THE BREAKING POINT
There exist things in the world that the human psyche was not meant to interpret. There exist truths so horrible that they change a man forever through their knowing. To survive these stresses, the mortal mind warps thought and reason. This is insanity, and it can manifest itself in many shapes and to many degrees. Terrifying experiences can leave a person with relevant (or irrelevant) phobias, and intense emotional loss of control can push a player into obsession. In a world so bleak and bereft of hope, madness can lurk within the most unlikely places. Those that brave the unknown do so at their peril.
When you've lost who you are...what else is left?
THROUGH THE DOOR
When an insanity first manifests, the effects are usually much more controllable than they may later become. Aggravation of weak points in the psyche can often make the problem worse, as can the stress of harsh resistance. Insanities come in three levels of intensity: Mild, Severe, and Crippling. If something occurs to make an insanity worse, it will jump to the next tier of potency, the effects will intensify, and it will be more difficult to resist. Resisting Insanities is done through the use of Discipline. As well, knowledge can banish terror and bring rationality back into scope. An appropriate Focus can be added as a temporary Discipline for the purposes of resisting Insanities, as a bulwark against the madness.
Mild Insanities require you to spend 1 Discipline to overcome for a scene. Usually at this stage, the insanity requires only some small concession to be satisfied. If it requires a certain task or behavior from the character, such as setting a fire, stealing something valuable, or cutting one's self, it will generally be something small and unnoticeable, but potentially humiliating to the victim. Some people can go years with these sorts of insanities without anyone but the victim (or victims, as the case may be), ever realizing.
Severe Insanities are a different matter entirely, require you to spend 2 Discipline to overcome for a scene. These sorts of inconsistencies come from long periods of denial, exceptionally fierce emotional stress, or serious personal failure when your strength was needed most. Insanities of this caliber are much more difficult to hide from those that interact with the victim. At this level of severity, in order to sate an insanity a much larger concession must be made. Unlike mild Insanities, those afflicted with this more severe variety, whether they would admit it to even themselves or not, often find ways to make the offending circumstance occur, causing it to become a problem far more often. This stage includes people seeking privacy to harm themselves or act out their desires, jumping to far flung conclusions about what is what, and the general endangerment of themselves and others as reality and fantasy vie for equal footing.
Crippling Insanities are exactly as their name implies: Crippling. Characters this far gone have serious difficulty functioning in their world and may be incapable of taking care of day to day activities because of the interference of such a condition. An insanity advanced to this level is nearly impossible to hide for long, and takes 3 uses of Discipline to overcome for a scene. Madness of this level demands drastic behavior as the forces of reality and logic truly take a backseat to the character's inner trials. This stage is marked by behavior that barely seems human, with decency and morality lying in tatters behind it as all law and reason vanishes.
As a general note, attempting a Downtime action that requires you to spend to resist an Insanity is not possible, as a Downtime action includes many, many incidents and individual actions, enough to make the Downtime unfeasible to complete, regardless of the character's Discipline skill.
ON A PATH OF SHATTERED GLASS
There is a safe haven from this madness. There is a path back to the peace of sanity, for those of strong will and desire. Recovering from Insanity requires that you face your tormentor and defeat it. In order to overcome their infirmity, a character must enter a situation in which they must attempt to resist their Insanity, and then choose to spend 2 more Discipline than what would normally be required. For example, someone wishing to recover from a Severe Insanity would require 4 uses of Discipline at once, which is 2 more than normally required to resist. If they succeed at such a feat, their Insanity relaxes by one grade, dropping from Crippling to Severe, Severe to Mild, or Mild to nothing at all.
A character can only perform this once per game session, and can only do so after having the Insanity for at least one game session.
A character can choose to spend their Downtime action on therapy (requiring a Forums roleplay scene), working with another character and supporting them through their personal issues. If this occurs, that character can grant one level of Discipline for the purposes of resisting Insanities above normal. The character may use these Discipline levels to resist individual incidents of Insanity or acquire these over time and accumulate them until they have enough to challenge their madness the next time they are faced with it.
STEPPING INTO ONE'S SHADOW
Insanities come in three general categories: phobias, delusions, and obsessions/compulsions. These categories follow the same progression of Mild, Severe, and Crippling, but are different in what triggers them. Phobias trigger when the character is presented with the object of their fear and Discipline would be required to enter a situation where their fear might be present. Delusions are a constantly present alteration in how the character perceives reality and Discipline would be required to act or reason in a way that contradicts the delusion. Obsessions and compulsions are things that the character must think about or must do and Discipline would be required to not forsake other things in favor of an obsession or to not act on a compulsion.
The breakdown of Insanities is as follows:
Mild - Faced with the object of one's terror, in its direct presence, or with the reasonable expectation that their terror may be present, 1 Discipline must be spent to proceed with that action. Even if Discipline is Spent, this situation and all more severe ones inflict Fear on the character, making the use of any special combat maneuvers impossible. An example would be entering a room where a zombie is known to be contained.
Severe - In any situation where there is a remote chance that their terror may be present, 2 Discipline must be spent to proceed, plus the Fear status is applied. An example would be entering a crypt or graveyard, because zombies may or may not be present.
Crippling - Any situation where the most remote of possibilities exist that their terror may be present requires 3 Discipline to undertake, plus the Fear status is applied. Examples include turning out the lights or opening a door one has never opened before, because a zombie may be hiding within.
Mild - One minor thing in your reality is permanently changed, and all judgments related to this thing change with it. No amount of rationalization or proof can dissuade you, your delusion will grow to include falsities in the proof. 1 Discipline would be required to contradict your delusion in some manner for a scene. An example would be that your friend has actually dyed her hair to reach its current color, or that you had once spent time in prison if you had not.
Severe - Your delusion grows to include a more elaborate explanation of the previous incarnation, and a relatively major fact about your reality becomes permanently changed. Reasoning or acting in contradiction to the delusion for a scene now requires 2 Discipline. Examples include that your friend dyed her hair to avoid pursuit from the current government because she is a spy, or that your time in prison included torture that you swear revenge over against those that imprisoned you.
Crippling - Your delusion becomes all encompassing as it includes vital facts about your every day life. Contradicting your delusion in reason or action now requires 3 Discipline. For example, the spy you thought was your friend has sold you out to the government to save herself, and now you must kill any government officials you see if you wish to survive, and likely swear revenge on your betrayer. Your captors were foolish to torture you, and more foolish to permit your escape, for your true powers have now awakened, and since you are a god, if not God himself, nothing can stop you.
OBSESSIONS & COMPULSIONS:
Mild - You find yourself thinking longingly constantly about a certain factor in your life, or simply unable to control the urges related to this factor when it is present. In the presence of the focus of your obsession or compulsion, you must spend 1 Discipline to resist the urge to forsake all thoughts and desires in favor of your Obsession or the urge to act on your Compulsion. An example of this would be ignoring all friends and allies in favor of a specific person, regardless of their needs or dangers, or a compulsion to cut yourself whenever a knife and reasonable privacy is present.
Severe - The inability to separate yourself from your focus causes it to be the primary focus of your daily life. If the opportunity exists to turn all of your attention to your specific focus, you must spend 2 Discipline not to do so. An example would be leaving what you are doing to focus your attentions on a specific person, whenever it is possible to do so, regardless of what your conspicuous absence from your duties or your possibly unwelcome presence will result in. Another example would be sneaking off to cut yourself, and otherwise creating opportunities whenever possible to act on your focus. If you do not in some way fulfill or satisfy your Insanity each event, you gain Despair.
Crippling - At this level, you will brook no further argument. You are simply unwilling and unable to accept a situation where you are not in direct contact with your focus. Your aim is to make sure that there is no further distinction between you and it, and whenever 3 Discipline is not spent to desist, you will do whatever is necessary to make this happen. Examples include kidnapping the object of your obsessions and tying her up in a secluded place where you can be with her as much as you like, possibly until one of you dies of starvation. Another example would be a refusal to allow any part of your body to be without its cut, slicing away at any closed skin until wounds were all you were made of, regardless of the dire physical consequences.