Uncanny, Here I Come

Oh. My. God.

I have the BEST ideas.

It turns out you can make eight whole cents a word if you sell a story to Uncanny Magazine.  Their submissions are opening up on June 3rd, and I don’t just have the perfect story for them, I have TWO perfect stories for them.  They are about a heroine – not the kind of heroine that I love and loves me back, but the kind like in the comic books.  But this isn’t just any super-heroine, I’m talking about the kind of super-heroine that Marvel wishes they could produce a single six issue mini-series about and then cancel after two issues because comic book fans hate it.

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That’s my style, baby!

Now, here’s the thing.  I’m not transgendered right now, but I was when I wrote these stories.  I’ve been sitting on them – metaphorically speaking – for a few weeks because they needed some work.  And it’s exactly what Uncanny wants, because they want writers from “writers from every conceivable background.”

That’s me!  I’M from every concievable background.  And this story is about a woman, but the best kind of woman – a transgendered one – and it was written by a woman, but the best kind of woman – a transgendered one.

Maybe what I’ll do is submit the origin story to Uncanny, and then put the second, follow-up story for sale on Amazon.  That way you guys can read about my awesome creation, and I can pretend that my submission is a pre-quel that I purposely wrote second because non-linear story telling is avant garde and not at all hacky!

I’m so excited.  I know exactly what I’m going to buy with the $312.08 that Uncanny is going to pay me: a bag of super-heroine!

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City of Die Verse

“For far too long tabletop gaming has been a [normal] hobby that lacked representation of women and minorities and women minorities, and we here at the Gen Con Industry Inside-Her Panel are here to correct the glaring mistakes of the past.”

Meanwhile, in 1984:

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Nice narrative you got there, ladies.  Shame if something were to happen to it…like facts!

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It’s Okay, E. Reagan is Back

That’s the last time this handsome devil ever goes crazy.  You’d think a guy could spend two weeks in the booby-hatch without the rest of the world going crazy, but we live in a world where Kotaku is somehow still a thing, so no.  Somehow it falls on my shoulders once again to cut to the uterus of the matter and clear things up.

Let’s look at the anatomy of a controversy and how nerds launch a counter-attack in precisely the wrong direction:

Step 1.  David Kushner writes Rise of the Dungeon Master, a loving tribute to Saint Gygax in comic book form.  Sorry nerds, I meant “graphic novel” form.  (Forgive me, sometimes I forget we use that term to help us pretend like kid’s books are srs bidness.)

Step 2.  Kotaku does what Kotaku do.  Cecilia D’Anastasio, neophyte gamer, attention whore, and child of the “everybody get a trophy” generation writes a high-school hit piece on Saint Gygax and his legacy.  Give the little lady credit, this clickwhore knew just where to poke the nerds to get them riled up.  Criticizing Saint Gygax is basically the verbal component to the cantrip, Summon Sperglord.  She is clearly a devotee of the Narrative – she knows that destroying the icons to which your enemy prays is an important part of destroying their religion and thus their identity.  See also: N’Awlins tearing down Jeff Davis statue.

Step 3.  Everybody loses their shit starts screeching about the wrong stuff.  Save vs. All Wands takes the usual approach to D’Anasasio’s lipstick on the mirror story by filking it.  Because of course he does.  Because that’s what we do – autistically scan through an article paragraph by paragraph and dwelling on on our pet cause-du-jour instead of the main pelvic thrust of the article.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth pointing out the many, many factual errors D’Anastasio makes, and there are many of them, but all this talk about old D&D versus the current abortion that WotC stuck a D&D sticker on, all this talk about the glories of sandbox versus the miseries of the railroad?  They all miss the point of the article.  Easy to do, given how poorly written and scattershot D’Ana-schnozz-io’s article is.   Let’s rewind the tape back to Step 2 and take a closer look at what she is really saying.  There’s really only one paragraph you need to read, and that’s buried all the way down at the bottom of the article.

Rise of the Dungeon Master is a masterful telling of the story of Gygax, his co-creator and collaborators, but it is done in service of the almighty DM. Today is the age of the player, and we are a vital part of the history of Dungeons & Dragons sorely missed in histories such as these.

Here, D’Anastasio shows her real cards when she plaintively wails, “What about MEEEEE?”

And the greater DM community misses the point in order to respond with a, “What about REEEEE?”

Rollo’s Maxim states that women will never truly appreciate how much men sacrifice for them.  E. Reagan Wright’s Maxim states that players will never truly appreciate how much DM’s sacrifice for them.  Here you have a female player, which combined both of those into a chain-reaction of social media atom-smashing that leads to the inevitable nuclear detonation of Instagrammian proportions.

Reeeeee

Innsmouth High, Class of 2015, represent!

Listen to what D’Anastasio is really saying:  Yeah, Gygax was cool and all, what with inventing an entire kingdom of games and redefining the entire genre of fantasy and laying the foundation upon which modern video games are built, but I show up to roll my eyes at my boyfriend’s hobby for a few hours every week and really, where’s the comic book about how awesome I am?

This is yet another vaginny-come-lately who lacks all empathy and as a result has no understanding of anything that occurs outside of her overly large head.  She has no experience of the early days of D&D when DM’s had to browbeat their booger-eating friends to try this new game where they can be He-Man…except they really need to wear lots of armor all the time and the wizards only get to cast one spell per day and you’re probably going to die…a lot.  She just waltzes into a forty year old hobby that was built on the blood, sweat, and tears (if they were doing it right) of those that have come before and assumes that what she sees now is what always was.  She didn’t see the hard work.  All she sees is the result.

But as a fundamentally participatory storytelling medium, D&D’s origin is owed to the players, not just the dungeon masters. As of now, their voices are eclipsed.

There’s the money shot!

A’Anastasio lets her boyfriend drag her along so she can roll her eyes for four hours a week while pretending to be a Real Nerd.  In her view, she does just as much as the guy behind the screen.  Her view lacks appreciation for the countless hours spent preparing for the session – to her my time as a DM is no more real than my time swabbing out the floors of the twenty-five cent adult movie booths spent to buy her that fancy Applebee’s dinner.

Even if they exist, they are something owed her as a fierce and independent liberated woman who can’t be expected to pay for the meal given that she deigned to grace you with her presence.  In the same way, a DM should be grateful for his players deigning to grace him with their retarded character builds and inability to decide what they want to do from one week to the next, Chet!  You said last week you were going to hit the Caves of the Unknown tonight, so that’s what I prepped, and now I’ve got to make up an entire lizardman camp on the fly because you ‘changed your mind’?  Real nice, bro – you’d make a fine Kotaku writer.

Ahem.  Let’s take this bit line by line:

Today’s Dungeons & Dragons adventures ask more of the player and less of the dungeon master.

Yeah – they ask the player to hang on to the handstraps and appreciate the view of the pretty corridor that the failed author slash adventure designer shoves them down.

Scenarios are open-ended.

So long as you stick to the script.

Dungeon dimensions are less particular, to leave room for players’ whimsies.

The dungeon’s are gussied up corridors that are better at hiding the rails, to leave room for players’ to think they are whimsical as they play yet another cookie-cutter tiefling who struggles with the wacism xhe faces.

On top of their race, class, alignment and stats, today’s character sheets want to know why the player adventures, and what they ultimately hope to gain.

RACE IS CLASS!  Ya’d know what a class was if ya had any!  And that never happened back in the day, says they little girl who wasn’t born until after Dragonlance gripped the jaws of D&D and took a hot, steaming post-Taco Bell dump straight down its throat.  She knows, man, SHE KNOWS!  She read a comic book about it.

But again, the whole sandbox versus railroad discussion is a red herring.  For gals like D’Anastasio, the real point is that Gygax doesn’t deserve accolades for inventing pretty much the whole of modern nerdery – players deserve more accolades because they show up.

And that point isn’t just an issue in tabletop RPGs, its endemic to a very sick society.

And really, that’s the REAL real point of all of this.  Let’s face it – as bright guys with a lot of passion, an eye for detail, and a gift for organization, any one of us DMs could have chosen the fast life.  We could have started businesses or researched fancy medicines or taken up any number of other seriously important endeavors.  Instead, we waste our time during the week writing up elf-games for largely ungrateful players who demand appreciation from us for their very presence – Chet! – and do so out of a love of the game.  While our distractions might preclude us from having a significant impact on the larger culture outside of our dungeon themed basement with the replica swords on the wall, we can have an influence on the culture inside of our nerderies.  And maybe, just maybe, if we can clean up tabletop RPGs, then maybe, just maybe, we can have a small impact on the larger world.

Saint Gygax did it.  And if we pay a little more attention to what clickwhores like D’Anastasio are really saying instead of injecting our own myopic reading on a situation, maybe we can too.

We put Trump in the White House, after all.  Compared to that, what’s a little thing like showing the barbarians the RPG door?

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Busted

My wife’s boyfriend’s son came by and picked me up from the psyche ward this morning.

She and her boyfriend got back from the Bahamas last night, so she called to check in on me, and when they told her about my ‘therapy sessions’, she lost her cool.  Spilled the beans.  Ratted me out.

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They weren’t going to let me out until she also pointed out that they had me in the wrong wing of the hospital.  They assumed my gender, what with my still having a penis and all.  My wife threatened to sue them if they didn’t release me immediately.  Doctor Phataphais managed to stall until this morning.  Mostly because his character, a dwarf named Beardo “Big Swinging” Richards wanted a second crack at the owlbear cave.  He was convinced there was a huge treasure in there – enough to put him over the line for level 3.

So it looks like I’m back to gaming at the local Faggy Local Gayming Store.

Ooo, that felt good, saying that.  Maybe old E. Reagan Wright is all better after all.

Say, I also have no desire to wear makeup, take hormones, dye my hair different colors, or listen to Gavin MacInnes.  I don’t feel like a woman at all.  I guess they cured my gender dysphoria while they were curing whatever short circuited in my old brain-case, too.

Shame, really.  That’s going to hurt my chances of winning a 2018 Hugo Award for my brilliant, kind-of-but-not-really-sci-fi short story, Hugo Bait.

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A Guy Could Get Used To This

I think I’m better now.  I’m still in the institution, but I’m feeling a lot better.  I remember everything.  Almost.  I remember Conan and Northwest Smith and Dunsany and Three Hearts and Three Lions and Moldvay!  I remember MOLDVAY!

I don’t know why I’m here.  The last week is blurry, but the therapy sessions helped.  Doctor Phataphais and I have been having one on one sessions every few hours.  He won’t stop talking about Andre Norton and Roger Zelazny.  He knew about Tolkein, but he didn’t know how deep and strange and wonderful…  He thought Harry Potter was – well, there’s no need to embarrass the man.

They don’t know how much improved I am.  I think I hide it well.  I let Nurse Holly lick my face at night without complaint.  Sometimes I jump on the bed and scream about “The Juice!  The Juice!  We need to answer the question about the Juice!”  It’s to throw them off.  But it feels right somehow, too.  It’s strange.  Maybe I really am crazy and I just think I’m not.  I don’t know.

They let me keep my dice.  And I remember Moldvay.  So, and here’s why I don’t want to leave – I have a regular group again.  The other patients are keen to play on the regular.  And they…well.

One just sits there drooling.  One has tourettes.  One just sits there rolling dice over and over and over.  One always draws while I describe the dungeon and then makes me repeat myself.  One is really intent on the game – like, almost too intent, you know?  And there’s a couple that just listen to him and follow whatever he wants to do.

It’s just like my last regular group, except with better hygiene.

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I don’t know why, but I swapped the goblins for these.  The speak to me, and I want Wendy’s.

This place is great.  It’s just eating jello and playing D&D.  I don’t know how long I can keep this up.  I hope at least until my group clears out the goblin caves so they guys can level up.  They deserve to see what a cleric with a healing spell can do.

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The Crom Pill

Doctor Phataphais finally returned.  He was gone all day yesterday.  He looks different now.  I didn’t notice before, but he looked tired.  Now he looks awake.  There’s a light in his eyes that I don’t remember.  That might be because I’m crazy, though.  I’m typing this from an institution.  They don’t like it when I call it a booby hatch, but that makes me want to say it over and over and over.

I don’t.  I don’t say it.  I don’t want the hose again.  But I say it quietly at night, when they can’t hear me.

Docotr Phataphais told me that Conan didn’t say, “I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, I am content,” in the book he gave me.  Phataphais gave me “Beyond Thunder River”.  Conan said it in “Queen of the Black Coast”.  How did I know that?  The Doctor said it was a breakthrough, but he was really excited.  He said he had to read five or six Conan stories to find the quote.  That’s why he was gone yesterday, and now he can’t get enough of Robert E. Howard.  That’s why he was gone yesterday!

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“You should,” I told him.  He was interested and leaned in.  “You should.”  I grunted and shook my head.  “You should Appendix N.”

He ran out of the session.

I think maybe some of the other patients in the ward might like to play a new game with me.

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I Am Content

I’m getting better.  Every day Doctor Phataphais says that I’m improving.  He wants to lower my medication and see what happens.  We’ll see.

I still have…they call them ‘episodes’.

Nurse Holly – he’s mean – he tackled me last night.  It was my fault.  I was jumping on my bed screaming, “I LIVE!  I BURN WITH LIFE! I LOVE!  I SLAY!  I AM CONTENT!”

I caused a scene in the group dorm.  Everyone was jumping and screaming it.  I got the hose.

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I deserved it.

The next morning Doctor Phataphais asked what it meant.  I told him, it’s what Conan says.  He said, “No, E. Reagan, Conan says, ‘To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!”  He insisted, and I almost had another episode.  But Phataphais put me in my happy happy place behind my table fort, and that helped me get a hold of myself.

We talked for a bit, he insisted, and I told him to read the book he gave me.

I’m waiting for him to come back.

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