Metamorphosis Rules

Hi there again,

This is the last subsystem I’ve been working on for my next campaign and it was probably the trickiest one. So any feedback, criticism and suggestions are appreciated here again:

To give it a quick rundown of the concept: This system is supposed to emulate transformations based on whatever has triggered a level of Insanity (see this thread for the Insanity rules: Sanity/Insanity Rules) in a PC.

I’m also looking to incorporate custom feats that interact with the Transformations, so any ideas are welcome!


Okay, if you start with two extraordinary attributes, will your insanity increase the first time you lose your sanity? Or will you get some kind of bonus? And can you choose even three extraordinaries in the beginning, incurring two levels of insanity? If you start with certain insanity, do the transformations take hold from the beginning? This one might be difficult, since the character hasn’t suffered any traumas yet… he just talked to more than one spirit. Maybe he will become like a spirit? :sweat_smile:

Does the automatic Cosmetic Deformity flaw stack with the flaw that you have to pick due to gaining an Insanity level? And if you already have a Cosmetic Deformity, will you get “another one” (Thus being able to gain two legend points per gaming session from deformities)?

All in all, I like the idea of characters slowly drifting into oblivion. However, it seems like a very abrupt change from insanity 3 to insanity 4, as the character loses control from one moment to the next. Maybe you could gradually reduce player agency with increasing Insanity to make it more fluent and to show them that their grip is loosening? Maybe when they roll low enough (depending on Insanity level) on their d20 in an action roll, the GM chooses what the character does (similar to failure, but story progresses, but this could happen even if the roll succeeded)?


You would start with 1 level of insanity for every extraordinary attribute you’ve invested points into past the first one. Any time a human gains Insanity, the transformation progresses, so yes you could start at stage 1, 2 or 3, if you’d chose to. Going beyond that is pointless for a player, because than they’d have no character to play. There is no bonus to this, besides having the extraordinary attributes, but I’m thinking about adding a custom feat to allow Humans to access another extraordinary attribute, because either their Spirit is particularly poweful or because that Human’s mind can handle two spirits.

You don’t gain Cosmetic Deformity from Insanity, as those are limited to “mental” flaws, which is loose enough, but Cosmetic Deformity doesn’t make sense to include in that list. I am considering though to add a special campaign flaw to represent the social stigma of visible signs of transformation better, and then the players could chose to downgrade that flaw into Cosmetic Deformity with the help of a feat, but it’s only an idea so far.

I’ll think about something to represent that gradual decline, but I don’t think that taking over a character as a GM, especially during the action, is the way to go, because most players I know would rather see their character die under their control, than having to watch someone else screw their character up without a way to intervene. That would be d**k-level GMing.

How about this: Any time you take Sanity damage there is a chance that you lose control over yourself and that your haunting take over your body. The further you are along the stages of your Transformation, the more often this will occur, as your mind becomes more and more vulnerable:

Stage 1: Whenever your Sanity takes 10 or more damage during a short amount of time
Stage 2: Whenever your Sanity takes 5 or more damage during a short amount of time
Stage 3: Whenever your Sanity takes damage

Whenever these conditions are met, they trigger an episode during the next rest, during which a person might not remember everything they have done or they might behave in an alienating ways, which could raise suspicions in their social surroundings.


Maybe you misunderstood my suggestion. Whenever a player performs an action and rolls equal or below their insanity level on the d20, the action automatically fails and the GM decides about the outcome for only this one action. For instance, a Human with IL 3 tries to bite an opponent with her new, shiny werewolf teeth. She rolls a 2 on the d20. This means the GM decides the outcome, no matter what the attribute dice say. The GM might rule, that instead of biting the tasteless animated scroll golem, her teeth seek the juicy flesh of a teammate, who needs to dodge and is now prone. After that the player is back in control. Is that really “screwing up the character” as a GM? But, hey, it was just a suggestion :sweat_smile:

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No, I think I understood correctly, I just strongly dislike the idea for two reasons:

  • I think having the possibilty to lose occur on any roll is overkill. I could see myself implementing a system where it triggers on extraordinary rolls (during combat), because a) it mirrors the Gnomes’ Wild Magic and b) it is tied to their haunting as they provide access to the extraordinary abilities. This is the minor gripe with your suggestion I have though.

  • I don’t think losing control over a characters, without any possibility to prevent it or to intervene, is fun for the players and then having to decide what the character does is neither for me. At that point a GM would have to decide how a character would lose control over themselves, which sounds rather oxymoronic to me.

Your idea has some potential idea though, so here is a little rework, which should put less strain on the GM and focuses a bit more on randomly losing control (with some inspiration taken from the Pathfinder Confusion spell):

Anytime a human character tries to invoke magic during combat, using an extraordinary attribute, and their d20 lands on a number equal to or below their character’s insanity level, the haunting takes over the character’s mind and body for the next round. Roll a d6 to determine what the haunting tries achieve with their host’s body instead of the original action:

  1. Lose all bodily tension and drop unconciously (PL5) to the ground
  2. Attack the nearest ally
  3. Attack yourself
  4. Manifest a weak form of the Haunting for 1d4 rounds via the Summon Creature boon, with PL equal to your maximum possible score. This summon can act immediatly
  5. Try to heal an enemy with whatever means available to you
  6. Make the host relieve the moment when they gained their last level of insanity, resulting in 5 Sanity Damage

Obviously the list could be exapanded or improved, so I’m eager to hear suggestions!

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So another person suggested to me tying the haunting taking over to the Social attributes, instead of tying it to the Extraordinary attributes, to contrast it against the Gnomes and their Wild Magic. I love that idea, because it ties much better into the social nature of human beings and fear of isolation, so here is a mixture of that concept with the previously proposed idea from @Duesterwald of losing control:

Anytime a human character tries to negotiate, impress or swindle during a using a social attribute and their d20 lands on a number equal to or below their character’s insanity level, the haunting takes over the character’s mind and body for the next round and instead intimidates, scares or reveals secrets to all others around. During a social encounter a person using Persuasion might threaten another instead, or when using Deception, one might instead reveal their true intentions instead. When using Presence to rally your allies, either during a social challenge or via the Bolster boon during a combat, will instead Demoralize them and trying to heal them in combat will instead hurt their fighting prowess.

What do you guys think of this iteration?

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this all sounds pretty cool. Can’t wait to see this whole system put together. I do hope you plan to share it in some way.x

I’ll quite certainely post an update once all the systems have been put through some playtesting (which might or might not change some of it). I don’t know though about sharing the rest of the campaign and the setting, as writing for myself and my players is very different from writing for other people. I’d have to think about presentation, and making it coherent and engaging for the reader, which I’m not sure I could actually do and is actually quite a lot more work.

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thats all very true. well so far the systems seem interesting.