A Video Update about ‘Stuff’.

Please watch, it has been a rough ol’ couple of months.

Update

I can feel myself starting to pull out of this hole. So hopefully things will be back to normal(ish) soon. People have been great offering to help out and I’ve farmed out most of the prep work that I have to do. I’ve decided to keep the Irrepressible demo adventure for me, just to prove to myself I’m not a completely useless lump.

Expect some updates about MotSP soon.

Thanks to everyone for your support, the flipside of how things were a few months back.

If you offered to help and I haven’t gotten back in touch with you, I’ve given it to somebody else. Any help promoing/talking about/interviewing about MotSP still greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

G

Help?

I hate to have to do this but I am really, really fucking ill. My depression/exhaustion has had me floored for over two weeks now and I don’t have the energy left to really struggle through it.

The timing is massively inconvenient as we’re now into the thirty-day push to hit stretch goals for Machinations of the Space Princes and we’re into my ‘convention season’ with IndieCon and Dragonmeet coming up.

I have outlines of demo adventures for ImagiNation, Irrepressible!, PROJECT and Blood! intended to be run at Indiecon but I don’t think that between the depression and imminent drug changes I’ll be able to actually get the adventures written up. I’ve spent most of last week and all of this week staring blankly at an open Word document.

Hopefully I’ll be fit and well for the conventions themselves, but that also remains to be seen 😦

If anyone can help me out by taking my notes and turning them into written-up adventures for these games I will be eternally grateful. I’ll provide PDFs as necessary and if the adventures are subsequently polished up and published I’ll compensate you monetarily.

Please let me know if you can help out.

Email: grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk

I feel awful having to do this, ‘giving in’ to being sick, but it’s becoming clear I’m not going to be able to manage otherwise.

If you think you can help out with the MotSP drive in some way let me know too. I could probably manage email interviews, Q&A and that sort of thing.

Creative, Broken Brains

It’s World Mental Health Day today. This isn’t something I’d planned to have ImagiNation out for, but there it is.

As I have, doubtless, bored you all to tears over by now I suffer from depression and it has been particularly bad this last couple of weeks. That means all I can really bring myself to do is lay around and beat myself up for not working harder. My depression most often manifests in a bone-weary tiredness, lack of concentration and self-belief. Qualities obviously necessary in the self-employed.

Weirdly, people say I’m very productive but I would be a lot more so without these issues.

I believe gaming can help people with a broad range of issues and I know I have personally benefited from the escape and the opportunity to safely deal with some of the things that grind me down. I’ve also seen it help people with anxiety, social disorders, autism spectrum issues and others.

Gaming is many things, role-playing is many things. It can be purely a game, it can be an exercise in art and self expression. It can be taken seriously and it can be entirely frivolous. I’m not suggesting that every game session be therapy, but just that it presents a safe environment in which we – as players or especially the GM – have a massive degree of control that we don’t have in real life, and a safety net from the fact that outside the game there are no consequences.

Here’s a direct link to my game inspired by my experiences. Something I have made to explore these issues and their link with creativity. It’s a stereotype but it’s one that fitted well for the purposes of a game.

ImagiNation150

You are free to host, torrent, copy and distribute ImagiNation anywhere you want and however you want so long as you don’t charge.

Hardcopies can be bought HERE at close-to-cost.

ImagiNation Excerpt: Explaining Role-Playing, Again

Role-Playing

Odds are that most people reading this already know what a role-playing game is but, as this game is intended to reach out to new gamers as well as old ones, I’m going to take a little more time than usual to explain what a role-playing game is, how they are played and – most importantly – why they’re such good fun.

Role-playing, as a hobby-game, has been around since the mid-seventies and grew out of wargaming. A hobby that is represented in most people’s eyes by Games Workshop and their Warhammer game these days. Role-playing is a little different though. Rather than commanding an army each player takes control of a single character and guides their actions through a story created and refereed by another player called the ‘Games Master’.

This is a lot like playing games of imagination when you’re children. Maybe you shouted out ‘Let’s play Star Wars!’ and then people would take on roles: “I’m Han!” “I’m Chewie!” etc, and then – as kids – you would play out battles or re-play the stories of the film. There are three important differences when it comes to role-playing games.

1: We’re grown-ups now, so we have to justify creative play to ourselves with all sorts of adult structure and waffle.

2: Role-playing games have rules. This helps prevent the sort of “Bang, you’re dead!”, “No I’m not!”, “Yes you are!”, “Nuh huh, I have a forcefield” type arguments we had as children.

3: The characters and stories are our own and, hopefully, somewhat original.

So, how do you play one of these games? That’s actually pretty easy to do, but a lot harder to explain in any meaningful way. If you know anybody who already plays these kind of games then your best bet is to ask to sit in on a game or to get them to explain it to you in person. I’ll do my best to explain below, but one of the main barriers to spreading the hobby is the problem of explaining it.

The Games Master is one of the players. He comes up with the story, the challenges, the opposition that the players who are taking the part of the characters have to face. The Games Master sets the scene, looks after the rules and describes the action. It’s a demanding but rewarding role to take in a game.

The players create and describe their characters. These characters are made according to the rules – given later – and these descriptions determine the bounds of who a character is, what they can do and how good they are at it.

The advantage to The Description System is that so long as you can describe something, you can put it into the game rules. This makes it very easy to pick up and play with very little preparation or number crunching.

Here is how a little bit of one game session might go, we join the game already in progress…

The Games Master Sets the Scene: You emerge from the underground station into the light. You think this must be King’s Cross station – or rather what’s left of it. The station is overgrown, the floors cracked. Vines and creepers sprawl over everything and are festooned with brightly lit and sweetly perfumed flowers. Butterflies and other insects flutter and buzz from flower to flower and vine to vine. It makes the floor hard-going to walk through and here and there knots of thick vegetation block the path.

Kerr (Played by Kyan): “Damn, I’m glad to be out of there. Who knew so many people were afraid of rats on the underground?” Now we’re in the light I brush the dirt off my clothing and check myself for rat bites.

Juliet (Played by Karen): “Don’t relax yet Kerr. Rats make sense at least. We knew what to do about rats. Even giant ones. What’re all these plants about though?” I’ll move to the nearest one and take a closer look.

Games Master: You don’t find any bites you’ve missed but the ones you did take look a bit nasty, angry and red. The flower looks a bit like a bluebell or a snowdrop, but bigger and glowing with a honeyed, inner light. Each flower seems to be a subtly different shade, covering the whole rainbow throughout the station.

Kerr: “I don’t trust it. Pretty things always hide something nasty.” I’ll sit down on the steps and use my first aid kit on my wounds. I don’t want them getting infected.

Games Master: OK, I won’t make you roll for that. Daubing on some iodine or TCP isn’t exactly taxing. It’s probably a good idea though. What about you Karen?

Juliet: “Pretty things always hide something nasty eh? Should I take that personally?” I laugh at Kerr but I know he’s probably right. I’ll keep my hand on my pistol and move a short distance deeper into the station, looking out for trouble.

Games Master: Alright. I’m going to ask you to make a roll to see if you spot anything. Give me a moment. *He tots up the appropriate words and skills from a description of ‘something’ lurking in the station and rolls a dice, getting a four* OK, roll and tell me what you get. You need to beat seven (the roll, plus the opponent’s total).

Juliet: I’m paranoid, that’s usually a bad thing but I want to use it here. I also have a good eye and in our time off between missions I trained up in observation. So that gives me a total of three before I roll. If you’re OK with all of that?

Games Master: Sounds kosher to me.

Juliet: And I roll a five, giving me a total of eight. That beats seven.

Games Master: Distantly, behind the overgrown tangle that used to be the automatic gates, you briefly catch sight of a wild-haired, naked woman carrying a spear. Naked save for three strategically placed fig leaves that is. She ducks back down again, out of sight.

Juliet: What… the… hell… Kerr. Hurry up with what you’re doing. We might have more trouble.

And so the adventure continues…

ImagiNation is GO

Huge thanks to everybody who backed me.

This weekend is, obviously, the Queen’s diamond jubilee so the whole country has gone mad. This means I can’t really start cracking on until Wednesday, probably.

I intend to do constant dev-diary type stuff over on the company blog so keep an eye out there for developments.

IMPORTANT
If you backed me and selected a reward, I don’t necessarily have your real name or the name you’d prefer to have in the book or ‘shouted out’ as a thank you on social media.

If you want to collect your reward please contact me ASAP directly, by e-mail, even if I know who you are, even if I’ve already name-checked you, and let me know what reward level you’re claiming. I can cross-check that against the Indiegogo data and I can sort out your character profiles, shout-outs and/or he things you wanted included in the game (within reason).

If you don’t have my mail it’s: grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk or you can grab me on twitter via @grimachu

ImagiNation: Understanding the Why

Why would I go to all this trouble to create this project? Isn’t it like rubbing salt into a wound? Isn’t it a lot of pressure? Why do this to yourself? Who would want to play such a thing?

I went to all this trouble to set up this project – and this is an idea that has been percolating for some time – because I think it can be useful. I know that me talking publicly about my mental problems has helped quite a few people. I know that lots of  people find it hard to talk about their mental issues or to describe them to others. I also know that a scarily large number of creative people suffer from depression or similar issues. I think it has the potential to help people, spread understanding and break the ice. Primarily though, I think it can be a fun an interesting game.

Yes, examining all this is going to be difficult for me. The pressure I’ve put on myself by making it crowdfunded is enormous and the amount some people have put in and the level of expectation they have is tremendous. I think it’s worth the pain though.

Who would want to play such a thing? People read books of surreal or mad imagery, Alice, Kraken, anything by Burroughs. People’s pain enhances their work and can make it gloriously engaging, at a cost to the creator. I’m not saying that I’m a genius or anything but at the heart of ImagiNation is the idea that there’s a price to be paid for power, for the ability to create or alter reality and that’s what part of being depressed is like. The ability for deep self reflection, for honing one’s craft through being insecure about it can lead to great things or at least an effort to make something as good as it can be. This is an up, not that it compensates for the down side, but it is there.

They say the internet leads people into over-sharing but I want to share something with you that may help you understand the why’s and wherefores of me and the project.

For quite a while now I’ve been going to CBT therapy (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) a lot of it doesn’t work for a sceptic or cynic like me but simply having someone to talk to has been of tremendous benefit, as have some of the mental exercises you go through. Support, of any kind, knowing you’re not alone is the most important thing whether that comes from friends, family or professionals – who you sometimes need so you don’t feel like a burden.

I’ve just come to the end of all that, sorting out my cocktail of drugs, getting – finally – to a state of mind where I don’t need to be supervised so much following a suicide attempt. I’m not cured, I’m just better. Able to cope and even if one does end up feeling ‘cured’, you’ve got to be watchful, vigilant, to be sure you don’t fall again. You’ve also got to judge constantly, daily almost, whether the effect of the drugs is better than the depression or vice versa.

A game where my failings, my vigilance, my choices are a strength, where my talents – such as they are – make a difference can only help. If it helps me, it can help other people. If the game can help other people and be something great, all the better.

The project is funded, but can be made better. Please do all you can help hit our stretch goals. Tell your friends about the project and ask those friends to tell their friends.

The IndieGoGo link is HERE.

The stretch goals are listed below. Yes, you can donate, even though it’s over the target.

  • At $2,200 the game will be professionally and fully edited.
  • At $2,500 I will write, alongside ImagiNation, a genericised and updated version of the rules-set which will be placed fully in the public domain.
  • At $3,000 the game will be completed in colour inside and out and available in both colour and B&W PoD.
  • At $3,500 I will make copies (so long as financially viable) available to mental health professionals for free.