Insanity

Characters are at the centre of terrible events: battling indescribable horrors, uncovering shocking truths and engaging in desperate struggles where perhaps the lives and souls of countless innocents hang in the balance. Such are the stresses and terror involved that the slow slide into insanity is a constant threat. No human mind, not even one hardened by the harsh rigours of life in the Imperium, is immune to the slow erosion of sanity by the horrors of the 41st Millennium, and Acolytes are no exception.

These dangers are represented by Insanity Points. Insanity Points represent the strain put on a character’s mind by his experiences; the more Insanity Points a character has the more fragile his mind. The cumulative effects of gaining Insanity Points are divided into Traumas, which represent the short term after-effects of particularly terrible experiences, and Disorders, which are permanent mental afflictions that sign post a character’s slide into total madness.

A character is classified as having a certain degree of madness depending on how many Insanity Points they have. This classification gives a player a broad idea of the state of a character’s mind and how close to the edge he has become. A character’s degree of madness also determines the modifier that will apply to Tests taken to avoid Mental Trauma.

Mental Trauma represents the relatively short-term damage to a character’s state of mind that he suffers after experiencing a horrific or supernatural event. Each time the character reaches a new rank of Insanity Points he must make a Trauma Test (a Willpower Test – see Table below).

Rank Degree Trauma Test TN Disorder
1-3 Unsettled 10
4-5 Disturbed 15 Minor Disorder
6-7 Unhinged 20 Severe Disorder
8-9 Deranged 25 Acute Disorder
10 Terminally Insane Character no longer playable

If the Test is passed the character manages to cope with his experience without extra ill effect. If the Test is failed, they make a roll of XkX where X is their Insanity Rank with the result on the table below. The result is applied to the character in the aftermath of any encounter that inflicted the Insanity Points on him.

Roll Result
up to 15 The character becomes withdrawn and quiet. The character is at –1k0 to all Fellowship-based Tests. This lasts for 3d10 hours.
16-20 The character must compulsively perform an action such as fevered praying, frantically cleaning a weapon, reciting verse, and so on, and pays little attention to anything else. All Tests that are based on Intelligence, Fellowship or Perception suffer a –1k0 penalty. This effect lasts for 3d10 hours.
21-25 The character is constantly fearful, seeing danger everywhere and extremely jumpy. The character gains a +1k0 bonus to all Perception-based Tests and is at –1k0 penalty to his Willpower for the next 1d5 days.
26-30 The character suffers from a temporary severe phobia (see Disorders, below). This effect lasts for 1d5 days.
31-35 The character reacts to the slightest stress or pressure by becoming extremely agitated. When performing any task that involves a Test, the character must first pass a Willpower Test (TN 30) or suffer a –1k0 modifier to the Test. If the character gets into combat, all Tests during combat automatically suffer a –1k0 modifier. This effect lasts for 1d5 days.
36-40 The character suffers vivid and extreme nightmares whenever they try to sleep. The next day and for the next 1d10 days the character will be exhausted by lack of sleep and gains a level of fatigue. This effect lasts for 1d5 days.
41-45 The character is struck dumb and is unable to speak. This lasts for 1d5 days.
46-50 Extremely distressed and unfocused, the character refuses to eat or drink and looks in a terrible state. The character takes a –1k0 penalty to all Characteristics-based rolls for 1d10 days.
51-55 The character temporarily becomes hysterically blind or deaf. This effect lasts for 1d10 days.
56+ The character becomes completely traumatised and virtually unresponsive. He can’t initiate actions but may be gently led. This effect lasts for 1d10 days.

Mental Disorders

Mental disorders reflect the permanent, long-term effects on a character’s mind of exposure to things horrific and unnatural. A new disorder (or a more severe version of an existing disorder) is automatically gained each time the character has enough Insanity Points to increase his degree of madness by one stage as shown on the table above. When a character acquires a disorder, the severity of that disorder will depend on his new degree of madness, as shown.

A character must have the preceding severity of a disorder for it to get worse, (so for a disorder to have become “Severe” the character must have the “Minor” version of the disorder first, with the exception of “The Flesh is Weak” that has no Minor version)

All disorders are rated as being Minor, Severe or Acute in ascending order of effect.

Minor Disorder: The effects of the disorder manifest rarely or are experienced only to a small degree. Any Test to overcome the effects of the disorder gain a +10 bonus.

Severe Disorder: The effects of the disorder are stronger and may occur regularly. There is no modifier to Tests made to overcome the effects of the disorder.

Acute Disorder: The effects of the disorder are very strong and occur at the slightest stimulation. Any Test to overcome the effects of the disorder take a –10 penalty.

There is potentially no end to the variety of unpleasant and unwholesome disorders that might afflict a character, and a few examples are presented here. GMs should also feel free to invent their own to suit the individual Player Character and the horrors they undergo.

The Flesh Is Weak!

Seriousness: Severe, Acute.
The character sees his flesh as weak and will constantly blame it for his failures and problems. He will also try to change and/or remove his flesh, becoming increasingly obsessed with surgical modification as well as bionic replacement.

PhobIa

Seriousness: Minor, Severe, Acute.
The character has a deep dislike and fear for a particular thing or circumstance. A phobic character must succeed on a Willpower Test to interact with the focus of his phobia. Enforced or gratuitous exposure to the focus of his exposure may incur Fear Tests. Examples of this disorder are:

Fear of the Dead: The character has an abiding fear and loathing of corpses and the dead, possibly due to the fact that sometimes they don’t stay dead…

Fear of Insects: Scuttling things with many legs are the character’s waking nightmare: faceless, numberless and hungry, forever hungry.

Obsession/Compulsion

Seriousness: Minor, Severe, Acute.
The character has a compulsion to perform a particular action or is obsessed with a particular thing. A character must make a Willpower Test not to act in a compulsive way or not pursue his obsession when the opportunity arises. Examples of this disorder include any of the following:

Kleptomania: The character compulsively steals small objects if he has the opportunity. Often the character attaches no value to such objects.

Self-Mortification: The character must scourge and whip his flesh on a regular basis (or after a particular event such as killing), in order to purge away the sin of his actions through pain.

Visions and Voies

Seriousness: Minor, Severe, Acute.
The character sees things that are not there and hears things that others do not. Acute sufferers may experience visions into which they are totally immersed.

Dead Comrade: The character hears the voice of an old friend now long-dead. At a Severe level, he may even have visions of his friend or converse with them, if his condition becomes Acute.

Flashbacks: The character relives traumatic moments from his life. The length and vividness of these episodes vary according to the seriousness of his condition.

Delusion: Seriousness: Minor, Severe, Acute.
The character suffers from a particular false belief that he has to act on as if it were the truth, despite his better judgement or evidence to the contrary.

Invulnerability: The character believes that he will never get severely injured, either through luck or divine providence. Such a character would have to pass a Willpower Test not to enter a ganghouse and throw insults and punches instead of exercising due caution, for example.

Righteousness: The character believes his choices are right and justified, no matter what the cost. Such a character might claim to be a Puritan despite using proscribed knowledge, or refuse to act subtly where it would otherwise be prudent to do so.

Horrific Nightmares

Seriousness:Minor, Severe.
The character suffers from vivid and reoccurring nightmares; trying to run from a black sun in the sky, or being imprisoned in an endless machine, for example. After any stressful day, the character must pass a Willpower Test in order not to succumb to his terrors while asleep. If he fails, the character will suffer from a single level of Fatigue on the following day.

With the GMs permission, a character may use xp to remove Insanity Points. It costs 100 xp to remove a single Insanity Point. A character may never go down a degree of madness and so will never lose their disorders. All buying back of Insanity Points should be properly represented as time and effort spent by the character in game. Possible ways of representing the removal of Insanity are:

  • Prayer, fasting, penance and mortification of the flesh.
  • Long-term palliative care.
  • Recuperation in quiet and pleasant surroundings.
  • Contemplation of the great holy works or other articles of faith (the Credo Omnissiah for example for Mechanicus characters)

Insanity

The Cursed Planet Malice V Orcangel