What We're Playing

This is a snapshot into the life of gaming women.  You can see our last round up of games we're playing here.

Liz, Staff Writer

Right now, I’m GMing Vampire Dark Ages. It’s an old World of Darkness game where everyone plays vampires dealing with different warring clans (groups of vampires) and politicking. I am playing with my regular home group and it is a much different dynamic than our old games. Our group has three women and three men and in vampiric society, the way we play it, men and women are seen as equals - discrimination is normally due to age and generation (how close you are to the first vampire). All is equal when you have an innocent looking girl who can max out all her physical stats in two turns.

My players and I decided they would start out playing as mortals, it’s been around a year (out of game). We’ve had a lot of fun, but it has also been rough. The women simply have less of a say than the men in society. The most surprising thing I have found is that the male players find it the most stressful. You have to make decisions for the ‘good of the group’ when really you’d love to turn to your friend and say ‘what the hell should we do?’

Normally, I hate doing things like that to my players; I love being the evil GM twirling her moustache behind the scenes - but I hate doing that by marginalization. Saying that, it’s added a lot of drama and we’re loving it! Our group’s been together so long everyone automatically works together and this has added tension to the game. Plus, my female players are savouring the moment they become vampires and there are a few NPCs I am going to gladly let them drain dry.


Ariana, Staff Writer

Before the month of May we finished a few games because apparently, summer is coming. Summer means I am going to Origins, my husband takes a break from teaching children and the Nashville traffic isn’t as horrid as normal.

Tremulus, A Tremulus game set in the 21st century. You are all brought together by a mysterious book spoken about through online forums. It's a horror pulp novel from the late 60s titled 'Mr. Rabbit'. One day it pops up for sale on an online auction, an anonymous figure beats you all in the bidding but then extends an invitation for an exhibition of the tome at his home. It's a once in a lifetime chance to cast your eyes on something few have seen...

I played Stanley Crumkin, a detective whose ex-wife is in mental institution and who tends to be a loner. Many times was he beaten up, called a scumbag, a pervert or a creep. What I never told anybody was that Crumkin paid for his wife’s health bills, was still in love with her and was trying to figure how this book turned her insane.

At the end of the game he dies in the woods after setting up the house of the author to be burnt down. As he laid there, laughing in hysterics and bleeding out his wife’s voice asked “Stanley, what have you done?”

Urban Shadows: LA Nights. Natalie Styles’ territory is under protest after many members of her pack have been killed or arrested. The news is focused on them, calling them thugs and criminals. It’s not to say that Natalie is a saint; she did kill her brother (under evil ghost control), got Galina the hunter accused of murder, but she’s still trying.

After so many attempts to get her pack in order, to get her people safe, the last threat came and they had two decisions: lose their wolf or die.

The Hood: The Losers. East is a gunman for hire who just happens to be in love with his best friend Mary. The thing is Mary has her own problems, such as her mother being too sick to raise Mary’s younger sister. There’s Pan Lai who is a drug dealer, there’s Mr. Rosetti who wants to kill East, Keegan who betrayed him, the foster system might take Mary’s sister.

Once we thought they had escaped, East gets gunned down only to tell Mary he loves her one last time.

I also played BlueBeard’s Bride, that’s haunting me too. Why so much detail? BECAUSE I NEED SOME WAY TO SHARE THE PAIN.


Stephanie, Contributor

My Indie game night, Wednesdays, made it a few weeks with Monster of the Week, then due to travel and illness and play-style mismatch, it petered out. We’re rebooting this month with Night’s Black Agents. One of the players is going to GM while I observe, since we’re playtesting my Dracula Dossier scenario, Day of the Wehrwolf.

My Monday night 13th Age game held an apocalypse, then used time travel to undo it and save everyone. My character’s the only one who remembers, and she’s a bit shaken up.

I’ve run or played a few one-shots recently, including a Monster of the Week game set in an anime-style high school, and Time Quest, my time travel hack of Goblin Quest that I’m writing. The Monster of the Week game went really well, and I was proud of how the players all jumped into it. We played with all girls, most of whom were 13 years old and huge anime fans. My hearing might never recover. I used a clever trick to get them all on board-- I made pre-gens for them, but gave them a short template for each of them to make an NPC who they would have a connection or bond with. That went over very well, and gave them all a reason to be interested in what was happening to those NPCs, without me having to push them towards caring.

The Time Quest hack is shaping up to be pretty funny and slapstick. If you want to playtest it, drop a comment here or find me on Google+.

My Sunday game has successfully transitioned from Epyllion to Dungeon World, where I’m playing an elderly bard with a draconic songbook. Things just got complicated as we released all the monsters and dragons who had been trapped for millennia. It’s a world-changing event, but having talked to the GM, I’m not sure we’ve been playing to find out yet. Nonetheless, I’m excited for the next session.

Ethel B., ConTessa Editor

All of a sudden, I went from one night of gaming a week, to a ridiculously full schedule.

Sunday I am playing 5e… alternating between Horde of the Dragon Queen with A. Miles Davis GMing and Jesse Morgan’s homegrown Ronden Marr. I play a piratey rogue, Brandiwyne Humblefoot, and a slightly demonic bard, Kronica Loophope, in those games, respectively. I really love 5e. It’s like a Kit Kat - delicious with just enough crunch.

Monday I started playing in a Hillfolk game. Unfortunately, what with schedules and internet problems, it fell apart pretty quickly, but while it was falling apart I fell in love with the system. I must have more!! If anyone out there is thinking about running Robin Laws’ Hillfolk, you’ve got your first player here. Or maybe after GenCon, I’ll take a stab at running a story game for the first time and set up a Hangout for Hillfolk. Which, incidentally, is my new band name.

Tuesday is my long-running HOA game with Chris Helton at the helm. Right now we are playing a weird mash-up of Marvel Superheroes and Red and Pleasant Land set in 1970s Los Angeles. I play Alice the Wondergirl in a little pinafore full of psychedelics. We time-traveled and stopped JFK’s assassination, we’ve been to Vegas in a minibus, we’ve met Andy Warhol at CBGBs..no, it was Studio 54, and he turned one of us into a vampire and another into a hatter then sent us on a quest for roast beef sandwiches. I curtsy a lot. It is all quite absurd and surreal. Two of my favorite things with a bunch of my favorite people.

Wednesday is set aside for playtesting Precious Dark, Stacy Dellorfano’s game. In that one, I play Charmaine Delancey, Mad (Mad I tell you, mad!) Scientist and her talking dog, Peabody. We are working through the mechanics with Stacy, but it is already tons of fun. Stacy has created this wonderful and weird world, the rules are easy and fun (yay for exploding dice!). I also enjoy drawing some of my PCs. Here is a comic panel I did of Charmaine and Peabody. 

Thursday nights I dissolve into a puddle.

Friday nights, I am Galina Dulca, Vampire Hunter, in Seth Harris’ Urban Shadows game. My ConTessa comrade, Ariana Ramos, is my sworn enemy and thwarts me at every turn! The game is full of intrigue and twists. This was my first go at story gaming, which I thought was going to be all teary and sensitive, and it turns out we are a bunch of natural born killers. Which I am enjoying quite a bit. :D

Last Saturday and going forward on an intermittent schedule, I played Pongo, an Intelligent Nano who Explores Dark Places in Disney's Numenera: Lost Travelers, Lost Kingdoms. I’ve never been much of a Disney gal, but I lurrrve MCGs cypher system games. It’s been a lot of fun learning the system and romping around and exploring with a bunch of Disney characters as nanos, glaives and jacks. I will be running a Strange game at GenCon, so I am trying to get in some experience playing before I sit behind the screen. If you haven’t tried a cypher system game, I highly recommend them.

And… I’ve picked up a few one-shots here and there in my spare time. Bluebeard’s Bride playtest with Sarah Richardson in the narrator seat… OMG! Amazing. Watch for the Kickstarter coming later this year. Buy this game. And buy Sarah, too, if you can afford her. She did an amazing job.

Sarah, Staff Writer

So in addition to running Bluebeard’s Bride for some lovely people and my normal Tuesday night Marvel game and my Wednesday nights with Precious Dark, I’ve also started playing Dungeon World with the folks over at Indie+.

The idea behind Chain World is to have a regular cast of players plus one special guest. On the first game they play with us while Brendan Conway does an fantastic job of GMing. On their second game, the special guest takes over GMing duties while Brendan plays. Our first guest was Mark Diaz Truman, and next up is John Wick, subjecting us to whatever dark shenanigans lurk in his brain.

Speaking of shenanigans, the core cast is simply amazing. It happens to be all women when Brendan is GMing: Jenn, Andrea, Mischa, and myself. You can read Andrea’s writeups of our adventures on her blog, and she captures a lot of what makes this particular game so fun, which is the people playing. Everyone supports each other’s agency (even when that choice is to try and eat someone’s face) and works with it while staying true to their character’s motivations. This means that I am actually emotionally invested in my character and theirs, which then turns into this cycle of wanting to give more so they give me fabulous stuff to react against, and all the feelings, which is how I ended up dressing like this:

Elf games, man.