Less Than Sane

by Dmitri Scull

Designing races that behave in a completely unpredictable manner isn't too easy with GURPS; the basic rules assume that the character is a rational, thinking being . . . which isn't necessarily the case in a fantasy scenario. Races such as the fae, or creatures born from chaos, will not behave according to what is acceptable in polite society, they may not even be recognizable as intelligent.

Remember that these Disadvantages are disruptive before taking them; the Game Master may wish to limit them to NPC characters, unless the party is ready to deal with an individual who is clearly insane. This may not be a problem in a game based around the Faerie Folk, or that regularly deals with primal chaos, or any good comedy game, but serious games may have a problem with insane player characters.

On the other hand, if treated in a serious fashion, any of these Disadvantages can make for a truly dark and scary villain, especially one with spells or psionics that can induce madness in others . . .


-30 points

The character is wildly unpredictable, and draws unsupported conclusions and acts in a bizarre and uncontrolled manner. The character is clearly insane by most standards. This Disadvantage requires roleplaying. Aside from that, the character must make a Will roll at -4 to behave in an orderly manner or not act on a whim. Most people react to irrational individuals at -4 or worse, fearing them to be dangerous. No character can have the Irrational Disadvantage and the Wild Disadvantage. A character can be both Irrational and Impulsive, but will act on just about any whim, no matter how self-destructive or dangerous.


-10 points

Whimsical characters cannot take anything really seriously. They constantly make jokes, laugh at inopportune times, and are unlikely to react in what most would consider a useful manner. A character with the Whimsy Disadvantage can make a Will roll to remain serious, if the situation warrants. If the character is actually funny, this may give a reaction bonus at times. If the character isn't funny, this is usually worth a -1 penalty. In situations requiring tact and a serious demeanor, this is worth at least a -1 to reactions. Characters with the No Sense of Humor Disadvantage react to characters with Whimsy at -2 (and vice versa).


-15 points

The character tends to act on his or her whims, often behaving in an unpredictable manner. This is a lesser form of the Irrational Disadvantage. A character with this disadvantage who wishes to resist an impulse must make a Will roll. Note that this differs from Impulsive in that the actions of impulsive characters still tend to make sense; a character with this Disadvantage tends to act on any impulse. No character can take this Disadvantage and the Irrational Disadvantage. Characters who are both Impulsive and Wild tend to act on any and all impulses. Most people react to Wild characters at -2.

Article publication date: March 9, 2001

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