Planning for my Extra Life

I teased some of my goals and plans for Extra Life 2022 in a previous post. Since I have done a bunch of free-range scribbling in my planning notebook, let’s take a slightly more detailed look at what I’m

Extra Life Notebook

Everything starts by scribbling ideas and plans into one of these, before I move on to digital alternatives.

thinking for this year. This post (which was originally a thread on Twitter) will help me see if I have everything in a good general order. Maybe it helps you with your own organizing, as a bonus.

The first thing I do when I’m planning is set out my goals. What do I want to get out of all this? What will success look like? My primary goals are:

  1. Raise at least $3500 for Extra Life by the end of December 2022. Will I try for more? Of course! I would love to figuratively Scrooge McDuck into my pile of fundraising! But this is my target; if I hit other bullseyes as well, so much the better.
  2. Involve a diverse range of creators and players from across the TTRPG community. After money raised, this is my most important goal. I want to showcase games by marginalized creators and I want vibrantly diverse casts of players showing them off. Period.
  3. Have fun!! In the end, despite the cause and all the work that will go into this, I and everyone else I bring on board should have fun. That especially includes the audiences watching! Entertained people donate, so I want them entertained!
  4. Learn to do my own streaming tech by the November 5th Game Day. I need to learn this stuff so I can set up my own charity streams and be able to host other folks if they need it. My planned series of events will let me become more comfortable with OBS and everything else, so I should be able to handle the tech when the November Game Day rolls around. I may still get some help, but it will feel good to not be reliant on it.

Those are my four main goals for this year’s fundraising drive. One big main goal, a mandate to achieve while working on the main goal, and two smaller, easily achievable goals which support the first two goals. Sound good so far? Cool, on to next steps.

Next I needed the broad strokes of what events to run between now and the end of the year. I have two main dates already set out by Extra Life: August 19-22 (Tabletop Appreciation Weekend) and November 5 (Official Game Day). But I need events in between these dates. If I only ran events on those days, it would take a lot of extra work to build up and retain any potential audience for each. Of course there will be a big social media push around all of my events. But running some smaller, differently structured events can not only help me build an audience, but help retain them between the two major days.

I won’t bore you with the brainstorming and scribbled notes, but in general my schedule looks like this:

  • JULY: Brent’s Birthday BASH!! July 22 – single session gladiator-like free-for-all
  • AUGUST: 12 hour GMathon, Aug 20 or 21 – three sessions of four players each, GMed by me
  • SEPTEMBER: Weekly streamed Solo RPGs – two hour-ish evenings of Indie Solo RPGs
  • OCTOBER: As September, but spooky Solo RPGs!
  • NOVEMBER: Game Day 16 hour GMathon, November 5 – as August, but four sessions
  • DECEMBER: Nap. Like, a lot.

So it all kicks off on my birthday, allowing me the space to run and play an assortment of games (Goal #2), while I build my tech skills leading up to the big day in November (Goal #4). I also have dollar amounts I would like to hit between and during each of these events, which actually make me feel quite optimistic about my chances of hitting the overall goal by the end of the year (Goal #1). And by presenting a wide variety of things for folks to watch, I keep things fresh for me and potential viewers/donors over the six months.

That is my broad strokes plan for the rest of this year. It’s ambitious; it’s more than I have done in past years for sure. But if I am going to shoot for three and a half times the amount I usually fundraise, the folks donating deserve more from me than a wink and a smile (don’t worry, you’ll still get winks and smiles in abundance). I hope you’ll follow along and catch as much of it as possible. And hey, never too early to donate, right? And if you see my tweet linking to this post out in the wild, RTs are welcome and encouraged!

Any questions? Thoughts? Suggestions? Want to tell me I’m a mad fool? Fire away in the Comments or track me down on Twitter!

Catching my Extra Life

Logo for Extra Life fundraisingTen years ago I decided to take part in my first Extra Life. I didn’t consider it a huge step at the time. I had taken part in local fundraisers for various children’s charities, I figured doing something with games to help sick kids was a natural fit. That first year was a bit rough; EL wasn’t yet set up to include tabletop games so it took a bit of work to fit in. But I exceeded my modest goal of $250 and felt good enough that I did it again next year. And the next. And the next.

At some point I realized Extra Life was my new fundraising focus. It married two things I am passionate about: TTRPGs and helping sick kids.

Okay, quick story time. The year I started Grade 7 I came down with pretty severe Bronchopneumonia. It got its start during a canoe trip the summer before when I lent my rain gear to one of the other kids who hadn’t packed any. I was a big strong lad, I could handle canoeing in the rain, no harm done. Turns out, plenty of harm done. It started out mild and everyone attributed the symptoms to a combination of a summer cold and growing pains. Jump to a month into the school year when I had to go to the hospital because I passed out very suddenly during a volleyball practice. Woke up to a doctor telling my concerned parents that I would need to stay home for three months. Like, ‘indoors for three months’ kind of stay home.

I know, considering the isolation we’ve gone through the last two years, that doesn’t sound like a lot. But for 13-year-old Brent it was torture. Sure, I’m an introvert. But at the time I was a “go find a quiet place in the woods to read” sort of introvert. Plus, my friends’ parents were nervous about letting my friends come visit me, so I didn’t even have D&D and my other games to break the monotony. I read books, I kept up on my schoolwork, and I was oh so very bored. But I got better.

That in a nutshell is why I have a passion for helping out Extra Life and throw support to my local children’s hospital, The Stollery. I have been a sick kid and it absolutely sucks. But it would suck even more to not have the resources available to get better, to carry out necessary research into childhood disease, to receive long term care for much more serious conditions. If I can do something to help, if even one kid has a better outcome because I took some time to play games one day out of the year? That’s all the reason I need.

That’s they why, let’s talk a bit about the what, when, where, and who.

What: This is my tenth anniversary with Extra Life and I am going big! I have set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ve been happy to get around $1000 the last few years. This year I would like to reach $3500. Yes, you read that correctly, three and a half times my normal goal. I have some things planned to hit that goal, and you may get sick of hearing from me on social media. But I believe I can pull it off.

When: There are two big dates coming up. Official Game Day is November 5, and that’s the day I’ll be gaming for 24 hours. It gets a little tougher every year but I wouldn’t miss it for anything. But sooner than that, August 19-22 is Extra Life’s Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. I’m still working out the details, but IExtra-Life-Tabletop-2022-1536x864 would love to run some sort of BrentCon online that weekend, with myself and others running and playing TTRPGs on Discord. At the very least I would like to run a 12-hour streamed RPG-a-thon on the Saturday or Sunday. Stay tuned for details!

Where: Pretty much everything I have planned is going to take place online. I am still not in a position to produce anything for streaming, but I would love to connect with someone willing to do my tech for a few key events, just so I could raise my visibility a bit. And as I said earlier, you all are going to get sick of hearing about Extra Life on Twitter and Instagram. I make no apologies for that, but I do hope you’ll stick around and maybe take in some of the fun things I have planned.

Who: Well, me. And I plan to spend my Game Day playing games with Team Knifeshoes, as I have for so many years. But the most important “who” in all this is you. You and everyone else who donates, retweets, and helps spread the word. If you’ve given in the past or are planning to give for the first time or again this year, you have my deepest thanks. Without your generosity and the generosity of folks like you, this could not happen.

So that is a bit of my plan for Extra Life this year. If you would like to help me get a jump on things my donation page is live and has some fantastic incentives for a wide range of donation levels. I plan to add a few more in the coming weeks, trading editing work for various donation amounts. But I think what I have there is a good start. And if you aren’t in a position to donate quite yet, sharing this article or the tweet you found it in will help me out immensely and is appreciated.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll help me get my Extra Life this year!

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.