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A Shallyan priestess tending to the mad.

Through the course of their lives, adventurers can count on being stabbed, chopped, slashed, burned, shot, impaled, mangled, and mutilated. They can also count on being exposed to hideous mutants, graphic scenes of horror and carnage, torture, unholy rituals, vile creatures, and still other more disturbing images of Chaos. After all that, it’s no wonder that so many of them go Insane.[1a]

There’s only so much punishment an adventurer’s mind and spirit can take. Imagine the brain of a pugilist after a hundred fights — then two hundred. You get the idea. Stress and trauma will, over a period of time, cause an individual to develop a serious mental disorder.[1a]

Insanity in the Old World

Insanity is viewed with repulsion, suspicion and fear in the Old World. The current belief is that insanity is caused by Chaos, for just as it can mutate the body, so too can it twist the mind and spirit. Therefore, insanity is seen by many as just a mutation on the inside. However, there is a vocal, dangerous minority of fanatics who believe that insanity is actually caused by Daemonic possession.[1b]

Lunatics can be tolerated in small communities if their disorder doesn’t manifest itself in any malevolent way, and their condition invokes either humour or pity. These “village idiots” are usually treated kindly, or at least not actively persecuted. But raving madmen and other aggressive or bizarre individuals with disorders are driven out of towns and cities by frightened mobs throwing rocks; and if they are killed during the pursuit, so much the better. But no one wants to get too close because many believe that insanity is also contagious.[1b]

It should be noted that all of the disorders which can afflict adventurers are not benevolent in any way, and the strange behaviour their disorders provoke would not be considered amusing nor would it arouse any feelings of compassion from the kind-hearted.[1b]

Witch Hunters and other Zealots have no tolerance for individuals with mental disorders, which is ironic considering many of them suffer from paranoid delusions. These fanatics firmly believe that a Daemon of Chaos has taken up permanent residence in the body of the afflicted individual, destroying the spirit of the former host. These foul mockeries must be thoroughly obliterated by sword, fire and drowning. A handful of Witch Hunters hold onto the hope that once the Daemon is purged, the spirit of the possessed will return, but most of them consider this notion foolishly sentimental.[1b]

However, all hope is not lost for the deranged. The clerics of Shallya offer a strong, dissenting point of view on insanity. Although they are uncertain of its origin, the clerics of Shallya believe their Goddess considers insanity another kind of disease that her followers are dutifully obligated to cure. For though insanity resists all secular treatments, there are instances on record when divine magic was able to remove an individual’s disorder. Of course, to some this thinking is heretical.[1b]

There is also a very small and scattered group of physicians who, whether out of curiosity or ambition, refuse to accept the current superstitions about insanity. These doctors dream up their own ideas about what causes insanity and how to cure it. But they tend to keep quiet about their experiments, and make sure their research is done in secret. No one wants a Witch Hunter knocking on his door. Most of these physicians’ treatments are outrageous, dangerous and bizarre, like ingesting poisons or drilling holes into the skull.[1b]

The concept that an individual can be addicted to alcohol or drugs is unknown in the Old World. There are a few crusading priests who rail against the evils of alcohol, but they always blame the liquor and not the drunk. Few take the dire ramblings of these priests very seriously. As for drugs, their use is kept mostly private and underground. Drug addicts can come from every social class of the Old World, and drugs are frequently used in religious ceremonies and on the field of battle. But the addictive properties of drugs are not yet widely understood, even among physicians, and the curative benefits of many drugs seem to outweigh the possible side effects. Drugs are also not as easily available to the public as readily as alcohol is, and only a few enlightened scholars have connected their use with crime, poverty or insanity.[1b]

The followers of Chaos also take an interest in the insane. They too believe that insanity is caused by Chaos, but consider mental disorders to be a kind of blessing, much like a mutation. The insane are thought to possess great insight, prognosticatory powers, and perhaps even the ability to speak directly to the Gods of Chaos. Cultists of Tzeentch are especially fond of the insane because they believe the warping of the mind to be a direct gift from their God. These cultists kidnap lunatics for study, experimentation and unholy rites. Few survive the adoration.[1c]


Vampire Disorders


  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Core Rulebook
    • 1a: pg. 200
    • 1b: pg. 201
    • 1c: pg. 202