Stay posted for details.
Posted by geekgirlsrule on September 2, 2015
Posted by geekgirlsrule on October 12, 2010
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Posted by javagoth on September 23, 2010
I guess I should start out by apologizing for it taking me more than 2 months to get back to this. Life has been very busy and then there was writers block… I also feel a bit weird about writing these things when I’m currently on a hiatus from LARPing. I *did* renew my membership so that counts for something, right? The thing is that in my continued unemployment I’ve been pushing hard on getting my jewelry and accessories business going online at Artfire (see side bar for a link). At any rate it’s well past time to be getting back to this and I will try not to take so long to do part three.
Our actual subject for today is making good one-off/NPC/short term characters for a game setting for which you are unfamiliar (be it LARP or Tabletop). The very first key to success is to find a good bunch of people to game with – people you can feel comfortable with. If the group is entirely new to you then be honest and come right out and say you’re new to the game and the setting and may need some help. How they react will tell you if this group is for you. Are they helpful? Do their character ideas seem interesting to you? Are they patient? If you answered no to any of these questions then this may not be the right group for you. If you answered no to 2 or more of these questions then run, don’t walk, in the other direction and find a new and better group! Any group worth your time and effort will be willing to give some of theirs to help you get started. That said, if it’s a large group of people and you’ve only talked to a few then you may want to talk to at least a few more before making a decision. Also, if you are looking for help at a game, then arrive early if you need/want help unless you have made arrangements in advance.
Start with the storyteller. Let them know what your concerns are and ask them for their suggestions. This is exactly what I did with the Marvel game I was invited to join. I never read comics in my youth. I like the super hero TV shows and movies but they are far from the same as years of reading comics and, really, only a small number of comic characters actually end up being portrayed on shows or movies. It turned out the storyteller had a number of pre-generated characters that he said I could look at and that if any caught my eye I could play them or he’d help me create a new character if I preferred. One of his characters was Warbird – she can fly and shoot poison quills: SOLD! This storyteller/GM had also written a certain amount of back history and background for this character that was helpful for me to start figuring out how to play her. Am I playing her true to character in the comic books? I haven’t got a clue. The storyteller said he likes how I’m playing her and my fellow gamers seem to be happy so it’s all good. I don’t get all the references and sometimes have to stop and ask the story teller to give me a brief explanation. The first few games I would check in about if what I was doing was “right” and he finally got it through my head that this was about me making the character my own, having fun, and contributing to the game in a positive way so I don’t sweat it any more.
What about one-off games? Sometimes I have an easier time than others coming up with character ideas. My first strategy is to get at least a thumbnail sketch of the setting we’ll be in if I’m not already familiar with it. We once played a Firefly one-off that was easy because I’m very familiar with the series. On another occasion our evening’s game was a ‘Don’t Rest Your Head’ game – which I had never played before. The storyteller/GM gave us all a general run-down of the game premise. For those who have not played it’s basically a horror RPG. Your character has some thing happen that causes a psychological break which they are running from and in their panic some “power” reveals itself that leads them to ‘crazy town’. I’m not sure that’s the best explanation but should give you a general idea. I have always been a bit weirded out by pictures/posters where I feel like the people in them are looking at me. It’s not a button pushing phobia – it’s just something I find vaguely creepy or discomforting. I’m not going to go into why that might be – because that’s not the point. I drew on that as something I could build a character around for the game that would be creepy but would not be a give me nightmares level of creepy. So I decided my character was a painter and her psychological break happened when the figures in her paintings started to move and talk to her. Her power, in relation to that, was that she could paint or draw things that become real. She could, for example, draw a door and then open it.
For an NPC type of character the things I want to know from a storyteller/GM (and will ask about if need be) are things like what my goals are for the evening. When possible, I try to know in advance if I’ll be playing an NPC and get an idea of the character so I know how to dress for it. I have done this several times for special LARP games. For one of the games a friend and I worked up dance performances because our NPC’s were part of a traveling show. We worked on the plot points between performances.
I’m going to break for a moment to remind storytellers/GM’s that when people go out of their way to be good NPC’s, to add to the atmosphere of the game, and to make it as enjoyable as possible for the other players – it’s very important to express your thanks and encourage others to thank them. My friend and I worked up costumes, performances, worked out our character relationships, and stayed in character all night – working our asses off and hauling a lot of props with us in the process. While we had a great time doing this we did not get so much as a “thank you” at the end of the night – which was very disappointing and left a bad taste in our mouths. I’ve had this happen more than once. If you want good NPC’s then for give them some appreciation for their efforts!
My other advice for storytellers/GM’s is to give your NPC’s some direction of how you want them to be or react to things that happen in game if you have a grand plan for how things should go down. I once played an NPC for several games and so had time to research the characters powers and abilities. In the absence of clear instructions I quite clearly surprised him by having my character do a smart defensive move rather than just standing there until I was killed – which is apparently what he expected. I was in the NPC penalty box for an hour until he finally just narrated her being killed. Again, no thank you and I got the distinct impression he was irritated with me. Well gee – sorry – but players can only do their best and can’t generally divine from the air what you want. Give your NPC’s some direction if you want a specific result!
Sometimes people make an NPC attached to a character in order to try out a LARP game. I highly recommend playing an NPC of some sort rather than just observing at a LARP game. Observing can be terribly boring. I can see where being a storyteller NPC may seem a bit daunting. If it is, then I would ask the storyteller/GM if they know anyone who has a character you could be an NPC for. You could be a retainer of theirs, a visiting friends, a lackey, the child of a friend, etc and so forth. Some people have done this for a game or two and then either made that NPC into an actual PC or just played it until they felt comfortable enough to create their own PC. This way you get into the game and get introduced around right away. It’s really a more fun way to try out a LARP game and I highly recommend it.
For this type of short term character the main things I try to figure out before starting are why they are there and what their goal is for the evening. Keep it simple. You don’t want to get bogged down in the details for a one night game. When I know why they are there this gives me ideas about who they are and a little background to play off of. The goal gives me ideas for what I should do in game. If you aren’t playing an NPC for a storyteller (which usually comes with a goal attached), figure out one on your own. It can be as simple as surviving the evening without your character being killed or offending anyone. You could try to meet x number of people or try to get into a conversation with x character at some point. It could be to try to get some specific piece of information. Maybe it’s to identify who all the important figures are in the local setting. It’s up to you. A goal will help to guide you in your role play and keep you from being bored.
If you find yourself in a role play challenge with another player then call over the storyteller to help walk you through it. Do not let a player just tell you what happens if they are not a storyteller. Explain to the storyteller that you’re not familiar with the rules and need some help. They should help you or designate a 3rd party to help you. Most players are honest but I got steam rollered a few times by players who knew I didn’t know the rules and didn’t like who I came into the game with. It’s meta-gaming and not okay. Sometimes players take the game too seriously and it’s the storyteller’s job to intervene so all can have an enjoyable time.
Hopefully, what I’ve written here will be helpful to players who are contemplating a game/setting they are not familiar with. A gaming group that wants to grow, expand, and otherwise have an enjoyable game should be willing to help new players jump in and start playing. I have been unfamiliar with the settings of most of the RPG’s and LARP’s I’ve played at some point or another. I’ve learned to be less intimidated and have mostly had a great time with it. In the final section of this series I’ll go into more detail about making a well rounded character for a long term RPG/LARP campaign in an unfamiliar setting.
Posted by geekgirlsrule on September 11, 2010
Ok, PAX Pals, we need to have a little chat.
See, Monday, I went to brunch at a friend’s house, and had a chance to chat with someone who works in one of the coffee shops near the convention center.
You all are giving geeks a bad name.
You need to fucking well tip.
And yes, this is a big deal.
I understand that many of you have never worked a service industry job. In the Seattle area in the 80s, Nintendo started hiring high school kids at double the minimum wage to staff their gamehelp lines. And with the explosion of the tech industry, an awful lot of you went straight into tech instead of having to work in restaurants or bars. Or if you worked service industry, it was somewhere like McDonald’s, where tipping is discouraged.
I understand that, which is why I’m not willing to write you all off as jerks, and am willing to educate you.
See, in many coffeeshops, restaurants and bars, if a server makes minimum wage, they’re lucky. An awful lot of employers factor projected tips in to a server’s wage, which means when people don’t tip, they make less than minimum wage.
Save your screeds about how if we all band together and quit tipping that bosses will be forced to pay more. They won’t. They’ll pay what they’ve always paid and you’re just hurting the most vulnerable people in the service industry. So quit being an asshole.*
So, here’s a few tipping tips from a former bartender:
1. $1 a drink, minimum. This goes for coffee as well as mixed drinks. If you’re just getting a pop or a beer, you CAN get away with paying less, but I wouldn’t advise it.
2. For meals, I don’t care if it only cost me $10, I tip a minimum of $5 if someone had to bring it to me. 20% if they don’t. In a sit down restaurant, the industry standard is 15%. I start at 20% and go up from there if the service is excellent. I have only NOT tipped twice in my life. Both times were warranted.
3. Also, per the Geek Husband What Rules, if you want excellent service in a strange coffee shop, be stuffing your buck in the jar as you place your order, particularly when fighting the bad rap we’ve already gotten.
If you can’t bring yourself to tip out of altruism, then consider what tipping gets you. It gets you friendly service, a bartender or barista who remembers what you drink, how you like your steak, what you want on your sandwich, etc… It also, in nicer restaurants, gets you preferred seating and free appetizers or drinks sometimes. Consider it an investment in your future comfort.
I’m well aware of the temptation to not tip when you’re in a strange city. You won’t be back here, for at least a year if at all, what do you care? Well, you care because servers have LONG memories, trust me. Also, you’re making everyone you’re there with look like assholes.
Here’s the thing. For many of the SF/F cons I’ve worked on, servers will fight over who gets to work that weekend, because we tip well. We know we’ll be back, we know they’ll be slammed and over-worked, so we tip well. Talking to my friend who works one of the coffee shops around the convention center, when it comes to PAX, they fight over who doesn’t have to work PAX, because you guys have given us the reputation of stingy ass mother fuckers. Service industry folks talk, and no one likes PAX because of this.
This is not cool. I do not need someone spitting in my latte because you clowns have no concept. So tip.
Also, consider, they aren’t even making their usual tips that weekend, because with crowds like PAX has, their regular clientele are driven out by the sheer mass of nerdity. Many of those folks are going to be losing money working to serve you.
I’m serious, next year, if you’re standing in line for coffee and don’t tip, and someone smacks you in the back of the head and calls you a fucking moron, that someone will be me. See if I don’t.
And don’t even try the whole, “I’m expensing it!” excuse. I’ve done travel expensing at three different companies and a university. You can expense tips. Either tips are considered part of the cost of the meal, or there is a separate little box for tips.
Also, here’s a tip for you, if you ever want to date that hot bartender or barista. A. If you don’t tip HIM/HER, you don’t stand a chance. B. If you do go out, and on the date don’t tip your servers, that will be the LAST date you ever go on, and nookie is right out of the question. Seriously, I cannot tell you the number of times guys stiffed me at the bar, and their dates came back later to apologize, tip me on the sly, and then ask for the number for a cab company because the date was over.
Like I said, I’m willing to cut you some slack because I know a lot of you never worked service industry, and don’t understand how it works or how hard a job it really is. But now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
*This goes double for any other weak rationalizations you’ve developed about your shitty behavior. I am uninterested, and your bullshit will be deleted and/or mocked repeatedly.
Posted by geekgirlsrule on September 5, 2010
I limit myself to one day at PAX because the sensory overload is just too much for more than that. So, yesterday I dragged myself out of bed, and off we went.
We got there at 9:00. I got Melissa set up in our gaming space to run Mist-Robed Gate by ten, and then went out to cruise the expo floor. I ran into my friend Jen at the Bethesda booth. Jen is a fantastic artist, and I’m not sure if she’s working for them regularly or just manning the booth, but she rocks and it was awesome to see her. Then I started walking around handing out Geek Girls Rule! business cards, to people I thought would appreciate them. So, if I saw you and you’re here because I accosted you in a hall full of strangers, HI! Welcome to GGR! I hope you like it and stick around!
In my circuit of the Expo floor I ran into an old friend of an old friend, Norb Rozek, who works for Frozen Codebase, who are producing Jam City RollerGirls! It looks gorgeous! I have a lot of friends in Seattle’s Rollerderby league and I’m real excited for them with this project, as many actual rollergirls are featured in the game. And we’ll be downloading it for our Wii soon!
I hung out with Ryan Macklin from Evil Hat Games and Indie Press Revolution at The Dreaming’s main booth on the expo floor for a bit, then ran off to get coffee with Joe McDaldno, the creator of several excellent indie games like Gun Thief, Perfect and Ribbon Drive (Gun Thief and Ribbon Drive you can get at the Dreaming. See what I did there?)
Joe and I decided to go grab some coffee, and hit off across the floor, with me stopping to hand out business cards as I went, which is how I met Cori Roberts of Gameinatrix.com which looks interesting. I haven’t had a chance to check it out, as I just got up and decided to post this while my memory was still fresh. They have a Gamer Girls Radio podcast I will definitely be checking out.
We got coffee, came back. I verified that Dawn was in the building and would be ready to take over at one, and then ran off for lunch with Rachel Edidin, who blogs for Girl Wonder at Inside Out. On the way there I introduced myself to Anne-Marie who writes GirlGamerEsq.com, which is an incredibly informative blog. I just popped over there to check out content, and while it focuses primarily on videogames, I think I’ll be checking this one out more frequently. She was kind enough to direct me to the Raven theater, where I was meeting Rachel, and had on an AWESOME hedgehog t-shirt!!
After lunch I checked to make sure Dawn was cool, and then went back out on the floor. Where I met a lot of people, handed out a lot of business cards, and walked my legs off. I handed a card to a lovely woman who gave me a card for the lady who made her really neat video game inspired jewelery, Deadly Pretty Designs.
At three I ran Dreaming Crucible at the Dreaming’s Demo table for my friend M and a gentleman whose name I have completely forgotten, because I suck. We had a pretty good time with it. Hopefully I wasn’t too scattered. After that I drifted up to the Free Tabletop gaming room the Indie gaming kids had staked out, room 304, and solicited folks for games, talked, passed out discount coupons for the folks at the Dreaming, and eventually wound up playing the Dresden Files demo that The Geek Husband What Rules was running.
I like what Evil Hat’s done with the Dresden Files RPG. And while Dresden Files uses the FATE system, like Spirit of the Century, it feels smoother in this incarnation, like some rough edges have been polished out. I played Dylan Heart, punk rock wizard, and using magic was not the trial or anguish that it often is in other systems. I almost didn’t take that character because he used magic, but I figured for a demo at a con, I could play outside my comfort zone. And I was pleased. I had a good time with it. Joel Shempert played with us, and our friends M and J. Joel played an analog to Morgan from the Dresden Files books, you know Lawful Good Paladin. And he and I had a great time feeding off one another.
You can pick up the Dresden Files RPG at the Dreaming as well.
After that, it was 9pm, we’d been there for 12 hours, so it was time to go home. Where I discovered that Tammy, the Geek Room-mate What Rules had given me this awesome pendant! Which I don’t have a picture of to show you, but trust me, it’s awesome! Of a witch flying on a broom with a bright silver moon behind her. I love it! Ok, not technically PAX-related, but I wanted to share. Just a reminder, she also blogs here, usually about LARPs.
Again, to anyone who is finding this blog because I handed you a card at PAX, welcome! I hope you like it. I’ve been blogging here for the past two or three years, and hope to keep doing it for many more.
Geek Girls Rule! We do, and more people need to know that.
Just a reminder! We have a Facebook page. And a twitter: @GeekGirlsRule
Posted by geekgirlsrule on September 3, 2010
I need to start off this review by stating that I’ve known Mr. Bodewell, the curator of Sepiachord for a very long time. He is a good friend. I also know members of several of the bands on this compilation. But, as I’ve said before, if something doesn’t work, I’ll be honest about it.
Now, I’m not a huge Steampunk fan. I enjoy the esthetic on others, but it’s not a style I favor for myself. However, much of the music on this CD touches the part of me that winds up humming, “Mein Herr” from Cabaret for months on end every time I see it.
The tagline for the Sepiachord site is “Music for a Past that Never was.” Many of the songs on this compilation (and the other Sepiachord CD) have strong vaudevillian and cabaret influences. Jangly pianos and accordions feature strongly, as does the occasional theremin. Everything on this CD is more than listenable, but there are a few standouts.
“The Dance Master” by Veronique Chevalier is hands down the best song on this CD. It tells the story of an evil Dance Master who seduces girls into a life of prostitution. She has a throaty voice, with a French accent. The first time I heard the song, I texted Mr. Bodewell immediately to tell him how incredible I thought it was.
“Hollowland” by Blackbird Orchestra is also a great song, but it doesn’t fit. The others songs feature jangly vaudeville-sounding instruments, and Blackbird Orchestra has a very lush, full sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love the song! It reminds me a bit of Sisters of Mercy with some elements of the Killers thrown in. It’s fantastic, but I just don’t think it really fits.
My other favorites on this compiliation are Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys‘ “Off With Her Head,” and Miss Mamie Lavona the Exotic Mulatta and Her White Boy Band doing “Thief Song.”
“Rotten Zurich Cafe” by Black Tape for a Blue Girl is probably the weakest song on the CD. It’s ok, but not quite as good as the rest. I think her Tallulah Bankhead impersonation was just a bit much for me. And at first listen I didn’t think I’d like the Tiger Lillies song, “Roll Up,” but his voice grew on me after a couple of listenings, and I quickly grew quite fond of it. I’m also pretty fond of Sxip Shirey’s “Mehenatta.”
The majority of songs on this album tell stories, good ones, interesting stories, and with the exception of “Hollowland” they all fit together very well. They’re incredibly evocative, and I could probably give you a paragraph or more about each if pressed, but I’d like to go finish getting ready for PAX now.
You can buy the Sepiachord Passport on the site (or you will be able to soon), or if you happen to meet Mr. Bodewell while out and about.
ETA: You can buy the Passport now on Projekt’s website.
Posted by geekgirlsrule on September 1, 2010
Luna Vachon, a wonderful wrestler in her own right, taught by the Fabulous Moolah, as well as the members of her own family, the Vachons, passed away in her home on August 27, 2010. She was short, stocky, with tattoos, funny hair and a voice like a poorly maintained chainsaw. A female wrestler who actually looked like she could really fuck your shit up, instead of the lingerie models currently in favor in the bigger federations, Luna rocked my world.
Whatever you think of Pro-wrestling, that it’s fake, scripted (yes), you have to admit that the wrestlers are athletes, amazing athletes, or they wouldn’t be able to pull of those moves without seriously damaging themselves or each other. Like many professional athletes they incur sports injuries that lead to chronic, lifelong conditions, many painful. Wrestlers, like football and hockey players, sacrifice their bodies to their careers, and Luna was no different.
Mick Foley has written a beautiful tribute to Luna, whom he counted as a friend. Really, you should go read it. I don’t think I, or anyone else who never got the honor of meeting her, can do her proper justice.
Rest in Peace, Luna. You are missed.
Posted by geekgirlsrule on August 31, 2010
Yes, my dearest, darling ones, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when a young geek’s heart turns towards thoughts of “Oh sweet Jesus, I need a flu shot! PAX is this weekend!”
I, the Geek Girl What Rules, and Ogre, the Geek Husband What Rules, will both be running games at PAX. In fact, GGR is sponsoring a day of female GMs on Saturday at the gaming tables sponsored by the Dreaming. We’ll be sharing the great big huge gaming space with Wizards of the Coast. We’ll be at the back of the hall.
Gaming starts at 10 AM. Melissa Kocher will be running the Mist-Robed Gate, Dawn Vogel will run a roller-derby girl hack of Best Friends, and if we can get her away from her Enforcer duties, Leslie McKeever will run Dogs in the Vineyard. I’ll be around to run pick-up games as necessary, probably Little Fears, The Keep (Bridge System) or something else where char-gen takes little to no time, and there are minimal dice involved. I’ll be around all day Saturday.
The Geek Husband What Rules will be running the Dresden Files rpg all weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He’s got pre-gen-ed characters, and has built Seattle for the game. His big complaint is that Seattle’s just too nice. If our homeless people started to go missing, we’d notice. Seriously, we noticed the Green River Killer real early on, even if we couldn’t catch him for a couple decades.
If I’m not completely overwhelmed by Saturday, I may come back on Sunday for awhile. Alas, I have no buttons to hand out, the budget’s a little lean in the Household What Rules, maybe next year.
So, swing by the second Dreaming booth in the gaming hall, and look for the short, round redhead with the cats tattooed on her chest.
Posted by geekgirlsrule on August 28, 2010
Two great tastes that taste great together!
So, for a while, the Geek Husband What Rules has been going to a local venue where bands play in someone’s living room. Seriously, when he says “House shows” they really are in someone’s house, jam-packed with sweaty punk rockers singing, drinking and dancing. Through this venue and our buddy Lukas, the GHWR has met a lot of the local punk rock scene, and quite frankly, a lot of them are nerds.
Ok, maybe not a lot, but one in particular stands out in all his nerdish glory: Ryan of the Damage Done. Ok, maybe more than just him, because if you mention comic books at one of these shows you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by sweaty punk rock boys who are all over telling you their favorite X-men line-up.
I met Ryan at the second to the last GRN STRP show, and in introduction, I walked up and said, “Yeah, I wanted to meet the person with the tattoo second nerdiest to mine.” Ryan has the Millenium Falcon tattooed across his chest.
“Oh, yeah. What’s yours?”
“Nightcrawler from the X-men.”
“That is sooo awesome! Look, I have Wolverine on this bicep!”
The Damage Done’s first ep was named Tusken Hater, and Ryan has theTusken Hater cartoon tattooed on his hand and wrist. After the tattoo displaying, we talked about Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis and Alan Moore.
Come to think of it, most of the punk rockers I know are nerds. Let’s see, both groups are outcast, non-standard personality types. They dress funny and know a lot of shit you don’t. Yeah, I can’t see any reason why nerds and punks mesh so well.
So, tonight, the GHWR and I and some friends are walking up to a local coffeeshop to see Ryan’s solo project, Jefferson Death Star. It’s accousti-punk, which is becoming more prevalent with bands like Andrew Jackson Jihad, Destruction Island and Wingnut Dishwashers Union.
ETA: Just got back from the show. Ol’ Doris and Goddammit Boy Howdy from Missoula, MT also played, and were awesome! Picked up their EP and Demo. Cannot, however, find them on Myspace. Rrrrrr.
ETA 2: Thanks to Lukas, Here’ s GoddammitBoyHowdy’s Myspace.