“My husband and I were so accustomed to American Reality that when he was offered an opportunity to work in Switzerland, we both thought about travel and adventure — not about improving our quality of life. It hadn’t occurred to us that we could improve our quality of life simply by moving. But without realizing it, or even asking for it, a better life quality came to us. And this is why, now that I’m back, I’m angry my own country isn’t providing more for its people.” (Vox):



The scary part about improvisation, in fact, is not that it requires a response to unforeseen data — we do that all the time. The scary part is that it evens the conversational playing field.

Michelle Lyons-McFarland, “I Say, Then You Say: Improvisational Conversation As Roleplaying,” Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters

I know it’s not wise to read more into a text than the author intended, nor to engage in judge-y behavior about how people like to game, but

I feel like this insightful quote says a lot about various groups with which I’ve played, and why those who had decision-making power regarding what games get played choose the games they did, regardless of whether they were going to participate as GMs or as players (in games that feature that dichotomy).

Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters

Camaraderie: Lady Wargamers

I took this picture at #chicagogameday41, but it’s actually not an event that we offered. This was another table in the Games Plus space that was going on during our morning slot. It was a game of Osprey’s Lion Rampant, and all of the players were women.

I asked to take a picture, but the woman facilitating the table said that I could, as long as I didn’t get any of the players in the shot. In hindsight, I have a feeling that I may have come off as another creepy game guy ogling the lady wargamers, or at least she was probably expecting that to be the case, and so wasn’t going to brook any shenanigans from me. Which, really, I fully understand.

But still! How cool was this! Not only was this a wonderful historical miniatures set-piece (she spent maybe on hour or more getting set up), but also a group of women dominating a game that is stereotypically seen as one for men.

The group is called “Camaraderie” and regularly meets at Games Plus. They gave Willow Palecek a flyer, but since she lives up in Wisconsin, I held on to it. There’s a contact email on the flyer I can give to any Chicago-area women who are interested in meeting up with these gamers.

Anyway, I thought this was really cool.

Swords Without Master at Chicago Gameday 41

Dain Lybarger facilitated a game of Swords Without Master for me, Willow Palecek, Shari Corey, and Tim Jensen this past Saturday at Gameday 41. I’d ever played before, not really read the rules (yes, I am one of those patron’s of Eppy’s who has yet to find time to read SWoM; sue me).

I created a rogue called Dove, with a named sword and backstory about murderous soldiering and such. Dain started us off using what I think was an introductory scenario from the rules; the opening scene had the four of us clinging to a high tower during the Carnival of Dreams.

I really enjoyed the vent, but it was sort of rough going. SWoM reminded me a lot of games like Polaris and even Blood Red Sands, which are very ritualistic and benefit from both mastery and spontaneity; you really need to be “on” the whole time you’re playing this game. I enjoyed it, but definitely feel like I need to review the rules and play a few more times to really get it.

Our adventure became very “wahoo”, which I don’t know is entirely the intent. I said to Dain that I’d have liked some sort of “getting on the same page” pre-game phase to help us establish more cohesive fiction later on.

Willow also made an interesting point about how you don’t always have agency in the game, as anyone can narrate things your rogue does or experiences. For her, that was a deal-breaker. For me, I’m on the fence. I think it could be very cool, but I also don’t know if I’d choose it over something a little more traditional w/r/t who gets to say what about “my guy”.

Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun. I look forward to trying it again.

#chicagogameday #chicagogameday41

Savage Worlds at Chicago Gameday 41

I played Savage Worlds for the first time at Gameday 41 this Saturday. The event was set in the Steamscapes setting by Eric Simon, who was also our GM. Our PCs were railroad inspectors for the Great Peninsular Railway, a grand rail system stretching the breadth of the Indian subcontinent; the railroads were being sabotaged by… someone, and we had to figure out whom. Tim Jensen and Sabe Jones were at the table with me.

I will say, this event un-sold me on Savage Worlds. Not that Eric did not run a great game; he did! But while SW is a great minis skirmish system — the exploding dice, playing card initiative with special results on Jokers, and some other bits are totally wonderful in play — there’s not much else that really floats my boat. I also gave up reading my copy of the Explorer’s Edition because I didn’t enjoy the writing at all. I’ve bought four different editions of SW over the years without reading annoys them until now; I am a freaking idiot.

(Aside: Also, playing with LEGOs for minis is pretty damn cool. Eric had assembled some great pieces.)

But! Let me say that as someone who generally vehemently dislikes steampunk, Eric’s Steamscapes setting is really cool! This game was intended to show off Eric’s new Steamscapes: Asia book, which was Kickstarted recently. I want to delve deeper into some of the developer’s notes he’s posted on his website, but in talking with Eric it was readily apparent to me that he gave a lot of thought to creating a genuinely respectful setting product (“Asian, not ‘Asian-themed’ “), one that gives these cultures their due and doesn’t revel in 19th-century colonial B.S. He seems well-aware of his own privilege and sought out co-creators who could do justice to the cultures covered in the product. There’s a good amount of diverse art in the products I’ve seen, too.

I can’t tell you how cool it was to play a Sikh character; this is the first PC I’ve ever played that even remotely resembles people in my family. And we were Indians (save for Sabe, who was an ex-pat Brit) in India solving an problem threatening the safety of Indian people. We even learned about HIndu-Muslim Syncreticism, which I had no clue about.

I have no real intention of playing SW again, and like I said, I don’t care for steampunk much at all. But I am definitely going to take a closer look at Eric’s work. This seems less steampunk — thought there is steam automata and clockwork devices and all that; though no magic, thankfully — and more alternative history with a twist. Which is freaking cool.


#chicagogameday   #chicagogameday41  

Happy Chicago Gameday 41 Aftermath!

Another Gameday for the books! Thanks to all of our volunteer GMs, to all our players, and to our gracious hosts, Games Plus.

As many people noticed, this was a pretty small Gameday, with a total of 26 attendees that I could count, giving it the distinction of tying for smallest Gameday ever. It was mentioned that we were competing with Taste of Chicago, the Crosstown Classic, and the start of the Bristol Renaissance Fair in Kenosha, WI… but honestly I think that it was simply dumb luck. It’s also possible that we didn’t offer event that appealed to enough people, which is certainly possible. I’ll be sending a survey to the mailing list in a few weeks to try and suss out how the Gameday fanbase feels these days.

Regardless, we still had a goodly number of people playing games and having fun, which is what counts!

Thank you all for coming, and I look forward to seeing lost more of you at Chicago Gameday 42 on October 17th.

#chicagogameday #chicagogameday41

Just a reminder that Gameday 41 starts tomorrow, Saturday, at 9:30 a.m. — 8:00 a.m. if you’d like to join us for breakfast (at Le Peep, across the street from Games Plus).
If you haven’t registered and signed up for events yet, just use the Gameday 41 Warhorn site.
I look forward to seeing a bunch of you tomorrow!

#chicagogameday   #chicagogameday41  


We can consider that the start of a long-standing pattern. While none of the documents released by UCS are new, taken together they show that the world’s oil giants — ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Peabody Energy and Royal Dutch Shell – have been fully aware of their contributions to climate change and the danger that can result, and has at the same time been spending tens of millions to convince the public that that’s not at all the case.

h/t Jürgen Hubert