Creating Inclusive Spaces for Table Top Games: The IVM Fellowship

Building inclusive community for tabletop games has taken a long time. There have also been many barriers. A major one for many people is the money required to start and continue making content and distribute it. That’s why a group of creators came together and crafted the Inside Voices Media Fellowship.

This program is comprehensive. Not only will you be receiving funds to help realize your project, but the folks that founded the program will also be assisting by mentoring you as you work on realizing your initial goals.

The IVM Fellowship is intended for first-time media producers in whatever medium they find most interesting, be it written work, a podcast, or a YouTube channel, or any other creative media.  We will be offering mentorship and support along the way as they get their work up and running with the goal of them joining the Inside Voices Family. The process will be anonymous, and we are not asking for any samples of work in order to avoid any bias towards previous experience. We’re open to board gamers, RPG players, miniature wargamers, painters, and more! If it’s tabletop related, we’re interested.

Applications are due July 30th. You can apply on the Inside Voices website.

November Survey Analysis

Launching now: infographics for our monthly surveys. Big changes are coming to PanopLit after April. Enjoy our journey from the beginning, with the results of our very first survey, illustrated.

Scroll through the results, and let us know what questions you want answered by our community in our April survey!

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Kickstarter to Watch: Spell the RPG

A play on words, and a fresh take on roleplaying game mechanics, Spell: the RPG is a magical system currently on Kickstarter. While already funded, the campaign runs until March 9th, 2018. Reserve your copy early!

Games publisher Whimsy Machine describes its mechanics best:

“Players roll dice to complete tasks using their character’s Impulses—twelve basic stats that describe a character’s motivations to act. Players can also draw random letter tiles in order to spell out magic for their characters to cast. This unique system balances creativity and potential with fair and streamlined mechanics.”

With colorful art by Nathalie FourdraineMariah CurreyChristina Gardner (Magic Moon Warriors), Carlos Aón & Jok (The Crystal At Skymouth), Kuropin (Hijinks At Huntsville High), Leland Goodman (Godqueen), and Fusspot (Wakeful In Reverie), the books are beautiful as well. The first two books provide everything needed to make characters and start playing a campaign.

5 Fantasy Races for your Next Queer Gendered Character

How important is gender to you while roleplaying? For me, it doesn’t matter if a game’s universe is populated with dragons or Victorian socialites, the question of what’s between the legs of a bugbear chieftain, or how much facial hair a given debutante is sporting, are not the most interesting topics of conversation. That’s why it’s up to agender, non-binary, and gender-disinterested players to take the game into their own hands, creating roleplay opportunities that are more relevant and interesting.

While most of the examples below are drawn from a fantasy-style background, they’re really designed for imaginatively-minded homebrewers and Game Masters who play their in-game fiction loosely. Don’t feel shy about adding them to your next intergalactic space exploration or murder mystery.

Genasi

Playing a genasi character gives you the opportunity to think outside of the gender binary and embrace the elemental quaternary. This half-genie race comes in four flavors, and whether you prefer to sport skin of rough-hewn onyx, an ability to summon fire, water-breathing, or levitation magic, chances are the rest of your party won’t have time to notice whether or not you like to wear skirts.

There’s a lot more cool things to learn about gensai in the Elemental Evil Players’ Companion.

Lizardfolk

Early in 2018 I started playing as Halloo, the third-level Lizardfolk druid. Biologists tell us that the sex of some reptile species is determined by the temperature of their egg during incubation. In Halloo’s case, her egg was situated right in middle of the clutch—not too warm or too cold. And while she uses she/her pronouns as a matter of habit, she’s usually more interested in talking about (or with) the local fauna.

Get started with on your own Lizardfolk with Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

Eladrin

All of us have good days, bad days, and days where we don’t get out from under the covers. For Eladrin, this is a way of life. However, the weather changes with their mood, rather than vice versa. It’s like Seasonal Affective Disorder, but more, and chock-full of roleplay potential for those who feel more defined by their mental state, than their gender.

Always seeking transition and change, Eladrin are most at home in places where the borders between the material plane and Feywild are at their thinnest. Really,  the only thing that puts them off-balance is stagnancy.

Check out the Unearthed Arcana source material for more.

Nilbog

Think of these happy little friends as reverse-goblins, who love nothing more than getting thwacked by a sword or spell, and run in terror from healing magic.

Nilbogs also offer practically endless role-play fodder, letting you swap-out whatever gendered in-universe social norms you want, and replace them with their bizarro-world equivalent. Maybe your Nilbog comes from a society filled with distressed male damsels and hilariously relatable romantic comedies? Maybe Nilbogs really have nine different genders—because that’s the opposite of two, right?

There aren’t any official rules for creating a Nilbog character, but you can see some starter stats for goblins on page 119 of Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

Gnome

This is just a personal theory, but I really believe Gnomes are intended as an in-fiction manifestation of everything good about tabletop games (and democratic social-groups in general). Curious and friendly, they’re always eager to embrace the unfamiliar and celebrate life in all its forms. They seek to improve the world around them with science, and have a surprisingly killer Montessori-like educational system, especially given the fact that they often live in hollowed-out trees.

While there isn’t a ton of official source material on gender-queer gnomes, we can take courage in the fact that their main deity, Garl Glittergold, seems like a pretty open-minded guy.


Brad Fiore: TTRPG writer, fictionalist, and Iron Chef Wisconsin 1993-97. Found on Twitter at @brad_fiore

Targeting the RPG Community on Facebook

I promoted two posts on Facebook  to the gaming community with different gender ID targets and received vastly different results. Now, this was far from a perfect experiment, but it provided some insight that others promoting their projects through the platform may find useful. Whether creating RPG resources, or talking about something completely outside gaming, Facebook is one of the most important sites to get the word out and build your community.

Both posts featured a call to action. The first was for the November Survey, and the second for the December. I kept the age range between 25-65+, but changed the “interests” on each one. The important data point for me was the gender option.

On Facebook there are only two genders available when targeting posts. This is extremely short sighted. While it might be nice to not be advertised to as a gender outside the binary, it limits the ability of communities to reach their desired audiences completely.

For the November Survey (N), I chose to advertise to “men and women.” The December Survey (D) was only advertised to “women.” Both had a budget of $30.00 and ran for 7 days.

N was seen by 2,782 people, and provided 237 engagements (or actions on the part of the viewers). While a seemingly high number for an unknown organization, less than 9% of those who saw the N interacted with it. Only 8 clicked on the link and I only received 1 redirect from FB that resulted in a survey result. Rounding up, that translates to 0.04% of viewers performing the action requested.

D was seen by 628 people, making the reach 78% less than N by limiting the number to one gender on Facebook. However, the engagement shot up to over 19%, with almost 2% of the total people who saw the promotion choosing to share it. This is compared to 0.4% who shared N. That being said, N had 10 total shares, while D had 12.

There are still more factors to take into account: Both were run during holiday weeks (Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s Eve), but preliminary data provides more focus for my questions. While Facebook does not seem to be the best tool to promote PanopLit‘s surveys or resources due to its extreme targeting restrictions, I wonder what other experiments can be run to narrow in on the gaming community’s make up on the website.

Are less women identified as RPG gamers on Facebook? Generally speaking, most sources agree that women make up the majority of FB users. Do these results indicate they are less engaged, or more likely to interact once targeted?

While I don’t think my small budget of $60 over 2 months and limited resources can solve these questions, it is certainly something to chew on. What kind of engagement have you seen while using Facebook?

Brief January Survey

As we get ready to accept submissions, this month’s RPG survey will be brief in both length and time featured. Please answer the 4 questions for this month on what kind of content you want to read about!

Please share this link on social media and in your groups to help us create the best resources: https://josephine69.typeform.com/to/FN8Kmr

More Generous Map Generators

The internet is full of free resources for RPGs, but one of the most basic needs are diverse maps. While graph paper and geometric hallways might fit your needs for an immediate dungeon the adventurers have stumbled upon, some moments need more specific, and maybe more randomized settings to interact with.

We shared some mapmaking resources before. Here are additional resources that are more involved than simply hitting a “generate” button, but still have randomization built in for customized, interactive cartography.

  • For basic combat terrain, check out the hazard generator on Chaotic Shiny. There are plenty of other generators for stats and randomized attributes available on the site as well. This generator will not provide visuals, just attributes.
  • For diverse map visuals that are built up grid-style from a database, check out Dave’s Mapper. You can pick the map style and required elements, plus cool options like side view mapping for deep delving.
  • Pencil and paper are generally the most tactile DMs get with their mapmaking, but Last Gasp ups the ante by providing dice-produced cities divided into burroughs. Their relationships and types are determined by the numbers on the dice and where they physically land.

Can’t wait to see what maps you roll out this year!

(Visual is from Dave’s Mapper.)