10 Things I ♥ in May

10 Things I love in May 2017

  1. Lost in Austen. My historical dancing club is having a costume-if-you-want-to dance to commemorate Jane Austen’s 200th death’s anniversary and I needed some inspiration which is why I finally got around watching this Pride and Prejudice, eh, adaption. It’s an adorable four-part miniseries, with unexpected depth for all characters and my much-beloved “fish out of temporal water” trope. Now I want a George Wickham spin-off (because he’s the best character in the whole thing). And I also decided that Regency garb just isn’t my cup of tea.
  2. Azalea Doll’s Pretty Pixie dress-up. I mean, look at those adorable outfit options!
  3. Yuri on Ice. I’m not exactly on the hype train, but I just don’t get hypes, anyway. I however found it cute enough to watch and include in this list here! The anime makes me regret not going skating this winter! Although I was always more of an ice hockey person I loved watching figure skating with my grandparents when I was little and this reminded me of those days, too.
  4. Leyla Acaroglu’s Paper beats Plastic? TED talk. She’s witty, she’s funny and she’s so right with her design rant. I still prefer paper to plastic, though, just for the feeling and look (and also the renewable resources, although cutting down forests isn’t really necessary…).
  5. Grüne Soße, a traditional dish made of a defined set of herbs and greens mixed with dairy products, mustard and boiled eggs. A must-eat around eastertide in Germany (and so yummy).
  6. Playing at the Wunderkammer Chronicles. It feels so good to GM again even if it’s “only” via forum. Watching a self-spun world come alive is such a magical feeling.
  7. We finally have potted herbs for sale at work. They’re so pretty and smell so nice and I always hope they thrive and grow in their new homes when I sell them.
  8. Our new Pathfinder campaign. So far it’s a lovely slice of live adventure with some supernatural occurrences thrown in but I’m sure it’ll go wild soon enough. I love the character dynamics, too. Grohm is a no-nonsense medic from humble origins who hates it when people sing or hum and is suddenly confronted with the reality of having hidden magical powers while Allouèt is an extremely genki bard and history nerd with a crush on a long-dead revolutionary and basically a Disney princess (complete with a tame thrush and random singing, much to Grohm’s chagrin), always going out of her way to brighten someone’s life. Throw in Scoundrel’s diverse and partially adorable cast of NPCs and plot-writing obsession. Done.
  9. Magpieb0nes on DeviantArt. They make the most beautiful animal masks, and they do it especially for LARP purposes, too. I’m especially enamoured with the hare (left), of course but this taur is really impressive, too (there are so few well-done partly animal characters at LARP) and I love the treeface masks!
  10. This Sweather-Wearing Ferret pin in white | brown by Oh Jessica Jessica on Etsy. It’s just so vintagely adorable.

A short Changeling PSA

Remember the Wunderkammer Chronicles I wrote about here?
It’s alive. And kicking. And sprinkling fairy dust. Badass fairy dust.

What I want it to become is a lifestyle community for like-minded individuals, not only roleplayers.
You identify with the whole Changeling concept, feeling like half of you belongs to this world and the other half to another? Come join us.
You like faeries, fairy tales, urban fantasy or dressing like a storybook character (Dolly, Strega, Lolita, Neo-Victorian, Punk, Steampunk, all alternatives are welcome! You’re also welcome if you don’t dress weirdly.)? Come join us.
You love making do, crafting, reviving traditions, witchcraft and a picturesque, mori-ish lifestyle? Come join us.
You’re into pastels, magical girls, over-sugared cupcakes and glitter? Come join us.
You want to play Changeling: The Dreaming in a forum with others who enjoy it? Come f*cking join us.

I want this to be a place for us who are always in another world with at least one foot, I want this to be a place where we can be ourselves and play pretend. I want this to be a balefire that keeps banality at bay.

Come join us. We’re there, and we’re waiting for you.
Bring your friends.

The Wunderkammer Chronicles.

10 Things I ♥ in November

10 Things I love in November 2016

  1. The Dice Shop. Not only have they a gemstone dice collection (I want Amethyst and Rainbow Fluorite, badly…) but also quite the range of dice towers (a tool used in Roman times already to make sure nobody used special throwing techniques or cheat otherwise). I think my favourites are the Elven Tower and the Ruined Castle. Here’s the webshop, click on your own (bank account’s) risk…
  2. What We Do In The Shadows. Yes, Halloween is over but that doesn’t keep me from recommending the best vampire movie ever made to you. It’s hilarious and doesn’t take its low-budget self seriously for the slightest bit, but still manages to tell a good story. I can’t wait for the werewolf sequel, We’re Wolves.
  3. Dellamorte & Co on Etsy. Based in New Jersey they make the most beautiful resin pieces of the morbid and dark romantic sort. I’m especially taken with this wall lantern (deep-sea creature plus Victorian-esque lantern? I’m sold), the Krampus nutcracker (for the upcoming season) and this Abigail Larson wraith.
  4. The art of Chie Hitotsuyama. She makes beautiful creatures from old newspaper, the strands almost reminding the viewer of muscles and sinew and veins.
  5. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?  Season 2. I gushed about this anime last year already and season two of café hijinks and rabbits is just as adorable as season one.
  6. Studio Farò’s Pattern Puzzles. Studio Farò is a sewing and fashion studio situated in New South Wales, Australia. On their blog they post free patterns now and then, from simple to more complicated ones, and I’m really smitten with they asymmetrical double-tucked top and tunic at the moment. I just found that there is not only a great thrift shop next to my Saturday market but also a fabric/sewing supply shop so I hope I’ll be making these two items rather sooner than later!
  7. Having a guest room! Well, it’s our living room/crafting room with a big sofa bed but it’s so nice to have an actual place where people can stay for a while (without having to sleep on the floor)! We hang out in the kitchen most of the time anyway so handing over the reign over the living room for a few days doesn’t hurt at all. My Mum was the first to stay there and then Verdinium visited for a week (because she basically lives at the other end of the country) and there are more visits planned already for the end of the month. I love having guests and I love it even more when everyone involved is able to close a door for a little time on their own when needed.
  8. Hogsmeade Concept Art for the Harry Potter theme parks via Theme Park University. I’m a sucker for concept art – it’s a good thing concept art books tend to be rather expensive, I only have so much book shelf space. Of course Harry Potter concept art ranks high among my favourites! I think my favourite here would be the Spintwitches Quidditch display, closely followed by Honeydukes.
  9. My new hiking boots. They remind me of Yama No Susume and Kokona’s new shoes because they have a bit of purple in their colour scheme!
  10. Méas Vintage, a blog about a realm of mirrors and wings and Provençe-inspired interior design by a woman I as a Changeling addict would instantly put in the Sidhe box. The blog is in German only but there is a translator in the side bar and the pictures are beautiful even if you wouldn’t understand the words.

The Wunderkammer Chronicles

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*doorbell ringing* Hey, can [insert your name] come out to play?

When I asked you if you were up for a game of Changeling in my last post I meant it. I feel myself yearning to get all the stories and adventure hooks for fae-born-human out of my head and though, what time better than now, and what crowd better than my lovely readers? I feel like I’ve built a tribe here over time, small but precious, of people who are like me, drawn to the realms beyond our realm, fascinated by fairy tales and myth and folklore.

Well, the problem is that some of you live on other continents, and the solution for that is the internet. Verdinium gave me the idea for a play-by-post forum, a place for us – if you want to join me – to play and pretend. I realise that this might seem a strange proposition but I’d rather try and invite you to play and risk that you might say “no” than spend my time wondering what would have been, had I not asked you at all.

So without further ado and before I change my mind I give you The Wunderkammer Chronicles.

The Wunderkammer Chronicles is a forum intended for roleplay, although it has sections for the Changeling lifestyle, too. It’s supposed to be for play-by-post gaming, a form of pen & paper RPG where you – instead of sitting at a table talking about what your character does – post your speech and actions into a gameplay thread. I myself will be the storyteller (that would be a game master by another name) so far over there but you are invited to host a chronicle or one-short or adventure there as well if you’d like to!

The forum is still somewhat under construction and I’m open for ideas and opinions, but mostly I hope for you to come out and play with me. Make an account, maybe tell me here (or don’t), maybe tell your friends (if you think they could like it), join the adventure or even become a storyteller if you have a grasp of the Word of Darkness and Changeling: The Dreaming already.

So I ask again, this time with a context to make it happen for real (though in our imaginations and on virtual ground): Anyone up for a game?

Changeling: The Dreaming

Disclaimer: This post deals with fantasy, RPGs and mental illness. If you don’t want to read about these things, please skip the post. And while I usually have no problems with critical comments I’d ask you not to post any this time. If you smirk at the thought of somebody thinking of magic and fairies as real in any way this might simply not be the post for you. If you find traces of yourself in this post you’re more than welcome to tell me in the comments, though!
(And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s my glossary)

My first run-in with Changeling: The Dreaming was during my third-or-so semester. Jule, the elfin one, started a chronicle that we sadly never finished due to the usual problem – everybody having different time-tables – but I was hooked nevertheless. I played a punk Boggan named Lilo who had a swearing winged rat familiar.
We tried again later, same problems, same fate, but the fascination stayed (I played an Eshu ethnologist with family ties to the Caribbean this time).

Ever since then this has been my favourite RPG background. Let me break it down for you why.

Changeling: The Dreaming is part of the World of Darkness, a number of storyteller settings that are set in a slightly gothier, darker version (also dubbed GothicPunk) of our word where vampires (Vampire: The Masquerade), werewolves (Werewolf: The Apocalypse), mummies (Mummy: The Resurrection), mages (Mage: The Ascension), ghosts (Wraith: The Oblivion) and a whole lot of other fantasy and horror creatures actually exist and battle each other over dominion in cities like Boston or Dublin or simply for their lives.

If that wasn’t cool enough as a setting, one of the many supernatural things are Changelings. Capital “C” because it’s important to me. To explain the whole Changeling thing I’ll have to go a bit further back in history, to the 12th century, to be precise. Oh, no, wait. Further. *tape rewinding noises*

Back in times long gone by, fae lived among mortals, created by those mortals’ dreams. They had sprung from dreams of perfection, nightmares of hunger, the idea of the thing that goes bump in the night, all sorts, really. Now, abandon the thought that fae are fairies. They are not. Not exactly.
There are many kinds of fae, also known as kithain. There are kith like the Sidhe – the shining host, the fae nobility, those who sprang from the dreams of perfection and beauty mentioned above – just imagine Tolkien elves, or the ones who kidnapped Tam Lin. There are Boggans, helpful household spirits, short and round and good, and Redcaps, the things that rose from the battlefields to dye their hats in the blood of the fallen, Mermaids, Trolls and many, many more. Every culture has its own set of “the good neighbors”, “the fair folk”, “the wee people” (even though they might be taller than your average human), and those are what we call fae in this case.
But back to the story.
When man discovered iron, though, cold iron, no less, something broke. It became easier to tame the world, and with the taming of the world the dreams and the believing in the fae faded. At some point (and here we are in the 12th century again) there was just not enough glamour, not enough dreamstuff left to sustain all fae and even the pathways into the Dreaming and to Arcadia, the fae lands of myth and legend, began to crumble.
The fae nobility managed to escape the dawning catastrophe, most of them, anyway, but the commoners were left to their own devices. They adapted, and what became of that was the Changeling Way.
Their fae souls – immortal as they were – were born again in human bodies into human families, sheltered from the growing banality of the world within two sets of armour against it: the mortal coil and a human soul around the fae one. If they were lucky their fae soul would awaken at some point of the human life, showing them a world much deeper and more fantastic than they could have imagined. The fae soul would have merged with the human soul and it would have been their lot to balance these two souls to neither slip into bedlam nor banality.
If not, they were simply born into another human body after the first one had lived its life, into another chance for their fae soul to re-emerge.
Now, about 800 years passed since this Shattering. Then, in 1969, humanity reached a goal so lofty, so filled with dreams, so eagerly watched by so many, that a wave of glamour swept over the globe: The Moon landing. The gates to the Dreaming burst open once again and the fae nobility, the Shining Host, returned in all its glory.
And all was fine and well again.

Except it wasn’t. Banality was still a thing. The struggle to maintain the balance between fae and mortal soul was still a thing and getting harder and harder every century. Which brings us up to now: The nobility has adapted as well, the gates to Arcadia, the fae utopia, are closed once more, Changelings all over the world are nurturing dreams and inspiration, and the fight for the survival of faekind is still going on. No wonder, if you look at the world around us.

That’s a nice story, you might say now, but why is it so important to you? It’s just another RPG background.

Because Changeling gave me sort of an explanation. For the first time in a long time I felt like I had found something that resonated deeply within me and made things clearer. It might be a metaphor, but I’m a Changeling. I walk the fine line between banality and bedlam and most of the time I don’t feel fully human. I rarely basically never talk about my mental illnesses here on the blog but Changeling offered me a way to accept myself more than before, to see that, if I define myself as a Changeling, a fae soul inside a mortal body, a lot of things made more sense all of a sudden. Why my emotions seemed too big for my body so often, why the state of the world made me so terrified and sad that I fell into catatonic states now and then, why I have seemed weird and strange to others my entire life, and why I sometimes am really baffled and confused by norms of human society.

I don’t say that you have to be mentally ill to understand the appeal of Changeling: The Dreaming, and I don’t say that every mentally ill person is actually a fae soul in a human body (there are vampires and mages and so forth as well! Joking, folks, joking). I just try to explain why this background means so much to me and how it helped me to cope (in a therapist-approved way, even) with some of my problems.

There’s also the balance between the Seelie and the Unseelie side that every Changeling has to find that makes a lot of sense to me. Seelie is not necessarily good and Unseelie not necessarily evil (many people try to simplify it like that, one of my biggest pet peeves), it’s far more difficult to explain. It isn’t even lawful and chaotic, more like dutiful and passionate, both which are good and important but can turn nasty in a heartbeat.

I think what I want to say is that I love how the game actually manages to do exactly what its goal is in-game: Bringing glamour and magic into a grey, drab world, inspiring to look further than our own shoe tips. How it changes the perspective of how we view places and people, how it concentrates on the beauty of the soul and the idea instead of only the physical appearance but still encourages to create beauty in our everyday life, lest our fae souls wither.

I love this background because it tugs on my very heartstrings, because it makes me want to gather my fellow changelings for adventure, because it makes me want to share my ideas with the world and hope that they might inspire someone to create something themselves, producing glamour, or fairy dust, or simply put: the rawest form of magic.

I’m a Changeling, here to save the world from banality or burn out into bedlam trying.
Anyone up for a game?

10 Things I ♥ in October

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  1. Elemental Adornments by Christi Anderson on Etsy. While far out of my price range (because I’m a poor student) I admire her craftswomanship immensely, especially the Journey of Life locket. She also has a catalog I think might find it’s way onto my book shelf some day, just to look at it.
  2. The smell of melting sugar. I’ve been preserving some fruit lately and plan on making sweets this winter, too. The whole progress of baking and making sweet things, too, is somethings so magical and relaxing to me. I’d like to think that I was working in a patîsserie in another lifetime, maybe.
  3. Cabin Porn. I don’t have the book (yet) but the trailer looks amazing for the part of me that wants to be a reclusive wood dweller (especially the house around 1:00). And of course there’s the regular website (where the picture is from). House share with a big self-sufficient garden and goats, anyone?
  4. Le Heart Design, adorable-yet-morbid mouse taxidermy by Léa Mai Nguyen. She even made a how-to video (which is really interesting if you’re interested in taxidermy, obviously). I’m not sure if I would ever try this, but I sure found it interesting enough to post here. Also, taxidermy Mouse Guard fanart.
  5. My new haircut. Yes, I eventually cut off the dreadlocks and I don’t even regret it. I missed the wind in my hair so much.
  6. Northern Exposure, a slice-of-life series from the first half of the 90s. It’s my go-to comfort watch after Great British Bake Off has ended for another year. I’m completely enarmoured with Chris and Marilyn and my Mum used to have Maggie’s haircut back in the early 90s. I also like Alaska.
  7. Prepping Changeling. I’m so much looking forward to the chronicle! All four core charaters are already written together with one or two guest characters (and I love love love my NPCs and my town).
  8. A visit from Verdinium! She’s arriving here on Wednesday, and we plan to go on a day trip to Cassel on Thursday, and she’ll stay ’til Sunday!
  9. Sims 3 as a Worldbuilding Tool. I use it extensively for my Changeling preparations at the moment to bring life and a more visual approach to the fictional college town of New Kirkwell, ME.
  10. Rising early. It might be a bit unusual to like that in the dark half of the year, but I actually enjoy it. It feels like the world belongs more to me during the hour-and-half beween getting up and going to uni.