Playtest Review: Hearts of Magic

"This obviously can’t be a war. There are things out there, in the night and the dark, who notice things like war. To even suggest otherwise might attract their attention." 

Within the world of Hearts of Magic, the small city you live in is fraught with despair and conflict. The Lords and Ladies rule from on high, ignoring the Order's law and igniting a rebellion within the Witches that inhabit the city. The Order rules with suppression and fear, demanding loyalty. The Witches push back, carving out a space with their wild magics. The more they push, the more the Order suppresses.

It is a setting and world ripe with forbidden love, frightening magic, and fraught emotional spaces.

A few days ago I was lucky enough to get into a playtest of a pretty fabulous game on Kickstarter. I put out a call on Twitter for games coming to or on Kickstarter now for me to review because I miss talking about games coming out and chatting with designers about their products, intentions, and …

The TTRPG Industry: Can We Survive It?

I remember my second American gaming convention. A friend of mine had really wanted to go and needed someone who could be a support person. So he brought me with him. He was mostly excited to meet all of the indie designers he had spoken to on Story Games. And so I met them too.

This was the convention I met industry people I didn't even know were industry people. I played Fiasco for the first time with the creator. I played Penny For My Thoughts, Tales of the Fisherman's Wife, Annalise, and My Life With Master. I was in some weird Starpower game in the basement with a bunch of industry insiders run by Luke Crane. I only knew my friend and I was isolated.
I had been running events and games for the local gaming group I was an admin of, Toronto Area Gamers. I was younger then, maybe 21 or 22. I was full of anger and pain from an abusive relationship and was stumbling into my next one after having been raped that summer. I had an idea for a game and a lot of attitude and a vague…

Playtest Review: Afterlife: Wandering Souls

Kickstarter is... intense. Having just run my first campaign, I gotta say I didn't appreciate the depth of stress it could give you. For me, personally, so much of it wasn't stressful because it was still easier than running a convention. But managing a Twitter explosion and dealing with really hateful people was a new exercise in online pain. One I'm familiar with, but one that left me heart sick and bruised.

It gave me a new appreciation for talking about and engaging with games on Kickstarter. This newfound appreciation gave me the perfect opportunity to play a game with someone I admire and whose work I think is brilliant, Elizabeth Chaipraditkul. I've admired Liz's work from the first time I read the back of Witch: Fated Souls, a sexy and brilliant game about, well, Witches. I love the game so much I even bought the beautiful Devil's Deck to use with the game.

After Witch, I stumbled onto a Return to Wonderland scenario Liz designed with Steffie de Van. A…

The Trauma Effect: Fraught Space, Healing, and Moving Forward

As two weeks of pain, trauma, and viciousness comes to a close, I find myself more than a little broken. I've spent the last two weeks issuing public statements, promoting radical self care, and trying to keep my own trauma responses handled with self care so that I could help others. It's been exhausting, drowning, and unrelenting.

Everyone has had their own reactions to the last two weeks. If you're not familiar with the last two weeks, goodness do I hate to tell you what's been going on. A notorious and known online harasser was revealed to be horrifically abusive to his ex wife. The level of pain he caused was deeply unsettling. Several more women came forward after to tell their own stories. Their stories paint a terrible reality.

To follow this, the indie game world broke as accusations came against one of our own. It's complicated and terrible and I can't comment on it because of various positions of power I hold, but basically what happened was a well k…

Loving Yourself: Self Care in the Apocalypse

Metatopia was hard this year. We turned the news off and refused to talk about the world outside the convention centre. We battened the hatches, threw down some sand bags, and smiled at each other instead of continuing to die on the inside. The world outside was frightening. There was an invisible pressure we could all feel that made existing difficult. Each step we took, each game we ran, each hug we gave or receive felt weighted. But we endured.

Beyond the dismal future of a dystopian novel we were spiralling inside, there was the pressure of our lives. All of us have been on one hell of a journey this year and we all have felt it. We've confronted our demons, we've gone looking for new tools and weapons to slay them with. We've born witness to radical pain and loss in ourselves and each other. We've seen such terrible shadows it's no longer possible to walk away from them.

And we endured.
There's something inherently beautiful and filled with grace about our…

Ten Lessons From 2018: Becoming a Better Gamer

It's that time of year again. The one where we push out the old, reflect on it (if we're brave) and usher in the new. We look at our game shelves, wonder what games will be under the tree (or in our inbox) and if we're very lucky, schedule a game or two before 2019 hits us. It's the time of year many of us spend thinking about our 2018 Game of the Year and what we're looking forward to next year.

I have to admit that this year I have barely played anything. I counted the other day, and save a few conventions games, I've played about 8 game sessions. It makes me really sad. I did a fair bit of convention gaming, but mostly my gaming year has been spent organizing game rooms and conventions, getting Crossroads out, working on Robot Dreams, and becoming a better human.

Yet through all of that, I've been doing a lot of listening. I've been talking to people at conventions about their struggles, through online mediums, and in my daily game life about what th…

Too Girly Part 2: Owning the Fuck Up(s)

Today I was in a class on facilitating restorative justice. It's something I'm passionate about and something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. This class was particularly on point as we discussed community involvement in breaches of trust or in harm caused within the community. This is the part that interests me the most. In gaming, we see a tonne of breeches of trust. Of hurt and of harm. We see people fuck up, really hurt people, give up, walk away, or just forge ahead like nothing has happened and try to continue their work. We all have our own unique responses to it.

In a later post, I'm excited to talk about how we can do better with those breaks as a community overall. But today I need to talk about my most recent post, Too Girly, and the backlash I received against it. Or more specifically: the feedback I saw on the internet. I specifically say feedback because while it was definitely backlash, and I can't support threats of violence, there was …