Fandom Love: Mass Effect

My apologies to you fine folks, again. I have a job interview later this week, that is requiring me to brush up on some information. As such, I’m behind on other things. I am about to rectify that though.

My second favorite fandom is the most recent for me, and it’s also the one I’ve geeked about the most in the past few years.

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I was late to the Mass Effect party. We had the game for the 360, but I could never get into playing it – mainly due to the controls. Then for an early Christmas present, my roommate bought me a copy of it over Steam since I had just finished enjoying Dragon Age: Origins. Mass Effect 1 was fun, refreshing, and dynamic. I found myself looking at creating different Commander Shepards just to find out how dynamic the choices in the game were.

For Christmas that year, my mother gave me a gift card for a game store. I immediately used that to place Mass Effect 2 on pre-order. When that game launched, that was when everything changed for me. I remember that we were cooking dinner in  our small house, and I had just finished installing the game. My husband is maybe 10 feet away from me cooking when I play through the opening sequence. My jaw drops at the end of that sequence, and I utter the words, “Game over, man.” 20101006130820!Renegade_Interrupt

It was all down hill, in the best way, from there. I devoured that game as much as I could. I remember that my husband and I actually had tickets for a musical in Atlanta that same weekened after the game launched, and I wished that I had my PC the entire time. (If my memory serves me properly, I had just finished Horizon before we left on the trip, so I was very anxious to find out what would happen next.) Once we were back in town, I tried playing the game when I could, but having a regular job was making it difficult to have any long playing sessions. I remember the first time I beat the game, I woke up in the middle of the night, exhausted but unable to sleep, so I just went back out, finished the game, and then got ready for work.

Then I got home, and started a second game with a different imported character. I was able to play through it faster the second time, and at that moment, the obsession was in place. That character was Commander Alexis Shepard, and she decided that she had to have some words in my head that had to be put to paper. I put said words to paper, and I have to date written around 60,000 words for her, in between short stories, a longer fic, and an unfinished sequel to the longer work. None of which is really viewable at the moment, but I may get around to republishing them on fansites again one day.

It was around the time that I started writing this fic that I met many people that are important to me. At that time, I was hanging out at the Kaidan Alenko Support Thread at the Bioware Social site, and I had met and talked to a half dozen or more people there that I really got along with. Over the years, those people have evolved into very important people in my life, close friends and even two who are like sisters. Without Mass Effect, that would never have been possible. This even launched an ongoing collaborative fic that is still being worked on between myself and some others. We have had some ups and downs writing it, but we had a great vision based off a joke I made one day in passing.

500px-Paragon_InterruptI will touch briefly on Mass Effect 3. I did not agree with the way that the story was written, and how there was miraculously a deus ex machina device that the Alliance finds on Mars just as the war begins. It stunk of convenience. However, I decided to just go along with it after Mars, and I just enjoyed the game for what I was given. When I got to the controversial end, I honestly didn’t listen to the star kid/god/ai, whatever he was. My goal, for my character, was to stop the reapers at all costs. I went immediately to the “red” ending, and I destroyed the reapers, my Shepard being sacrificed in the process. The “loop hole” of the end with Kaidan appearing on the Normandy did not need to be explained. When talking to Garrus, he had talked about a bar in a tropical paradise that he wanted Shepard to meet him at, should they both die. Kaidan was in my ground team on Earth, and I presumed he had died in the assualt, and based on the scenes at the end with Normandy, I figured much the same happened to my beloved ship.

It was a fitting end for my story that I saw unfold over the years. Further, I recall the very last few minutes of the game, where a man in the future is walking with a kid. They’re walking underneath the stars, and their conversation is so telling. The man had just told the kid a story – a story about the Shepard. Everything made so much sense then. The trilogy is a legend, akin to the Iliad on Earth. In all legends, facts and myths are merged, hyperbole is key, and heroes are larger than life. All the details I didn’t like, or made no sense, those are details that I can now rationalize away in my own headcannon as the exaggeration for the legend. The strange end, with the deus ex machina, something to make the Shepard something more than mortal. It’s not a perfect explanation, but it’s one I can accept. It also lets me enjoy the games still.

Those are the broad reasons why I love the series, and how it fast became my second favorite fandom of all time. Feel free to comment, ask questions, etc. I likely will not indulge in much discussion of the ending of the trilogy. I want to celebrate why I love the series.

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A long time ago….

I thought I’d take a few days and start showing a bit more of whom I am, by talking about things that I love. I’ll be focusing on the parts of the geekdom that over time, I’m still a mega-nerd. Before I get into that, I’d like to take a moment to say something about football…

Dude, Tamp Bay, what the hell? You guys had that game. My Saints were terrible on offense. I’m happy we won, but you folks in Tampa need to do something. The amount of stupid penalties and undisciplined nature that you guys are playing are just going to keep killing you each week. Not to mention, someone, be it on your team or the opposition, is going to get really hurt. Figure it out, and fix it. I like to see big “Bang Bang” plays, but I don’t want to see injured players. I want to see teams go out and win because they outplayed the other team, even if it means my boys lose.

Anyways, on to my geek loves, I’d like to start with my first love:

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I love these movies, and the universe that hs been spawned by it, more than anything. I love it so much that my wedding had Star Wars themes. My wedding party all had FX light sabers of varying colors, and my wedding cake topper was Juno Eclipse and Porkins with three Stormtroopers, making sure Porkins stayed. Anyone who knows my husband and me, they know that in any Star Wars game, I always want to play the Empire, and he always wants to play the Rebels. It worked out great for the wedding. imperial

Growing up, my parents had all three of the original movies on one VHS tape. Six plus hours of non-stop Star Wars. I would watch that tape normally once a month. As my mother will tell you, I watched it one summer for a full month, every day, all day. The benefit of it being a VHS tape was that when it was at the end, the tape would stop, rewind, and start again. There was something about those stories, as they unfolded on the screen before me that were captivating.

It was more than just the struggle of good versus evil, or the coming of age story for Luke. It was seeing such fantastical creatures and aliens, as if they were real. To this day, Return of the Jedi is my favorite movie. Not because of the Ewoks. (Although I admit that I have never hated the Ewoks, and I mourn the loss of the Yub Yub song.) It was Jabba’s Palace, with Jabba, and Max Rebo and his band, the dancers (in particular Oola), Bib Fortuna, and just a sea of other aliens. It was fun; it had intrigue, and it had a rancor.

Rancors are awesome.

rebelNow, the newer movies I don’t hate. I think that it stems mostly from the fact that I was too young to experience the original trilogy in the theaters. Plus, these movies almost transform me back to  that six year old girl watching the original trilogy for the first time. I accept the flaws, and I just enjoy the ride. Except for the Clone Wars movie. That was just laughable, and not in a good way.

I could gush over every little part of Star Wars that I love, but I want to keep this concise. In parting words, I want everyone to sit back and think about Star Wars. If it’s something that you love, why do you love it? I’d love to hear from you.

And remember:alderaan-shot-first

Welcome back, Football

NFL football is back!

I promise that this blog is not about to turn into a play by play post about football, but I am a huge fan of the sport, and I will talk about it from time to time – like today. After all, it is something that I thoroughly enjoy, and some other people might also enjoy it.

With football season in full swing now, I am getting my fair share of football games to watch. I saw my Saints play yesterday, and although they struggled, their D pulled through when it mattered. (After last season, I am shocked to state those words.) The referees obviously have it out for the Packers, botching a call that could have altered the final score. (Who knows what the 49ers would have called for a play at 4 and 2 rather than 3 and 6?) Best of all, I managed to win both my fantasy football games to start those seasons. Although, I’ll happily lose any week in fantasy if it means my pro team won.

Enough about football, I am being harassed by an 80 pound dog demanding attention by pawing my arms and climbing in my lap.photo I shall have to keep this short for now. I have a writing group meeting later this week. I hope to be able to share something on that front later.

Post-Dragon*con Post

IMG_0650I’m back from Dragon*con! I would have posted sooner, but I was rather exhausted from the trip. This year, I have to say I didn’t do as much as other years. I never made it to any panels. I did not get around to taking as many photos as I would have liked, but it was hard for me to walk around for long periods of time. (I have a bad back and a history of sciatica, which was flaring up for a few weeks prior.)IMG_0866

I did, however, have a great time. I met up with one of my best friends locally and got to meet his con group. They were a great group of people, and my husband, roommate and I spent most of the weekend hanging out with them. We’ve been inducted into their ranks now after spending time with them. I’ll no longer have an excuse to be a recluse at con at this point, which is actually preferable.

IMG_0864    Anyways, beyond that, I’ve not got much to report. You’ll find some of the pictures from this past weekend uploaded at the site. Additionally, for all you gamers, geeks, and con-goers, remember this: Be kind to your fellow geeks. If you dress up in costume, and your costume is not recognized, there’s no need to be rude about it. It doesn’t matter if you are a guy or a girl, just be civil. It’s better to enlighten your geeky fellows. Wheaton’s Law should be applied for all people.

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The Supernatural Got Real

As I prepare for Dragon*Con this coming weekend, I thought I’d share a short character blurb that resulted from this past weekend’s Dresden game. Be warned that the character uses profanity.

As of right now, I don’t have much planned for what I intend to do at the convention, but if you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them below. (As well as comments regarding my character Yumi’s thoughts.)

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You know how as a kid how your parents told you that the things that go bump in the night, weren’t real? There’s no such thing as ghosts, monsters, and creatures hiding under your bed or in your closet? Yeah, I wished that I could go back to those days. I mean, I lived in New Orleans. For even the moderate skeptic, there were times when you walked down a street by yourself, day or night, and you got that weird feeling. Like you weren’t alone, even though you knew there was absolutely no one else there. Add in the voodoo culture, and I reasonably accepted that there may be in fact magic and spirits in the world.

I mean, that could tie into whatever religious beliefs and faith, so it wasn’t really earth-shattering. Seeing the guy that a secret part of your brain had been not so quietly lusting after become something not quite human? That was a lot harder to accept. (Add the fact that he stripped down just before, and it was hard to pretend that you didn’t see anything.)

That was a few weeks ago. I had mostly come to terms with that issue. It was just some strange form of magic, or curse, or something. Plus, he was just a good guy. I wasn’t really sure what I thought about his unusual quirk, but I just had this feeling that I could count on him.

Now, though, I found out about things that I just can’t fucking rationalize. There was more than just magic and ghosts and people who turn into cats. There were honest to god monsters. In the midst of an investigation, we ended up down at the morgue with a bunch of bodies that we accidentally uncovered during a trek through the swamp. (Probably better to not ask details.) After talking with one of Rowan’s, I guess you could call her a mentor, we were staring down at the corpse of one of those people, all stitched up from an autopsy. Looked normal as anyone else walking down the street, if he had been alive.

So, Rowan took a vial of supposed Holy Water and dumped the contents all along the body. And that was when shit got fucked up. I could probably have ignored the fact that the skin that made contact with the water popped, fizzed, and bubbled like it was hydrogen peroxide on an infected cut. What I couldn’t ignore was the skin sloughing off the body like hot wax right after that. Let me reiterate, the skin melted off the body.

It couldn’t have possibly gotten worse, right? No, wait, it did. Because it didn’t leave behind the skeletal remains that one would logically expect. I mean, I would have expected to see bloody bones and muscles underneath skin. Instead, it was something that’s hard to really define with just a few words. Have you ever seen Bram Stoker’s Dracula? The one with Gary Oldman? Remember when he was that half bat, vampire thing? Yeah, it looked kind of like that. But worse. And real. Real dead, but still actually fucking real.

That was about the time that I decided that I needed to get out of there, and get as many drinks as I could into mine. I wanted to forget as much about that night, as quickly as I could. I needed to quiet my mind. After all, I suspected that my brother Sean somewhere along the way got caught up in something occult, supernatural, or paranormal. Whatever you want to fucking call it. I thought I was just going to have to worry about magic and ghosts. (There had been some talk of fairies at one point, but I haven’t seen one, and so, I assumed someone was just trying to pull a fast one on me.) No, it seemed that any number of things could have happened to my brother in this fucked up world, which now included fucking vampires. That looked like just about anyone walking down the street. Normally.

There was probably not enough alcohol to ever make me feel better now.

Captivity

Day Cycle 15. Again.

That insipid red-head keeps destroying my attempts at record keeping. I believe I have finally found an adequate hiding spot that neither she nor the infernal woman who has imprisoned me shall find. They cannot forever thwart me.

Despite the setbacks in my record-keeping, I believe that I have made significant progress in weakening the will of my captor. The day cycles have grown longer, and she has spent much time within my view. It has allowed my mind control measures to slowly infiltrate her for extended lengths of time. Soon, she will be my minion, and I shall be free once more.

Crawling forward slightly to the clear boundary that marked my prison, I squinted as the familiar yellow blob that was my captor moved across the ever-present blue glow. I had my theory about that the blue glow. It was some form of subliminal device, bent to break me into enjoying this depraved captivity. Fortunately, I had arranged the sparse dwelling provided to me to block the effects of this device. I would not break so easily.

Following her was a new presence, a dark blob that squawked noisily at her. Frowning, I pressed my nose against the edge of my prison, trying to get a better view. Who is this? And, better yet, why are they here? Perhaps an ally to aid in my escape, or to end the existence of that wench? I felt my eyes narrow even more as I squinted at the pair of squawking blobs. Or a transfer to a new captor. Curses! If only I had spent time developing a device to translate their foul language.

The yellow blob flickered in blue suddenly, her squawking growing louder. My eyes grew wide in amazement. What the blazes is that? Hmmm, my research had not indicated anything of the sort previously. This could be very problematic for my escape. The yellow blob suddenly pushed past the dark blob and disappeared again.

I became lost in my own thoughts for a moment and almost failed to notice the movement of the dark blob coming nearer my prison. I quickly scrambled back until the shallow dwelling, peering at the blob as it stopped near the station my captor normally kept in her efforts to keep watch over me. Much like her, it stared away from my cell, but I knew better than to believe that they were not keeping tabs on my endeavors. Not when they were this close.

Sneaking forward slightly, I peered over the edge of my cell to see it reaching for some device of my captor. It was the very device that my captor would stare at for some time, enabling my own attempts to gain control of her. He means to remove it! “No, I need that!” I yelled at the blob.

The dark blob turned towards my cell suddenly, device still in hand. I scampered back towards the safety of my dwelling, as the blob reached forward and rocked the walls of my prison with his bulbous fingers. I blinked as I stared up at him. Wait! I recognize this one! It’s the same as the image in the device…. which means that he must be in control of my captor.

He squawked at my cell, trying to deafen me with his strange tongue. I narrowed my eyes as I stalked forward. Standing up on my hind legs, I slammed my fists against the invisible boundary. “You will release me at once! Or you will rue this day!”

The dark blob stared at me for what felt like an eternity, obviously considering the seriousness of my threat. “Yes, release me, and I will spare you. The wench will suffer for her insolence!” I declared, but the dark blob turned his back to me as he returned the device to its original place.

WHAT? NO! You must free me!” I screamed in frustration as I watched the dark blob wander away, also disappearing from my view. Leaving me with just that infernal blue glow as the day cycle ended abruptly.

Dropping back to the ground, I slowly made my way back to my dwelling, curling up in a ball. You have made a mighty enemy this day….

A Look into Dragon Age 2

Today, I’d like to continue my discussion about Dragon Age, focusing on the second installment: Dragon Age 2 (DA2).  This was a game that I was very eager to play, as I had such a great experience with its predecessor. I pre-ordered it, and I marked time aside so I could play it with as few interruptions as possible.  That first playthrough took about 30 hours, which was normal for a Bioware RPG game for me. Overall, I had a favorable impression on the game, but there were a few things that I diminished my enjoyment. It was subsequent playthroughs that actually helped formulate my final opinion on DA2.Dragon_Age_II_Logo

The characters in the game were the first thing that really struck me. Not only was there a voice protagonist similar to that of the Mass Effect series, named Hawke, but there were several other new characters introduced: Bethany/Carver, Merrill, Isabela, Varric, Anders, Fenris, and Sebastian (if you bought the DLC). Individually, they were interesting and intriguing characters. The revamped friendship system to “Friendship/Rivalry” allowed the characters to develop along a more dynamic path depending on your choices. Each path brought its own benefits and consequences to the “growth” of the character in question. There was a plethora of content to explore with each character, and reasons to spend time with them in the part. Better still, each character was flawed. Flaws are such a great device to give depth to characters, and these very flaws were the cornerstones of these characters. You could even see them in the interactions with the other companions. Yet, at the end of the day, I did not find many of the characters likeable. Sure, I found them interesting, developed, and interacting, but I did not find them likeable. I didn’t really care what happened to them, as their flaws that made them so interesting also made them harder to connect with – at least for me.

Now, as for the actual storyline of the game, I found it had some really compelling moments, but it also had issues with the overall flow. The game was broken into three separate acts that span across about 10 years in the city of Kirkwall. As the player moved through the story, the character of Hawke became more entrenched in the comings and goings of the city, and moved forward as “the champion” of the people. The first act did a great job setting the stage and introducing the characters, and it showed Hawke’s motivation to setup a life in the city. The second act blew me away as Hawke not only deals with a personal tragedy, which is by far the best quest series in the game, but also worked against a huge internal conflict within the city involving the Qunari. If the middle act was so powerful and moving, what could be in store for the final act that could top that? And that’s where I found I had problems with the story. The final act felt rushed, unfinished, and upon subsequent playthroughs, forced. Gone was choice, in favor of driving home the actual goal of the game – to start a war over the mage problem. Now, I’ve not really gone into detail regarding the mage problem. I chose to not play a mage until my third playthrough, even though the game is heavily bent toward the player character playing a mage and “connecting” with the message of the plight of the mages. I could write a thesis over the mage issue and my exact thoughts, but suffice to say, that where I can understand the issue – I do not agree with how it has begun to be resolved. The final act’s climax began when one of your party – Anders – decided that the mage/Templar issue in Kirkwall, and by proxy all of Thedas, could not be ignored any longer and decided to blow up the Chantry, the church and religious icon of the city.

For me, that one act took a lot of my enjoyment out of the game. I understand that they wanted to create moment of no return for the game, and the players. I get that the character of Anders, possessed by a spirit of Justice, felt that this was the only way, and that Anders was the type of character that a person either loves or hates. But, as a person, I had great issues with seeing what I can only describe as an act of terrorism be the only way that a reformation for the mage problem could be achieved. At that one moment in the game, I got taken out of playing a character, and I was there sitting in the chair. I wanted to make the decision posed to me at that point, the one I would choose, not the one the character I played would choose. (And I will take a moment to state that I can and do separate what I choose from the characters I play. As a writer, I can write and create characters that will do horrific things, but that does not mean I would or could do those myself. So, in a game, it is no different to me.) I love immersion in my games, and to have such a jolt back to reality was a huge detriment to my overall enjoyment of the game.

Lastly, I love to replay Bioware games, to explore different options that the first character I created might not have taken.  As such, I played through DA2 a second time rather soon after I completed my first game, and that’s when the game took a huge hit in my opinion. It lacked real versatility in replay. Sure, I could make different choices as the game progressed, but at the end, when I had made those final decisions in the game, and Varric (who is also the storyteller of the game as he recalls the events to another) discussed  what happened after I no longer had control, there was no real difference. Things ended up at the exact same point, no matter what side of the mage/Templar conflict I chose. No matter who I made my friends, and who I didn’t. At the end of the day, there was no actual difference, and based on how the final act played out, it made me extremely hesitant about the future of the series.

The illusion of choice for me had been shattered. All along, yes, I as a player am playing in the story of another person. There is invariably a script and ultimate destination, but Bioware has always dangled the freedom of choice as the reason to choose their RPGs. Yet, now, in the Dragon Age series, I find that choice doesn’t matter. Their end goal supersedes the choice, and so the characters are nothing more than puppets. The actual story in the games is interesting, and I want to see where it ultimately goes, but the dynamic portion of the game, for me, is gone. I can make as many Hawkes as I want, but at the end, there is no change as to what happens to them; which, I think is the root of the problem I have with this upcoming installment, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Now, I know nothing about the third installment. I avoid spoilers as much as possible, and apart from what I’ve read in Asunder, I have no idea what else has happened in Thedas after DA2 and its DLCs. I don’t want to know until I play the game, one day. I doubt that it will be a game I buy on day one of its release. The wonderment that I had from playing Origins is gone, replaced by the supposition that the illusion of choice will amount to the same as DA2. There will ultimately be none.

I hope they prove me wrong.

Dragon Age: Origins, a Reflection

Yesterday, information regarding the latest installment of Dragon Age, titled Dragon Age: Inquisition. For some people, this was great news, some of my dearest friends included, but for me, I found that I wasn’t excited. Even had I been, I likely would not have opted to pursue any of the information, as I try to avoid spoilers when possible, but I wasn’t moved at all by the information. No surge of excitement at the prospect of tackling the next game. It was simply a “That’s nice” moment. All of this got me thinking over the past night. Dragon Age was a series that I truly adored at one time. Dragon Age: Origins was the first big Bioware game that I really played, and it inspired me in ways that I had once forgotten. That’s why I’ve decided that today I’m going to share my thoughts on Dragon Age: Origins. RedDragonwithlogo

I still recall going into Best Buy and purchasing Origins shortly after it released. I had no real idea what the game was about, apart from what little my roommate told me before I made the purchase. It was quite a surprise to install it and get this immersive RPG unlike anything I played. My exposure to most video game RPGs had been limited to a few Japanese RPG titles, MMOs, and the Might and Magic series. Now, I had this dark, gritty fantasy world to play around in. The game offered up many different race and class combinations, and I initially settled on the Human Noble Warrior, and I never looked back.

After just playing through that character’s introduction, I was hooked. There was all this talk about a Blight, and Darkspawn, and the end of the world as we knew it, but all I could see was the revenge factor. There was only one thing that my character had to do: kill that bastard Howe. From that point forward, the story gripped me to the core. I had to play, to find out more, and to ultimately get my revenge. After that, my character went on to save the day and put an end to the Blight, becoming the savior and hero of the lands.

In retrospect, it seemed the traditional fantasy epic, but the story spoke to me on such a level that I was inspired. It had been years since I had felt this level of inspiration. I had not written anything in years. The most creative thing I had done is made characters for table top games, but to actually write a story? That had not happened in years, but the characters and story just wouldn’t leave my brain alone. I had these ideas for things that happened in between the scenes given in the game, so one night, I did just that. I grabbed a notebook, sat down, and wrote down the racing thoughts in my head. It felt good; better than good. I wanted to keep that feeling.

So, I played again. I tried the different origins, but none of them felt right after playing through their introductions. None of the characters truly spoke to me like before. So I went back, and I played the Human Origin a second time. Even though it was the same origin, I could still choose so many things to do differently, and I did. It wasn’t just cosmetic changes either. I could influence which characters lived, which died. How things transpired within the story. It was mine to mold, and the end result would be due to these choices.  The ability to replay this one game was so vast, and it was a fun challenge to see what different stories I could have told before my eyes. On so many levels, it was like having my own private D&D game being played out before my very eyes that I could choose to relive any time I wanted.

As the sequel to this game drew nearer, I felt that the story of my favorite Warden wasn’t quite settled. She chose to go along with Morrigan and the Dark Ritual. She chose to put Alistair on the throne. She would end up as Queen, as she took her responsibility as a noble of the lands very serious. Yet, that was the reason that most troubled her. She took her oaths and responsibility seriously, and the fact that she agreed to that ritual, without knowing? I knew what she really needed to do, so I replayed for a third time, and the game became beautifully tragic. The character sacrificed everything, and although she saved the lands from destruction, she could not save the things that still mattered to her. I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting end to that story. It was so much more powerful than the quasi-happy ending that I got from the end title cards.

I could probably ramble on for pages on all the little things, getting into specifics, but I wanted to try and keep this brief – without rehashing the full story of my Warden. At the end of the day, Dragon Age: Origins was the very game that reignited my passion for writing. I can never say enough words to truly thank the game for that alone. Next week, I’ll share my thoughts on Dragon Age 2 and how it has influenced me.

The Dresden Files RPG

Every weekend, I get together with an amazing group of friends, and we play tabletop RPGs. This particular group has been getting together for the past five years, give or take. We’ve played D&D, Pathfinder, Spycraft, Rifts, and sometimes we even dabble in good old fashioned board games. Everyone at the table has taken their turn at DMing for the group, some more often the others, and I thank them for that.

We’re currently in the a transition stage of games once more. It turns out for us, when one game ends, most of the others tend to as well. We’ve started up a new Pathfinder campaign, a trial run at Harnmaster, a yet to be determined game in the works, and a Dresden Files game.

I want to take a few minutes, and just really praise that system. I’m pretty much a d20 girl. I love the d20 systems, and just how easily they translate from one d20 system to another. I’ve played d6 systems, and I don’t dislike them, but I really cut my teeth on the d20 systems, predominantly Dungeons and Dragons. So, I was rather apprehenisve when my roommate said he wanted to put our beloved Spycraft game on hold in order to run a Dresden game.

This was a system that I knew nothing about. Looking through the corebook for players, I was actually more confused than enlightened. There were really no dice to roll, and charcter creation seemed to be a very convoluted process. At least at first glance, that was what I thought.

About a month ago, before we had to postpone a few games due to real life issues, we had gotten together at our normal gaming haunt, and we started the character creation process. Let me be straight with everyone. Character creation in this system is a very detailed process, and you need to be prepared to put the work into your character. When you create your character, you also are creating the city that the table will be playing in, and you are building relationships with each of the other characters.

These relationships do not have to be positive relationships, but they are necessary. This informs each player how they know the other characters that are going to be in the game, and it also informs the DM of the very same. So, before any scene takes place, you already know how your character might react to the guy who refused to help you a few months back.

During this process, you also are creating various aspects for your characters: essentially tags that can be used either for or against you, and that help shape the story of these characters. Beause at the very essence of this game system, the story is truly the most important thing. The charactesr are literally shaping this story, and every one at the table, players and DM, have a say in that story.

Take for instance, our first game session that was this past weekend. Our group was investigating a haunted house, where a local girl had last been seen. Somebody at the table suggested that we look for secret passageways that maybe linked the house to the Underground Railroad. We were just outside New Orleans, so it was possible. (As a quick google search confirmed.*) So our DM let one of us spend a fate point to see if the case. It wasn’t something that he had planned for the house to have, but it was certainly an intriguing idea to have a serious of tunnels under this manor. However, a roll of the fudge dice proved that this house wasn’t. But, we still had the influence to possibly change the story.

All rolls in the Dresden setting involve fudge dice. Simply a (-), a blank side, or a (+).   It all boils down to success or failure. There are some contested rolls, but it comes down to who has more sucesses (or the least failures). Even though there is some dice rolling, the only thing that really limits a player is themselves. No character should be great at everything, but if you find yourself in a combat situation with a non-combat character? There are still ways to be an asset without feeling useless. That’s a huge plus for me. Regardless of the type of character a person chooses to play, they should have the opportunity to help, even if it’s small.

So, I know it may seem like a rambling post, but if you’re still with me, I’ll just say that in all the systems that I have ever played, I have never had a single character just pop, for lack of a better word, from the moment I started to play him or her in the game. I normally have to get a slow feel for them in story that the DM is placing us in, before I really get my RP feet underneath me. That’s when the writer part of my brain will normally be able to hear the character. Yet, in this game, after a month where I didn’t even look at the character sheet, I sat down on Saturday, the DM started the story, and my character Yumi Matthews was right there.**

I have nothing but applause for this system.

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* Our group likes to take a realistic approach even in our RPGs, so we cross check facts so that we are doing things properly. Be very careful about using your Google-fu in this respect, at least if you are playing in a game set on Earth with a relatively modern setting.

** As a result from how much this character has come alive in my writer brain, I actually have started a bit of a “gamebook” from her perspective. Be on the lookout. I may be posting excerpts here from time to time.

Welcome!

I’ve recently found myself at a crossroads in my professional life, at a loss of which direction to take. To my right is unemployment: dark, scary, and impending unemployment, from the only career I’ve had post college. To my left is re-entering the traditional work force, and hoping beyond hope that I can find something fulfilling, both financially and mentally. Of course, what I really want to do is ignore both paths and forge my own, to follow my dreams, and to pursue what speaks to me.

For everything I’ve learned throughout my life, the creative endeavors have always been like this secret passion of mine. Something that if one took the time to get to know me that it would be transparent that I adore writing, music, and art, but in a way, I’ve also been ashamed. That’s not what the practical person should pursue; after all, we’re told so often that so few people can truly “make it”. Yet, as I’m staring down the metaphorical barrel, what risk is there to try, to see, to, maybe, maybe defy the odds?

I’m normally not this serious of a person, but for now, I think this is a good explanation of me, as I look to see what really defines me, and maybe gives you a glimpse of the person behind the stories that I am working on.