RPGs and Mental Illness


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Oh, good, the "PC" buzzword.

I'm not going to argue with anything else you said because that's all really valid and raw stuff and there's little I can say that disputes it (especially as tired and rushed as I am), so I'm just going to respond to your labeling this discussion as a "PC effort". Forget "War on Christmas", now here's a buzzword I'm tired of hearing.

Paizo Employee Design Manager

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Oh, good, the "PC" buzzword.

I'm not going to argue with anything else you said because that's all really valid and raw stuff and there's little I can say that disputes it (especially as tired and rushed as I am), so I'm just going to respond to your labeling this discussion as a "PC effort". Forget "War on Christmas", now here's a buzzword I'm tired of hearing.

What else can you call it? I'm not going to say "less offensive" because to me it is manifestly not, and I'm not going to say "more accurate" because that is absolutely impossible since every person's illness affects them uniquely. I don't have any other word to quantify the concept that you are suggesting.

Honestly, some of your posts on this subject make me furious. "Either do it right or don't do it", as though there were actually some "right" way to distill the highly individualized pains and struggles of millions of human beings into game mechanics. It strikes me as the worst kind of arrogant ignorance.


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I would actually be fairly interested in a roleplaying game about actual, real world mental illness, and ways it might interact with a fantasy setting. A murderhobo based story game where your characters progression is a downward spiral into PTSD could be really interesting for instance.

I don't think we'll see one anytime soon. A, it would be a fairly hard game to design, and B, the design of one that wasn't exploitative would be even harder.

That said I have exactly no problem with most classic sanity systems. I say that as someone who has suffered from mental illness, and has a family with several mentally ill people in it.

Why?

Because, the insanity depicted in such games isn't mental illness. It has only a passing resemblance to some sorts of mental illness. It's has different causes, different effects and exists for a different set of reasons.

That said. If a person at my table says, "I'm not okay with sanity mechanics...", and their reason is something other than "wah wah wah I want power fantasy!!!!", I will totally stop running games with sanity mechanics.

If they say "wah, wah, wah, I want power fantasy!!!!" I will do my best to hook them up with a gaming group that is a better fit for them.


I have a question:

did the 'crazy scientist' trope originate with Dr Frankenstein (and perhaps Dr Jekyll)?

Because I think 'mad Dr Frankenstein' is more akin to 'mad hatters' than mental health issues.

Hatters were 'mad as hatters' because the processes they used involved mercury and they breathed mercury vapours, which are very, very bad for you. And I've always felt there were at least elements of 'what had Frankenstein (or Dr Jekyll or any scientist using chemicals, probably not safely) been breathing'?

If you encounter someone apparently irrational, the questions you're likely start with are are they drunk? Or drugged? Or poisoned? In a world with magic they might be cursed. Perhaps a belief that little men are spying on them isn't paranoia but actually creatures spying on them (a soul-bound doll would be good for this). Malnourished in some way (vitamin deficiencies can have bad effects)? Sleep deprived?
There are lots of potential mechanisms for 'crazy' without getting into mental health issues.

(I've written 'apparently irrational' because if someone is hallucinating or delusional their actions might be entirely in view of what they're perceiving.)


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Ssalarn wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Oh, good, the "PC" buzzword.

I'm not going to argue with anything else you said because that's all really valid and raw stuff and there's little I can say that disputes it (especially as tired and rushed as I am), so I'm just going to respond to your labeling this discussion as a "PC effort". Forget "War on Christmas", now here's a buzzword I'm tired of hearing.

What else can you call it? I'm not going to say "less offensive" because to me it is manifestly not, and I'm not going to say "more accurate" because that is absolutely impossible since every person's illness affects them uniquely. I don't have any other word to quantify the concept that you are suggesting.

Honestly, some of your posts on this subject make me furious. "Either do it right or don't do it", as though there were actually some "right" way to distill the highly individualized pains and struggles of millions of human beings into game mechanics. It strikes me as the worst kind of arrogant ignorance.

this is also the same game where people go around slaughtering each other on a whim, violating graves to raise undead soldiers for the lulz, and do all sorts of stomach churning atrocities because they- or the gods they worship- are "crazy". Serious issues related to mental health are sometimes relegated to Alignment issues, and a lot of handwaving is done to make villains that aren't machiavellian "disturbed".

I find that offensive myself and have always longed for a better representation of mental health issues in game that dont automatically equate it with evil.

Liberty's Edge

In all fairness KC, the killer was crazy trope was only really used on Psych for stuff involving Yin and Yang and Shawn calling anyone crazy sorta should be taken with a grain of salt, especially considering the amount of child abuse he suffered.

As for game mechanics, I'm not that familiar with Pathfinder's, I am familiar with the add on for Spycraft 2.0 which is largely focused on Lovecraftian horror so it has the Table of Sproing (which is a slight in joke but also parallels the physical injury Table of Ouch). It takes a lot of mental injury to wind up on in the Mental Disorder section, which are for the most part treated as Subplots. It uses terms more or less correctly and directs the GM and player to discuss and plan how to handle things and if they don't want to it encourages using the temporary dazed, baffled, etc conditions rather then the Mental Illness subplots.

Dark Archive

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Tabletop RPGs aren't just a game.

They're also a media form. And, therefore, an art form. People who design mechanics are practicing a form of media and making deliberate choices. The same is true for video games, of course. That's why, say, racist first-person shooter video games have the potential to be problematic—yes, these games are "just for fun", but they're also media, and media carries influence—and tells people who is and isn't welcome within that mediasphere.

No, games are just that - games. I am currently designing a game, I am not an artist - I am an amateur (until I publish) game designer. That's it.

Is gaming a form of communication, yes - so it qualifies as media. The thing I vehemently disagree with you on is that media = art. A McDonald's commercial advertising the new and improved McRibb is just that, it's a form of media - specifically a commercial advertising food. Let me graph it for you: McRibb Commercial = media =/= art.

Racist first person shooters are not made by large game companies but by extremest to spread the word of hate and to find kindered spirits. Something like Ethnic Cleansing put out by the National Alliance - also a form of media because it's propaganda, but that crap is not art.
Ethnic Cleansing = propaganda = media =/= art.

RPG Games = Media =/= Art

Not saying that rpgs cannot be perceived as art (by an individual) or be artistic in nature and style - but an rpg, a functional rpg - is first and foremost a game or it isn't an rpg and is something else.

-----------

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
stuff about mental illness in movies and TV

I think you are being bit oversensitive and looking for bogymen/windmills/crusade like the tumblr writer of that terrible article that you cited.

Mental illness in movies/tv - aka "he was crazy" is just lazy writing. On top of all of that most mental illnesses portrayed by villains are either criminal sociopath-personality disorders or someone who has become obsessed/fixated on a specific goal/person that they commit a crime. That's it.

They don't say it because of: ignorance, lazy, too much detail for a show that runs 48 minutes. Most all mental illnesses depicted in modern crime/investigation shows sociopathic behavior. Not anxiety disorders, not depression (psychotic or otherwise) or OCD or anything else most people struggle with on a day-to-day basis.

Some of the more serious shows do bring up more varied mental illnesses in a more accurate or at least debatable accurate way (L&O:SVU) so they steer away from the "he was insane" simple explanation because the show's function to depict more realistic examples of mental illness.

------

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Either do it right or don't do it. It's not "just a game", "just a book", or "just a movie". It's all still media. And all media, including, believe it or not, tabletop RPGs, does carry influence.

No, they are just games - if they hold greater value to you then that's your responsibility/problem/POV.

If rpg content offends you you need to either: not buy it/support it or "buck up".
If a piece of trash video game like Ethnic Cleansing gets you to start a one-man race war you were probably going to go on that rampage no matter what (say if you were shorted one McRibb in the drive through). These things are only that influential to the incredible stupid.

And where is your outrage at the media format of RPGs in general and how they promote so much violence?

Violence and more violence - products that help you play a character with more and more tools to kill your foes? When your run your games KC, how many creatures die?

Hypocrisy - you're worried how rpgs handle a corner case (but rw subject) like mental illness when the premise of most games is kill your opponents and take their stuff while gaining more power.
What happens when PCs sometime accidentally kill things or kill things due to miscommunication or circumstance (neutral guards doing their job)? This is something that is ingrained in gaming, desensitizing players and GMs to violence because violence is done while "role-playing" a character.

Utter crap.

-----

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
This is not something we should brush off as "a non-issue", or "looking for windmills". This is something that needs to be carefully discussed.

No, this is just a SJW looking to make inroads in gaming to gain a foothold and influence. Same old same old. Telling people to feel bad, what they are doing wrong, etc.

If rpgs (as you state) are a form of art - shouldn't they be above social influence/pressure/conventions?

I think that accurately written mental illness in a game works if it works for the game. That's it. I don't think that a rush to make changes to current games should be made or that older systems should be shamed because they don't fall in line with the SJW outrage du jur.

TBH, my first exposure to various mental illnesses was when I was a little kid reading the 1st ed DMG. This subject was not taught in school, and it helped my interest on the matter - even if the content and implementation was not accurate and very gamist. I'm glad that list existed, even if it was flawed.


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Auxmaulous wrote:
No, this is just a SJW looking to make inroads in gaming to gain a foothold and influence. Same old same old. Telling people to feel bad, what they are doing wrong, etc.

So, it's your opinion that if it's culturally acceptable to be mean to people, others aren't allowed to point it out?

For example, I see someone yelling at a small child (not their own), saying rude comments and generally being mean... I'd be a SJW for telling them to stop? Cause that's what you're saying. I understand you don't think you're saying that, but you are.

Dark Archive

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Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
No, this is just a SJW looking to make inroads in gaming to gain a foothold and influence. Same old same old. Telling people to feel bad, what they are doing wrong, etc.

So, it's your opinion that if it's culturally acceptable to be mean to people, others aren't allowed to point it out?

For example, I see someone yelling at a small child (not their own), saying rude comments and generally being mean... I'd be a SJW for telling them to stop? Cause that's what you're saying. I understand you don't think you're saying that, but you are.

No, false equivalancy and poor comparison.

RPGs for purchase with potentially disagreeable content =/= yelling at a child on the street.

Get your priorities straight.


Ssalarn wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Oh, good, the "PC" buzzword.

I'm not going to argue with anything else you said because that's all really valid and raw stuff and there's little I can say that disputes it (especially as tired and rushed as I am), so I'm just going to respond to your labeling this discussion as a "PC effort". Forget "War on Christmas", now here's a buzzword I'm tired of hearing.

What else can you call it? I'm not going to say "less offensive" because to me it is manifestly not, and I'm not going to say "more accurate" because that is absolutely impossible since every person's illness affects them uniquely. I don't have any other word to quantify the concept that you are suggesting.

Honestly, some of your posts on this subject make me furious. "Either do it right or don't do it", as though there were actually some "right" way to distill the highly individualized pains and struggles of millions of human beings into game mechanics. It strikes me as the worst kind of arrogant ignorance.

Well said.

Like I've mentioned, I have Clinical Depression and am suicidal on a regular basis.
I'm also a talker.
When i'm not mid depressive episode (which is more like an attack than the usual depression that diffuses through all of my life) I will talk about it to anyone and everyone and I have met TONS of people who have the disease.

Yet no two people have quite the same issue.
My sister has it, but as far as I know she's never been suicidal. At least not enough to attempt it (like I have).
My mother has it. She breaks down into tears for no reason sometimes (a thing I don't do).
One of my coworkers has it. His was absolute lethargy, a total lack of any motivation to get out of bed.

The way we handle it varies too.

I'm gonna actually spoiler this one, as my personal methods may be a bit dark for some people. Warning; Darker Thoughts ahead:

When I was insured, I took Fluxotine and Concerta.
I've been through extensive therapy and have a network of friends to fall back on, but I usually leave my family out of it.

When I am suicidal, I survive because my analysis of a comprehensive list of methods says that none of them are methods that I personally can preform; I tell myself, very analytically, that I cannot kill myself.
I would NEVER suggest this method to ANYONE else.
What gives me the strength to live on could very well be the thing that gives another the drive to carry on and do the deed.

My sister is on a different drug entirely. Her therapy is hiking and her boyfriend. When she is in a depressive episode, she calls my parents, usually my dad.
My mother refuses to go in to a psychiatrist. She keeps herself occupied with Make-a -Wish and church youth group. When she's in a depressive episode, she come to any family member around.
My coworker is on Xantax (or some other big name drug). He has a wife and kids to help him cope. I don't know what he does when Depression hits him hard.

So how do we boil this down to "realistic mechanics?"


DEPRESSION SIMULATOR 2015
*boot up game*
*Start Screen pops up*
*75% of the time the "Start game" button doesn't work*
*10% of the time the save file becomes corrupted and all progress is deleted*
*When you finally do load the game, it's just boring, mundane, repetitive tasks*
*Buggy as heck*
*There is no objective.*
*There is no end*
*every load is the same thing*

Sound like a game you'd want to buy?
No?
Of course not, it's accurate.
Go play Fallout4.

When it comes to game mechanics, I'd rather "-2 to saves vs spells with the emotion descriptor" than have to play out the disease I play ever day.


Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:

DEPRESSION SIMULATOR 2015

*boot up game*
*Start Screen pops up*
*75% of the time the "Start game" button doesn't work*
*10% of the time the save file becomes corrupted and all progress is deleted*
*When you finally do load the game, it's just boring, mundane, repetitive tasks*
*Buggy as heck*
*There is no objective.*
*There is no end*
*every load is the same thing*

Sound like a game you'd want to buy?
No?
Of course not, it's accurate.
Go play Fallout4.

When it comes to game mechanics, I'd rather "-2 to saves vs spells with the emotion descriptor" than have to play out the disease I play ever day.

sounds like Oregon Trail with worse graphics.


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Auxmaulous wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
No, this is just a SJW looking to make inroads in gaming to gain a foothold and influence. Same old same old. Telling people to feel bad, what they are doing wrong, etc.

So, it's your opinion that if it's culturally acceptable to be mean to people, others aren't allowed to point it out?

For example, I see someone yelling at a small child (not their own), saying rude comments and generally being mean... I'd be a SJW for telling them to stop? Cause that's what you're saying. I understand you don't think you're saying that, but you are.

No, false equivalancy and poor comparison.

RPGs for purchase with potentially disagreeable content =/= yelling at a child on the street.

Get your priorities straight.

Tom has a mental illness. Tom attends a book club with his three best friends every month. Each session of book club, the host repeatedly makes falls claims about Tom's illness many of which are insulting and hurtful. The host does not mean harm, he is just ignorant.

Are tom's friends wrong to ask the host to change his behaviour?

James has a mental illness. James attends a games night with his three best friends every month. Each session, the host repeatedly makes falls claims about Tom's illness many of which are insulting and hurtful. The host does not mean harm, he is just going by what the game say.

Are james's friends wrong to ask the host to change his behaviour?


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Auxmaulous wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
No, this is just a SJW looking to make inroads in gaming to gain a foothold and influence. Same old same old. Telling people to feel bad, what they are doing wrong, etc.

So, it's your opinion that if it's culturally acceptable to be mean to people, others aren't allowed to point it out?

For example, I see someone yelling at a small child (not their own), saying rude comments and generally being mean... I'd be a SJW for telling them to stop? Cause that's what you're saying. I understand you don't think you're saying that, but you are.

No, false equivalancy and poor comparison.

RPGs for purchase with potentially disagreeable content =/= yelling at a child on the street.

Get your priorities straight.

My example is hyperbole.

Your point is that if people find something bothersome, tough luck, that's the way things are and that changing it would be bothersome to the people already there.

Basically, you vote for the status quo, regardless of the effect it has on people who aren't you.


BTW: I think a good shift would be away from real-world maladies and instead create mental issues that are unique to the game world.

1) People with those real world issues wouldn't feel like they're being modeled.

2) It would let designers tailor the issues to the game more specifically and come up with more colorful, interesting things that fit and enhance the feel of the game.

For example:

Something Bigger Might Come: (needs a better name) you never use your most powerful abilities/spells, fearing that something more dangerous might come next. You must succeed on a Will save DC 10 + (Class level or 2x spell level) to use any limited use ability.

Liberty's Edge

The problem with that is no matter how you gussy up the name it'll still be recognisable as a real world neurosis or psychosis.


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Zombieneighbours wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
No, this is just a SJW looking to make inroads in gaming to gain a foothold and influence. Same old same old. Telling people to feel bad, what they are doing wrong, etc.

So, it's your opinion that if it's culturally acceptable to be mean to people, others aren't allowed to point it out?

For example, I see someone yelling at a small child (not their own), saying rude comments and generally being mean... I'd be a SJW for telling them to stop? Cause that's what you're saying. I understand you don't think you're saying that, but you are.

No, false equivalancy and poor comparison.

RPGs for purchase with potentially disagreeable content =/= yelling at a child on the street.

Get your priorities straight.

Tom has a mental illness. Tom attends a book club with his three best friends every month. Each session of book club, the host repeatedly makes falls claims about Tom's illness many of which are insulting and hurtful. The host does not mean harm, he is just ignorant.

Are tom's friends wrong to ask the host to change his behaviour?

James has a mental illness. James attends a games night with his three best friends every month. Each session, the host repeatedly makes falls claims about Tom's illness many of which are insulting and hurtful. The host does not mean harm, he is just going by what the game say.

Are james's friends wrong to ask the host to change his behaviour?

Yes.

Because It's not Tom nor James asking.

Because if Tom and James are both OK with it, it's a non-issue.

Because Tom and Jame's friends are taking control out of their hands and coddling them like their conditions make them fully disable, incapable of acting on their own.

Because when you speak for me, you are denying me a voice.

Because you're making it seem like the world has to be sterilized for me to enjoy it.

Because you're treating me like a china doll rather than a person.


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Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
No, this is just a SJW looking to make inroads in gaming to gain a foothold and influence. Same old same old. Telling people to feel bad, what they are doing wrong, etc.

So, it's your opinion that if it's culturally acceptable to be mean to people, others aren't allowed to point it out?

For example, I see someone yelling at a small child (not their own), saying rude comments and generally being mean... I'd be a SJW for telling them to stop? Cause that's what you're saying. I understand you don't think you're saying that, but you are.

No, false equivalancy and poor comparison.

RPGs for purchase with potentially disagreeable content =/= yelling at a child on the street.

Get your priorities straight.

My example is hyperbole.

Your point is that if people find something bothersome, tough luck, that's the way things are and that changing it would be bothersome to the people already there.

Basically, you vote for the status quo, regardless of the effect it has on people who aren't you.

The rules are optional. if you have a problem with them, talk to your GM.

You're suggesting that everything be tweaked ahead of time so that no one gets offended by anything. You think you are doing right, but you are removing the option of doing anything themselves from those you are "trying to protect."

Basically, you're speaking for other people who gave you no authority to speak for them.

Silver Crusade

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Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
No, this is just a SJW looking to make inroads in gaming to gain a foothold and influence. Same old same old. Telling people to feel bad, what they are doing wrong, etc.

So, it's your opinion that if it's culturally acceptable to be mean to people, others aren't allowed to point it out?

For example, I see someone yelling at a small child (not their own), saying rude comments and generally being mean... I'd be a SJW for telling them to stop? Cause that's what you're saying. I understand you don't think you're saying that, but you are.

I always wonder why people try to challenge others who talk about things like this as 'attempting to gain influence' instead of 'talking about an issue that's important to them.'

Like seriously, do you always figure someone has an ulterior motive whenever they bring up something like this, it can't just be 'this is an issue that I would like to bring to light,', it's a big conspiracy to gain some nebulous concept of superiority?

As stated, RPGs have a long and sorted history with equating mental illness to evil, it's a common trope, and it's also harmful to those who deal with these issues (as a lot of posters are stating that they do), so I'm not sure why so many are looking at others who have a problem with this kind of (mis)representation and saying "Suck it up, I'm okay with it so you should be too!"

For all this talk of chasing phantoms where they don't exist, have you ever considered that you're trying to build people into the villain because they're challenging something that you see as established and unalterable due to how comfortable or uncaring you are about the subject? There are just some people who have different tolerances for this sort of thing, people who'd like to see established tropes and such tossed by the wayside so that this doesn't continue to be an issue for people like them.

Mental illness is a very polarizing thing, and as I've stated, it needs to be handled with far more care than we're currently seeing in gaming. You can write me off as an SJW or whatever other term you want to use so that you can feel better about dismissing my arguments because "obviously I'm just too sensitive", but how many times can you just ignore how people are responding towards something before realizing it's more of an issue to people than it is to you, that other people have the opinion that something is being mishandled?


Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
No, this is just a SJW looking to make inroads in gaming to gain a foothold and influence. Same old same old. Telling people to feel bad, what they are doing wrong, etc.

So, it's your opinion that if it's culturally acceptable to be mean to people, others aren't allowed to point it out?

For example, I see someone yelling at a small child (not their own), saying rude comments and generally being mean... I'd be a SJW for telling them to stop? Cause that's what you're saying. I understand you don't think you're saying that, but you are.

No, false equivalancy and poor comparison.

RPGs for purchase with potentially disagreeable content =/= yelling at a child on the street.

Get your priorities straight.

My example is hyperbole.

Your point is that if people find something bothersome, tough luck, that's the way things are and that changing it would be bothersome to the people already there.

Basically, you vote for the status quo, regardless of the effect it has on people who aren't you.

The rules are optional. if you have a problem with them, talk to your GM.

You're suggesting that everything be tweaked ahead of time so that no one gets offended by anything. You think you are doing right, but you are removing the option of doing anything themselves from those you are "trying to protect."

Basically, you're speaking for other people who gave you no authority to speak for them.

Oh man, if only this had happened a day sooner. Then it'd be perfect, telling a vet who's on disability for mental health issues that he can't talk about mental health issues on Veterans Day.

Or maybe it is perfect, since the day after we just forget again.


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And if either Tom or James cannot advocate for themselves, say because of social angsyity and are unwilling to give up something they otherwise enjoy?

But lets cut the friends out of it. What about James and Tom. Are they wrong to ask for that change?


Krensky wrote:
In all fairness KC, the killer was crazy trope was only really used on Psych for stuff involving Yin and Yang and Shawn calling anyone crazy sorta should be taken with a grain of salt, especially considering the amount of child abuse he suffered.

On the subject of a topic that might be interesting and has potential to actually go somewhere besides the locked threads depository, Psych.

Yang is the only one I can think of too, and at least in Yang's case they explain her brand of crazy pretty well: She fixates on a target, and then obsessively goes after them and the people around them as a twisted form of affection. Hell, she was even shown as being partially rehabilitated when she showed up later.

I can't remember Yin's deal (mostly because he showed up much less often) but IIRC he was never labeled as crazy at all. As I recall he had something very specific in mind for a specific purpose rather than just the fun of it all.

But I also agree Shawn has little right to call someone else mentally ill, considering he's probably diagnosable as a narcissist, and is just a bit delusional (at certain points he actually buys his own hype as a psychic until Gus drags him back to reality).

Liberty's Edge

Yin was a serial killer. It was about the game for him. Not exactly an unknown type of killer.

I suppose there was the one episode involving Shawn undercover in the mental hospital, and the musical episode, but nothing in them was really fitting the crazy killer trope.

Still a great show and one of the better modern takes on the Sherlock Holmes concept.


Yeah, shame it got cancelled. Especially since it seems as a result, the final season wasn't up to snuff. Everyone's hearts didn't seem to be in it.

On the plus side, it meant Lassiter's actor got to ham it up in Galavant.

Vigilant Seal

MendedWall12 wrote:
My problem with just about any D&Desque sanity or insanity rules is this:
prd wrote:
Insanity can also be caused by exposure to particularly potent sources of unhinging horror, madness, or alien natures, such that the mind simply cannot withstand them.

In a world like Golarion where there are actual rifts open between the lower planes and the surface world, and where seeing an octopus swinging from tree branch to tree branch before it sucks on your face, can be described as "uncommon" but not unheard of, how do you define unhinging horror? I mean vampires and liches are things that your average townsperson will have at least heard about. And these rules are for the PCs primarily. We're talking about a group of people who would have no trouble running into an an earless cat that can peel back the skin over it's own skull while emitting a bloodcurdling scream, and that's pretty "normal."

So my problem with the Pathfinder sanity/insanity rules is not that they make a mockery of real mental illness. It's that they have them at all. The life of an adventurer is chock full of entire months where the most normal thing that happens is you get attacked by short reptilian humanoids.

you can liken it to people now a day who watch horror movies. they don't come away with insanity, but if you put them in that same situation in reality, they most likely would become unhinged.

Hearing about a vampire in stories and confronting one face to face are completely different and most likely would mentally scar a townsperson.

that's why I think the insanity rules (which are in no way a reflection of real world illnesses, but are more for entertainment) are still applicable to a PF setting.


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Irontruth wrote:
Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Auxmaulous wrote:
No, this is just a SJW looking to make inroads in gaming to gain a foothold and influence. Same old same old. Telling people to feel bad, what they are doing wrong, etc.

So, it's your opinion that if it's culturally acceptable to be mean to people, others aren't allowed to point it out?

For example, I see someone yelling at a small child (not their own), saying rude comments and generally being mean... I'd be a SJW for telling them to stop? Cause that's what you're saying. I understand you don't think you're saying that, but you are.

No, false equivalancy and poor comparison.

RPGs for purchase with potentially disagreeable content =/= yelling at a child on the street.

Get your priorities straight.

My example is hyperbole.

Your point is that if people find something bothersome, tough luck, that's the way things are and that changing it would be bothersome to the people already there.

Basically, you vote for the status quo, regardless of the effect it has on people who aren't you.

The rules are optional. if you have a problem with them, talk to your GM.

You're suggesting that everything be tweaked ahead of time so that no one gets offended by anything. You think you are doing right, but you are removing the option of doing anything themselves from those you are "trying to protect."

Basically, you're speaking for other people who gave you no authority to speak for them.

Oh man, if only this had happened a day sooner. Then it'd be perfect, telling a vet who's on disability for mental health issues that he can't talk about mental health issues on Veterans Day.

Or maybe it is perfect, since the day after we just forget again.

See, here's the thing. I have no way of knowing this about you.

The reason I formatted that particular post in the way I did was to mimic your writing style, to attempt to show you that the way you frame your argument is putting the words in other people's mouths.
Your writing style makes it seem like you know what's going on in other's heads, or what the actual point of their argument is, when clearly that is not the case.

As to your actual statement; ok, so you're a disabled vet with mental health issues.
I considered joining the military, but seeing how my mental health disorder isn't conducive to a high stress environment, I never would have passed entry exams.
You're capable of talking about mental health issues and qualified to speak on your behalf.
But you aren't qualified to speak for everyone.

Look above, at all the posts.
There are at least three other people who openly stated that they have mental health disorders (you have not until your last post) who all have different opinions than you.

Are you saying that only your opinion matters?
Because I'm saying I like having the options for this rules set, and if you don't, then don't use them.

zombieneighbors wrote:

And if either Tom or James cannot advocate for themselves, say because of social angsyity and are unwilling to give up something they otherwise enjoy?

But lets cut the friends out of it. What about James and Tom. Are they wrong to ask for that change?

Then their friends need to FIRST ask them, BEFORE addressing it themselves, so they may speak on behalf of Tom and James WITH THEIR APPROVAL.

As to Tom and James, they can ask for their hosts to be more respectful of their conditions in their respective settings, but they cannot ask for total santitization of their forms of media.

Case and point, due to some wonderful life situations, I cannot watch certain movies. They cause me to totally break down, be a total wreck, and go to VERY dark places VERY quickly.
I can ask my friends not to play those movies at parties, but I cannot ask my local movie theature to not play those movies.

You can ask your GM to not use Insanity as a mechanic, but asking the entire gaming populous at large to never use the mechanic is ridiculous.


Ssalarn wrote:

Part of why I play is because the game lets me spend some time in a world where problems are straightforward and have simple, known solutions that I can achieve.

Funny thing, to me anyway, is that many times the in game solution is: murder-hobo.

Just sayin'

Scarab Sages

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I'm just going to step in here and say that I've been suffering from truly hellish mental illness problems for over a decade now - and somehow I actually find threads like these more bothersome than the infidelity of game rules to The Real Thing.

As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure I'd want them to be too accurate. Nothing's less fun than literally losing your mind.


Outland King wrote:

Hearing about a vampire in stories and confronting one face to face are completely different and most likely would mentally scar a townsperson.

that's why I think the insanity rules (which are in no way a reflection of real world illnesses, but are more for entertainment) are still applicable to a PF setting.

How many townspersons end up being PCs? Isn't the very nature of a PC the idea that they are more, better, stronger, faster, more resilient, better intestinal fortitude, better mental fortitude than any townsperson? PCs go out to crush waves of cadaverous undead, and make one-liners whilst they do it. If you want to use the PF insanity rules for townspeople, go for it, but I don't want to play in that game.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Oh, good, the "PC" buzzword.

Player character?


Sarcasm Dragon wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Oh, good, the "PC" buzzword.

Player character?

Potentially Calamitous?


Purplemonkeydishwasher wrote:
Sarcasm Dragon wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Oh, good, the "PC" buzzword.

Player character?
Potentially Calamitous?

Personal Computer?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:
Irontruth wrote:

Oh man, if only this had happened a day sooner. Then it'd be perfect, telling a vet who's on disability for mental health issues that he can't talk about mental health issues on Veterans Day.

Or maybe it is perfect, since the day after we just forget again.

See, here's the thing. I have no way of knowing this about you.

The reason I formatted that particular post in the way I did was to mimic your writing style, to attempt to show you that the way you frame your argument is putting the words in other people's mouths.

But you also had no reason to assume it wasn't the case. Irontruth was talking about something personally important to him. You assumed, without knowing one way or the other, that he must have been talking about something that doesn't personally affect him.


MendedWall12 wrote:
Outland King wrote:

Hearing about a vampire in stories and confronting one face to face are completely different and most likely would mentally scar a townsperson.

that's why I think the insanity rules (which are in no way a reflection of real world illnesses, but are more for entertainment) are still applicable to a PF setting.
How many townspersons end up being PCs? Isn't the very nature of a PC the idea that they are more, better, stronger, faster, more resilient, better intestinal fortitude, better mental fortitude than any townsperson? PCs go out to crush waves of cadaverous undead, and make one-liners whilst they do it. If you want to use the PF insanity rules for townspeople, go for it, but I don't want to play in that game.

In some games, sure.

In others they're closer to normal people who happen to have some training and get caught up in events and then get the superpowers.

That said, I wouldn't want PCs going crazy from just fighting normal monsters in a standard game. In a more horror themed one, it might be more appropriate.

IIRC, the actual PF insanity rules aren't based on meeting vampires, but on one of your mental stats reaching 0, which generally requires brain scrambling magic.


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Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:

Look above, at all the posts.

There are at least three other people who openly stated that they have mental health disorders (you have not until your last post) who all have different opinions than you.

Are you saying that only your opinion matters?
Because I'm saying I like having the options for this rules set, and if you don't, then don't use them.

This far from what I'm saying. In fact, it's the complete opposite.

It's my opinion that if someone feels they are being marginalized by pervasive attitudes in a culture, or certain practices, when they speak up and voice their opinion, they should be allowed to speak.

It's Auxmaulous opinion that they should stay silent, so as to not discomfort those who are unaffected but the issue.

Do I think the game HAS to change? Not necessarily.

On the other hand discussing the topic, pros and cons, possible alternatives might reveal BETTER mechanics that would improve the game for everyone, while at the same time reducing the number of people who feel like their real life conditions are being judged negatively by a hobby they enjoy and it brings them pain.

I'm willing to be a reasonable person and discuss this. Do you think you can do it without being insulting?

Also, if you don't know who I am, why are you making assumptions about me? It's insulting.

Dark Archive

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Irontruth wrote:
Also, if you don't know who I am, why are you making assumptions about me? It's insulting.

You should take your own advice. You are making assumptions about me and who I am or what challenges I face in relation to this issue. Don't do it.

Just because I hold the opinion that it's a non-issue in RPGs that doesn't mean that I am not close to the issue or that it doesn't play a role in my daily life.


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And because it's not an issue for you, therefore no one else is allowed to have it be an issue?

Think about it like this, if you value a polite and considerate society where people respect each other, don't tell people they aren't allowed to talk about things that concern them. Yes, sometimes it will be uncomfortable to discuss these things, but those people are already feeling discomfort all the time. The least the rest of us can do is to hear them out.


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thejeff wrote:
Purplemonkeydishwasher wrote:
Sarcasm Dragon wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Oh, good, the "PC" buzzword.

Player character?
Potentially Calamitous?
Personal Computer?

Would that this were the case. I've heard it said that MRA/general anti-social justice rants become that much more honest if you replace the term "political correctness" with "caring about other peoples' feelings". It's political correctness gone mad!

Also, I apologize to the (many) posters who have come to say that they find this thread personally upsetting, or who are even enraged at the existence of such a discussion. I probably could have put a trigger warning on the OP. Then again, "Mental Illness in RPGs" sort of promises that we'll be talking about how mental illness is depicted, so that's kind of a trigger warning in and of itself. I'm not being facetious, though. I genuinely apologize to those who were hurt.

Nobody said we need to turn this game into Depression Quest (though that is an excellent game and a good example of how games can be used to impart powerful positive messages). This thread isn't about how Pathfinder should try to portray mental illness via game statistics, either. I think the "political correctness has gone too far" crowd has done a lot of rebranding of my intentions to make them more easy to bash with buzzwords like "SJW".

Anyways, with all that said:

I understand that more accurate depictions of mental illness can be upsetting to those who struggle with them. In the same vein, I expect a lot of monsters can be upsetting—the succubus and incubus to those who have been victims of sexual assault or who aren't comfortable talking about sex, for instance. But they don't have to feature those monsters if they're uncomfortable.

Pathfinder has chosen, as many RPGs have, to attempt to depict a form of mental illness. And while the "cartoonish" mental illness may be more palatable (or bearable) to some, it can be very damaging to others, as it helps perpetuates urban legends and misconceptions just as well as any other media.

I think my recommendation would be for Paizo to attempt both in Horror Adventures. Include brief explanations of actual illnesses in case GMs want to run serious games (clarifying, for instance, urban legends about Dissociative Identity Disorder). I know a lot of people are saying that brief explanations are impossible—yes, it is obviously impossible to sum up this in a single paragraph, but you can state general truths (such as that it is still a controversial disorder, that it is thought to result from trauma, common symptoms, etc). Go over how these illnesses might come to play in an adventurer's life versus how they would in a more normal livelihood.

Then, for people made uncomfortable by accurately-depicted illnesses, include the "inaccurate" options (while making it clear that they are purely fictional). Perhaps stay as vague as possible—instead of saying "PTSD" or "depression" or "bipolar", say "Feels unwell", impose the Sickened condition, and let the player decide how to run with it (they could even choose to use the information given above to mix the statistical penalties with the roleplaying interpretation). This stays very ambiguous and doesn't rely on fictional interpretations of nonfictional illnesses. I would likely use such a system in my own campaign, in fact. Keep the majority of the power in the players' and GMs' hands. Don't stat out actual mental illnesses—just provide ambiguous catchalls.

Earlier, I mentioned that the succubus and incubus can simply not be used if players are uncomfortable. Indeed, nobody is being forced to include those monsters, just as more accurate rules can simply not be used by those who are uncomfortable with them. This actually gets you the best of both worlds: People who don't understand the illnesses don't keep being spoonfed the same misinformation, and those who do can avoid it should they choose. I'm sure people will try to reverse this and say that those who are uncomfortable with inaccurate portrayals of minorities such as those with mental illness can simply look away and let those who don't notice or don't mind use them. I think the way I phrased that argument pretty clearly demonstrates the problems with it. Misinformation is not a neutral "just ignore it" force. The people who know to ignore it are not in danger of being misled in the first place.

I don't think discussing how tasteful to go with mental illness in an RPG is such a controversial, "PC nut" move. But I know that as forward and progressive as Paizo is, there's a large subcommunity here that still complains that Shardra has no "reason" to be trans, and that Paizo "censors" opinions they don't like. That's why these threads, along with any threads involving social justice, are as controversial as they are.

I know in addition that discussing ableism with regards to mental disorders remains a complicated subject that rarely receives unanimous support either way—even here we have had people with first-hand experience with the subject arguing with each other, which, I think, shows just how uneasy people are talking about it. I would ask that we drop the "political correctness" rhetoric, as it is nonproductive to a healthy dialogue. Otherwise, this conversation is progressing much better than I had expected.


I have to add "mental trauma chart that includes possible gay or transgender results." to things that could D stroy the game or game world.

Dark Archive

Irontruth wrote:
And because it's not an issue for you, therefore no one else is allowed to have it be an issue?

You can have an issue with it, but be prepared to face criticism and questioning for your stance if it's perceived as unwarranted or unnecessary.

I don't have a problem with anyone having ANY kind of issue in an rpg. I DO have a problem when people try the shame game to affect change when you have options:

1)Don't Buy

2)Homebrew (I know, scary)

3)Disregard offensive content

4)Make your own content

5)Post about it on Paizo and demand that they change it - they probably already had the "talk" about the issue.

My biggest problem (check my first two posts on this in the thread) was the complete failure to research the history of the subject as it relates to gaming. Bad Start with falsehoods to frame a crisis.

Terrible, inaccurate and lazy writing and then claiming offense on the matter.

This is a corner case issue for a niche hobby - with an even smaller group within the hobby potentially affected. This is an activists easy target for change to score cheap points - again, I will re-issue my original (and unanswered) challenge from earlier:

Where is the outrage about violence in RPGs?
Where is the call for change to eliminate the violence which both desensitizes and rewards the players in these RPGs?
And what about the victims of violence who play RPGs, what is their recourse?

Because dealing with the above would be the death-knell of most conflict based role-playing games - but we need to revisit how mental illness is depicted in rpgs because some people may be offended.


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Auxmaulous wrote:
This is an activists easy target for change to score cheap points

A childish attempt to brand the blogger as a "fake gamer". Not to mention a total lack of understanding of what gets a blogger "points". Going after obscure targets like tabletop RPGs is not how you get attention in the competitive field of blogging. Contrast this with how much attention bloggers get when they propose fanons on high-profile figures like Samus.

Auxmaulous wrote:
Where is the outrage about violence in RPGs?

There are far fewer misconceptions about violence than there are about mental illness—save for the misconception that mentally ill people are inherently violent, naturally. Please cite specific cases if you wish to draw parallels between use of deceptive interpretations of actual mental disorders and the tendency of this game to feature violence against demons and gibbering mouthers as the sole solution.

For the record, though, this blogger (and her peers) do frequently discuss the problematic uses of violence in games. Anita Sarkeesian's recent review of 'Tomb Raider' is a good example. I agree that it's a conversation worth having. I just don't see how it's connected to the issue of inaccurately portraying an already badly discriminated against minority.

Auxmaulous wrote:
Where is the call for change to eliminate the violence which both desensitizes and rewards the players in these RPGs?

See the above.

Auxmaulous wrote:
And what about the victims of violence who play RPGs, what is their recourse?

Like those who have posted here outraged at the potential presence of accurately-depicted mental illnesses, the recourse of these victims is to play an RPG with a different focus, or play a Pathfinder campaign that depicts violence more realistically as a temporary solution rather than as The solution. The noncombat skills (and spells that invalidate them) exist for a reason, after all. Not to mention campaigns that focus on inhuman threats, such as Lovecraftian monstrosities, that are more easily likened to natural disasters than people.

Auxmaulous wrote:
Because dealing with the above would be the death-knell of most conflict based role-playing games - but we need to revisit how mental illness is depicted in rpgs because some people may be offended.

Aside from the lack of any clear parallel between "Horror Adventures should not promote misconceptions of what mental illnesses are" and "Pathfinder should not be so focused on violence as a solution" (the only connection I can find is that both are potentially valid, if unrelated, conversations), this issue simply isn't so much about how "some people may be offended".

Have I stated that I am offended? I have not. I have stated that these are misconceptions which will mislead others, but the only people who have expressed offense are those arguing that including accurate mental illness in a game is offensive to people who don't want to deal with mental illness in a game.

Your arguments contradict each other: You don't want to support changing a game "just" because people are "offended", but when people oppose changing the game "just" because they are "offended", it's suddenly the only thing that matters.

That people are offended at the prospect of encountering actual mental illness descriptions in a Pathfinder sourcebook is very much worth considering.

So you should probably stop indirectly and hypocritically deriding their concerns.


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Not sure bringing Sarkeesian into it is a good idea, considering she's pretty much the poster child for taking stances she probably doesn't actually believe and has done little to no research on in order to score (as Auxmalous put it) "cheap points" (and that sweet, sweet ad revenue on her entirely crowdfunded project).

She's just a more subtle version of Jack Thompson, which I don't think anyone would point to as an example for when you want a credible source "on your side".

Dark Archive

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Like those who have posted here outraged at the potential presence of accurately-depicted mental illnesses, the recourse of these victims is to play an RPG with a different focus, or play a Pathfinder campaign that depicts violence more realistically as a temporary solution rather than as The solution.

So your advice to people who suffered from RL violence, or just offended by it is to play and RPG with a different focus ...why again wouldn't this apply to people who have or are sensitive to mental illness issues?

Why is the latter group more exclusive or need to be accommodated with a change or revision?

EDIT: This gem needed attention

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
There are far fewer misconceptions about violence than there are about mental illness—save for the misconception that mentally ill people are inherently violent, naturally. Please cite specific cases if you wish to draw parallels between use of deceptive interpretations of actual mental disorders and the tendency of this game to feature violence against demons and gibbering mouthers as the sole solution.

How naive.

Because PCs never kill humanoids or other humans or in turn have violence visited upon them by the same NPCs? Riiight!

What about actual physical effects of violence vs. deceptive gamist application and handling of violence of RPGS? Violence isn't being falsely framed or depicted? Sanitized for mass consumption?


I'm not going to give a full response again, as it is clearly a waste of my time. So here you go:

1. That's not my advice.
2. That's only a fraction of my very thorough response to your concerns.


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Auxmaulous wrote:

but we need to revisit how mental illness is depicted in rpgs because some people may be offended.

Got it, regardless of anything you might be confronted with, no matter what if someone is "offended" they should just shut up and not talk about it.

Your comment is dripping with... what's the word... respect?... no, that's not it, there's no respect there...


Auxmaulous wrote:


EDIT: This gem needed attention

Oh, good, are you actually going to respond to my post instead of looking for more catchy comebacks?

Auxmaulous wrote:

How naive.

Because PCs never kill humanoids or other humans or in turn have violence visited upon them by the same NPCs? Riiight!

What about actual physical effects of violence vs. deceptive gamist application and handling of violence of RPGS? Violence isn't being falsely framed or depicted? Sanitized for mass consumption?

Oh. Okay then.

Yes, humanoids are also targeted. Many monsters have statistics. However, who a GM chooses to have PCs fighting is the choice of the GM and players. There are no mechanics saying that this is where violence is justified, and this is how violence solves all problems. It's more an implication than an outright rule.

Auxmaulous wrote:
What about actual physical effects of violence vs. deceptive gamist application and handling of violence of RPGS? Violence isn't being falsely framed or depicted? Sanitized for mass consumption?

I know it's very hard to respond to my whole post and keep your snappy questions coming, but I actually acknowledged all this already. This attitude of yours doesn't really make me feel like there's any point in acknowledging you in the discussion.

If you aren't willing to read my entire posts, you simply are not going to find substantive answers. That's the trouble with grabbing out-of-context statements: You sort of lose context. Sorry, there's nothing I can do about that.


To boil this down: I am still not unconvinced that your argument here does not amount to, "Why do you complain about wildcats killing gerbils when parrots are being kept in tiny cages?". I have acknowledged that both are potentially valid concerns, and certainly valid discussions at the very least, but I do not understand where the parallel is that requires me to address both issues in the exact same thread.

Dark Archive

You know what, good luck with it.

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