Trail of Cthulhu Rules Clarifications

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Stability

Q: Do you have to make a Stability test when you read a tome?

A: No. [Source]

Q: So, it's when you use the Cthulhu Mythos information you gained from the tome that you become scared?

A: Pretty much, keeping in mind that if your Sanity was already at 10 minus your Cthulhu Mythos rating, your Sanity is lowered merely from adding the Cthulhu Mythos knowledge you just read. [Source]

Q: Can you spend negative points of Stability, if you're already in negative figures?

A: Down to -5, you definitely can. Beyond that, you are blasted, and are not permitted to do anything other than flee, do nothing, or make attacks on perceived dangers, so, I'd say no spends on anything else, although it's not explicit in the rules. (I wouldn't permit anyone to make a spend which takes them below -11, although that is not an official rule.) [Source]

Sanity

Q: In a Purist game, is the distinction between Sanity Rating and Sanity Pool really meaningful? I mean, if Sanity lost can never be regained, my pool and my rating would virually be the same thing right?

A: Pool and rating are the same in Purist games but max sanity is something slightly different, it's basically a cap on your current sanity and changes differently from them. I think the text was written to cope with both styles of play.

In either game, your Sanity is capped by 10 - Cthulhu Mythos if you have any Cthulhu Mythos (CM). If you have no CM, Sanity is capped by being no more than twice your next best ability. This means that if you can avoid Mythos gains then it might be worth starting with more than 10 sanity.

In Purist games you can only ever lose Sanity and your current pool/rating must be less than your maximum Sanity.

So if you have no CM and 12 Sanity, and you gain one point of CM, your maximum Sanity drops to 10 - CM=9 and so does your Sanity, in either variant.

If you gain another point of CM, your max Sanity drops to 8.

If you then lose two points of Sanity, your Sanity drops to 6 but your maximum Sanity stays at 8.

In the Pulp variant you might regain some of the lost Sanity taking it back up to 8. In the Purist version, your Sanity stays at 6.

Let's suppose that you don't get any Sanity back. If you read another tome and gain another point of CM, your max Sanity becomes 7. This is higher than your current Sanity so that does not change, in both variants.

In the Pulp version you might regain a point of Sanity taking it back up to 7. In the Purist version your Sanity stays at 6.

So, even in the Purist version, you still need to keep an eye on your max Sanity because if it ever drops below your current Sanity, you lose the difference. [Source]