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Pretty much every minor and major character in Borderlands shows various degrees of insanity. Most of the population are bandits who are completely crazy. But even the neutral and friendly NPCs show symptoms of various mental conditions, usually of the psychopathic kind. Very few people (like Roland from BL2) seem to be entirely sane.

A good example which shows that Pandora seems to affect newcomers slowly are the audio diaries of Tannis in BL1. She appears to be mentally stable when she comes to Pandora, but the more time she spends on Pandora the more does she lose her sanity.

This made me wonder if the environment of the planet of Pandora does physically affect the mental health of people who live there. Is there any information in the games which supports or debunks this theory?

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    There's nothing in the canon that explains it. This is rather close to a, "Why did they design it that way?" when asking for dev reasoning. – Frank Jul 24 '13 at 12:52
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    You think Tannis used to be sane? That's adorable. – user98085 Jul 24 '13 at 13:00
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    Did the makers of the game ever say something like that, is asking if the devs have said anything about it. That's still asking about developer intent, just in a non-specific manner. That's still off-topic, as per meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/7385/…. – Frank Jul 24 '13 at 13:04
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    @fbueckert It's not a question about why they made a design choice, it's a question about what design choice they made, and I honestly can't see why this is a bad fit for this site. I did, however, remove that part so the question focuses only on canon material. I hope this question is now acceptable for you. – Philipp Jul 24 '13 at 13:11
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    Looks like a lore/plot question to me which is perfectly on-topic. – galacticninja Jul 24 '13 at 13:54
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Yes and no. Pandora as a planet does not appear to actually cause insanity. However, The Vault appears to have a psychosis-inducing effect, evidenced by the Psychos and the vault symbols etched into...just about everything.

The Vault's insane-ifying effects seem apparent due to the Psychos and the Borderlands Wikia points to the Headstone Mine incident as a possible root cause though I must admit I don't recall that bit of the story in detail.

Pandora is however an extremely harsh and dangerous environment; this has indirectly led to the insanity of at least Patricia Tannis. If you listen to her ECHO logs, she's clearly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), although the psychological effects are comically exaggerated compared to the actual condition.

In addition to PTSD, the harsh environment and "gold rush" of the Vault/Eridium has led to a kill-or-be-killed environment. Many of the characters, while not apparently insane, are incredibly murderous and amoral, probably due to this. In addition this brutality is often played for laughs and is simply part of Borderlands' distinctive style.

Note there are plenty of people on Pandora who are NOT insane (Moxxie, the Vault Hunters except Brick, Kreig and possibly Salvador) and there are characters who's apparent insanity is never explained in any way (Zed). You don't have to be crazy on Pandora, it just helps.

  • I haven't played Salvador much, but why is Brick considered insane? Seems more like he just wants to punch things. – Batophobia Jul 24 '13 at 15:33
  • @Batophobia Activate his action skill in Borderlands 1 or listen to the backstory on what happened with Brick between BL1 and BL2. He seems pretty dangerously insane. – Ben Brocka Jul 24 '13 at 16:45
  • @BenBrocka The vault hunters in the games where they are playable are as sane or insane as the player plays them. For your other examples, well... Moxie is maybe not insane, but still quite eccentric and Maya develops a quite unhealthy crush on Roland in BL2. This might be just their normal pre-Pandora personality, though. It seems like Pandora doesn't affect everyone to the same degree. While some people turn completely bonkers, others are strong enough to completely or at least mostly resist the influence. – Philipp Jul 24 '13 at 17:12
  • @Philipp I think we can all agree that Kreig is insane, regardless of how the player uses him, but yes there are various degrees of his insanity (i.e. lighting himself on fire). – Batophobia Jul 24 '13 at 18:55
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    I think it's also worth mentioning Helena Pierce on the 'sane' side of characters - whilst she's a little abrasive when you first encounter her, she improves when the player completes a few jobs around town for her. – Robotnik Aug 24 '14 at 23:46
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In the Pre-Sequel, Handsome Jack was really nice. Had nothing really wrong with him. But he came to Pandora, and decides the best way to stabilise the planet is to kill everyone who appears insane! With the way he talks in BL2, it's clear something happened to Jack, and same goes for others on Pandora. But remember, people were the same on Elpis.

  • To be fair, you start to see fairly early on the brutal streak in Handsome Jack. He's mostly only nice to the PCs because the PCs are helping him, but he does point out that if they ever thought of betraying him he'd burn them alive. This is before he goes to Pandora. – SGR Aug 4 '16 at 10:56

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