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A Trip to Totalcon 32

This past weekend Cards and Counter team member Gary visited Total Confusion. Gary has 38 years of gaming experience both as a player and as game runner. With 8 years as a professional, taking the gaming experience across the country to large and small conventions; including Gen Con and Origins Game Fair. So I would say he knows his way around the table top and here is what he has to say about his weekend.


Total Confusion or Totalcon for short. Totalcon The convention has grown since its origin in 1986 and is always held the weekend after Presidents Day in February for 4 days ( Thurs-Sun ). It is now one of the largest gaming conventions in New England. Totalcon caters to a very large selection of games.

Totalcon 32 had a pirate theme for the weekend. Convention goers dressed in various modes of “Pirate”, from a ren-faire shirt over jeans and sneakers to full blown outfit with boots, pants, shirt, long coat, hat, eyepatch and skeletal bird perched on their shoulder. On Saturday night there was a costume contest for the best pirate outfit.

The bulk of events are RPG’s of one sort or another. With the vast majority of those being Dungeons & Dragons of one edition or another. Other RPG’s included Call of Cthulhu, 7th Sea, Doctor Who RPG, Shadorun, Brass & Steel and Kobolds Ate My Baby.

Most tabletop RPG’s are played in four hour slots, though there are some that run only two hours and some that run eight. The majority of these games are similar in that you sit at the table and the person running the game hands out pre-generated characters for use in the scenario. This has the advantage of making sure that the party has all of the necessary skills, abilities or powers that will be required to complete the adventure. The other games allow you to bring your own character to the game, and to use them in other games that take place under the umbrella of one organization or another. The two that I can currently think of are the D&D Adventurers League, Wizards of the Coast official games; and Stormgate a local game to be played at New England conventions and at participating gaming stores.

I spent the majority of my time this year playing Stormgate. This was the inaugural year for this ongoing campaign. It is a Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition game. We started at first level and at the end of the weekend we had attained 6th level. The full set of Stormgate games consisted of six games, played out over twenty-eight hours. To me this was all well worth the investment of time. I may be looking for Stormgate events at Gaming stores.

Prepping for the game was easy. The rules for making your character were to use the point build in the Player’s Handbook to determine your basic stats, with maximum hit points at first level. The only book available for use was The Players Handbook. Other books will be opened for player use during or after Stormgate events.

Board Games included: Aquire, Arkham Horror, Empire Builder, Talisman, Fury of Dracula, Puerto Rico, Settlers of Catan (the winner of the weekends tournament won a trip to Origions for the national championships), Diplomacy and Blood Bowl.

Necromunda, Warhammer 40K, Battletech, Formula De and X-Wing were represented in the miniatures area. There were even events set up for young gamers.


Here is the link to take to Total Cons site. Make sure to watch out for next years schedule.


And always be sure to watch Great Stories events schedule for up and coming new games and plans at the shop.


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The Female Perspective: Supergirl and Pose-able Ta-ta’s: It Must Be Monday!

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.

There are some days I wonder why I write this blog (those days are usually when I have a lot of writing work to do and no time to write the kind of stuff, like this, that I want to write!), those are the bad days. Then there are days that I am so glad I have this outlet for my perspective, for my voice. Those are the good days.  Today is one of the good days.

Oh Marvel, I'm disappointed in you.
Oh Marvel, I’m disappointed in you.

So much came into my inbox today, articles about a leaked Marvel email about why we can’t have nice things…wait, it was about why a female-centric superhero film wouldn’t work. The email then went on to site 3 examples of failed superhero movies, one of them, Supergirl from the 80’s was filmed THIRTY YEARS AGO.

Author FYI: I love Supergirl. It made me feel like girls could be powerful. It also makes my day every time I watch it and actually, I sense a viewing coming my way very soon. I mean, seriously, FAYE FREAKIN DUNAWAY as the villain!! And Peter O’Toole!!! Dear lord…when Supergirl has to escape the Phantom Zone I die every time, it’s one of the best, most perfect examples of “girl power” I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen it, watch this…NOW (please).

Seriously, when she stands up in front of the light with that music playing I get chills, CHILLS.

Anyway, I lost my point there for a moment, I’ll come back to it now. The fact is, in terms of money, the film Supergirl was a flop and I full understand that that is all movie execs look at and consider. In the interveneing 30 years though we’ve had Wonder Woman the TV show, we’ve had Agent Carter which is coming back for a 2nd season (Can I get a Hallelujah for that!?) and we have Black Widow in the various Avenger-themed movies. We have there 3 prime examples of women super hero’s getting it DONE with power and style. To try and say in this day and age that a female-centric hero movie wouldn’t work? Well, that’s antinqated and useless thinking. it’s thinking that shouldn’t be working at Marvel anymore.

The author of the Marvel article (linked above) did a fantastic job making the arguments I would have made, the point being that there have been PLENTY of failed superhero movies with men at the helm (Daredevil with Ben Affleck or The Green Hornet with Seth Rogen are just 2 examples). What matters to comic fans and movie goers isn’t who is the star (though, that is taken into account), it’s whether the movie stays true to the character and is well written, acted and directed.

The guy at Marvel who penned that email should be fired and then fired again for good measure and perhaps even fired one more time to prove the point that he needs to retire and/or educate himself on what draws people to theater.

Super girl played by Helen Slater
Super girl played by Helen Slater

Another example of why I love being able to write this blog is because I also came across an article about an action figure, the title of the article is this:

This Metal Gear Solid V Figure Has Poseable Breasts

I thought it had to be a joke at first but nope, it’s a real thing.  From the article itself.

Hideo Kojima tweeted out images of a figure of the character that is being designed by PlayArts. It reveals that some of the material it’s made of is softer so it can be “lifted” and “pushed”. That material is on the character’s breasts. ~ Bleeding Cool

There truly are no words for how … puzzled I felt when I read this.

There are some days where I think that women have come in terms of equality only to find out that really, women will almost always be treated like pose-able figures to be manipulated at will by fans, dirty old men or other strange people.

There isn’t much more to say here because either (as the author states), you’ll love it or you’ll hate it and that’s your prerogative either way. Which I agree with to a certain extent. I do believe people can make their own choices but the fact is, when toys (is it a toy?) like this are sold it demeans women while also perpetuating the sexism that is rampant in video games, comics and other forms of entertainment. If no one bough it, they would stop making it. Sadly, I’m not sure I believe that that will ever happen.

The words can't even help me express my displeasure at this one...
The words can’t even help me express my displeasure at this one…

The fact is, being able to write this blog gives me an outlet for my frustration and my amusement at the abject sexism that abounds in our world. Some days it breaks my heart, other days it makes me laugh and still other days it makes me good an angry. I can tell you that I’ve gotten comments from readers that either know or not (who am I to judge the words of others?) that they are being sexist and it frustrates the holy heck out of me. My retaliation? I do my absolute best to respond with kindness, reason and intelligence. Once I’ve said my piece I move on.

The beauty of our world being so connected is that it gives people like me an opportunity to talk about what I truly love and I love talking about comics and feminism and pop culture. It really makes my day. I also just realized that I love to talk about the movie Supergirl and I cannot wait for the TV show that’s coming our way (fingers crossed). I can only hope that it is as good or better than the movie because the movie made Supergirl powerful and it made her a woman who finds her inner strength and defeats the bad guys which this feminist nerd loves.


What do YOU think? Is a toy with “pose-able breasts” acceptable? Why or why not? And what do you think about Supergirl – is she indeed a super feminist girl or something else entirely? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: From No One to Prom King, A Tale of Bullying

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 

True Story.
True Story.

Bullying. I chose this topic for my blog today because I watched a video.

This doesn’t sound all that impressive, I mean, we all watch video’s all the time on the internet. It’s one of my favorite ways to waste time! Today was different though, I started watching this video about this boy who was bullied but then, he somehow turned everything around by doing one simple act of kindness. I’ll get to what his response was in a moment, but first I want to address the topic of bullying.

It’s something we are all familiar with, either it’s something we lived through in school or, if you are a parent, you have to deal with currently. Whether you are the bully or the one being bullied, it is, to me, a crime. When I was a kid, bullying meant people called you horrible names, maybe scrawled something on your locker (or, in one particularly memorable case, the bullies stole money out of my locker) and they definitely harassed you at every given opportunity. I was bullied constantly when I was a kid, Junior High was the worst for me. I was lonely, sad and even though I had friends who did their best to support me, the bullying crushed me every single day. It exhausted me and I remember crying every night that I had to go back there. Eventually, it did taper off but it never vanished completely. High School was only marginally better. Or, at least, I began to be proud of who I was, so the bullying didn’t bother me as much.

The fact is, kids today have it way harder than we ever did. Kids today don’t just get bullied at school. They get bullied on social media; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, the bullying goes home with them. There are constant reports of kids, KIDS, killing themselves because the bullying is just too much for them. It breaks my heart to hear it because if only they could see the future, they’d see that outside of school, bullying means nothing. Your life will get better. Mine did.

It’s also true that women get bullied in the comic book and gamer world. It’s defined as sexism but it’s bullying just the same. Women (and the men who support them) are taunted online, called cruel and unfair names. The most recent example of this is of course, Gamergate, where a woman was harassed to the point of having to leave her home out of fear for her well-being. The sad fact is that bullying does continue into adulthood, but as adults we have better tools to handle it (hopefully). Kids simply don’t. They do not have the perspective to realized that this moment in time is only a moment, that it too shall pass.

But I digress, what started this post was a simple, but powerful, video (that you can watch at the end of this post). A young man was being bullied. He had recently lost his father and moved to a new town. He was quiet, reserved, in mourning and different. The kids ripped pictures out of his locker of his deceased father. The boy felt invisible and realized he didn’t want to be anymore. He finally couldn’t take it anymore. Instead of fighting back with anger or cynicism he did the most simple thing you can think of. He began holding doors for other students. Yep. You read that right, he became a doorman. He also became Prom King.

What amazes me is that at first, the other students mocked him, made fun of him and were confused by this act of simple kindness but, as the voiceover in the video suggests, soon the kids began to look forward to seeing this young man in the morning. A big smile, a hello and an open door for them. The other kids enjoyed it so much and were so grateful for his kindness, they voted him Prom King as a way to say thank you. It’s an amazing and uplifting story on how sometimes, you can combat hatred with kindness and come out on top.

It’s so simple, yet so powerful. It inspired other acts of kindness throughout the school and it turned this young man onto the idea of public speaking, to advocate for the bullied, the sad, the loners. To help them see that being courageous doesn’t mean screaming to be heard, being courageous can simply mean doing a small act of kindness for someone else. Holding a door open, smiling or even just making eye contact. It’s a powerful message. It is also one that everyone needs to hear and it is why I share it here today.

Share the love, share the kindness. We adults have a thing or two we can still learn from kids.


Fight Back With Kindness

What about you? Have you been the victim of bullying (when you were a kid or an adult)?

How did you handle it?

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The Female Perspective: A Non-Gamers Thoughts on Gamergate

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 

Here’s the thing, from what I can tell in reading various articles on Gamergate, it’s a big ole mess. It started because people (aka a bunch of angry internet folks/gamers) were angry that an indie gamer released a game to great success. Then, her ex-boyfriend began spouting lies about her using her feminine wiles to get good reviews. He has since retracted what he said, saying that Quinn did not sleep with the journalist for reviews but the damage has already been done. The information was out there and people began to choose sides. Things began to quickly spiral out of control (which is what often happens on the internet) when Quinn became the recipient of death threats and multiple hacks to her various social media accounts.

I admit that, as a woman, I might be a bit biased on this subject.
I admit that, as a woman, I might be a bit biased on this subject.

What Gamergate reveals is the rampant and violent misogyny that runs throughout the gamer community. In industries such as video games and even comics, women are simply not given a fair shake. Women are treated differently and are often treated badly. And by badly, I mean, women are in fear for their lives. Let me repeat the fact that Quinn had to leave her home because she was in danger of being attacked. One of the many problems with Gamergate is that there was no organization to it, no clear leader. Therefore, the attacks ranged from condemning the lack of ethics in journalism to outright hatred against women in the gaming industry. So what was the “real” issue here?

Carolyn Cox from The Mary Sue puts it well when she says,

“This ongoing uproar in the gaming community is not about journalistic ethics, it’s about systematic misogyny and abuse, the ease with which harassment occurs online, and the fact that publishing an article calling for empathy could engender enough hate to make you want to quit writing forever.”

Technology is great but one of the downfalls is that hate is spewed towards women (amongst others) every day on the internet. Being able to hide behind a computer screen/keyboard makes people (aka trolls, bullies, bigots, sexists, etc) feel invincible and untouchable. The fact is, they mostly are. The video game world has seen the rise of females in their male dominated world for years now, in a blog from 2011 I found that women made up 12% of the people working in creating games, not to mention, women have been influential in some of the biggest games around such as “Gears of War 3” and “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”.


According to an article in The Washington Post,

“America’s 190 million gamers, 48 percent of whom are women, still play in a harsh frontier. About 70 percent of female gamers said they played as male characters online in hopes of sidestepping sexual harassment, according to a study cited by “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” author and law professor Danielle Keats Citron.”

Intermingled with this feeling of technological invincibility is the gamer world. It is a male dominated one and if anything is clear from Gamergate, it is an industry that is unwilling to accept women into the fold. (I want to make it clear that I, by no means,  speak of the entire gaming industry. I am well aware that there are many who support women). To try and keep women out, the men establish a culture of hatred, violence, sexism and threats. I know that even though I am not a gamer, I see the commercials for games like “Grand Theft Auto”, I am often horrified at the way women are portrayed in those games. I have read numerous stories about how the female characters are often sex workers who are attacked and murdered for fun. Yeah, for FUN. If you’ll allow me an “old lady” moment,  I honestly don’t know when video games became this way. I remember a time when you very simply had to get Link through various trials to rescue Zelda or you bounced Mario along some toadstools to rescue Princess Peach. Maybe I’m old but it saddens me that there are now video games that are all about killing and assault.

As of 2011, about 18 million women were playing video games.

As of 2014, that number rose to 70%!

When journalist Anita Sarkeesian (no stranger to online harassment for her feminist views) mentioned that maybe in video games women don’t have to be nameless sex workers nor do they need to be murdered and/or attacked in every video game, she received so many threats she had to leave her home for a safer location.

Let me say this pretty clearly so everyone understands, no one should have to leave their homes for fear of their safety for speaking their mind. Last time I checked, we lived in a country founded on the principles of free speech. When did that change to ‘free speech, except when it’s women denouncing female abuse in video games and/or receiving praise for a well-done video game?’ For sure, I am a bit confused that the only argument being made is to try and frighten the women who are speaking their minds. Where is the logical, open discourse? Where is the intelligence? We live in a culture of bullies and I, for one, want it to stop.

What has come out of Gamergate for many is a need to address the misogyny and violence against women (and their supporters) in the gaming industry. For something like this to reach a level of violence where women are fearing for their own well-being means that there is a huge flaw in the system. Actually, it means the system is broken. Everyone should be able to do what they love. Everyone should be able to speak their mind (unless, obviously, it’s harmful).

I realize that this may sound somewhat unclear, but here’s the thing. The people making threats or hacking accounts to “get back at” these women are the problem. They are abusing the right of free speech by trying to shut down those who are fighting for it. By abusing it to this degree they no longer deserve that right (in my humble opinion) because once we descend to threats of bodily harm, who are we? Barbarians? Monsters?

I, for one, want to live in a world where I can speak my mind without fear of being harmed or threatened.

There is an upside. There are organizations like WIGI (Women In Games International) that is made up of both male and female members whose sole purpose is to work to include women in the gaming industry as both players and developers. Make sure to check them out!

Tell me, did I miss something about Gamergate? 

Not being a gamer, I would love to hear some feedback!