Tuesday, October 18, 2022

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Over the summer, I got really depressed. I've had major depressive disorder for more or less my entire life, and I mostly have it well-managed, but sometimes it grows out of my control. Summers are often worse, for whatever reason. And of course, the general state of the world has worsened, downgrading from this-is-fine-dot-png to not-great-bob-dot-gif, in ways too numerous to mention, which isn't the cause of my depression, but certainly doesn't help either.

While I was depressed, I took a hiatus from blogging. I'm feeling better now, but it's been difficult to restart all the things I stopped doing during the most difficult time.



In March, shortly before my absence, Josep Torra of the Tirant lo Dau blog contacted me about translating my essay Landmark, Hidden, Secret into Catalan and publishing it in a zine. This easily makes LHS the most famous thing I've ever written. The zine is available on itch.io as a free pdf, and there's an inexpensive print option on Lulu. Josep's translation of my writing is on pages 81-86.

Tirat lo Drac 2022




Then in June, Chris McDowell also promoted Landmark, Hidden, Secret. It was tip #2 in his Bastionland Broadcasting episode "Preparing for an RPG Session - 3 Small Tips". The section that mentions me starts at around the 23 minute, 30 second mark.
 
 
 
 
Over the summer, my regular online gaming group met somewhat sporadically. Peter from Fantasy Heartbreak Workshop acted as the dungeon master, and ran us through Axo's Dungeon - which turns out to be quite a work of OSR collaboration, put together and keyed by Paolo Greco from Lost Pages, using geomorphs hosted on Dyson's Dodecahedron and Stonewerks, with updated art provided by Of Dice and Djinn. We used Peter's SKROP rules, which is his house ruled mashup of the GLOG and D&D 5e, and the game took place in his Owl Light setting, a science fantasy moon orbiting a Jupiter-like gas giant.

We started the campaign looking for human Reavers who'd been kidnapping villagers in a remote lake district, and found the dungeon on an island in lake. Inside we met an affable and nervous priest of Cthulhu, who wished to promote moderate worship of the Great Old One, but not so much worship that it might trigger madness in the worshippers or risk disturbing Cthulhu from his eternal slumber in any way. We also found a whole hoard of Reavers in a tenuous alliance with the Squid King and his Cephalopod army.

The dungeon has a lot of corridors and passageways, giving us an almost Metroid-like experience of rapid exploration. We rescued the Slug Witch from the Slug King, provoked a war between the Reavers and the Cephalopods that decimated both factions, and rescued the imprisoned villagers. Peter was amazed that we managed to navigate the dungeon so effectively to find the things we were looking for. I was amazed that our various disguises and stratagems actually worked and got the two armies to nearly wipe each other out. It was maybe my most efficacious campaign ever, in terms of accomplishing my character's goals during the game.
 
Axos Dungeon by Lost Pages
 
 
 
Recently we've started a new campaign with me as the referee. Ever since the new edition of Into the Odd came out, I've been wanting to run someone through the expanded version of the "Iron Coral" dungeon. Originally only a single level, it now has three! I actually ran the original as a DCC weird western adventure site, which I called "The Irontown Corral", but this is my first time running it using I2TO.

Peter and Leighton have just found an entrance to the second level, so I'm excited to see what happens next! So far Peter's Prize Breeder and Leighton's Sky Trooper have found 6 jars of "Dr Bronzeworthy's Fantabulous Frictionless Ball Bearings" and a very valuable crystalline sphere, thanks in part to some help from a couple of assistants that I rolled up using the Burnboss and Courier failed careers from Benign Brown Beast. (In the likely event of character death, the assistants will get promoted up to full player character status.) In the next section, I'm hoping they'll delve into territory none of us has seen yet.

The Iron Coral frontispiece by Johan Nohr
 

So that's how I spent my summer. Feel free to share what you've been up to in the comments!

8 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear that, am glad you are back and doing better overall!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad to hear you are feeling better!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm interested to hear how the Iron Coral ends up playing out for you! Over the summer I played some face to face D&D with my newer dreamlands group, although not much, since schedules didn't often align. I also worked on my latest zine. And I visited Germany once, which was fun.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You live! Yay! I was just thinking of this blog a week ago and was starting to get a little worried (and then got lost in reading older posts).

    Good to see you back and feeling better, Anne.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great to hear you're feeling better, and happy to see new work from you!

    Also stoked to hear Stonewerks is around! He and I collaborated on a project nearly 10 years ago now, but I haven't seen much of him around since then. He's a nice fella who makes some lovely maps.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just came to boast that I praised Landmark, Hidden, Secret before it went mainstream. *insert emoji with dark glasses*

    Seriously though, I'm glad you're feeling better. Depression is serious stuff, it's not a poetic force or anything, and it takes dedication and confidence to learn to live with it and, if possible, overcome it.

    It's good to have you back! I really hope you get even better.

    And yes, Landmark deserves all the recognition it has received, and more. It has been very helpful to me in writing adventures and presenting them to my players. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree 100% about Landmark, Hidden, Secret. I’ve started collating articles like this to supplement whatever formal rulebook (Into the Odd or Classic Traveller or Death in Space etc) I might be using to run things. Some of the processes ‘behind the screen’ are, in my experience, almost universal (at least in the universe of games that I’ve tried so far). Their presence, in whatever form, goes to defining the type of game you’re playing.

      Delete