To celebrate Women in Tabletop Gaming Month, PWOA decided to interview some of the very women who contribute to our communities!
Today, we have Sin Posadas, co-developer, writer, and playtester for Tadhana – an original tabletop RPG that draws inspiration from Filipino mythology, folk tales, and urban legends. Her art is featured on the front and back covers of the handbook, the cards, as well as the maps within Bulong.
Hi Sin! Thanks for joining us for this interview! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and the games and systems you run?
Hello, my name is Sinta Posadas. Most people call me Sin. I run games for both D&D 5e and Tadhana!
For D&D, I have a campaign (on hold) inspired by Russian folklore and popular Scandinavian folktales. And I have another (ongoing) in a setting that I’ve been developing for probably almost two years now. I also regularly play AL – D&D Adventurers League.
I’m also part of the team that is developing Tadhana. I’m a co-developer and I run several one-shot games to sort of introduce people to it at events; or even just whenever I’m available. I’m also writing for a few more things to be released for Tadhana in the future! We have many plans, so please watch out for those.
How you were introduced to tabletop anyway? What do you think continues to fuel your interest in the hobby?
I think I remember it was quite spontaneous. About three years ago, I ran into some friends after work when I was still a research assistant in UP. One of them told me that they were going to start their campaign in a week. I had never played D&D before than, although I’d always wanted to and I’d heard of it.
I had read no books, no resources. Long story short, I really fell in love with the game. I remember thinking: “nothing should be this fun” and yet, here I am.
Seeing people passionate about the hobby is actually what fuels me the most. Whenever I bring someone new into tabletop gaming, seeing that spark in their eye really gets me going. When my players really get immersed in the scenarios I make for them – it’s the best feeling ever. It always feels so good when I hear them talk about their backstories and [when] they take the time to look at the world map I’ve made for them, and try to place themselves in the world.
The next best thing, I think, is when I see my players become their characters. When I see them begin to interact with each other at the table and I can see that the interactions are in-character, no matter their level of skill in roleplaying – it’s incredible. When I see them realize that their partymate is in danger, when I see them try to cover for each other when a bad roll was made, or them having personal conversations, character-to-character: those make me want to play for hours on end.
Like how? Can you share with us some shenanigans at the table?
One of my favorite moments was when my party was trying to get across a huge ravine. There were these stone pillars in between, but spaced quite far apart from each other. There were broken ladders that would have been used to connect the stone pillars, too, so it was a bit of a puzzle for them to solve.
One of my players decided that they would jump from pillar to pillar. Internally, I freaked out a little. I knew how high the DC was for that jump. I knew that the character could make it – if they were lucky. They weren’t.
They fell from a very, very high height, and while they managed to catch themselves on the stone pillar and not suffer the full force of the falling damage, I had also placed quite a number of dangerous creatures that had begun to crawl up to the character.
Holy $#*! – what happened next?
The entire team suddenly began innovating their dynamic to try to figure out what to do to get their friend back on track. Watching them turn into a small rescue team was a good moment. It was even better to see the expression on the player’s face when they managed to save him.
They talked about that scenario for awhile after that, even outside of the games, and when I see my players do that, I feel very rewarded.
Tabletop is a lot of crafting stories together. How do you personally handle narrative and world-building?
Narrative-wise, I find that I am most expressive through my NPCs. As a DM, I “win” if my players end up admiring and aspiring to be like the NPC. If they end up caring for the NPC so much that they would bend over backwards for them (and not just because of a quest). Then, of course, I also win if they end up hating an NPC that they would do absolutely anything to see them ruined.
To know that I have invoked that much emotion, I think, is when I genuinely feel that all the hours I poured into my prepping was worth it.
I love it when my players help build the world, too. When players come to me to try to suggest a homebrew class or subclass; workshop some homebrewed feats and created spells, it truly becomes a group effort.
Suddenly, it’s not just my world! It’s the whole table’s world.
Out of nowhere, I have a new faction or organization to weave into the world’s history. Suddenly, I have a new divine domain, a new ideology, a new class, a new race. I find that the world becomes so much more alive when the players go beyond just being a player and become my co-writers, too.
Women in Tabletop Gaming Month was established because of the desire to recognize, respect, and empower women in the tabletop gaming community. Have you ever felt like it was challenge being female in the community? What’s your personal philosophy on how to better encourage a culture of inclusivity?
I don’t think I’ve ever, personally, had a moment when I felt outcast. But if I may give my opinion, I think it helps when the GMs try to incorporate themes of inclusivity into their games as well. I do this a lot with Tadhana and often it surprises me how responsive the players can be.
Sometimes, I’ll make the entire plot about how the quest-giver can no longer carry out the task because they’ve gone deaf or blind. You’ll be surprised by how much your players can rise above. I had one player that tried to communicate via an improvised version of sign-language!
I also remember very clearly, there was a time when my exiled character met up with her cousin outside the dwarven citadel that she grew up in. During the course of that conversation, my character found out that the cousin had chosen to become something like a priest in that society. He’d chosen to become celibate, which was rather different from what the cousin’s mother had wanted for him.
When my character asked, she was met with a very casual response: “I don’t want to marry a woman.” When I heard my character’s cousin speak those words through my DM’s mouth, I felt my heart bleed a little. As someone who is not-so-straight either, I suddenly felt a connection there. I was already attached to that NPC prior, but even moreso at that point.
Taking inspiration from that, I try to make my NPCs seem like real people, which is quite effective in homebrews. That can be overwhelming for some people sometimes, but I find that the shock is temporary. I try to make NPCs who are strong, and who aren’t afraid to admit that they’re weak. I also try to make NPCs that are a little morally ambiguous and some who are a little unresponsive to the player’s flirtatious advances; as well as NPCs who have motivations just like them. I find that it really helps them sort of find a piece of themselves and feel visible.
Do you have any last words for our readers and anyone interested in helping their own gaming communities?
I think that it takes a lot of heart to be a GM; let alone try to build a gaming community. It’s not easy and I’m not sure if it will ever be easy. But there will always be moments that make you fall in love with the hobby all over again.
I just enjoy being surrounded by enthusiastic, electric energy and I know I’m still learning everyday. Find your niche and find others. You’ll be surprised by how much it can take off.
I know the Tadhana community is still surprising me day-by-day. It takes a lot to overcome the initial inertia and I know that we’re nowhere near getting over it, yet, but I think the secret is patience. I’m sure D&D didn’t get to this level of popularity in just a month.
Then, of course, everyone needs to understand that this is a social activity. And therefore there is some sort of a social contract that exists. Tabletop gaming is a road that goes both ways: if you demand respect on the table, then you must also give respect.
You can talk about what is okay and what isn’t so that you let out any grievances before they begin to fester. Establish expectations and try to be transparent about your capabilities, capacities and limits.
After all, if you’re going to spend hours together and on a regular basis, you might as well establish some boundaries early on. The last thing you want to do is to end up no longer having anyone to play with. Change what needs to be changed and keep what can be retained. A little communication can go a long way.
Play Without Apology would like to give a special shout out to Gamers & GMs Philippines for putting us in touch with Sin! Many thanks as well to the lovely Bim Canoza of momatoes.com for the use of her photographs!
Stay tuned for the rest of this interview series!