Derangements

Derangements are behaviors that are created when the mind is forced to confront intolerable or conflicting feelings, such as overwhelming terror or profound guilt. When the mind is faced with impressions or emotions that it cannot reconcile, it attempts to ease the inner conflict by stimulating behavior such as megalomania, bulimia or hysteria to provide an outlet for the tension and stress that the conflict generates.

Characters receive derangements under conditions of intense terror, guilt or anxiety. If a player botches a Virtue or Willpower roll (for example, when confronted with Rotschreck) the Storyteller may decide that the experience causes a derangement in the character. Other examples of derangement-incuding events include killing a loved one while in a frenzy, being buried alive, or seeing hundreds of years of careful scheming dashed in an instense and unpleasant emotion or thoroughly violates a character's beliefs or ethics is severe enough to cause a derangement. The Storyteller alone determines which derangement a character receives, choosing (or creating) one appropriate to the character's personality and the circumstances of the event that caused the disorder.

It must be noted that people who are "crazy" are neither funny nor arbitrary in their actions. Insanity is frightening to those who are watching someone rage against unseen presences or hoard rotten meat to feed the monsters that live next door; even something as harmless-sounding as takling to an invisible rabbit can become disturbing to onlookers. The insane, however, are only responding to a pattern known to them, stimuli that they perceive in their own minds. To their skewed perceptions, what's happening to them is perfectly normal — to them. Your character's derangement is there for a reason, whether he's a Malkavian who resided at Bedlam before his Embrace or a Ventrue who escaped from five months of torture at the hands of an Inquisitor. What stimuli is his insanity inflicting on him, and how is he reacting to what's happening? The player should work with his Storyteller to create a pattern of provocations for his derangement, and then decide how his character reacts to such provocation.

Derangements are a challenge to roleplay, without question, but a little time and care can result in an experience that is dramatic for all involved.

The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present:

  • The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others
  • The person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror

Either while experiencing or after experiencing the distressing event, the individual has three (or more) of the following dissociative symptoms:

  • A subjective sense of numbing, detachment, or absence of emotional responsiveness
  • A reduction in awareness of his or her surroundings (e.g., "being in a daze")
  • Derealization
  • Depersonalization
  • Dissociative amnesia (i.e., inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma)

The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in at least one of the following ways: recurrent images, thoughts, dreams, illusions, flashback episodes, or a sense of reliving the experience; or distress on exposure to reminders of the traumatic event.

Marked avoidance of stimuli that arouse recollections of the trauma (e.g., thoughts, feelings, conversations, activities, places, people).

Marked symptoms of anxiety or increased arousal (e.g., difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor concentration, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, motor restlessness).

The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning or impairs the individual's ability to pursue some necessary task, such as obtaining necessary assistance or mobilizing personal resources by telling family members about the traumatic experience.