The Edge of Sanity…

Hey all…

In my career as a gamer, at least since college, I’ve had a thing for playing insane characters. I thought I’d share some of those characters and how I dealt with their crazy behaviors.

The first time it happened, my character in a Call of Cthulhu game went crazy with a Tommy Gun and managed to murder all but one member of his team because he thought they were monsters. And it felt good. Not the killing part – just cutting loose of all rational thought for a brief moment. He just snapped and went insane based on the rules of the game (aka “missed his save”) and I went with it.

That moment led to my playing of a Malkavian in a Vampire: The Masquerade campaign who was more than a little loopy. He liked having rules for everything. So if, in the course of an adventure, he encountered a situation that lent itself to a new rule, he’d add it to the list. Suffice it to say that living by those rules was a bit of a challenge at times, but a welcome one. The simplicity of the insanity was the key.

And more recently I played a rogue in a campaign that shifted rules a couple of times (from the freeform Hero to a thief in D&D 3.5e). The game was set in a world much like our own during the time of the Roman Empire. Didius (or “DC” as he came to be known – short for Didius Cato) was an escaped slave. And he had a bit of a thing about slavery.

If DC encountered a situation where a slave was being treated unfairly… For instance, on the auction block in a crowded marketplace… There was a chance he’d go a bit nuts and do what he could to change the situation. I’d roll a die and basically decide if he would (even number) or wouldn’t (odd) flip out based on the result. During one session, he basically slaughtered a number of guards as he worked to free a line of slaves being sold.

Somehow he managed to survive. But again, the simplicity of the insanity is what made it fun. He had a trigger (seeing slavery) and no willpower to speak of (thus rolling to determine his action). Sometimes he managed to contain himself. Then there was the rest of the time…

So if you haven’t played a crazy character, I’d encourage you to try it at least once in a campaign. As a GM, it’s easy to slip in a NPC teetering on the edge of rational thought. As a player, sometimes it’s less easy – but talk to your GM and give it a go.

If you have played crazy characters, I’d love to hear about them. What were they like? How did they come about? What guidelines did you use for bounding their nutty behavior? Leave me a comment below or drop me an e-mail at fitz(at)moebiusadventures(dot)com.

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2 thoughts on “The Edge of Sanity…”

  1. Of course with DC, you didn’t exactly run it by the GM (aka me) that DC was going to be a bit loopy over the slavery issue.

    So what was a GM to do? I helped the issue by introducing a slave as a companion to the party who was willing to be a slave as a punishment for something he had done in the past. (Basically, someone who had reacted to the same issue a complete 180 from where DC was at.) Eventually, some of why he was willing to be a slave was addressed in the campaign.

    Aren’t I helpful?

    (Of course, your said slave market experience made DC really itchy when the companion slave nicknamed him “Killer” after a completely non-related event.)

  2. @forged – VERY true… I didn’t run it past you ahead of time. It happened that first session organically – it just felt like something DC would do. And that then developed from there. And yes you are VERY helpful!! 😉

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