Aug 312014
 

strange_magicInterjection Games has created in the last few years some supplements for Pathfinder that have taken Vancian Magic, turned it around, messed with it, added some flavour, put some touches of genius on top and created some really interesting products that really push boundaries.

Now, after a long time in development, Bradley Crouch has started a Kickstarter campaign to release Strange Magic. This new supplement contains three new schools of magic: Truename Magic, Musical Compositions and Ethermagic in 20 new classes and archetypes.

I got together with Bradley to talk about the product and what this is all about and I have to say it was genuinely interesting!

Apologies for the sound quality on this one.

Hope you enjoy the show!

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Aug 292014
 

logo_500Welcome to the pilot episode of Dice & Slice, the show about games, gamers and food.

After a successful crowd-funding campaign in Kickstarter to buy some equipment and the hell of a lot of learning for the following four months, the pilot/rehearsal episode is now out with something tasty for you to enjoy and, hopefully, cook too!

In this episode two mega simple recipes and a super excellent game.

First a cold soup that’s as healthy as it is tasty and can be modified to fit your tastes: Gazpacho. Lots of tomatoes, some garlic, basil… Just watch. It’s pretty delicious. Click here to download the recipe.

And for dessert: Creamed Rice Pudding. Another really basic recipe that can be complemented with all sorts of ingredients to suit your taste and turn something simple into something awesome. Click here to download the recipe.

And then Michael Chamberlain and I play X-Wing and review the game. The good (lots of it), the bad (only a couple of things) and the ugly (absolutely nothing of that.)

And now, please get your feedback coming!

If you have enjoyed this show, please consider becoming a patron in Patreon to help support this website, podcast and video channel. Every click helps us a great deal!

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Aug 272014
 

stop_harassment_v_Variation_1[1]By Paco Garcia Jaen

Sorry dudes, we need anti-harassment policies at conventions. And I’m afraid that’s not the only thing we need.

I’ve been battling with this for a while now and gathering my thoughts after listening/hearing both sides of the argument. After a lot of thinking, I have reached the conclusion that yes, we do need them.

And I think we need something else that is often overlooked and is probably as important, if not more, than the anti-harassment policy: The code of conduct policy.

You see, in any hobby there are bound to be assholes. The gaming hobby is not without its assholes and said assholes make a mess of things when they decide to assault a woman during Notch, or someone decides to harass a games industry veteran, or many of the incidents referenced in the Geek Feminism Wiki.

It is true that most of the people who are into gaming are not assholes. More often than not gamers are a friendly bunch and very easy to get along with. Contrary to popular belief we tend to be socially adept and know how to establish and maintain relationships and friendships with all sorts of people.

But there are assholes. And the problem with assholes is that when they show their face, the whole place stinks. Because what comes out of an asshole is shit.

One of the “reasons” people give to be against these policies go in the lines of “an asshole will behave like one with or without the policy”, and that is true. Other people say “harassment is covered by the law, why do we need to remind people? If they behave in a manner that’s not appropriate then we’ll kick them out.” And others say “but nothing has ever happened here. Why should we implement it now?”

Of course we have the “freedom of speech” evangelists. They want to be able to say what they want and if we are offended, then is on us because we don’t have the right not to be offended. You know, that is true. No one is immune from offense. And no one is immune from freedom of speech, so let me tell you and you’re not free from my freedom of speech to call you on you being an asshole. Freedom of speech goes both ways and I can’t imagine *for a second* why you should have the right to be offensive and I shouldn’t have the right to tell you you’re behaving like an asshole.

Also there is the point that if someone says “hey dude, that’s offensive, tone the language down a bit” it’s only a matter of manners to tone the language down. There might be children around, or maybe – just maybe – your sexist, racist, homophobic shit is simply not welcome. And just because you can’t see it’s racist, sexist, homophobic or whatever doesn’t meant it isn’t, or that you can’t be called out on that one. So giving a code of conduct guideline that says “be mindful of not offending people” is not infringing on your freedom of speech. It’s touching on your right to behave like an asshole.

Then there are those who say that people who complain about harassment are just exaggerating or seeking attention. I consider those being in the “asshole” category and thus won’t even address them.

One thing that we don’t often consider is that people don’t need to harass someone to make another person feel threatened or uncomfortable. Telling someone “your costume is shit because this hero had a different scarf” is not really harassing. It’s just rude and idiotic, though. And proper of assholes.

Sitting close to someone on the same bench without asking permission is not harassment, but it is rude. And yet some people just see a seat and take it without asking “Is this place taken? Do you mind if I sit here?” You know… common courtesy.

Harassment takes things one step further. Harassment also carries some form of intent: the intent to disturb or upset. Also is usually repetitive. Not all inappropriate behaviour carries that intent and it doesn’t have to be repetitive, though it can indeed be. If someone insults someone’s costume, or game, or whatever, what makes us think they’ll think twice before insulting someone else’s costume? Or game? Or whatever.

No. Exactly. They remain none-the-wiser and thus all-the-asshole.

And I think this is where conventions don’t go far enough to make sure the space is a safe as it can be. There should be a very clear code of conduct AND an anti-harassment policy. Yes, both.

Firstly it protects the organisation and it ensures the event is run consistently by all employees and volunteers. Alas, is not just attendees who can behave like assholes, volunteers and staff can too. It set clear rules and guidelines about what is acceptable and not acceptable. And if anyone were to take the organisation to court, the event could prove they’ve done all they can to make sure people knew how to behave.

It is also necessary because not all conventions need the same guidelines and code of conduct. A convention heavy on cosplay will probably have more emphasis on photography rules and conduct. One that’s purely about writing might need something different.

Secondly is necessary because, unfortunately and as it can be seen by many incidents, not all people know how to behave and having a reminder is not a bad idea. Ever.

Thirdly they are necessary because code of contact and anti-harassment policies don’t have to be just about the law, but about safety at the convention. It is about creating an environment in which people can feel protected and safe from actions and behaviour that is not necessarily illegal. Behaviour doesn’t have to be illegal to be unwelcome.

And it’s necessary because sometimes one has to remind people that they are not meant to be an asshole.

But most importantly they are necessary because providing people with a behavioural frame they can refer to so they can identify when behaviour is not acceptable is paramount for a lot of people. To give that code of conduct enables and empowers people to stand up and ask people to stop. They are told, in no uncertain terms that they do NOT have to accept certain type of behaviour and that the organisation is behind them to help and protect.

And whether you like or not, my dear asshole, they matter more than you. The people who feel threatened, bullied, upset, disturbed, harassed and put-off our hobby because you can’t be bothered to behave like a human being, matter more than you.

For every assault, every report, every incident, our hobby is made to look like a pool of shit, even if it’s just one asshole spewing that shit.

It only takes one.

So we need code of conduct. We need anti-harassment policy. And we don’t need assholes.

So if you are against them, please stop. Stop and wonder why you are against them. Are you going to behave like an asshole? No? then you don’t have to worry about it.

You don’t like to be told how you can behave or not? Then stay at home because you’re likely to not know how to behave.

You don’t know if you’re going to be called out for harassing anyone? Then follow the guidelines and people saying you’re harassing them won’t have any ground.

There is no logical reason to want to stop code of conducts and anti-harassment policies in conventions.

These policies have been in place at the workplace, clubs and organisations for decades. They are not new and they are not exclusive to the gaming hobby. So any reason you might have to want to see them gone is probably just your own insecurity.

Well… man-up. Or woman-up. Whichever, just up yourself.

Or stop being an asshole. That would work too!

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Aug 262014
 

pic1867874_t[1]The Titanic is probably the sea tragedy that’s capture people’s imagination the most up to date. Movies, books, museums, songs… and games have been created around it, like SOS Titanic.

And my favourite French games design company, Ludonaute, has done just that, create a game around the that very theme.

Designed by Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc, this is a cooperative game for one to eight players. A variant of the traditional solitaire in which the theme of the Titanic has been implemented to create a tense experience.

But does it play as well as it says it does?

We find out in this episode!

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Aug 262014
 

pic2087940_t[1]By Paco Garcia Jaen

Knee Jerk, an upcoming game by Knapsack Games is described as “The party game of instant reactions!”

I have to say I found that slogan to be rather uninspiring. Party games that require instant reactions are ten a penny (or a dime… or whatever currency you like), so another one didn’t really inspire me.

Then I read the rules: A moderator player lays three cards on the table. They will form a sentence. The first person to finish that sentence (hopefully with something funny) wins the point. The next player becomes the moderator. Another card is laid on the table and the process is repeated.

Uhmm… It really didn’t grab me. At all. Based on that, this is a game that shouldn’t work.

You see, doing “funny” in games is not easy. Sense of humour is such a subjective thing, that doing something that will be funny for everyone is extremely difficult. So I wasn’t hopeful at all.

But then we started to play the game and my scepticism vanished. Didn’t’ take more than a couple of rounds, to be honest.

The game, which will be funded in Kickstarter, it’s basically a deck of cards. I don’t know what the final result of the game will be, but the prototype I have is produced by The Game Crafter and it is pretty good quality (which is what we’ve come to expect from them). If the final product is as good as this, I’d be happy.

The graphic design in the cards is superb. Each card has three sentences inside a shape of different colours that turn into arrows when lined up with another card. The first sentence is a consequence (I feel my stomach rumbling), the second is a situation or place (On my honeymoon) and the last one is the reason to the first arrow (Because I figured out…)

Everytime you lay three cards you get three different situations with different consequences and different reasons. All the cards can be used with any other card and thus the combinations are pretty much endless. And wacky… really,really wacky!

Knee Jerk does humour very well indeed, I have to say. If you look at the cards individually, they mean very little, but when you start to put them all together, the sheer silliness of the situations will leave you laughing.

By now a lot of you will have thought of “Cards Against Humanity” as being a similar game. And you’re right, this game plays similar, but it’s not the same… not by a long shot.

Whereas the sense of humour in CAH is rather inappropriate, in Knee Jerk it doesn’t have to be.

Please note I say “it doesn’t have to be.” It can be, but this game is safe for kids and any inappropriate outcome is down to the players, not to the game.

For example there are situations or reasons that could inspire a less than appropriate response. “In the hot tub”, “because an Old Man Said…”, “Because I Felt Someone…”, “Because Someone Showed me…”

Some of those will inevitably inspire something naughty. But it does that, inspire it. It’s down to the players to say something naughty and when playing with children the sentences by themselves are pretty innocuous.

And this is what this game does so well. It leaves enough to the player’s imagination to become raunchy if that’s what you’re after, and it leaves plenty of room for innocent fun with silly situations so the whole family can enjoy the game.

Conclusion

This game is very well worth having, I think. It should do very well in Kickstarter and it’s a really good family game that can be played anywhere, be as silly as you like and provide a huge amount of fun to both adults and children alike.

that alone

I was won over after my initial cynicism, and I’m really glad I was. Now I have a silly/naughty game I can bring out with pretty much any of my friends that will live up to the expectation of pretty much any group.

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Aug 202014
 

whoreBy Paco Garcia Jaen

Today, on the second decade of the 21st century and despite many protests from people who claim it is not the case, we still live in an awful sexist society and our hobby, the gaming hobby that claims to be ever so open-minded and clever is just as bad as any other hobby out there.

There, I said it.

I am not going to go into all the details, just one detail. “Whore”

Why do we have to use that word when we want to insult a woman? That is just a stupid and pathetic insult as calling a man “gay” when we want to insult him. It’s puerile, a cheap shot and it’s wrong.

I have always felt uncomfortable about that word as an insult. Recently in Guardians of the Galaxy I was twitching in the cinema when Gamora was called a whore by a character that never uses a word metaphorically even though it was pretty obvious that Gamora was not, and never had been, a prostitute.

Today I published my most recent video with a review of a roleplaying game called La Mirada del Centinela in which I criticize some of the depictions of female characters for being overly sexualised. In the comments someone, probably with the best intention in the world said: “I agree with you on the female images. We really don’t need that kinky whore image of women. Not in a game, and not in real life either… “

Seriously? Is every woman who dresses in a sexualised way, for whatever the reason, a whore? Is that all we can call a woman when we want to insult and denigrate her?

People obviously don’t seem to understand that calling someone a “whore” is not just a cheap shot at the person, but it also helps perpetuate the bad image and stigma that comes associated with prostitution. And with kink.

But it goes deeper than that. People also fail to understand the difference between a woman who wants to look sexual and one who’s been sexualised for an audience’s gratification. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with a woman who wants to look sexual. She’s perfectly entitled to do so, just as are men.

The problem with the sexualisation of women for the audience’s gratification – or one of many – is that it plays to our pre-conceptions of women. We see an image of a sexualised woman and what does our little male – and plenty of females too, let’s not kid ourselves here – brain think? Whore or slave. It either turns them into an object that is denigrated and very badly regarded in our society or a weak object that must be rescued and has already been subjugated (for men and by men, of course.)

So can we just stop the “whore” trend, please? Can we just stop it?

If you want to insult a woman for whatever reason in your story, or your game, or even in real life, use another insult. Call her stupid, or idiot, or asshole. Or any other proper insults that do not pander to the male-centric stereotypes that are as rancid as the misconceptions surrounding them.

Thank you.

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