Will Patterson: Jennifer, how long have you been part of the Gauntlet, and what brought you in initially?
Jennifer Erixon: Gosh, well, I played my first Gauntlet games at the end of December 2016. I played a halfling druid in a dungeon world game that was gmed by Daniel Lugo. It was great, and I got to reject my god for lying to me, which led to Daniel posting something really nice about me and making me feel all warm and cuddly.
I don't know exactly how I got into the Gauntlet. I booted up my g+ account maybe two years ago, and started following random people who had made stuff. I lurked for a long while, mostly on the Dungeon World tavern. I was obsessed with DW.
Some background: At the time I was living in an agricultural intentional community serving adults with developmental disabilities in eastern Pennsylvania. Sometime in december of 2014 I played warrior rogue mage (WRM) with a guy who was dating one of the dairy farmers, then the next Thanksgiving she ran a WRM game based on the Odyssey. I played Penelope, Odysseus's wife. I had a magic loom which I used to make magic rope to sort of swing the boat away from Charybdis. It was great. I had played some 4e way back in the day, but this reawakened my need for games, and I devoured the One Shot podcast. I lived without internet in my house at the time, so i would download podcasts in the mansion house and then listen to them in my spare time. I read so many rulebooks, spent what little money was in my stipend on pdfs, and eventually joined up with g+.
After lurking in the tavern for a bit I learned of stonetop and got into a playtest group. I loved the concept. Ari Black was the gm, Christo Meid was the fox, I was the blessed, and we had a heavy. It was a lot of fun, and I realized how much I loved just being my character, being a character that cared about fictional things. Like, I felt that I truly was this daughter of Danu, and all the while, I was basically hiding in public places that had wifi in the village where I lived and worked. Working the dairy and milking the cows was a lonely profession, and having a social and creative outlet was so necessary to my survival. No one in the village could ever commit to any f2f games because we were all so tired or busy. Stonetop was the beginning. What’s funny is now I am in a playtest group run by Jeremy Strandberg, and playing alongside Christo again, with Jason Lutes and Michael Prescott rounding out the roster. It’s fucking great.
So eventually that original Stonetop group began to fall apart, and Christo went to the Gauntlet, (which is probably how I heard of the Gauntlet), but I didn't really hit my stride in the community until the World of Dungeons (WoDu) series Songs of Bellet Osc and then Apocalypse World 2e both run by Jason Cordova. I learned a lot about my playstyle, and it was a crash course in good GMing from the master of all ceremonies, games, and dungeons.
Is DW still your favorite game?
No, not really. Around the time I got into the Gauntlet I was really getting heavy into some OSR goodness. There is lots of awesome stuff in the OSR community. I have been following Macchiato Monsters for a long time. I love the way it has evolved and I am really looking forward to the final game being released. Into the Odd is another favorite of mine, Maze Rats is lovely, and Ilike a lot of the content put out by Evelyn M and Trey Causey.
I find that, ironically, some of the rules light OSR games have fewer mechanics and therefore more narrative freedom. I found that when I tried playing DW with some of my fellow village dwellers, they seemed so crippled by their character sheets. It was unintuitive to them, and unless you’re like me, you don't have the time to sit and read a whole bunch of rules.
That's one reason WoDu has become my favorite game for genre stories. It’s easily hackable, being only a page in length. It’s a lot like WRM without all the fiddly bits, but informed by an Apocalypse World sensibility. I have made a retro sci-fi hack of WoDu, and am currently running a f2f game of an Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland hack of WoDu, which is working wonderfully.
It’s sounds like you are all in on the hobby. What drew you in originally?
Well, so I had always been a sort of fantasy and folklore nut. I remember once when I was in high school I found the 3.5 monster manual or whatever it was called back then, but it was full of numbers and not enough illustrations. I thought it was a folklore book about the history of different monsters, but it wasn't. At the time I was into folklore and mythology hardcore. I mean I still am, I still dream of owning a library just filled with folklore and being able to recite my favorite fairy tales by heart like a proper crone.
Fantasy was sort of a big deal when I was younger. Harry Potter was my whole childhood. I saw the first movie for my 11th birthday. LOTR also came out that year and I got obsessed. The Eragon books also came out around that time, and I loved the His Dark Materials series and Abarat. I remember one time when I was maybe ten dragging my mom into a store with a wizard on it or some such but it was wiccan and that was boring. My family also went to ren fests all the time.
Anyway, in high school I got into video games like no one's business. Final Fantasy and Elder Scrolls in particular, which are both basically DnD clones with graphix, and also Fable. That fantasy vein ran in my mind, but I had still not really heard of DnD.
In college, that changed. I fell in with a group of arty nerdy folks and we did everything. We watched anime, we played video games, and some of us made an in character craigslist ad to play in DnD 4e. We played a few sessions of Keep on the Shadowfell. It was fun, and new and exciting, but man combat lasted forever. My favorite moment was when my halfling warlock, half mad from the star pact, entered a room full of skeletons, killed them all in one swift move, and came out with a witty comeback for the rest of the party. Then we did a few sessions of a film noir/pulp adventure in d20 modern, and a Zelda pbp, a 4e game that went terribly in Iowa City and pissed people off due to different expectations, but it sort of petered out for me. I was more interested in getting myself involved in the local poetry, art, and political scenes to get too involved with nerdiness outside of a few board games or card games. It wasn’t until 2014 that I hooked myself with that WRM game I talked about earlier.
You’ve had a fairly broad background in the hobby, which brings me to one of my favorite questions. Imagine your perfect game night. What game are you playing, and are you the GM or a PC?
Aw jeeze, how cruel of you! This question is completely unfair!
I suppose I really have no idea, right? The game rules are not what is important to me. I think my perfect game night would be a night full of emotions. I want to feel sad, happy, scared, and excited. I want to laugh and cry. I want to feel something and tell a good story. I want to come away affected by the game I have played. Whether I am the GM or player, it doesn't matter. I have never had that experience as a GM yet, but I feel like it’s where I want to be, to be able to have that experience and facilitate that experience for my players.
That is beautiful Jennifer. I we get a chance to play at the same table in the future. Thank you for sharing some time with us.