Impractical Applications (City Gods and Flavors of Insanity)

It’s easy to play insanity according to a pattern, doing the same thing every time, but as far as I’m concerned, ease is the only advantage. People—or other entities—are individuals; they’re not all going to break the same way. Besides, a little variety is fun.

I’ve had opportunity to do this even when circumstances would make one think otherwise. If you’ve got five different entities who all broke under the same or at least similar causes, three of whom were nearly interchangeable to begin with, would you expect them to break along the same cleavage fractures? Perhaps… but in my case, it wouldn’t have been near as fun.

In the case of my game, these five entities are city gods. In all five cases, insanity was both justifiable and expected; all of them had suffered severe damage, depopulation and combinations of the above to their domains (and for an added bonus, four of the five had cities that had been left completely intact but for the death of all within them, and three came from the same city). It wasn’t that that made the difference.

I chose my delusions carefully. One was pretty easy; his city was actually doing decently well aside from a rather large and inconveniently placed spot of chaos, so he was more on the extreme edge of eccentric, very light on both axes of insanity. He was lucid, and understood quite well what was going on; he just had a somewhat odd way of saying it. (One of his first lines involved about five minutes of affirmatives in various forms in various languages, followed by “That means yes,” and a later bit involved warning the group about someone who happened also be him being a little… odd, completely with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hamlet allusion.)

Three of them all came from the same city, and their damage was fresh in mind; I wrote about it about two years ago, as part of my spate of articles on gods and religions. They were canonical, and pretty much interchangeable, but for their overall attitudes; one disdained help, one searched for it, and one couldn’t choose. In fact, I got my inspiration from ideas for two of the possible effects: the one who had disdained help ceasing to believe in gods altogether, as if there had been gods they would have done something, and the one who couldn’t decide repressing everything in an effect that may or may not have been tied to the music box he was carrying. The third, actually the first one the group met, was the one who had sought help before—having been wronged so greatly by what she had hoped would save her city, she wouldn’t trust anyone. At all.

Then there was Yarike, actually the only noncanon of the lot. Her city had spent a long time under a rather nasty panic aura, side effects of which had killed all the residents but left the many automatons just fine, but when the group met her, it had just been diminished to a tolerable level, though not entirely removed. Since gods tended to reflect their domains, I saw her as having been somewhat fragmented, into personalities representative of before the aura, during the aura, and right then and there. The group, fortunately, was talking to right then and there, who was mildly twitchy and used very formal, emotionless diction, but then they asked her a difficult question, and she responded with the divine equivalent of a loading screen. But they asked too many questions, and got to see her other two facets: the one from before, who managed informal decently well…. and the one from during, who was one giant bundle of unadulterated panic. (For ease of recognizing who was who, all three were color-coded, though I might have slipped a bit during one of her episodes.)

And though the group hasn’t met her yet, I recently found a sixth….

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