Horror & Sanity


     Insanity and keeping sanity is a real big part of Beyond the Supernatural.  When men and women who think they live in a normal world come to find out that the paranormal and super-natural are real forces, it tests what they know about life and about “the real world.”  Even to suspect that there are such forces out there is to contrast conventional reality.  More so, a confrontation with such things endangers sanity even more.

     Conflict, abuse, shock, or other strong personal experiences inflict emotional scars.  Fear, the unknown, disturbing stimuli, humanity’s lowly place in the scheme things, establishes brand new terrors for the human race.  The things we think we know about the laws of space and time—things that are supposed to be universal and unchangeable are only locally valid and only partly true.

     Beyond our ken lie infinites where seemingly many unreal and greater realities hold sway.  Outside our perception, alien powers and races wait with hostility, or at the very best (as we can hope), cosmic indifference.  Some encroach on our world.  The real world is one with no joy or comfort.  It is filled with mind-bending forces to which our existence holds absolutely no significance, and titanic struggles in which our desires and needs matter not at all.  Human insanity confirms these terrible realizations, and is often caused by them.  Through madness, we glimpse the dark, grim and bloody truths at the heart of the universe.


Conditions for Potential Sanity Loss


   Learning the Truth.  Knowledge is dangerous, and none is more dangerous than confirmed or even suspected knowledge of the paranormal and supernatural (Lore skills)—the true face of reality in the universe.  No amount of psychotherapy or rest can remove the dangerous truth from such knowledge.

   Magic.  Magic relies on the physics of the true universe.  By learning and casting spells, characters attempt to visualize the unimaginable, warping their minds to follow alien ways (to us humans anyway) of thought.  These wound and scar the mind.  Such traumas are ones for which the casters volunteer, this is true, but they are shocks to the human mind all the same.

   Encountering the Unimaginable.  It starts with a suspicion of existence.  But when suspicion horrifyingly transforms into reality it costs us a portion of our minds.  We never lose focus of the horrific reality of their unimaginable existence.  This is a basic instinctive reaction of every human being.  Paranormal or supernatural events as well as encountering such creatures and monsters are included in this category.

   Severe Shock.  Non-supernatural/paranormal occurrences or scenes can also cause insanity.  Things like hearing screams of torture, walking into a room to find a horrifically mutilated human body (even more so if it were a child or baby) or even being the victim of possession can lead to insanity.  Even loss of social position, failure of love or treachery against someone can cause emotional trauma that can tip balance of our sanity.


Sanity Points—Fighting Reality


     In Beyond the Supernatural: Revisited the worst enemy and eternal nemesis of every character comes from within.  It is when they must fight the horrifying and traumatic events they are subject to that the greatest battles take place.  They battle against their own wills and psyche that are tested through horrifying or traumatic experiences.  For it is the truth of the reality we live in that our heroes make their greatest stand—they fight reality.


Base Sanity Points: M.E. attribute + 1 per level of experience + M.E. attribute bonuses.  Players must roll under this number on a 1D20 when making a Sanity Check.  Certain skills permanently modify this base, for good or for worse.


Skills that Modify the Base: Forensics (having only the skill of Criminal Science isn’t enough; +1), Medical Doctor/M.D. (+1), Paramedics (+2), Lore: Demons & Deevils (-2), Lore: Cults & Religions (-1), Lore: Magic (-2), Lore: Entities and Undead (-2), Lore: Monsters & Creatures (-2), Lore: WereBeasts (-1) and Lore: Vampires (-1).  Penalties are cumulative and as long as any of these skills are known the character has the accompanying penalty to the skill.  (Note: The penalty to Sanity Points doubles as a bonus to Horror Factor, but this applies only to the skills with a penalty.)


Sanity Check—The Battle Within


     The following are guidelines to situations that require a Sanity Check and how much “Sanity Points“ (S.P.) a character loses.  First consider how horrifying, unnerving or potentially traumatic the situation is, then consult either the Horror Factor table or the Traumatic/Unnerving Situation table (if the situation in question will undeniably test the character's mental stability).



Sanity Points Loss


Sanity Points Loss


2 / 2D4+1


0 / 1D6-1


2 / 2D4


0 / 1D4+1


1 / 2D4


0 / 1D4+1


1 / 1D6+1


0 / 1D4


1 / 1D6+1


0 / 1D4


1 / 1D6


0 / 1D4-1


1 / 1D6


0 / 1


     Next, the players roll against the Horror Factor determined.  If the roll succeeds, the character's mental stability was tested, but the character remains stable.  If the roll fails, have the character make a Sanity Check against their current Sanity Points.

     If the situation was an undeniably traumatizing, unnerving or horrifying situation, there is no Horror Factor to roll against, go straight to a Sanity Check.

     If a successful roll, minimal to no damage to the character's psyche has occurred—the character is shaken up a little, maybe even twitchy or creeped-out, but is relatively stable; the amount of Sanity Points lost is the first number under S.P. Loss table.

     If a failed roll, the character's psyche is overwhelmed for a moment and they may possibly be in danger of going insane; consult the second number under S.P. Loss table.  Also, GM's must roll on the Psyche Backlash Table or pick an appropriate response.


S.P. Loss

Traumatic/Unnerving Situation

0 / 1

Finding a dead body/Victim to Possession

0 / 1D2

Finding a puddle or stream of flowing blood

0 / 1D3

Waking ritual sacrifice ready or in a coffin

0 / 1D4-1

Witness to a severe injury or violent death

0 / 1D4

Finding a body part or mangled/mutilated body

1 / 1D4

Meeting someone you know to be dead

1 / 1D6

Witness to a dear friend’s violent death

1 / 2D4

Victim to dismemberment or severe torture

2 / 2D4+1

Witness to a loved relative’s violent death

3 / 2D4+4

Having to unwillingly murder a loved one


Psyche Backlash (Roll or pick one)


01-17 Faint!: The character passes out for 1D4 melee rounds.  If the source of the Backlash is still present upon reawakening, another Sanity Check is necessary or the character risks fainting again!

18-35 Run!: The character takes off, running to get away from the terror as fast as he/she can.  If anyone gets in the way, he/she will attempt to simply barrel him or her over (tackle).  Failing this (if stopped from running), he must roll again on this table and respond accordingly.  The character recovers in 1D4 melee rounds, but suffers the usual Horror Factor penalties in combat the entire period.

36-53 Scream!: The character stands there screaming insanely!  If attacked the character cannot defend against the first attack of the source of the Backlash and suffers standard Horror Factor penalties the entire melee.  If it was a Traumatic or Unnerving Situation, the poor character continues screaming until slapped, shaken rigorously or similar.  Unfortunately, this screaming fit is likely to draw outside attention to the scene.  Characters continue to scream for 1D6 melee rounds, but can take action (run, hide, fight); only all combat bonuses and skill performance are half.  Afterwards, the character's voice is strained; they can barely talk above a whisper, for 4D6+10 minutes.

54-68 Urinate or Defecate: In addition to psyche damage or horror factor penalties, this response is usually embarrassing.  Other than standard psyche damage or horror factor penalties, characters do not suffer any other effects, but they may possibly babble incoherently.

69-80 Freeze: The character actually becomes paralyzed with fear.  They cannot move, talk or act in any decisive manner and must be physically pulled from his/her terrified stupor.  If the source of the Backlash attacks the character, roll again on this table for the character's reaction.  Otherwise, the character just stands there, frozen and trembling for 2D4+2 melee rounds.

81-85 Cry and Beg: The character resorts to begging for his/her life and the lives of comrades.  They will fight only to defend themselves; however, they are too horrified to take any openly aggressive acts.

86-88 Attack!: The character flies into a violent rage—desperate to destroy the thing that has so terrified him/her!  +5 on initiative and +2 strike and damage, but is so consumed with destroying the "thing" that all bonuses to defend are half and all non-combat skills are forgotten.  The rage lasts 1D4 melees.  This reaction is sometimes inappropriate for Traumatic or Unnerving Situations —if the GM deems it is, roll again or pick an appropriate one.

89-91 Hyperventilate: The character has difficulty breathing, as though he/she were suffering an asthma attack and unless he/she can sit down and calm down, a roll of 14 or higher is necessary to remain functioning normally.  A failed roll means the character can barely breathe, cannot speak more than two words per melee round, speed is reduced to 1D4 points, all combat bonuses are ignored, skill performance is -80%, and has only one melee action/attack per round.  If the roll to save is a five or less, the character loses consciousness.  This result is not life threatening; characters who pass out from hyperventilation begin to breathe normally and reawaken after 1D6 melee rounds.  Otherwise, hyperventilation remains until the source of the Backlash is removed.

92-93 Hysterical Blindness: The character suddenly goes blind!  This lasts about 1D4 hours, from which the character is -10 on all combat rolls.

93-94 Catatonic: Same as Freeze, except the character does not have a chance to snap out of this state—they just stand their completely still.  If attacked (by anyone) they are completely defenseless, unable to do anything, except stand still and stare blankly.  This lasts 1D4 melee rounds.

95-96 Mindless Aggression: The character becomes completely berserk, blindly lashing out at the nearest target, regardless of whether they are friends, allies, and innocent bystanders.  The main goal is to destroy the horror, but all those within reach are considered possible threats.  Lasts until restrained or 1D4 melee rounds after the source of the Backlash is gone.  This reaction is sometimes inappropriate for Traumatic or Unnerving Situations —if the GM deems it is, roll again or pick an appropriate one.

97-98 Throw Up: The individual's "gut" response is to vomit, retching uncontrollably for 1D4 melee rounds.  While in this state, the character cannot attack, and is -6 to defend or take any evasive action.  He/she must make an unmodified roll of 14 or higher to remain standing or to stagger away at 10% his or her normal speed.

99 Cardiac Arrest: Tightness in the chest results, coupled with severe pain down the left arm—they are having a heart attack.  They have difficulty breathing and must make an unmodified roll of 16 or higher to remain conscious each round.  Performing any strenuous activity reduces the character's P.E. by 1D6 points.  If P.E. drops to zero, or a saving throw is failed, the character falls unconscious and is nearing death.  Requires immediate medical attention within the next 4D6 melee rounds or the character may go into a coma and die (roll to save vs. coma/death).

00 Regress: Character falls to the ground, laying in the fetal position and whimpering like an infant.  Wants nothing more than to hide in a corner, curl up into a ball, and just disappear.  They are unable to act in any fashion.  Condition lasts 1D4+4 melee rounds or until removed from the situation.  There is a 50% chance of developing a Prolonged Insanity (does not count towards the number of times to a Permanent Insanity).


Getting Used To Disturbing/Horrific Stimuli


    Never underestimate the power of the human mind to adapt, even to the most horrific experiences.  Reading and rereading the same bit of disturbing text or seeing the same horrible things repeatedly, eventually provokes no further pain. 

     Within a reasonable interval of play, usually a single game session, a single character should not lose more Sanity Points for seeing monsters of a particular sort than double the maximum Sanity Points that can be lost for seeing such a monster.  In example, the S.P. Loss for being the victim of possession is 1 on a failed save.  So, a character cannot lose more than 2 S.P. from being possessed, in a single game session.  This is a general rule and special conditions may apply, depending on the situation.  The GM is the only one who can rule when the horror is renewed and points can be lost.

     Casting spells is a true and very special exception to this.  No matter how many times a character casts a spell, no matter what the time interval between castings may be, the Sanity Points Loss is always the same.  This is true of anything that a character does willingly.  For example, hopelessly in pain of a friends death, mourning causes you to watch the video feed of your friends death over and over—since this is a willful act, a player character loses the same Sanity Points over the event, regardless of how many times they watch the video.



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Going Insane...

      When exactly do characters go insane?  Well, the breaking point to any single character's sanity is their Sanity Points.  Once a character loses all Sanity Points they develop a Temporary Insanity, roll or pick an appropriate insanity.  Another breaking point is known as Shock—when a character loses an amount of Sanity Points equal to half their M.E. in one roll.  Any time these two situations arise, it makes the individual potentially more vulnerable to insanity in the future.


Temporary Insanity


     Temporary Insanities develop when a character reaches zero Sanity Points or loses an amount of Sanity Points equal to half their M.E. attribute in one roll.  Temporary Insanities last 7D6 hours and usually make an imprint on the character.  Roll on the following table to determine a random insanity or, at the GM’s discretion, pick as appropriate to the situation.

     Temporary Insanities take effect after any Psyche Backlashes the character may experience.  This happens immediately after a Psyche Backlash.  Some Temporary Insanities inhibit characters so much that it affects their ability to function normally; GMs are encouraged to apply any penalties they deem appropriate for the character, for the duration of the insanity.


Temporary Insanity Effects Table


D %     Effects for the Duration


01-10 Character performs compulsive rituals (prays constantly, hypochondriac, walks in a particular rhythm, never steps on cracks, constantly checks to see if gun is loaded, etc.).

11-20 Character has hallucinations or delusions (details are at GM’s discretion).

21-30 Character becomes paranoid (conspiracy theorist or the classic schizophrenic type).

31-40 Character is gripped with mild phobia (refuses to get close to the object of phobia, except on a successful Save vs. Insanity—doesn’t lose Sanity Points is fails or succeeds).

41-45 Character has disturbing sexual desires (exhibitionism, nymphomania or satyriasis, teratophilia, necrophilia, etc.).

46-55 Character develops a Psycho-Reliance (person, place or thing) and cannot function without it (roll random short-term insanity if removed from their thing).

56-65 Character develops psychosomatic blindness, deafness, or paralysis of limb or limbs.

66-75 Character has uncontrollable tics or tremors (-5 or –20% to anything not completely mental in nature).

76-85 Character has amnesia (memories of intimates usually lost first; random skills are lost next—GM’s discretion to which ones).

86-90 Character has bouts of reactive psychosis (roll randomly on Psychosis Table—ignore “Becomes a Psychiatrist”).

91-95 Character loses ability to communicate (written/speech).

96-00 Character becomes catatonic (can stand, but has no will or interest; may be lead or forced to simple actions, but can take no independent action themselves).


Prolonged Insanity


     Should characters be subject to anything traumatic, horrifying or unnerving for longer than his psyche can handle, the effects could be horrible.  Though the human mind is meant to withstand trauma, it also has its limits and stepping beyond them begins to tear down the walls that are set for us that we may be mentally stable.  When these walls are breached and our eternal, inner nemesis comes rushing through, the resulting aftermath is not just mental stability it is Prolonged Insanity.

     Prolonged Insanity is essentially a ”bonus" insanity.  It breeds when player characters are subjected to beyond what their fragile psyche was never meant to endure.  As far as game mechanics are concerned, whenever a character loses Sanity Points into the negative beyond their M.E. attribute (i.e. an M.E. of 10 means, when the lose past -10 S.P.) a Prolonged Insanity occurs.  Prolonged Insanities last 3D6 weeks and characters permanently lose one Sanity Point every time they gain a Prolonged Insanity.  The exact effects of Prolonged Insanity are left solely up to the player and GM to work out.


Prolonged Insanity Effects Table


D %     Effects for the Duration

01-15 Anxiety Disorders (includes severe phobias).

16-25 Dissociative Disorders (amnesia, multiple personality).

26-30 Eating Disorders (anorexia, bulimia).

31-35 Impulse Control Disorders (compulsions).

36-45 Mood Disorders (Manic/Depressive).

46-50 Personality Disorders (various).

51-55 Psychosexual Disorders (sadism, nymphomania, etc.).

56-70 Schizophrenia or Psychotic Disorders (delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, catatonia).

71-80 Sleep Disorders (night terrors, sleepwalking, insomnia).

81-85 Somatoform Disorders (psychosomatic conditions).

86-95 Substance Abuse (alcoholic or addict).

96-00 Other Disorders (miscellaneous or random).



Permanent Insanity


     When characters are afflicted with insanity time after time, it starts to take its toll them.  Slowly the character's psyche begins to deteriorate.  And if or when they finally break and their psyche is shattered, they become permanently insane, unable to function in daily life.

     There is only one condition for Permanent Insanity.  Take the M.E. bonus to save vs. insanity and that is the number of times a character can go through Prolonged Insanities before gaining a Permanent Insanity.  For example if a character has a +3 bonus to save vs. insanity, due to their M.E., then they can go through three Prolonged Insanities — the fourth instilling a Permanent Insanity.  For those without an M.E. bonus, they only get one shot; the second Prolonged Insanity means they get a Permanent Insanity.  There is no table to roll on for a Permanent Insanity; the GM can work it out with the player or simply decide one.


Therapy: Curing the Mind


     Permanent Insanities never truly go away; however, therapy does help to subside the symptoms of insanity.  Sanity Points lost due to Prolonged Insanity can be cured, but Permanent Inanities cannot.  Through therapy, however, characters can learn to lead a relatively normal life—adjusting to medications and any possible residual symptoms.  It’s not a cure, but it is better than being the victim to an uncontrollable disease.

     As a rule, therapy can help characters recover one point of any permanently lost Sanity Points per 6 months of therapy.  Therapy sessions vary, usually according to therapists request.

     With regular therapy sessions (1D6 days a week) and possibly a few prescribed medications, therapists can lessen the effects of insanity and possibly even make it nearly non-existent.  Those with the Psychiatry skill that are treating the patient must roll the skill to properly assess the character’s illness and to experiment with treatments and medication.  After the correct treatment (and possibly medication) is determined, the patient can begin regular therapy sessions.  The therapist treating the patient must roll their Psychiatry skill (second percentile) every month to properly treat the patient.  A failed roll indicates the patient is unresponsive to a particular treatment or medication and symptoms from the illness begin to occur.  Which symptoms occur are left up to the GM.  A second roll is necessary to control the problem (second percentile again).  If the second roll fails, the patient fully regresses and the therapist is forced to start from square one—diagnosing, and then experimenting with different treatments and/or medications.

     Those who seek out therapy make it easier for their therapist to do their job; add +5% to +25% depending on how cooperative the patient is.  For patients that make it difficult for the therapist, a penalty of –5% to –25% is added to any of the therapist’s rolls, when rolling their Psychiatry or Psychology skill.


Recovering Sanity Points


     At this point, you are probably wondering how the hell you recover Sanity Points.  Plain and simple, except for the times you permanently lose points, every in game hour, roll vs. current Sanity Points.  If successful 1 point + M.E. bonus Sanity Points recovers; a failed roll means none are recovered.

     If a character has lost all Sanity Points, then after their Psyche Backlash, they are brought back up to 1 Sanity Point and recover normally from their.



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Sanity & Magic

The Dark Side of Sorcery


     Because of the nature of magic and the fact that sorcery is a willful act, spellcasting always causes Sanity Points Loss.  Spells make the character's psyche a lot unstable, because a mage forces a spell into existence through sheer force of will, shaping it with their very imagination.  This pushes a mages' psyche to the limit, testing their mental stability.

     Sanity Point Loss.  Every time a character casts a spell, they lose an amount of Sanity Points equal to the difference in their current level and the level of the spell.  For example, a fifth level mage, casting a seventh level spell means they will lose 2 Sanity Points, casting the spell.  This Sanity Point Loss is temporary like most Sanity Point Losses; however, there is another way to lose Sanity Points, permanently.  Learning new spells means using the same formula as casting a spell to get the amount lost, except that Sanity Points are permanently lost and only if the sorcerer is successful in learning the spell.

     Obviously, it is clear that practitioners of the Arcane Art are a little more likely to become insane than others are. “Be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it.”  This idiom is brought new meaning and justice when you speak of sorcery.