jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

We got to try out a game of Endless Fantasy Tactics with Alias, a day or two ago. It was pretty fun!

Alias' hand picking up a miniature, on top of a hand-drawn isometric 3d map that looks like it came from Final Fantasy Tactics. Various Warhammer 40,000 and Pathfinder miniatures are being used as proxies, and a lot of dice are being used as counters. To one side, there are print-out lists of each model's stats. To the other, there is a magnetic Pathfinder initiative tracking board, with magnets for each mini arranged in initiative order. It also has little red hearts and blue circles for each model's HP and MP.

Those unpainted models are totally beastmen, not XV8 Crisis battlesuits.

It's basically Final Fantasy Tactics: the minis game. Which means we had to draw an isometric map, and HP/MP counters for everyone. Oh, and it uses stat cards normally, so we printed out lists with our models' stats on them instead.

Technically you don't have to go to these lengths. They sell decks of cards for all of the models and items, plus a beginner set with a reconfigurable 3d board. But we wanted to start with the core rulebook, and we figured it wouldn't take that long to make our own play aids.

Turns out, it did ^^; partly because we had to learn how to do layout in Pages first. And then when we actually started playing, our large-sized models took a hit for each square they stand on, every time Alias' Lunarian bunnies AOE'd.

But the Lunarians are just so cute! As are gels, beastmen, and the dreaded Black Kiwi.

(The gels all want to be heroes, or something. It's awesome.)

Anyway, we'll probably be playing this more in the future. And here are some more pics of the play aids we created / used, behind the cut:

Read more... )

Did we mention that [personal profile] aliaspseudonym / [tumblr.com profile] spinecrawlerrush has been visiting? ^^;;;

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

Reminder: The application period for the sci-fi Fate RPG is still going. Please check out the application thread to find out how to apply to be in it.

Now, then. Here's a question and answer from an AMA, or "Ask Me Anything," thread on an internet forum:

Q. Does [your girlfriend who used to be a miko, or Shinto shrine maiden] have any opinion on all of the cosplayers wearing her sacred vestments to look cute?

A. She doesn't care at all. Also they weren't really "sacred vestments" to her so much as a uniform...like a person at a fill-up station or a convenience store. She kinda likes Touhou, or at least she thinks the characters are cute. [...] She thinks Reimu's outfit is cute, and definitely better than what she had to wear.

-- [WARNING: NSFW / sexist / Reddit link] IAmA guy whose girlfriend was a miko (Shinto "shrine maiden") AMA

Sometimes, I get the feeling that it's the people who shame others for finding meaning in Japanese stories, symbols, and mythology, who are the ones that are actually racist. And possibly ageist, since a lot of the media that portrays these things came to North America in the form of "cartoons," "comic books," and video games, which aren't okay to like because they are "for kids."

Meanwhile, real-world Shinto shrines are actually using their connections to manga and anime to attract visitors. Via Green Shinto, an English-language article in a Japanese newspaper explains:

Some may see it as a trivialisation of sacred space, but priests and anthropologists counter this with such statements as, “Since ancient times, Shinto shrines have not been exclusive. It’s good if they are talked about and become attractive destinations.”

The ema with anime characters on them may strike some readers as weird and merchandise-y. But whatever your feelings about mass media and commercialism, I don't feel like it's a good thing to shame people for liking them. And I feel like when English-speaking people police each other for liking Japanese media, folklore, and/or religion, it doesn't come from a place of respect for those things. It comes from a desire to control, and to punish, and to keep racial boundary lines from being crossed.

Cosplay and other forms of self-expression can be used to give offense and to caricature. But I'm pretty sure that Square-Enix execs aren't offended when people in North America write Final Fantasy fanfic, and the priests at the Fushimi Inari shrine aren't upset about foreign tourists buying ofuda. If they are, they'll just have to console themselves with our money.

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

tl;dr: Women aren't living "the female lifestyle." Trans women (and men, and non-binary trans persons) aren't "living a lifestyle" by being who they are, either.

Content note: Transphobia, religious abuse, and Final Fantasy III and VII spoilers. Edited slightly in response to [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith's comment and [personal profile] sophie's feedback.

Are you a boy or a girl?

A picture of the character select screen from Pokémon.

Poor Professor Oak. His memory just hasn't been the same since the accident.

Everyone gets told the answer to this question when they're little. But sometimes, the answer they're given is wrong.

As many as 1 in 100 people are born intersex, meaning their bodies aren't strictly male or female and may have both sets of sexual characteristics. This isn't a pleasant thing to be, in sex-obsessed North American society. You might get mutilated by doctors when you're still an infant, to try to make you look more like a boy or a girl. You might grow up feeling uncomfortably different from everyone else, and never be told why, because even your parents thought it was shameful. And if an intimate partner finds out that you're different, they might tell everyone you're a "trap," reducing you to your genitals and making you out to be some kind of freak.

Because North American society is obsessed with sex, and tries to define everyone by their genders, parents of intersex children usually feel pressured to choose a "true" sex to raise their child as, even when their doctors have no idea what their child's "true" sex is and may as well settle it using a coin flip.

A picture of \*Mute, from Analogue: A Hate Story, incredulously asking the player if something really happened to someone else.

Geez, *Mute, show a little respect.

Sometimes, an intersex child grows up and realizes their parents called "heads" when they should've called "tails" (or just let the coin lay on its side). Sometimes, they don't even know their parents made the call. They just know they don't fit in the box they've been put in, and it's making them miserable.

Sometimes, a person feels this way even when they aren't visibly intersex, and there is no outward indication that they are anything other than their assigned gender. The only sign that things are wrong is that person's misery and feeling of not-right-ness, which psychologists call gender dysphoria and the people who go through it call "being trans."

"I am confused about my gender"

This is a common stereotype, about what it means to be trans. But while the process of self-discovery that trans people go through starts with being confused, that's usually not where it ends. By the time someone comes out as transgender (i.e. announces it to their friends and/or loved ones), they feel confident that their actual gender is not the one that they were assigned by the doctors at birth. Whether they now consider themselves to be "male," "female," "both depending on my mood," "none of the above," or even simply "I don't know yet."

They may not have figured everything out yet, and it can sound confusing to hear them discuss it when you don't know what the words mean and have never met someone like them (at least not and knew that you had). But just because you're confused about what gender somebody else is, that doesn't mean that they are, or that you know better than they do how they should feel about what they see in the mirror.

Finding out what you are

The first step can be as simple as finding out "transgender" is a thing, and immediately knowing "that's me." Other times, it takes years of soul-searching and introspection, during which time you might legitimately be confused. The reason that you are confused, though, is because you were told to expect one thing (feeling like your assigned gender is natural) and encountered another instead.

The answer isn't to double down on the thing that you know isn't right (i.e. acting out your assigned gender's role), in the hopes that this will somehow make dysphoria go away. If anything, that just makes it worse. The answer is to try something different, and see if it makes you feel better. Whether it's trying on another gender's clothing, playing a character of another gender in an online video game (where no one can see what you look like "IRL"), or even "transitioning" genders through medical and/or cosmetic treatments.

For a thing that supposedly comes naturally, being a man sure takes lots of work. Click here if you can't see the video.

Unfortunately, trans people -- as opposed to women of Chinese legend -- can't just transition in a Disney montage. It takes time, money, and effort, both to undergo treatments like hormone therapy and to ... well, basically learn everything that a person of your actual gender is normally taught from birth, in a very short time.

Worse, trans people are especially vulnerable during this time, because they might be visibly (or audibly) "between genders," which is just about the worst thing a person can be in sex-obsessed North American society. On top of that, they have to face the reactions of their family, friends, and acquaintances, which can range from "I love you no matter what" to "pack up your things and get out."

In many American states, it is completely legal to terminate someone's employment or kick them out of their rented home because of their gender identity. (This may mean that you could fire someone for being cisgender, or "not trans." But I don't know for sure because I'm not a lawyer, and there isn't a cisgender rights lobby because as far as I know no one has ever done that.)

In many places there's no social stigma for treating trans persons like crap. Some religions actively mandate it. Doctors and police may be hostile, and even emergency medical technicians may refuse treatment. There are few protections of any kind for trans persons specifically, which may be part of the reason their suicide and mortality rates are so high.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance, held each year on November 20, memorializes the lives of trans persons lost to violence. This, if anything, is what characterizes the "transgender lifestyle," especially for trans women of colour: Living your life in fear.

My transformation story

My birth certificate says that I'm male, and up until my late teenage years I thought I was okay with that. It helps that boys get cooler toys to play with.

Silly girl. Can't she see the Atari XL isn't pink? Click here if you can't see the video.

Even when I was little, though, I was fascinated with stories of transformation, like in myth and in young adult fantasy. I remember reading a story about a girl who was transported back in time and was suddenly living her ancestor's life, with her clothes changing to match. And I imagined going through the same thing, including becoming a girl. It just seemed really neat.

I picked female characters in video games, when they were portrayed as equally competent. I liked Samus from the Metroid series, and Blaze from Streets of Rage II. When Digimon Tamers debuted on TV, I became a Renamon fangirl, and bought mediocre PlayStation games just so I could play as her. I also wrote self-insert fanfic (which I never published) starring me as a tamer and her as my Digimon partner.

Of course, my self-insert was female.

A picture of an anthropomorphic fox with stylized yin-yang designs on her fur.

Admit it: Renamon is way cooler than you are.

Later on, "Erin Fox" kept showing up in the tabletop RPGs I GMed, from Star Wars to Dungeons and Dragons, as a helpful non-player character. I tried to make a male self-insert, but kept killing them off or sidelining them because I just wasn't all that invested in them.

It didn't help that I was raised Mormon. So in between being asked by my adult male bishop, one-on-one behind closed doors, about my sexuality, I was bombarded with messages about how women are "God's crowning creation." While "the natural man is an enemy to God" and I was a dirty good-for-nothing, if I didn't completely stop masturbating and thinking about sex at all, go on a two-year proselyting mission to convert more people to Mormonism, and get a high-paying job so I could support a wife and twelve kids.

Obviously, this isn't the message that most Mormon men get. If anything, their self-flagellating rhetoric about how they'd be starving, naked, and on fire without their wives, is a means of overcompensating for how Mormon culture treats women as inferior.

The last man to speak on motherhood was Brother Rick Dalmonico, 23, a new father. “Sometimes when I come home and my wife is nursing our newborn, the spirit is so strong that I feel it would be irreverent to interrupt them,” he confessed. “So I just usually go in the other room and watch football. I wouldn’t want to interfere with something as sacred as precious motherhood.”

-- From "The Sugar Beet," a parody Mormon newsletter

In my case, though, it hurt because I was a woman. I didn't just dislike the insulting male stereotype they presented me with; I hated having to be male to begin with. I wasn't just ashamed of the "sacred parts" of my body, after being taught to feel bad for having sexual feelings. I was disgusted by them, so much so that I could barely admit I was morbidly fascinated with these bizarre alien things.

I didn't want to have them. I didn't want to sound like this, I didn't want to be shaped like this, I didn't want to hear jokes about "testosterone poisoning" causing car accidents and feel ashamed for having it.

If I'd had the choice, I would have picked "female"

But Mormons believe you consented to live the life you have, in the "pre-existence." So I told myself it was my burden to bear, an act of self-sacrifice so that through marriage, I could complete a person who was born female.

My Mormon parents mostly supported me through my deconversion, which occurred after I realized gay people have feelings too and "the church" is making life Hell for them. My mother of origin only cried in front of me once, and my father of origin only called me "stupid" once or twice, at least where I could hear him. He went on about the "cloud of darkness" that I brought into their home, when I visited. But it was because I was afraid that my brothers would stab me to death, like one had basically threatened to, not because I was playing Final Fantasy III.

When I came out as transgender, it was a different story. He cut off contact with me completely, right before Christmas, except to do something stupid and hateful that made life much harder and more expensive for me. I tried to reach out to my other family members, but my mother of origin made it clear that everything about my life that they disapproved of (which was seemingly just about everything) was off-limits for discussion. Meanwhile, one of my brothers broke radio silence long enough to express his disgust at me, and to compare me to a violent criminal just for doing what amounted to growing my hair long and changing my name.

Clearly, Sephiroth's REAL crime was not getting a haircut. Click here if you can't see the video.

The point of the above story isn't to shame my family of origin, or to open myself up to amateur psychoanalysis by people who want to know the real reason I'm trans. It's to give an idea of what the life of a transgender person is like. And I said "life" and not "lifestyle," because the latter is used as a slur. It depersonalizes those that it's used against, and reduces whole people to what's in between their legs and what they choose to do in bed.

Sex-obsessed North American society sees those things as more important than anything else about a person. The stories we tell, the things we create, and the causes we choose to devote ourselves to are irrelevant. Just like my 16-year-old self sitting in Priesthood quorum, unable to take my mind off of how many "sausages" were in the room with me, a lot of people see trans folk of whatever kind (but especially trans women it seems) and all they can think of is sex. The kind they don't like.

It's wrong. Please stop.

My transitioning does not hurt, endanger, or threaten anyone. I am not going to turn you gay. I am not going to make your child trans. The only thing my being "out" does is remind you that people like me exist.

If you can't bear to think of that, then maybe I don't want to be in the same world as you, either.

Screenshots from Pokémon Black and White versions and Analogue: A Hate Story.

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

Holiness is a terrible destructive force. It does not heal; it brings no comfort. It divides the pure from the impure, and it does so violently.

I do not wield it in any capacity as a healer. I wield it the way a thaumaturge wields fire and ice, and I do so with the same intent. You who glorify “purity” and “sanctity” would do well to remember that.

-- Mira Fox


A globe of purple and white destructive force, which looks like a crystal lattice.

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

The following essay was originally posted on the Final Fantasy XIV forums, where it will probably be eaten alive.

Full disclosure: I played FFXI for seven years or so, starting in 2004. I love FFXIV, but for different reasons than I loved FFXI.

When I started playing FFXI, I was completely taken in by its graphics, its community, and even its timesinks. It taught me the ferry arrives in 15 minutes, you need to have food to go levelling, and be careful ninjaing past Valkurm Dunes goblins. I took it all without questioning it, because this was my world and I wanted to go on adventures in it. And when it came time to do Divine Might, I /shouted and rallied my friends until we were herding 18 cats, which to me was the bigger challenge than the actual boss fight itself.

I'm glad that I have those memories, and I think the world needs more sandbox (or sandbox-ish) games. FFXI and EVE Online are "niche" titles, but with surprisingly loyal players. And if FFXI's slowly shrinking while EVE's slowly growing, it's partly because FFXI's based on 10-year-old tech and went neglected for years.

I'm not sure it's possible to build into a game, by design, the kinds of emergent gameplay those two have to offer. I don't think you can queue up in the Duty Finder, for the kind of unforgettable experience that was my friends and me beating FFXI's Ultima with 10 seconds left on the timer. I don't think scripted, themepark games should replace sandbox ones, and I think it's sad that 1.0's fans and SWG's fans lost theirs (multiple times, in the case of SWG).

But I also think they're unfairly romanticized. And I think sandbox fans like me tend to gloss over their faults, and give other people the sense that we think we are better than "casual" gamers, which are really just "anyone not as invested in ___ game as I am."

I think we should stop doing that.

For every one who has glowing memories, there are a lot more who remember a bewildering and frustrating game. For every one who remembers discovering how to beat a tough boss fight, there are a hundred who looked it up on FFXIclopedia (or Erecia's guide, remember that?). Sometimes you want to do it yourself, but you want to be told how to do it. And sometimes, you just wish the darned ferry would get here already.

For every day I spent having awesome adventures, I probably spent ten getting my head handed to me in Valkurm, or running around doing tedious crap and waiting for JP midnight. We don't remember this stuff as well, but they're all that the people who quit remember, which is why FFXI and EVE both have so many haters. Not because the "casual" gamers weren't "hardcore" enough to "learn to play," but because the games disrespected their time and money investments, and failed to fulfill the promise of being an awesome Final Fantasy / Internet Spaceships adventure.

Who made that promise, and how they made it, we could probably argue about. But FFXI and EVE are simply not like the games next to them on the shelves, and someone who bought FFXI thinking it'd be like FFX would be in for a rude shock.

(Just got my FFX/X-2 preorder, BTW. It's gorgeous.)

FFXIV:ARR, I feel, fulfills that promise. Say what you want about it, it is a Final Fantasy game, complete with boss fight and ending sequence. It's just unique among FF games in that you can keep playing after you beat it, unlocking more jobs and teaming up to defeat superbosses, and the developers keep adding new features and storyline quests.

I think their "ideal player" is a core FF gamer, who's new to the MMO world. I think that's the person they design for. And while I sometimes miss not having stuff spelled out for me, I'm also not sure what the difference is between having to research crafting recipes and food stats on FFXIclopedia, and having the game's UI just tell me. Beyond the fact that one of those things makes me do the same work as FFXIV's devs, unpaid.

TL;DR Sandboxes are fun, but people aren't worse gamers than I am because they don't want to do unpaid dev work.

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

So, I'm reading Final Fantasy series fans' criticisms of Final Fantasy XIII and its spinoffs, as found in the comment section of this article and the apparently-widespread attitudes that it addresses. They seem to amount to:

The story is weird and convoluted, and the characters are unlikeable anime stereotypes.

As someone who's played and/or watched Advent Children, Kingdom Hearts, FFVII: Crisis Core, FFXI: Chains of Promathia, and Final Fantasy IX, I have to wonder ... are we talking about the same series of games here? Are we even on the same planet?

Yes, the first half of FFXIII was more or less linear. So was a lot of FFX, as I recall. And Cloud Strife, FFVII's protagonist, was getting flack for being an emotionless anime stereotype with unbelievable weapons and hair since before it was cool.

Here's where I think the real issue is. This is the first half an hour or so of Final Fantasy XIII's gameplay, but you should be able to spot what "mainstream" gamers don't like about it in the first five minutes.

Click here if you can't see the video, or if you'd like to skip the 30 seconds where the player configures game options.

Notice something about the protagonists? That's right. The first two that we see on-camera are a white woman and a black man. The white woman never gets a love interest, and the black man never stops being the Voice of Reason and standing up to white characters.

Now take a look at this footage of a LAN party.

Click here if you cannot see the video.

What do pretty much all of the gamers there have in common? What two characteristics do virtually all of them have in common? And if you answer with parts of their anatomy, I will slap you.

That is all.

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

This essay is part of a series based on Meirya's 30 Days of Otherkin Challenge. These essays describe what it's like for Jewelfox to be otherkin. If you don't know what otherkin are, please read Jewelfox's Otherkin FAQ.

Because [personal profile] jewelfox is a plural system, each member will answer each question for herself.

Read more... )

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

This essay is part of a series based on Meirya's 30 Days of Otherkin Challenge. These essays describe what it's like for Jewelfox to be otherkin. If you don't know what otherkin are, please read Jewelfox's Otherkin FAQ.

Because [personal profile] jewelfox is a plural system, each member will answer each question for herself.

Read more... )

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

This essay is part of a series based on Meirya's 30 Days of Otherkin Challenge. These essays describe what it's like for Jewelfox to be otherkin. If you don't know what otherkin are, please read Jewelfox's Otherkin FAQ.

Because [personal profile] jewelfox is a plural system, each member will answer each question for herself.

Read more... )

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

This essay is part of a series based on Meirya's 30 Days of Otherkin Challenge. These essays describe what it's like for Jewelfox to be otherkin. If you don't know what otherkin are, please read Jewelfox's Otherkin FAQ.

Because [personal profile] jewelfox is a plural system, each member will answer each question for herself.

Read more... )

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~

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