Presentation and Tropes with ‘Monster Races’ in Fantasy Games

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I just read this article, and it is certainly something to consider. This weekend I ran a D&D game set on the frontier of a jungle. At the heart, my goal was to subvert tropes, and this article got me actively thinking how and if I was successful. Subversion of a trope can be hard to manage without forethought and focus. In the end, I think I cut into some tropes, but I could have done better. I can’t tell you too much about the adventure, because I’m using elements of it in a product in development. I can tell you that I’m seriously considering my presentation of ‘monster races.’

 

This is something I’ve written about before. In that article, I focused on Goblins, and I’m going to use them as an example again here. As a cultural group, Goblins are fascinating to me, and I think the way they are often used is very frustrating in general. Eberron does a good job of undercutting the traditional colonial/racist way of depicting Goblins. It’s not perfect, but it is a step in a positive direction and I think we should be trying to do better in our games. Other settings are less effective at showcasing Goblinoids as living, breathing, and dynamic sentient people. We’ll just leave it at that, I’m not going to throw any specific shade anywhere right now.

 

D&D has colonial roots, and racism is a symptom of colonialism. (Or vice-versa, depending on how you suss out the origins of the behavior the terms describe), but that doesn’t mean we cannot use it to examine those things critically. In fact, I think that is a core benefit RPGs can offer us. The entire concept behind Reach-Out Roleplaying Games is to help use games like D&D to explore and understand the impacts othering, racism, sexism, and other systemic prejudices have on people and our interactions with one another.

So, we have two options, as I see it. We can acknowledge the inherent colonialists flaws in D&D and then work to subvert them. Or, we can use them without alteration as a way to start discussion outside of the game setting. The second is harder if you don’t have a group that wants to deconstruct the game and their own feelings and thought processes after a session. I’d make a joke about my surprise at these things, but I’m not. Most people don’t play RPGs for constant self-reflection and internal examination of their own biases and mental constructs…

 

 

Before I digress too far down that rabbit hole, let’s talk about subversion of tropes. This is an excellent idea as it is often in the hands of the GM to create the world which these tropes are expressed through. You’ve got the power to subvert tropes as a player as well, but the GM controls the systematic side. That said, everyone at the table has a role in determining, subverting, or reconstructing tropes.

 

For example. Goblins are murderous creatures that stumble over themselves in a cannibalistic frenzy. This common fantasy RPG trope is based on some elements of Tolkein, and lots of D&D specific history. It references tropes of tribal behavior, particularly from colonial conception of African and Polynesian culture. This isn’t an accurate depiction of those cultures, but we shouldn’t be blind to that influence on the way certain monster races are presented. So, how do we subvert this trope?

 


The first possible way is to make Goblins part of mainstream society within a setting. What role could they fill that halflings and gnomes do not? Any. Halflings may focus on culinary arts (Tolkein level trope, but let’s roll with it) and Goblins work as crafters and artisans. Their smaller frames make them really good at working in small spaces, so plumbers, construction, or mining are roles that are positive to a society. You can of course also make them farmers, or animal herders and subvert several tropes all at once. Consider the motivations your Goblins have. What do they see as the good life? Is there a Goblin Socrates? Why are they part of the society they are a part of? What do most members of society do? What do the outliers do? What is normalized behavior and what is taboo?

 

You can also give the trope style Goblins motivation that makes their behavior understandable. Murderous mob of goblins? They are a splinter group of raiders that were ostracized from several goblin towns. Having the players make an alliance with these towns to mutually take the raiders into custody would be an interesting plotline They may not need to be killed and if they are, doing so may anger more goblin’s who are their relatives. Perhaps a second group of ‘murderous’ goblins are simply avenging the deaths of their kin. Looking at Icelandic Saga Feuds, or the Hatfield and McCoy feud it is easy to see how this cycle of revenge can quickly get out of control. In both cases, greater law is often imposed to limit feuding, and it could be an interesting campaign to show the imposition of higher law between groups that have agreed to stop blood feuding.

This may not be going far enough, depending on the group and the scenario you are creating. When developing a setting or a full game, I think we also have to be really cognizant of what we are saying about a culture through our writing. Eberron presents Khorvaire as once being home to a massive Goblin empire. That empire collapsed, and the majority of goblinoids are now living in poverty, or living in nomadic, or rural village life.

 

Keep in mind too, that rural village life in most D&D worlds is fraught with danger we don’t have in human history. In a lot of cases, Giants, Dragons, and such would have driven most humans to build great cities sooner if they had actually existed. Binding together is sensible in the face of this sort of outside challenge. So, it is understandable that the life of the average goblin in Eberron is one of high mortality, and a fight for survival.

This is edging into trope territory as well, though. This makes Goblins perpetually marginalized in a society where they are generally unwelcome. Again, that can be useful for exploring racism and class issues through an RPG. If that isn’t the purpose for using this trope, we have to again consider what we are hoping to say in setting development? What if Goblins were simply an accepted part of society? In Eberron, we could have them be heirs to Dragonmarks, which would include them in the House system, which could mainstream them.

Acceptable, or trope?

You could also bring Darguun up to a fairly level playing field with the rest of the Nations of Eberron, pushing back the story of its unification, or even having it have sustained unity from the imperial era. This will either make Goblins more, or less antagonistic, depending on how much inherent nationalism you build into your world.

 

If you are building a completely new world, you could also do away with the standard Goblin tropes completely. Make them as accepted a part of society as Gnomes or Halflings. If you want to keep an antagonist group in the world, consider flipping the script and having Humans, or Elves be aggressors. You can either have it be a full swap, or try and subvert other tropes while you are flipping the script. The biggest danger here is shifting things and creating or falling into the same tropes with different faces.

 

What do I want you to take away from this? Try and subvert tropes that emphasize colonial or racist elements in RPGs. When you do so, try and take a holistic view on what your subversion would change in a setting. Be realistic, avoid stereotypes, and recognize you might not get it right. Take criticism, listen, and be prepared to adjust fire at the table too.

 

I’m interested in hearing how you’ve subverted tropes at your table or in your game. Let’s swap war stories.

Credit GDJ at Pixabay

Five Hidden Benefits of LARP: Networking

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When you ask people why they LARP, the most common answer is their own varied form of “because it’s fun” or “because my friends do it and I want to spend time with them” and both of those answers are great, but did you know there are actual benefits to LARPing? When you examine LARP there are many benefits to it that are hidden just beneath the surface. In this series of articles five of these hidden benefits will be expanded upon and detailed. For more information check out the other articles on Education, Health, Social Skills, and Creative Outlets.

 

What is Networking?

Credit: geralt at PIXABAY

Yes this, but also not this.

 

Merriam Webster defines networking as “the exchange of information or services among individuals” specifically for business or employment. Talking about networking, most people picture people in suits trading business cards. Networking, however, is about more than just getting a job. While it can help you find a job, it can also help you with so much more in your life.

 

How LARP Helps You Network

Credit geralt at PIXABAY

Digital Networking!

Thinking about the games I play, here is a rough estimate of some demographics of the player bases:

  • Parents
  • Graphic Artists
  • Traditional Artists
  • Carpenters
  • College Professors
  • Retail Workers
  • Writers
  • Tech Support
  • Musicians
  • Costume Makers
  • Cosplayers
  • Law Enforcement
  • Health Care Professionals
  • Published Authors
  • …and more!

 

Now initially, this may not seem super impressive on the surface. The thing that makes this impressive is the people who know the players. Knowing the parents helps you meet other parents, babysitters, teachers, etc. Knowing artists helps you connect to other artists, people wanting to buy art, and studios. Networking with the other players can help you find other types of people you may need to contact in the future.

Not only can LARP help you form a commodity network, but also one for support. You may meet other people suffering from the same sicknesses or illnesses as you. You may also meet people who have gone through your hardships previously, and who can offer advice.  LARP is NOT a replacement for seeing a professional or taking medication, at all. However it can help you with a small bit of emotional support and meeting friends going through the same woes. In addition, speaking with a professional can be a bit intimidating, but having one recommended by a friend can help easy that worry.

 

But, What Does Networking Do For Me?

Credit GDJ at Pixabay

Now you’ve got it!

Let’s say you need a babysitter for game night and your normal one is unavailable. The other parents at the game may also be using a babysitter who can watch your kid at the same time. Want to hire music for your event? Your musician player might be a perfect choice to hire, or they may know someone who is. Need something proofread? Your professor friend or writer friends might be able to recommend a good service to use. Require a unique gift made for a special someone? Your artist friends are hopefully available for commission or know an artist who is. Wish you hadn’t ripped your pants? Your costume making or cosplay friends can likely be hired to patch a quick hole or fix a seam.

Networking will also help you find a job or help your friends find one. Say that healthcare professional above says their office is hiring for another CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant). You aren’t a CNA, but you have another friend who is. The two are connected and suddenly your friend has a new job they needed! You might lament at afters that your current job just doesn’t pay enough for the work you do. Another player has a friend who knows of an opening in their company that isn’t posted publicly. You apply and get hired at a new and better job just because of who you know! If you didn’t know the people you did, you’d have never heard about that job.

Networking is Great!

Credit: martinelle at Pixabay

You couldn’t read this article without at least one type of networking!

Networking at LARP will be one of the most useful things you do, and most of the time you won’t even realize you’re doing it! From finding new jobs, to babysitters, to support, and more, it is a seriously helpful benefit of so many different people coming together to enjoy a common hobby.  Be sure to check out the other articles on Education, Health, Social Skills, and Creative Outlets for more ways that LARP can benefit you!

 

Anna uses she/her pronouns, is an avid LARPer, and on weekend when she isn’t being a vampire or werewolf she treks out to the woods to beat up her friends with assorted plumbing supplies and birdseed. Outside of LARP Anna is a feminist and part of the LGBTQ* community, console gamer, and is the proud owner of two loving cats with three eyes between them. Find her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Is She Hot? The Question Female Gamers Dread

As a female bodied gamer, character creation can be difficult sometimes. No, I’m not talking about the sexist view that women are bad at math, or that complex rules are too hard. I am talking about the answer to the question that I feel most female gamers or female presenting gamers dread. This loaded six word question that means something different when it is asked of a female presenting gamer.

 

Question: What Does Your Character Look Like?

Yes, when a male presenting gamer is asked this question it means exactly what it means, no hidden subtext. Does Valeros have brown hair or black hair? What armor is Harsk wearing? What instrument is Lem carrying today? All of these are perfectly normal questions with normal answers. However when this question is asked of female presenting gamers, it usually does not just mean ‘What does your character look like’ but another question instead.

 

Real Question: Is She Hot/Attractive?

How much skin is Seoni showing? What size are Feiya’s breasts? Is Alahazra’s Charisma high? These are a few of the many subtext questions asked of female presenting gamers. Everyone at the table wants to know if our characters are sexually attractive, and if their characters can get with ours. A fantasy takes over in their minds where they feel if they can befriend our character and get with them, that they can get with us in real life. I know many relationships have come about from first starting an in game friendship (including my own!) but that relies on attraction between the parties being mutual, instead of one sided.

 

Perils of Attractive Characters:

My PFS character Kita (and crappy photoshop skills!)

My PFS character Kita (and crappy photoshop skills!)

Take for example my character Kita. Kita was a Sorcerer in the Pathfinder rules set, so it was beneficial for Charisma to be my highest stat. My first PFS module was The Overflow Archives and I was excited to play in a game at my local gaming shop. In the module there was a section with some fey characters that you could either talk to or fight, and I chose to talk. It was then the party at the table realized my character had high Charisma, and even though they were annoyed I chose to talk instead of fight I was suddenly much more popular. One of the orcs gave me a ride on his shoulders in a flooded part of the dungeon. I got healed almost instantly when I was hurt by the party Cleric.

After the game was over, the Orc player asked me to coffee. I told him I don’t drink coffee so I’d have to decline. Then it was lunch at a restaurant I luckily did not like, so I said no again. Then he asked where I’d like to eat and I walked away, and have not returned to that gaming group. At no point did I learn anything beyond this player’s name, and they knew nothing of me other than my name and that I played a cute female character. They didn’t even ask if I was in a relationship or anything else before making it clear they were looking for a date.

 

Freedom of Unattractive Characters

darkestdungeon.com

Ragin Jane Scarlett, the Woman With No Neck

Conversely to the above, I once played a pirate in the Skulls and Shackles adventure path named Ragin’ Jane Scarlett. She was a Barbarian and guard of her male friend and partner in crime Thomas Stringer. It was often said of Jane that she had no neck, just muscle. She was gruff and unattractive, and had no romantic interest or motherly feelings, and was nothing but platonic towards her adventuring partner. They formed a strong pirate crew and made terror on the high seas for those unfortunate enough to cross them.

No one at this group asked me to coffee, no one flirted with me in character as a veil for out of character. The only ones who made passes at me were a couple NPCs that I scared into submission. It was freeing and refreshing. I’ve played several more unattractive or not specifically attractive tabletop characters, including just playing men instead.  I find that most GMs and players leave alone male characters when it comes to their looks and don’t bring it up as often if at all.

 

Attractive/Unattractive Characters and LARP

Rook (and more crappy photoshop!)

Rook (and more crappy photoshop!)

At one point in my LARP career, I played an attractive Brujah named Gianna (not pictured) who was a prostitute in her mortal life, inspired by Ros on the Game of Thrones show. Gigi, as her coterie and bloodline called her, wore short shorts that I shyly wore to game with tights under. I posted a selfie in the shorts after game, proud of wearing them. Almost instantly there were comments from the other players about the naughty thoughts they had and what they wanted to do with me. I did not ask for a review of how I looked or how nice the shorts and tights made my butt look. I deleted the picture because of how uncomfortable the comments made me, but I and many female presenting gamers deal with these comments constantly. Some can’t even post pictures of new Pokemon slippers without commenters asking for nude pictures.

I currently play Rook (pictured above), a Nosferatu that I have written about before. Once when visiting a game, I showed up already in costume. No one flirted with me in character because they found me or my character attractive. I looked unattractive with a gaunt face and giant cloak. I enjoyed an evening being able to be unharassed. Once the game was over, I stood up straight and revealed that my body is in fact female. I had several people whom I did not talk to all game tell me that the RP with me was good. They were all male presenting with surprised looks on their faces that I was female bodied. Up to that moment they disregarded me because they couldn’t see my female body, and I loved it.

 

The Answer: It Doesn’t Matter!

When I’m asked what my character looks like, I sigh.  I am always ready for them to follow up with “Is She Hot?” when I fail (on purpose usually) to mention their attractiveness. I tend to ask them why it matters and most of the time I find that it doesn’t actually matter. These are my experiences, and yours may be different. I feel that if you ask your female presenting friends you’ll find similar patterns of behavior towards their characters. When they play ugly or unattractive characters they will be treated normally. Female characters that are attractive are targeted by others who want to push their fantasies on the character. Perhaps keep this and the follow up article in mind next time you want to ask “Is She Hot?”


Anna uses she/her pronouns and is an avid LARPer.. Outside of LARP Anna is a feminist and part of the LGBTQ* community. She’s a console gamer, and is the proud owner of two loving cats. She can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/squeenoodles

*Note, all opinions are the opinions of their respective Authors and may not represent the opinion of the Editor or any other Author of Keep On the Heathlands.

Source: Bethesda

How Console Mods Help New People Enjoy Gaming

 

 Note: This article contains a picture of a doodle drawn spider from an old internet meme.

 

2016 was a big year in gaming for Bethesda fans. At E3 2015, they announced mod support for PS4 and Xbox One users for Fallout 4. Additionally when Skyrim Special Edition was annouced it also would come with mod support.  Finally, console gamers could have a taste of the modding fun! Mods are responsible for things like this My Little Pony dragon replacement mod for Skyrim, or this one that turns the trolls in game to internet trolls. Finally, us console gamers can be one step closer to the glorious “PC master race” that has eluded us! But console mod support has another unintended benefit: those with phobias and disabilities can now join in on the fun.

 

Anti Phobia Mods  

Source: Bethesda and yrock1234

Doodle spider added for effect. He’s sad!

There are many, many, phobias and many degrees to which those phobias affect those who suffer from them. Some people just need to kill the spiders they see, while others may be so paralyzed that they can’t do anything. It’s never fun to have a phobia accidentally triggered, even more so when you spent up to 60 dollars on it and can’t get a refund. Your copy of Fallout 4 or Skyrim may sit on the shelf or in your hard drive gathering dust because you didn’t realize one of your phobias was in the game.

 

Luckily, with the added mod support, many users like Joescreamatorium and yrock1234 have created texture replacement mods to replace things like bugs, zombie-like ghouls, crabs, and spiders with non-triggering textures for other creatures in the game. User yrock1234 even went so far as to replace the items dropped by the insects with same-effect items that fit with their new textures. The bears they replaced the spiders with (shown below) now drop beehives instead of spider web sacs that have the same in-game effects. Clever!

 

Cirosan’s Full Dialouge Interface Mod

Source: Bethesda and Cirosan

The Zhongwen language mod hard at work, making The Vault-tec Salesman no less annoying.

User Cirosan made Fallout 4 specifically more inclusive by adding a mod to ‘fix’ the dialogue system. In the unmodded version of Fallout 4, you don’t actually get to see what your character is going to say. Instead you see a rather general prompt, like THREATEN or ASK FOR CAPS. Sometimes you can be more or less of a jerk than you intend. With this mod the text your character speaks is clearly shown on screen for all four dialogue options, eliminating the guesswork. No wondering what sarcastic or emotional thing your character would say. Their mod is available in TEN languages at the time of writing, and they seem to be working on more.

 

This mod is amazingly inclusive, because it helps people who have trouble picking up on social cues, such as those on the Autism spectrum. I am not on the spectrum but I sometimes have trouble sometimes picking up on the cues. You see exactly what your character is going to say displayed on the screen, with an [emotion] tag associated. For those who have trouble processing spoken language, this mod is awesome. 

 

Source: Bethesda and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTgu3Svbo3g

The modder did not upload any images, so this is a screenshot taken from The Gameplay TV.

LGBTQ* Family Mod

On the LGBTQ* side of things, Skyrim doesn’t really need any modding.

For romances in Skyrim, as in Fallout 4, any eligible NPCs that can participate in the relationship/marriage system will marry your character regardless of gender. Neither game makes any big deal of your character choosing to be with male or female NPCs. You are also not ‘locked in’ to whichever type you choose and can change throughout the game. However in Fallout 4’s opening few minutes, your character is defined by experiences with their opposite-sexed partner and their child in a heteronormative fashion.

 

User Overseer777 has modded a way around this by changing all references made in-game to the spouse and changing the beginning to have your spouse’s in-game model match the sex of yours. Heteronormativity is a problem in gaming, with most games only option for opposite sex relationships. It is amazing that Fallout 4 and Skyrim are not heteronormative, and this mod helps seal the deal.

 

 

Source: Bethesda

OOOH YEAH!

Game mods can be sources of absolute hilarity, cool new content, all the cheats you could want, and more. Mods are also a great resource for making games much more friendly and inclusive for everyone. In the future, I hope that other developers begin to support modding on consoles. Modding is making gaming more accessible for everyone, and that’s a good thing. Besides, who doesn’t want to be able to turn their in game enemies into Macho Man Randy Savage? I know I do!

 


Anna uses she/her pronouns and is an avid LARPer and console gamer. On weekends when she isn’t a vampire she treks to the woods to beat up her friends with plumbing supplies.  Anna is a feminist, part of the LGBTQ* community, and is the proud owner of two loving cats. Anna is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/squeenoodles

The Tradition of Magic in RPGs – AD&D

summoning
So now, after looking at Chainmail, we’ll take a look at 1st edition AD&D. Here, we see a departure from the simple and basic rules found in Chainmail and white box D&D. Here we see a detailed magic system with a more extensive spell list.

1st edition AD&D had a detailed and odd way of providing spells. This is because the rules printed in the Player’s Handbook only give part of the rules for granting spells. The other half is listed in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Nowadays this is a moot point, as you can get both books at the same time. However, when they were first released the Player’s Handbook was put out a year before the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

In fact, the first AD&D supplement put out was the Monster Manual which was released in 1977, with the Player’s Handbook following in 1978, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide finally in 1979.

So, as mentioned in the PH (Player’s Handbook) a magic users ability to learn a spell was based on their Intelligence (INT) score. Your INT would determine your % chance to learn a spell.My group? We would roll on the list and any spells in which we passed the percentage to learn roll we would mark those in our books as spells we HAD THE POSSIBILITY of learning, if we came upon them during the course of the game.

Thus, we would go down the list and roll to see what spells we knew. If we didn’t pass any rolls we didn’t get to know that spell. As we understood the rules, our minds could not comprehend the spell or grasp the intricacies of a spell. Once in awhile a DM would be “nice” and allow us to roll through again if we didn’t meet the minimum spell number for our level.

The real issue I had was that last column above “Number of knowable spells per level Maximum”. I didn’t like this. Why? Many times I would be rolling through the spell list in the PH and pass the % Chance to know Any given spell and hit my max number of spells knowable before I had finished the list. NO FAIR!

From a DM standpoint the book didn’t say you had to roll them in any order and I allowed my players to roll them in any order they wished. The rules stated that the Maximum knowable was because your brain couldn’t comprehend any further information. Given that magic users had to memorize the spells and copy them into their spell books, they could only keep so much in their heads.

All of this is great. One thing is never stated though: How many spells a magic user ACTUALLY STARTS WITH AT CHARACTER CREATION! Yep, again. All that rolling for spells above is just to determine if you have the ability to learn the spell, should the opportunity arise. It doesn’t tell you the number of spells you would get. That information was in the DMG (Dungeon Master’s Guide).

The DMG mentioned the spells a magic user would know. Four, is the number of spells a 1st level magic user knew. The first spell it stated that all magic users would know was Read Magic, as how else would you be able to cast any other spells? All other spells fell into three categories Offensive,Defensive, and Miscellaneous. A player would roll a d10 and determine randomly what spell they would know from each of these lists.

That’s how you learned the spells, and of course, you would have to keep the needed components on hand and take the time to memorize each spell first thing each day. There is a sense of nostalgia looking at how this system ran. It is neat seeing how much has changed.

skeletor-magic-missle

Wonderful Skeletor, we want you to cast that spell. To cast a spell you memorize the spell and use one of your spell slots. Use up the spell slot and that’s it. Well, from a mechanics standpoint you have to wait the amount of time it takes to cast the spell and if there is a saving throw the defender gets to roll.

Really though that is it. It’s not all that bad. Pretty straightforward really. So pro’s and con’s?

Pros:

Easy, once you fully understand it.

Like most versions of D&D (except 4th) magic casting has changed very little, so you know one edition, you know them all.

Cons

The clunkiness of having the spell system separated between the PH and the DMG can cause confusion.

The spell list, while not exhaustive, is not really what I would consider “open”

So, in conclusion, AD&D did a good job of having a robust magic system that did just as it was intended. The Spells were vast, and covered many different styles. Though, for me, the constant spell lists and noting the particulars did get tedious.

For what it set out to do (and still does) the D&D magic system does it very well. There is a reason why so many spells in the game are household names. It is a robust system even with it’s flaws.

Many other games would emulate the groundwork laid by D&D. Even in the early years, games such as Tunnels & Trolls, Bunnies & Burrows, Traveller, and Runequest would expand the ways in which magic, in RPG’s, was used.

Next week we will look at Runequest, 2nd Ed. AD&D, and the Traveler black book. Moving from the high fantasy that dominated the hobby in the early days, sci-fi finally had it’s say in the medium, and it was very different, to say the least.

Scott is a true analog gamer doing everything from pen and paper RPG’s to board games and everything in-between. He started out with Advanced D&D 2nd edition at the age of 10. From there he likes all genres and types, from the well known big names to smaller indie print publishers. Scott is Vice-President of The Wrecking Crew

*Note, all opinions are the opinions of their respective Authors and may not represent the opinion of the Editor or any other Author of Keep On the Heathlands.

SOCIAL JUSTICE BARD WANTED

Project Opportunity

Conflict Resolution – Content Developer

Reach-Out Roleplaying Games is looking for a team of people to help develop our products. We are specifically looking for individuals interested in role-playing games with diverse backgrounds willing to invest their time and talent in a project that will help integrate creative problem solving techniques and conflict resolution principles. You will be working with the Editor-In-Chief to develop a handbook that provides guidance on how to integrate creative problem solving and non-violent conflict resolution techniques into role-playing games. The handbook will also detail a method of dialogue using role-playing games.

Qualifications

Current Student focused on Conflict Resolution or Conflict Resolution specialist
Writing/Content Development Experience must include the summary of complex concepts and making them easier to understand for a wider audience
Experience with formal Dialogue procedures


Background Desired

Experience with table-top role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, FATE, Savage Worlds etc.
Women and people of color are particularly encouraged to submit their resume and letter of interest


Pay

We are looking for investors interested in supporting this project with their time and writing skill. I’m looking for a team willing to embrace this concept and help develop it by taking a risk. Once the handbook is developed we will be looking at crowd-funding options to print and distribute. Funds raised will go toward the printing of the books and paying the writers and artists that provide content.
Interested?
Please send resume and a short letter of interest to admin@keepontheheathlands.com If you would like to know more about the project and other related projects you can visit our website at www.keepontheheathlands.com

A CASE FOR QUEER CHILDHOOD HORROR IN THE WORLD OF DARKNESS

Changeling

Tell me if you’ve heard these before. “I liked Changeling the Lost so much more than Changeling the Dreaming because they got rid of all the childhood garbage.”  “When I read Changeling the Dreaming, I turned and ran and never looked back.” “Changeling’s a fine game I guess, but it doesn’t belong in the World of Darkness.”

I have seen or heard every statement above when WoD players talk about Changeling the Dreaming.  I am a long time fan of Changeling, and specifically I am a long time fan of the horror themes inherent to the game.  In truth it can be the darkest setting in the line, but the themes are difficult to approach for a variety of reasons.  Some of those reasons are tied to how the game was developed, but some of the problems have to do with the perspective players bring to the game.

Changeling the Dreaming fundamentally speaks to a distinctly queer experience.  No, I do not think Changeling is exclusively queer, but I think the horror of the game is particularly resonant with the lived experience of queer gamers.  I do not know if this was intentional on the part of the developers, but I want to take some time to really dive into the horrors of Changeling through my experiences as a gay man, and how I feel these experiences show up in Changeling.

There are a handful of moments in my life that I think about when I think about Changeling.  When I was in 7th grade I was at the counter of a small kitch store with my mother in front of a cashier than I am now quite certain was a gay man.  A box of rainbow rings sitting next to the register caught my eye so I picked one up and asked what it was.  The cashier told me they were gay pride rings and I dropped them like my hands were on fire.  I don’t know how the cashier responded (I can’t imagine well), but my mother awkwardly tried to tell me I shouldn’t react that way, while at the same time obviously not wanting to be angry because she wanted to cultivate empathy in me, not shame.  As much as her reaction was the right one, she didn’t understand why I dropped them.  She hadn’t spent years on the playground with me, and she didn’t understand the fear of the slurs being true that only really exists when they are.  Until I finally started dating guys I never thought about that moment, but it lingered in high resolution in my mind.  Now it defines how I understand gay men before they accept who they are.

 

I had that dream again.  The one where I tower over all the bullies on the playground.  I’m also blue, with horns and . . . it’s a weird dream.  I didn’t have it while I was asleep though.  I had it on the playground.  Steve was getting it again for taking all the toys apart and trying to make them better.  Chuck was leading the chant, and it was the same insults the kids always used.  Geek, Dweeb, Tinkling Tinker, Queer.  My vision went red, my skin went blue and I swung.  I was huge.  I towered over them.  They couldn’t possibly win. . . Except they did.

 

Steve and I both ended up in the dirt, filthy and bruised.  I got up first and tried to help him up but he smacked my hand and started screaming at me.  Why did I stick my nose in his business? They would have been happy to just scare him if he’d played along, and then I butted in.  His cheeks were red with tears and rage.  For a moment I saw two red spirals twirl out of the flush on his face.  I cringed back and closed my eyes, trying not to listen to him screaming.  I don’t want to be this anymore.  I don’t want to care about him.  I hate myself.

Victor

When I was in high school I fell for my first boy.  I mean, I’d crushed a few times before that, but I always found a way to convince myself it was something else.  I can’t say we “dated” or that he was “my boyfriend”.  His parents were Pentecostal.  That was just never going to happen.  Not in any way that normal people get to have boyfriends or girlfriends.  We fooled around though.  Did the sort of things 16 year old kids do with each other that their parents like to pretend “kids” that age don’t do.  I loved him as much as a 16 year old is capable of coherent love.  It was messy though.  His relationship with his adolescent sexuality was complicated and capricious, and as hard as it was for me to accept liking boys because of the children I’d grown up around my entire life, I knew I could never understand what getting that from my family was like, so I was ok with it.

Then his parents found out.  Not about us specifically, but that he liked boys.  I wish I had learned about conversion therapy in a book or from the news in college like most people.  I learned about it from our mutual friends when I found out why he wasn’t living at home any more.  I am forever grateful his parents never knew we had messed around, because when he finally got home after months “at camp” I was able to see him.  We joked about his stories.  Made fun of the idea of all the boys at this camp being forced to bathe together. They wanted to stop him from being gay right?  Clearly they were morons.  We didn’t joke about the majority of what happened though, because he didn’t talk about it.  He wasn’t quite the same as before.  It wasn’t until years later that I really wrapped my mind around what that “not quite the same” really meant.

http://www.lydiaburris.com/

(http://www.lydiaburris.com/)

 

I sit in my dorm room thinking about Steve and Chuck.  It’s been a long time since I traded blows with Chuck on the playground, but for whatever reason here I am thinking about it.  I know now I wasn’t just dreaming that day.  I can be tall now, huge beyond measure, and Steve isn’t just some kid who’s good at putting things together.  I’m a Troll, Steve’s a Knocker, and laughably enough Chuck’s a Redcap.  He doesn’t smell out other Changelings to torment anymore.  Now he eats the fear of the assholes who made him afraid enough of his blood soaked dreams to turn on his own.  I shouldn’t relish the nightmares he dredges up in those wastes of skin.  I’m a seelie Troll.  I’m honorable, respectable.  Not every Autumn Fae gets a happy ending though and I can’t help but think he’s due a little payback.

 

Every other Troll in the court might shove their unseelie legacy down when it comes knocking, but I understand what that simmering hatred that locked me away from my chrysalis does to a person, and I understand what it drove Chuck to do.  So when he feeds, he’s feeding for every Changeling he smacked around as a kid, and I savor his feasts almost as much as he does.  It’s just one of those truths about being a fae in this world you don’t admit in polite seelie company.

 

My phone chimes.  It’s Steve.  He’s back from his break with his family.  I can’t wait to tell him what happened in court while he was gone.  It was an epic summer.  He’s living off campus now, and I thought it was going to be awesome.  I’m standing on his stoop waiting for him to answer the door and I can tell something’s wrong.  When the door opens I see what it is.  His face . . . the spirals on his cheeks that glow a deep candy cane crimson when he works are grey and dull.  His seeming is there . . . kind of, but I wish it wasn’t.  The mists are kinder than whatever I’m looking at.  He’s happy to see me, but everything is wrong, and I don’t understand what’s happening.  We go downstairs into his workshop and it’s immaculate.  No knocker has an immaculate workshop.  He’s building something and he sits down to start working on it again as if I’m not even there.  I watch him counting holes and rows on a prototype circuit board over and over again.  He’s counting exactly 3 times before putting his circuits in and I uncomfortably lean over him and joke, “whatever happened to the kid who always knows where to put the wire?”

 

He looks up at me and smiles, “Yeah, I was a pretty sloppy kid wasn’t I?  But after the work I did for my dad this summer I know that if it isn’t perfect it isn’t worth making . . . right?”  

 

Changeling’s themes aren’t only queer, but the horrors come into deeper, more vibrant contrast when you are.  The Nephandi of Changeling wear psychologists outfits and tell you you’re wrong, and the hardest part is the people telling you to listen to them aren’t motivated by some Wyrm tainted Bane curled up deep in their gut.  The people telling you to listen to them are your parents, and girlfriends, and family.  They are telling you to listen because they are afraid of you.  They are afraid for you, and most painfully they love you.  So they can’t just sit by and not do something.  In the worst situations they are just like you.  They are victims of the world around them and that’s the very thing that makes them so dangerous.  Most people don’t understand that experience.  It’s easy to see childhood silliness in Changeling if you don’t look too deeply, or if you’ve never taken a knife to your own ability to love because you’re more afraid of what the people in your life might think than the loneliness that haunts you.

I’m a gay man, and the words above are about my experience, but I will say I’ve seen these themes even more starkly and painfully when I hear my trans friends speak about their lives.  This rabbit hole is so much deeper than I can ever pretend to illuminate and for that I am uncomfortably grateful.

If you’ve ever found yourself saying Changeling doesn’t belong in the World of Darkness, or that it’s full of silly childhood themes, take a second and think about it a little more carefully.  I don’t ask that you dive in and drag the horror out of the game.  It’s a game after all, and no one should tell you what should or shouldn’t speak to you. Instead of saying the game doesn’t belong in the World of Darkness though, I just ask that you take a second to be appreciate why you weren’t able to see that horror and be grateful it doesn’t belong at your table.

 

Victor Kinzer has been roleplaying since he first picked up Vampire Dark Ages in high school.  He nabbed it as soon as it was released (he might have been lusting after other Vampire books for a while at that point) and hasn’t looked back since.  He role plays his way through the vast and treacherous waters of north Chicago, and is hacking away at the next great cyberpunk saga at http://redcircuitry.blogspot.com/.  He is an occasional guest on Tempus Tenebrarum (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvNp2le5EGWW5jY0lQ9G39Q/feed), and is working to get in on the con game master circuit.  During the rest of his life he works in Research Compliance IT, which might inform more of his World of Darkness storylines than he readily admits.

IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE PT 1: SUBJECTIVE, OBJECTIVE, AND POSSESSIVE LANGUAGE

No one likes to be told they are stupid, or mean, and no one wants to feel like someone hates them. It usually results in feeling somewhat like this:

PublicDomainPictures at pixabay.com

See also: Me when they cancelled Firefly.

 

The way we speak in relation to our games is important. Being mindful of tone when speaking out of character can drastically improve your experience in both areas. Being sure to use the right terms and tone of language out of character can help make stressful situations go smoothly and leave everyone involved happy. On the opposite side of that, using the wrong tone or words can turn a neutral situation into a stressful one for everyone involved. Taking the time to pay attention to how things are said will be beneficial to you. These articles aim to help you conquer one of the topics that is the most harmful to out of character interactions: the language you use. Today we will discuss the language should use to clearly separate your character’s thoughts and feelings from your own when discussing them with other players.

 

Subjective, Possessive and Objective Language

Here is a quick English lesson to start this section out. Subjective language is when you use I/we to define the subject of the sentence. “We should eat ice cream” uses subjective language to convey the subject is the self, or a group including the self. Possessive language uses my/your to define the subject, such as “My shoes match your jacket.” Objective language defines the subject with his/hers/theirs, and refers to a subject that isn’t the speaker or the listener, or a possession of either of them. “His dog is cute” would be an example of objective language use. Using the correct language is important to managing out of character relationships, and we’ll be going over some examples below. In the examples below, your character will be named “Taylor” and the other example player will be named “Janet”, with her character being named “Kara”.

 

geralt at pixabay.com

…and now, for advanced math. I hope you studied!

 

SUBJECTIVE:

Let’s say that your character Taylor absolutely despises Janet’s character Kara, and you wanted to talk about the situation with other players. If you use subjective language, you’d be saying “I hate Kara” which could make Janet think that her character wasn’t any good and she may stop playing the character or the game as a whole. Even worse is saying “I hate you” when talking to Janet directly. If Janet didn’t know you were talking about your character, she could take this as you meaning that YOU the player hates Janet the player and that could leave her feeling upset and make her dislike you as a person.  Even in situations where Janet is clear that you are speaking about your characters, the fact you are not taking the time to make the distinction in your wording may make her feel like you don’t care much about the distinction.

 

POSSESSIVE:

If you were to use possessive language, such as “Taylor hates Kara” then Janet the player would be much more receptive to the conversation, and that would lead to a much healthier dialogue between the two of you. By speaking with possessive language to refer to your character, their thoughts, and their feelings you create a barrier between yourself and your character. Having this barrier lets people know that you as a person do not dislike them and allows players who play even the most bitter hateful rivals in game be civil and cordial out of game. Referring to your character’s opinions this way also helps you as a player keep those opinions separate from your own.  That separation is both necessary and healthy, especially if you play for bleed.

 

OBJECTIVE:

Objective language can be tricky because it needs to be used in addition to possessive language. “I think his character is not very smart” is a combination of objective and subjective language. Phrases like this could still lead that other player into thinking you as a person think that his character is dumb, and possibly lead to hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Using objective language with possessive language clearly defines the meaning of the sentence, for example “Taylor thinks that his character is not very smart.” In that sentence you are saying that your character Taylor thinks that another player’s character isn’t very smart, and that is all.

 

Clear and concise language reduces the chance for hurt feelings.  Remember to use possessive language when referring to your own characters thoughts and feelings, and you will be seen as a much more mature and respectable player. Look for part two tomorrow where we’ll be discussing the differences between the phrases “Player versus Player” and “Character versus Character.”

Anna is an avid LARPer, and on weekend when she isn’t being a vampire she treks out to the woods to beat up her friends with assorted plumbing supplies and birdseed. Outside of LARP Anna is a feminist and part of the LGBTQ* community, and is the proud owner of two loving cats, and another that’s kind of mean but loves her anyway (probably). She can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/squeenoodles

WHAT WOMEN WANT IN GAMING: ADDRESSING ISSUES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY – PART I

Part 1: Admitting the Problem

Every time I am asked to speak about women and gaming (especially women and LARPing), I get nervous.  This isn’t the usual “butterflies in the stomach” type of nervousness that one experiences when being asked to speak in public. As the seconds tick towards the start of a panel or podcast recording, I can feel my hands become clammy, my chest and throat tighten, and my breath quicken from anxiety.

I have identified as a gamer since the late 90’s (and as a LARPer since the early 2000’s).  My name is known – not only for the personalities that I have crafted on the game floor – but also for the ways that I’ve influenced at least one LARP organization.  I’ve worn the hat of Storyteller, Marketing Strategist, Web Developer, and Executive Officer (in One World by Night, it’s called “Head Coordinator”) – all in an effort to improve a community that I called home.  I’ve since shifted my energies and time towards The Hidden Parlor, a new LARP organization that seeks to enjoy the World of Darkness as further developed by By Night Studios while also tackling some of the tougher issues that face the larger LARP and fan community (more on that later).

Even when I reflect upon this resume and the reputation I’ve built for myself, being asked to speak about LARP from a woman’s perspective scares me. Part of me wants to simply scratch the superficial surface on what women gamers want.  Telling an audience to just ask their female players about the types of plots that they enjoy is considered a “safe” response.  Delving into the topic further – on issues involving the safety of and respect towards female (and minority) LARPers – paints a huge target on me.  Gamergate happened only two years ago, and it showcased how some within the larger gaming community are willing to react when faced with a progressive cultural shift.

I’m one of the lucky ones in that I never received a death threat for any decision I’ve made as a leader within the LARP community, and I would prefer for there to not be a “first”.   However, given that I know others – including men – who have been harassed online and received death threats over LARP-related issues, I think this visceral fear is justified.  Today I swallow back those fears. Someone needs to speak for those who LARPed and left, those who are LARPing now, and those who will join our community in the future. We as a community can do better on this topic. We owe it to the fellow fans of this hobby to do better.

We need to take issues of harassment and assault within the gaming/LARP community more seriously.  This is a collective problem, and the community as a whole needs to participate in the solution.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of being a guest on Tempus Tenebrarum – a bi-weekly World of Darkness podcast – for their Women in Gaming episode.  During the episode (about 27 minutes in), one of the hosts brought up a situation he dealt with:

  • He had invited a woman to join his gaming group.
  • She found out that a former stalker was also invited to the group, and declined the invitation.
  • Now made aware of the other individual’s past behavior, he told the female gamer he was willing to un-invite the other individual.
  • The woman declined the offer, indicating that she did not want to draw additional attention to the situation.

Due to the tangential nature of that episode – as well as my previously stated nervousness when asked to approach such topics – we were not able to share an in-depth response. Looking back, I would have liked the opportunity for us to deconstruct the cultural “norms” that led to that situation and its outcome.

Why S*** like this continues to happen

Harassment

 

This webcomic by Jim Hines that was published on Facebook in August 2013 gives insight into why harassment at geek events (LARPs included) is an issue. Three years later, it is still very much an issue.

There are some who may take my drawing attention to this topic as a claim that LARP scene is extremely dangerous. That’s a straw-man fallacy. For the most part, LARPers are nice people who want to have fun in their fantasy world and want you to have fun with them. There’s a subset of that group who have not been taught how to check for consent, and there’s an even smaller group who feel they are beyond needing consent in order to get what they want (the real predators).  In those times where harassment or assault occur, we as stewards of our community must do a better job of providing support to the victim and taking proper corrective action against the assailant.

 

Why isn’t this reported to the police?

When a LARP club or event organizer hears about past instances of harassment or assault, they ask about law enforcement’s involvement, or lack thereof. Some have gone as far as to suggest that a club should not intervene in such issues – like banning the assailant, for example – unless a police report has been filed.

First, let’s take a step back and examine whether a filed police report should be a litmus test on whether a club responds to allegations of harassment or assault.

There are many reasons why a victim may not go to the police, which include:

  • Fear of reprisal
  • Reported to a different official (ex: security team at an event or a LARP club officer)
  • Victim feels that incident was not important enough to warrant further action
  • Belief that the police couldn’t/wouldn’t do anything to help
  • Did not want to get offender in trouble with law
  • Unsure about perpetrator’s intent (well-meaning vs predatory)
  • Did not want others to know
  • Did not feel they had enough proof (victim’s word vs the aggressor)
  • Fear of the justice system
  • Did not know how

Source: Reporting Sexual Assault: Why Survivors Often Don’t, Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault

 

Put yourself in the victim’s shoes – Imagine that you’ve been touched without your consent, catcalled, or noticed someone constantly following you around an event space. If you don’t know the person, spending hours to file a police report may seem futile because you are unable to identify your assailant. If you know the person, then the situation can become more complicated. Mutual friends may take sides. Some may defend the assailant by saying their intentions weren’t predatory, and that you overreacted by going to the police. Worse, others might spread rumors that you had ulterior motives to get the other person in trouble, or that you didn’t care if the club/event’s reputation got dragged in the mud. The risk of fallout to you seems far greater than the potential of justice against your assailant.

 

If you want to do your own research on why incidents of harassment or assault go unreported, look no further than Google:

 

Google

There are articles/blog posts from other coutries (like this one – translated from Swedish) that show that this problem is not limited to the United States.

The problem isn’t entirely a lack of information – it’s a lack of people acknowledging it is a problem that we can act upon.

 

Why isn’t this reported to the clubs?

 

Remember earlier when I gave the list of reasons why sexual harassment and assault victims don’t report those incidents to the police? A lot of the same reasons carry over to why they don’t report those issues to their LARP’s incident response / disciplinary team.  There’s often a fear of ostracism, especially if the assailant is higher up the social ladder. Some clubs also have a cumbersome disciplinary process.

A couple of years ago, I developed a membership engagement survey for one of the LARP clubs in order to help identify community issues and potential solutions. One of the sections focused on the organization’s disciplinary policy. I wanted to show how members perceived their game’s disciplinary process and how that might influence their willingness to utilize it in the event of an incident that might require a higher level of discretion (like, for example, incidents of harassment or assault).

110 people completed that section of the survey (the % of total members is unknown, since that network doesn’t keep count of individual participants)

 

Graph 1

 

Let’s take a look at the final question. An average rating of 2.3 out of 5 (especially when 63% of respondents said they “Disagree” or “Strongly Disagree” with the statement) is not a vote of confidence for that disciplinary system.   The low ratings on several of the other questions (specifically on the perceived impact of the accused’s popularity) also are fairly disturbing.

I decided to examine the responses of those who responded with “Agree” (8 responses) or “Strongly Agree” to the (11 responses) to see how they compare with the group as a whole.

Graph 2

 

“I would feel comfortable bringing forth a disciplinary action involving a sensitive issue (requiring discretion) using our club’s current disciplinary system” – response of 4 Agree) or 5 (Strongly Agree)

While better, these results still aren’t comforting.

Unfortunately, when I tried to broach the topic of disciplinary policy reform with said club, I was met with a lot of resistance. Some dismissed the results outright because they thought the respondent pool was “too small”.  Others felt that PR work needed to be done to assure the public that the current disciplinary process was effective. While no one stepped forward to bell that cat, I am grateful that there were participants who realized that public perception needed to be changed.

If there’s little faith in a LARP/Club’s disciplinary process – even if the volunteers overseeing it are hard-working and impartial – members will be less inclined to report issues when they are small because they feel it isn’t worth the personal drama. This is especially true for matters that require discretion, like incidents of harassment or sexual violence.

I think back to the various instances where lines were crossed.  I’ve had guys (yes, multiple instances) think it’s okay to put their arm around me and caress my shoulder without permission.  I’m not a fan of being touched beyond a hug unless it’s someone who I am comfortable with.  I’ve had other guys get into my personal space and not understand my nudgings for them to leave me alone.  Each time, I felt that what happened to me – while inappropriate – was not severe enough to outweigh the potential drama reporting the incident and having it go through formal channels. Looking back, I wonder if I did the right thing by not coming forward during those instances.  I think of who else may have seen what happened, and took my lack of follow-through as a sign that such behaviors (or worse ones) are okay.

I am not one to bring out a problem without also proposing solutions. However, I want to give you all time to reflect upon the severity of what I’ve written so far.  In my next article, I will share what I see as actionable solutions to this issue.

 

Part II

Jessica is one of the founders and president of The Hidden Parlor, a World of Darkness LARP network dedicated to supporting the in-person LARP experience and creating a cohesive setting while empowering players and storytellers at a local level.  In addition to her executive duties for the club, she is also their Arch-Technomancer (web developer) and graphic designer.  Her support of the fandom community extends to CONvergence – an annual science fiction/fandom convention – where she helps oversee the care and feeding of hundreds of hungry volunteers.  When not trying to save the world (one geek at a time), she portrays her Child of Gaia at the local werewolf LARP (The Last Stand: part of The Garou Nation), plays 16-bit video games, and tends to her three cats (Pirate, Ninja, and Doc Holliday)

 

THE CLOTHES MAKE THE CHARACTER

Have you ever looked at someone walking down the street and thought about how they look like they should be a character in a video game?

Credit to Unsplash on Pixabay.com

This guy gives cloth collection quests, obviously for those awesome jackets.

In a LARP set in the modern day, or just  one that uses modern day styled clothing, it can be hard to make a costume that stands out from your everyday wear without breaking the bank. Buying nice clothing for your character can be a good way to costume, but not every gamer has that kind of budget. Luckily for those of us not as rich as our characters, there are easy ways to make a costume from everyday items without taking out a second mortgage.

 

Dress Differently Than Normal

Wearing clothes you as a player wouldn’t normally wear can go a long way to making an easy costume.

lightstargod on pixabay.com

Left: European X-Men recruit Right: California New Age Hippie

If you play a particularly feminine character, consider wearing a skirt or clothing with a more feminine cut such as a flowing blouse. If you often wear your favorite color blue, consider dressing primarily in other colors for your character. If you primarily wear graphic tees from your favorite rock bands, consider playing a character that would choose to wear clothes that fall into the “business casual” style of dress or a graphic tee that you wouldn’t normally be caught dead wearing. By wearing different clothing than you do in your day-to-day life, you will create a new look for the people that you game with which shows that while you might be in jeans and a graphic tee, you are clearly dressed as a different person.  If you choose to costume this way, make sure you are consistent, and try to stick to the same general themes.

 

Wear Something AWFUL

This sweater is ugly, and that is great for a costume.

thriftingnightmares.tumblr.com

Grandma’s 1987 Mardi Gras Jacket

 

Think of the clothes you see at the thrift store that no one ever buys: the bright red corduroy pants, the tacky Christmas vests depicting Santa’s flight, and the poofy, gold sequined 1976 formal wear. All of these seem horrendously ugly and not something you would wear in 2016, right? Hideous clothing like that is exactly what can make a good costume! Hawaiian shirts, brightly patterned sports jackets, plaid kilts with denim jackets; all of these things are visually unique and make your character stand out in a way that still remains comfortable for you as a player. You may have to swallow your pride  to be willing to wear the outfit to and from your event, but rest assured that visitors to your games will be talking about “that jerk in the denim overalls and a trilby” on their way back home.

 

Accessorize!

Accessories add finishing touches to an outfit, and can really help differentiate a costume from an everyday outfit.

ministajazz at pixabay.com

That’s one magical outfit! …I’m so sorry.

 

Accessories come in many forms and can help flexibly flavor your character’s outfit. Jewelry such as piercings, rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets can add flair and help portray your character’s personal style or their wealth and status.  Trinkets also make common gifts, so a simple ring can represent deep connections or secrets to those paying close enough attention. Doing makeup and styling your hair for the character can be another great way for the character to express themselves and help you really get into their headspace, since your own reflection will be altered. Something as small as wearing eyeliner and lipstick and putting your hair up can drastically change your appearance! You can sometimes find a friend who is skilled enough to put makeup on for you if you lack the know how, and there are tons of tutorials online that help you achieve certain looks, from film noir dame to goth rocker and everywhere in between.

 

Have Fun and Get Wild

The right mix of clothing, style and accessorization can transform you into your character quite easily. You can go from this:

sabinemondestin on Pixabay.com

Joanna Smith, who works in an office downtown

…to this:

sabinemondestin on Pixabay.com

Roxy Wake, who sings in a club uptown

…in just a matter of minutes! Swapping out your personal look for your character’s style can keep  you in character and make your character memorable in a positive way in the minds of other players and characters at the game. You may even discover that some of the things you pick out for your character to wear end up transferring over to your personal wardrobe once the character leaves play, or even  discover how good you look in a certain color or style of clothing.

Remember these tips next time you costume and don’t forget to look awesome!

 

Anna is an avid LARPer, and on weekend when she isn’t being a vampire she treks out to the woods to beat up her friends with assorted plumbing supplies and birdseed. Outside of LARP Anna is a feminist and part of the LGBTQ* community, and is the proud owner of two loving cats, and another that’s kind of mean but loves her anyway (probably). She can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/squeenoodles