DovahQueen: Bend the Knee
Since 2015, the DovahQueen has been taking your questions and giving advice to improve your games. Now the tables are turned in this DovahQueen series; Loren is asking the questions and a panel of three guests—an RPG-industry veteran, a Know Direction network staff member, and a fan—answers. It’s time to Bend the Knee!
First, let’s meet today’s guests.
RPG Industry Veteran: Lar deSouza/lartist/uncalar
I grew up playing board games with my family, and I was introduced to RPGs with AD&D back in high school (I’m an old). While I haven’t had much time or opportunity to play over the years, I’ve dabbled in Pathfinder, Starfinder and newer DND editions. Most recently, I’ve been able to put that love for RPGs on display with work done for SJGames in a few of their Munchkin properties.
I draw a lot.
My wife and I fund raise annually for the MS Society of Canada. We have a dear friend who has been surviving with MS for decades. I draw custom cartoons for donations. Like the villager on the path who gives a tiny bit of aid to the hero. I can’t fix the world but I can try to make those around me feel their burden a little less.
Know Direction Network Staff Member: Andrew Marlowe aka Pestilence, GM Bedlam, and Founder of IsolaCon
In the summer of 1983, I was introduced to the D&D Red Box and I was hooked. So, for the last 37 years, I’ve been playing and tinkering with RPGs. In 2014, I officially became a paid freelance game designer, and in 2016 I joined Know Direction as a blogger. Together with my wife, Monica, we have created Marlowe House our own outlet for our gaming creativity. Currently, that’s predominantly only two streams a week but we plan to begin publishing soon. Together we are also raising two wonderful young adults.
Fan: Anthony Adam aka TemplateFu
I’ve been playing games since Chainmail and DnD, before it had numbers or Editions. I used to partake in every season of Paizo’s RPG Superstar resulting in my review alias of TemplateFu. I suffer from Asperger’s: a condition that makes it difficult to read body language and respond appropriately, which means friendships are hard to come by—people you meet tend to think there is something off about you, or that you are weird and unlikeable. This is why I find RPGs such a life-line; everyone around the table is always saying what the characters are doing and how they are feeling, allowing me to feel included and at ease.
“In fiction, heroes are a dime a dozen, and they’re easy to recognize. They might wield steel swords in defense of their kingdom or pilot dangerous vessels to protect their loved ones in the deep of space. These heroes risk their lives by endangering themselves in front of tooth and claw, laser beams, and crime-ridden streets. You might recognize them by their well-known costumes, deeds, or armaments. But…not all heroes wear capes. In the modern day, there isn’t much use for a swashbuckling adventurer to save a helpless populous. Currently, real world heroes risk their lives or dedicate their time to more mundane, yet no less important, causes. They might get paid to run into burning buildings to save grandmothers. Perhaps they never miss a shift at the local homeless shelter. Heroes today come in all shapes and sizes, and they champion all manners of causes.”
What makes a modern day hero? Use someone you know in real life as an example if possible. Additionally, you three guests were selected for your work with a charity. What is your charity and what does it do? How can everyday people help that cause?
Lar: What makes a real life hero?
Hero is a word we throw around lightly for people we admire. In fiction, we have the classic arc of the Quest where a Hero experiences growth and revelation. It’s a shame real life doesn’t enjoy the same narrative. For me, a real-life hero is far less glamorous but no less impressive. Unfortunately, those who choose the heroic path are often invisible because they are taken for granted. Choosing a life of service to others is, for me, a real marker that someone is a potential hero. That could be politics, the military, medical fields, personal guidance counseling, law enforcement—so many choices are on the path of a hero. Even a parent’s choice to care for their family is a mark of heroism. I don’t mean to cheapen the definition, but hopefully instead to underscore how important I consider all these people. As a child of immigrants, I consider my parents heroes to move four children (ages 6,5,3 & <1) from Guyana to Canada in the early sixties to establish a life here for us. (I was born about a year after they arrived).
But heroic acts do not necessarily make a HERO! People are not flawless, and Real Life doesn’t have tidy story arcs so often things depend upon the moment. Possibly the best mark of a Hero is their legacy. The changes to lives left behind after they are out of the spotlight or after their work is done. I think the best I can do is to laud the work of the heroic acts of others and let history decide who gets the capitalized designations. While we all see and admire people like Greta Thunberg for her passion and initiative, or Ruth Bader-Ginsberg for her fierce work for the US Justice System, I think my nominations for hero are the quieter ones, whose ripples may never be fully appreciated. The teachers who make a difference, the doctors and researchers who advance life-saving therapies and cures, and the soldiers, law enforcement, firefighters, etc. who put their lives physically in danger for others. I’d rather live in a world populated by everyday heroes than wait for a Chosen One.
My wife and I fundraise annually for the MS Society of Canada. We have a dear friend who has been surviving with MS for decades. I draw custom cartoons for donations. Like the villager on the path who gives a tiny bit of aid to the hero. I can’t fix the world, but I can try to make those around me feel their burden a little less.
Andrew: Modern day heroes take many forms and I don’t mean the brightly colored costumed variety of the comic book movies. Rather, I meant the first responders (police, fire, EMTs, doctors, nurses) who put their lives on the line, but I also mean teachers, counselors, and social workers. In this time of pandemic even store clerks and cashiers can be heroes. Heroes see a need and step up even if it puts them at physical, societal, or even financial risk.
My late father practiced a quiet sort of heroism. From the time I was very small, I remember him reaching out to others and offering a hand up. Even though I didn’t always recognize then what I was seeing, it left an impression on me.
I remember the little things most, in restaurants he’d craft origami cranes from the paper placemats for fussy children at nearby tables. Bringing joy to the kids but also easing the potential embarrassment of the parents. When I look back on it now the cranes seemed to say, “it’s okay. I get it. I’m a parent too.” As I grew older I could see the more immediate and concrete ways he reached out. We were never rich, but he owned his own business and we were fairly comfortable. My dad never hesitated to share what we had with those less fortunate. Whether it was housing and mentoring a young artist, employing and feeding a local homeless man until the man could get back on his feet, propping up a friend’s business, or helping to pay for another person’s dental surgery. Even now, a decade after his passing, those people whose lives he touched will occasionally reach out and remind me how special he was. Often, I learn about another small act of kindness I’d no idea he’d performed.
I’m not in the comfortable financial situation my parents were in for large portions of my childhood but I try occasionally to follow his example. A month ago, as the stay-at-home orders began to roll out nationwide and the bad industry news piled up day-by-day, I decided we’d run a charity stream to benefit the RPG Creators Relief Fund (or RCRF). Before I had a chance to think, a couple of weekend streams turned into a full on virtual convention we dubbed IsolaCon (for Isolation Con). In a mere three weeks, we garnered tremendous industry and fan support running about 30 events and raising well over three thousand dollars for the RCRF.
The RCRF is a charity dedicated to helping anyone who is involved in the RPG industry (from artists, designers, editors, cartographers, etc.) who find themselves in hard financial straits to keep creating. Over 90% of the charitable donations to the RCRF go directly to RPG Creators in the form of grants. The remaining totals go to business filing fees, website upkeep, etc. The RCRF is run entirely by volunteers so they have no employees and don’t pay out salaries to make sure each donated dollar goes as far as it possibly can.
This is a charity I admire and respect so it was a no brainer that this was the charity I wanted to raise money for when we began planning IsolaCon. The success we had this year has inspired us to do it again, but next year we’ll take more time to plan and coordinate the event. So look for IsolaCon to return in 2021 on Febuary 5th, 6th and 7th. For more information and updates like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/isolacon).
Anthony: I was asked by Ryan to be part of this talk about real life heroes because of a charity project I recently proposed and passed to the publisher Legendary Games. I don’t particularly think of myself as heroic in any way—I’m an ordinary guy trying to do his bit during the Covid-19 crisis and wanting to support his highly valued friends both near and far. I proposed and produced a cookbook of recipes using everyday ingredients to help make supplies last longer and go further, and to raise money for healthcare centers, support personnel, and for those truly suffering the effects of lockdown and lack of income.
So, how did this all start? I was sitting at home reading my social media posts from friends and I noticed the trend of people both locally, and in the US, having trouble sourcing basic essentials and struggling to keep their families safe and sane and well provided for. At lot of these are friends I had made when attending Paizocon 9 and 10 in Seattle—my first time in over 50 years going alone to a foreign country and mixing socially with such a large crowd. It was very intimidating and scary. The Paizo staff, and other publishers there were incredible, taking me under their wing and really caring about the people coming to see them at their convention. Games designers, gamers, and all of the staff made me feel safe and welcome. My social network of friends went from 20 to over 100 in just 3 days.
Now, years later, I realized I missed these people dreadfully, and I dearly wanted to help these friends so far away. I remembered cooking for Owen K Stephens, his wife, and some of their friends during my second visit to Seattle. So naturally, I thought of a cookbook—not with fancy recipes—one from a community full of home, love, caring, and recipes that are fun and easy to source with food saving tips. Through this medium, I would be able to support all of my friends remotely. It’s like a virtual hug to them all.
Then I realized it could be used at the same time to raise funds to support essential workers and services everywhere, and to help those hit the hardest by lockdown. I asked Rachel Ventura if she thought it would be something a publisher might be interested in supporting and publishing such an endeavor, and that I would give my time for free to maximize the money that could be raised. The answer was a resounding yes, and so the next day, I was asking everyone through Facebook and messenger for recipes, and these amazing people, struggling every day like we all are, came forth magnificently. So, this pipedream now exists, Cooking Thru Lockdown, containing home recipes and tips from around the world including some my own. The whole process went from that query to submitting the manuscript in just 7 calendar days. We really wanted fast turnaround to get the book out for when it could provide the most help.
I cannot, at the time of writing this, give you a link to the product yet; the book is currently in layout. Hopefully, it will be available from Legendary Games and other retailing sites by the time you are reading this. It shouldn’t be very long either way.
So, heroes? Back to that question then. For me, the real heroes of today are those healthcare workers fighting Covid-19 on the front line, everyone working in emergency services, public transport, waste disposal, the police and fire services, everyone working to keep our life safe and sustainable. I also include all of those people giving of their time and energy to support these efforts through fund raising and volunteering, or even just by shouting across the fence to the elderly neighbours asking if there is anything they need. In short, all of you.
I would also like to publicly thank every contributor that gave of their time and recipes for free and to the staff of Legendary Games who were willing to donate their time to produce this product in aid of such a worthwhile cause. Money is tight for all right now so this publisher has really risen above and beyond in doing this, and I hope you will join me in applauding them all.
Please consider buying a copy of this cookbook when it is available; it is raising money for your heroes everywhere, and it might even help you during your lockdown and beyond.
Many thanks in advance to you all. Keep safe, keep well, and stay home.
I’ve heard from my guest writers; now I want to hear from you. What does it mean to be a hero to you? Who are some of your heroes in real-life? Leave a comment below, on our Discord, or on Know Direction’s Facebook page.
Each Bend the Knee features three guest writers. One is from the RPG industry. Another is from the Know Direction network. The third guest could be you! Leave a comment on Know Direction’s Facebook, Discord, or Twitter, or you can send an email to DearDovahQueen@gmail.com for your chance to be featured on the next Bend the Knee or Dear DovahQueen.
Art belongs to Alex Ross.
You can find him here: https://www.alexrossart.com/