In my last post, I mentioned that my friend has written a monster-hunting storygame modelled after For the Queen and Chasing the Ace. This week, I’d like to share a piece of what we’ve been writing together. This is the second game with this group, so naturally we’ve begun to explore a team with looser, more complicated ties to each other.
Prior to this scene the crew lost Joey, a key leader and unifier, during a ferocious faceoff with a catoblepas. Blaming herself for the loss, Kira, our resident werewolf just tore out of Joey’s wake into the night. While half the team chases after her, my character, a stone devil named Abrehex Fel, has other plans. He’s joined by our mercenary diviner Balaam, and Hamor, the diviner’s Great Dane.
♥J You believe the crew would be dead without you. Why?
Balaam watches Abrehex’s clawed hands flash too quickly over the map. A low growl from Hamor, but Balaam squeezes tightly against the harness. “How many idiots does it take to track the wolf? She can’t be har—“
Alright well here we are, 2021; we’ve made it out of the frying pan at least. I’m a sucker for the new year, and will take any excuse to recenter and recollect.
My aim is to look back at the past year and gather the fun moments and the new curiosities I want to carry forward. 2020 was a major year for me, and a lot of that journey did not make it to the blog space. In a way this is a chance for me to circle the wagons and capture the good parts.
As I write this however, it is a dark moment on a dark journey. I hope you’ll forgive me for trying to keep my own torch lit as, together, we search for the path ahead.
I had the opportunity to join a streamed campaign this year on Encounter Roleplay. It was my first time streaming and became an exciting way for me to leap into a new form among a supportive crew of gamers and storytellers. Getting to join the cast of The Wall was honestly one of my biggest wins of the year, and fills me with such joy and gratitude. This campaign was part of an ongoing shared universe between several A Song of Ice and Fire games, and while I play only a small part in that larger story, my running joke has been to claim that I am the Rachel McAdams to their MCU.
I returned to Encounter Roleplay later in the summer, for a second game, this time playing Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius. This was a sponsored campaign to showcase the new Klingon corebook of the 2d20 system. If it’s possible, I came into this game even more green than my first one, having very little points of reference for Star Trek. Luckily the rest of the players were rockstars and took the lead splendidly. Fun fact: this was also my first campaign that received fan art, so that’s an exciting little achievement unlocked.
Thanks to my GMs Charlie and Ravyn, and all my fellow players for making it so easy for me to jump into their sandboxes and start building.
This year also gave me the raw studio hours to put out some critical original work. On the gaming side, I put together a little hack, a frankenstein of Mutant Crawl Classics and Apocalypse World, strongly spurred by my Disney+ laced nostalgia for saturday morning cartoons. When the test campaign for that wound down, I launched “Playtest Tuesday” with friend and fool Mark Kennedy and now have first drafts for like six other back burner games, most of them exquisitely terrible ideas.
In performance, Iris and I put out a silly video that captures exactly the type of reckless goofball work we want to make. It took so much time and energy to finish, but gave back so much more once we knew we had made people laugh. We also taught our first workshop together outside of Philly and are now gearing up for a coast-to-coast caravan of clowning once the world reopens.
Thanks to the party of players: Ashley, Josh, Mark, Tenara, Tom, Mark again, and of course the crucial co-conspirator, Iris.
New Coping Strategies
Setting down the creator lens for a second, I also had a great year just to play. Like a lot of folks, I turned to games and rpgs during the pandemic. I was lucky that I was already part of a longtime online game in March, so as everything else had to shut down or move online it was a very specific comfort that this outlet of fellowship and escapism remained constant. I’ve mentioned in another post how enormously grounding my play-by-post game of Chasing the Ace turned out to be. It got me really excited about writing fiction again and gave me a new flavor of collaboration to play with. Most exciting to me is that it also inspired one of my co-author’s to create their own For the Queen game of modern monster hunters!
I have to give a plug for one more piece of timber in my 2020 liferaft. Every Sunday night at 9et Judge James and his daughter Judge Evie go live on Twitch for a fun little broadcast about their week in gaming. They answer audience questions, they do silly voices, they talk about goings on in their lives both fictional and all too real. All year they’ve been a delightfully random and earnest reminder that another week had gone by and somehow we were still in this thing. Their efforts to make a little space each week for the fun and frivolous has been so clutch and charming to me, and it’s still a highlight of most of my weeks.
Thanks to the whole 493rd: Brian, Greg, still Mark, and Riley with reinforcements from Zack, Evie and James
On a final, overly personal note to this overly personal post, my games and performance had more reach this year than ever before in my life. My folks watched me play a Klingon, and my sister mocked me in twitch chat. It was like a big deal for me. If you’re here now, and you were part of the play in 2020, thank you so much for helping make laughter and stories together. Looking forward to finding a new way out of darkness in the year ahead.
Even in the beginning, when we were told to go home for two weeks, I knew that the timeframe could be more like several months. I had no idea it would be as long as it continues to be, but I knew that we needed a long-term plan. Iris and I started going on mandatory walks around the neighborhood to put some structure in the day and commit to some healthy habit-building to combat the chaos. Our little video that we released this week is now a strange love letter to our neighborhood, and the things that gave us hope or made us laugh on those little walks. We went past these bike racks everyday for a month, each time adding a little bit more to the bit until...well...see for yourself:
The weekend before restaurants closed in Philadelphia, I had skipped the subway and was walking to work, thinking about how things were going to be pretty weird for the next few... well weeks I thought. It was a rare moment in my life when I genuinely knew that what I needed was more distraction. I reached out to my DnD friends, looking to set up a play-by-post game for a steady drip of roleplaying in the coming chaos. It’d be too dramatic to say that it was a life-saver, but I’m in the mood to be too dramatic. We decided on a For the Queen game, and I was excited to give Z. W. Garth’s mecha melodrama Chasing the Ace a try. In two months of self-prescribed escapism, my friends and I collaborated on a 40,000 word story that still fills me with pride and gratitude to my wingmates. Today I want to share a small excerpt from the story we made together:
♥2 What was the moment you swore to follow the Ace?