The Sanitarium

I thought this concept would lend itself towards a lot more conflict or exploitable resources when I first started writing it. As it is, it kind of straddles the line between an actual hex encounter and just a landmark. That’s fine, the hexcrawl can have somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 landmarks before the interesting encounters start to get too diluted, but I still wonder if there’s more potential in this idea I’m not realizing. The most fleshed out part of the encounter as it stands is Mycandra’s amateur hour diagnoses, and while that was fun to write, it’s not even an angle of infiltrating the sanitarium that I expect most parties to attempt, since it requires splitting the party.

Summary: A minor noble with a fascination with madness has rounded up several lunatics for experimentation – and if they weren’t crazy before he imprisoned them in his sanitarium, they certainly are now.

Discovery: The sanitarium is not at all disguised or hidden. It is built atop a low hill, with a wall encircling the sanitarium itself and several surrounding fields where the inmates perform farm work to keep it mostly self-sufficient. The prominent position and high wall make it difficult to miss in the surrounding mostly-flat countryside. The location of the sanitarium may also be acquired in the villages from 07.08 and 06.07.

Exploration: The doctor wants no intrusion. Any visitors will be confronted by his gatekeeper, who will ask if they have a lunatic to drop off. If the characters do not, the gatekeeper will inform them that no one is permitted entry to the sanitarium as it may disturb the patients, but if the characters know of any mentally ill people, the sanitarium is always looking for new subjects for study. If the characters claim to have a lunatic in tow, the gatekeeper will give them a small pile of money that counts as a Common(+10) item for purposes of trade, thank them for their visit, and tell them there’s more where that came from if they can find others. The gatekeeper will buy up about two dozen lunatics (for the same Common(+10) pile of money each time) before running out of funds to pay for them in the gatehouse’s lockbox.

If the characters drop off one of their own as a lunatic, then the character so dropped off is first taken to an examination room in the gatehouse, which simply has two chairs and a table in between. The guards will lock the characters wrists and ankles to the chair and wait for the examiner to arrive, which takes only a few minutes. The doctor’s assistant, Mycandra, will ask the character a few questions about where they’re from, where they grew up, what their profession is, whether they have a family, and so on. Make note of their answers and try to think of ways to pathologize them for Mycandra to report to her boss, Doctor Ramalies, the owner of the sanitarium. If the character has described any contact with the supernatural or other occurrences, Mycandra reports them as hallucinations. If the character claims to be acquainted with or enemies with anyone powerful, such as mayors, sorcerers, the cardinal, and so on, Mycandra reports it as delusions of grandeur.

If Mycandra doesn’t find anything immediately unusual about the character’s answers, she will begin trying to find threads to pull, and ask potentially deeply uncomfortable questions. If the character reports being married, Mycandra will ask invasive questions about their sex life. If the character answers at all, Mycandra will mark them down as having an unnatural prefixation with whatever acts or features they mention, and if they refuse, she will mark them down as obviously hiding some degenerate behavior. If they report having no sexual partners, Mycandra will ask about any opposite-sex acquaintances they have, and ask how frequently they think about these acquaintances and in what contexts, if they ever picture them naked. If they answer in the affirmative, Mycandra reports them as having a prefixation with the person, and if they show any disgust at all when answering in the negative, Mycandra will report them as having a prefixation and trying to hide it, noting that they may possibly be a pathological liar as well. As an alternative, or if the character has no significant opposite-sex relationships, Mycandra will ask about same-sex friends or acquaintances, and if they admit to any kind of deep loyalty or friendship, Mycandra will mark them down as a homosexual deviant (if the character admits to being in a gay relationship outright, Mycandra will not react immediately, but will definitely mark that down). If the deep well of sex-related psychological hackery runs dry but the character shows any signs of agitation, Mycandra will report them as being neurotically anxious. If the character ever makes any kind of physical threats, Mycandra will report them as being psychotically violent. If the character manages to glide through absolutely all of that without producing anything that can be pathologized, Mycandra will default to reporting them as a compulsively lying sociopath with a superficial charm who puts great effort into appearing sane.

After a few minutes of examination, the sanitarium’s owner, Doctor Ramalies, enters and asks Mycandra for her report, at which point she will report the new patient’s “symptoms.” If the character bothers protesting (there’s probably a rescue on the way once they scope out the inside, or they might have psyker powers or a hidden mutation or some other means of hacking their way through a handful of security guards with minimal difficulty, so they might not see any reason to care), the doctor will wave them off and say they’ll talk more about it later.

The sanitarium is interminably dull punctuated by moments of madness and terror. Patients are locked in cells with heavy steel doors and tiny little observation windows with spartan furnishings. Meals are served in a common room for patients who are cooperative enough to be permitted out of their cells in the morning, most patients have jobs around the sanitarium that take up most of the day, and the ones who don’t are left in the common room to their own devices. Those of the patient population who already were insane or were driven insane by the conditions are not improving under the care of Ramalies and Mycandra, and will sporadically completely flip the fuck out, screaming incoherently, trying to run away or hide, or attacking one of the two guards stationed in the common room. Such outbursts are punished by locking the patient in their cell (and usually also into a strait jacket) and keeping them there until Ramalies or Mycandra stops by to talk to them and “make sure they’re stable.” This can sometimes take days. Some patients, driven insane by the isolation and immediately acting out when Ramalies/Mycandra approach, are kept in for weeks and usually at some point they’re quietly disposed of in the middle of the night. Other times, Ramalies keeps them around for purposes of experimentation.

Speaking of, Ramalies will have patients taken from the general population more or less at random to experiment with electroshock therapy and new medications. If this happens to a player character, the electroshock therapy causes a Fear(2) test and the drugs have a random effect for the following 1d5 days, rolled on the following d10 chart.

Roll Result
1 The pills induce hallucinations. The character is affected as though hit by a weapon with the Hallucinogenic(1) quality once every few minutes.
2 The character is heavily sedated by the meds. They gain five levels of fatigue which cannot be recovered until the medicine wears off.
3 -1d10 Willpower
4 -1d10 Perception
5 -1d10 Intelligence
6 -1d5 Willpower
7 -1d5 Perception
8 -1d5 Intelligence
9 The pills make the character calm and sedate. They are unable to frenzy and take a -10 penalty to WS tests.
10 The pills make the character restless and agitated. They take -1d10 Fellowship, but can ignore the first level of fatigue they take.

If characters force their way in using the authority of the Inquisition or someone important and powerful from Grey Harbour, or if they sneak their way in, they can see the experiments Ramalies conducts on the inmates of his sanitarium and how they’re kept. Ramalies makes little effort to hide what he’s doing if forced to entertain visitors, so about the same information is gleaned as if a character infiltrated as a lunatic, though with much less personal risk.

Confrontation: With the exception of maybe some building code violations, it’s all pretty well within the bounds of Imperial Law. Imperial-aligned characters have little to do here. Chaos-aligned characters might want to kill Ramalies, Mycandra, and their grand total of four security guards and recruit the thirty-odd lunatics, might want to induct the lunatics into a Chaos cult while they’re here, then leave them to rot in the sanitarium until they stumble across enough juju to stage an uprising or curse Ramalies and Mycandra. The possibilities are endless, but there is no immediate source of conflict unless the characters decide to kill Ramalies and Mycandra on principle and/or for funsies.

Rewards: Other than being an easy supply of thirty-ish reasonably loyal lunatics, many of whom will become reasonably sane and fairly loyal after a few weeks out from under the attentions of Doctor Ramalies, the sanitarium is mainly worthwhile only as a large building in the middle of a sizable patch of wilderness, if that is for some reason useful. If the building is cleaned out, a few dozen of Doctor Ramalies’ drugs can be acquired. There are ten different varieties of pill, and a hundred-odd of each variety. The drugs have unpredictable effects on different people, so while a type 1 pill might have effect 1 on one person, it could have effect 5 on another. Every time a character consumes a new pill type, roll again on the chart. Do not reroll if they get the same result as they got on another pill.

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