Who We Are

Just in case we get some new readers from joining the RPG Bloggers Network, I thought a short introduction would be in order:

Joshua – me, host and primary author of this blog.  More-often-than-not GM of our group.  Started gaming with the D&D White box back in mumblety-four and been playing, mostly as GM, ever since.  A soft touch as a GM, I rarely kill characters outright unless they’ve really asked for it or we’re playing something that demands a high body count.  I have a weakness for making up new settings or trying new systems.  My longest running setting is the Land of Neng, which I co-created with Russell.

Russell – one of my oldest friends (we went to college together), and guest GM when he’s in town; he lives in Southern California now, but his current circumstances place him near enough to visit about every other week for half the year.  For the past few years, mostly GMs D&D 3.5 because it’s easier to find experienced players in his area that way; 4e looks to be changing that…  Also likes to make up settings and systems.  His Neng characters are Carlys eil Theastorr and Salaomer ein Ringoral.

Elyssa – my wife, and a newbie to RPGs.  She mostly prefers SF and modern-day to fantasy, and mostly likes playing kick-ass combat types.  Never GMs, and would probably look at me as if I’d gone crazy if I suggested it.  Does not yet have a Neng character.

Wendy – hardcore.  She LARPs, and is the Baroness of the local SCA realm.  Won’t GM, after a disastrous incident that she refuses to speak of to this very day. (Ok, she will if you ask, but my way sounds cooler.) Most easily teased at the table, so she takes a lot of grief over various things her characters have done over the years, only 80% of which is deserved.  Has had some World of Darkness stuff published.  Her primary Neng character is Merath eil Yahar, Justiciar of the Rose Kingdom.

Doug – rules monkey.  His super-power is discovering and exploiting the weak points of any gaming system: RPG, board game, or video game.  He’s the Karnak of RPG rules, and my homebrew still hasn’t fully recovered from how hard his first character broke it.  For any complicated game, people in our group hand him their character sheets and say “here, crock this.”  Occasionally GMs, generally one-or-two shots like his Steampunk StarWars adventure; unfortunately these tend to be when I’m out of town.  Likes to put on funny accents for his characters.  His primary Neng character is Jacob ein Senekal, Champion of the Rose Kingdom.

Paul – role-player.  His characters usually have some obvious personality hook, which he plays to the hilt.  The most notable example is probably his sorcerous cat-man Bastriel from my Rose Tower campaign, who can be summed up as “Cat” from Red Dwarf, but his characters can always be relied upon to follow their drives rather than the tactical/strategic optimum for the players’ goals.  This is handy when you’re GMing him.  GMs himself very rarely, a couple sessions of Exalted here, an Ars Magica campaign that never got off the ground there, mostly from time constraints. His Neng character Bastriel is currently Castellan of the Rose Tower.

Mike – wargamer.  Happiest with miniatures, maps, counters, and fiddly military details.  Makes his own cardboard tank models and such. Has published some of his own mini historical wargames, and had an adventure for 12 to Midnight published.  Cannot make up a name on the fly to save his life (he brings a chart for that).  Generally plays Lawful Good characters, no matter what the system or setting is; if he ever has a character who sells out the party to the forces of evil, the other players’ heads would explode.  Then they would assume that Doug had somehow mind-controlled him.  Can only play every other week, so a lot of the campaigns are deliberately organized so as to be “with Mike” campaigns or “without Mike” campaigns.  His primary Neng character is a priest of Baal named Eliezer.

Brian – story guy.  The only one likely to write a back-story for one of his characters, and the only one likely to write a post or recap here besides me.  GMs once-in-a-while, generally Star Frontiers or a WWII era pulp adventure using my homebrew system.  Unfortunately scheduling makes him even less likely to be able to show up than Mike.  His primary Neng character is Nathan of Port Autumn, a storyteller.

Dan – another hardcore RPG, LARPer, SCAer.  Moved here from Connecticut just to game with us.  Oh, sure, he’ll say it was because of his job, but we know the truth… Currently I alternate GMing with him. He runs a Warhammer 40K Inquisition setting using modified Star Frontiers rules (at least, I think that’s what they are), while I run… whatever.  His (brand new) Neng character is Kirak, a member of The Pack, a race of wolfmen.

Emeritus Members

Rob – former primary GM, famous for starting campaigns that never got beyond the first session.  His character in Neng was Esau, the Andorran archer. update: Rob points out that he did so run campaigns that went on for more than one session, and that’s certainly true.  That’s just not what his former players tease him about.  I have a lot of sympathy, because I get the same guff from them if I try a setting and it just doesn’t gel; that’s why I’ve deliberately moved towards running more one-shot or single adventure games, and only promoting them to campaigns if everything goes smoothly and the players are enthusiastic about having more of it.

Rachel – bequeathed with the Peripatetic Pants of Pity for the number of times her character lost his/her clothes in various adventures none of which were my fault at all, I swear. Anyway, I eventually had it that whenever her character (and later, other characters) lost their clothes, the Peripatetic Pants of Pity would magically appear so they could cover themselves.  Rachel was probably the funniest gamer I’ve ever played with, and the only one that I can recall where I literally fell off my chair laughing; I may relate that story some time if it’s not already covered in the recaps.  I have to check.  She moved to Canada, curse her.  She’s probably primarily responsible for the game group’s habit of adopting horrible accents.

Scott – generally had the strangest characters.  Probably the most memorable is Zobar the Zobarian, who is the one who inadvertently poisoned the children of the idyllic valley with poisoned apples in his feud with the Dire Pig and who eventually gained Cosmic Knowledge and became a babbling, cringing idiot.  He moved to Canada with his wife, Rachel.

Gaming Summary, May 22, 2005

The first part of the evening was spent disucssing the set-up for Paul's upcoming Ars Magica campaign, and I think everyone is pretty excited about it (at least, I am). The rest of the evening was a NuNeng episode in which, it appears, not all that much happened, although it seemed like more at the time. Must have been all the bickering.

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The Unicorn Tapestry: Gaming Summary, May 1, 2005

Last night was the fullest house I've ever seen at Josh's, and possibly the fullest on record. Every current member was present, and we even had a guest! You might imagine that most of the evening was lost in idle chatter with no role-playing at all, but you'd be WRONG. Even deprived of the dining-room table, seated on the far-too-comfy couches, there was role-playing, in-character banter, and even advancement of the plot. Hang on, kids, this one could get rough.

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The Enchantress of the Burning Wood: Gaming Summary, April 10, 2005

It's recappin' time! Last night, we caught up with the characters from NuNeng. How new are they? So new, they don't even have a decent name for their party or their campaign yet. How about “Swiftside Story” for the time being?

When we last left our intrepid party, they had agreed to carry a message to the Enchantress of the Burning Forest. (Or, rather, Thamon had agreed, and hired the others to come along.) The previous session ended on the cusp of an encounter, and as we pick up the trail, an encounter there was….

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Conversations with Vinny

Bless me father ‘cause I have sinned…
It’s been a long time since my last confession and I gotta admit I ain’t been the nicest of persons, ya know? I don’t always respect my parents dat much and I probably use the lords name in vain more than I should but the serious stuff, I’s done my time and I’m a reformed man and I try not to get involved in that kinda stuff as much anymore.
Anyways, I’s seen lotsa weird shit, beggin yer pardon, I’s seen lotsa weird stuff in this city but I always figured it was just people being weird or stupid or mean or sumptin. So yesterday I tink I saws something different. I tink it was the real deal, pure evil and not just people acting evil but like ya know real biblical type evil stuff.
Whats I’m trying to say is, is it possible for the devil to be real and such. Not like real and if you die and you ain’t been good you go to hell real, but real like first there is a lawyer standin there in a crappy French suit and the next moment he’s seven feet tall with scales and horns and glowing red eyes throwing fire around at people?
‘Cause like a lotta weird shit happened, beggin yer pardon, a lotta weird stuff happened yesterday. Dis one little girl is claimin she be seein da ghost of Little Jimmy Two Shoes and then this lawyer dude shows up and turns into the devil and starts trowing fire around so I go out the back door and it gets even weirder from there and then the lawyer devil is gone and people is talking about vampires and werewolves and all sorts a late night move junk. ‘Cept they ain’t talking about it like it was a movie but like it was as real as traffic at rush-hour.
I swear father, I ain’t been hittin the sauce or nuttin least not as should be causin that sorta stuff. ‘tho anodder day like that and I’ll wanna.
But I gotta ask ya father. If evil IS real, if real evil can just walk through the front door and start trowin fire around and tryin ta kill people, then we’d haf-ta do sumptin about it right? We couldn’t just stand there and say ‘not my problem’ or waits fer da cops to show up right? ‘cause I’m tinkin I may already be involved and I don’t think I can just walk away but I wants to know that I’m doin da right thing.
Can ya help me father?

A Phone call later:

Hey, Mickey. Its me, Vinnie.

Nah, Vinnie Fratony.

Anyways, ya remember dat vest ya was wearin a year or two back when the Carlone kid got outta da joint? Well dats all cleared up now right? You ain’t needin da vest no more? Ya think I could maybe borrow it for like a couple a days?

Nah I ain’t in any trouble. ‘Least not like that sortta trouble. It’s kinda complicated. It involves this dame I’m interested in and she’s kinda got some trouble following her.

Heh, Yeah all dames is trouble but this one is kinda different.

Hey! I know better den gettin involved wit a married woman! Least if I did I might be getting some. Look I had a slow night last night and I need to pick up some fares. Gas ain’t cheep in dis city. Hows about I swing by the place and yer wife can gimme da vest?

Tanks! I owes ya one.

Heh. Yeah, I owes ya anodder one. Call me when you needs a lift someplace.

Hostile Takeover: Gaming Summary, March 20, 2005

We had two new players join us: Liz and Sean. Welcome to the group, hope you survive the experience!

After another longish hiatus, we returned to the Borderlands. Upon their return to the city following the events at Hill College, Tamsin realized that she would have to have the werewolf damage to her employer's van repaired, preferably before her employer found out about it. After dropping Chucky, Fitz (who promptly remembered a previous engagement on the other side of the world and left without a forwarding address), and Obediah off at the theater, she consulted the rolodex at the detective agency and found the name of a body shop, the Fratoni Bros., annotated in Victoria Savage's neat handwriting “doesn't ask questions.” Deciding that this was just the ticket, she took the van there, dropped it off, and took the Fratoni's up on the offer of a cab ride back (chargable to the agency, natch). Her driver was the loquacious and colorful Vinny Fratoni [Sean], just back from a deuce up-river.

Meanwhile, art-student and reluctant seer Veronica Snooty-Mc-Snoot-Snoot (did we ever get a last name?) [Liz] was soaking up the ambience of Chinatown when she noticed two things: 1) Obediah, sweeping out in front of the Chinese Theater, whose aura told her that he was her Knight in Shining Armor. It didn't explain further, auras being tricksy that way. 2) the grungy theater itself, which was clearly being haunted…by the theater as it existed in the forties. She'd seen plenty of ghosts before, but never the ghost of a building. Bemused, she offered Obediah a twenty and a date to get something to eat. He led her inside and offered her popcorn and a swig of “butter.”

Upon their arrival outside the theater, Vinny's cab died completely and mysteriously. Tamsin led him into the theater to use the pay phone to call his cousins at the shop, and then dashed across the street to leave a note for Victoria Savage. Fortunately or unfortunately, Victoria was already back from her trip, but had a message for Tamsin: a tall, dark, handsome young man had left a letter for her, on nice heavy stationery with a big monogrammed M. Inside was a dinner invitation for that evening to Le Petite Chi-Chi, signed “Bobby.” After some brain-wracking, Tamsin managed to remember having met the mysterious Bobby M, adventurer and raconteur. She hurried back across the street to check in with Chucky and Obadiah and ask their opinion on the propriety (and perhaps safety) of meeting with him given the peculiar circumstances of their first encounter in the Borderlands.

There was some byplay in which Obediah attempted to buy Vinny's cab from him for the twenty that Veronica had given him, and was informed that would get him four lug-nuts worth of cab, which triggered in his befuddled brain the singular desire to own a cab and prompted a side-trip to a chop-shop down the street to buy a bumper.

In the theater, Veronica explored a bit, finding the ghostly regulars in the balcony watching the double-bill: Seven Deadly Venoms and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (Two Two-Star Movies! That makes Four Stars!). Meanwhile, Vinny was explaining to his cousins that a) they fucked up his ride, and they needed to send out the tow-truck toot sweet and b) he was “parked” outside the very theater in which legend had it Little Joey Two-Shoes, the hitman's hitman, was last seen on this Earth. Veronica could have told him Little Joey was watching the women sobbin', but nobody asked. Unfortunately for Vinny, the wrecker was out on a call, and the Eurotrash Lawyer, M. Lucerne chose that moment to make his dramatic entrance.

Announcing that since they had tried the easy way and gotten nowhere, his Consortium was now going to do it the hard way, he gestured and all the doors slammed and the shades pulled themselves down. He then removed his swanky sunglasses and revealed his glowing red eyes. Combat ensued.

Fireballs were thrown, arts were martialed, .38 Saturday Night Specials were emptied unsuccessfully except to ruin a nice French suit and cause Lucerne to reveal his game-face: that of a 7' tall yellow and red, horned, leathery-winged demon. Chucky conveyed the notion to Victoria that it would be helpful for her to use her artistic talents to copy one of the plaques from underneath the counter onto a piece of paper, while he lured the creature upstairs. Tamsin ran around putting out the fires, while Obediah used his special talent with doors to open the emergency exits in the rear of the theater and let out the panicked ghosts. Vinny attempted to drag Veronica to safety, but received a short sharp shock to the family jewels for his troubles, and she went back to her calligraphy.

Chucky managed to lure Lucerne to in front of the Closet of the Vortex (don't ask) and Tamsin, exclaiming “You forgot about me, Huh?” slapped Veronica's finished work on Lucerne's back. Lucerne lunged, Chucky powered up the Paralysis Character while performing a sacrifice-throw, and Lucerne took a short trip and a long fall to nobody-knows-where.

While this was going on, Vinny recovered, and exited the building through the doors that Obediah had opened. There in the alley, he found a giant rat in a Zoot Suit, being noisily sick. Hurrying the other way, he came out into a typical evening in the Borderlands, i.e. Film Noir New York by night, circa 1940, casting by way of Midsummer Night's Fever Dream. Noting the presence of a mounted policeman (and on second take, that the mount and the policeman were one and the same: a centaur), he quickly pocketed his gat (cause John Law is John Law, no matter where you go), and made his way back to the alley and back into the theater. Once back inside, and finding himself able to exit by the front doors into normal New York, he went to the nearest liquor store and got himself some scotch, then returned to the theater to demand an explanation of the goings on. Tamsin rushed home to change for her date, while Chucky tried to explain the advantages of taking the blue pill, but Vinny was made of sterner stuff. Obediah went outside, popped the hood of Vinny's cab (another of O's skills), and discovered a gremlin chewing vigorously on the wiring. He chased it off with a broom, and the cab was once again operational.

Vinny ended up driving Tamsin to her date, now that his cab was back in service, and hanging around a bit off the meter in case she needed any help, but the date was largely uneventful. Bobby M. was just back from doing a favor to a friend, by preventing the moon from being consumed by nanites, and seemed genuinely interested in dating Tamsin for the usual boy-girl reasons, with no obvious ulterior motive. She did find out from the waitstaff that Bobby was, as claimed, a regular at Le Petite Chi-chi, and that his last name was Munchausen. She also found out, from Bobby, that Lucerne and his Consortium were famously bad news and legendarily not folks that you got the better of business deals with. Bobby drove her home, and kissed her good night.

The Haunting of Hill College: Gaming Summary, September 12, 2004

Barbecues, weddings, and illness have kept us away from the Borderlands for some time, but no gamer can stay away forever! You may want to read the entry from July 19 before clicking the link below.

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