May 26, 2004
A Campaign in Review

As others are looking at their charter members for their games, and who is left, it has me thinking about A Common Disaster, and where it began, where it went, and who is left.

In a way, it saddens me, because of the originals in FoH, none are left, and of the originals in RoP, only two remain. However, I'm also thrilled to have the players I do have, and to have been able to watch this campaign grow and shift and change throughout the years. It has been shaped by the characters in the game, and I love that.

A Common Disaster is actually a set of 4 worlds, and 4 games, originally designed to be run in parallel. Only two were ever successful (Paths of Confusion and Whim of the Serpent never got off the ground properly).

Fires of Home began in May 1996 with two members. [Note that FINN = BRAND]

  • Duiliath, son of Drake & Tryslora, grandson of Finn, played by Craig ??? [RETIRED]
  • Kieren, daughter of Drake & Tryslora, granddaughter of Finn, played by Jenn Jackson [RETIRED]

In October 1996 I opened up the game to add new players

  • Jamethiel, daughter of Tryslora, played by Josh Katzman
  • Darius, son of Martyn, grandson of Finn, played by Dustin Crewell [RETIRED]
  • Martyn, son of Finn, played by Chris Gladis [RETIRED]
  • Aduran, son of Tryslora, played by Daryk Zirkle [RETIRED]

Later, two more characters were added, before the game was finished.

  • Dorian, grandson of Finn, played by jenn crewell [RETIRED]
  • Holden, son of Brand, played by Michael Curry [RETIRED]
  • Daphne, daughter of Holden, played by Julia Frizzell [RETIRED]

So out of all the player characters, only one is still actively played. Three others have crossed over out of Phoenix and into Amber, but are not currently active or played.

Rite of Passage began at Ambercon 1997, as a one shot game that turned into both an ACUS Campaign and a PBEM. It has had its fits and starts over the years.

The charter characters of Rite of Passage are

  • Brendon, son of Deirdre, played by Brian Stanley
  • Frederick, son of Benedict, played by Scott Olson [RETIRED]
  • Ivan, son of Fiona, played by Cliff Wallach [RETIRED]
  • Rhiannon, daughter of Julian, played by Bridgette Ruggles
  • Gabriel, son of Corwin, played by Rob Bergeron (recast to Amber DiTullio)
  • Ben, son of Corwin, played by Andi Blija [ON HIATUS]
  • Bridget, daughter of Bleys, played by Brian Moore (renamed to Regina, made NPC)

Later, the following characters have been added.

  • Hawke, son of Gerard, played by Keith Cripe
  • Anna, daughter of Caine, played by Josh Katzman (recast to BriAnne Searles)
  • Cadmus, son of unknown, played by Paul Weimer
  • Mireille of Rebma, played by Mike LeVay [RETIRED]
  • Jack, daughter of Random, played by Djinn
  • Corwin, son of Oberon, played by Rich DiTullio

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:35 PM
October 02, 2002
On the subject of naming

Names. When you start a character, its one of the first things you need. Okay, its one of the first things *I* need. I find the name, in part, defines the character. It sort of defines how they *sound* in my head. How I see them.

I was looking at the sidebar and remembering one truism. There seems to be a pattern to names. Sometimes you get stuck on a letter, and it seems like every character you create begins with that name. Like the year at Ambercon when I had just created Adrienne shortly before it, and then followed her up by adding Amery and Aileen to the roster. And looking over at the list, there're Kale, Krystol, and Kylie -- but they were all created at different times.

G and D are two of my big ones. Although its hard to see that here. Oh, and J and when G sounds like J. For one campaign I had SO many major NPCs that began with J that I swear I started to lose track. There was Jordan and Jared and Jade and um... okay, I *did* lose track. Some of them were Josh's fault because they were the other three aspects of him, so they HAD to start with a J. Jordan and Jared were my own fault though.

And then there is the meaning of a name. I've named people sometimes because it sounds interesting. Kale is a seaweed after all, or a vegetable. Or, then it becomes Kayleigh or K. Leigh or some other name. Which works, since if you asked her the name she was born with she couldn't tell you.

Damara was a name I made up, or so I thought. Its really the name and styling of an NPC in another game I was running, and I borrowed her for a PC. I miss Chaos Theory (her campaign) right now... its sort of on hold and its really hard not knowing what's happening since we were so close to the end. A part of me wonders if Damara is dead and I just don't know it yet. If she made a mistake and got herself killed. It'd be depressing... I worked so hard on her, and she's tried so hard just to get to where she's at. But I do wish I knew.

Anyway, her name. I really did think I made the name up when I used it. I did it by sounds. Later, I looked it up, and have found various meanings for it. "One who is like a sheep" or "gentle girl" or "who walked here" which is the meaning for a tribe of people named the Damaras. My Damara is far from gentle -- she is a warrior girl -- and she is no sheep. But she is certainly well-traveled.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:46 PM
August 31, 2002

Well, the first sessions is over and done with, and after some definite chaos, it worked out well.

The session began with some nice social time -- everyone collecting at the house and the barbecue beginning. Got the swordfish and steaks on, got the other stuff laid out, and everyone had a nice lunch and the people who hadn't met before had a chance to say hi.

Then we started in with the character building. I did the first parts -- rolling of stats (yes, Superworld still rolls random stats, and its actually a feature I *like* in it) and the assigning of historical skills -- as a group. Then with Mike's help, we got the powers laid down for all the characters. I'd estimated a few hour for social and character building, but we spent a little longer on social I think (we always do) and then the character building was confusing because it used points and dice, so for the newer players they had to try to learn the system and understand the lingo all at once. Which was just difficult for me to remember how to put it in the right terms so it made sense.

In the end, I think it worked out okay. Before the next session I'm intending to do up a cheat sheet of sorts to make it easier for all the players to track their energy use, and understand what they are rolling and when. I do remember what its like to be sitting there staring at my dice and asking, "What die do I roll and should it be high or low???"

In a way, it was weird using dice again. And in a way, it was really cool. I think I kept them from being intrusive but they were useful as well. And as I do the synopsis for the website, I need to also jot down experience points for each player so I don't lose track of those. There will be about 3-4 sessions in the first scenario, so I won't be giving out the actual XP for a few months yet. So I don't want to lose track. Also I need to jot down dots for successful skill rolls, which I entirely forgot about during the game.

This would be why I need to put together a cheat sheet, so a few things run more smoothly. But then, I haven't done this in ages (and have only played, but never before run, Superworld) so I hope I can be excused at least somewhat.

So now, tonight, I need to do the synopsis before I forget, and add some data to various character pages that can be published publicly. Get the website all updated and notified, and everything'll be cool for the night. Then I've just got more work to do before next session. Glad we're only playing monthly!!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:16 PM
August 30, 2002
Two Hours Later

...and I'm feeling a bit more ready for tomorrow. Still nervous, but then I always am. Still feeling icky. Yeah, I'm sick on top of everything else -- this summer bug that's going around. So imagine getting ready to GM a game including for people you've never GMed for... and you have no voice. *sighs* It keeps cutting in and out. We'll see how the day goes tomorrow! I might not get through all my goals for the day if my throat hurts too badly and I can't talk, y'know?

I got a lot more stuff written up, including a basic outline of what I want to accomplish tomorrow. Yes, I have notes. Those who know me may chuckle, or even laugh outright, but for some reason I'm at least starting out organized for this game. We'll see how long it lasts, I suppose. But I spent a lot of time pulling things together tonight, and I've still got some more things to go over tomorrow.

Mostly, I still need to read and decide on some mech. I like Superworld because its a simple system, relatively, and there aren't a lot of rule mods. But of course, that means that when something requires creativity because there's no rule for it, I need to come up with a rule that doesn't unbalance anything. And I'm so far away from using mech lately that that's a little more difficult for me. But I'll manage it.

For now tho, I think its time to sleep and recharge these batteries. Hopefully I'll feel better in the morning. This only lasted Ry a few days this time. I need to be on my best game tomorrow. The first session is always the hardest one -- you don't get a second chance to make that first impression and all that.

No wonder I've got stage fright.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:27 PM
August 14, 2002
Continuing on...

And so it goes. I've added three more pieces to the Mask website -- character creation basics, guidelines for electronic communication, and the NPCs of the President and the First Husband (doesn't that sound SO weird???). It is coming together. I know there is still more I need to complete, including the timeline (want to have that ready for the first session and keep it properly updated). But I'm happy with how much is already done!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:35 PM
August 13, 2002
Defining Dark

Today I had a conversation with Jeremy where I struggled to define “Dark” as it relates to my “Dark Supers” game. I had explained that Superworld was more like Batman than Superman, so he translated Dark to mean Gotham in atmosphere.

Yes, but no. And it was a good supposition… it just didn’t fit with my exact image. Yet, I found it hard to put to voice exactly what I meant by Dark. I ended up not being able to really put it into words that made me happy, other than “I don’t mean Sweetness & Light”. Which wasn’t really acceptable to me as an answer. But at the time, it was the best I could do.

What do I mean by “Dark”?

The world begins as today does, in this particular case. In most cases, the world is a realistic place, where there are dangers and you don’t get off scot-free just because you are a PC. A place where you probably *shouldn’t* walk in the worst area of town late at night. A place where bad things happen, as well as the good. A place where things might not go right just because you want them to.

A place where life is not fair.

Dark also means I don’t pull punches. These realisms of life will affect the PCs and quite possibly affect them deeply. And in my mind, that’s not a bad thing. It is these things which will drive the PCs to grow and to learn, and give them more motivations to continue onwards and discover more plot and make their world a better place. Perhaps, even, a “Lighter” place.

When I ran Artifacts of Winter, it started off with a bang. Chris arrived in chains, a prisoner, and was set loose by Tessa, a teenager in rags and barefeet. She begged him then to help her ease her mother’s slide into death. So Chris’s first scene in the entire game, once he was free, was singing Marie away... playing music to ease her mind as she died. And then helping Tessa to bury her. And then he and Josh learned more about Tessa's situation (abused by her employer, who they later learned was her father) and resolved to rescue the girl and her brother.

I think it all began with the first Champions campaign I ran, in which Dave's character was brainwashed to believe he was married, and he came out of the scene to discover that he was now the father of twins. Who disappeared into an alternate dimension. He did marry the girl for real, too.

Dark doesn't refer to physicality. Yes, there will be injuries. Ask Josh about the puncture holes in his shoulders during AoW. Or some of the broken ankles. There will be emotional difficulties. The world is dark. But not dingy...

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:43 PM
August 11, 2002
And So it Begins...

Well, I gave out the first of the invitations to Mask of the Innocent today. So far I've got a lot of yeses, and a couple of maybes. I think its going to be a ton of fun, and I'm really looking forward to it. I still need to get quite a bit more of information up on the website for it, but not tonight. Tonight, well, tonight I think I'm going to go get some sleep. Its been a hell of a long weekend.

Oh, and Liz? I'm sorry I lied about when I had to get the invites done by. For everyone else... Liz's surprise party was today (which'll be detailed in the main blog soon) and I couldn't say I had to have the invites done today cuz I'd be seeing Evan and Annette so instead I had to have them done by Monday to give out at work. *smiles* Now I can tell the truth. *grins*

UPDATE: It is Monday afternoon and I have now given out all of the invitations, although since Jeremy is out he won't get his until he's back. At this point I have 6 confirmed players, and 4 yet to confirm. Although I'm waiting for emails officially from all the confirms, and I'm pretty sure one of the unconfirmed ones is playing. I just want to know... how did I go from having no players locally to having ten?? Meep!! But its gonna be fun. I think this game will actually go very well as a large group -- MUCH better than an Amber game does as a large group.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:53 PM
August 09, 2002
Mask of the Innocent

Construction of the new game continues. The goal is to have invitations ready for Monday, so I can hand out a couple at work, and get some to Josh to pass on when he gets the chance. But I'm rolling right along, and its going well. Check out the website to see how its going. In the interest of communication, I've most recently added a section on what its like to game with me. And what the players need to know about me, and what I need to know about them.

I am, at this point, intending to invite 8 people to play. I'm guessing not all of them will accept, but we'll see how that goes. I am inviting my husband, two married couples, a married guy, and two single guys. I really wish I knew some more female players to invite. If there are any women out there in Albany NY looking for a good, semi-realistic, roleplaying oriented game, drop me a note and we'll talk!!

In the meantime, I've got just a few more things to write and it'll all be ready. And there's a part of me which can't wait!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:24 PM
August 07, 2002
Creating a New Campaign

I'm in the process of working on all the background information for a new campaign I'm planning.

The idea sprang mostly formed into my head as we were driving home from WEF. I suppose the thought of a lack of FTF gaming made my imagination kick into overdrive. Or maybe I just got lucky. Either way, Mask of the Innocent was born.

It is going to be a Superworld game -- dark, grim and gritty superheros. I love the system and am busily rereading it now. I've started character creation, and yes, I am even intending to use dice.

I've decided to deal only with local players at this point. I've actually got between 8 and 10 players on the invite list already, just dealing locally. I'm not sure how many will play when all is said and done. I'm hoping to send out the invitations by the end of the week. I need to collect some more email addresses before I can do that, or else just print out the invites and hand deliver those I can, and give others to pass along to the friends of friends I'm hoping might play.

As I go rambling along on the site, I'd certainly love any comments anyone might care to offer. I've been brainstorming so far by babbling away at Kevin and Josh. But of course, I don't want to babble any of the details they *wouldn't* know. And I can't blog about those here, either, since Liz reads the site and hopefully she'll be playing too. *smiles*

See, a public forum is both a great idea and a bad idea all at once!

I'd better get those invites out. I think a large part of the inspiration will be finishing coming as I start getting character concepts from my players. But in the meantime, I've got a few more metagaming posts to get done for the site. I've done the political situation, and the "so now you're a super" post. I now need to do the "Deb's philosophy of gaming" post and the "how to build a character" post. Then it'll be a decent starting reference for the new players in the game. Especially those who haven't gamed with me before.

I'm seriously thinking of telling any new players that they should read my site. I mean, as a GM, I'm not always as strange and twisted as my characters. And for some strange reason, Josh laughed when I said that when we were walking the other day. Which, I suppose, is why I'm considering making it mandatory reading. I like it when my players have an idea just how far out there my brain can go. That when I say I am a no-holds-barred GM I mean it -- I have played through all kinds of things, and if it is a part of reality and a way to push character (NOTE: NOT PLAYER) buttons, I'll do it. I want to have emotionally involved characters, because then they have goals and reactions and they do things, and together we build the plot.

And in the long run, I just want all of us to have fun. And if I'm going to wig a player out, its better that we all know it in advance and just don't go there. I think between the AoW stories (what little there are posted) and the Jenny and Adrienne stuff, this site gives a pretty good overview of where my mind can go. And asking me questions fills in the blanks. Just trying for the good policy of honesty...

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:07 PM
July 31, 2002
The Annoyance of Character Sheets

I like systemless gaming. I usually say this is because I like the freedom of a freeform game. Because I don't like having rules and dice intrude on the roleplaying experience.

I could go on for hours probably, and pull in all sorts of bullshit. And y'know what, I wouldn't be lying.

But there's another very simple aspect of it.

I lose character sheets.

There is one sheet which has been lost since the day it was created. For my World of Darkness game, Sam wrote up a sheet for his character. I vaguely remember him handing it to me -- we were at another game at the time. I tucked it into my things *somewhere* for safekeeping.

I've never seen it since.

I've gone through many folders and binders and books. Every time I unearth something I used during that time period, I look through it, wondering if perhaps now, years and years later, the character sheet might yet resurface. If it ever does, I'm sending a photocopy to Sam.

This has become a sort of a legend in our group. Since then, I've hardly used character sheets. When I did do the first set for the Amber campaign I ran, I carefully kept them all in Notes and in a binder, so I couldn't lose them. Or I'd have to lose all of them.

But I just keep proving I'm terrible with character sheets.

And this time, I'm certain they exist. I even remember seeing them sometime in the last 5 1/2 years, since we moved into this house. And the scary part is, I thought this was organized. I thought I knew exactly where they were. And they're not. *groans*

I've started work on a new FTF game. Since I'm not playing in one just now, and there are no other GMs I can find in this area, I figure if I want one locally, I'd better put something together. So this weekend a possible plot hit, and I started sketching out the details. Its a dark supers idea, and I plan to use Superworld as the system.

Yes, I said a system, complete with dice and character sheets.

I had some old characters. In fact, the two I originally ran when I first ever played Superworld back in college. The Artful Dodger and Babel. Both would fit in nicely with the concept I'm working on as NPCs. So instead of having to recreate them, I planned on simply adopting their character sheets into my NPC stuff.

So I went and grabbed my Superworld box, which contains the original box set of documents, plus a few more I picked up when I got the game used. Plus character sheets.

I have all kinds of character sheets in there, especially with newer characters I'd been making to play years ago, or for another campaign idea I had.

Everything *except* Dodger and Babel.

*sighs* *groans* I can't win.

The thing is, I'm sure I saw them. Which means they must be in a box or a folder somewhere. So now I need to go through everything, and clean up all sorts of things. I'm also missing a few useful sheets, like the errata. Hopefully I penciled a lot of it into the books. I've got some reading to do. Which I'll try to do while my laptop is dead, and while in the car this weekend (I can share with Kev by reading aloud while he drives to the RenFest I think).

I just need to find those bloody character sheets!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:42 PM
July 27, 2002
When Its Over

When its over... it is as if a piece of me is suddenly cut off and unavailable, yet still screaming where I can hear her. As if there is so much left unsaid that she needs settled, yet the game is gone now. Ended.

Yes, WEF has ended this evening, and now Adrienne is an Inactive Character.

I will miss her sorely in many ways, and in others I am glad. She had reached a point where she was unplayable within the confines of the game. That's hard to admit, but so true. Even some aspects of how the game ended, and the part she played in it, showed that truth.

I have fondly called Adrienne my "little psycho bitch". She isn't really a bitch, nor truly psychotic. But she does live in her own little world which at times has little to do with sanity. What no one ever understood was that so many of her problems were because when she asked questions, she did not receive answers, and she is terminally curious. Given that she is told something is (or may be) possible, but not told how, she will be determined to discover the method. Whether it is safe for her or not.

Adrienne is the daughter of Cybele (first daughter of Oberon) and of Oberon himself. Oberon suspected that his daughter was involved with Benedict, and sought to prove it -- so he shapeshifted himself into his son's form and slept with Cybele. Adrienne was the result, and Cybele refused to name the father. Everyone assumed it was Benedict. Adrienne knew the truth, having confronted her mother when she was (in her mind) old enough. She kept the secret admirably, for Adrienne, I think.

She was innocent when she came to Amber. And she was originally simply "a spoiled brat". Julia read the original character sheets when we were done tonight, and that was the very first sentence on mine. And it fit, and quite honestly, still fits, but she is now truly only spoiled by herself. By her own desires and attempts to achieve those desires.

Over time Adrienne has proved time and time again that her judgement was well, lacking. She had a crush on, then fell in love with, then obsessed over Jerrym, all without a single word of encouragement from him. He only learned of it when she offered to give her life so that his dead girlfriend could possibly live.

Okay, maybe psycho was a good word after all.

She got over Jerrym, and at one point counted him friend. Until she fell in love again, and he did not approve of the match -- her twin brother, Stephan. But he is a part of her, her second element, and she can as much be without him as stop breathing.

Actually, stopping breathing would be simpler. After all, she can shapeshift.

The issue is simply that when the two were born, Amber was nearly destroyed. If they were to produce a child, it is likely they could destroy even more. They don't intend to reproduce.

And its not that they knew they were siblings. They had already met, and were falling hard, when they found out that Dworkin had used his powers to birth Stephan in the mirrors. So Stephan wasn't even born into Amber in truth, and that is what *saved* Amber at the time. And Cybele wasn't aware that she had a son. It certainly made things interesting when it all came out.

So here we are today, at the end of seven and a half years of game. Adrienne has changed over and over, yet her headstrong attitude and leaping before looking, while tempered in her eyes remain the same.

When the plan (loosely termed) came into being, Adrienne found herself without much of a part in it. No one wanted her with the strike force. She was too interested in finding out the reasons before destroying Oberon. No one listened when she and Caine both suggested that someone should deal with Grace while others dealt with Oberon (and yes, it turned out that Grace was behind it all). When Adri spoke to Brennan (who orchestrated the plan) about her plan (suggested by her mother - Brennan's lover) to distract and protect Oberon's wife (Mara), Brennan almost refused. He didn't want her to interfere with the plan. Adrienne didn't believe it would, and finally agreed to stay out of the way and not do anything to interrupt.

She held by that, until they blew up half the castle, by blowing up Oberon. And Stephan ended up trapped in the Dreamlands (not anyone else's fault really, on that one). And yet, when Adrienne wanted to spend time with Stephan and learn how to go back and forth, Jerrym told Caprice he shouldn't show her how. All Adrienne wanted by that point was to be with Stephan. She had been looking for home in recent times, and had finally come to the peace that came with making a home with the one person who was important to her. It was painful not to be with him.

I am babbling horribly. In my mind, I want to believe that Adrienne is happy. That she is able to move between Dream to be with Stephan and back to Amber to be with her mother. That she has found a place and can settle into simply *being*. A part of me knows that can't be true, simply because other characters think she would do something wrong with that power.

I reminded them, Adrienne is fine when she is taught. Its when she has to discover her own way, with her own logic, that things go wrong. The trouble happens when people try to keep her in the dark. *smiles*

I am working to put her away in my head. I have tapes. I have her site, and all the conversations. So much from over seven years of gaming. During that time, I personally have been married, bought a house, had two kids, become a manager (hells, I'd only worked at FAC for 4 months when I joined the game!).

I don't think I still have the original post from Julia. Which listed how far she was from Albany. I smiled to read it, and I'm glad I joined. I remember being terrified that first session, because I knew no one in the game. I was shy for so long (yes, me, shy). I had met Stormy at ACUS, and Julia at Arisia, and then joined the game during the June session (it had started in January). But I knew no one else, and barely knew those I had met, and everyone already knew each other online. It was scary. But it was gaming, and I quickly grew to love the game, and Adrienne.

I'm going to miss it. The game. The social part too.

*sighs* Its over.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:12 PM
July 20, 2002
Introducing Kids to Gaming

Kim said...
I'm not sure how old your kids are, but you might try ElfQuest with them. Scott and I plan to start ours (when we have them) on that one.

My daughter Danielle (Dani, or the peanut) is 4 years old, and my son Ryan is 7 1/2 months. Dani's been around gaming since she was born... hells, since before she was born. I took a maternity leave from WEF and from AoW (which I was running) when she was born, and then jumped right back in. So she knows mommy and daddy both game, and she's got a fairly decent understanding of what gaming is. Or at least as much as a four year old can understand.

I've thought a lot about where to start someday. Handily, I know the parents of her best friends decently well (and one of those parents has expressed an interest in learning about gaming recently). I also have a few gaming friends with kids. I think I think even more about how to approach gaming with her friends -- so she can have a little gaming group of her own.

I may start systemless. Its what she sees most often -- no dice, just notes and a lot of talking, and mom being different people as the GM. So just as an outgrowth of "let's pretend". In a way, that's where I started, combined with the computer games, so its a logical place to go.

The hardest part of gaming with kids is the separation of "pretend" and "real". We have a lot of conversations about those as it is -- she watches a very different type of thing on TV or movie than her friends do, but then, she also gets a lot of the difference and therefore isn't as scared. And we also talk about righ and wrong -- a necessary topic before one can really get into a lot of things in life!!

Oh, another possible starting point, as something familiar, is always doing a Harry Potter Lite sort of thing. Zip out some of the darkness and keep the fun pieces. That would give the kids a familiar world at least. That's one of the big things, I think -- familiarity of world. But then, I think I've got a few years yet before she'll really be ready for it. Of course, I want to be ready when she is!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:21 PM
July 18, 2002
Nicole as Florimel

Flora's Trump

When thinking about the infamous Amber casting thread, there is only one option for Florimel for me -- Nicole Kidman. I've used her as my model for one Trump I have done, for Damara's campaign.

Now, as I watch Moulin Rouge, I am once again impressed by how much she can make me think of my image of Flora. Her expressions, her shifts, her way of looking at people and playing with people... Nicole as Satine works so well for Flora.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:32 PM
July 17, 2002
Naming Conventions

I was just looking at my sidebar and thinking about names.

There are times when I think I've gone off on this naming kick, and all the names of all my characters sound the same.


Lots of Kat's in there too.

But then I just looked at the sidebar and sort of tasted the names that are there. Adrienne, Damara, Kale... Diana, Jenny, Jinx, Phoebe, Talis. They are all different, and in many ways each one rings true for the character it was. Talis could never be anyone in my head but who she was. Jinx (or Jordan as her actual name was) will always be that personality. Kale is Kale, and Adrienne (or Adri as she is sometimes called) will always be Adrienne.

It is interesting how a name becomes attached to a character, and how they come to fit the character, or perhaps, the character comes to fit them. And no matter how much I seem to go on a naming jag, when I look back at the character names who have survived, similarities aside, the names *belong* to those characters that have them.

But then, names are important to me... oftentimes both the easiest and hardest part of creating a character. Sometimes I will go for symbolism -- as in Phoebe's case. And sometimes for sound and style, as in Jenny. She is Genvieve, with the proper long name, but always was the girl-next-door Jenny to everyone. Which totally fit.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:49 PM
July 16, 2002
Gaming & Life

Just responding to a few of the comments... *smiles*

Scott said...
They would have dragged me away in chains at 34 if it was illegal to be gaming. :)

Okay, well, yes, me too. *smiles* It ranks up there with "mommy's don't write that!" which is my description of some of the fiction I write. But I refuse to stop gaming, and stop writing erotica, just because I'm now a 34 year old mother of two. Rather, I think I need to keep doing all my fave hobbies simply to keep myself in some semblance of sanity!

Y'know, I think the world would be a better place if more people used a safe way to escape from life for a while like gaming.

One of these days I'll give a true history of me as a gamer -- from D&D and Greyhawk to the Masks of Nyarlothotep; from cheesy villains in V&V (Champions is one of the =few= games I've never played, much to my chagrin) and Superhero: 2044 (an old chestnut if ever there was one), to Storm Knights in TORG, I've done a lot.

I think that's one really good quality in a gamer -- someone who's tried a lot of different systems. Just because experience is really the best way to find out what's good and what's not, and to teach a person how to make a judgement call or throw out the rules when necessary. Its hard to say that to a novice gamer and have them know enough to throw out the right stuff so that it doesn't harm the game.

I'm not saying that everyone ends up having the same view of systems and how to modify them, nor that there *is* only one good view. Just that experience with a lot of different things gives one a good idea of how to find *one* right way.

It's odd how we've returned to 3rd Edition, too. I discovered last year that it's =fun=. Sure, it has its problems, but I find I really enjoy it.

I haven't played it much yet -- only via PBEM. I've been reading the rules, and *want* to run it because well, there were things about AD&D that I liked (go ahead, everyone, laugh!). I liked the class system enough to mimic it with my own guild system, but I always felt it needed a better explanation, and more flexibility. And there is something about that is simply well... fantasy. *smiles* Its a particular style of fantasy and of game feel that isn't done by any other game. While other games may be "better", there is *nothing* that has the feel of AD&D.

I perused Amber some time back as our friend Gareth has a copy, but we never tried it out.
Ooh, try it. But that's my opinion and I'm an addict. *grins* But if you like the books (and at least the GM really needs to *know* the books) give it a whirl. But be prepared for intense roleplaying and a need to trust the GM and the other players (although not necessarily the characters).

Of course, that means I should do my rant on diceless RP and intense RP one of these days.

We also have Aria, which conceptually sounded stunning, but we only have one of the two books needed. You need a PhD in anthropology to play this one.
What's Aria? *curious look*

Runequest and TORG are my two great loves, though, for gaming. Nothing beats Glorantha for a game world with the possible exception of Tekumel/Petal Throne, and TORG with its reality/genre-blending cannot be topped.

Oddly enough, my experience with Runequest and TORG came together... had a friend who like the TORG world, but not the system, so he ran it with Runequest underlying it. Which worked really really well, IMO, for the little time that it ran. At least, I enjoyed it anyway!

Kim said...
It's cheap?!? Cheap?! Somebody tell Scott that! ;p

*laughter* Okay, okay, depends on the outlook. *grins* It wasn't cheap for me, either, when I was obsessively buying every White Wolf supplement that came out for two or three years straight.

But now that I have most of what I need (I need a few small books for d20, stuff like that), its pretty cheap. The travel costs me more than the game -- cuz I have to travel or host lots of people in order to get a good gaming crew together. Everyone moved away. *pouts*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:00 PM
July 12, 2002
Gaming as an Adult

Ginger said... If you have to give up gaming when you're 34, I'm doomed. I don't seem to show any signs of it, though.

Thankfully I don't show any signs of it either. *grins* Although I *do* find I'm able to do FTF less and less. *grumbles* *pouts*

Part of it is where I live. There aren't that many gamers around here, without driving huge distances, and well, I don't know any other GMs who do the style I'd like to play in the immediate vicinity of where I live. Driving's okay once a month, but unless we're going near my parents' place, or the place is kid-friendly, it just doesn't work with the kids. So when WEF ends, until I start running something or someone else runs and we can bring the kids along, the cons are going to be it for me. Which is why I will continue to go to ACUS and TBR, no matter what! I still kinda wish Kevin could go to ACUS with me -- I think he'd enjoy it.

But I honestly don't see myself stopping gaming. I think I'll still be doing it when Dani's a teenager and old enough to be embarassed by mom acting young. And when Dani has kids and I want to teach *them* to game. I mean, why not?? Its GREAT exercise for the imagination.

After all, if I can be a mom and write erotica, why can't I age and still game?? *grins* Besides, it keeps us all young, right??

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:20 PM
July 10, 2002
Me & Gaming Throughout the Years

This ramble is inspired by Scott, who's blog I stumbled upon last night and stayed at (and couldn't resist commenting) because of his ranting about Notes (hey, after 8 years of working with the product I *had* to say *something* right??).

So after Ginger and I stumbled over to his blog, Scott discussed his history of gaming.

And since I haven't done that yet in my blog, I thought hey, that sounds like fun. *smiles*

I started gaming when I was a kid, really. I've always made up stories, and always played my own version of let's pretend. I am an only child, so for a long time, the best companions I had were the ones in my own mind. I would practice viewing the world in different ways, and writing mini-stories, by taking on a personality for the day. I would create an entire persona, and I would then walk through the day looking at the world through her eyes. It was fun, and creative, and in retrospective, my very first attempts at playing a role.

I discovered a more formalized gaming when I was 12, in 1980 or so. I was already reading science fiction and fantasy. Someone at school tried to start a AD&D game -- I made a character then we never played. When I told my parents about it, my dad gave me his copy of the original D&D pamphlets. I read them over and over... and then incorporated them into my own version of gaming.

My best friend and I were into computer adventure games. Y'know, the one with the map and two word commands ("Go N" or "Get Book"). We'd lay out our own maps and puzzles, and I started using monsters and ideas from the D&D stuff my dad gave me to populate my games. Basically, one of us would be the computer game, and the other would play. We didn't know it, but yes, we had created our own dungeon crawls.

The best part was, if we wrote our notes in these little notebooks we always had on us, we could continue the game at any point, mark off the save place, and then pick up again later. We did this a lot -- making up new games during boring points in classes, and trying them out at lunchtime.

Since Julie and I only really had each other to game with at that point, things dropped off. I heard about a gaming group that met at our library, but when I heard it was all boys, I wimped out and didn't go. [Yes, anyone who knows me now may LAUGH considering the demographic of my friends, but then I was *shy*.] Julie went, for one session if I'm remembering correctly, and met our friend Glen, who would later become important in both our lives. [Damn I wonder where he is now and what he is doing... wouldn't it be amazing if he somehow bumped into this online and said hi?]

We really got into formalized gaming again when we were 15. Friends were starting up a game, and so we joined that. It was me, Julie and Sheila, and then there were John, Tommy, and Glen (yes, same Glen). This was my first REAL introduction to AD&D. The group grew and shifted over the years as I met more people who gamed, and we went in different directions. I realized that I didn't like AD&D as much as I liked Champions -- something about getting into character in an alien vs a familiar setting. And Champions, being modern world, was familiar.

When I got to college, I wanted to find people with similar interests. I hadn't really been thinking about gaming -- I'd actually been looking for people who READ the same stuff -- but I ended up at the games club at Union College anyway. Met one boyfriend, then another, then another (yes, total three throughout the years at Union). Met Dave through gaming. Eventually, when I went on to RPI, I met Kevin through gaming. Handy, that -- I don't think I can imagine being married to a non-gamer. *shudders*

While at Union I discovered GMing. And I discovered that when I GMed, I could twist the way the game worked. I could make it more roleplay and less puzzles. More talking and less dice. I started this with the Champions game I ran my junior year. I remember having long one on one conversations in which the other party never doubted that I was a sort of jock college junior guy.

I'd discovered I had a talent for it. For becoming someone else when GMing. And for drawing the other player into the fantasy as well.

I ran my first campaign starting in um, fall of 1988 or so, and I've run on and off ever since. I really LIKE running. But I also like playing. And I've found I don't run well if I'm not playing -- its like it gets my creative juices going. I need the energy.

I played in two AD&D campaigns while at Union, one of which became the basis in part for a world I designed for Amber (the dragons of Fires of Home). I played in a Superworld game which is one of the few games to have a scene which actually made me cry. That was when I discovered deep roleplaying -- falling into my character and just sinking into her until the lines blurred for those moments of speech and she took over my mouth, and my eyes. Oh man, it was wonderful. I remember that first blush of discovery of what roleplaying could be, what the potential was. For that reason, Cassie (The Artful Dodger, my Superworld character) has a special place in my heart. And I'd have to give kudos to Marc's GMing skills -- he really read me, and played me well, and I loved it.

I ran Champions again briefly at RPI, but the players were different. Its hard to play Champions with a bunch of engineers!! *grumble* *laughs* Then again, they taught me to min-max. *grins* I ran White Wolf, as soon as the first Vampire book came out. That game seemed to run forever, with a wonderful cast of characters and a well developed world that bears little resemblance sometimes to the published White Wolf version of the world.

By the time that game ended, I had completely removed the dice from it. By then, my friends had discovered Amber, and I had been brought into the second campaign (that would be playing the infamous Jenny). And we did well without dice. Me? I developed an addiction, both to Amber and to diceless gaming. But that should be another blog entry entirely, I think.

We played Amber and more Amber and more Amber. Then there was Shadowrun -- which I determined I didn't like, and therefore wouldn't play. Some more Champions (never let the GM put all your points into one weakness -- I think Harmony ran into the possibility of drowning at least once a scenario! *laughs*).

Then I ran my wonderful diceless fantasy game -- Artifacts of Winter. This used a world I'd created back in 1988, and am still using today for the sequel game run over PBEM -- Between the Lines. AoW practically ran itself. Up until I got pregnant, everyone moved away, and then Dani was born. *sighs* So we finished it up, and I took a little break.

Then I was back with Amber again. A game which has come and gone. Now I run primarily at cons -- I haven't the time to do the proper world building for the AD&D game I want to run so I can try out the new D20 system.

Full circle, huh?

I've learned a lot about my own style over the years. I like character oriented roleplay. I like puzzles, to a point. I don't like futility plots (hate them, really). I don't like pure hack & slash. I despise dungeon crawls. Mostly I like it best when the plot takes on a life of its own simply because of the characters (PCs and NPCs) involved.

I do play board games, and card games, as well, which is especially good since so does my husband. *smile* I'm always looking for new and interesting ideas. And ways I can still game with a family -- its hard with the kids! Its not just finding the time to game, but the time to *prepare* for the game at a time when I'm coherent (like oh, not midnight! *laughs*).

So here I am, 34, and refusing to give up the hobby. I'm already trying to figure out how to run light games so I can teach my kids how to roleplay. Dani knows what it is, and talks about it, but hasn't shown an interest yet. But then, she's only four. But at least she's learning a lot about the difference between fantasy and reality!!

Back on the age thing -- I don't see a reason why I *should* give up the hobby. Its creative. Its cheap. And its fun. Its certainly better than a lot of things I *could* be doing. And besides, I enjoy it, and it relaxes me a lot. Which is all a very very good thing!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:32 PM
July 09, 2002
Gaming by Instinct

Some people game. Some people play. And some people live.

I'm the last sort. I play with all my heart, and very little of my head sometimes. This makes me excellent at characters like Adrienne and have to work a lot harder at characters like Damara.

But I've found that I don't enjoy it when I really have to think. I don't have anything against puzzles in games, but when that is the entire focus of the game, I get bored. I want to *be* my character for a little while. So that means I need things to be within my grasp, so I can channel the character and then they will come up with the response.

Sometimes they surprise me. Or perhaps I surprise myself.

When I was pregnant, I had a real hard time playing Damara. My cognitive abilities were at an all time low, everything sapped by the growing child in my womb. Once Ryan was born, even though I wasn't sleeping, all of a sudden Damara returned to my subconscious and I could play her in my usual style again. And she does things I just don't understand. Damara has a fusion that occurs spontaneously inside of her mind because she looks at things differently than I do. And somehow, even though she's in me and supposedly can really only do things my way, it works.

I do play characters that are different than myself. But I think all of them are drawn from within me somewhere. They must be, at least the best of them, to come alive like they do. And that's why I game, I think, to feel that new personality come alive, thriving and surviving. *happy little sighs*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:32 PM
June 08, 2002
Sand & Delwin

I know not everything that sounds like Amber *is* Amber, but to one addicted, I suppose it seems as such.

Hence my vast amusement today when my daughter, out of the blue, names one of her Barbies "Sand". Now I guess I'm waiting for a Delwin. *chuckles*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:53 PM