Insanities are very similar to injuries mechanically. When a character is exposed to psychologically stressful situations, they suffer stress.

As stress accumulates, a character is hampered by their reactions. There are three stages of stress status:

  • A character is shaken when they suffer 2 stress. Shaken characters suffer a –1 die penalty to all actions.
  • A character is terrified at 4 stress. Terrified characters cannot fight or face down stressful situations or creatures only run away.
  • A character is catatonic at 6 stress. Catatonic characters don’t talk or fight or perform any actions other than mutter and beg. They can be led around easily, but will do nothing else.

A stressful event or creature has a stress value. This is how much stress is inflicted when characters encounter it. Each success inflicts a stress on the characters encountering it.

A character can resist stress by rolling their Resolve (Stress Management) as a free action. Each success counters a stress inflicted by the situation or creature.If a character accepts a permanent insanity, all current stress is eliminated.

Stress values decrease in potency for every time a character has rolled to resist it or a similar stress. The first time a character encounters a plague dog, it has a stress value of 3. By the time a character has faced three plague dogs, they have learned to keep their head when facing them. It is important to record each stress encounter on you character sheet for this reason.

Also, a character that has accepted a permanent insanity, does not suffer stress from that source anymore, but retreats into their insanity to protect them. Any stress points gained in this way are not accumulated, but instead become hours in which the character suffers from extreme forms of their insanity.

One heals from stress by being in a relaxed, safe environment for 30 minutes or more. Each half hour of safe and tranquilly survival, a character can recover from 1D6 stress.

Examples of Stress
Stress 1
Being attacked, Finding the corpse of a stranger or Finding oneself lost for hours.

Stress 2
See something that is not dangerous but clearly supernatural, Running for your life, Finding a mutilated corpse.

Stress 3
See something that is hostile and clearly supernatural, Witness the great suffering of a stranger, Be forced to commit a terrible crime.

Stress 4
Witness a scene of terrible gore, Witness the horrible death of someone you know, Be betrayed by someone you love.

Stress 5
Be tortured, Witness the horrible death of someone close to you, Face a true demon.


Learn about:
Character Creation
Dice Rolls

Just a Kiss

"We could try to cut him out. I brought the mini-chain saw." Grayson began digging through the copious equipment bags.

"Put that shit away, son. This poor sunofabitch is more tree n' a person." Coffin held the cloth to his face and coughed hard. The dusters had left him a wreck. A few yards away, Jess wiped away dust from her eyes, nose and mouth. She was gazing off into the Lonely Woods and its countless twisted denizens. She was seemingly oblivious to the conflict brewing.

Coffin persisted, "What we do is we leave while the leavin’s good. We got a verification on the Skell. I know it was the secondary, but…"

"Bullshit. We leave without this sad bastard, we got nothing for the whole crash…again. I promised my baby a shopping trip for the last three months. Shit, I only seen her once since I made the promise!" Grayson stared right into Coffin’s weathered face. The old man always got real cold when Grayson talked about his kid.

Coffin remained expressionless, "How far is he gonna get with his chest stuck in a tree? You think we get paid if we drop a Lincoln log with limp handshake in the boss’s lap?"

"Please. Just a touch…, " the sad, twisted creature softly begged them to come closer. A hundred similar voices whispered to get their attention. The crew ignored them, though Jess was having trouble. She had weathered the dusters well enough, but the static agony of the woods had obviously broken her. The Lonely Woods was a forest of people melded into improbable contortions within trees. Each tree distanced from every other just enough to negate any hope of communication and connection. Their sadness was overwhelming Jess. All the shock she had held behind a dam of ideology had finally washed over her. She offered no resistance; just quietly allowed her sanity to be carried off by the torrent of horror.

She took a stumbled half-step toward the nearest tree-person. The surrounding trees shuttered in response and moaned with excitement at such a tiny interaction. "Please…just touch me."

Grayson and Coffin were getting into a row again. Jess knew she was the only one that could stop it, but she suddenly felt so tired and defeated. Her fellow crashers were somehow far away and beyond her senses. Someone was saying, "I figure if we cut the tree away they're mostly intact inside…," Jess looked directly at the man they came here to find. They only found him because he was near the edge of the woods; a new planting, she guessed. He looked her in the eyes and breathed in sharply as if in ecstasy. The other nearby trees moaned in envy.

"…gonna have a goddamn wooden lung…"

Jess felt alone with the man-tree. His head, left shoulder and most of his right arm protruded from one side, his left leg from the knee down extended from another side that didn't quite match up physiologically. But his eyes were her only focus. They were heart-breaking and full of compassion.

"…a mother-fucking surgeon with this chain-saw!"

She reached out to touch his hand. "Thank you…thank you so much…I've been here so long…I just need a…" He was crying.

"…the hell you are!"

Jess half-woke from her fugue. Grayson's outburst had ended the argument for long enough for the men to notice their surroundings.

"What ya doing, Jess?" Coffin's voice was more tender and concerned than she had ever heard it, but far off, like he was calling across a canyon.

"I- I don't know Coffin. I just…needed to help someone." She looked back to the man-tree weeping silently as he held her hand to his face. He was mumbling something, but it was so quiet, she couldn't make it out.

"Now Jess, you step away from that sick bastard this very minute, baby." Jess cocked her head to one side, "He's never called me 'baby' before, " she thought absently. Coffin was still talking to her, but it was hard to concentrate. "…of the crows cuz the storm drove em all off, but we gotta get done with our doins before they come on back. You step away from that murdering cunt right now. You listenin' to me, Hon?"

"I liked 'baby' better, " Jess said dreamily. Coffin and Grayson looked at each other in confusion. Coffin still held his sawed-off shotgun and Grayson his chain-saw. They both lowered them and moved to clumsily hide their tools from Jess's view. As Coffin turned back to her, Jess noticed a dark, bent line she never noticed before on Coffin's jacket. She was deaf to everything else as she saw the slender shadow snake slowly around his torso.

Her mind clawed from the fog to scream "Coffin!", but she couldn't find the word . The line was suddenly a coat-hangar finger that gripped Coffin firmly and threw him almost thirty feet to collide with a woman-tree. Where Coffin had stood was a monster of angles and malice. It was a hand-span at its thickest. Nine feet of shiny, black and gnarled skin folded and flexed in ways disrespectful to geometry and human sight. Jess thought of some failed origami sculpture made of beetle wings in the fraction of a second it was plainly seen. Jess stared on in horror and Grayson desperately tried to pull the chainsaw to a start, but he was having difficulty. "It's a Screaming Skinny! Jess, run, goddamnit!" But she stayed rooted in place.

Without pause, the Screaming Skinny bounded back into the treeline above, hooking a three-foot branching finger onto the limbs twenty feet above. Faster than the eye could follow, it swung and twisted in mid-air. The screaming Skinny was gone and back four times in as many seconds. It bounded through the trees like a demonic monkey, instinctively knowing were each branch was without thought or glance. Grayson's chainsaw finally sputtered and roared to life. Grayson smiled and fingered the trigger in challenge.

The challenge was accepted. From the darkness came a reverberating bellow like a broken locomotive. The scream ground Jess to her core and she fell to her knees. Grayson was screaming back at the screw, "You look like a burnt erector set, you pussy! Come on!"

Coffin had stood up and was trying to pull his gun from the woman-tree into which he had collided. Jess could see he was moving awkwardly and was sure he had been hurt. The woman-tree was desperately grasping the shotgun and kept begging, "Just a kiss, stranger! Just a kiss!"

The Skinny fell on Grayson like lightening. It grabbed him with its spindly fingers, tossing him high into the air and leapt after him. Grayson never even started to fall before the Skinny had caught him again. The Skinny kept tossing Grayson and catching him with casual, sadistic grace while swinging and leaping through the canopy Grayson never fell far before the Skinny had him again and tossed him back up into the clawing branches. Somehow, the man held on to the chain-saw and continued to swing it back and forth, but never connected. The beast was too quick.

"I need it, I neeeeed it. Have some mercy," the woman-tree was breathless with excitement. Coffin looked over his shoulder into the canopy and heard the Grayson scream in anger and terror. He looked back at the woman, "Pucker up, you cunt."

Grayson was had complete vertigo and was pretty sure he felt his ankle break under the Screaming Skinny's grip, but all he could do was fight. His instincts took over and he flailed wildly and hopelessly. He was shocked when the chainsaw gripped screw flesh and tore through a limb of the skinny. The momentary elation vanished as he found himself falling. Landing hard, Grayson lay still in the brown and gray leaves that made up the floor of the Lonely Woods; his purring chain-saw still in his hand.

The Skinny dropped lightly, moving like a three-legged dog if that dog was made of chopsticks and tar. It crept past Jess, passing within inches of her frozen form, paying her no mind. As it folded itself down toward Grayson, a shotgun boomed. Scattered shot harmlessly peppered the Skinny and rather harmfully into tree-man directly behind it, the very man they had come here to retrieve. The Skinny seemed surprised itself, but it looked no worse for being shot. Coffin pumped the gun and fired again. No effect.

The Screaming Skinny hobbled toward Coffin now. He kept pumping round after useless round into the monster until it had him by the throat, lifting him to its face. Coffin saw the pinkish flesh around its deep, clear-glass eyes and saw that it wore some featureless mask. He threw the shotgun and grabbed the mask, lifting it and hugging himself around the Skinny's head. It blindly beat and lurched about. Coffin's back was in agony as he punched pathetically while holding tightly to blind the Skinny.

The Skinny adjusted its grip until it had Coffin's right arm. Wrenching hard and twisting, Coffin's arm broke in two places. He screamed and writhed as the Screaming Skinny held him above its head by his maimed arm when Grayson's chainsaw cut its chest in half. It fell in two writhing pieces. It’s lower body lashed in mindless twitches and kicks, while the upper body dragged itself toward a hollow in the nearest tree-man. Despite the use of only one limb, the Skinny moved quickly. Grayson moved faster. The Skinny roared in pain and twisted spasmodically as Grayson held it in place with a boot heel and cut the screw into small, unthreatening pieces.

Minutes later, Coffin drank from a canteen as Jess worked his mangled arm into a sling. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," she kept muttering like a mantra. "That bitch-tree got your shotgun agin'. Says she wants another kiss." Grayson smiled. He was missing three teeth, had a broken ankle and a rib that was grinding painfully, but they brought along powerful opiates for a reason.

One of Coffin's eyes was swollen shut, but his other shot right through Grayson "Leave it. We're getting out of here. Playing possum won't work again."

Grayson still had the chain-saw in his hands; he had not set it down once. "Hold up. I am gonna chop that fucker down, now."

Coffin's eye stayed fixed, "We ain't got time. Them crows are back."

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