I went to larp last night. I NPC'd, which means that I played a supporting character in other people's stories. Her name was Emily Watkins, and her goal was to Save the World through Science!

It's an understandable goal for her. She had a lot of faith in science. She probably used to be some gifted type who wound up doing research for DARPA before realizing that (1) she needed to transition and (2) building drones was actually not as good a contribution to humanity as she'd been led to believe. In any case, she stole access to the ground ingredients for a kind of spatial-informaional singularity, more as a "fuck you" to her superiors. She saw what happened to people who leaked info and she was indifferent to whether she lived to be one of them.

This system didn't expose the military industrial complex, but it also didn't irradiate her (much). Instead, it knocked her stepped out of time into a higher reality. In this extra-ordinary non-space, she'd technomagically edited her own memories to give herself a self-consistent physical/mental life history on the Clavius Colonies, on Luna's Southern hemisphere, where she grew up in a peaceful posthuman multifaith/multiculture microecologically-aided water mining, where she ultimately took on the ("summer") job of operating the fusion reactor. I'm sure this sounded like a good idea at the time, but when her fantasy world ended in a nightmare invasion of hostile weaponized von neuman systems - the descendants of what she used to build - she got bounced back to Earth with no idea how to operate without the usual comforts of airtight rock shelters, postscarcity cultural-economics, somatic freedom, mindcasting or socialist-libertarian-Sharia. And there was that matter of re-learning English instead of proto-Marainic Interlingua.

She's pretty cracking smart, so a few months after her rough return, she entered the imaginary charity ball, elegant in a plum and silver gown, loudly lamenting "this attire is impractical." (Which it is compared to a multipocketed low-G coverall suit with the usual assortment of sensors, tailored microbes and emergency vacuum survival gear) Then she roughly threw her backpack into the corner and asked for instructions on socializing.

Conversation starters included:

"It rains a lot right now."

"The... Canucks are playing hockey."

The entire event took place at an imaginary charity ball where, to elude the Faerie Lords, everyone's identity was magically concealed. No-one could recognize anyone else. This could be a problem as she was there to track down and apprehend a spy. But for Emily, who has both aspergers and prosopagnosia to go with it, not being able to recognize people was nothing unusual. When she figured out that everyone else was having trouble, she gave a chuckle at how "So... neurotypicals are operating on my level. Dope."


"If the cord is giving you so much trouble, why not just quantum-tunnel it?"

"It's still not haram here? I've never consumed ethyl alcohol at these concentrations before.  I mean, you said that I've done it twice, but all that I remember is waking up with a headache. Ooh! More champagne? And it's free? Please!"

(forty minutes later, with her head on a table) "Why do people consume this!? Why don't you just gland your drugs!?"

"The don't like to be called 'robots.' It's rude, due to the implications of slavery. Thank you for the offer of employment nonetheless, but I'm not an abiotic person. Tomasz is building one though."

"Sure. Sure. Wõ shì hen xão xìexìe. Ní. Oh right. English. And then I say. I am also well. I thank... you."

Anyhow. This character is an exercise in being completely unfiltered. In terms of speech (see above examples), in reacting to people (hitting a 1654 pirate in the back of the head after a relatively-mild in-character  rape joke) and in terms of gender. I din't not have that creeping feeling of operating in a pre-tranisitional state at all. AT ALL. Which is very rare, especially of late. I also felt pretty. And that was pretty darn nice. I also felt more confident and calm afterwards.

I'm not sure what this means, but I'll have to find it again.

Put diplomatically

Storygames need to put some major and explicit distance between themselves and crunchy fighting games, like 4th ed D&D and World ofWarcraft.

When our community conflates the two media, and their genre-expectations, stress and conflict results.

Put less diplomatically

I have trouble believing in a world where this extent of violence is commonplace without the rest of society coming to resemble a war-torn country. I'm talking everything from disrupted infrastructure and transformed social norms to widespread PTSD and drug use.

If we're lucky, it's a tidy war between amies of rival kingdoms held on a battlefield well away from anything important. But sometimes it's a full-on unconditional genocide.

Moreover, I'm a little disturbed that there's all this violence without the consequences of violence.

 What we need is hope, not vengeance.

I am consistently impressed by just how much I learn through storytelling. I built and tested a game where "theme" was a mechanic - in it, two alluring and almost-but-not-quite-oppositional principles wove themselves through the story over and over. I listed a bunch of established TV shows as examples. Hope and vengeance were he examples for BSG, a shitty world that I'd have been willing to live in at the time I watched it, because it has what I need.

And perhaps that is where I should steer my activism. Can I get the same strategic kick out of inspiring optimism as I do out of outmaneuvering and crushing an unjust opponent? Well, it's the maneuvering and outthinking that's funnest; the crushing ends the fun and leaves you around wondering what the fuck happened and what will you do now. Hope can have that. I think. Okay, well, maybe it requires a little vengeance.

Hope, Elchis, - as long as you're exciting and not bland, as long as you are about innovation and not a return to a status quo, real or imagined, and as long as I get to fight, may I be yours.



(or "so say we all")

 Note on larp characters - following up on: http://the-fantastic-ms-fox.dreamwidth.org/273955.html#cutid1

Creatures of the White Wolf RPG system, they have "virtues" and "vices." But their vice attracts; their virtue repels. Their vice leads them into conformity; their virtue into challenging the system, into changing the game

Vase's vice is "envy;" her virtue, "faith."

In envy - vase enjoys taking powerful people down a peg. Other people find this useful insofar as she enjoys taking their rivals down. This also makes her successful as a forensic auditor.

In faith - Vase believes in a higher purpose. As a manufacture mage And she wants to make enough people into mages that mages (and, by extension, humanity) are no longer at a disadvantage to the Seers, who want to constrict humanity. The rest of the ("naturally" awakened) Magi consider this abhorrent.

Areli - "pride" and "fortitude"

Areli is fantastically confident and independant. she's kind of an asshole so people don't like her personally, but they respect her. And a lot of people think she's hot.

She wants to turn Faerie abductions into a positive - by making them it into more of a refugee system, where people can be smuggled into Aracdia when things are just that bad. The other changelings feel the Fae can never be truseted and finds the mention of this plan retraumatizing in terms of their abduction experiences. Areli thinks they're soft and privileged and don't understand the stakes.




Areli has a lot more success than Vase. Areli also sees her actions as "the best I can do under the circumstances" while Vase wants total awakening, Age-of-Aquarius/Matrix style, and she just can't get the buy-in.

"Secret are like splinters under the skin," she said "They hurt while they're in there, and they're most painful on the way out."

"Write it down" she advised. "Do it though a character. And control the outcome."

"I'm already partway there," I said. "I have characters."

There's a lot to (re)write. I can give shorts of a few characters. Some of this is old material. I'm writing this for myself and my therapist.

Read more... )


Common themes:


People who deliberately cut themselves off from social norms, humanity, and guilt to become themselves, even "fully human." Tension. And astrange sense of forgiveness that follows.

People who break the game - who live in a world full of secret powers, and try to make it just, fair and transparent. And who take a lot of shit for it.

Second/third-wave tension re: trans

Romantic frustration, self-imposed inertia or self-sabotge in pursuing it
(factors: 1/4 Oxycontin, 500mg acetamenophen, stool softener, large suture across my forehead, home for Christmas, thinking about the Changeling rpg as a beautiful game written by people unaware of their sheltered lives, watched the trailer for "Prometheus" which is also the name of my favorite god*.)

In my bed in the old house, the single bed, the child's bed. Night


Read more... )

I dream about speculative  fiction a lot. Last night it was contemporary supernatural melodrama (Monsterhearts, True Blood, White Wolf) and near-future technothriller/war (Metal Gear, Shiro Masamune, Harsh Realm).

I notice that the POV in my dreams changes gender and race depending on the media I've consumed relative to the genre of my dream. Since most of my dreams are science-fiction, some are fantasy, and most are informed by television foremost, movies, storygames, video games, comics and text/audio books (plus some thought-exercises), this means that the POV is often but decreasingly male and almost always white.

And I see this change when my media supply changes.

This says some interesting things about the subconscious effects of media regarding who's story is worth telling.

It also says some things about the potential for storygames as a tv-replacement.


Side note:

My cissexed/transsexed-status is often the default until I think about it or notice my junk at which point it usually incorporates trans, either because "well, I'm a dude and here's what's in my pants, so I guess I'm FtM" or as above but "maybe people just assume I'm a dude, so it's classical or redux tg butch." or "Wow, crap, that thing again. MtF I guess." or "Wait. Vag. Presenting female. This seems really good somehow, oh shit, thankyouthankyouthankyou."



I thought it was vending anxiety, but that's not it. Not really.

Part of the reason has to do with playing the storygame Monsterhearts wherein one of the characters is a 16-year-old transsexual. Her (first? only?) story arc completed tonight. She (1) probably avoided getting sent off to military boarding school and (2) managed to cease being the Xander/Bella/Tara/background/target in the group by "getting some fucking powers already," or at least not having to worry about further experiences with the wrong puberty sans access to (much) social or (any legal) medical support. Which is to say she became undead.
Read more... )

I could take it because it's fake, but it's real. Looking at your options and knowing that your best option, your only option, is to become "a monster?" I know that.

Read more... )
Read more... )
A selection from an email

Circumstances beyond her control have marked her as different, and besides her friends, she has no social or familial support in surviving this. While Dale is born to stake vampires, Liz can conjure and destroy the undead, and Ben can does casually kill (and eat)... pretty much anyone, Alice is afraid to walk from school to home, to be at home, or to be in school not because of monsters, but because of groups of perfectly mortal assholes. If she had powers, she'd be safe, or at least be a cool freak instead of "a tranny" or "a fag." There's no secret in her past to be unlocked that will fix this, no magic ring or secret powers that run through the family. She'll have to find an alternative.

In other words, Alice's goals are:
1st. get protection
2nd. get some of these superpowers that everyone else seems to have
Read more... )
Getting back into storytelling/roleplaying games and larps after a near-absence of four years.

The medium has changed. Mainstream games have adapted to having World of Warcraft as a competitor, and have also taken at least a few moves on challenging their own sexism and racism. A slow change in demographics has followed. More indie games are almost unrecognizable, streamlined and borrowing from improv.

Glad to be back in my hobby, this time in a comfortable gender. Surprised that being a grrl gaymer doesn't mean what it used too. Pleased but disoriented. Getting around to playing characters and stories that intersect with gender and sometimes sexuality.
I have been designing a storygame (or "Tabletop roleplaying game") for about the last eight months. It's working name is "Streamlined," but it will be get a new name before release.

I am going to do another round of alpha playtesting, with me facilitating a group of players... when i find them. I'm not sure how to do this in Nelson, and I want to game with people whom I've met.

Assuming that no more major adjustments need be made, I will go to beta testing wherein I write up and distribute instructions to volunteers.

Ultimately, I am looking to distribute the game engine for free, then also have settings, stories and such sold online.

What are this system's strengths?

- It's simple
Read more... )

- It's flexible
Read more... )
- It fixes the "just wing it" problem

(hopefully solved by creating a structure that facilitates storytelling)
Read more... )
- It circumvents the "don't split the party" problem. And the "the GM is talking to herself" problem

(hopefully solved by rotating through minor roles)
Read more... )

- It avoids the "wandering band of enterpreneurial mercenaries" problem

(hopefully solved by situating characters in relationships)

Read more... )

- It questions the "these stats imply silly things" problem

(hopefully solved by taking a critical stance on ability)
Read more... )

- It queers the "good/evil" problem

(hopefully solved by Queering binaries - you read that right)
Read more... )
This is a step in the right direction, but it's a step into a void. There aren't a lot of socially critical roleplaying games out there. But there are some.
Read more... )
If you have any ideas about other ways that RPGs could be improved, or any ideas at all, let me know.
I want Queer roleplaying - and I don't know how to get it.

I'm getting back into roleplaying games and storygames, but I've changed sex and started paying attention to the society that I live in. And this is causing some alienation.

Like other media, most roleplaying games, especially the big brands, tacitly endorse status quo ways of thinking and problem-solving. There might be spaceships or dragons, but these are often not more than mad libs for an underlying adventure story that's a cross between the (feudal) heroic narrative and a kind of "character building" that resembles a (socially oblivous) business growth strategy - there's an evil enemy, and you plan and whack it and take it's stuff, and are honoured far and wide, and next time, you're that much stronger.

It's a shame for a medium that champions imagination.
Read more... )
Read more... )
Quote of the week:

     "Speaking of which, I'm playing in a tabeltop RPG about syndicalism. I guess it's a little different from slaying Orks."

Two Review of games by Ron Edwards, focusing on mechanics.


Read more... )What's so bad about spontaneous mutations caused by an alien symbiote?

Yes, I'm losing the ability to eat anything but raw meat, and, yes, I get headaches around electrical transformers, and any sort of medical report would out me as only semi-terrestrial, but why is that *wrong?*

Read more... )

The mechanics:

One of the reasons most reviews of Sorceror are so favorable is that they gloss over the game's mechanics. Ron Edwards tried to write a game with simple rules, but tried to be clever rather than careful. And in binding a game to rules of probability while apparantly having no knowledge of how probability functions, he accidentally wrote a die-based clusterfuck.

In other words: the rules are simple. They're also really bad.

Read more... )


Read more... )
Star Trek roles: commander, first officer, engineer, security, communications, science officer, doctor, pilot, counsellor

Babylon 5 roles: captain, first officer, security, pilot, alien diplomats,

Battlestar roles: Commander, executive officer, flight squadron commander, chief engineer, astrogator, doctor, pilots, engineers, marines, president, scientist, bored wife,

Firefly roles: captain, first mate, muscle, pilot, engineer, chaplain, doctor, escort, family member

The space campaign I just started:
- "Valuable religious relic" salesman
- Autistic-spectrum computer interpreter and shamanic underaged lightspeed-pilot
- Rogue artifical intelligence interior decorator and self-identified "ship"
I remember hearing a story about an austistic man in his thirties who moved into a cross betveen a conventional and a care home after spending most of his life in a mental institution. The woman who owned the home had a piano, and the man sat down to play it. Without speaking, and only occasionally eating, he played it every waking moment. It was never the same song twice.

After three days, the woman who owned the home said "I'm worried. And I don't understand what he's doing."

"It's all the music he's ever heard on the radio," said the former care attendant. "He's remembered it the whole time. But only now does it have a chance to get out."

I wonder how it felt for him.

The personal parallel? Gender of course.

With the psychological and social blocks around "I'm a girl" removed, about a quarter century of material is spilling out.

All those science fiction or fantasy books where I thought, I wonder if in this hypothetical world, you could change your sex...? A large number of books shake this memory up. And that despair of I guess thinking about it is as close as I'll ever get.

Memories of high school and not telling my friends what I thought. Every roleplaying game where I thought I'd really like to squeeze this in there, but it ain't gonna fit. They're already looking at me funny. Yeah, well. We're adults now. And I play with a lot of queers. And I'm a lass. So I can play female characters now if I dawn well want, fuck you very much. (But I have barely played in the last several years...?)

My Hallowe'en costumes too. Do you have any idea how long I've wanted to make a Ranma outfit? I went as Ryouga once because I liked the series a lot, but dressing up as Ranma would feel less like fun and more like a kick in the stomach. I haven't even watched the series in... a decade? But "wear a ranma outfit and not feel like shit" is still on my to-do list.

As is

"cross-dress in male clothes"


"be topless somewhere where people may object."

I am still trying to make some kind of peace religiously. Part of the problem is that my/his old religious beliefs are bound up in a mindset of self-ablation, and may simply not be recoverable.

It's odd having this backlog from a prior life. Like finding a cache of unopened case files, then processing them.

In Box: Every memory is going back to a space of helplessness.

Out Box: Every action is giving that helplessness the finger.
Good: Sports, fun

Bad: China, Orwellian

D&D 4th Ed:
Bad: Finally, a table-top version of World of Warcraft where you do the math and move very slowly

Good: All the heros in the pictures have very stylish clothes.

Unsettling: Except for the dwarves, halflings and... dragon people (?), all the heros have homogenously svelte body types and facial structures -  -  - like they're all the same person

Strengths of Forerunning American Presidential Candidates:
McCain: Not Bush, really

Obama: Really not Bush
Here's an interesting exercise for you. Especially you larpers.

Make up a character. As you do so, describe the ways that you and the character differ, as if you were being appraised by a third party who knew you both very, very well. Go ahead and invent contrary aspects of your character. Trend towards character aspects that you'd like to play, to be, for a little bit. You are building a vacation persona.

The next stage I tried was designed for writers supposed to flesh out the character. You pretend to be a journalist or PR person or whatever in the world of the story, and you write an interview.

But, this being a larp character; one I play rather than write, I put two chairs facing each-other then switched back and forth until Janet kinda took over and started asking me questions, then scrutinizing my answers. Picking me apart. Knowing me very, very well. But from the perspective of a different person who's gotta get along with me. She starts going after why I want to play a contrasting character, draws some blood. It's good.

Sorting out. Things clicking in my head. It worked in a way I'd never expect it.

I got her some props, some appropriate costuming. Keep her up for longer in the future. This is good.

And I want to try this with a second person.

Oh yeah - anyone have advice on getting into a character or putting on a mask?
I'm reading through and reflecting upon RPG supplements for White Wolf, GURPS and D&D. I'm thinking do they actually expect me to remember any of this? Did I used to play this?

Talk about complicated! If I wanted to memorize charts and tables, I'd be an accountant - that way, they pay you.

I like the idea of RPGs, but they often fall so short. Many RPG writers earn the reputation as a hobby for obsessives - there's no other way to learn many of these systems.

It's ironic, seeing as someone with a basic (i.e. rank novice) background in math, or computer programming, or organization, or especially computer game design, should be able to go over these rules and shake their head: these don't make sense. These numbers don't add up. These probabilities are wacked. Some people can't play this; most won't.

I can see what is at work here. There is an attempt to build a controlled system that models the world and shepherds a story through it; mediating conflicts; arbitrating disputes.

However the longer the attempt, the more stringent the modelling; the more rules, the less accurate modelling it does:
- people can't remember enough rules to play it (no players = no game = no modelling)
- the more rules there are, the more holes there are when rules intersect
- the more attempts there are to control, to automate, the more control slips though

Other ways are necessary; simpler ones.

There are many things like this. Our tax system comes to mind.
Dan Coburn is running a larp of the new Changeling game. I cannot comment on its quality, as I've never been. But I do see that players are coming in costume - which indicates a certain degree of effort/investment.

I figured that it might be worth a shot. I'll be there in June. And I may be there in May, if it's late enough that I'll be back from Boston.

I am emailing you for two reasons:

1. I figured that I might as well tell people that this thing exists, as the "larp community" chains of communication seem to be broken in this city and this is how you fix them. And if you're not interested, maybe you know someone who is.

2. There's nothing like going to at least a session or two with your chums for both enjoyment and game quality. I'll be there if you want to come. By June if not sooner. We can even make interrelated character backgrounds or goals*.

A Review of the Game

The yahoo group for the larp

*Ms. June Vandermejer was abducted from semi-rural Massachusetts in 1968 while hiding from the police after a dope sting. Like many Changelings, she was replaced by an exact duplicate (who, unlike most replacements, was intruduced to Earth via several years in the prison system).

An individual (or entity) that calling herself June (played by yours truly) claims to have just escaped her fae captors and made her way back to the mortal world, changed, but unaged after forty years. She is not sure whether to be thankful that her memory of time away is 99% mashed holes. She cannot explain what has happened, and is unaware that four decades have passed.



August 2017

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