academia, dungeons and dragons, phd

Homebrewing Asia: How D&D in Singapore is remaking Western fantasy

I talked to two DMs of homebrewed worlds in Singapore about how they’re remaking D&D from its Tolkien/American midwest origins. I thought I’d get answers about how we make D&D Asian, but I was spellbound instead as we stalled on questions of what being Asian even means. This article was published on both The Homeground Asia and The Anthropolitan.

“D&D isn’t a history lecture. There’s something magical when things are mundane. Like, it’s not special that there are temples or shrines: it’s just another thing between you and where you’re going. Or it’s not special that everyone in this world is a mongrel, and that very few characters are ‘pure-blooded’. It’s reflective of our world, where we are defined by generation upon generation of migration.”

Ramji Venkateswaran, DM of The 4th Culture
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academia, dungeons and dragons, phd

Pay-and-play with Dungeons and Dragons, and other updates

Getting paid to run Dungeons & Dragons games! It is a thing, and it is growing fast in Singapore. I love that storytellers and community organisers are being valued in this way, but I also wonder about this shift from hobby to business, and about the understanding of what a Dungeon Master’s skills are (as rule-enforcer, shared-space-maker, world-builder, keeper-of-secrets, and softcore mathematician).

In case you missed the first link above, I talked to professional DMs from Tinker Tales Studios and TableMinis, as well as Melvyn Sin, a freelance DM, here. We discussed safe spaces, the terrors of improv, and D&D for kids, among a thousand other things I wasn’t able to put into the piece but which I hope to transcribe and publish on the internet sometime soon.

(Issuing a hopeful call into the wild right now for a professional female DM in Singapore to reach out to me!)

In other news, I bought a Dungeon Meowster shirt that I will not stop wearing. Also, recently, I:

  • Have been working on my upgrade proposal and my ethics applications
  • Am playing Ghosts of Saltmarsh AND Descent into Avernus AND my home campaign
  • Am regretting playing a Warlock, because two spell slots is just so… few… spell slots
  • Got vaccinated! (Halfway)
  • Have been thinking a lot about D&D as a space to practise risk-taking and as an arena for children to learn social skills
  • Am trying to make this remote PhD stuff work with WhatsApp chats and Google Drives and missing in-person sociality

Come talk to me on Twitter @KellynnWee or Instagram @braided or email me (kellynn.wee [at] gmail [dot] com) if you have any interest in collaborating or also if you want to discuss favourite D&D classes or recommend good one-shots to run as a DM.

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academia, dungeons and dragons, phd

Narrativity, contingency and play in Dungeons and Dragons

I presented on my PhD project for University College London’s Material Culture Presentation Day on June 10. My supervisor thought there was not enough theory, but I felt there were not enough dragons (I am kidding, Danny!).

Slides as follows. There were lots of things I wanted to talk about (like solarpunk and wuxia D&D universes set in Singapore! Folks in New Zealand who take a ferry out to an island to play D&D in a lighthouse DM’d by a teenager!) but I was unable to do so, so it will just have to come out elsewhere.

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academia, personal

Ang Mo Kio under lockdown

I’ve shared this widely and had it widely shared by my very supportive and beloved academic and friend community (thank you, thank you, thank you), many of whom read it carefully and wrote to me with their own reflections, but I want to archive it here, too.

Here’s an essay about everyday life during lockdown in Singapore, what walking Chai has taught me about my neighbourhood, and how people challenge surveillance by building new community spaces, published on anthrocovid.com.

I miss smiling at people unmasked; I miss the civil inattention we practise in trains and lifts and bus stops; I miss being alone in a sea of strangers while feeling cosseted and amused and calmed by the very many quirks of a crowd. I miss being an observer of the populated city.

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academia

Academia is an act of dreaming

Thinking is so hard. Sometimes stuff floats out of the detritus of the everyday. I can dream while awake, drifting like seaweed through aisles in a supermarket, and somehow I’ve put a thought together and then another and then another and it becomes a paper, an argument, something that hangs cogently. Sometimes it is like this where I am at my desk and I am writing here because I cannot and do not know how to write elsewhere. That I have a million words in my head and no way to give shape to thought. But the knowledge that eventually I will. That time is sure, embodies surety. And the knowledge that when I will, that when I write, I will not only give shape to thought but foreclose it. How thrilling to exist in this gap, to know that I know something beyond what I can articulate. What is the present tense of “wrought”? What is the space before something is “wrought”? Here is where I am now. I think about writing and it is like spelunking. Do you know what it feels like to wake up from a dream so vivid you have to write it down immediately? And yet how all you can muster are stutters, groups of words confused as sheep in a field, too plain for the fast-fading dream. Ocean liner 1611. A man who drowns another man, and I fall in love with him. Notes from a dream I had last night. Before I write I am in this space, the space before the dream fades and before I put it down. To write is to reverse-engineer a dream and to find it concrete and disappointing. To see a dance club in daylight. But also how the more you write, the more you remember, the more you know. That writing is inevitable. Again I am here because I am struggling elsewhere. But the struggle is delightful. It is as real and as delightful as a jazz apple cold from the fridge.

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