Oct 10 2018

Be the Sandbox You Want to See In the World

Posted by

…Yeah, okay, that title doesn’t make much sense. >.> But we’ll roll with it!

My Storm King’s Thunder campaign is rolling along nicely, going on something like two years now. SKT was hailed in reviews as being a terrific sandboxey adventure, which it kinda-sorta is, and kinda-sorta isn’t [1], but we are now in the “post Eye-Of-the-All-Father” stage of the campaign, which very much isn’t a sandbox, as written. I want to avoid spoilers, but I will say that if you’re familiar with SKT, you will probably know what I mean when I say that from Chapter Five forward, it’s pretty much a railroady race to the end, with scripted cutscenes for NPCs to have big moments baked in and everything.

Which, y’know, makes a certain amount of sense. You can’t really write “a campaign in a book” like this and have the ending make any kind of sense, if you don’t collapse all the probability waveforms down into a single cohesive storyline. But running a railroad game is fundamentally opposed to my Gamemastering credo, specifically items #7 and #9. So how to resolve this?

Actually, the answer is also in the Credo, specifically item #11. I’m tossing in a bunch of potential side-quests of my own design, most if not all of which are optional. The most recent sessions involved the characters happening upon a derelict cloud giant skycastle that by the machinations of fate was tied in to one of the PCs’ backstories– none of which is in the adventure-as-written. This particular side-quest kinda floated in the liminal space between sandbox and railroad, in that I was pretty confident that when confronted with an unexpected floating island, the PCs would want to check it out… but they also had the option, and the story would not have been broken, if they just shrugged and said, “Meh, the Oracle told us to go to Ironslag, let’s keep going to Ironslag.”

The scenario ended with them in something of a quandary about what to do next: they’ve still got the task at Ironslag waiting for them, but I can see at least three other directions they might want to go from here, and none of them would be “wrong answers.” One of those is even still on the Storm King’s Thunder script! Another one involves stopping at a town where they’ve never been and– guess what– that town is also a mini-quest-hub that has at least three side-quests going on as well.

I don’t expect the players to do all these side-quests, and honestly I wouldn’t want them to– it would probably feel tediously grindy to go on every monster-hunt they happened across, and you could play an MMO for that. But having the quests there gives the players “breathing space” around the main plot, in order to pursue their own agendas, which is what sandbox play is really all about at the heart of it.

It’s entirely possible that the players will look at the side-quests, say “Screw that noise!” and carry on racing towards the end of Storm King’s Thunder instead. That’s fine, too! It’s entirely consistent with my GM credo to let the players buy their tickets and get on the plot railroad, if that’s what they have chosen to do.

[1] Actually, very few D&D games are actually “sandboxes.” What they may be is “open world,” but that’s another discussion all together. My experience is that most of the time, when people describe a D&D adventure as a sandbox, what they mean is “not a railroad.” ;P

Share
Jun 04 2018

Choose the $200 Patreon Goal Hit Bonus Art!

Posted by

Blacktigr reference sheet commission

Okay, so it turns out that raffles are officially not allowed as Patreon rewards. Like, at all. Some people may still be doing them, but it is technically a violation of TOS (third bullet under All About Being a Creator), so my idea of a raffle is out.

So instead, I’ve decided to invite my subscribers to come up with and vote on a piece of bonus art by describing something they’d like to see me draw over the next few days. Then later this week (probably Weds or Thurs) I’ll bring them all together into a poll and everyone can vote on what they’d like to see. Think of it as a crowdsourced commission. 😉

(Note: This is in addition to the monthly SJ Boogie and other images.)

Ground Rules

  1. It has to be something I’m willing to draw, so all the usual caveats of no gore, cruelty, disempowerment, that kind of jazz apply. Things I’m not willing to draw, simply won’t go onto the poll.
  2. It can involve the SJ cast, OCs, pop culture characters, whatever. It could be another Ponies vs. Daleks piece if that’s what would float your boat.
  3. Maximum three characters, pls.
  4. It can be a NSFW piece (rule 1 still applies), but that would only be available to $5+ subscribers. If a SFW version is feasible, that will be available to all subscribers.

So! Whattya want to see? 🙂 Here are some potential ideas I’ve had, which will also be on the poll:

  • Finished version of Slippery When Wet.
  • Langley: Bikini-top snatcher! And a very irritated Charity.
  • Ponies vs. Daleks: Princess Luna
  • Ponies vs. Daleks: Princess Cadance

Head on over and post your ideas! (Only ideas from subscribers will go into the poll, thanks! ^.^’)

-The Gneech

Share
Filed under : Artwork | Comments Off on Choose the $200 Patreon Goal Hit Bonus Art!
May 18 2018

So What’s the Deal With My Patreon?

Posted by

Me and some of my best imaginary friends.
Me and some of my best imaginary friends.

So yeah, my foray into the world of adult art has in fact doubled my Patreon income, which is awesome! Bringing it all the way up to… $176 a month? O.o

Mind you, I’m grateful to all of my supporters, especially those at the top who have gone above and beyond all of the reward tiers and stuck with me for nearly half a decade. You folks are amazing!

But I look at “comparables” doing similar work to mine, and I see…

Clearly, my Patreon is underperforming, and I need to figure out why, and how to change that. Suburban Jungle Boogie was the first step, and it certainly had an impact! The next few months will be building on that success. My Patreon growth goals for 2018 are:

  • June 30: $200
  • July 31: $300
  • August 31: $500
  • October 31: $600
  • November 30: $750
  • December 31: $1,500

How am I gonna do this? I have no idea! So I’d love to hear any input or suggestions from anyone, ranging from creators who have succeeded and how they did it, to supporters who would be willing to tell me why they chose which artists to support and at what level. And once I have it figured out, you can bet I’ll be back here to report how I did it, because I love you. 😉

Meanwhile, please enjoy a word from Leona Lioness…

Leona is not safe for work.

Share
Filed under : Artwork, Gneechy Talk | Comments Off on So What’s the Deal With My Patreon?
May 14 2018

Operation: Awesome!

Posted by

By no longer showing Looney Tunes, we are failing future generations.

The rest of this year will be a time of big changes for me. I have a plan, which in my usual humble way, I have dubbed Operation: Awesome! It’s designed to integrate my coaching practice and my creative pursuits into a unified, sustainable, and, y’know, lucrative profession, because I cannot very well make the world a better place if I can’t even put food on the table.

Operation: Awesome! has four major components:

  1. The coaching practice itself: paying clients at various tiers, pro-bono clients, and side projects such as speaking engagements
  2. Blog income: ProudToBeAFurry.org; a coaching blog I’ll be launching later this year
  3. Art/comics/convention income: AnthroCon, Midwest Furfest, book sales, etc.
  4. Patreon: new goals and reward tiers, expanding my reach

Creating the plan for Operation: Awesome! was much like planning a car trip: I decided where I wanted to be, and when I wanted to get there, and then worked backwards to figure out the route, creating “milestones” along the way that would let me know I was on the right track.

Next, I made a list of the resources I had on hand to get me started on the journey– including my own skills and material resources; my network of friends, family, and social contacts; and services I could call on. Since I was planning from the future, this part was particularly important because it showed me what I didn’t need to “go shopping for” as part of the plan.

Finally, I created a timeline based on my milestones. Here’s a chunk of it:

Project Awesome! A small piece.

Notice the “income source TBD” chunks. This is a working roadmap, not set in stone, and I fully expect to tweak, alter, or revise it as things change. I don’t know where that “$2,200 TBD” in August is going to come from yet, just that I intend to figure something out by then. I might be making that much in blog income by then. I might come up with a great idea for group seminars. I might have blown the doors off my $300 Patreon goal. But the point is, now I know that I will need to work on that.

At this level, the project plan doesn’t include “action items”– that’s deliberate, because it’s where a lot of people get mired in details and sent into overwhelm. The plan is a roadmap, not a turn-by-turn set of instructions. Once you have the plan in place, you only create action items for the next milestone.

July is two months away, and my situation or needs may very well have changed by then, so coming up with action items for then might very well be a waste of energy that I could better spend on what I’m doing today. Right now, I’m aiming for the May 31st milestone, so I have created a “to do” list based on that and started to put thought into June. August and September aren’t even on my radar.

Anyone can come up with their own project plan, but honestly I recommend getting someone to go through it with you. Project: Awesome! was a collaboration between myself and my own coach. It requires a certain amount of time and brainstorming, so in my own coaching practice I like to devote two sessions to it. But the benefits are huge, and well worth the time investment.

With my project plan in place I am more confident of success, I am more aware of potential pitfalls and how to avoid them, and I have a clear vision of what “success” will look like. By planning it from the future, it feels like “Future Me” has reached backwards in time and told me how he got where he is, and that I am now calling that into existence by putting in the work.

Let’s rock this thing. 😉

-The Gneech

Share
Filed under : Coaching | Comments Off on Operation: Awesome!
Apr 19 2018

Passing For Human at #FurMore18

Posted by

Just some of my books!
This weekend is Fur The More 2018 in Tysons Corner, Virginia, and I’ll be there! Most of the time you’ll find me in the Artist Alley, with copies of issue six (“Ready to Rumble!”) and the first Rough Housing collection “Giant Enemy Crab!”.

Sunday morning will also be the first running of my new panel, “Passing for Human.” Drawing on my training as a success coach (and backed with a lifetime of experience convincing people that I am in fact a human being), the panel will cover the basics of meeting new people and making friends, how to handle yourself in public situations, and how to build positive and healthy relationships while avoiding some of the traps that can afflict a fandom. It will also address positive ways to meet and interact with artists and other creators within the fandom, as well as avenues to get out there and become the sort of person other fans will want to meet.

So in you’re in the Washington D.C. area, I hope you’ll come on by! My panel is Sunday morning at 10:30 in the Madison meeting room, and the rest of the time, you’ll find me in Artist Alley. See you there!

-The Gneech

Share
Filed under : Artwork, Coaching | Comments Off on Passing For Human at #FurMore18
Apr 02 2018

Your Own Captain’s Log

Posted by

The U.S.S. Enterprise in orbit.
Keeping a journal is one of, if not the easiest and most effective tools to keep your goals on track. You can’t very well tell where you’re going without knowing where you are and where you’ve been.

The trap that many people fall into that prevents them from keeping an effective journal is that they approach it as a literary exercise, instead of a productivity tool. Poetic insights and vivid descriptive detail are great, and if you want to do that for its own sake, more power to you! But that’s not the purpose. The kind of journal we’re talking about here is a place to keep tabs on what’s going on, and something you can refer to later to refresh your memory and help you see what progress has been made. A shipboard log, of the type kept by Captain Kirk, was the age of sail’s equivalent to a black box, and is a lot closer to the kind of journal we’re talking about here.

To get around this trap, I recommend a Five Minute Journal. As the name implies, is something you write up quickly in the morning to start your day, and then update quickly at night before going to bed. You’re not writing beautiful diary entries here, you’re just creating short, bulleted lists, so you don’t need a gorgeous leather-bound tome. Just grab a cheapy spiral notebook and get moving!

A Five Minute Journal is updated twice a day, when you get up and before you go to bed, so you could keep it on your nightstand if you like. Your morning update creates your day’s mindset and sets your intentions for the day, and your evening update reviews the results and looks for improvement opportunities. So for example, this morning my Five Minute Journal would look something like this:

APRIL 2, 2018 – MORNING

Today I am grateful for:

  1. COFFEE
  2. All the fun I had this past weekend. 🙂
  3. Payday!!!

What will I accomplish today?

  1. Make an appointment with my accountant.
  2. Get a haircut.
  3. Write a Coaching Blog post. ;P

Daily Affirmations. I am…

  1. …bringing people happiness and self-realization directly through coaching or indirectly through the creation of inspiring and enduring stories and works of art.
  2. …making healthy choices and taking care of myself.
  3. …fun to be around and I naturally attract positive relationships into my life.

Total time it took me to write up these lists: five minutes. Hence the name, “Five Minute Journal.” Tonight, my followup might go…

APRIL 2, 2018 – EVENING

Three Amazing Things That Happened Today

  1. Completely cleared my to-do list, as well as finished the rest of the script for my next comic (bonus!)
  2. New haircut makes me look like a million bucks
  3. My cats were ridiculously adorable

How Could I Have Made Today Even Better?

  1. I wasn’t really enjoying those YouTube videos I spent my lunchbreak watching. 😛 I could have found something more fun there.
  2. I miss my buddy out in California. I could have called him today.
  3. Eat more chocolate. >.>

Again, five minutes. Super-simple, but remarkably effective. The morning entry gives you a roadmap for a productive day and puts you in the right frame of mind to carry it out. The evening entry gives yourself a pat on the back for doing a great job, and also gives your subconscious things to chew on while you sleep and points to things you might put on your lists for tomorrow.

A nice added bonus to these lists is that you can go back and re-read them later when you’re short on motivation, when you’re having a bad day, or even just want to review how far you’ve come and all the things you’ve accomplished. It can also serve as a reminder– “Oh yeah, that project I was working on six months ago kinda got stalled, I should really finish that off!”

The Five Minute Journal works especially well in combination with a Bullet Journal– but that’s a big topic that I’ll get into another day. In the meantime, if you’re interested, check out BulletJournal.com to get started.

Now get moving! Grab a notebook, make your first morning entry, and put this tool to work!

Sound helpful? Interested in learning more tools to get things done, or want to put the power of my coaching to work for you? Contact me via direct message, or send an e-mail to john@bringingtheawesome.com to set up a complimentary session today.

Share
Filed under : Coaching | Comments Off on Your Own Captain’s Log