Dark Omen Games has been getting a bunch of good press lately from Paul Tevis of the Ennie-winning Have Games, Will Travel podcast.
On The Twelve Days of HG,WT: For A Few Games More-mas: Day 6, Paul discussed his top five favorite new roleplaying games of 2008. A Flower for Mara was his number two game, being beat only by the fine Zombie Cinema. Where was Dungeons and Dragons, 4th ed. on this list? Number three.
On The Twelve Days of HG,WT: For A Few Games More-mas: Day 7, Paul reflected on his roleplaying in 2008. He said that his favorite new game that he played in 2008 was Dirty Secrets.
On The Twelve Days of HG,WT: For A Few Games More-mas: Day 8, Paul reviewed A Flower for Mara and had a number of good things to say about it.
So, thanks for all the good words, Paul!
Yeah, that’s a subtle subject line.
Anyways, I wanted to announce a new place where you can buy Dark Omen Games materials.
In addition to being able to find my fine games at Indie Press Revolution and Lulu.com and direct from the website, you can now purchase from the Indie RPGs Un-store. This is a new venture, being coded by Vincent Baker, which will act as an aggregator of sorts for a number of indie publishers. While each publisher will handle his own orders and fulfillment, this site enables the customer (that would be you) to browse listings from a number of different publishers, all on the same site.
So, check it out! And buy my stuff!
The second part of my interview with Ryan Macklin about A Flower for Mara is up.
Ryan Macklin interviewed me for his Master Plan podcast. The first part is available today at this link.
I have some sort of Skype curse that creates technical havoc whenever I try to use it. In this case, though, it meant that I had more opportunity to answer questions, which improved my answers. I haven’t listened myself, but I’m curious to hear the post-production audio wizardry of Ryan Macklin at work.
Paul Tevis talks Jeepform, including A Flower for Mara. Since he recorded this podcast, he has played A Flower for Mara, and he will be talking about it on a future episode. I’ll post a link when I get it.
A Flower for Mara gets a couple mentions on the recent episode of Voice of the Revolution.
John Kim has a few words to say about A Flower for Mara. How’s this for a quote:
This was the highlight of the con for me.
We have a confirmed sighting of A Flower for Mara at the recent Nerdly Beach Party, directed by Paul Tevis. First, some photographic evidence. Second, some post-game discussion from some of the players.
Sounds like a powerful game. Thanks to all who participated.
Eero Tuovinen (of Zombie Cinema fame) gives A Flower for Mara a thoughtful review. Here’s a sample quote:
The positive surprise in A Flower for Mara was quite profound, and it was that I could enjoy the thought of playing through it if I took its theatrical affectation seriously (and not as an empty analogue, like the theater-rpg thing is usually presented); I have some history in amateur theater myself, and I like doing it, but it has almost nothing to do with roleplaying games – an actor is trying to project a work of art, which is a pretty different thing from playing a game. A Flower for Mara seems like a really fun piece of theater: it has solid rituals, pacing, symbology and a chunky topic (dealing with sorrow) that everybody has an opinion on. I’m tempted to put together a troupe and put this on in front of an audience, actually.
Emily wrote up this Actual Play report of A Flower for Mara from GenCon. That means that I don’t have to! Hooray!
Plus, it was a really good game. Very emotionally intense, especially since the group decided that Mara had killed herself. Yeah, that was pretty hard. But still, good.
I’m posting this in various places, and I’m too lazy to edit. So this post might not make a whole lot of sense in the context of this blog. I’d apologize, but I’m not really sorry.
So, the new game that I’m releasing at GenCon is called A Flower for Mara.In this game, you take on the role of various relatives of Mara, a woman who died suddenly, and play through the first year after her death. I have various design notes here. In addition, this is a rough trailer that I’ve put together, and this is a sample of play from a test run back in January.
This game is in the tradition of Jeepform LARPing, which means that there’s lots of walking around and very little mechanical interaction within a scene. (Almost all the mechanics are dedicated to scene structuring.) It also has a Grief mechanic, which basically says that the only way for your character to overcome his grief is for you to share one of your own Griefs with the rest of the group. It’s all very powerful in play, and it works wonderfully…
…and I have no idea how to sell this thing at GenCon. I’m at the Forge booth, which is demo-focused, which is very cool and all. However, I’m not persuaded that a 15-minute demo would actually capture what is nifty about this game. Even worse, I’d be afraid that it would make the game look silly. “So, it’s time for a scene. Um, talk to each other for a while. Yeah, that’s good.”
The one idea that I have right now is to focus on a Family Gathering (as seen here and here). Essentially, the family gathers for a holiday of some sort, and the game cuts back and forth from the meal to soliloquies delivered by the characters to express their inner thoughts at the time. Working this inner/outer action could make for a workable demo….
So, anyways, I’m turning to the Internet for help and assistance. Thoughts?
This is rough; both transitions and sound need work. But I thought I’d put this trailer for A Flower for Mara up for comment. Any thoughts?
I’m going to combine two posts into one. Fear my blogging power!
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I’m doing okay, actually. Had a bit of a moment when I read this, but otherwise I was on an even keel for the day. That’s good, actually. Looking back at previous years, this day has been better or worse, depending on stuff.
Elder James McDonald grabbed me after worship and said that he had been praying for us. He lost his mother a few years ago, too, and he said that he’d been thinking about us. On the one hand, it’s a positive indication that it took me a moment to figure out what he meant. On the other hand, I was deeply moved and appreciative that he had remembered. Made me feel loved.
The day before that, I watched Baby Mamma with Crystal. She wanted to see it, and it was for her birthday, so I said yes.
Now, before I launch into my cultural critique, I need to say that I enjoyed the movie. As my father would say, “It was diverting.” It followed the romantic comedy formula without the central relationship actually being a romance. In other words, it was about a relationship founded initially on a lie that needed to be transformed to a relationship founded on truth. Maybe it was a buddy movie…or maybe buddy movies are related to romantic comedies.
Anways, the bits about pregnancy and childbirth were pretty funny, and I laughed at the right places. At least, I’m pretty sure that they were the right places.
Then I left the theater with Crystal, opining that our civilization is doomed.
Providentially, as we wandered the Shoppes after the movie, we stumbled upon the display of the Dirty Laundry Project, which essentially reinforced my concern.
We have disconnected love, sex, marriage, and childbearing. In the movie, one of the characters says to another one, “What does being married have to do with having a baby?” One of the T-shirt said, “Love does not equal sex. Sex does not equal love.” While it’s certainly true that sex doesn’t always equal love, isn’t it supposed to? Several of the T-shirts talked about waiting to have sex. Wait for what? Marriage was never mentioned. Apparently, you’re supposed to wait for “the right one”. But, in the heat of the moment, the one in front of you is “the right one”.
And, ultimately, we take love, sex, marriage, and childbearing, and turn them into ways to satisfy our own lusts and desires. Yes, even childbearing. It’s the new way to self-actualize, to find meaning in your existence. Having children has become about being fulfilled as a person, not about giving to the next generation.
The more I wander the world, the more that I realize that the simple act of establishing a household, centered on the marriage of a God-fearing man to a God-fearing woman, raising God-fearing children, is a revolutionary act of epic proportions. The kind that makes the foundations of this corruption system tremble.
Here’s one from the quote file:
“Surely avant-garde enemy rebels of the system never had to change diapers.”–Bruce Sterling, Islands in the Net
I wouldn’t be so sure about that.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.
This is how I’m starting the Designer’s Notes. I liked it so much that I figured I’d share it here.
On July 19, 2003, at 11:30 p.m. EDT, my mother passed away. It was a shock to all of us. She was not ill; she had shown no indication of any problem. She was working outside that afternoon and, around 2:00 p.m., was stung by a bee. She wasn’t feeling well and called my sister Elizabeth. While on the phone, she collapsed. My sister hurried over and found her unconscious. The paramedics could not revive her and, after several hours spent in intensive care, she died. She was only 51 years old.
That wasn’t the first time that death had entered my life. In the first six months of 1997, five people who were close to me suddenly passed away. Among them was my Grandpa Anderson and my Grandma Ben-Ezra. Cancer took them both.
Nor was it the last. In 2006, I helped bury Hannah, the three-year old daughter of a co-worker, dead from a congenital disease. A week later, I stood at the grave of William, a sixteen-year old boy from my church, dead from brain cancer.
These are just some of the griefs that I bear, the flowers that I carry for Mara. Writing this game is part of how I am putting them down.
Per Adiel’s request, an update.
I’m writing on my blog, mostly because I was swinging by to grab some info. Not to be morbid, but I wanted to make sure that I got the right date for Mom’s death. (And, while I’m here, I’ll probably grab the date that William died, too.) I’m gathering this info, because I’m about to write the Designer’s Notes for A Flower for Mara, which is mostly autobiography. I figure that I’ll talk a little about Mom, maybe about William, maybe about Hannah. Then a little project history and a brief bibliography (four entries, at present). I’m thinking just a couple more hours, actually. Then, my first draft will be complete!
Of course, there’s still the joy of editing and all that, but it will be a major milestone.