I EAT MANTRAS FOR BREAKFAST by Maria Mison (@mariamison)
From the product page:
“DON’T READ THIS UNLESS YOU’RE READY
YOU’RE ALWAYS READY.
THIS IS YOUR FALLEN STAR
YOUR EVERY WISH
A bold assertion, but one backed up with a confidence and open-hearted expression that truly delivers. By which I mean, and this is as close as I’m going to get in this review to actually describing my feelings about I EAT MANTRAS FOR BREAKFAST, it fucked my shit up, but in a gloriously empowering way.
This is a ritual and a poem and a lyric game, among all those wonderful elements and games u/axxroytovu describes as, “fantastic games that are designed to be an experience to read, not necessarily play” (https://www.reddit.com/r/RPGdesign/comments/hq2jxc/teach_me_about_lyrical_rpgs_and_all_things). I needed to search for help with getting my head around these glorious expressions and experiences, as they are new to me. Most of my TTRPG experience has been with D&D, Savage Worlds and various Fantasy Flight Warhammer 40K, but this year from the convergence of being more involved in the TTRPG communities on Twitter and wanting to play, hype and review the incredible creativity and awesome folx I get to see grow and transform, as well as the number of creators who had primarily been working on D&D projects on DMs Guild diversifying and building a place for themselves extricated from WOTC, the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality on itch.io (https://itch.io/b/520/bundle-for-racial-justice-and-equality) being wonderfully full of indie games of all kinds, particularly original, abstract, silly and thoughtful games, including three of Mison’s games, Arch Angel Dating Simulator (https://mariabumby.itch.io/arch-angel-dating-simulator), A HUNDRED THOUSAND PLACES (https://mariabumby.itch.io/a-hundred-thousand-places), and I EAT MANTRAS FOR BREAKFAST with its absurd and accurate description on the page, SCREAMFEAST, and Chris Bisette’s (@loottheroom) The Wretched (https://loottheroom.itch.io/Wretched), and his Wretched & Alone Jam (https://sealedlibrary.itch.io/wretched-alone-srd) with Matt Sanders (@SealedLibrary), which helped me escape during some very bleak aspects of the year. I’d like to thank W.H. Arthur (@Aryl_Ether) for his truly harrowing Jade Shards (https://aryl-ether.itch.io/jade-Shards) for creating such a harrowingly perfect ‘experience’ using the Wretched & Alone SRD and showing me that game mechanics can be used for so much more than Just a subjectively fun game, but to act as a window into the experiences of others. Arthur is currently one of a number of hosts for the #AsianCyberpunkJam, which is going to produce so much awesomeness and if you’re an Asian creator you should totally enter! (https://itch.io/jam/cyberpunk-by-asian-creators-game-jam). The snow ball from The Wretched to Jade Shards was the perfect trajectory to fall in love with lyric/ poem games/ rituals (apologies if I’m using terminology incorrectly), and now I have an insatiable thirst to continue to explore, hype and review more of these wondrous and disparate gems in 2021, wholeheartedly bolstered by the quality of I EAT MANTRAS FOR BREAKFAST!
So yeah, I had been meaning to check this out and give it a listen for a long time. That’s right, this ritual comes with a reading from the author themself, which only adds to the power of, as their twitter (@MariaMison) puts it, the “BIG ASS LIBERATING NARRATIVES.” If you are able the layout of this supplement needs to be taken in as well, as it is an integral aspect of the art and ritual of it all. The Internet went down on boxing day from some serious, howling wind that came and blew the Wi-Fi away, so I checked my tablet for audio files and finally gave this a listen...and it fucked me up. In such a good way! Really put the wind back in my sails. If I hadn’t felt so pumped and powerful I’d have cursed myself for sleeping on this because I fucking love it!
Just wrap your eyes around this stanza:
“YES HI I LIKE MY BODY, IM SO FUCKING CARNAL AND HERE AND ITS SO DAMN NICE THAT MY BODY CONTINUES TO BREATHE EVEN WHEN I SOMETIMES DONT WANT TO ANYMORE SO FUCK YES HI FOR THIS LIFETIME AND ALL LIFETIMES I RELEASE BODILY SHAME AND I SOW WEAVE KISS ITS WISDOM AND ITS GODDAMN PERSISTENCE TO WANT TO TAKE CARE OF ME SO I AM HERE IN ALL MY CELLS IN ALL MY SINEWS IN ALL MY VEINS AND THEY SING SO GOOD AND DELICIOUS AND I REALLY FUCKING LIKE MY BODY AND I BREATHE THE MOST DEEPLY LIKE IVE NEVER KNOWN BREATH BEFORE AND I LOVE IT I LOVE THE SENSATION I LOVE THIS APPARATUS THIS PHYSICAL FORM — THIS FEELING I SEND IT ACROSS LIFETIMES”
I’m getting lost and carried away just glimpsing at it!
There’s something that’s just magic about this. It really is a magical ritual imbued with so much power, but a creator crafting with viscera, honesty and hope. It simply changes those experiencing it. BIG ASS LIBERATING NARRATIVES we all need this year.
This really fucked my shit up and rewired my brain to see this uncanny valley of awesomeness where games (which are fucking art), rituals (which are just a form of games) and other forms of artistic expression meet. A clusterfuck of creativity and expression if you will.
The layout of the ritual follows an alternating pattern of rainbow circles that flow from the cover through colour sequences, dilating and contracting as if in breaths with huge, SCREAMFEASTING font for the “value meal”. Verses and simple black background with smaller, more introspective text in text boxes to wrangle them. Asterisks floating in the void of their boxes and the use of negative space allow for moments of reflection and pause between the riot of colours and text. This also reinforces the sense of breath, though honestly, I found it hard to remember to breathe at all while reading or listening to this. Personally, I felt as if I were flying down a steep, technicolour covered slide, plummeting in excitement, wonder and energy that charged me with static and joy. One of the black pages comes close to a traditional game layout with two text boxes with a line of the ritual at the head of each and the rest of the box blank as if to be filled, and who’s to say they’re not? How you interpret and engage with this is certainly not for me to decree. Simply put there is artifice and eldritch power in the Infernal layout that is as much the ritual as the text.
This is a whole lot.
“YEAH GADAMIT IM SO GIFTED I AM SO FUCKING BRILLIANT THERE IS A GOLDMINE IN MY HEART IN MY LIMBS YALL NOT FUCKING READY DYOU FEEL THAT??? ITS LEAPING OFF OF MY FINGERTIPS”
This is the energy and perspective I need to be bringing into 2021 and beginning my own journey of creative expression, adventure and game design.
Fucking raw. Fucking powerful. Fucking awesome!
DREAMT OF ON NOV 21 2019
THIS IS DEDICATED TO YUMI SAKUGAWA CHANI ALL MY CRUSHES MYSELF JEFFREY WHITE KAZUMI CHIN JAMILA NEDJANI & BAMF PATRONS THANKYOU FOR THE FUCKING FUEL.
The literal person to blame for all this is https://temporalhiccup.itch.io/ who is literally my shaman mentor. And actually a lot of wonderful people on twitter, I am literally impressed all the time. I discover so much of the world through your playfulness.
This is where I say if you enjoy my work and want to support me check out https://t.co/IwD7n46b2f but in these dark times why not treat yourself & support the awesome creators who bring us such wonders.
Support BLM & Trans Funds if you can.
Love & positive vibes 💛🐻