I can never ducking win. Even when I win, I lose. Even when good things happen, it's bad. For every layer of good there's at least a layer of bad. Did I do something to piss off the universe? “Hey, here's a good laugh..let's give this guy a great life and make sure he can't actually be happy with it.”
I'm in a bad mood, in case it wasn't clear. Let me set the stage: it's Saturday night, and basically the end of GenCon; I have one event tomorrow before I go home. I've played a lot of games, some of which were a lot of fun. I met a lot of nice and fun people, was introduced to some fun RPG systems, got the cutest 6-sided die imaginable, made some money by selling a bunch of old cards, and used some of that money to buy some cool new cards, and a cute little faun figure, among other things. I even pulled the most memorable move in one LARP by tripping through a doorway just as my character died. Plus, my Inkling cosplay, which went largely unrecognized last year, was a big hit. And the most important thing: no TUF. Despite all of the issues I will describe in this post, So why am I upset? It's all in the title. Missed opportunity and empathy. There have been other issues which I'll also try to mention.
Let me start with the former, because it's pretty straightforward. More than any previous year, I found myself in so many games where either my character was useless, or my character died very early. The former happened, in addition to other situations, when I was playing two characters I really liked and cared about. I'll get to the details below. The important thing to note here is, I spent so much of GenCon not being able to do a lot. GenCon is my favorite time of the year. I've been looking forward to it all year. Some of you know this, because I've been talking about it since last year's convention. RPGs are my escape, my way of not having to be in this human body for a while, in a way. And especially since I'm only playing in one campaign now, and I'm a human in that campaign, I really needed GenCon. And to spend so much of it not really being able to do anything useful was sad. In RPGs and pretty much anything else, I don't like to be useless. It's a combination of pride, ego, and overthinking (Pan’s favorite thing to get annoyed about), and I sometimes feel like in some of these cases I might as well not have been there, and that seriously diminishes the escape aspect. What makes this even worse is, I'm not sure if I can afford to come to GenCon next year. So I don't even have that to look forward to. That makes it so much worse. For all of the emotional issues, I still love coming to GenCon. And the very idea that I won't be able to come next year amplifies the problem.
So that's that, now let's talk about empathy. And in part, that largely comes down to characters named Zapzap and Peter.
I'm writing the rest of this post on Sunday, the last day of GenCon. It matters.
Anyway, I left off talking about empathy. Sometimes it seems like I have a lot of it, especially (but not exclusively) with fictional characters. That's, at least in part, why I'm so vulnerable to stories of forced transformation, and TUF in general. It's also why I should never play Changeling at GenCon, but I always do. Changeling is a game where every character is the victim of a forced transformation. That's what caused my huge experience of TUF two years ago, and that's one of the big causes of my problem now. I played as a character named Peter in a Changeling LARP. That he had a written back story should have been a sign that I should back out; that's exactly what caused the problem last time. His story is that he's a gay teen who got kicked out and disowned by his parents, and then captured by this evil being and half-transformed into, as we decided it, a jackalope. I nearly broke into tears when reading it, but it was far from the first time that happened this weekend.
That's why, while kin feels are certainly part of the mix here, it isn't TUF. It started before Peter. I don't know where it started exactly, but it wasn't exactly made better by Zapzap. No, that's not his real name; he's a superhero. In that game, he and his fellow heroes were undercover trying to stop a villain from attacking at a mall. Very soon, though, they realized they were in a sort of time loop. The villain’s attack had already happened, putting us in the time loop while he took over the world. Using my character’s Astronomy skill and my memory of Doctor Who, we learned we had been in the loop for years. In the end, we couldn't undo what had happened, but we could break out of the loop and defeat the villiain. But to our characters they had lost several years of their lives. And even though the game and the GM didn't dwell and that fact, I did. A lot. Because that would be pretty terrible. And especially because of how well written the game was and how good the role playing was, that got to me to a degree.
So there you go. Wasted opportunities + fictional empathy + a dash of kin feels = depression at GenCon, right? Not exactly; there are a couple more factors to consider. One of them is simply that GenCon has to end, and I have to go back to my real life. I spent three and a half days pretending to be someone interesting and/or powerful, and tomorrow I'll be back to my bad job and normal life. Even my cosplay plays a part in this; I know it sounds stupid, but I've enjoyed being a Inkling over the past few days. This realization of GenCon’s end set in right at the same time as the game with ZapZap ended, and that was the first of several times I found myself on or past the verge of tears. It does kind of make sense; I've been looking forward to GenCon for so long, and now that it's pretty much over, that's a big source of positivity taken out.
The other thing, which also goes hand in hand with the wasted opportunities, is that I've been really tired. I mean, of course I have; I always wake up around 6:30 and go to bed around 3:00 AM during Gencon. But because of my general lack of sleep lately, and because of how late I got in on Wednesday night, I've been extra tired. It makes it harder to go to events and harder to participate in them. And when I'm tired, my emotions go into overdrive.
But even with all of these reasons and explanations, I still don't understand. I should be happy, right? Overall I had a great time. I played and learned about a lot of fun games. This is driving me crazy. I woke up a few hours ago and I've been so depressed that I've been on the verge of tears all morning. I can't make it stop. It's driving me crazy. What is wrong with me?
The only good thing is, there is one positive mitigating factor: Pan, my proto-Tulpa. He's a jerk a lot of the time, but he knows how to be helpful when I really need his help. It doesn't stop anything, but having someone to talk to about the problems really does help a lot.
If you're like me, maybe right about now you want to suggest that I seek professional help. Rest assured, I already am. But it's just going to be a hard couple of days until I get over this. It's just how my life seems to go.
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