Stephanie, you’re going to GM the 1:00 p.m. PST session for our Rainbow Refugee Charity Event on October 16th. Can you tell us a little about your session?
My session takes place in a Sound of Music-esque quaint little Swiss Alps town. The characters are going to try to break into a pair of socialites’ home during a ball to steal a fabled ticket to a hidden VIP brunch location. Gay hilarity will ensue!
I’m so excited to see this play out. How would you describe your GM style in general?
My ideas always go through several stages of chaos before I know what I want to do. When I was thinking about this session, I knew I wanted to do a heist. A while ago, I ran a one shot that dug into my character’s backstory – he was a drug smuggler, and his friend got caught and ratted him out. He was led on a heist through a bunch of tunnels, and when he finally opened a hatch, it was into a police station. I thought I would reuse it, but with everything going on, I don’t want minorities like myself to feel the threat of policing. So took the heist idea and twisted it, always asking, “How can I make it more queer?” Eventually I realized that the thing we love more than anything is: Brunch.
I have always run one shots when I GM, but I like them to be deeper than just a dungeon crawl. I like there to be a story that players can discover if they so choose, otherwise they can fly by it. I made a dungeon once that had artifacts hidden around hinting at the fact that someone had once hidden their lover in the dungeon to protect them from evil forces; the players got really invested and wanting to figure out what was going on. They wound up fighting the ghost of the person hidden there, and afterwards everyone was asking, “What was this?” and “Who was that?”
When you’re making a one shot, I think they do need to be a little railroad-y with a set goal and a set end. Otherwise they grow into multiple sessions and, eventually, a campaign. But like I said, it’s railroad-y but with added flavour and depth so that it’s not just going into new rooms and killing new bad guys.
What kind of characters do you tend to play?
Character creating is my favorite thing! Every character I’ve created is my child.
The first character I created was a joke – he was meant to be the most annoying bard ever. He was a 16-year-old prince who went to a bougie music school, had a ridiculously long name, and played an otamatone. Over the two year campaign, he wrote himself. He ended up becoming a young hero of the party who was brave and heroic, when at first he was stuck up and didn’t want to help others in case he hurt himself. In general, I love creating dynamic characters that are more than just one note.
How long have you been playing D&D? What has your experience been like?
The week after New Year’s 2017, a good friend of mine and their “friend” (now wife) started playing D&D. They gathered a couple other friends (all queer), invited me, and we all gave it a try. Something that was just a fun whatever turned into a campaign that lasted two years, and then another two year campaign after that!
Like you, I’ve always played D&D with queer people, and I hear horror stories about the worst kinds of straight TTRPGS. What do you think makes a queer D&D experience so special?
There is unspoken solidarity between everyone at the table. We know where to draw the line so that we don’t touch on our collective trauma; there’s no racism, homophobia, transphobia, or sexual assault. We know what it’s like to be queer in real life – it’s cathartic to be queer in a fantasy world, to be who you want to be with freedom.
In general, I think queer people are often creative, artistic people. We’re good at coming up with stories and characters. If you put two characters in front of me, I would know which was the gay one. I don’t know why this is. It’s probably multi-factoral, but I think part of it comes from turning into yourself because of fear, and finding ways to express what you find in there.
I will say that straight people can be good players too. There’s a girl in our current campaign that I call our “token straight.” And I’ve played D&D with some good boys before; one had a friend who came out as non-binary, so he played a non-binary character to practice using they/them pronouns.
I understand that you volunteer with Rainbow Refugee. Can you tell us a little about what that looks like?
I grew up seeing and helping my mom, who was really into animal rescue. She created her own non-profit (Best Friends for Life) to collect pet food and supplies for people living in the Downtown Eastside. So fundraising and fundraising events are something I’m very familiar with.
About a year ago, I saw a post on Instagram from local trans activist Lauren Sundstrom asking if anyone could help bring an Iranian trans man and his wife fleeing persecution to Canada from Turkey. I said yes!
Our fundraising circle has ten people. We have a Canada Helps page where we raise money by doing events like silent auctions. Rainbow Refugee requires a foundation of at least $20,000 to get someone set up, and we’ve raised almost $30,000! We’re also working on the paperwork necessary to actually get them to Canada, hopefully by the new year. Once they arrive, we will be their social and emotional support. We will help them find and furnish an apartment, and support them for at least their first year here.
The most interesting part of this process has been navigating this during COVID. The easiest go-to fundraiser is a pub night, but you can’t do that now. I will say, Rainbow Refugee has been so supportive of our fundraising initiatives. They provided an immigration lawyer who briefly worked with our team to help navigate the legalities of fundraising.
If someone is interested in volunteering, can you tell us the best way to connect with Rainbow Refugee?
Go to their website and shoot them an email. They might have circles that need more volunteers, or there may be fundraisers that you can participate in.
Is there anything you would like our readers to know about?
Support our next fundraiser. The wife that we’re helping coming to Canada is sending us her art – water colours, brooches, and pins. They’re so beautiful! We’re going to sell them in a silent auction to keep raising money for her and her husband.
Also, please don’t protest in front of hospitals! I work in chemotherapy, and all of our patients were late to their appointments; some of them are disabled, and they had to walk three blocks to get to their appointments because of protesters!
Do you have any queer nerdy recommendations for readers?
- My friend has started a D&D podcast called Fey Finders (@feyfinders on Instagram and Twitter) that everyone should check out.
- I also want to shout out GM Tim! He was working at Strategies and sold me my first set of dice. He’s awesome. (GM Tim is also a GM for our Rainbow Refugee Charity Event).
- The last thing I want to plug is Lykopis Archery on Commercial Drive. That’s where I practice, and it’s run by a queer POC lady master archer and is super inclusive!