Welcome to my 'About' page! Here you'll find all the juicy information about who I am, where I come from, and why I talk about all the crap I talk about.
My name is Stacy Dellorfano. I'm a pansexual genderqueer/fluid person who prefers the pronouns of 'they/them/their'. I've been kicking around this earth for 41 years, now, and I've done a whole lot of amazing things in that time. I was born in Los Angeles, but my family moved to Bellingham, Washington when I was just eight. The above picture is me at five or six with my grandfather who died of pancreatic cancer when I was eight, just before we moved. As a kid, I was equally fascinated with boy things and girl things, and often fantasized about getting to live my life as a boy as well as a girl. As a 70s/80s kid, I equally loved GI Joe and Care Bears, Transformers and Barbies, Hot Wheels and Cabbage Patch Kids. I seldom got what I wanted, so I often played with my little brother's toys.
Video games and technology saved me a bit as it was less difficult to convince my family I wanted a Nintendo than it was to convince them I really really wanted Transformers action figures. Video games and computers became my refuge, both hardware and software. I ran my own BBS out of my room during the day when I was at school and anytime I wasn't using my phone line to talk to my friends for hours. As BBSing gave way to the actual infant form of the internet, I found my sanctuary in MUDs, both playing and programming.
In high school, I was a mediocre student, but always excelled at writing. I spent my days with my nose buried in various books or creating epic freeform roleplaying stories with my friends by passing notebooks to each other in between classes. Though my first introduction to tabletop roleplaying games was seeing the boys playing at the beginning of ET, I wouldn't actually get my hands on any books or get a chance to play until I was in my late teens in my junior and senior years of high school. There, I almost immediately became a GM because my head was swimming with ideas, I wanted to play so badly, and all my friends were more excited to talk about gaming than to actually sit their butts down to GM.
After high school, I followed the tech trend to San Francisco, where I had the privilege of working at one of the first ISPs. I provided tech support, processed refunds for the owner's porn BBS, and learned HTML in my spare time. I also programmed and ran a series of MUSHes and MUXes that used tabletop RPG mechanics, played a lot of World of Darkness games, and did my share of 90's LARPing in the streets of downtown Mountain View.
From there, I moved to Knoxville for the company I worked for, eventually moved back to Washington to run my dad's Ma & Pa ISP out of the garage of our house, then eventually landed in Video Games, where I worked for Sony Online Entertainment for nearly a decade. I did everything from building server farms and patching games to writing translation tools. During my time there, I got to go to South Korea to install EverQuest servers, and to Moscow to work with translators on creating a templating system to translate EverQuest 2 into Russian.
Eventually, the video game industry was too much, so I left to go into e-commerce. There was slightly less sexism there (in video games, I was often the only non-male in the room, the teams had a bit more parity in e-commerce), but there was also the soul-sucking reality of working for a corporation. Somewhere in there, I realized my life had lost meaning. I didn't care about the work I was doing, and that meant I wasn't doing as good work as I wanted. I couldn't get excited about yet another CEO scheme or new idea. Shortly after getting married, I realized I burnt out... but still kept working in the corporate world for about five more years, falling progressively deeper down a hole filled with apathy, despair, and depression.
Thankfully, tech jobs don't last long. After a couple of short-term contracts and losing a permanent job due to my own apathy, I realized I needed to find meaning in my life again if I was to have any chance of happiness. Money has never been important to me, and status was only important to me when I was younger and competing with the world. As I grew older, it became more about leaving the world a better place when I'm gone. Because, honestly, I've seen large parts of it's ugliness.
That's where ConTessa came in. I'd started working on the organization before ending my career in tech, so when I ended that career, it made sense to put even more of my heart and effort into it, and tabletop gaming as a whole. It's only been a couple of years since leaving the world of web development. I don't get paid much, but I'm making games and making awesome, positive events that expand the diversity of gaming, which makes up for the lack of cash in ways that enrich my life. It's one corner of the world, but it's an important corner to me. Games have been a big part of my life, seen me through a lot of bad times... and I want that for other people, as well.
That's me in a nutshell.
Published by Engine Publishing
Unframed is a collection of essays about improvisational GMing. My essay, Off the Rails: When the Party Jumps the Track details the methods and tools I use to run games with little to no prep. As a busy adult, it's a lot less daunting to think about GMing a game once a week when you're only looking at 20 minutes of prep.
I share some anecdotes of my favorite games, talk about why I find improvisation important, and give some concrete tools that you can use to up your improvisational game. It was a fun essay to write, and an honor to be amongst so many great writers and gamers!
Published by Frog God Games
Buried under miles and miles of twisting vines and poisonous thorns lies a long-forgotten city destroyed in a long-forgotten war. Beneath the city’s ruins there reportedly lies a vast maze of rooms and corridors containing wonders never seen before, and treasure beyond description. The only problem is that for as long as anyone remembers, no one who has gone in seeking said wonders and treasure has returned. This adventure is more of a classic dungeon crawl, themed around the accidentally terrifying dreamscape of an elven girl trapped in a nightmare of her own making. The dungeon shifts and exits move about as the party explores, making each run through the dungeon a unique experience and allowing for infinite replays of the same adventure.
Published by Frog God Games
During a discussion about why "The OSR" has a bad reputation amongst women, I pitched the idea to author Matt Finch of redesigning his iconic Swords & Wizardry game (based on 0e D&D) with an all-woman design team. Bill Webb and Matt hired me on immediately. I'd then spend the next year and a half scouring the internet and asking friends to find the best illustrators to get the job done.
The result is a rich, image-heavy book that looks nothing like what you'll commonly see in "the OSR" in a compact form that won't break your back.