Sanity system is a core of the game. This system, which affects all the game mechanics and choices made by the character, motivates the player more than the physical condition of the character. Many choices available to executioner lead to loss of sanity:
- Cruel tortures
- Brutal executions
- Savage combat maneuvers in battles, where character cripples one enemy to scare the rest
- Even magic, which, in the darkest wilds of the gaming world, arises as a continuation of something that is too terrifying for the human mind
Character’s sanity decreases, and the world around him starts to change. Of course, it is only his perception. Sanity represents mental toughness of the character, a moral protective barrier from the chaos that is storming inside of his head. The more chaos erupts outside, the more dangerous life of the executioner becomes.
We reflect this in several ways.
Chaos of perception.
First, our character is a synesthet. This ability will be discussed in a different article. For now, let’s discuss what is relevant to this topic. Half of the time, executioner’s synesthesia is an advantage. He distinguishes truth from lies, sees the betrayal or the innocence, his senses are sharper than the common folk…
But if mind of the character loses its clarity, his perception becomes uncontrollable and begins to send false signals. He can try to ignore them, but important things will be lost in the “white noise.” For example, Theodor can get entangled in omissions or flattery, and miss the lies that are truly important. Or he can see the emotions of everyone around him, but won’t notice the malice of someone who is planning to attack him.
Secondly, the executioner has a tendency for certain problems with his head, which exacerbate in the moments of stress. We are not trying to make the game into a schizophrenic simulator, we are trying to create something different.
Theodor is inclined to sociopathy. He doesn’t understand the society he lives in, doesn’t see any value in it, and doesn’t know how to efficiently communicate with others. The worse his sanity gets, the less he can see humans in surrounding people, and it becomes harder for him to treat others humanly. It is easier for him to treat other’s like animals or items (let’s not recall the animal lovers, we are not talking about the “pet a cat” here, but about “kill the swine for dinner.”) Not too many apologize to the squashed ant, right? The executioner, developing his tendency, will not be sad for squashing those who stood on his path.
How does a walking lie detector feels?
Thirdly, the problem is compounded by the fact that the executioner always knows when someone is lying to him. From the very beginning he encounters the most unsightly actions: relatives betray and kill each other for profit, honest people are being set-up by other’s for personal gain… And this can’t not affect his perceptions.
With a loss of sanity, professional deformation is born within the executioner. He starts to suspect other’s in what they could have done. This makes his sociopathy worse, he stops allowing others to get close to him, seeing hidden motives everywhere. Trust us, you would not want to be the one who expresses their friendly or romantic feeling to Theodor Grim when his will is weak. Person, who has never experienced warm feelings, might interpret them in an extremely negative way. And with the habits of the executioner, consequences are predictable…
Starting from the tutorial, it is obvious that it is very hard for Theodor Grim to leave the torturing cell without losing anything. Of course, victim loses much more (often everything). But the executioner also loses parts of his soul. And there are many victims…
The loss of sanity is reversible. Certain mechanics are implemented in the game, which allow the executioner to stay sane. Two of these mechanics are connected to the humanity and sociopathy parameters of the character. These are two out of seven global variables of the game world, two poles of character’s personality, which we will discuss later in detail. For now, it is important to note that these parameters do not equal Good and Evil.
Model of Redemption
First mechanic is tied to humanity. Theodor Grim battles with sociopathy, embedding himself in the surrounding world, despite internal and external resistance. He does everything in his power to amend the evil he has caused, or maybe he is simply looking for salvation. He is trying to find the experience that contrasts with what he experiences at his grim job, doing things, which help him strengthen the connection with the society. Reaching these experiences, he restores his sanity, strengthens the mind barrier and continues to live.
This requires a lot of effort, because Theodor’s occupation does not promote the development of humanity. Even if he chooses this path, he will still be on the “swings”: he slowly loses sanity at work, and after work, he investigates the cases of victims, which allows him to replenish the lost sanity. This mechanic doesn’t prevent the loss of sanity, and simply assists with the recovery.
As humanity develops, and Theodor Grim starts to adapt and understand the society, some of these barriers disappear, and, for the first time, he can try to complement or persuade others instead of threatening them.
Second mechanic is connected to sociopathy. This path is more typical for our reality, where people, when confronted with the horrors, strengthen their character and become embittered. This game mechanic is called – “mental armor.” The crueler actions hero commits, the higher his mental armor rating becomes. He is getting used to cruelty. This is what allows the hero to stop the mental decay – not become healthy, but stop going crazy.
Executioner slowly gets to a point, where certain actions stop reducing his sanity. Cruel tortures stop causing internal discomfort, and become commonplace. For example, chopping of person’s arm – is an action that can’t be undone, and should be used cautiously. But needles under the nails – is not something terrible, nobody dies from that.
This way, hero can manipulate the surrounding world more violently, not worrying about the consequences too much. This is often because the mental armor and the required sanity loss balance out to zero.
The loss of sanity in this case happens, but stops in the middle. Unlike the “swings” from the previous mechanic, there is no easy and fast way to replenish the lost sanity – even though you still have to spend sanity for some actions. There are moments, when the surrounding world surprises even the hardest sociopath, shaking his mind. The sanity resource becomes something very valuable, but irreplaceable. For a person, who has learned that the surrounding world doesn’t bring anything good, it becomes hard to notice that good things do happen sometimes.
So what’s the bottom line?
Sanity – is a key game mechanic. It forces the wheels to spin. This is a foundation to learn building social ties or to delve into the dark world of violence and black magic. But most importantly – it is the way for the hero to perceive the world. Way, that determines how the world will look back.