Category Archives: Interactive

Board and computer games.

Spudventures Hiatus/Post-Mortem

Logo by Space Jawa, who I have frustrated time and again by canceling at the last minute

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.

Short version:

  • 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.

Long version:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.

J’accuse Dreemurr Reborn

Yeah, just gonna update the blog outta nowhere like it ain’t no thing.

Go on this journey with me, will you? UNDERTALE. UNDERTALE spoilers (beware). UNDERTALE fan-comics and fanfiction. Tumblr character-driven ask-blogs. UNDERTALE Tumblr fan-ask-comic-blogs exploring a version of events after the ending. Congratulations, we have arrived at the headspace necessary to comprehend Dreemurr Reborn.

Dreemurr Reborn is a consistently high quality and high effort production, save for one thing that’s been nagging at me for a while now: There’s this weird undercurrent of author exceptionalism throughout the whole thing.

Again, UNDERTALE spoilers abound. Maybe at this point¬†there’s been so much internet exposure it doesn’t matter anymore, but this random, aggressive blog post really ain’t worth reading if it’s gonna spoil you on the crucial details of an impactful RPG you might play someday. Continue reading J’accuse Dreemurr Reborn

Pony Tales: Aspirations of Harmony

Friendship is Dragons comfortably fills a niche for bronies who love tabletop RPGs. Yet there are those who can’t seem to get enough of their pony RPG fix, and they remedy this by making their own homebrew pony-themed roleplaying game system. And thanks to the comic, it’s easier than ever for said systems to get exposure and attract potential players.

This now makes the second time this has happened, and this time it comes from a good friend of mine. He goes by the handle Stairc, and he made his own system called Pony Tales: Aspirations of Harmony. (Not to be confused with another Pony Tales, an Open D6 pony system. From this point on, when I say “Pony Tales,” I mean Stairc’s game. I haven’t played the other one.)

Stairc organized a game with a few of my regular readers, who’ve been great about sharing recaps of their adventures with the rest of the… Friendship is Dragons community- boy that’s weird to say. Earlier this week, I got invited to create a character and play a game with the established group to try out the system. And now I hope to be a regular player each week.

Suffice to say, I really like Pony Tales, but I feel I should really elaborate on how I feel about the game, if only to satisfy the game designer in my brain.

Continue reading Pony Tales: Aspirations of Harmony

Skyrim – Dem Dragons

I actually haven’t let Skyrim eat a whole lot of my time. I’m the kind of person who eats the side dishes before the main course, so I’ve been tearing through a bunch of smaller games and leaving Skyrim for “every once in a while.”

That, and I’ve been letting the mods pile up in eager anticipation of the Creation Kit coming out around this Tuesday.

But while I don’t have a whole lot to say about Skyrim, I have noticed one crucial thing about its design that I think is worth sharing.

Continue reading Skyrim – Dem Dragons

My Unknown Ponies: Failure is Awesome

Over the weekend I…

Wait.

Dear Princess Celestia…

This past Sunday I played a roleplaying game run by Erin Palette, whose ideas I used as inspiration for my webcomic, Friendship is Dragons. She made a pony modification for the Unknown Armies system which she calls Unknown Ponies: Failure is Awesome, and invited myself and several of her other friends to test it over Skype.

Is that enough links? Nope, gotta mention Erin’s own after-action report, too. There we go. Now where was I?

Continue reading My Unknown Ponies: Failure is Awesome

First Post – MDA

I’ve been dragging my feet on this first blog post because, well, first blog posts tend to be kinda terrible. They’re always about “Oh boy, it’s a new blog and a new opportunity; here’s looking forward to all the cool stuff we’re going to do; hope all you imaginary readers like it.”

None of that. This site – spudlink.net – is primarily for my use and my reference. I’ll be looking back at this first post very often. So it needs to be something that I’ll actually find useful.

So let’s talk game design. Continue reading First Post – MDA