“They are my sugar. They are the sweetness in the days that I have none. They drip through me like tupelo honey. Then they are gone. Then I need more. I always need more.
For all of my life, I have needed more.”
-Elizabeth Wurtzel: More, Now, Again
Addict is not a game about substance abuse, although it can be. At its core, it is a game about the obsessions– the objects, the behaviors, the people and relationships– which individuals rely on to fill a void inside themselves, usually to the point of hindering or destroying their own functionality and the things they value most. It is not about delirium tremens or needles, but rather, the constant struggle to control a hunger that cannot be sated.
This struggle is explored through twelve steps.
Character creation is a group activity; it is more like the first session of the game. Individually, give your character a name, and decide on your character’s Obsession. This can be a physical dependence, like on drugs or alcohol; a non-physical dependence, like gambling or sex; a psychological issue, like depression or bipolarity; or a social issue, like an abusive relationship.
Do not flesh your character out beyond the name and Obsession yet. At this point, your character is defined only by its deepest need.
Step One: We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction/compulsion – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Take some time and figure out how your character hit rock bottom. What happened that showed you that your life couldn’t continue in its current state? It doesn’t necessarily have to be dramatic– some sort of life or death experience– but it should be embarrassing and personal and painful. Figure out the moment that you realized you could never go lower than where you were. Find that story.
Here you can add more to your character history, but only as it pertains to hitting rock bottom. If your story involves losing your job, you can include what the job was; if your judgment was so impaired you cheated on your spouse, you can decide who your spouse was, who your lover was, who they were in relationship to you. But if it is not something directly featured in your story, do not decide it yet.
The players sit in a circle, either on the floor or at a table. Each player takes a turn standing.
Player: “Hi, my name is [Character name], and I am an addict.”
Other players, in unison: “Hello, [Character name].”
Then, as your character, tell the people in front of you the story of how you hit rock bottom. When you’re done, sit down; it’s then the next person’s turn.
This story is the only thing the characters know about each other. At this point, you are defined by the worst thing that ever happened to you.
Step Two: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Addiction fills a void deep within. When you remove the Obsession from your life, the hole that is left needs to be filled with something. This is represented with Dependency Points.
Fill a highball glass with aquarium stones. These are your Dependency Points. Take one out and place it in front of you; that represents your Obsession. The stones that are left represent your potential fulfillment.
Make a list of between three and five Dependencies. These are objects, relationships, habits, soft addictions, or other things which have replaced the importance of your Obsession. (When using relationships, do not create a specific person; simply note that your character has a relationship that acts as a Dependency, and what type of relationship it is.) Divide your Dependency Points between your Dependencies; this decides how invested you are in each Dependency.
These are the things you need, so that the thing you crave does not overwhelm you.
Step Three: We made a decision to let go of control, assume a spirit of goodwill, seek the wisdom of responsible others, and discover our true “voice within.”
This is the point at which your character becomes three-dimensional. Define your background and your relationships with the other characters– they are your “responsible others.” Relationships which are also Dependencies can also be with other characters; as with real life, it is never necessary that both characters invest the same amount into a relationship, although you can if you so choose.
Using what you have already built– the Obsession, how you hit rock bottom, your Dependencies and relationships– cobble together your character’s personality. At this point in the game, it is practically incidental.