Cthulu and Sanity Points

I have just borrowed a copy of the d20 Cthulu book. I am not a big Lovecraft fan, but I have to admit that there is some pretty cool stuff in there. Particularly interested in two areas:

1.) Sanity
2.) Terror

1.) Is anyone using Sanity Points in a Conan campaign or thinking about it? I really like the system but I have so much being thrown into the campaign that I do not want to add something just to add it.

2.) Terror is a must have for REH settings. I plan to expand on the basic element by bringing in Terror factors from either Cthulu or the new WOC Heroes of Horror. Anyone out there doing something similar? Any opinions on which book would be better suited to Conan?

Thanks.

HLD
 

Yogah of Yag

Mongoose
I would like to learn more about the concept of Sanity, and how to work it into Conan RPG. Does a person start with x amount of "Sanity Points", like Fate Points? Sanity Checks? Consequences for failing them? The idea sounds promising.
 
I use some material (creatures) out of the CoC d20 book to flavor some of my Conan adventures. But use them sparingly so that my game does not result in a total horror campaign. I throw them in every once in awhile to keep my players on their toes.

I do use the rules for terror but not insanity, since I really don't want my players running around as babbling insane idiots, and I figure the heroes are made of sterner stuff and can resist the horrible sights of mythos creatures and such. I do have a minor NPC go off the deep end every now and then when encountering such horrors so that the players get the idea something is not right.
 
Yogah,

In the CoC sanity rules each character starts off with a number of sanity points based off their mental stats. Every time a character encounters a mythos horror or a gastly sight, etc., they make a resistance roll. If they fail, they lose a number of their sanity points based on the monster or scene they witness. Suggested losses are listed in the d20 book for each creature or horror. Even if a character resists, some creatures still cause a small loss of sanity. If a character loses to many sanity points at one time (I think it was 10), they go temporarily insane or pick up a disorder. If they ever lose all their insanity, they go mad.

Sanity can also be recovered through various means, such as proper medical care, overcoming/defeating a horror, etc.

Hope this helps.
 
Yogah of Yag said:
I would like to learn more about the concept of Sanity, and how to work it into Conan RPG. Does a person start with x amount of "Sanity Points", like Fate Points? Sanity Checks? Consequences for failing them? The idea sounds promising.

Each character starts out with their Wisdom score multiplied by 5. Maximum sanity points are 99. If a character's sanity points drop to zero, they begin to slide into insanity. Three types: Temporary, Indefinite, and Permanent.

There are a few ways to lose sanity points. Basically, Learning the Truth (knowledge of outsiders would be the equivalent, using/learning spells, reading forbidden tomes, encountering the unimagineable, severe shock (I may add in extreme forms of debauchery witnessed if I play the rule).

There are some optional rules on gaining sanity points back at level. All in all, there are 12 pages covering insanity and mental disorders in the book. Good stuff.
 

bjorntfh

Mongoose
And of course remember: killing a monster gets you back usually 1/2 the sanity lost by encountering it. Thus sanity loss is usually a slippery slope that after a certain point you won't recover from.
 

Bregales

Mongoose
And any time (aka: every adventure) you lose 10% of your sanity (if it hasn't been regained at the start of this adventure, then it's based off your current SAN), you go insane, and must spend 1-6 months in an asylum geeting individual treatment to fix it, otherwise you risk going permanently insane, removed from the game, etc.

That sounds great, sign me up for SANITY loss in Conan game!@! (read: sarcastic). In Cthulhu, your sanity always goes down, until you die. Then you make up a new one to die off gibbering, snot running down his nose as he's immobilized by terror as rats gnaw at his flesh, an ooze digests him while crushing his organs & bones, etc. Just what this game needs. (read w/ utter sarcasm). :x

While that sounds fine for any civilized munchkin who meets its first hooked horror in Hyboria, I enjoy the way Conan freaks into fierce frenzied fury and lashes out against his foes, rather than die in a puddle of his own drool. If that's what you want though, have fun, and count me out of it.
 

Thoth Aw C'mon

Mongoose
High Lord Dee said:
Yogah of Yag said:
I would like to learn more about the concept of Sanity, and how to work it into Conan RPG. Does a person start with x amount of "Sanity Points", like Fate Points? Sanity Checks? Consequences for failing them? The idea sounds promising.

Each character starts out with their Wisdom score multiplied by 5. Maximum sanity points are 99. If a character's sanity points drop to zero, they begin to slide into insanity. Three types: Temporary, Indefinite, and Permanent.

There are a few ways to lose sanity points. Basically, Learning the Truth (knowledge of outsiders would be the equivalent, using/learning spells, reading forbidden tomes, encountering the unimagineable, severe shock (I may add in extreme forms of debauchery witnessed if I play the rule).

There are some optional rules on gaining sanity points back at level. All in all, there are 12 pages covering insanity and mental disorders in the book. Good stuff.

This sounds like a pretty good system. I definitely favor a significant emphasis on sanity during the course of a game. The physical health of one's character shouldnt be the only consideration for a player- the mental and psychological well being is another factor which needs to come into play and good sanity rules help do that.

Sanity seems to me to be something that one loses, so it fits that a character has sanity points which are lost due to particularly horrifying encounters, rather than one gaining insanity points or something like that. Characters should be able to pick up phobias and other disorders as their sanity declines, rather than being okay until the points run out, like some systems do with hit points.

Perhaps if a character fails his sanity test against an object or thing that causes Terror, they gain a phobia or affliction. Whereas if they fail their sanity test against something that merely causes fear then they merely lose sanity points. And then of couse once the sanity points are reduced to zero the character is totally insane. One can then work out rules for slowly regaining some sanity points thru rest and TLC in a peaeful setting, at the hands of a healer, etc. But sanity definitely adds a lot of spice to RPGs, and helps with the mechanics of horror in an rpg by bringing some consequences to bear on the PCs for witnessing and dealing with particularly horrifying entities, beasts and situations.
 

Jumba

Mongoose
How do the Terror rules in the D20 CoC difer from the Terror rules in the Conan RPG?

I'm not too hip on wanting my characters to slip slowly into insanity, but I think that litle more defined Terror system would be welcome. I was thinking of making up some house rules for Terror based on an old horror rpg called Chill, where there is degrees of failing and succeeding horror/terror checks. Is the CoC system anything like that?

Jumba
 

bjorntfh

Mongoose
Terror checks are made as normal: succeding at one (sans misting) means you take 1d3 sanity points, if you mist, you take none. Failing means the usual effects PLUS 1d6 sanity points.
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
In the case of Conan, when he fails a terror check he becomes berserk and eradicate the threat.
Thus we learn that it is sometimes useful to fail a check.
 

Yogah of Yag

Mongoose
Sanity/Insanity in Conan sounds devilishly useful. :twisted:
I would be hesitant to make one ruling for all PCs/NPCs in Hyboria, however.
I would say the certain classes and/or races would potentially be more resistant to Insanity effects than others. I feel there should be some hierarchy to the potential to Sanity Loss.

E.g.:

* weak, inexperienced commoners would suffer the greatest damage in the face of otherworldly, netherworldly horrors. If a commoner is in the adventuring party, he/she will be instantly blasted by the horror of encountering a demon, beast, etc. while battle-tested PCs may grimace, but not back down.

* Any "city-folk" would also suffer a lot of sanity loss, especially if they do not travel about much and see the world.

* Hardened martial-types (scarred warriors, experienced soldiers, esp. Cimmerian barbarians) would be least susceptible to sanity loss. I don't know if PTSD qualifies as a loss of Sanity...

* Of course Scholars who dabble or dive head-first into the Dark Arts will be risking their Sanity (the Conan rules for Corruption apply here, I believe).
 

Trodax

Mongoose
I agree Yogah. For your standard Conan game, featuring tough-as-nail barbarians, borderers and nomads, I don't think Sanity is all that great an idea. At least I think players coming in expecting their characters to behave like REH's heroes will be dissapointed when they start fainting and drooling.

However, I think a more Call of Cthulhu-oriented game could also be run in the Hyborian Age to great effect. For example, a group of Nemedian Scholars digging too deep into some nameless mystery, or some such thing. For that type of game, Sanity could work excellently.
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
Trodax said:
However, I think a more Call of Cthulhu-oriented game could also be run in the Hyborian Age to great effect. For example, a group of Nemedian Scholars digging too deep into some nameless mystery, or some such thing. For that type of game, Sanity could work excellently.
The thing is that people in the 1920's have a rationalized mind compared to Sword & Sorcery. Thus even if a commoner in Shadizar never saw a demon he knows at least that foul creatures exist while the guy from the 20's would laugh at the idea and proove weaker if he ever encounter one. Moreover blood and gore was more common in the ancient time than in the civilization after the golden age.
 

Oly

Mongoose
bjorntfh said:
And of course remember: killing a monster gets you back usually 1/2 the sanity lost by encountering it. Thus sanity loss is usually a slippery slope that after a certain point you won't recover from.

Not in the original (non D20) CoC rules. If you "defeat" an unnatural entity you can gain sanity up to the maximum possible loss that the creature can cause, this can be more than the actual loss that was rolled. "Defeat" is deliberately vague and is best dealt with in a discussion between the GM and the players.

For example if you meet hundreds of deep ones and kill a dozen in your flight from the decaying fishing village then you probably won't get any reward, there's no real sense that you defeated them.

Basically a lot of it is down to GM and player discretion which keeps it in a fitting mood for the game.

For the record I'm not sure I like the idea of this in Conan no matter how much of a CoC fan I am....
 

Oly

Mongoose
Bregales said:
And any time (aka: every adventure) you lose 10% of your sanity (if it hasn't been regained at the start of this adventure, then it's based off your current SAN), you go insane, and must spend 1-6 months in an asylum geeting individual treatment to fix it, otherwise you risk going permanently insane, removed from the game, etc.

In the non D20 CoC rules loosing 5 or more Sanity points in one go risks a temporary insanity (e.g. fleeing, hysteria etc.)

Loosing 20% or more in one game hour produces an indefinite insanity that lasts for 1d6 game months. This may or may not take the character out of the game, as with sanity gains a lot of this is down to the player and GM.

If you drop to 0 Sanity then it's off the the asylum with you for a couple of years.

So not quite how you described (though maybe that's how the D20 version works?) but still hard going. I agree with you, it's not very "Conan" to me.

Oly
 

Jumba

Mongoose
Here's a little something I've been working on. My house rules for Terror of the Unknown...

Roll as normal to save against Terror from the Unknown. If the character fails the roll then consult the table below.

Failed Terror Save by 5 or less points – Screams and flees in terror
Failed Terror Save by 10 to 6 points – Paralyzed with Fear
Failed Terror Save by 15 to 11 points – Faints from Fear *
Failed Terror Save by 20 to 16 points – Catatonic **

* If the character survives his ordeal with the source of terror, he must make a Fortitude Save with the DC being the same as the Will Save he made for terror. If the character fails this save he then picks up a minor phobia for 1d3 days. If the character fails this save by 10 or more points he then picks up an indefinite form of insanity.

** If the character survives his ordeal with the source of terror, he must make a Fortitude Save with the DC being the same as the Will Save he made for terror with an additional +2 penalty. If the character fails the save he then picks up an indefinite form of insanity.


Screams and Flees in Terror: The character screams in horror and flees from the source of terror. Use the normal rules for Terror of the Unknown in the Conan RPG (page 313 of the Hardback Atlantean Edition or page 276 of the Pocket Conan Edition).

Paralyzed with Fear: The character drops all possessions in his hands, screams in horror and is paralyzed by the source of terror. The character is paralyzed for 1d3 rounds, which means he cannot move, talk or react in any way. If the character takes damage in any way (not counting non-lethal damage) he is freed from his paralysis but will still be frightened for 3d6 rounds and will be under the normal penalties and rules for Terror of the Unknown.

Faints from Fear: The character drops all possessions in his hands, screams in horror and faints for 3d6 rounds at the sight of the source of terror. Successful use of First Aid (DC 10) or if he takes any type of damage at all, will allow the character to regain consciousness. Upon regaining consciousness he will still be frightened for 3d6 rounds and will be under the normal penalties and rules for Terror of the Unknown.

Catatonic: The character drops all possessions in his hands and is shocked into a catatonic state for 2d10 minutes. He cannot speak properly and cannot move without assistance. Successful use of First Aid (DC 15) will bring the character out of his catatonic state in 1d6 rounds. After recovering from a catatonic state the character will still be frightened for 3d6 rounds and will be under the normal penalties and rules for Terror of the Unknown.

Let me know what you guys think.

Jumba
 
Jumba said:
Let me know what you guys think.

Jumba

I like it! I am going to incorporate this into the Sanity Points system as well (i.e. Catatonic would require a sanity check). After further review, I am going to try to tie the Terror, Sanity and Corruption points together somehow. I will let you know what I come up with.

HLD
 

argo

Mongoose
The CoC sanity rules are great!

... if your playing a CoC game. In a conan game they are not so hot. The major purpose of San points in the d20 CoC game is to enforce the sense of hopeless, inescapable doom. Even if your PC's don't get eaten by the shoggoth they still face the slow, inevitable loss of San until they suffer "effective character death" and are shiped off to the asylum.

Arguably the major difference between much of Lovecraft's work and much of REH's work is that Lovecraft's protaganists were blue-blooded aristocrats and limp-writsed sceintists while REH wrote yarns about steely-thewed barbarians inspired by the Texas Wildcaters he knew in real life. This is something that has been remarked about on this board before.


IMC the way I deal with it is that I am more "liberal" with calling for Terror and Corruption checks than the RAW stictly calls for. For example, if the PC's infiltrate the cultists temple and see them in the midst of performing their dark sacrifice I may well call for Terror/Corruption checks even if the PC's fully intend to attack and stop the cultists.

Note that per the Conan RAW if you have at least one point of Corruption and you make a successful save against Corruption then you must make a second save against the same DC; failure means you can either accept a point of corruption or take and insanity. I think that is good enough for the kind of heroic Conan game I perfer.



Though I admit that a "Dark Ages Cuthulu" game set in the Hyborian age could have promise...

Later
 

Bregales

Mongoose
Thanks argo, that's a much better response than I have been trying to figure out how to write since I saw this thread. Well written.
 
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