Category Archives: Information

How to Role-play an Anxiety Disorder

I’ve written previously about my experiences as a role-player with anxiety, so the purpose of this article is to build upon that in a manner that will allow you to portray characters suffering from it in a sympathetic manner.

Before I start, however, it is worth pointing out that everyone is affected by their own mental health problems in different ways. The only anxiety I can explain to you is my own, and no-one else’s, and therefore may not be exactly how you have experienced it, or seen it experienced, before. It is also worth stating that if any of this makes you uncomfortable, feel free to stop reading at any point. Something else to bear in mind is that, like a lot of other mental illnesses, my anxiety, and how it presents, is rarely the same every time, as such this article is necessarily reductive.

To people who might stumble across this and think that I’m doing it for the attention, with the utmost respect, I am not. I am doing this to try and open a dialogue, to try to raise awareness of an invisible illness.

With all that out of the way, let us begin.

The first thing you should know is that for me, at least, anxiety is not a constant state. I have good days, days where my mind is clear and I feel like what I imagine a neuro-typical person to feel like, I have bad days, where I second guess everything I say and I do, and then I have REALLY bad days where I’m grateful for the fact that I work from home and can isolate myself with relaxing music and lose myself in my work or whatever I can find to watch. Usually, I can’t tell when I’m going to have a bad day, nor can I tell when I’m going to have a good day. My bouts of anxiety tend to come and go as they please, unbidden and unwanted. That said, criticism can trigger it, as can failure, or a perceived failing of myself. As an introvert with perfectionist tendencies, I can be overly self-critical which leads to a lot of self-doubt.

At the table-top, the best way to portray this would be to have a character who fluctuates through periods of ‘normalcy’ and periods of self-questioning. The trick is to find a balance between the two that feels slightly uncomfortable, but natural. The goal, of course, is to explore a mind that isn’t your own, but also it isn’t to make you, or anyone else at the table, uncomfortable.

Perhaps the best way I can describe it is that a small critique (whether from someone else, or something you criticise about yourself) can often snowball into something huge, something that could leave you paralysed with doubt if left unchecked.

How your character reacts to nagging self-doubt of varying degrees and gets over it (so to speak) is, ultimately, up to you. In my experience, validation from others helps, as does seeing proof of one’s own abilities. The former can be difficult to achieve for a few reasons, namely that when I’m struggling, I don’t feel like I’m worth anyone’s time, so I don’t talk to others much. This leads to me not being able to ask someone else if what I’m worrying about is actually something to worry about, or if there is something I have contributed that has improved their experience of the game/life. The latter is, obviously, far more concrete at the table, if your character succeeds at a task, or you roll well, your character is confronted with proof of their abilities. Ultimately, of course, what pulls your character out of the spiralling wormhole of anxiety is up to you, but to me, the source is usually external. It is not simply a decision I make to feel better.

It is also worth pointing out that the degree of anxiety I suffer from changes from ‘episode’ to ‘episode’, as does the length of time it lasts and the manner in which I deal/cope with it. When portraying anything like this at the table, it is important to remember that mental illnesses and their effects are extremely mutable and frequently do not occur in the same manner twice.

As examples of this, my anxiety can present as a feeling of unworthiness, a feeling of isolation, a feeling of emptiness, a feeling of futility and the most annoying (to me, at least) a feeling that everything I create has been done before and surpassed by others. I can handle a lot of negative emotion because I’m used to it at this point and have created reasonably effective coping mechanisms, but the latter feeling takes everything I am proud of about myself (my creative abilities) and throws them out of the window.

I suppose, to sum everything up, criticism (whether real or imagined) can cause an intense self-doubt (an umbrella term) that lasts until external forces influence your mental state (or until your mental state balances itself out, because that can also happen).

I should also note, before finishing, that my anxiety also presents as a form of pessimism, a constant worry that something will go wrong. For me, this is related to social matters (i.e. I’ve offended people so they will stop interacting with me) and cleanliness (i.e. I wash things obsessively to avoid illness and try to stay away from cooking raw meat among other things). Both of these things can lead to irrational behaviour and panic attacks but are harder to portray without being a stereotype. That said, if you want to portray behaviours like this, I trust you to do a sympathetic job.

So what do you think? Does this align with your experiences of anxiety? Does it help you to portray this nebulous mental illness at the table? Or have I completely missed the mark? Let me know in the comments.


Café Diem

First off, I admit the title is a terrible pun, but this is my website and I can call the articles whatever I want.

Secondly, I’ve done some re-arranging of the site navigation, and it’s hopefully a little easier/less cluttered now, if you have any thoughts or opinions on it, please let me know.

Anyway, onto the main point of today’s update.

Just under a year ago, I started DMing a 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign in my local board-game café (Sugar and Dice) and, over that year, I’ve noticed a few differences between running and playing games at home, versus doing so in a public environment. Today’s update will focus on a few of those differences and how I cope with them. As ever, if you have any thoughts, or criticisms, feel free to leave them below.

Right off the bat, the most immediate difference is the noise level. Being in a café, albeit one where everyone is there for a similar reason and not just to have a discussion or an argument, talking loud enough to be heard over the activity from nearby tables or the sounds of playing pieces hitting the board can sometimes detract from the game. Certainly, for someone like me, someone who is unsure of their ability to accurately portray voices or the subtler nuances of description, having to concentrate on being loud enough to be heard takes away from my confidence to try different voices and more atmospheric scene setting.

In order to get around this, I tend to focus on what I’m good at (accents and speech patterns) to convey different character types and personalities. By doing that, I’m able to give a performance I am happy with and portray the disparate characters that make up my world, whilst also immersing my players as much as possible in the game.

The second problem caused by the noise level is player engagement and focus. With so much distraction around, I’ve noticed that my players appear to struggle with focus sometimes. I know that I do when they are discussing their next steps, which naturally leads to clarifications and wasted time. Part of how I deal with this is trying to speak louder and slower. My default manner of speech is quiet and fast, which is something that is less than ideal in the café environment, so I’ve made it clear that I’m happy to repeat things as needed, but something I’ve started trying to do is maintain eye-contact (not something that comes naturally to me) as well as switching my focus periodically to other characters, or to the group as a whole.

The other problem linked to this, certainly with D&D, is visualising combat. I’m typically someone who enjoys the theatre of the mind aspects of encounters, despite my aphantasia, because I’m more interested in telling stories of awesome action and flashy combat, instead of accurate positioning and ranges. The problem with this is that because the noise level can hinder player focus, when my descriptions aren’t good enough, or a player is distracted by something nearby, the flow of combat gets interrupted by clarifications or questions about the preceding turn. I’ve taken the obvious route to get around this by using a battle-map and miniatures (one of my players made Lego minifigs of the PCs, all of which are amazing) to help provide a visual aid during combat and I usually end up using my dice to explain positioning out of combat when my description is lacking, or if the players don’t understand what I mean.

On the other side of the equation, however, is the community of the café itself. Most of the time when I’m running my game, there is at least one other session running nearby that I can half-listen to for story or character ideas, or just to help improve my morale as a DM. But more than that, I know that if I have any questions about rules, there is usually at least one other DM nearby that I can ask about their interpretation of a situation or edge case scenario or get their opinion on a custom monster. And finally, of course, there is no real shortage of players if I need a guest spot for a single session, or want to mix things up for a short time.

So, while DMing in a café certainly has its drawbacks, by focussing on your strengths and adapting your usual approach to running encounters, you’ll find the community aspect of playing in a more public environment has hugely beneficial effects.

I may return to this subject in a future post, but for now, I hope I’ve been able to give you some insight into the unique problems surrounding playing rpgs in a café setting.

My Driving Why

It’s a later post than usual today, but I wanted to get this right the first time.

I know I don’t usually ask this, but please, PLEASE, share this article with anyone you know who might benefit from reading it. Thank you.

Recently, thanks to the fine folks at Innovators Hub and their Catalyst program, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my motivations for doing things.

My conclusion is something that I feel warrants being posted on this website.

Originally, That’s How We Roll was created to host a podcast. The plan was to record every game session, edit it down to the highlights and then hope people find some enjoyment listening to us tell bad jokes and play a game together. That quickly fell by the wayside but the intention, to create something that people could find entertaining, remained.

The website went ignored for a while after that. I had to focus on university and student society things, as well as eventually graduating and moving to live with my partner.

The site as it is now really took shape when I started writing the TitansGrave adventure series (which isn’t forgotten, I just lost my inspiration for a while). This was something that I felt would draw people together to try a novel magic-tech game as well as being proof of my writing skills.

So, THWR slowly became a portfolio (of a sort), whilst also being somewhere to host articles and other gaming aids.

I started the Intro to Role-playing series out of a desire to help more people get into the hobby, to show them that it isn’t something to be afraid of and that it needn’t have a high barrier to entry. From there, I just kept adding to the site, writing whatever I thought someone might find useful or interesting.

I started adding the fiction element to things because sometimes I found that the easiest thing to write.

Throughout all of this, the purpose of the website was to inform and to entertain.

For a while, I’ve thought that is the main reason why I do everything that I do. I thought that I wanted to teach people about things they weren’t familiar with, and to entertain them for a few minutes at a time.

I don’t think that any more. Or rather, I recognise a deeper reason behind everything.

I’ve been pretty open on this website about my struggles with disability and mental illness. When I relaunched it with the TitansGrave content, I wanted to be honest with anyone who stumbled across THWR that I’m not perfect, I have bad days and that that’s okay.

Only now, after a lot of introspection, do I realise why.

There is a reason that I want to spread this hobby that means so much to me, and has been such a help on my bad days. There is a reason why I write so much and on so many topics.

The reason that I do what I do with such enthusiasm and passion is because I want to make sure that no-one else feels how I feel.

Mental health, up until recently, was not widely understood. The support for it isn’t there for everyone and this has a knock on effect with treatments and coping mechanisms. I want to change that.

I want to use this soapbox to offer a place where people can, hopefully, find some respite. Even if it’s just for a few hours in an evening, I want people to feel included in something. To know they aren’t alone. To know that their voice can be heard.

So to everyone who struggles with mental health, disability or anything else, I say welcome.

You are not alone.

You are not ignored.

I am here and I am listening.

Summer’s End

Hi all,

Some of you may know this already, but I recently had a short story published in an anthology called Summer’s End. It’s a fantasy anthology dealing with the end of a golden age.

The publisher was nice enough to do a spotlight on my contribution and included the purchase link on the page. If you’re interested, it isn’t that expensive and any reviews or word-of-mouth promotion is appreciated.

Expect an update as usual this Friday.

Thank you for your time!


Service Will Resume Shortly

This is just a quick update to say that today’s post is delayed until Monday but from next week onwards the regular update schedule should resume.

Have a great weekend!

Bubbles / Ryan

Quick Update Re: Hiatus

Hello all,

Sorry about the lack of posts recently. This hiatus will last a little longer while my partner and I finish the work we’re doing on our new house and move in properly.

Until then, enjoy your tabletop gaming.


Coming Soon….

So, as promised, here is an update regarding the material to come on Friday and over the next few weeks.

My partner and I have been listening to a lot of roleplaying podcasts/watching a lot of roleplaying videos on YouTube recently, me because I don’t get to RP as much as I would like (although I’m fortunate enough to have an amazing regular weekly game) and my partner because she likes the stories and the players. We started with Acquisitions Incorporated (well worth listening to the podcasts or watching the live shows) and are now on Critical Role (an absolutely fantastic gaming group of voice actors). In between the two, however, we watched Geek and Sundry’s other RPG show: TitansGrave.

GMed by Wil Wheaton, TitansGrave is a science fantasy game that uses the Fantasy AGE system Green Ronin pseudo-introduced in the Dragon Age RPG. After watching the show, and reading the PDF of the rules and setting (a print version of the book should be coming out soon), I was inspired to create my own adventure series for it.

As a fan made production, I am not affiliated in anyway with Green Ronin or Geek and Sundry, which means that, unfortunately, you will need a copy of both rulebooks to play it properly and some of the information in the first few chapters may need you to own the TitansGrave book to allow your players to fully explore Vorakis.

That said, the adventure itself is completely original and of my own design. It currently runs to twelve chapters (or eleven weeks of regular updates with the double post this week) but I may fold chapters into each other or separate them if needed. Once I have released all the chapters here, I plan on releasing either a PDF or an epub of all the chapters combined with additional setting information that I have created. This will all, of course, be free.

With all that mind, come back on Friday for the first two chapters of the adventure. If you know anyone who might be interested in this, please, feel free to spread the word. The more readers I get, the more criticism and feedback I can receive.

I really do hope you enjoy TitansGrave: The Winds of Chaos.

– Bubbles

An Update Regarding the Future

Good grief it has been a while since I posted here. But fret not, loyal reader, there is life in this site yet.

First of all, my sincere apologies for the horrendous delay in posting. It has been over 18 months since my last post and that is neither professional, nor something I am happy about. My post about gaming with disability is still only a concept, I am trying to pin down how I can write it without making it sound like inspiration porn or me looking for an ego boost. But it is coming. Probably.

Secondly, you may have noticed a few things have changed on the site. I made the font more readable (I think) and altered the tag-line. This is mostly because I lost the audio files for the podcast, so until I find them again that is on an indefinite hiatus. BUT! Despair not, fellow mortals, for I have a plan.

The last month or so, I have spent a large amount of time trying to decide what I can do with this site. After all, I set it up with an eye to help newcomers explore the role-playing hobby and present an inclusive environment where people could discuss/read about the challenges that sometimes have an impact on role-playing.

With that I mind, I realised two things; One) As it is just me creating the material for the site, I can blur the line between role-playing and table-top gaming in general. Two) I can’t always think of anything to talk about and discuss in an informative, entertaining manner.

With those two principles in mind, I began to consider alternative approaches to the material I put up here. This is what is reflected in the tagline. From now on, this site will host any fiction I write about table-top gaming (usually vignette’s about characters or events in games I play), as well as the kind of article it originally hosted. In addition to these, it will also host anything I write from a game design perspective.

Having the scope to write all these things (and a few more concepts I’m toying with) means I should be able to create a buffer of material so I can update the site weekly. My current plan is to update the site every Friday, beginning this very Friday.

And, oh boy, is it going to be an update. You’re getting not one, but TWO scenarios I have created for a game. Expect an update this Wednesday with more information about the game I have chosen and how you too can use/own my scenarios.

– Bubbles/Ryan

Looking to the Future

Alright. I promised an update on what was happening and here it is.

My plans for the podcast are as follows;

The podcast will now have two-part episodes, this is mostly to help with the ease of accessing it. It also means that there is, seemingly, more content.

This means that rather than one hour long episode, there will be two roughly 30-40 minute long episodes. Don’t worry, there will still be the same high quality entertainment that you probably haven’t come to expect.

This has the add-on effect that show notes will be shorter, which I will try to supplement with a short piece of related fiction. That isn’t a promise though.

As some of you know, I graduated and am no longer living anywhere near my group and we are currently playing over Skype which is not ideal for recording purposes as my voice will cut out any audio from the group. This means that it is unlikely that we will record any new material for the podcast as it stands now. Fear not, there will be (hopefully) audio content once the recorded campaign ends.

This, again hopefully, will be in the form of an audio drama. I am working on one with John and I am also working on one myself, and this can be considered a casting call of sorts. I have no previous experience in this style of writing but I have plenty of enthusiasm. The setting is, to begin with, just a generic fantasy world as can be found in many a game as I feel this will be of interest to as wide an audience as possible. So if you know anyone who would be interested in voice acting work and is happy to do it for free, leave a comment here or email us, our address should be somewhere on the site. I hope.

With regards to the actual content of the site, I’m going to try and update it at least once a week with written content, in addition to the podcast. I’m happy to post guest submissions relating to the hobby, those should also be sent to the address for this blog/site/thing.

These changes should begin within the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading.


Hey There

Well. Hello there. You, yes, you, welcome to That’s How We Roll.
The intention is to update this fairly regularly.
But first, what is That’s How We Roll?

Put simply, it’s a podcast. Of a sort. The audio comes from a recording of our semi-regular gaming sessions with all the humour, hijinks and shenanigans that go on. There’ll be accompanying game notes as well.

Another idea that was tossed around is articles by the various members of the table.

Keep tuned!