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Sanity as Skill / Sanity Track Combination

As a followup to my earlier post, what do you think of this, LJ braintrust? It's sort of a mashup of the "Sanity as Skill / Sanity Track" method, designed to have a similar flow to the classic CoC model.

Sanity as Skill / Sanity Track Combination

Starting San: The higher of Wis or Cha
Maximum San: 20 - (Knowledge: Mythos)

When confronted with something horrible, make a Sanity check (1d20 + Current San) versus DC 20. If successful, usually no ill effects. If failed, move a number of levels down the sanity track indicated by the situation (1 level for a gross-out, 1d2 for a minor shock, 1d6+1 for something pretty horrifying, 1d10 or more for mind-blasting horror). If the amount rolled for sanity loss is greater than five, then the amount over five is reapplied to the sanity track as a persistent condition. For example, an investigator sees a betentacled thing devour a friendly NPC and fails their San check, so the GM rolls sanity loss against the character and comes up with 8. The first 5 points of sanity loss cause the investigator to be Overcome, but there are still 3 points of sanity loss to account for. These are reapplied to the sanity track as -3 persistent steps, to Staggered. Even if the character avoids fainting or going temporarily insane, they will not be able to use swift actions to recover to any higher level than Staggered until they get some rest.

If the character is Overcome and then is also Overcome as a persistent condition, they have lost 2 points of current San in one go and must make a Sanity check to avoid indefinite insanity (see below).

Sanity Track

Normal: No penalties.
1 Step (Disoriented): -1 to all Defenses, Attacks, Skill, and Ability Checks (including Sanity checks)
2 Steps (Dazed): -2 to all Defenses, Attacks, Skill, and Ability Checks (including Sanity checks)
3 Steps (Staggered): -5 to all Defenses, Attacks, Skill, and Ability Checks (including Sanity checks)
4 Steps (In Shock): -10 to all Defenses, Attacks, Skill, and Ability Checks (including Sanity checks)
5 Steps (Overcome): Faint or go into Temporary Insanity

If Staggered or In Shock, immediately make an additional DC 20 Sanity check (modified by the Sanity Track penalty). If failed, your current San goes down by 1 point.

If Overcome, your current San automatically goes down by 1 point and you immediately make a DC 10 Sanity check as if In Shock (-10). If successful, move up +1 step to In Shock; you are likely to gain partial or complete amnesia of the event as your mind goes into denial to protect itself. If the check has failed, you may choose to faint on the spot or go temporarily insane.

Faint: You are unconscious, as if you have fallen -5 steps on the condition track. You stay that way for at least 1d4 rounds. After that, you may be awakened by another character in the same or adjacent square using a standard action to shake, slap, or nudge you; if you succeed a DC 20 Endurance check (which you may attempt once per turn); or if you take damage. If left to recover on your own, you will awaken in 2d4 x 10 minutes.

Temporary Insanity: All penalties are removed, but your behavior is all crazygonuts. The effects of temporary insanity will probably stick with the OGL model.

Someone trained in the Psychoanalysis skill may spend a full-round action to make a Psychoanalysis check to bring a sanity-damaged or temporarily insane character back to their senses. The DC is 10 + the levels of Sanity loss the character has suffered. A successful check brings them back to the level of their highest persistent step (e.g., Staggered in the case mentioned earlier), or normal if they have no persistent steps; a failed check has no effect. This does not recover any lost Sanity points.

On each turn you are not temporarily insane, you may spend 1-3 swift actions to move up +1 level on the Sanity Track (going up +1 step for every swift action spent) up to the level of your highest persistent step. Persistent sanity effects remain until your character has had 10-15 minutes of quiet contemplation per step to recover their composure (or at least get a stiff drink).

If your current San goes down by 2 or more points during a single encounter, you must immediately make a DC 10 Sanity check (with any Sanity Track modifiers) or succumb to indefinite insanity. This generally removes your character from active play for quite some time, although they may recover and return on a future occasion.

By giving long-term treatment to a character who has lost Sanity, a character trained in the Psychoanalysis skill can help them restore some of their Sanity. For each month of treatment, make a DC 20 Psychoanalysis check to restore 1 point of current San, but you cannot bring them above their starting San or maximum San. This can also be done for a character who has been removed from play for indefinite insanity (but not permanent insanity). If the check is failed by 5+, the patient gets worse instead of better, losing 1 point of current San instead.

Your current San goes up by +1 every time you gain a level. This may increase it past starting San (although in practice this is rare).

Good points: This incorporates the downward spiral, players rolling the dice for their sanity checks, some granularity of effect, and consistency with the SWSE mechanics.

Bad points: Counting track steps, particularly for persistent steps, may be a bit clunky. Also, instead of the slow, inevitable trickle of CoC-style, this system tends to lose fairly big whacks of Sanity at a time. (1 point of a 1-20 scale is like 5 points of a 1-100 scale.)

What do you think, sirs? I'm open to questions, comments, criticisms, or suggestions!

-The Gneech


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 18th, 2008 03:32 am (UTC)
It sounds like sanity is becoming some sort of backwards class, and that could work with what you want. Could you make the persistent track a level with the temporary track being points within that level?

That may also give you the slow descent into madness you're looking for if you make regaining levels difficult.
Jul. 18th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
I think, upon reflection, that this system ends up being too unwieldy for the benefits it gives, which is why I decided to go back to the classic model. Until one's character actually goes insane, they shouldn't really be hampered, even if they do get a bit twitchy.

Jul. 20th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
When push comes to shove you can always GM the PCs ending up with things like suffering from somnambulism. Tell the player that they suddenly wake up in their night clothes at the beach, on a deserted country road, middle of time square, at el. ;D
Jul. 18th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
consider a dual-saving throw, like in D&D to see if an effect is permanent, which happens at the end of an encounter. They can suffer the temporary penalties more, but if they get away, (and have several VERY stiff drinks) they might convince themselves that no, they hadn't seen that.. really.


6_6 those had to be scuba divers, not fish people...

Jul. 18th, 2008 03:44 am (UTC)
It will come out no more. "what? What will come out no more?!" -Frisk
Jul. 18th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
That was a definite SAN loss moment for Jack. So was, "Oh God, what is that? Don't tell me!"

Jul. 18th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
I might use something like that to determine the duration of temporary insanity, actually — instead of rolling a random number of turns/hours/days, give a sanity check to recover after X rounds, at the end of the encounter, then every six hours, or something along those lines.

Indefinite insanity, on the other hand, is more debilitating and tends to remove the character from play all together, so it would have a different mechanic for recovery.

-The Gneech
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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