Sucks that this blog has ended up the place where I announce and explain all the sad news, but heck, it might as well go somewhere.
- The Spudventures podcast is going on indefinite hiatus, though some of its games will go on privately.
- I’m reevaluating my relationship with tabletop RPGs as a whole.
- Friendship is Dragons is still continuing.
I haven’t been playing much D&D or other tabletop RPG systems in the past year, let alone podcasting and streaming in general. A lot of that’s understandable – we’re all adults with less time on our hands, the pandemic’s hit everyone hard in so many ways, and health always comes first.
With me personally, though, there’s been this growing sense that my desire to play tabletop RPGs has gone down over the past year. And with the show having cancelled at the last minute for nearly two months straight – and, more importantly, me not feeling all too excited to eventually get back on the horse, as it were – I’ve had to kind of face facts this week.
Because it hasn’t been fair to my fellow players and GMs who do still want to play.
Over the past year, counseling has been helpful and I’ve made a lot of great strides in my understanding of my own emotions. But it’s also opened a lot of emotional baggage that I repressed for over 15 years, punctuated by many points of pain in my life that I couldn’t afford to process until I had even begun to start healing. I am still firmly in the “it gets worse before it gets better” phase of my journey, and overcoming or even learning to cope with my symptoms as my new “normal” is still very far off in the future.
What does that have to do with D&D and other TTRPGs? Basically, I’ve been grappling with the idea lately that my primary motivation for getting into RPGs in the first place was escapism. All the stress I was dealing with at home, I wanted an excuse to get out and away from it. Turning those games into a show was an extension of that, creating a regular obligation and harvesting positive feedback. And as I’ve started to confront the actual sources of my stress (and still live with some of them currently), I’ve found that my escapist distractions have become less effective. The desire to escape was the original spark of joy that drew me into the fantastical world of TTRPGs, and that flame has been withering to embers.
I don’t hate TTRPGs, to be clear, not one bit. They’re still a fantastic cooperative medium with endless complexity. But I have become slightly disillusioned with them. The space has limits, and those limits don’t satisfy my desperate emotional needs – and it’s not fair to demand that from the players and GMs I interact with while I’m going through this.
Over the past year, I’ve noticed my level of mental and emotional need go from “Hang out with me for a bit” to “Please take care of me and tell me I’m doing a great job”… That’s just not a good state to bring to a table.
So I think I need to take a break from tabletop RPGs, reevaluate my relationship with them. The current system of “I play these games to escape and feel better” isn’t working because I’m trying to escape less and playing them doesn’t make me feel much better.
The podcasting and streaming aspect of the show became sort of a trap like that. As I have become more and more acutely aware of my own social anxiety, the stress of pulling myself together and “putting on a show” has caused me to cancel on more than one occasion because I’m dry-heaving at the thought of it. Which makes me feel bad because I shouldn’t be feeling bad at all – this is supposed to be fun and games with my friends! I should be happy to make the time! But no, I’ve actually been somewhat relieved to be on an unofficial hiatus for months at a time. And that’s just not fair to my fellow players.
It’s not as though I’ve made it big as a podcaster and streamer anyway.
(Not that making it big should be a requirement for doing something. If you like doing it, you should do it. But if you find over time that you like doing it less and less…)
Spudventures in general has also kind of strayed from the initial goals I had for it, kind of in an inevitable way:
- I wanted it to be a podcasting show where the cast would rotate every week, so that people who’d been following me via Friendship is Dragons and Fallout is Dragons for years could get a chance to play, especially first-timers. In practice, over time it became the vehicle for a small tight-knit friend group of the same players over and over, self-selecting because they were the ones most able and comfortable to play in random games on a weekly or biweekly basis.
- I wanted it to be a vehicle for exploring a bunch of weird and strange systems and concepts in the TTRPG space, indie games and personal passion projects and the like. In practice, we’ve spent about half the runtime playing D&D 5th Edition, playing a funky remix/mashup of established modules. (Not a bad campaign, that, but not what I had loftily envisioned.)
- I wanted it to be essentially playaround filler between the last “big” campaign, Tales of New Dunhaven, and whatever the “next” “big” campaign would be, and I thought playing around with different systems would revitalize my drive just in time for the next big burst of inspiration to drive me to put another epic-length campaign together. That burst of inspiration never came in the three years or so this has been runnning.
I don’t regret Spudventures. I don’t regret the path it took, and I don’t regret the games we played, the things we tried, and the lessons we learned. And on its own, “not living up to the unrealistic and grandiose vision at the start” would not be reason enough to end a venture like this.
I’m just going through a really rough patch right now. The show isn’t really helping with that, and it’s actively hurting the games of the groups I’ve been playing with. So, as hard as it is to say, the best option for the indeterminate future is to put the show on hold. To free myself of a stressful obligation I legit can’t handle right now, and to free my friends from my own flakiness.
I plan to take this time as a break from playing RPGs in general, until I can come at them again from a healthier starting point than sheer, desperate escapism – that desire to write myself a story that I control and I can make supremely cathartic and gratifying for myself. I still plan on writing Friendship is Dragons; I haven’t lost my spark in that project yet, despite everything.
Thanks for reading, and hopefully thanks for your understanding.