My Walk onto Dragon Talk

I had the pleasure to be invited on the Dragon Talk podcast, which posted last week through Wizards of the Coast. They gave me the opportunity to talk about my charity efforts with Limitless Adventures to raise money for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The book we created, No Assembly Required, remains available for $5 and all money goes to AFSP. My motivation for raising awareness and funds for this cause goes back to my brother ending his life by suicide in 2017, and you can learn more about how AFSP uses donations to educate the public, advocate for better policy, support survivors, and fund additional research on suicide through my interview with AFSP’s New Jersey Director. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss all of this and more on the Dragon Talk podcast.

The episode of Dragon Talk can be accessed through iTunes.

Dragon Talk
I consider the Gritty Eyes an enhancement to the overall experience.

Speaking openly about mental health issues is not a frequent thing in our society. Topics such as anxiety, depression and suicide are not accepted as widely as conversations about medical issues like diabetes or cancer. Because of this, I want to offer my sincere gratitude to hosts Greg Tito and Shelly Mazzanoble in addition to everyone involved at Wizards of the Coast that allowed me to speak on Dragon Talk.

Thank you.

I previously interviewed Greg on my Ego Check podcast in December 2017 about his role as Senior Communications Manager for Dungeons & Dragons. He spoke lovingly about tabletop role-playing games and provided a compelling answer to the question, “What is D&D?” We had a nice conversation about the staff of 25 or so individuals that bring D&D products to life in addition to how the explosion of streaming and video delivery services has allowed the tabletop industry to expand its audience. Greg and I have stayed in contact periodically since that time, and I eventually asked him if I could come on his podcast, Dragon Talk, to talk about mental health and gaming.

Greg and Shelly were wonderful leading up to the interview as they wanted to ensure they were respectful of the topics being discussed. I was also aware that my discussion about mental health issues and gaming could come across as preachy, and that was not my intention. I believe we avoided any number of potential pitfalls during our hour-long conversation, and I again thank Greg and Shelly for committing to the topics.

Continue reading “My Walk onto Dragon Talk”

One Way I’m Saving vs. Grief

My first memories of Dungeons & Dragons were from watching the animated show on television and begging my brother’s friends to let me play in their game. My brother, Albie, was about five years older than me so I was forever chasing him and his crew. While my brother would rather be outside playing sports, some of his friends were into other hobbies – like listening to Iron Maiden and playing D&D. Every once in awhile, his friends would set up shop in our den and play through an adventure.

I was extremely jealous; I wanted to play as well!

I finally got my chance after I bothered my brother enough for him to tell his friends, “Let him play.” The first game of D&D I ever played featured me creating a Fighter. While I don’t recall the scenario, I do remember that we were exploring a cave and I was in the front line. Some monster attacked, and I took a swing at it. A member of the party threw a flask of oil toward the monster, and the oil spread to me as well. Another member lit the oil with a thrown torch, and just that quickly, my gaming experience was over as my Fighter died from burning to death.

It was clear my brother’s friends didn’t want this little kid playing in their adventure, and they found a clever (and cruel) way to get me out of the game quickly. My brother got me into the action though, and it allowed me to get a taste of the hobby. He didn’t have to go to bat for me with his friends. But he did.

Exactly one year ago today, my brother jumped in front of a train and ended his life.

I could write a book about our lives together, and one day I just might.

My brother (right) and I enjoying an elaborate party (long story!) for the Eagles/Bears playoff game in 2002. I’m wearing our father’s Army jacket.

There are portions of this post that will be difficult to write – and possible challenging to read. I’ll summarize first, and go into details second. For over a year, I have partnered with the creative minds at Limitless Adventures to update a collection of monsters I originally created for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. I previously interviewed Andy Hand of Limitless Adventures in 2016, and after that interview we decided to take the monsters I created for my No Assembly Required series, which was originally hosted by the site, This Is My Game, convert them to 5th Edition, and package them into a book to sell through the Limitless Adventures site.

Though it has taken much longer than originally intended, the book is now available for purchase.

No Assembly Required Cover
Cover for No Assembly Required

Andy raised the possibility in recent months that we could use the sales from the book to benefit a charity, and I thought this was a brilliant idea. All money collected from sales of this book will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We priced the book to cost $5, and each sale of the book will result in $5 getting donated to AFSP. Continue reading “One Way I’m Saving vs. Grief”

Dungeons & Dragons Holiday Giveaway

As I recently updated on my Patreon page, it has been quite a year for my family and I. Through it all, I have been happy to post new episodes of Ego Check with The Id DM and write a few articles for the blog. I wish to end the year on a high note to celebrate the podcast, and that brings us to the Dungeons & Dragons Holiday Giveaway! At the end of the week, I’ll select a random person from those that enter to win the following fabulous group of prizes (my D&D table is not included!):

Prize 1
Enter to win some loot!
  • One copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
  • One Dice bag with D&D dice
  • One Tome of Annihilation dice tin
  • Four Tomb of Annihilation notebooks
  • Assorted D&D stickers

The giveaway above supporting ‘Ego Check with The Id DM’ is not administrated, sponsored, or endorsed by Wizards of the Coast.

How to Enter

There are two steps to enter the contest for a chance to win the loot pictured above:

  1. Follow me on Twitter
  2. Like or Retweet my pinned tweet, or this tweet featuring my recent interview with Greg Tito, Senior Communications Manager for Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast

That’s it.

The random drawing from those that enter the contest will take place on Friday, December 15th, and then I can get the prizes in the mailbox so it arrives to the winner before the holiday.

I am hoping 2018 is less tumultuous; however, I am fortunate to have a great deal of support from family, friends, and a wonderful online community of followers and fans. Truly and sincerely, thank you to everyone that continues to support my creative efforts. Have a fantastic holiday season, and good luck scoring the loot!

 

Time Traveling with My Son

After many years of attempting to have a child, my wife and I welcomed our son, Hugo, into the world in January. We are hopefully exiting the new-parent haze that settles in after a newborn enters the home. He is getting into a bit of a routine, and the three of us are all sleeping a bit easier each night. It is wonderful that he is in our lives, and we are excited to watch him grow and experience the world.

An idea was proposed to us by a friend; she started to email her child with messages throughout the early years of her life. She plans to “give” the email account to her daughter when she’s a teenager, and that struck me as a fabulous idea! Given my awareness that life can be short, I figured it would be an useful record my son can refer to in the future if I’m not around to speak for myself.

I set up an email account for the little guy, and here’s the first message that will greet him in the year 2033 or so….

Continue reading “Time Traveling with My Son”

The Slow Regard of Silent Things and Bringing Anxiety to Vibrant Life

slow-regard-coverAs I read through Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things, I found myself thinking about many of the patients that I have worked with over the years in my role as a psychologist. Some of those individuals I have seen in an office setting, and others I have met in their homes. The patients have ranged in ages, shapes, and sizes – and they all presented with unique mental health concerns. I remembered many of them while reading through the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions of Auri – a character that brilliantly illustrates and humanizes the qualities and struggles of those coping with anxieties, compulsions, and symptoms along the autism spectrum.

I also thought of my personal mental health challenges while reading.

If I taught a class in psychology, then I would have students read and process the material. As it stands, I encourage everyone to read the book – even if you haven’t read The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man’s Fear. Those books provide some context for Auri’s story, but they are not required reading to benefit from the content in The Slow Regard of Silent Things that struck me on such a personal level.

Mental health, and by extension mental illness, is unfortunately stigmatized. Going to a therapist is viewed by too many as a sign of weakness. I discovered at age 16 that I wanted to be a counselor, and I was fortunate enough to start down that path early in college and never really look back. I have also been in therapy as a patient at times in my life and consistently during the past two years, primarily getting assistance with symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety about life. Anxiety about death.

Continue reading “The Slow Regard of Silent Things and Bringing Anxiety to Vibrant Life”

Our Exercise in Fertility

tacojohns
Livin’ large!

My wife and I recently celebrated our 12th anniversary; it was a lazy Sunday and our big event that day was getting comfort food at Taco John’s. We have simple tastes, and nothing says twelve years of successful marriage more than a Six Pack and a Pound! Emily and I have known each other since 2000, when we met at – what was, ostensibly – a Star Wars Prequel party. Like any couple that has persisted through 12 years of marriage, we’ve had a number of challenges and an abundance of joy. It has been a wonderful journey, and I look forward to the rest of our lives together.

We do not have children.

And here is where the story becomes a bit more complicated. We have always considered having a child. There has never been a point in our lives where we told each other, “Yeah, we’re never doing that.” We would talk about “starting a family” (more on this phrase in a moment) every 3-6 months to discover if the other person was ready for that phase of our lives. Neither one of us ever felt compelled to voice strongly, “This is something I want now.” So we agreed to wait while we enjoyed our lives together. I graduated with my doctoral degree and we moved to Texas in 2005, then bought a house there in 2006 figuring it was a good investment. (Hah!) She started working and then went back to school to earn her MBA in the following years. We developed an amazing network of friends while living in Houston and visited family in New Jersey and Minnesota whenever possible.

Life settled into a routine.

Continue reading “Our Exercise in Fertility”

My Patreon Campaign: Who’s Coming With Me?

In recent months, I have experienced several things in my personal and professional life that have provided additional clarity as it pertains to my creative efforts with the blog. That sentence is incredibly vague, but the summation is that my job and health seem to have stabilized to the point where I can spend more time on creating content. I started The Id DM over five years ago – and while the content has ebbed and flowed – the goal has been to write articles that I could not find anywhere else. Gathering an audience over the years has been rewarding, and I hope new people find the site as my plan now is to write more often once again.

One thing that helps me to produce more content is to play games more frequently. I’m now running a monthly D&D campaign based off the material in Curse of Strahd. I already started to provide some thoughts on increasing player character relationships for such a campaign and adding props to bring the introductory adventure to life at the table. I am also involved as a player in other games such as a Game of Thrones adventure with a solid group of gaming friends, so it seems like I’ll be rolling dice more frequently. Playing and running games keeps my mind working on RPG dynamics, and that typically leads to more articles.

Another thing that motivates me to create is accountability; and this is an issue that I have sidestepped in the past. The blog has always been a leisure activity for me; a hobby. I have a full-time job that I love; I am dedicated to the people I work for and those I provide therapeutic services to each day. At the same time, the desire to create outside the realm of work is strong. Long before the blog, I created an Onion-like newsletter for my roommates and I during graduate school just for fun. I enjoy generating ideas and making them a reality. Getting feedback about articles through comments on the site or mentions on Twitter provides reinforcement to write something new and thought-provoking. At the moment, the only person I’m accountable to for producing more content is myself.

And that is something I want to experiment with going forward.

Starting today, I’m launching the above Patreon campaign for The Id DM. I’m doing this for multiple reasons. First, I’m genuinely curious to learn if some people are willing to support my efforts to write more often about gaming, psychology, and popular culture. Second, I have flirted with launching a Kickstarter or Patreon for years. I’ve had conversations with other creators about their projects and have sent drafts to some folks to get feedback on my ideas for a crowd-funding campaign. I’m tired of flirting with the idea and being anxious with questions like . . .

Should I do this?  I should focus on other things in my life.

Will anyone even care? I’m not a big-name game designer or anything.

What if no one supports it?

Are people going to be annoyed because I already have a job, and I’m asking for money?

It’s time to just move forward and find out. If the campaign does not go anywhere, then I can tell myself that I tried and keep going along as I have been since 2011. No harm done. At least I can say I tried it once and for all! Third, I want some accountability. I want a deadline. I want to know that people actively support the blog and expect an article each week. I want to be fueled by folks asking questions and giving me feedback about my ideas for content.

What are those ideas?

The first order of business is to return to writing more consistently. I have already started to do this in preparation for the Patreon campaign. As reminder, all of the content on this site will remain free. A successful Patreon would mean that I would create more content and maybe even start other projects including:

Interview Podcast. I have a couple of guests lined up, but don’t have the know-how or equipment to properly record. This is something I want to remedy going forward as it would be fun to take my Ego Check interviews and conduct them verbally instead of posting transcripts in an article form.

Interactive Streaming. My pie-in-the-sky idea is to build a call-in show while I’m playing a game like Hearthstone and take questions about gaming and/or self-help. Like the old television show, Frasier.

The Id DM Book. I don’t imagine in my wildest dreams that the Patreon will reach this level, but it would be fun to collect, edit, and repurpose my best articles into an attractive book for people to own.

To everyone that has ever read one of my articles, thank you. If you have ever commented on an article in the past or shared it on Twitter or Reddit, thank you. I hope you continue to stop by to consume the new content. If you can spread the word about the Patreon I’m working on, then that would be much appreciated!

And if you are willing to consider supporting me through the Patreon, then may you roll 20s until the end of your days!

jerry