Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Depressed GM's Lament Part 2. (Numenera Game Update)

So it's my birthday...or was a day ago. Yay...

And well, I'm having a funk of it again. I'm better now, but the last few days have been rather nihilisticly delicious. The less I talk about my personal drama here the better, but I did want to explain a few things and talk more about how depression can impact a game master and player.

I've been trying to write more for Exalted. Not just in this blog, but submissions I want to send into Onyx Path to see if they like them, and my ideas, for publishing. However I've gotten out maybe a page of material before a mild form of depression and writes block stymied me. To this day I'm stuck, and I'm admitting to myself that writes block IS a form of depression, at least to me. Which is weird because I can run games all day and night long. Work up NPCs, and interact with players with little to no problem.

How is that you ask? Especially if I'm suffering from writers block? I call it my 'give a damn' boundary. You see, organizing a game, building characters, etc. That's so easy in this day in age with computers and online tools. And daydreaming up games and 'talking' through them via Skype or chat programs is not a big bother.

But writing something, getting my ideas out in a large format like written stories and game mechanics? Like pulling teeth. The 'give a damn' boundary, the depression flairs up and I grow more and more distracted. Which is funny because I can drag myself out every few weeks to sit down and write on this blog with little to no issues.

The ideas are there. Like behind a glass wall. I can see them all day and night, but getting them out feels like Mission Impossible. Perhaps it is just being lazy, but depression makes lazy feel a better than it should.

As a GM, it's very easy to be able to do XY, but then you reach Z of participation and game development and you crash. HARD.

Being depressed does some other things. Horrible things.

Being depressed can make you HATE game system and settings you use to like. Take Exalted for instance. I've been obsessing about it for a while now. And I still like the game, but I had to take a hard break. Otherwise, I would have kept grounding my depression and the game into each other and eventually you start associating your depression, your low moments with the game in question. So the more I feel funky,the more I'll feel funky about Exalted. So the only solution is to take a break. Really, walk away for a few weeks and then come back when feeling better.

Also depression can be triggered by events in the game itself. Things like long downtimes, character interactions that go bad, and in party sniping can mount up turning a depressed GM or player away from the game. If you as a player are feeling depressed you need to consider if going to 'that' session is important enough, of if a week off will help you recover you tolerance for the group play.

That's the catch, anyone suffering from chronic depression needs to weight their tolerance. I know some folks use spoon theory, but I have my own for depression. Static Theory. Depression for me is like static. Most the time bad moods are minor like little snaps and pops on the radio. But as depression moves in the depression grows and so does the inability to filter out the noise of depression from daily life. Until finally the 'noise' level, the depression/anxiety/frustration is ALL you hear and you need to isolate or sooth to get control. Otherwise you just lash out because all stimuli seem harmful to you.

So I weigh my daily static and think if I have enough bandwidth to deal with a game that day/week. Most the time I do. Sometimes I do not.

Interestingly enough at the same time switching systems helps get me past funks. My dive into Numenera has produced an easy to run and quite enjoyable game. I even had updates!

My team consists of the following:

Essafel the Mystical Nano who Fuses Flesh & Steel

Jenner the Graceful Glaive who is a Master of the Blade

Rowan the Mllox Jack Who Exists Partially Out Of Phase

Talon the Mechanical Nano who Talks to Machines

And I have the plot intro:

Convergence Proctor Licar Moter'su of Empty Sanctum began recruiting a team of explorers in Thaemor. Offering a decent pay in shins and a bounty of possible cyphers and artifacts if his team proves useful and trustworthy. He keeps a keen eye out for people with enough numenera experience and combat skill to keep alive. He was delighted to find two nanos who show such familiarity, if vastly different ideologies, over numenera. He seem rather neutral on the nature of numenera as magical or mechanical. For him it's about the utility and power they offer.

Proctor Licar seems to be on the up and up. He makes no quibles about the danger of attempting to enter the Beanstalk and offers a nice ongoing pay of 2 shins a week for peaceful travel, plus expenses, and then 10 shins a day of hazard pay during the dangerous phase of exploration and excavation. Then a nice 10 shin a week during the defense and transport of discoveries made. And his accounts seem to be good. He offers you a holding bounty of 100 shins in Auspar before heading out, only to be claimed if you return with him.

The voyage itself took close to a month using a few gathered cyphers that the Proctor had in his employ. You had to hike the length of Cedryn's Pass throug the Black Riage avoiding the Violet Vale as much as possible. Then you took a glider skiff he had stashed at the end of the pass to reach the border town of The Beanstalk. Once there he advised you NOT to say in any of the local inns, as they tend to over charge explorers and pilgrims that visit the strange tower. He unpacks an impressive but modest set of tents and tools and sets up your first base camp about an hour away from town to the east in a quiet valley not easily spotted from any of the dirt roads.

He sits you down and pulls out a dusty old map that shows the main structure of the base of the bean stalk and a series of isolated ruins and structures around it. The Proctor points out his theory that it's actually all interconnected and accessing a few potentials he's circled might grant access to the underground layer of the Beanstalk itself and his 'key' he keeps talking about will if brought to the right place open up the main tower itself!

So more to come!