About the Archive (and a real intro post now!)

Basically, all those “Archive” posts are me converting the shreds of my old notebooks and half a gig of word files/images/maps and the like into something that other people can use. I’ll usually try to post in as many formats as I have data: I prefer the 1e AD&D for monsters, but I’ll add nods to D20 for the Pathfinder and 3x folks out there. In addition, I’ll occasionally post my conversions of other items and monsters into editions for which they were never published.

Check after the jump if you want an abbreviated history of my 2+ decades of gaming (there’s more, but I’ll leave that for now), and how I actually wound up with the docs.

Still interested, eh?

I first started roleplaying at the tender age of eight. I don’t exactly remember the edition they were playing, but I do remember it was a pretty freeform game with my dad, my sister’s godfather, and a man who would go on to call himself The Grand Druid of the North (I’m pretty sure he wrote that page himself) – the latter actually being a fairly cool guy as I remember him. I think our DM was the son of a local novelist, who had made a small clay statue of Cthulhu – to which he fed our characters as they were killed. He had to add more tentacles at one point, after a particularly bad incident involving giants. Thus died Cedd the Warrior, my first character. Needless to say I was fucking hooked.

That year I got an thoroughly awesome Christmas present – Holmes Basic with B1 (the yellow cover <3), and a copy of Squad Leader. 1989 was a good year.

So anyway, I was running Holmes Basic. Not only is it fairly brutal, there’s a surprising lack of items and equipment in the book – so of course I homebrewed the hell out of it.

My other main game at the time was Star Wars d6 (the old West End Games 1e book), which my uncle had given me for my birthday the year after I got BD&D. Now, the 1e book is smegging hilarious. It includes a lot of good in-play examples, with highly irreverent characters. The Failed Jedi trying to use a Survival roll to find booze alone is worth the price of admission. Buuuut – they (almost proudly!) left many of the iconic elements of the universe for a sourcebook, which I only acquired in 2011. So, again, it was off to homebrewing land.

I collected 3-4 binders full of notes, including several new games, a dogfighting system for SWd6, ran some short campaigns and generally had a grand old time.

But when I left for bootcamp, I also left my notes and books at home. Before I could get them back, they’d been trashed by that unique combination of flooding, pets, and siblings you only get in a large country family in Washington.

When I got out of boot, I spent a good bit of time readjusting to a less-insular society (homeschooler, folks, and yes we do roleplay). I discovered anime. I also joined my first regular gaming group, who ran 2e AD&D. This was quite a jump up for me, and for a while I fell into the “the books are perfect” Rules-as-written camp of asshats. Starting up minis wargaming (Battletech and Warzone, I was too hipster for 40k until I saw the Sisters of Battle..) and professional Magic didn’t help that tendency in the slightest.

Since our group bounced around a lot, I began keeping two documents. The first was “Valhalla”, a shitty Star Wars trapper-keeper with all of my character sheets for characters – living or dead – and their equipment. The second was a Rolodex I called The Archives. It was filled on one side with a bunch of randomly-rolled encounters for times I was too lazy to deal with a full roll-up. In the other tab was cards with various magic items we’d run into, or pulled out of reference books that I didn’t feel like toting around (of course, all of these had book, printing, and page # citations. Did I mention I was kind of a tool at the time?). As a player in most of these games, I really didn’t have any need to put forth the creative effort, so The Archives sort of stagnated.

After A-school, I was once again without a gaming group, so I found myself drifting back into writing my own stuff. A few months later, I ran into some guys bullshitting about a new game they’d picked up – SLA Industries – and managed to finagle myself an invite. Dirk, Joe, Jason, and the rest of us had a lot of fun fucking around. I got introduced to White Wolf, and we played (and broke the living hell out of) that system. Eventually, we wound up getting a house out in town and all chipping in a little cash to keep the rent going: we basically had 8-12 guys living there on the weekends, and then we’d go back to the barracks to crash and work.

Many were the weekends we spent gaming for 2-3 days, pausing for caffiene/liquor/food runs and then playing in the Denny’s at 4 AM because fuck it, why not?

Anyway, shortly before my first deployment our group collapsed (massive drama, one friend fucked over the rest of us, I’ve mostly put it behind me.. also, three of the core guys all rotated out to other parts of the country at the same time, gutting the group). In the confusion, The Archive was destroyed. All I had left were parts of Valhalla and a few notebooks.

I threw myself into card gaming. I ran a few Pokemon tournaments, until the owner of the local game store, a tiny Asian woman, got arrested for running a prostitution ring out of her back room – no shit. Gradually I made new friends, and the gaming group expanded again – this is the time when I met Steveman – but the advent of 3e meant that most of my notes were pointless (or so I thought).

Once I started deploying, I wound up running quite a few games – basically, all you had to do was drag a DMG down to the mess-decks and you’d have 5 guys asking if you were running a game before the horrible chow had finished congealing. I did a 6-month Spycraft campaign and a good bit of BESM in those After my second deployment, I’d grown thoroughly disenchanted with D20 and the crapflood it’d encouraged, not to mention the wholesale collapse of the companies that were actually making my favorite RPGs (Talsorian, Guardians of Order, even White Wolf was scrabbling, which no-one would have thought possible 3 years before). I started gearing up for another 2e campaign, began creating items and such..

Then I applied for Christmas leave. 8 hours later I got a phone call, saying that not only was it denied, I’d been moved into another airwing completely, and I’d be deploying in three weeks for God only knew how long. On the new ship, I had one gaming buddy (one of the WW/40k guys) and a particularly dickish Captain. I threw myself into recreating as many of my items as I could remember in both 2e and 3e format, and moving a lot of the things from the 2e Complete line into D20 format. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

We pulled into Hong Kong for Christmas, about to go home (after a “regular” 6-month cruise), and much rejoicing was had by all. Then a fault slipped near Thailand. We were already cast off by the time the tsunami wave was hitting the storm breaks in HK…

Long story short, I came home literally 13 days before I was scheduled to leave the Navy. Now, I don’t begrudge for a second the time we spent helping the region – but that last 13 days was a fucking nightmare, and the three and a half months before it were not exactly a picnic.

After getting out, I spent a lot of time bumming around and hitting college on the GI bill. I didn’t really have another gaming group until almost 3 years later – ran a few 3e games, because it’s what people wanted to play – and then moved to Seattle to go to UW.

My gradual disenchantment with 3e had by now flared badly: I ran a short 2e campaign, and in the middle of it discovered the “Old-school Renissance” by way of Grognardia – James was saying a whole hell of a lot of what I was already thinking. That led me off into Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which is where I’m sitting today.

I’ll probably add more detail later – that’s what “Boring shit about me” is all about.

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1 Comment

  1. Hey cool, interesting shit about my other best friend – the one I don’t sleep with. Good read. I lament our lack of any real long term BESM campaign.


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