Bloodied Hands: Desecration and Looting the Dead

Qeteb unleashes baby illithids that pour out of the unknown and attach themselves to the man. He shrieks in horror as he dies slowly, his mind devoured by the tiny squishy creatures. After they finish, they disappear. Qeteb looks back as her companions finish killing the last of the assassins. Around us are several corpses, all belonging to enemies we felled to ensure they didn't inform our enemy of our arrival. The synad smiles at her friend, T'or, and laughs as they joke about how easy the assassins were to kill.

The game disrupts the scene as the DM hands one of the players the loot sheet. In game, I assume this looks like the group of us start rifling through the bodies, looking at what they have, how much money they have, and keeping what we want. I'm confident it's how I got some fancy dice and interesting bits of art. In fact, we've been doing this so long that we have an vineyard estate where we keep our favourite bits of treasure.

It's the economy of D…

One Woman Party: Everything I Do Is Political

"What's your game about?" he says. "About monsters trying to be good people as they fight a battle against evil in a dark carnival." "Awesome!" He looks really excited. I hesitate. "It's mostly about Othering and striving to belong in society but not being able to really achieve that because you're other." "Oh. Why is it about that?" "Because I'm a woman in a man's hobby."

If I talk about sexism, I'm being political. If I'm choosing to actively not talk about sexism, I'm being political. If I talk about my experiences as a gamer, I'm being political. If I'm silent because of fear of attack, I'm being political. If I walk into a convention space and sit down at a table, I'm being political. If I'm striving to say that what I'm working on isn't political, I am being political by taking a non-political stance.

Everything I do is under examination. Everything I say abou…

Breaking Down Tropes: The Damsel in Distress

My BDT series has been short lived and just two topics so far. The Alpha-Male and the Lone Wolf. Both of these tend to be geared more towards male stereotypes than not. Honestly that's because I find breaking apart male stereotypes way more interesting because I'm not a guy and I don't really feel the pressures of those stereotypes. That, and men based stereotypes generally have layers and aren't, well, sexist. There's usually some depth there.

Women based tropes tend to be, well, gross. But I decided, probably against my better judgement, to jump into women based tropes and see if there was anything worth salvaging. At worst, I can tear apart the trope and try to make it clear why people shouldn't be using it, at best I can find some good bits and figure out how to play around with the trope without sliding into problematic territory.

A Damsel in Distress is a woman who is used to drive story forward by getting kidnapped and thus requiring rescue. She's o…

Carving Out Space: Inviting Women to Design

So this one time, I was sitting at a game table talking about Dungeons and Dragons with a friend of mine when this dude sits down beside me. We're drinking. It's loud and we're at a pub for a Ryerson gaming night. This guy, who has been invited to this gather by my fiancee, looks at me and goes "You game?" I say yes. He grins and goes "That's hot!" He spent the rest of the night hitting on me.

Another time, I was prepping to run D&D for my then-boyfriend, his best friend, and their basement roommate, Tim. My boyfriend was excited, as he hadn't seen me GM yet and we were talking about what kind of world in D&D they wanted to play in. They had bought some expansion stuff that could make 3.0 into a steampunk setting. So I start thinking about it and do a bunch of prep work. When I sit down to talk to my boyfriend about setting a date, he says we can't play because Tim won't play. When I ask why, here's what I get: "Because…

Chasing the Dream: Your Con Will Never Be Inclusive Enough

Breakout has a harassment policy. It has an x-card at every scheduled game. It has a tap out policy for guests and volunteers. It has zero-tolerance for harassment or abuse. It tries to recruit women and minorities, smash imposter syndrome, be inclusive of all genders, sexualities, ethnicities, races, abilities, mental health concerns, and sizes. Every year, the organizers try to find new ways of being a more inclusive and safe convention. Every year new things come into place, new options are added, and the con evolves.

But one thing remains clear, as an organizer of Breakout, my con isn't inclusive enough. The majority of our volunteers are men. The majority of our guests are men. And yes, the majority of our attendees are men. Most of these people are white. And while we have an amazing LGBTQ community, it's not enough. No amount of work or effort on behalf of organizers will make our convention perfectly inclusive
This is a really abrasive statement, and as much as I lo…

Game Review: Lost in the Rain

A long time ago I stumbled across a game about sad children in the early morning hours, and without looking too much into it, I hit order and forgot about it. It arrived. I stuck it on my shelf and never looked back. Until last week. This strange, mystical game that I had heard about online somewhere, forgot about, refound, and then eventually ordered was Lost in the Rain by Vivien Feasson. And here, my friends, is the premise:

It is said that children who get lost in the city on a rainy day end up devoured by the sirains. The only way to escape those starving creatures is to find other lost kids and stay close to them at all times. It is also said that the sirains always find a way to seep into the most closely knit groups. By using evil thoughts, fear, hunger and loneliness, they lure their victims and snatch them, one by one, to devour them in the dark. In the end, only one lost child will find his way home. The others will never be seen again.
Premise wise, Lost in the Rain had me at…

We Are Not the Same: Invalidation in Gaming

You know when you're at a game, and you're in the zone and you're doing the thing that your character is actually good at and sure, it's a spotlight moment for you. And you do the thing. You roll a critical success. It's fucking epic. You are jamming and talking and really digging what's happening. And then the next minute, someone says "Why are you doing that? It's stupid."

Be still your little gamer heart. You've just been invalidated.

Invalidation. It happens a lot at the game table and it's a way for people to weed out social behaviours they don't like or don't find interesting. Some of this is well intentioned and poorly executed. Some of this is just trying to control a situation to suit ourselves and that's also pretty crappy. None of it is a particularly good practice and one that makes us crappy citizens and mean friends.

Yet, the common thread of telling people what they're doing is boring, stupid, disinteresting,…