HomeBrew Sanity

See Bright Future Stability

Home Brew Sanity MK2

The stresses of the world weigh heavily upon adventurers.

  • Detachment: Distrust, paranoia. Detachment represents how detached from others the character has become. The more detached, the less interested in helping others, the more the character focuses on themselves. Witnessing the slow agonizing death of another is Trauma, but doing nothing is Detachment. It’s stress from seeing the horrible side of humanity (in yourself or others).
  • Stress: Waiting in dangerous locations, failing a skill check in a tense situation, it’s stress from tension, doubt and discomfort.
  • Trauma: True Horrors, seeing your own death approach, serious injury to another living being, being helpless to stop something you can see happening. Things that can’t be unseen, stress from horror, brutality, and mortality.

Sanity Scores and Saves

Sanity scores are calculated using two mental abilities.
Detachment (3 + Charisma mod): Personality fights against detachment. When you encounter or create a situation that could cause Detachment, make a Charisma Save.
Stress (3 + Intelligence mod): Stress can be rationalized, it can be fought with logic and reason. When you encounter a situation that could cause stress, make an Intelligence Save.
Trauma (3 + Wisdom Mod): Trauma can not be rationalized, it must be fought with willpower. When you encounter a situation that could cause trauma, make a Wisdom Save.

Losing Sanity

Sanity loss is dependent on how traumatic the situation was. The first value is on a successful save, the second is on a failed save. Serious situations are so traumatic that even being able to compartmentalize or rationalize the sanity loss, it still has lasting effects.
Slight: 0/1 (Save DC 8)
Average: 0/2 (Save DC 12)
Serious: 0/3 (Save DC 16)
Horrific: 1/3 (Save DC 20)
Detachment Example
Slight: Refusing to help a widow who had all her money stolen.
Average: A decision you made leads to a man being wrongly imprisoned and executed.
Serious: A family has been kidnapped by goblins, you’re the only ones around to help in time and you refuse.
Horrific: A necromancer offers you a magical item if you open the town gate at night so his undead army can slaughter the town.
Stress Example
Slight: Taking night watch alone in a dangerous area.
Average: Taking night watch alone with a dragon known to be in the area.
Serious: Being alone at night, trying to sleep, with a dragon known to be in the area.
Horrific: Trying to sleep the night in a dragons den.
Trauma Example
Slight: Seeing a mutilated corpse or watching someone lose a limb.
Average: Knowing that your death is imminent.
Serious: Witnessing someone you know die.
Horrific: Watching someone you know slowly tortured to death.

Filling Sanity and Break Points

Every time you reach a Sanity’s max value, you reach a Break Point. First time you crack, then you crumble, finally you break.
Crack: Pick one, once used you can’t use that crack again for the other sanity categories of break points.
Fight: Physical payback, anyone you see, they brought you to this moment, lasts 1d10 minutes.
Flight: Run, do anything to get to freedom for 1d10 minutes.
Freeze: Become stunned for 1d10 minutes.
Crumble: Select a Crumble option from the list below:
Dependency: Something you become addicted to, be it an item, behavior, or individual. Going without the dependency sets you to Exhaustion level 1, and makes recovering it impossible without feeding the addiction. Everything is done to further the dependency.
Delusion: Hallucination, persistent and always similar. A need to interact with the delusion arises. Other hallucinations may appear.
Disassociation: Alignment moves a full step towards evil, as your ability to connect with others starts to fade away. Making and keeping friends becomes harder, as you need to rely on them to maintain your humanity.
Break: A permanent break, there’s no going back.
Detachment: Become a full blown Sociopath, the emotions and feelings of others no longer concern you. You could watch your friend die and feel nothing, friend was a strong word anyways. Gain the flaw: “There’s no value in helping others unless you’re properly compensated”. (DM may enforce this character behavior)
Stress: Nervous breakdown, a cascade of past experiences and unresolved mistakes have finally broken you. In any stressful or time constrained situation, you lose proficiency bonus to skill checks.
Trauma: PTSD, the horrors of your past occasionally catch up with you. Somethings remind you of those horrors, and you can’t help but relive those memories. When you witness something that reminds you of previous trauma, you’re stunned for 1d4 turns.

Recovering Sanity.

Sanity can be recovered during down time. A day of downtime and paying for a Lifestyle one higher than you normally take (minimum: Comfortable), you recover a point in a single category. Sanity can also be regained by spending a day of down time with a Bond, roll a Charisma check DC 10, failure results in the Bond Strength dropping by one, as the stress of the situation wears on your relationship, rolling a natural 20 results in the bond strength increasing by one, as the two of you overcome the issue together.

Home Brewed Sanity System (MK1)

Inspiration: Delta Green’s latest release.

We will likely not be using these rules in game.

Notes from Murray:

I always have a bit of a hang up on how to run sanity in games, especially in D&D where you live in a world where “The Unnatural” has to be really far out there to get to hardened adventurers. I want to craft a system that builds on the roleplaying experience without becoming a major stumbling block. Looking back on the last season’s run with Sanity, I felt it was a hard and slippery slope, unlike Cthulhu Mythos games having a character effectively ‘die’ from insanity feels a bit cheap. My hope is to provide a system where you worry about sanity in specific moments, but overall you’re not constantly worried about dropping sanity. You play as adventurers who not only deal with a lot of killing and bloodshed, but also take it, and in the past people have role-played these quite well, so there will always be exceptions for the ‘home rules’.
Recently I’ve listened to a few Podcasts that ran the latest Delta Green rules, and I liked how it felt, so I’ve decided to adapt some of the ideas to the D20 system. The primary focuses of the addition is Stability and Adaptation, two connected but distinct systems. Feel free to look it over, it’s all a work in progress right now, and I’ve always got an open ear to feedback.


How mentally healthy your character is. Think of Stability as mental hit points, when truly traumatic experiences happen you take Stability damage. Losing Stability leads to Short, Long Term, and Indefinite Madness, found in the DMG (page 259-260). Stability can also be used to combat fear effects, consult the Traumatic Events header below for details.

Break Point

Your characters break point determines how much stability they can lose before they break. Once your character hits a break point they get a Long Term Madness (DMG page 260).

Traumatic Events

Some events are so traumatic that they have a lasting impression, anytime you take Stability damage greater than or equal to your Trauma Threshold you gain a Short Term Madness (DMG page 259).

Note: The sanity loss is marked by, Success / Failure, so 0/1D6 implies on a success lose no Stability, on a failure lose 1D6 Stability.

From Suffering Violence

  • Most adventurers have adapted to low level violence
  • Tortured 1/1D8

From Inflicting Violence

  • Torturing Someone 0/1D4
  • Accidentally kill an innocent 1/1D6
  • Intentionally kill an innocent 1/1D8 (Minimum roll equal to number of innocents killed at a time)

From Helplessness

  • Fear Effect: 0/1D3 (Instead of taking the fear effect)
  • Fleeing from Combat: 0/1
  • A Bond reaches 0: 0/1D3
  • An ally or bond passes away: 0/1D4
  • Watch an Ally or Bond die violently: 1/1D8
Calculations for Stability

Stability = Intelligence Score + Wisdom Score. [The Average persons stability is 20]
Break Point = Stability / 2. (Round down) [Average Break point is 10]
Trauma Threshold = Break Point / 2 (Round Down) [Average Threshold is 5]
Stability Save = Intelligence Save OR Wisdom Save.

Recovering Stability

Those suffering from stability loss can spend time with a friend or engaging in relaxation to try and recover stability.

Seeking Help: Helping party makes a Persuasion Check DC (10|15|20), success results in the person they’re helping, recovers 1d4 + Charisma worth stability, this can be performed once a day.
Rationalizing: A person can help themselves or another by making an Investigation Check DC (10|15|20) to step through what happened and rationalize the situation. Recovers 1d4 + Intelligence worth of stability. This can only be done once a day, with in an hour of a traumatic event.
Projection: Sometimes you blame others for a traumatic experience, sometimes the trauma is projected onto those who you care about. Projection of Trauma is a way to prevent sanity loss at the cost of a bond’s strength. Instead of losing Stability your bond strength decreases by half of the sanity loss rounded up, as you link the Trauma to that bond.
Repression: Sometimes you need to bolster your feelings and fears to get through a situation by thinking of others. Make a Wisdom Save DC 10 + Stability loss, and select a Bond. Success results in only losing half of the Stability, Failure results in the Bond decreasing one level.
Downtime with a Bond: Spending time with a bond doesn’t always strengthen or weaken it, if you’re going through a hard time, every five days spent with a bond gives you the bond’s strength worth of stability back.


People deal with Trauma in many different ways, the worst of which is Adaptation. You’ve come to accept these horrible acts of torture as normal, or that you really are helpless and you have little control over your life. You can adapt to Violence or Helplessness but not both, and you can never adapt to the Unnatural, even those driven insane by it never adapt.

Adaptation Requirements

Some people are more resilient to adapting to traumatic experiences, both Violence and Helplessness have check boxes, that once filled up, means your character has adapted to this type of trauma, this comes with it’s own negative side effects.

When you Adapt

Once you fill the check boxes for either Helplessness or Violence, without hitting your Break Point, you adapt to that form of trauma and suffer the following.

  • Violence: Lose 1d4 Charisma Permanently. No longer lose Stability from acts of violence.
  • Helplessness: Lose 1d4 Wisdom Permanently. No longer lose Stability from experiencing helplessness.

HomeBrew Sanity

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