In 'Vaults of Madness', what's the point of the insanity dust?


Serpent's Skull


What's the intent behind the inescapable paranoia spores dusting all the vaults? It reads like it'd be more frustrating than fun. What am I missing?


You got it, my group hated this part of this AP more then anything they have ever played. The GM played it as written it was fun the first couple times through and then sucked thereafter. I highly recomend letting the party figure a way to overcome it or just drop it after a couple times.


1. Take all of the mechanics for the insanity dust

2. Trash them

3. Replace with the GM just flavoring the characters slowly getting a bit crazier depending on failed/passed saves.

As much as I love Paizo, their insanity rules are just absurd. There's some telling when I can say I read about dragons who breathe lava and don't blink but their definition of the effects of schizophrenia makes me agitated.


I think the number one change to make is to have PCs who recover from paranoia become immune to further infestation.

That's the biggest problem with Paizo's disease rules: there is no mechanic for acquired immunity other than class features. Measles alone would destroy all city-dwelling human populations through adult reinfection.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's a dark and unsettling look at the world of drug abuse disguised as part of an Adventure Path. The dust clearly represents PCP (Phencyclidine, or as the kids [maybe even your kids!] know it, angel dust), whose side effects include paranoia and depersonalization.

The player characters are "adventurers" - naive young men, whatever gnomes are, and women who wish to experience all that life has to offer. To do so, they forsake the sunlit city of Savinth-Ye (obviously a metaphor for middleclass America) and venture into the "dungeons" beneath. There, amidst twisting alleys and dangerous "monsters" (drug dealers), they get their first taste of the loathsome life that awaits them. It's basically Requiem For a Dream with more swords, magic, and snake people.


while annoying, it did offer some good roleplaying opportunities.

Also, it's a good mechanic to encourage people to finish each vault in one run- so they don't fight one combat, teleport out, and come back the next day


Generic Villain wrote:

It's a dark and unsettling look at the world of drug abuse disguised as part of an Adventure Path. The dust clearly represents PCP (Phencyclidine, or as the kids [maybe even your kids!] know it, angel dust), whose side effects include paranoia and depersonalization.

The player characters are "adventurers" - naive young men, whatever gnomes are, and women who wish to experience all that life has to offer. To do so, they forsake the sunlit city of Savinth-Ye (obviously a metaphor for middleclass America) and venture into the "dungeons" beneath. There, amidst twisting alleys and dangerous "monsters" (drug dealers), they get their first taste of the loathsome life that awaits them. It's basically Requiem For a Dream with more swords, magic, and snake people.

This made me laugh. Thanks!

The Exchange

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Generic Villain wrote:
...the sunlit city of Savinth-Ye (obviously a metaphor for middleclass America)

The cofee stain on my pants is entirley your fault, sir :D


Generic Villain wrote:
It's basically Requiem For a Dream with more swords, magic, and snake people.

Brilliant! Just finished this AP tonight, spores caused the death of one player at the time, but the novelty soon wore off.

Liberty's Edge

Sloanzilla wrote:

while annoying, it did offer some good roleplaying opportunities.

Also, it's a good mechanic to encourage people to finish each vault in one run- so they don't fight one combat, teleport out, and come back the next day

This is pretty much how I felt about it. We just finished Vaults of Madness Thursday night. The encounters in most of the vaults are pretty static, so PCs could totally leave and come back. Having to face the insanity spores again was a decent deterrent.

Also, it drained the party resources a bit as well. Our fighter dumped Wisdom (probably THE worst AP to have a low WILL save), so we had to expend slots on restoration and eventually heal so that the fighter would work with us. The fighter's player chose to be RP the paranoia super annoyingly, so the players wanted to deal with it immediately.

We had a cleric in the party though, without that I could see that this could have been very annoying. It wasn't too big a deal with the cleric though.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm here to please.

Seriously though, some tabletop games feature mental illness in the PCs as a central theme. White Wolf and Call of Cthulhu spring to mind. When people crack open a high fantasy like Pathfinder though, having a PC brood over psychological trauma can seem a bit out of place. I personally never ran this AP so I can't speak to how it would affect play, but I also don't mind the developers throwing curveballs like this occasionally.

Sort of off topic, in a world like Pathfinder what exactly would it take (outside of magic/curses) to inflict unhealthy paranoia on someone? This is a place where an apocalyptic god is trapped in the center of the earth, a few dozen evil races are actively trying to enslave/devour you and your family, your best friend could realistically be replaced by a doppelganger/wizard/shapechanging demon at any time, "assassin" is a viable and profitable career choice, alien abominations are waiting until the stars are right to do Gods only know what, and so forth. It seems to me that here, severe paranoia is less a mental illness and more a survival strategy.


There's also the problem that you have to keep your own expedition from going in there, or the costs of treatment and potential danger to your people start going up to ridiculous levels.


The expedition shouldn't be interested in delving into the vaults. AFter figuring out what Juliver has to say, it clearly becomes the purview of heroes, and not scholars and others that make up the expedition. The expedition is there to discover the City, which they have their hands full with. At the point that this becomes something more, they should be all good with backing out, and letting seasoned adventurers taking the lead.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Looks both ways for PCs...

Hey can we change the title on this thread? I don't want my PCs knowing what the crazy dust is down there.

I like the idea of the slow burn to madness. I may institute some little notes to them once they get infected, telling them that they are being watched or that something strange is happening around them that no one else sees or hears.

Nice Ideas, the rules as written seem...harsh.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think it would be more interesting to have each vault have a different madness associated with it for good times Roleplaying fun.

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