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my brain is a stick of butter is a solo tabletop roleplaying game about living a week with ADHD and how hard it can be to balance all of the tasks life expects you to complete. It takes about 30-60 minutes to play, at which point you can step out of the game world and back into your real life. You'll need the book (or a printout of the playsheet), a deck of playing cards, and a six-sided die to play.

Go about your days trying to do your job, maintain your social relationships, get all your chores done, and find time to enjoy yourself. It’s not exactly intended to be a fun game to play, but I do believe you’ll find it to be informative. You might not get everything done that you want to this week, but you will hopefully learn a lot about life with ADHD after playing.

The game is designed to replicate my personal experience with the constant background thrum of executive dysfunction that stems from my ADHD. The deck of cards and the Brain Die are meant to represent the lack of agency I feel when choosing what tasks I focus on at any given time. A lot of times, things go according to plan. But just as often, my mind and my attention are pulled in another direction.

Two cyan pages of a wirebound book, one labeled How to play a day and the other labeled Days, Nights, & Weeks
Here's one of the spreads in the book that details how days work in the game.
Here's the playsheet in the book - all you need to do is bring a pencil, a six-sided die, and a deck of cards and you're ready to play
How to Play

The first step is to create your character--I usually just play as myself but you can play as a fictional character if you'd rather. Characters are mostly comprised of reminders of the things you like to do and the people you like to stay in contact with.

The ID card has a portrait, Name (Adam), Job (Gamer). The rolodex says DON'T FORGET TO CALL, and has two entries: Andy (Brother) and Sashah. The post it notes have HOW TO RELAX: Video Games, REMEMBER THIS HOBBY: Game Design, and NEW HOBBY: garden
On the playsheet is your ID card, your rolodex, and the post it notes that remind you of your hobbies.

The game is played out over the course of a week. Each day of the week is split into 4-6 rounds, depending on how much sleep debt you're accumulating.

A pie chart is shown on the left. 6 Segments. Two say ZZZ. It's labeled TODAY. Then there is a week's calendar. And then a blocky purple bed with a pillow split into 8 pieces labeled Sleep Debt
Here's the section of the playsheet where you track the days, rounds, and sleep debt

To play a round, you first decide if you'd like to keep working on the same thing you've been working on-- your chores, your work, social activities, or focusing on your own enjoyment. If you're shifting tasks, you pull cards from the deck to see if you're able to switch or if another task jumps out at you instead. 

Then you'll roll the Brain Die to see how well you stay on track on the chosen task.

1. ENDLESS DISTRACTIONS: Erase the Whiteboard. Erase a tick in the current clock. Write what pulled your focus away. 2. CAN’T DO THIS RIGHT NOW: Erase the Whiteboard. Pull a card to switch tasks. Pull a second one if you didn’t switch. 3. SIDETRACKED: Erase the Whiteboard & pull a card. Mark 1 tick on the drawn task and switch, or stick to the current task. 4. SO MUCH TO DO: Mark 1 tick on task clock. Pull to switch tasks. Write what you accomplished, and what pulled you away.  5. FEELING PRODUCTIVE: Mark 1 tick on current task clock. Write your accomplishment.  6. BIG TIME FOCUS: Mark 2 ticks on task clock. Write what got you hooked.
The brain die reference indicates what different die results mean for your attention

Depending on the result, you may be ticking the current task's clock. Each of the four main tasks is represented by a 6-piece pie chart. The clock represents the proportion of that task's progress that you've made relative to how much you had hoped to accomplish that week. 

Four pie charts (AKA clocks) are shown, with a label for the relavent task of each clock and the card suit in the center of each clock. Spades is work. Diamonds is socializing. Clubs is chores. Hearts is Enjoyment.
The four tasks are Work, Socializing, Chores, and Enjoyment. Each has its own clock and is represented by a different suit of cards. Also shown here is the Today clock, which abstractly tracks the passage of time.

As you play the rounds, you'll be writing what you accomplish on the Whiteboard. This helps you keep track of the things you've done so far. If you can't remember the last thing you did in the active task, you'll erase a tick in its clock as you retrace your steps, so having a written record of recent tasks is handy. Sometimes, when you're pulled away by the Brain Die, you will have to erase the Whiteboard. This emulates how jarring it can be to be interrupted while you're in a groove.

It's an image of a crudely drawn whiteboard. Written on it is a checklist: -sent email -fed cats -played CKIII
the Whiteboard is a region on the playsheet that represents your working memory




StatusReleased
CategoryPhysical game
Rating
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
(24 total ratings)
Authoradamebell
GenreCard Game, Role Playing
Tagsadhd, Dice, Short, Singleplayer, solo, Tabletop, Tabletop role-playing game, zine

Purchase

Buy Now$8.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $8 USD. You will get access to the following files:

My Brain is a Stick of Butter 30 MB
playsheet full letter black & white.pdf 2 MB
playsheet full letter color.pdf 3 MB

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Development log

Comments

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I'm crying, my stick of butter is not letting me read the text 🙃 

I just failed repeatedly at downloading the PDF, because my brain is a stick of butter, so: excellent game! thanks a lot! :)

lol yep, you nailed it

(+5)

It would be really cool if this were a daily planner-type thing! im adhd and its really hard for me to continue doing tasks without getting distracted, and filling in clocks and keeping track of things like this for everyday life would be really cool!

(+7)

So it has been a few months since I first played this game and
Since then I got officially diagnosed,  started dealing with stuff and went on meds. This game was the thing that got me from "I think there is something with my brain" to "I know what's going on with my brain"
That's a lot.
Thanks

(+5)

This is so hard to play when you actually *have* ADHD. Brilliantly done, I love it. 10/10 would recommend. 

(+6)

My Brain Is A Stick Of Butter is a 16 page solo rpg about experiencing ADHD.

Gameplay uses a d6 and a deck of cards. You try to complete tasks in several categories over a series of days, with the catch that the task your brain serves up to you isn't always the one that your environment wants you to do at the moment, and it costs energy to shift your focus. On top of that, once you've focused on the task you want to work on, you're not guaranteed to make progress. You might get blocked, frustrated, revert your work, or forget what you were doing.

Layout-wise, the game is also extremely strong. The intro, outro, and example are all written in a fairly standard formaton standard left-justified pages, but the actual core of the game text is written onto small note-card-ish blocks and jumbled around on the page along with graphs and graphics. It's still easy to read, but everything is tilted at slight angles and there's a distinct feeling of things flowing together and feeling out of control.

Overall, I think I'd recommend this to everyone. I felt like I came out of the game with a radically different understanding of what experiencing ADHD feels like, and it's definitely not every game that redefines my perception like that. Buy a copy if you can, or check out a community copy otherwise.

(+6)(-6)

How is the title so woefully accurate.  I've struggled with ADHD for nearly 30 years now and that's so accurate it-SQUIRREL.

(+5)

This pretty much nails it, well done. 

Maybe a bit unrealistic to have complete agency over when to go to sleep, I might have to add some house rules for that :)

fair point! if you do end up adding something I'd love to hear what you come up with

Perhaps when you want to try and sleep roll 1d6, on a 1 you fail to sleep, mark time you spent tossing and turning being frustrated, on a 2-5 you fall asleep, on a 6 you have a brilliant idea, you don't fall asleep but you do manage to make 2 progress on a project, draw a card to find out which one?

(+3)

As someone who also has ADHD, Thank you....Life definitely is no walk in the park with it. 

(+2)

Using a die to represent the "restricts a person’s agency when it comes to choosing where to apply attention" is a great idea! I really liked your game and i do think its illustrative, thank you!

thanks for the kind words! i'm glad you enjoyed the game.