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I never developed healthy habits when I was younger. Exercise was a thing I only did if I was getting paid. Healthy eating was never a consideration, only cheap and easy. Now that I am 40 and I see where my lifestyle is taking me.
I feel like this is a statement many can relate to. Tabletop role playing games are not the most active of activities. Game Mastering even less so. So much sitting around planning. D&D has always always made me want to be a better person. Now it makes me want to be a healthier person.
I would like to share my experiences as I do this. For my own accountability. To get the conversation started. And because I am just some guy. I want to show what I did and the results I got. If it works for me it should work for you, if that is your thing.
Just imagine players challenging DMs, DMs challenging each other, a whole month of personal improvement and a full evening of D&D competition!
2017 has been a year of goals for me. Specifically, to do some major rust repair on my VW beetle, get my 52 Dodge running well enough to take a load of trash to the local recycling event next month, and publish a d&d adventure. I am pretty sure the first won’t happen this year, the second is on target, and the third, well the third… jury is out on that.
I guess I should restate my overall goal, to become an RPG badass, and as previously stated, I don’t even know what that is. What I do know is that the first time I ran a game of Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, I fell in love. I felt so many aspects of my life align, and at that moment I knew that I needed to be a part of this community.
Fortunately, I have a day job that is not terribly challenging, pays a living wage, and has good benefits. I figure I need to put in another 25 years then I can retire. The best part is, that is 20+ years before I need to make any income from RPGs. It is not unreasonable to think that in 20 years I should be pretty good. I do however want to take every opportunity to build my skills and positive reputation in this industry.
I have been camping on three adventure outlines I came up with. The problem is, I fell in love with these ideas and I wanted to do them right. As a result, I have done nothing with them. I asked Ruty Rutenberg for his advise on this and he suggested that there is no perfect, just the best you can do. And that you won’t have room to create more if you don’t purge those projects. What you make tomorrow will be better than today simply because you evolved.
What that means is, I want to move forward with those projects and self publish them here. For free. And I would like to put out at least one this year…
When I started GMing for my group I thought, “This is going to really help my interpersonal skills.” Well I am happy to say I was right. I recently used the improvisational skills I have honed running Dungeons & Dragons into the most successful job interview of my life.
Full disclosure: This interview was for a lateral transfer. One of the interviewers was a friend of mine. and I had interviewed with many of these people many times… But when interviewers come up to you later and say things like “Wow you did really well at that interview! That is how it is done”, it makes me think I might be on to something.
Preparation: prepare yourself before the interview. I have hundreds of interview questions I have gotten off the internet and from job interviews. Find some questions and write them on notebook cards. Think about how you would answer them, make notes. When you are ready try having a friend quiz you on them. Feel free to answer the questions as your favorite D&D character to break the tension!
In this day and age, most interview questions want you to answer in the form of a story. You want to pick out a handful of experiences from your work life that can work for a number of situations. If push comes to shove, answer in the form of how you would deal with the situation. Try to keep it positive, focus on what the employer is looking for, and how you will benefit the organization. Just like planning out a social encounter!
Role playing: Also try to figure out before hand, what the employer wants and how you satisfy that want. Figure out in your mind why you are the best candidate for the position and speak from that place. This is something I have always had difficulties with, because I am a pretty humble person and it feels weird to gush on about how great I am… but this is a JOB INTERVIEW, not real life. if you don’t tell the interviewer how great you are, no one else will.
Positive Energy: There came a time in running games where I did not have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I could feel it in my group and the sessions. I did not like it. I vowed to try to bring a lot of energy the next time. It works… even if you have to phone it in a bit. people respond positively to people being positive and excited and full of energy. Seems simple, but it WORKS.
I am not an expert in this subject matter, but I did notice a dramatic change in my interviewing. The above are the areas I think made a difference to me. I sincerely hope someone out there finds this helpful. Good luck and good gaming!
At some point I picked up a copy of Complete Kobold Guide To Game Design by Wolfgang Baur et. al. The last third of this book focuses specifically on writing, pitching, and publishing for freelance RPG creators. In reading theses essays i began to form the impression that there is a bit of depression that happens after you wrap up a big project.
A big sucking pit of nothingness if you will… And I fell smack into the middle of it after play testing Capers. I am not 100% sure why. But it is definitely a thing to watch out for. I suspect part of it was the novelty of working on a deadline. Another component was all of the things I put off to make the deadline caught up to me. Also while I was working on the project, one of my dogs hurt his back and lost the use of his back legs… so I had to deal with that as well.
(Over the past month he has been making an excellent recovery and now is able to walk around on his own)
The problem is getting back to it… I have got myself into not doing it and focusing on other areas of my life. I have made it a point to play some video games, and watch some movies… that stuff is important as a Game Master to recharge your batteries. Problem is it is even harder to get back to writing because now there is crushing guilt.
But it is time. Time to crawl out of the sucking pit of nothingness and get back to work. I have got to leave all that baggage behind and just move forward. Failing is as much a part of the creative process as succeeding, probably more so. Just got to own it and move forward.
If you feel this happening to you I suggest acknowledging it and move forward. The sooner you get back to your creative endeavors the sooner you can leave the sucking pit of nothingness behind.
Freelancing Ain’t Easy
I am falling behind on my goals for this blog. Last week I put all my effort into getting ready to play test Capers for Nerdburger Games. Capers is a Game set in the Roaring 20s… but with superpowers, so it is kind of like Boardwalk Empire + Justice League. Also it uses cards instead of dice for conflict resolution and randomness. It’s pretty awesome. you should check it out.
I started building the rules into a Roll20 module for my play test group. This started last Saturday. I spent several hours dealing with the character sheet design… Mainly that I do not know HTML and then several hours using what tools I had to make something that works. I then spent every spare moment last week copying text from the PDFs and pasting it into Roll20 handouts. I gave up editing fairly early.
But I discovered that I have 2-3 hours of free time a day. Almost an hour in the morning while I wake up before work. Then there is the hour or two from the time I finish with cooking, cleaning, showering, and miscellaneous chores before I fall asleep.
well well well. Welcome Readers. (How pretentious is that?) So it is Friday, end of a long week. I am tired and I just want to relax. I had a fight with myself about posting tonight… but I am waiting for a download so my mind is made up. Has it really been a week since I bought this domain? Yes. Yes it has. and I have not done much with it. =(
What I intend to do dear reader is to post a 500 word article per week, and also do some diary posts. Is that happening this week? Sadly, NO. But I am making progress on organizing and prioritizing all the time commitments I have made. I have cut back to DMing games per week (3 was too much to keep in my head) and I need to finalize a drainage design for my inlaws and get that out to bid… Once that happens that should free up some mental band width.
With these Diary posts I mean to do a stream of consciousness type thing. It is a good writing exercise. Also I have this thing where if something needs to be perfect, it makes me freeze up (like yes there is a whole extra step called editing and proof reading… I get that, but I feel like it has to be perfect before it gets to that stage… you will not find that here.)
Also if I do successfully publish some fantasy adventures and have quote end quote made it I would like for people who are where I am at now to see the progression. That is a big part of these diary posts. It seems to me that in the RPG industry (and many others) there is seldom a clear line from aspiring to do it and actually doing it. I would like to help change that.