Category Archives: A Flower for Mara Development and Playtest

Linda Ben-Ezra (March 9, 1952 – July 19, 2003)

Ten years ago, my mother died.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know what a pivotal moment this was in my life.

“Pivotal”. Yeah, let’s try that again.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that this moment broke my life.

But I forgot. I forgot it was today.

I forgot because I’ve gotten used to it. I forgot because the hole in my heart has healed, or, perhaps, scarred over. I forgot because the gap is normal. I’m used to not having a mother, to my children not having a grandmother–indeed, three children having never met her.

And then, I struggle sometimes with feeling guilty. Because, what kind of son am I if I don’t remember the last day my mother had on earth?

There was one moment that I felt guilty that I wasn’t there when she died. That’s a completely stupid feeling. I had moved my family out to Peoria the year before. My parents had visited only a month or so before she died. I wasn’t being irresponsible or neglectful. But, when I looked over the obituary, and it listed me as being from “Peoria, Illinois”, there was this quick, sharp jab of guilt.

Stupid human psyche.

My brother and father have already written today. I wouldn’t be surprised if other little memorials began appearing throughout the day. They are worth the read, especially my father’s. (More on that in a moment.)

For myself, the memorial I set up to my mother is the LARP I wrote, A Flower for Mara. Because the death of my mother truly taught me about death and dying.

In his piece, Dad says that his heart was shattered ten years ago, and at the same time, says that it was one of the best things that ever happened to him. Those aren’t idle words. I saw Dad earlier this month, and it was clear to me that he feels every single day of those ten years. He doesn’t complain or grumble (oh no!), but I can tell that he carries them all.

And still, to be able to see past all that pain, to see through to the good that God is doing…. That is a blessing.

I know that it’s more subtle, but A Flower for Mara is also in honor of my father. In the dedication, I wrote: “To Leon Ben-Ezra, my father. You showed me that, truly, there is life after death.” And you can see him in the pictures in the book, which were taken by my sister Adiel. It’s his hand holding the roses on pages 29 and 38. It’s his grief-stricken face on page 32. And it’s him you see on page 40, worshiping in the cemetary where they buried my mother.

A Flower for Mara is in memory of my mother, but it’s maybe even more about honoring my father. I watched him carry his flower, and I’ve watched him put it down.

Life after death.

Why am I talking about page numbers and pictures you can’t see? I’m going to fix that. For this weekend, I’m making A Flower for Mara free. Just click on this link and help yourself. Edited to ask: Give-away is closed now. Thanks for all the interest.

I’ll probably take down the file on Monday or thereabouts, so spread the word. But, please, don’t just share the link to the file. Link to this post. I want to honor my parents. Help me in that goal, please.


Paul Tevis likes Dark Omen Games

Dark Omen Games has been getting a bunch of good press lately from Paul Tevis of the Ennie-winning Have Games, Will Travel podcast.

On The Twelve Days of HG,WT: For A Few Games More-mas: Day 6, Paul discussed his top five favorite new roleplaying games of 2008. A Flower for Mara was his number two game, being beat only by the fine Zombie Cinema. Where was Dungeons and Dragons, 4th ed. on this list? Number three.

On The Twelve Days of HG,WT: For A Few Games More-mas: Day 7, Paul reflected on his roleplaying in 2008. He said that his favorite new game that he played in 2008 was Dirty Secrets.

On The Twelve Days of HG,WT: For A Few Games More-mas: Day 8, Paul reviewed A Flower for Mara and had a number of good things to say about it.

So, thanks for all the good words, Paul!


Buy my stuff!

Yeah, that’s a subtle subject line.

Anyways, I wanted to announce a new place where you can buy Dark Omen Games materials.

In addition to being able to find my fine games at Indie Press Revolution and Lulu.com and direct from the website, you can now purchase from the Indie RPGs Un-store. This is a new venture, being coded by Vincent Baker, which will act as an aggregator of sorts for a number of indie publishers. While each publisher will handle his own orders and fulfillment, this site enables the customer (that would be you) to browse listings from a number of different publishers, all on the same site.

So, check it out! And buy my stuff!


Part 2 of the Master Plan interview

The second part of my interview with Ryan Macklin about A Flower for Mara is up.


Part 1 of the Master Plan interview

Ryan Macklin interviewed me for his Master Plan podcast. The first part is available today at this link.

I have some sort of Skype curse that creates technical havoc whenever I try to use it. In this case, though, it meant that I had more opportunity to answer questions, which improved my answers. I haven’t listened myself, but I’m curious to hear the post-production audio wizardry of Ryan Macklin at work.


Paul Tevis talks Jeepform

Paul Tevis talks Jeepform, including A Flower for Mara. Since he recorded this podcast, he has played A Flower for Mara, and he will be talking about it on a future episode. I’ll post a link when I get it.


A Flower for Mara on Voice of the Revolution

A Flower for Mara gets a couple mentions on the recent episode of Voice of the Revolution.


Another Flower for Mara report from Nerdly Beach Party

John Kim has a few words to say about A Flower for Mara. How’s this for a quote:

This was the highlight of the con for me.

Thanks, John!


Some discussion on A Flower for Mara

We have a confirmed sighting of A Flower for Mara at the recent Nerdly Beach Party, directed by Paul Tevis. First, some photographic evidence. Second, some post-game discussion from some of the players.

Sounds like a powerful game. Thanks to all who participated.


An early review of A Flower for Mara

Eero Tuovinen (of Zombie Cinema fame) gives A Flower for Mara a thoughtful review. Here’s a sample quote:

The positive surprise in A Flower for Mara was quite profound, and it was that I could enjoy the thought of playing through it if I took its theatrical affectation seriously (and not as an empty analogue, like the theater-rpg thing is usually presented); I have some history in amateur theater myself, and I like doing it, but it has almost nothing to do with roleplaying games – an actor is trying to project a work of art, which is a pretty different thing from playing a game. A Flower for Mara seems like a really fun piece of theater: it has solid rituals, pacing, symbology and a chunky topic (dealing with sorrow) that everybody has an opinion on. I’m tempted to put together a troupe and put this on in front of an audience, actually.

Thanks, Eero!