View Full Version : Paranoid Characters...

2007-01-10, 01:28 AM
How do you roleplay a paranoid character? Without getting into too much mechnical detail, how would a paranoid character deal with problems, other PCs, Encounters, fighting style, and what not?

Red Sky Knight
2007-01-10, 01:47 AM
The accutely paranoid character is often distracted and unaware of his sorroundings, will often be unable to handle stressful situations and tends to be socially withdrawn. Living in one's head often leads to very surprising and unpredictable conclusions that will leave others asking "wtf?!?"

I, personally have a sneaking suspicions that YOU are trying to make ME paranoid!!! :smallconfused:

2007-01-10, 01:52 AM
I generally imagine every possible threat, try to prepare for them all, worry about them, spread the word of them to those I like, and assume the worst of people I meet.

2007-01-10, 02:03 AM
First, please define "paranoid" for this thread.

Do you mean "suspicious" ?

Do you mean "untrusting" ?

Do you mean "clever enough not to trust just anybody" ?

Or do you mean "paranoid schizophrenia," which includes hallucinations and delusions?

The first three are easy, so I'll assume the fourth. It usually requires work from the GM, but can be fun to play (one of my group's CoC characters is a paranoid schizophrenic).

Read up on the condition, first (F20.0 in ICD-10, 295.3 in ICD-9). At least a Wikipedia article and some of the webpages referenced. Preferrably borrow a psychology textbook from your local library.

All schizophrenia generally makes normal living very difficult. A paranoid schizophrenic doesn't have the disrupted/disturbed thought processes of some other schizophrenics, but the hallucinations and delusions can be very, very insidious. The paranoia tends to be unfocused and undirected (as the saying goes, "You're not paranoid if they really are out to get you"); several illustrative examples come to mind:

1. A person who felt that every single thing that went wrong during the day - reading a timetable incorrectly and going to the wrong room at the wrong time - was "they" (an indistinct entity; possibly related to the management, but not exactly them) trying to make her crazy and "teasing" her (she always used that word), all as part of some nebulous, expansive plan. "They" were also manipulating the city administration in ways that caused her trouble. The feelings of persecution and general suspicions were all strikingly unreasonable, illogical, and disproportionate, and the reactions were very dramatic - leaving work in a huff and so on.

2. A middle-aged person who was convinced "they" were harrying him. Particular examples of delusions/hallucinations included the firm belief that "they" had changed the bottom of his car (go figure), and entered the house and moved all his furniture around (returning them to the exact same spots, however).

3. An older person who was likewise convinced that "they" were out to get him. Some very vivid hallucinations and delusions included believing "they" entered his room at night and attached jumper cables to his big toes, running current through him (to no ill effect, it seems?), and that "they" were sending transmissions or some malevolent energy through his telephone (he unplugged the telephone and got rid of it, but apparently "they" kept transmitting these messages or energy through the outlet plug the telephone had been attached to).

A cursory reading into the condition should make it abundantly clear that normal, D&D-style adventuring is pretty much impossible for this kind of a character. Schizophrenia is almost by definition so severe that it makes living a normal life quite hard (unless treated with medication, anyway). The character wouldn't be preparing for real threats and encounters, but would rather be trying to counter the malicious machinations for some imaginary, unreal and unrealistic enemy.

For in-game effects:
- Randomly accusing "them" of strange, undetectable, and ultimately inconsequential actions made with foul intent would be the obvious one.
- Blaming every misfortune and failure on "them," and somehow seeing it as a part of their plan.

Of course, in D&D, it's easy to cure paranoid schizophrenia - a bunch of spells (heal for one) will cure "maladies of the mind."

NB: This is all generalization for the purpose of utility and brevity. A sample of three examples is very narrow; like I said, to really include realistic paranoid schizophrenia in the game, read up on it.

I, personally have a sneaking suspicions that YOU are trying to make ME paranoid!!! :smallconfused:

Good catch. A paranoid schizophrenic character could see attempts to address the condition as part of "their" plan to make him or her crazy. To quote Locke on Lost: "Crazy people don't think they're going crazy, they think they're getting saner."

2007-01-10, 05:14 AM
Depends on the style of paranoia. For a friend's film project, I just played a raving alien conspiracy theorist, and we ended the movie with me screaming about the Canadians being behind it all and "It's a cookbook! A cookbook!"

Good times.

Anyhow, if you want to reflect someone who's paranoid regarding a certain group or race, take feats and abiltiies pertaining to dealing with that group.

For general stuff, throwing crackpot theories out ("The plane of air is slowly slipping away!") to come off more cracked.

For a more serious paranoia, just investigate everything around you and ask a lot of questions. Have a reason for it, and reinforce it as you go.

Oh, and take some ranks in Craft(Apocalypse-Proclaiming Sandwich Board) and Perform(Insane Rant)

2007-01-10, 09:41 AM
Sorry, can't resist...

"Vad-R-NIA, being able to transform into a furry four-legged quadraped is obviously a supernatural ability in flagrant non-compliance with the standard human template, so you are obviously a dangerous inhuman mutant that threatens the safety and well-being of all citizens in this Pre-Industrial Complex. Also, I have here incontrovertable evidence that you have been communicating in a secret language and engaging in rituals with what is obviously a secret society, which as you are no doubt aware is explicitly forbidden by decree of the Great Abacus Machine. If you will please sign this self-termination form, I will be happy to assist your sudden loss of positive energy levels."

2007-01-10, 09:47 AM
I have played paranoid conspiracy theorist characters before, and they spent a lot of time preparing for unrealistic worst case scenarios all the time. they spent so much time worrying about what might happen it made them vulnerable to the simple threats that were right in front of them.

2010-05-21, 05:52 AM
Did you mean character's from Paranoia the RPG :mitd: or just a paranoid characters if the later Paranoia is a great way to run one

2010-05-21, 06:29 AM
Besides that most of the examples given can be explained with simple science and their unknowing how it works and getting worked up and people then misinterpreting it as crazy...

In dnd at least there is real physically manifest evil. Demons and devils are indeed out to get you and slaadmages are trying to mess with the order of particles in your room.

2010-05-21, 06:32 AM
For the sake of the group's enjoyment of the game, a paranoid character is best portrayed as 'I trust nobody except [insert party member].

A paranoid personality might be the one to consistently point out the 'flaw' in any plan - the reason why it might not work. Only play it this way if your DM isn't the sort to use all your evil ideas against you.

For fighting style, a paranoid person will either focus on going FIRST, attacking recklessly in hopes of getting the drop on folks, or will focus on fighting defensively, desperate to avoid harm at all costs.

2010-05-21, 06:41 AM
A friend and I are quite known in our gaming circle for having paranoid behaviours whatever our PC is.

non exhaustiv list :

- Don't trust anyone, PC or NPC. If they're friendly, assume they'll betray you in the future.

- Assume every water/food is poisoned. Everlasting ration/decanter of endless water ftw. Spells if items are unavailable.

- Assume every inch of the floor, every door, every WHATNOT is trapped.

- You'll get attacked every night in your sleep. Every day too.

Character wise, a stealthy spellcaster with lots of skillpoint is an obvious pick, you don't want to be frontline. Better yet, you don't want to be detected by your foes.

Like Strongheart Halfling Beguiler 5/Mindbender 1 (for mindsight feat)/Fatespinner 4/Whatever X. Simple and efficient.

Don't b*tch too much tho, it must remain a pleasant experience for other party members.

2010-05-21, 07:38 AM
Just a warning when playing a paranoid PC... Don't derail the plot.

One of the characters in a VtR game my fiancee runs is paranoid. The player is a very good RP-er and is a friend, but it got to the point he (IC) did not want to follow any plot hook the ST provided because his character was convinced it was a part of a plot to kill us all. My fiancee finally sat down and talked to the player about it, and he toned down the paranoia enough for the game to move on. But it took a few sessions to get to that point, and everyone else was getting frustrated.

2010-05-21, 08:00 AM
Take unnessicary precautionary actions, even if they get in the way of more productive uses of your time. For example, one of my stock characters is extremely paranoid when it comes to undead. As such, he takes the time to personally cremate every single dead body he comes across. So much so that in a one-off campaign he found himself at the aftermath of a battle, and decided to take the time to cremate every dead soldier on the battle field, just on the off chance a necromancer came by and thought that this was a convienient place to start their undead horde.

Roland St. Jude
2010-05-21, 09:30 AM
Did you mean character's from Paranoia the RPG :mitd: or just a paranoid characters if the later Paranoia is a great way to run one

sheriff: Thread necromancy.