Fishkeeping and Thoughts of D&D

So over the past few months I got sucked into the rabbithole that is known as planted tanks (or planted aquariums) via YouTube and I took the plunge recently to start two small tanks of my own. As I've been working on them, a few things have struck me as being potentially relevant to gaming so I wanted to share some of what I learned here.

Introduction to Fishkeeping Concepts

One of the neat things about folks who are specifically into planted tanks is that they often are attempting to be world builders. That's because many of them are doing planted tanks as a way to reproduce a bunch of a natural cycle (sometimes in an effort to reduce the upkeep of an aquarium but often because they are super interested in the art and science of it).

To help understand, keeping an aquarium functioning is all about the nitrogen cycle. Animals get fed, they produce waste (ammonia), and ammonia is pretty toxic to the animals. Aquariums typically rely on two different types of bacteria to convert the ammonia to nitrites (which are also toxic) and then nitrites to nitrates (which are less toxic). Water changes often are a way of removing the nitrates from the system, but plants can also remove some of these from the water in addition to providing much needed oxygen for the fish.

In addition to this chemical balance, many attempt to create eye catching displays and sometimes even tell a story through their aquascapes. This in particular made me think of roleplaying games. First is the creation of zones in terms of the water column, usually dividing the vertical area of the tank into thirds. Some fish and other creatures are considered denizens of the bottom, some prefer the middle layer, and others like life at the top.

For plants, we often think in terms of carpeting (plants that cover the substrate like a carpet), foreground (typically shorter or slower growing plants that would be at the front of the tank), mid-ground (plants for the middle of the tank), background (taller and/or fast growing plants), and floating plants (plants that float in the water, especially at the top of the tank). Each of these have their uses and help tell the "story" of the tank.

Another interesting concept is that of the community tank. These are tanks where the species chosen are meant to work well together. So you might have some inhabitants who are meant to be cleaners (shrimp, snails, some types of catfish, etc) and where they might help keep the populations in check since some tank inhabitants can become prolific breeders in the right conditions. This reminds me of quite a few D&D modules including the Caves of Chaos.

Using in an Adventure

There can be a number of reasons why someone or something might be keeping an aquarium in D&D. A wizard or apothecary might find them to be incredibly useful for keeping creatures that produce vital components to spells or potions. A druid might work on creating one to save local creatures during a time of intense climate change. A noble might wish to display their wealth and worldliness by displaying creatures from far away lands.
People have kept fish for thousands of years in outdoor pools or indoors in ceramic vessels not to mention in ponds and the like. For something truly fantastical, imagine the existence of a force field that creates a large area of glass for displaying aquatic life. Perhaps a wizard created one in an underground cavern and stocked it with phosphorescent plants and creatures from the ocean deep.

Or perhaps long ago, a vibrant and verdant land began to turn to desert and thus an effort was made to save the local creatures, moving them into a cavern filled with sunstones that mimicked the passage of the sun. The keepers have all died but their world continues to live on.

What creatures would you stock these aquariums with? How would you tend to the needs of all of the livestock? How would you keep balance? How would the introduction of player characters affect this balance?

Female Representation in D&D Art

So I'm going to talk about some stuff and given the reaction to my attempts to convey my point of view in the past, I know this might ruffle some feathers. What I'd like to ask is that if you continue to read and find that your feathers are feeling a little ruffled, maybe take some time to think about why that is before putting me on Internet blast? And if you don't think that you are willing to do that, please feel free to enjoy some of the other absolutely wonderful content available to you on the Internet.

©Wizards of the Coast©Wizards of the Coast

With that out of the way, I'd like to talk about a topic that is near and dear to me, and that is female representation in game art. I know I've had a lot of discussions about that in the past but there's something different about today versus then. That difference is some changes that were made by some companies (particularly Wizards of the Coast) in terms of how they approach art in official Dungeons & Dragons publications.

My position has always been that the art of female characters has been way too restricted and lacked diversity. There was an overabundance of female characters within a narrow body type and age window, often (but not always) sexualized, often with an appearance that the references used were from lingerie or porn. While some interpreted that as an argument against any representation that fit those categories, that has never been my intent or what I argued.

As I talked to folks about this, especially folks in the industry, a few reasons for this kept coming up again and again. I'd like to talk about those because I think they amplified together to create the situation we had.

© Wizards of the Coast© Wizards of the Coast

One of the first was that the reason for the characters being drawn with those references is that artists prefer to work from the naked form. In some ways, this is absolutely true. We know that many of the masters have worked from nude models. Knowing the physical structure of the subject of a work helps ensure that their back doesn't look awkward or broken. I get that.

But many of the masters used both male and female models. And while they did many works that involved their particular muse and often spent time on projects that pleased them, they produced many other works with a variety of subjects. But in the art at the time, it was clear from many of the male characters that no one was looking at nude or semi-nude references for them. No ads or photo shots of men in their boxers. Not really even swimmers or male ballet dancers. There was a noticeable imbalance in how many of the artists were approaching gender.

One way to approach adjusting that would be to try to increase the diversity of the artists that were hired, finding artists who were passionate about drawing men for instance, that could not be the only solution. The other most common reason I was told for why the art was the way it was is because that's what the artists thought art directors wanted. So, basically, the art director would give out assignments. They might even be explicit about what they were and were not looking for. But artists, being concerned about having artwork rejected, would give them what they thought they wanted, what they thought "fantasy art" meant.

So, instead of taking risks, they looked at what had already been created and did more of that. This often translated to folks as cheesecake art. Do to how the art process works, it wouldn't become clear to the art director that this was going to be the case until the final work was submitted, at which point it was too late to reject the work.

Why? Because initial "drafts" of the work are like outlines. The artist provides a thumbnail of the piece, more demonstrating the overall composition, the lines of movement, etc. Clothing, especially boob windows, and the like, wouldn't necessarily show up at that level. So the thumbnail gets approved and suddenly what one person might interpret as an older woman or a full cloak turns out differently in the final piece. And by then, so much work has been put in that it's hard to change.

The sad part about this particular reason is that it was a bit of a death spiral. With more and more work being put out in this style, it worked to further establish it as the style. And without taking a step back, everyone's reactions are understandable. The problem can be understood but not addressed.

So, what changed? Well 5e came out. And with the new edition came a new approach.

© Wizards of the Coast© Wizards of the Coast

While I've been talking about this in terms of female representation, it wasn't just gender that was unbalanced. Skin tones were another big area as well as getting just a consistent understanding of how characters looked in a fantasy world.

With 5e, Wizards of the Coast decided not to go with a generic fantasy world for the base world. They chose the Forgotten Realms which at least had something closer to gender equality and a variety of skin tones for human characters (among others). It also had a variety of cultures within the world, with different ways of dress and speech. They could now tell artists, draw a person from this defined culture, rather than asking for a character in the fantasy style.

And that's what they did. They created world bibles and worked directly with concept arts to develop and refine what various cultures should look like on the page. They did this not just for male and female representations, but what did a family look like? What about older people in the village or city? So on and so forth.

The result was a wide range of art to choose from and the ability to "show, not tell" artists what these various groups looked like. While they still run into some issues with artists who draw boob windows on female characters from a culture that wouldn't have them (some cultures would!), those issues are far less. I haven't asked, but my guess is that they still might accept those pieces and adjust how they work with that artist in the future, but that piece that say sexualizes the character would be balanced out by the rest of them.

From my point of view, this has been a great breath of fresh air into D&D. I love seeing the greater diversity in the art. Of course there are still things to discuss and, in my opinion, improvements that can be made, but I look forward to looking at the art now. And I've seen so many positive responses from other folks out there.

Flip Through: Waterdeep Dragon Heist

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist recently arrived in local gaming shops and I grabbed a copy of my own on Friday. I knew I needed it once I heard that Dyson Logo's maps would feature in the book and I wasn't disappointed. I've only had the time to do a superficial look at the book but if you're curious as to what you would find within the book, check out my flip through.

One of the big things I noticed during the flip through is the diversity of skin tone in the art. This makes a lot of sense in a city of Waterdeep's size, especially since it is a port city. One of my favorite images is that of Vajra Safahr, The Blackstaff.

Waterdeep Dragon Heist - Vajra SafahrWaterdeep Dragon Heist - Vajra Safahr

As I was preparing for this post, I found folks discussing a sidebar I had missed during my flip through that explains the emphasis on diversity in the artwork (and my understanding, the text as well). The sidebar is in the Volo's Waterdeep Enchiridion section and I hope folks can forgive me for the extended quote because I believe all of it is important.

A Wondrous People

Whenever you find yourself in a bustling city, you're likely to spot a wonderful variety of folk. You hear words in languages utterly foreign to you, and you smell dishes both delectable and strange. Waterdeep is the ultimate city of such delights, and before long, the alien thing becomes familiar to you, and the stranger becomes your friend.

The people of Waterdeep are among the greatest of its splendors. Fashion, comportment, love&emdash;these things are practiced with an art and a zest in the city uncommon elsewhere. Visit a festhall or festival and see for yourself! And don't miss the cross-dressing performers who regale audiences with humor and song. Fabulous&emdash;that word doesn't begin to describe it, especially when they enhance the merriment with magic.

The city is also a haven for those who define for themselves what it means to be a man or a woman, those who transcend gender as the gods do, and those who redefine entirely who they are. What confidence! I never tire of witnessing it. I have seen folk in Waterdeep whose lives are more magical than the marvels possible with spells.

There's a lot going on here. I've seen quite a few people share their joy over feeling that their way of being is explicitly and enthusiastically included in the game world. These things matter to some folk.

I also saw some negative. I don't want to dwell on it here except to say that I've had long conversations with authors of the Realms as well as ardent fans. While it is true that folks of all kinds have existed in the Realms from the beginning, it's also true that they did not always get the sort of attention that they deserved nor was it always clear that not only existed but that they were fairly common. People often bring the baggage of the real world into the fantasy world, especially around issues of gender, sexual orientation, race, and the like. If we want the fantasy world to be different than the real, we have to make those differences clear. And the art work and the sidebar help greatly with that.

Child's Play: IKEA Play Mat Turned D&D Map

Recently I finally set up my child's play mat (it was a Christmas present, life comes at you fast when you have a toddler). I fell in love with the idea of carpet play mats and when I saw a town one at IKEA, I had to get it for him. He just recently started to really play with cars and trains and can play in his room while I do chores, so it was a perfect time to set it up.

I'll admit when we picked it out, I didn't look too closely. Little dude still wasn't quite sleeping through the night. But, as he sat there playing, I started noticing some interesting details.

Like how most of the houses were all built around this single apple tree.

Or this forest with large mushrooms in with the trees.

I'm not sure I quite understand why this highway encircles the lighthouse.

But the real interesting part of the play mat is in the upper right corner.

Sure, a farm doesn't seem that strange. Even one with a cactus and teepees. (Note: I didn't notice the teepees before I bought it or I might have skipped this mat. But I will have a conversation with Little Dude about them one day.) It's what the farm is next to that made me realize that in just a few more months (ok, maybe a couple years), this might be his first D&D map.

That's right, children. One day, Thomas the tank will be exploring the cave of lost souls or whatever we decide to call it. I already have a big fluffy d20 that Little Dude can roll and a wicked imagination.

Flip Through: Threadbare Stitchpunk RPG

Last Gen Con I also picked up a copy of Threadbare: Stitchpunk RPG. In it, you play "in a broken world populated by broken toys."

Threadbare is Powered by the Apocalypse which means it's underlying system revolves around 2d6 +/- bonus or penalty. The result then fits into 1 of three categories:

10 or more
You not only succeed but you succeed in the way you wanted.
7-9
You succeed but a cost or complication gets added.
6 or less
You do not succeed. Parts are damaged. You gain a hold that can be spent later.

It's not always clear from the description but there is a tilt towards failure in this system. Here's an image with the possible results ranging from a -2 penalty to a +2 bonus.

(If it's too hard to see or my color choices present a problem, you can view the spreadsheet here. I changed the spreadsheet to use different font choices in addition to color to help differentiate the groupings.)

With 2d6, there are 36 possible combinations of roles. Without any penalties or bonuses, you are expected to get 10 or more 6 out of 36 times. With a -2 penalty, you are expected to get a 10 or more just 1 out of 36 times and with a +2 bonus, you would still would likely only get it 15 out of 36 times. For the 6 or less category, those numbers are 15, 26, and 6, respectively.

I don't point this out to make a comment on whether it's good or bad, most of that depends on you, your group, and what type of play they want. But it does mean that how the game feels to an individual can depend on how risk averse they are and also how much control over their own story they want. While most games don't give complete control to a player, since there is failure, in powered by the Apocalypse games, success isn't binary and the mid-tier explicitly provides an opportunity for the game master to provide more input through the cost/complication element. Just know what you like and what you're getting into.

In addition to the game mechanics and game master tips, the book provides not only some adventure starters but also tutorials on how to build your own "broken toy." This part I particularly love, especially since some of the tutorials involves getting out your toolbox.

Overall, it looks like a fun game and I'm looking forward to exploring it more.

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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