Sunday, June 28, 2015

Beautiful Sunday - Love wins!

People, I am here to say - I have had a really bad few weeks. As always Tina Belcher, my spirit animal, sums it up perfectly:

But then on Friday something amazing happened and I thought- You know what? It's time for a beautiful Sunday. So, here we go!

I hope you are having a beautiful Sunday. I hope there is someone in your life who accepts you and utterly loves you for everything you are. If there isn't, I hope you know you are amazing and wonderful and that you mean something to this world. I hope that your week has treated you kindly. I hope that people have treated you with the respect the deserve and you've felt the love that everyone needs. I hope this post will make your Sunday a bit brighter.

* * * 

First off, LOVE finally won this week! Marriage equality is now a thing is all 50 states of the USA!

Now, listen to this, let Stevie Nicks' sing to your soul:

When I was 10, I decided that I wanted to try to be one of the cool kids and listen to music, cause that was the cool thing to do at the time. So I went to the coolest person I knew, my mom, and I asked her to buy me some CDs. She came back to me with three CDs: Bananaramma's Bananaramma, Madonna's Immaculate Collection, and Fleetwood Mac's Rumors. The year was 1997. I listened to all these CDs religiously and after summer break I was ready to impress all the new, cool friends I was going to make...

Well, that's enough of that story. At least I was a kid with a 'unique' taste in music.

Moving swiftly along...

Learning to Leave by Cynthia Shepard
Have you heard of Cynthia Shepard? She is a digital artist and has worked for RPG companies like Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Wizard's of the Coast. Yeah, she is a big deal and when you look at her work there is no wonder why. She has a lot of greys in her pallet, but the depth that she brings to these pieces is just amazing. Below is my favourite piece of hers, just beautiful.

Heart of Fire by Cynthia Shepard

Also, do you like pop art and burlesque? I know I do!

Sturdy and Mimi by Sarah Richardson
+Sarah Richardson and I recently had a discussion about a project she did for art school. Basically, she got to go to a bunch of burlesque bars and sketch beautiful women. Yes, I am also jealous. Then again, Sarah is an amazing illustrator and her works for this book really bring me happiness. I think they capture the heart of burlesque, the joy, and the excitement. Don't have the book yet? You really should, and lucky for you she still has copies!

Finally, play this!  Monster Loves You!

I found this game on Steam ($9.99) and it is well worth the money. I bought it because it combined two things in my life I always need - monsters and the incessant need for love and acceptance. This game is a choose your own story game where you grow from a tiny monster in the spawning pit to either making peace between humans and monsters OR inciting a species war that decimates one (or both populations).

This game was utter stress relief for me. The choice you make matter, but they aren't at the "now I am going to cry into my controller because I made Liara angry? How did I make her angry? She is never angry at any one!" level. If you like monsters, cute things, and a fun story this is the game for you! Also, because of all the choice in the game, it has tons of re-playability. There are so many endings, I have played it five times now and I haven't gotten to all of them.

Have a beautiful Sunday!


PS - Have you played Monster Loves You!? Do you also think Blotz is an ass? Let me know and let's form a fan club!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fifty Shades of Good AKA Coming to terms with the fact that you and your friends are homocidal sociopaths...

Last weekend my friends and I started a new mini 5th edition D&D campaign. It was a lot of fun, it always is playing with my friends, and I really love the changes made between 4th and 5th edition.

In this game I decided to play a dwarven Ranger named Fern. She left the mountains where she grew up and the first time she saw a forest, she never looked back. I decided that Fern was pesudo-hippy, totally relaxed, peaceful, and against killing.While we were making our characters and noming on some delicious take-out, my friend Andries asked everyone a question that passes many people's mouths while making characters together, "We're all playing Good-aligned, right?"

Echoes of yes, duh, shut up I'm eating, echoed through our group of friends and it was decided - we were playing a Good-aligned party. I thought to myself, "Phew! Now I can really try out this concept."

...Then we started to play...

Within twenty minutes of playing, our level 1 characters ask to 'simply' escort a caravan from point A to point B, we come across two horses that are littered with arrows. Everyone drew their weapons, getting ready for a fight, and Fern (my character) decided to get out of the caravan to take a closer look at some rustling she heard in the bushes. Low and behold two goblins pop up and start threatening her.

Fern tried to calm the goblins, speak to them, and it worked... kinda. After speaking to Fern the goblins decide that she was OK and did not attack her, but instead shot an arrow at one of her party members. This is when all hell broke loose. As a reaction to the arrow the parties' Cleric's god became super angry and smote down the goblin.

Now, this was not just a simple smiting... this was a 4d6 lighting bolt of doom that only left a scorch mark on the earth when it was done. I can only imagine it looked something like this:

After that our party made short work of the goblins, during combat Fern tried to shoo them away, non-leathal damage them, do anything not to murder another sentient life. She succeeded somewhat, one goblin got away, and to quote meatloaf, "two outta three ain't bad," so surely one out of fine wasn't horrible.

...But then we tracked the one goblin who escaped and murdered all the people in their burrow. By this point Fern was emotionally broken.

While she prizes keeping her allies alive above anyone else and also wanted to find the two poor souls who had been taken from their horses, she didn't want to murder everything in the process.

I had a lot of fun playing, we had a great GM, the adventure was great, and D&D is just a game - but I came to one over arching conclusion - wow, my other characters have really rationalized away A LOT of murder.

I tend to play 'good' aligned characters when I can. This is because I am the token GM of our group, so normally I have to play a lot of assholes and adversaries. So, when I have a chance to be the player, I like to kind of go with the group and be a generally nice person, it is a refreshing change for me... But playing someone as nice as Fern put a lot of things in perspective.

When my friends and I play D&D we are homicidal sociopaths. 

We murder a bunch of sentient creatures on a weekly basis, normally for money, and get guiltless zzz's at the end of it. Normally, after we murder these creatures (probably in their own homes at the time) we loot their houses, pull armor off their corpses, and sell everything they held dear to the highest bidder in order to buy ourselves more cool shit.

And you know what, this is OK.

I've read a lot of debates about what certain alignments mean in D&D. I find the topic interesting and I really love hearing people's arguments for and against things. Like - True Neutral - more evil that Chaotic Evil? However, I have personally concluded that we cannot hold D&D alignments against, what we as humans who live in this world, view as good and evil. You just can't.

Because really, would you entrust your life to a group of people who have on multiple occasions murdered a sentient creature and all their children... then looted their corpses, cut off their heads, and brought it to a tavern to tell everyone a cool story about how they killed a bunch of stuff?

...Wait don't answer that!

Have funny D&D, my party made my character cry stories? I want to hear them! Share below and tell me your two cents!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

When to know you were wrong

So, I was wrong...

If you didn't know I am the creator of the game WITCH, where members of the Fated can sell their souls to a demon for power. To describe different Fates (classes, types of witch/warlock) in our game we use names like Lich, Yokai, Druid, etc. Through the creation in the game and during our Kickstarter, I received messages from people who were offended by the names in my game - namely the use of the word Pagan.

These were messages from people who identified with following a Pagan religion etc. When I heard this feedback, I understood where they were coming from and I realized why they would find the use of the word Pagan offensive - no body wants to be connected to people who sell their soul.

I like to think of myself as a generally nice person. I care about how people feel and it makes me feel bad if someone is hurt through my actions. This, of course, is tempered with the fact that I know if you work in any industry you need to have thick skin. You will always offend someone with your work.

So, this feedback I was getting made me do a lot of self reflection. How would I feel if someone used a title I identified with, in there game as synonymous with selling your soul. What if the Fate's name was woman or mixed-race-person? How would I feel then? Would I be offended?

After much self reflection - I always came back to the same answer - no, I would not be offended. This is for two reasons, (in short) the first is the fact that in my game the Fated are the heroes of the story, the ones who triumph. The Fate names are not meant in a derogatory way, in fact it is quite the opposite. The second reason is that in our game we make a huge distinction between the Fated and the real world people their titles may be connected with - this is a source of drama in the game.

However, I also came to the conclusion that how I feel and what I see as offensive simply is not the entire breadth of human emotion. I am happy it is not (and am slightly terrified to think of a world where it would be). While I am not offended by many things, it doesn't make anyone else's experiences of a lesser value.

So, I was stuck with an issue. How do I marry keeping to what I believe is the creative vision my game, with the realization that I may be wrong? Should I really 'cave' and change a part of my game that I personally enjoy and what is going to happen the next time people don't like something else in my game?

Then I realized I was being stupid. I have gotten plenty of feedback from people about things they didn't like in WITCH. None of it has stuck with me, there have been things I have changed, but these were all thoughtless, easy things.With all the feedback I have received, most of what I can remember now is how thankful I am that people took the time to discuss things with me.

The only piece of feedback that has stuck with me for so long was this one, and that is how I know now it is important. And how I know that is it the right thing for me and for my game to change two names I have been using.

Therefore, I will be changing two Fate names in my book - the Pagan and the Bokor.

The Pagan are now officially the Heks
The Bokor are now offficially the Sósyé

Speak to you soon!