Book Review: Hopeless Maine by Tom and Nimue Brown (this review originally written for Pagan Dawn

Meredith Debonnaire

Hopeless Maine by Tom and NImue Brown

Procession somber; pageant walked, shuffled, lurching to uncertainty.

This review first appeared in Pagan Dawn magazine.

Hopeless is an island that nobody can leave. Let that sink in; it’s a deeply layered bit of worldbuilding, and it’s reflective of the style of this book. Simple on the surface, yet with leviathans beneath.

On the surface, the story is of an orphan trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs: a common enough tale. Except the orphan is Salamandra, who’s not even sure what she is; she has magic, but she’s not witch material and the most likely option after that in Hopeless is monster. The strange and unfriendly world that she’s trying to navigate is full of mist and seabeasts and ghosts and ancient weirdness. She’s also quite happy to be an orphan, thanks.

With Hopeless, Maine Tom and Nimue Brown have created a world with a…

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Putting out the hat

You can be a dustcat!

Druid Life

There’s a moment when you start a busking set, when the empty hat goes out, and you have not yet begun to sing or play, and you don’t know how people are going to react. For me, that pause before beginning has always felt the most exposed.

Yesterday, I put out a hat, and waited nervously to see if anyone would find what I’m doing worth responding to. The first coins in the hat are always a massive morale boost. They affirm that it was worth the exposure. Thus far, Patreon is turning out to feel exactly like busking.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will know that I have a lot of issues with how the creative industries work. I struggle personally because it’s hard to make a living as a writer, and doing other things to pay the bills doesn’t leave me with…

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Meet Philomena Bucket

Hopeless, Maine RPG!!

The Hopeless Vendetta

Please meet Philomena Bucket. She has recently shipwrecked on the island (which may explain her worried expression)

Philomena is a Traveller. Which is to say,  the example character in the Hopeless, Maine role playing game which is in development by Keith Healing. The whole project is coming along beautifully and has a publisher, so, fear not (or, not too much) it will be with you in the fullness of time. Keith understands the setting and the story in a way that makes us nearly giddy and is finding ways of having players explore and interact with the island and its flora and fauna (and those things which are uncomfortably neither or both) and create experiences and dark adventures.

Here, in Keth’s words, is how Philomena Bucket was born (or created) with some rolls of the dice-

“Philomena Bucket
These numbers tell us a lot about her. Philomena is of average build (STR…

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Finding Hopeless, Maine

A love letter to Hopeless, Maine

The Hopeless Vendetta

Finding Hopeless, Maine

Come in, dear traveller! I hear you are looking for directions. Yes ,yes, sit down. Now, you want to get to Hopeless, Maine. Are you sure?  You’ve been warned about it, yes? The witches, the eldritch terrors, the night potatoes… Alright, alright, I can see that you are a stubborn and headstrong sort, who will not be dissuaded. Not even if I tell you that most people are desperately trying to come the other way? Well it was worth trying. Now let me think; directions to Hopeless Maine. Hmmmm.

Well there are a lot of different paths, yes, and they tend to shift. I can’t guarantee that you’ll arrive safely. Or arrive at all. So here, dear traveller, are three ways of getting to Hopeless Maine that will probably succeed. You have been warned…

1) Collect all of your best spoons, and lay them out in the…

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The Traveller’s Traveller

Further adventures of Hopeless, Maine gaming!

The Hopeless Traveller

When Tom, Nimue and I initially discussed the mechanics of a Hopeless RPG we all agreed that the game system had to be simple, straightforward and easy to customise. The aim was to make a game that people who had never even contemplated playing an RPG before would be able to pick up, spend a few happy hours reading, and then settle down with friends and start exploring the Island.

I’m pleased to announce that, as things stand, this is what seems to be appearing.

The core of the game will comprise of two books, one for players (called the Traveller’s Handbook) and one for the person running the game (called the Master of Ceremonies’ Handbook). The aim is that players should not buy the MCs Handbook unless they decide to start running games. This will mean that Hopeless’ secrets are kept, well, secret.

The Traveller’s Handbook will contain everything…

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In a land that had cried out for a Hopeless, Maine role playing game…

The Hopeless Traveller

Any rumours you may have heard about the emergence of a Roleplaying Game based on Hopeless, Maine are…true.

So – where to start. Introductions, I suppose.

I imagine that most of you, dear readers, are reading this because you are already familiar with the dark and tentacle-ridden island of Hopeless, invention of artist Tom and writer Nimue Brown. Populating a series of graphic novels, and with other avenues now being explored, Hopeless has become something of a cult. A nice cult, one that cuddles you and gives you chocolate while encouraging you to keep one eye looking towards the shadows. The books, and their heroine, the (not a) witch Salamandra have gradually wormed (or tentacled) their way into people’s hearts and souls. Mixing steampunk, Victoriana, otherworldly horror and quirky asides (night potatoes – I’m looking at you), Hopeless is an ideal candidate for a roleplaying game -albeit a slightly odd…

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Morning Cuppa: Intelligent Designing For Amateurs

“This is a wonderfully witty and marvellously magical tale which fans of Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman will absolutely adore.” Absolute truth! 🙂

The Curious Adventures Of Messrs Smith And Skarry

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Max and Collin’s marvellously meretricious parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True some have called it a brummagem quagmire  brim full of the ashes of mortal hopes and dreams… but we consider that such individuals are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning wading through a slough of self pity, shuddering sporadically with shame as we remember the horrors and humiliations of the past two weeks.

Montmorency waved his straw-stuffed hand breezily as he assured me that exploitation was not a word in his vocabulary, that everyone in his employment was over sixteen and by opening his burlesque club to employ “Men, Women and Everything In Between” he is “pioneering a new era of equality in workers’ rights and flying high the flag of anti-discrimination.”

But nobody likes being referred to…

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