Sunday, 18 October 2015

Is There Anybody Out There? Depression, With A BIt Of Roleplaying

...Is There Anybody OUT THERE?
Updates have been non-existent here for a month or so now, which may seem surprising when one considers how full of beans I was after Manchester.  Wasn't I inspired to go on with painting the Imperial Knight?  Didn't I have new terrain ideas?  Wasn't I ready to ramble on more about RPGs?
Er, it didn't quite work that way.

It was all so happy in the last post, wasn't it?

Alas, my depression has kicked in something rotten and what I first thought was a post-weekend-away-dip had rather persisted.  Curiously, it was the exact same time last year I crashed out of the blog - do I just subconsciously hate the bit of October that isn't halloween?  Life is full of mysteries, I guess.

I've not been posting on the blog because I've been struggling to do anything worth blogging about. My painting and modelling has dropped to zero, and I haven't even bought any figures or games worth discussing.  As I often do when I'm sick, I've had a tendency to just sort of stare into space with no expression on my face bar whatever is going on with my Peter Capaldi eyebrows


I shan't bore you with any specifics - this is principally a nerdy blog, not a George Quail psychological confessional - but I shall say that nerdy things are actually part of why I'm down right now.  In an almost mid-life crisis way,  I find the fact that all I do for fun is paint soldiers, read comics and play computer games a bit of a downer right now.  Suddenly I feel very old and very childish in a way I not only have never felt before, but was proud to have never felt before.

.....but since all my hobbies are fairly nerdy this doesn't leave me with much else to do of an evening.  I get caught in a bit of a vicious cycle - I'm too depressed to face the things I like to do, and without anything I like to do I get more depressed.  It would be vaguely amusing if it wasn't happening in my cerebellum.

I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed

Still!  I have some light at the end of the tunnel for people who are interested.  I have been to see my GP a couple of times and they have both increased my anti-depressant dosage and also got me to try some new medication - she seemed to think I was on far too small a dosage before to do anything.  I'm hopeful that with some NHS assistance I should be slowly reassembled in the near future.  

I'm also playing my first wargame in months this week - I've been invited to a game of Dungeonbowl which I'm going to try and give a shot.  Priestly Paul has a visitor who fancies some Oldhammer-y goodness and they've invited me to join them.  I'm hoping if I can jump-start my nerdy side again then I might stop feeling quite so hollow and get back to normal.  

Assuming, of course, that is a return of normality.  (See?  Even when I'm depressed I can still be nerdy)

King Arthur's death at Camlann - this picture is the cover of my copy of Le Morte Darthur

Despite everything I do have some small RPG news to share with you all and to make this post feel a bit less of a downer.  Due to player attendance issue we put Pendragon on hold for a while and have started a block of one-offs.  We've played four different games now in a few different genres and I can say that three of them went well, while one of them was a bit wonky.

The last month of RPG night.
First up was Unknown Armies, a horror game with equal mixture of Cthulhu, The X-Files and The Invisibles. We used a notorious pre-generated adventure called "Fly To Heaven", which is set on a plane getting hijacked - the players are all fairly normal people who slowly realise the hijacking has a supernatural element.   We had some attendance problems on this day which meant only three players - Matthew, Raj and Aaron.

This game was a bit of a flop, alas.  The players we had took the more overtly punchy characters and left the more problem solving ones - and post-9/11, one cannot be surprised that people would assume a hijacking is a suicide hijacking and react violently the moment things go wrong.  (The adventure was from 1998 and might have worked better set back then.)  The supernatural stuff hardly came up because the players leapt immediately to karate-chop and shoot the opposition so exposition and creepiness mostly went in the overheard compartments.  I'd like to try this game again but with a different premise.

My mission - make this scary.

 Next was The Regiment; Colonial Marines which is a free game loosely based on the Apocalypse engine we also used for Night Witches.  (The Apocalypse engine is fairly flexible and seemq uite popular these days.) We have played a game styled like this before - 3:16 Carnage Amongst The Stars - but The Regiment was a much more enjoyable mechanical experience for us and I'd be tempted to fuse the setting of 3:16 with the rules of The Regiment in play again.

Our premise was pretty straightforward - visit a rebellious colony, which is valuable because it has a weapons research station.  All goes well for the Colonial Marines until inevitably the weapons research turns out to be xenobiological in original and there's big scary aliens leaping around.  Rather than just do a straight Aliens reprise, I let the 90s Kenner toy line inspire me and used a design I always liked, the Praying Mantis Alien.  Result: a fire-fight of green insectoid leaping horrors which felt a little fresher than it had any right to.

There's no place like home...

The third game was Fiasco again, which this time we convinced Raj to try.  (Though for Matthew, this game is still a no go because of Wil FUCKING Wheaton.)  We chose the Tartan Noir playset, inspired by local fiction like Taggart, Trainspotting and Shallow Grave.  Our premise ended up being set in a wee working man's pub at the clydeside - the players were various middle aged staff and punters who got involved when gangsters threatened the pub as part of a protection racket, all in an attempt to get some prime dockland land for themselves.

This game was, like our previous, still more funny than horrible - a strong Big Lebowski streak ran through proceedings as drunken forty- and fifty-somethings got involved in shouting matches and punch-ups.  Once again we ended up gender flipping a few people with Raj and I playing an in-the closet lesbian shipbuilder and a troubled landlady, but it was just kinda the way the story was going.  Things went fairly well and once again I would definitely recommend giving the game a go.

Familiar territory for Sister Superior, who is a huge anorankh.
Last week was The Discworld Roleplaying Game.  We've ran this twice before and all three sessions so far have been City Watch games - our nickname for the game is CSI: Ankh Morpork.  Raj, Aaron, Ailsa and Matthew were all available and they presided over a mystery of missing golems which turned into a bigger problem as the first computer virus was introduced to the disc as cover for another crime, in a very Die Hard-esque distraction.  Along the way they got to natter to some established Discworld characters buying a sausage-in-a-bun and asking the Golem Trust for help.

I always enjoy running the Discworld game because it's a world I know well, and so do my players - I don't need to do much work in selling things to them.  It's open enough to be easy enough to insert new concepts while having enough pre-generated people and ideas to help making adventures easy.  Sister Superior in particular is such a big Discworld fan that just letting her run around the Shades makes her happy.

And yet..... the rulebook we use is GURPS based and we just find the rules dull to the point of forgettable. The game isn't bad, by any means, and it's nice to have some stuff already statted up.   But we hardly interact with it - surprisingly few skill checks were made and in three sessions we have had one combat.  I don't know if something else, like Mutants and Masterminds or Burning Wheel (or even Primetime Adventures) would give me more pleasure - if using the rules would feel more enjoyable.

Anyway, there you go, my first blog post in a while.  Maybe we'll  see more soon?

Start with Pink Floyd, end with Pink Floyd, I guess.

1 comment:

  1. George, mate, I'm so looking forward to having you over this Wednesday...thanks so much for sharing this and letting us know how things have been for you. I'm praying for you. And looking forward to smashing your Lustrian Hybrids to bits ;-)