Sarah Darkmagic's blog


Flip through: Baby Bestiary

Today I flip through The Baby Bestiary from Metal Weave Games. I saw this while walking the floor at Gen Con last year and just had to have it.

For those who aren't interested in videos, the book is a system neutral supplement with information about baby fantasy creatures. It provides you with general details on the challenges of raising such creatures and then gets into detail for each race.

The races included are:

  • Basilisk Lizardling
  • Blink Puppy
  • Bulette Billy
  • Centaur Foal
  • Cerberus Puppy
  • Chimera Cub
  • Cockatrice Chick
  • Couatl Neonate
  • Dragon Wyrmling
  • Elementlets
  • Eyelings, Dodomeki
  • Gelatinous Cubelet
  • Gnoll Cub
  • Griffen Hatchling
  • Hippocampus Fry
  • Kirin Foal
  • Kitsune Pup
  • Kobold Kid
  • Leviathan, Little
  • Manticore Cub
  • Mimicling
  • Minotaur Calf
  • Nightmare Colt
  • Owlbear Cub
  • Phase Kitten
  • Phoenix Hatchling
  • Rakshasa Kitten
  • Rust Weevil
  • Sphinx Kitten
  • Titan Tyke
  • Treant Sapling
  • Wyvern Elver
  • Aboleth Spawn
  • Baku Calf
  • Balrog Emberling
  • Beithir Hatchling
  • Bugbear Kid
  • Djinayni
  • Dragon Turtlette
  • Elder Godspawn
  • Enfield Pup
  • Gargoyle Mouldling
  • Harpy Child
  • Hippogriff Foal
  • Hound Archon Pup
  • Hydra Snakelet
  • Kraken Paralarvae
  • Lightning Lizardling
  • Lizardfolk Whelp
  • Medusa Daughter
  • Myconid Sporeling
  • Naga Hatchling
  • Ogre Magi Apprentice
  • Orcling
  • Otyugh Scrap
  • Pegasus Foal
  • Pertyon Hinulus
  • Pseudodragon Wyrmling
  • Purple Worm Violet
  • Remorhaz Chrystid
  • Satyr Foal
  • Sea Lion Pup
  • Shambling Tuffet
  • Shrieker Button
  • Simurgh Pup
  • Tarasque Hatchling
  • Tatzelwurm Kit
  • Troglodyte Tadpole
  • Troll Buddie
  • Umberal Erebect Nymph
  • Unicorn Foal
  • Wolpertinger Kit
  • Xornling

Each race has a two page spread, with one consisting of full page artwork with an example of the creature and the other page including information about that particular race. There are two standardized bits of information about each race: rearing difficulty and intelligence.

If you enjoyed this look at the product and would like to obtain it, the PDFs can be purchased from RPGNow (Volume 1 and Volume 2 - Affiliate links). If you are interested in print copies, it appears that they are currently out of print. However, they ran another Kickstarter earlier this year to fund a reprint. You can preorder from Backerkit.

D&D Papercrafts from R-N-W

I recently found out about a series of D&D printables available via the R-N-W website. The site, run by Rose, offers creates hand drawn aids such as character sheets, item cards, and more. When I found the site, I knew I needed to try it out. So, I grabbed some pdfs, printed them out, and got to coloring.

Printing

I used my Canon ink-jet printer to print them out. One thing to know is that Rose lives in the UK, which means there are two sizes for printing out, A4 and US Letter.

I printed mine on Neenah Classic Crest Super Smooth Solar White 80# Cover 8.5"x11" (Amazon affiliate linknon-affiliate) It went great.

Coloring

Since I used an ink-jet printer, I realized it would be risky to use water-based media to color it in. So I used my Bllick Studio alcohol-based brush markers. It was a lot of fun and took about an hour (while hanging out with a friend on Skype) to finish. I didn't use them this time, but colored pencils would be great for this as well. Or if you can print on a laser printer, you can likely use water-based media such as watercolors, watercolor pencils, or inktense pencils.

Color all the things!

In addition to the item cards I colored in, there are a few other types of printables.

Equipment Packs

Image from r-n-w.netImage from r-n-w.net
When cut out and glued according to the instructions, these printables create "packs" for item cards and other aids. I purchased the full set which has packs for burglar, diplomat, dungeoneer, entertainer, explorer, priest, and scholar. It also includes the tools. Each of these packs often include the item cards for each background.

Basic Weapons

Image from r-n-w.netImage from r-n-w.net
I also picked up the basic weapons pack. For each weapon, it has the cost, weight, damage, damage type, type of weapon, and characteristics (e.g. reach, two-handed). The font is also provided as well as a blank version for your own creations.

Character Sheets

The site has hand drawn character sheets as well as 12 class-specific character sheets. The classes covered are: barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock, and wizard. Class specific sheets are between 3-5 pages with areas containing information specific to that class. There is also a pack of character sheets to help with multi-classing and another pack with "extras" such as inventory and role playing details.

Game Master and World Building Kits

There are a few variations of a game masters kit to help with organizing your game. Some kits even have paper miniatures. In addition, there are a number of sheets intended to help you build (and document) your world.

Overall I've been really happy with the items I bought from the site (Full Equipment Packs, Basic Weapons, and Game Master Kit Deluxe). I'd love to see more, especially if this type of product is compatible with DMs Guild. If you're interested, in addition to this website, Rose and Niels have a patreon where they are working on creating "quest packs" for a 5e module they are creating.

Now to find some time without my toddler crawling all over me. :)

Unboxing of VISITOR in Blackwood Grove

During PAX East I finally had the chance to play VISITOR in Blackwood Grove. I enjoyed it so much, I got right in line after my game to pick up a copy for home. What did I like about it?

Box of VISITOR in Blackwood GroveBox of VISITOR in Blackwood Grove

Well, besides being a huge fan of Mary Flanagan and the crews of Resonym and Tiltfactor, I love games that make you think of the multiple facets an individual item may have. But to explain that, I need to explain the game.

VISITOR in Blackwood Grove is inspired by those alien visitor movies of the 1980s. You know the ones, where an alien arrives, is friendly but wary, and inevitably we end up in a race between a kid or US federal agents as to who gets to the visitor first. That plot is what drives the game play and mechanics of this game.

The smallest game play size is 3 players. One plays the visitor, another plays the kid, and the remaining person plays an agent. If there are more than 3 players (the max is 6), those additional players also play agents. There are 4 total agencies represented in the tokens, but all the agents have the same mechanics available to them and, importantly, they do not work together (which is also a common theme in movies but also often in real life).

To protect itself, the visitor starts by setting up a force field and a rule about what can make its way through the field. The game box comes with example rules but the player of the visitor can come up with their own as well. During my play through, the rule was larger than a human. All players have access to a set of picture cards that are used to represent various objects.

Examples of cards that are in (match the rule) and ones that are out.Examples of cards that are in (match the rule) and ones that are out.

While both the kid and the agent have the ability to learn more about the rule. At the beginning, the kid has to do everything openly, until it has earned the trust of the visitor. The agent, however, can ask the visitor whether or not a particular item would be in or out under the rule. This is done in secret, however, because, well US federal agents and all.

Eventually, players may have guessed what the rule is and at that point they can attempt to prove the rule. This is where things get interesting. To prove the rule, the player needs to pass a test. They select 4 images and group them according to whether they believe that the item would be in or out. At the same time, behind their screen, the visitor uses tokens as stand ins for the 4 cards and positions the tokens to show whether they would be in or out. If both the visitor and player agree, then the player wins. If they don't, a negative action typically befalls the player.

Example of an attempt to prove the ruleExample of an attempt to prove the rule

Most importantly, at this point no one has said what the rule actually is. Everyone at the table has gained more information and everyone can continue to play.

While it's pretty fun within the game as is, I immediately started to think about other places where I could use this sort of test. I think it would be super interesting in terms of an otherworldly creature in D&D or Starfinder, one that only communicated in symbols and images. The resolution could either be done as a mini game during one game session or could expand across game sessions as player characters unlocked more clues. If one wanted to have more than just player skill involved, limited skill checks could be used to provide guidance.

Either way, I had a lot of fun playing and I hope you get a chance to check it out. You can find information about the original Kickstarter or find out more information about this and other awesome Resonym games at their official site. A special thanks to Sukie for running the demo.

Finally, I have an unboxing video on YouTube.

More Like This Please

Normally in a "More Like This Please" article, I would comment on all the reasons why I want to see more of these. However, most of these are pretty self-explanatory. I tried to share from the artist when possible in hopes you might find some new artists to explore and support.

Chris Rahn

Marwyn, the Nurturer, is a part of Magic: the Gathering's upcoming Dominaria set. I'm not as up on Magic as some of my friends are, so I kindly point you to Quinn Murphy's article all about her. What I would like to say is that while it remains controversial, some women carry children (and are pregnant) while also carrying weapons and well, just working. It's super awesome to see artwork that reinforces that.

Sidharth Chaturvedi

Another upcoming Magic: the Gathering card (you'll see a theme here) is the Audacious/Daring Archaeologist by Sidharth Chaturvedi.

Ryan Pancoast

The Benalish Honor Guard by Ryan Pancoast. The artist also has a number of videos with the creation of the piece, including this one.

Nicole Solis

Anna Steinbauer

Djamila Knopf

Sara Winters

I love all of these pieces. She has more examples on ArtStation.

Joshua Wright

How could I not like a lady stegosaurus archeologist?

Billie Zangewa

Stop FOSTA-SESTA (and Protect Sex Workers and Freedom of Speech)

"Rook," © 2012 Jared von Hindman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/"Rook," © 2012 Jared von Hindman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Today I want to talk about the evils of FOSTA-SESTA. I understand it may seem strange for a blog focused on RPGs to cover US legislation that claims to be about stopping sex trafficking but there are a few reasons I feel it's important to talk about this issue on any platform I can.

  • Tabletop RPGs have a history of including sex work and sex workers within games and people who are also sex workers are part of our larger community.
  • While sex workers currently are bearing the brunt of this law, it has wider implications that should be of concern for all of us.
  • The conflation of consensual sex work and non-consensual sex trafficking is an issue for everyone but particularly folks from marginalized backgrounds as is the focus on sex trafficking while ignoring that it is not the majority of human trafficking cases.

So, first, what is FOSTA-SESTA? FOSTA is short for “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act" and SESTA stands for the "Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act." They are both named in such a way that makes it harder for folks to be against them. Who wouldn't want to stop Sex Traffickers?

But the problem is that it's completely unclear if either set of provisions would actually limit sex trafficking and is completely clear that both bills will curtail consensual sex work. How?

One example is that FOSTA. Until this bill, sites like Backpage were able to host advertisements because the Communications Decency Act didn't hold web site owners liable for content created by their users (speaking in broad terms). So if a person used a "classifieds" section of a website to advertise their services, the site itself was not liable. FOSTA, however, argues that the Communications Decency Act “was never intended to provide legal protection to websites that unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution.” And while that sentence claims unlawfully, the actual passage doesn't even distinguish that:

Whoever, using a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, owns, manages, or operates an interactive computer service (as such term is defined in defined in section 230(f) the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 230(f))), or conspires3 or attempts to do so, with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.

As a result of that change, along with other aspects of the bills, we've already seen a rapid change in sites. Craigslist pulled their personals section, replacing it with the following note:

US Congress just passed HR 1865, "FOSTA", seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.

Any tool or service can be misused. We can't take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day.

To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!

Reddit banned a number of forum types including paid services involving physical sexual contact. Some services appear to be closing accounts based on content including Twitter, Instagram, Wordpress, Google, and Skype. A number of sites also just flat shut down including Backpage, The Erotic Review, CityMove.

I hope it's clear about the censorship ramifications of these bills, but I'd like to go a step further and talk about the impact on sex workers. As it is, due to the combination of laws and societal attitudes towards sex work, sex workers are among the least protected workers in our country. Sex work is work and it's often the only work available to some folks as a result of other systemic oppression and lack of resources. I don't say that to paint all sex workers as victims, because that is simply not true and people should be able to decide to be a sex worker, just as folks pick any other career out there.

Additionally, even in the US, not all sex work is illegal and even prostitution isn't illegal in all areas of the country. This is important to remember because too often I hear folks who try to wave these issues away by saying that's what criminals get. In addition, even if it was a crime, that doesn't mean that they deserve everything that happens as a result. Many people take advantage of sex workers because of the stigma and, in some cases, the legal or quasi-legal nature of the situation. This is one of the main reasons why, if we actually wanted to do something about sex trafficking, decriminalization of sex work would likely lead to better results.

But if we're unwilling to do that, removing the tools that sex workers were using to protect themselves and to find clients seems cruel at best, especially when no alternatives are given. For instance, a recent study suggested that Craigslist ads may have reduced female homicide rates by 17 percent. In addition, by further forcing sex trafficking underground, it will become harder to find victims as well as increase the stigma they will face as a survivor.

Sex workers are workers, are people, and are members of our community. We need to stand with them against laws like FOSTA-SESTA.

Way smarter people to listen to (note, some links may contain nudity):

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