Happy February everyone! We are very excited because this month at the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival there is a D&D art documentary called Eye of the Beholder. It is not only a great title, but a great topic as well. Its question is: How has the art of Dungeons and Dragons inspired you? It is something we are going to discuss here, but we are going to broaden it a little. We are going to talk about the art of all game books and how it influences us as players and game masters. Once you enter through the door of D&D there are so many other games and systems to explore. We encourage you to do so and we are always happy to give you some recommendations. So we will be using Game Master and not Dungeon Master when we discuss this topic in this post.
The cover art of an unknown RPG is what draws me to it immediately. I remember one of the first times it happened and to this day it is a book I still use. I was browsing the aisle at a game store when a book from Pinnacle Entertainment Group caught my eye. It had pirates on it and in big pirate font Pirates of the Spanish Main. I picked it up and looked inside. It took me 30 seconds to realize that I not only needed this book in my life, I needed to run this game with a strong lady pirate captain at the helm. It used the Savage Worlds ruleset, which I was familiar with. I still love this book so much. It is one of the few books that I had to stop reading and grab a notebook to jot down ideas. I still haven’t run all of them, but maybe with the new edition, I will have another adventure in the works.
As a GM, anything can inspire a great game, but it is usually the art and design of the book that gets my brain racing with ideas. The newest addition to my RPG library and the game books I am currently loving to look at are my Star Trek Adventures books. They are laid out like a Starfleet Manual and the artwork is original and amazing. I have at least three games planned out for this system and I haven’t even finished reading the books. Plus, it comes with a pretty map. The cover is just the Enterprise and it evokes some of my favorite feelings. The other art shows away missions in dangerous caves and a large number of Red Shirts. The thing I love the most is that you can purchase pre-generated characters of your favorite crew, or mix and match for your game if you wanted. We have two “Try an RPG Day” dates this year, and I am pulling this game out for one of them. Although I am still determining which of the seven game ideas I will run. It is not a bad problem to have.
This inspiration is not just reserved for the games I run. It is also reserved for the games I am a player for. The best example I have of that is when we were starting a home Starfinder campaign. My GM had the book out and I was looking down and smiling back at me was the most awesome space goblin I had ever seen. I knew in that moment that was what I needed my character to be. My good-natured GM rolled with it and thus Dr. Spork T. Space Goblin was born. She is the smartest of the space goblins and that is why she is a doctor. Just seeing that artwork of a space goblin with a makeshift machete and a homemade laser gun, I had not only the character concept, but also her personality.
The thing I like most about art in RPG books is how it sets the tone for the game. There are games that are intense, some silly, some fantastic, some gritty. The art, not only on the cover, but throughout the book, really sets the tone for the game as a whole.
My first ever RPG, Rifts, is a complicated mess of convoluted rules, but it’s still dear to my heart. The art in the pages of the many (many, many, many) books sets you up for adventure of the crazy, gritty, post-Apocalyptic variety. The art on the cover of the Ultimate Edition corebook (colloquially known as the RUE) shows a vaguely steampunkish mystical being kneeling in front of a portal (or rift) with a giant eyeball and nasty mouth tendrils emerging from it (this is a particularly big nasty being known as the Splugorth; if you’ve played Rifts you KNOW the Splugorth). When you crack open the pages of it, each image really invokes that crazy adventure feel, from the illustration of the Rogue Scientist scaling a cliff, to the pictures of the Coalition Dogboys.
My favorite RPG in the entire universe, Numenera, also has the most gorgeous artwork. The way the artists portray the Ninth World gets you in the spirit of exploration. The colors are bold, pastels and bright colors combined, unlike the dark colors of Rifts, giving it a more inquisitive feel. And that’s true of the game; it’s all about uncovering the mysteries left behind by the previous worlds. The most used and iconic picture is on the Corebook and Starter Set. It’s a bright orange background, with the Amber Monolith in the center, surrounded by creatures and people. It gives the sense of the vastness of the world and the possibilities. All of the art in every book is full-color and just as gorgeously detailed and vast. My favorite picture in all of the Numenera books is from the pre-written adventure, The Devil’s Spine. The adventure itself is a ton of fun, and I’ll try not to give too many spoilers, but at one point, adventurers may encounter a swamp filled with giant statues of vaguely humanoid shape. The art is in muted tones of gray and yellow, highlighted with purple flowers. It certainly sets the tone of uneasiness meant to be felt in that area, and gives a slight vision of what is to come to those who venture into the swamp.
Honorable Mentions for books whose cover art sets the tone for the game (and either has minimal inside art, or not as thematic art): Ten Candles, a horror game by Calvary Games (I have yet to play this game, but the cover was what drew me to it, as well as the mechanic of using actual candles in the gameplay); Apocalypse World by D. Vincent Baker and Meguey Baker (this is one of my favorite games, and the first game I ever ran! The cover art really sets the tone for how post-apocalyptic and open-ended this game really is); and finally, The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen by James Wallis (the version I own is stark white with black text and filigree; it really sets the tone for how lush and over the top the game is. This game is all about telling the most extravagant lie)!
We are grateful for all the work that it takes to put together games. It is so exciting that Eye of the Beholder is shedding light on one of them. We hope you will consider joining the directors at the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival on Friday, February 15, 2019 at 7:00 PM for a screening at the Somerville Theater. We both have plans to be there! (Note: Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival has not paid us to promote this event and we are paying for our tickets. This is just a topic that excites us and we have offered to promote it as something awesome to do with a Friday night.)
We also hope you join us for another fabulous ELS Day on March 10, 2019 from 12-6 at Comicazi. We are working on which woman created game we will be featuring, so we are going to make our game announcement via social media soon.
Until next time…. May all your hits be crits.
Please welcome guest contributor Lindsay Moore. Lindsay has written for us before, sharing her experience putting together an all women horror anthology. In this series, she’ll share her experience writing horror stories that were adapted for the NoSleep Podcast.
I discovered the NoSleep Podcast in 2015, midway through its fifth season. At the time, my day job was less than fulfilling; it was downright boring. But, on the plus side, I was able to listen to podcasts and music all day.
I sat in my cubicle, alone, listening to horror fiction podcasts while I worked. I discovered the NoSleep Podcast through the subreddit, which is infamous for its creepypasta-style horror fiction. I couldn’t sit and read the stories, but I could listen to the best of the best, those carefully selected for audio adaptation. Continue reading
A couple of summers ago, I reviewed some books, as I am wont to do. One of them was An Augmented Fourth by friend of the Ladies and local celebrity Tony McMillen. Since then, Tony’s written and drawn a comic, Lumen. Since the first four issue arc has just drawn to a close, it felt like a good time to tell you all about it – you can get in on the ground floor of what I hope will be an ongoing series, while still getting a complete story.
The story of Lumen begins with a young man, Esteban Vela, who stumbles upon a suit of armor and a lantern one day after following a falling star. It sounds romantic, except for two things – one, the armor still holds its previous occupant. Two, Esteban lives in the Nocterra, a world enshrouded entirely in darkness. There are no stars, not even falling ones, and being too romantic in a world like this is will get a boy killed. Still, inspired by tales of “the legendary Vaquero Rubus Bramble…the hero who was supposed to lasso the sun,” Esteban decides not only to take the armor, but promptly finds himself embarking on an epic quest.
You see, while the sun is gone, devoured by “the Beast that fell to earth,” there is one source of life and light in the Nocterra – lumen, a glowing substance that allows plants to grow. It also provides energy; it’s the power source for Esteban’s armor as well as the various weapons and mechs designed by his nearest neighbor, Detta the science witch. It’s Detta who sends him on his quest, to obtain the lumen horde in the southern castle. All that stands in his way are giant fungus monsters, the Fun Guys, who thrive in the darkness of the Nocterra. No problem for a hero, right?
The story has many of the best elements of a fairy tale – a magical destiny, a witch, a quest, even an animal companion and a pretty girl – while still managing to feel entirely new and unique. McMillen has clearly spent a lot of time on world-building, thinking through the rules of his night universe and how it operates, and he deploys it brilliantly, through the illustrations and actions of the plot rather than through tiresome exposition. Likewise, the characters all have distinct voices and personalities – I could hear Esteban’s cocky bravado (and its undercurrent of doubt and fear) in my head perfectly.
McMillen’s art is likewise wholly unique, loose and smudgy, yet sharp and distinct when it needs to be. The use of color is amazing in a book about a world cast in darkness, and book three has a multi-page sequence that manages to be clever without being gimmicky. And the Fun Guys – well, no one draws a monster like Tony. Each are named after actual mushrooms – there’s a great single page shot of different types in issue that looks cool AND had me reaching for google to see what a “Gristly Domecap” looks like here on our Earth.
All told, Lumen is an impressive debut comic from a writer I know is only getting better, and I can’t wait for the next arc.
If you want to read Lumen, the first copies are sold out in print but available online at McMillen’s Etsy shop, and the later issues are available either online or here in Boston at Comicazi and Hub Comics. Even more exciting, the first issue is up for FREE over at Tony’s website. So get on over there and check it out!
I walk over 3.5 miles for my commute daily and this puts me in the perfect position to consume lots of podcasts. It’s also a great way to ramp up or decompress from the work day by letting your mind focus on something else. But lately I have noticed my podcast consumption habits have changed and I can pinpoint the exact point. It was the Bret Kavanaugh hearings.
See, I also consume a lot of news media. Local news is on when I am getting dressed in the morning and making dinner at night. My Twitter feed is filled with lots of news and current event outlets and I used to listen to many current event podcasts. I say used to because all of a sudden I noticed I was doing something I never did before with my usual podcasts…..I was deleting or skipping episodes without listening, because I realized, I needed a break, badly. Podcasts weren’t a way to relax on my way to work anymore. Hearing #metoo stories or yet another attempt to explain consent was stirring up things and I was getting to work stressed, unfocused, and angry. That’s not a good look in any job, but in my role, I have to deal with these types of issues in a professional capacity, so things had to change.
Enter the audio drama. What I need now is escapism in form of heavily produced episodic storytelling and well-developed characters and I found some that have inspired major binge listening.
I have already mentioned some other audio dramas I enjoy – Darkest Night, Deadly Manners, The Black Tapes, and Tanis. The Red Menace has also given you a heads up on another Sci-Fi based fave, Hadron Gospel Hour (more please friends!)
But now I have more!
Limetown follows American Public Radio (a fictional NPR type entity) reporter Lia Haddock as she tries to solve the mystery of what happened to Limetown and its 300+ inhabitants, who have all disappeared without a trace. Structured like a take-off on a Serial type podcast, Limetown is spooky, mysterious, and a very compelling story. You will find yourself wanting to do you own research just to be sure this is in fact, fiction.
Note: It was recently announced that Limetown will be turned into a TV show on Facebook Watch starring Jessica Biel.
King Falls AM 660 on the AM dial wherever the mountain town of King Falls is located. It’s like the X-Files meets Northern Exposure. Shock Jock Sammy Stevens moves to King Falls and begins to host a local AM call in radio show. The whole podcast is done as the radio show, you learn about the characters and happenings of King Falls via call-ins and on-site radio broadcasts. It’s funny, scary, and at times quite emotional (yes there have been tears). King Falls has been around for a few years now, but you definitely want to start at the beginning. Listening to the character development over the episodes has been an absolute joy.
Note: This one has explicit content so not for kiddos or public listening in the office. You are gonna want your headphones, and people can just ask you what you are giggle-snorting about.
Angel of Vine is a crime noir story in which a present day journalist discovers the cassette tapes of a hardboiled 1950’s PI who solved a major Hollywood murder mystery. This one packs some pretty serious voice talent – Joe Manganiello, Alfred Molina, Constance Zimmer, Alan Tudyk, and Misha Collins (which I didn’t know till a few episodes in, so that was a fun surprise) and if this a genre you like, I’m guessing you will like this.
Note: This is another one with some explicit content, so not for the kiddos.
The Walk is quite unique in that the main character is you! Written by Naomi Alderman, who also does my beloved Zombies, Run! and The Power, in The Walk you are accidentally given a mysterious package that you must get from one end of Scotland to the other. The kicker, a terrorist group sets off an EMP in episode one, so the only way to cross the country is to walk.
Note: Perfect for days out strolling if you want to be the star of your own adventure.
This coming Saturday is our annual Make Your Own Snowglobe Workshop. This is one of our most popular events and one of our absolute favorites. Born out of a crafternoon where we made snow globes for ourselves (my Hawkeye vs. a Minotaur still graces my desk at work), we decided this was something that would be even more fun to do as a group. And we were right! There are few things more enjoyable than sharing your crafts with like-minded folks. Best of all, if you attend our workshop, we provide everything you need, (except the distilled water since your scene will have to set at least overnight before you fill the jar), making it totally easy to get in on the action.
This year, we even added an extra earlier session (4-6pm). This is good for families with littles – and folks who want to come to an earlier session so they can get dinner in the square later. We’ve had kids make some incredibly creative snowglobes, so we highly encourage making this a family event. As of the posting, our later 7-9pm session has already sold out. The good news is that we will have lots of “stuff” for creating your masterpiece no matter which session you go to.
Truth be told, you could just check out this oldie but goodie post where we first shared both a how-to on our method for snowglobe making, and a little bit on our trip to the Somerville Museum of the Modern Snowglobe , sadly now closed. But….if you are local, coming to do some crafting with us is much more fun!
So, get your tickets now, they’re going fast:
In just a few days it will be time for LadiesCon 2018. If you are reading this we hope to see you there. If you aren’t familiar with LadiesCon, here’s the main scoop.
LadiesCon is a one-day celebration of women of all kinds and their work in comic books, science fiction, fantasy, cosplay, and many other realms of pop culture. This Con is for everyone, with a focus on creators who identify as women, non-binary, LGBTQ, and people of color, plus local artists. Our goal is to shift the ratios that you usually see at comic cons. And perhaps the most important thing, admission is free!
We work hard all year fundraising to make LC free because 1. we don’t want admission cost to be a deterrent, and 2. we want you to come spend your hard earned money on our amazing vendors and guests. We also couldn’t do this without help from our sponsors, Rockland Trust, Candlewick Press, and of course, Comicazi.
So – planning your day. The Con is located at The Armory in Somerville MA, and starts at 11am. That is, unless you go for an early access VIP entry ticket. Early Access starts at 10am. You get some breakfast, a swag bag, and less crowded access to vendors, guests, and the ’66 Batmobile. It also is a helpful part of our fundraising efforts, with 100% of the ticket price going right into LadiesCon 2019.
OK – you have arrived at the Con. Stop at the Welcome table in the lobby and say hi, then continue on to the Con floor. Pause a moment and take it in, there is a lot to see both upstairs and down (there is both an elevator and stairs to get to the balcony area). Visit creators at their tables and enjoy their work, chat with them if you are comfortable doing so, and if something really strikes your fancy, make a purchase. Supporting creators is the best way to make your voice heard about what you want in the industry. Pro-tip: not all vendors take cards so bring some cash if you are able. There are ATMs down the road.
Our special guests are easy to find (everything is pretty easy to find since we are a one room con). Stop by and see Marjorie Liu – Eisner and Hugo award winner and author of Monstress, winner of two Einser awards and artist on Squirrel Girl Erica Henderson, Kristen Gudsnuk – creator of Henchgirl and the graphic novel Making Friends, Ming Doyle – writer and artist on Constantine and artist for DC Comics upcoming Anatomy of a Metahuman. Just added: Jason Badower. His covers for DC Comics include: The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Captain Atom, Gotham City Garage and Krypton. Jason also wrote a Wonder Woman story that featured her officiating a gay wedding.
As if all that wasn’t enough, we also have panels happening both upstairs and down. Info can be found on the LC website panel page, and here’s a schedule to help you plan:
We hope to see you in LadiesCon 2018. We do this for you and need your support to keep doing it. Let’s make an amazing day for each other!
This month, we’re talking about tropes! What is a trope? What makes them so effective that they keep popping up again and again? Which tropes do we love? Which ones do we actively seek out?
We’ll be adding a few links to examples of our favorite tropes soon.
Check out previous episodes and subscribe to the podcast on our podcast page.
Hello, darlings! Summer is soon to arrive, and that usually means a lot of travel and vacations. I know a lot of you are asking, “But, Meepleine, when I get to my destination, it can sometimes be a little boring.” And so, I give you this little list of little games that you can throw in a bag and take with you (virtually) anywhere! (I’m writing this post on my lonesome because Lady Diceacorn is currently packing to move to her new house! She’ll do a post later on about how to effectively pack your games. Last count, she was on 30+ boxes of just games.) Continue reading
The Ladies Podcast is back with a brand new episode! This month, we’re taking on love – with a twist. We’re sharing a few of the things that we love to hate – favorite ranting topics – or hate to love – the guilty pleasures.
Check out our previous episodes on our Podcast page.