The Madness of Insanity Save Throws
Going insane in Dungeons and Dragons can drive you to madness.

Have you ever screamed, “OK, so he’s insane! Now how do I handle it?” Here’s an answer to the question, “Just how crazy is he, Doc?“

To find out we must develop a saving throw for insanity. For the sake of ease, let’s define intelligence as simply the ability to learn or understand an object or situation; and wisdom as the ability to think and act with judgment and clear reason. Therefore, the healthiest mind is one with a high wisdom and an equal amount of intelligence. In the case where intelligence is less than wisdom, there is lesser knowledge and understanding, and is therefore more vulnerability to insanity. On the other hand, if a character has a higher intelligence than wisdom, there is even a greater susceptibility due to an understanding of facts without the necessary judgment to put things in their proper perspective. (Ever hear of a “mad scientist”?)

Now that you presumably understand the reasoning (if any), you are prepared to use it. When encountering something that would cause insanity, you must make your Insanity Saving Throw. Refer to the INSANITY SAVING THROW CHART and cross-index your wisdom score (on the left side) with your intelligence score (along the top). This will give you your unadjusted saving throw number. Now, simply add your level (which is at least 1) to that number and roll a 20-sided die. If you roll that number or less, you have avoided insanity. If not, go on to the INSANITY CHART and roll a 12-sided die.


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With Insanity Save Throw Chart, WIS/INT cross index, add character level to that number and roll a 20-sided die – roll under that number to avoid Insanity.

If madness set in, roll a 1d12 for the type of insanity. You’ll notice that there are many types of “odd behavior” listed on the INSANITY CHART, giving us an interesting spread of psychoses. Note: None of these psychoses will be evident immediately unless otherwise stated.


1 = Nutty7 = Severe Paranoia
2 = Kleptomaniac8 = Acute Paranoia
3 = Perverse9 = Gibbering
4 = Psychotic Hatred10 = Grand Hero
5 = Childlike Trusting11 = Violent
6 = Split Personality 12 = Catatonic

1. Nutty: Slightly silly behavior. Generally becoming an odd person with odd ideas and plans. Eccentric.

2. Kleptomaniac: Compulsive thief, with no thief abilities. Sneaks away small objects without real regard to value.

3. Perverse: Takes pleasure in the gruesome or grotesque. Perhaps a little too bloodthirsty when dealing with enemies. Dismemberment is a casual result. Mad laughter in some cases.

4. Psychotic hatred: Violent hatred and immediate, deadly actions when dealing with the type he has a Psychotic hatred of: choose one — Magic users, warriors, clerics, thieves, monks or rangers of same or opposing alignment, men, women, elves, dwarves, hobbits, giants, royalty, police-type, witches, tall people, short people, bearded people, rich people, peasants, leaders, everyone of opposing alliance, etc. Choose one that best fits the tendencies of the character.

5. Childlike Trusting: Total gullibility. Believes ANYONE and ANYTHING.

6. Split Personality. Roll 4-sided die each turn. If a “1” is rolled, personality reverts to the other personality. One personality does not remember the other personality and will often not believe it when told. There are no physical changes, it is all in their mind and actions. Choose from: young-old; violent-gentle; arrogant- shy; confident-unsure; brave-coward; lawful-chaotic; good-evil; generous-greedy; trusting-paranoid; honest-secretive; trustworthy-untrustworthy, or any combination thereof.

7. Severe Paranoia: Thinks everyone is after them. Does not trust anyone, even friends. If someone makes a sudden, possibly dangerous move near them, they may kill them “in self-defense”. Whenever anyone is whispering, they are talking about them!

8. Acute Paranoia: Convinced that everyone wants to kill them immediately, and tries to escape from them, or kill them, immediately.

9. Gibbering: Just as it says. Victim can walk, eat and sleep. They are totally useless otherwise and gibbers all day. They cannot even look for their own food or do basic tasks like cooking.

10. Grand Hero: Whenever the victim meets up with a harrowing, dangerous or deadly encounter/problem, they will attempt to immediately engage, disregarding all things – to save the day on the roll of “1” on a 4- sided die.

11. Violent: Tries to kill as many people as they can as quickly as they can. Not clever, just deadly.

12. Catatonic: Just sits there doing nothing. Won’t eat, talk or move. All thoughts are turned inward and ignores all outside stimuli, including pain. In the above cases, all magic or clerical abilities are functional except when gibbering or catatonic. The cause of insanity is usually up to the Dungeon Master and is often caused by such things as by the strain of a failure of responsibility, meeting of particularly mind-bending creatures such as a lich or demon, or many other interesting reasons.

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