Somebody Wins, Nobody Loses

The thrift store has been a good source for some unusual kids games. Today the granddaughters and I played a cooperative storytelling game, one of their favorites, and an all-out snowball fight card game.

One thing I’m teaching the girls is that at Grandpa’s house somebody wins, but nobody loses.

I mean, think about it. In real-life sports, the focus is on celebrating a win. There’s gold, silver, and bronze, but no humiliating last-place ceremony.

Even head-to-head events like football are about high score, and if the other team is interviewed, it’s all about analyzing events, not about rubbing their noses in failure.

At Grandpa’s house somebody wins, but nobody loses. Well, actually everybody wins, because we had a good time together!

Structure Without Walls

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
Hobby gaming started as an old white guys club. Thankfully it is evolving, though far too slowly.

You know from these posts the effort I make to evolve personally from my native Midwestern white cis heterosexual male and middle-aged perspective.

Game publishing is part of that personal effort. Equality and inclusiveness aren’t just buzzwords; they’re standards.

I can’t speak for people of other backgrounds. What I can do is strive for game design that gives a structure for play without imposing boundaries. And strive to write in a way that’s inviting.

I’m a paradoxically proud and humble guy. Proud of my games. Humbled at the honor of their having some place at gamers’ tables. Energized by stories of players’ adventures. Hoping to hear more of them from a wider range of people. If that’s you, please let me know. Thanks. ❤

The Stubbornest Symptom

Photo by Samuel Pereira on Unsplash

I’m pretty open publicly about thoughts and experiences because [insert whatever reason seems right, good or bad] and sometimes things my mom taught me about simple human decency and courage have helped someone else through a dark time, or bolstered a good time.

Or maybe narcissism. I can’t rule out narcissism.

In any case, sometimes people say thanks. So I guess I’ll keep at it for awhile.

Today’s struggle is with a last symptom from 24 hours of aches, fever, and “gut -punch” stomach ache, after attending a dance recital in Lincoln with a couple hundred mask-less Nebraskans. The last symptom is animosity.

I’m not saying this illness is COVID. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that an auditorium with a couple hundred mask-less Nebraskans and no vaccine card check reminded me that 82% of Republicans still favor Donald Trump, and 60% still think the election was stolen.

I find that infuriating.

The backache yesterday was awful, but it lasted only a few hours. My stomach still hurts a bit, but isn’t awful any more. Last night it kept me from sleeping; today it was just a recurring dream. But this fury isn’t so easy to shake. I’m hoping confession will help. Maybe distraction with writing, a game, or more likely a movie with Jennifer.

What makes it so hard to treat is that it’s just a personal symptom of a chronic disease in the public soul.

A Question of Relevance, Part 3 (Conclusion)

(From an 18 March 2022 Facebook post)

More follow-up to examination of relevance.

Today I messaged my Patreon backers that I’ve shut down the page. That closing is the latest in a series of concessions to migraine/seizure condition. I hope it’s the last.

Though what led me to the decision was that Patreon doesn’t feed my need for socialization, in writing the message, I was confronted again that the issue is a neurological inability to work under deadline, even self-imposed ones.

In 2017, I had to give up on the annual Halloween anthologies that had been my way of celebrating the holiday by guiding new writers through the publishing process, and publishing their work alongside pieces by professionals who had a poem or story that didn’t fit their usual work.

Not long after, not quite halfway through translating Aquelarre into English—a project I had beseeched from Stewart Wieck—I had to ask for a second translator to finish the rest. God bless him for nurturing me through the end of my half, and otherwise keeping me involved. That kept me from being crushed by guilt, and actually let me retain some dignity at the end.

In 2018, a 20-year dream of publishing a D13 RPG was funded on Kickstarter, and I ran 2 years overdue delivering on it; 4 years if you count the final KS-exclusive PDF adventures.

The fall of 2020 had me facing the first ever “writer’s block” in my life. Three months of, well, near despair. Yes, it was a shitty period of American history overall, and many others felt a similar depression, but this migraine/seizure thing likely played a bigger part.

January 2021 was a clawing struggle just to write and post a character a day on Facebook.

February 2021 was one step up, to crafting a fantasy zine edition of the original D6xD6 RPG rules. And a campaign book for it, though I have yet to produce the print version of that supplement for my most generous backers.

In the year since, I’ve struggled to deliver on promises to my Patreon backers. I’ve tried different approaches, shifted titles, tried adventures. But today I conceded. Though I’m fairly confident of delivering the “Children of the Elder Sign” setting, which is about 2/3 finished, I can’t promise a date. Pushing brings fog. I’m relying on bouts of childish joy and enthusiasm.

Over the past several years I’ve turned down offers to freelance on some things I love. Walked away from an opportunity to teach a class on game design—two passions I’m educated for and experienced in. I’ve bailed on agreements to be guest at three conventions, because the crowds I used to love are now overwhelming.

I’d be lying if I said this isn’t a bit frightening. My adult life has been one of intellect, curiosity, and learning. Now my capacity for each is diminished by this fog.

Two things have kept me hopeful. One is the faith and patience of family, friends and fans. The other is the spontaneous creation of the Bookmark No HP RPG, along with my continued interest in some D6xD6 RPG projects. When I focus intently on a project, even a blog post like this. I’m still able to lose myself in that work. Without that focus, too often I’m just lost. [See what I did there?]

Why share this? It’s sort of a reaffirmation of commitment to my craft. And because public confession of a weakness demonstrates a certain strength.

Here’s hoping that confession isn’t a buzzkill to the beginning of what I hope for you is an awesome weekend. 🙂