EightBitEighties
 member, 52 posts
 A Blast From
 The Past!
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 14:37
Dealing with Burnout
Hey all,

I'm seeking some advice and I'll give you a little backstory to kind of give you an idea of where I am mentally, emotionally, and creatively and see what kind of ideas or advice I can get from that. In a nutshell, I'm dealing with burnout in a really bad way. Not as just a player, but as a DM most importantly. For the last, shoot, six years I've been doing nothing but dealing with a constant, revolving door of players and it has battered me down and taken the fight out of me.

I had a group that was comprised of myself, my wife, my sister, and brother-in-law for about two years of sporadic play - usually with me being forced into the DM role since my sister (whose idea it was for us to all play together) couldn't be bothered to actually put adventures together even though we were supposed to split the DM duties. That ended in early 2019 when she and BIL decided to stab my wife and I in the back, finagle about $10k out of us in an ill-advised move to Maine, and then kick us out on the street with no further contact. You think you know somebody, huh?

From 2016 until late 2018 when we moved to Maine, I also ran a second group comprised of coworkers and some friends and attendance was, to be frank, a freaking joke. One week, three of the people would show up (of a group of eight). One would give us a 'Maybe', and the others would just outright ignore us until we (that is to say, I) wrote their participation out and then, SURPRISE!, they'd show up on time and wanting to play. Me, being the guy I am, would always rejigger things to make this work. One nightmarish night, we had 15 people show up! Friends invited friends and roommates and it was..horrific. Well, this group warped and bent and I was burning through adventures I had written left and right. Switching systems as people entered/left, changed planes, changed genres...you name it, I did it in order to keep enough people satisfied that our group would more or less stay coherent. This didn't work at all. People quit working that job, people grew to hate each other outside of work, work drama...you know how it is. After we moved to Maine, that group disintegrated when one of the other players tried to step up to fill my vacancy and he, according to two others, sucked all the fun out of the games.

Then we get to 2019. I meet two people, a husband and wife, and we all become friends. They have two daughters and all of them are interested in playing D&D 5E. My wife and I see this as a perfect opportunity. Just get the two families together and we got this, right? Wrong. Oh, so wrong. We move to their area because they basically manipulated us and groomed us for it and three weeks in, they cut all communication with us (after soliciting money and help from us, mind you). In a fit of despair and rage, I deleted somewhere upwards of 1,000 pages of text that I had written for our 5E campaign. Now we're stuck here for the foreseeable future. We know nobody except the people we work with and none of them are interested in doing anything, or are even able to commit to anything. There's a game store that hosts RPGs about 30 minutes away, but the couple who cut all ties with us are actually members of that place and neither I, nor my wife, want to ever ever see or speak to them again. That's basically restricted us to playing at home, by ourselves and I just really don't have it in me to want to play or DM anymore, but it's literally the only hobby I have left. (I sold all of my retro video games to pay their bills. Stupid, yes I know, but I'm a doormat, okay?)

Every once in a while, I'll get an inkling of a story or one-shot in my head and I'll commit to sit down and just write what little I've come up with, but whenever I see that accusatory white screen of Google Drive, my mind just shuts down. I keep remembering the day that I deleted that entire Ravnica campaign that I'd poured my heart and soul in to and I...I just can't.

I realize that trying to force myself to find that spark again is counterproductive, but I'm genuinely at a loss here. I have nothing to do. I work night shifts six days a week. My wife is always at work when I'm home. I just..I dunno..I think I'm done, but I also think I'm not.
donsr
 member, 1851 posts
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 15:00
Dealing with Burnout
 when we started  gaming. My older brother  and I had our  first 'real' dm..he made the game  fun, but he also , sorta  'forced marched us'..( "i spend all this time on this   instantance" )

 Anyway..he  hand   DM  burnout.. I  took over using  MetagAMings  ITL ( which has   been re-released  with a make over and cool stuff).. and  we played.

 I  GM/DM , like i would want  he  have some one do the same for me... Yes..there is a Long term Plot line...yes, there are many, many   subplots...and then? there are the plotlines   players themselves  either , uncover , or create through  RP.

 on this site  I  run  3  games..one is a niche game,  only those who really want to play something like that play... the other is  a D&Dish game , that have  have switched to myb own system..and   My major active game, that is Space RP.

 the key thing.. to make it fun for the   GM  is to have  Heavy RP.... Cut back on Dice rolling ( for the players), so theyb feel more like they  are in a game, rather then a crap shoot...but most of  all, RP as a GM/DM... play your NPCs  as if thier  were characters ( 'cause they are!)..plot lines  spring up all the  time , by the RP of your players..and if you go with that..and  don't hold ..hard and Fast.. to 'canned  games'..you should never have  burn out.

 I am in a game where the DM throws  1 line  answwers, doesn't  allow for  'thinkign out of the box' and is locked into anal  complictions of the Character sheets?... player   quit  before  they ever get to post..sometimes  months!...get you players in the game, work around the 'holes' in the CS and get them playing. its better  for you..better for them, and keeps you and your game fresh...

 if the above doesn't work for you?.. you may just want to walk away? RL is a real jerk sometimes, and   you might not  have much of a choice.
Yaztromo
 supporter, 327 posts
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 15:34
Dealing with Burnout
You are burn out.
Take a break, a proper break.
Do something different for a while, at least a few months. If you like writing, write a book. But anything can do and, if I can give you a suggestion, do something completely unrelated. Like, for example, sport or similar physical training. But also gardening could do.
Clear out your mind of all the mess and, only then, you will be able to know if and when it will be time to start again... but this time make a good use of the bad experiences you had. Make sure something like that will never happen again to you.
Isida KepTukari
 member, 339 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 16:36
Dealing with Burnout
You've been dealt a bad hand and have gotten burned in the worst possible way far too close to each other.  Like has been suggested, take a proper break of at least a few months so you can get a little distance and perspective.  Maybe you'll be able to make some local friends who are good and decent people just by being able to check out different activities and groups around town (not necessarily gaming groups, but other activities you enjoy; book club, volunteering at an animal shelter, reading to kids, runner's club, whatever other stuff you like to do).  Perhaps checking on a gamers seeking gamers board could help you find a good group.

As for when/if you feel good to game again, if you end up in the DM's seat, you may want to cultivate a looser approach to the game so you don't end up too constrained or burning too much creative juice.  Start off with a simple one-shot.  Inject a few rumors that you could turn into an extended plot or not (if the players don't bite).  Just keep a few NPC names nearby, have a short list of possible monsters to fight, and a couple of plot hooks and let 'em rip.  If they don't follow the hooks, then go where the players do!  Players want gold - "Hey, our gold mine is being attacked by goblins, help!"  Now they want to build a keep - "If you rescue by daughter from a dragon, I shall give you land and a manor!"  Now they want to rule over this valley, "Behold, the Grim Warlord appears to challenge your rule!"  Just use stuff straight out of the book with a new coat of paint - your players won't know the difference and you'll have less stuff to keep track of.  It may be less intricate than you're used to, but for starting out after several awful experiences it could help to keep it more loosey-goosey.

I hope things get better for you and yours!
facemaker329
 member, 7177 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 19:38
Dealing with Burnout
What they've said.  Take a break.  Build model airplanes, or take up photography, or put that energy into a garden...but get away from gaming for a while, because right now, every gaming experience sounds like it's going to remind you of getting hosed by family or supposed friends.  Give yourself some distance from it, maybe look at some other social activities since it sounds like gaming was as much a social outlet as it was the fun of gaming.  Get some distance from it, so you can look back objectively and decide just what it was about gaming that first attracted you to it, and whether there are more optimal ways to meet those needs.  Figure out some ground rules for yourself, if you decide to get back into gaming, that will protect you from this happening again.

If it was just a creative outlet for you, write short stories or novels, instead.  If it was a convenient social outlet, take a ballroom dance class, or do a painting class or photography class...something else you're interested in where you could meet people.

Gaming is supposed to be fun...and it has stopped being that, for you, so don't try and force it.  Look for something else to refresh you mental/emotional palate, and then give it another look.
yuirick
 member, 19 posts
 The world is ending,
 so don't forget to laugh
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 22:52
Dealing with Burnout
My condolences! That is truly awful what they did to you, you deserve nothing of what's come your way. I'd guess your mind has basically build up a negative connotation behind roleplaying, ie: You roleplay, you get pain. Once that connotation is there, your mind is likely going to try to stop you from engaging with the activity, at least until the connotation is gone once again. Taking a break is a good idea, but you also have to really consider why you're doing what you're doing and what you want. Both in terms of your relations to other people, but also in relation to yourself. For the latter part, a burnout can be seen as a question: "Why am I doing this?". The answer to that should be something positively motivating, and that's what you need to hone in on. How do you get to the core of the motivation behind doing what you love? How do you learn to enjoy your hobby once more? Do you even want to engage with the hobby in the future? That's a question only you can answer. I recently almost stopped PC gaming, because I realized most games were boring me. Allowing myself to throw out that old part of my identity really just helped me not waste countless hours on games I didn't enjoy. It allowed me to learn something about myself and to act on it. Anyways, I'm done sounding cliche and act like I know everything, so instead I shall wish you all the best!

Also, some others recommended some social outlets, have you tried boardgaming? It has a few of the social aspects of roleplaying but with relatively little commitment.
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 71 posts
Tue 18 Feb 2020
at 16:35
Dealing with Burnout
yuirick:
... have you tried boardgaming? It has a few of the social aspects of roleplaying but with relatively little commitment.


^^ This.  Yuirick beat me to it.

It sounds like you and some of your recent players are expecting different things from the gaming experience.   For some, it can be about immersive role-play and world building, for others, it's all about meeting up over some pizza and beers while tossing the dice for a few hours.

It's deceptively easy to think you are playing the same game (because objectively, you are), but when everyone is stuck in a different gear it can pretty quickly lead to a case of the not-funs and/or burnout.

Making the switch to a really cool boardgame — if you'll pardon the pun — really levels the playing field.  The game is what it is.  It's defined.  No one misunderstands what it is they are there to do.  When everyone is on the same page ... the not-funs pretty quickly fade away.

For the interpersonal stuff ... there are definitely some disconnects / misunderstandings out there to be ironed out.  My suggestion for that sort of stuff would be to clear the air, have a few open and honest conversations with folks about where things stand as you see them.  I bet you'll be surprised to find that your friends and family did not realize that the relationship had devolved to such a low point.

How you go about this really matters because how you frame the issue at hand in your mind will often tend to color the outcome.  If you come at it negative, then it will be negative (and vice-versa).

'Arrrgghhh, you guys are bums, I can't believe you wronged me!' can easily become 'Wow, I'm really disappointed that things turned out the way that they did, what's up with that?'

Resentments can be a corrosive force on relationships, but the best disinfectant is sunlight.  That is, they only build up over time when you let them fester.  Get that stuff out in the open and talk about it.
Gaffer
 member, 1597 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Tue 18 Feb 2020
at 19:35
Dealing with Burnout
Those are terrible things to deal with. No wonder you're feeling low.

First things first. Never give anyone money you can't afford to kiss goodbye. That goes for time and effort and energy, too.

Boardgaming might be a good alternative to RPGs for now or a MMORPG.

Or start getting into games here on RPOL. Maybe try out some systems other than D&D/PF. Call of Cthulhu and Gumshoe and Deadlands are fairly popular here, among other systems. Or maybe something freeform. Give fantasy a break for a while and just be a player. You and your wife could get into the same game (or a couple of games) and still play "together" despite your opposing schedules.

Best wishes for getting things back on track.
Morty
 member, 334 posts
 The Doctor.
Tue 18 Feb 2020
at 20:37
Dealing with Burnout
Or perhaps try a MUSH (or RP MUD, MUX...). Zero commitment, wide variety of players available, plenty of one shots, and people come back if they click with you.
MrKinister
 member, 44 posts
Tue 18 Feb 2020
at 22:22
Dealing with Burnout
Yeah, burnout is a bummer, specially since this type of thing is supposed to be easy. Right?

Well, that's what a lot of people don't get. GMing is a lot of work, a lot of time investment, and practically a part time job if you are doing it well. When I used to run for my table top group, I would spend between 10 to 20 hours every two weeks to get a session running. We met every other week from around 10 am to 6 pm, but that usually meant a session would go from noon to 8 pm, between shooting the crap and general catching up and socializing.

Eventually, it becomes exhausting.

And that's where a GM is deserving of respect for their work and commitment.

Those players who would come and go? I would not have accepted them in the game. I would have given them a note saying they were out. The occasional absence, yes. But disregarding the game when others have a solid commitment to it is not good. Specially at a physical table.

I know that a GM's job can feel exhausting, but good players will recognize that work with support, validation, cooperation, and general enthusiasm for the game. (Assuming they like it.)

When I used to play I would offer to do note taking, mapping duties, bring group snacks, etc. (When everyone brings one six pack of soda and a bag of chips, and you have six players, that's a lot of soda and chips for the day.) You know, helping the GM out. In some games that was rewarded with extra xp. When I ran games I would reward recapping our previous session at the beginning of our present one with extra xp. Something to reward players for attention to detail and continuous observation. (Not everyone went along, though. Some people just told a half-assed story hoping to get the extra xp. They complained a lot when I didn't give it for a poor job. But that's another story.)

Anyway, what I am saying is that it is far easier to burnout when your work is not appreciated than when it is.

The gaming groups you describe sound to me like they were quite inconsiderate.

Like everyone else here suggested: take a break, relax for a few months. If you choose to, pick up a game again. And if you are running, I would recommend to be more selective with your players. This may mean you might take longer to find a good group, but when you do, it will be a fantastic experience. =)
drew0500
 member, 186 posts
 D&D Gamer
 Eclipse Classless
Tue 18 Feb 2020
at 23:03
Dealing with Burnout
Disclaimer: I'm not a therapist, counselor or offering services.

You have what sounds like a very bad case of Co-Dependency.

Co-Dependency from https://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-codependency/:
Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.

Do you expend all of your energy in meeting your partner’s needs? Do you feel trapped in your relationship? Are you the one that is constantly making sacrifices in your relationship? Then you may be in a codependent relationship.

The term codependency has been around for decades. Although it originally applied to spouses of alcoholics (first called co-alcoholics), researchers revealed that the characteristics of codependents were much more prevalent in the general population than had previously imagined. In fact, they found that if you were raised in a dysfunctional family or had an ill parent, you could also be codependent.

Researchers also found that codependent symptoms got worse if left untreated. The good news is that they’re reversible.

Click the link above to see the full web page.


The people pleasing and going out of your way to be manipulated out of large sums of cash, and moving for no other reason then to game also speaks to a much deeper issue.

My advice -
1) Take a break from gaming (GMs need to recharge their creative juices, taking breaks is healthy!)
2) Seek counseling for both you and possibly your wife (If she's going along with all this, then she likely needs help as well. People do not move just to game, it should make sense for your situation.)
3) Seek a support group for co-dependency (There are secular and non-secular programs available)


Hopefully the above will help you establish healthy boundaries in your relationships, and allow you to not suffer for the sake of others.

Good luck!
tibiotarsus
 member, 125 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Wed 19 Feb 2020
at 00:59
Dealing with Burnout
As counterpoint to the supremely sensible advice on giving things a rest for a while...analyse if gaming is loadbearing for your mental health, because if it is just a hobby, then yes, definitely, take up something else in that slot and let the well refill naturally.

However.

If it's more than that, fulfilling a creative need you can't get elsewhere or a slot in the day that would otherwise be taken up by actively self-destructive behaviours, then put out a solo/small group request for something you really want to play on the GMs Wanted board.

State your play pace, be specific and don't take offers without sounding out the GM for a good fit first. No first names, no face-to-face, just uncut gaming experience on your terms, serving that need. Don't let a single game become loadbearing in itself, though, just acknowledge "I want to play for XYZ reason" and seek that experience.

Hope things improve for you.
EightBitEighties
 member, 53 posts
 A Blast From
 The Past!
Wed 19 Feb 2020
at 13:57
Re: Dealing with Burnout
drew0500:
Disclaimer: I'm not a therapist, counselor or offering services.

You have what sounds like a very bad case of Co-Dependency.

Co-Dependency from https://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-codependency/:
Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.

Do you expend all of your energy in meeting your partner’s needs? Do you feel trapped in your relationship? Are you the one that is constantly making sacrifices in your relationship? Then you may be in a codependent relationship.

The term codependency has been around for decades. Although it originally applied to spouses of alcoholics (first called co-alcoholics), researchers revealed that the characteristics of codependents were much more prevalent in the general population than had previously imagined. In fact, they found that if you were raised in a dysfunctional family or had an ill parent, you could also be codependent.

Researchers also found that codependent symptoms got worse if left untreated. The good news is that they’re reversible.

Click the link above to see the full web page.


The people pleasing and going out of your way to be manipulated out of large sums of cash, and moving for no other reason then to game also speaks to a much deeper issue.

My advice -
1) Take a break from gaming (GMs need to recharge their creative juices, taking breaks is healthy!)
2) Seek counseling for both you and possibly your wife (If she's going along with all this, then she likely needs help as well. People do not move just to game, it should make sense for your situation.)
3) Seek a support group for co-dependency (There are secular and non-secular programs available)



Hey everybody,

I appreciate all the feedback and advice and well wishes. I think I'm just going to step away from RPGs for a little while. Maybe just buckle down on some single player games that I have in my Steam Library or maybe work on my YouTube series a little bit until I'm feeling better.

I do want to address the above, though, so there's no misunderstanding. The fault is, of course, mine for not making this clear.

We didn't move just to game. Basically, what had happened was that my wife and I were already in the planning stages of a move to Vermont, but we weren't able to sell our house as quickly as we'd been expecting. My sister, who was also looking to leave, WAS able to sell her house (we lived in the country, she lived in a college town) in relatively short order and she extended the offer to us to basically hitch a ride with them to Maine, then once the dust settles (either our house sells or we put together the funds for a down payment), we'd move on to Vermont.

Over the course of those months we lived in Maine, my sister revealed a rather conniving and, frankly, terrifying aspect to her personality that I'd never seen before. She became what's known as a "kept wife", as her husband's pension basically covered all of their living expenses with sufficient amount left over for them to go out to eat daily, buy all new appliances, several high dollar odds and ends...you get the idea. Sleeping until noon every day, playing WoW for several hours, then going to nap on the couch until dinner time. All the while, she had started to take on some very passive-aggressive tactics with my wife and I. Changing "house rules" on a whim, eating food we'd bought for ourselves (I have to have a specialized, and expensive, diet for health reasons), that sort of thing. After that, she'd begin soliciting money here and there. Small amounts at first. "Oh, you used the car last week when it snowed, I need $20 for gas." Of course, any time I drove her car, I filled it back up because that's a thing you do when someone helps. So there's, y'know, $40 out the window. Then there'd be "unexpected bills" that they just couldn't cover and, naturally, since we lived there, we would oblige and pay what we thought was our fair share.

I didn't find out until the literal day we moved (another $2k that we had to spend because it was either get the moving truck or my wife, our pets, and myself were on the street THAT DAY in February) that our neighbor, Randy, had overheard my sister and BIL talking about these "bills" that keep showing up and how it was one big ruse to get us to help pay for repairs/restorations on their 110 year old dump. We didn't realize how badly we'd been taken advantage of until we got back home and took stock of everything. It was right around $10k, counting the moving truck to get back.

As for the two nimrods here in Indiana...that's a whole 'nother bag of worms, but you get the idea.

I know it sounds like codependency, but I've already spoken to a number of my friends and their relatives in the therapy field. They don't think it's codependency. Aside from my depression, I'm stable and functional. One of them summed it up in a nutshell, "You're too nice of a guy and, given your history, it's understandable. Every time the Universe uses you as a chewtoy, you dust yourself off and then go help somebody else pick themselves up. You've seen the depths of human sadism and you want to do some good to outweigh the evils you witnessed."

Yeah, probably.
Yaztromo
 supporter, 328 posts
Wed 19 Feb 2020
at 17:34
Re: Dealing with Burnout
Well, unfortunately I can only wish you the best of luck for the future.
I mean it.