Sanity (or lack thereof)

Sometimes, things just get to you, slowly eating your mind, devouring your sanity, driving you mad. How do your characters handle the pressure?

Levels of Sanity

  • sane, lucid, controlled, level-headed,
  • paranoid, freaked out, suspicious,
  • mad, crazy, whacko, cuckoo, off-your-rocker, flipped, flipped out,
  • hanging on, losing it, lost it, really lost it, totally lost it, just plain lost,
  • out of it, over it, under the gun, under the weather, spaced out,
  • fading, ebbing, waning, sinking, lowering, approaching, dwindling,
  • uneasy, nerved up, nervous, edgy,
  • psychotic,
  • neurotic,
  • delusional,
  • depressed, withdrawn, melancholic,
  • manic, excitable, eager, overly eager,
  • obsessive,
  • compulsive,
  • repetitive, forgetful,

Manifestations of Fading Sanity

  • suspicious, paranoid, fearful, scared, cowardly,
  • angry, spiteful, wrathful,
  • jealous, envious, covetous,
  • gluttonous, “collecting”, obsessions, compulsion, needy, driven irrationally, hoarding,
  • inattentive, “out of it,” melancholic, withdrawn
  • delusional, hearing voices, seeing things,
  • crying, bawling,
  • irrational, overreacting, misreading things,
  • twitchy, jumpy, on the edge, vibrating, have tremors, spastic, chaotic, unsettled,
  • tweaking, frantic,
  • fatalistic, assuming the worst, defeatist, pessimistic, hopeless,
  • cutting, self-harm, self-mutilation
  • susceptibility to sects, cults, movements, indoctrination,
  • gullibility, naivety,
  • suicide,
  • manic behaviour, working 26 hours a day,
  • babbling, nonsensical,
  • fixation on one thing,
  • repetitive behavior, flicking light switch, counting backwards, repeating a word,
  • scratching, picking at skin, pulling own hair, plucking arm hairs, chewing nails,
  • amplified superstitions: can’t step on sidewalk cracks, knock on wood,
  • excessive or obsessive prayer or chant or ritual,

Environments for the “Insane”

  • asylum, hospital, institution,
  • red light district of town, slum,┬ábrothel, thieves den, nefarious “club house”, ┬áband of ruffians, (or look here for more unsavoury characters)
  • sanctuary, temple, place of solitude,
  • cemetery, grave yard, crypt,
  • underground,
  • place of escape,
  • on the streets, in an alley, homeless shelter, “tent city”,
  • seance, demon worshipping,

Recovering and Healing

  • treatment, therapy, analysis,
  • talking, sharing, saying what’s on your mind,
  • emotional outburst or “letting go,” crying, anger, tirade, flying off the handle, losing it,
  • getting in touch with nature (unless wilderness gives you anxiety), canoeing, hiking, camping,
  • physical activity, sports, contact sport, going for a jog, riding a bike, exercise, working out, boxing, sparring,
  • music, playing piano, relaxation CDs,
  • medication, drugs, pills, antidotes, concoctions, potions, elixirs, herbs,
  • admission to an institution, treatment facility, hospital, asylum, care facility,
  • prayer, religion, belief, church, temple, shrine, sanctuary, mosque, circle, communing with a god, visions, pilgrimage, ritual,
  • hobbies, baking, sorting your collection, knitting, gardening, playing guitar,
  • thinking of positives, looking at photos of the good ol’ days,
  • cognitive behavioural therapy,


  • When you’re losing it, it’s a great time (in narratives) to make a deal with the Devil.
  • Seeking peace and understanding leads to some awesome adventure.
  • Taking advice of elders can lead characters on quests and journeys to “find themselves”
  • Seeking wisdom from a mountain monastery requires a dangerous journey for the characters.
  • During an adventure, check the sanity of the characters… use Dice to see how well they are handling the terrible situations they are in.
  • Troubles of the mind often send characters in the direction of religion… how does your character seek salvation?
  • Sometimes, mental illness is a blessing in disguise leading characters to join or spearhead powerful movements for good; what can your character do to climb out of despair.

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