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Adventures

062 – Creating in-depth Actual Play Characters with Joshua Simons

Joshua Simons is our guest today! Josh is a streamer, game designer, and the Community and Content Manager at Demiplane RPG. We dive into the intricacies of networking and how Josh was able to land a fulltime job in the industry. We also get a peek at his process for creating characters. Josh has appeared on so many actual play shows and always has some really in-depth characters. I gotta say that this conversation is super juicy for those of you who are wanting to make more in-depth characters and who are looking for advice on breaking into the actual play scene.

I do have an update for those of you who keep up with this show on a regular basis. After today’s episode, I am actually going on a short hiatus! I’ve had a lot of things coming up both personally and professionally, and I needed to stop booking interviews for a little while. Don’t worry, the show will be back! It’s just been a tumultuous year, and I need to give myself a little breathing room. I’m also considering some ways to potentially switch up the format of this show and my Patreon, so if you’ve got any ideas or feedback, I would totally love to hear it! You can find me on Twitter at KetraRPG or you can email me at rollplaygrow@gmail.com. I’m planning to be back in October, so don’t worry! This will be a short break, and we’ll continue on with some lovely guests this fall!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00:00 Introduction & Updates
  • 00:03:02 Joshua Simons introduction
  • 00:15:20 The power of networking
  • 00:29:03 Josh’s process for building his characters
  • 00:37:04 Digging in to the storytelling process
  • 00:46:02 Finding actual play auditions
  • 01:00:00 What has been the most challenging part?
  • 01:11:40 Upcoming projects & where you can find Josh
  • 01:14:13 Wrap-up

Find Joshua:

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Transcript

Hello & Welcome to Episode 62 of Roll Play Grow, the podcast for tabletop entrepreneurs, creators, and fans. I am Courtney Stover of Lightheart Adventures, and in this podcast, we talk to the creators behind the brands in the tabletop roleplay gaming space about who they are and how they are turning their passion for gaming into a career. 

Joshua Simons is our guest today! Josh is a streamer, game designer, and the Community and Content Manager at Demiplane RPG. We dive into the intricacies of networking and how Josh was able to land a fulltime job in the industry. We also get a peek at his process for creating characters. Josh has appeared on so many actual play shows and always has some really in-depth characters. I gotta say that this conversation is super juicy for those of you who are wanting to make more in-depth characters and who are looking for advice on breaking into the actual play scene. 

I do have an update for those of you who keep up with this show on a regular basis. After today’s episode, I am actually going on a short hiatus! I’ve had a lot of things coming up both personally and professionally, and I needed to stop booking interviews for a little while. Don’t worry, the show will be back! It’s just been a tumultuous year, and I need to give myself a little breathing room. I’m also considering some ways to potentially switch up the format of this show and my Patreon, so if you’ve got any ideas or feedback, I would totally love to hear it! You can find me on Twitter at KetraRPG. That is K-e-t-r-a-R-P-G or you can email me at rollplaygrow@gmail.com. I’m planning to be back in October, so don’t worry! This will be a short break, and we’ll continue on with some lovely guests this fall! 

For a quick bit of business: If this is your first time tuning in to Roll Play Grow, then I apologize that you’ve found me right before this end of summer break! But I do have 61 other episodes ready for you to dig around in, and I am the co-founder of Lightheart Adventures, where you will find blogs, one-shots, and maps over on our website, lightheartadventures.com. 

This is a longer episode than usual, so I will leave it at that! Please enjoy this conversation with Josh.

Courtney: 

I am joined today by Joshua Simons, the community and content manager at Demiplane RPG. Hello, Josh, how are you today?

Josh: 

Hey, I’m doing pretty well.

Courtney: 

glad to hear it. Glad to have you on. I know you just had a pretty big move recently.

Josh: 

I did. I guess it was two weeks ago now move from Seattle to Chicago. Beautiful road trip lots of mountains great scenery right up until you get to the Dakotas and then it’s like, oh, it’s flat. I found the Midwest, but even, I mean, even it’s like South Dakota was nice. I, I was driving through there. It was, it was dark. So I didn’t really get to see it, but like, you know, there’s like some scenic stuff there then you’re in the Midwest and it’s like, okay, cool. I found the corn fields and that’s really all there is.

Courtney: 

Yeah. the very first one I did was moving from Florida to Chicago for college. And I, I distinctly remember being like, oh, okay. Corn forever. And you know, maybe every hour. Ooh, there’s a cow. okay.

Josh: 

you know, we totally should have done this earlier, before we started recording, but I did not realize that you started your life in Florida. I started my life in Florida.

Courtney: 

But seriously, like where, okay. Where else have you lived? Florida. Chicago, I got those 3.

Josh: 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I lived in New York for a little while and that’s really it. That’s my list of four Okay.

Courtney: 

Okay. Okay. That’s where we differ then my other one was Austin, Texas, and I guess a little bit of Oregon, but that was barely a blip. So

Josh: 

Sure. Hey, fair.

Courtney: 

Okay, well, that’s fun. I enjoy that you are also a traveler and bit of a nomad, it seems.

Josh: 

You know, it wasn’t always my choice. A couple of those moves happened when I was still living with my parents. But you know it’s not like you can just not move where the adult who’s responsible for you is going.

Courtney: 

true facts. Well, Josh, can you just tell us a bit about yourself, what you do and how you got into gaming?

Josh: 

Yeah, absolutely. So as we’ve just discovered, I was born and raised in Florida. I, I spent much of my early childhood there. Was a avid cycling fan. I wanted to play professional basketball and football and then I got super into theater. This would’ve been like eighth grade, freshman year of high school. I was like, I’ve decided I’m gonna become a musical kid. That’s me. I’m gonna sing. I’m gonna dance. I had no prior, you know experience with it, but just, just as life can be when you have one of those little, little fun things that make you hyper focus on activities. It’s just like, oh, this is suddenly my entire personality. So I did that for a while. I bounced around the country a little bit as we’ve just discussed. Now I am the community and content manager at Demiplane. I have been working there for oh gosh like six months now. Actually, it’s hard to believe it’s been, it’s been that long. But I started there at the, the start of the year where I do all of the things you would expect from a community manager. So that includes like social stuff, all of our different social platforms, managing discord forums. Kind of just keeping a, a, a pulse on what’s going on in the tabletop world and a pulse on how people are interacting with our product. 

And then the content side of things is twofold. I do the Twitch streaming and then manage all of that then going to YouTube and to our podcast. And then also deal with some of the content on the website be that a variety of things. So wear a whole bunch of hats. It’s a lot of fun. And one day when in person conventions are a thing that we start doing again, cuz we have as of yet, Really only done like one offs based on, on a very specific thing. So one day when we are actually attending conventions in person, I’ll also have one more thing to do one more additional hat to wear at some point. But that’s kind of the short and sweet version of what I do now. I think the next part was how did I get into gaming? And so, right. I growing up was a big. Fan of video games for as long as I can remember back to playing, you know like the Sims, SIM city like roller coaster tycoon that came on the CD and the Totinos pizza box like that whole thing. I’ve been playing video games since we had a computer at the house which was pretty synonymous with like me turning two, I think. So I I’ve been playing video games basically since I could walk. 

At some point it, it, it was in high school. It was actually the end of high school. I spent the night at my cousin’s house while he and his friends who were still in high school were playing a game of D&D at the time. I think it was maybe fourth edition. But they were playing D&D and I was like, oh, this is cool. I guess I’m gonna keep writing my college admissions essays. But I, I was like seated in the same room as them and, and paying attention. I went, Hmm, that’s neat. Maybe one day and just kind of moved on with my life and never really thought about it again. And then in college, I signed up for a class called the history of Middle Earth. Was approaching everything in the world of Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings as if from, from a historical perspective in terms of world building and this, this lore that exists and these you know, bloodlines of these elves that span generations and generations of humans. And so really looking at it from like, Okay. From the moment of creation when Iluvatar and the gods sing the world into being to the end of the third age, which is when the Lord of the Rings movies end, I’m going super hardcore nerd here. I’m so sorry.

Courtney: 

Don’t apologize For that ever.

Josh: 

so from, you know, the beginning of the world to, as far as it’s been documented at the end of, of The Return of the King there’s some appendices there, which have some things that, that wrap up the world as we know it basically tracking all of that. As part of this my professor is –or I guess was, I don’t know what he’s up to these days. Maybe he’s changed– was a huge war gamer. And so had these massive, like. 13 foot by eight foot long maps of the world of Middle Earth. And we would play out these gigantic battles from the Silmarillion from the Lord of the Rings books. 

We didn’t do any of the Hobbit battles. We could have done the battle of five armies, but we didn’t. We did do Helms deep. We did do the battle of Minas Tirath, but the highlight for me was really the Silmarillion battles. It was these huge, massive, expansive battlefields, where we were war gaming. We had like thousands of little dudes set up on platforms and we’re moving ’em around as our, you know, various like troop movements, like, okay. Like the lava pits over there are stopping our soldiers. We need to flank with our elven you know Horseman. And so we’ll run him around. This was great, very strategic. We definitely won some fights that we should not have won. But I got into war gaming. And from that there was a classmate of mine who was like, Hey you seem really into this. You should come and join us for D&D nights. You know, it’s in this classroom on like Tuesday nights or whatever. And I was like, nah, that sounds like nerdy shit. I’m not interested. Thanks. So I, I could not attend, I had a prior engagement but I wasn’t all that interested at the time. Because I didn’t know anyone in the group. Right. And so I was like, I’m just gonna go hang out with a bunch of folks. I don’t know. That sounds weird. 

But then, you know, like a semester goes by and suddenly there’s a D&D group starting on campus of people that I know, and they’re like, oh, you should come and join us. And at this point I had watched a D&D series online and gone. Okay. No, that’s cool. That’s cool. I’ll play it, I guess. And so I went and joined them and as D&D groups or want to, to be, we played for about six sessions and then scheduling ended the group, but that’s how I got into tabletop gaming. And, and ever since then I’ve been playing a whole bunch of games started with D&D I’ve. I’ve expanded now to you over a dozen different game systems and it keeps growing.

Courtney: 

I feel like I have to ask since you had so much of the Lord of the Rings, if you have tried The One Ring, either first or second edition.

Josh: 

It is on my shortlist. I have gazed longingly at the game at several conventions and several game stores and gone. I don’t have time right now. But one day soon I will pick it up. And, and I will play it. I, I, I have several, several things that I’ve gotta get through. And then me and The One Ring we’re gonna have a date night.

Courtney: 

Fair enough. I will say it’ll be a good date night. It is very much worth it.

Josh: 

I mean, any date night that ends with a ring, like golden.

Courtney: 

yeah. So I know that you are also, it seems constantly performing on different shows, but are there any campaigns that you’re in for fun that aren’t streamed, right?

Josh: 

Yes. Yes. So I have a Saturday morning D&D game that I play in right now with a couple of friends who we’re all kind of in and around the streaming space, but like, Hey, this is our like dedicated morning off where we show up in pajamas and like start 20 minutes late, cuz everyone needs to get their coffee and breakfast and, you know, just kind of have a, a slow start to the day where we’ll go and, and, and, and play a game together. That’s really kind of my one non streamed game right now. I have a couple of other home games that have either gone on hiatus or things like that. But it’s one of those things that like, I. Love having non streamed games. But at the same time, right, you can only fit so many games into your schedule. And so like you can’t have too many just for fun games. Otherwise you’ll have no time for like the ones that are on stream. And I’ve, I’ve swung too far that direction too, where I was like, I’m doing everything for me. And then like, wait a minute. Now I don’t have time to like, stream on my own channel even. Or like, what am I doing? I don’t have time to write stuff. So the pendulum has swung far back. I’m in one game right now that isn’t streamed or, or appearing anywhere. But you know, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll find the balance on that eventually.

Courtney: 

It feels like the balance always… I don’t know, like the definition of balance always changes when it comes to balancing like real life and fun and content creation and I guess like a real job, quote unquote.

Josh: 

That’s true. That’s true. I, I have the benefit of having a real job that very much resembles the fun and content creation that I do. And there’s a lot of overlap there, which is really nice. But the, the hard part there is it makes it hard to like draw lines between like work life and personal life. And so that’s actually something that I’ve been working on recently, tidbit fun fact out there for anyone who is like, oh, I wanna work in the tabletop game industry. When you work in the tabletop game industry, everything you do is tabletop gaming, which means you start to go, Hey, I would really like to not play tabletop games for like one day a week. Yeah, it was great. Like last weekend I had a day where I didn’t turn on my computer and I was just like existed as a human being. Revolutionary. I went and I hung out with my parents and drank beer and had hamburgers and played Settlers of Catan. So I guess technically I did play games, so

Courtney: 

but not the type of games that you do work

Josh: 

Right, right. Right’s true. True, true, true.

Courtney: 

I mean, that sounds like a lovely day.

Josh: 

It, it was a really nice day. It was, it was very good.

Courtney: 

That’s awesome. So we’ve talked about how you got into gaming, and then we’ve mentioned that you do all of these other things, but let’s connect the dots. Like how did you get from just playing and enjoying these games to all of the different types of content creation that you have done over the years?

Josh: 

Yeah. So, you know, I started very quickly after going like, okay. Yeah. Like, I guess I like playing D&D like, this is cool now. Like I like to tell this anecdote because it is very indicative of how the hyperfocused mindset works. When, when something like turns on is an interest of yours. You’re like, oh my God, this is my favorite thing in the world. I legitimately like between session one of my first D&D game and session two of my first D&D game, which was two weeks between it, right, is our usual, every other week D&D session. I had managed to read the player’s handbook, the DMS guide and the monster manual cover to cover. And I had also managed to watch like 10 episodes of Critical Role campaign one. I started from the very top of campaign one. I worked all the way through it. That was how I got into Critical Role. Cause I was like, I just need to find someone who has a backlog of content of this that I can just like learn the rules by watching. I, I, I do very much benefit from like seeing things done. And so that was something that I did to help myself. And so in two weeks time, I, I had read three books cover to cover, and I had consumed like 20 plus hours of D&D content. And I went good. Great. I’m ready for my second session of D&D. 

So that’s how I approach things in general. It is all or nothing. There is no such thing as half assing, a hobby in my life. I was playing a lot. I got involved with local game store, started playing in a campaign there, started running a game there. And at some point after like a year or so of, of this, I went, Hey, you know, like it’s kind of cool that like, You know, I’m playing these games, but like, you know, there’s gotta be like a community online or something of like other people who also enjoy these games that I could like link in with and like hang out and like talk about things and like, you know, be fans of the same stuff. So I did some searching into like, okay, where do all the tabletop nerds hang out? Is it, you know, like Reddit, do we have Facebook groups? Is it Twitter? Is it Tumblr? And found a, a large collection of folks on Twitter and so started to interact with folks on Twitter. I, I created a role play account first. I, I was role playing as an evil lich. Who didn’t quite understand the whole technology thing. And so it kind of just like turned into a personal diary of like the evil things that he was doing on any given day, such as you know, today I made Jones, the skeleton clean out the gelatinous cube pit. I haven’t heard from Jones in several hours. I think I need to check in on him. Right. And like, that was, that was the extent of what was going on. It was very simple, very low effort for a while, but it was fun. 

And, and I, I kind of got a better feel for what the tabletop community looked like. And I went, started to go like, oh, like, this is kind of a fun thing. Like, you know, people are like doing streams of podcasts and stuff. But I couldn’t ever do that under like my fake identity as this role play account. So at some point I said, you know what, I’m going to retire this RP account. And I’m going to use my personal Twitter account, which had previously just been used to tweet about the movies that I liked and the books that I was reading. So I had like gotten in with like 1600s history, Twitter because I studied philosophy in school. And so I was like, oh yeah. You’re like, let me tweet about Immanuel Kant and Søren Kierkegaard and like all these random philosophers. And so it was a hard 180 on that. But I took this personal Twitter account and I started interacting with folks in the tabletop space, started to kind of build my own little personal brand. Just like being a fan of things. 

And it really wasn’t until PAX Unplugged 2019 when I attended in person and like met a bunch of people in person that I went like, oh, this is really cool. You know, like I wanna get into the content creation side of things. I had prior to that written a dungeon crawl and published it on the DMS Guild. And it was horrible because I was using Microsoft word. I didn’t know what layout was. I didn’t have art pieces. I hand drew maps and then took pictures of them with my phone and then uploaded them to my computers so that I could paste them in my word document. That was what I was working with. It was like as subpar of a DMS Guild product, as you could ever find. But you know I did it once and I went, oh, you know, that’s okay. Lot of work for something that looks like garbage, but, you know, whatever. But I went to PAX Unplugged 2019. I met some folks, had a couple of invitations like, Hey, you should come like, hang out on our stream. Right. Or like you know, met folks that I had interacted with online. We were mutuals and you know, they were doing streaming or podcasting or things like that. 

So I had some open doors there to like, Just dipped my toes in the water and I did. And you know, from like one or two quick appearances to like, Hey, like this is really cool. I think I should be like on a show. Like, and so I like auditioned for a couple of shows and got one. My first like full campaign that I did was an invisible sun game. A couple of years back was super cool. Phenomenal system, one of my favorites in the whole, like the whole world. It’s just so like, if you’re not familiar with invisible sun, it’s like, imagine the world, but you are on acid and everything is an aesthetic. And so like, it’s just very surreal and just everything is cool and has a very specific vibe and all the vibes are different. But it’s the, it’s the coolest setting I’ve ever played in. That’s the end of my story and I’m sticking to it. So I did that campaign. I was like, this is awesome. This is great. I never wanna stop. And so at this point, you know, the pandemic was, was a thing that was happening. I had right before the pandemic attended C2E2 in Chicago, like literally, like as the world was shutting down, it was like one of the final conventions that happened. And during that time I had a chance to meet some really cool folks and meet some folks that I had known previously, but had never actually met in person in person. And that really kind of helped to kickstart the content creation side of things that I was doing there. Because I was like, Hey, I’ve got an idea for an adventure module that we should publish as the pandemic was happening to like raise money for food shelters, because people can’t work in person. And so they need like help getting food on the table. And so Mage Hand Press was like, yeah, sure. Write the thing. We got you. And so they just basically like gave me the keys to the kingdom and said, go do it. And I, so we did, and it was an awesome project. 

We raised a bunch of money for food shelters in America off of an idea that I had and just because I’d met their team at the convention like three weeks prior and happened to just get along really well with a couple of them they were like, yeah, just go do the thing, free reign, go. We’ll give you the resources you need on the tail end in terms of like editing and, and could use all of their art assets and whatnot. It was great. And so then I started doing some more stream stuff. and there was a switch at the end of 2020 where I got my first paid stream gig. And I was like, oh, this is it. Like, this is. You can get paid to do this. What? I never wanna stop that. So I was invited to join the cast of Topo which was a sponsored stream set in The Islands of Sina Una setting. So D&D five E setting inspired by precolonial, Filipino mythology and world. Its pre-colonial Philippines in D&D is super cool. And, and some of my very good friends were the ones who were working on that. And you know, they, in, in the process of, of casting the show wanted to get a, a variety of people to show that not just people who are from the Philippines or of Filipino descent can play in their setting. And so they invited me to be the, the one white person on the cast. 

I felt very fortunate and we spent hours and hours as they taught me everything I needed to know about the world. And I had a lot of questions. I had so many questions and some of my questions led to like remarkable discoveries about the Philippines that like their research team had, like not thought to ask because I was like, Hey, does cheese exist? And they were like, well, we’ll get back to you. Well, we did have goats, so yes, cheese did technically exist. You could make cheese. Awesome. Great. It came in not as like something that the Spaniards brought in, but like they just had their own cheese. We learned this because I was like, Hey, I wanna have a character who’s like lactose intolerant. How do I do this? Cause I want, I, I wanted. There’d be like a gimmick, right. You know, or, or, or, or a gag or something. I was like, it’d be really funny if like a super embarrassing part of, you know, this character’s backstory was related to eating some cheese that led to a embarrassing incident with the restroom and soiling oneself. This would be like a great, like past thing that’s happened, how a character would know me. It would be great. They’d be like, oh, you’re the guy, you know, who, who shit, his pants. Yeah. So anyways this is what I did to their world. I’m so sorry. But it was a great time. We, we went on for two seasons. That was my first paid gig. And I thought it was the coolest thing from there. I got another paid, one off thing, another paid one off thing. I started to go, oh, this is kind of cool. 

And as that was happening, I was building you know, a platform on social medias. I was dabbling with like my own Twitch streaming and starting to put together charity events and writing and releasing new content. Now that I knew people who could like do layout for me. So it didn’t look like garbage and Microsoft word. And so through all of these various things, right, in terms of some writing and some publishing terms by doing some streaming, some podcasting all of these various things, all kind of came together to like, Hey, like I have a small following on the internet. And so. One day, I was hanging out on twitter.com where I often spend time. And I saw that there was a post asking if anyone could help with producing a live livestream event from an in-person convention. This was late 2021. And I said, well I do have lots of theatrical production experience because I did theater. And, and as part of that, you know, I know how to do the lighting. I know how to do the sound design. I know how to like, run the board and set everything up. Like I can do everything in terms of, of technical theater. I also am very familiar with streaming because I’ve been streaming on my own channel for a year and a half now. And have got. Kind of all of the necessary skill sets put together. I did video production in high school. I have skills in that area. So I was said, yeah, I could probably do that. Tell me more about it. And there’s this little company called Demiplane that was looking to host two days of extra life streams at Gamehole Con in October of 2021. 

And I said, yeah, sure. I could absolutely do that. And I put together a little team and got all the tech we needed to run the live streams. And it went really well and they said, Hey, that was a great, great weekend. Thank you for all of your help. Got my paycheck and we went our separate ways, or so I thought. After attending PAX unplugged at the end of 2021, I said, you know what? I have been working in other jobs that are nowhere near tabletop gaming for the past several years wishing that I could instead do something that I love for a living, cuz I would spend hours a day. Don’t tell my old bosses. I would spend hours a day on Twitter or thinking about these characters or thinking about the next stream. So I decided I was just gonna ask around and see if anyone was looking to hire someone in the tabletop game industry. So I knew some folks I just said, Hey, like if you hear of any openings, like let me know. And if you hear of any openings, let me know. And someone went, Hey, you should go talk to the folks at Demiplane. And so I swung back around to my contact at Demiplane said, Hey, you know, I Was told that maybe you’d be a good person to chat with. I know that we’ve worked together in the past. I’m looking to maybe start working in the tabletop game industry and make the, the leap from my day job at the time was in tech. I was, I was working in, in data annotation for machine learning. So very different things on the surface. But it was like, Hey, you know, let me know if you have any interest in talking more, if you hear anything about any positions would appreciate it. And Adam who is the chief development officer at Demiplane. And also technically my boss, or I guess technically my boss’s boss. But he had been one of my point persons for the, the charity event that we had done at the convention in October said, yeah, That’s interesting. Let’s touch base in January. And so January rolls around and we touch base and offers me my position that I currently have. So it was one of those little like full circle things where I took a gig thinking you would just be a one off gig and suddenly I’ve got a full time job out of it. So it’s kind of cool. Kind of cool how life works sometimes, you know?

Courtney: 

That is a really cool journey. And like even just hearing it basically started 2019 and that feels like so long ago, and yet it’s really not.

Josh: 

Yeah. It’s hard to believe that three years ago, literally nobody cared who Josh was in the tabletop space. That’s how quick this has been. It’s been three years. I literally was a nobody.

Courtney: 

no, that’s wild, but that’s a really awesome story. So with all of the different streams that you’ve been a part of what is your process for figuring out what your character is gonna be like?

Josh: 

Okay. Good question. Yes, I go one of two ways. Either I start with like, okay, cool. So we need insert class here, right? I’m at this point in my life, I have played every single possible playable race. I’ve played every single possible playable class in a variety of game systems. So I’m very happy to be like, y’all pick first, I’ll fill whatever gaps we have. If it’s all spell casters, I’ll play the martial class. Like if it’s all martial classes, I’ll play the spellcaster. If we need a cleric, I’ll be the cleric. I’m happy to fill whatever role we need. So several times it’s happened where it’s. Okay. Cool. Like. We need a Paladin, cuz we need someone who can tank and can heal. I can do that. I’ll play the Paladin. So, so you start with that and you go, okay, cool. What’s a compelling Paladin story that I can tell and you build out from theirs. Okay. So you’ve got some kind of conviction. Is it conviction that they love or is it conviction that they kind of resent? Is this something that was instilled within them in how they were raised and how they were born or is it something that they’ve grown or come into themselves? And, and so you start to just kind of flesh out what it is that makes this character, who they are and how they get there. 

The other version of this is I have like a character moment where I’ll be like, okay, cool. So I want to play a grandfather who is looking for purpose in life after retiring effectively, right? Like his entire past life has left him there. There’s not much left of it because you know, in D&D certain races last a very long time, they can live hundreds of years. And so his past profession? Done. Spouse? Done. He’s got grandkids now they’re doing their things. They don’t have time for him. What do you do when the world has moved on from you? That’s the story I want to tell. So those are kind of the two approaches and, and each process kind of builds from a story. Okay. Here’s the story I wanna tell, how did I get here? Right. Past, looking forward, what got me to this place, and then what’s gonna be a satisfying, like narrative end for this story. Is it that you have accepted the fact that life has moved on from you? Or do you find some new purpose? If you find a new purpose, what is it? And so those are kind of the two general approaches that I have in terms of process you know, mechanics are definitely a secondary thing for me, it’s really about, okay, what is the, the narrative and the driving factor and the focus for this character. Then I’ll make the numbers make sense afterwards. I’m, I’m less concerned about having a character who hits hard in combat especially if I’ve got a spellcaster. I know I can be clever with utility casting in order to make things work out my way. 

So I, I, I very much focus on the human element of the character and then let the, the mechanical things kind of fall into place afterwards. People love stories. That’s one of like the fundamental things that we connect with. So really the way I think about it is what is a story about this type of person, be it a grandfather or someone who has strong convictions and stands by them or someone looking to pursue knowledge and power because this is how they need to solve their problems. Once I know okay, what’s the role or the archetype that I’m playing here is so how do I make this into a story that’s compelling because we connect with stories. 

Minor tangent here. When I was very, very young, I used to volunteer with my grandmother to help at the local storytelling festival in the small town where we grew up, she helped with organizing it and would volunteer. And I would help volunteer for the school days. I was young. I was like 10 or 11 or 12 at this time, but I was homeschooled. My parents homeschooled me. And so I didn’t have to actually do anything on those days. So my grandmother would be like, Josh is volunteering with me for the storytelling thing and I would go and just be responsible for a room. Right? And so different storytellers would come through the room, different classes would come through the room and they would do their different storytelling segments. And I’d just be there to like clean up the room between classes that went through. That was the volunteering that I did. It was very great. It was like pick up three water bottles and two wrappers and call it a day. But I felt important. But doing this I got to hear some of the best storytellers in America who were excellent at their craft who, who have all kinds of albums out of their stories. They tell, I used to be a big fan of the tall tale storytellers. 

There was always one evening at the end of the storytelling festival where they would do the tall tale contest and get people together to tell the tallest tales they could think of. And so I recall these ridiculous stories that I heard in my youth about the man who sat down at the airplane toilet and found out that every time he lifted his feet, he was the one piloting the aircraft from the toilet. But he couldn’t see outside cuz there’s no window in the toilet. And so suddenly, you know, this man is gotta like shit with one leg up, but he is also gotta like, hold something and do some like, like these, these complicated, convoluted, tall tales about how he successfully landed an airplane with his pants down in the airplane bathroom. Right? Or like the time the, the tall tale about the man who was chased by 17 assorted dogs and Prairie dogs while he was running around. On on stilts because he was painting a wall and somehow managed to get like a dog whistle stuck in his throat. And like just these ridiculous stories that could not possibly be true, this was like, what I grew up on were these, these phenomenal and fantastic stories that are just absurd and ridiculous. And at the same time, like there’s these little details that just like stick with you for a lifetime. I’m never gonna forget the dude who had to pilot an airplane with one leg up while on the toilet. 

Like that’s a, that’s a graphic mental image that I’m never gonna forget because I heard this phenomenal story. And I thought that is the coolest thing in the world. Young 11 year old, Josh wanted to be that storyteller. And so really, truly try to just tell these stories that people could connect with, even if they’re ridiculous stories, right. Even if it’s a story that is not a very grounded down to earth, human story doesn’t mean that it’s something that’s compelling that we’re gonna connect to. And so that’s really like my whole approach is how can I tell a story? That’s gonna draw people in and make them wish that that could be them. The whole method is tell a story that’s compelling. That’s the secret sauce. Tell a story. People like ’em.

Courtney: 

I wanna dig even further then, because you say, you know, how am I gonna tell a story? So how do you, like, how do you get there?

Josh: 

You know, it’s gonna look different for everyone. So like, I can’t say here’s how you should tell a story because your stories are very different from mine, but for me, like, there’s a couple of core things that are always gonna exist. Right? Like I am absolutely like the dad friend of any group of friends, I’m the one who’s making sure that everyone has all the things they, that they need. I’m making sure that you don’t drink too much. I’m making sure that no one leaves behind a phone or a pair of glasses at the table when we’re at the restaurant, that’s just the role that I always play. And so the stories that I tell oftentimes include a character like that. If I have to create a character, there’s going to be a dad friend element to them because that’s something that’s true of me. And so it is true of my characters at the same time. Right? Like I grew up with all these stories. I like to tell these oddball stories. I like to have these weird, quirky, funny things. That’s why one of the first things that I thought about creating that character for The Islands of Sina Una stream was does cheese exist because I want a significant memorable occurrence in this character’s backstory to be the time they shat themselves from eating cheeses. I want this to be a thing, because I think that’s memorable. It’s humanizing because we have all had some horrendously embarrassing thing that has happened to us in the past. And we think back decades later and go, oh God, why did I do that? Why did this have to happen in this way that I look like the fool? 

And so I, I very much want to have those moments, but I wanna have these lighthearted moments, like every character of mine, even in the worst moments when, when everything is going wrong. When, when you’re on death’s door, when you’re grieving the loss of your loved one, there’s still this kind of ironic sense of humor that, that I still try to bring in just a little bit. I think that’s the tall tale piece really honestly, is like when things are the most dire and the most absurd, we just need something just slightly, just a little twist just to laugh at our situation. And then we can move on with the whole mourning, weeping, gnashing of teeth thing. But like you gotta have a moment of levity in there. 

So like the Josh principles of storytelling are you need a character that folks are gonna get attached to. That’s where the wholesome dad vibes come in is like, He really cares. He might not show it well. He might show in all the wrong ways even, but he really cares. Right. And, and he is going to defend those people that he cares about. No matter what. He’s got maybe a little bit of an odd sense of humor or, or, a quick wit perhaps. I have in that Saturday game that I play offline a bard who is like the epitome of like the 1% of the 1% costume changes between every scene, shows up holding glassware from some random bar that he’s just stopped at on the way to the next scene to order himself a drink whiskey on the rocks. He’s just got glassware from all these random bars around town that he just has on him because he’s, oh, I’ll bring it back eventually. 

And then eventually gets put on like a sidewalk somewhere and never makes it back. But then, you know, like he still shows that he cares in that. Oh, something traumatic has just happened? Well, tacos are on me, everyone. Let’s go get tacos right now. Oh, we don’t have time to sit down. Walking tacos it is. All right, we’ll get ’em. We’ll get them to go. Okay. Good, good, good. You know, it’s like, he, he still very much cares about the group, but he expresses it in. Oh, well, everything’s gone to shit so the bar tab is on me. Can I get everyone something to eat? Are we doing burgers today? Burgers it is. I’ll take the orders while you’re all processing emotions. And just, you know, he is the most extra of extra. If bougie could describe a character, it is this character who’s like, oh, well, you know, I, I switched out to my gray three piece suit because I thought perhaps it was maybe a little bit too busy for this. 

So I’ve put on my black three piece suit. Oh what’s that we’re going to the city records office I’m going to do a quick mix and match and put my gray blazer on with my black three piece suit, I think. Like that’s just the epitome of his character is so over the top because his character arc, his story is learning what it’s like to be a normal person who doesn’t come from wealth and learning how to be in touch with his emotions and express them in a healthy way. Cuz that’s not something he knows how to do. And so that’s the story that he’s going on. The arc that, that I’m exploring with this character is how do you go from maximally privileged to, this is a thing that even though it doesn’t affect me directly, I should still be concerned about. And finding ways to make him lovable, but like, love to hateable has been my favorite thing. 

And so, like, I can say the most absurd, ridiculous lines with him and get away with it because he is who he is. You can’t see it right now, listeners at home, but I am making like this face of like, I’m sorry, who is this distinguished gentleman who has walked in and bought the entire bar, but that’s the character. And so you just get to play with a character who is so ridiculously privileged that you shouldn’t be able to like him and find ways to make him likable. And he starts to have cracks in that facade of I’m too good for everyone else. And it starts with, oh, well, I care about this one person and you know what, maybe, maybe it’s right. That it’s not all going your way right now. Right? Like maybe it’s okay. And we’re going to figure it out together because I don’t know much, but I know that this thing is not your fault. And so you shouldn’t have to fix it alone. And you just get to explore. And if you don’t like the path you’re going down, just change it. Right. 

Like, that’s the great thing about these characters. Like, like I’m gonna try this. Mm. I didn’t like that. That’s not for him, but you never have to do it again. You can just. Find something else. I’ve feel like I’ve, I’ve just gone on a short monologue here and by short, I mean, 20 minutes. So I’m gonna wrap it up, but just you find the things that are humanizing about a character, even if they’re few and far between, and you explore those things and you find ways to lean into them, especially like when you’re playing a character who is a bit over the top, perhaps an unlikable character, maybe even a deliberately unlikable character, you find the touch points that people are gonna connect with and you lean into them just enough that people don’t get sick of the character, that they actually start to care about this character. As they see this arc that you’re going on. Doesn’t have to be quick. 

My arc for that character is a long one because all of our other characters in that game have more pressing things. And so his arc is very much on the back burner, little things happen, scenes here and there, but he’s just enjoying the ride. There to get drunk and try fancy new hor d’oeuvres that he hasn’t had before in the meantime. But you know what? In those moments, he’s still learning about his friends and he’s got opportunities to show that he cares about them. Even if he’s not in the spotlight, I’m sprinkling in little moments and that’s all you need. And a character really is just like a chance to have a little moment here that shows just a tiny bit of development or what are they thinking about right now? Or how do they cope with grief? I’m gonna leave it at that because I could just talk for hours and hours. And I feel like at some point, at some point you want to move on from Josh talking about how to tell a good story with a character.

Courtney: 

this has been absolutely fascinating, and I am really enjoying all of this. I do want to kind of go back a little bit and you said that, you know, when you were first thinking about getting into the content creation side of things that you managed to find a couple of shows to audition for. And then things have kind of progressed since there where you’ve just been in a lot of gigs ever since. So how did you find those original auditions?

Josh: 

Yeah, so I cannot recommend enough finding a community channel. There’s a number of them out there. The one that I’ve been involved with most recently is The Free Forge. You can follow them on Twitter, and I presume that they’ve got links to their discord and other things that you can get to, but they have their own Twitch channel, got some shows going on, whatever. I, I firmly think that the best way to get into performing on actual plays is to get involved with the community and just start to build those relationships within that community because they’ll have a charity event and they’re gonna be like, Hey, we need to fill some seats or they’ll have some offline games that they’ll use to, you know, kind of figure out who they want to bring in for this next show. Because one of like the key things, if you run a Twitch channel and you have a community Twitch channel is you wanna make sure that you keep having fresh faces. 

And so you’re gonna have some form of vetting process to find new folks in the community that you can bring on. You’re not always gonna cast from the same handful of people that you know, at some point you’ve gotta get new folks. If you’re in a community that doesn’t ever do that find a new community because that community probably isn’t one, that’s gonna give you a shot right away. But go find a community where you can play some games with some of the folks who are appearing on those streams. Maybe have a chance to run a game for some of ’em or appear as a guest for a one shot. And you’ll start to find that as you build up your chops, they’ll instead of going, Hey, open call for auditions, they’ll say, Hey, we want you to be on this cast and open call for auditions, because with most of those things, they know who the DM or GM is gonna be, and they know who one or two of their key players are gonna be is that’s like the anchor for this stream. And then they bring in new faces. 

And as you start to build up that reputation in that community, you perform well. You’re gonna have opportunities to be someone that they turn to, that they rely on. And once you have appeared in one or two streams, it’s really easy to go find calls for auditions on Twitter. They happen probably weekly, if I had to guess, I have seen, I think, two in the last week where someone is like, Hey, I’ve got a show and admittedly, on those big ones that are happening on social media, like a hundred people will apply. So it’s helpful to have a stream or two that you’ve appeared on where you can say, Hey, refer back to this. I appeared on this channel. Here’s a clip. It’s a minute long highlight of some of my best work on that stream. Super helpful. You start to then build a little bit of name for yourself because once you start appearing on one channel, couple of times, someone’s gonna stumble on and go, Hey, maybe you should appear on our channel too. We’d love to bring you in as a guest. 

And of course, you’re gonna do some work. You’re gonna you know, put your name out there and find some places that are gonna be interested in bringing you on. But that’s where the big word that people hate and everyone is afraid of: networking comes in because. We talk about networking and it sounds terrifying and horrendous and this big evil thing, because it means of course, that you have to go and talk to people you don’t know. And it bears this connotation of like being at the bar after work, getting drinks, talking about your business plans. And it’s really not all that. You can do so much good networking on Twitter just by interacting with folks that you think are doing cool things and that you appreciate what they’re doing. And then by just interacting with them. They’ll start to interact with you, especially if you’re doing things kind of at a similar level. I think it is an easy mistake to say, Hey, I have just appeared on my first actual place stream. I’m gonna go talk to the cast of Critical Role. And I’m gonna go at B Dave Walters and Aabria Iyengar and you know, Tanya DePass and all of these people who do all these big name shows, and I’m gonna go tell them that I want to perform on their streams because they should have me. And look, I respect that that is what you wanna do. It helps to set a goal and then try to achieve it. Because if you don’t have a goal, you don’t know where you’re going. Right? Set that goal, say, this is what I’d like to do eventually, but work your way there. 

Start by working with other folks who are doing streams in the same circles that you’re in. And when I say circles, I talk about your community channel has other community channels that it’s connected to, that they’ve partnered with. There are gonna be other individual creators who are doing similar things to you. You go appear on their show and then they’ll appear on your show. You can do some of those things where you’re building this network by saying, Hey, I’ve got a podcast. We talk about X. I’d love to have you come on. And then I can come and do something on your show, set up something where you’re giving each other content. You might find like a new best friend in the tabletop space by just, Hey, we really like working together. We’re gonna become creative partners. And suddenly the two of us are doing things together. You start to just build these relationships just by engaging authentically, right? You’re not doing it because if I talk to this person, they will give me a role on their actual play show. And then I will become famous and make lots of money. Spoiler alert the whole, get famous and make lots of money thing is very hard to do. And like really, I would recommend not banking on making lots of money in the tabletop space as a performer in actual plays. Cause like nobody does that. 

Everyone who makes money performing in actual plays makes more money doing something else to actually pay their bills. And then the actual play thing is a for fun thing on the side. In 10 out of 10 cases, that is the case. Trust me. I know I do casting for shows. I have seen the budgets. I know how much folks are making to perform on these shows. They have something else that is their day job. I promise you. You start to build these relationships just because I enjoy what so and so is doing. I honestly, I really recommend taking an hour or two each week if you can, to go check out a new stream or go find a new series on YouTube or listen to a new podcast, just an episode or two, just to get a feel for it. Listen to like the first episode and the most recent episode and just what’s going on here. What is the vibe? Is this someone that I would get along with and you start to find people that you’re like, oh, I really like what they’re doing. I like their spin on this, or I like their particular flavor of storytelling or their particular approach to educational content in the tabletop space. And as you consume content from different people, you’re gonna find those folks. You’re like, this is someone that I think we would get along well with. I want to bring them on my thing. I want to do something on their thing. 

You start to build those relationships and it really becomes this network of people that you have are like, yeah, Hey, you know, like I wanna do some more shows who can I talk to in my network who is actively casting for shows and you’d be like, Hey, so, and so like, I wanna do some more actual plays. If you got room for a guest appearance anywhere, like, let me know. Or if you want me to like, come and run a three episode short on your channel, like I got you, right. And you start to work that out where you have this Rolodex that you can go through. Metaphorically speaking, of course, I don’t know how many people actually use Rolodexes anymore, but metaphorically speaking, you have a Rolodex for our young people. A Rolodex is that thing you see in like old shows where you like flip through to pull out, someone’s like index card with their name and phone number and like email address and physical address on it. Because back in the day, that was how you kept people’s contact information before your phones did that. It’s great. So you, you, you have this network of people that you can do things with. From there, that network just to keeps expanding right. Is, is, is okay. Cool. You’ve done a show here. You’ve done a show here. You had your first full season actual play over there. All right. Well cool. Put together a reel with some highlights of those moments from those shows. See if you can go find a slightly bigger one, go find someone new to collaborate with, and it just, it keeps growing right? 

Theoretically, you could just keep adding people to your network forever. There comes a point where like physically, your brain cannot remember any more names. And I would recommend stopping before that point. You know, that point for you. It’s about building relationships. And as you go along, you’re gonna find the people that you click with, that you have the same values as, the same goals as, and you’re gonna build a relationship that is going to benefit you many years into the future, because they’ll be like, Hey, we’re putting together something, I need one extra person. Can you hop in and, and fill that role? And you’ll be like, yeah, I got you. Earlier this morning on the day of recording, I filmed a very bit part in a small show that a friend of mine is doing. It’s an online web series. We hadn’t talked in probably like six months and they reached out about a month ago to say, Hey so I know that we’ve done like some D&D games before. I need someone with a vaguely British accent to fill this part in this show that we’re recording we’re doing this day, can you show up and do this bit part? I just, I, we didn’t have enough people, and I thought of you. I was like, yeah, absolutely. I’ll show up. I’ll do that. I’ve got a few hours outta my day. I can make that happen. 

And so this morning I got up, drove into my office a little bit earlier than normal. I currently temporary living situation. My office is not where I’m sleeping. I drove into my office. I got settled in, did a couple hours of this recording session. It was great. Moved on with my day. I may never do anything else with them again, but who knows the little series that they’re doing could get big and, and people could go like, Hey, you you’re that guy who played that one big character in episode nine of that one show. That’s pretty cool. And who knows? Right? I don’t, I’m not banking on that to, to be my, my, my claim to fame. But you start to have those things where someone go, Hey, I need someone to be a guest character for this little charity stream that I’m doing. It’s you know, our, our main cast plus one guest character for this event, will you do it and be like, yeah, sure. So that’s, that’s my tip for building that network and getting onto those shows. As far as honing your craft: practice. Right? I recommend doing like something like stars and wishes after a session where you can talk about things that went well in a session, like what were the highlights? And then also like, what are the things you’re looking to accomplish? 

Because when people know what direction your character is going, they can facilitate that. And they can also set you up for big slam dunk moments where like, Hey, my character arc is learning to care about other people. And they’re like, okay, let’s give you a moment where you could care about me, right? Like if you communicate that way, they’ll set you up for wins. Highly recommend, especially for stream shows. You should talk about the things you want to accomplish and, and offer like, Hey, this was a really great moment. Performing is hard. It takes practice. It sucks to go back and watch yourself, but I recommend going back and watching yourself and critiquing your own performance, including saying, Hey, this was a really good moment, right? This was heartbreaking, right. That moment, when you held your wife dying in your arms, that was heartbreaking. You handled that well. Right. And then, you know, you ruined it with a joke, Josh, but it’s okay. Right? Like next time I won’t ruin it with a joke. You take those notes for things you can do to improve, but also the things that you’re doing well. 

Early on, I got involved with channel that did something called callouts, where at the end of each episode, we would go around and call out the things that each person did well in an episode. So it’d be like, Hey, you know so, and so I really appreciated this character moment. It was clear from your physical descriptions of the way you move through the space that your character was feeling conflicted in that moment. I think that was really a neat way to express emotion without saying so, and so feels conflicted. Very good job on that. So you start to have those moments where you can get good feedback, but then as part of that, it would also, we would say this was something that I felt insecure about, right, in my performance. I didn’t feel good about this thing that happened. Right. I thought I ruined the moment by telling a joke too quickly, or I felt like I kept just talking over you repeatedly in this scene. And then your fellow players have an opportunity to say, Hey, you know I totally understand that. I think, you know, perhaps that was the case, but it’s something that you can learn from and move forward with, or I didn’t perceive it in that way. You said that you felt like you were talking over me, but I didn’t really feel talked over because this was a, a moment where things were really heated. And so it would make sense for us to be kind of shouting and perhaps speaking over one another a little bit. So it made sense in character. And so you have the ability to kind of have that sounding board, get some feedback from other folks who are performing alongside you and are going to know better than anyone else. Perhaps what things you’re doing well and what things you could work on.

Courtney: 

When you look back over the last three years of this journey that you’ve been on, is there anything that you would say has been particularly challenging?

Josh: 

You know, yes. For the first two and a half years, pretty much until I decided like, Hey, I’d like to work in the tabletop game industry. And then I got my job at Demiplane. I wasn’t really sure where I fit in the tabletop game industry. Because it’s hard to know where you fit for something that you’re doing as a hobby. Because there are folks who this is their day job. And so they have 40 extra hours a week to focus on it. Whether that’s performing or just building the right connections and working on projects, it is very easy to feel imposter syndrome, which I know that is the thing that a lot of people talk about. But I think just generally speaking, knowing where you fit in an industry that is constantly growing and sometimes feels like it’s growing at a rate that is hard to keep up with. It is very easy to feel out of place. It’s very easy to feel like you’re not sure where you fit. And that’s the thing that a lot of folks feel. So you should know that you’re not alone in that. For me, I had dabbled in a little bit of everything, right? I’d done some actual play performances and had been very successful in actual play performances. I’ve done a couple of great shows. And, and I’ve worked with some phenomenal people along the way. But also right like that, wasn’t my main focus. I was working a full-time job. 

And so my hours of availability to appear in actual plays were very limited. I once literally called off of work to appear in a special one shot actual play show because it was worth it, but like, that’s not a sustainable thing to call off of work each week for a regularly occurring show. So if that hadn’t been a one shot, I couldn’t have done that. So it’s important to figure out what your focus is and your focus can change at any given time. But there was a while where actual plays where my focus, and I felt like I was getting left behind because I could not appear in shows that occurred before X time, because I was on Pacific time, which meant that like pretty much anything evening, Eastern time off the table for me, cuz my earliest availability Eastern time was like 8:30 PM if I didn’t eat after work and I actually ended work on time, which Lord knows that happened like once a week. So, you know, like I would have to like actually leave work early in order to get there on time in order to do the thing. So I felt like I was being left behind on that front. So I, I felt lost, I had been doing some writing and some publication, but I wasn’t publishing as much as folks who had more free time because they were freelance writers. That was what they did professionally or people who their day job gave them more flexibility. Mine was one that it demanded that I be on all 40 hours each week. And so my ability to write something on my lunch break or, Hey, I’ve got a good idea. Let me go and jot that down right now was very, very limited. And so I was having to choose each evening. Okay. Do I want to focus on this stream thing that I want to work on? This writing thing that I want to work on? My own projects, perhaps? Right? I wanna do my own streaming stuff. If I wanna do that, I have to work on it. I have a character to prep for this next week for this next show that I’m doing. I have this other thing to work on. I have to draft out all my social media content because like social media is in and of itself a job, if you think about it. 

And I absolutely spent hours a week thinking, okay, what are my tweets that I want to schedule to send at specific times when I know I’ve got a stream coming up, I try to schedule and send a tweet at least once a day, doesn’t always work out, but like, I try to have content coming out consistently because part of building a presence is having a consistent social media presence. And so there are so many things that I had to think about, right, including engaging with the other things that are happening, because that’s important too. If you’re trying to build a name for yourself, you need to be seen engaging with other people, appearing in chats. I mod for a variety of Twitch channels because I’ve got great friends who need Twitch mods. And so I also have to prioritize that. And also like I would like to have downtime every now and then. And so I was constantly doing so many things. And at the end of each Workday, I would have to make a choice. What is my focus today? And anything that I didn’t pick would feel like I was getting left behind in that avenue. If I choose to focus on social media. Okay. Well, my writing and streaming is falling by the wayside. Okay. Well, if I choose to stream, I don’t have time to write. I’m behind on my deadlines if I choose to write. Okay. But hold up. I’m still not ready for that stream next week. 

And guess what? I don’t have anything drafted out for next week on socials and I’m lurking in a Twitch chat right now, but they don’t know that I’m here. I’m not making myself known. So like, it is so hard to feel like you are caught up on everything going on in the industry, because there’s just too much to do, unless you can really dedicate time to it. Add to that, like being a parent or having to commute to work, or like having special dietary needs where you can’t just eat at taco bell four days a week. And suddenly you’ve gotta like, actually like plan your stuff out in a much more organized way than I’ve had to. But I was so overwhelmed and felt like I didn’t fit in and I couldn’t keep up with anything because I was doing all these things and like, That’s a normal experience for creators. So you really do just have to choose, okay, today, my focus is this, and I’m gonna make sure that I’m doing the best I can to be as much up on this. And then tomorrow, if I do something different, I’m gonna do something different. And that is okay. I don’t have to be on my, a game for every single thing every single day. 

If I’m on my, a game once a week with everything, I’m killing it. And when I finally got my day job in the tabletop game industry, Rocky, like this is what pays my bills. I’m gonna focus on this thing and this thing, but you know what? Actual plays falls under the umbrella of responsibilities for my day job, kind of because like, as a person who is a known entity in the tabletop space and like kind of the community facing face of my company, it makes sense that I should have some kind of community presence on other channels too. And my writing stuff has taken a little bit of a backseat because I don’t have time for that because I’m doing all these other things, but I’ve accepted that about myself because that is not my focus. And that is not how I am paying for my bills right now. And so you have to understand that everyone who’s a creator is trying to juggle 1,000,001 things and no one is doing it particularly well, but some people are really good at pretending that they are on social media. I’m someone who’s very good at pretending that I’m on my, a game all the time on social media, but I can promise you, I have a sticky note, color coded organizing system on my desk because otherwise I will forget deadlines. I will forget when I’m supposed to be places. I will forget, oh, that’s right. I had an idea that I had to have for that project, for this stream that I’m doing next week. What was it? And so I have color coded sticky notes. I have, I’m holding of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6 different colored sets of sticky notes that I keep on my desk at all times. So that at any given time, if I need to make a note to myself, I can because that’s how much I forget. And that’s just life. I do this professionally. I don’t have another 40 hour, a week job that I have to worry about. 

I eat, sleep and dream and think and sweat tabletop role playing games, and I’ve got too much going on. So don’t worry. You’re kicking ass, figure out what your focus is, set some realistic goals. And if that includes one day a week, I’m gonna work on writing projects. And one day a week, I’m going to draft and record my podcast. Then that is a success cuz you’re doing it at the rate that is successful and manageable for you. And if you try to do more than you physically can, you are going to either one burn out and lose all passion for anything. And you don’t wanna do that because that sucks. And it takes like years to come back from burnout. It’s awful. It’s miserable. Been there, done that. I still have days where I’m like, I don’t wanna leave bed, but I’ve got 12 things to do. So I’m gonna go pretend that I care about the things that I’m doing, because burnout sticks with you. And if you don’t actively fight it, it will sneak up on you. The alternative that you get incredibly wildly sick and your body says you’re gonna be out of commission for two weeks. I know you wanted to do all these cool things. You’re not. Cause let me tell you, unrelated to tabletop stuff. But as part of my move recently, I like pulled like a 50 plus hour day in order to make sure that all of my move stuff was prepped. And then that led to two days of extreme physical exertion, because I was running boxes up and downstairs and putting things in trucks. It was great. I got here, I got my computer set up. Unpacked, boom. Fever. Boom. Cold. Boom. Felt like shit for three days. Boom. Still on the tail. End of recovery. So spend two weeks on that front. When your body says you’re done, it’ll make sure you’re done. So just take care of yourself, drink a little more water than you think you should and do not push yourself beyond your physical limits, because if you do, your body will stop you for you and it’s gonna be an inconvenient time and you’re gonna wish it didn’t.

Courtney: 

I am feeling um, very targeted right now. It’s fine. I definitely relate to basically everything you’ve just said.

Josh: 

We’ve all been there. So, you know, pace yourself, find out what your priority project is and focus on that. Let everything else follow the wayside. I do things in shifts. I have one writing project that I’m working on right now. It’s a self-made deadline and I’m already like three weeks behind on said deadline because it’s a self-made deadline, but I’m doing it at my pace because otherwise I will physically be unable to handle everything that’s going on. So just pace yourself.

Courtney: 

I do wish that we could keep talking for a while, but I should probably start wrapping us up. Are there any upcoming projects that you are excited about and can talk about?

Josh: 

Well right now you can always catch me on Wednesday evenings over on the free forge Twitch channel for a little show called Stay Alive. think zombie survival horror. It’s the end of the world as we know it ,and a bunch of civilians are trying to not die and do. Just what we called the show, stay alive to middling amounts of success. I haven’t died yet this season, but I’m the only one. So we’ll see how long that lasts. Other than that I will hopefully be making my return from my streaming hiatus. I took a break while I was moving, but I will hopefully be returning here in sometime mid to late August. 

So you can catch up on my Twitch channel there. That’s twitch.tv/JoshuaSimons. It’s my name, very easy to remember if you know my name. If not, I’m sorry. And of course stay tuned to all of my various social media platforms for updates on when I’ll be coming back. Oh, I feel like I have a special event coming up in September and for the life of me, I can’t remember the date. But there is going to be a charity weekend for take this in September. Take this as a mental health nonprofit. They do a lot of really great work in the education and kind of area of providing resources and consultations and things like. Phenomenal organization. I’m, I’m an ambassador for them actually. And we’re doing a charity weekend in September that I’m excited about. I feel like I may have another charity weekend coming up soon. And I can’t remember if it’s August or September, so I’m gonna say stay tuned on social media to find out when it is. And I think I have more that I can announce soon, but not yet. So just hang out on social media there will be fun things announced. There’s always fun things announced, but there will be more fun things announced in the near future. Soon I promise.

Courtney: 

Well, I will have links to your socials in the show notes so that folks can find you. But Josh, thank you so much for coming on today. This has been a really fun conversation and I just really enjoyed getting to know more about what you do.

Josh: 

Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m sorry for monologing so much.

Courtney: 

Don’t ever apologize for that. You make my job easier.

Josh: 

Hey, fair, fair.

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