Thursday, January 30, 2014

Going back to (old) school

Recently I have found that among the many people I know there is this desire to return to the past and play the games that we used to have the most fun with.

So at present I have to come up with a 3000 point Warhammer Fantasy Battle Army from the 3rd Edition.  You know the hard bound rule book and army book of the day.  Looking at Orc & Goblin at present as they seem to be what I can field the most in.  I also get to use my Goblin Organ Gun that has been sitting and gathering dust for ages.

Next is Warhammer 40K 2nd Edition.  Looking at Orks again at this stage.

Warzone, who remembers that old game!  I've been patiently collecting the old figures from people who dabbled in the day.  Been able to collect them for a reasonably cheap price, which is always good.  It's 1st Edition of Warzone.

Fletcher Pratt's Naval War Game Rules.  Have not played these rules yet, but I am looking forward to a game at the club in the very near future.  No dice!

Playing Napoleonics with the WRG rule set from 1977 (I think) titled "Wargame Rules 1685-1845".  I have Prussians that I must get around to expanding on.  Though Russians and Austrians might tempt me at some stage.

Who knows what else there is, I guess I just have to find and old soul or two.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Oh dear he has been drinking and writing.... again!!!!

So how did it all start out?

I’m a child of the 60’s, so I came along when things just started to get going.  As the grandson of the man you managed a major toy and hobby business in the 70’s I had a very unique upbringing.  One of the perks was I got a lot of damaged stuff given to me.  My interest then was everything World War One onwards.  I could built model kits without instructions, create novel uses for missing parts, I was a man like my grandfather, a creator of something from nothing, a skill that has lasted me down the years.

Rules back then were whatever we made up or were able to access from the public or school library (although I think our school lacked anything rule wise, we did boast a fairly decent history section).  Australia was (and I could argue still is) the backwater of world distribution networks.  We’d get whatever might be left over from European or US sales, usually the stuff that would not sell.  Brisbane would be even worse off as Sydney and Melbourne were always catered for first.  So to be a gamer in the early days in Brisbane was a nightmare.

It was not till the 70’s when my neighbour who owned the unit beneath us at Burleigh Heads had his grandchildren visit that my life changed.  The grandson brought a copy of “Empire of the Petal Throne”, and it was the start of my obsession with games and gaming.  To this day Empire of the Petal Throne holds a very special place in my heart as the catalyst of my gaming soul, the fact it was years ahead of anyone else when it came to world design in Role Playing Games was without question (in my opinion).

So there I was in the 70’s, the lads at school were only interested in girls, cars, sports and rock and roll.  I was a geek. (My wife even described me as being one when she first met me).  I found a company in Melbourne that did mail order, in those days the whole catalogue was one to two A4 pages!  So I was able to indulge myself thanks to my Uncle who was the only one in the family who cared enough to see that I got something I wanted out of life.  My family are very strict Roman Catholics; I was trained as an Alter Boy, served the Church for over 20 years before I found that while God exists, the lay people who dominate the Church have forgotten about God. (But I’ll leave that story for another blog, maybe) So my mother never understood my hobby, she saw it as a waste of time.  She wanted her son to be a Priest, me I was more interested in girls and discovering the freedom that comes from employment and money. 

So it was in the 80’s that my gaming life took off!  Role Playing Games were my main focus, I still collected boardgames and miniatures but they were secondary to the imagination expanding worlds that RPG provided.  I loved sci-fi-fantasy in its entire multitude. There was a second hand book shop at Burleigh Heads that I would visit every Saturday when my mother would drag us down to the beach to bake in the sun and germinate the wonderful cancers that now run rampant through my corpse of a body.  So this second hand shop had really old authors from the pulp days, my favourite was Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E Howards, added to that Michael Moorcock a more modern author.  My mind was filled with strange new worlds, and my mind would always be asking, why and how does this world work.  What mysteries existed, if I was the creator what would I do to stamp my ideas into the worlds of creativity?

So I started with Empire of the Petal Throne, and progressed to Dungeons & Dragons which was the staple system for the majority of players.  Runequest was another system that I particularly enjoyed. The 80’s saw a massive proliferation of RPGs, some good, some bad.  My wife worked for a business that sold games and it was one of the meeting hubs for gamers of the day.  There were others as well, all frequented by the many personalities of the day. They say old gamers never die, but they do seem to drop off the face of the earth!

So the 80’s started my association with many of the clubs in Brisbane at the time.  A lot of them I worked on the committee, some with success, sometimes not.  I was party to the creation of three clubs.  Personalities within the gaming community can be fickle.  You will find the ones who genuinely want to see the club take off and prosper, then there are those who just want their ego stoked.  Perhaps I’ll write a blog about my experience with clubs in due course.

In the late 80’s I had my first mental collapse and paid dearly for it.  Mental illness is generally not tolerated by the general populace who firstly can’t understand why you suffer so and secondly they think it’s just a con as it can’t be adequately quantified (like bad backs and RSI).  So my large group of friends dropped to two.  These two are still with me today, although due to the pressures of life I don’t always get to see them.  My focus then changed to miniature games.  My change to this was that I didn’t need to find four to six people to play an RPG, organise a mutual date and time to play, then find in the end only a few turn up.  Sure organising one person can be easier but there is still that off chance it won’t happen.  So miniatures became my passion and my obsession up to perhaps two years ago.

I’m like a magpie when it comes to miniatures and rules, I collect whatever I can when I can.  This had led me to collect some obscure rules and miniatures.  My focus was more on painting than on actually getting any gaming done.  My illness made it difficult to connect with people and the fear to socialise in clubs or groups I was not familiar with was anxiety provoking.  Painting was my relaxation, and I became very good at it so much so that I was able to make some pocket money painting for others.  Let me tell you it may seem like a wonderful way to make cash, but in the end the passion left me wanting and I became extremely critical of the work I was doing for others.  They of course (the client) were still happy with my work but it became a chore I no longer wanted to do.

The 90’s were no better than the 80’s with my life in constant turmoil.  The one ray of sunshine was the births of my two children.  I started to branch out in gaming again.  Found some people who valued me for my ability and skills in my hobby.  As I am on the whole a man of integrity I ran tournaments, I ran them the way I saw was best for the community.  Trophies for the winners, prizes a random draw to all who participated.  Growing the hobby was what I wanted, not just seeing a select few grand poobahs winning every time and walking away with all the goodies.  Needless to say I was not overly popular with those types of people.

I collect a lot of GW armies during that period of time.  I branched into the Lord of the Rings, which sadly didn’t get the following it should have.

At the start of the 2000’s my life started to turn to more modest projects.  Money was tight, and my senior family members were all passing on to the next life.  I lost my mother in 2003, my Uncle/Father in 2005 and finally my grandfather in 2007.  All the elders had passed leaving me with the uncomfortable title of Sept Lord for my branch of the family.  With a little bit of wealth I went mad and branched out in all areas of my hobby, gratifying what I wanted for so long.  Gladiator, Pulp Fiction, WWI and my Napoleonics!  Life was good while the cash remained.  Like all things the good times came to an end and reality bit me on the arse.
So in the end my gaming life has returned to a more sedate level.  I play at the Blind Pig club in Brisbane, where you don’t have to worry about annual elections for glorified wankers after the glory of being grand poobah of a gaming club.  I can devote myself to running events the way I see fit and enjoying the company of those I cherish.   Life is as good as it can get for an eccentric gamer who cherishes his eccentricity.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Another moment in time, crisis point!

The following is my inner monologue about a very recent event in my life.  These are my thoughts and concerns, they are not meant to openly criticise others.  They are from my viewpoint as a person who suffers from mental illness.


So it happened, well almost happened.

Were it not for my family I would most likely be dead.

So what happened?  Tuesday 21 January was not a good day, which in itself was strange as the day before I had a win over my neighbour with regards our fence dispute.  So the two years of no fence and several months of extreme anxiety and depression were lessened on Monday.  Clearly though some level of distress over the encounter with the owner of the adjoining boundary must have still been in play regardless of a positive outcome.  Tuesday, well Tuesday was another matter.  I snapped, it only took a simple and in noxious event to push me over the edge.

I had just brought my wife home from her appointment with her own doctors.  I was distressed over her lack of progress and with my participation and my advice with her treatment and ailment being ignored.  I snapped with all reason having fled.  At no time did I harm or hurt any of my family. This was not part of my plan, my carefully devised plan, the plan I had made in the past in the knowledge of what I would do, it all went out the window with my reasoning when I snapped.

My children struggled to keep me from harming myself, while the wife phone 000 for help.  It came first in the form of two police cars and four officers, then the ambulance.  As I was resisting and refusing to let go of my source of suicide I was handcuffed and taken outside where I was interviewed.  I was not well and I don’t think I was doing much in answering the officers.  However they took off the cuffs when I asked them to do so.  So my watch was taken away from me, as well as mobile phone.  I was then bundled off into the ambulance and taken to the PA Hospital under an Emergency Examination Order (EEO).  During the ride my details were obtained and a few questions asked, though I can’t correctly recall what they were.

(I must point out at this stage that the Queensland Police were very polite and courteous. I was not threatened or harmed in any way.  I asked my family what happened after I was taken away and they told me that the Police were helpful and made them feel that they had done the right thing.)

So I arrive eventually at the PA Emergency Department, briefly processed and then packed off to the secured section for patients with Mental Illness.  My mental aberrations are MDD, PTSD and anxiety.  Yet for all my “madness” (and I use that word loosely) I am a sane and an extremely intelligent individual.  So being packed in with the truly afflicted was not an experience I would want to suffer again.  My anxiety which was previously dormant, soared and worsened as the day progressed. They were (my other inmates) placid and non-threatening.  I must have fallen into that category of harmless (like the planet earth in the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, or perhaps mostly harmless).  So I think I arrived at about 10:30am and then the wait began, I remembered I had to suffer through Dr Phil and Judge Judy before I saw someone.  Being honest about your condition is perhaps not the brightest ploy to getting them to let you go home.  So after the first interview I was forgotten until about 4:30pm when I quizzed the nurses about my release.  Another hour or more on I saw a second doctor, who indicated that she did not think it was a good idea for me to go home and that they were “concerned about my welfare”.  What a wonderful open statement which they did not have to quantify and did not explain to me.  Another hour or so later I was advised I would not be allowed to return home.  This was when I lost it (again) suffering an increase in Anxiety, with levels hitting the roof upon this news.  I was threatening to the doctor who made the announcement, stating I would cost the hospital money as I wasted its time and resources dealing with a complaint against my incarceration.  Who would not be angry, I was.  My urge to suicide had been diminishing; the threat of being imprisoned against my will in an alien and unknown area pushed the suicide impulse back into activation mode.

So there I was, waiting for transfer to East Wing where those with Mental Illness are housed.  I was given tea (dinner or evening meal for those not of English heritage).  Rather nice, actually the lunch they provided was nice as well.  They were probably the most balanced meals I’ve eaten in several months.  At this time another patient was admitted that was in an even more belligerent mood than what I was feeling.  She made more verbal demands and abuse than I ever did.  So my time was whiled away with nothing to do except mentally catalogue the complaints I would take to the hospital after I was released.

Then at some point in the evening (they don’t seem very keen to have clocks on display in the hospital, I guess it’s to not let you know how long you’ve been waiting) I was escorted by two security guards to East Wing.  During this delightful walk I had to listen to these two individuals prattle on about boating and lightning strikes, handling and firing of firearms and the escorting nurse’s pain (back I think).

The East Wing; what can I say, the last place I would recommend to anyone who is sane.  OK maybe my definition of what is or isn’t sane is debatable, but I am for the most part eccentric.  I get taken in, shown my bed in a shared room with another patient.  Warning bells blazing at this stage, anxiety suffering patient placed into alien environment, how do you think you would feel – threatened.

I was then left to my own devices.  Suffering extreme paranoia as to who my “axe wielding” neighbour was (this is of course not the case, the hospital is not that negligent).  What few valuables I had on me were placed in a safe and locked.  Nothing else occurred.  I was check on every hour (though this could have been half hour as I had no way to track time) with a torch shone in my face.  Had I not already suffered this style of fate at New Farm Private Hospital I would have been rather put off by it all.  My “room” consisted of one pillow, one sheet, one “blanket” and a plastic covered mattress.  The bed was so narrow I could not get any rest.  My neighbour turned out to be a jack-in-the-box, wonderful I thought to myself - no sleep tonight.

The night dragged on, with only my memories and an impaired mind to keep me company.  Morning finally rolled on, feeling exhausted from lack of rest.  A male nurse came by and chatted to me about the usual things, for instance - are you still feeling suicidal.  No was my response, I am suffering increased Anxiety from being trapped in a place where I should not be.  It was then I found out I was “imprisoned” on an unendorsed Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO).  The word unendorsed gave me hope that I would be able to get out before it became a permanent ITO.

Time dragged on.  At some point before midday I saw the Registrar, I permitted his two medical students to attend as part of their training (don’t have problems in people learning), and of course the nurse was there, probably in the case of the patient becoming violent.  Then I argued my case for release.  I won’t bore you with my defence as it would probably take another page to discuss.  In the end it was still a case of, we are concerned about your welfare.   I think that my intelligent and measured approach provided some degree of latitude to at least have them entertain the thought of letting me go.  I was advised that I would be told sometime that day what the result would be.

I returned to my little alcove and was left with my delightful company of anxiety and paranoia.  During this time I had to listen to the other inmates, all of which did nothing to calm me or make me feel any safer.  There was a change in shift, a different Registrar and nursing staff.  The new nurse spoke to me about “going home today”.  What can I say, my relief was wonderful, and however it was tinged with doubt, as I know my hopes were dashed yesterday about being able to go home.  Eventually I spoke to the Registrar and after another round of question and answers he deemed me safe to return home.

My experience from this incident has left an indelible mark on my psyche, what was a really minor breakdown, had escalated into high drama.  This marks my fourth attempt to suicide.  Each has been initiated by a triggering event (linked with PTSD) all my well planned “plans” were for naught as that irrational and hard-wired (conditioned) mind took over.  Because I became irrational my careful and peaceful attempt of suicide did not happen.  Will there be a fifth time?  I cannot say, I live with my suicidal thoughts each and every day.  While I never actively initiate them, they are there to remind me of just how unpleasant and despairing my life is.  There is no magical cure for the mentally ill, unlike some physical illnesses; mental illness never goes away once it has set in.  I’ve lived with it in one form or another since I was born.  I have to thank my mother for her treatment of me that made me how I am today.  Most of me I’m happy with, it’s the parts that have been damaged beyond repair that make life miserable and without hope.  Of course the way other people treat people with Mental Illness also contributes to a feeling of ostracism and social stigma. As I have said I live with my illness as best I can, my physical illness is easy to treat compared to that of the mind.

Some notes from my stay:

  • The Mental Health Act is powerful.  I’m going to spend the next few days/weeks/months reading it so that next time (if there is one) I will be better informed as to my rights.
  • Those incarcerated in the section of East Wing have communal dining.  No accommodation is made for those whose mental illness which restricts them from socialising or being exposed to others.  Those suffering anxiety or phobias will know what I mean.
  • There does not appear to be an appeal system to question a doctor’s diagnosis.  Nor does it/did it appear that I would be/am advised of my rights while being appraised.
  • For the duration of my stay I had no shower, change of clothes or was provided with any form of toiletry kit to maintain some level of hygiene.  I was slightly rancid when I left. 
  • No information was readily provided.  I could have made an issue of a number of matters while being detained, but in the end I wanted to get out and home to the safety of my house and family.  I viewed that had I become a problem my release may not happen.
  • No one checked the cutlery from the meal I eat.  While they were only plastic, they can still be used to inflict harm on self or others.
  • While being escorted to the secured facilities, I could have done a runner quite easily.  Only one of the guards was “fit” enough to give chase.  While some barriers were in place to stop casual jumpers, a determined and crazed individual could have leapt from at least one point of the journey.
  • Financial consideration that would affect others in my family was of no consequence when determining if I would be allowed to go home.  By incarcerating me I would be costing my family money, as they would have to catch taxi’s or buses to get to and from work.  So a plea along this line, as the Registrar said, does not concern them, they are only concerned about the welfare of the patient.  This was no comfort to me at all.
  • For some time my anxiety has been under control.  Being detained drove that illness back to the forefront and became a debilitating illness.  I pointed out on multiple occasions that my detainment was activating another illness that was not an issue to my ability to function.  I wonder where the phrase “physicians do no harm” was.  I now have to deal with the after affects of anxiety and how that will affect my ability to function in society.

I would like to thank the friends that matter who made contact with me via facebook when I told them of my plight.  Please be aware that my publishing this online is not an attempt of attention seeking or for people to feel sorry for me.  I have written this to show anyone out there just what being processed under the Mental Health Act is like.  It was scary; it was anxiety provoking and ultimately saps any self esteem from you that you may have had upon being admitted.

To the many vultures circling me, waiting for the chance to pick over my treasure horde, I say to you “tough”.  I was highly amused when one individual who misheard that I had suicided had raced over to score some bargains.  Halfway here he realised I was still alive and his words were, “bastard, why didn’t you have the decency to die, I just wasted good petrol trying to get to your place!”.  Of course it was meant in good humour, but the vultures remain, patiently waiting their time to strike.

Some more games added to the Library

Robinson Crusoe

Race for the Galaxy

Forbidden Desert

Also could not help myself and acquired some of the cool Krosmaster miniatures.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Battlelore 2nd Edition - Fantasy Flight Games

My faithful (yet rebellious) retainer brought this game over on the weekend to give it a test run.

What can I say it's a brilliant game.  Highly recommend.

Here are some shots of my games in progress.  Had two games on the day, won one, lost one.