Monday, September 26, 2011

Wisdom as Sanity: An Addition for Old School Characters

By: pschubert

Delta recently posted "Wisdom as Sanity," touching on one of the items that was already in my ever-growing house rules project.  The post and its ensuing discussion revealed a number of people had made the same judgment about tying sanity to this ability score.  (Great minds, etc.)

My own feeling is that if your game calls for sanity rolls, it might be worth it to devote a corner of the character sheet to this mechanic.  For my own use, I envision a saving throw for each sanity-challenging encounter, in which a failed save would be ticked off on the table below.  The table is based on the modifier spread for B/X ability scores.  Every time an entire line is ticked off, that point of Wisdom is lost. 

This is probably more fiddly than Delta would prefer, but the possibility of losing Wisdom and the PC him/herself gives sanity checks and insanity teeth, and if it's worth having a separate mechanic for it, it should really make a difference in play is my thought.  At the same time, I tried to come up with a mechanic that had a rationale but remained relatively simple.

Anyone is welcome to use or adapt this table if they so desire.  (All I ask is eternal glory acknowledgement if there is dependence.) 

A final note: the special prey that this would make of clerics to sanity challenges has already been noted.  It would make sense to me that a cleric who was currently under a Protection [from appropriate alignment] spell that protected her/him from attacks by the insanity-inducing creature would not need to make the saving throw for the encounter as long as the spell was in effect.


  1. It is a bit fiddly, but intriguing. While clerics are always the ones who pay the most with this kind of mechanic, there is a bit of a buffer with the check boxes. But it will always be a concern. Perhaps they can have a little more resistance to sanity impacting events outside of the protection spells?

    Have you considered methods for restoring lost sanity?

  2. I've thought about it some -- it is one of a number of problems I'm still mulling. If clerics can attain spells up to level 7 in your game, Restoration could restore lost Wisdom. I'd be tempted to say one spell, one point, as a way of limiting this.

    Also, Allen, given an earlier conversation we had that touched on space issues, you can get the table to fit on one line with some work.

  3. Interesting! And personally I don't mind hammering on those clerics. :)

    I suppose sometimes when this comes up I wonder if insane-clerics shouldn't somehow turn Chaotic with inverted powers or something... ?

  4. Thanks, Delta. Now you've got me thinking of some kind of Chaos taint...which is not exactly something I had been thinking of, but I had been playing with ways to make the Law-Chaos-Neutrality alignment scheme more important in the game.

  5. I can see this applying to Wisdom or Charisma in Pathfinder.