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Episode #157  Earthborne Rangers: Playing our way to a future that works with Andrew Navaro

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What happens if we stop playing games that laud violence and give us brief dopamine hits for acts of destruction, and instead create, play and share games that build regenerative futures that help to rewire our brains and give us a feel for how community works? With Andrew Navaro of Earthborne Games.

The average child in the western world attends 10,000 hours of school – and plays 20,000 hours of games. In the ‘adult’ world, many of us spend hours devoted to levelling up our characters and exploring imaginary worlds. If the Tech-bros get their way, we’ll soon live entirely in the Metaverse and have minimal contact with the real world beyond the walls of our concrete hutches.

But imagine a different world: where the people of earth have come together to solve the multi-polar traps of the climate, ecological, sociological, economic and political crisis of our times. How might the world look in a couple of thousand years if we’ve made it through to the flourishing future we want for our descendants? That’s the premise of Earthborne Rangers, a tabletop card game that’s the brainchild of Andrew Navaro, Founder and Creative Director of Earthborne Games, a company that ‘creates breathtaking tabletop games that prioritize environmental sustainability in every aspect of their creation – from manufacturing to fulfillment. Every Earthborne product is made as sustainably as possible, with unparalleled transparency throughout the process. There’s a hopeful future on the horizon, one that reimagines our relationship with the Earth and the stories we tell on the gaming table, and we’re going to create it together.

In this week’s inspiring episode, we talk to Andrew about the game’s genesis, about how where we set our energy defines where we go, and why it was important to him to create a game that fostered cohesion and community, sharing and exploring while still being fun and exciting to play. As the game nears completion and launch, we talk about the Kickstarter campaign that funded it and the design challenges, as well as the deeply thought-through ethos of the world Andrew and his team have created.

As we head into the holidays, join us for a world of new ideas.

In Conversation

Manda: Andrew Navarro is the founder and creative director of Earthborne Games, a company that creates breathtaking tabletop games that prioritise environmental sustainability in every aspect of their creation, from manufacturing to fulfilment. Every Earthborne product is made as sustainably as possible, with unparalleled transparency throughout the process. They say there’s a hopeful future on the horizon, one that reimagines our relationship with the Earth and the stories we tell on the gaming table. And we’re going to create it together. And those of you who know me even slightly know that my one big addiction is World of Warcraft. I have given up totally, completely and utterly renounced it four times now. And last week was the launch of Dragon Flight. And I have to tell you, I haven’t given up at all. In fact, I’ve been playing for the last year. So for me, gaming is quite a large part of my life and has been for a very, very long time. Back since the days of Dungeons and Dragons in my dissolute youth. And then through Elite; first playing it and then working at Frontier Developments Limited in the gap between being a veterinary surgeon and becoming a full time writer.

Manda: And somewhere along the line I read Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken, with the subtitle Why Games Make US Better and How They Can Change the World. Which was written a decade ago but is still very relevant and gave me the excuse that I needed back then to go back into WoW again, omewhere between Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. But it also made a number of very obvious points which have been borne out by neurophysiological studies ever since, which is that we learn best when we’re playing. That play is a very interesting and powerful tool for exploring other ways of being. And so it occurred to me that I hadn’t explored this area of my life on the podcast, and particularly we hadn’t spoken to any game designers. And I went out looking for a genuinely regenerative game design and came across Earthborne games and Andrew and their new game that’s going to be out next year: Earthborne Rangers. And this seemed like an ideal step in to a world that may be very familiar to some of you and probably isn’t familiar to most of you; but nonetheless is a huge part of the development of our world. And so people of the podcast, with great delight, Let me introduce Andrew Navarro of Earthborne Games.

Andrew, welcome to the Accidental Gods Podcast. Thank you for giving us your time in what sounds like a really busy moment in the whole Earthborne Rangers thing. How far is it to actual launch?

Andrew: To launch, I think we’re recording at the end of November right now. So three months, 3 to 4 months from now, it should be done and out and in people’s hands.

Manda: Fantastic.

Andrew: So yeah, at this moment we are preparing files to go to the printer. Gathering all of that up and should be sending our first round to them this week or next. So yeah, we’re at a very, very busy moment.

Manda: Thank you. I can feel the excitement coming off in waves, and I’m realising that it’s a very different project to writing a book. I have the ideas, I write them down. We go through quite a lot of edits, but it’s generally me and an editor. Whereas you have an entire team and you’ve had the idea and you’ve written it and then somebody has produced the art. And then as I hope we’ll get into in more detail, you’ve gone really deep into many, many layers of game design and now you’re doing all of the production. It feels like a huge, huge undertaking. So in a moment I want really to get into what the game is about and how it works. But first, let’s have a look at why. Why in a world that’s full of games, is Earthborne Rangers the one that’s going to stand out and the one that was worth you putting all of this time and physical and emotional and it feels to me even spiritual energy, into producing?

Andrew: Yeah, that’s a good question. There are certainly plenty of games out there. And I’ve definitely had moments, especially at the beginning, where I asked myself that very question, you know, Why does the world need yet another game? And I think ultimately the answer I had for myself was, it just felt like something that I needed to do, that I needed to create. That it didn’t really matter that there are a ton of other games and a ton of other options. I felt like I had something to offer in this gaming space and beyond. Because I see… This project has become to me a really important one on a lot of levels and has really kind of transcended my career. I spent 15 years working in the game industry, working on what I felt were just really, just felt like kind of like products. You know, we cared about them, We put effort into them and we put a lot of care into them, but at the end of the day, it was a job making a product. And this feels far different to me. I mean, yes, we we do have a product at the end because of the nature of our world. So we need one and we want to continue to do it. And I want to continue to do this work. But it feels a lot bigger than that.

So. I think the genesis of this game really came to me when I was.. there were a couple a couple of years and it’s the merging of of a couple of ideas. One of my favourite things to do in my spare time and on vacation is go hiking with my family. And here in the States I live in Minnesota and there is some kind of decent hiking around here, but it’s beautiful but I would not call it Majestic. And I really enjoy hiking in areas where there’s big scenic views and wide expanses that you can look out across. And we then spend a lot of time each summer going to Colorado to Rocky Mountain National Park and hiking there. And if anyone’s been there, you’ll know it’s just such a beautiful place, so many easily accessible trails. It’s not intense really, by any by any stretch that you could do some intense hiking there. But what I really get into when I’m out hiking in nature is oftentimes my imagination just starts kind of running. And that’s something that I’ve experienced my entire life, where even as a kid, you know, walking through the woods, imagining some fantastical thing on the horizon or like discovering some strange portal to another world or encountering a ruin of some forgotten civilisation. And that kind of thing still happens to me as an adult.

So walking through these beautiful wooded environments and these beautiful mountains; coming around corners of switchback trails and just looking out over expansive green valleys with winding rivers and streams and lakes. And hiking up to like a mountain lake and seeing wild moose. Like all this stuff is so inspiring. And on these hikes, I kept having this feeling of exploring the space of what would it be like if this walk that I was on right now was how I got around, like how everyone got around. If we just walked from place to place, from small settlement to small settlement through the mountains. And we were kind of self sustaining in these little communities that only occasionally had to trek outward to go to a different place and maybe pick up supplies or do some trading or convey some some important news. And I really became really enchanted with that idea, because of how it made me feel inside my body. It felt really good. So then I started to kind of imagine, because I worked in games and because I’m a storyteller, how that could be then translated into a written work or into a game. So that was kind of in the back of my head for a while.

But then I think I didn’t quite know exactly how to marry that to an actual work. And then a few years later, I was playing a video game in my basement and I was playing one of the Fallout games. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Fallout? But Fallout is one of my favourite game series. It takes place in a imagined future that’s based on a fictional past where, you know, the world has been obliterated by nuclear war and humanity’s just kind of left to pick up the pieces and try to figure out their best path forward. And I’ve spent a lot of time playing that game, hundreds and hundreds of hours if you just combine them all together. And I was playing one afternoon or morning, I can’t remember exactly what, but I was suddenly struck as I was playing, how awful the world was that I was walking through and exploring. Like just how miserable it truly is. And I started to really ask myself, Why do I enjoy this? Why do I want to spend so much time in this space? And I started to ask myself also, like, is my engagement with this world helping to manifest this world in the real world? And if you were to take the energy that I put into it, plus all  the creative energy that goes into it, plus all of the players who spend millions of hours, invested in this world, in this game. Not only that game, but then I started to look out across all of media; in other video games and movies, and you really start to see just how hopeless the vision for the future truly is in most mainstream media content, where you know the world is completely destroyed. There’s very little hope for those who remain. And on top of all that, it’s all humanity’s fault and there’s nothing we could do to change it.

So taking those thoughts, I started thinking, okay, well, if I really enjoy sci fi, I enjoy exploration, I enjoy, like, ‘the space’. I think that’s the thing I like the most about Fallout, is the kind of the lonely exploration of like going through these wide open spaces and discovering interesting little bits and artefacts of the past. So I started thinking, All right, well, if I were to create a fictional future world that didn’t have all of the pessimism, like what would that look like? And that really is the genesis for the Earthborne setting. Trying to imagine this this more hopeful, not depressing future, that was still fun to explore.

Manda: And that’s what’s so inspiring about this. That’s what drew me to Earthborne Games and to you, was this sense that you get that where we put our attention, where we put our energy is where we go. And if what we’re doing is constantly destroying stuff, then that has to have an impact on who we are. And I say this as a gamer, I think I do count as quite a hardcore gamer, and I play Warcraft, which is as its name suggests a game based around fighting. And actually I’m a PvP as in player versus player. I live for the battlegrounds and the chance to match up ten on ten and see who can win. And this is not something I am enormously proud of. So I’m really glad that you’re here creating a game that’s going to feel as engaging, as multilayered, as full of possibility, and yet it has a different energetic base. So what I’m wondering is how is that going down in the rest of the gaming world? What are the responses and the feedback to that? Are people just staring at you a bit quizzically not getting it, or do you think the people around you outside the company – Because obviously inside the company, I imagine everybody gets this. And listening to your podcast, it sounds as if everybody gets it. But I’m wondering, the world outside. How are they responding to the concept of a game that’s fun to play, not depressing and yet is regenerative. Are there, for instance, a whole lot of copycat games in the making? Is this going to start a whole new genre?

Andrew: So I would say that as far as I know, thematically in the tabletop gaming space, no one’s doing anything quite like we’re doing. There is a pretty firm line, I feel, between what publishers feel like certain audiences will accept and other audiences will accept. So you might have a game that has themes around nature and connection, but the mechanics of that game will be pretty basic in their nature. They will be more geared towards what people would say, families or casual gamers, or it’ll be something that they feel like has some some broader appeal. Whereas the type of game that I am accustomed to making, that I enjoy making, is a deeply narrative experience. Where there is adventure and drama, characters to interact with, you have an opportunity to create a character for yourself. You end up investing a lot of energy and time into the experience. And by and large, those types of games are I would say generally all kind of the same. There’s the classic fantasy tropes of going around and swinging swords and attacking things. There is superhero stuff where you’re going and fighting supervillains. There are cosmic horror like Lovecraft based things where you are fighting for the the very fabric of reality and oftentimes failing. But there is that constant thread that connects them all, that it is largely what you are doing is participating in conflict and doing so in a violent way.

And I feel like obviously it’s a tried and true formula, that’s been around for a very long time and it’s been very successful. So there’s really no incentive for anyone to really change the formula from a commercial perspective. So what I think we’re trying to do is create a game that is appealing to people who enjoy story, and appealing to people who enjoy a deeper, more time consuming, more in-depth, rewarding gaming experience. But then to give them something that they have not experienced before. It’s not like we’re creating our Dungeon Crawl experience and we hope you like our Dungeon Crawl more than all these other dungeon crawls. We are creating an experience that might be similar to the level of depth you might find in a game like that, but the setting and the interactions you have in the game are completely different from what you might expect. So I don’t really know if there’s anyone in Tabletop doing anything like this. It’s hard to keep the finger on the pulse of everything that’s happening in the video game space, because there’s just so, so many games. And there are a lot of tabletop games, too. So if there’s one out there that is trying to do something that’s similar to what we’re doing, then certainly I apologise in advance. Yes.

Manda: Thank you. I don’t think you have anything to apologise for. It sounds like you’re one of the leaders, the forerunners, the groundbreakers in this. So I really want to get into what the game is and how it works, but I think we need to unpick a little bit the difference between video games and tabletop games. My memory of what I think tabletop games is, is limited to Dungeons and Dragons, which again in my dissolute youth; I am the only person in the entire world who has played Dungeons and Dragons with Fay Weldon and Terry Pratchett, who are two UK authors. And actually I dm’d those games. I used to carry my pack of multi sided dice, you know, from the four sided pyramid up to the dodecahedron. And I was on a writing course, two years in a row at a kind of Arvon equivalent in Norfolk. And one year, the first year Fay Weldon was the teacher and it got to the getting drunk on the Friday night bit, in the days when I still used to drink. And she asked what would we like to do? And we decided we’d like to play Dungeons and Dragons. And she said, by the end of it, you know, with with brief breaks for for food and drink, one could become quite enamoured of this! Which cheered me hugely. And in the next year when it was Terry Pratchett as the tutor, we went: we played last year with Fay Weldon, we played D&D. Do you want to play? And he did. And it was enormously good fun, but very geeky, seriously geeky. And we didn’t do Dungeons. I hate that caving thing. So all of my dungeons are actually aboveground landscapes. A bit I think like Earthborn Rangers is going to be. But I’m guessing most people don’t play that. So are we talking Monopoly or I don’t know, Bridge? Do those count as tabletop games? Can you unpick for us what tabletop games actually are?

Andrew: Sure. Yeah. So just to describe the tabletop industry in as brief way as possible. So Tabletop has been growing pretty consistently for the past 20 plus years. You can really, you know, you can trace it back forever. Because I think technically you could say, you know, any game that is played with a traditional deck of playing cards or chess checkers, any game with stones, you know, all technically speaking, I think they could fall into the category of tabletop games. But I think as a, you know, from a modern perspective, tabletop games really started to take off in like the eighties and nineties. You know, Dungeons and Dragons had a lot to do with that. Magic The Gathering. The games out of Games Workshop; their, you know, Warhammer; tabletop miniatures games. All these things kind of existed in a more nascent form in the years leading up to it, but it really started to explode in the eighties and nineties. And then in the late nineties, early 2000s when Wizards of the Coast published the third edition of Dungeons and Dragons, that also kind of kicked things off a notch higher. That was an incredibly successful product line for them and I think it brought a lot more people to the tabletop gaming space. And at that point too, then a bunch of new exciting board games were being made. Like Settlers of Catan, which is now just Catan and others that have become kind of classics over the years.

So the tabletop industry is grown from a handful of gatekeepers, publishers, large publishers, and then a lot of really, really tiny publishers just kind of squeaking by; to this massive open field where there are still huge players, you know, like Hasbro or Asmodee or Games Workshop that really drive a lot of the revenue for the industry at large. But with the advent of Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general, that has really opened the door for anyone who has an amazing idea. And then the drive and willingness to see that idea through to completion; to put their project out there for support. And people have embraced that to such a degree where there are now, I forget what the number is, but there are thousands of games, tabletop games released every year. And those range from very, very simple things to very, very complex, ridiculous, multiple hundred dollar price point things. So it’s a pretty wide range and a pretty enormous industry that still also contains all those classics of Monopoly and Boggle and all the things you might find in a mass market store.

Manda: Okay. So it’s feeling to me as if we’re in the book versus movie world. Where the video games are like the movies where it’s pretty much a passive experience. I wouldn’t say WoW was passive, actually, but but even so, you’re being given a world, you’re being given a context, you’re given grinding to do if you want to level up. Dragonflight just came out. I’ve been levelling my healers up to level 70 so I can go back into the battlegrounds and fight people again, with gear that isn’t going to see me one shotted by the first rogue or hunter that wanders past. But it’s very scripted. Whereas what I am imagining with the tabletop games, as you’ve been describing them, is we’re more in the realm of a book. A book is black marks on white paper, and everybody reads a different book who reads the same black marks on the white paper. Because our internal realities are different. It’s a much more active process. It gives people much more agency. And I think the distinction between the two, probably changes the way our minds work. That the more people read books, the more empathy they have, the more they have the capacity to create other possibilities for themselves. And so I’m wondering if tabletop games give people that sense of creative agency and whatever neurophysiology spins off from that. Is that fair do you think?

Andrew: I think there’s definitely an aspect of that that’s true, but I really feel like it depends on the game and it depends on the people. I think the analogy of the book, I think, is is the most apt in that different people are going to take away from a game, something that is unique to them. So there are, I think most of the people who I know who are enamoured with tabletop gaming and are part of the industry; the thing I think that they often point to as the greatest aspect of it, is the community aspect. Where you are gathered around a table with friends. You’re looking each other in the eye. You are experiencing something together, in person. And that whatever that experience is, it has merit in and of itself. And oftentimes, in my experience, I feel like the game is secondary to that; where it doesn’t really matter if the game is good. All that matters is that we’re together and the game could be terrible but we’ll still have a great time, because you’re hanging out with friends and it’s awesome. So I think that’s kind of, I think, the through line – the thing that is the most important to most people in our industry. But I also feel like there is a, for those who choose to play the types of games that allow deeper personal introspection, that allow greater exploration of the material, you know.

Like Dungeons and Dragons, for example. Or like Magic The Gathering where you have like a ridiculous number of cards to go through and build decks and it requires a lot of thought and a lot of care oftentimes. That there is a great opportunity there, to then participate in the creation. Because you are taking what is given to you and now you are making it your own. And that’s especially true in something like Dungeons and Dragons, where you have to craft stories to then share with your playgroup. And that sentiment is something that we’re also trying to do with Earthborne Rangers, where we want people to engage with this game in a way that is on a deeper level and like really imagine yourself in the place and, you know, what would you do in these certain circumstances? And look at the cards on the table as prompts for your imagination, to imagine the scene and see yourself there and kind of fill in the blanks between what the mechanics are telling you, to what is transpiring from a thematic perspective.

Manda: And I don’t know why I compared this to writing a book earlier, because I did for a while work with Frontier Developments as part of the team. And I do have an idea of the amount of complexity that goes into creating a game of real depth. And so with that knowledge, when I read your rulebook, I was really impressed with the depth of thought that had gone just into the writing of the rules. And I’d like to read the early part of the introduction, which goes like this: It’s an excerpt from the notes of the history of the third and fourth millennia, composed by Lorelord of the Second Council Tishala Saidik in the third cycle 8433 LR. And the notes say: 2500 years ago, the world balanced on the brink of destruction. The Great Calamities threatened to leave our world a blasted wasteland. But in the face of certain death, people did the one thing nobody expected. They pulled together. Led by a figure known only as The Guide, the disparate peoples of Earth began to heal their grievously wounded planet. To do so they began the Great Generational Projects. These projects were monumental feats of engineering, practical biology and chemistry, to name but a few disciplines, requiring decades of work from millions of people. In short, the greatest undertakings in all of human history.

 And I love that. And it speaks so much to now, because clearly the whole premise of this podcast is that we are on the brink of destruction. I don’t really know anybody sane who thinks we’re not. But here we have it. In the face of certain death, people did the one thing nobody expected; they pulled together. So can you tell us from that, a bit about the background of what it takes to make this? How long it’s taken you, how many of you there are, and a bit of the underlying process that gets us from here to there.

Andrew: So we’re running up on almost three years now of working on this this project.

Manda: So you were doing this during the pandemic. You were starting this while COVID was throwing everybody into lockdown?

Andrew: Right before. Yeah. February of 2020 is when we officially began work on the project. So, yeah, the setting itself, you know, I had a basic idea and I’d worked with a friend and former co-worker of mine who was unemployed at the time, so it is a really good opportunity to work with him. He’s a very prolific writer in that he’s able to get a lot of ideas down on paper without overthinking it, which is the exact opposite of how I write. So I really wanted to work with him on helping to create a setting. Which I worked with him on creating settings while at our former employer. So I knew he’d be a great contributor. So I had some basic ideas that I brought to him, and we spent many days and hours meeting, just talking over thoughts and ideas. And the genesis for all of it was, you know, trying to imagine our descendants, you know, 2500 years… We just were picking numbers like how far we would like it to be. We wanted it to be far enough in the future it could feel strange and new, but not so far that it felt like an impossibility, like we couldn’t get to that space because it’s just it’s so far in the future, it doesn’t matter. It’s not connected to us anymore. So we landed at around 2000 to 2500 years from now. And I really wanted the people of that world to be connected to the earth. And we spent a lot of time thinking about what would it take for them to to have that deep connection? Like, how could we go from here to that? And what were the circumstances that could make that possible? And I also didn’t want to spend time in the time of troubles.

Andrew: Like I felt like so many stories spend time within those difficult times. And I wanted to, like, acknowledge them, but then show the outcome and see where we are and then what those people dealt with on a day to day basis. So then we came up with this idea of like, all right, we’ll just continue it from where we are now and then amplify it a bit. So the environmental issues continue to grow. They continue to be problematic, and then that effectively puts those people in a position where they need to do something about it or perish. And they end up, like you read, they do something about it. There’s a lot of difficulty in between but then they come out of it having a deep respect for the planet itself and then by extension, themselves. So they need to take care of themselves and take care of the planet and that they learn that is effectively the same thing. So, yeah, so that was the spark that kind of then spread out to the entire thing. And then we, you know, we’ve written a lot of minutia about the details of this world. But ultimately, in the future, the future world we’ve envisioned, there are far fewer humans just by a consequence of time. And the difficulties that people went through is not all great.

But at the end, what we’re left with are communities that are very self sustaining. Communities that even though they are separate from one another, share a desire as a core belief that the Earth must be cared for. And that we cannot strip it for its resources. We cannot greedily mine it to oblivion. Like all of the things that I feel like in modern, industrial and ultra consumerist culture, we do all in pursuit of money and money and money and more money. They don’t share any of those values and it’s gone so far as there are no longer nations. It’s just these communities that help each other out when they need help. But they don’t war over resources because they have an understanding that there is more than enough here on earth for everyone to thrive and we don’t need to fight about it. So it’s a very you know, it’s a very idealistic, very hopeful vision. And I think that has been one of the things that has been the most, I think some of the most challenging, especially when I’m trying to communicate with other members of the team when we’re trying to come up with new ideas and adventure hooks and exciting things for people to do in the game. Is that we must not fall back on the tropes of, you know, humans versus humans fighting for resources, warring cultures, all that stuff. To just let all that go, because these people don’t feel that way anymore. And yeah, I think that’s about it.

Manda: So you said you didn’t want to go into the bad stuff in the middle, the stuff that might be quite dystopic between here and there. And I can completely see there’s plenty of dystopias in the world we don’t need any more. And in any case, it’s quite hard to map. But do you have an internal sense of a timeline? Of a narrative arc that takes us from early 21st century to the time when the game actually starts? Or. Is it easier just not to know? Have you just kicked off from from your timeline and made kind of reverse engineered assumptions of what’s happened in the interim?

Andrew: No, I’ve definitely given it a lot of thought. And I have notes and we have another… We have a book that you can also get that goes a little bit deeper into the lore, that talks about this a little bit more. For the purposes of the game, for the setting and maintaining mystery, I don’t want to define things too much and want to leave room for interpretation. Because we’d love to be able to do a tabletop role playing game of this that leaves some of that open, where people can fill in the blanks and, you know, bring their own ideas to the table. But I’ve definitely given it thought, and I have my own thoughts about how things came to pass. Ultimately, I think what we decided to do… So while, the setting itself is global, right? It’s the entire it’s all of Earth. But I didn’t want to spread ourselves so thin, where we’re trying to create a bunch of different cultures all around the world and explain how they all work. It’s not that kind of game where you’re really going to be oftentimes running into people from all over the world, because it’s just not how the world is set up anymore. So a bunch of different cultures, you know, thousands, tens of thousands? Who knows how many cultures exist in this setting? We’ve only explored three or four maybe, but only one in really great depth. And then the rest are kind of peripheral to this main culture.

 So we wanted to really start local and then expand the setting out as time goes on. So if all goes well and we experience great success with the game and with the setting, we will continue to grow that vision outward. But for now, we’re focussed on a very, very small community that lives in the mountains of what is formerly Colorado. And so this culture I feel like I have a very good idea of how they got from now to where they are. So in the game, you mentioned at the beginning, when you read the intro, there are The Generational Projects. These are crazy, like science fiction style science experiments and things, that people just felt emboldened to do whatever it took to undo the damage that we’ve done. Or just preserve how they felt, what best preserved the health of the earth or helped heal the earth. And these are projects that took, some of them took hundreds of years to complete. Some of them were never completed. Some of them were successful. Some of them were not. But while they’re working on these projects, they also needed to shelter from the worsening environment. So a lot of people moved into archology. So anyone who’s played SimCity, will know what arcologies are. The old SimCity 2000, that was kind of the thing at the end, the very end, you could build these self-sustaining massive cities that just all kind of socketed together. But if you imagine a, a self-sustaining, sheltered community that can house millions and millions, 10 million people all underneath one roof, a lot of people moved into those dwellings and lived out their lives there.

 Some of those arcologies were successful and thrived. Others had mechanical failures and problems and failed. But at the end, once the Earth was finally at a point where people felt like they could venture out, most people then left those arcologies to then go explore. So that brings us to the culture that we explore in Earthborne Rangers, where that is a culture who left, who had their stuff together. They were a cohesive, healthy community that supported each other. They were able to maintain their knowledge of technology. They were also a very spiritual people and were able to thrive in their arcology. And then once they left, they were well equipped to be able to succeed out in this largely now unexplored world. So when they leave, they leave with the intention of finding a home; a new place to settle. But as they are travelling, they encounter other communities in need and they make the decision we’re not going to settle down until everyone’s taken care of. So they effectively go on their quest to find a new home, but while they’re doing that, they encounter different cultures that they then support, get them on their feet, give them whatever they need, and then they move on. So and then in those times, there are connections made, deep personal connections. There’s romance and marriages and children.

Andrew: And some people stay. Some people go. And the group that then left that arcology, over the centuries becomes very, very different, as they move across America or what is formerly America in search of their home. And then they eventually get to that point where they’re like, yeah, I think we’ve got it all taken care of. After about 1000 years or so of being on the road and an opportunity opens for them, for them to move into this valley that had been closed off by a pretty massive sheet of ice that then eventually melts and they’re able to make the pass into the into the valley. And then they settle there. So the game, the story of the game, picks up maybe 100 to 150 years after the first foray into the valley. And then they then settle in a main area and then branch off from there. So that is the culture we’re exploring here and there’s other around there. Yeah, and that’s pretty much where the game picks up. So we don’t really get into like the settlements or anything like that. But you definitely spend a lot of time exploring those various settlements and get to see how this culture has grown in this place, and the things that they do and how they spend their time, how they spend their resources, the things that are important to them. A lot of that comes through throughout the story that the game is telling.

Manda: That does sound a lot like writing a book, where you have the iceberg metaphor. Whereas the writer, you know the great big bulk of the iceberg that’s below the surface, but the reading audience only ever gets the little bit above the top, but it’s all there. And if it didn’t have the great bulk of that underpinning, then the entire story wouldn’t work. So I’m really glad you got the iceberg that keeps the tip above the water afloat. And so moving on, we really need to get into how this game works, insofar as we can do that without actually playing it online and talking about it, which I did consider. But I thought it might not be that easy. Anyway, can you tell us how we start off? We get the game out of the box. How do we start to create our characters?

Andrew: So if anyone’s familiar with how to create characters in a role playing game, be that a computer game or a tabletop role playing game. It’s very similar. You start by choosing your statistics. So you have four different stats that are key to your function as a ranger. So everyone plays as a ranger of the Valley, which is a protector of the valley and its people. You are a equal part the firefighter, park ranger, police officer, judge, handyman. You’re all all these things. You are everything to everybody. Your job is to help the people of the valley in whatever way you can, whether those be really monumental tasks or even like very, very small things. Like I may have misplaced a sheep. All these things are under your purview and you’re out there to help. So the four attributes we have are, we call them aspects, are focus, fitness, awareness and spirit. And you begin by choosing, and they all have a numerical value associated with each one of them. So you begin by choosing what kind of spread of numbers you’d like your character to have. And that choice, really determines how you, as the player, will interact with the game. The things that your character will be good at versus the things that they might not be as good at. The game can be played by a single player, so if you’re playing single player, you might want to pick a character that has maybe like a medium to high fitness, because hiking around the valley is really important.

But you can choose something else too. If you’re playing with multiple players, then obviously you can choose characters that complement each other. So if you have a high fitness character like I just mentioned, you would be good at hiking, traversing, moving around the valley quickly, other feats of strength or agility. If you have a high awareness character, you’d be very good at exploring. If you have a high focus character you’ll be very good at solving more complex issues or more complex problems that you might be confronted with throughout the game. And if you have a high spirit character then you’ll be very good at connecting with the various people you meet in the valley and the animals that might come your way. So it all depends on really how you want to play. So if you want to go around and connect with nature to its fullest, then a high spirit character might might be the right choice for you. I like to play with a high spirit. So then after you do that, you choose your background. And your background is what your character did in their formative years. So in this society, there’s no school necessarily. It’s more of a doing and apprenticeships. And you spend, as soon as you can start to contribute, you do. So children at a very young age are already out doing work, whatever work they can, helping whenever, where they can, and then they end up apprenticing oftentimes with various masters throughout the valley; be they artisans or foragers. Or you might be like a travelling merchant, and you decide on what your character did in the past.

Andrew: And then you then select cards from a set that is one of those backgrounds. So you could be like a forager, a traveller, an artisan or a shepherd, and depending upon which one you choose, those add different cards to your deck, and you’ll have a selection of cards you can choose from. So you don’t actually take them all, you just take a few. And then after you choose your background, you choose your speciality. And your speciality is what you’ve been doing in your adult life. And that indicates your your area of expertise. And those can be an Artificer, which is kind of like a more technology focussed inventer type character. You can choose to be an Explorer, which is someone who goes out and, you know, literally explores the valley and a very important part of society in the valley. You can also be a Conciliator, which is someone who essentially solves problems. So very much like an a Ranger already. But is there to help mitigate problems with people and to make sure that each each settlement, each village is running smoothly. And then Shaper, which is I think our kind of most wild idea of all these. Which is it’s this person who has spent decades training at this remote mountain monastery learning how to alter the fabric of reality through their intention.

So it’s taking this idea of manifesting. That you know I feel like something that a lot of people do. I mean and I do myself; you know, focusing on an outcome or trying to inhabit an emotion to achieve that emotion and then putting sci fi on it. So it becomes very, very literal of a shaping of reality. So they use this thing called a conduit, which takes the form of this kind of techie staff, that they can use to take their thoughts, their ideas, their intention, and then manifest that in physical reality. Obviously, that is an incredible responsibility, to be able to have that power. So those shapers who eventually leave the monastery are incredibly capable, incredibly thoughtful and trustworthy humans. And you can choose to be one of those if you’d like. It is our most complex speciality, but it’s pretty cool. So once you choose that, you add those cards to your deck and then you choose your personality cards. So we have personality cards are kind of the most basic cards in your deck. They help your deck run. They help move along the most basic mechanisms of the game. And those are very, very simple cards that just have different personality traits associated with them, like thoughtful. Thoughtful… It’s like the only thing I can think of right now.

Manda: If I’m looking at the right place. Then there’s a whole group of other things. Like there’s wisdom, and the kind of gear that you can have, and modifications for technology and things. I’m looking at the artisans page and there’s Mother of Invention, which I think is just gorgeous and and the right tool and pocketed belt pouch. And so you’ve got gear as well as other attributes and everything that every card gives you another node of choice making, I think. Which just does look extremely exciting. And I’m kind of interested. I’ve been listening quite a lot recently to Peter Michael Burroughs’ podcast. He’s into rewilding, so it’s called the Rewilding Podcast. And he has a thesis, which I’m not entirely sure I completely am sold on. But it’s interesting. That Forager Hunter, he calls them hunter gatherer communities, that are immediate return, don’t have hierarchies. So that’s you go out and you forage something and you eat it, or you hunt something and you eat it. As soon as there’s storage, then we begin to get hierarchies and social inequality. That there were cultures in the Pacific Northwest of what is now the US, that they had salmon. I think they were able to forage salmon for like a month of the year and smoke it, dry it, store it in some way. And the fact that they then had a food source stored for 11 months of the year meant that hierarchies automatically grew out of that. It doesn’t really fit with what Graeber and Wengrow say in The Dawn of Everything… I mean, I’m more inclined to trust them…But it struck me as an interesting idea. And I notice you’ve almost got a forager-hunter/ hunter-gatherer culture. But you have sheep. There is some farming. There’s some agriculture happening.

Andrew: Yeah. I don’t know if… It’s hard to say if people are taking that away or if they are, you know, feeling when they’re playing, ‘oh, this is ridiculous’. Or if they’re like,’ Oh, this is amazing’. Generally the response has been, This is amazing. I really like it. I don’t know if people can necessarily articulate why, or if they’d mentioned that in particular, but I think we’ve definitely given thought to how people live on the land. I hadn’t heard that idea before of that, you know, as soon as we create surplus that we’re creating a hierarchy that could then be problematic. In this world, there is… It’s not necessarily what I’d call agrarian. This culture, what they do is through foraging, they’ll plant things out in the world and then go and then, you know, as the seasons progress pick what is there and then eat that. And I imagine people might have like small gardens here or there where they might grow things that they particularly enjoy. But there are no fields of crops, for example. We do have shepherds, so we do have sheep that are used primarily for their wool. So it’s mostly for creating clothing. And then there’s a lot of fishing as well. But I hadn’t really given, I think, a lot of thought to how agriculture or food might play into various power structures. Mostly I was trying to think of how people might live in nature with the minimal impact, negative impact. Where they’re not feeling like they need to level wide areas of land to plant crops, or divert rivers to gather enough water to water those crops. So that they lived in a space where they didn’t feel like they needed to grossly deform the landscape, to make room. That they just kind of tried to settle in the nooks and crannies of what was around them and then build in those spaces, and try to limit themselves to those spaces.

Manda: So then I’m really curious as to what the economy is in the Earthborne world. Because from all of the reading I’ve done, barter is an outcome of capitalism in a way. You have money, and then because you’ve had money, you have barter. And in earlier cultures there was a much more complex social mesh around the sharing of common goods, things of value, such that something as mechanistic in a way as barter was not really needed. But then I’m thinking, this is a post monetary world or potentially a post monetary world. Where capitalism has happened and people are still, I think, even 2000 years later, going to be living with the fallout of that. So I’m wondering, how did you manage the exchange of value, the accounting of value, the holding of value. All of the things that money allows in our world. How does that happen in the Earthborne world?

Andrew: So how it manifests in the game is largely more like a trade or a  barter system, where you might have something that you’re like, Would you like this? And as it plays out, no one ever says no. As it would actually play out in the world, I really don’t know. But from a game mechanics perspective, you will encounter merchants, you might have a card in your deck that you would like to exchange for something else. You give it to them. They give you the thing that you wanted. So there’s no real like hard bargaining. As that extends to like real life in the Valley. I have always kind of seen it as, you know, if you show up at the meal house or the town centre and you’re hungry, you will be fed. If you need a place to stay, you can stay. And I think there’s just an understanding that everyone is doing their part. Everyone is working. There is no real laziness to anyone. Everyone’s very industrious and it’s certainly not a, you know, a 40 hour workweek or something like that. It is far more organic and practical. But the idea is, everyone is contributing and everyone is working together.

Manda: So the distinction between work and not work is much less than it is in our culture, I am guessing? Given that that’s what it’s like in indigenous cultures. So people do what they’re moved to do?

Andrew: Well, I also feel like it’s not only what you’re moved to do, but what you feel compelled to do. And again, I think that goes back to the values that these people have. Where, you know, at least, you know, in the States – and I’ve given this a lot of thought to obviously in respect to this and to myself in general – is that we’re in a very individualistic society, where we were taught from a very young age to go out and make the most for ourselves. And there’s very, very little societal pressure, from my experience, to even make a cohesive family, let alone a cohesive community. And I feel like that’s led us to a point where I feel like our society is incredibly ill. And I feel like all of our values are all messed up. And there’s thankfully, there’s a lot of people who feel the same way and are, I think, trying to actively change that and improve the health of our society. But it’s very, very difficult, I think, for people to imagine a world where you would want to go out and forage for food, here in the States. Because you feel like, oh, that’s a waste of time.

Andrew: Like someone else should do that for me. Like why do I need to do that? I want to sit here and watch this movie instead. And that’s just not the world these people live in. Like they want to go out and forage because it’s joyful to them. It’s rewarding to them. And that goes for all the tasks that they do. So that there’s really not this feeling of, Oh, I’m wasting my life as a shepherd. Like I could see in like a Disney adaptation, you’d have a shepherd who’s wistfully looking out at the horizon, wishing his life was more exciting. Because he’s been a shepherd for so long. And man, I just wish something amazing would happen to me because I’m so bored. That’s just not the type of world that we’re creating. Like there’s an investment of energy and care into everything these people do.

Manda: Okay. It’s sounding better all the time. I would definitely enjoy living in this world. And I find that I’m wondering. I’ve written on my notes and in capitals: DREAMS. Because I know that when I’m writing a book, and I really get into the part where the reality of the book is occupying more of my awareness than the rest of what we might call consensus reality, that I begin to dream in the book. And I wonder. Do you dream in the Earthborne world? Has it got to the point where it saturates your dreams? Or is that just a weird thing?

Andrew: Do daydreams count?

Manda: Absolutely. Totally. Yes. Dreaming is a very wide thing. It’s not just the stuff that happens at night when we got our eyes shut. It’s whatever is taking place when we shift out of our what we might call our left brain logical, reductionist thinking, into that space where everything is more fluid and the world becomes more alive, I would say. So if you’re dreaming in that space, it definitely counts as dreaming.

Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. No, I feel like when in these last few months it’s become very much a logistical job, where I’m working with factories and, you know, trying to make the thing happen. But during the creation of the setting in the game, whenever I wanted to work on the setting and the feeling, I would try to transport myself, you know, energetically, however you want to describe it. And try to feel what it would be like to be in that space. And then, you know, through the eyes of my imagination, look around and then take in whatever I saw. And that’s really fun. I love, as someone who’s a creator, like it’s I think one of the most joyful things, is to just be a conduit for that creation and let that information flow through you. It’s such an amazing feeling and yeah, you know, I think all the best things that are in this game came from those moments where that creative energy was just flowing and the ideas didn’t need to be prompted. They just came. So yeah, definitely lots of times where I was dreaming. Mostly Waking Dreams, though there were a few moments where I remember having like actual Earthborne related dreams themselves.

Manda: Magic. I love that. Anything that brings us closer to the dream time is going to help us find a way through, I feel. So with all of that can you tell us how we get to the game? Is the Kickstarter still open or do we just go to the website and pre-order? I know we can go to the website and pre-order, because I have it planned for the first thing that we do as soon as we hang up the call. But what’s your preferred route, for people to find you between now and actual launch in this?

Andrew: So right now..so the Kickstarter concluded in August of 2021. So it’s been it’s been a while. But if you would like to pre-order the game, you could go to our Kickstarter page, there’s a link there to do it. But you can also go to our website, earthbornegames.com and you can pre-order it from there. And then once the game is is out, it’ll probably be in a few retail shops. We’re still kind of working through that, but you will also be able to just buy direct from us on our website, which obviously helps support us the most. So anyone who wants to wait for the game to actually be a physical thing and be out in the world, you’ll be able to buy it from our website this upcoming spring.

Manda: So we can definitely pre-order it this minute, now, at the point when the podcast goes out?

Andrew: You can pre-order it now. Yeah.

Manda: And when we get it and we rip open the box and we’ve read through the rules and we work out how to play. And we’re playing alone, or I think ideally with a group of friends, what’s the kind of timescale? I genuinely do remember D&D games back in the day lasting months, but we used to play with friends who lived, you know, a couple of hours drive away. So we’ll go over on a Sunday afternoon and we’d play all day and then come back home. People’s lives are not like that anymore. So how are you thinking that your ideal player is going to play this when they first get the game?

Andrew: The game is intended to be played as a campaign. So it’s multiple game sessions all strung together, telling a larger story. And so while you can play Earthborne Rangers as kind of like a one off thing, where you just sit down and walk around and explore it and see what happens. And that is enjoyable, I think, it’s definitely an enjoyable way to play. The intention is for you to see the story of your character through multiple sessions, and it is a long experience. So a typical game of Earthborne Rangers can really vary, pretty wildly, as far as the amount of the amount of time that you sit down and play. And it depends a lot on how much you’re talking to your friends at the table, and how much thinking you do if you’re playing by yourself. I tend to, when I play, play solo, so play alone. But then I also spend a lot of time just kind of staring at the cards, and thinking and imagining things, so that can really kind of bloat out the time a bit. But we’ve clocked in the main story of the campaign at probably right around 20 sessions or so. So depending upon your lifestyle and how often you like to get games to the table, you know, you could be playing this for a very, very long time before you actually saw the end.

And then it also supports, since it’s an open world game, it supports you really continuing to play even after the main story is complete. So you can mine it for every last bit of discovery that you could possibly want. And if you do that, that could be upwards of 30 sessions. If you’re playing relatively efficiently. If you just want to hang out and poke around, it can be even longer. So we’ve had play testers who have gone really, really quickly through the game, but we’ve also had plenty who have just kind of leisurely strolled and they’ve all had a really good time. So yeah, so the game itself is, the actual sit down and play at what you’re doing in a given turn or in a given round, is you will start at a location and you’ll always have a mission in play. Those missions will be given to you by the Campaign Guide which tells the story. And will sit on the table in front of you and there’s always an option for you to go and complete those missions. But since it’s an open world game, you also can just walk around and check stuff out and find new missions and things to do.

So you always have this kind of this guiding star of like, Hey, we want to move the story forward. This is the thing we should do. But the game gives you all sorts of license to do whatever you want. So the bulk of the game is exploration. It is going from location to location, on this map that we’ve created. We have 37 different locations. They’re all connected by paths, and there’s eight different terrain types that these paths consist of. And those terrain types will then largely determine the types of wildlife you’ll encounter, the types of geographical features you might encounter. And depending then on which locations you go to, those locations could also contribute to what you find there. So there are a few locations that we call pivotal locations, that are mostly the villages and things, but there are some other ones as well, that contribute to what you might discover. And those are all cards and you shuffle them all together. And then as you play, you are drawing cards from this deck we call the Path Deck to reveal what you might uncover as you walk around the world.

And there’s an additional level as well. If you’re going to a non pivotal location, we have a separate set of cards that are wandering NPCs or non-player characters and wandering animals. Our most dangerous predators are in there and other like fun little story hooks are in those. And you’ll take three random ones from that set and then shuffle those in. So it can be a very wild, very wildly different experience from person to person, from game to game, what you might encounter as you’re going through these decks. So yeah,the main thrust of the game is exploration. So sometimes people who are more used to a rigid game structure, where the game is telling you ‘this is what you do and this is how you win’ can have had a little bit of difficulty sometimes wrapping their head around the idea that this game just kind of lets you do what you want. And that’s something that I feel like, if you play the game, that’s something that you should definitely embrace. Because what should you do? You should explore. Like, why do I want to go there? To see what’s there! It’s very, very player driven, so whatever you put in the game will give back to you. The more you put in, the more the game will give back.

Manda: Wow. I’ve read the rulebook and was really impressed and I’ve listened to your podcast and listened to some of the back and forth between you and the other designers, of the complexity of designing a game like this. But I had no idea that you had designed it so that even if somebody completely wants to not go in the direction that they’re kind of being led, it will still work its way through. How do you do that? Honestly, the degree of thought that must go into designing that! How does it even work, Andrew? I can’t even begin to imagine.

Andrew: So. Thankfully, the people I’m working with and myself have a lot of experience making games and making complex games. And that really fed into my vision for the game, because I have been working on complex, ridiculous games my entire life. So of course when I thought of doing my own game, I wanted it to be complex and difficult. So it’s really difficult for me to think of things in any other way. There’s really nothing exactly like what we’ve made out there. It is very unique. It’s very novel. But there you can trace its lineage to other games that I and the people who are working on the game with me have also worked on. So you’ll see elements of other games. Especially the cooperative card games that Fantasy Flight Games puts out. Arkham Horror the card game, Marvel champions, Lord of the Rings. It is very much a descendant from that style of game. But none of them have the narrative or the open world experience that we’re creating here. And we leveraged our experience with other big narrative games that we worked on to help us here. So the team itself is very small. Earthborne is me, it’s three other guys. Two are full time, one’s part time. One’s focussed on, Andrew Fisher is focussed on on design.

The other is Evan Simonet. He’s focussed on art, so he’s done a lot of the artwork for this game. He’s also been doing a lot of the art direction. That’s my background primarily is in art direction, in graphic design and visual things, so I help him out a lot. And I know just enough game design to get in trouble. So that’s a big reason why I have Andrew Fisher there, to help me take the ideas I had and then make them into something that actually functions beyond a basic prototype. But we’ve also worked with a lot of other collaborators along the way. So yeah, there are a lot of people who have contributed, but for a project this size, it’s certainly the smallest team, both internally and with contractors that I’ve ever worked with. Going from a company with a lot of resources that, when I say resources, it obviously means money. Where we could solve a lot of problems just by spending money. Not being able to do that here has been very educational, because it’s really shown me and us what we need, in order to make this thing a reality. And ultimately what it comes down to is time. So it just took longer, but we got there eventually.

Manda: You did get there eventually. And you’re still getting there from the sound of things. All of the logistics of getting things to the printers and getting them made, so that you have an actual physical thing that we can actually go out and buy or order online or whatever it is that we do. So going to be out first quarter of next year for sure. Yes?

Andrew: Yeah. If all goes well, it’ll be available in March. But things happen. So just stay tuned if you’re interested!

Manda: Definitely interested! I will definitely be staying tuned. I love your podcast, apart from anything else. It’s just so inspiring to listen to a group of people who are so clearly, utterly in love with the project and buzzy and fizzing and sparking ideas of each other, and it makes a real change from all the other podcasts I listen to, which are deeply thoughtful examinations of the world and where it’s going and how we might change it. And you’re still doing that, but you’re having so much fun. So I will put links in the show notes to everything that we’ve talked about, particularly to your website. Is there anything else that you wanted to say to the people listening as we close?

Andrew: No, I just like to again, just express my gratitude for the invitation to be on the podcast. I really welcome the opportunity to come and speak with you and also an opportunity to talk about the game in a way that I haven’t before and and talk to an audience that probably hasn’t heard of anything that we’re doing. So I’m very, very grateful for the opportunity. Thank you so much for having me on.

Manda: Well, thank you very, very much for coming on to the Accidental Gods podcast. I would really enjoy inviting you back maybe in the fall of next year, to see how the game’s gone and how it’s going and what sequels are happening and how it’s been received in the world. That would be a lot of fun. So if you have time, let’s definitely do that. And in the meantime, thank you for coming on to the Accidental Gods podcast.

And that’s it for this week. Enormous thanks to Andrew and to everybody at Earthborne Games. For creating something that gives me genuine hope that we’ll be able to rewire our brains and have fun doing it. You never know, I might even give up Warcraft and allow all of my addictions and tendencies to play to focus on Earthborne Rangers instead. Actually playing with friends in actual real life. Wouldn’t that be amazing? And in the meantime, if you’re a podcast geek, even if you’re not, I heartily recommend the Earthborne Games podcast. It’s lovely and charming and inspiring and is full of sparky, fizzy people having exciting ideas and just talking about the process of creating something with this depth, with a very small team by industry standards. By any standards an extraordinarily small team. So I find it fascinating and I always come away from it smiling, which is good these days.

And what else? I wanted to say, Andrew was talking about intent and intention and holding the feelings that you want to inhabit. And that’s where we’re heading with Accidental Gods in 2023. Faith and I had a three week holiday recently. Yay! And we spent a lot of time walking on Cornish beaches, talking about what we could do that would actually help people to make a difference. And this is where we got to. We’ll be running Dreaming Your Year Awake, which will be a four hour workshop on Monday, the 2nd of January. That’s open to absolutely everybody. Online. If you want to come along from wherever you are in the world, it’s going to run from 5:00 till 9:00 UK time that’s GMT at the moment. There will be breaks in the middle. I’m not going to hold anybody to 4 hours glued to the computer. But this is really to set an intent for the rest of the year. But my experience of doing these is everybody has the New Year resolution, everything’s all shiny and bright, and by February it’s gone. And that actually setting real intents for ourselves and for the wider web of life, takes more time and potentially more support. So what we’re going to do within the Accidental Gods membership, is instead of running the fortnightly one hour webinars that I was doing, we’re going to run 2 hours on a Sunday once a month for the whole year, except for September, when we hope to go on holiday again, where I want to give people really the time to get deep down into the roots of what it means to hone our intent, to set a really clear intention and embody the energetic space, such that we are clear that that intention is going to unfold. And people hit a huge amount of resistance on this.

Manda: There is a whole school of thought that says you just think happy thoughts and good things happen. And you only have to look at the world outside to know that this is not working for a very large number of people. And people tend to be told they just don’t love themselves enough or they’re just not thinking hard enough or they’re not giving enough time to it. You have to be meditating for three or 4 hours a day or it doesn’t work. And I don’t think any of this is useful and I don’t think it’s true. What I have found in the conversations with people, is that there is a tendency to believe that we are omnipotent if we think about stuff that we don’t want to happen. So, if I imagine myself falling down the stairs and breaking my ankle, then that’s definitely going to happen. Or if I imagine myself getting some kind of incurable disease, then I will make that happen and I will die.

And I am omnipotent in this field. But if I want the world to be a little brighter, a little more full of decency and integrity and compassion, and I set an intent towards that, then that’s definitely not going to happen because I don’t have the capacity to make that happen. And I don’t believe any of this. This is where we want to get to. I genuinely believe that human intent, clearly and cleanly set, is the single most powerful force on the planet. But the key to that is the clean and clear setting. And so what I want these Sunday evening two hour workshops to be, is looking at our resistances. Really giving them space. Because you can’t just push them into a corner and crush them into a box, whatever metaphor you like, and hope that they’ll go away, because that really doesn’t work. What works is giving them space and acknowledging that they’re there and going, Yes, thank you, I hear you. But actually here’s another alternative. And let’s look at this. There’s also a huge amount of evidence that setting intent as part of a small group, where you get to know each other really well, and you set intent for each other as well as for the wider world, is a really effective way of working.

So I want to create intention groups. And I want to really explore the kinds of intents that we want to set in a world that is, as Andrew’s game says, heading for catastrophe. And we don’t have to wallow in catastrophisation. In fact, we mustn’t. What we absolutely need to do is to fall in love with living. And that’s easy to say and hard to do. But I believe it’s possible. I know it’s possible. And I believe it’s something that we can learn. So this is where we’re heading for 2023, for the members. And for anybody else, feel free to come along to the dreaming Your year awake on the 2nd of January. Okay, that’ll do for now. We will be back next week with another conversation.

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