Content of the article: "Mental Health themed game"
I was in therapy the other day and had this crazy idea of exploring someone's mind and using different NPC's to represent different concepts. I deal with anxiety and sometimes depression, and so I was imagining basically a party of PCs trying to help inside a small child grow up and adjust to the world, the child representing the person who failed to mature emotionally past that child's age because of
The PC's could literally be any character, especially if they are based on IRL pop-culture/legendary/historical figures. Spiderman might be shoulder to shoulder with Dalinar Kholin and one of the Animorph characters, as they appeared when they stepped into the child's psyche through entertainment or education. I figure that you can try to adapt the 5e system to apply to quite a bit of this. I figure that the PC characters have to be characters the players actually really care about and understand. The NPCs that plague the Child's life might be supplied by the players, and since life is always random that should provide quite a few stressful situations to help the child navigate.
Battles might not always make sense. In some of a person's mental struggles, physically doing something they are scared of might help them overcome that fear. Insert a combat encounter where the PCs heard the monster was tough, but wasn't. Or vice versa, or are in for the fight of their lives to help the child progress. Maybe in representing a rut that someone falls into where they make the same mistakes over and over and need to change their behavior, you might insert a combat encounter that cannot be won by force of arms but by solving it like a puzzle. Your axe-wielding Viking and Star Wars Clone trooper are busy holding off some monster while the Rogue is trying to reason with the illogical Child NPC to get them to confront the villain and command the villain to try something new.
Death would be weird, because you can't kill an idea but you can put more or less stock into the idea. Haven't decided how that would work, and the Illogical Child would basically be unkillable, but can still be hurt.
Other random NPCs ideas – Memory, as played by the KnowsMore search engine guy in Wreck it Ralph 2, since memory is always fallible, and Conspiracy, which is constantly looking out for overall patterns to explain the world, like diet fads, shadowy political motives, etc. Good ideas can come from them, but you have to keep careful anyway.
Does anyone have any ideas for making this work? I worry that by turning it into a GM-PC collaboration, the mental health aspect will go out the window and it won't be helpful anymore for that kind of exploration. I'm not a psychology student, just someone who has been to therapy.
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