The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry

During the last weeks I posted about my plans for a Diaspora game using Mass Effect as a setting. I still love the idea and I have a lot of great ideas on how to make such a campaign work, but at the moment I feel unable to actually proceed with the plan. In April last year I already talked about my mental health issues and at the moment my anxiety issues are flaring up again. In the last days I felt as if I had bit off more than I can chew at the moment. The last thing I currently need is feel to be stressed out by my favorite hobby.

Instead of just taking another break from GMing, I decided to run something else. Diaspora is one of my favorite Fate versions, but it’s still a system I am not 100% familiar with. I’ve read a lot of Fate-related material but I am far from being an experienced Fate GM. My players haven’t played Fate at all, so switching to another game system, made a lot of sense to me. After putting some thought into it, I decided to give Stars Without Number a try. The rules are pretty easy and feel very similar to older editions of D&D. It’s a gameplay we’re all familiar with and that makes GMing for me much, much easier.

I also think using Stars Without Number’s included setting is easier to run than a Mass Effect campaign. I don’t have to worry about getting things “right”, there’s no canon I have to deal with. The setting in Stars Without Number is a big sandbox for me and my players to play in. I can easily plug in elements we find interesting without breaking anything.

I know that a lot of fears and doubts I am having right now are unfounded. But there’s currently not much I can do about it, aside from continuing my therapy and make things easier for me. Wish me luck! From what I’ve gathered so far, mental health issues are quite common in our hobby. There are also a lot of game designers and bloggers dealing with depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. It seems to be the curse of the creative ones.

Have you dealt with mental health problems before? Did your mental health affect your hobby as well, and what did you do to make things easier for you? As always, every comment is highly appreciated.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

5 thoughts on “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry”

  1. I don’t really have much advice to offer as I am thankfully unafflicted. I will wish you luck though, and the promise that a lot of people are thinking about you and wishing you well too.

  2. Hi Michael, my mental health as an effect on my gaming, even if I have no named condition. I try to make gaming a fun and convivial time with friends, and try no to let my problems spoil the fun. Then, this good time give a break in my problems,

  3. … and more strength to deal with them after. (sorry for the break, my finger splipped)
    I wish you well, take care and try to have fun !

  4. I’m in the same boat – panic disorder and anxiety are just the tip of my iceberg 8) – and I think you made a really good decision. Plus to be honest, I think FATE games are a lot of work for more or less the same result. Cortex+ I think is a better system then FATE the more narrative style. However SWN and OSR games are nice for the touch stone of d20… Furthermore should you want to add a more narative layer of system support to d20 you can do so with some type of “fate points” like mechanic etc like from the Modern SRD or go the route of D&DNext and use advantage/disadvantage dice … that is if you feel you really need it at all.
    Right now I’m running an Other Dust game set in a SWN sandbox and I’m having and importantly the players are having FUN!!!
    I think its easy for us to let our obsessive perfectionist natures take over and have us poring over the minute of rule systems … I have a personal mantra now “make the main thing the main thing” So for a game keep it a “game” and play it for fun and enjoyment. It works for me.

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