Sunday, August 30, 2015

Adventures in D&D Land: Here We Go Again!


Due to a few unforeseen circumstances, we haven't been able to play the last two sessions of our normal game. We've been playing through the Lost Mines of Phandelver, which is the starter campaign, and we've found ourselves in a precarious situation in a cave with goblins. Now, I'm not saying we're going to die, but it could happen. We were supposed to play last night, but something about hordes of demon children rising up from the pits of the deepest hells and trying to devour the earth came up. We had to let our DM save the world or at least himself. Honestly, though, I can't hold life against anyone. We're adults playing, and we have real lives that require our attention. We're professionals, parents, and students. We're going to have days where we just can't play because of the curve balls that life throws us.

As I mentioned, though, I'm a new player, a very new player. So, if I'm not actively doing things in a game, I'll forget everything and we'll spend needless time answering questions I've probably already asked. Fortunately, AJ (my cousin and semi-veteran player) doesn't mind getting on Skype with me and answering my newb questions, even if they're repeats and I ask him to explain all the things to me like I'm three-years-old. It's not just this game either. If I stop a game I'm playing on one of my consoles and don't come back to it for a while, I can feel completely lost and will usually start over. However, it feels like I don't have the luxury of doing that with this game.

If you remember from my last post, I haven't been too keen on joining groups with people that I don't know well. A group I almost joined, I was scared away by the Dungeon Master. So, an option we, meaning my friends and I, came up with an idea to run another game DM'd by our friend Deacon who playing the Phandelver campaign with us as a dwarven cleric. I'd already had a second character rolled, a rogue with a pirate background, mainly in case we died in our current campaign in Phandelver. I've decided to use her for the story Deacon has made up for us which starts with us meeting up to take on a task. He asked that we all be experts in something. Mine was pretty easy as my pirate is an expert at navigation and probably knows a ton about sea creatures.

We can't start this weekend as Wendy has an event, so we're looking at next week. We also have to figure out how to balance this with our other game. I really do want to get through the whole campaign. I know the story to follow Phandelver is Hoard of the Dragon Queen and finally The Rise of Tiamat. I think it'd be pretty cool to finish a whole arc.

Another long time friend of mine said he'd run me through a solo campaign if I wanted just to keep my mind fresh. He's been playing for well over twenty years and has had plenty of DM experience, so I said that I might give this a try as well. We'd be running a completely original module that works with 5e. He promised me that he wouldn't think I'm nuts if I import my two characters into the game and play them. He'd even let me make a third to play around with in the campaign.

One thing I have learned so far in all this is that I'm actually pretty decent at building characters. I won't say I'm an expert, but I enjoy creating these characters, giving them backgrounds, and "getting into their minds." Some of this dice stuff still doesn't make sense, but much of it is starting to be less daunting as I play more. Watch this space.


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Adventures in D&D Land: My Journey Begins & That Time I Was Told I Couldn't Role-Play A Guy


I’ve finally breached the final geek frontier for me. About a month ago, I started playing my very first tabletop game--Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. Wendy sent out an email inviting me and a few other friends to join her game, which was being DM'd by her nephew. One of our gaming resolutions we made was to try out a tabletop game together, but we'd been a little slow to get started. This got us in gear. My cousin, who regularly plays with his girlfriend and his family, joined us. After flailing at AJ (my cousin) about character creation sheets and feeling like I was probably going to fail at everything, we spent four hours on Skype working on my first character together, a tiefling bard named Xavros Fallenheart, whose background is a charlatan (entertainer as a background was too flamboyant for what I had in mind for him). Look at that babe.


Anyhow, we have a great group, and I think I've taken to the game better than I thought I would to the point that I'd like to play with more people. I’ve been invited to join a few online games. Most of which I’ve turned down because I’m particular about the people I play with. As a woman of color, I want to be sure the I'm entering spaces where I can have fun and not deal with gross behavior. I'm confrontational by nature, but I'm at an age now where I'm tired of having to argue with people instead of being allowed common courtesy to enjoy a game because someone feels it's their civic duty to dehumanized me because of my sex and/or race. I'd rather just disengage than argue most of the time now because it doesn't benefit me at all aside from making my stress level shoot through the roof because someone pissed me off.

Unless you've been living under a rock or one of those people who just outright deny that the gaming community can be intolerant while they ironically preach they're treated as outcasts, you have to be aware that for marginalized groups (there are many great articles on this site dealing with problematic role-playing situations) hopping into certain gaming situations can be terrifying and off-putting. I am an avid gamer, and I always have been. I know firsthand what it's like to be harassed mainly because of my gender. Dungeons and Dragons, while I've always been interested in it, I felt intimidated by the idea of actually joining a group. I had a friend who tried to get me to play with his old group years ago, but I wasn't comfortable with the idea, even with him being there with me. I would've been the only woman in a sea of guys, and it felt like role-playing would put me in a far more vulnerable place than just playing Street Fighter. The most of I've done with D&D is play the PC games based on their rules such as Neverwinter Nights and watch my friend play.

I thought that I had found a possible secondary group. I explained what I was looking for and how I played with my current group of friends. And I’m not looking to replace my group at all and they’ll always take priority. I’m just wanting to gain more experience and play different classes/races and scenarios. This seemed like a great diverse group who wouldn't make fun of my newb status until the DM tells me I can’t play a guy or a trans character. I didn't ask him that. He felt obligated to supply me with that information. Remember, I play a male bard, and he doesn’t fall into any gender roles and I have enjoyed the experience playing him with my friends. To be honest, I hadn't even thought about what gender/class/race I'd play with this new group. I just wanted there to be an understanding of what I would and wouldn't tolerate.

When I asked the DM why, especially since mature themes are off-limits, as well, so it’s not like the characters would be trying to smut each other up every chance they’d get, I was told by the DM that he’s not comfortable with people role-playing characters opposite of their gender, which doesn't make much sense to me. Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose of role-playing if you won’t allow people to role-play whatever gender identity they want? 5e has seemed to be especially open to the idea that players don't always want their characters to stick to strict gender roles. You're playing a character. So what if you're a woman playing a man or vice versa? What is so uncomfortable about that?

That didn’t sit well with me, and that was a definite deal breaker. In all likelihood, I would’ve played a female character, but to be told that I had to play a female character because I'm female just made me not even want to play with him overseeing the game. It's his game, and he can run it how he sees fit. However, it's one thing when a group may decide that their players can't be evil, which I don't agree with either, but at least one of the people I play with gave me a plausible reason why they stopped allowing evil players and most of it had to do with player abuse. Telling someone they can only play characters the same gender as they are leaves the question open, "What other questionable rules might this game have?"

I won't let that experience deter me, though. I have a session with my regular group tonight, and I'll continue to maybe look into playing with other people (or watching other people play) to expand my horizons.
Continue Reading…

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Book Thoughts: Controversy Creates Cash by Eric Bischoff

Controversy Creates CashControversy Creates Cash by Eric Bischoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started really watching wrestling in late 2000 during the Attitude Era when I started dating my boyfriend (now husband) at the time. We were young college kids. Up to that point, I'd only glimpsed wrestling on television. I had a cousin who was big fan of wrestling when we were kids and was convinced that she was going to marry Shawn Michaels. She talked nonstop about him. I knew a little about NWO and Goldberg, but that was the extent of my knowledge. When I started watching wrestling, I was solely watching the WWE product. I was immediately taken by characters like Lita and The Rock. I didn't even give the WCW brand a glance. I was so invested in the stories the WWE was telling that it never even crossed my mind to give the other guys a chance.

On my birthday in 2001, Vince made the announcement on RAW that he'd acquired WCW. I still didn't really know who Eric Bischoff was at that point. However, I started going back, watching old matches and shows from both products. I wanted to know the history of wrestling and its players. I blame my love of history and needing to know the history of things for this. I've always thought that Eric Bischoff was a great heel character once I learned about him, and I never hated the guy. I understand why he is a polarizing character, but I never despised him or felt the same level of antipathy that many fans have for him.

I recently watched every episode of Monday Night Wars on the WWE Network, which was fascinating. A fellow wrestling friend gifted me with a few wrestling memoirs to check out after we had some long discussions about the rivalry between the WWE and WCW (Bischoff says it was less a rivalry and more a "rout" during the weeks they reigned supreme). Controversy Creates Cash was one of the books in this treasure trove. Eric Bischoff's book focuses more on the business side of wrestling rather than wrestling. Bischoff was a businessman, and it makes sense that his book focused on the backstage politics and troubles. He does talk about his younger years and other failed ventures that he tried in the beginning, and he jumps around quite a bit on various subjects. Some of these sections felt a bit like filler and unnecessary, especially since they lacked buildup, but perhaps there was a connection that I was missing between these scenes.

Bischoff gives entirely too much book time to his dislike of internet wrestling sites. Mentioning them once or twice would've sufficed. Often his thoughts are mentioned as asides when he discusses certain changes he made or ideas he incorporated and how wrestling sites misconstrued the intent behind these things. He even goes as far as to make disparaging remarks about how these people must be losers in real life. In a portion of his book he accuses Missy Hyatt of being catty, but his own remarks about "dirtsheets" and some of the talent/backstage employees show that he is equally as catty and political as they are. I found it particularly hilarious that he singled out Dave Meltzer who runs Wrestling Observer, accusing his paid newsletter of being unedited trash that seemed written by a 5th grader when this book was pretty terribly edited. Even in the lines about Meltzer, the word "wrestler" is spelled wrong. There's some irony there.

Eric Bischoff accuses other wrestling memoirs of being revisionist history meant to paint the author in a more favorable light. However, no matter how straightforward Bischoff believes his own narrative is, he falls into that category as well, seeming to bathe himself in a softer narrative as suits him. Anyone who's ever watched any documentary that Bischoff has been part of, especially the ones centered around the Monday Night Wars, is hardly fooled by this kinder, gentler Bischoff he tried to sell in this book. It's interesting to see how Bischoff's memories of events differ from how the other players view the events. Such as how he felt the WCW did great things with its cruiserweight division versus how people like Chris Jericho (who was part of this cruiserweight push) view those same events, which are often memories filled with frustration on their part.

However, despite the mixed feelings I had about Bischoff's account of things, I can't say that this book isn't compelling. Bischoff admits that during that time he lacked insight and didn't think about the bigger picture of some of his ideas and changes. Reading his version of some events prove there still is some lack of insight on his part. Eric talks about Paul Heyman and how he felt that Heyman was so full of shit that he believed his own delusions. That felt like the pot calling the kettle black. Bischoff seems locked in his own mind in portions of this story, choosing to believe his version of events. Do I think Eric Bischoff was the death of WCW? No, I don't. I think he got caught in the whirlwind that is business politics and was dragged along to an inevitable end. I think his assessment of the business side of wrestling as far as perceptions and the problems faced being part of a corporation like Turner/Time Warner are probably the most honest parts of this memoir.

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This blog is a mishmash of thoughts, pictures, and rantings among other things about games I've played, games I will play, and games I am currently playing. From time to time, I may post book reviews that I've written that are about different games and/or game worlds. Feel free to recommend games or add me on the platforms I've listed. I don't do competitive multiplayer much anymore, but I'm always down for some co-op these days. I'm usually DigitalTempest everywhere unless otherwise specified.

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2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Tiara has read 6 books toward her goal of 52 books.
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Tiara's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Elfstones Of Shannara
tagged: upcoming-reads, currently-reading, 2016-audiobook-challenge, classi...
Gardens of the Moon
tagged: currently-reading, fantasy, z-narrator-ralph-lister, 2016-audiobook...

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Tiara's bookshelf: read

Deceived
really liked it
Review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge and 2016-audiobook-challenge
The Girl from the Well
liked it
More reviews @ The Bibliosanctum TL;DR Review 2.5 to 3 stars. Not badly written… I’m just disappointed by the squandered potential. I’m going to reread Anna Dressed in Blood to make myself feel better about this Longer Review: T...
tagged: 2016-women-of-genre-fiction-reading, horror, and young-adult
Thirteen Reasons Why
I don't think this quite captures the complexity of bullying and suicide, and some of the issues that Hannah started facing toward the end of the novel really seemed to detract even more from the feelings she was going through by having ...
tagged: young-adult, popsugar-2016-reading-challenge, 2016-audiobook-challe...
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
liked it
Spoiler free review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge
The Phantom of the Opera
really liked it
tagged: classic-horror, classics, audiobook, 2016-audiobook-challenge, horr...

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