Blowing Up

Up to now, my experience on Twitter has been pretty quiet. I only just this year hit 2000 followers, a number that a year ago seemed ridiculous. I enjoyed being a very small fish. I cultivated my follow list so I was generally always seeing tweets from the folks I was most interested in: indie TTRPG creators, fellow editors, actual play players I admire. It wasn’t perfect. Twitter often hid me in the algorithm so it was hard to get engagement sometimes, hard to find the people I really wanted to see without actively seeking them out.

But that was all okay. I was generally able to talk to the folks I wanted, on topics that mattered to me and them. If I thought about gaining new followers at all, I figured at some point down the line, maybe in a year or two, I might reach a respectable 5000 followers or so. Gradually, naturally.

Smash cut to Tuesday night. I posted the tweet pictured below:

Lost some followers today. One of them took the time to DM me, tell me they were leaving because they followed me for D&D, not abortions. I really took that feedback to heart, so let me be clear: 1) Bodily autonomy is a human right and I won't shut up until everyone has it. 2) If you followed me for D&D you were going to be sorely disappointed anyway. 3) Quoting the great Jewel Staite: This is not an airport, you don't have to announce your departure. Fuckity-bye and good riddance.

 

Then I went to bed and thought nothing more about it.

Then, as you can see by the numbers, it went viral.

I spent pretty much all of Wednesday watching my follower count spiral up and up. At first because folks found my tweet through friends and friends of friends. Then the algorithm which had seemed to work so hard to fight me in the past, grabbed my tweet and ran. And ran, and ran, and ran…

I had 2146 followers before that tweet. As I write this, I have 19,542.

I really don’t know how to process it. On the one hand, I’m thrilled what I said resonated with people. I stand by it and you can expect me to keep talking about it. But it’s more attention on Twitter than I ever thought I’d have. It’s definitely more than I’m comfortable with. I’ve spent some time thinking about what I’m going to do, what’s going to change going forward.

The answer to the second part is, not much, at least as far as what I tweet about. I’m still going to talk about indie TTRPGs, local politics, human rights (I think each of the groups that followed me because of one of those things is likely to get sick of hearing about the other two, but I can’t help that). I also don’t plan to stop talking up marginalized creators in the TTRPG space. In fact, my next major personal project is going to involve talking about and with them even more.

I think if anything changes, it will be how I use the app. I need to be more mindful of what I draw attention to, for good or bad. Twitter has a momentum all its own, if I tweet that I think “X” is bad and discover later I was wrong, a whole bunch of my followers are going to steamroll “X” before I can stop them, because they trust my opinion. So I have to earn that trust every day by being purposeful and clear in what I post.

But I’m still the same nerd I always was. I’m going to share actual plays I love, creators I think need your attention, games you should bring to your table. I’m still going to work to be kind, I’m still going to send gatekeepers and bigots to the Block Party. That includes any of my new followers who act up.

As for how I’m feeling? Still overwhelmed, honestly. I never looked for this and I sure don’t think I deserve any of it. There are definitely people in the space that deserve this more. But now that I’m here, I have to deal with it as ethically as I can. My best way forward is to keep doing what I have been doing, focus my attention on helping to uplift as many other creators as I can and talking about the things I love.

And I’m still going to put my foot in my mouth, and I’m still going to make mistakes. Depression and anxiety are still a part of my life, and sometimes the bad brain days get the better of me. So I have to remind myself to extend the same grace and understanding to others that I hope they will give me. Twitter gives us the illusion that we know all the folks we talk with every day. In fact, we see only the portion they share. We don’t see all the joys kept hidden, the pain obscured, the fears and the heartache. I have hundreds of mutuals on Twitter; not counting the folks I know in real life, I consider maybe a dozen of those friends. Maybe they consider me one as well, but I won’t presume.

Okay, that’s enough introspection. If you’re one of my new followers, welcome! If you’ve been with me since The Before Times, also welcome! I promise we’ll get back to the tabletop nerdery you’ve come to expect from me very soon.

Tuesday at The Rat Hole

phonto 121It’s a rare Tuesday at The Rat Hole! That’s because my interview with the cast of Queen’s Court Games’ Kult: Divinity Lost mini-series was so jam packed with fun stuff, we had to break it in two parts. And Part Two is now live! You should definitely read Part One first, though, so you don’t miss anything. And do not miss the final installment in this creeping tale of childhood trauma and adult horror, this Thursday at 7pm EST at the Queen’s Court Games Twitch channel.

Monday at The Rat Hole

FN1KF5xVEAADKf8It’s Monday, and that means a new post over at The Rat Hole! This week I interviewed Rue, the organizer behind the fabulous TTRPGs for Trans Rights in Texas, doing gangbusters! You can read the interview here.

If you have a suggestion for someone from the Indie TTRPG community I could interview next, please let me know. I’m always on the lookout for cool people to talk with. DM me on Twitter or send an email to brent.jans@gmail.com with your suggestion.

More TTRPG Giving Back

Last week I wrote a quick post highlighting three Itch charity bundles you should get your hands on. Here’s a quick update on those three, then we’ll look at two new ones you should grab.

  • Solo But Not Alone 2 is in its last 12 HOURS and is at 89% of its goal! I believe we can still get there so check it out and grab some birthday gifts for your gamer friends.
  • Mutual Aid for Armanda is also at 89% of goal with just over three weeks left. Pick up some great games and help Armanda get a kick-ass laptop to continue freelance work!
  • TTRPGs for Trans Rights in Texas! was at 88% of their $25,000 goal when I first wrote about the bundle. They’re doing a little better now…to the tune of $264,554.70 of their new goal of $300,000! With just under four weeks left there is no telling how high this bundle will go, but I am excited to find out!

Now for the new bundles!

Bundle for Ukraine: As promised last post, the Bundle for Ukraine. This bundle, organized by Necrosoft Games, features 732 creators of both analog and digital games donating 991 games to help support the people of Ukraine. And there’s definitely something for everyone! Almost 600 digital video games, over 300 analog tabletop RPGs, dozens of asset packs, books, zines, and comics, soundtracks/music, and a host of other products. This is practically the perfect bundle to gift, no matter what area of gaming your friends are in. Or gift it to that friend who has been on the fence about diving into digital or analog games as a generous little nudge. Proceeds will be split between two organizations: International Medical Corps providing medical assistance in the region; and Voices of Children, a Ukrainian organization that helps children cope with the horrors of war, PTSD, readjusting to school, and getting back to being kids. With nine days left the bundle is currently at 64% of its two million dollar goal and I have no doubt it will clear that handily.

Women In TTRPG Bundle!: While not a charity bundle, it felt like the right thing to promote this bundle for International Women’s Day. Hosted by Armanda (yes, the same Armanda as above), this bundle features fifty games by fifty women from the wide world of TTRPG creation. There’s a wide variety of tabletop goodness here, games to play alone or with your gaming group. The bundle is a mere $30 for over $300 worth of TTRPGs, with all proceeds split between the bundle participants. With Twenty two days left to buy, make sure to mark it on your calendar if you can’t grab it right this second. You’ll be sorry if you miss out.

That’s all for now! If you can, please buy these bundles and help some good folks out. If you can’t make that purchase right now, post about them on your social media or retweet other posts to help spread the word.

And if you have a TTRPG related Itch bundle you’d like to spread the word about, please contact me. I’m planning to do a regular update of new and existing bundles each week. I would love to feature yours! Reach out through DMs on my Twitter at @DorklordCanada and we’ll talk!

TTRPGs Giving Back

The tabletop gaming community is filled with smart, funny, imaginative people who enjoy sharing stories and laughter with their friends and quite often with complete strangers. I think that last part is one of the things I love most about this hobby. That I can sit at a table of folks I don’t know and within minutes, thanks to our shared passion, tell heroic stories and get to know my fellow players a little better because of it. While I might sit down with strangers, I rarely walk away from strangers at the end. I think that’s a beautiful thing.

So it will surprise no one that the TTRPG community can also be extremely generous, willing to help whenever and however they can. One only has to look at the prevalence of Itch charity bundles to see this in action. Indie TTRPG creators generously donate their work to these bundles in order to support donations from the community. Donating gains the donor access to a plethora of tabletop games while supporting a great cause.

So here are three Itch bundles going on right now, ready and waiting for your generous donation. Frankly, you are going to get more TTRPG goodness from these bundles than you can likely bring to the table, but I promise you’ll have fun trying! And if you’re on a budget, check the ending dates and grab the deals that will go away soonest.

Important: TTRPG creators have generously donated their work to these bundles. When you get your bundle, please set aside some time to go through the games and leave five-star ratings on all of them. It will really help the creators out (getting them visibility and helping drive future sales) and it’s just a cool thing to do.

Solo But Not Alone 2: A bundle hosted by Peach Garden Games with content from 74 creators. Your donation of $10 gets you access to 102 solo TTRPGs, perfect for those long stints between games with your friends, or when a game is cancelled but you still want to scratch that roleplaying itch. Proceeds go to support suicide prevention and mental health education through Jasper’s Game Day. This year’s funding goal is the amount that was raised last year ($31,650.24) and the bundle has reached 82% of that goal, with just five days to go! Why not stop by and help get them the rest of the way?

Mutual Aid for Armanda: Not every bundle has to support large charities or movements, sometimes it’s enough that we can do something to help one person through some trouble. Cat Elm and fifteen other creators have gotten together to help Armanda get a new laptop, as hers is on its last legs. Like many TTRPG creators, no laptop means no making a living, so replacing it is crucial. For just $15 you can help Armanda work securely and get yourself a collection of sixteen TTRPGs from some of Indie’s best and brightest. I mean, a dollar a game, are you kidding? The bundle ends in 29 days, let’s get Armanda that laptop, yeah?

TTRPGs for Trans Rights in Texas!: It’s unlikely you haven’t heard of the horrible decision by Texas’ governor to essentially criminalize the support of Trans youth in the state. Since Trans rights are human rights and fascists, wherever they raise their head, can get fucked, the TTRPG community has organized to help fight back. The bundle is hosted by Rue (ilananight) and features 496 works from 300 creators. You get access to a huge body of work from some of the best people in our space right now, all for $5! So if you can, slip them a twenty and you’ve given that much more support and still only paid four cents a game. The goal is set at $25,000 and the fund is currently 88% of the way there. With a little over a month left on the bundle, I think we can probably manage to blow passed that goal, right? Right.

***

So there are three bundles you can get right now. Not only will you help make the world a bit better, but if you buy all three you’ll have over 600 games with which to entertain yourself and your friends. And if you’re lucky, maybe turn some strangers into new friends.

I’ve got time free in my calendar, just saying.

It’s Been a Long Road

Welcome, reader! 2021 ended rough and 2022 didn’t start much better. I’ve spent the last few months getting myself sorted and resting as needed. I’ve only just recently got myself sorted, at least enough to get back to writing. So a day early but Happy March!

My intention through the rest of the year is to post something three days a week. Mondays will still be my weekly editorial or interview over at The Rat Hole; I’ll post a link here as well. Ideally the other two posts will be here, hopefully Wednesday/Friday but I’m keeping that fluid. As long as I can post twice more I’ll take it as a win.

I want to get back to producing videos about Indie TTRPGs, so as soon as I can get a few recorded and edited to create a buffer, those will be one of the weekly posts here. I might post a brief description and a link, or depending on the subject it might be some additional supporting info to go along with the video. Again, playing that by ear.

More details later, but that’s the gist for now. I’m working to create a solid space for everything I’m doing here, in a place I can control. While that is under construction I plan to keep working and developing things. I hope you’ll stop by and check it all out.

As Winter Draws Nigh

Another year is drawing to a close. December in Canada means the cold closing in. Normally this would mean a shift from playing in person to playing online, as we hibernate and stay warm. With the global panini still in effect there’s no real shift in how I’m playing, it’s just colder when I answer the door for my food deliveries.

This past year was a bit of a let down from what I had planned. Back at the start I had envisioned so much more for myself, for the site, and for the channel. More and better videos, more posts here, a more active TTRPG year all around. None of that happened. Illness (both my own and my family’s), more aggressive depression, some personal stumbles–all of that led to me having a year in a much lower key than anticipated. Not going to lie, at times I didn’t really feel like I had a place in the TTRPG hobby anymore, not the one I hoped for myself, anyway.

Not that 2021 was a loss by any means. I worked on some truly excellent editing projects, I got to play with the Clockwork Vines folks again, I kept moderating over at Jason Mills’ Twitch channel and having a blast. So definitely lower key, but not a waste by any stretch. I guess what I missed most this past year was creating. I consumed a tonne of really great stuff, I helped out on other folks’ creations (which is fulfilling in its own way), but I didn’t produce anything of my own this year. The ideas were there but the drive was not.

And I could beat myself up over that, but I’m not going to. Re: the aforementioned global panini, maybe it was enough to just take a knee this past year, get my work done, and rest up as best I can for better things ahead. The plans and ideas are all still there, waiting for me to take one out of the box and get to work. They’ll keep until I’m ready to start.

So if you found yourself in a similar position over the last year or two, be kind to yourself. These are stressful, uncertain times and maybe, just maybe, it’s enough that you made it through. Rest, look after yourself, and what you choose to do will come in its own time.

Indie TTRPG Preview: Meanwhile, in the Subway

Next week, as part of The Rat Hole’s ongoing hosting of the November RPG Blog Carnival, I have an interview with game designer Côme Martin and a review of his game Two Summers. But Côme already has another game in the works, currently crowdfunding over on Itch, called Meanwhile, in the Subway. As the crowdfunding ends this Sunday I would feel like I wasn’t doing my job if I failed to draw your attention to this gem of a narrative TTRPG.

If you live in a city with a light rail transit system, you’ve likely spent some time in subway stations, travelling through the dark between stops. Like many liminal spaces, the subway system has an unreal quality to it, detached from the rest of the world. Meanwhile, in the Subway delves deep into that surreal feeling, adding a layer of magic for good measure. You and your fellow players are passengers, technicians, or what have you, travelling on the subway in a fantastical 1920-30s European city. Something goes amiss, an odd event occurs, and the players tell the story of their investigation.

The game itself is elegantly simple and gives itself over to directing narrative play. When I flipped through the PDF for the first time I was surprised to see that only two of the forty three pages had play instructions. The rest of the pages are lists of prompts for things like Characters’ Occupations, Characters’ Hobbies, Characters’ Odd Details, and Unforeseeable Events. Which actually makes sense. The number one thing that slows down a narrative style of game is a player with a block; giving over so much of the game book to helping players past that issue is an excellent use of space. And truly, every list is filled with enticing, evocative entries. For instance, I particularly like “Private Seasoner” from the Characters’ Occupations list. What does a private seasoner even do? I don’t know, but I want to play just to find out.

On its own Meanwhile, in the Subway is a lovely and surreal story game to play with your friends. But I would also suggest that MitS could serve to add an extra dimension to your already existing campaign. The narrative rules are light enough they could slot into next to any other ruleset with no issue. And even if you didn’t want to add the subway system as presented, the prompt lists are an invaluable resource for any Game Master looking to add a surreal tinge to their campaign.

As mentioned, Meanwhile, in the Subway is crowdfunding until Sunday on Itch. It has already reached its initial goal so it will deliver the base game to all backers as promised. While it’s still a ways away, I hold out hope it might reach the $2000 stretch goal; I would love to have a print version of this game for my collection. No matter, I have the current PDF and I’ll get the updated version as well. I would highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself at the Itch funding price, if price is a concern. Barring a sale or bundle I don’t think you’ll see the game this low priced again.

If you pick up the game and like what you see, join me next week over at The Rat Hole! On Monday I’m posting an interview with Côme Martin, and on Friday I’ll have a review of his game Two Summers. And check the comments section of the November RPG Blog Carnival’s launch page for more excellent articles on Indie TTRPGs!

Still Chasing that Extra Life

Logo for Extra Life fundraisingI had big plans for my Extra Life fundraising this year. After raising over a thousand dollars in 2020 I was primed to make 2021 an even bigger year. But life had other plans, and between family issues, illness, and injury, I lacked the bandwidth to even try to properly fundraise.

But Extra Life is my primary charity for so many reasons and I didn’t want to just let it slide this year. So as late as I am to the party (three weeks to the November 6 gameday! Yikes!) I am launching my hard push for Extra Life fundraising today! If you can, please donate to help me raise funds to support sick kids. If you’re a gamer, I have donation incentives starting at $5, all the way up to $125. Details below:

$5 – This amount gets you a special item (magic, tech, etc) designed by me for a game of your choice. Negotiating with your GM/Storyteller to use it in your game is up to you. 🙂

$10 – $10 gets you a custom monster or GM character for your TTRPG of choice.

$25 – This amount gets you an encounter location designed by me for a TTRPG of your choice.

$50 – This gets you all three of the previous tiers, unified into a single encounter for your TTRPG!

$125I’ll run a TTRPG for you and your friends! You pick the game, I’ll figure out the rest. This can be one big donation or your group making individual donations that add up to $125; just let me know when you message me.

It’s just that simple!

And look, I know I am starting waaaay late, but I would really love to hit a goal of $1000 again this year. To that end, I will match every donation that comes in, up to $500. So you early adopters, you keeners who show your love early, get to double the effect and reach of every dollar you donate! And should we somehow reach $500 before the November 6 Game Day, I will increase the goal to $1000 and match donations for the next $500 as well. So if you absolute beauties can get us to $1000 this year, guess what, no you didn’t it’s $2000! And that’s going to work out pretty well for everyone.

So please donate if you can, and help spread the word on social media. That last is an excellent way to help out if you can’t afford a donation.

Thanks, nerds, you’re the best!