Quickies: My Shortlist (What’s in a Name, Part II)

i’ve been thinking about the issue of gender-neutral names for the past few days (and poring over several different lists found online and provided by friends…), and that thinking has led me to create a shortlist of names i am considering using.  In the creation of this list, i employed a multifaceted selection criteria: the name had to originate from a language or culture in my own ancestry (so as to avoid appropriation as best as i could), the name’s meaning had to have some kind of appeal to my personality, the name had to have more than incidental gender-neutral usage, and it had to be a name that wasn’t too closely connected to someone else who plays a regular part in my life.  So, without further ado, here is my shortlist.  Input is welcome, of course…

  • Aubrey/Avery – Anglo-Saxon – “Elf ruler” – This name, of course, appeals to my enjoyment of fantasy fiction and role playing games.  i am very fond of elves.  i’m more drawn to Avery than Aubrey here, because Avery tends to be more gender-neutral in its modern usage, and it has a better mouthfeel when matched up with my last name than Aubrey does.
  • Dylan – Welsh – “son of the sea” – This name appeals to my affinity for water, in both physical and mental terms.  Water-related names also appeal to the fluidity of my gender.  The drawbacks of this particular name are the fact that its meaning is rather gendered, despite its generally gender-neutral modern usage, and when matched with my last name, it causes alliteration, which makes me come off like a Stan Lee protagonist…
  • Glaw – Welsh – “rain” – Water again…  And i love a good rain storm.  i’m not totally sold on this name, though.  It isn’t all that common in modern usage, and it would feel a little “put on” to use.  i’m not totally sold on its mouthfeel, either.  It doesn’t sound quite right as a name for me…
  • Indigo – English – “purplish-blue” – i like blue, i like purple, and i kind of like the mouthfeel of this one.
  • Morgan – Celtic – “dweller of the sea” – Water yet again.  i also rather like the mouthfeel of this name when paired with my last name.
  • Morwenna - Welsh – “ocean wave” – This is probably my favorite of all the meanings in the names i have selected, but the flow and mouthfeel of the word feel a little artificial to my ear, as with “Glaw,” it feels a bit “put on.”
  • Ocean – English – means exactly what it says – It’s another water-based name, but it’s a bit too literal for my taste, i think.
  • Phoenix – English (via Latin through Old French) – mythological bird that rises from its own ashes – This one feels appropriate given the changes i’m going through, but again, it feels a little too literal.
  • Rain – English – means exactly what it says – Water again, yes.  And this one has plenty of modern usage, so that its literal meaning doesn’t sound quite as hackneyed to my ear as “Ocean” does.
  • Sasha – German – “man’s defender” – It’s kind of a cool meaning, but it’s probably the one that fits me least.  Mouthfeel is okay when matched with my name.

i think my  front-runners right now are probably Avery, Morgan, and Rain (possibly spelled differently)…

Posted in Gender, LGBT, Language | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

What’s In A Name?

It’s an interesting question to ask.  As Juliet rightly points out, our names do not truly define us as people.  Names, and really languages in general, are at their most basic level nothing more than arrangements of otherwise distinct sounds that are arbitrarily agreed upon as having meaning by the people in a particular culture of speakers and listeners.  And while this is essentially true when it comes to mere denotations, the same cannot be said for connotations.  After thousands of years of using languages of various characters, humans have come to regard words as powerful things, often forming the underlying nature of philosophy and religious beliefs.

With respects to Juliet, this is especially the case when it comes to names.  We tend to take our names very seriously, as if they are a part of our selves just as much as any physical body part, and the misuse of our names is tantamount to actual injury.  Our names are among the first things we are ever actually certain about when it comes to our sense of identity, and as such they tend to form the substructures that under-gird the entirety of our individual self-conceptions.  They are the first piece of information required in introductions and the last thing required, in signature form, on legal documents.  Names are incredibly important.

All of this, of course, calls into question my decision to blog pseudonymously, but i’ve already covered that ground in earlier entries, and those readers who do know me in person are well aware of the issues at hand that led to that particular decision on my part.  That really isn’t the issue i want to discuss with this particular entry, anyway.  What i want to talk about is how to deal with my real name now that i am working through this personal journey of gender fluidity… and i’m going to do it all without revealing my real name in this entry.  (Because I’m magical like that!)

So, just to catch up on ground already covered elsewhere, i am now pretty much officially identifying as gender fluid, because i honestly do feel like i move back and forth along the gender continuum, often settling somewhere around the middle.  Since that motion really does feel very fluid and fluctuates relatively often, gender fluid feels like the best fit.  This is an interesting situation, though, because my new found non-binary-ness doesn’t fit my real name at all, but it’s also not a situation where changing my name outright to something on the other side of the continuum would be appropriate either.

The original thought i had when i first began this journey was that i would keep my real name for when i was feeling more male and use a different female name for when i was feeling more female.  My original thought was that this other name would be Simone.  Yes, it’s the female version of the name i blog under, but it’s more than that.  i’m not sure exactly what the reason is, but i’ve always been drawn to the name Simon.  It’s been an alter ego name i’ve used for years.  It was the name of my first Play by E-mail RPG character, and I’ve been using it as my scene name in the BDSM community since my first halting steps into that lifestyle as well.  For this reason, Simone seems a somewhat appropriate choice of name for my female side…

…except it doesn’t feel quite right.

i don’t know what it is, but i can’t quite picture myself as a Simone.  i’ve tried, but there’s just something… off… about it.  It feels… false somehow… almost like putting on a mask, i guess.  Perhaps “Simon” has become such a part of me that simply feminizing that name is not the right choice.

So what is the solution?  There isn’t really a feminine version of my real name, and even if there was, i think i’ve moved away philosophically from the idea of switching back and forth between two names depending on which side of the continuum felt stronger.  It sort of has the effect of denying the middle ground that i find myself occupying so often.  Instead, i think some sort of gender-neutral name might be for the best.

Unfortunately, this sort of leaves me at square one.  i don’t know what name fits anymore.  i’ll still use simon–if nothing else, it’s still my scene name and part of my sense of identity with BDSM friends and acquaintances–but not as a primary name.  i’ve looked at a couple of lists of gender neutral names, and i haven’t really come to any conclusions yet.  Truth be told, naming characters is one of the hardest things for me to do as a writer; the name has to fit the character… and my name has to fit me.  (Suggestions are welcome, on this front.)

And truthfully all of this really is sort of a moot point, when you think about it.  It’s not like i’m going to be publicly or legally changing my name any time soon.  My job and my career keep me well ensconced in my personal closet, and there’s no sign that i’ll be able to start poking my head out of it in anything approaching the near future.  So legally and professionally, i’ll still pretty much always be my “real” name.  But on the other hand, i have friends, both in the Trans* community and outside of it, to whom i am out about all of these things, and it would be kind of nice to have something that better fits me and my fluctuating nature that they could use in safe environments.

i don’t know…  Maybe that’s a silly and impractical idea.  Still, it might be nice to figure something out.

Posted in Gender, Language, LGBT, Life, Philosophy | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Which It Occurs To Me That i Have Absolutely No Idea How To Meet Someone…

An ally friend of mine and i were having a conversation the other day.  We talked about a number of subjects, including this relatively new (at least as far as my being conscious of it is concerned) and often uncomfortable gender identity adventure i’ve been on, and she helped me out with an outfit/potential cosplay i’ve been putting together (she helped lace up the corset when i tried some things on to show her what i had in mind, too…).  Inevitably, the conversation worked its way around to relationships, and i came to a realization: i have absolutely no idea how to meet someone…

It’s been a running joke for me for a few years now (ever since i fully embraced my BDSM orientation) that i keep doing and realizing things about myself that make it more and more difficult to find a romantic partner–essentially making my dating pool more and more shallow every time i come to a new mental place.  It was difficult enough when i realized that i would probably not be able to have any sort of extended romantic relationship without there being at least some element of BDSM and power exchange in the dynamic, and that i would have to address this issue early with any potential significant others.  Then there was the whole polyamorous layer that got added in, because i hadn’t already created enough of a challenge.  Now i’ve added a potentially even more difficult layer to the cake, especially living in this area.

To be perfectly fair, i wasn’t all that adept at meeting romantic interests to begin with.  i’ve never been good at the bar/club scene; large crowds of people make me nervous and i can’t dance for shit.  Online dating websites have never really panned out for me either–i’ve always been too outside the norm for eHarmony to accept me, Plenty of Fish failed to bite, and OK Cupid is not so OK at archery when it comes to me.  i’ve even tried Adult Friend Finder… Yeeeah… i could probably go the rest of my life without reading some variation of “no fat people, it’s nothing personal just a preference,” and die moderately happier than if i continue to be subjected to that shit.  i’ve never tried speed dating, but i’ve also never actually heard of a speed dating event happening in any area where i’ve been living (and also have heard that it tends to fail spectacularly for most who try it anyway).

So where does that leave me?  There’s always the idea of asking a friend who i feel especially close to on a date, but that’s historically been something i’ve shied away from, mostly out of fear that they aren’t that into me and a rebuffed attempt would create a new sense of awkward that would eventually shake the whole friendship apart.  And at this point in my life, most of my group of friends are either with someone already or even married.  Welcome to almost-30 singledom…

i literally do not know how to meet someone in a romantic context, and this has only increased over time.  And i can already hear one of the oft-repeated objections: “Just quit worrying about it.  Live your life and do your thing.  Quit looking so hard and someone will fall into your lap.”  That’s a lovely platitude and a nice thought, but the fact is that it isn’t wholly realistic.  To begin with, i am worrying about it, and telling me not to only makes me worry about it even more.  As i said in “In Need of Contact,” my feelings of loneliness and the need to be touched have only been increasing lately.  In fact, i think a lot of my food cravings and tendency to eat way more than i should (and feel guilty about it afterward) has been an unconscious (or subconscious) desire to “fill the hole” that would otherwise be satisfied by touch and cuddles and general feelings of closeness.

On top of that, i’m not exactly a standard case, so even if just going about life and waiting for something to appear out of the blue would work for most people, it’s not exactly going to be super-effective for me, especially living in this area.  i need to have the safety to divulge those parts of myself to a potential partner that could put me at risk of social exposure, or job/career loss, or worse.  That’s not going to be a possibility in a case where something just “falls into my lap.”  It almost needs to be a controlled situation for it to be successful, which i realize is far from possible most of the time just out and about in public, and this would imply that i should think more about those who i am already close enough to to be out with, a group primarily composed of people who already have partners.  Catch-22.

i also know that i’m probably overthinking this.  It’s what i do, and i’m very good at what i do.  There is still no way to deny the issues i’ve mentioned, though.  How do i date someone if they don’t know the things about me that will affect the future relationship, but i don’t tell those things to anyone except those who i know well enough not to run screaming?

i don’t have the answer.  i’m not even sure there is an answer.  i wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there wasn’t one.  This is probably something i’m going to have to bite some kind of bullet on in order to have any kind of desired outcome.  Because while we do have niche dating sites like “Christian Mingle” and “Farmers Only,” i doubt there’s one out there for pansexual polyamorous gender fluid BDSM submissives.  That seems like it’s probably a little bit too niche to be marketable…

But who knows?  Maybe the perfect partner(s) will suddenly fall into my life tomorrow completely without any semblance of warning whatsoever.  The universe does have a tendency to love irony like that.

i’m not going to hold my breath, though…

Posted in BDSM, Gender, LGBT, Life, Personality, Relationships, Sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quickies: A Pronominal Predicament…

Some of you are aware that i have recently made the decision to change my personal pronouns to the perfectly grammatically acceptable gender-neutral singular pronoun set “they/them/their/they’re.”  This was a personal choice i made over the weekend, because i feel like it fits my ever-shifting nature a bit better than staying with “male pronouns for the time being.”  However, this has created a bit of a conundrum for me…

If you use male or female pronouns, then there is a title of address that people can use when talking to you (“Sir” or “Ma’am”).  There isn’t to my knowledge any sort of gender-neutral form of address like that, which means that when i get “Sir’ed” (or possibly even “Ma’am’ed” someday in the future), there isn’t really a more authentic form that can be used.  Also, what would take the place of the Mr./Ms./Mrs. tag?

i honestly don’t know the answers to these questions…  Do any of my readers know of anything for this?

Posted in Gender, LGBT, Life, Philosophy, Quickies | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

In Need of Contact

[Author's Note: Well, this is another entry that has taken me days to actually write, and it's really not that long.  i have serious writer's block problems when it comes to talking about this sort of stuff, apparently...]

This is going to be another entry that’s kind of difficult for me to write.  i’m really not good at expressing needs or wants, because i always feel like i’m being unreasonable in some way.  It’s not necessarily a submissive thing.  i just don’t feel right about it, and i find it incredibly difficult–nigh impossible, even.  i’m fighting myself right now as i try to write it all out, because i just feel like it’s kind of stupid.  This problem seems so trivial from what i imagine to be an outside perspective, but it’s something that has just been kicking my ass lately.

i think i’ve mentioned before in another entry at some point on this blog (and if not, i probably hallucinated it, but this statement will take care of mentioning it for the first time, then), but i have a really high sex drive.  That being said, this post is not (entirely) about sex.  This is about something that i feel even more deep down than sex: my need for touch and physical contact, just in general.  i feel like i’ve been starving for physical contact lately, and it gets much worse when i am feeling more depressed.  The feeling is intense… it’s like a combination of loneliness and soreness–and yes, it does manifest physically as a sort of all-over ache of longing, a tenseness in the shoulders, and, at its most intense, a dull, empty feeling in the pit of the stomach.

i’m not sure that i entirely ascribe to the idea of the Five Love Languages; it seems a little bit simplistic to be perfectly accurate as a description, but it does seem to at least be fairly accurate.  In that particular system, my primary language tends toward Physical Touch, with Words of Affirmation and Quality Time tied for a relatively close second.  This might come as a surprise to some readers who know me in person, because i’m not a really outwardly touchy person (although any readers who have known me in more… intimate terms… will also know that i’m an incorrigible cuddle slut).  i think a lot of that has to do with internalized lessons learned from the stigmatization of non-masculine behaviors when i was younger along with respecting other people’s boundaries.  This is especially true when i’m not sure exactly what those boundaries are, and it is combined with my difficulty in asking questions about such topics out of fear of rejection or being perceived as weird or creepy.  As such, it has also become something i value incredibly highly, something to be shared with those who are special to me.

So it is understandably difficult for me to find help for this particular problem, and physical contact from another person isn’t exactly the sort of thing i can effectively self-sooth.  i have made some progress recently, though.  i was feeling really bad a week or so ago, and i posted a status about needing a hug.  The hugs i received in reply were mostly virtual “comment hugs,” which are a wonderfully nice sentiment and do make me smile for a second, but really don’t do much for the need for actual touch.  A few people did give me real hugs when next they saw me, though, and that was very nice, and i am very grateful for both real and virtual hugs.

At the risk of sounding a bit ungrateful, though, the simple fact is that i really need more than just a hug.  Hugs are nice in the couple of seconds they take to accomplish, and they take the edge off the intense desire for touch for a little while, but they are over as quickly as they began, and the feeling returns not long after.  As nice as hugs are, and as happy as i am to receive them from willing people, at this point i feel like i need something more than that.  i feel like i need to be held, just held close for an extended period of time… not necessarily doing anything else…  just feeling close to another human being, feeling wrapped up in that person’s arms, feeling the warmth of their body in contact with mine, feeling and hearing their heart beating in their chest… feeling safe.

Unfortunately, i realize that the nature of this particular need most likely requires that the person who helps me with it be a bit more than “just a friend.”  This doesn’t necessarily mean a significant other or sex partner, but just someone who is comfortable enough (and with whom i am comfortable enough) with having that sense of closeness with me and isn’t already in the sort of relationship that would negate the possibility.  But right now there really isn’t anyone inside of about a two hour drive who fits that description, and i really suck at broaching that sort of subject with people (for reasons stated above).

The one aspect of this that would probably require a significant other or sex partner to really fulfill is that i love the feeling of skin on skin.  Again, this is not necessarily being stated in a sexual sense.  i just really love the sensation of bare skin touching bare skin during cuddling and other contact.  This particular state of affairs does generally lead to arousal on my part, though, so there would be the potential for a desire for things to move past just being held and cuddled… which would be alright with me in the right circumstances, but the real need i’m having, as stated earlier, is much more basic physical contact.

Regardless, i’m just not really sure what to do at this point.  It almost seems like a silly problem to have… something i should just be able to get over.  But it’s a problem i appear to be stuck with, regardless.

Posted in Life, Psychology, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quickies: Should i Actually Change The Blog’s Title?

Well?

i mean, renaming it to “Coming Out Four Times” would probably be more technically accurate, and there’s a big part of me that feels like staying with “Three Times” is choosing to tacitly ignore this new aspect that is slowly blooming and blossoming into my sense of self.

On the other hand, i’ve been using “Coming Out Three Times” as my blog title for the past two or three years now, and it’s also what i use as my Twitter handle, and until recently, my Tumblr identity as well.  So if i change the blog, i’ll have to at least change the Twitter name, too (i can actually do that, right?  i don’t spend much time on the Twitter…).  To be fair, if and when i do finally go back to Tumblr, i was already intending to change it to “Four Times.”

What if i changed the title that displays on the blog itself but left the web address as “comingout3x”?  Maybe that’s the way to go.  It makes it so people can still find me by the old address, but the title is more technically accurate.  Internet?  You didn’t say much about my Bard/Sorcerer dilemma, but i’m going to try putting this question to you as well for input…

Thoughts?

Posted in Gender, LGBT, Life, Philosophy, Quickies, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Help Me, Internet!

As all of my readers should know by now, i am a gamer, especially in the sense of tabletop roleplaying games.  So, when i started reading early buzz about Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition, i really started to get excited, especially considering that the game practically invites players to create Transgender or even Genderqueer/Gender Fluid characters.  So when the new Player’s Handbook finally came out, i went out and bought it pretty quickly.  It was pretty much everything i was hoping it would be, fixing many of the things that were wrong with Fourth Edition, while simultaneously hearkening back to older editions and updating the setting for new socially-conscious attitudes emerging more and more from gamers.

That being said, my weekly gaming group is getting ready to start a Fifth Edition campaign this coming week, and in preparation i went on a bit of a character building binge, finishing out no less than seven first level characters.  As much fun as this process has been, it has left me with the unfortunate dilemma of now choosing which character to actually play in our campaign this week and going forward.  i’ve managed to narrow my choices down to two of the seven, but they are essentially two different builds of the same character, and i’m having a hell of a time deciding which one is the one i want to play.

So i’m turning to you, random internet denizens, to help me in this dilemma.  Any and all input is welcome!

(Also, i’ve intentionally left hir biological sex unstated, and i don’t even really know, or actually care, what it is myself…)

Build One: Sorcerer

Varisia Amastacia

Gender Fluid Half-Elf Sorcerer

+1 Strength

+3 Dexterity

+2 Constitution

+3 Intelligence

+1 Wisdom

+4 Charisma

AC 13

HP 8

Proficient Skills: Acrobatics, Arcana, Deception, Perception, Performance, Persuasion

Weapons: Hand Crossbow, Dagger

Armor: None

Cantrips: Fire Bolt, Mage Hand, Mending, Prestidigitation

1st Level Spells: Burning Hands, Chromatic Orb

Appearance: Varisia has striking crystalline blue eyes.  Ze keeps hir blonde hair close cropped in a style that could lend itself well to either male or female identity.  Ze is slender of build, and hir features are generally androgynous in appearance, and ze takes liberties with gender expression, shifting at will between male and female dress, mannerisms, and appearance.  Most people who see hir are simply unable to tell which gender ze is, and any who have enjoyed hir performances wonder about hir biological sex regardless of the gender ze is presenting at any given time, but only a few have been afforded the opportunity to find out for themselves, as ze rebuffs any explicit questions with righteous indignation.  Ze wears a bright green feather, a gift from one of the few fans who found out hir sex in person, in hir hair on a regular basis.

Background: Varisia Amastacia was born to a Human mother and Elvish father.  Shortly after hir birth, hir father was slain by an Orcish raiding party.  After his death, hir mother moved them to a human city, where Varisia spent most of hir formative years.  As a result, hir Elvish heritage took a backseat to hir Human upbringing, and Varisia grew up among hir Human peers raised with Human customs.  Despite this, Varisia was painfully aware that ze was different from hir fellow children.

Ze began to be bullied by a group of older children shortly after ze turned 5.  Slurs like “half-blood,” “traitor,” “pointy ears,” and “crossbreed” became a part of hir daily existence, and many days ze ran home in tears, only to find hirself not quite comforted by a mother who didn’t know entirely how to relate to her child.  The result of all of this was a lonely childhood in which Varisia felt fundamentally unmoored by hir sense of identity.  Ze didn’t fit in with the Human children, and there was no real Elvish community in their town either.  What few Elves ze did meet always seemed to look down their noses at hir.

As ze matured into adolescence, this feeling of being adrift only intensified, and ze began to realize that it wasn’t just hir race that was engulfed in a roiling mass of confusion.  Ze also had begun to feel more and more as if ze was somehow a combination of both genders at once.  It was a strange sensation for hir, even more alienating than hir racial dilemma.  It was almost as if ze had discovered hirself sliding back and forth along a continuum between male and female, sometimes wanting to be more like one than the other, but usually finding hirself somewhere in between the two.

It was also about this time that ze discovered hir latent magical abilities, learning to cast a few basic cantrips before discovering the elemental nature of the Wild Magic that coursed through hir veins.  Ze began “playing around,” mostly experimenting with Prestidigitation and Mage Hand, and occasionally casting Fire Bolt, though it scared hir a bit at first.  It was during one such experiment that ze was “discovered” by Grigg Goldshine, a gnomish entertainer and leader of Goldshine’s Gambolers, a traveling band of performers.  Goldshine took note of Varisia’s natural charisma, talent with Prestidigitation and Mage Hand, and also hir ability to cast more offensively-focused spells.  He offered hir a spot in his performing company.  Varisia, feeling no real connection to hir mother or anyone else ze knew at the time, gladly accepted and began traveling the realm with Goldshine’s Gambolers.

During hir time with the troupe, Varisia learned many valuable entertainment techniques, such as tumbling, costuming, and music, and ze improved hir craft with acting and stage performance as well.  Ze also found that, once ze got clear of the small town in which ze had grown up, people were a bit more accepting of hir mixed nature.  Some actually found it alluring, and ze eventually became an outrageously popular member of Goldshine’s Gambolers, as audiences found themselves drawn to the combination of hir natural charisma, hir talent with magic, and the alluring mystery of hir androgynous aesthetic.

After traveling with the Gambolers for a number of years, Varisia finally decided to strike out on hir own.  Goldshine was sorry to see hir go, but understood hir desire to truly spread hir wings as a solo act.  With his blessing and encouragement, ze began traveling from town to town by hirself, finding financial and artistic success everywhere ze went… and often not actually sleeping in the accommodations provided by many of the inns in which ze performed…

Varisia continued traveling like this until ze reached the town of Neverwinter, where a Dwarf named Gundren Rockseeker happened to attend one of hir shows.  Impressed by hir display, Rockseeker and his two brothers approached hir afterward and asked about hir offensive magic skills.  After a brief demonstration, Rockseeker offered hir the opportunity to work in a “more adventurous field, at least for a little while.”  He informed Varisia that he was seeking adventurous types to help in his efforts to reopen the mines in Wave Echo Cave, and that Varisia’s magical skills could be quite useful for the task at hand.  Varisia quickly agreed.  It seemed like just the sort of thing that would break up what had become the somewhat monotonous lifestyle of show business that ze had been engaged in (while still providing opportunities to continue the more amorous pursuits that had been involved).

Entertainer: You thrive in front of an audience.  You know how to entrance them, entertain them, and even inspire them.  Your poetics can stir the hearts of those who hear you, awakening grief or joy, laughter or anger.  Your music raises their spirits or captures their sorrow.  Your dance steps captivate; your humor cuts to the quick.  Whatever techniques you use, your art is your life.

Entertainer Routines: Instrumentalist, Actor, Magician

By Popular Demand: You can always find a place to perform, usually in an inn or tavern but possibly with a circus, at a theater, or even in a noble’s court.  At such a place, you receive free lodging and food of a modest or comfortable standard (depending on the quality of the establishment), as long as you perform each night.  In addition, your performance makes you something of a local figure.  When strangers recognize you in a town where you have performed, they typically take a liking to you.

Personality Traits: I’m a hopeless romantic, always searching for that “special someone.”  Nobody stays angry at me for long because of my inborn charisma.

Ideals: Freedom, equality and fairness, creativity…  The world is in need of new ideas and bold action.

Bonds: Nobody touches my staff!  I yearn to become a master of the elements.

Flaws: I’m a sucker for a pretty face, whether male, female, or otherwise.  I have trouble keeping my true feelings hidden; my sharp tongue lands me in trouble.

Sorcerer Features

Sorcerous Origin: Wild Magic – Your innate magic comes from the wild forces of chaos that underlie the order of creation.  You might have endured exposeure to some form of raw magic, perhaps through a planar portal leading to Limbo, the Elemental Planes, or the mysterious Far Realm.  Perhaps you were blessed by a powerful fey creature or marked by a demon.  Or your magic could be a fluke of your birth, with no apparent cause or reason.  However it came to be, this chaotic magic churns within you, waiting for any outlet.

Wild Magic Surge: Starting when you choose this origin at 1st level, your spellcasting can unleash surges of untamed magic.  Immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher, the DM can have you roll a d20.  If you roll a 1, roll on the Wild Magic Surge table to create a random magical effect.

Tides of Chaos: Starting at 1st level, you can manipulate the forces of chance and chaos to gain advantage on one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw.  Once you do so, you must finish a long rest before you can use this feature again.  Any time before you regain the use of this feature, the DM can have you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher.  You then regain the use of this feature.

Build Two: Bard

Varisia Amastacia

Gender Fluid Half-Elf Bard

+1 Strength

+3 Dexterity

+2 Constitution

+3 Intelligence

+1 Wisdom

+4 Charisma

AC 16

HP 10

Proficient Skills: Acrobatics, Deception, History, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand

Weapons: Rapier, Dagger

Armor: Leather Armor

Cantrips: Prestidigitation, Vicious Mockery

1st Level Spells: Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Dissonant Whispers, Illusory Script

Appearance: Varisia has striking crystalline blue eyes.  Ze keeps hir blonde hair close cropped in a style that could lend itself well to either male or female identity.  Ze is slender of build, and hir features are generally androgynous in appearance, and ze takes liberties with gender expression, shifting at will between male and female dress, mannerisms, and appearance.  Most people who see hir are simply unable to tell which gender ze is, and any who have enjoyed hir performances wonder about hir biological sex regardless of the gender ze is presenting at any given time, but only a few have been afforded the opportunity to find out for themselves, as ze rebuffs any explicit questions with righteous indignation.  Ze wears a bright green feather, a gift from one of the few fans who found out hir sex in person, in hir hair on a regular basis.

Background: Varisia Amastacia was born to a Human mother and Elvish father.  Shortly after hir birth, hir father was slain by an Orcish raiding party.  After his death, hir mother moved them to a human city, where Varisia spent most of hir formative years.  As a result, hir Elvish heritage took a backseat to hir Human upbringing, and Varisia grew up among hir Human peers raised with Human customs.  Despite this, Varisia was painfully aware that ze was different from hir fellow children.

Ze began to be bullied by a group of older children shortly after ze turned 5.  Slurs like “half-blood,” “traitor,” “pointy ears,” and “crossbreed” became a part of hir daily existence, and many days ze ran home in tears, only to find hirself not quite comforted by a mother who didn’t know entirely how to relate to her child.  The result of all of this was a lonely childhood in which Varisia felt fundamentally unmoored by hir sense of identity.  Ze didn’t fit in with the Human children, and there was no real Elvish community in their town either.  What few Elves ze did meet always seemed to look down their noses at hir.

As ze matured into adolescence, this feeling of being adrift only intensified, and ze began to realize that it wasn’t just hir race that was engulfed in a roiling mass of confusion.  Ze also had begun to feel more and more as if ze was somehow a combination of both genders at once.  It was a strange sensation for hir, even more alienating than hir racial dilemma.  It was almost as if ze had discovered hirself sliding back and forth along a continuum between male and female, sometimes wanting to be more like one than the other, but usually finding hirself somewhere in between the two.

During this time, hir only real outlet was hir musical ability with the horn, lute, viol, and flute, which ze practiced as much as possible.  Ze also spent a good deal of time training hir voice to be able to sing in registers both masculine and feminine.  It was during one such training session that ze was “discovered” by Grigg Goldshine, a gnomish entertainer and leader of Goldshine’s Gambolers, a traveling band of performers.  Goldshine took note of Varisia’s natural charisma, talent with music, and also hir lightness on hir feet (which he could train into an acrobatic fighting style to help defend the troupe when necessary).  He offered hir a spot in his performing company.  Varisia, feeling no real connection to hir mother or anyone else ze knew at the time, gladly accepted and began traveling the realm with Goldshine’s Gambolers.

During hir time with the troupe, Varisia learned many valuable entertainment techniques, such as tumbling, costuming, and acting, and ze improved hir craft with music as well.  Ze also found that, once ze got clear of the small town in which ze had grown up, people were a bit more accepting of hir mixed nature.  Some actually found it alluring, and ze eventually became an outrageously popular member of Goldshine’s Gambolers, as audiences found themselves drawn to the combination of hir natural charisma, hir talent with magic, and the alluring mystery of hir androgynous aesthetic.

After traveling with the Gambolers for a number of years, Varisia finally decided to strike out on hir own.  Goldshine was sorry to see hir go, but understood hir desire to truly spread hir wings as a solo act.  With his blessing and encouragement, ze began traveling from town to town by hirself, finding financial and artistic success everywhere ze went… and often not actually sleeping in the accommodations provided by many of the inns in which ze performed…

Varisia continued traveling like this until ze reached the town of Neverwinter, where a Dwarf named Gundren Rockseeker happened to attend one of hir shows.  Impressed by hir display, Rockseeker and his two brothers approached hir afterward and asked about hir fighting skills.  After a brief demonstration, both of hir combat abilities and the more magical aspects of hir musical skills, Rockseeker offered hir the opportunity to work in a “more adventurous field, at least for a little while.”  He informed Varisia that he was seeking adventurous types to help in his efforts to reopen the mines in Wave Echo Cave, and that Varisia’s magical skills could be quite useful for the task at hand.  Varisia quickly agreed.  It seemed like just the sort of thing that would break up what had become the somewhat monotonous lifestyle of show business that ze had been engaged in (while still providing opportunities to continue the more amorous pursuits that had been involved).

Entertainer: You thrive in front of an audience.  You know how to entrance them, entertain them, and even inspire them.  Your poetics can stir the hearts of those who hear you, awakening grief or joy, laughter or anger.  Your music raises their spirits or captures their sorrow.  Your dance steps captivate; your humor cuts to the quick.  Whatever techniques you use, your art is your life.

Entertainer Routines: Instrumentalist, Singer, Storyteller

By Popular Demand: You can always find a place to perform, usually in an inn or tavern but possibly with a circus, at a theater, or even in a noble’s court.  At such a place, you receive free lodging and food of a modest or comfortable standard (depending on the quality of the establishment), as long as you perform each night.  In addition, your performance makes you something of a local figure.  When strangers recognize you in a town where you have performed, they typically take a liking to you.

Personality Traits: I’m a hopeless romantic, always searching for that “special someone.”  Nobody stays angry at me for long because of my inborn charisma.

Ideals: Freedom, equality and fairness, creativity…  The world is in need of new ideas and bold action.

Bonds: My instruments are my most treasured possessions, and each one reminds me of someone I have loved.

Flaws: I’m a sucker for a pretty face, whether male, female, or otherwise.  I have trouble keeping my true feelings hidden; my sharp tongue lands me in trouble.

Bard Features

Spellcasting: You have learned to untangle and reshape the fabric of reality in harmony with your wishes and music.  Your spells are part of your vast repertoire, magic that you can tune to different situations.

Bardic Inspiration: You can inspire others through stirring words or music.  To do so, you use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of you who can hear you.  That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d6.

Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes.  The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 before deciding to use the Bardic Inspiration die, but must decide before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails.  Once the Bardic Inspiration die is rolled, it is lost.  A creature can have only one Bardic Inspiration die at a time.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once).  You regain any expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Your Bardic Inspiration die changes when you reach certain levels in this class.  The die becomes a d8 at 5th level, a d10 at 10th level, and a d12 at 15th level.

 

Sorcerer Build Pros

More cantrips that can be used without burning spell slots.

The Elemental flavor really appeals to me, especially Chromatic Orb, which allows element selection.

The Wild Magic Surge table is absolutely awesome.  Basically, you roll percent dice on this massive table of side effects, that range from harmful to helpful to just plain funny.

Bard Build Pros

Higher AC and HP totals.

More skills.

Vicious Mockery and Dissonant Whispers look like really fun spells to play with.

Entertainer background fits a little better…?

 

i’m really at an impasse here.  As stated above, any and all input is more than welcome!

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