|Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!|
As I already noted, Hard Space has a prominent Lovecraftian flavor to it. Insanity is a major theme in Lovecraft's tales. Thus, it is a good idea to develop sanity rules for use in Hard Space. The following rules use my Task Throw rules, but are very easy to adapt to other mechanics as well.
So, on to the insanity!
Cthulhu Mythos "insanity" is not a mental illness as we define it in the real world, even if it has shared characteristics. Mental illnesses have biological and environmental causes. 22nd century technology will probably be highly effective to treat them. For those who can afford it, that is. Mythos insanity is the metastatic realization of one's, and humanity's, insignificant place in a vast, ancient universe inhabited by beings vastly more powerful and old than humanity itself. It is the infectious insight into cosmic reality, which radically is different from the more placid reality perceived by most human beings. The human mind is unsuited to process such knowledge, insights, and realizations, and hence "insanity". Psychiatry can alleviate some of the symptoms of Mythos "insanity". Psychotherapy might even help the subject rationalize or suppress the Mythos truth, which helps with recovery. But none can cure the cancerous thoughts generated by encountering the Unknowable.
Each character starts with a Sanity rating equal to the sum of their END + INT characteristics, minus their Occult skill. Sanity cannot recover above this maximum level, though it may increase if teh character increases END or INT.
Encountering the supernatural, the Mythos or - far less often - "mundane" horrors, forces Sanity checks. These are END throws. A sanity throw may be noted, for example, as END 8+/0/1d3, which means that you must throw 8+ and add your END DM (as in MGT/CE) to succeed; you don't lose Sanity if you succeed; and you lose 1d3 Sanity if you fail.
Spacers are accustomed to encountering alien flora and fauna. However, Mythos beings do not fit well into the mundane world of xenobiology and xenoecology. Encountering supernatural monsters or phenomena damages Sanity. Studying Mythos texts, learning magic, and in some cases using magic cause Sanity loss. Misjumps, or EVA while in Jump Space, may cause Sanity loss. Resurrection as a Cyborg definitely incurs serious Sanity loss.
If you roll “snake eyes” (a “natural” 2) on your Sanity check, or lose 3 or more points of Sanity within a single encounter, the character gains Temporary Affliction, which lasts 1D rounds. This includes things such as fainting, running away in terror, psychosomatic blindness, or a violent outbreak against all in sight. (I'll build a random table in a future iteration of these rules).
When the character’s Sanity score reaches half of their maximum Sanity (rounded up), the character suffers a Permanent Affliction such as phobias, compulsions, random bursts of anger, or amnesia.
If and when a character’s Sanity score reaches zero, the character becomes a permanently insane NPC, unless the Referee decrees that advanced psychiatric care (when available) can restore the character to a semblance of sanity.
Characters may regain Sanity in various ways:
- Successfully completing an adventure against the Mythos recovers 1 Sanity point.
- Every year of convalescence (non-adventuring life) recovers 1 Sanity point.
- Every week in psychiatric hospitalization recovers 1 Sanity point.
1D months in psychiatric hospitalization may remove a single Permanent Affliction.
Entering psychiatric hospitalization often has a social and personal cost. At the Referee's discretion, characters spending long periods of time in psychiatric institutions might lose points of their SOC characteristic or even find difficulties acquiring legal weapons on higher law level worlds, among many other things.