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Steve

Sanity Combat

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After re-reading the Social Combat rules from the APG, it makes me wonder if a variant of them could be used in determining sanity loss in horror-type games. Like other types of Hero conflict resolution, you would just need to set up a new type of Combat Value.

 

Let's call my proposal Sanity Combat.

 

Monsters and situations (like seeing a dead body for the first time) could have an Offensive Sanity Combat Value. Characters would have a Defensive Sanity Combat Value to show how hard it is to affect them, and the GM would roll an attack damaging sanity (which could be added as its own characteristic or perhaps sanity loss is damage against PRE).

 

Maybe a form of Mental Defense would help against sanity loss, but some monsters would have sanity attacks that are Armor-Piercing or Penetrating (Cthulhu Mythos anyone?).

 

If the sanity loss from the attack is greater than a character's EGO (or maybe PRE), they would be Stunned per normal rules.

 

Anyone think this could work? It would follow the rules for other types of combat with relatively minimal character additions.

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I was actually working on some Mechanics for this very thing for a Horror game I wanted to start running. My take on it is below, though I did not get around to doing the charts. Feel free to steal anything you want but please share what you come up with...

 

New Characteristics

 

Sanity (SAN) - A primary characteristic similar to BODY which determines the Character's mental stability. SAN has a default score of 10 which indicates a normal person. SAN has a cost of 2 character points for each point of Sanity. As the score decreases the character begins to lose his grip on reality. SAN cannot be healed back without professional help unless some type of healing is used. At 0 SAN a character has become completely deranged and is prone to outbursts according to the following chart (modified by current disadvantages) [obviously I will have to construct a chart]

 

Composure (COMP) - A figured characteristic similar to STUN which determines the Character's current mental stability. COMP has a figured value of PRE/2 + EGO/2 + SAN and costs 1 character point for each point of COMP. As a person's Composure decreases they suffer from effect according to the following chart [again I will have to construct a chart]. Each time a character's COMP reaches 0 they take 1 point of SAN damage. COMP is healed by using Presence Defense (PRD - described below)in the same manner as normal recoveries and can take place at the same time.

 

Presence Defense (PRD) - A figured characteristic that acts as the defense of a character versus PRE attacks. PRD has a figured value of PRE/5 + EGO/5 and costs 2 character points for each point of PRD.

 

Modifications on current rules

 

PRE attacks - Currently PRE attacks are compared with the character's PRE score to determine what level of effect they have on an individual. They also take no time to do if performed in a character's phase. Moving forward they will be treated similarly to standard attacks. PRE is the offensive portion of the equation and each 5 points of PRE is equal to 1d6 COMP damage. The difference is that a character can choose how to use this damage. It can act as either a drain to COMP or aid to the same. Performing a PRE attack takes a 1/2 phase and is considered an attack action. Characters can perform attacks with Casual PRE (Half the character's damage) as a 0 phase, non-combat action if they wish.

 

Example

 

Illinois Johnson is exploring a mysterious cave when he accidentally unleashes a minor demon. The Demon appears and immediately does a PRE attack on Illinois. The Demon intends to attack so only performs a Casual PRE attack. The Demon has a 30 PRE and attacks for 6d6 normally, the GM decides that because Illinois was surprised he takes an additional 1d6. This means that the Demon is doing a 3.5d6 (6d6 + 1d6 / 2 = 3.5d6) casual PRE attack on poor Illinois. The GM rolls a great damage roll of 6,5,4 and a 3 (2) on the half die. This results in 17 COMP damage to poor old Illinois. What the Demon didn't bargain for is that Illi is no chicken and has a PRD of 6 and the talent of Steel Nerves (for an additional PRD of 5). Illi takes 17-6-5=6 COMP damage and is not scared (the score was not equal to or above his EGO). Illi acts first and draws and fires at the Demon. Combat ensues...

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The game has presense attacks for these situations but I do agree that there needs to be a way to damage the human psyche to create insanity that is tracked.  Relating it to a new stat called sanity would work as it works as body for the psyche.  I would define it as requiring a special healing based on a mental power to heal faster than rest in a sanitorium or like conditions.  The rest must be from the outside world like hospital rest from a wound.  The mind requires time to relax, sort and find humanity again.  Normal regeneration or healing of body will work then on a monthly basis. 

 

The addition of Presence Defence would be normal for Supers and people who work in crisis situations to have but not common for the normals.  Any variation from the normal mind via experience, alien, or study of the abnormal gives a character reason to raise PRD. If introduced, I would just give characters a specific PRD as standard based on who they are and change that with GM experience if required.  The player could modify that as they desire.   

 

In reading the Legendsmiths rules on sanity, I find it a bit much but a good read to help create modifiers to the presense attack.  I would apply the shower, smoke, whiskey and other things to feel human as ways to lessen the effect of the presense attack to start or lessen the effects of the attack after the fact as well.  I think all the calculations would slow the game down.  Using the body of the presense attack and include the PRD against the body as PR/5 and anything added from a GM addition.plus purchased as mental defence but separate.  Adventurers should have a higher value due to the personality that makes them adventurers.  A player playing a reluctant hero would be selling some back but someone playing a thrill-seeker would buy more.  Keeping it simple with just 2 more stats, PRD and Sanity and common method of determining damage, makes this more managable. 

 

Finally, when calculating the presense dice, the action should be compare to the effects on a normal.  If not you will be giving an unnecessary penalty to the presense attacker, This is my opinion only. 

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Sounds like a Transform vs. EGO (not BODY) or PRE would work. Each insanity event would inflict some Transform damage on the victim's EGO/PRE and when enough has been transformed they become insane. You could have the partial effect be in play so they suffer progressive effects as the transform increases (when 1/2 EGO is affected they suffer some Cosmetic Insanity side effects, at Full EGO they suffer Minor Insanity side effects, perhaps at 1.5 EGO they suffer Major Insanity side effects, only losing All Sanity at x2 EGO).

 

Healing this transform would be whatever you think is appropriate, time should heal it (perhaps EGO/5 points per month, double that with good psychiatric treatment). Mental Defense could provide resistance to these Insanity inducing events.

 

Cosmetic: Paranoia, Phobias.

Minor: Severe Paranoia/Phobias, Isolated from others who do not "know" what they know, Trust no one.

Major: Debilitating Paranoia/Phobia, Cannot meaningfully communicate with others, Excessively Violent (more so that usual PCs!)

Total: PC no longer in control of player, sky is the limit here

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On the Legendsmiths website are Sanity rules for the Hero System which are used in their setting Narosia:

http://narosia.legendsmiths.com/rule-hacks/sanity

 

"Adventures into Darkness" from Atomic Overmind Press written bei Kenneth Hite included Sanity rules too.

It actually was devloped specifically for Cowboy Cthulhu from the rules I use in Narosia. I so very much wanted to include these (at least a revision) in the core book, but it will have to wait for the Qliphothic supplement.

 

I do use them a lot (one of my playtesters insists on dabbling with chaos magic) and all manner of horrible things have happened. Much coin has been spent with the Newardin Psions to restore their sanity. And, like all players, they never learn.

 

Thank you for the recognition - I didn't realize anyone had seen those rules con-goers.

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What is Cowboy Cthulhu? I've been working on my own western-cthulhu-horror game for a bit, but I'd love to see if there is something out there that would save me some of the work.

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I just found it. Wow, there is some things in there sort of like what I was working on, I was even using a "Grit" stat but differently then what you guys have here. 

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I didn't do much more than run that adventure (about 6 times at various conventions). One of the best sessions I've ever run (every time, but in different ways). I can't say I 100% followed my rules, and they have evolved slightly (especially through Narosia campaign play). I have my notes and will revise. I usually go super detailed on my rules and then my players beat me back until we find a happy medium.

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Sounds like a Transform vs. EGO (not BODY) or PRE would work. Each insanity event would inflict some Transform damage on the victim's EGO/PRE and when enough has been transformed they become insane. You could have the partial effect be in play so they suffer progressive effects as the transform increases (when 1/2 EGO is affected they suffer some Cosmetic Insanity side effects, at Full EGO they suffer Minor Insanity side effects, perhaps at 1.5 EGO they suffer Major Insanity side effects, only losing All Sanity at x2 EGO).

 

Healing this transform would be whatever you think is appropriate, time should heal it (perhaps EGO/5 points per month, double that with good psychiatric treatment). Mental Defense could provide resistance to these Insanity inducing events.

 

Cosmetic: Paranoia, Phobias.

Minor: Severe Paranoia/Phobias, Isolated from others who do not "know" what they know, Trust no one.

Major: Debilitating Paranoia/Phobia, Cannot meaningfully communicate with others, Excessively Violent (more so that usual PCs!)

Total: PC no longer in control of player, sky is the limit here

This is very close to how I would do it.  Definitely Transform vs EGO.  The Transform "EGO" that accumulates will heal over time (Recovery per month).  Once enough EGO points are accumulated, the character gains Psychological Complications chosen by the GM.  Once the characters EGO has been doubled, the character would be considered clinically insane.

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