the Fairgame Archive

2007-10-30: Pac NW report
by Emily

Continuing on my recent spate of traveling, I made it out to Washington and Oregon this month.  I spent half a week with Alexis and Ben in Seattle, then made my way down to Portland for a week and stayed with the Ennead.


Alexis and Ben have a nice little apartment in the Capitol Hill District of Seattle.  It is trendier than they are, they rushed to assure me. "It's full of fun things to do at night, while we just stay home."  To the contrary, we had a full social calendar while I was there: going to the Seattle Zoo with friends from Alexis' school, seeing 30 Days of Night with a big group of friends, including Luke and Lesley from the Knife Fight. Hi! Vampires in Alaska, such a good idea. Now why didn't they just have a plan that made any sense?

We spent some time at Alexis' school, the University of Washington. It's a beautiful campus, complete with an epic scale statue of the original George W. holding an ever-so-appropriate to period broad sword in his hand. Perhaps that's what he used on the cherry tree. Alexis' program, the Jackson School of International Studies is top rated in the country. We got to see a luminary they brought in (schedule against Hans Blix, what a choice)the "representative from Taipei", who is, or should be the Ambassador from Taiwan.  We went, curious, but expecting to hear diplomatic nice-niceties, and were amazed to listen to his humorous and realistic assessment of the situation. "I would say this," he said several times, "but I'll get in trouble again..."

And before I left, I got to meet the newest member of Ben and Alexis' household: Aurora, a 2-3 year old stray they adopted from the Seattle Animal Shelter. A good place.  From the animal friendly policies in the city (dogs are allowed on buses and in most stores and restaurants) and from the fact that most of the animals at the shelter get placed, seems like Seattle is a good place to be a pet. And I think Ben and Alexis are as lucky to find Rory, as she is to find them.

Portland Bound

The Ennead live in the SE quarter of Portland.  In a bright little blue and pink house that stands out among the dusky whites and brick of houses around them. The last time I visited, they had just begun to remodel their (unused) garage into a room, which doubled the common space in the house, and separated the television from the living space.  Quiet in which to sleep! It is a great improvement.

The Ennead is the name of a group of folks myself,Vincent and Meg used to live with in Amherst. (Ah, there's a post I have to write about that.)  They moved out west and have done quite well for themselves. Continuing their urban commune in an actual urban area, buying a house and continuing their long standing improvisational free-form role playing campaigns.  Their style is not quite all from which Meg, Vincent & my Ars Magica game was derived from (Meg and Vincent had done some of their own play before, I believe) but it sure is that which brought me into the hobby. So going to visit the Ennead is going home in many ways.

As is traditional (well, if something happening twice makes it a tradition), I sat in on a session of their game while I was their.  I wrote it up on Fair Game last time, and I'd like to do so again, though I've got a lot on my plate right now. Things have changed, though. They are experimenting with some more structures, like having focus characters for sessions, and using adaptations of Vincent's Otherkind dice which have also been used in Bliss stage and Psi-Run. As Ben said, too late for the ethnographic study of the uncontaminated free-form in the wild!

I also got to spend time with Jenn and Kip, who live up on Hawthorne, the trendy part of Portland, from what I could see. We went to the Sapphire Hotel, where I ate almond-stuffed dates cooked in bacon, and a salad with greens, watercress, cucumbers,strawberries, and goat cheese. I almost died from goodness. The next night, Jenn and Kip continued the gourmet culinary assault with a fantastic garlic soup and pear pie, also to die for. I got hang out with their friends and housemates that evening, including Bill Mudron, Dylan Meconis (who has started doing a comic in the Bite Me world again!!!!), Erica Moen, Patrick Farley and of course, Jenn. If Barry had been over, and a bomb had dropped on the house that night, Portland would have lost some measurable fraction of its (considerable) webcomic population. And I'm not even counting Annie from Texas, Dylan's new flat mate, because I don't know her last name.

Speaking of new projects, Dylan has begun Family Man, and Barry has continued working on Hereville (which happens to be down at the time of writing this post, but check it later), which is a fantastic fairy tale about a girl who wants to grow up to kill dragons and her life growing up in a jewish community.  And, new to me, Jenn pointed out Patrick's projects Delta Thrives and spiders. I haven't read Spiders yet, though I should since I am working on a game about the Iraq war, but Delta blew my mind.  Sci-fi in a future we haven't quite caught up to yet, and a great use of the medium of the web for what it can do in comics.

It was a great week in visiting and gaming. I attended the Society for American Foresters National Conference, and learned much more than I had expected to on Carbon Sequestration credits and markets, which is actually useful for my job. I got to spend good time with almost everyone in the house: Matt and Kim and their kids Sydney and Maddox who are growing up quick (yes, Sydney will be in school by the time I come back next year in the fall), Sarah, Barry, Charles and Jake. I had only gotten to see Jake briefly last time I was out there, and then at Gen Con. It was good to sit down with him, and hear about his year in the Utah desert and his history as an artist for Chick comics tracts.

And Jake also asked me to run Doubt. Which I did, for he and Charles, Becca and Mike Sugarbaker (see the picture above). To my delight, they took it on completely, and had a great experience. I'll do an actual play report on the Forge soon, to go with Moreno's from March.  I also got to playtest a game Matt and Kim are working on, which went from the working title Pantaloons and Poltergeists, to Better Angels of our   Nature, a supernatural-horror game set in a Victorian girls' school in the US.  A companion piece to Meg's Miss Schiffer's School for Young Ladies of Quality.

Also, my visit brought some catch up with friends who moved there recently: Esa and Tenuja, hello! A trip to Multnomah falls (pictured above) and a lot of time on the Portland transit system.  It was wonderful to see everyone! I miss you already.

2007-10-30 23:59:17 Meguey

I'm in a hurry, so I'll sum up.

1.It sounds like you had a blast!

2.I'm glad you're home.

3.The food sound delicious!

4.Since they are apparently developing in parallel, I must take exception to P&P (I find this the more evocative title sight unseen) as a companion piece to YLQ.

5.See you tomorrow for the tricking and treating!

2007-10-31 01:38:57 Emily

4.Since they are apparently developing in parallel, I must take exception to P&P (I find this the more evocative title sight unseen) as a companion piece to YLQ.

Sorry, just a turn of phrase. I meant it in the end result, not in the making. They are both great games in development, but separately so.

Two things I forgot:

Happy Birthday, Barry! And so good to see Becca and John again. It was interesting to talk with John about romance in gaming wrt Blue Rose and my games, and absolutely great to game with you, Becca.

2007-11-01 18:53:11 Eric Finley

Em!  You got to meet Patrick Farley!  I'm vastly jealous.  I read Spiders shortly after it came out, drooled a lot, and proceeded to read everything he's ever drawn (and posted).  And then nothing since! Aaagh!

I still periodically - roughly every six months - check e-sheep again to see if he's done anything new.  I do hope the silence is because he's working on something more ambitious, which someday we'll be able to savor...

2007-11-01 20:45:42 Emily

Hi Eric!  Yes, I did meet Patrick. He's very nice, and ridiculously attractive. ;)

*wracking my brain*

I think he said he was working on something, but I can't remember what. Wah! Sorry to blow that opportunity for advance intelligence. I'll make some inquiries...

2007-11-02 18:24:56 xenopulse

You should come by more often! I'll have to get in on a jeepform game next time you do :)

2007-11-02 18:59:04 Emily

Definitely, Christian! We should run the Upgrade, which is great for a big group, and audience. Everyone can jump in and frame/play out scenes that make things more complicated for the players. :)

2007-11-04 22:16:14 Russell

"Vampires in Alaska, such a good idea. Now why didn't they just have a plan that made any sense?"

In the comic, the fact that their plan is stupid to the point of crazy gets a lot of attention. In the form of old vampire Vicente ripping younger Marlowe in two over it partway through. The vampires then shift focus to eliminating all evidence of their stupid plan.

It's sort of inevitable, I guess. Because while the title "30 Days of Night" sounds great, the monsters are going to have to do something about the permanent daylight that afflicts the same place on the other end of the year. The far north schtick's been done a few times. It was in an old Masquerade sourcebook, where it got roundly mocked for the same daylight issue. When Morrison and Millar did it in Vampirella, migration was only part of the solution. The vampires there took over a missile silo in order to start nuclear war and then nuclear winter. Which in and of itself is pretty poor planning.

I enjoyed the comic, and I'll probably see the movie at some point. But, like almost every "fresh new take" on vampires, it isn't new, and it's got as much logic-baggage as the last thirty takes.

2007-11-08 17:25:19 Emily

There is Actual play of the game of Doubt over on the Forge here:

[jeep form] Doubt PDX

2007-11-14 20:14:48 John Harper

I was so, so sad to be out of town during your visit. I'm glad you had a great time, though. And the secret package delivery was a complete success. :-)

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