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Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells - Sanity and Madness

Artwork by Louis Glanzman

There is a lot in the universe we yet don't know or don't understand. And maybe it's better that way.

In Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells, characters may encounter things or discover truths they are not ready to witness yet, and that may shatter their fragile minds.

Sanity and Madness

Somethings are not meant to be seen by mortal eyes. Others are way beyond the comprehension of the simple minds of the sentient species alive today, and this can shatter their grip on reality.

In game terms, every character has a Sanity score equal to their Intellect. This represents their grip on reality and their ability to rationalize what they have witnessed to preserve their minds.

When a player character witnesses something that can affect their fragile minds, the Overlord will ask for a Willpower test with a Difficulty appropriate to the gravity of the event (usually varying from 0 to 5). A success means the characters had the mental fortitude to preserve his sanity and create a reasonable explanation for what he has seen, even if it’s just to preserve his sense of reality.

When a character fails, however, he lose some of this mental resolve. The amount of Sanity points lost vary with how disturbing each experience is. Weird encounters might inflict just 1d3 points of Sanity damage. Bizarre encounters make the character lose 1d6-1 points of Sanity. Terrible experiences will make the character lose 1d6 points of Sanity. Finally, mind-shattering ones will reduce the character’s Sanity by 2d6 points.

Kaylia is now trying to break a friend out the the Skull Prison. She entered the facility hidden in a cargo crate and is now making her way through the dark and damp tunnels in search for him. Looking through one of the cell’s peepholes, she saw a scene that made her spine shivers. A gelatinous creature was englobing a prisioner and suckig all his blood, leaving him like a dried fruit. The Overlord asked her for a Willpower test to avoid losing some Sanity points, and failing the roll, she loses 1d6-1 points, as the Overlord judged it a Bizarre experience.

Acquiring Madness

Once a character’s Sanity is reduced to zero, he acquires a Madness and his Sanity score is restored to the initial value. The madness should be related to what made him lose the Sanity points. This can only happen 3 times though, as explained ahead.

The first time this happens the Madness acquired manifest just as a minor quirk, being quite manageable. The character is nervous around situations that reminds him of his madness, but there is no mechanical effect yet. By the second time, the Madness becomes stronger and can affect the character in critical situations. Once per adventure, the Overlord may impose Negative Dice to the character’s actions for a full scene if he fails a Willpower test. By the third time the Madness is acquired, it becomes a constant disturbance in the character’s life. Once every session (or twice in a single session adventure), the Overlord may impose Negative Dice to the character’s actions for a full scene if he fails a Difficulty 3 Willpower test. If the character’s Sanity score is reduced to zero a fourth time, the Madness takes over his mind completely, and he no longer can be played.

Kaylia fails her Willpower test and loses enough Sanity points to earn her first signs of Madness. Now, whenever she sees a dead body, she will be reminded of that gelatinous creature and shiver. The Overlord hopes to develop this Madness further, when she loses her Sanity again, so that when dead bodies or gelatinous substances are near her, she will start to feel afraid and nervous.

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