So you say you’re going crazy… (an exposition on the sanity roll)

From the desk of Ricard Teilhard, M.D., Arkham Asylum.

Oh ho ho, what have we here? A new patient, I see. Please, gentlemen, leave him there, where we can see each other. Quoi? What’s that you’re babbling about? The “sanity roll,” you say, has sent you here? Hmm. Perhaps I can enlighten you.

The “sanity roll,” as you call it, is an abstraction. And not an abstraction of how many personalities you have, voices you hear in the night, or even your ability to hold a genial conversation. Rather, your “sanity” is really more a measure of your mental stability. Now, I know that it can be trying, staying within these ancient chambers, with their recently padded walls, but understand that we are here for you. In the interest of the “talking cure” espoused by that brilliant Austrian Mr. Freud, let us discuss your sanity at length.

Now now, calm down, or the guards will have to restrain you again. There, that’s better.

In your particular case, your sanity has been so beaten about over the past several months that your compatriots saw fit to leave you with me. This was very wise of them, as a professional, such as myself, can help people in your–ahem–line of work cope with the mental hazards they face.

Now, when am I concerned with making a “sanity roll”? (What a dreadful euphemism, mais non?) I only ever call for my underlings to make sanity rolls when I believe that the results could be… interesting. Why bother otherwise? Over the course of several months, the degradation of even a point here or there adds up to quite a lot–just a little off the top, here or there, and you can lose a fifth before you know it. This is pleasurable for me as well. Yes, yes, I feel pleasure in this little game, as well. These long scenarios you find yourself in, they are like… like applying the electric shock to a stubborn patient, slowly, slowly… until they’re all better.

But this is what makes the longer adventures exciting, non? Discovering how your character will hold up in the face of great evil. Marching ever on against insurmountable odds. The slow meltdown, that is what we live for. Why are you looking at me like that? Such a queer expression you have…

Yet what about those one-off investigations, you ask, that might take only, oh, about four hours? I see, like the one that left you here in your… situation. In instances such as these the sanity rolls are likely to be more devastating. You see, it is more interesting–for clinicians such as myself–to witness bouts of insanity maintenant. In a single night’s investigation, why would I bother with the flip of a coin, or the spinning of a caltrop, when I could call forth the power of the diamond, or even the mighty icosahedron. They are simply more… interesting. So, someday, when you sit in a position of power (not unlike my own) don’t be afraid of making your players–oops, did I say that? I meant your employees–suffer a little for their work. And it is their work, ultimately, that will be their downfall. I merely direct the roll of the dice, as it were. C’est parti.

So you see, my poor, unstable friend, it was not the sanity roll’s doing, but your own, that has placed you in my care. Smile for the birdie now, and we shall begin. I need a “before” photo, you understand.

8 thoughts on “So you say you’re going crazy… (an exposition on the sanity roll)”

      1. That’s great! Man, I am SERIOUSLY bad at making timely replies, but yeah, looking forward to more OPS and expositions! Honestly, this allows even my casual players to get the chance to play KP.

        The thing that daunts players from becoming KPs are often the preparation that they have to do beforehand. Your scenarios helped them overcome their crippling fears and insecurities as a writer to get somethin’ out.


  1. Are you saying that you’ve had some of your players get behind the GM screen because of our scenarios? That’s fabulous! I’d love to hear any of your stories along those lines at some point.


  2. Loved this read! Looking forward to checking out some of your OPS, this might be just what I was looking for to get a few friends started


    1. Thanks, Shiv! I’m glad you liked the read–Teilhard will definitely return in a future post. And do let us know if you play any of our one-page scenarios! We’d love to hear how it goes.


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