A Mission of Hounds & Jackals
A major mission of Hounds & Jackals is to help raise awareness of mental health issues in society. The founder has been involved for over two decades with numerous projects to reduce stigma and myths surrounding mental health issues. His clinical practice has included working with people suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), many of which were First Line Responders (Firefighters, EMS, police), veterans, and health care providers.
PTSD has been affecting people for thousands of years, documented in ancient tablets from Mesopotamia, classical Greece, to WWI “Shell Shock.” The historical records involving the saga of the Beast of Gévaudan involved reports of hundreds of people killed or mutilated by the Beast. These were gruesome scenes involving decapitation and worse. The Beast especially like to prey on children and women. There are many reports that also noted how many of the hunters would be seized with fear from their encounters with the Beast. The time of the Beast was one that spread psychological trauma across the land.
Gameplay Trauma Aspects
Thus, psychological trauma would be the mental health issue that the Beast of Gévaudan would focus on. The designer incorporated game mechanics to help emulate and provide insight into its effects. The intent is to introduce elements that blend into the gameplay to demonstrate the impact of dealing with trauma symptoms. Fear Tokens are acquired from hunts gone terribly wrong or having one’s superiors launch a campaign of persecution against them. These cause effects that worsen a hunter’s ability to perform tasks. Other aspects of the game involve reactions to the sacrifice of an Ally which can cause vengeance and anger to force a hunter into deadly actions.
The development of psychotherapy and other approaches to deal with PTSD were not available back in the 18th century. Many turned to substance use and other maladaptive coping techniques. However, what did exist back in the 18th century were dogs and horses, and it has become evident in the 21stcentury of the therapeutic effects of such animals in helping alleviate/reduce the symptoms of PTSD. Thus, the game has included faithful hounds and trusty steeds as key members of hunting parties who help reduce the effects of Fear Tokens.
Briefing / Debriefing Guide
The final game will include a link to an optional use PDF document that helps players discuss the mental health emulation aspects within the game, including debriefing points for rich reflections. Beyond the more clear-cut use of Fear and Vengeance Tokens, there are a variety of more subtle issues, such as the impact of class, power and wealth. Other themes include knowing the truth behind the scenes and having to deal with culture and politics.