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Mansions of Madness: Second Edition» Forums » General

Subject: What Can I Do About an Insane Traitor? rss

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Justin Colm
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As I understand the rulebook, one of the potential effects of an investigator becoming insane is that he acquires his own agenda and winning conditions, effectively becoming a traitor and potentially working against the group. Okay, fine. But... if this happens what can the other players actually do about it?

Unless I'm missing something obvious, there is no possibility in this game for an investigator to attack another investigator. Even if there was, if we put a bullet through his head ala Randolph Carter, the game ends within a turn and we lose anyway... So if we have a crazy firebug messing up the whole investigation by starting fires left, right and centre what can we do?

There is the 'push' action. That could theoretically keep him at bay in some circumstances or even act offensively... for instance push him into fire... but again, we can't kill him, so that is very limited. Besides which, if we're wasting all our time messing with him we're not completing the investigation. We could potentially keep stealing some important item away from him... but that will very quickly degenerate into tit for tat time wasting.

What exactly do we do about this guy? Wag our finger at him and say 'now now, come on, stop being a jerk'?
 
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Richard A. Edwards
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Use Steal Action to take away his items, use Push Action to move him away from his target, use Barricade Action to block him into a room. There's a few things, but admittedly very limited.
 
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Scott Cantor
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It may depend on your group's "culture", but I can see this mechanic being probably the highlight of our gaming sessions.
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Judgement Dave
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I saw the thread title and thought you were posting about recent political events (on either side of the pond)...
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Chris J Davis
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If there was too much you could do to stop a potential traitor playing from acting, then the game would suddenly become very un-fun for that player.
 
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soak man
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I think you are assuming that "insanity" is automatically a traitor.

I don't think that's the case. For instance, a good example would be a pyromania insanity that require at least one room to be set on fire when the game ends in order to win. The other player is mostly still trying to accomplish the same objective as the rest of the group.

There is nothing in the rules about attacking other players, so I am assuming that you can't. You can steal items, but directly harming another investigator doesn't seem like an option unless you push him into a monster or a fire.

Also, there is nothing in the rules saying that insane investigators are not still investigators. If they die, or another investigator dies, there is still an early end to the game (you get one more turn), unless this is somehow specified on the insanity card. It seems overly complicated for the back of a little card though to rewrite win/loss conditions for anyone other than the investigator who is insane.

The idea, I believe, is that if a friend become insane or wounded, you still have to suffer him/her slowing you down with their erratic behavior or slow movement which really puts the pressure on when, say, you are being chased by the Hunting Horror.

This is just how I imagine it works after reading the manual. But I could be off base. I don't see the game turning into a brawl between investigators though.

If you really don't want insane friends getting in your way, perhaps you should take Carolyn Fern with you if you have access to 1E or care to proxy it.
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Justin Colm
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So do you think we're looking at a 'game over' scenario if this happens unless we can do something very crafty or very convenient? Because 'push', 'barricade', 'steal' etc might help us stop a 'traitor' from achieving his goals but it won't do anything to help us complete the investigation... or will it? Until Friday we can only speculate!

Does our game just descend into hopeless bedlam at that point and we can only win if we get very, very lucky or were already incredible close?

It kind of feels unthematic to me to pussy foot about with a traitor. Again, harking back to Randolph Carter, I feel like thematically you put a bullet through the guy / gal's head. I'm not sure it's the right game for such a mechanic... but that is a different point.


On purely personal note, I will sometimes be playing this game with children or usually with my girlfriend... We might have to ignore the traitor conditions with the former as that just won't work. With the latter it will limit our ability to play multiple investigators each as would be our usual wont, as that clearly doesn't work if one of your investigators is a traitor and the other isn't I guess in that situation you distinguish between player number and investigator number (ie you only have two players, even if it's four investigators, so you treat the '3+ investigators only' limit on the card as being
operational)


soakman wrote:
I think you are assuming that "insanity" is automatically a traitor.

I don't think that's the case. For instance, a good example would be a pyromania insanity that require at least one room to be set on fire when the game ends in order to win. The other player is mostly still trying to accomplish the same objective as the rest of the group.

There is nothing in the rules about attacking other players, so I am assuming that you can't. You can steal items, but directly harming another investigator doesn't seem like an option unless you push him into a monster or a fire.

Also, there is nothing in the rules saying that insane investigators are not still investigators. If they die, or another investigator dies, there is still an early end to the game (you get one more turn), unless this is somehow specified on the insanity card. It seems overly complicated for the back of a little card though to rewrite win/loss conditions for anyone other than the investigator who is insane.

The idea, I believe, is that if a friend become insane or wounded, you still have to suffer him/her slowing you down with their erratic behavior or slow movement which really puts the pressure on when, say, you are being chased by the Hunting Horror.

This is just how I imagine it works after reading the manual. But I could be off base. I don't see the game turning into a brawl between investigators though.

If you really don't want insane friends getting in your way, perhaps you should take Carolyn Fern with you if you have access to 1E or care to proxy it.


Firstly, to be clear, I'm not intending to complain about this mechanic exactly, more to increase the variety of discussion here from the same old topics to more game oriented ones.

But yes, as I noted, the game gives no scope to kill another investigator and even f one could it would end the game to everyone's detriment anyway.

One fine point I think you're wrong about is the idea that the investigator is still working towards the team goal bu with a bit of added hinderence. The way I understand it is he acquires a whole new objective, entirely his own. At that point he, by default, is working against the team because if they complete their objective before he has done his he loses. So it is a full-on traitor mechanic. If he wants to win he has to tank the tank the game for the team.
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soak man
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I think we'll have to wait and see about the full traitor win conditions.

But the game recommends you play 2 investigators if solo, so I don't think they'll be trying to tank the game (imo). And even if they are, in a multi-person game, you could always opt to force the player controlling the insane investigator to give his other investigators to another player, so split 2/2, you could go 3/1 as soon as someone is given an insanity.

It gets more complicated the more insane players you have though, obviously, haha.
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Justin Colm
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soakman wrote:

But the game recommends you play 2 investigators if solo, so I don't think they'll be trying to tank the game (imo). And even if they are, in a multi-person game, you could always opt to force the player controlling the insane investigator to give his other investigators to another player, so split 2/2, you could go 3/1 as soon as someone is given an insanity.


That wouldn't work, as not not all insanity conditions make the investigator a traitor and to give over your 2nd investigator to the other player announces that you are. I think the only solution is not to play with those traitor cards if players are controlling multiple investigators.
 
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High Flying Bird wrote:
It kind of feels unthematic to me to pussy foot about with a traitor. Again, harking back to Randolph Carter, I feel like thematically you put a bullet through the guy / gal's head. I'm not sure it's the right game for such a mechanic... but that is a different point.


Well, to me it feels very thematic. If I were somewhere with a group of friends/colleagues, and one of them started acting weird, my first thought wouldn't be to execute the person. It would be trying to save my friend from himself.

So in this sense it seems very thematic to me, that the options you are limited to are non-lethal options.

High Flying Bird wrote:
One fine point I think you're wrong about is the idea that the investigator is still working towards the team goal bu with a bit of added hinderence. The way I understand it is he acquires a whole new objective, entirely his own. At that point he, by default, is working against the team because if they complete their objective before he has done his he loses. So it is a full-on traitor mechanic. If he wants to win he has to tank the tank the game for the team.


Why can't there be a card saying "You feel perfectly normal."? I hope there is. I want to be unsure what the apparently insane person is gonna do, not automatically know he is an enemy.

As pointed out by others, you are assuming insane = traitor. I hope (and suspect) that insane = random. Which will also be very thematic.
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Ivan Cox
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Under 'Insane' in the rules reference: 'An investigator’s Insane Condition can alter how that investigator wins or loses the game. In such a case, the investigator may wish to perform one or more of the rarely used actions.'

Operative word here being 'can', sounds like:

i) sometimes the insane investigator's win condition becomes directly opposed to the main objective;

ii) sometimes the win condition doesn't change at all (insane investigator is left with some kind of permanent disadvantage (or even a combination of an advantage and a disadvantage) for the rest of the game?).

And maybe also:

iii) sometimes the win condition changes, but not so that it's opposed to the main objective (an additional requirement on top of main objective for the insane investigator? Possibility of allowing the whole group to win when the game ends even if the main objective was failed?).
 
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Ivan Cox
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High Flying Bird wrote:
soakman wrote:

But the game recommends you play 2 investigators if solo, so I don't think they'll be trying to tank the game (imo). And even if they are, in a multi-person game, you could always opt to force the player controlling the insane investigator to give his other investigators to another player, so split 2/2, you could go 3/1 as soon as someone is given an insanity.


That wouldn't work, as not not all insanity conditions make the investigator a traitor and to give over your 2nd investigator to the other player announces that you are. I think the only solution is not to play with those traitor cards if players are controlling multiple investigators.


From the rules ref:

'Each Insane Condition has a required number of players which is indicated on the bottom-right corner on the back of the card. When an investigator gains an Insane Condition, if the number of players is less than the required number of players, he discards that card and gains a different copy of the Insane Condition.'
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Justin Colm
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Excessive Force wrote:
High Flying Bird wrote:
It kind of feels unthematic to me to pussy foot about with a traitor. Again, harking back to Randolph Carter, I feel like thematically you put a bullet through the guy / gal's head. I'm not sure it's the right game for such a mechanic... but that is a different point.


Well, to me it feels very thematic. If I were somewhere with a group of friends/colleagues, and one of them started acting weird, my first thought wouldn't be to execute the person. It would be trying to save my friend from himself.

So in this sense it seems very thematic to me, that the options you are limited to are non-lethal options.


Your first thought maybe, sure... but when it's clear he is insane and starting fires everywhere and endangering everyone's lives and indeed the safety of the entire world... friendship is admirable but if one cannot do what one must in that situation (stop him by any means necessary) then one is weak and is betraying the entire world with their weakness. In a Lovecraft themed game the stakes are as high as they can be. You have a duty to the world to do what you must do. You cannot afford sentiment.

I remember once playing 1st edition with someone not familiar with Lovecraft and they were unsatisfied that the game ended without a conclusive fate for the investigators. I don't remember the exact situation but it was something along the lines of us winning the game but with the investigators left in a very bad position story-wise. How was that winning they asked. And I explained that the game wasn't about heroism and personal glory and that the investigators lives were totally irrelevant. The outcome for the world had they not completed their mission was so dire that they had to accomplish it by any means necessary and that what fate befell them was inconsequential next to that. Once their objective was accomplished the story is over as their individual lives are just so much grist to the mill.

Perhaps you will thank someone for their laudable devotion to friendship when the world is being wiped clean but I won't

Pah. Friendship. This is the world of Lovecraft.

Excessive Force wrote:

As pointed out by others, you are assuming insane = traitor. I hope (and suspect) that insane = random. Which will also be very thematic.


No, I understand it only occurs in certain instances. But when it does occur I have a feeling it will ultimately be fairly blatant. For example, the pyromania card. Once that dude starts lighting random fires you know.
 
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High Flying Bird wrote:
soakman wrote:

But the game recommends you play 2 investigators if solo, so I don't think they'll be trying to tank the game (imo). And even if they are, in a multi-person game, you could always opt to force the player controlling the insane investigator to give his other investigators to another player, so split 2/2, you could go 3/1 as soon as someone is given an insanity.


That wouldn't work, as not not all insanity conditions make the investigator a traitor and to give over your 2nd investigator to the other player announces that you are. I think the only solution is not to play with those traitor cards if players are controlling multiple investigators.


I was suggesting that the person with the insane investigator loses his additional investigators to other players regardless of the affect of the insanity card. You wouldn't know what was under the card, but he wouldn't have access to another investigator who DID. And it may or may not matter in the end so the uncertainty is still present.

And as was mentioned above, there are player number requirements listed on the insanity card. Very good point, as I had forgotten about these. This will probably disallow any of those sorts of those extreme behaviors in a low player count game.
 
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Mariano Rico
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On the paper, it seems like they have thought out a very clever mechanic to simulate madness in the game. Traitor mechanics sadly dont work well in my gaming group, so I will have to try it out and see how it goes. But I really think is clever and well designed.

On the other side, not so sure I like the rule of losing when one player dies. I am afraid it goes more in the way of avoiding player elimination than for gaming or thematic reasons. I understand why its there but also that it probably brings that problem of having to stop the traitor without killing him and going after adventure objectives at the same time, and thus those "pulling your punches" rules to stop other players. But again, will have to try it out before I can say if it works for us or not.
 
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Acererak wrote:
On the paper, it seems like they have thought out a very clever mechanic to simulate madness in the game. Traitor mechanics sadly dont work well in my gaming group, so I will have to try it out and see how it goes. But I really think is clever and well designed.

On the other side, not so sure I like the rule of losing when one player dies. I am afraid it goes more in the way of avoiding player elimination than for gaming or thematic reasons. I understand why its there but also that it probably brings that problem of having to stop the traitor without killing him and going after adventure objectives at the same time, and thus those "pulling your punches" rules to stop other players. But again, will have to try it out before I can say if it works for us or not.


I can see both sides of this. Honestly, in the sort of situation it is, I don't know if I could be so cold-hearted. There are only so many people standing with you against the end-of-the-world. I'd take a half-crazy friend over trying to go it alone. Would I maybe fail? Perhaps. But are you really saving humanity if you can so easily lose yours along the way?

But I'm staunchly in the corner that this fear of a loss will have me and my friends doing everything we can to pull together in a crisis. And if one of us goes insane? Well? I guess I'll keep my eye open for odd behavior and hope he doesn't push me into a fire or into the slimy embrace of a Shoggoth. laugh
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SirRoke wrote:
Use Steal Action to take away his items, use Push Action to move him away from his target, use Barricade Action to block him into a room. There's a few things, but admittedly very limited.


Rich, your experience and resolution at handling traitors makes me ponder...
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Justin Colm
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soakman wrote:

I can see both sides of this. Honestly, in the sort of situation it is, I don't know if I could be so cold-hearted. There are only so many people standing with you against the end-of-the-world. I'd take a half-crazy friend over trying to go it alone. Would I maybe fail? Perhaps. But are you really saving humanity if you can so easily lose yours along the way?


Yes

The world and the people on it physically still existing vs not physically still existing. Philosophy doesn't even come into it. You do whatever is necessary. Sure, if you lose your humanity, your soul in the process you can always blow your OWN brains out afterwards... in true Lovecraftian protgonist style There's a reason Lovecraft's characters go insane or commit suicide: they have glimpsed the brutal reality of an unbiased, uncaring universe in which humanity and all of its lofty notions are worth no more than the bacteria on the rim of the toilet bowl.

Sure, in real life some people would choke at doing what they had to do... but these aren't 'some people' in real life. They're hardened occult investigators in the world of H.P Lovecraft. They're not you and me.

Listen, I'm a moralistic goody two-shoes. I play games like the Walking Dead and won't kill people even when they're trying to kill me. I believe superheroes shouldn't kill and yadda yadda. But this is Lovecraft where the black void is yawning and humanity's pretence of civility and grandeur is just a grotesque delusion.
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High Flying Bird wrote:
soakman wrote:

I can see both sides of this. Honestly, in the sort of situation it is, I don't know if I could be so cold-hearted. There are only so many people standing with you against the end-of-the-world. I'd take a half-crazy friend over trying to go it alone. Would I maybe fail? Perhaps. But are you really saving humanity if you can so easily lose yours along the way?


Yes

The world and the people on it physically still existing vs not physically still existing. Philosophy doesn't even come into it. You do whatever is necessary. Sure, if you lose your humanity, your soul in the process you can always blow your OWN brains out afterwards... in true Lovecraftian protgonist style There's a reason Lovecraft's characters go insane or commit suicide: they have glimpsed the brutal reality of an unbiased, uncaring universe in which humanity and all of its lofty notions are worth no more than the bacteria on the rim of the toilet bowl.

Sure, in real life some people would choke at doing what they had to do... but these aren't 'some people' in real life. They're hardened occult investigators in the world of H.P Lovecraft. They're not you and me.

Listen, I'm a moralistic goody two-shoes. I play games like the Walking Dead and won't kill people even when they're trying to kill me. I believe superheroes shouldn't kill and yadda yadda. But this is Lovecraft where the black void is yawning and humanity's pretence of civility and grandeur is just a grotesque delusion.


I totally get that, but if all Lovecraftian protagonists could do what they knew to be necessary, it would get stale. Besides, FFG's games are quite a departure in the sense that they often give more power to the player than I think is very freely given in the stories that I have read. I'm just saying that I don't have a problem with it thematically.

Also, the FFG books (I've only read two or so) tend to feature a heavy group dynamic where they tend to go to bat for each other as often as able. Even when they go crazy. Especially when they go crazy (see Diana Stanley).
 
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Justin Colm
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soakman wrote:
High Flying Bird wrote:
soakman wrote:

I can see both sides of this. Honestly, in the sort of situation it is, I don't know if I could be so cold-hearted. There are only so many people standing with you against the end-of-the-world. I'd take a half-crazy friend over trying to go it alone. Would I maybe fail? Perhaps. But are you really saving humanity if you can so easily lose yours along the way?


Yes

The world and the people on it physically still existing vs not physically still existing. Philosophy doesn't even come into it. You do whatever is necessary. Sure, if you lose your humanity, your soul in the process you can always blow your OWN brains out afterwards... in true Lovecraftian protgonist style There's a reason Lovecraft's characters go insane or commit suicide: they have glimpsed the brutal reality of an unbiased, uncaring universe in which humanity and all of its lofty notions are worth no more than the bacteria on the rim of the toilet bowl.

Sure, in real life some people would choke at doing what they had to do... but these aren't 'some people' in real life. They're hardened occult investigators in the world of H.P Lovecraft. They're not you and me.

Listen, I'm a moralistic goody two-shoes. I play games like the Walking Dead and won't kill people even when they're trying to kill me. I believe superheroes shouldn't kill and yadda yadda. But this is Lovecraft where the black void is yawning and humanity's pretence of civility and grandeur is just a grotesque delusion.


I totally get that, but if all Lovecraftian protagonists could do what they knew to be necessary, it would get stale. Besides, FFG's games are quite a departure in the sense that they often give more power to the player than I think is very freely given in the stories that I have read. I'm just saying that I don't have a problem with it thematically.

Also, the FFG books (I've only read two or so) tend to feature a heavy group dynamic where they tend to go to bat for each other as often as able. Even when they go crazy. Especially when they go crazy (see Diana Stanley).


I don't want to overstate it (remember, I originally put the unthematic question up as a devil's advocate argument; I think mechanics are more important, and I agree with the person who said having to keep all of the investigators alive seemed good from a tactical perspective); I see it more as a fun argument, so I won't go as far to say I have a problem with it. It just doesn't fit my idea of who and what these investigators would, of necessity have to be (which is to say, not necessarily nice people). I think they would have to be pragmatists or they would have died or gone insane long before now in the world they are involved in... then again, perhaps they are new to the whole game and this IS where they die or go insane I take your point that this isn't really Lovecraft's world but FFG's version of it. But I guess we all project our own story and world onto the game.

To me these are not heroes, they are people whose passage in life has thrust them into the unenviable position of being responsible for the world and their only qualifications for that are their ability to not be killed or lose their mind. In fact i'm pedantic and irritating in correcting anyone I play with who calls them 'heroes', reminding them they are investigators, not heroes I don't really imagine them as a bunch of comrades in arms, fighting and having adventures. I see them as a group of tortured, haunted protagonists thrust together by fate into horrific situations with appallingly high stakes and in which their survival is only pyrrhic.

But ultimately I think a rule like this comes down to what works best for the game practically, and I agree the rule is probably for the best.
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Troy Coberly
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I hope one of the cards just states, "Revive self with fecal matter."
 
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High Flying Bird wrote:
soakman wrote:
High Flying Bird wrote:
soakman wrote:

I can see both sides of this. Honestly, in the sort of situation it is, I don't know if I could be so cold-hearted. There are only so many people standing with you against the end-of-the-world. I'd take a half-crazy friend over trying to go it alone. Would I maybe fail? Perhaps. But are you really saving humanity if you can so easily lose yours along the way?


Yes

The world and the people on it physically still existing vs not physically still existing. Philosophy doesn't even come into it. You do whatever is necessary. Sure, if you lose your humanity, your soul in the process you can always blow your OWN brains out afterwards... in true Lovecraftian protgonist style There's a reason Lovecraft's characters go insane or commit suicide: they have glimpsed the brutal reality of an unbiased, uncaring universe in which humanity and all of its lofty notions are worth no more than the bacteria on the rim of the toilet bowl.

Sure, in real life some people would choke at doing what they had to do... but these aren't 'some people' in real life. They're hardened occult investigators in the world of H.P Lovecraft. They're not you and me.

Listen, I'm a moralistic goody two-shoes. I play games like the Walking Dead and won't kill people even when they're trying to kill me. I believe superheroes shouldn't kill and yadda yadda. But this is Lovecraft where the black void is yawning and humanity's pretence of civility and grandeur is just a grotesque delusion.


I totally get that, but if all Lovecraftian protagonists could do what they knew to be necessary, it would get stale. Besides, FFG's games are quite a departure in the sense that they often give more power to the player than I think is very freely given in the stories that I have read. I'm just saying that I don't have a problem with it thematically.

Also, the FFG books (I've only read two or so) tend to feature a heavy group dynamic where they tend to go to bat for each other as often as able. Even when they go crazy. Especially when they go crazy (see Diana Stanley).

*snip*
I think they would have to be pragmatists or they would have died or gone insane long before now in the world they are involved in... then again, perhaps they are new to the whole game and this IS where they die or go insane *snip*


This is my take on it, and always has been for each game. A campaign situation would be interesting, but I feel like most of the players don't entirely understand the stakes to begin with. Often their backstories tend to suggest that they are swept up in a conspiracy simply by having lost a loved one or made a bad deal with some bootleggers. In fact, I think some of them really couldn't care less what happened to humanity. Some of them like Tony Morgan (I think) are simply out for revenge.

That's one of the reasons why I adore FFG's take on the Mythos. The characters do feel very distinctly different, and I can only imagine their actions would show that.

Lily was told she was literally born to save the world. Tony just wants to kill some monsters. Sister Mary is trying to reclaim her faith in a time of darkness. Zooey is on a murder spree ordained by God. Wendy is just trying to find her parents.

I can't see them all wanting to stand alone or potentially sacrifice themselves (or even comrades/strangers) for the greater good.

But some? Definitely.
 
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