Dungeons and Dragons is a game that has helped countless people in their struggle with their depression and anxiety, just by stepping into the shoes of a fantasy hero every week with their friends. Beyond casual play, the mental health experts at Take This have worked as consultants in the games industry to help game creators make games that encourage good mental health and help gamers and non-gamers alike in coping with depression, PTSD, social anxiety, and more. See this clip from the Take This Todd Talks to learn more about Take This as an organization.
Now, Take This’s Clinical Director Rafael “Dr. B” Boccamazzo has partnered with D&D Associate Games Producer Bill Benham and freelance game designer Hannah Rose to create the Psychomancer—a new character type that wields the clerical power of the Mind Domain to heal the invisible wounds of the mind—as well as Gardens of Fog, an adventure in which players can literally confront the fiendish manifestations of Depression and Anxiety.
Gardens of Fog and the new subclass bundled with it are available for purchase on the DMs Guild; all proceeds of the sales are in support of Take This, and will benefit further outreach, consulting efforts, and improved mental health services like their AFK Rooms at conventions. The adventure is suitable for 3rd-level characters, and is being played by several different D&D livestream groups over the next few weeks; Tales from the Mists streamed the game on June 16th; Hyper RPG streamed the game on June 18th, Rivals of Waterdeep will stream on June 22nd at 12 PM PDT on their Twitch channel, and Clinical Roll will stream the game on June 24th at 5 pm PDT on their Twitch channel.
What is Gardens of Fog?
Recently, Todd Kenreck spoke with Dr. B, Bill Benham, and Hannah Rose on an episode of Todd Talks to delve deep into what makes Gardens of Fog, psychomancy, and the Mind Domain exciting additions to your D&D game. You can watch the full discussion below, or check out the clips elsewhere in this article.
In this adventure, the player characters enter the dreamscape—the subconscious mind—of a young woman trapped in a catatonic state. A Psychomancer granted them access to this realm of mist and visions in order to overcome the confounding influence of a night hag and the mental afflictions she has cursed the woman with. The night hag Drusilla has preyed upon the young woman’s latent anxieties and transformed them into psychic creatures so terrible that she can no longer repel them on her own. This is where the heroes come in.
Within the dreamscape, the characters navigate through a tense, claustrophobic garden of gnarled plants, choked with a thick miasma of unease and despair. It is within this distressing realm that they confront the personification of Anxiety—a being that has hijacked the young woman’s healthy and natural fear response and transformed it into a paralyzing force. Likewise, they must confront and defeat the personification of Depression—a monster that has numbed the woman’s emotions and transformed her dreamscape into a dreary morass of hopelessness. Only once these demons are confronted can the night hag who has created them be confronted.
While in real life, depression and anxiety can’t be solved by drawing blades against demons and hags, a good therapist and support network can help people through their darkest days. This adventure is very on the nose, representing the fiends very plainly as personifications of mental afflictions. However, it’s a simple task to make its theming more oblique, if you wish. The adventure is very adaptable, and provides names for the personifications of depression and anxiety, allowing you to make the direct references to mental health and therapy subtler, and instead play an adventure that is heavily influenced by finding ways to cope with poor mental health.
The Psychomancer is the heroic mascot of the Take This organization. Now, D&D players can play as a Psychomancer by using the new Mind Domain for the cleric class. This support-focused domain makes clerics who follow it expert negotiators and communicators, and grants them the power to protect the mental well-being of their allies with Domain Spells like counterspell and Rary’s telepathic bond. Class features like Clarity of Mind and Psychomancer’s Blessing allows them to stay cool under pressure, no matter how dire their adventures may be. See this clip from the Take This Todd Talks segment to learn more about the Psychomancer.
Gardens of Fog is available on the DMs Guild, with sales benefiting Take This, a 501(c)(3) mental health nonprofit serving the game community, and dedicated to eradicating the stigma of mental illness.
James Haeck is the lead writer for D&D Beyond, the co-author of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and the Critical Role Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, the DM of Worlds Apart, and a freelance writer for Wizards of the Coast, the D&D Adventurers League, and Kobold Press. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his partner Hannah and their animal companions Mei and Marzipan. You can find him wasting time on Twitter at @jamesjhaeck.