Horror and Insanity

So, I’ve been really itching to start incorporating some good old-fashioned eldritch horror into my BW games. I was trying to think of different ways to do this, and I think that a lot of the game would very easily remain unchanged–maybe some new skills or traits as necessary for Investigation or Disturbed. Something like that.

Where I was going to depart was on how to represent the spiritual and mental toll of encountering these horrific beings. I thought about just making straight Steel tests, but I’d like to add some more flavor. I thought about maybe taxing Steel and such, but that still seems like it’s missing something.

So then I thought maybe I could create a new emotional attribute: Sanity. It’ll function like any emotional attribute, but might actually be most similar to Nature from MG, in the sense that if a character’s Sanity maxes, they do the sane thing and say FUCK THIS NOISE and just walk away from the Elder Thing or whatever and go watch TV. And if their Sanity bottoms out–well, let’s just say that the asylum will be getting a lot of business.

I think that you wouldn’t necessarily test Sanity, but it would be more situational. You’d still test Steel for hesitation, but even if you roll well, push through the fear, and do what needs to be done, witnessing Yog-Sothoth bleeding into our reality still leaves an indelible mark on your psyche.

Why not flip it around, and instead of Sanity, the trait is Madness. Madness dice could be tapped to ADD to Steel, at the cost of taking an appropriate test against Madness. Perhaps Madness tests might also be taken when mucking about with blasphemous sorceries. Once you’ve ratcheted your Madness up to 10, the rats in the walls explain everything to you in very calm and sensible terms. And it’s all okay. Forever.

I do like the sound of Madness. What about you Mr Pibble?

I agree as far as the Madness. I realized that Sanity doesn’t really stack up to situational tests as well (unless you do something awkward like the tests are applied inversely or something.) I also very much like the idea of tapping Madness. Though maybe you could tap it when you’re doing anything related to the unspeakable void of the Other. It could be tapped for Sorcery, reading blasphemous texts, investigating the remains of a shapeless mass, etc.

It would be really fun if you could test madness sort of like faith, to just “know” things or to “realize” things or to have maddeningly useful “visions.” But Madness would be like greed - tests always count for advancement.

I like all of this. A lot.

It also gives players a little more control over the speed they’re driven bats. Sure, they get tests like for Steel or Grief, but I think for BW there’s a certain amount of protection players are given about how fast they’re exposed to these sorts of things, yeah?

Oh, man, some skills should totally be like Laments, but for Madness… channeling your emotional problems into work, or something like that. Make a cabinet to drop the level of the madness test you just took by one. Not the most realistic depiction of insanity, but neither is insanity visions or strength.

We treated Madness in one game like Greed, but for secrets.

Yeah, the idea behind Emotional Attributes always seems to be “here’s this source of power…if you’re willing to pay the cost. If you’re willing to travel down that road that can only lead to your destruction.”

Take a gander at Corruption in MagBu for another angle.