|The Bastard GM's Handbook|
Or a guide to using gamesmastering to work through your
From the journal of Sir Edward Marsh-Farnsworth, Antarctic Explorer, 1862-1935
Picture an endless expanse of snow and ice, the cold white skies flowing almost imperceptibly into the rolling white landscape. We had set out seeking glory; glory for king, glory for country, glory for ourselves. But that was three score days ago, half a lifetime it seemed - and now our only goal was survival.
Survival. Each day we ate more of our precious supplies, and yet our sledges seemed no lighter. Hour after hour we walked across the frozen ocean, and yet the world never changed, and sanctuary seemed no nearer. It were as though we were doomed to an eternal journey.
As days passed, supplies diminished and energy ebbed, the veneers of civilisation peeled away from us, layer by layer, piece by piece. We had begun the expedition as men of the twentieth century, but now we differed little from our stone-age ancestors, in our thoughts, and in our actions.
Frostbite and malnutrition eroded our bodies, and our minds also retreated within. Every thought was slow, laboured. We moved like automatons, barely aware, hardly sentient. We had no names. Names are for men, not beasts, and beasts we had become. There was no art in our souls, no knowledge in our minds, no beauty in our hearts. Communication was only muttered grunts, and waved gestures. We had no dreams. We had no plans. We knew only the walk, knew only that if we stopped walking we would surely die.
We lived in a world of enclosed horizons. There was nothing save the snow, the cold, the pain, and the grim daily struggle for survival. All else was merely a distant, dreamlike memory. Assaulted by the wind, stooped under our loads, beards encrusted with ice, we stumbled ever onward.
And as awareness shrunk, and consciousness receded, nothing remained save the two fundamental drives hardwired into a man's very soul: A need for warmth, and shelter; and a desire for high-quality, hard-core Swedish pornography.
(We are very grateful to the Marsh-Farnsworth estate for their permission to quote this passage).
Sometimes there is a happy, if forced, synchronicity in life. Your players want to experience challenges, setbacks, harsh struggles which will test their characters to their limits. Meanwhile, your personal life sucks horribly, and you feel powerless to do anything about it. In fact you feel powerless to do anything about anything, and that makes you feel even worse.
Have you considered taking up games mastering?
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