Women of Action

Sometimes the fun in playing an RPG is the chance to really immerse yourself in a totally different world, personality, life situation, etc. There is tremendous fun in escapism. However, there is also something very emotionally satisfying about using the game as a chance to explore actual issues in a safe fictional space. Which is a roundabout way of saying things got real in my VtR game this past Saturday. I threw my players into a situation of non-stop action, and they were more than up to the task. I also couldn’t resist throwing in one of my infamous magnificent bastard NPCs to mess with one of my PCs who, to his credit, took the situation and ran with it. It was a good game.

I am less happy with the DC television universe as of late. They started out strong, but Gotham continues to slide from amusing absurdity to total hot mess. Which is a shame because all the actors on the show are awesome and fun. But the writing is, honestly, just awful. It’s getting painful to watch. It is totally confusing to me that Gotham not only got a back 9, but got a second season, while Constantine, which is far superior, got cut off at 13 episodes and is now in production limbo. No justice in ratings, I suppose. Constantine is my new Firefly.

I’m also disappointed with the female characters on the main DC shows. (I exempt Constantine because Zed is awesome and they have not given in to doing some stupid romance plot with her… yet.) But over on Arrow, Flash, and Gotham, the treatment of the female characters has been incredibly frustrating. With the huge exception of Thea Queen (who probably has the best story arc and character development of ANYONE on any of these shows, male or female), the female characters on these shows seem to be all portrayed as crazy or broken or just under developed. There are characters in these shows that are amazing strong female superheroes in the comics, but then the writers just totally screw them up on screen. Black Canary is dead/a defensive alcoholic who can’t fight worth a damn,¬†Selina Kyle¬†seems to solely exist to be Bruce Wayne’s love interest, Barbara Kane (who I thought was going to totally be Batwoman) is having a nervous breakdown and a super creepy relationship with two teenage girls, Future Poison Ivy is the most amazing example of a lamp character ever, Montoya is just… missing for some reason, and Flash fails the Bechdel test on such an epic level it’s cringe worthy. There are tons more examples, but seriously, I don’t even consider myself a feminist and I find this offensive. Hopefully, iZombie will balance out the scales a bit.

Way over on the side of the spectrum, Harley Quinn #15 was amazing and brought diversity to the DCU on a massive scale. So much girl power. You should be reading this book. And it deserves a Netflix show. It could be like Daredevil meets Orange is the New Black. But only if the writers don’t totally screw it up.

Thing I’m geeking out on: ETSY, but specifically Mythica Metalworks

When I attend a Strategicon, I always make a it a point to visit this one booth in the dealer room that sells these awesome handmade goods from crochet cephalopods to arm warmers to really neat chain mail jewelry. This last trip I acquired a stretchy chain mail bracelet that I love. I love it so much, and have received so many nice comments on it, that I tracked down the maker – Mythica Metalworks – and have requested a few more. You can keep your Tiffany baubles – give me personalized commissioned art pieces any day. Check out her online shop, order some things, she is amazing.

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Strategicon Feb 2015

Now that I’ve nearly recovered from my con crud induced illness, it’s time for a little post Strategicon review.

For pictures of the con, you can check out my Flickr link over on the right, or click here.

Our games:

9 Realms ran at half capacity, but we’re play-tested a home brew hack of the GURPs character gen system, so I was actually okay with that. The hack actually worked out pretty well, thanks to Wildcard skills and a “menu” of stat arrays that kept the math to a minimum. Everyone seemed to have a good time with our zombie themed game. In which, plot twist, they actually protected a group of non-aggressive people infected with the zombie virus from being attacked. Spoilers – the PCs won.

My Hunter scenario had a full table, which was nice because I think after this a 6 player Gen Con run will be a snap. Again, everyone seemed to enjoy the set up – an eclectic group of Hunters gathers to take down vampires at a Halloween carnival. We could easily have gone another hour, which is always a good sign.

Every con we like to try out some systems we haven’t played yet to see if there is anything we are missing out on. Some games we are ready to play again:

The Quiet Year. This is actually a collaborative storytelling game in the vein of Fiasco, except it involves a deck of cards, which provides a general sense of structure and direction to a game in which you are working together to set up a post-Apocalypse civilization. In many ways the game play felt like a table top version of a Civilization or Tropico game. In some ways more Tropico than Civilization. Maybe even a table top version of Sim City back when everyone used to always destroy their cities with the the “Godzilla” option. Players love destruction.

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. I really like what Fantasy Flight has done with Star Wars. Star Wars based RPGs are always going to have a soft spot in my heart since the very first RPG I played with other people was the West End Games‘ version, which was, not coincidentally also the system I chose for the first campaign I ever GM’d. We have history. Yes, the Fantasy Flight game uses “funny dice”. I’m not going to lie – that has been a big hurdle for us actually doing something with the rule book we bought months ago. But we played in a game at con and we got the hang of it after a few rounds of play. It’s definitely an interesting change of pace. I look forward to finally cracking open our copy and making a character of my own.

Strategicon survival tips:

If you go in February, be warned that currently Strategicon and Gallifrey One are housed next to each other over President’s Day weekend, so there is a more of a fight for resources like foodstuffs, parking, and elevator usage than the other two. On the upside – way more cosplayers, and this is one of the few Strategicons you are likely to walk away with at least one badge flag. Wear it proudly.

Fold Up Backpacks/duffel bags – I picked up a couple of these from Ikea and they are amazing for the price ($5!) and perfect for conventions. They fold up small enough to easily fit into your purse or stow away in your luggage, but then fold out into a thin (but surprisingly well constructed) backpack or small duffel in which to lug around your books, dice, pencil box, and other geeky accessories. Also useful if you are in the habit of purchasing things from the dealer room which then must travel home with you.

Water bottles – Water is expensive in it’s prepackaged form, but the tiny cups at the free water stations placed about con will not get you through 4 hours of bad guy slaying. I recommend bringing a small water bottle of your own. Also, you never have to have that awkward – who’s cup did I just drink from? – moment of terror.

Snacks – Again, food is going to expensive. You would do well to stock that fold up backpack with some trail mix, cookies, oatmeal bars, what have you. But remember, snacks are not just tasty, they are excellent social currency. Bring snacks to share with your table mates and reap the rewards of bonding over sugary goodness.

My personal GM survival kit (Because why carry a box of minis, a ton of books, and a giant roll out map if I don’t have to?)

1 box index cards (or just put a rubber band around a pack of them, but Staples sells neat plastic boxes for $2 and it keeps them from getting folded/spilled on/etc.)

1 pack dry erase pens

1 pack mechanical pencils

1 quart sized bag of Blue Dungeon Tiles – These things are amazing and modular and I cannot recommend them enough

1 quart sized bag of various Dapper Devil tokens – Are they as cool looking as minis? No. Are they tiny, cheap, easy to carry, and get the job done? You betcha. Added bonus – these guys usually have a booth in the dealer room, so if I need to pick up more, or need something specific, or just straight up forget mine, they are easy to pick up at the con.

1 box dice – What? You don’t use a bag!? Nope. I have slowly replaced my bags with “Really Useful Boxes” in various sizes. They snap shut so my dice don’t end up all over my bag, it’s easy to organize my dice by type, and it’s easy to sort through my dice to get the exact ones I want without having to dump the whole bag on the table. And the cover doubles as a little dice rolling area. Win win. Added bonus – they are super easy to stack and organize on my bookshelf.

Tablet – I am between tablets right now, and I was seriously missing mine at this last con. Carrying one tablet with digital copies of my game library, along with PDFs of all my game notes and character sheets, is WAY better than lugging around a bunch of heavy books and folders and whatnot. When we go to Gen Con, which will involve plane travel, the tablet is going to be a must. (Side note – invest in a reliable travel charger in case there is no where to plug in when your battery gets low.)

My last item is digital – Google Drive totally saved us this past weekend. We uploaded all of our game notes, character sheets, etc to our Drive before we left, and it was a good thing we did, because I had failed to pack an entire stack of handouts for our 9 Realms game. Between Google Drive and the hotel’s handy dandy office center, we were able to recover said handouts and get them printed in time for the game. Crisis averted. (Any cloud service or thumb drive will do here – I just happen to be a fan of Google Drive right now.)

For us, Con season is now officially in full swing. Game on.

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