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The Adventure Gaming Periodical - Issue #4
A Note on our Name and Maps as Accessibility Tools
This week’s newsletter contains two components. The first half is some short commentary about why, as a trans woman I chose The Adventure Gaming Periodical, or The AGP as the name of this magazine. The second half will be a discussion of how to use grid and zone maps in Mothership while avoiding the pitfalls of wargame inspired tactical gridded combat.
Why The AGP?!
Earlier this weekend, I had a discussion with the wonderful Evlyn Moreau about what I chose the name The Adventure Gaming Periodical, or The AGP for this magazine. Trans women and other Queer folks may be familiar with the term Autogynophilia or AGP. AGP is part of a controversial typology of transfeminine folks developed by the sexologist Ray Blanchard. Blanchard categorized trans women into two categories: homosexual transsexuals who are attracted exclusively to men and are feminine in both behavior and appearance; and autogynephilic transsexuals who experience sexual arousal at the idea of having a female body. These categorizations have been very harmful to trans women, and especially trans women who do not identify as straight.
I am a late transitioning trans woman, as I’ve written about before, I didn’t start my transition until I was 34 years old. I lived a miserable life, and I didn’t even think being transgender was something for me because of AGP Theory (even though I didn’t know what it was called). When I was twelve or thirteen years old, I learned about gender confirmation surgery, and I was absolutely fascinated. I had always thought about what it would be like to experience life as a woman, and thought this was just a normal thought experiment that everyone did as part of being an aware human being. It was at that same time that I heard of the idea of non-straight and non-operative trans women, and the remarks I heard were “what’s the point of transitioning if you’re just going to be with women,” and “they must just be crossdressing perverts.” I shut myself out of even considering anything else about my gender identity because gender and sexuality were linked in my mind. All of these ideas in the zeitgeist about gay trans women came from AGP theory even though I had no clue it even existed.
It wasn’t until my transition that I dove head first into Queer Theory and discovered discussions of AGP by the trans woman scholar Julia Serrano. However, I still had reservations about proudly being a lesbian leaning pansexual trans woman. The ideas of AGP had seeped into Queer communities as well, and in some spaces, trans lesbians are looked at as men who are predators for Queer women. It further finds purchase in modern TERF/Gender Critical discourse, assuming that trans women are men who want to assault cis women. I now have wonderful women as partners who accept me for who I am despite the fact that the repercussions of AGP Theory led to me hiding my gender away inside of me and made me feel like I needed to be with men for my identity to be valid. This is why I have reclaimed AGP as a play on words for the title of this magazine. I closeted myself and hurt people around me because of the insinuations of Blanchard’s typology, so I reclaim the term now as a proud trans woman who loves women.
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Maps as Accessibility Tools
The second half of this week’s issue is much more Mothership focused and much less Queer focused. Within the Mothership community, theater of the mind combat seems to be most commonly used. There are maps for locations included, but quite often they aren’t directly used with player counters, or they are just simple flow charts. This works for quite a few people, but it doesn’t work at all for my neurodivergent brain: I have aphantasia, so I do not form mental images. I have a terrible sense of direction, so unless I see something directly on a map, it may as well not be there. I get lost and want to stop playing when it is entirely theater of the mind. Accessibility is about more than alt text and screen readers. However, Mothership is also not about tactical grid combat, so traditional style battle maps don’t really fit the system either. This is how I developed the map for The Progeny alongside my editor and designer David Wilkie.
The criteria I had for developing this map were:
It needed to work just as well in-person as in a VTT
It needed to have a coordinate system for easy reference
It needed to indicate range as well as the general structure of the facility
It needed to have all of the information necessary to run the map on the map
As you can see, this final map meets all of these criteria. It originally started as a hex map because I hate how diagonal movement either makes things difficult or requires fudging when using a square grid. However, it felt really clunky as a hex map, so David turned into a grid. However, if you notice, the locations are face in one direction or are a single square, there is no diagonal movement. Also, the squares do not represent an actual real distance, they represent range bands.
Adjacent = Same Square
Close Range = 1 Square Away
Far Range = 2 Squares Away
Out of Range >= 3 Squares Away
What this does is essentially turn the map into a flow chart of zone maps. You know the general size and range and configuration of rooms, but you do not get bogged down in measuring on the grid and figuring out movement distances since in Mothership you can basically move one square per turn. You aren’t worried about where individual pieces of furniture are, but there is a visual of where everything is for folks who have a difficult or impossible time with visualization.
I’m also very proud of how playable this map is. There’s a key directly on the map for interpreting the symbols, and the tracker for room lighting is brilliant. If you get the boxed version of The Progeny from our current Crowd Sale, you are able to use a dry erase marker to track the status of lights and door locks, which is wonderful for hacker and mechanical repair type player characters.
When you combine this with the dynamic table set up and dice AI, you have a programmed adventure game for Mothership, you are able to run something within a single location as a non-authoring solo game or as a Wardenless game.
Not all modules and locations fit into rooms like with the grid map above. A module like Desert Moon of Karth or a game like Cloud Empress both include outdoor travel rules with random encounters. You aren’t able to build a flow chart map with ranges on the fly this way, so bringing maps to these kinds of encounters requires using a generic zone map.
For Advanced Rules, I propose a simple zone system inspired by Traveller 1e. To represent distances between characters and encounters, you can use a four row by one column grid that you've drawn out on a sheet of paper. You can then use tokens or counters or just draw the distances you find characters and encounters from each other. Each cell of this grid represents a range band, just like with Grid maps. This means that markers on the same square are Adjacent, markers one square away are in Close Range, markers two squares away are within Long Range, and markers three squares away are Out of Range. This allows you to move the relative distances to allow people to see where there distance is in relation to the scene. You narrate and play through the scene as usual, but there is more visual indication for the general shape of the encounter.
Upcoming in The AGP
10/10 - Issue #5 - An Interview With Iko From The Lost Bay
10/17 - Issue #6 - RV Games Microgame #3: Pyroclastic Flow Pre-Launch
10/24 - Issue #7 - An Interview with the Creators of An Infinity of Ships
10/31 - Issue #8 - A Review of Altar Shock by Disaster Tourism
11/7 - Issue #9 - An Interview With watt, creator of Cloud Empress
11/14 - Issue #10 - A Review of Turbulence for Mothership by Green Moon Games
There is still one week left to pre-order our solo/Wardenless Mothership Micrograme inspired by David Cronenberg’s The Brood. You can get the free rules here. The more people who order, the lower the price gets!
GURPS inspired Zombie Apocalypse TTRPG created in Fresno, California
A massive bundle of Mothership 1e modules and a campaign structure that features 12 veteran designers
A toolkit and selection of space ships with art by Rob Turpin. Also features Lesbean Ships!