Monday 15 June 2020

Behavioural Oddities

One of the more common queries I see towards Electric Bastionland revolves around adding a Sanity System to emulate Call of Cthulhu and similar games.

I've spoken before about how I've never fully enjoyed those traditional sanity systems where you tally up points when something weird/upsetting happens until you snap and roll a random result on a table. Often these are things like "gain Agoraphobia! -10 to rolls out in the open" or "you have a crazy outburst, attack the nearest ally!" which, to me, range from uninteresting to outright bad. 

I want it to feel more like your character's mind is nudging them towards behaviours they wouldn't rationally choose to carry out. I think we can all relate to when our own brains do that.

I touched on this with how Stress and Instincts work in VOIDHEIST, but I wanted to think how it could work in Electric Bastionland. My first thought when I think about adding something to the game is "could I make this an Oddity?"

Of course I can. 

Behavioural Oddities

These are not physical things, but they are things you might pick up on your expeditions in the general ordeal of life in Bastionland. 

When the Conductor thinks the opportunity fits, or when prompted by the player themselves, the character has the option of taking a Behavioural Oddity. These are never forced on a character, and are only taken by player choice in agreement with the Conductor.

They place themselves at home in the character's mind and behaviours. At times they might even take on a voice of their own, but never take control of the character.

Alienation: You feel different inside, and other people don't feel so familiar anymore. This might even be directly the fault of an actual Alien. Count your CHA as 18 for rolls relating to Aliens or other weird beings, but count it as CHA 3 when dealing with regular people or situations.

Deep Hobby: You dive into the deep end of a pastime or leisure activity. Ideally it should be something trivial and not innately useful in itself. In a short time you know everything there is to know about it, all the best places to get specialist equipment, and have an address book of expert contacts. However, you are Deprived if you spend a whole day without engaging with the hobby.

You know the right thing to say and do in formal situations. It even helps to put people at ease in more casual circumstances. However, if you are ever forced to stray from proper social etiquette you are Deprived until you make amends. 

Weaponised Rhetoric: You can pick apart any argument, dominating any conversation that you put your mind to, and it's only a matter of time until your opponent admits defeat or abandons the conversation through exhaustion. This comes in useful, but you enjoy it too much. If you ever have to apologise or let a falsehood slide then you are Deprived for the rest of the day. 

Detached View: You're really not moved by things that you feel should affect you. You suffer no harm from mental trauma, but you also have no sense of how other people might be feeling. 

Social Ventriloquism: Your words sound so much more persuasive when spoken by somebody else, but you're losing your own voice in the process. Somebody reading words prepared by you counts as CHA 18, but you reduce your own CHA to 3. 

Eccentricity: Sure, Bastion has weird stuff out in plain sight. Same for Deep Country. You've taken to an outlandish style. Nobody ever forgets you or fails to notice you, for better or worse. 

Bon Viveur: You know all the best vice spots, and indulging in them with at least two other people restores STR and DEX as well as CHA, just as if you'd been to hospital (including the cost, d20x£10 each. If you can't pay, you gain some Debt). However, you are Deprived if you go the day without some sort of social debauchery. 


  1. In French you don't say (and write) "Bon viveur". It's "Bon vivant".

  2. The best description I've heard for good CoC sanity, is that once you realise "there are giant monsters and they want to eat my brain", the *rational* response (quitting my job, stocking up on weapons, checking if your neighbours are cultist, *appears* irrational to people that don't know the truth. You aren't insane, you just have new priorities now.