My Brain is Hanging Upside Down: What I’ve Been Up To.

The dozen or so of you who actually read this blog may have noticed a dip in my already sparse posting schedule. It’s because I go nuts in autumn. Like clockwork. I’ve written about my mental health issues before, and generally what happens in the fall in nowhere near as dramatic as that, but it does share certain similarities: a grandiose sense of what I’m going to accomplish (Inktober, NaNoWriMo, etc.) combined with a suffocating, gray depression. How gray? Gray as a Soviet Apparatchik recovering from mono while reading The Wasteland inside a Bulgarian dumpster. It’s no fun, and it meant scrubbing the blog of a lot of failed projects: a randomly generated megadungeon, a section a day dungeon map for Inktober and some other bullshit that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anyway, I’m back. This is what I’ve been up to:

Basking in the Holy Glory of Old School Essentials.

And lo, Gavin Norman has come down from the mountain holding his black box of B/X goodness. Old School Essentials (formerly B/X Essentials) is a masterful edit and expansion of the original Moldvay/Cook rules. It combines incredibly tidy and user-friendly design and clear, tight writing. If you missed the Kickstarter you can still get a hard copy here, and you should because every other edition of D&D is bullshit. Fight me.

Reading a bunch of games only shut ins play.

Rolemaster, Harnmaster and the like. I don’t know who still plays these games, but they are fascinating and full of detail and gruesome as fuck critical tables and such. When people complain about old editions of D&D being janky and complicated, I want to throw Arms Law at them.

Pendragon and dreams of class warfare.

I finally got my hands on a copy of the 5.2 rules after hearing about this game for decades. It’s a satisfyingly focused game about Arthurian knights doing Arthurian stuff, but the whole time I was reading it I desperately wanted to play a peasant getting Medieval on the gentry’s ass. You can only read about Glory and Honour and all that other junk that gets people killed for so long before you kind of wish the guillotine had been invented a few hundred years earlier.

Creating a zine like it’s 1991.

All those failed projects did add up to something: the basic cartography skills to build a 6-level dungeon. I’m four levels deep right now and I hope to have all the mapping done before the end of November. The plan is to turn it into a zine that you’ll be able to download here.

Getting my mind blown by the idea of a Memory Dungeon.

I don’t remember who first introduced me to the idea on Twitter, but it has stuck with me. It works like this: imagine a location you know really well like your old highschool or a local mall – now use that as layout for an improvised dungeon. No map, just memory and distortion. The gym is a cathedral, the vice principal’s office is where the lich is located, whatever. Maybe it’s just me but I felt my mind grow three sizes after thinking about that for a bit – it’s like a Venn diagram of Philip K Dick/Gary Gygax/and neuroses. Good times.

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