My Infinity War

This blog post deals with mental illness, depression, suicide attempts, and stuff like that. It’s not light. Also terrible pictures of me culled from Facebook.


It’s been ten years since Marvel’s Iron Man hit theaters, a fact not lost on the marketing team for Avengers: Infinity War, comic fans, movie fans, or really anyone remotely plugged into pop culture.

It’s also been a decade since my last suicide attempt. My 4th.

I was a recently diagnosed patient of bipolar disorder, and struggling with the medicines I was on.

I was on a lot of medicine. Some of it prescribed. Some of it not.

One night I took too many. By a lot.

1929738_542626854449_7502_n.jpg

The only good picture of Alan circa 2008


I’m not good at writing this sorta thing. So be forewarned. It’ll all tie together eventually.

I’d been reading comics from a young age. Stuff I picked up at garage sales, graphic novels at libraries, that sorta thing. We didn’t have a comic shop where I lived at the time (not one I knew of at least), and so I was a tangential comic fan in a lot of ways. X-Men and Spiderman movies were my big exposure at the time.

Those sorta dried up around Superman Returns (which I still maintain has the best opening third of a Superman movie ever)  and X-3.

Not a big deal, I was dealing with some other stuff at the time.

Around then-ish, I started hanging out at a local comic and game store, mostly for the tabletop stuff, but I started picking up a few comics again (Captain America primarily, he’s my boy.)

I also started treatment for bipolar disorder.

I think you see where this collides.

463432_320827814654184_52385353_o.jpg

2012


Late that April (the 26th to be precise – you tend to remember these things), I OD’d pretty hard on sleeping pills. I woke up on the 27th, violently ill, but alive. No one had noticed. (It’s not their fault. I was adept at hiding it at that point.)

With nothing to do (no job at the time, due to mismanaging my depression), I ended up wandering down to the comic store a day or two later. I bought some graphic novels that were on sale in the discount bin.

One was The Infinity Gauntlet trade paperback. I no longer own that book, as it logged many hours of reading, water damage, food stains, moving day trauma and more, until it split and fell into it’s component pages.

However, I vividly recall Thanos and his motivation speaking to me. His nihilist take on the universe dovetailed precisely with my mental state at the time. A Mad Titan, who had amassed power that undermines the pinnings of the universe, pining for Death, and driven by ego?

Yeah. That was my bipolar summed up nicely. I was living with my own Thanos in my head, my emotions, and my intellect.

10330229_10101401168164739_3365688725987648325_n.jpg

2014


I recall being vaguely disappointed the heroes saved the day in Infinity War. I remember reading other comics.

And then I remember seeing Iron Man when it came out about a weekish later.

Despite all my comic reading, for some reason the idea of the hero’s public and heroic identity being the same had never clicked for me. But seeing Tony Stark, on the big screen, ending the movie with “I am Iron Man” jarred something in me.

A decade later, it’s all a haze, and while I could put fancy words to some lesson here, coming off where I was into a movie where a hero owned their identity somehow felt like a revelation to me. Good, bad, and all the in-between, Tony Stark was facing down himself, his weaknesses, and was gonna win.

The idea of the MCU didn’t matter to me, but I will admit, something about that ending for Iron Man spoke to me.


I am not gonna claim the MCU saved me, or Marvel kept me alive. Therapy, medication, and emotional/mental honesty about my illness saved me. There’s nothing romantic about it. It was hard work, medicine, science, and a lot of struggle.

But comics. Comics were a constant companion during the harder times there. Distractions, refreshing heroism, new stories, weaknesses and triumphs. I took some solace in those stories.

I read comics a lot less than I used to, but they still matter to me. I follow and read reviews. I read articles. I buy graphic novels and catch up on my friends at Marvel (sorry DC, Marvel’s my jam. The Superman Family is great though. For real.)

14915545_10102916001287019_5375503109385707444_n.jpg

2016 (with my best friend/wife)


Here’s the thing.  

It’s not some serendipitous thing that Infinity War hits theaters this weekend. It’s just what it is.

But, it’s been a decade, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that going to see Infinity War on the 26th (I got tickets!) doesn’t hold some level of triumph for me. I don’t know what’ll happen to the heroes in the movie any more than I know what’ll happen to me in the next decade.

But I made it a decade. And, I plan to celebrate by seeing my favorite heroes punch a bad guy I no longer empathize with, as I sit there with my best friend and wife. Maybe it’ll be sad. I’m sure parts will be exciting, happy, and triumphant. I’ll almost certainly cry.

But the thing that matters the most is then I’ll come home, to the best life I could imagine, and I’ll get to wake up the next morning. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been (mentally and socially), I’ve grown in ways I never anticipated, and I actually think life is pretty good most of the time.

Ten years ago, I didn’t think I’d ever get that.

So I hope you had a pretty good decade MCU. I’m pretty happy with how mine turned out after all. I’ll see you tomorrow.


 

27331850_10104111511340289_2959066685089818506_n.jpg

2018 (with the best friend/wife again!)

 

 

Advertisements

April TTRPG Maker! #AprilTTRPGMaker Day 1-4

DZ8lbG5W0AEhfUo

So here we are! I was told I should do this, so here’s day one, two, three and four! Since I’m behind.

1.) Who are you? 

I’m Alan Bahr, founder/owner of Gallant Knight Games, project manager/publisher at Nocturnal Media, and general game enthusiast.

2.) Where ya at?

About an hour north of Salt Lake City, Utah!

3.) How did you get started creating TTRPGs?

I mean, I created my first homebrew within minutes of buying the 3.0 Player’s Handbook (those custom races were awful.) It was a downward and slippery slope from there. Planet Mercenary was my first big entry into the market though. I’ve detailed that a lot.

4.) Describe your work.

Oh man. Generally I sit in a more traditional, rules lite space, where cinematic emulation matters more than crunch, and the game should disappear behind the story. I dunno. What do you think?

Ok! See you tomorrow for more.

Alan’s Unofficial (& Totally Biased) Essential The One Ring RPG Guide

My Pendragon guide was very popular. One of my top three blog posts! So I’m doing more for other RPGs I love.

Thus, I present to you, Alan’s Unofficial (& Totally Biased) Essential The One Ring RPG Book Guide!

I adore The One Ring (also called TOR.) My love of Tolkien runs deep and nostalgic, and TOR captures everything I adore about Tolkien into a game that I consider near perfect. Cubicle 7 crushed it. Their team has made an amazing game that I’m always excited to buy and play.

I’ve divided these into categories, start with Must Buy, and getting all the way to Optionals. You can click on the titles or the pictures for links to the purchase site (all of them on Cubicle 7’s website). I’ll primarily focus on The One Ring Edition (not Adventures in Middle-Earth, but AEM is amazing!) because it’s both readily available in PDF and Print and because I’m wildly biased (again, my favorite Tolkien RPG ever).

Note, just because something isn’t “Must Buy” doesn’t mean I think it’s bad or don’t use it. Often the opposite! But if I am coming into the game, or recommending purchasing orders to folks, this is how I would recommend it.

 


MUST BUY

TOR_Core_Cover

The Core Rulebook: You have to always start with the corebook! Luckily, this scorebook is a 336 page tome full of gorgeous full-color art, easy to read and learn rules, and everything you need to play!

Bestiary, pregens, a small adventure, storytelling advice. It’s pretty much spot on and perfect!TOR_Dice3

 

The Dice SetWhile the dice set is not officially required, I really like having the official dice for this game. They make play much smoother, it’s easier to teach, and it generally improves the experience.

I consider them a must buy if you’re going to play TOR. You won’t go wrong.

AdventurersCompanionCover900

The Adventurer’s Companion: Us roleplaying fanatics love our options, and The Adventurer’s Guide gives us so many more options. A useful book if you want to expand outside of the core options, this book is a must have at any table.

It also includes some unique Fellowship Phase options, and some extra rules to add a bit more crunch and character development to the very streamlined ruleset.

It also has a catalog of all the Fellowship options up to that point, and it adds Generational Play (a favorite of mine design-wise.) Yes please.


BEST OPTIONS TO BUY FOR MORE AWESOME

If you want to add more awesome to your already awesome The One Ring game nights, these books will serve you nicely. I have all of them and regularly use them all.

JourneysAndMaps600Journeys & MapsI love this product. Big, folded maps that I can lay on the table and teach folks with, or show their travels and journeys? Yeah, this is a win.

With the beautifully thought-out travel rules in the core, I consider this product just below Must Have, and it’s an absolutely valuable resource at my table.

The only real issue is that future & new maps aren’t/won’t be in it. Here’s hoping for a Journeys & Maps II or similar product.

 

Lake-town_booklet_cover_front

The Loremaster’s Screen: Well, how are you going to go wrong with a Loremaster’s Screen for TOR? The back end of it is fantastic, with tons of useful rules information and guides to playing.

Plus as a bonus, you get the Lake-Town rules (for playing Men of the Lake) and some new Fellowship options.

Unfortunately (kinda?), those are reprinted in The Adventurer’s Companion, so if you aren’t the sort of LM who wants a screen, you might not find full value in this.  It’s still beautiful, and I still consider it useful, but I don’t consider it a must have.

Heart-of-the-Wild-cover-sml

The Heart of the WildThis book introduces River Hobbits, so it’s pretty much perfect from the get-go!

However, it also adds a lot more detail to the Wilderland (the default locale in the corebook), more enemies, more Cultures, and lots more excellent options, like those above.

However, lots of this book (new cultures, added Fellowship phase options) is repeated in The Adventurer’s Guide, so it’s hard to justify on the table at times (for me.)


MORE AWESOME OPTIONS (BUT LESS ESSENTIAL THAN ABOVE!)

So, this is where it gets weird. These options are pretty great! And I love and use them all, but they’re a bit more…precise in what you might want or need.

The books below expand the core experience out of the Wilderlands (the area around The Lonely Mountain) and add new cultures and locales to the game.

However, if you’re not planning to travel to these locations in the game, nor play a culture from there, they are relatively superfluous in your game.

Instead of going over which is in each of these in particular, I’m going to simply show you what they are, and give you a brief overview of how these are all set up.

  • They generally introduce a new culture or two.
  • They introduce specific rules for that culture (such as Horses for Rohan, Dragons & Dwarven Artifacts for Erebor, etc.)
  • They add a new map and new pregenerated characters.

CB71015_Erebor_coverHorselordsofRohanCover800Bree_Cover_1200

Rivendell_cover_800.jpg


ADVENTURES!

The One Ring has oodles of adventures. Just so many. And they’re all great. But if you don’t do premade adventures, they’re less useful.

So, mileage might vary! Most of the adventure books are tied to one of the locale expansions above (Tales from the Wilderland being tied to the Corebook, and The Darkening of Mirkwood being stand alone.)tfw_fc800.jpg

Oaths_of_the_Riddermark_Cover900.jpg

That art though… *faints*

the-darkening-of-mirkwood-cover1080.jpg

CB71010_Ruins800.jpg