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Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript. On the left, the sound is depicted by a pair of headphones with an audio wave going between the two ears pads. A simple black arrow goes from left to right. On the right, the transcript is represented by a stylized typed document.

 

For maximum accessibility, each transcript has four formats: an online post for access convenience, a word document with a low-vision friendly font (Veranda), a pdf with a dyslexia friendly font (OpenDyslexic3), and a low contrast blue on black pdf for people with migraines (Veranda).

 

Collaboration 4 Chimera: Friendship Is Music

Note: Content warnings are listed at the bottom of this transcript.

 

[Happy, bouncy, electronic music plays.]

 

Fay:

This is a special collaboration episode created for International Podcast Month. This diverse and inclusive event is all about building community and sharing our love of podcasting. I highly recommend checking it out by searching for International Podcast Month on your favorite podcast catcher or by going to InternationalPodcastMonth.com.

 

[The bouncy music fades]

 

[IPM Theme Music]

(Enthusiastic swelling orchestra)

 

Intro Stinger:

Welcome to International Podcast Month or IPM. IPM is brought to you by the organizational team Cole, Tess, and Therin. A very special thank you to all of our participants, without whom this event wouldn’t be possible. And now, onto the episode. Continue Reading »

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Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript. On the left, the sound is depicted by a pair of headphones with an audio wave going between the two ears pads. A simple black arrow goes from left to right. On the right, the transcript is represented by a stylized typed document.

 

For maximum accessibility, each transcript has four formats: an online post for access convenience, a word document with a low-vision friendly font (Veranda), a pdf with a dyslexia friendly font (OpenDyslexic3), and a low contrast blue on black pdf for people with migraines (Veranda).

 

Inside the First Responders Training Program Part 1

[Intro music that is an energetic, electronic song begins playing.]

TOBI: [voiceover] You are listening to Writing Alchemy, stories that step outside the oppressive grind of the everyday world with your host, writer and artist Fay Onyx.

[Music swells and then fades to a background volume.]

FAY: We return to the First Responder’s Training Program to catch up with Vanessa the Witch and Janus the Ghoul. In this sequel adventure, meet Gail the Ghost and follow the drama that swirls around the popular Chaz Drakon, as everyone prepares for another pivotal full moon ritual.

[Music swells and then fades out.]

Hello and welcome to the 40th episode of Writing Alchemy. I am Fay Onyx and I am so excited to be back with the twenty first episode of Unfamiliar Heroes, my podcast series where I work with players and storytellers create new representations of disabled, sick, and neurodivergent people using tabletop role-playing games.

It has been a lot longer than I expected, but we are finally back!

This is the first episode of Inside the First Responders Training Program, a six episode story arc that is the sequel to the Welcome to the First Responder’s Training Program. It uses the Monsterhearts 2 game system by Avery Alder. I highly recommend it. Links are in the show notes.

As I get back into things, I’m hoping to release one episode of this adventure per month. Each episode will first be released, with transcript, on my patreon page. One week later it will go up in this feed. You can also look forward to Friendship is Music, a special musical-themed collaboration episode made for International Podcast Month. In addition, I will also be sharing the audio recording of the talk I gave for the Tabletop Mentorship Program, Disability Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them.

If I get more capacity in the future, I’ll give you some more updates, but for now I have limited capacity, so I’m focusing on the basics.

I’m going to wrap this up by quickly mentioning that you can follow Writing Alchemy on twitter @ Writing underscore Alchemy, hashtag AlchemyCast. Visit Writing Alchemy dot net for all of the Writing Alchemy episodes, the Magic Goes Awry game system, and an extensive set of resources on accessibility and disability representation. And if you want to help me keep this podcast going, and my other work, pledge your support on patreon at patreon dot com slash Writing Alchemy, or make a donation through Ko-fi.

And now, let’s get to the show!

Inside the First Responders Training Program, Part 1.

[The game theme, an angsty and emotional piece of rock music, plays.]

[This is the start of the game recording.]

JORDAN: My name is Jordan Green. I live in Seattle, Washington. Other fun facts about me? I’m pretty queer. [Laughter]  I’m pretty Black. I love pizza, burritos, and sushi, and cheeseburgers. I’m your storyteller. That’s it. Continue Reading »

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I’m giving a talk this Saturday, July 3rd @ 5:00 PM EDT / UTC-4

Bring your questions for the Q&A portion!

 

It will be live-streamed and archived on the Tabletop Mentorship Program YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCEMnl

 

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A group of four disabled queer Black folks talk and laugh, relaxing across a large bed. Everyone is dressed in colorful t-shirts and wearing a variety of scarves, bonnets, and durags. One person braids another’s hair, while the third friend wearing a C-PAP mask laughs, and the fourth person looks up from an open book. Illustration by Jonathan Soren Davidson for Disabled And Here.

 

I keep thinking I’m done adding resources to my website, but then I notice another gap or resource that is lacking that could make a difference. And so I create a new resource and add it to my list. This year I’ve already created two new resources. Both of these are very much works in progress and I welcome other people’s perspectives, thoughts, ideas, additions, and alterations. They aren’t intended to be the final word, but a starting point for conversation.

Here they are!

Universal Disabled Character Creation Guide for TTRPGs: When it is represented at all, most tabletop role-playing games present disability in limited and stereotypical ways. As a result, it is hard to create disabled characters that are realistic and respectful representations. The goal of this guide is to provide a better system for creating disabled player characters that can be used with any tabletop role-playing game. This system is designed to replace preexisting mechanics for creating or representing disability within the game.

Experiences of Disability: Standard advice for creating disabled characters always includes doing research. However, despite the wealth of information about disability that is online, it can still hard to find clear information on what it is like to live with a disability, especially for people creating fictional disabilities. This resource is designed to help by collecting both common experiences of disability and experiences of specific disabilities.

 

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A digital artwork with slices of five images arranged in a fan. From left to right they are: a photograph of a character sheet with blue dice and a green pencil, The International Symbol of Access (a blue background with a white stylized image of a person in a wheelchair), a chaotic pile of dice in many colors and styles, splattered rainbow paints with a black and white drawing of a brain on top, and miniature houses with figurines of people in action poses.

A digital artwork with slices of five images arranged in a fan. From left to right they are: a photograph of a character sheet with blue dice and a green pencil, The International Symbol of Access (a blue background with a white stylized image of a person in a wheelchair), a chaotic pile of dice in many colors and styles, splattered rainbow paints with a black and white drawing of a brain on top, and miniature houses with figurines of people in action poses.

 

I have a new article up on the Mythcreants blog!

People create monsters that reflect the fears of their society, including fears about disability. Because of this, ableism has been incorporated into our depictions of monsters. In some cases, disability is used to make monsters seem dangerous, unsettling, or unpredictable. Other times, it’s used to give monsters weaknesses that heroes can exploit.

In each case, these depictions spread harmful stereotypes about what it means to be disabled. This is a real shame, because a good monster can add a lot to a story, and ableism detracts from that. So let’s have a conversation about ableist monsters and explore our options for ridding our monsters of ableism.

This is a major expansion of my popular Ableist Monsters article from the Addressing Ableism Series.

I’m really excited to have worked with the folks at Mythcreants on this article! Their multi-stage editing process brought a high level of polish to it. 😀

Check it out!

 

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After something stressful occurs, it can feel like the fear gets trapped inside me and my mind gets stuck in a fearful place. Even though the stressful event is over, my brain and body aren’t calming down. When this happens, I use these tools to help myself shift to a better place, both physically and mentally.

This article is part of the Anxiety Tools Series. Click here for more tools that help with anxiety.

Also, please note that this article is not medical advice, nor is it a replacement for medical care. This is just me sharing some of my personal experiences and the tools that have worked specifically for me.

An orange tabby cat laying on top of a pair of blue and green plaid pajama bottoms. The cat is stretched out with a blissful look on their face as they sleep. It looks as if someone took off their pants so that they could get up without disturbing the blissful slumber of this kitty.

An orange tabby cat laying on top of a pair of blue and green plaid pajama bottoms. The cat is stretched out with a blissful look on their face as they sleep. It looks as if someone took off their pants so that they could get up without disturbing the blissful slumber of this kitty.

 

 

The Tools

For me, it usually takes doing at least three or four of these tools to shift myself from fear mode to a calm place. Sometimes I go through most of them before I’m feeling better. And sometimes, especially when there is something I’m still anxious about, I don’t feel all the way better, but these tools still help.

Many of these tools are things that people already know about, like journaling, spending time with pets, getting hugs, and exercising, but others are things that are less commonly known about, like “completing the cycle” and orienting. I’ve collected these tools all together because I think it is helpful to have them all in one place. Especially when I’m stressed, it can be useful to be reminded of what I can do to make things better, because I won’t necessarily remember all of my options in the moment.

These tools are grouped into categories that follow a sequence that I personally find helpful, but really this is about doing what feels best in the moment. This sequence starts with “Immediate Calming Tools,” and then moves on to tools that are helpful for “Processing Through the Stress and Fear.” Next I do “Soothing Tools.” Finally, I use tools that are helpful for “Shifting Mind Modes” to get my brain into a calmer and more stable space. However, each time is different, and if it feels right to do things in a totally different order, I will.

 

Immediate Calming Tools

These are things I do right after something stressful happens to help my body let go of some of the intensity of the stressful event.

Completing the Cycle: As I understand it, people’s bodies can get stuck in the “freeze” part of the fight, flight, or freeze response. In these situations, it can be extremely helpful do an action that signals to the body that the danger is over and we can leave the emergency mode. The idea here is that we are intentionally helping the body finish its stress cycle so that the stress hormones will be removed from the body. Personally, I find that vigorous movement, like shaking it all out or running in place, really helps me. However there are a lot of other options, like screaming, singing, walking, hugs, arts and crafts, and self-care activities. You can find out more information about this in “Healing Stress by Completing the Cycle” (note that there is some discussion of sexuality in this article).

Orienting: This is an anxiety tool set designed to help a person’s nervous system connect to the present moment. The way I understand it is that when people are upset, their mind is usually focusing on the past or the future. Helping the nervous system connect to the present helps it calm down. You can read the full article on orienting here.

Hugs: If there is another person available, ask for a hug. Ideally this would be a long, slow hug where you take a deep breath and relax into the hug. When I need a hug and no one is around, I will hug a pillow or wrap a blanket around myself and pull it tight. The physical pressure is calming to the nervous system on a physiological level (this is why weighted blankets can be so helpful for some people).

Confident Body Posture: Another quick tool for shifting things is to spend thirty seconds sitting, standing, on lying down in a strong, confident body posture. Doing this creates hormone shifts that reduce stress. This TED Talk by Amy Cuddy has more details on this technique, as well as a touching personal story. Continue Reading »

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Negative self-judgment is a harmful mental pattern where we judge ourselves and tell ourselves negative opinions as if they are facts. This negative self-judging can be blatant, or it can hide inside of other feelings, like insecurity. The following tools are designed to help our brains shift away from these harmful patterns into more self-affirming ones.

This article is part of the Anxiety Tools Series. Click here for more tools that help with anxiety.

Also, please note that this article is not medical advice, nor is it a replacement for medical care. This is just me sharing some of my personal experiences and the tools that have worked specifically for me.

A photograph is of a squirrel working very hard to get into a “squirrel proof” bird feeder. They are stretched out with their back feet on a thin metal rod that has some sort of small fitting on it and their front feet on the edge of a hanging tray full of bird seed. Their head is up and they are looking around alertly.

 

 

Building Resilience by Taking in Positive Things

There are things that we can do to build resilience so that we have more to work with when we are struggling. On thing that is especially helpful for dealing with judgement is to really take in positive events and successes, even little ones. Brains naturally focus more on negative things, so it takes conscious effort to give more focus to positive things.

The most effective way to do this is different for each person. It is all about figuring out what works best for you. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Do a silly, fun victory dance to mark each success.
  • Find one thing you are proud of each day to share with a friend or partner, even if it is as small as replying to emails, washing a few dishes, or giving your pet some attention.
  • At the end of each day take a moment to reflect on the positive things that happened that day.
  • Make a list of successes that you add to each time you have a new one.
  • Give yourself a hug each time you accomplish something. I find that hugging a pillow can be an especially good way to give myself a hug.
  • Every time that you journal, set aside a moment to write down positive things that you want to remember.

Another reason why focusing more on taking in positive events is so helpful is that the more attention and time we give to a mental pattern, the stronger it grows. So each time that we really focus on taking something positive thing in, we are growing that part of ourselves.

 

 

Three Steps for Working with Negative Self-judgment

Negative self-judgments can get pretty toxic, repetitive, and cyclical. This three step process interrupts that cycle and helps the brain shift to healthier thought patterns.

 

Step 1: Identify Judgment and Set it Aside

The crucial first step in dealing with negative self-judgment is noticing when it is happening. Sometimes it is a conscious thought, but it can also disguise itself as a feeling. For me, the first sign that I’m judging myself is usually that I feel bad about something. If I stop to ask myself why, then I find the judgment. For example, if I’m feeling bad about an interaction I had with someone it is usually because I’m judging myself for not being good enough in some way.

Once a judgement has been identified, do your best to avoid going through the details of what it is. It is time to set it aside. This isn’t easy to do and doesn’t always work perfectly. Just do your best to put intention into setting it aside. For example, I tell myself, “This is a judgement and not a fact. I’m setting it aside now.”

It might seem counter-intuitive, but avoid reassuring yourself about this judgment. This is because reassurance still follows the same mental pattern as the judgement. Saying that something isn’t true is still repeating or emphasizing the untrue thought. That means that reassuring yourself is reinforcing the harmful mental pattern, and the more focus and attention that we give to that pattern, the stronger it grows, so the goal is to avoid that. Continue Reading »

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Close up illustration of a row of six small mushrooms with round caps in among some dark green moss. The mushrooms are glowing pale blue.

 

Safety Rating: Situationally dangerous.

Environment: Temperate Forests.

Fairy Circles: Each fairy circle fungus produces a ring of mushrooms that has a magical effect on anyone who enters it. They are called fairy circles because a number of fairy communities are heavily involved in cultivating and breeding them. As a result, there are many different varieties of fairy circle fungus, each of which produces a mushroom with a distinctive appearance.

The Glowing Blue Fairy Circle is a type of fairy circle with magic that can only be fully accessed by those who have formed a magical bond to the forest. Only characters that have lived in the forest for at least one year can form this type of bond.

Details: The mushrooms of the Glowing Blue Fairy Circle Fungus are pale blue with delicate, spherical caps on top of long stems. Glowing with a soft inner light, they form a ring that is fifteen feet wide.

All of the Glowing Blue Fairy Circles in a forest are connected. When the magic in one Glowing Blue Fairy Circle is activated, it teleports people and objects from it to one of the other Glowing Blue Fairy Circles in the same forest. Only people and objects that are fully inside the circle get teleported; people and objects that are part in and part out get left behind.

People with a bond to the forest have full access to the power of these Glowing Blue Fairy Circles. This means that there is no risk of magical side effects when they use a Glowing Blue Fairy Circle. In addition, they can activate and direct the teleportation of any Glowing Blue Fairy Circle that they are near, including activating and directing the teleportation of fairy circles from outside the ring.

Those without a bond to the forest can use their skill with magic or nature to activate a Glowing Blue Fairy Circle, however they rarely have any control over their destination. In addition, there are frequent magical side effects. Generally speaking, these side effects are designed to both be deterrents for using the fairy circle without a forest bond and be something that the fairies who created the Glowing Blue Fairy Circle thought would be funny to watch. Continue Reading »

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Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript.

Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript. On the left, the sound is depicted by a pair of headphones with an audio wave going between the two ears pads. A simple black arrow goes from left to right. On the right, the transcript is represented by a stylized typed document.

 

In order to make these transcripts as accessible as possible, each one is produced in four formats: as an online post for access convenience, in a word document with a low vision friendly font (Veranda), in a pdf with a dyslexia friendly font (OpenDyslexic), and a low contrast blue on black pdf as an access option for people with migraines (Veranda).

 

Writing Alchemy Bonus Cast 9 – Anxiety Tools: Orienting

[Happy, bouncy, electronic music plays and then fades out.]

FAY ONYX: Hello and welcome to Writing Alchemy Bonus Cast Number Nine. I’m Fay Onyx and today I’m sharing some tools I have been using that have been extremely helpful for dealing with anxiety. I’ll also be giving an update on what is going on for me, and I’ll wrap up by sharing some of the projects I’ve been working on. Continue Reading »

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Close up illustration of the surface of a bright green cactus showing clusters of pale blue spines that are each surrounded by wisps of fog.

 

Safety Rating: Situationally dangerous and beneficial.

Environment: Deserts.

Details: This large, branching cactus has dense clumps of needles that become exceptionally cold at night, allowing it to condense water out of the air. The cactus stores this water in its trunk. Because of this unique ability, Ice Needle Cactus can survive in areas too dry for most other desert plants and it is an important source of food and water for many people and animals. However, this condensation process does make the cactus dangerously cold at night.

Inspiration: Prickly pear cactus.

 

Ice Needle Cactus is part of the Crossroads Setting for the tabletop role-playing game, Magic Goes Awry. Click here to go to the list of wild and whimsical magical plants from the Land of Crossroads.

 

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