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Posts Tagged ‘larping’

speaking of Ree . . . .

Possibly the easiest way for me to encapsulate the character I talked about in a previous post is by linking you to this song.

It’s an amazing remix all on its own. I love the way it builds, wave-like: it keeps climbing and then receding, stepping back to a quieter level when you expect it to bust out in full Linkin Park screamo yelling. 😛 But more than that, it fit beautifully with Ree at the pivotal moment of her story, the brink of her metamorphosis from the broken, lost thing she had been for eons back to her original self. “I’ve felt this way before” . . . she’d been shattered, and had tried to piece herself back together — thought she had succeeded — but then during the course of the game she was shattered again, falling back to square one, so far from her goal it was almost impossible for her to believe that she was actually closer to it than ever. “Against my will I stand beside my own reflection” . . . she sold half her soul to someone else, not realizing that was what she was doing, and she had to reclaim it. “Without a sense of confidence, I’m convinced that there’s just too much pressure to take” . . . the problem with her Seelie side was that it had too much confidence, without the fatalism of her Unseelie half to temper it, which is how she got broken again, and then the symbolism of the diamond and pressure over time pretty much guaranteed I had to use this song. This was Ree at her lowest point, one step away from victory, and the tension that builds throughout this evokes those days perfectly in my mind. There’s more to it than one song, but I can point to the song and say, this. This is why I can’t forget her story.

When I make soundtracks for characters, or for games I run, or for novels, many of the songs are filler. They go in because I want the whole story in music, and so I pick the best matches I can; in the really good soundtracks, even the filler is pretty solid. But this? This is why I go to the effort. For the one or two or five songs that are the story, the ones that become so linked with the narrative that they end up feeding back into it, and it can be eight years later and hearing them still brings the story to life in my head. This is Galen walking into the chamber below the Monument. This is Dead Rick getting his memories back. Here’s the entire second half of Doppelganger, according to my half-dozing brain when I was in the middle of writing the book; I can quite literally map segments of the novel to the various stages in the music, because my subconscious had decided this was the outline it was writing to. (Much like what happened here, though that was on a smaller scale.)

It’s no accident that I also love film scores. Pairing music with story — turning music into story — is one of my favorite things. Since I’m not a composer, I have to settle for the mix-tape approach. Sometimes it works out very, very well.

she’s a changeling; they get reborn all the time

I have no idea when and how I will do it, but I suspect that one of these years, Ree is going to find her way into some piece of fiction I write.

She was my Changeling character in a long-running LARP, and over the course of five years of playing her, I worked up a fascinatingly complex framework for the metaphysics of her personality. She was a changeling: a faerie in a human body, which meant that psychology and metaphysics and narrative were essentially three sides of the same coin (and hey, it’s the Dreaming; why can’t a coin have three sides?). I don’t know why she came to mind tonight, but she did, and I found myself re-reading the transcript of a scene I once ran via e-mail. Jadael hosting people at his manor for some kind of party — I don’t remember why — and Ree in the middle of her cyclical Court change, which meant she was Unseelie and overwhelmed by fatalism and taking it out on everybody around her. So Jadael, being the perfect host, took her to a building out back and let her beat the ever-living shit out of him in a fight . . . because that was clearly what she needed. Which was both true, and not. It probably wasn’t good for her. But it made her feel better, because she had more anger than she knew what to do with, and whaling on Jadael with her fists let her inflict the fatalism on him, too, and make him bleed into the bargain. And there’s the whole layer that got added in by the Mesoamerican faerie stuff I had invented — stuff which got reworked into “A Mask of Flesh” and several other stories from that setting I haven’t finished and sold yet — Ree formally thanking Jadael at the end for giving her blood, which meant more than he realized, because of the concept of a debt of blood and what it signified to her. She was a diamond that had been shattered, and ultimately I got her out of the pit of her Court change and her fatalism by way of a metaphor, Ree understanding that you don’t fix a diamond by gluing it back together, you recognize that what you have — what you are — is coal, and you make a new diamond through unspeakable pressure over a long period of time.

I don’t think you can tell that story with a human being. Whatever I do with it would have to be higher-fantasy than that, because you need somebody whose soul is a story, somebody who exists through and for the telling of stories, who can re-tell her own story to fix what got destroyed so long ago. Somebody whose psychological problems are metaphysical and metaphorical at their root, tied up in diamonds and blood and fire and ice. Parts of it will go away, I’m sure: the two jaguars and her totemic tie to them, which is straight out of the Mesoamerican stuff and will wind up in the Xochitlicacan stories if it winds up anywhere. The specific framework of the Changeling cosmos, with Seelie and Unseelie and Ree as an eshu. Many of the characters she interacted with. But something about the core is still there in my mind, simmering away, and like blood, it will out.

Someday. Somehow. I’ll let you know when it does.

MIA, and a call for corrections

I’ve been very absent from here lately due to busy-ness and illness; KublaCon was last weekend, and kniedzw and I ran our one-shot LARP, which went very well I think, but now I have Con Crud and that isn’t much fun. Especially since I have work I need to do.

But! I am breaking radio silence to say that I’ve gotten the page proofs for the mass-market edition of A Star Shall Fall. This is my chance to correct any errors that made it through me, my editor, me again, my copy-editor, me again, my proofreader, and me yet again in the trade paperback edition — and believe me, there are some. I know of two instances of a duplicated word (“an an” in both cases), and one place where the line “Galen’s mouth gone dry” is missing the word “had,” and the arithmetic error on page 171. If you’ve spotted any others, please let me know!

for those with an interest in LARPs

My friend mikevonkorff has been doing a series of posts about live-action roleplaying games — their design and execution, what players look for in a game and how they pursue it, etc. Chewy stuff, especially since a lot of his commentators are part of a circle that has played a bunch of games together, but I’m coming from a totally different gaming community. Makes for some very enlightening comparisons.

I’m taking a particular interest in this because kniedzw and I are likely to be running a one-shot LARP based on Changeling: The Dreaming in a few months. (If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, will be around Memorial Day weekend, and think you might like to play, drop me a line.) I haven’t done a lot of LARP-running, so it helps to watch other people talk about the stuff you need to consider, and the different ways those topics can be approached. Especially when those people do things very differently than I do.

Anyway, if you have any interest in the topic, check his posts out. And feel free to jump in, even on the older posts; the more perspectives, the merrier.

I’ve been sitting on this for a month

I’ve worked with Ekaterina Sedia (squirrel_monkey) twice before, on “Comparison of Efficacy Rates for Seven Antipathetics As Employed Against Lycanthropes” (in Running with the Pack) and “Coyotaje” (in Bewere the Night). Now that I have the go-ahead, I’m delighted to say that I have sold her a third story, this one without any shapeshifters in it whatsoever: “False Colours,” a novelette in her upcoming anthology of YA Victorian romance, Wilful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society and Scandal.

You can read more about the anthology here. The table of contents looks pretty awesome:

  • THE DANCING MASTER by Genevieve Valentine
  • AT WILL by Leanna Renee Hieber
  • RESURRECTION by Tiffany Trent
  • THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND by Sandra McDonald
  • FALSE COLOURS by Marie Brennan
  • THE COLONEL’S DAUGHTER by Barbara Roden
  • MERCURY RETROGRADE by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Caroline Stevermer

As for “False Colours”? Well, a select few among you may recall a certain character named Lt. Ravenswood . . . yeah, this is that story. The rest of you will have to wait and read it for yourself — I wouldn’t want to spoil anything!

I’ll post a release date when I have one.

Thanksgiving Advent, Day Four: Role-playing Games

Almost forgot today’s post! Well, I’ll take my inspiration from the thing I’m about to run off and do, and say I’m thankful for role-playing games.

Yeah, you heard me; I’m about to go spend my Friday night being a gamer. (This is not at all a surprise to some of you.) RPGs are awesome, man! The way I approach them, they’re collaborative storytelling, and let me tell you — it is freaking amazing when stuff comes together, totally unplanned, into the perfect bit of story. Emergent narrative, to don my academic hat againt for a moment. I loves me a well-written novel, too, but when that stuff happens half by accident, it’s extra cool.

And playing gives me a chance to explore different kinds of characters, in ways I can then bring back to my writing. So aside from the benefit to me, there’s a benefit to you.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I have go to pretend to be someone else. 🙂

a question for the embroiderers

I know I have people reading this blog who spin, crochet, weave, knit, and sew; I figure odds are good at least a couple of you embroider.

How would you recommend going about embroidering this figure?

Assume a smallish size — maybe two inches in diameter. I’d love to hear what types of stitch you would use where, in what order, and bonus points for specifying whether it’s what an experienced embroiderer would do, or what a hypothetical embroiderer who used to know about three stitches fifteen years ago might have an easier time with. (Not that we know anybody fitting that description, nosirree.) I’m mostly concerned with making the end result look good; cutting corners to make it less of a pain in the ass is not necessary. 🙂

I’m not even sure how to effectively transfer the design to the material (which is dark grey, and will be embroidered in white) — I’m almost tempted to print it onto thin paper and then just stitch straight over that. Is this a bad idea?

(The whole project is probably a bad idea, for the aforementioned reason of three stitches semi-mastered fifteen years ago. But it’s not like I’ve ever done anything crazy in the textiles department before. kurayami_hime, remember the Greek key belt?)

like riding a bike

It hurt my soul a little bit to play a changeling in a Vampire game — but man, it was fun getting to LARP again last night.

The problem is that all the nearby games I know about — where “nearby” is generously described as “within a half-hour drive” — are One World By Night Vampire games, and it really isn’t my genre. Their politics make me want to spork my eyes out, and the alternative to politics is generally Superheroes With Fangs, as they send out boot parties to take down whatever ridiculously overpowered beastie is causing trouble now. Despite that, I’d still probably play in the San Francisco game, except they play outside and it being San Francisco, I froze my toes off the one time I went.

I froze last night, too, but apparently I’ll do that for Changeling, when I won’t do it for Vampire. (The truth of the matter is that I was told the game had a partially-indoor location; what nobody told me was that it would turn out to be 43 degrees that night and the heat had, as near as I can tell, been turned off.) kniedzw having recently become the Changeling Coord for OWbN, he agreed to go up to Santa Rosa to help them finish off a faerie plot that’s been going on there. And when he asked me if I’d be interested in joining him . . . hell yeah! I miss LARPing. amysun and zunger‘s murder mysteries have been my only other fix since I moved out here, aside from my one attempt at the SF OWbN game; that’s three games in nearly a year and a half. I like tabletop gaming, too, but LARPs have a theatrical element that I really enjoy: costumes and body language and physical interaction, the spatial arrangement of a scene.

So I got to cameo as a Liam baroness, negotiating with a group of vampires whose previous leader was stupid enough to let himself be manipulated by a Balor Shadow Court operative into trying to assassinate me. It’s a pretty well-constructed plot, if by “well-constructed” I mean certain characters will be screwed if they make the wrong choice, and others will be screwed no matter what happens. <g> (Those in the latter category brought it upon themselves; the stupidity of the previous leader goes well beyond the nutshell description given above. People: DON’T SWEAR OATHS WITH FAERIES.) Negotiations did not go well, but they aren’t over yet; they have a chance to redeem themselves, and I may have a chance to play the baroness again.

Need moar LARPing. I have a closetful of costumes going to waste. <sigh>


An exchange with kitsunealyc has got me thinking about one of the aspects I really love in Changeling: The Dreaming, namely, the fact that the premise incorporates reincarnation as one of its fundamental elements. The faerie souls are born into a series of mortal hosts, and sometimes they remember their past lives, which means you can have all kinds of fun with patterns and echoes and change over time.

Hell, that was the precise notion that set the ball rolling for Memento.

And it makes me wonder — who out there has written fantasies that make use of this idea? Not just reincarnation, but remembering past lives, telling a story where the fixed and mutable characteristics of a soul are a central part of the tale. Katharine Kerr’s Deverry books come to mind, and Jo Graham has started a series of history-hopping fantasies that appear to feature the same souls incarnating as central and peripheral figures in various periods (the Trojan War, Ptolemaic Egypt), but those are the only ones I can think of offhand. The Wheel of Time, I suppose, but that’s one of a billion ideas swirling around in that series, and it doesn’t get the exploration I’d like to see.

I had fun running the idea in Memento, and I had fun playing with it via Ree, my long-term LARP character. What’s it like to remember — in your early twenties — that you generally don’t live to see your twenty-fifth birthday? What does it mean for friendships and enmities when the universe hits the “reset” button on your lives? How can you take something that appears to be a fundamental part of your nature, on a metaphysical level, and work around and with it so you don’t repeat the same mistakes you always have? I have no idea what kind of story I could use to explore those notions again, but I suspect I’ll think of one eventually, because clearly my brain isn’t done with it yet.

So where can I go to feed my brain? Kerr, Graham, Jordan — who else?

Man, I have missed LARPing. And if I can say that after the costume I wore last night, it really must be true.

(Short form, for those who I’m very glad didn’t see it: think truck stop diner waitress. I’ve done skin-tight and low-cut costumes before; now, with the crossing of the short skirt boundary, I’ve got about as far as I can in terms of revealing costumes without violating public decency laws. You know there’s a problem when you put off getting changed until game’s right about to start.)

Beforehand, gollumgollum and I were running a scene for a different (tabletop) game, and we ended up half-LARPing it, with me stretched out on a couch and her in a chair at my side, because it just wasn’t possible to get into the right headspace without doing the spatial positioning the scene required. And we both felt underdressed for playing those characters. Once you get used to physically performing things, it can seem weird to not do so; I know I’ve been frustrated in tabletop games when I’m having an important, personal conversation with someone and we’re on opposite sides of the room. It just isn’t the same. I like the physicality, the way that posture and stance and clothing and everything else can change the way you behave.

But there aren’t any LARPs in town I feel particularly inspired to join right now. (OTOH, maybe this means the boy and I will get off our butts and run “The Dance and the Dawn” like we’ve been saying we will.)