Posts Tagged ‘insanity’

I love the madness rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide but I do have a problem. I want more! I recently posted rules for going mad in The Damned Lands of my setting, Exploration Age. I realized that only 12 forms of indefinite madness were not nearly enough for my purposes. So I’ve created new rules for indefinite madness which will be available in the upcoming Exploration Age Campaign Guide. Take a look at the excerpt below.

A quick note about the excerpt. When I wrote the madness flaws, I was inspired by works of fiction I had consumed in the fantasy, science fiction, and horror genres. It’s been brought to my attention since first posting this, that some of the flaws hit close to home with folks struggling with or know someone struggling with mental illness, so please consider this a trigger warning.

Variant: New Forms of Indefinite Madness

Any extended adventure in The Damned Lands will have PCs fighting off madness. When their fight fails, DMs should use the rules for indefinite madness in chapter 8 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. This variant rule is meant to expand the indefinite madness flaws available for your campaign.

When a creature contracts indefinite madness the DM may choose one of the flaws below which is then applied to the creature. The DM may instead to choose to roll for a random flaw. If this is the case the DM first rolls on the Types of Indefinite Madness table and then rolls on the appropriate flaw table.

Types of Indefinite Madness
d4 Type of Indefinite Madness
1 Violent
2 Paranoid
3 Identity Loss
4 Emotional
Violent Madness

People suffering from violent madness are out for blood. They might have specific triggers or simply take pleasure in causing physical harm to others. Those who revel in torture, pain, and murder suffer from this type of madness.

Violent Madness Flaws
d6 Flaw
1 I only feel pleasure when I am killing.
2 I murder people I disagree with rather than arguing with them.
3 Physically torturing others helps me understand my own pain.
4 I hunt and kill all members of a particular race or group of people I believe have wronged me.
5 When I see a physical imperfection on someone I must remove it.
6 Only those I deem perfect and holy can live.
Paranoid Madness

Those who believe they are being watched when no one else is around, those who are sure a secret organization has marked them for death, and those who know their friends are actually their enemies are people who suffer from paranoid madness. In a setting like Exploration Age there are many secret societies and plots to over-throw a government. Sometimes the lines between madness and the truth are blurred and it becomes that much more difficult to know what to believe.

Paranoid Madness Flaws
d6 Flaw
1 I am being watched at all times and therefore communicate in a code of my own creation.
2 Anyone who tries to get to know me better is going to be violently interrogated.
3 I will only consume food and drink I grow and harvest myself in a secret location.
4 Words can be used against me so I don’t communicate with anyone ever.
5 Everyone will turn on me eventually, so I better run away or turn on them first.
6 It is only safe for me in one location which I’ll never leave.
Identity Loss Madness

Sometimes madness causes people’s personal realities to crumbling around them to the point of victims not being sure who they are anymore. People who take on someone else’s traits, people who worry about fading away, and people who question their own existence all suffer from identity loss madness.

Identity Loss Madness Flaws
d6 Flaw
1 I see now that someone else has stolen my real identity and I must take it back by wearing that person’s clothes and acting like that person.
2 I am slowly forgetting all the details of my personal history and will soon not even know my own name.
3 I’m convinced that I do not actually exist in this world and nothing I do has any real consequences.
4 This whole time I’ve been a sleeper agent for a secret organization bent on world domination and my programming was just activated.
5 No one will remember me unless I commit violent and depraved acts.
6 To me what is friendly is terrifying and what is dangerous is attractive.
Emotional Madness

People suffering from emotional madness redefine the phrase mood swing. They don’t react to stresses good and bad the way someone without madness might. They’re unpredictable and as dangerous to themselves as they are to those around them.

Emotional Madness Flaws
d6 Flaw
1 What should make me angry makes me laugh, what should make me happy makes me furious.
2 Everything in life reminds me of the futile state of existence.
3 A friend only I can see tells me how to think, feel, and act.
4 I must constantly be inebriated or the pain of living is too great.
5 I have trigger words that make happy, sad, and angry. They change daily.
6 When in situations of extreme stress I literally become a completely different person.

It’s Time for a PDF

For those of you looking to have and hold these expanded madness options for your campaigns, I’ve created a free PDF for you. You can click on the link below or head on over to the Free Game Resources section of this site where it lives with a bunch of other supplements for your game like new magic items and monsters.

Expanded Indefinite Madness

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All right, it’s time to talk about a piece of real estate on Findalay that is near and dear to my heart – The Damned Lands. That brilliant little piece of world that is unexplored on the map. We can tell from its name, The Damned Lands, that things are… well, pretty bad. But what exactly is going on over there?

Keep the Mystery Alive

So there’s a few problems with writing about The Damned Lands, namely they’re supposed to be unexplored and mysterious so I want to leave a majority of their description to the imagination. Why do this? Well for one thing, Exploration Age needs some areas to be explored. I like the idea of having Verda be the habitable, resource rich area that has new life. It’s wondrous and beautiful as well as dangerous and exciting. The Damned Lands are a different kind of exploration – grueling, horrific, and alien. The rewards here need to be potentially even greater than in Verda to get adventurers to consider entering The Damned Lands. Mystery is a big part of the atmosphere and legend of The Damned Lands. It will help keep the frightful anticipation levels up while traveling there and keep players on their toes while adventuring in its depths.

However, enticement is also a big part of mystery. You need to have some information in order to make an area feel intriguing. For instance, many of us have played the popular childhood game Bloody Mary just to see what would happen. We played this game even though the best case scenario was nothing happened and the worst case scenario was an evil, psychopathic ghost of Queen Mary appeared and devoured your soul. Someone really should have done a cost benefit analysis there, but because rumor had it other kids had successfully invoked Mary, you went and tried it just to see what would happen. The danger of The Damned Lands will be enough to entice some.

When it comes to experimentation and risk-taking, I find many players are more cautious with the lives of their characters than they were with their own real lives when they were kids. This actually makes sense. Most PCs are adults and as adults, most of us don’t play Bloody Mary because we’re aware that at best and definitely-most-likely,  it will yield no result and waste our precious time while at worst and probably not-going-to-happen we lose our soul. So we need to give just a little more information about The Damned Lands and that is – there’s some pretty cool treasures down there… and some people who spend a lot of time in The Damned Lands develop special powers.

The Other Guys

So there’s another issue with The Damned Lands. The idea of crazy, dangerous wastelands is not breaking new ground in D&D campaign settings. Eberron has The Mournland and Forgotten Realms has the Dread Ring. Heck, all of Dark Sun’s Athas is a horrific wasteland. I’m trying to be somewhat original here, but I must admit that the idea for The Damned Lands is stolen from these places.

So what makes this place different? Well, a few things as you’ll see in the description below, however I’ll point out a big one here. The Damned Lands have always been a mystery and yet the people of Findalay have always known they were there. Constantly drawing curious and fearful eyes, these lands have never had another name. They were always The Damned Lands and have forever been a mystery.

Another thing that makes The Damned Lands different is the crushing madness that can grip anyone who stays within its borders for too long. Known simply as The Madness, there is a real, palpable, nigh incurable insanity that can grip all but the strongest minds who choose to venture there. The Madness usually takes hold before any sign of developing a special power occurs, so often these powers come to an individual at the price of their sanity. Thus The Damned Lands have a few residents who once desired powers and are now broken and full of dangerous psionic energy waiting to be unleashed.

What Do We Know

More than half a million years before the start of the campaign, it is believe that within The Damned Lands there existed a peaceful race of advanced psionic beings. This mysterious race of people was able to erect a psionic shield around their entire nation which kept out the aberrants. The aberrants and dragons were so busy with their own war, that they paid the isolationist race very little attention as they tried to kill one another.

Then in roughly 300,000 BF the psionic shield was dropped and the entire country glowed hot with energy for hundreds of thousands of years. Even at night The Damned Lands could be seen glowing in the distance beyond The Deep Orc Mountains. Any who tried to make their way beyond The Damned Lands’ borders quickly became violently ill and died, their bodies cooked in harsh burns from the strangely irradiated landscape. The Damned Lands earned their name and the people of Findalay learned to respect that and steer clear.

Slowly, overtime, the glow of The Damned Lands began to soften and cool. Strange creatures, unlike any ever seen with weird psionic abilities began to appear in The Deep Orc Mountains. Then as the lands began to lose their glow altogether, animals and creatures resembling those from Canus’ modern day Material Plane began appearing with strange mutations and psionic powers. They were often crazed and violent.

Once The Damned Lands cooled, Findalayans began to explore the region cautiously. That’s when they began to discover ancient ruins of this once great civilization and its many unique treasures. Powerful magic items, certainly, but also rare bioorganic items that meld with an individual’s mind and body to grant him or her unique powers. They seemed to do everything from help with mundane chores and hobbies (such as a wrist implant which can make ones hands resistant to heat while cooking or an ocular implant that allows one to better appreciate the details of sculpting) to rarer more powerful implants (granting abilities such as growing detachable, projectile spikes out of one’s arm or a prehensile tail to aid in climbing).

Stranger still, when an extended period of time was spent in The Damned Lands, the folk of Canus seemed to unlock strange, psionic abilities within themselves. These abilities included mind-reading, telekinetic powers, flight, enhanced speed, enhanced strength, mind-control, regenerative properties, the list goes on and on. The more time spent in The Damned Lands, the more powerful these abilities seemed to become. However, the more time spent in The Damned Lands, the harder The Madness becomes to resist.

And that’s the big problem with exploring The Damned Lands. The Madness grips an individual like a vice, squeezing slowly and constantly until he or she cannot get free of its grasp. Not to mention the strange monsters that roam The Damned Lands infected with The Madness and the freakish weather effects that are harsher than anything one might experience anywhere else in Canus. The treasures above are difficult to come by – even those most seasoned adventurer is far more likely to find death or insanity than wealth and power. And considering the time it takes to develop a special psionic ability within The Damned Lands borders, it’s nearly impossible to gain a power without first meeting one’s doom.

Still, isn’t it tempting…

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