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Stability and sanity system


Carrion Crown


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have been working on a system based on the stability and sanity rules used in the Trail of Cthulhu game for my Carrion Crown Campaign.

Here's the basics:

Stability and sanity

All characters have a stability score of 15+Wis modifier+level (minimum 10)

Each time a character is subject to anything that might result in stability loss he must make a will save or lose stability.

• A mundane shock like seeing a dead body or experiencing something frightening or bizarre but not necessarily dangerous has a DC of 10 and a stability loss of 1d3 (for example seeing someone animate the dead with magic)

• A more terrifying visage like finding a mutilated corpse or being in physical or mental peril has a DC of 15 and a stability loss of 1d4 (this is the usual check for normal combat)

• A horrific experience like being in mortal peril, witnessing something mind shattering or being subjected to torture has a DC of 20 and a stability loss of 1d6 (you must usually make this check if you are reduced below 50% hit points or see the most competent of your party fall)

• A truly horrific event like being subjected to one of your greatest fears, being forced to kill or torture a loved one, being brought back from the dead or witnessing a terrible supernatural evil has a DC of 25 and a stability loss of 1d8 (If you are the lone survivor and must face the horror alone this is the check you must make)

• The most terrifying experiences like being buried alive or possessed by a malign evil or witnessing cosmic horrors has a DC of 30 or higher and a stability loss of 1d10

Martial characters have more resistance to physical perils and the DC to resist and stability loss from such effects are treated as one step lower meaning that they can ignore seeing a mundane dead body, blood etc. Likewise characters with magical experience treat supernatural threats as one step lower.

On the DM’s discretion certain characters may be resistant to certain maladies as fitting for their background, alignments and vocations. F.ex a good creature forced to harm an innocent would have a higher difficulty than an evil one, and a fighter would probably not falter if someone threatened him with physical violence. Likewise characters may treat certain specific turmoil’s as more potent if they have a personal fear or aversion to the triggering event.

The save to prevent stability loss is treated as a mind-affecting, fear ability for the purposes of bonuses and penalties to the save. Creatures immune to fear or mind-effecting effects gain a +5 bonus to saves against stability loss and reduces the amount lost by half (minimum 1). If your stability reaches 0 any further stability loss is taken as wisdom damage instead. If you reach 0 wisdom from this loss you must make a new will save at the same DC that lead to the stability loss. If you fail you don’t go unconscious but instead suffers an insanity as mentioned in the GM guide. If you succeed you immediately faint into a comatose state and won’t wake up until your wisdom score is increased to one or higher.

When you have less than 10 stability left you are treated as shaken, when you have less than 5 you are frightened with the source of your stability loss as the source of the effect. If you have 0 or less stability remaining you are panicked. If you are immune to fear or mind-effecting effects you are instead fatigued, then exhausted then staggered. These conditions last until you can regain enough stability to recover. Mindless creatures like vermin are immune to stability loss as are creatures immune to ability damage.

The bravery ability also reduces any amount of lost stability due to mundane threats by the listed amount.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Some optional modifiers and ideas for this system

Strength in numbers:
In combat situations, outnumbering your foe grants a +2 circumstance bonus to will saves to avoid stability loss from being in physical danger.

Fighting for a cause:
If a loved one or a personal ideal is at stake you may gain a +2 circumstance bonus on your will save to resist the horror.

Getting used to awfulness:
Each time you are subject to stability loss from the same kind of effect or turmoil you gain a cumulative +1 circumstance bonus on your save and any stability loss is reduced by 1 to a maximum of +5 to the save and -5 stability loss. The DM may rule that there are certain events you may never get used to.

For each major accomplishment in a horror Campaign the pc’s may be awarded with a permanent stability point (in an adventure path this is usually when an installment is finished). Likewise if a pc achieves a personal goal he may be awarded a permanent stability point.

Phobias and personal fears:
If a pc wants to he can start with phobias and fears. Any stability checks against horrors related to his phobias and fears are treated as one step worse. Even encountering the mundane things invoking his fears requires a check (usually at the lowest DC). For each phobia or fear a pc chooses to start with the character gains +2 stability points to a maximum of six bonus stability points mimicking the mental fortitude built up from constantly having to face ones fears. The phobia must be something that will be relevant to the game and may actually cause trouble. He may choose the same phobia more than once in which case the severity of the check increase by one degree for each time it is chosen.

Snapping out of it:
A character who gains an adverse condition by losing stability may use a full-round action to snap out of it and recover. This save is made at a DC 5 higher than the original save and can only be attempted once. All penalties associated with the condition is also present. A frightened or panicked character can only attempt this save when the threat that caused the condition is out of sight. A staggered character must spend two full rounds to snap out of it. A character who snaps out of it doesn’t regain any lost stability but may ignore the adverse effects of his lost stability until he loses more.

Permanent stability loss:
If a pc’s pillar of sanity is broken that pc looses 1d4 permanent points of stability. Also each time a pc dies and is brought back he loses 1d4 points of stability permanently. Only a restoration spell or more powerful magic can restore permanently lost stability points.

Fainting:
Each time you fail a save against stability loss by 5 or more and you lose any amount of stability you faint and become unconscious for 1d4 minutes or until you are healed of any amount of stability damage. A character can also be brought back from unconsciousness by using smelling salt (a standard action) or a heal skill check DC 10 as a standard action. Any amount of damage (or some rough physical handling as a full-round action) will also immediately awaken an unconscious character.

Dangerous magic:
Magic can be taxing for the mind and soul. Anytime you cast a spell you must succeed in a will save DC 10+spell level for divine spells or 15+spell level for arcane spells or take a stability loss equal to the (modified in the case of metamagic) level of the spell+1. Every three caster levels the stability loss from this is reduced by one to a minimum of 0. Specialists lose one less stability from spells cast from their specialty school. Spontaneous casters have a +2 bonus on saves to avoid stability loss. Certain spells might have a higher or lower stability loss or DC at the DM’s discretion. Some spell completion and spell-trigger items might also induce this loss at the DM’s discretion. Spell-like or supernatural abilities don’t cause any stability loss.

Insane insights:
When a pc has suffered wisdom damage due to stability loss he gains an insight bonus to all knowledge checks equal to half the total number of points lost.

Frightful presence:
Creatures with frightful presence incur a stability loss at a degree one worse than normal in addition to their normal effects.

Regaining lost stability:
Stability returns at the same rate as nonlethal damage, but only in complete and calm surroundings. Spells that calm emotions and heal ability damage may heal some or all lost stability. You also regain stability when following your drive (drives are what makes a pc want to face the horrors in the first place and is further detailed in the Trail of Cthulhu game).

Remove fear restores 1d3 points of lost stability and may remove the effects of stability loss.

A lesser restoration spell restores 1d4 lost stability.

A calm emotions spell restores all lost stability but only on a failed save.

A restoration, greater restoration or heal spell restores all lost stability.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here are some new feats, traits and skill uses to complement the stability system:

New feats:

Mental toughness (General)
Prerequisites: None
Effect: Your mind is hardened to shock and you receive a +2 bonus on saves to resist stability loss and insanity, in addition this feat is treated as the toughness feat except it grants bonus stability points instead of hit points.

Stable magic (General)
Prerequisites: Caster level 1
Effect: You lose one less stability from casting spells and receive a +2 bonus on will saves to resist stability loss from casting spells or using magical items.

Insane spell surge (General)
Prerequisites: Caster level 1, any one metamagic feat
Effect: By mentally exerting yourself you can use your stability to fuel metamagic spells. You can add any metamagic feat you know to a spell you cast without using a higher level spell slot. You lose stability equal to the new modified spell level. You can’t use this ability to modify a spell to a higher level than the highest level you can cast. You can’t avoid this stability loss in any way and lost stability from this feat cannot be regained while the spell remains memorized. Spontaneous casters loose the stability as soon as the cast the spell.

Soothing healing (General)
Prerequisites: Channel positive energy
Effect: Anytime you channel positive energy to heal, or use any cure spell or the lay on hands ability you also heal a number of lost stability equal to the number of dice rolled for channeling or lay on hands or the spell level for a cure spell. In addition you never lose stability when casting curing spells.

Extra stability (General)
Prerequisites: None
Effect: You gain 2 additional points of stability and a +1 bonus on will saves to avoid stability loss. This feat may be taken more than once.

Insane rage (General)
Prerequisites: Barbarian rage
Effect: You can burn stability points to prolong your rage. While raging you are unaffected by the adverse effects of stability loss (but not wisdom damage).

Music of the spheres (General)
Prerequisites: Bardic music ability
Effect: The DC to resist your bardic music is one higher for Aberrations. You can use stability points to extend the duration of your bardic music.

Non-Euclidean magic (Metamagic)
Prerequisites: None
Effect: You weave an alien pattern into your magic to unnerve those affected by your spells and those who identify them through the use of the spellcraft skill. Anyone who’s affected by or recognizes your non-Euclidean spell loose stability points equal to the level of the spell. A non-Euclidean spell takes up a spell slot one level higher than the original spell, but also has a stability loss of spell level +2.

Jaded (Combat)
Prerequisites: Bab +7
Effect: You never suffer stability loss from being in mundane combat situations or seeing mundane horrors like dead bodies. You may still lose stability from magical or supernatural creatures and effects and from suffering personal horrors and torture.

New traits:

Sound mind
You have seen the horrors of the world and your mind has adjusted.
Your stability is increased by one and you receive a +1 trait bonus on saves to resist stability loss.

Attuned spell
You feel particularly comfortable casting a certain spell.
Choose one spell you know, you reduce all stability loss for casting this spell by one.

New skill uses:

Heal:
A pc may restore lost stability to a character using the heal skill. In calm surroundings he will regain stability at twice the normal rate when aided by the heal skill; this has a DC of 15. In stressful circumstances a character with the heal skill can use a full-round action and make a DC 20 heal check to restore 1 point of stability to an ally, if he beats the DC by 5 or more he restores an additional number of points equal to his wisdom modifier. Using the heal skill in this manner may only be done once per source of lost stability per creature affected. He may also use a full-round action to grant an ally a +4 bonus on his save to snap out of it as long as he tries to snap out of it within one round of receiving this aid.

Diplomacy, bluff and intimidate:
A pc can use the aid another action with these skills to grant one ally a +2 morale bonus to saves to avoid stability loss.

Intimidate:
If you use this system the DC to successfully intimidate a creature is equal to his or her current stability score.

Knowledge (any):
A character who makes the knowledge check to recognize what he is up against gains a +2 insight bonus to saves against stability loss from that particular kind of threat unless the threat is 4 or more CR’s higher than the APL, in which case he instead gain a -2 penalty on his saves.

Note that all this is a W.I.P

Critique and comments are welcome

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Whoa! Very, very cool!

Just so you know, "Wake of the Watcher" will include a very basic (VERY BASIC) optional sanity system that ties in with the sanity and madness stuff in the GameMastery Guide.

But folks who want something more elaborate should totally check this thread out!!!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:

Whoa! Very, very cool!

Just so you know, "Wake of the Watcher" will include a very basic (VERY BASIC) optional sanity system that ties in with the sanity and madness stuff in the GameMastery Guide.

But folks who want something more elaborate should totally check this thread out!!!

I'm a big fan of the system used in Trail of Cthulhu, and this is basically just an attempt to import that system to the Pathfinder game. I think it works really well to get the feeling of escalating fear that I'm after, although it might seem a bit advanced to some.

Here are some advice on how to role-play the effects of stability loss and fear in the game:

As a pc loses stability points he becomes more and more unhinged and his behavior becomes increasingly erratic. When he first lose stability he will often act nervous, maybe joke a bit about it or start talking rapidly. Some may gasp and swoon, hold their mouths or cover their faces in disgust or shock. Praying or cursing is a common reaction to seeing horrors. Some react with determined anger or silent contemplation.
Someone with low stability will usually act in an odd and even illogical way. Some become distant and difficult to communicate with effectively. Others might obsess over things, usually whatever caused their stability to falter. Some become almost suicidal and hysterical. More unscrupulous characters might turn psychotic, sacrificing the safety of others to serve their own needs.
A shaken character will often physically tremble, his eyes move from side to side in a frantic motion. He may be short of breath and when he speaks he will often stutter or jumble up words. A frightened character may become pale white. He may burst out in tears or bouts of hysterical laughter or screaming. His speech will often be completely incomprehensible. A panicked character will often scream at the top of his lunges. His hair might turn white. He may flail about uncontrollably screaming and crying and gibbering nonsense. If cornered he will usually fall down in a fetal position rocking back and forth while mumbling.


Seems good to me. I am not a huge fan of the insanity system as it is, as it takes so much to mend insanity, which I think is kinda weird. In my mind it should not be harder to cure madness than it is to bring someone back from DEATH.

Possible problem I see is managing everything for all the NPCs. In a fight with a lot of NPCs, there will be another layer of points to track as the PCs hack, burn, electrocute, twist their sensibilities with magic and so forth. And since the AP suggests Humans as favored enemy for rangers, I believe there will be enough of them to make this an issue.

Makes for a lot of interesting RP opportunities though, and after two VERY crunchy campaigns, I am looking forward to that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kamelguru wrote:

Seems good to me. I am not a huge fan of the insanity system as it is, as it takes so much to mend insanity, which I think is kinda weird. In my mind it should not be harder to cure madness than it is to bring someone back from DEATH.

Possible problem I see is managing everything for all the NPCs. In a fight with a lot of NPCs, there will be another layer of points to track as the PCs hack, burn, electrocute, twist their sensibilities with magic and so forth. And since the AP suggests Humans as favored enemy for rangers, I believe there will be enough of them to make this an issue.

Makes for a lot of interesting RP opportunities though, and after two VERY crunchy campaigns, I am looking forward to that.

I will probably not use this system for npc's for the most part (maybe for allies joining you). It is easier to just role-play npc's reactions. The system is mostly to make the players get a feel of escalating fear.


The more I read it, the more I like it. Generally fervently opposed to extensive systems to "humanize" fantasy heroes, as such systems are most often based on the notion that peril and scary monsters are somewhat rare. In a setting where you pretty much expect there to be walking dead, fiends and gods know what, being overly scared of them comes off as somewhat weird.

So I like hos this is mitigated with the "getting used to the awful", the recognition and understanding, and the lowering of the threshold for various classes. A cleric seeing his fifth bunch animated skeletons obviously would go "Meh" and destroy them without much of a thought. And a hardened warrior would obviously not be overly put off by having a dagger pointed his way. This does much to avoid the tedious repetition and the "REALLY?! I am still scared of THIS?" experience when a player encounters something that is designed to be a routine encounter. Even in horror, not everything is scary.

Though, a question: What constitutes a "martial" character, and what constitutes a "spellcaster"? Some (if not most) classes exist in both camps. Rangers, paladins are full BAB classes that also do magic, and clerics, inquisitors, magi, bards, druids, summoners etc live in the half-and-half area, where they have medium BAB and some/full spellcasting. Wizards, sorcerers, fighters, barbarians, rogues, monks, cavaliers and so forth are all pretty obvious where they belong.

I would like to playtest this to see just how it works in actual game.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kamelguru wrote:

The more I read it, the more I like it. Generally fervently opposed to extensive systems to "humanize" fantasy heroes, as such systems are most often based on the notion that peril and scary monsters are somewhat rare. In a setting where you pretty much expect there to be walking dead, fiends and gods know what, being overly scared of them comes off as somewhat weird.

So I like hos this is mitigated with the "getting used to the awful", the recognition and understanding, and the lowering of the threshold for various classes. A cleric seeing his fifth bunch animated skeletons obviously would go "Meh" and destroy them without much of a thought. And a hardened warrior would obviously not be overly put off by having a dagger pointed his way. This does much to avoid the tedious repetition and the "REALLY?! I am still scared of THIS?" experience when a player encounters something that is designed to be a routine encounter. Even in horror, not everything is scary.

Though, a question: What constitutes a "martial" character, and what constitutes a "spellcaster"? Some (if not most) classes exist in both camps. Rangers, paladins are full BAB classes that also do magic, and clerics, inquisitors, magi, bards, druids, summoners etc live in the half-and-half area, where they have medium BAB and some/full spellcasting. Wizards, sorcerers, fighters, barbarians, rogues, monks, cavaliers and so forth are all pretty obvious where they belong.

I would like to playtest this to see just how it works in actual game.

A martial character is generally one who has no supernatural or spellcasting abilities or extensive experience with magic justified by knowledge and the spellcraft skills. Some characters will be better prepared to face both types of horror.


I think PCs are a cut above the norm and that's the way I present them in my campaigns. With that train of thought in mind I believe the PCs are desensitized to the types of things that cause insanity. I'm not a fan of PCs going insane and losing their cool. The PCs deal with this stuff on a daily basis and it's nothing to them. However the commoner or NPC is certainly not immune.

Although the flip side to that logic is AS A RESULT of dealing with these types of situations on a daily basis, it would eventually make anyone crazy, even battle-hardened PCs.

So I can see both arguments for and against this system. Personally I don't think I'm going to use the insanity rules unless it's part of the AP mechanic.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Grummik wrote:

I think PCs are a cut above the norm and that's the way I present them in my campaigns. With that train of thought in mind I believe the PCs are desensitized to the types of things that cause insanity. I'm not a fan of PCs going insane and losing their cool. The PCs deal with this stuff on a daily basis and it's nothing to them. However the commoner or NPC is certainly not immune.

Although the flip side to that logic is AS A RESULT of dealing with these types of situations on a daily basis, it would eventually make anyone crazy, even battle-hardened PCs.

So I can see both arguments for and against this system. Personally I don't think I'm going to use the insanity rules unless it's part of the AP mechanic.

It all depends on the feel you want for the game. After playing in three AP's with fairly powerful super-heroic pc's I wanted to try something different. I developed this system as a mechanical way to simulate the genre I was going for (horror). I certainly make no claims that this system is for everyone, but if you want to try something different to add some horror to your Carrion Crown Campaign maybe this system is worth a look?


I've been trying to create a workable sanity system for my homebrew, where strange, otherworldly creatures aren't all a matter of course (for example, almost no one has ever seen a dragon or outsider, as they're very rare and/or specifically reality altering and mind-crushing). I had run using a Call of Cthulu-based sanity system, but I wasn't satisfied with how it run using a percentile system when everything else d20 style isn't really like that, so I've been trying to create something else. This could save me some trouble - I'll have to look it over more thoroughly and see if there's anything I might need to tweak to have it fit my own personal needs. Thanks muchly.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Disciple of Sakura wrote:
I've been trying to create a workable sanity system for my homebrew, where strange, otherworldly creatures aren't all a matter of course (for example, almost no one has ever seen a dragon or outsider, as they're very rare and/or specifically reality altering and mind-crushing). I had run using a Call of Cthulu-based sanity system, but I wasn't satisfied with how it run using a percentile system when everything else d20 style isn't really like that, so I've been trying to create something else. This could save me some trouble - I'll have to look it over more thoroughly and see if there's anything I might need to tweak to have it fit my own personal needs. Thanks muchly.

I have a revised version of the rules on my computer you can e-mail me @

Spoiler:
mortagon@hotmail.com
if you want a copy.
Grand Lodge

I'll be emailing

Grand Lodge

Thanks for the email.

I sent back some thoughts of my own that simplify a few concepts and even give it a more CoC feel with Phobias at 0 Stability among other things. I hope you move your changes from the above posts back onto the forums because I think they are fantastic as an addition to the game.

Grand Lodge

Worth a bump!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Stability and sanity V. 2.0

All characters have a stability score of 15+Wis modifier+level (minimum 10)
A characters sanity score equals his wisdom score.
Each time a character is subject to anything that might result in stability loss he must make a will save or lose stability.

Disturbing events may cause stability loss as follows:

Disturbing:
Finding a dead body, seeing a wall flowing with blood, hearing ghostly whispers in the wind, a jump scare, being threatened with violence
DC 10, stability loss 0/1d4
Shocking:
Being in mortal peril (usually 50% hit point or less), Finding a mangled corpse, witnessing a scary supernatural event you can’t explain
DC 15, stability loss 1/1d6
Horrific:
Seeing a friend die, witnessing a scene of extraordinary violence, being haunted by supernatural violent forces
DC 20, stability loss 1d3/1d8
Terrifying:
Suffering severe torture, having a universal truth you believe in proven to be false, being buried alive
DC 25, stability loss 1d4/2d6
Mind-boggling:
Witnessing an event of cosmic evil, living through your worst fears
DC 30+, stability loss 1d6/2d8

The first number in the stability loss section represents how much stability is lost on a successful save, the second number is how much you loose on a failed save.

Martial characters have more resistance to physical perils and the DC to resist such effects are treated as one step lower meaning that they can ignore seeing a mundane dead body, blood etc. Likewise characters with magical experience treat supernatural threats as one step lower.
On the DM’s discretion certain characters may be resistant to certain maladies as fitting for their background, alignments and vocations. F.ex a good creature forced to harm an innocent would have a higher difficulty than an evil one, and a fighter would probably not falter if someone threatened him with physical violence. Likewise characters may treat certain specific turmoil’s as more potent if they have a personal fear or aversion to the triggering event.
The save to prevent stability loss is treated as a mind-affecting, fear ability for the purposes of bonuses and penalties to the save. Creatures immune to fear or mind-effecting effects gain a +5 bonus to saves against stability loss and reduces the amount lost by half (minimum 1). If your stability reaches 0 any further stability loss is taken as wisdom damage instead. If you reach 0 wisdom from this loss you must make a new will save at the same DC that lead to the stability loss. If you fail you don’t go unconscious but instead suffers an insanity as mentioned in the GM guide. If you succeed you immediately faint into a comatose state and won’t wake up until your wisdom score is increased to one or higher.
When you have less than 10 stability left you are treated as shaken, when you have less than 5 you are frightened with the source of your stability loss as the source of the effect. If you have 0 or less stability remaining you are panicked. If you are immune to fear or mind-effecting effects you are instead fatigued, then exhausted then staggered. These conditions last until you can regain enough stability to recover from the condition or until the condition is otherwise removed. Note that it is possible to have a lower than 10 stability score without suffering from fear if the condition is somehow removed or you have immunity to the specific condition.
The bravery ability also reduces any amount of lost stability due to mundane threats by the listed amount.

Optional rules:

Monsters and stability loss:
Seeing terrifying creatures can cause stability loss. This stability loss is treated differently than normal stability loss. You must feel threatened by the monster for this stability loss to occur. Plants, animals, most fey and humanoids usually don’t cause stability loss unless they have some disturbing traits.
The DC to resist stability loss is calculated by using the following formula: 10+1/2 creature HD+creatures cha modifier

In addition add the following modifiers:
• Creature is undead or an aberration +2
• Creature has the frightful presence ability +2
• Creature is larger than the pc’s +1 per size category
• Creature is smaller than pc’s -1 per size category
• Creature has significant resistance to the pc’s attacks +2
• Creature is exceptionally disturbing to look at +2
• Creature is stronger than the pc’s +1 per CR above APL
• Creature is weaker than the pc’s -1 per CR below APL
• Creatures outnumber the pc’s +1 per additional creature
• Pc’s outnumber the monsters -1 per additional pc above the number of encountered creatures

The creature causes stability loss depending on what bracket the DC ends up in cross referencing the DC with the stability loss on the table above. Always round down to the closest bracket, so a DC 19 would end up with a stability loss of 1/1d6 (DC 15 bracket), while a DC 21 would end up in the horrific (DC 20, 1d3/1d8 bracket)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Optional rules cont.

Stability lost from magic:
Certain spells can cause stability loss in addition to any other effects they may have. In that case the DC to avoid stability loss is equal to the DC of the spell and you lose stability based on the DC of the spell by comparing it to the DC’s of the stability loss table above. Not all spells cause stability loss and some are more horrific than others, here is a list of what type of spells cause stability loss and modifiers.
• Any damage spell that brings your hit points below 50%
• Spells that raise you from the dead (these losses are permanent)
• Spells that cause negative levels, ability damage, ability and level drain
• Spells that unwillingly force you to change form
• Spells with the teleport descriptor
• Spells that cause insanity and pain and spells with the fear or death descriptor (these spells are particularly potent and has a +2 DC to resist stability loss)

Fighting for a cause:
If a loved one or a personal ideal is at stake you may gain a +2 circumstance bonus on your will save to resist the horror.

Getting used to awfulness:
Each time you are subject to stability loss from the same kind of effect or turmoil you gain a cumulative +1 circumstance bonus on your save and any stability loss is reduced by 1 to a maximum of +5 to the save and -5 stability loss. The DM may rule that there are certain events you may never get used to. It is up to the players to remind the DM of these bonuses. These bonuses usually only last for one session unless the players keep track of them.
For each major accomplishment in a horror Campaign the pc’s may be awarded with a permanent stability point (in an adventure path this is usually when an installment is finished). Likewise if a pc achieves a personal goal he may be awarded a permanent stability point.

Phobias and personal fears:
If a pc wants to he can start with phobias and fears. Any stability checks against horrors related to his phobias and fears are treated as one step worse. Even encountering the mundane things invoking his fears requires a check (usually at the lowest DC). For each phobia or fear a pc chooses to start with the character gains +2 stability points to a maximum of six bonus stability points mimicking the mental fortitude built up from constantly having to face ones fears. The phobia must be something that will be relevant to the game and may actually cause trouble. He may choose the same phobia more than once in which case the severity of the check increase by one degree for each time it is chosen.

Snapping out of it:
A character who gains an adverse condition by loosing stability may use a full-round action to snap out of it and recover. This save is made at a DC 5 higher than the original save and can only be attempted once. All penalties associated with the condition is also present. A frightened or panicked character can only attempt this save when the threat that caused the condition is out of sight. A staggered character must spend two full rounds to snap out of it. A character who snaps out of it doesn’t regain any lost stability but may ignore the adverse effects of his lost stability until he loses more.

Fainting:
Each time you fail a save against stability loss by 5 or more and you lose any amount of stability you faint and become unconscious for 1d4 minutes or until you are healed of any amount of stability damage. A character can also be brought back from unconsciousness by using smelling salt (a standard action) or a heal skill check DC 10 as a standard action. Any amount of damage (or some rough physical handling as a full-round action) will also immediately awaken an unconscious character. A pc who faints may immediately choose to go temporarily insane instead in which case he will become confused (as the spell confusion) for 1d4 rounds instead of fainting.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Optional rules cont.

Dangerous magic:
Magic can be taxing for the mind and soul. Anytime you cast a spell you must succeed in a will save DC 10+spell level for divine spells or 15+spell level for arcane spells or take a stability loss equal to the (modified in the case of metamagic) level of the spell+1. Every three caster levels the stability loss from this is reduced by one to a minimum of 0. Specialists lose one less stability from spells cast from their specialty school. Spontaneous casters have a +2 bonus on saves to avoid stability loss. Certain spells might have a higher or lower stability loss or DC at the DM’s discretion. Some spell completion and spell-trigger items might also induce this loss at the DM’s discretion. Spell-like or supernatural abilities don’t cause any stability loss.
Stability returns at the same rate as nonlethal damage, but only in complete and calm surroundings. Spells that calm emotions and heal ability damage may heal some or all lost stability. You also regain stability when following your drive. You recover lost stability equal to the level of the spell being cast. Below is a list of what kind of spells can be used to recover lost stability:
• Any spell that calms emotion or removes fear
• Spells that relieves pain or cures ability damage, negative levels, ability or energy drain
• Spells that grant a morale bonus
• Spells that cure insanity (such as heal or greater restoration) cures all lost stability instantly
• Special abilities mimicking such spells cure an amount of lost stability equal to half the level of those using them.

Insane insights:
When a pc has suffered wisdom damage due to stability loss he gains an insight bonus to all knowledge checks equal to half the total number of points lost.

Frightful presence:
Creatures with frightful presence incur a stability loss at a degree one worse than normal in addition to their normal effects.

Npc’s and stability:
It is recommended that monsters and npc’s only use these rules at the DM’s discretion; instead it is easier to just add a condition to the npc as appropriate for the situation. Cohorts and other npc’s under the pc’s control use the normal stability rules unless the DM rules otherwise.

Irrevocable insanity:
Upon becoming insane, the ability loss that caused the insanity may be healed, but the insanity will remain until it has either passed or been healed. If an insane character fails the save to recover from his insanity three times in a row he becomes irrevocably insane. Even if healed by magic he must make a new save after a time decided by the insanity’s onset time or the insanity will start to set in again. At the DM’s discretion, very powerful magic like a wish spell or an artifact might cure irrevocably insane characters.

Role-playing the effects of lost stability:
As a pc loses stability points he becomes more and more unhinged and his behavior becomes more and more erratic. When he first lose stability he will often act nervous, maybe joke a bit about it or start talking rapidly. Some may gasp and swoon, hold their mouths or cover their faces in disgust or shock. Praying or cursing is a common reaction to seeing horrors. Some react with determined anger or silent contemplation.
Someone with low stability will usually act in an odd and even illogical way. Some become distant and difficult to communicate with effectively. Others might obsess over things, usually whatever caused their stability to falter. Some become almost suicidal and hysterical. More unscrupulous characters might turn psychotic, sacrificing the safety of others to serve their own needs.
A shaken character will often physically tremble, his eyes move from side to side in a frantic motion. He may be short of breath and when he speaks he will often stutter or jumble up words. A frightened character may become pale white. He may burst out in tears or bouts of hysterical laughter or screaming. His speech will often be completely incomprehensible. A panicked character will often scream at the top of his lunges. His hair might turn white. He may flail about uncontrollably screaming and crying and gibbering incomprehensibly to himself. If cornered he will usually fall down in a fetal position rocking back and forth while mumbling.
A player should take some time determining how his character will react when confronting horrors and the escalating effects as his stability slowly burns away.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Other rules:

New feats:

Mental toughness (General)
Prerequisites: None
Effect: Your mind is hardened to shock and you receive a +2 bonus on saves to resist stability loss and insanity, in addition this feat is treated as the toughness feat except it grants bonus stability points instead of hit points.

Stable magic (General)
Prerequisites: Caster level 1
Effect: You lose one less stability from casting spells and receive a +2 bonus on will saves to resist stability loss from casting spells or using magical items.

Insane spell surge (General)
Prerequisites: Caster level 1, any one metamagic feat
Effect: By mentally exerting yourself you can use your stability to fuel metamagic spells. You can add any metamagic feat you know to a spell you cast without using a higher level spell slot. You lose stability equal to the new modified spell level. You can’t use this ability to modify a spell to a higher level than the highest level you can cast. You can’t avoid this stability loss in any way and lost stability from this feat cannot be regained while the spell remains memorized. Spontaneous casters loose the stability as soon as the cast the spell.

Soothing healing (General)
Prerequisites: Channel positive energy
Effect: Anytime you channel positive energy to heal, or use any cure spell or the lay on hands ability you also heal a number of lost stability equal to the number of dice rolled for channeling or lay on hands or the spell level for a cure spell. In addition you never lose stability when casting curing spells.

Extra stability: (General)
Prerequisites: None
Effect: You gain 2 additional points of stability and a +1 bonus on will saves to avoid stability loss. This feat may be taken more than once.

Insane rage: (General)
Prerequisites: Barbarian rage
Effect: You can burn stability points to prolong your rage. While raging you are unaffected by the adverse effects of stability loss (but not wisdom damage).

Music of the spheres: (General)
Prerequisites: Bardic music ability
Effect: The DC to resist your bardic music is one higher for Aberrations. You can use stability points to extend the duration of your bardic music.

Non-Euclidean magic (Metamagic)
Prerequisites: None
Effect: You weave an alien pattern into your magic to unnerve those affected by your spells and those who identify them through the use of the spellcraft skill. Anyone who’s affected by or recognizes your non-Euclidean spell loose an additional amount of stability points equal to the level of the spell. A non-Euclidean spell takes up a spell slot one level higher than the original spell, but you also lose double the amount of stability from casting a non-Euclidean spell.

Jaded (Combat)
Prerequisites: Bab +7
Effect: You never suffer stability loss from being in mundane combat situations or seeing mundane horrors like dead bodies. You may still lose stability from magical or supernatural creatures and effects and from suffering personal horrors and torture.

Force of personality (general)
Prerequisites: Cha 13+, Iron will
Effect: You gain your charisma modifier to will saves against mind-affecting spells and abilities instead of your wisdom modifier. In addition when you calculate your stability you use your charisma modifier instead of your wisdom modifier.

Maddened dabbler (general)
Prerequisites: Able to cast spells
Effect: Whenever you become shaken, frightened or panicked from the loss of stability you may instead choose to become confused for one round.
Special: A spellcaster may choose to start with an incurable insanity to gain this feat as a bonus feat on first level.

New archetype:

Arcanist of the Dark tapestry (wizard)

You have learnt about the great old ones and the power they can grant you. This power does not come without a price however.

At 1st level one you replace gain the Maddened dabbler feat, this replaces your Scribe scroll feat.

At 1st level you gain a forbidden tome, this tome contains one spell one level higher than the maximum level you can cast. You may cast this spell as if it were one level lower (although it still counts as it normal level for the purpose of DC and effects like globe of invulnerability). The spell must be chosen from the list below. This spell costs twice the normal amount of stability to cast and the DC to resist this stability loss is two higher than normal. Every time you gain a new level of spell you gain a new spell to add to your forbidden tome. In addition, once per day you may refer to the tome as a move action to gain a +5 bonus on any one Knowledge (Arcana), (The planes), (Dungeoneering) or (Religion) check. This ability replaces Arcane bond.

Add the all the feats in this document as available Wizard bonus feats for an Arcanist of the Dark tapestry.

Forbidden tome spells:
2nd level spells: Touch of idiocy, Lesser confusion, Detect thoughts, See invisibility, Hideous laughter
3rd level spells: Rage, Magic circle (Chaos and evil only), blood biography, Seek thought
4th level spells: Confusion, Dimensional anchor, Black tentacles, Phantasmal killer
5th level spells: Nightmare, Dismissal, Lesser planar binding (creatures related to the Dark tapestry only), Contact other plane, Feeblemind, Mind fog, Dream
6th level spells: Planar binding, True seeing, Legend lore, Eyebite, Fluid form
7th level spells: Insanity, Banishment, Plane shift, Vision, Limited wish
8th level spells: Scintillating pattern, Dimensional lock, Moment of prescience, Binding, Symbol of insanity (the yellow sign)
9th level spells: Weird, Freedom, Imprisonment, Gate, Foresight, Interplanetary Teleport, Wish

New traits:

Sound mind:
You have seen the horrors of the world and your mind has adjusted.
Your stability is increased by one and you receive a +1 trait bonus on saves to resist stability loss.

Attuned spell:
You feel particularly comfortable casting a certain spell.
Choose one spell you know, you reduce all stability loss for casting this spell by one.

New skill uses:

Heal:
A pc may restore lost stability to a character using the heal skill. In calm surroundings he will regain stability at twice the normal rate when aided by the heal skill; this has a DC of 15. In stressful circumstances a character with the heal skill can use a full-round action and make a DC 20 heal check to restore 1 point of stability to an ally, if he beats the DC by 5 or more he restores an additional number of points equal to his wisdom modifier. Using the heal skill in this manner may only be done once per source of lost stability per creature affected. He may also use a full-round action to grant an ally a +4 bonus on his save to snap out of it as long as he tries to snap out of it within one round of receiving this aid.

Diplomacy, bluff and intimidate:
A pc can use the aid another action with these skills to grant one ally a +2 morale bonus to saves to avoid stability loss.

Intimidate:
If you use this system the DC to successfully intimidate a creature is equal to his or her current stability score.

Knowledge (any):
A character who makes the knowledge check to recognize what he is up against gains a +2 insight bonus to saves against stability loss from that particular kind of threat unless the threat is 4 or more CR’s higher than the APL, in which case he instead gain a -2 penalty on his saves.

New spell:

Elder sign
School [abjuration]; Level adept 2, bard 2, cleric/oracle 2, inquisitor 1, paladin 1, sorcerer/wizard 2, summoner 1, witch 2

CASTING

Casting Time 1 full round action
Components V, S, M (paints or drawing materials), F (a brush or chisel)

EFFECT

Range touch
Target all aberrations within 30 ft. or one weapon (see below)
Duration 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw Will partial (harmless); Spell Resistance yes

DESCRIPTION
You carve or paint a sacred sigil on a solid surface or object and imbue it with eldritch power. This sigil is anathema to creatures from the Dark tapestry. Aberrations within 30 ft. who sees the symbol must make a will save. On a successful save they are merely staggered for one round, on a failed save they are nauseated for 1d4 rounds as the holy energies of the symbol overwhelms them. You can also carve or paint the symbol on a weapon in which case it overcomes any damage reduction of an aberration on its next strike and also gain the aberration bane ability on the first strike you successfully make against an aberration. If you cast this spell on ammunition the effect is bestowed on only one unit of that ammunition. You must choose which version of the spell to cast each time you cast this spell. When the duration ends or you hit an aberration (if you have the symbol on a weapon), or an aberration successfully saves against the spell (or it fails to bypass its spell resistance), the symbol fades away and the spell ends. If you use an elder sign as a component in the dismissal or banishment spell against an aberration you gain a +5 bonus on opposed caster level checks to banish that creature and you may banish aberrations as if though they were outsiders. Casting this spell never incurs stability loss.

Grand Lodge

I'd aim for simplicity in the sanity breakdowns - so instead of factoring in +2 for Abberation, +2 for Larger than PCs, minus 2 because players have a weapon focused on the specific weakness of the beastie, simply move the table category of the san loss up or down... so a single humanoid monster may be on par with seeing a corpse (disturbing) but seeing a large group of them would be as if seeing oneself in mortal peril (Shocking).

Truth be told I wasn't originally a fan of your san breakdowns - What I am aiming for is an E6 lower threshold... I want commoners and 1st level characters to freak out over dead things etc, BUT after playing with my own version all weekend I think your way may be better. My things were 10+ Will save+ level or 10+wis or cha+level but Clerics/Druids get a mega defence as Wis + good will saves make it VERY hard to shake them up... not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

Mental toughness and Extra stability when compared to each other make Mental toughness a better buy - an initial 3 Stability and the +2 save against 2 stability and a +1 save... just don't see the value.

HUGE fan of using social skills/Knowledge skills to bolster saves! Excellent.

In your v1.0 rules fighters could use the Bravery class feature like DR/ for stability loss. I think that is a good thing that could be part of 2.0. A similar "Feat" for supernatural (only) threats with the same ramp up (+1 at 2nd and a +1 for every 4 levels) would be a nice adder for Spell casters to buy into while fighters can apply it overall to make their class feature something special.

Not sure where I think Elder sign should go but if you are gonna whack arcane casters with DC penalties then I really think it should be a level 1 spell for them and level 2 for Divine casters. Summoner and Witch are probably best classified as arcane in this case.

There was a bunch of other stuff I wanted to say but I don't think Divine casters should get the edge of casting spells and avoiding insanity over Arcane casters - I think it needs to be the same DC unless this is your mechanism for driving players to take divine classes.

Overall, love the concepts which capture all the flavour of CoC and which I will be pillaging wholesale but I really believe in simplfying this ruleset some. I too need to put the knife to my stuff.

Grand Lodge

Oh and corruption rules added to this would be sweeeet. Ravenloft and Conan D20 both had corruption mechanics. Corruption could also be used as a DC instead (or in addition to!) casting harmful magics to the psyche.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Helaman wrote:

I'd aim for simplicity in the sanity breakdowns - so instead of factoring in +2 for Abberation, +2 for Larger than PCs, minus 2 because players have a weapon focused on the specific weakness of the beastie, simply move the table category of the san loss up or down... so a single humanoid monster may be on par with seeing a corpse (disturbing) but seeing a large group of them would be as if seeing oneself in mortal peril (Shocking).

- Good idea, I'll look into that

Truth be told I wasn't originally a fan of your san breakdowns - What I am aiming for is an E6 lower threshold... I want commoners and 1st level characters to freak out over dead things etc, BUT after playing with my own version all weekend I think your way may be better. My things were 10+ Will save+ level or 10+wis or cha+level but Clerics/Druids get a mega defence as Wis + good will saves make it VERY hard to shake them up... not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

- After a breakdown of my original rules (the ones before the first I posted here had a baseline of 10+wis+level just as yours), I found that it was to little. then I realized that high will characters would almost never fail their saves so I went for the route of loosing some stability even on a successful save to increase the tension (which is the point of the system).

Mental toughness and Extra stability when compared to each other make Mental toughness a better buy - an initial 3 Stability and the +2 save against 2 stability and a +1 save... just don't see the value.

-Extra stability stacks with mental toughness, but on a second thought I think I will remove the +2 bonus from the mental toughness feat, there are to many ways to get bonuses already.

HUGE fan of using social skills/Knowledge skills to bolster saves! Excellent.

- thanks :)

In your v1.0 rules fighters could use the Bravery class feature like DR/ for stability loss. I think that is a good thing that could be part of 2.0. A similar "Feat" for supernatural (only) threats with the same ramp up (+1 at 2nd and a +1 for every 4 levels) would be a nice adder for Spell casters to buy into while fighters can apply it overall to make their class feature something special.

- that is an omission, those rules should still be there.

Not sure where I think Elder sign should go but if you are gonna whack arcane casters with DC penalties then I really think it should be a level 1 spell for them and level 2 for Divine casters. Summoner and Witch are probably best classified as arcane in this case.

- It was made mostly for my own Campaign, just thought I would share it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Quote:
There was a bunch of other stuff I wanted to say but I don't think Divine casters should get the edge of casting spells and avoiding insanity over Arcane casters - I think it needs to be the same DC unless this is your mechanism for driving players to take divine classes.

- I think of it as divine casters are protected by their faith and their Gods, also because Clerics are so vital to a groups survival, while arcane casters are more the types dabbling with unknowable forces.

Quote:
Overall, love the concepts which capture all the flavour of CoC and which I will be pillaging wholesale but I really believe in simplfying this ruleset some. I too need to put the knife to my stuff.

- That's why I listed most of the rules as optional ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Helaman wrote:
Oh and corruption rules added to this would be sweeeet. Ravenloft and Conan D20 both had corruption mechanics. Corruption could also be used as a DC instead (or in addition to!) casting harmful magics to the psyche.

the old 3.5 book heroes of Horror has a pretty decent mechanic for taint. There's also the corruption rules for the Warhammer 40.000 line of roleplaying books which should be pretty easy to modify for a Pathfinder game.

Grand Lodge

bump

Andoran

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just tossing in a note that I really enjoyed the rules and thank you for taking the time to put them together and update them.

While my group does enjoy WoD and Call of Cthulu from time to time, most often we are doing Pathfinder where they are really heroic. I'm going to be running Carrion Crown in a couple months, and am going to do a fair amount to step things down a bit and make it really feel like horror and I am really going to look at including some version of this system into the game.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tarlane wrote:

Just tossing in a note that I really enjoyed the rules and thank you for taking the time to put them together and update them.

While my group does enjoy WoD and Call of Cthulu from time to time, most often we are doing Pathfinder where they are really heroic. I'm going to be running Carrion Crown in a couple months, and am going to do a fair amount to step things down a bit and make it really feel like horror and I am really going to look at including some version of this system into the game.

Thank you :)

Please tell me how the rules work in play if you get to use them. I am at a roleplaying hiatus right now so I won't get to start CC before fall.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Cards, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Very cool system! We've just started the Campaign and my players are in a "pre-module" to get a feel for the way I GM.

I've implemented Sanity rules already (1 character was brought to zero hit points, another looted an idol of a god from the dark tapestry.)

My game plan is to not tell the players about the sanity system for 2 reasons: I don't want it to be a series of rolling dice to see if they "pass" or "fail", and do people really know their grip on sanity is slipping?

I'll keep you posted.

Thanks Again!
Shriekback

Grand Lodge

shriekback wrote:


My game plan is to not tell the players about the sanity system for 2 reasons: I don't want it to be a series of rolling dice to see if they "pass" or "fail", and do people really know their grip on sanity is slipping?

I'll keep you posted.

Thanks Again!
Shriekback

Thats my idea as well... I'll let them know that there is something in place but I wont have them metagaming the system, I'll track their stability loss and the penalties at Shaken are sufficient to provide incentive to get the hell away

Grand Lodge

Just thinking about the Haunt Mechanics with this...

Would it be pure Stability damage (could be NASTY) for haunts, with Save for half or minimal loss? OR would it be rules as current plus stability damage.


Friend of mine really wants to do a horror campaign. We tried to hash it out, and it never ended up quite right. This could be just what it needs to work.

Grand Lodge

Irulesmost wrote:
Friend of mine really wants to do a horror campaign. We tried to hash it out, and it never ended up quite right. This could be just what it needs to work.

Check out the Haunt mechanics in the rules as well.

Cheliax

Snatching this subsystem for home use.

Thank you!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
golem101 wrote:

Snatching this subsystem for home use.

Thank you!

You are welcome :)


I'm prepping the campaign and wondering if anybody has tried these rules. Did you use them? Like them? Change them?

Grand Lodge

About to use Version 2 for a campaign I've cooked up for the summer. Thanks a bunch.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules Subscriber

My group just started Carrion Hill, which I updated for Carrion Crown here, (you will see shades of your upgrade in the first couple encounters) and I intend to include this subsystem in my game through Wake of the Watcher. Thanks for the work you did on all this.

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