Slightly Cracked: Mild Madnesses for RPG’s

   Sometimes characters go a little crazy. Unfortunately, quite a few people take this as either a license to go completely overboard or as a demand that they do so. In most cases, what’s really wanted is a really weird quirk – strange enough to be exotic, irrational enough to be troublesome, and mild enough to keep the character playable.

   This little list was originally for intended for people playing Malkavians back in first-edition World of Darkness, but most of the items on it should work for other games, or at least inspire some ideas.

   When you come down to it – even Malkavians have to be more or less functional to get along. If you’re so crazy that you cannot be expected to function in human society, or to get along in kindred society, then you cannot expect to have made it through being a childe’. Even if, by some miracle, you have, you can’t actually expect anyone to interact with you much if you’ve gone to such trouble to make it a pointless exercise. Being a public nuisance is a sure route to ostracism, if not the final death. Pick something that other people will be able to live with. A few samples have been provided below, along with identifying traits for playing them;

  1. “I melt in water”. Stay away from water, run away from people with squirt guns or buckets, keep watching the sky for rain. No matter what, never bathe.
  2. “Dogs and Cats are sentient alien races”. Look out for them. Don’t let them spy on you. Try to find out what they’re up to.
  3. “I am so ugly that no one can bear to look at me”. Keep apologizing. Be shy. Stay away from mirrors and the opposite sex. Anyone who say’s you’re not ugly is just pitying you.
  4. “Ice cream is good for electronic devices”. Scoop it right in.
  5. “Traffic signs and signals respond to persuasion”. Keep trying. Order stubborn street signs to tell you that you are, indeed, where you wanted to be.
  6. “I cannot see anything blue”. Don’t. Ignore anyone wearing blue clothing, ask people partially dressed in blue where the missing parts of their body are.
  7. Hypochondria. Wander around feeling for your pulse and announce that “There’s something very WRONG!”. Have a long list of symptoms. Tell people details about the most horrible diseases you can look up. You have them.
  8. “I am a perfectly normal human”. Use your powers, but forget about it in minutes. Tell kindred that they don’t look well. Talk about your family and the PTA.
  9. Clinging. Fall immediately in and out of love. Try to find someone to hang onto at all costs, and NEVER let them send you away.
  10. “There is an important part of me missing”. Try and find it. Keep asking.
  11. “This is all a dream”. Go along with it with good humor. Accept blatant absurdities without question – but occasionally question normalcy (“I’m so surprised that you’re willing to stand there! I fell right thru that spot in the road yesterday, car and all!”)
  12. The american revolution did not happen – for you. Complain to parliament, respect the king, and worry endlessly about the doings of the royal family.
  13. You have a weird linguistic disorder. Never use a complete sentence – or let them run on and on and on.
  14. “The best clothing is made out of paper”. Wear a lot of bits of paper as props, “wear” clothing made of grocery sacks, carry an umbrella at all times, and swear at uncooperative tailors.
  15. Have three more-or-less reasonable personalities.
  16. Forget things a lot. If you like, pick a category of things to forget constantly. Perhaps you have some form of partial amnesia?
  17. You have an invisible companion. Introduce him on special occasions. Blame him for minor misdeeds. Be a kleptomaniac and blame it on “him”. Order him a drink. Hold it for him while he’s busy.
  18. Regression. Act like a little kid. Remember when life was less stressful? Play, cry, ask for toys, and tell people what mother says isn’t nice.
  19. Unlife sucks. Tell endless sob stories. Each day is the worst one of your life. “Cut your wrists” – and then complain bitterly when you don’t bleed.
  20. You believe you are someone else. Pick some minor historical or fictional character. Get the appropriate abilities. Tell people about yourself if they ask.
  21. “Your life is being recorded”. Narrate it at any appropriate moment. Carry a Walkman with theme music. Pose for the cameras. Everything you do is vital. Make sure everyone knows it.
  22. Arrogance. Phrase everything as an order. Act as if you were talking to lesser beings. You know best.
  23. You believe that everyone is a waiter. Order some things. Ignore all status traits, social classes, or positions of authority. After all – you’re the only customer around.
  24. Religious loony. Join obscure cults. Stick with one or change every so often. Try to convert people. Dress in robes. Carry many obscure amulets.
  25. You believe yourself to be of the opposite sex.
  26. Fear of death. Never expose yourself to any risks if you can possibly avoid it. Invent “defenses” versus anything you can think of. Wear a paper helmet to keep falling satellites from hitting you.
  27. The Mr. Spock effect. Show no emotions. Give odds on anything and everything. Always sound authoritative.
  28. You seek the “Holy Grail” or some similar item. Look for it. Do lots of research. Ask people about it.
  29. “Automobiles eat people when nobody is looking!”. Never drive alone. Stay away from parking lots. Beware of open hoods. NEVER WORK ON AN ENGINE. Set up alarms.
  30. “The world is ending!” (In some obscure fashion). Warn people. Prepare for it. Try to get a ticket on a trip into outer space.
  31. Names have power. Never admit having one. Don’t use anyone else’s. If you can, avoid nouns altogether.
  32. Acupuncture works miracles. Recommend it for anything and everything. It can cure aggravated wounds and open up new disciplines if you do it right. Try.
  33. Behave quite normally – at the constant prompting of a voice only you can hear. Listen to it. Argue with it once in a while. Propose absurd courses of action and get vetoed.
  34. Plants are people too. Comfort them. Water them. Grow a big garden, hold parties, and keep people off the grass. Wear fur and leather. Talk to them when no one else is looking.
  35. Try to sell people pointless, invisible, or silly things. Run hopeless cons. Does anybody want to buy a gravity-failure safety module? How about a vowel? If they don’t want too, drop the price – and then give it up – for now. Maybe you’re an avon person!
  36. You are being followed. Wave if you’re feeling happy. Otherwise, try to lose or catch them. Act very jumpy. Keep ducking around corners and recruiting people to watch behind you.
  37. Be a near-perfect minion / ally. Swear allegiance to someone and mean it. Aid them, plot with them, and try to rise together. Be trustworthy.
  38. Anything worth talking about deserves music. Sing everything. If the music is on, turn it up. Recruit a chorus of ghouls.
  39. “If I’d taken better care of myself I never would have caught vampirism!”. Jog. Exercise. Buy lots of physical traits. Only feed from people who eat health food and stay in good shape. Try to sell everyone on the massive health benefits of your deathstyle.
  40. You are deeply involved in the doings of your old mortal family or descendants. Keep genealogical trees. Try to help them out. Send money. Give injured members enough of your blood to heal them. Protect them.
  41. You want to buy all the Railroads, Boardwalk, and Park Place. Try to get enough money to pull it off.
  42. You are trying to start a “craze” for RPG’s among the bored, jaded, older vampires. Talk about them. Put everything in game terms. Explain about dice.
  43. You are living in the middle ages. Give everyone a title. Announce them. Hold a harvest festival. Try to be chivalrous. Carry a sword. Avoid guns.
  44. EVERYBODY needs the NEWS. Sketch everyone. Try and publish a secret, vampires-only, gossip sheet. Pass out a few copies and try to recruit Kindred reporters.
  45. You are hopelessly insecure. Look for affection and approval from everyone. Be crushed if someone doesn’t like you. Ask for advice on everything and take whatever anybody says about you to heart.
  46. You cannot think of anything to say. Communicate entirely in quotations. Gesture a lot. Play charades.
  47. They all have GERMS. Don’t let them touch you. If you must touch something, try to polish it first. Wash your hands constantly. Spray lysol. Make them bathe. If you bite someone, disinfect them – and brush later.
  48. Critic. Point out things that are wrong. Planning errors, fashion errors, literary errors, or etiquette. Remember, YOU will be the judge of THAT.
  49. Collect something obsessively. Show off how many you have. Look for more. Gloat. Detest any rivals.
  50. You have an irrational fear of some relatively common item or occurrence. Go well out of your way to avoid it and get very nervous when it’s around. Beer, cigarettes, cameras, computer disks, and similar apparently-innocuous items are all good.

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