DGNFOG: I deal with it myself and I read this a while ago that Matt Mercer has it. And if he has it, it really drives home anyone can get it.
Joe: Absolutely. I didn’t actually know what it was before Matt Mercer. I had this feeling, but I just put it up to insecurity and doubt. I think one of the big things for me was, I did voices on Twitch, and didn’t really know I could do various ones. And I thought to myself, this isn’t any good, these aren’t different voices, this isn’t voice acting material. This is in my head, I’m getting away with too much. And I didn’t know what it was.
And Matt Mercer did that big tweet, and raised so much awareness for it. And I already respected Matt Mercer, and to hear someone at the top end having it? There’s a big attitude towards that when it comes to subscribers on Twitch. And how you lose a percent of your subscribers overnight. You could lose 30% of your subscribers and you wake up, and you’re stressed out thinking “Did they leave because of something I did wrong?”, “What’s wrong with this”, etc. and you think “Well, if I hit 1,000 subscribers, I won’t feel like this again. It’ll be a good amount.” And then I speak to friends who are nearing 10,000, and they’re feeling the exact same thing! And I realized there’s no real cure to it. Everyone is dealing with it.
Same thing with Matt Mercer. If you can feel it at that end, then it's absolutely okay to feel it down there as well.
DGNFOG: So when you first started streaming, what were you playing?
Joe: I first got into Reing of Kings, but I found my real footing in Ark. I think I have something like 4,500 hours in Ark, some absurd amount. Way beyond enjoying the game it became primarily RP servers, and then I started running an RP server as a hobbyist thing. The idea of it was that we did seasonal roleplay. Every five weeks we’d wipe the server, and start a new story, and play a new character, someone wacky who’d say stuff like “There the battle flies”, stuff like that, it was all flamboyant and then I-
DGNFOG: Not to interrupt, but you had those doubts about whether or not you could do actual voice acting, and then you do that?
Joe: Well that’s the thing, isn’t it, that consistency? The reason I found out I could do voices in the first place was because in my friend group, we’d mock each other — very common in England to mock each other consistently as friends — and I’d always do a voice for a friend. And I realized I could just do voices for characters.
But with Ark, we’d wipe every four or five weeks, and play a new character every time. We’d make the character, make the background, it was all great for storytelling. And it’d need to be those five weeks because people would begin to drop off and then get excited to come back. And I got stuck in that for about three years.
DGNFOG: So you played Ark for a while. When did D&D and Tabletop gaming enter into your stream? I know you do quite a fair amount.
Joe: I’ve lost track of time, but about two years ago I brought it up by saying that I wouldn’t mind starting my own D&D campaign at some point. I remember at the time everybody was talking about Critical Role and I only knew it by name. I gave it a go and got really drawn in and watched so much of it. I came in so late to it that I think I watched the entirety of campaign one as they finished.
I went in and just started a chat stream, and I sat down with a blank document and was like “What if we just invented a world?” I remember the stream where we sat down for a few good hours and blocked out a good portion of this world. And I came back to it two or three days later and did that a few more times. We had this solid chunk of a world, and I said I’m gonna find a crew to stream this with.
And I put it on the backburner for five or six months before I even started looking. I think imposter syndrome set in a little bit where I was thinking “aw, I can’t do that.” And not to put any blame on him, but I’d look at Matt Mercer and think “That’s the kinda person who does this on stream, not me, I do silly characters on Ark.” But eventually I wanted to find a group that would work, and started reaching out to some friends.
We had the biggest trouble trying to lockdown people’s schedules. Initially, I did a pre-show, and I pulled together a few people. And of those people, the people who are still here in the group are BreeBunn, OldLady_Gamer, and djarii. Those three were initially in another group with two other girls, and we did these pre-show runs because out of the group only one person had played D&D before, and we didn’t want to go into the deep end by having them learn while on stream. So we did three or four sessions which are part of their backstories now.
But then a couple of them couldn’t make it, they couldn’t do the show, so I spent the next year before this show started. It was six months before the next person came in, but then they couldn’t do it, so they had to pull out. And then we found someone else, and eventually it all came around and we got it together. But I threw the frustration of not being able to get it together, and not being able to schedule it right, into running my own homebrew stream back in November. I’d come up with ideas that I’d make on stream.
But I went into it very naively, didn’t really know what I was doing, so one of my viewers suggested that I read the homebrew that other people create. We did that for one stream, and now I do it every Tuesday now for hours. My favorite thing about it is that I’ve developed a small community for people who want to talk shop, and I’ve learned so much about balance when it comes to D&D.
DGNFOG: So how did you meet your Godforged players?
Joe: Strippin was from my early, early days on Ark when I was a very small streamer. And to be totally honest, there are people who won’t give you a second look because you are a small streamer. They’re there to grow, and I get it. With Strippin, early on, he didn’t know who I was and we just got along, super nice guy. I’ve been friends with him for years now, on and off playing different games. He was the first person I spoke to about joining the group, but at the time he didn’t have the time. But just as we had all the art done, he hit me up asking if I was still running the group.
OldLady_Gamer is from the Ark servers, used to roleplay with her there. She fast became one of my best friends.
BreeBunn, she joined through the group of streamers I play games with and whatnot, met her through that. And we’ve gotten on well just like that, she’s one of my best friends as well.
Shayne I met through that same group, and the only time I’ve been a player in a D&D group was with someone named BrettUltimus who would run these offline D&D games for us, and Shayne and I played in his Monday group.
djarii, funnily enough, is the reason I started streaming. It was her channel I turned on when I was trying to fall asleep and she was playing DayZ having all these hilarious interactions. I met her through that, and I started streaming pretty much after that. She’s one of my oldest friends in the Twitch community. And I knew she liked roleplaying in like, World of Warcraft, but she hadn’t actually played D&D before.
So really, they’ve all been friends I’ve made throughout the years.
DGNFOG: What all went into the prep for running Godforged?
Joe: Starting from the top, I think it was the gods. I wanted to do something quirky with the gods. I’ve always been a massive Greek mythology fan, and I wanted the gods involved in some way. And I remember thinking about the whole ascension of what it takes to become a god. So two years ago, on stream, we came up with Godforged then - the world, the people, the lands.
But once it was done, I dropped it behind for a good while. But a year ago I picked it back up, looked at the world, and liked the Godforged bit of it. So the start of prep was making sure I knew the world in-depth enough to make it feel like a living and breathing world. My primary, best writing came with characters, and so I stepped out of my comfort zone and worked on a timeline instead. So I made an ancient timeline for the events of the gods, and a time period is after the last war and empire.
For the actual show and whatnot, I ran some pre shows with the players, and I got some art done of the player characters. I wanted it to feel more podcasty in a lot of ways. I looked at the shows I enjoyed, and my favorite aspect about them focused mostly on the roleplaying, and I wanted that. When it came to running the game, a big aspect was that everyone has an origin story that connects with the world, and that we can all explore them.
DGNFOG: If given the choice, would you pursue traditional video game streaming, or continue to keep TTRPG streaming as your focus?
Joe: Absolutely the focus. If I could, right now, I’d turn around and make my entire career TTRPG focused. I haven’t felt this passionately about a hobby for years, and I can’t even remember the last one. For me, it's everything I enjoy — acting, writing, making fun voices, hanging out with friends. Also, I’ll buy a new computer every few years and see it dwindle. Not with D&D. If I could change my twitch stream now, it’d be entirely TTRPGs. Or I’d have a career in TTRPGs, and I’d be streaming as well.
DGNFOG: Well here’s hoping. You’re doing a great job so far.
You can catch Joe and the cast of Godforged on air every Sunday at 7:30pm BST / 2:30pm EDT / 11:30am PDT on Twitch, and you can keep updated by following him on Twitter.