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Showing posts from June, 2017

Game Review: Hearts Blazing

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One of the most satisfying things in the world is playing out an entire season of a television show you wish you could watch. And that happens sometimes. Sometimes you manage to make it through nine or twelve sessions of a game and come out with a full beautiful arch, where everything has been woven back in and you're left on a great cliffhanger for next season but so totally satisfied with everything that happened this season. I mean, nine out of ten times this doesn't happen. Scheduling, mostly being the problem. But when it does? Gold.

Last year at Jiffycon I sat down at a table with a lot of amazing people, including my best mates Rob and Rach, Shane Liebling whom I've come to love immensely, and the ever impressive Glenn Given of Games by Playdate. Hearts Blazing was on the table and since I had backed it on Kickstarter, I wanted the chance to try the game. I had played Ten Candles earlier that day with Glenn and had enjoyed gaming with him, so I was delighted to see…

Breaking Consent: Dominate, Charm Person, and Love Potions

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Recently I was playing D&D and we were choosing our spells. I'm a warlock, and a chaotic evil character (pirates, right?). Friend was on the list of options. I looked at it and remembered the days of Charm Person. Those days when you were caught in an alley and the brigands looked like just maybe, maybe they could be reasoned with. And you'd roll diplomacy, inevitable fail, but before the GM could toss you on your ass with an attack of opportunity, you'd reach out, touch that ugly as sin bandit, and charm his ass off.

Ah, magic.
Whether it's Charm Person in D&D, Ron Weasley drinking a love potion in Harry Potter, or the vampire hypnotizing you into liking them in Monsterhearts, our culture, and evidently gaming, has had some serious problems with consent in the past (and today). As our culture begins to shift into one where rape jokes aren't cool anymore and consent is taught in schools, gaming seems to have yet to catch up.

For decades now, the power to t…

Real Games: Gatekeeping and Dismissiveness

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Once upon a time, in the blessed lands that held our gaming ancestors, there was a way things were done. There was the GM, the players, and there were rules with mechanics that supported the game. These mechanics helped define what would happen in the fiction of the game. The fiction of the game was the world the characters, who were played by the players, inhabited. The world was illustrated and controlled by the GM. The goal of these games was to explore fantastic worlds, be the heroes, and provide a simulation of what being in that world would be like. The more close the game tried to be to real, the more rules it needed to pin down every possible bit of the world. The end.

Except it's not. Gaming has evolved so much in the last few decades that some games are hardly recognizable against the traditional games we know and love. I sometimes wonder what our original designers would think when they look at games like The Quiet Year or When the Dark is Gone or Fall of Magic. I mean…

Breaking Down Tropes: The Avenger

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The paladin waxes on his family, their loss, and how that has left him a broken man. The knight speaks of his daughter's death and how he will stop the tyrant who killed her. The wronged talks about how she became a hunter because her wife was killed by the demon she hunts. The child has grown up to become a cop because his parents were killed and now he keeps the streets safe.

By Grabthar's hammer, they shall be avenged.

Society loves the person who's hunting for the thing that hurt them. We love a good revenge story. We eat up stories about wronged children, fridged wives, dead babies, and the poor soul left behind who takes it upon themselves to right the wrongs committed against them. Well, against those they love. We love it so much entire television shows are based around the Avenger. From Revenge to Supernatural, popular media has fully embraced the very classic revenge trope. And so too has gaming.

In any game I've played, it's perfectly normal to have som…