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Thursday, April 23, 2009

[Mushy-Stuff] My Top Gaming Influences-

This post is one in which I look back down the corridor of time at the gaming guys that shaped my gaming life and contributed to my (current) outlook on RPGs.

* Joe Cruz: My first AD&D 'DM'. Not the nicest, loyalist friend one would have wanted, but this cat had style, and that most certainly extended to his GMing style. While it was more of an Adversarial relationship than not, Joe made abusing us rather enjoyable. It was in his game, hosted at the Frankenhoff house, that I took a 1st level Fighter through the entire Giants, Slavers, Drow, Queen of the Demonweb Pits series with only a +1 sword, and survived.
Joe's GMing ability wasn't confined to AD&D. He also Refereed a Traveller campaign (Little Black Book-era), a few Gamma World (1st Ed.) games, RuneQuest (AH), and even Skyrealms of Jorune. Joe is responsible for turning me on to Tunnels & Trolls.

* Rob Luben: Damn! We gamed so much. You name it, we played it, or wanted to. Not content with a monstrous gaming library, we modified and invented from wholecloth games that suited our Savage Tales mindset from earliest teens to our twenties and a scattered bit beyond that.
Rob's inclusion of mild comedy; his acting ability and interest in depicting his characters and NPCs; his very elegant mechanical design mindset; and his ability to run Hero System games on the fly made him not only a fun GM, but a very rewarding player. His great achievements, by mey estimation, are an even more streamlined version of (Moldvay-Basic + Tunnels & Trolls), and a d% combat engine he had called, 'The Dance'. My favourite game with him was my last (to date) in which my too-wonderful Gladiator character (Fantasy Hero) was given to the Asian-Elves. He disarmed a sort of Jedi, and managed to catch her anscestral sword before it plunged into the deeps. Steyrn you are just too bad! ;p

* John Jordan: Contemporary of Rob's, John was the ADDH fuel to our Savage Tales, Car Wars + Tunnels & Trolls + Justifiers + WEG Star Wars -esque games. A great, self-doubting artist with a really unique style. Skater, Bassist, Prankster.
Guns, guns, guns, and Japan! Imperial Rising Sun motifs were blazoned across character sheets, on character headbands, in twin upon a busty gun-bunny's tee > eye-roll <. John dug his idea of Japanese stuff in a big way. It was during this time that I learned most of what one ought not do behind the wheel of a muscle car. > huge grin <

* Andrew Overton:
The Cajun-Bavarian pizza-delivery magus with time-travel powers. This man was so resourceful, I once proposed that they ought to create a Swiss Utility Knife with a minature version of Andrew as one of the tools. The other third of things I ought not have learnt came from Andrew, and I thank G-d for that. We were once tremendously close friends.
Andrew's bizzaro AD&D + The Arcanum + Palladium RPG +++ was an institution of Broward Gamers (not a few who were also Rocky Horror Picture Show live cast members), and was easily the longest running game I ever participated in. Rob and I nearly drove Andrew crazy with all of the one-shot games we ran. My fondest gaming memory (for, lo, there were so many other Mythbuster-like memories) is where he and I played low-level Rob D&D characters, and we killed four armed and armoured NPC with cantrips and an inn table. Slam!-Duo-Delusion-Slam-Bee! :D

* Gilbert Milner: Deconstructionist, revisionist, gamist v. fantasist freakin' genius, with the patience and general disposition of a saint. If I could only remember one-half of the gamelogical discussions he and I had, I would be a mini-Buddha after him. We didn't always come close to agreeing, and I still think Nobilis and its ilk are something other than RPGs, but Gilbert really put some good stuff in my toolbox, and I'm forever grateful.
From d12+d8 for accurate Roll-under Ability Checks in AD&D; to his advice on how to scale weapon damages to what would drop a normal person in one-strike; to his late-night free-form games by a single candle in quiet Gainesville, FL. Gilbert is golden.

* Chris Harney: Dude! lol... Overly suave, chaw-swillin, coke-can-spittin', Hawaiian-shirt-wearin' Eustace, FL. philosopher. But his very post-apocalyptic-feeling Chartreuse Sparrow campaign brought our characters from 0-level 12 year-old children to adult heroes in a few months of playing. That setting was so cool for a re-imagining of Greyhawk, and although I cannot remember my character's name as clearly as I would like, she was one of my all time favourite to have played.
Weird, but pretty cool times...

* Reed 'Third Rail' Decker: Come back after you have read the others so that you will understand how influential Reed has been in my gaming life. Back? Take all of the best and only the sharpest aspects of the worst of everyone else listed on this page, and bind it together with rusty barbed wire and lovely silk, and you begin to approach Reed's genius. No, seriously.
An absurdist, nihilist, empathic, son of a gun; modern adventurer; and metaplot reductionist beyond compare. I urge him to write a weekly entertainment column, but he's too damn busy writing a second novel, two RPGs, playing multiple games across every major console system, and fending off adopted feral Mexican cats. Go figure.
-- 'Skeezy ho's wan't that skateboard, bad.'

* Roland Yanez: If you can imagine a very Roman male entirely capable of acting like Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes for hours at end with virtually no flubs or breaks, and make him an incredibly capable Shatnerian actor on top of that, you have the most basic glimpse of the complex character that is Roland.
A virual gaming maniac in our youth, R was my main 'arch-ally' in the CyberPUNK era of our gaming. Shoot! R knows cyberpunk in a way similar to Ridley Scott knowing how to direct, and the analogy dosen't end there. Roland likely would have been a household-name had he gone into film. He's a strange guy, but he's plenty interesting.

* Karl Piniero: He bled Red, White, and Blue when I first met him, and brought a real sense of moral dilemma and existential conflict to not only the games, but casual discussion. He doesn't realise how intelligent and wise he is/can be, and it really added a lot to the adventures and even in our world- and game system-designing sessions (18+ hours, day after day...). He had Arcanis art credits for the 1st edition softback, but that's another story...
Karl and I explored a LOT of the Urutsk milieu, and designed more than a few tactical combat (wargames on a Unit and Squad-level) games in our years. Those Blockmen and Vietcong plastic army men battles reproducing the terrible odds the RCC faced against the PAU-backed Khark 'primitives', late night, Hialeah back-porch, smoky game sessions... La! The glory and honour of those poor Resth boys in their isolated fire bases... We remember.

* Scott Charlton: Perhaps the single most talented GM I have had the honour of playing with, and a damn fine player, as well. Mr Charlton has Paradigm Concepts Inc. Arcanis publishing credits, and ENnie nomination(s). He's also a really wonderful artist (from a broken piece of chalk, to the clunkiest 16-bit painting programme).
I think that hour-for-hour, I have had the most fun in games with Scott, regardless of who was GMing. Scott is also one of the more experienced of the Urutsk players.

* Emile Palisoc & John Jacobs: They really were a pair, so no use in discussing them separately. Co-owners of Jacksonville's SANCTUARY rpg store, I had the often grudging honour of gaming all sorts of games I would never have otherwise played, with them. It was in my dark days in Jax that I wargamed more than at any other point before, and which paved the way for the work Karl and I would later do.
Fire & Steel (?) was Emi's RPG, which was like a fantasy version of the Road Warrior world, meets the Legend of Rygar video game. Kynkrea had another incarnation there, as a scimitar wielding rogue of sorts, who rarely stepped back from the front lines, shoulder-to-shoulder with the Barbarian Brothers: Beer! and Cheese! I still begrudge the weird rule where we had to roll to see if we could run at twice our move speed, but, whatever... ;)

So, as you can see, I've had no dearth of positive influences far as gaming is concerned.

Bulleted Updates-

* Busy writing the Aberration Tables and tweaking the percentages the way I like them. Largely brain-numbing work, but a labour of love.
I think I will keep those under wraps for the actual release, but perhaps a few teasers.

* The PCs are in for a big fight. I really wish I had the Ice and Snow tiles from Heroscape.
Three women riding sleds pulled by teams of giant stags on one side, a horde of 25 Berserks on the other side, and a bog behind them.

* I'm really conscious of trying to come in around 64 pages (which means more like 80 or 96), and leaving other ideas for a more detailed coverage in a subsequent work.

* Re-discovering my love of 2d12 tables, and new-found respect for the d24.

* etc.