Thursday, January 16, 2020

Introductions - Who Am I? What is this? I Have No Memory of This Place, etc.

Welcome to Electric Polyhedra - a blog at the intersection of sci-fi/fantasy media and tabletop roleplaying.

Early tabletop games, inspired by books and comics, inspired early video games, both of which have in turn inspired television shows, movies, and additional books and comics. Around and around we go having created a genre-specific, but medium-spanning, feedback loop of creativity.

What does this mean and why should I care?

Well, that depends. How many times have you looked at a piece of media as a fan and said "man! I want to live in that universe, or at least play in it a while!" and then, how many times, have you found either no official tabletop RPG for that universe or, worse, a game that you rush out and buy only to realize it's not at all what you or your group were hoping for?

My goal here, in part, is a goal based in tone and mechanics. I want to evaluate different RPGs, not just for their novelty or mechanics, but for their application to different styles of game. I also want to look at different intellectual properties and discuss which sorts of systems would work in translating those worlds, or worlds based on them, to the table. I want to help facilitate the matching of GMs and players with the games they've been wanting to run in the systems that can best match their expectations.

You said that's your goal 'in part' - what's the rest of your goal?

Good question, imaginary reader!

My heart lies in the OSR (Old School Revival/Renaissance). The OSR is as much a philosophy of how games should be run as it is a loose collection of retro clones and homebrew systems. The movement focuses on a pre-AD&D (or, some would argue, pre-3rd edition D&D) approach to gaming (rulings over rules, moderate to high lethality, gold for xp, an emphasis on sandbox play, organic and logically consistent dungeons over balanced encounters, and a certain DIY ethos). OSR games are certainly not the only systems I own or play, but I am biased toward the OSR style and its design principles. A lot of content on this blog will, as a result, be OSR focused.
One of the wonderful games I'm running right now. The best retro-clone on the market, in my opinion.
On this blog there will be, in addition to product reviews and genre musings, actual play reports and reflections, ideas on homebrewing, and my own collection of hacks and tweaks that I've used at the table.

I roll all my rolls openly, not behind a screen, so my players know I'm not fudging anything. RIP Archibald, level one Thief, bisected and devoured by a Large Crocodile.

Is that all?


My other passion is player-focused, inclusive gaming. As a GM I see it as my job to facilitate fun, challenging, and exciting sessions where everyone at the table feels at ease. I'm a fan of folx all being on the same page and yes, I do plan to implement trigger warnings on this blog, so if I miss one, please make me aware so I can edit it in.

Who are you and why should I read what you have to say?

Fair point. There's a lot of Pen and Paper RPG blogs out there on the wilds of the internet. The OSR on its own has a thriving blogosphere. So what do I, and Electric Polyhedra, bring to the table?

First, my name is Jay, like the bird.

The bird, not me.

I've been GMing various systems for a decade now. In those ten years I have not run a single session for what might be described as the "stereotypical" or "standard" D&D demographic. Most of my tables have been overwhelmingly composed of non-cisgendered, non-heterosexual, and non-neurotypical folx, women, and a lot of players who had never touched a D20 before sitting down for our session 0. I myself am a non-binary transmasculine person (they/them or he/him pronouns, please) who was introduced to the world of nerd stuff at age 12 by my Star Wars obsessed, Lord of the Rings obsessed, Harry Potter loving, bookstore owning Aunt Sherry who was always the first person to shut down "geekier than thou" pissing contests and who was perpetually excited to introduce new people to the things she loved.

I'm emphatically not a grognard.

This all puts me, I think, in a unique position. While this blog is not intended to exclusively revolve around minority experiences in gaming, I do want it to be a platform for those discussions. Likewise, my thoughts and positions on a number of subjects are obviously informed by my personal experiences as an AFAB, trans, queer gamer, and by the experiences of those that I've shared a table with. 

I also have an English degree and did a seminar presentation and associated paper on cross-medium adaptations and the struggle of translating, for example, books to film. It was this paper that planted the seed in my head that eventually became this blog (yay! thanks Dr. Villa for letting me skip class an entire semester and write a huge and niche paper instead!) - a lot of times people ask "I want to play a game in a world like x" but can't identify exactly what about x they're trying to reproduce. That over-enthusiastic paper along with a penchant for obsessing over game design (table, rpg, or video game) led me, eventually, here. 

I like to think my degree and design fixation have prepared me for what I want to do at Electric Polyhedra. I intend to post a minimum of once a week. Ideally, I'd love to foster a community here where we can collaborate, discuss, and provide an affirming space for each other in the tabletop rpg world. 

Maybe we'll even answer the titular question: do gamer androids dream of electric polyhedra?

Onward to adventure! Let's get gaming!