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!

The Rat Hole for April 5

Logo for the RPG Blog CarnivalWe’re into April and so it’s time for another RPG Blog Carnival! You can find details and my first post over at The Rat Hole today. Stay tuned through the rest of the month, both there and her, for more magic item goodness!

And keep your eyes here for some exciting Extra Life 2021 announcements! Thanks to everyone’s generosity I was able to raise just over $1000 last year, which is amazing! Never one to rest on my laurels (they really aren’t as comfy as you would hope) I have set my 2021 goal at $2500. That’s going to take a some work, so I’ll talk about what I hope to do to achieve that soon. Enjoy the day!

Another Solar Orbit Day

Yep, today is my solar orbit day, or “birthday” as you huma–us, us humans, haha, call it. It’s hard for me to gauge how the past year went, as a global pandemic tends to skew the results. All in all I would chalk it up a win on points after a thorough review of the game tape. Working on Uncaged Anthology and other projects were definite high points and I would like more of that, please. Streaming with the folx on Clockwork Vines is a high point of every week. Not only does it mean a regular game (wealth undreamed of!), but the world Honey has created and the stories we get to play out in it are an absolute joy.

I am taking the rest of the week off to relax into my next solar orbit. But I wanted to take a moment and talk about ways you can wish me a Happy Birthday, if you are so inclined. First, you can just hit me up on Twitter and wish me Happy Birthday, I would love to hear from you! There are so many folx I have “met” through Twitter that I wouldn’t have otherwise, so always good to hear from you.

The Renaissance Gamer, his beard blue.

Second, I am raising funds for Extra Life again this year and would appreciate donations to that. Hitting the $200 mark this early in the year was amazing, and resulted in the blue beard you see, pictured. What will I do as the number goes higher? Who knows, but I would love to find out! Plus there are donation milestones and bonuses you can get for donating; all the details are on the page.

Lastly, and related to the second point: I want to do more streaming, specifically charity streaming. I have realized that my current laptop, while good for playing on streams, isn’t going to cut it if I want to host streams. So if you have a few bucks and want to help me get a new laptop for charity streaming, please visit my KoFi page and buy me a coffee. Or in this case, a percentage of a laptop. Who knows, there might be a session of Bluebeard’s Bride in the future…

That’s it for me though! Going to pour myself a libation and enjoy the rest of the day. Take care, all!

Extra Life All Year!

I have been pretty vocal about my support of Extra Life over the years. I have taken part in the 24 hour game day every year for the past seven years, and I have been successful at hitting my fundraising goals. Last year I stepped things up a bit and created The Hedgicorn as a continual fundraiser for Extra Life. I also offered editing services for donations, which was surprisingly successful and something I plan to do again later this year.

But this year I plan to do even more. I would like to extend my fundraising efforts throughout the year, because I believe that children’s hospitals in general (and my local children’s hospital, The Stollery, in particular) deserve attention and support year round. I’ve set an Extra Life goal of $1000 this year, and it would be amazing to come up to game day already well within site of that goal; it would be a situation unlooked for to have actually surpassed it by then.

As part of this, I am going to go a bit outside my learning curve and comfort zone, and live-stream some fundraising events through the year. This will mean figuring out the technical side of streaming, as well as recording those streams. Luckily there are plenty of resources to help me navigate the process so it will be difficult but not impossible.

And thanks to my friend Amber, I already have a great idea for a stream. I waffled on Twitter about whether to keep my beard, and Amber suggested I not only keep it, but dye it blue and run a charity stream of Bluebeard’s Bride. Brilliant! Once I clear that cosmetic change with my employer, I think this will be one of my first streams, though I may do something a bit simpler first in order to test the waters.

So stay tuned, folks! Over the next year you’ll see me popping up on Twitch a bit more, and I’ll post links here when I am ready for players and the like. If you’d like to support my efforts in charity streaming you can do so in three ways. First, you can drop by my Extra Life page and make a donation, which will qualify you for some incentives listed on my donation page right now. Those are good all year round, and you can get an incentive for as low as a $5 donation.

Second, though I rarely mention it I do have a Ko-fi page, and right now I am saving up to get a better camera and proper lights for streaming, so watching these charity streams will be as entertaining as possible. If you have a few spare bucks and would like to support these efforts, consider buying me a coffee.

Thirdly, if you don’t have the cash to spare for donations or a coffee (and I get it, it’s rough out there) then please share and RT when you start seeing links to the event go up. Heck, even spreading the word about this post will help get the word out, which will help us be successful later on. And don’t let a low follower count stop you! Twitter’s algorithm  doesn’t care how many folks you RT’d to, it just cares that you did it. Trust me, it will help.

Have a great day, folx, and watch this space for more to come!

Extra Life Follow Up

This past weekend I took part in the Extra Life Game Day, playing games for 24 hours with my friends to raise money for sick kids. The Game Day was long, as always, but a whole lot of fun, as always. Despite douchetrumpets trying to crash the site for most of the day, games were still played and donations were still made. I had a goal of $500, and with the help of generous donors I hit $633, so thank you to everyone who donated or spread the word!

But the fundraising isn’t over! I can accept donations until December 31, 2019, so I would love to see that total get to $750, or even $1000, before the year is out. So I am putting together this post so I have all my donation information in one spot for easy linking. You can expect to hear about this a few more times between now and year end.

The best way to donate is through my secure donation page on the Extra Life site. You can donate any amount securely, and if you donate $20 or more you will receive a tax receipt via email almost immediately. Besides a crisp tax receipt, I have a few other incentives for folks who donate:

  • If you donate any amount before the end of the year, I will create a magic or special item for your TTRPG game. You pick the game and give me a one-word prompt, and I’ll come up with a 300-500 word description for this item. DM me on Twitter once you have donated with your game and prompt.
  • If you make a $50+ donation I will edit up to twenty pages of text for you. For every increment of $50 you donate I will edit another twenty pages, and so on. Those pages can be all one project, or split between projects, as you require. The project doesn’t have to be right away, you can lock in my services for a future project if you like. You can also donate to get editing for someone else, so this makes a great gift for the TTRPG or sci-fi/fantasy writer in your life. When you have donated, shoot me an email at brent.jans@gmail.com with “Extra Life Editing” in the title, outlining your project details.

Finally, I created a deadly, adorable creature for my home game, and I shared it on DM’s Guild to raise money for Extra Life. All proceeds from The Hedgicorn go to Extra Life, and you get a unique fey creature for your D&D table. It currently enjoys a five-star rating, and you can read a wonderful review of the creature on the page as well.

So plenty of ways for you to donate, help sick kids, and get some rewards for your generosity. Donations of any amount are appreciated, and if you can’t donate please help spread the word. If I hit my $1000 goal by the end of the year, I plan to release something else on DM’s Guild for free, as a thank you to the community. But we’ll have to get there if you want to see what that is…

The Hedgicorn

I love coming up with weird, quirky things for my D&D campaign. As one of my groups is entering a pocket of the Faewylde, I wanted to create something special for them to encounter. I love faerie, because done properly they hide a frightening power behind a cute facade. So I thought to myself, how could I make something as adorable as the hedgehog a formidable encounter for my group?

Enter the hedgicorn! All the majestic power of the unicorn, crammed into a tiny hedgehog package. Protector of the small folk of the fae, guardian of lost children, indomitable alone and well nigh unstoppable when gathered in common purpose with other hedgicorns. I loved the idea so much I had my buddy Jeff Martin do up some art for it, pictured. Jeff is a fantastic artist, and I think he captured my weird little creation perfectly.

Not only is this the first creature I have created for any TTRPG that I have commissioned art for, but this now marks my first creation published on DMs Guild. It seemed appropriate, as this is the start of my Extra Life campaign for 2019, that this fierce guardian of lost children should benefit children in the real world. So in perpetuity, you can purchase The Hedgicorn on the DMs Guild for just $1.99US, with all proceeds going to benefit Extra Life.

I hope the hedgicorn will find a place at your table. It has made for an interesting beastie in my campaign, and I would love for some wizard or druid to adopt one as a familiar or animal companion.

If you do use it in your campaign, please let me know how it goes. Any feedback will be incorporated into updated versions, as tweek and adjust it through my own usage.

Extra Life Update

As promised I have an update on my Extra Life plans for this year. I’m going to be running Dungeons & Dragons all day long, perhaps with a break to play a board game or two as a palette cleanser. I’m hoping to live stream, but that will depend on getting some tech together in time. But at the very least I’ll be live-tweeting the crap out of every moment, with copious pictures and the odd video.

And you can get involved! If you want to play at my table for a shift, you need to do two things:

1) Donate a minimum of $20 to my Extra Life campaign (or be participating in Extra Life yourself), and

2) Send me an email at brent.jans@gmail.com with your name, phone #, and the shift you’d like to play (8am-Noon, Noon-4pm, 4pm-8pm, 8pm-Midnight, Midnight-4am, 4am-8am). I can take five players per shift, and I’ll let you know when you email me if the shift you want is available. You can sign up for multiple shifts, but make sure you can be there for everything.

Location is still TBA, but you’ll be responsible for transportation to and from, so keep that in mind if you sign up for late night/early morning games when transit isn’t running. I’ll have some snacks and maybe a dinner available (likely chili in the slow cooker) and coffee on, but please bring any snacks you particularly want.

If you don’t have time to play, you can still get involved in our game! Donate at the various levels to unlock the different ways you can affect the game:

  • $5 – Give a free re-roll to the players or DM, you choose.
  • $10 – Give the party a free Potion of Healing
  • $20 – Specify an NPC that I’ll work into whatever situation the players currently face. Just give me the NPC’s occupation, one personality trait, one physical trait in the Notes section along with your donation
  • $50 – Pick a monster they’ll have to encounter; OR, Give a random player a +2 bonus to a random ability score
  • $100 – I’ll grant the party an Uncommon or better magic item.
  • $250 – You decide what magic item the party gets.
  • $500 – The party will encounter the malevolent artifact of your choice. Hilarity will ensue.

I’ll have more details going up soon, including a streaming link when/if I have it.

Your donation is tax-deductible and will make miracles happen for families who desperately need them. You can click the “Donate” button at the top of my donation page to make a safe and easy online donation. I’ll also be at various events over the next month or so, so you can also donate to me in person. I’ll post details here.

Which RPG Do You Think Deserves Greater Recognition? #RPGaDay

What’s this? Two daily RPGaDay posts in a row!? What crazy dreamworld is this!? Yes, but first you have to read through my shameless plug.

It’s that time of year again, nerd folk, when I begin my run up to Extra Life. If you’re unfamiliar with Extra Life you can follow the handy link for more info, but in short it’s a day where I and many like me play games for 24 hours to raise money for sick kids. It’s a fantastic cause and I encourage you to join in or support it however you can. Of course one of those ways is to slide over to my snazzy donation page and make a donation. Every donation counts, no matter the size. As I’m fond of saying, if everyone who followed my on Twitter donated just $5, the price of a fancy coffee (mmm, fancy coffee), I’d rocket past my $1000 goal in not time. And then set a higher goal for myself, because I’m like that.

But on with the main event!

This is actually a tough question to answer because we live in the age of crowdfunding. Kickstarter, and other platforms to a lesser degree, have allowed us to get a lot of previously underrated or cult classic games back in print. Just a few years ago I might have answered this question with Villains & Vigilantes, for instance, but they have a new version out thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. I could answer just about any game from the Eighties and Nineties, and tomorrow find out the Kickstarter has begun.

So maybe it’s time to make my wish come true. I would love an updated version of Sky Realms of Jorune. I feel like it was a game that didn’t really land when it first came out in 1984, partly because they immediately published a second version in 1985, which put some folks off. I discovered it on a family shopping trip to Edmonton, when I went to the little gaming/comic store that existed in West Edmonton Mall at the time. I was taken by the weirdness of the cover art, so I gambled some allowance money on it (and a D&D module, because I’m not crazy) and brought it home. I devoured the rulebooks on the drive back to Fort McMurray and new I wanted to run this game. Unfortunately, my friends weren’t as into it as I was. A game centered around trying to be come a good citizen just couldn’t compare to stomping through a dungeon, killing monsters and stealing treasure. So it languished on my shelf, often read and never played.

I know there was a 1994 third edition, and I heard mixed reviews. But I would really love a brand spanking new version of the game. The game was already ahead of the curve thematically, I want to see that theme supported by new mechanics and everything we’ve learned in the 30+ years since it was first published. Not to mention new art…sorry, I seem to be salivating on my keyboard.

What game would you like to see get its due? Answer in the comments.

Extra Life 2017

It’s that time of year again, when good gamer boys and girls stay up playing games for 24 hours in support of Extra Life! While the “good” part might be questionable, I am definitely a gamer and I’ll be doing my part on November 4 to raise funds for my local children’s hospital, the Stollery. I’ve provided a handy link in the sidebar to my fundraising page, so if you are so inclined please head over there and donate. Any amount is appreciated and all of it goes to a great cause. If you can’t donate, you can still help out by spreading the word and raising awareness. Share my page link with your circle of generous gamers and encourage them to do the same. The more people who know equals the more people who can donate.

Monday I plan to be back in the saddle for regular updates, and I have a few posts I’ve been working on and tweaking, getting them just right for your eye holes. And honestly, probably a few posts I’m just going to wing, that’ll hit your eye holes like a squirt gun filled with Mountain Dew. Stingingly refreshing!