Saturday, December 13, 2014


Okay, seriously.  Don't quit.  I know that feeling is on your back and that you're thinking about it all the time, but don't do it.  Believe me, that moment of relief you get and the time afterwards when you tell yourself that you're glad, that passes.  In the long run, it just becomes regret.

Yes, I know, it seems pointless to go on.  You're just rehashing old stuff and you've done everything.  I get that.  Only, that's just the way it feels.  That isn't the reality.  Right now, you're just burned out and because of that you can't think of anything good.  It happens to everyone.

All you need is distance.  You've been spending too much time on this lately and you've put off a lot of things.  That's probably true.  But you don't have to quit this to do those things.  You just need to let this rest for a bit, so you can regain your perspective and remember why you got into this in the first place.  In a few months, you'll feel better.  You'll be able to look at this with a clear head again.

I've gone through this too.  You feel like you're butting your head against the wall and no one seems to care.  This is the best work you've ever done, yet no one seems to care.  You've been pouring your whole heart into this and yet no one seems to give a gawddamn.

It's an illusion.  People do care.  They have noticed.  But it's hard for them to express what they're feeling and their praise seems inadequate when they think of telling you outright.  It's a communication problem, one brought about by embarrassment and uncertainty.  It isn't that they don't think you've done great things, it's that they don't want to diminish those things with a few clumsy phrases.

So don't quit.  Keep the work you've done and put it on a shelf until you feel better.  It doesn't have to be all or nothing.  When the cloud has passed and you're on your feet again, you'll begin to realize you never wanted to quit.  You were just under pressure.  It was stress.  And you'll be glad you didn't make a hasty decision.

Then, when you start again, it can be just a little at a time.  Bits and pieces.  Nothing that's going to compromise whatever else you've started.  You'll feel better, too, because you'll be fresh.  You'll have gotten out from these frustrated corners you've driven yourself into.  You'll see.

Give it a while.  Don't force this into a decision.  You're only tired.


Justin Kennedy said...

Hi Alexis,

I've commented only a few times on your blog but I read/check it most every day. You are correct about embarrassment and uncertainty (at least for me) acting in a way that pushes against leaving comments in the many posts you make that I feel are very valuable. I often wish to ask a question or make a comment, only to self-silence through the fear that you will sigh and point to d4+1 (couldn't resist... I am weak) blog posts that address any issue I bring up. So perhaps I am guilty of overly respecting the authority of this blog to the detriment of the humanity that produces it. There is also the problem that if I feel that you are patronizing me or others, the authority of the blog takes the hit. It seems a rather delicate problem.

... Interesting thing just happened. This paragraph originally contained a sentence that said, in part, "... want to remind you that what you produce has value." Immediately after writing it, I realized such a thing is so obvious as to be inane. Ergo, a long hold of the backspace key and this paragraph. Look upon your Catch-22.

As a comment on something concrete that has helped me: I am starting a group of mid-to-late 20-somethings (I-love-hyphens!) who all have not played before... except for the one fellow who has only played in power gaming circles and unfortunately has a difficult time modulating the volume of his voice while attempting to regale everyone with his war stories. I will endure. My last group fell apart to many small reasons and one big one: Tricksterism. While I can see how my world must have felt like I was exercising too much authority, I feel I was quite open with the players at the start that I am limited as a DM and quite frankly cannot maintain a coherent world with one or two players always absent and the rest completely unwilling to have their PC's work for anyone or anything, even (especially?) the good of the group. I simply do not have the ability to model the effects such insanity would have on medieval minds beyond a Frankenstein-ian mob applying a 'market correction' every third running.

Therefore, while completely acknowledging there is a lack of flexibility and quality in my world, I am starting off this new group with some railroading and having all the PC's first characters be rogue's. This is being done to:
a) emphasize that the PC's are apart of no hierarchy and are on no one's radar as any other class requires much more in the way of equipment or training
b) ensure that a few of the players are unattached to their PC and will be more willing to place them in dangerous situations to play for the good of the team
c) provide some structure to serve as an intro to rational gaming and allow the party to mature into a sandbox capable group.
d) to use the wonderful thieves rules you posted on your wiki!

I know I am railroading, but I am telling myself it is only temporary and that the players and myself need it. So, the point of this aside is condensed as follows: Thanks for the thieves rules, they are truly better than what is in any of the official releases Handbook and serve to inspire as well as restrain. And, secondly, would you say that it seems I am merely overcome with the type of stress that you spoke of in today's post and am therefore attempting to make a decision for my short-term comfort? Or is there some sound logic to creating a womb of railroads to allow for some guided development of the players so that they know this isn't some video game and that I expect to be treated better than some CPU they bought for a few hundred bucks?

Justin Kennedy said...

P.S. I know the questions I pose here are vague and that you have no real way of knowing how to answer to the specifics of my situation, but damn it Alexis, you asked for interaction and I have answered... even if it means I have left the mud of the peasants on your doorstep.

P.P.S. Don't hold back. If I deserve your sardonic derision or impatient linking of previous posts, let me have it! The authority of this blog must sometimes be feed with the blood of those seeking it's wisdom.

Alexis Smolensk said...


The points on the post - and the feeling that others don't care - is universal. This post wasn't a call out for attention - it was to encourage others who find it difficult to keep going, whether writing, playing or doing whatever they may be doing of their own free will.

Regarding your campaign, yes, I do think you are taking a step to try to control others in order that they will behave in the manner you want. From your statements, you admit that your earlier campaign was necessarily controlling; apparently, you feel the solution for this is more control. This is called "escalation."

Please remember that tricksterism was alive and well in the slave culture of the 19th century. Do you think your campaign can ever be 'controlled' sternly enough to put a stop to it?

Don't take this as derision. I don't think your new plan is going to work. I wonder if you've received honest feedback from your players about it? How excited are they about this?

Remember that we can't change other people. If we want things to change, we must change ourselves. You speak about what you're doing to manage the players. What have you done since your last campaign to manage yourself?

Justin Kennedy said...

I have spent some time thinking on your reply. I wrote a quite lengthy post in response to the questions you posed me... then I erased it.

It became clear that I was only attempting to justify my decision on how to run this game. Instead of entering into polite disagreement with you, I will instead start from the assumption that you have more wisdom than I in this field and try to work backwards from your stance to where I am instead of the other way around.

The game is set to start once the holidays slow down, so I have some time to reexamine my plans with a fresh eye and not be so intimidated by the current gamer culture.

Please keep up the good work, Alexis.