Cyclopean Interview

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Iron Tower Studio
Developer:Iron Tower Studio
Release Date:Canceled
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
GB: Tell us more about the "Sanity" attribute you were implementing. What did this score dictate in the game, and how did you craft your writing around possible sane or insane outcomes?

Scott: The player's Sanity score is a frequently fluctuating rating of his overall mental stability. Challenges to the player's mind are at least as important as threats to his physical wellbeing.

The player's Sanity could be damaged in three ways: first, stressful (but not supernatural) undertakings such as murdering someone or digging up and moving a corpse. Second, observing Mythos creatures for a minor loss, or a manifestation of one of the Great Old Ones or one of their major servants for a serious loss as well as immediate negative side-effects, like dropping one's weapon or temporary unconsciousness. Last, suffering a psychic or magical attack. Certain cultists or Mythos creatures have access to foul incantations or psychic attacks which can directly impact your Sanity score.

Effects of deteriorating mental health occur in stages as your score approaches zero. When the player's Sanity score falls below 20, a temporary minor neurosis will apply, affecting one of his stats. This neurosis will vanish once Sanity rises above 20 and the PC has a full night of restful sleep.

When the player's Sanity score falls below 10, he is on the brink of collapse. He may briefly wander at random, fumble and drop his weapon, accidentally injure himself, or freeze up during combat.

When the player's Sanity reaches zero he collapses completely and blacks out. This doesn't always mean the player is dead. Sometimes the player's shivering, drooling self may be rescued by allies or some good Samaritan. Other times, the player may be captured by his enemies and partially recover in captivity. A complete collapse is accompanied by permanent damage to maximum Sanity points, and may be accompanied by a persistent minor neurosis, which has to be treated at the Asylum to be cured.

Recovering Sanity is not simply a matter of resting overnight in a house. Beyond a few points to be recovered from normal sleep, use of drugs and/or a stay at the Asylum would be required. Drugs also have negative side effects, which means Sanity is a resource which must be carefully maintained. It can't just be topped up at the end of the day with a blue potion.

The corresponding mechanic to Sanity is Mythos points, which track the player's overall exposure to Mythos creatures and events and reflects a permanent change to his worldview and psychology. A few extreme non-supernatural events, like engaging in cannibalism, can earn Mythos points, but typically these points are generated by exposure to Mythos creatures, using magical artifacts and incantations, or travel to extraterrestrial locations. Mythos points are permanent and cannot be erased. When Mythos points exceed Maximum Sanity points, the PC has been (Corrupted). This change is irreversible and purchasing further Sanity points will not undo it.

A Corrupted PC can see through the tenuous tissue separating the staid and sane world of men from the other dimensions and existences juxtaposed and sometimes overlapping our own. Exposure to these other worlds can be very taxing on one's Sanity. Unfortunately, Corruption means the PC can also be seen by Outside entities perhaps better avoided.

Certain canny NPCs will spot Corruption in a player and may choose not to deal with him, or even to target him for investigation.

A player who dedicates himself to the Great Old Ones, and chooses Corruption as a means to better serve them can alter his entire psychological makeup. While Sanity scores and penalties still apply, having one's Sanity reduced to zero no longer means collapse and the player can keep on going.

GB: Traits were also going to play a key part in character generation and progression, including the ability to drive a motorcar and dabble in taxidermy. What more can you tell us about the traits you had been working on for characters, and what effect some of the more unusual ones would have on the game?

Scott: Here is an example of a Skill and corresponding Traits discussed on the Iron Tower forum:

Skill: Mind
Mind is a measure of a player's mental stability and ability to withstand stress. A separate Skill covers learning- and Intelligence-based Traits.
base: 3xWIL

Traits, cost in [] brackets
I Cold-blooded [5]/ Sanity penalties resulting from performing horrific acts are reduced by 1.
I Sound Sleeper [5]/ Recover an additional point of Sanity for a night's rest.
I Stability I [free]/ +3 Max Sanity.

II Hardened [5]/ Sanity penalties resulting from seeing horrific things are reduced by 1.
II Intimidation [5]/ Bonus to use of intimidating lines in dialogue.
II Mesmerism [8]/ Soothe troubled NPCs, once per NPC, once per day. Additional dialogue options. Component: gold-backed watch.
II Rejuvenation [10]/req WIL 5. Trade up to 10 Sanity for green Health, once per day only.
II Remorseless [5]/req: Cold-blooded. Sanity penalties resulting from performing horrific acts are reduced by 2.
II Sixth Sense [3]/ PER+1 for purposes of spotting unusual details. Reduced penalty for fighting invisible opponents.
II Stability II [8]/req. Stability I. +10 maximum Sanity.
II Still Mind [7]/ req WIL 5. After combat, immediately recover up to 2 Sanity lost during combat.
II Tactics [4]/ Cost of giving instructions to NPCs during combat reduced to zero.

III Force of Will [10]/ Sanity cost of incantation converted to Life, plus additional cost of 1 permanent Sanity, once per day only.
III Mentalist [8]/req: WIL 5. Sanity damage resulting from psychic attacks against player reduced by 50%.
III Stability III [8]/req. Stability II. +10 maximum Sanity.
III Sorcerer [10]/req: INT 5. Mythos points incurred by casting spells, using artifacts, or by exposure to minor Mythos entities, reduced to 1.

Traits could be purchased on level up, providing the player could meet the requirements. There were also Traits specific to the chosen Background which could not be purchased, such as a Witch's Familiar and Drug Addict, and others which one could pick up in-game, like Hopping Boxcars, Deformed, and Corpse Eater.