a fenced forest

blog of @fencedforest. part professional, mostly just headspace. it's queer here.

jam time.

approximately 36 hours until the deadline for Never Alone Jam. let's pretend i think i'm going to have a decent draft ready by then! i have ... a draft ... but as usual, it turned into a bigger project than is reasonable and i'm still unsure where i want to make cuts. the thing i'm working on is Greenbelts & Gardens, a set of family-friendly games/rituals designed to facilitate spiritual connection with nature while living in a city. i want to hand-publish it as a zine eventually ... so that's why it's not finished.

i'm also plateauing. it's no longer a free slide down a greased hill like it always is at first when i get this into learning a thing. suddenly i have to push myself and that takes a lot more energy than i sometimes know to budget for. i refuse to get burnt out on game design though. it's too important. so i stepped back a bit, and that's another reason i'm not finished. spoon assigning is important too. i'd rather sit back and wait to develop something good over time than push myself past healthy to get out something mediocre.

oh also i started playing in a Dungeon World campaign! it's the first time i've ever played an RPG with strangers through voice chat and i was terrified, but it was really fun and i'm super invested now. if you like campaign journals, i'm keeping mine on a separate blog here under my same account. apparently this system and this mode of playing let me take way better notes than i do when running D&D, so that's rad.

i'm finally settling into a regular job schedule as well, so that should lend some stability to my internet and work habits soon, and maybe even let me buy y'all's games finally.

still taking a break from twitter but i'll be back tomorrow night when the jam ends. much love

morning divination #1

i've learned that when i wake up in the morning with my blood up like this and everything getting to me real close, i should take a minute and do some tarot.

today i'm asking, “what is a source of peace close at hand?”

i'm using the Marigold Tarot by Amrit Brar (amritbrarillustration.com). this is my absolute favorite deck, i can't recommend it loudly enough. pay her.

i drew two cards side by side, the left representing what comes from within and the right representing what can be found outside myself.

the left-hand card is the ace of swords reversed. god, that's so me. a great amount of force brought to bear upon a situation in a single blow is sometimes both a huge risk and the only solution possible. no one's ever questioned my capacity for indiscriminate bludgeoning. if there's anything i ever have to offer, it's that.

the right-hand card is the three of rings reversed. upright, this card speaks to collaboration, delegation, and group work moving smoothly. there is a sense of machine hum. this card tends to present its reversal negatively in general, but in this placement it just signifies that the opposite situation — solitary work — is what's favorable here instead.

i asked the cards this question because i was feeling blood-up about stuff i saw on twitter; my cards efficiently responded “ignore them and bang out yr own shit by yrself.” thanks, cards.

by way of clarification, i draw a third card without shuffling: “where should i focus my efforts?”

the devil, reversed. liberation. resisting temptation into situations which hold me captive. this is literally “get off twitter.”


some kind of justifications for myself in this space.

these thoughts will not be in a reasonable order.

i feel like the last couple of months have just ... contained so much. i feel like i shed a serpent skin and became a new, older, truer, more natural version of myself, like a rotting onion with the good in the middle still, like i'm pared down smaller than ever and yet more valuable to myself than ever. it's funny what just making things can do for a person's health. and getting feedback on those things.

influences. how do i talk about influences in this space without getting too intimate with people i just met who live across the world? how do i show appreciation for what has been given to me without making pronouncements on the nature of the people or their work or their situations?

i do know, i've gone afield to find the people whose values match mine and i think this is the end of how long it takes. god i'd be ready to rest my head now.

around us is the worst of humanity possible very much in action. i have gotten to a place where i can just barely have enough to survive. what i can do for the world is not in material means. what i can do is stop being ashamed and discouraged to do the same damn things i've been doing since i was a tiny child, creative things that killed me to suppress, and let them come out to be useful in some way to others. that's my surplus resource and my magic.

our government has always been killing children. it seems like so much in the capitalist world is set up so that children either succeed at becoming something less than themselves or die slowly. and this, this doesn't even give them a chance to try. it is adults' job to protect children. all adults. all children. this is a continuation of the anti-indigenous genocide carried out in missions and residential schools. the same genocidal society that brought me into existence, took me from half my ancestral culture and gave me unearned benefits because of my light skin, while still making sure i knew i was shit in their eyes. yeah i'm fucking angry.

and my anger isn't worth shit to anyone unless it can help.

you know what can help? with no money, no proximity, no physical ability, words and thoughts are fucking important. experiences, stories, perspectives. discussions that bring out new perspectives. what can help is anything that de-normalizes and roots out the culture of capitalist colonial heteropatriarchy.

the cool thing about games is that games are rituals. games teach and rituals are the things humans use to sort their shit out. running a game is creating a sacred space. the experiences of that space are heightened, able to alter the mind at a deeper level than an ordinary exchange. this is good to change minds who are open to change, and even more powerful to create safe spaces for people who are often unsafe. these don't have to be spaces where the content is safe, but they are spaces where consent is required and where difficult things are safe to explore in the company of like-minded others, within a ritual structure.

i've been a lot drawn toward making non-combat games that are either made to be played with children or in which the hero is a child. i've always felt alienated by children, until i realized that was on account of my upbringing, and that they, now more than ever, deserve whatever i can give to them. i will never choose to bear a child. i'm awkward around them. i get along mainly with the ones who are weird and lonely like i was, and i'm scared to death of what adults can do without realizing to a child like that. so i want to make games that care for them, that give people who care for them well a ritual framework. i'd like to eventually run games for children with their parents, sneaking in ways to help them relate to each other more healthily than capitalism requires. i don't know what i have to say about all this really, except that ... i don't know. people should think about this too. i hope they are. more than anything that's true, children deserve safety, and adults who were never safe as children deserve safety now. and sometimes safety can feel dangerous. and i would say that's something games can help with.

i have a lot of thoughts, and i sure as hell don't experience them linearly so i won't be trying to write them that way.

new blog!

god, you know what? ideally, i'd like to just make an announcement here that there will be regular blogging. i'd like to say that this will be the place you can find progress updates on new games, reviews of others' games, discussions on game design and marginality, short fiction and essay writing, and shit like that, updated several days a week.

but i know myself.

so i know i can promise that things like that will show up here sometimes, and that's about the best it gets.

what helps? outside pressure. positive feedback, engagement, return on my investments of time, positive relationships with other designers and GMs, jam deadlines, player opinions. if you want me to keep doing the thing, talk at me. y'all have, and that's why i'm here.

thanks for the support.