All right, I’m going to answer two questions that have come up a lot in the past few weeks (or months). And I’m going to admit that this is going to be pretty heavy and personal and it has a lot less to do with games and a lot more to do with the gaming community. I know that isn’t why you come here, but I think this is important enough to get it out. And it’ll end with an announcement of something I think could be very positive. And if you want a picture of me in a pleated miniskirt, you might just have your weird, sick wish fulfilled.
But, if this crap isn’t the sort of thing you want in a Wednesday feature, don’t worry. There’s a bonus thing coming tomorrow. I did a podcast appearance about building custom backgrounds in D&D 5E. So you can skip this article and wait for tomorrow’s podcast if this ain’t your cup of tea. But maybe, just maybe, there’s something in here you need to hear.
Pretty much f$&%ing everyone asks:
Are you running any games at GenCon? What are you doing at GenCon? Will you run a game for me at GenCon? Seriously, where are the games you are running?
I get this question every year. These questions. Even last year when my entire financial and personal life was falling apart and I lost my job and had to move across the country and start a Patreon and all of that crap and I couldn’t go to GenCon and I made it very clear I couldn’t go to GenCon and people STILL kept asking just to remind me what a miserable clusterf$&% my life had become. THANKS for that. Seriously.
First of all, if you search the schedule for me, you will find that I am doing something BRAND NEW this year. I’ve had many, MANY requests to do seminars at GenCon. So, I’ve decided to do TWO seminars.
First, The Angry GM’S GMing Bootcamp is SPECIFICALLY for non-GMs. It’s designed for people who want to run games but haven’t yet or can’t or are terrified or don’t know how to begin. I’m going to tell you what goes into GMing, how to run your first game, and how to make it the least worst thing it can possibly be. If that’s you, come to my seminar. If that’s NOT you, don’t come to this one. Leave the seat for someone who needs it. Check out SEM1694007 in the GenCon Event Guide.
Second, The Seven Words You Can’t Say in RPG is a seminar for advanced GMs who don’t mind being yelled at and had their conceptions challenged. It is basically a rant about bad GMing advice followed by Q&A. If you’re looking for a “meet The Angry GM, listen to him rant, and then bombard him with questions” thing, well, that’s basically what it is. Check out SEM1694012 in the GenCon Event Guide.
But, if you are looking for the games I am running, well, you won’t find any in the GenCon event guide. Let’s get one thing clear: I run games at GenCon. I run a LOT of games at GenCon. At my last GenCon visit, I ran eleven RPG sessions. I LOVE running games. But it would be impossible to run games for everyone who wants me to run games for them. The problem is I’m wildly popular AND I’m the greatest GM ever. Even better than Chris Perkins. That means I get inundated with requests. As much as I would love to run events for all of you, I just f$&%ing can’t.
But I DO run games. I just don’t do it through the event system. I actually tend to try to find people for pickup games, drinks, and hangouts AT GenCon itself. Or through social media. Part of the reason is that I’m kind of tired of the whole event system thing. Events fill up way too fast and lots of people end up disappointed. And then they end up wandering around, looking for something to do. For a few people, I’m a safety net. No event in this block? Cool, I’ll run a game for you.
I also do start to preschedule games as GenCon gets a little closer. I tend to want to run a few specific games at GenCon. I tend to start looking for players for those about a month before GenCon and schedule them with participants. Now, GenCon is going to be a little different for me this year due to personal reasons, so I might not run as many games as I have in previous years. But I will still be running games.
Apart from running games, though, I also love meeting people. I like to hang out with fellow gamers and talk shop. So if we can’t game, but you still want to meet me and chat for a little while or grab a drink or something, I’m all for that too. As much as I love gaming, GenCon, for me, is about connecting with other gamers. Believe it or not. Just don’t hug me. And don’t tell me about your f$&%ing character.
As GenCon gets closer, I’ll share more of my plans here on this site and on Twitter. And if you want in on them, let me know. And if you’re one of my Patreon backers, I’m going to give you first crack at any open seats for anything I do.
But… and I hate to say this… I have a lot of people who want a snippet of my time. If your GenCon dream is to get into a game run by the Angry GM, it’s a big pool you’re competing with. I would love to accommodate everyone, but it isn’t humanly possible. I’m sorry.
A whole bunch of people asked:
What is up with the Sailor Moon thing? Why did you get obsessed with Sailor Moon? Are you really a Sailor Moon fan? Are you dressing up as Sailor Jupiter? Really? Sailor Jupiter? Why her? There’s really a Sailor Moon RPG?
First of all, let me say this: read this whole thing even if you aren’t interested in the Sailor Moon thing or if you don’t know what’s going on. It’ll surprise you where it goes.
Starting in late January, you might have noticed that suddenly, there was a LOT of Sailor Moon stuff happening in my feed. And it has only really petered out over the last four weeks. Mostly, it was about people spreading the rumor that I was going to be cosplaying as Sailor Jupiter at GenCon. And I didn’t help that situation at all. Here’s what happened:
Last year, I moved away from all of my friends and family, from New York to Chicago. And in so doing, I had to leave all of my gaming friends behind. And I haven’t really managed to find any new gaming friends here in Chicago. In January, I went home to New York for my birthday, and my best friends, Sean, Ryan, and Kim surprised me by deciding to attend GenCon this year. So the four of us are going together.
Kim and Sean are very into cosplaying and they’ve done some amazing amateur cosplays over the years. And Kim has been trying to convince me to cosplay for years. In fact, I’m going to admit something here: I really love the IDEA of cosplaying. I also am really enamored of the furry cosplay community too. I love the amazing costumes they come up with and all the hard work and the sense of community you get from them. The steampunks too. I love the idea of those cosplaying communities. And I’m kind of jealous because it’s something that I never got into. And Kim knows it. Because, when we’ve gone to other events together, I always talk wistfully about her and Sean cosplaying and about other folks in costume. So, she’s been breaking down my resolve.
There’s two reasons I don’t cosplay. The first is that it is expensive and time consuming to do it right. To do it well. And I don’t believe in half-assing things. If I’m going to do a thing, I’m going to do it well. The other reason I don’t cosplay is because I’m not always happy with my body. Yeah, I have some body issues. I’m not depressed, I don’t hate myself, anything like that. And, over the past three years I’ve made my body a lot better than it ever used to be. Mainly for health reasons. But I’ve hit the point now where improvements have plateaued. I love my legs and I have a nice ass. It’s a little larger than it should be, but it’s nice. And frankly, that’s how the whole meggings thing started. Well, not really it. It started with me making fun of something. But then the company said “try them before you chide them,” and I did. Partly because I can’t refuse a dare and partly because I decided to test my own confidence. And it turned out, I got a few compliments from total strangers. Moreover, I noticed lots of people checking them out. Some approving, some disapproving, some aghast. I got laughed at and had a picture snapped of me from a moving car. That was pretty fun. And certain members of my family made it totally clear they did not approve. But I liked the attention and the positive attention was great. The negative attention slid off my back. Moreover, they were comfortable as hell. So I became a lover of them.
If you are a man, I heartily suggest you cram yourself into a pair of meggings one time! Go to meggingsman.com and buy a cool pair! They are comfortable as hell and you might be surprised about the attention you receive.
But, despite the legs and ass, I’m hugely insecure about my upper body. I’ve got weak arms and a flabby gut and I’m having a lot of trouble improving them. I have trouble seeing past that, though. I have trouble seeing me instead of a number on a scale. I have trouble ignoring all of that. So, confidence and body issues.
Anyway, after the discussion about going to GenCon, Kim and Sean turned to me and said “now we just have to get you to cosplay.” Jokingly, I responded with “well, you know, superheroes are big right now. I could go as my favorite super hero.” And they asked who, probably thinking I meant either Batman, Green Lantern, or Captain America. “Sailor Jupiter,” I responded as a joke. And we all laughed.
Sailor Jupiter is a character from a Japanese cartoon show from the mid ‘90’s called “Sailor Moon” or “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon” or some s$&% like that. Japanese cartoons have complicated titles. In the show, five Japanese schoolgirls discover (by medium of two different magical talking cats from the moon) that they are actually the reincarnations of the princesses of an ancient magical space kingdom. And in between all the normal teenage schoolgirl drama of school trouble, boy trouble, and figuring out what the hell to do with life, they also transform into magical superheroes and fight what basically amounts to space hell.
When I was in middle school and high school, the American dub of Sailor Moon used to air in the early morning and I would watch it before school. It was fun. And, yeah, I was at that age where I was okay with sexy teenage girls in short skirts. But, of all the characters, I liked Sailor Jupiter the most. She was the guardian of planet Jupiter, master of thunder and lightning, and her alter ego, Leta (Makoto in the Japanese version) was by far the character I thought I could actually be friends with. Sailor Moon was loyal and had a strong heart, but she was a crybaby and a coward. Sailor Mercury was smart, but she was a know-it-all and distant and aloof and she let Mars bully Sailor Moon. Mars was a bitch. Pure and simple. She was mean and angry and hotheaded. But Jupiter was interesting. She was tall and tomboyish and good in a fight, but she was also dreamy and romantic. She was quick to fall in love and wore her heart on her sleeve despite being tough and assertive. She once explained that she had learned how to cook so that she would have something more girlish to take the tomboyish edge off and keep her from intimidating people. But, while that might have been her story, she clearly loved to cook. Whatever her reasons, cooking was as much a part of her as Judo. She was also just a nice person. She got along with everyone.
It’s easy to point to a character like that and say that she’s trying to reconcile two different parts of herself, but the truth is, she was actually very content with herself and didn’t see a dichotomy. She just saw herself as the sum of all the things.
And that’s why I’m cosplaying as Sailor Jupiter at GenCon.
It depends on you.
Well, it depends on people.
See, the cosplay thing WAS a joke. It was an in-joke between my friends and I that I decided to share with social media as a joke because I am always looking for the next punchline. But it snowballed very quickly. Twitter does not let a thing go. So, I made one joke Tweet about it, sharing the conversation Kim and Sean and I had had and then suddenly, everyone was asking about it.
And, because it was funny, I decided to fuel the fire. To deny it strongly and vehemently while also leaving the possibility suspiciously open and while making suggestive remarks. In the meanwhile, I was curious about the cosplay community in general and so I did start poking around, curious about cosplay and also the subculture of crossplay.
By accident, I also discovered a new dub of the Sailor Moon series that had been released on Hulu and I decided to rewatch at least the first season. I only ever watched the first season anyone. Once Queen Beryl and the Negaverse were defeated, I was done. And it was pretty entertaining, though it was also silly and weird. I genuinely enjoyed it but I am not sure I’d watch it again and I certainly had no problem stopping once Sailor Venus showed up during the end of the rainbow crystal arc.
But meanwhile, as the joking kept going about Sailor Moon and the cosplay on Twitter, I finally had to seriously deny it. And somehow, someone brought up the idea of charity. And that idea got stuck in my head.
And now comes the deep, meaningful, life lesson part that is also a lesson about GMing. A little sage advice from me to you.
Most of us in the geek community are used to judgment. We fear judgment. I mean, I grew up in a time when RPGs, video games, comics, and superheroes were things to for nerds to hide away in basements. And fandoms are tribal by their nature. And that means there are always going to be a few assholes who view fandom as a competition. We often hear about how geek fandoms have a problem excluding certain populations, and, to some extent, that is true. But it gets ascribed many different names: sexism, transphobia, homophobia. And that masks the issue that geek fandoms lend themselves to certain gatekeeping mentality across the board. And arguing about who has it worse and why isn’t productive.
From a very early age, I got used to being judged. Not just for RPGs, but for all sorts of things. I lived through the tail end of the RPGs are satanic and grew into video games just in time for the video games create murderers bulls$&%. I was around for the birth of the Magic: the Gathering and the schism between those folks and RPGs and the D&D vs. White Wolf fights and the emergence of story-based role-playing vs. traditional dungeon crawl style and also the giant fracturing of the gaming community prior to the collapse of TSR when you were judged based on which campaign world you played. This s$&% really happened in game stores. FR players hated Dark Sun players. I was a weirdo. I did homebrew and played Planescape. I’ve been through the arguments over what is canon in which game franchises.
Beyond that, though, I’ve also had very unconventional political, spiritual, and social views compared to my family and friends. So, as those things became important, I also found those a source of endless judgement. In high school and college, I went one way and a lot of my friends went the other. And then, in college, I discovered I was bisexual. And that was almost twenty years ago. It was not exactly embraced by some of my friends and family. I went through a problem with mental illness. That didn’t go over so well.
And now I’ve become a public voice in the online gaming community. And I’ve voiced some unpopular and unconventional opinions there too. And the gaming community online is extremely harsh and fractious and divided. And the divisions people want you to believe exist aren’t the divisions that really do. Fandoms are more judgmental than ever before. Social and political divisions are harsher than ever before. Liking the “wrong” thing or disliking the “right” thing is extremely dangerous. And for all that either side might want to think they are creating a better gaming space by “fixing the problems,” both sides are making it worse because they are attacking the wrong problems and have an us-against-them mentality that just wrecks everything. It’s really sad.
I had to out my sexuality online to protect myself from harassment because I disliked something that someone deemed “good for the gay community.” And my sexuality is something I never felt the need to discuss in the gaming sphere before. A guy who was – at the time – an editor at a major game publisher deemed me “the most toxic person in gaming” and tried to get me in trouble with GenCon security as well as distancing me from my friends and fans. And that came because I defended the wrong TV show and used it as an opportunity to try to draw more players into the gaming community. I was threatened, harassed, and stalked for weeks straight because a major celebrity tried to turn his fanbase on me as a result of me not liking an internet video. I don’t even talk about politics or economics at all, even though I am very well-versed and well-informed in both. And I admit part of the problem is that I am an asshole. I’m very assertive and state my views with passion. And sometimes, I’m trolly about it.
The thing is, I accept that all of that is part of the cost of having a public voice. It really is. If you want to speak out to the public, you are exposing yourself to the public. And the public is not exclusively full of nice people. There are some major assholes and monsters out in the public. And there is nothing you can do about them. Because you can’t control the behavior of others, you can only control your own behavior.
Wait, wait, wait… how does this go back to Sailor Jupiter and cosplay?
The point is, we all fear judgement. And the natural response is to yell at the world. Or rather, to believe the assholes can be changed by educating them. By telling them not to behave the way they are. But they don’t care. They are assholes. And there will always be assholes.
Worse yet, not all judgment comes from assholes. Everyone judges people. You judge people. I judge people. We decide who to talk to, who not to talk to, who seems safe, who seems friendly, who seems scary, who seems like a dick, who to invite to our games, who to exclude, and so on. And we judge other people based on our values, our viewpoints, our ideas about right and wrong. All human beings do that. Because it is how we ultimately form communities. We want to form communities of allies and friends. And we want to keep ourselves safe from assholes and monsters. So we are constantly vetting the people around us.
Asking people not to judge or demanding everyone accept you based on your values, well, I won’t say it’s wrong. We should judge people by their actions and not make assumptions about their motives. But that’s not human. And it’s not always a reasonable expectation. More to the point, you can demand it all you want, but you won’t change it.
You have to learn how to handle judgement in a way to protect your own sense of self-worth. That’s the lesson. Because you are being judged. You are being judged every day by everyone around you and there is nothing you can do to stop it or prevent it or make it fair. It is a part of life. All you can do is decide who you want to present the world as yourself. And if someone is a dick about that, there’s not really much you can do about it.
Now, I’m not talking about criminal behavior here. There’s a difference between having your “geek cred” challenged by some fan who thinks you like the wrong game or you don’t have enough knowledge of the canon to deserve to be a fan (we’ve ALL been there) and having your life and safety threatened. And that, too, is part of learning how to deal with judgment. Its keeping some sense of scope and perspective. This guy at a booth being a dick about a fandom I like? He’s a dick about Batman. That other guy threatening me if I don’t get out of his clubhouse? That guy is a criminal. And I’ve been there and I’m sorry to anyone else who has to deal with that.
But as for the people who are just sneering and rude? Who don’t approve of your identity, hobby, fandom, or anything else? There’s nothing you can do. But if you let them shake your sense of self-worth, then you’re giving them the power. As long as you don’t care, don’t lend them credence, don’t waste brain space on their stupid words, they can’t hurt you.
I joke a lot about not being particularly masculine because I’ve always been in kind of this weird space between the ideas of masculine and feminine. But that’s because I’m human. No one is one hundred percent either way. Those people would be caricatures. I’m just me. I’m a mix of tomboy and cook. I’m romantic but tough. I’m practical and dreamy. And I don’t try to define myself. I am who I am. And that’s okay. I have things about myself I want to change, but that’s because I want to change them. Not because anyone else thinks they should change. And I don’t hold the judgement of others against them. People are different, they have different values. If they don’t approve of my choices but they don’t mistreat me, I’m fine with that. And people can tell me their opinion of my choices. They aren’t going to break me. Their opinions don’t rattle me because I only have to live with my own appearances.
The hardest lesson people have to learn is that they really can’t control the way others behave, they can only control their own responses. And that means they have to build defenses. Sorry. That’s the world. And if you can’t live with it, you can only hide from it.
For all of my jokes, I’m not ashamed that I like Sailor Moon. I’m not ashamed that I like to wear leggings or knit. I’m not ashamed that I’m neither an atheist nor a spiritualist because I don’t believe all the evidence is in either way. I’m not ashamed to vote Republican in presidential elections based on fiscal issues. I’m not ashamed to vote Democratic on local elections based on social issues. I’m not ashamed that I LIKED Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and that I liked the second Dungeons and Dragons Movie: Wrath of the Dragon God. I’m not ashamed I like sexy things with sexy women in scanty clothing. I’m not ashamed that I like sexy things with muscular men in skin-tight outfights or bare chests. I’m not ashamed of my body, even though I don’t always like everything about it. You can judge me, but you can’t make me judge me. And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.
Where is all of this going?
I figure cosplaying as Jupiter at GenCon will cost me about five hundred dollars to do it right. And I will do it right. Including waxing the hell out of my body hair, heels, makeup, wig, the whole shebang. But, many of you know, I donate a few hundred dollars to various charities every year and I do a charity event here and there. I didn’t get to do Extra Life last year and that made me sad.
Well, I’m starting a charity drive on June 1st. I haven’t yet finalized which charities I will be supporting. It’ll be five in total that I feel good about supporting. Probably the American Diabetes Association will be in there because I am diabetic. Childs Play or the Children’s Miracle Network will be in there. And I would like to find a good anti-bullying charity whose message and activities I feel comfortable with. I’ll figure it out.
If I can raise $501 for various charities, then I’ll do the Sailor Jupiter cosplay. I’ll do the cosplay parade. Post pictures. Hell, I’ll do my seminars in costume too. In addition, I’ll do at least one video update via Periscope each day at GenCon. Sort of a GenCon report. In addition to that, I will run a session of the Sailor Moon RPG which I will record and post to YouTube and to my website. And if you’re at GenCon and want to catch up with me and get a picture with Sailor Angry, you’ve got it.
To be clear, 100% of the money raised for the charity drive will go to the charities regardless of whether it succeeds or fails. None of that money is to help me make the cosplay or videos or RPG session happen. I will use my own money to make that happen.
I’ll publish more details as I work them out. But just know this is coming.
As for the rest, I’m not going to appeal to geeks to be nicer to other geeks and stop judging each other. Because most of the geeks I’ve ever known in my life already do that. Almost all of my best friends have come from gaming. I’ve always had all sorts of people at my table. The people who have made me miserable or unwelcome for any reason have been a small minority of the population. Gaming has enriched my life. And most of my (increasingly large) circle of friends have talked about this and we agree.
I’m appealing to you: don’t empower the assholes. In the words of Master Splinter: “you choose to let your enemy’s word be weapons. You must let them flow over you like water over stone.”