The Future

This post is in 2 parts. There’s a lot of text but the TL;DR is:

  • I have depression (but I’m getting help, it’s OK)
  • I’m pausing the Patreon and limiting other forms of social media
  • I do plan to do more episodes in the “Year of the Rabbit” theme but I can’t commit to a schedule
  • After that, the podcast will be on hiatus.

The Black Dog

I have depression. I’m currently depressed.

Yeah, that’s the opening line, right? I’ve tried and tried over… months… to articulate what’s going on. Lots of false starts to this blog post like “sorry I’ve not posted any content for a while, but I’m working on it” etc.

So… my partner has long COVID, and I’ve been trying to remind her that she needs to rest and not worry about her share of the housework and see the doctor… and at the same time I’ve been rubbish at taking my own advice. Thankfully she bullied me into seeing the doctor who affirmed that what I was experiencing was not normal. Suddenly everything fell into place.

This isn’t my first episode of depression. Things got really bad a few years ago when I was travelling for weeks on end to Singapore, living out of a hotel, negotiating the time difference by getting up at 5am to talk to my partner at 10pm UK time, only existing around the shopping centres on the Orchard Road, the plant on Jurong Island and the taxi ride in between. It hit the absolute low after our son was born. There were a number of distressing FaceTime calls home, with R plaintively calling “daddy, daddy, daddy” at the screen and my partner looking absolutely wiped out all the time.

My problem is I’m a people pleaser, and I’m loathe to say no, so when everything inevitably came to a head it came close to me thinking about some very drastic actions. But thankfully with the support of friends it got under control. Once I’d poured out a screed onto social media of these are all the reasons everything is shit I got a massive amount of support including other male friends contacting me, sharing their own stories and coping strategies and telling me I wasn’t alone and that yes, I probably needed to see a doctor.

However… once I’d had the diagnosis I kind of went back to thinking everything would be fine and I could carry on just as before as long as I took the tablets, which is probably why things are the way they are now. One of my earlier drafts of this post talked about how “things are stressful right now but everything’s under control… I just don’t have much time for the podcast”. I reckon this is another bit of self-deception… possibly arising from toxic male culture that emphasises self-reliance and emotional repression. More to the point withdrawing from doing the things you enjoy is a symptom. I’d rationalised that bit as the tablets creating a bias in the left-right brain balance that meant I just wasn’t up to creative thought any more… something I resented but saw as a necessary evil and reversible, something I could go back to in time. More denial, more treading water.

Anyway, it’s all getting sorted out now. Not going into details but I do have to talk about the podcast.

The Future of the Podcast

Right now I can’t commit to an episode schedule. I fully intend to finish what I started re: the Year of the Rabbit and I already have interview material that needs to be edited. I haven’t yet had the energy to assemble it into episodes and I don’t know when that will be. After that the podcast will likely go on hiatus.

For this reason I’m closing down the Patreon for now. I think it’s just a matter of un-launching the creator page. Note that I’ve been pausing billing every month where I haven’t enough content to justify the subscription from my patrons. But I need to simplify (for the short term, at least) and shutting it down will help. Honestly I’ve never been bothered about monitising my stuff, I did it kind of because I felt I should. All the money my subscribers paid to me has been redistributed to other creators I support (AFAIK).

I’m also not going to be very active on social media. The funny thing is that once the great exodus to Mastodon happened I realised that I didn’t care for Twitter much in the first place, and after some time I’ve just not been visiting it. I’m in two minds about just deleting the whole account because it’s at least useful to point to this blog, but… I wonder how much engagement I actually get. I’m also shutting down the Slack group because I don’t think I ever used it to engage. I will however continue to post on the Grognard Files’ Discord (thanks to Dirk for hosting). Honestly although it’s a bit of a nightmare to navigate, Discord is one of the more benign platforms I’ve found.

And that’s it for now.

StormHack Beta v3

This is the third draft of my OSR game StormHack. From the introduction:

This is my OSR game. There are many like it, but this one is mine. It’s supposed to emulate a classic 1980s RPG based on the multiversal fantasy of a British fantasy author.

It’s also a remix of familiar OSR system objects and names from the Worlds Favourite Fantasy Game (such as Ability Scores, monster stat blocks, etc.). That should make it easy to use other OSR resources while repurposing some game elements.


Whitehack by Christian Mehrstam
The Black Hack by David Black
Beyond the Wall by Flatland Games
The Stormbringer RPG (1st edition) by Ken St. Andre and Steve Perrin

The Google Slides version is here. Or you can get the pdf here.

I plan to run this with the classic Stormbringer campaign The Madcap Laughs from White Dwarf issues 95-98.

Two books to follow:

  • The Book of Decans will be a bunch of random tables for both generating characters, and game situations based on the almanac of the 36 stations of the night sky. Inspired in part by Rats and Gargoyles by Mary Gentle.
  • Knights of the Husk will be a city and campaign tool of the city above and the Husk below. Inspired by Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip, and of course Viriconium by M. John Harrison, and taking cues from the RPG equivalent In Corpathium from the Last Gasp Grimoire.

Comments welcome, watch this space.


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Fictoplasm has concluded its first run of 14 shows, and we’re pleased with the results (even if they’re a bit rough and ready). Right now we’re taking a short break and lining up shows for the second season in early 2017. We’re going to refine the current formula, invite some guest speakers and try a few new things.

In the meantime, a couple of things to share. First, positive messages mean a lot to us so thanks to anyone who’s commented, reshared or liked our stuff on social media. It’s only been three months so we don’t have high expectations, but getting a thumbs up here and there is really nice and encouraging.

Second, we’re always open to suggestions for books and other content, as well as comments. If you want to get in touch our details are on the Contact page here, and we’ll gladly accept your suggestions/comments/abuse in the comment feeds here, on G+ and Facebook, Twitter (@fictoplasm) or you can email me at ralph-at-fictoplasm-dot-net. Let us know what you think, what you’d like to hear more or less of.