Community Project Reboot: Magical Insanity

In my favorite iterations of D&D, magic-users with low intelligence can't access high level spells. They simply don't have the raw material to become an archmage or even a master. But what if their own personal aspirations drove them to attempt it anyway? 

Providing the DM is willing to entertain the possibility -- the strain on the half-witted wizard's mind would be considerable. What might that do to his mind afterward, even if he is successful? Enter: Wizard Madness.

The sort of madness being suggested here should not be confused with the mundane, purely psychic kinds. When magic-users go barmy,they take part of reality with them.


  • Name it.
  • Describe its effects, beneficial and/or detrimental. Include dice mechanics if applicable.
  • Is it permanent or temporary?
  • Let us know if it can be cured by Remove Curse or Cure Disease or some other means entirely.
  • Leave the URL to your blog/site in your comment. Thanks!
  • When a magic-user attempts to learn a spell that is beyond his normal limits, he/she must save vs spell.
  • Success indicates that the mind of the magic-user is unharmed.
  • Failure indicates madness. Roll d30 on the table below.

1Lose Shadow: Your shadow decides to leave you, making you highly paranoid until it returns. (Remove Curse) [Simon Forster]
2Voices From Beyond: You clearly hear a wide and varied selection of disembodied voices, many of demonic bent. This makes it terribly difficult to rest, concentrate, or listen. Save vs. spell to have a night's sleep sound enough to memorize spells in the morning. Double spell casting times unless a save vs. spell is made. Chance to hear noise suffers a -2 penalty. (Remove Curse) [Michael Moscrip]
3Addled Gramarye: Also called Wizard Tongue. Your confused about things in the world and your confusion is potent. When a wandering monster is encountered DM rolls a second time, the wizard thinks the monster is actually the second type. If the wizard mentions anything about this verbally, the monster will begin shifting to actually become the second kind of monster, each round gaining or losing hit and damage dice, special powers after all hit die obtained, etc. This is permanent unless the afflicted is spoken to by a smarter wizard and makes a save which then clears the confusion. [Telecanter]
4Unwinding Touch: As the magic-user loses her grip on reality, so her equipment loses its own. Any non-living item the magic-user touches starts to erode from reality (weapons, equipment, etc), in a reverse Midas Touch effect. Thankfully, the wizard's clothes and backpack are immune -- it must be items held in the magic-user's hands. He can attempt a save vs spell every three rounds to hold the item together with pure willpower, but cannot cast any spells due to the concentration required, and might take a penalty to other actions at the DM's discretion. (Remove Curse) [whiskeytangofoxtrot]
5Faulty Matrix: The higher level spells are unimpressed with their temporary abode, and sometimes tunnel out looking for better accommodations. These escape routes can now be used by any spell inclined to leave. Memorized spells can slither down into the wizard's subconsciousness to make a new home for themselves, while others might attempt to materialize and escape into the physical world. Roll percentage dice whenever the wizard casts a spell: (01) The spell fizzles as it dives into the deep darkness behind your eyes; (100) The spell begins materializing as it escapes through your (mouth/nostril/ear). The process is painful and lasts until the end of the next round, during this time a Remove Curse or Dispel Magic will dissipate the magical energy. Otherwise the wizard takes d6-1 damage as the tail end of the creature materializes inside his body. These beings are typically malformed tentacled horrors with animal intelligence and have 1HD per level of the spell... but who knows what else might be breeding in there. (The only known cure is for a group of trusted associates to enter the wizard's dreams, help his befuddled dream avatar evict all the rogue spells, and repair the damaged spell holding area. Oh, and try not tear up the dreamscape or it's natural inhabitants too badly. Good luck!) [Quibish]
6Brainfart: All the knowledge currently held in the magic-retaining part of the MU's brain escapes in a wild rush out his ears. Anyone standing within a 10-foot radius must Save vs. Spell or roll on the Critical Hit Effects Table - Edged Weapons in this pdf. The MU loses all spellcasting abilities for 1d12 days while the mind heals itself. And even then, the spellcaster only has a 50% chance of memorizing any spell already in his spellbook, and only a 15% chance of memorizing any new spell. This is a permanent effect. Leveling up no longer means automatically gaining access to new spells, or gaining higher-level spells, but are determined by a percentile roll. The effects of the Brainfart can only be reversed with a wish, the benevolence of a deity, or a demonic pact. Perhaps it's not too late to give up magic and become a gardener? [Matt Schmeer]
7Thousand Yard Stare: The unfortunate victim literally can only clearly see what's going on 1,000 yards distant. They are effectively blind to whatever is happening right around them. (Remove Curse) [garrisonjames]
8Memory Leakage: The contents of this poor sot's memories are seeping out past their skull and pooling like so much cat urine on the now yellowed and dismal walls of wherever they sleep or spend the most time. With slight effort, another person could learn a great deal about this victim, but would anyone really want to? (Remove Curse) [garrisonjames]
9Arcane Vacuity: The person affected becomes something of a magical void, their brain literally sucks up spells and scroll-contents, even the words from books that they gaze upon (spell books gain a save), and all that accumulated knowledge and power circulates and percolates within their gray matter...they cannot use any of it, ever...and when it hits a critical mass, it will explode with great force...better lay off the spells and such, at least until a cure is discovered... [garrisonjames]
10Communicative Inversion: Individual units of productive communication by the caster are reversed. In the case of speech for example, words are pronounced backwards, but sentence structure remains the same. This effect may be ignored if the communication is directed at a mirrored surface, or by intense concentration on the part of the caster, with this concentration becoming easier over time. [Porky]
11Sensory Rotation: The caster's perception by means of every sense seems to rotate to face the opposite direction. For example, the caster's eyes may now see as if from the back of the head, and any sensitive surfaces that the caster has sense internal stimuli rather than external. This is largely hallucination, and the perception only an approximation of what actually exists. However, very real phenomena do occasionally appear by this means to the caster alone. Being primarily psychological, the effect may be ameliorated by recognition, analysis and remedial action. [Porky]
12Essential Haemorrhage: The spell takes effect as if cast, but 1d10% of the caster's personal essence per spell level has been dispersed within it. This leaves the caster's current body diminished -- reflected in appropriately reduced attributes -- but creates a permanent, irreversible and existential bond with the entities and spaces coming under the spell's influence, living or otherwise. The caster is haunted by an awareness of the current whereabouts, actions and conditions of these entities and spaces, and by a unity and inner discourse with them. Of course, the caster may simply be imagining it. [Porky]


  1. Reading my last entry - no. 12 in the list - I'm not sure how much was gained by having it so two-tier and focused the way it was. If you think the following version makes more sense, feel free to replace the original.

    Essential Haemorrhage: The spell takes effect as if cast, but 1d10% of the caster's personal essence per spell level has been dispersed within it. This leaves the caster's current body diminished - reflected in appropriately reduced attributes - but creates a permanent, irreversible and existential bond with the entities and spaces coming under the spell's influence, living or otherwise. The caster is haunted by an awareness of the current whereabouts, actions and conditions of these entities and spaces, and by a unity and inner discourse with them. Of course, the caster may simply be imagining it.

    I've done three for this table and I don't want to go hog it (wakka, wakka), but I will happily add more later if there's space.

  2. The Turning Away -
    This condition is brought on by the expulsion of all spells being exhausted at one time. The mage is able to cast one last spell even though all of the meta dimensional energies have left his mind. The mage begins to draw upon the essence of his Id. There creatures, thoughts, demons from beyond the pale, secret s that he doesn't even tell himself await. That one last spell is a key and a gate waiting for him to set it free. Once cast the mage has a 40% chance of noticing what is happening to him and making a save vs death. If successful he keeps all of the forbidden things under mental lock and key.
    If not he begins to experience soul rot. Bits and pieces of his humanity are eaten from within and his wisdom lowers by a point permanently. After 1d4 months he will become possessed by a demon of type C or greater. This thing is a soul clone of the mage and knows all of his dark secrets. The thing will begin torturing the mage from within.
    With a successful wisdom check the mage will become locked in psychic combat with this demon. He will seem cold and logical as his emotional energies are focused on the task of keep this thing chained within his mind.
    From time to time he may call upon some minor ability of the thing. Should he give into the monster then his body will be twisted from within by mutation and horror. He shall become a twisted horror of flesh and bone. A 4 hit dice parody of a man whose flesh lashes out at others with tendrils of acidic corrosion for 1d6 points of damage.The thing is inhumanly tough with an AC of 7. One the cold steel of a sword can put this horror down then.
    Only expensive psychic alteration available in certain Greek or Roman temples may stave off this condition of the soul.

  3. Magician's Fugue (Magical Disease, Permanent):
    * If already under the effect of Magician's Fugue, go to "Total Recall," below.

    The Magician has, in attempting to the Cast the Spell from his Mind, accidentally lodged it into a hidden part of his Psyche. The Magician, while under the effects of this Disease, has completely forgotten his understanding of the Spell that has triggered the Fugue.

    [NOTE: There are many variations of the Art & Science of Magic in the Multi-verse. Some Magicians Cast from a Pool of Power within their Minds through their Known Spells (Known as Sorcerors or Psionics on some Planets). Others Program specific Spells into their Mind-Form that are Forgotten once Cast -- necessitating multiple instances of a Spell to be Memorized if the Magician wishes to Cast a specific Spell more than once (Known as Wizards or simply Magic-users on some Planes).
    In the latter form of Spell-Magic, the Magician loses the other instances of the Spell in addition to the one Cast that triggered the Fugue. While in the Former, only the Magician's understanding is impacted, not the Pool of Energy utilized for Castings.]

    While under the effects of the Fugue, further Castings of the Spell that triggered the Fugue is impossible -- effectively striking the Spell from the Magician's list of Known Spells. This is a Permanent Magical Disease and can only be removed by way of a Remove Disease Spell or similar.

    Note: Even redundantly researching the Spell so-forgotten will not bring the understanding of it back to the Magician. The Spell is a complete mystery to the Magician now.

    * Total Recall (Instant)

    If a Magician who is currently under the effects of Magician's Fugue comes under the effects of the Fugue again -- the secret part of the Magician's Mind where Spells sometimes get lodged is blasted open by the transposition of a second Spell. This results in two effects:

    The primary effect of this is that the Spell that has triggered this second instance of Fugue is NOT forgotten -- AND the Spell that was originally forgotten is remembered.

    The second effect of this is that the old Spell that has been remembered is immediately Cast as the Magician's total recall of the Spell is psychologically explosive -- the exact effects (targets et cetera) should be randomly determined by the DM.