I jolt awake, swaying hard in my hammock. It is cold. Six masked figures loom over me. High above them, the moon cuts a perfect curve through the Pit’s dirty plexiglass skylight.
“It’s prank night, frosh. You in?”
The stage-whispering figure looming over me has the face of a vampire bat, a wrinkled, hairy thing. Twin fangs gleam beneath two jutting yearling antlers. The six figures looming over me are all wearing antlered vampire bat masks.
“Yeah,” I grumble, pulling my blanket close, “I’m in, I guess.”
Continue reading Prank Night at the Pit: A Jackalope Short
I’ve been playing Hopoo Games’s Deadbolt lately and thorougly enjoying it. I just barely beat Capter 2 Level 1, and 2:2, to me, looks almost impossibly difficult (ended up beating it while writing this. –ð). Attempting this level is certainly going to result in me being gunmurdered by vampires many, many times (it did. –ð), and yet, I’m excited for it. Why do we like hard games? What is driving me to persist through failure after failure? I think it has something to do with the way games structure their challenges, and the ways in which human beings pursue self-development.
Continue reading Two Styles of Hard Games, How We Play Them, and Why We Like Them
This week on “Cartoons Today are So Much Better Than in the 90’s”; Nickelodeon’s family-comedy serial The Loud House manages to get the obligatory “modern technology” storyline right! It seems like ever since smartphones ushered in the social media lifestyle, cartoons never managed to get through an episode dedicated to the topic without muttering about dang kids and getting off lawns. While there there’s usually a begrudging acceptance of modern technology, the Boomer mentality always seems to get the moral high ground based on how social media is supposedly turning kids into zombies/snowflakes/communists. The adults in the show tend to always be the wise ones when the younger protagonists inevitably delve too deep into their vidja-ma-games or Facebook analogues.
So how does The Loud House do it better? To summarize the relevant episode: dad determines the kids are using their electronic devices too much. Bans them. Kids hold a meeting and decide the way to get the ban revoked is to show dad how useful and entertaining the devices are. They succeed, and dad becomes too hooked on everything the kids wanted to be doing. Roles reversed, the kids have triggered the Aesop and now must acknowledge their own shortcomings and work to overcome them in someone else. They succeed, a Healthy and Reasonable Medium is struck. This is the first time I’ve personally seen an Aesop-based show acknowledge the positive aspects of technology, rather than making jokes about teens being “phone zombies” or oversharing everything on social media. The episode was written by people who are actually comfortable with technology and likely grew up with it from a young age, rather than having it “thrust upon them” once they were already an adult. This episode also avoids the equally-annoying stereotype of an adult being completely technologically-illiterate; once Lynn Sr., the father, learns how engaging technology can be, he quickly becomes an aficionado, even using “social media slang” in unironic ways (i.e. not just trying to mock the younger generation, but doing it for his own fulfillment).
Ultimately, the children and parent reach the conclusion together that a good balance can be achieved between online life and offline family time, with no one being the “I told you so”er. The show acknowledges the substance behind older folks’ anxieties that stem from seeing such a dramatic shift in a whole generation’s focus into a digital world that adults at the time had no knowledge of or control over. And then the show addresses that by bringing the adult into that world and showing them why the kids are so into it, and how he can use it just as well as they can. Personal technology and social media ten years ago probably felt like a fad to people who had already been around for decades. It’s almost 2018 now, and copping that attitude now feels trite. It’s high time we adopted more mature and informed standards on digital lifestyles that now connect the world, control markets and influence elections. As always, cartoons serve as an excellent barometer of changing social values.
Roleplaying games. For some of us at BLP, they’re our bread and butter (I’m one of those lucky jerks who gets to play them as part of my day job). For some of us, they’re a recent discovery. Psychodrama, the performative act of becoming someone else in mind, and sometimes in body, is an ancient one that galvanized culture and led to most forms of art and entertainment in the present day. Roleplaying games connect us to aspects of other people and ourselves, and helps open our eyes to new perspectives. This week’s Going Around poses this prompt to our team of contributors: Tell us about an RPG character (tabletop or otherwise) who has stuck with you after the game is done.
Continue reading Going Around: Fragments of Our Finest Selves
…TO PUNISH. YOUR. NOVEL.
(Or whatever other creative pursuit you may be engaged in today.)
DEATHNOWRIMO 2017 is live on Discord (all day) and Twitter (until I go to bed, and then Miki picks up the reins some hours later). Our Extra Life charity stream begins at 10AM EST and ends at 11AM EST tomorrow–yes, we’re packing 25 hours of games into our stream, for the kids, and for you! Catch those on our Twitch page starting at 10AM EST, and check out our Extra Life page to help kids at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center!
Kamen Rider Calliope Update #1!
When I write something, especially a fiction piece, the question “why am I writing this?” passes through my mind a lot. It’s not referring to the large-scale, navel-gazing “why”; if that hadn’t been answered for me already, I wouldn’t have even started writing the piece in the first place. It’s the smaller, more close-and-personal “whys” that make me sit back sometimes and take a more scrutinizing look at how I’m writing something.
Why am I writing a character that embodies certain traits? Why am I using this setting? Why am I skipping over these details to focus on some other ones? For a writer, every word is a drop of paint on a canvas; no matter how small it may be on its own, a single tiny morpheme ultimately plays a part in shaping the audiences’ perception of your piece. To quote some already-abundant advice, make every word count.
This fiction piece I’m writing, Kamen Rider Calliope, is meant to fit into a pre-existing framework with well-established tropes and traditions. However, using prose instead of film as a storytelling medium creates another degree of separation between my story and the “purest essence” of what Kamen Rider is as a work of fiction. It would take a work of genius beyond my imagining to write a fanfiction that would perfectly evoke the sensation of watching Kamen Rider as a TV show. I never want to say that a creative endeavor is utterly impossible, but saying it would be attainable is almost insulting to the art of cinematic storytelling. There’s magic that can be produced through the lens of a camera when actors, script and cinematography all catalyze perfectly; words fail to describe the many layers of emotion and symbolism that can be seen in a tiny instant of a film.
I’m going to stop there because I’m in no way trying to say that prose is inferior to film; the two are simply different, and there are creative apexes that neither medium can truly cross over into, respectively. In following my intention to evoke the trademark feeling and pace of a Kamen Rider show, I’ve found that the scenes I’ve got planned out require a much higher wordcount to get through than I was expecting. At the time of this writing, I’m about halfway through act one of my outlined narrative, which would translate into the first two episodes of a Kamen Rider TV show. I’m predicting this act will be around 15,000-20,000 words in all… Now consider how most Kamen Rider series are 40 to 50 episodes total.
I’m not quite sure what I’ve gotten myself into, but for now I’ve still got the optimism to keep going full-steam.
To play Jokers & Journeys with Tarot cards, use the pip cards as usual. A Royal Family becomes that much more difficult to score; a Blackjack is played with the Page of each suit and its corresponding 10 (you can call it a “reversed reading” if you want to). The Major Arcana are as follows:
Continue reading Jokers & Journeys: The Tarot Expansion
Hello, readers and writers! I hope folks are having a productive NaNoWriMo. I’m plugging away on my own work, which ties into the news I have today.
In the coming months I will be publishing a serial fiction story through BloodLetterPress, the Kamen Rider Calliope Project. Every week you’ll be able to check in on our site to read the latest installment, similar to novels published in newspapers or magazines in the 19th and 20th centuries. The format has since mostly migrated online, and I’ve been interested in exploring the medium for awhile now.
Continue reading New Project Announcement!
Well, here I am, a few days late and a dollar or so short–but, I am here, and that counts for something. It’s been an adventure fighting the inky beast, but guess what? It turns out that the ol’ beasty is actually pretty rad, and instead of fighting them, I should have just been like, totally embracing this inky fiend all along, you know? Anyway, all’s well that ends well, so with a cramped up drawing hand, and stars in my eyes, I can finally close this chapter of my sketchbook with a sense of pride. Continue reading Inktober 3: The Third One
BLP had an amazing time running our game Stars Fall Up with folks who attended Jiffycon this past weekend! A huge thanks to all who showed up and hung out with us. Seeing people be excited about the game makes us 1020% more excited about it as well, and personally speaking, it makes me want to keep making supplements for the game.
So here’s our first offering. Below you’ll find six pre-generated character that we used at Jiffycon for our SFU session. They’re totally free to use and remix however you feel like, so go nuts. The character templates are purposely vague to allow for a great amount of customization from players, while not having to fret over coming up ideas for backgrounds and #tags.
Continue reading Meet The Locals: Premade Characters for Stars Fall Up