Writer. Editor. Leximaven. Game Girl. Vorpal Blonde. Midas's Touch. Schrödinger's Brat.

6 (Impossible) Things Before Breakfast

posted on: September 14, 2014
in: 6 Impossible Things, Blog

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This week’s six impossible things:

  1. I rewatched two incredible movies this week: About Time and Edge of Tomorrow. Both about starting over/time travel (kind of?)/love. Both smart and beautiful and true. I highly recommend them.
  2. The evolution of humanity is freaking crazy.
  3. Scientists figured out how to create solid light. What?!
  4. I’m working on this mature topics for gamers questionnaire. Want to help?
  5. Black Horizons, a poem by Carl Sandburg.
  6. Destiny is tons of fun to play. (If only it had couch co-op, I would love it all the more). But I’m still having a great time.
  7. BONUS: I LOVE Kid Snippets. You probably already watch them, but if not, they get their kids to tell a story, and then the adults reenact them. Check out the Wand of Universal power. There are three parts — this is the first one, and they just get better and better.

What impossible things did you believe this week?

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

Call for those interested in Mature Topics in Gaming!

posted on: September 9, 2014
in: Blog, Games, Numenera

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During the Mature Topics in Gaming panel at Dragon Con, I made the suggestion that GMs who had mature topics in their games give their players a questionnaire to fill out before their game or campaign (similar to the way the BDSM/kink/sex community recommends filling out a sex-themed questionnaire before you engage in kinky activities with someone — if you haven’t already seen these, here is a very detailed printable BDSM checklist and here is a list of other checklists and resources.). I also suggested incorporating aftercare–taking a few minutes for everyone to talk about the experience and make sure everyone’s okay before you leave the table.

Some people have emailed me since that panel to ask if I have a questionnaire like the one I suggested, and since I don’t (and couldn’t find an existing one), I thought it would be a good idea to create one.

The questionnaire would cover a wide variety of mature topics at the table, including sexual and romantic experiences and relationships, violence, coercion, gender and sexual orientation, and more.

The goal: to provide GMs with a good sense of what mature topics their players are comfortable with and interested in, and to what extent (e.g. “Sex is okay, but only if it fades to black” vs. “I am okay with explicit sexuality at the table.” Or “Violence and death are fine, but please no gore” vs. “Give me all the grisly details!”). It also allows players to unequivocally state what topics or themes they want no part of. Being able to answer in writing — as opposed to talking about it — sometimes allows people to be less self-conscious and thus give more honest answers. Overall, the hope is to provide a better, more inclusive, non-judgmental, non-triggery experience for everyone around the table.

Once it’s done, I’ll make it available for free to anyone who wants it (and might also include it as part of the download for the Numenera supplement, “Love and Sex in the Ninth World“).

For now, I’m looking for some people to be my sounding board — those with experience or interest in mature gaming topics who would like to offer suggestions for questions or topics, see if it’s missing anything, check my language for accidental toe-stepping, etc.

Here’s how to get involved: send an email to shanna.germain@gmail.com with the subject line MATURE TOPICS IN GAMING. Once I’ve got a draft of the questionnaire finished, I will send it along to everyone who emails me for their feedback.

Please pass the word along to anyone you think might be interested. The more voices, the better!

6 (Impossible) Things Before Breakfast

posted on: September 7, 2014
in: 6 Impossible Things, Blog

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Our new rescue dog, Ampersand, in case you haven’t already met her.

It’s been a long time since I did this, but it feels like time to return to the positive. So here are this week’s impossible things:

  1. This short film blew me away: Abiogenesis by Richard Man
  2. Who Rescued Who? This amazing program pairs prisoners with dogs in need of training and rescue
  3. Why it’s important to be good to each other
  4. My current song obsession: Take Me to Church, by Hozier.
  5. I’ll be running Numenera online Sept. 27th. Come and watch. All are welcome.
  6. Bound by Lust is out in audiobook this week and As Kinky As You Wanna Be comes out soon!
  7. One extra today, because it’s been so long: I watched The Station Agent yesterday. What a beautiful movie.

What impossible things did you believe this week?

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

all my life I was a bride married to amazement

posted on: August 23, 2014
in: Blog

Sometimes you stand looking forward and step back and back and back. You think there’s nothing good behind you, just an expanse of future failures, missteps, tumbles, the hole that you accidentally dug for yourself ten years ago, the broken ankle, the quicksand, the cold shadow of that lie you told, an old disease come back to ache your bones, a swarm of wasps buried in the ground.

But then you step back once more and your hand touches silk, brushed cotton, a sheet on a line that smells of the ones you love. A dog’s tongue along your wrist. A tiny flower that releases a drunk, vanilla-scented honey bee. A laugh over something funny that you haven’t heard yet. The unexpected kindness of those who flit about your life, sweet moths. The good things you did last week, last month, last year, that come back to you, filled with light.

This year has been like that. So much dark and you step backward through it, falling, falling, having fallen, and feel stunned when you look up to find the promise of stars to guide your way.

The last time I blogged here, my grandmother had just passed away. I was heartbroken, away from my family, and to top it off, buried in the middle of what might have been the worst work experience I’ve ever had. Someone that we trusted completely dropped the ball on us. The action wasn’t malicious, but the result was the same: in the middle of grieving, I suddenly had to start working 16- and 18-hour days seven days a week to do a job that we had already paid someone else for (on top of my own work, which already exceeded a full-time job). That went on for weeks, and the repercussions of it all lasted for months, and affected our entire team.  I didn’t go home to be with my own family during my grandmother’s death. I had to cancel a trip to see my partner’s family. I worked through sickness brought on by the stress of everything. Everyone else took on more work, because I couldn’t do it all. I was turning into a horrible person from lack of sleep, no exercise, and too much stress. The low point for me was sitting alone in the house, so sick I could barely sit upright, while my partner was away visiting his family, and I realized I’d done nothing but work and sleep since he’d left three days before — and that I had another three or four days left of the same. 

It was a dark, dark time. I felt like the stars were just being snuffed out around me, one by one.

~

Why am I telling this story? Why do any of us tell stories of our darkness?

I don’t think it’s for sympathy. Or to show how brave we are. Or even to have other people respond with nice words and kind thoughts. I think we tell stories of the dark because it shows that none of us are alone. That we have all wandered in the shadow, and that sometimes we are wandering there side-by-side, and we don’t know it because we can’t see each other or reach out or even call out for help. 

The shadow didn’t lift for a long, long time. I can’t remember when it started going away, but I know that family, friends, and loved ones helped, that getting the work done helped, that finding a way to grieve for my grandmother and connect with my family helped. I tried to remember what I loved — great books, music, writing, movies, exercise, cooking, playing games — and I brought them back into my life. Even if sometimes I didn’t want to, I faked it. I faked loving those things until I could actually love them again. I remembered who I was. I apologized for who I’d been. I started to look forward again, and to walk more confidently in the world.

That seems so long ago, but really it isn’t. The light has been so bright since then, and I am so grateful every day for that. Here are the stars that are currently shining away my dark:

We adopted a dog from the Everett Animal Shelter. Her name is Ampersand (we call her Amp for short). She’s 2+ and a lab-something mix. She’s wonderful and there are few things as star-shining as belly rubs and face licks.

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My baby sister (she’s 15 years younger than me and is awesome) got married and I got to be her maid of honor. She and my dad and I cried a lot, but always in a good way. Also, yes, that’s my dad in a pimp hat hanging with his two daughters. He’s a very good sport.

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We went to Gen Con, and Numenera — the game of our hearts — received a number of ENnie awards, including Product of the Year. I can’t even begin to say how much it means to me that the gaming community gave us their support in this way. It’s such an incredible honor. We also came out with our new game, The Strange, and so far, it has been very well received.

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~

It is light now, but I know that it will be dark again, and I know that I can live with that and through that. Despite it all, I don’t want my life to be only light. The darkness molds my bones into steel weapons with its cold hands. Dark squeezes the muscle of my heart until its beat is fierce enough to thrive anywhere. The shadow I’m walking through is my own, and it means somewhere there is light enough to cast it.

I want what Mary Oliver wants in her poem, “When Death Comes”:

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

~

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

PPS — Did you know that the average color of the universe is called Cosmic Latte?

 

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