt a new identity for the duration.
#10897194 Apr 06, 2015 at 03:44 PM
370 Posts
(( Reserved for extended rules ))
#10897248 Apr 06, 2015 at 03:56 PM · Edited 7 years ago
168 Posts
Very, very good read.

Before this concerning insanity I always operated around some of the stories a buddy of mine IRL who was a guard at a deep lock-down psychiatric ward. He'd tell me stories ranging from the severe to lighter cases and I'd work within a general understanding of some of the stuff he experienced.

I've heard of sanity checks in D&D and even call of C'thulhu but never explored it beleiving that it might be to much or overwhelming to keep track of all the little things to managing a characters sanity. Having this brief but easy read is extremely useful to me,

Thank you for posting it! :D
#10898014 Apr 06, 2015 at 07:28 PM
79 Posts
I wanted to say thank you to Salaesori for including the following in the post:

NOTE: Psychological Horror RP can be unsettling and dramatic. The actions suggested here should be approached in a serious, mature manner. When in doubt, avoid becoming “too immersed” and maintain OOC communication.

RPing insanity, or any lesser form of mental illness, can be triggering and traumatic. It is definitely something that can be done very well and add a great deal to a game, and if you feel you can pull it off, go for it. BUT, be aware of your audience. Some of us do have mental illnesses IRL (like me, I admit it). So know your "audience" as it were and try to know when it is and is not probably a safe idea.

Keeping that in mind... Go nuts! :D
Nguyet A small town girl in a big world.
Analowe Where do you go to die when no place is home?
Faetella Even love comes with a price.
Lian Behind every good man is a quiet woman.
Acantha The Firran Harani mothers warned you about.
#11109836 May 29, 2015 at 10:03 PM
35 Posts
Interesting. I might end up using this soon. Thanks Sel!
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