Interview: PAX's Tabletop Ambassador Krystina "Orisha" Arielle

Last week, PAX revealed a set of ambassadors for their 2020 events, which included Krystina "Orisha" Arielle becoming their Tabletop Ambassador. She joins Jesse Cox, Sonja Reid, Justin Wong, and Robin Hunicke as they will head to all of the PAX events this year, starting with PAX South in San Antonio this weekend. We had a chance to chat with her about that role and what she's been working on lately.

Interview: PAX's Tabletop Ambassador Krystina

BC: How have you been since we last spoke at D&D Live 2019?

Arielle: I've been great! I had my son Ezekiel in September so I've been getting used to a new normal with my family and loving every moment. I've also been busy with an incredible home game DM'd by Kyle Newman (Author of Art and Arcana). It's been a great way to keep my feet wet as I get ready to start my new show Veiled Alliance.

What's life been like since welcoming your new son into the world?

It's been a rollercoaster! It all goes by really fast. One day you have a five-pound baby then the next he's just developed into this little person with his own personality. He's such an amazing little human and I'm so happy to be his mom. Motherhood is a very big transition physically and emotionally. There's a big battle with identity that comes along with that territory (not to mention the anxiety). You enter the hospital as this person you've known and you leave as a new version of yourself with a human dependent upon you for survival. It's very jarring but it makes you examine yourself in a new way. It's been interesting connecting with moms beyond the "you can and should do it all" veil. There's a community that comes with that as well that I have tried to approach with honesty and vulnerability. On the other side of that, he's the most amazing person that I have ever met and he has definitely inspired me creatively. He makes me want to work harder to give him a life full of love, creativity, and magic. I want to show him that his mom can do anything and so can he.

Aside from the obvious topic at hand, what have you been doing lately with gaming?

As I mentioned earlier, I have a home game that I've been playing for a few months with some good friends, Satine Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Maude Garrett, Deborah Ann Woll, Joran Mueck, Matthew Lillard, and of course our DM Kyle. It's a phenomenal game running "Dragon of Icespire Peak". I play a halfling bard named Poppy Cox. It's been fun having this adventure with such amazing people. I've also been working on a couple of exciting projects, including writing my own adventure that will be my first public DM venture.

Interview: PAX's Tabletop Ambassador Krystina

How did the opportunity with PAX come about? Was this something you pitched them or did they come to you?

Guy Blomberg reached out to me after my friend and colleague, Maude Garrett, recommended me. We went back and forth briefly. I jumped at the opportunity to represent my community. It was unexpected yet extremely welcomed.

What exactly will the role Tabletop Ambassador entail as you go from event to event?

I will be collaborating with the PAX team and finding ways that we can create engaging panels and events that speak to all facets of the Tabletop community. I'll be participating in panels and popping up at events. I'm most looking forward to meeting as many people within the community that I can and hearing what they would like to see at PAX conventions going forward.

What's the reaction been like from the community at large seeing you take on the role?

The overall reception has been positive! I think the most touching reaction was from my friend, Ashley Esqueda. We talked about what it would mean to people that look like me that may not have felt as if they have a space within the community. In my experience, there have been a lot of gatekeepers that aren't exactly thrilled about the growing popularity of tabletop bringing in more diversity and inclusivity. Seeing my face and a welcoming community lets other black women, LGBTQIA persons, and people of color know that contrary to what one person with a chip on their shoulder may have said, they do belong. There is a place for them and this is a welcoming community for all.

What kind of work do you hope to achieve at the events, both with vendors and patrons?

Tabletop is a very large community filled with many voices, ideas, and visions, and I look forward to working with PAX to amplify those voices and find a place for everyone. I am also excited to see the latest games and products from our vendors. Seeing what the future of gaming looks like from this year and beyond. There are so many stories yet to be told and I can't wait to hear as many as possible.

Interview: PAX's Tabletop Ambassador Krystina

How is it for you to be in this kind of role, essentially being a spokesperson for your peers at some of the biggest events in the country?

It's a bit overwhelming to be honest. I was apprehensive about the announcement as I expected the public to mimic the voice in my head that said that I wasn't enough. To my surprise the reception was so warm it made me quite emotional. After taking stock of what this means to a lot of people and what it means to me, I'm honored. I love this community. I love what it has brought to my life. To be able to represent a community that has given so much to me and my life means the world. Tabletop games give us such a great opportunity to work through issues, create bonds, explore new worlds and to be able to talk about that with people that have also experienced the transformative nature of it on such a grand scale is something that I am ready and excited for.

Your first event is at PAX South. What are your thoughts going into the event?

I am so excited! This will be my first PAX event so I am going in with fresh eyes and high hopes. There's so much to see and learn and I am ready!

As you mentioned, you have Veiled Alliance coming up. Tell us a bit about that show.

Veiled Alliance is an adaptation of the Dark Sun setting to D&D 5e. It will be the flagship show for LFM Agency. We'll be focusing on political intrigue, dangerous magic, psionics, exploration, and big cinematic pulp action encounters! It features complex and colorful characters, new rules for social encounters, and so much more. The cast is incredible! Donathin Frye is our DM, Cord (Mythematic), Sam De Leve, Toby Osmond, and myself. We'll be premiering in February.

Interview: PAX's Tabletop Ambassador Krystina

I'd be remiss if I didn't ask about Sirens Of The Realm. Any word yet on when the show might be returning?

We will be returning soon hopefully! Sirens is extremely dear to my heart and my Siren Sisters are some of the best humans that I know. Even on this break we are in touch and working to get back to you all soon.

Is there anything else you'd like to promote or talk about that we missed?

Watch Veiled Alliance! I'm extremely excited about playing in the world of Dark Sun and having as many of you on this adventure with us. And if you see me at PAX, say hello! It is my goal to engage with as many members of the Tabletop community as possible and play some games!

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

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