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Rachel E.S. Walton
epic killer of demon bears
epic killer of demon bears


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Oh my. This hits so many of my buttons. Sci-fi romance and giant spaceship malfunctions. Yasssss. Apparently, it's original, which is exciting, although the broader brush strokes remind me a bit of Beth Revis' Across the Universe trilogy.

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I have been waiting for this for a few years now. I am SO EXCITED to get my hands on this. This is one of my favorite larps and it's even great if live-action isn't normally your thing.

Why are you so excited, Rachel??

● The set-up is so charged. It's these two close-knit Viking families (and a priest and foreigner caught up with them), with a lot of layers of love, history, agreements, and uncertainty between them. An exiled son returns and all of that blows up. They have to confront the past, the present, and their dreams for the future all at once. Sometimes, everyone ends up dead. Sometimes, it comes to a surprisingly beautiful conclusion. Always, it is interesting.

● It's replayable! Even knowing some spoilers! I've played 3 of the 9 characters and helped facilitate it a couple of times and it's different every time. I would love to try the other characters and would even consider playing the same one again. The characters have a lot of nuances and it's possible to emphasize very different aspects of them and to sacrifice or refuse to sacrifice things that are important to them, which will completely change their trajectory.

● Oh my gosh do I love the characters. They are well-rounded and interesting. They have powerful and varied motivations and talents. They have Viking annnngst. They love, they hate, they stew with resentment. They want to see the world, they want what's best for their kids. They want to be honorable. They want to make their parents proud. They want forgiveness, they want revenge. They want what can never be. The characters are old, young, married, interestingly single. Literate, illiterate. Poets. Warriors. A witch. A priest. Some practical, some scheming, some dreamers.

● There are many paths to getting what they want. Blades & blood. Poison. The law. Lies. Earnest conversation. Partnerships. Betrayal.

● There are a few scenes (a funeral fire, a feast, etc.) that give some structure, and the rules are few and easy to follow, like a gesture to make when you're eavesdropping but not right there. And there's a matrix to quickly solve what happens when blades are drawn or poisons ingested.

● The only tough requirement is that it really needs a full cast of 9, plus the facilitator. Though if you have an additional person or two, they can run around as thralls or servants. That said, you don't need costumes. Or props beyond what's included in the set (or if you're getting the PDF, the props aren't anything fancy). You really just need a big room and about 3 hours from start to finish. Unless there's a blood bath. Then it'll probably be shorter. That said, you could totally enhance the experience even more with costumes and a real feast - I would love to do that sometime.

● In one my favorite non-spoilery stories, one of the characters I played conspired with someone else to poison another, and in the confusion of the evening ended up drinking from the poisoned cup myself, realizing in horror what had happened as the poison began to take effect. It was suuuuuuuuch good tragedy.
My dear friends.
The time has come at last. Grandfather has died. Attend his funeral, mourn his passing and prepare to claim your INHERITANCE.

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Art! This is a piece of what will be a larger poster for the second “book” of the Swordlords Burning Wheel campaign I’m playing with +Judd Karlman and +Drew U. I’ve been working on it for way too long (though I’ve had to put it away for long stretches) but has been a worthwhile process.

Left to right, that is the standard for Drazj Tower, the work-in-progress that these two will eventually be living at. Holding the standard is Lord Cyril Kucera-Drazj (my second PC, and brother of my first PC, High Swordlord Zora Kucera). Then his husband Swordlord Magnus Drazj (an NPC who’s the half-brother of sorcerer PC Ivo) who is holding Tarraslaya, a True Sword.

Cyril: “They’re calling me Peacemaker now. What do you think of that, Magnus? A Peacemaker married to a Swordlord.”

Magnus: “I think one of us will always be busy.”


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A librarian created a #BlackLivesMatter booklist for teens. These books look like good grist for discussion and thinking about really hard, sad, and important things, neither to baby teens or to strip them of hope.

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Yessss. This weekend NYCers! A sword-fighting tournament (plus freebie beginner classes) for ladies, run by ladies. Fecht Yeah indeed. <3

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+Sherman Alexie is one of my absolute favorite authors, and he tried his hand at a children's book, which just came out today. It's a delightful book! Funny and sweet. It captures a kid's frustration with his unusual name. It addresses some Native American/First Nations particulars while telling a broadly appealing story of a father, son, and identity. My 6-year-old was smiling the whole time while reading it, and he gave it bonus points for mentioning farts.

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I am so excited about Ibtihaj Muhammad making it to the summer Olympics. She is the coolest. I mean she's from Jersey, she's gotta be awesome. ;)

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Top 100+ Recommended African-American Children’s Books by the African American Literature Book Club.

There are some great books on this list! And some I'm looking forward to checking out. Also cool: there are some great books not on this list that could be, meaning this is by no means an exhaustive list, just a list of some of the riches.

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Mars 244: The Liberation of Sisyphus
Ready for its Dreamation debut.* :)
Asteroid miners rescuing Martian miners!
Tragedy in spaaace!
So excite!

The blurb:
This is how your world ends for the second time: “You are under arrest for the crimes of arson within occupied pressure, manslaughter, rioting, escaping prison, and resisting arrest in interplanetary space.” This story is about what happens in your fugitive weeks leading up to this moment. You play individuals from an outpost Martian community of miners and convicts exploited for brutal work in dangerous conditions, seizing a fragment of hope for asylum on Earth. What will you find in your moments of liberation? Who will you have by your side? This is a collaborative tragedy and epic journey inspired by the structured freeform design of Montsegur 1244. Includes themes of oppression, violence, rivalry, redemption, romance, hope, and death. For 3-6 players.

*Nooo, sorry, it's not ready for external playtesting yet. :)

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I'm home with a sick kiddo today, so why not dig into some of the changes to Apocalypse World in 2nd Ed, right?

I don't have it in me to write a detailed list or comparison, but as I was reading through the character playbooks and moves, I kept nodding my head going "YES!" Not because of some mind-blowing new content, but rather it's so clearly refining some of the trouble spots. It feels like a back-and-forth conversation was had and both parties came away richer for the experience, and meaningfully changed.

What got me excited (besides the easier-for-me-to read bifold):

I love... some of the the special moves give a little more direction on a miss. In play, some outcomes for a miss are obvious, but sometimes they end up being this creative pressure point where the MC has to keep coming up with meaningful stuff. A little extra help is great. And this help keeps the genre tone tight.

...that even the Basic moves end, "On miss, be prepared for the worst." Which doesn't give the MC specific ideas, but it does a nice job of amping the tension so the MC can either play into it or occasionally go easy. Except now, contrasting with the statement, it seems like an act of generosity, not a whiff.

...the HX questions! They're all outward-facing, like, "which one of you most evidently dislikes and distrusts me?" Instead of saying who, you ask for volunteers. I sometimes like what "saying who" does and how it lets others have a little say with each other's characters, but from all I've played, consent-based questions are more reliably good. If you ever picked someone for a thing and had them not be into, you know what I mean. Volunteers will more reliably remember and play into the answer harder.

...barter! The Operator's gigs have been dealt out among the Playbooks and it's awesome. It gives you specific ideas for what gigs to do if you need resources. Fun things! Things that cause trouble! Things that evoke the essence of the Playbook! SO GOOD. Because sometimes players lose their way and forget to do what their character is primed to do in that world and the game suffers a little for that loss.

Can't wait to play. It's been refined without losing its edge. Awesome +Vincent Baker & +Meguey Baker! :D
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