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Morgan Davie
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Lived in Wellington New Zealand
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Morgan Davie

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Watching Buffy: Buffy's secret comes out, the Faith story starts, and Xander is a new man, in Revelations http://morgue.isprettyawesome.com/?p=7208
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More datacrunching on representation in RPG art, with 5E under the microscope.  +Anna Kreider is Patreon-supported, and it's time to chat with my partner about giving that a try!

 (I am proud to say that I had a tiny role in the origin story of these posts via some LJ posts I made way back in 2007. That's a nice feel.)
 
Today's post about 5th Edition D&D is the first in a series that will be either two or three parts about the equality of representation for women in the three D&D 5E Core books. In this first part, I look at data gathered for a variety of criteria across the three books, while the next post will start examining trends and actual images.

These are posts that I like to do every few months, because I firmly believe that having actual data about the state of representation in games is crucial to being able to improve that representation. However, these posts are the most time-consuming to produce by far. The amount of time it takes to write one of these posts is easily double or even triple what it takes to write just about anything else.

And mostly I'm okay with that; statistical analysis isn't something I'm super passionate about and it would get pretty dry to read about if that was all that I did. But it is something that I am passionate about doing from time to time, and the time investment can be a major strain in actually getting the work done. This post in particular wound up taking about fifteen hours of work to produce 1600 words of post (and a fuckload of charts) - which is really not great.

So if you're someone who supports creators on Patreon, I do ask that you consider becoming a patron if you think what I'm doing is valuable. Even $1/month is a huge deal, and it helps me to be able to continue doing what I'm doing.
Introduction Right before leaving for this year's GenCon, I put up a post about my frustrations with the lack of consistency of art direction between Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons; ...
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you kidding me? I am in awe. If we ever cross paths the drinks are on me.
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woohoo. I worked on this. AND it's bloody beautiful. Score!
 
Regenerated and ready for adventure, the new edition of the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game will be available to preorder later this week! In today’s blog we take a look inside.

The Doctor Who Roleplaying Game is a hardback rulebook containing all the rules, monsters, background and characters you need to start having your own adventures through time and space right away!  

Read more about it here: http://www.cubicle7.co.uk/the-doctor-who-roleplaying-game-preorder-this-week/
The Doctor Who Roleplaying Game – Preorder this Week. DWRPGlogo. Regenerated and ready for adventure, the new edition of the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game will be available to preorder later this week! In today's blog we take a look inside. The Doctor Who Roleplaying Game is a hardback rulebook ...
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Watching Buffy: Giles and Joyce on a car bonnet, in Band Candy http://morgue.isprettyawesome.com/?p=7202
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always share Hot War love.
 
#rpgaday2015  

20. Favourite Horror RPG:

And finally we reach my specialist subject!

The easy answer here would be Call of Cthulhu. In my earlier entry for Favourite Publisher, I enthused about Chaosium and mentioned that Call of Cthulhu was the first game I loved. We did part company for a number of years, but +Paul Fricker's enthusiasm pulled me back into the cult some twelve years ago. I haven't looked back since. No, really. There are some horrifying things hiding back there.

On the other hand, I've already talked about it this month, so I'll give the honour to another game.

I almost picked +Malcolm Craig's Hot War as my favourite SF game, but I wasn't too sure which genre suited it best. It's a powerful mixture of alternate history, post-apocalyptic SF, horror and political intrigue. When I've run it, I've usually played up the horror aspect, so here it is.

Hot War is set in an alternate 1963, where the Cuban Missile Crisis turned nuclear, and much of the world is smouldering ruins. London has managed to escape, but is being torn apart by hunger, panic, an influx of refugees, Soviet machinations, the renewed rise of fascism and the increasing brutality of a desperate government.

The weird horror elements come in through secret government experiments, on both sides, based on the fruits of Nazi mad science, recovered after WWII (which happens in the companion game, Cold City). These are either being deployed against the people of London by Soviet agents (or other parties with reason to do so) or have escaped containment on home soil.

Ultimately the setting is bleak and tense enough that it would be horrific even without the twisted technology. This is as close to Threads: the roleplaying game as you're ever likely to see.

The atmosphere of the game owes a huge debt to the incredible artwork and layout from +Paul Bourne. The creature designs in the book are amongst the most nightmarish I've seen in an RPG.

The mechanics are also immensely hackable. Hot War has become my go-to system for any convention game that involves conflict or mistrust between the player characters. I've used it for Cthulhu Mythos stuff, weird science fiction, East End gangsters and political intrigue, all with little effort required.

If you're interested in learning more, there are some free downloads on the Contest Ground site. We also covered it in a special episode of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, and also interviewed Malcolm as a follow-up. Be warned, these are early episodes, from before we got the hang of audio quality.

http://blasphemoustomes.com/2014/04/01/episode-29-good-friends-go-war/

http://blasphemoustomes.com/2014/04/18/episode-30-good-friends-interview-malcolm-craig/
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Morgan Davie

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Watching Buffy: Cordy vs Buffy comedy, but the show also tries to fix Xander, and... uh oh. It's "Homecoming"! http://morgue.isprettyawesome.com/?p=7189
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me too! The show is just firing on all cylinders here.
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Watching Buffy: Buffy's secret comes out, the Faith story starts, and Xander is a new man, in Revelations http://morgue.isprettyawesome.com/?p=7208
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This is so great. Each time these come out, you remind me what I loved about Buffy, and make me deal with my shame of identifying with Xander.
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Friday linky! Space Jam, 4th wall, creative class and money, kermit, Trek, science, DC comics, & moar! http://ow.ly/RtuQR 
Are we at peak oral history? This week: legendary weirdo flop Theodore Rex and the Space Jam website. An NYT article has been circulating about how today's creative class are no worse off even though no-one pays for anything any more. I wasn't convinced by it; Salon has a counterpoint that seems ...
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yeah the psych stuff is interesting, not surprising, but interesting. i suspect a large amount of other sciences suffer the same problem (indeed the authors had done one previously on ?physics?). which leads to the issue of peer reviewed and levels of journals. any thoughts on the efficacy of the the maths/phys pre-press server approach?
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Appropriation


Appropriation is:  
a)  A narrative move.  In other words, appropriation occurs in the space of how things are framed, not, for example, internal beliefs.
b)  When you take something that's significant to someone else in a core / central way in its own right, and use it as a tool to add color and/or weight to your own story about something that is both unrelated and less deep.
c)  a+b = when you frame someone else's more-important-to-them thing as about or a piece of your own thing, instead of your own thing as complexly related to their thing.


Some examples of appropriation include:

- Using the occasion of a coworker's serious medical struggles as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of exercise for health in the workplace.

- Taking a spiritually important symbol from an oppressed culture, and turning it into a cool t-shirt for the dominant culture.

- Telling a story about how someone from a wealthy and privileged world was personally transformed by exposure to developing-world poverty.

- Holding an inspirational event on MLK day and using the symbolism that because MLK talked about his dream, this is a great chance for everyone in the (majority-white) audience to also think about what their dreams for the world are.

- Using the occasion of your child's birthday to give them a ticket to an activity they have continually refused attend, that you have continually been trying to get them to.


Ways to do the same things without being appropriation:

- Give everyone, including the ailing coworker, space.  Don't talk about it.  Just talk about the exercise as an unrelated topic.  Or, if the coworker is already bought in, they can talk about exercise.

- Using your t-shirt company as a platform for the minority culture to share their traditions and also receive profits.  For example, by engaging in business partnerships that allow members of that culture  to make shirts about their current experiences, or member artists to combine historical traditions with modern fashion.

- Telling a story about how, upon being exposed to poverty, that person realized the limits of their own upbringing, and focusing the rest of the story on the nature of what was really going on.

- Taking a moment from the inspirational event to recognize that, like attendees, MLK was completed devoted to his cause, and that this cause is still really relevant to all of us today.  And since it's MLK day, we can take a moment to think about how how to further BLM while pursuing our own causes.

- Ask your child if they're interested in any related activities, and give them a ticket to that instead.  Or, just give them what they want for their birthday, and then give them free tickets later.


As we can see from these examples, appropriation can happen at all levels and in a myriad of contexts.

Appropriation is abuse when the other person/people have explicitly tried to get you to pay attention to the thing that matters to them in the past.  (Such as with MLK day, or declining the event ticket.)

Appropriation is inappropriate when the difference in significance is so obvious that the two pieces of content should clearly be treated with different levels of gravity.  (Such as the illness, the t-shirts, and the poverty.)

You can almost always turn something you want to do that's appropriation into something that isn't by just partnering with a content-owner of the original thing to deliver a joint message in a way that highlights their voice.


Appropriation and Gravitas (etc)

The reason that we're inclined to appropriate is that borrowing from other sources of significance is useful.  We have a thing we want to do, and we want to add gravitas (or color, or interest) to it by calling back to content that already has it.  It's a natural thing to reach for.

The problem with this activity isn't that there's anything intrinsically wrong with what we want to do-- teach healthy living, sell a t-shirt, inspire others to follow their dreams, tell a funny story or make good music.

The problem is actually that appropriation is strip mining.  It's a way of "borrowing" gravitas (or etc) that's intrinsically destructive to the originating source.  

Common reasons why it's destructive may include (but not be restricted to) any combination of:
- it actually erases other parts of the originating narrative
- it reduces the ability for other more important parts of the originating narrative to be heard (also undermining the overall impact)
- it's literally hurtful to the originators.

Ways of avoiding appropriation while taking similar actions, therefore, are essentially sustainable/harmonious strategies for interacting with the source content.  Just as we ask ourselves, "How do we draw energy while leaving the environment better than it was before", we can ask ourselves, "How do we draw gravitas (etc) while leaving the source better, by its own standards, than it was before?"

The by its own standards portion is important.  Frequently, the difference between whether what we do is appropriation or not is whether we listen to someone else's standards.


Sexual Assault in Storytelling

I wrote a game that used an on-screen rape as a plot device.  This was appropriation.  (The inappropriate kind.)  It was 2005, and I wanted to use an event that everyone could agree was bad in order to add gravitas to the situation and force players to think about their values.

When we hear sexual assault in fiction described as "lazy storytelling", this is why it's lazy-- it's because more than 9 times out of 10, assault is used as a quick-shot injection of gravitas, intensity, problematic-ness.  It's lazy because, for whatever reason, we the storyteller felt that we might fail to weave enough gravitas into the narrative, and wanted a boost.

The experience of rape (or illness, or poverty) isn't important for being bad.  It's important to the experiencer in dozens of specific ways that are internal, interpersonal, and/or societal.  In all of these, gravitas is a byproduct, not a core component.

Currently in our society, there are not a lot of great ways to responsibly collaborate to share gravitas with rape.  This is because it's an area that everybody (including me) has been madly irresponsibly piling appropriation on for so long, the only real, generalizable solution is just to stop doing it for a while and give space for people who have actually experienced it to have a voice.  

It's possible to have responsible stories about rape that are also about something else.  You just have to be about as careful as dumping more chemicals into the ocean.
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Morgan Davie

Blog Essays  - 
 
Watching Buffy: Giles and Joyce on a car bonnet, in Band Candy http://morgue.isprettyawesome.com/?p=7202
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One of my fave episodes :) Snyder was hilarious and Giles was so cool.
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Friday linky! Kickstarter, Anne of Green Gables, Bugs Bunny, Wu-Tang, Star Wars, altruism, Fonzie, & moar! http://ow.ly/RaEjh 
Cuz-in-law Jessica Grace Smith is kickstarting her short film, Everybody Else Is Taken. She's fresh out of the Australian soap mines (Summer Bay variety), and raring to go on a very personal project. It's looking pretty sweet. I particularly like her commitment to build a crew of women to help ...
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