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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default How do you portrait insanity?

    Hi guys, I need some inspirational help here.
    Basically there is this antagonist NPC thatís, mostly unintentionally, turning into a personal nemesis to my players. Now, Iíve given them some monstrous enemies before and Iíve noticed that the more sinister and despicable I make them, the more they want to talk to them. Theyīve just turned out that way, itís important to them to be able to ask ďwhyĒ I think. Either way itís a great group to interact with.

    Now, this guy here is responsible for a lot of misery, both on a personal and a global scale. So I have no doubt in my mind that they will find a way to talk to him.

    The problem is, he is terminally insane.
    Heís an antagonist from a scripted adventure that, somewhat accidentally, survived to be part of the overall campaign. He is a figurehead of a cult that is centered on the core belief that everything and everyone in the universe deserves to be destroyed. That the concept of faith, love and civilization is nothing but empty lies. They use any resource they can get their hand on to cause as much death and suffering as possible. (Itís a very simple, and very easy to use adversary-cult)
    This guy is a bit more complex though. Even though years of torture, demonic influence and nihilism have rendered him absolutely insane (he wholeheartedly believes his true purpose in life is to burn worlds), he still have the intelligence, insightfulness, self-restrain and, more than anything, the charisma to construct and execute complex plans and operations. His greatest gift is his ability to put ideas in peopleís heads, he have been known to convert entire populations and making them believe it was their idea all along.

    The PCs knows this guy well, and he is well aware of them, so if it comes down to a situation with actual conversation he will not try to fool them about who and what he is.
    I want my players to have the moment of realization that they are speaking to someone utterly insane. Someone who might show sign of rationality comprehension but whose mind has been torn to pieces.

    How do I do that?
    Is there gestures, way of speaking, way of reasoning or other implications to use? How do you portrait characters who are mentally ill?
    I despise the ďcrazy = weird and strangeĒ routine that Iíve seen so many times. And the giggling, talking to voices, sudden emotional outbursts etc. is really hard for me to take serious.
    I would love to be able to give my players a ďwe have just lost cabin pressureĒ moment
    Ideas?
    No, no! Iím not accusing you of anything, Iím brainstorming

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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    I would suggest taking a look at insane characters from movies.

    Luna lovegood (Harry Potter) believes in nonsensical things yet often displays brilliant insights that make you pause.

    Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom (Con Air) is undoubtedly insane yet its hard to pinpoint what exactly makes him so other then the fact that everything he believes in is against the norm.

    Garland 'The Marietta Mangler' Greene (Con Air) The simple and calm way in which he talks about horrendous acts, as if merely passing the time is definitely a sign that this character is insane.

    The Joker (Batman) Obviously he has fits of maniacal laughter and giggles but again more then anything else it is a combination of calm explanations that make crazy acts make sense, and brilliant insights that make this character memorable.

    Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs) Again at first glance he appears normal, it is his insights, brilliance and ability to make what he does sound reasonable that makes him so scary.

    The list can go on but it seems as if the common factor would be to make him seem almost normal, let the actions he does speak for themselves, until they ask, Why? then have him calmly and rationally explain his actions in a way that makes them seem reasonable. Actions that the players themselves could see themselves doing.

    Something such as:
    It is the nature of a broken man to seek answers. Likewise as anomie ensues, civilization disintegrates, and society fragments the spreading discontent and angst seeks a resolution. From the prophet to the savior neither stays in business long during times of wellness. Much like vultures they prosper during periods of decay.

    Subversion may be inevitable but what you convert to is not. We're all victims of this pernicious corrosion. Your reality is based on monstrous lies and disingenuous parables. Laws are capricious and their enforcement more so. Such pseudo-justice is merely a convenient performance intended to dupe mankind into believing that law and order protect them. Realize more than anything else that power, and its corollary of abuse, make this diseased world go 'round.

    All you have to do is critically examine the rules and resist control, especially mind control; don't let the Gods or Laws tell you what to do. Discredit through reason, rhetoric and evidence. What makes this wrong and that right? Why is this issue taboo and why is it wrong to ask that question? Question the fear and challenge the righteousness. Force them to substantiate opinion with fact and if they can't, analyze the implications.
    Last edited by Living_Dead_Guy; 2014-02-16 at 07:21 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Insane is a pretty wide blanket term, so what kind of insane do you have in mind?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spacebatsy View Post
    This guy is a bit more complex though. Even though years of torture, demonic influence and nihilism have rendered him absolutely insane (he wholeheartedly believes his true purpose in life is to burn worlds), he still have the intelligence, insightfulness, self-restrain and, more than anything, the charisma to construct and execute complex plans and operations. His greatest gift is his ability to put ideas in peopleís heads, he have been known to convert entire populations and making them believe it was their idea all along.
    You describe him as still being insightful and restrained, so perhaps his "insanity" is nothing more than a fatalistic kind of malevolence? Since his mental faculties don't seem to have suffered any significant damage, perhaps it'd be best to translate his fatalism to a kind of pessimism or even depression. You'll end up with a villain who thinks there's no hope, that everything will go wrong sooner or later and it's best to just end humanity quickly and painlessly before they end up ending themselves through horrible suffering.

    This villain would not be "insane", just very fixed in his beliefs that humanity needs to end. The fact that his beliefs are somewhat rational make him, IMHO, even more intimidating. This isn't some guy who just wants to see the world burn, but has thought out exactly why the world should burn.

    I hope this helps you out a bit.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Living_Dead_Guy View Post
    ~~snip~~
    This. Definitely this.

    If the character has enough self-control, insight, and charisma to act as you claim, then the more "normal" you can have him act, the better.

    Have his demeanor, emotional expression, etc, parallel that of the PCs while his actions go against everything they stand for. What makes The Joker, Hannibal Lecter, Charles Manson, and others so scary is the fact that they clearly see the world through a different filter- a filter that many would consider only an insane individual could possibly have- but they seem normal on the outside. You might not agree with them, you might not stand for what they do, but they have a logic and reason (twisted though it may be) and they can blend in with society.

    The players expect this villain to be raving mad when their characters finally confront him; instead, what if they encounter a calm, collected, sympathetic idealist? The cult leader really feels for the PCs; he's disappointed that it has come to this, sad that the PCs can't see the truth that he so vehemently believes. He will destroy them to set them free from this prison that is life/existence. They might not understand right now, but they would thank him if only they would understand...
    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Why would elves be better at detecting things? We all know that cats use their whiskers as part of their senses. Now compare elves and dwarves. Elves cannot grow facial hair. Dwarves have luxurious beards. Of course dwarves should be better at detecting stuff.

  5. - Top - End - #5
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Living_Dead_Guy View Post
    It is the nature of a broken man to seek answers. Likewise as anomie ensues, civilization disintegrates, and society fragments the spreading discontent and angst seeks a resolution. From the prophet to the savior neither stays in business long during times of wellness. Much like vultures they prosper during periods of decay.

    Subversion may be inevitable but what you convert to is not. We're all victims of this pernicious corrosion. Your reality is based on monstrous lies and disingenuous parables. Laws are capricious and their enforcement more so. Such pseudo-justice is merely a convenient performance intended to dupe mankind into believing that law and order protect them. Realize more than anything else that power, and its corollary of abuse, make this diseased world go 'round.

    All you have to do is critically examine the rules and resist control, especially mind control; don't let the Gods or Laws tell you what to do. Discredit through reason, rhetoric and evidence. What makes this wrong and that right? Why is this issue taboo and why is it wrong to ask that question? Question the fear and challenge the righteousness. Force them to substantiate opinion with fact and if they can't, analyze the implications.
    awesome ^^

    When I went through my movie-library for inspiration Hannibal Lector and the Joker were the ones that popped out for me as well. Although Iím trying desperately to avoid Batman quotes, since they fit so well. The PCs have looked for information about this cult on many occasions, and I always have to make an effort not to say "some men just want to watch the world burn".

    Have not seen Con Air though :/ will take a look

    Why Iím not quite satisfied with Hannibal is partly because I love him too much, and everyone knows I love him too much, I need to kill my darlings.
    Secondly is that, though Hannibal in my book certainly is mentally ill, he acts perfectly. Hannibal creates an image of himself. In Red Dragon he acts sane, and does a great job with it. In the silence of the lambs he alternates between playing up his craziness:
    ďA census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chiantiĒ
    and being the sophisticated psychologist. This is a show for Clarice, to get inside her head and itís completely under his control. But we rarely get to see behind his mask. What he is like when heís not controlling every aspect of his image. Hopkins give us hints a few times. The look in his eyes when the flutist plays false in Red Dragon or when he attacks the guards in Silence of the Lambs.
    The NPC playing a part will probably not be a problem, I have some ideas for that already, and I will certainly steal a few parts of your example
    But I also wants them to have the possibility of peeking behind the mask.

    To cross over to Kaesoís reply: I, rather use ďmentally illĒ than crazy, since I agree that insane is a rather wide term. He is impaired, something in his mind is no longer working in a way that most peoples do. Off the bat I would say one of them not being abel to empathize, or even worse that he is but still wants to inflict suffering. He canít comprehend the PCs characters as much as they canít comprehend him.
    I donít think the fact that heís somehow damage necessary means that his mental faculties must have suffered. Take for example Patrick Batemans in American Psycho, since we get to hear his thoughts we understand how strangely he views the world and how hard it is for him to handle things that most of us never think of. But to everyone else he comes off as completely normal, even charming and intelligent.

    As for the cults goals itís more a case of inflicting pain than releasing humanity from it ^^
    Their modus operandi is usually to find the part of the population that is already suffering, converting them into wanting to take revenge for their misery and then giving them guns and saying: do what comes naturally. Maybe summoning a few demons as well, just to spice things up a bit.
    He most certainly is a fanatic, but fanatics comes in all sizes and shapes.

    Another question, do the rest of you have a lot of insanity in your games? How does the players react?
    No, no! Iím not accusing you of anything, Iím brainstorming

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    A few more nihilistic quotes for your inspiration:


    Kefka (Final Fantasy 6, just before final boss battle)
    • Why do you build, knowing destruction is inevitable? Why do you yearn to live, knowing all things must die?
    • Bleh! You people make me sick! You sound like lines from a self-help book! If that's how it's going to be... I'll snuff them all out! Every last one of your sickening, happy little reasons for living!
    • Life...Dreams...Hope...Where do they come from? And where do they go? None of that junk is enough to fulfill your hearts! Destruction...Destruction is what makes life worth living! Destroy! Destroy! Destroy! Let's destroy everything!



    Agent Smith (Matrix Revolutions)
    • <speaking about the human body> Nothing this weak is meant to survive.
    • Can you feel it <Mr. Anderson>? Closing in on you? Oh I can, I really should thank you after all. It was, after all, it was your life that taught me the purpose of all life. The purpose of life is to end.
    • Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Yes? No? Could it be for love? Illusions, <Mr. Anderson>. Vagaries of perception. The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    I always find understated insanity much more satisfying than overstated. At least until the time comes... Wait, let me get to that part later.

    I play my insanity as simply a form of distorted perspective. The character who believes this is all a dream, and therefore none of it matters. The character convinced that when he isn't looking at things, the shadows turn into demons that make rude gestures at him. The character who knows for a fact that everyone wants to kill him, and simply plans around that. These are beliefs, extreme and unrealistic, which influence his actions but not always in obvious ways. The character you're describing - who believes that the world is corrupt and must be destroyed, and that this is his job - is already there.

    The next step is acting on those beliefs. And here's the easy part. An insane character with goals stemming from his distorted beliefs can act exactly like a sane character in executing those goals. Not every lunatic needs to be the Joker. (Frankly, few can. Thank you, Mark Hamill.) When a sane person has a goal, he puts into effect those actions needed to attain it. If I need groceries, I make a list, get in the car, hit the ATM, go to the store, grab my bread, and come home. If I need a job, I go over the want-ads, make some phone calls, print off and mail my resume, wait despairingly by the phone, then buy a new suit.

    If my lunatic wants to annihilate all life, he does some research, establishes a cult, performs a few rituals, gains access to the Power O'Doom, and ends things. It's the same process with the same attitude. And it's that calm and dispassionate attitude about horrific things that makes a Hannibal Lecter so terrifying. It's easy to play off a lunatic as a foaming-at-the-mouth zealot. But having him perform the acts that will ruin the world as easily as he would go to the market for bread just adds a delicious layer of disturbing onto him - particularly when the players realize that he doesn't see a difference between the two.

    But wait, I hear you say, you mentioned something at the top of the post about "until the time comes...?" You are correct. Because there is one satisfying way that the understated lunatic can ham it up - the destruction of his personal reality.

    Think about Neo when he realized that he had been living his life inside of a computer simulation. There are three ways you can go when confronted with evidence that everything you believe to be true is a lie - you can embrace the truth, embrace the lie, or have a psychotic break. Now imagine this lunatic, who believes that it is self-evident that the world is horrible and has to be wiped clean, who cannot understand why these people keep trying to stop him. I mean, they're not idiots; he could even respect their skills and intelligence. So why don't they get it? Why do they keep getting in the way? Why do they insist on protecting these worthless creatures? What possible reason could anyone have for wanting to stop this?!

    And so on. You save all of the ham, all of the cheese, for one massive breakdown right before your BBEG goes supernova. You'd be amazed how satisfying it can be.
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Try ... no, consider incorporating some elements of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory.

    The Sheldon character is functional, tries hard to be normal, holds down a job and maintains relationships that are like friendships.

    Except that they aren't.

    If you look closely at the interactions, what makes the character funny is that he's an (almost) absolute sociopath and narcissist, suffering from pervasive developmental disorder, yet accepted and even liked by (comparatively) pleasant neurotypicals who put up with his utterly obnoxious quirks. It is incredibly rare for him to act altruistically, and when he does so, it can be easily read as motivated by narcissistic self-image more than by empathy. What makes the show funny - on a deep level - is that Sheldon is to a great extent the axle and facilitator of all the other relationships.

    Where was I going? Oh yeah. Take Sheldon Cooper and his efforts to adhere to social convention. Then imbue him with a philosophy that celebrates and actively seeks universal destruction. You won't find a good real world basis for that ...

    I believe you'll end up with a truly, truly creepy NPC.
    Last edited by Eulalios; 2014-02-16 at 10:53 AM.

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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    ~snip~
    Now this here is all gold


    My GM-mantra has always been "less is more", but sometimes I worry my "less" might be a bit too little. Very good reading, thank you :)


    Quote Originally Posted by Eulalios View Post
    Take Sheldon Cooper and his efforts to adhere to social convention. Then imbue him with a philosophy that celebrates and actively seeks universal destruction.
    I can't see how this can go wrong
    Last edited by Spacebatsy; 2014-02-17 at 01:26 PM.
    No, no! Iím not accusing you of anything, Iím brainstorming

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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Maybe something like General Jack Ripper from Dr. Strangelove? He acts perfectly calm and collected, no emotional outbursts (unlike the sane general in the film), but from what he's talking about it's obvious he's completely out of it.

    Like Red Fel's idea, he just knows that the Russians are fluoridating the water supply, and the only way to deal with it is to get the bombers under his command to nuke Russia.
    Last edited by Mekboy; 2014-02-16 at 01:52 PM.
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Pain...

    Pain is strength; suffering is power. Through pain and fear of pain we become greater. Only through loss do we become more.

    I will take from you everything. I will strip away the lies of spirit and flesh you use to hide yourself from the universe. I will open you eyes to the world that is before I take them. Only this way will you have the strength to stand naked, nameless and alone in the endless abyss.

    I do not ask for your forgiveness nor permission. You do not need to thank me. I do not do this for recognition or reward. I do what I must because it is right.
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    How very Machiavellian, professor Doom.
    Clever, effective, and anyone who agrees with it is a grade A global supervillain.

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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Please avoid the super kill everything insight style of "insane" its Freaking boring....
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    Quote Originally Posted by jedipotter View Post
    Logic just does not fit in with the real world. And only the guilty throw fallacy's around.
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brookshw View Post
    Please avoid the super kill everything insight style of "insane" its Freaking boring....
    Always do ^^
    In this case the problem is that the "kill everything" got there first.
    Instead of going crazy and destroy everything, the destroy-everything-club recruited and madness followed


    This really is not my favorite cult, not even top ten. But then again, I have no control over whom the PC's end up accidentally resurrect
    No, no! Iím not accusing you of anything, Iím brainstorming

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  14. - Top - End - #14
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    Griffon

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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Crazy for me is just devoid of logic or applying his own logic rather than common sense.

    A sane man would try to find the mother of an orphan because it cannot be without parents. An insane person would kill the child because it cannot be without parents.Same situation, different "solution".

    I highly dislike the notion that insanity is an asylum full of completely mental people. Insanity ranges from kicking your own dog because you had a bad day at work to major genocide (Nazi Germany, Armenia).

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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    Crazy for me is just devoid of logic or applying his own logic rather than common sense.

    A sane man would try to find the mother of an orphan because it cannot be without parents. An insane person would kill the child because it cannot be without parents.Same situation, different "solution".

    I highly dislike the notion that insanity is an asylum full of completely mental people. Insanity ranges from kicking your own dog because you had a bad day at work to major genocide (Nazi Germany, Armenia).
    This. As I explained above, the core of insanity is in your perspective, not in your actions. The one influences the other.

    There is a commonly joked-about "test" for psychopathy as follows.

    Spoiler: The Test
    Show
    A woman was attending her mother's funeral. Grief-stricken and distraught, she was standing by the graveside when she saw a man she had never seen before. He was stunning, and she found herself instantly in love. However, she realized that a funeral was an inappropriate place to address these feelings. Frustrated, she could not bring herself to speak with him, and never learned his name.

    Three weeks later she murdered her sister. Why?

    Answer it for yourself, then read below.

    Spoiler: The Answer
    Show
    She didn't know him, but since he was attending her mother's funeral, he clearly knew her mother. It stood to reason that he knew her sister. By killing her sister, she would trigger another funeral, and he would attend. Then she would get to see him again.

    It's argued that people who give the "right" answer listed above think like a psychopath, and therefore are likely insane themselves. This is not a substitute for a genuine psychiatric evaluation and should not be considered one. Always speak with a professional.

    As illustrated above, the insanity wasn't the fact that she killed her sister - that's just a symptom, a side effect. The insanity was the perspective, the twisted perspective that said that it was okay to do this, because her reasoning justified her actions. That's where the insanity comes in.

    Basically, to craft a truly impressive, compelling, and terrifying madman, all you have to do is this:

    1. Take a "normal" perspective on reality. Change a vital detail.
    2. Have the character embrace this shift as the textbook definition of normality, the same way anyone else would.
    3. Adjust his behaviors accordingly.

    For example, if you suddenly knew that gravity did not work, you would go through your day normally, but constantly be in touch with and gripping a secured surface, so that you didn't fly away.

    That's it. Everything else stems from these otherwise perfectly ordinary people believing perfectly outrageous things and governing themselves accordingly. Or, as Spore put it, being "devoid of logic or applying his own logic[.]" The madman performs actions based on his own reasoning, rather than the reasoning of the rest of the population.
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Should I be worries since I knew the answer right away? XD
    Nah, Iím just good at riddles

    I instantly remember two of "Cry Reads" on youtube. He reads short horror stories and both "Obsessive Compulsive" and "Symmetry" addresses the shift in perspective that you Sporeegg and Red Fel brings up.
    Don't read the spoilers, listen to them instead, there only, like five minutes long ^^

    Spoiler
    Show
    In symmetry there is a guy who is obsessed with, well symmetry, everything in his life if made symmetrical although there is one thing he can't change: he has mismatched eyes. So after long and hard debating with himself he gets a pair of scissors and... Well you get the picture. Although just after the final sensation of relief of finally being rid of the imperfection he realizes his mistake: now he's more unsymmetrical than ever. There is only one solution to that.
    This is horrible. But For him it was even more horrible to stand his imperfections, and his actions brought him true joy.

    Obsessive compulsive is similar but... I realize I need to be someplace in three minutes so I'll settle with the previous one


    Need to run, because I have someplace to be, but my point being, yes I agrees completely with you on the subject that "crazy actions" does not seem crazy to the one doing it. It was sort of what I was aiming at with the "being just as unable to comprehend others"
    Thatís not what I wrote, but God Iím late. Misinterpret me correctly ^^
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    How do you portrait Insanity? Well, first decide whether you'd prefer it be a painting, photograph, or sculpture, then get the proper size of canvas, picture frame, or chunk of marble/other sculpture material. If you've worked with these art forms before, you can go on to the next step, but if not, I'll quickly go over the supplies you will need to bring your portrait to life...



    Ha. Yeah, sorry, I'm not actually funny.

    To answer the question, I will agree to what's been said about them being completely rational and even persuasive until the final meltdown, but with a small addendum: being a strict but sensible yet insane overlord is creepy and detestable, and makes a great villain; but being what appears to be a wonderful human being only to use each and every point of happiness you've caused for the ultimate rug-pull makes a freaky, off-putting, and heart-wrenching villain. The more hopes you can build up and eventually shatter, the better.

    A ruthless, insane, but logical villain explains in great detail to the players how the world is better off ruled by the dark god, caters to the characters' pasts to screw with their heads and then kills them the second they drop their guard. He laughs, he cries, he breaks down when he gets thwarted, and he will do every evil thing without a shred of compassion or shame.

    The sweetheart villains is encouraging and forgiving to his subordinates, puts himself in the path of danger to protect them, donates to charities, pursues good goals, and is gentle and merciful to the players. He's hard to hate even when he performs acts of evil, and feigns great remorse for any pain he causes. And then, just when the PCs wonder if he's actually a bad person despite his Evil tag, he holds an assembly with his subordinates and the PCs and performs a Guts-esque devil/demon torture and sacrifice of everyone there, crippling the people who love him most and come to him for help so they can't run, violating and murdering the ones the PCs love in front of them and delaying their deaths so that they're forced to watch, and does it all with the gentle and loving smile he's always had.
    Last edited by ChaoticDitz; 2014-02-17 at 06:27 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    This. The Tier system should be descriptive, not predictive. The Tier system should make people aware of the abilities and limitations of a class, relative to other classes. In a vacuum, it should not be used to tell people what they should and should not play.

    That's what these forums are for.

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    HalflingWizardGirl

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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    okay so he's a burn the world genius whose whole goal is the end of everything. . . i've had a few gods like that in games.

    2 big options though there are dozens available to you.

    The methodical speech while doing something destructive and utterly pointless.
    write an amazing speech that sounds intelligent and malevolent and can fill a room with a sens of awe and terror (or steal on from literature and modify to fit)
    the entire time the bad guy is giving the speech have him dissembling a beautifully bound copy of the "bible" of one of your worlds good religions. ensure that he take carefull pains to removed the cover without damaging the pages and unwind the binding cleanly etc.
    at the end of the speech, have him toss all of it into a fire and watch it burn with a terrible satisfaction.

    or

    Have him give say nothing at all, have him pass on all his oportunities for monologe, have him seem so utterly perfectly normal quiet sane, then have the pinicle moment where the cultists are the ones who reveal hi insanity because he's infected all of them with it. only they are not so brilliant as him to hide it the way he does, they preech his words for him as they die at the parties hands, they revel in the absoluteness of his truth. watch the first season of the following and you'll get what i mean.
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Honestly? I don't. I would never play a genuinely mentally ill character, nor would I portray one as a GM. It's because I simply don't think I would be able to do it believably, and I do not like playing shallow caricatures. If I had to play or portray one for whatever reason, I would first decide what sort of mental illness I'm supposed to describe, and do some research.
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChaoticDitz View Post

    The sweetheart villains is encouraging and forgiving to his subordinates, puts himself in the path of danger to protect them, donates to charities, pursues good goals, and is gentle and merciful to the players. He's hard to hate even when he performs acts of evil, and feigns great remorse for any pain he causes. And then, just when the PCs wonder if he's actually a bad person despite his Evil tag, he holds an assembly with his subordinates and the PCs and performs a Guts-esque devil/demon torture and sacrifice of everyone there, crippling the people who love him most and come to him for help so they can't run, violating and murdering the ones the PCs love in front of them and delaying their deaths so that they're forced to watch, and does it all with the gentle and loving smile he's always had.
    My group thinks I'm an evil DM because of things like this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowsGrnEyes View Post
    okay so he's a burn the world genius whose whole goal is the end of everything. . . i've had a few gods like that in games.
    I know, some time in the future I would like to run a close-to-earth game with a few gangsters or something as the worst thing to worry about. But we're running Dark Hersey on Ascension level. Of all the mentioned villains in the books, this one is probably one of the gentlest. He's not even the worst in his cult.
    The thumb rules nowadays: if it's not a threat to at least one planets population, it's not of the PCs concern. That said, I try to keep the "life-of-billions-in-the-balance-encounters to a minimum.

    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowsGrnEyes View Post
    The methodical speech while doing something destructive and utterly pointless.
    write an amazing speech that sounds intelligent and malevolent and can fill a room with a sens of awe and terror (or steal on from literature and modify to fit)
    the entire time the bad guy is giving the speech have him dissembling a beautifully bound copy of the "bible" of one of your worlds good religions. ensure that he take carefull pains to removed the cover without damaging the pages and unwind the binding cleanly etc.
    at the end of the speech, have him toss all of it into a fire and watch it burn with a terrible satisfaction.

    or

    Have him give say nothing at all, have him pass on all his oportunities for monologe, have him seem so utterly perfectly normal quiet sane, then have the pinicle moment where the cultists are the ones who reveal hi insanity because he's infected all of them with it. only they are not so brilliant as him to hide it the way he does, they preech his words for him as they die at the parties hands, they revel in the absoluteness of his truth. watch the first season of the following and you'll get what i mean.
    Yeah, I'm not a fan of monologue. My villains usually shoots James Bond
    Rather, if they manage to create a situation where they can talk to the bad guy face to face I want to be prepared. I will not help them accomplish this, nor will I oppose them more than whatís realistic, but if they manage I want them to have a rewarding experience.
    This is a game where people, and PC's in particular, go insane. There is actually stats for how your mental health is declining. I will pass on some of the advice given here to my players, since some of them are raking up quite a few points and might want to incorporate it into their characters.
    My secondary objective with this possible encounter is to show their characters how far down that slippery slope someone can glide. And the fact that it doesnít immediately show should hopefully sound a few warning-bells.


    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    Honestly? I don't. I would never play a genuinely mentally ill character, nor would I portray one as a GM. It's because I simply don't think I would be able to do it believably, and I do not like playing shallow caricatures. If I had to play or portray one for whatever reason, I would first decide what sort of mental illness I'm supposed to describe, and do some research.
    I think that sums up why I wanted to start this thread. I've avoided them as well, or skidded over them if not possible. I can probably not portray mental illness correctly, but in a game where it's a constant factor at least a want to try and make it believable. Therefore I'm looking for the tip of the ice-berg, some small sign of a different perspective to hint of a much bigger problem.
    A lot of the advices given here will go a long way
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spacebatsy View Post
    I think that sums up why I wanted to start this thread. I've avoided them as well, or skidded over them if not possible. I can probably not portray mental illness correctly, but in a game where it's a constant factor at least a want to try and make it believable. Therefore I'm looking for the tip of the ice-berg, some small sign of a different perspective to hint of a much bigger problem.
    A lot of the advices given here will go a long way
    Going off of your description, he should really at least have PTSD. Let's assume he has something more severe than that though, as not many sufferers have omnicidal urges.

    It sounds like he might be psychotic. Psychosis is an abnormal state of mind common to a number of disorders and is characterized by one or more of catatonia, hallucination, delusion, and thought disorder. Catatonia is an inability to interact with the world in any way, so it's kind of boring. Hallucination is perceiving things that aren't there; hearing things (not necessarily voices) is the most common, though voices telling you to harm others are fairly rare and kind of clichťd. Delusions are false beliefs held regardless of implausibility or refutation. Thought disorder is disorganized speech revealing disorganized thought.

    Thought disorder is probably the easiest to portray and has the greatest range of blatancy to it. Check out that Wikipedia page to get some ideas; it's quite varied in presentation.
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    Default Re: How do you portrait insanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Thought disorder is probably the easiest to portray and has the greatest range of blatancy to it. Check out that Wikipedia page to get some ideas; it's quite varied in presentation.
    As a matter of fact, if you want to make a more sympathetic or "pleasant" BBEG, thought disorder is surprisingly effective. Many of the milder symptoms of thought disorder come across as a form of harmless eccentricity, and can easily endear an NPC to the PCs.

    Imagine, if you would, the befuddled, muttering professor in a lab coat, wandering around his lab, mumbling random phrases. "Mairzy doats and doazy doats..." Even those familiar with thought disorder may simply assume this to be formal instead of content-based, and an adorable quirk of the character. It's only later on, when they start listening to the mumbling in greater detail, and start hearing things like, "Then we remove the left lung, followed by the right, ashes, ashes, we all fall down," when they realize the guy is completely, dangerously, delusionally mental.

    That said, I agree with Jeff, PTSD is the more likely result of the trauma this character has experienced, but PTSD doesn't play the way your character does.

    Consider instead a latent form of dissociative identity disorder triggered by the trauma and a desire to protect the primary identity from that pain. This could add a compelling angle when the players realize that the BBEG they're fighting isn't the person, but simply a manifestation of his darker, angrier side, created to protect him from the trauma of his experience. (Note that this interpretation of DID is subject to a fair amount of controversy, but is nonetheless fairly common in popular culture interpretations.)
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