Announcing: An LGBTQ+ Module Anthology!

Announcing Pony Up!: A eQUESTrian Anthology (Thanks for the title, Micah Sommersmith!). Edited by Josephine Maria with first reading by Nicholas Yanasak, Pony Up is an equus-themed module anthology written by  5 LGBTQIA+ authors. A funding and preorder campaign will start in May 2019, and artists will be announced soon!

Read more about the included modules below:

A Waltz in Green by Sybil Brooks.

The party arrives in a village of united outcasts and misfits, Sanctuary’s Sundry, nestled in a usually lush and fertile area that now shows signs of rapid decay. They are quickly welcomed in by Tania, the village elder, beseeches them for assistance: their fey benefactors, the faun (used here to refer to a group of fey female identifying fertility spirits with the lower bodies of horses), seem to be greatly displeased by something and are no longer maintaining the land. A small team of volunteers was sent earlier to attempt to make contact with them but they have not returned…

Hello! I’m Sybil Brooks, a transwoman (she/her) living in the Midwest region of the United States and college student working towards a degree in psychology, so one day I can become a therapist for people like me. I have been GMing for about three years now, and creating my own adventures for just as long. I count playing and running tabletop games as one of my favourite pastimes. When not rolling dice, I’m usually reading, curled up with my cat to keep me company.

Under the Neverending Sky by Tyler Omichinski

Our heroes find themselves crossing the Grassy Sea. It is an area of rolling plains that is difficult to cross, with barely any available water and several nomadic peoples who live within its confines. As they cross, they’ll first come into contact with a few of the main tribes including the Kural Centaur tribe, the T’chu nomadic humans, and the Iski Centaur tribe. The three tribes are the major power forces within this large area, and each has several smaller tribes that pay them fealty. The adventure is one of either politics or combat, depending on how the players choose to pursue it. There will be multiple paths including honour fights, duels, investigations, diplomatic meetings, and the like to gain renown within the summit and be able to help shape the results.

Tyler Omichinski (he, him) is a writer and game designer from the wilds of Canada. He has written for the Ennie Nominated Hudson & Brand and for a pile of different companies including FASA, Mystical Throne Entertainment, Stygian Fox, and many more. He lives with his partner and a gigantic black dog.

When Dreams Become Nightmares by Emily Smith

After a local farmer’s pegasi begin to disappear, adventurers are hired to investigate and keep guard over his herd. When a Night Hag and her Nightmare take a young boy captive, characters race to catch them.

Emily Smith (she/her) is a writer for Dungeons and Dragons, including Community Created Content (CCC) and homebrew materials. She has been playing and DMing for 3+ years and is a freelance blogger. Her favorite gaming systems include Dungeons and Dragons, Starfinder, Shadowrun, and Call of Cthulhu.

The Hunt of the Unicorn by Alexa Fae McDaniel

When a princess falls ill to an ailment that can only be cured with a unicorn horn, the King overturns a law banning unicorn hunts and offers a boon to anyone who can procure a horn for him. Knights, hunters, and adventurers from across the kingdom flood to the small town of Brynwood, where a unicorn was recently sighted, but a group of rangers seek to stop the hunt and protect the creature.

Alexa Fae McDaniel is an up-and-coming author and history student from New Brunswick, Canada. She’s soon to be published as a contributor to the Orun RPG, as well as to the short story anthology Maiden, Mother, Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes. She runs 5th Edition for her younger cousins on the weekends, but her all-time favourite RPG is Changeling: The Lost by Onyx Path Publishing, and she hopes that some day Rose Bailey will notice her.

FlameCon Ignites TTRPG Inspiration

My first Dungeons & Dragons character was a 6’3” tall, 300-something-pound black dragonborn cleric named Alina. Her childhood nickname was “Mender” and when our campaign began, she had just come into adulthood and was on a year-long pilgrimage away from her clan to decide if she wanted to commit herself to hermitage or if she wanted to leave behind her people and live amongst others. She made new friends by offering them “calming herb” and despite the fact that she literally spat acid, she was terrible in combat; her strength modifier was -1, which was comical because of how big she was. She swung her quarterstaff like a baseball bat and missed her target almost every time.

I love Alina. I didn’t love how battle-focused our campaign was, or how much of each session was spent crunching numbers to determine who won a fight. I enjoyed the group dynamics of our campaign, but I wanted more from the story, and I didn’t know how to communicate that. I don’t think I even realized that this was what I wanted at the time; I just knew that after each session, though I’d feel a sense of accomplishment for leveling up, only a handful of moments really stuck with me until we played again. When the campaign fizzled out, it was partially because I decided that D&D wasn’t for me.

Since then, I’ve gotten heavily involved in an Apocalypse World campaign, which is (literally and figuratively) a whole different world. My partner runs that game and we play every other week with two of our friends. All of us identify as lesbians and all of us are as invested in the fighting as we are in the kissing. There’s very little math involved in our sessions and as we grow more comfortable with the characters and the story, it’s becoming a Real Adventure.

My partner keeps insisting that I should give D&D another shot; they’ve even asked if I would consider being a Dungeon Master, though I’ve always balked at the suggestion because it seems like so much pressure.

Then we went to Flame Con, and everything changed.

Among the many incredible panels at Flame Con 2018 was “Dungeons & Dragons & Queers & Comics,” moderated by Kate Sheridan. Vita Ayala, Noelle Stevenson, Molly Ostertag, Emily Cheeseman, Barbara Perez Marquez, and Little Corvus participated on the panel and the room was packed; I sat between my partner and a friend I’ve known online for years but only met in person for the first time at the con. The energy in the room was, in a word, palpable. It was exciting to hear some of our favorite creators talking about their OCs and why they love tabletop roleplay games, especially D&D.

Somewhere between Stevenson discussing her first character, a “chaotic evil disaster baby” tiefling warlock, and declaring her love for Misty Step, something clicked into place in my head. When Ayala told Stevenson that her character sounded “stressful,” when Marquez told the audience that after just a few months of campaigning, she realized she wanted to “be in charge,” when Cheeseman talked about how the latest installation of D&D 5E, allows for more character- and story-based games than just numbers- or combat-based ones, I heard a whirring in my head that slowly grew louder.

When the panel ended, I turned to my partner and said, “I want to play D&D like that.”

Their whole face lit up; for over a year, they’ve been playing D&D, building OCs, and working with me to develop an Apocalypse World character that isn’t one-dimensional. I’m a journalist, not a fiction writer; building characters isn’t my strong suit and it never has been.

I am, however, very into the concept of world-building. I love exploring scenery, including cultural norms and ideologies as they are represented in a story. I’m fascinated by high fantasy that’s well-structured and takes into account the vastness of the world where it takes place. Series like The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, Temeraire, and the Tamora Pierce books spark my interest because they are so completely immersive. Although I have my fair share of issues with Harry Potter, I grew up with the books and I gobble up every bit of fanfiction that I can when I’m in a mood to sit in that world. I enjoy world-building because it allows me to set the scene. If I don’t understand the nuances of a setting, I don’t feel comfortable reporting on what happens within it.

That panel at Flame Con made me realize that Dungeons & Dragons absolutely has the capacity and the history to be the kind of chewy, immersive storytelling that I crave. My first-ever campaign was incredibly crunchy, too battle-focused and very mathy, but that doesn’t mean that my next campaign has to be that way. If I’m running the show, I make the rules. When Marquez said it took her just a few months of playing DND to realize she wanted to DM, that whirring in my head went haywire. As a dungeon master, the rules would be mostly up to me. As noted by several of the panelists, the hard-and-fast guidelines for telling stories through tabletop roleplay games are just that: guidelines. The fun is in playing, which includes keeping on your toes so the game doesn’t lose interest for your players.

When I sat in that panel room and felt the passion exuding from the panelists and from the audience, I remembered why D&D piqued my interest in the first place. And although we went to another panel right after, then trekked through the city for food before heading back to our AirBNB, that feeling didn’t leave me.

I thought about D&D all night, to the point that I had a dream about Alina running through an ancient forest with her friends. It felt like I’d been hit over the head in the best way possible; I couldn’t believe how deep the itch went. The next night, while we were still on vacation, I created a Pinterest board and a title for the campaign. I started thinking about NPCs. And immediately upon coming home, my partner made me a DM binder. I bought supplies to organize it and reserved a copy of the player’s manual from the library (because I’m so bad at working with PDFs).

Apparently, when Ayala was a kid, they found a TTRPG manual that they read cover-to-cover, thinking it was just a regular book. It taught them a lot about world-building, something that they’ve since used in campaigns as well as in their professional work. As someone who used to read science-for-kids books cover-to-cover, while taking notes, this approach appealed to me, even if Ayala presented it as a funny anecdote. I enjoy reading and researching; sliding into a DM role offers me the ability to do that across a broad spectrum of characters, as created by the players in my campaign, as well as the world that I’m building for them to play in.

Going into a brand-new campaign as a first-time DM is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. I keep remembering things the panelists said at Flame Con (Ostertag discovered she could make friends through offering to DM campaigns; Stevenson is playing a new character who’s “trying to be good” in her latest campaign; each of the panelists explored identity through D&D) and welling up with the feeling of warmth and acceptance and safety that I had for the entire weekend, surrounded by other LGBTQ fans and creators. Every time, I get another inkling of an idea for the campaign and every time, I think about how my partner’s face lit up when I said I wanted to run the game.

I didn’t expect to walk away from Flame Con feeling like my whole world had been flipped upside down, but I did. And I’m ready for the change.


Samantha Puc is the co-creator and editor-in-chief of Fatventure Mag, as well as a freelance essayist and culture critic whose work has been featured on Bustle, The Mary Sue, Rogues Portal, and elsewhere. Samantha lives in Rhode Island with her spouse and cats. She likes Shakespeare, space babes, bikes, and dismantling the patriarchy. For more, follow her on Twitter.

Kickstart All Ages, Inclusive Play with Power Outage

How old were you when you started gaming? Were you in college? High school? Were you a kid? No matter the age, I’ll bet you played pretend before you gamed. I’d guess you had played games before, but not games like THIS one. I guarantee when you sat down at the table to first time, you immediately knew you were in over your head.

Born from creator Bebarce El-Tayib’s own family experience, Power Outage is a well-regulated RPG with uniquely customizable play for an expansively inclusive all-ages experience. Instead of drowning the players in rules, the game presents a carefully formulated system set up by the GM to ensure the challenge level cannot overwhelm. After all, games should be fun! Isn’t it natural they meet you at your level and challenge you in ways that make you feel more successful at the end?

The playbook also contains a guide for making the game maximum accessible, including questions to ask before play. These establish players’ interests, and how they might interact with elements in the story or react to the narrative. There’s also an explanation of how to continue communicating through out the game- something so important in roleplaying, but often overlooked.

The world of Power Outage is one of super heroes and villains (maybe you remember those?). It’s a classic setting, but one that doesn’t have to play out like every other comic book tale. The uniqueness of the creations is left up to the creativity of the players:

Power Outage does not have classes or races. If your kids want to make a Human, a Robot, an Alien, a Ghost, or an 8-foot tall anthropomorphic zebra girl they can. Powers come from a library of effects that kids get to apply their own characteristics.

Been looking for the perfect introduction for the kids in your life, but struggling with leveling correctly? Back Power Outage on Kickstarter before the campaign ends!

GenCon Event & Panel Guide

With GenCon coming up, picking programming beyond your games can be overwhelming! Here’s a guide to the panels we’re most excited to hear about:

The Intersection of Inclusion & Storytelling
Thursday 2 PM
Diverse worlds are important, but this discussion will also touch on inclusive gaming as far as accessibility, and encouraging diversity in your players.

Queer as a Three-Sided Die
Thursday 3 PM
Run by LGBTQ+ and ally RPG website Tabletop Gaymers, this is GenCon‘s longest running queer-inclusion panel.

Don’t Slut Shame the Bard! : Romance & Sex in RPGs
Thursday 4 PM
A long-overdue discussion of romance, sex, and consent in RPGs.

Cultivating Inclusive & Safe Tables
Friday 11 AM
Gaming should be fun, but it should also be safe. This discussion will go over much-needed discussions for making RPGs a fun place for everyone.

Queering your Setting
Friday 3:30 PM
Queering your Pantheon
Saturday 1 PM
Again run by gayming org Tabletop Gaymers, these panels of industry professionals will provide ways to introduce diversity into your worlds.

Tabletop Potluck’s School for Kids Who Can’t RP Good
Friday 1 PM
A good starter panel for those newer to and nervous about roleplaying by podcast TableTop Potluck.

Inclusivity in Livestream Gaming
Saturday 12 PM
Ruty Rutenberg & Satine Pheonix are leading this panel of designers and writers to discuss opening up livestreaming culture.

Who’s Afraid of a Big Bad White Wolf?

Ah yes, the vampire, the queerest of monsters. A purely sensuous slate to enact your darkest fantasies against. From virginal shame tales to totally no-homo male on male obsessions with a rich history of complex female friendship, vampires are complicated monsters with a plethora of nuance. They appear in many games, but none so notorious as tabletop RPG Vampire: The Masquerade.

Publisher White Wolf, current owner of the wildly successful franchise Vampire: The Masquerade, was the target of lengthy and comprehensive criticism detailing the content and touching on the marketing of its upcoming 5th edition release. The criticism, currently archived after the writer was chased off twitter and shut down their website amid death threats and alleged threats of legal action, is archived. The major takeaway: White Wolf‘s newest release allegedly appeals to the rising trend of Neo-Nazism, and it’s on purpose.

The larger portion of the criticism of The Dice Dog’s coverage seems to come from people enjoying the game and being excited for the new edition. The details of the coverage itself are almost entirely being ignored in the conversation. In everyone’s rush to defend a thing they enjoy, they’ve failed to critically explore what content that thing includes and the implications of that content. Who’s it for?

Being the villain in the game isn’t a good enough excuse. Presenting players with a playground to do evil that mirrors what we’re seeing every day does not make it immune to criticism. There is a great deal to criticize in the format itself, but beyond that, publishers are absolutely responsible for their content and who it appeals to.

White Wolf has since responded, saying Nazis are not welcome in their gaming community. But is offering the suggestion in-game that players portray a Neo Nazi, then saying real life ones aren’t welcome supportive of that message?

Missing from the coverage of White Wolf vs. nameless blogger is the fallout that happens when a post goes viral within a niche community. Reviewer Anna Kreider cogently pointed out holes in Dog with Dice’s coverage in a series of emails with them. The Dice Dog responded indirectly by naming them in a follow up to their White Wolf criticism as “vitiolic,” a criticism of critics that rings classically misogynistic.

Kreider initially reached out to The Dice Dog to discuss the threats sent to female-identifying creators after readers of the original criticism conflated White Wolf with Nazis. Following the comment on The Dice Dog’s blog, Kreider was under attack.

This fallout has created a large number of victims, ones White Wolf has apparently done nothing to protect. On top of this, based on early reviews, quoted by Holden Shearer on Twitter most candidly, there is little to defend in the most recent edition itself.

A major review site recently announced that they would be removing “politics” from their coverage. The history of “games coverage should be about games” is a long-held tactic by a variety of self-proclaimed movements that came together to cause maximum harm in the industry and fandom. It’s also never resulted in the inclusion of minority creators or a decrease of death and rape threats to marginalized folk. It also cuts down on necessary call-outs when games publishers hire known abusers, allowing them to claim ignorance or claims independent investigations that seemingly have no basis.

That being said, let’s play like the boys club for a minute and ignore those problems. Keeping the conversation about the game itself, I offer John Farrell’s artful opening to their 5th edition review:

There is much in earlier Vampire iterations and this current one to object to. The content, horrifying to the highest degree, and intimately so in the way only a shared RolePlaying experience can be, has come with much more fodder than thoughtful discussion. An argument could easily be made that if you’re not uncomfortable at some level playing the monsters as they’re designed in The World of Darkness universe as a whole, there is something wrong.

As RPGs strive to cover more and more view points, renewed effort has been made in many publications to discuss culture and safety at the table. In a horror game as comprehensive as Vampire, these types of discussions should be forefront in their design. It should be easy to provide a “stop button” and to confirm consent in the base game. Instead, White Wolf has monetized it.

In Charlie Hall’s coverage of a play-through with producer Jason Carl, they explored in-person the connection of devouring blood and sexuality, or sexual assault as the case may be. While there is part of one page in V5 that deals with player comfort at the table, tools for bringing that into play will be sold as a separate module.

“We saw it as a separate product, as a separate SKU,” Carl said. “I think the timing is inconvenient because we wanted to have it ready for Gen Con [when V5 will first be available for purchase] and I don’t know that it will be ready for Gen Con.”

Rushing to get a product ready for a major industry convention without putting work into how that product’s more difficult content will play is incredibly tone-deaf and likely points to a lack of consideration for the overall feel of the game itself.

The stories of RPGs and the culture surrounding them are stories of failure. Failure of publishers to hire minority creators. Failure of conventions to protect and shield their guests. Failure to stop rehashing the same tired content. Failure of games companies to stop hiring assholes. Failure of review sites to give the power of exposure to consumers who aren’t misogynistic, homophobic, or racist. Failure of consumers to stop giving their money to companies who do not care about them or what they want from RPG content. It’s time for that story to change.

Kickstarter to Watch: Behind the Masc Zine

The cultural norm for tabletop games is a powerful man… on paper. In real life, we’re advertised young outcasts in the 70s and 80s rising to found a niche dynasty of exclusionary dice rolling. But that’s not the reality many of us live in.

Behind the Masc“, currently on Kickstarter, offers an alternative to that by reframing the TTRPG conversation:

“Behind the Masc” is a game zine using historical and cultural archetypes to re-envision masculinity through the eyes of non-cisgender masculine creators. The creators include experienced game designers and illustrators as well as newer people to the game industry. The project hopes to draw attention to indie creators in tabletop games who are still marginalized people, but can fall into the ether when it comes to representation and people campaigning for their work to be seen.

Currently with 15 days to go, the zine is within sight of its goal, and includes some cool gaming extras. Throw in your dollars and enjoy the content coming your way!

Refresh Your RPG Inspiration

Looking for a little inspiration for your next campaign? Search no further! Follow these accounts on Instagram and Twitter to refresh your roleplaying.

The character art from Connor Meegan is great, but here are a few more accounts to follow:

  • Fantastic_Maps is a cartographer who offers free tutorials via Instagram.
  • If you’re hankering to just view classic RPG artworks, look no further than VintageRPG.
  • A great deal of care and time goes into game design, including the physical elements for play. PeaceLoveGames photographs game pieces while talking about gameplay.
  • There are plenty of bots creating RPG hooks, but Your Next Character (@rpgcharacter) takes a more inclusive approach, generating characters from with a variety of representations and gender identities.

I wish we could highlight every single artist creating queer game art, but we’re in a lucky place where there are too many! Who are your favorites?