Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Anxiety & Dragons

If you've been around here long enough you've seen me write about my mental illness--I have General Anxiety Disorder--which means, essentially, my fight or flight goes off a fair bit more than usual and doesn't always need a reason. I've been taking medicine for over 20 years and it makes things a lot better and I'm one of the lucky ones.

My gaming group from 1991 to about 2006 was fairly stable and had up to 11 players at any given time. We were all fairly young and there was a lot of drama--almost constant drama--all of the time. If I'm honest with myself I created the majority of the drama because my mental illness was not being treated nor had it been diagnosed. For various reasons my self-esteem was intertwined with being the group's Game Master and also its "leader"--more like a "group mom" really. As my Anxiety increased my decisions became worse and the drama got worse as well. It was a dark time in my life as I took something I loved and was supposed to be fun and twisted it up.

Things got better after 2006, for a variety of reasons, but much of it has to do with the medicine I was on as it was very, very effective. Not all meds are created equal and everyone is very different in how they interact. 

I have always had Gamer ADD but after starting this medicine it mostly disappeared which allowed me to start this blog and eventually run several long-term campaigns including at levels 1 to 20 DnD 5E one.

Almost two years ago that medicine stopped working--the truth is it worked for about 12 years which is a remarkable amount of time--and while the new medicine is pretty good it doesn't handle the Gamer ADD as well and some of the old feelings have bubbled up.

At my worst, I was both obsessive and paranoid and my fight response was far more dominant than my flight response so I was a raging bitch sometimes. Thankfully, a combination of coping mechanisms and experience let me see the behavior as it starts to bubble up again but it doesn't remove the emotions.

The emotions are recurring because we've just finished an excellent 5E campaign after almost 2 years and I just assumed that I would run next. However, I didn't share my assumption with anyone and another DM did communicate their desire to run. This DM is a great friend and a great DM but a part of me feels hurt because I wasn't asked to run. Obviously, this is an immature response fueled by my mental illness and there is absolutely no real issue here. My group is filled with wonderful and kind people and we have a great time together.

This situation is compounded by the fact that I'm starting a Roll20 5E game and some of the players don't know if they can commit yet but sadly my anxiety tells me that I'm not a good DM and they just don't want to play in my game because they don't like me. Again, these are wonderful and good people involved and there isn't anything sinister about any of their situations.

I'm writing about this because I try to be very open with my mental illness and I'm just letting people know it's okay to talk about it and realize that you can beat it. I've felt fragile and been really low before, to the point that I considered suicide and I just want everyone to know that you are important, you are stronger than your illness, and the world is a better place with you in it. Don't kill yourself, there are good people out there for you, you can be diagnosed, you can be treated, and you are not the exception to recovery. 

My situation probably isn't unique and the best thing I think I can do is to enjoy the new campaign as a player and just be flexible with people's schedules for my Roll20 game.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Riftbound Keep: Races

Palladium Books' Rifts is always on my mind to one degree or another. I began thinking about a DnD 5E game where the players have to the Keep which is surrounded by the Borderlands--an area where leylines run wild and rifts open and close constantly. It is controlled by the mysterious being known as the Castellan, who offers relative freedom and a path to riches undreamt of as long as you live by the Code: No violence and no thieving within the walls, and to break the code means being petrified and placed within the Forest of Fools that visitors must pass through in order to enter the Keep.

I try, quite often, to convince myself to run Rifts with its own system (I'm not a fan of Savage Worlds because I like Hit Points), but I like 5E and so does my group.

One of the things I would do in this campaign would be to limit the races available.

Humans, Dragonborn, Tortles, Aarakokra, Minotaurs, Shifters, Leonin, Lizardfolk, Tabaxi, Yuan-Ti Pureblood, Kalashtar, Simic Hybrids, Warforged, and Loxodons would be the races I'd greenlight. I'm not saying that other races couldn't be considered this is just that I'd like some unusual choices and I'm a fan of Palladium's TMNT and Other Strangeness and After the Bomb games. For me, Kalashtar are good to represent Mind Melters and Dragonborn are a good option for Dragon Hatchlings and I'd allow the Dragon Wings feat from this Unearthed Arcana.

In terms of other changes to character creation, I'd give every character an extra Feat at 1st level.

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Plague Year

For me, it's become harder to focus on RPG material with so many terrible things occurring within the world, and obviously, the COVID-19 global pandemic was front and center for last year. I've always tried (and failed sometimes) to keep world events, especially politics from this space and I've become so disillusioned this year that I didn't know if I could do that so I took some time away.

As I've written before I have General Anxiety Disorder but I have a good support circle including my GP so I weathered that storm better than I expected.

Our group is still playing and we are starting our final adventure in our Saltmarsh campaign. I'm enjoying being a player and honestly can't wait to get together each week. My monk died and I'm now playing a 16 the level Human Fighter Battle Master. I like the Battle Master but unless you are taking short rests fairly regularly it's a bit underpowered.

I haven't worked on any new products even though I have a couple of ideas, mostly because my wife's parents retired this year and we are in the process of buying their comic and game stores from them. I'm busier than ever and we are always brainstorming new ways to connect with customers.

I need to thank Wizards of the Coast for its Magic: the Gathering products that helped keep us afloat this year, especially some free products that made a huge difference for us. Sadly, I'm not sure they are on the right course for M:tG and I hope I'm proven wrong about that this year.

I got to play DnD 5E, Tiny D6, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Vampire: the Masquerade 5E, and playtested the Fallout 2d20 RPG from Modiphius.

I'm contemplating a couple of games to run online but we'll see what happens.

My intention is to give the blog more attention and I hope I am able to do that.

Thundarr the Movie

As a life-long comics fan and a retailer with a quarter century of experience, I was today years old when I discovered that Buzz Dixon and ...