Thursday, April 23, 2020


Thousand-yard stare. Credit Gabriel Dias Maia

Stress starts at 0 and is gained through injury, fear, overwork, forced marches, witnessing death and fates worse than death, lack of food, poor living conditions, the terrifying unknown and wet socks. Each of the following actions reduced Stress by 1:
  1. Despondency. Increase the Stress of two allies by 1.
  2. Paranoia. They are watching. Never let down your guard! An ally gains 1 Stress, you can’t relax or sleep with them on watch alone.
  3. Violence. Lash out at an ally for a perceived slight. Their Stress increases by 1, or 2 if they don’t react.
  4. Apathy. Ignore the suffering of your fellows, you need to concentrate on survival. Random ally has disadvantage on their next roll.
  5. Betrayal. Take them, not me! Random ally takes double damage from next hit.
  6. Hoarding. Never let this happen again, you must be prepared for the worst. Spend money on caches of food, torches, weapons, and other tools of the trade. If you use them, regain the Stress.
  7. Indulgence. Pamper the flesh, sooth the mind. Baths, balls, bars and brothels. Costly, relatively safe.
  8. Alchemical. Smooth over bad memories with tinctures and tonics, or go on a wild bender to replace them with good memories. Chance of gaining an addiction.
  9. Alcohol. The traditional method. Roll on “What The Hell Did I Do Last Night?”
  10. Worship. Find something greater than yourself to beg for protection.
  11. Safety. Retreat back to camp, back to civilisation, or even all the way back home (1 Stress each).
  12. Guidance. Spiritual or scientific, anything to make sense of it all.
  13. Nightmares. Let your sleeping mind take the burden, and wake in fright. Halve natural healing unless you are heavily medicated.
  14. Inanity. Focus on something completely innocuous and harmless to the exclusion of all else.
  15. Surrender. Just give up and lie down. An ally will have to smack some sense into you to get you up again.
  16. Phobia. Pick the thing that has caused Stress, or something relating to the situation (cramped spaces, darkness, deep water). From now on, take x2 damage while exposed to it and not fleeing.
  17. Amnesia. Just forget about it. A few other memories follow along for the ride.
  18. Disbelief. Just pretend it isn't real. Shut your eyes and relax. If something is currently trying to kill you, it deals x3 damage for a round.
  19. Shutdown. Will follow expressly given commands, but otherwise incapable of action.
  20. Breakdown. Raving mad and completely insensible.

While Stress is between 1 and 5, an adventurer might be grumpy, irritable, nervous or spacey. People will ask “are you ok?”.

If stress is between 5 and 10, an adventurer is starting to lose the plot. People will cross the road to avoid the adventurer. Whenever they gain more Stress, they’ll spend an action (if in combat) or an hour (out of combat) attempting one of the above methods.

Above 10 stress, they're on the edge of madness, and everyone can see it. At any point, if the adventurer has a clear opportunity to use one of the above methods, they’ll take it. This state lasts until Stress is below 5.

What this means: If you let your character get stressed enough, they’ll start taking matters into their own hands. They’ll no longer blindly obey the whims of a semi-diegetic nacho-eating god, they’ll flee! They’ll flee the dark death that awaits them below, blow all of your (their!) hard-earned dosh on booze and hookers, and go right back to turnip farming. Maybe one day they be able to face the nightmarish hole in the ground that you want to send them down, maybe they won’t.

Lads night. Credit Lap Pun Cheung



  2. This is great. I might drink from this well, if you don't mind.

    I've been trying to come up with something similar, using the implied Morale of 12 for PCs in B/X etc, alongside the FEAR stat from Fighting Fantasy gamebook House of Hell, but nothing satisfactory so far.

    1. That sounds great! Let me know what you make out of this, it's still in progress