Viva la Vida
Derangements are behaviors that occur when the mind is forced to confront intolerable or conflicting feelings, such as overwhelming terror or profound guilt. When your character is faced with impressions or emotions that he cannot reconcile, his mind attempts to ease the inner turmoil by stimulating behavior such as megalomania, schizophrenia or hysteria as an outlet. People in the World of Darkness, unwittingly tormented, persecuted and preyed upon by incomprehensible beings, often develop these ailments by the mere fact of existing. Alternatively, regret, guilt or remorselessness for inflicting abuses eats away at mind and soul. The night’s creatures are not immune to such pressures, either. Existence as an unnatural thing overwhelms what little humanity these beings might have left, driving them mad.
The primary means by which your character may develop derangements is by performing heinous acts and suffering the mental or emotional repercussions.
Otherwise, the Storyteller may decide that a scene or circumstance to which your character is exposed is too much for him to bear and he breaks under the pressure. A bad drug trip might reveal too much of the monstrous reality of the world for a person’s mind to bear. A drug overdose could imbalance a character mentally. Or witnessing a creature in all its horrific glory might make an onlooker snap.
Ailments caused by fallen Morality can be healed through your character’s own efforts toward treatment or contrition (by spending Experience Points). The Storyteller decides if a more spontaneously inspired condition is temporary or permanent. A spontaneous ailment might be temporary, lasting until the character resolves the situation that triggered the condition. It might become permanent if reconciliation is refused, the condition goes untreated, or the trigger that caused it is insurmountable. With Storyteller approval, a starting character might have a spontaneously inspired derangement as a Flaw, gaining experience in stories in which the condition or problem is prominent. Spontaneous ailments developed during play might be represented in-game as evolutionary Flaws, not ones established at character creation.
It must be noted that people who are “crazy” are neither funny nor arbitrary in their actions. Insanity is frightening to onlookers who witness someone rage against an unseen presence or hoard rotten meat “to feed to monsters.” Even something as harmless-sounding as constantly talking to one’s self can be disturbing to observers.
The insane respond to a pattern only they grasp, to stimuli that they perceive in their own minds. To their skewed perceptions, what happens to them is perfectly normal. A character’s derangement is there for a reason, whether she committed a crime or saw her own children devoured. What stimuli does her insanity inflict upon her, and how does she react to what happens? Work with the Storyteller to create a pattern of provocations for your character’s derangement, and then decide how she reacts.
A full list of Derangements can be found here.