Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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January 2014

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Playing with Dolls

My Thursday night game this week was threatening to cancel due to two players not being available.

I sent Brian, the only other player available, a message asking what he wanted to do. Cancel, play Doll (which is playable with 2 players) and then maybe some board games, go down to one of the open board gaming groups that meet on Thursdays at game/comic book shops, or “make dolls for Threadbare.”

For those who don’t know, Threadbare is a role-playing game I’m writing and have been writing for about 2 years now. Here’s a short description:

Threadbare is a stitchpunk role playing game set in a broken world populated by broken toys. Your character starts out as a Softie (soft-filled toy), a Mekka (hard-shelled, plastic or metal toy), or a Sock (a single sock, often thought to have been lost in the laundry).

Combining gaming and crafting is pretty much the definition of “win-win” for both Brian and myself, so that was what stuck. As a bonus, Brian is going to run a playtest of Threadbare for our Thursday group in a couple of weeks. I’m excited to see someone else run my system– not only because I will get to play, but also because I need to see how someone runs it who hasn’t played it with me as a GM before.

We met at the local thrift store and wandered around a bit before we had successfully scrounged a couple of dolls and plastic toys. Brian went for things with electronics, because he knows he can cannibalize the electronics parts for later. We then met up with a friend and Brian’s wife for delicious tacos. Because we love tacos, and we rarely get to enjoy them on game night.

Note to taco places: You should totally deliver.

Anyway, Brian ended up with a baby doll (he has kind of a thing for baby dolls), a Wall-e toy robot, and a purple octopus toy with tentacles (I have a thing for tentacles). I came home with this:


 The saw isn’t from the thrift store– Brian had that in the car.

I have here a Dora the Explorer doll (naked), a Garfield beanie baby, and some kind of weird plastic catapult toy that includes a dinosaur skull.

That dino skull was my first find at the shop. When I picked it up, we both looked at each other and said YES.

I should mention at this point that Brian has a twitter feed in which he has posted a “do you want to know more” thread in the past that garnered many comments. We kind of live-tweeted our experience, although it really ended up more on Facebook.

I have to admit to a little bit of envy over Brian’s tentacles, but I am also pretty sure he wishes he’d seen the dinosaur skull first. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

After tacos, we went back to my place to make babies… baby dolls, that is! Get your minds out of the gutter! Brian dismantled pieces and put them back together. I used a dremel to cut apart the skull and a drill to attach it to Dora’s head. I have an old Mouse Trap game, so I used a part from that and some duct tape for her “skirt.”

Garfield was a dream to unstuff and turn into Dora’s coat. I kind of wanted it to still be obviously Garfield, but I needed to cut the face off to make the jacket fit. So I left the TY tag on. And the tail.

I took Dora’s head off, but it turns out I didn’t need to. The screws (scavenged off of one of the toys Brian dismantled) were a perfect fit with the drill bit I used.

A little acrylic face paint and she’s done.

20140130_221423.jpgMeanwhile, Brian struggled with my 2-stage epoxy, which made something of a mess. Otherwise, he had a blast cutting and screwing baby pieces and tentacles together. We determined that his Wall-e robot was the “base” character who had cannibalized two other toys– the baby doll as an upgrade to Wall-e’s charisma, and the tentacles as a kind of repair for lost/moved arms. The baby doll also has half of a Wall-e eye piece. Removal of the baby doll eye was creepy on a level that neither of us can really describe comfortably.

 I have a number of tiny top hats for steampunking, so Brian’s robot mayor now has one… screwed directly to his head.

Feb 8: I’m running a time travel game. And you can watch!

I’m running a TimeWatch game on February 8th for the ConTessa online gaming convention. It’ll be streamed via Google hangouts, so if you want to tune in and watch it… you should. I’ll also post a writeup and video here when it’s over, of course.

Fair warning– last year, I managed to have so many Internet problems, there is one shining, clear moment where I yelled “FUCK” in the middle of a RP segment with an otherwise demure and proper noblewoman. Yeah… that was a good day.

Oh, and if you wanna play? There’s still room!

San Diego Comic Con

HomePage_v1San Diego Comic Con public registration long ago filled up, but they hold a bunch of complimentary badges for industry professionals.

To qualify, you have to submit evidence that you are working as a creative professional in the comics or video game industry. I am, between Handknit Heroes, my work on Digital Manga Group projects, and even my “day job,” which tangentially involves video games, albeit video slot machines.

Thing is, you have to plan ahead– you need to submit your work by mid-October of the year before. Which I did, and was approved.

The professional badge registration opened this morning at 10 AM and by 10:08, I had registered myself and a guest for the convention. I have no idea how we’ll pay for our hotel room, but we’re going to Comic Con. It’s a lifelong dream for her, and I’m definitely excited about going, myself.

Don’t expect me to cosplay, though. I have enough on my plate right now and don’t want to worry about costumes!

Inverse World – Changeleaves are Leaving

I played Inverse World this weekend, which is a Dungeon World setting in which the world is inside the center of a planet, with the sun-god being at its core. It’s very fantastical, with lots of flight, floating islands, and “oceans” of clouds that function like water.

Our characters were Ark, a Golem of wood, very ent-like. Delue, a goblin Collector of strange and modified animals. And I played Halwynn, a sky-folk Lantern (like a priest of the sun-god, Sola) who had known Delue before she became a Lantern, and who actually started out impersonating a true follower so she could steal a Little Light (the mark of a Lantern, and literally a tiny piece of the sun).

We had a problem, which was that the changeleaves, a resource which is vital to trade within Inverse World, have been degrading in quality. The main source of changeleaves is a remote island– it’s something like the world tree in the sense that, while there are changeleaves all over Inverse World, the leaves here are especially vibrant and pristine.

We approached the island in our airship (all islands float in Inverse World), which we discovered was covered in lava. Apparently, the volcanoes on the top of the island were all erupting, while the groves that grow downward were left to be bathed in red-hot light. We’d heard rumors that the island residents were sacrificing leaves and, possibly people, to the volcanoes in hopes that they would cease erupting. This, obviously, was not working.

Our first challenge was to get to the underside of the island, by sailing through the lava. We did this… inexpertly. Basically, Delue had his weird hairless monkey take the wheel of the ship while the rest of us grabbed on and tried to keep the crew from falling off…. we were not entirely successful at that, and Delue went overboard and had to float in on an inflated fishhead, while Halwynn fell off, eventually grabbing a last life line that was being used by a workman on the underside of the ship.

Being a sky person, Halwynn has wings, but hers were permanently damaged when she became a Lantern. They aren’t something she can really use, now.

We continued to dock and tried to sooth the captain’s feathers… unsuccessfully, since going through the lava permanently altered his ship so it will now be unflyable. Whoops. Ah, well– retirement is totally an option now, right?

We approached the city, spoke to the lone guard, and discovered that the sacrifice parade was happening right then. We hurried to join it, Ark and Delue attempting to find the changeleaves, and Halwynn looking to find the elders and hopefully convince them to sacrifice things that are not as valuable as changeleaves or people.

Unfortunately, Halwynn only convinced them that sacrificing a mouthy Lantern would be a good idea, while Delue and Ark got into a drum fight with some of the marching band. Halwynn ran off, yelling a few choice epithets, only to have a vision from her Little Light. It was very disturbing and left her feeling scared and uncertain. It seemed that Sola was telling her that her light was needed, but it wouldn’t be enough to turn back the darkness.

Meanwhile, Delue had fallen for one of the goblin elders and was making moon eyes at her. He eventually enchanted her with a glittering butterfly from his collection. To say that he had intentions of taking her home to add to his collection of wives might not be far off (it was at this point we discovered that, while Halwynn is racist against goblins, Delue is a misogynist… truly, Ark is the best of all of us).

Finally, she met back up with Ark, and sought safety and comfort in Ark’s branches. Ark asked her what he should do, and she said “Can we get into the sacrifice chamber?” Ark took this as a command, and they headed that way, gathering Delue on the way.

The chamber was an enormous vent in the volcano, and there, Ark found a huge stash of changeleaves waiting to be sacrificed. It was hot and reeking and dangerous, and in the back of her mind, Halwynn kept trying to think of a way out of here that wouldn’t demand… what she was sure Sola was demanding.

Ark saw what needed to be done, and dipped into the changeleaves, which changed himself, altering him permanently and rooting him forever to that spot. He reached into his bark and pulled out his crystalline heart. “You must sacrifice this and your light to the volcano to stop it.” And then… he was no more.

Halwynn was crushed. My light! My little light! Her two closest companions– Ark and her light!– to be gone in one moment!

Delue stood by, rubbing his hands greedily. “We could… we could be very rich, you know…” Halwynn argued back that they had no way to get out, but Delue pointed out that they could use the changeleaves and some of his collection to make a hot-air-fishballon to float out of there. Halwynn nodded in agreement, still staring at the heart.

Delighted, Delue quickly fashioned the balloon and Halwynn’s light helped load the leaves into several sacks for their riches. As they floated upwards, Halwynn directed her light to take Ark’s heart and…. drop it into the volcano, sacrificing both forever.

The volcano erupted in a spectrum of color and light, the voice of Ark drifting in the resonant booming, as Halwynn and Delue floated away. (In my mind, though I am not a good enough RPer to do this in-game, Halwynn was crying silently as they left.)

Ark rolled his Last Breath move and was restored to life, many years later. Halwynn is now a second level Lantern, but without a Little Light. Questing for that would be a major plot point if she were to continue adventuring.

One thing we discovered during the End of Session was that the Basic Moves from Dungeon World don’t work quite as well for Inverse World, particularly the exploration moves and the End of Session, which emphasizes overcoming monsters instead of exploring. XP in Inverse World might be better with criteria like “If you changed a place forever (for better or worse), mark XP.”

Overall, it was a fun and entertaining session, and I would enjoy continuing to play this character, if given the option.

Here is the video of the actual play (3 hours, 15 minutes) of the game:

[Spider_Single_Video track=”3″ theme_id=”8″ priority=”0″]

Savage World Dungeon Crawl

SWEX-e1334179194612My friend Kinney wants to learn to be a better GM, as well as learn the Savage Worlds system really well. He’s half-started a couple of campaigns in the past, but he’d like to improve.So, 2 weeks ago, I met up with him and our friend Dan for character creation, and then this Saturday night, we got our dice and took up a table at our local comic book shop.


Continue reading Savage World Dungeon Crawl

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