Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Thoughtform Part 2: Basic Thoughtform Disease

It is a bit weird, giving concrete rules to things that are made of the abstract. But I am interesting in seeing where this exercise goes. So here goes nothing. For anyone that may have missed it, here is the original post I made about thoughtforms.

With this, I know that people play all types of D&D games, from LotFP and Beyond the Wall to 5e. Pathfinder, and ACKS. So, I want to try and make it as simple and modular as I can so that anyone with any kind of D&D game can enjoy this. 

Basic Thoughtforms

Logists, Atavisms, and Archetypes are the most basic types of thoughtforms and are treated as a special type of disease. The incubation time is one day after you encounter someone talking about the thoughtform they are infected with. The save is a Magic saving throw once per day until cured by means in the previous blog post about thoughtforms. Success means you do not suffer additional effects of the disease. Failure means that it advances a stage.

Once per day, before the character makes an infected saving throw, they can make a Wisdom roll. On a 15 or higher, they are able to take their mind off of the thoughtform for the moment and stave off having to make the infection roll for that day. You gain a -2 penalty per stage you are in to your Wisdom roll after Stage 1. If you see or are reminded of the object of your desire though, you must immediately make that infection check for the day.

Below are the general stages of a thoughtform infection.

Stage 1: The seeds of obsession take root in your mind. You begin to talk about the idea or image in your head more at random and sometimes nonsensical times. Whenever you roll a Charisma check to interact with someone, or a Reaction roll is made for an NPC, you take a minus -2 penalty for bringing up your obsession in an inopportune time.

Stage 2: You are constantly talking and thinking about the idea or image, to the point where it becomes distracting. Whenever you make any roll that doesn't involve your obsession, you must roll it twice and take the worst result. Damage dice are exempt from this.

Stage 3: The idea consumes your everyday thoughts. You cannot stop talking or thinking about it. You have to have this object. You have to worship it, at any cost. You become aggressive about your obsession and must collect or worship it absolutely. If taken away from the object or concept of your desire, you erupt in violence until reunited with it. You gain +4 to Strength. but everyone is considered an enemy to you. You lose the penalties from the previous two stages. You only get along with other infected, though depending on the personality, even those with the same thoughtform infection can get competitive and violent with each other. This is more of a roleplaying issue, so get crazy with it.

Stage 4: Your obsession is absolute. You do not eat, drink, or sleep and take appropriate penalties for doing so. You are simply fixated on your obsession and waste away until death. At this point, people can 'see' the thoughtform, its shimmering and transparent mycelia erupting out of the host's mind like antenna towards the object of obsession. Moving you requires a great deal of strength as the thoughtform is feeding off of the psychic link between you and your object of obsession. Anyone that tries to move you must roll a Strength roll against a Difficulty Class of 20. If moved out of sight from your obsession, you die in three rounds.

Stage 5: There is no save to reach this. You only reach this phase when the thoughtform has enough people infected and clustered together. You become catatonic as the thoughtform uses yours and other hosts' psyche to bloom into a tulpa. You are brain dead and can only be restored with a wish or miracle. If left alone, you'll simply die quietly. 

Healing the infection requires hypnosis, forced amnesia, magic ritual, or dream delving like in the previous post. I do want to do a blog about dream delving for another time, but I want to figure out what I want to do with it first. Curing everyone infected means the thoughtform no longer exists, though the people infected shall forever be changed by it.

More on Hypnosis and Mental Blocks

Hypnosis and making mental barriers is a good way to quarantine the thoughtform until cured. Hypnosis is just a Diplomacy (or equivalent) check against the target's Wisdom, though if they are willing, you don't have to roll. Making a mental block against the thoughtform is just a Wisdom roll made by the person hypnotizing you (or yourself for self-hypnosis). Whatever you roll is the strength of the mental block. You no longer take any penalties from the infection and are essentially back to normal. This takes one hour per stage advanced and must be uninterrupted (a change from the previous post). A good hypnotist can do multiple people at once, often using the object of obsession as a focal point for Stage 4 victims. Stage 3 victims generally need to be restrained and forced to be hypnotized.

Whenever you see the object of obsession again or talk about it in game, the GM rolls a d20. It it meets or is under the mental block's score, it doesn't trigger a relapse. If it goes over or rolls a 20, the person relapses. It's usually best to avoid the thing that will trigger a relapse. You start at the stage you were on last. Depending on the thoughtform, this can be very difficult.

Example Thoughtform

The Undying Sun
Saving Throw: Magic once per day
Wisdom Throw: DC 15 (-2 penalty per stage past Stage 1)
Idea: The sun is glorious!

This logist is all about the sun and its glory. People infected with this thoughtform start thinking about how beautiful and amazing the sun is, constantly expressing their joy for it. As the infection progresses, people go to greater lengths (or in this case, heights) to be closer to the sun, climbing trees and buildings to get closer and closer. When the thoughtform begins to bloom, most are locked tightly onto where they climb, with the thoughtforms's feelers extending towards the sun. At night, the people grow violent and agitated until they reach Stage 4, when many will die. The Undying Sun rarely blooms, but if it can gather 50 infected people together on the same day that they all hit Stage 4, it can bloom into a mighty tulpa reflecting its attachment to the sun. Given the importance of the sun, many infected will see the thoughtform as a god and gather other infected like a congregation. 

It was a tiring weekend of work so that's all I've got in me today. Next post I want to have the more complex thoughtforms statted out. I think I know how I want to do them. Till next time!