Meet Darcy Ross, ConTessa's Newest Staff Member!

Hello, it is Liz here! Today I get a very special honour - I get to interview the lovely Darcy Ross, our newest staff member! I decided to ask deep and probing questions, so that you could get a good look at who the real Darcy is.

Liz: Okay Darcy, let's start this off easy. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Darcy: Hi Liz! I'm a PhD student studying the evolution and development of snail shells! It's really best not to get me ranting about how mind-blowing snails are, so I'll save that for some ConTessa blog article perhaps.

My PhD program and moving to Chicago brought me a critical mass of nerds and nerd-potentials that has enabled massive amounts of RPG playing. We've been caravanning to Gen Con each summer, which is where I got to play the science-fantasy RPG Numenera for the first time. I got in a game during its release in 2013 and it blew my mind - I had a GM who asked for a lot of narrative input from the players and that experience totally influenced the way I GM now. I have been hooked on the Cypher System and the fantastic Monte Cook Games community ever since. The setting was so compelling and the mechanics so elegant that I was driven to GM for the first time and have been aggressively trying to improve my craft. I now run a lot of demos for Numenera, the Strange, and the generic Cypher System for Monte Cook Games, and it's such a blast. Slowly, I'm branching out as I become more aware of the vast multitude of indie RPGs out there. It's such a great time to be an RPG nerd!

I'm a big proponent of getting other folks to try GMing, especially in this streamlined system, and I feel like I've been a good case study for "If I can GM, anyone can." I'm happy to say that a lot of my friends have come around to GMing since; the only drawback is that there isn't enough time for all these games that are going on!

Other facts about me: I do static trapeze, I'm a near-fluent Esperantist (just rusty with vocab), and I like to cosplay as hot, dangerous aliens (Alana from Saga, a Twi'lek bounty hunter I'm working on for the Force Awakens opening night, David Bowie).

Liz: Now that we have that out of the way, I am going to admit something to you, I really didn't know that much about you and so naturally I had only one course of action. I ruthlessly stalked you over G+ and I found some interesting things I'd like you to extrapolate on...

First off, this!


Amateur mixologist you say? A woman after my own heart. If you were a cocktail what cocktail would you be?

Darcy: My specialty is my killer mojito, but I feel that if I was transported right now to anthropomorphic Cocktailandia, I would be cursed to take the form of my White Whale - the Black Yukon Sucker Punch. It's a concoction mentioned oh-so-passingly in the TV show Twin Peaks, and looks like an opaque blue/black liquid with a topping of light blue foam. I've spent a lot of time reconstructing what the ingredients could have been based on brief glimpses of the bar and sounds from that short scene, but still it eludes me. I have narrowed the ingredients, but when combining them I find that if it looks right, it tastes awful and if it tastes good it totally diverges from the strange look of the drink. Someday I'll conquer it! In the process, I've learned to whip up some really nice fizzes and cocktail foams!


Liz: Okay, so I have also noticed you post a lot about Monte Cook Games and Numenera. This is a good thing <3. Tell me about one of your characters! Or tell me about a game you are currently running, I saw threats to your players on your G+ feed.

Darcy: Ah, yes - guilty as charge, for I am a slying Seski. I'm about to start running the continuation of my first GM'd campaign after our summer-into-fall hiatus. It's a Numenera game that I co-GM with a close friend, and the framework takes advantage of this absolutely ridiculous institution called the University of Doors: think Hogwarts or Unseen University, but everything is Door-themed. Studies range from "lock-picking, passage discovery, and architectural synthmongery" to "missing door retrieval" and "planal transition" and more theoretical doors like those metaphorical ones of the mind. Functionally, we used it as a way of generating episodic adventures to crazy different places. Things various PCs have done so far:

  • Broke the moon in trying to save it from utter destruction, but earned the gratitude of its denizens: the squid queen and her subjects
  • One PC was (willingly) parasitized by the larva of a telepathic dragon-like being
  • One PC sacrificed himself to distract an insane nanite-cloud-being to allow the others to flee to safety (but as his Focus is Exists Partially Out of Phase, is he really dead, or just in another dimension?!)
  • They are just starting to realize that they've been hoodwinked by their main quest-givers since day 1.

It's a great time and I can't wait to get back to it. Co-GMing works really well for us, so hopefully I'll be able to write a blog post about that sometime!


Liz: So, you like booze, love Numenera, and make threats to your players. You are shaping up to be one of the coolest people I know, with oddly similar tastes. There is one thing that worries me, you seem to have some sort of fluffy overlord. Care to explain?


Darcy: Kaatu Barada Nikto (Kaatu for short) is of the species Felis longus and is the fluffiest terrorist that ever lived. lever and manipulative, he's recently learned tricks like knocking mugs and glasses over to demand wet food. With the strength of ten ordinary cats he can cat-punch through paper bags, and likes to make his hideout in a crinkly fold-out tube, or whatever new boxes or black clothes he can find.

For all his assholery, he does help me GM sometimes. His marginally better-behaved neurotic brother is Chewie (so-named not for Star Wars but for the number of laptop power cables he destroyed as a kitten) is also a keen editor of my scientific papers and grants.


Liz: Final question, Han or Lando?

Darcy: You're cruel, Liz. But I have to go with Lando - with that 7D+1 Persuasion, how could I say no? Han's lovely but a bit rough around the edges - I can trust Lando to play it cool as we run our high-risk con in an elite gambling den on Cato Neimoidi to relieve some rich Neimoidia of their valuables which Lando arranged because it's my birthday and he knew it was just my kind of con --- not, of course, that I've ever written any such fanfic.


Well Darcy has definitely passed my test, and left me Han ;). The entire Contessa staff is so happy to have her with us and we are excited to welcome her into our team! Watch this space for all the cool stuff Darcy is going to bring to Contessa!

Liz Chaipraditkul is a writer and game developer. She is the owner of Angry Hamster Publishing, a company that develops and publishes tabletop role playing games. She dabbles in illustration and other crafts, but her true love is writing. You can read more of her personal ramblings on her blog, or follow her on Twitter as @epicxcloth.