Random Musings (or Traveling Parallel Planes)

So, on All Saints Day 2015, my wife and I took a day trip to Gatlinburg, TN.  When her Waze voice told her to turn left on West Athens St, I complained that I didn’t want to go on West Athens St; I wanted to take Hwy 211.  (Just so you understand, West Athens St and Hwy 211 are the same road.)  Once, I had expressed my silliness, I immediately began thinking about game applications of this idea.  I got out my phone and opened up my sound recorder and babbled for almost two minutes.  When I was done, my wife told me that what I had recorded was a blog post in itself.  So, now, I am going to attempt to transcribe my recording for you.

Have you ever wondered about roads, especially roads that have multiple names at the same time?  Now, in some cases, it is because a really long highway goes through multiple municipalities and it changes names along the way for each town or village that it goes through; though many people know it by the highway name.  Then other times, you will end up traveling down the interstate and all of a sudden you will see that I-85 is now I-85 and I-75 and you didn’t do anything…different.  You, just, were traveling along and, all of a sudden, there it was.

What if…What if what’s happening isn’t that municipalities are changing the names to fit local ideas or images or roads merging?  What if it’s realities overlapping and if you knew how to travel, you could get off in a different universe than the one in which you started or, maybe worse, what if you did end up in a different universe and you did not realize it?

What then?

What if?

So, what ideas might you all take from these random thoughts?  I’ve got a great plan for a fairly famous elven town on Rilmorn.  Until next time…Game On!

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Shameless Self Promotion (or Yet, Another Lame Non-Gaming Post)

I got the business cards that my wife ordered for me over a week ago, but I just thought about posting a pic of one of them about 2 days ago.  Here it is:

Business Card

Just noticed, there is lint on my scanner (check out the spot on the Coast of Africa).

The second hardest part of having a blog is getting readers.  How do you get readers?  I know that much of my original reader base came from my friends on Facebook.  My next boost came from Vexar nominating me for a Sunshine Award.  Since then, the last “Grand Influx” came from Frank Mentzer reading my post on “Dice Fudging” and then posting about it on his Facebook Account; Raven Crowking posting a rebuttal on his site and kindly linking his post to my original, surely helped my readership, as well.  Finally, some readers found me from my comments on the posts of my fellow bloggers.  Thank you all very much.  (2014.09.19)

In the form of social media, I have the following accounts:

Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/guldensupp) Wherein, I like things my friends post and promote my latest World Engineer post.

Live Journal: (http://guldensupp.livejournal.com/) Wherein, I sometimes offer other thoughts than those directly to gaming and post about My Tweets and (http://rilmorn.livejournal.com/) wherein, I post as a Wanderer, new to my game world, Rylmoryn.

Twitter: (https://twitter.com/Guldensupp) Wherein, I tweet about my posts on my World Engineer blog.

Tumbler: (http://guldensupp.tumblr.com/) Wherein, I post links to my World Engineer blog posts.

Google Plus(https://plus.google.com/+GregoryGuldensupp/posts) Wherein, I “comment on” and “+” cool things, respond to You Tube videos, and link to post my World Engineer account.

Oh, yeah, I have a defunct Blogspot account: It was the original site for my Wanderer’s Words about Rillmorrin.  Here is the last post I made on that site: http://rilmorn.blogspot.com/2013/07/pathways_26.html

Game On

Mea Culpa (or What do I Want in my Game)

On 4 April 2014, I post an entry about why I felt Dice Fudging was bad. It started a heated and acrimonious debate. I feel bad that my post was the sulfur and bat guano that started this fireball. Since that blog post went up the following things have happened:

All of this has led me to reexamine my game and how I run it. I asked myself several questions. Have I ever fudged dice? YES. Did fudging dice ever improve a particular encounter? YES. Did fudging Dice ever worsen an encounter? YES. Was there ever a time that I wished I had fudged dice? YES   Did my players ever know that I fudged dice? PROBABLY. Did my Players ever suspect that I fudged dive? YES. Did that knowledge or suspicion have an effect on my game? YES. Was the effect positive or negative? NEGATIVE.

I lost the trust of my players. They couldn’t never be certain that a lucky series of rolls was just a lucky series of rolls and not a grudge attack? Did Hil get randomly shot at by the drow sniper or was I still mad at him, because he got a wild hair and murdered an NPC on which I had worked too hard. Did the ettin really miss hitting James or did I fudge on his behalf because he is my best friend? Did I randomly roll on the 1E DMG magic items tables and get a +5 Holy Avenger for Christina or did I give it to her because she is my wife? They may have believed that it actually happened the way I said it rolled, but there was always a shadow of doubt.

I am not perfect. I try very hard to be completely fair to my Players, but life gets in the way. Some days, I get mad at a Player. Some days, I feel bad about hurting a particular Player. Some days, I want the background on which I worked so hard to shine. Not always; not even most of the time; but SOMETIMES, I fall down. My Players are smart, educated, empathetic people and they SUSPECT that I fall. Do your Players SUSPECT you of fudging your die rolls? If they do, you may not have their trust in the game. They play your game because they have fun, but they may not believe that you are fair.

Having admitted that I fudge dice and not always for the right reason, I now ask myself, “Gregory, why did you roll the die in the first place? What was the purpose of that die roll that I now want to fudge?”

I am not a slave to my dice nor to the Rules As Written (RAW). I discarded the rolling for Wandering Monsters back in First Edition (1E) AD&D, just as I discarded weapon speed and the one minute combat round. I choose when or if to roll a die to get a randomly determined result. I choose what table to roll against. I choose what monsters the PCs encounter.

What if, when I roll the die, it comes up an undesirable result? Why roll the die, if I am not going to use the result? Am I trying to give the illusion of fairness? Am I trying to shift the blame of my choices to Random Chance? Am I just trying to give my Players the facade of free will; pretending that I am not railroading them along the path of my desire to fulfill the Story Arc that have, so cleverly, devised? The answer to the question of why I rolled the die is this: I rolled the die to place a random element into the game, so that my Players and I could react to the result and create the next element in our shared Story.

I was trying to expound upon 3 reasons why I felt that fudging dice led to a less awesome game. If fudging dice improves the awesome in your game, then fudge. Do whatever makes your game better. I will.

Game On!

A Probably Not-so Secret Secret (or Making it up as I go Along)

Want to know a secret.  I make it all up.  Nearly every bit of my D&D game, I improvise.

I have idea and plans, but when I sit down at the table, ninety percent of what goes on is created on the spot.  There are multiple reasons for why this is the case.  Often, my players head off in directions that I never imagined.  Other times, I get to the table and realize that what I created and built, just isn’t going to work.  Occasionally, I just don’t have anything ready; I have good intentions, but like the Road to Hell, I get paved with them.  Sometimes, I just want the thrill of creating on the fly.  Sometimes, it makes me feel like I am a huckster selling snake-oil.

Now, in my defense, I do create NPCs, and towns, and monsters with which the PCs may interact.  I love making and twisting maps and often have those on hand to help orient the PCs.  I design cultural touchstones, so the Storm Kingdom is different than Neverwinter.  I have been making secret cards for the NPCs and special places and items that exist on Rilmorn.  I craft magic items, sometimes before the game and sometimes during the game.  I plan combat and social encounters to challenge my players.  Yet, despite doing that work, I still seem to be making things up at the table.

There’s my secret.

Game on!

Inner World

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, I will begin what should be the last session of my Giants in the Earth campaign.  It will take place in the Inner World of Rilmorn.  I’ve done very little design on the Inner World over the years.  Thom and Mike helped me set out the parameters of the Inner World: 1) it is a world set on the interior of the Rylmorn, 2) it has a single, brownish star at its center, and 3) it is more “science powered,” than “magic powered”.  Ken, as Shae’Fer, encountered the Asianesque, jade dragon Shou Lung, when Shae’Fer was stranded in the Inner World.  Ken would be the person most active in the Inner World.  He, as his character, took volunteers from his homeland and placed them in stasis, so that they could repopulate and restore the world, if there was ever a Worldwide Disaster.  Later, Shae’Fer would hide a bunch of lich-related artifacts in the brown dwarf star at the center of the world, in a failed attempt to keep them out of Evil’s hands.  Recently, I decided that three, ancient, colony ships from alternate Earths had crashed inside Rillmorrin.  Each ship was run by an intelligent super computer named after a giant from that Earth’s myth or history.  That is everything I’ve done on the design of the Inner World.

The Inner World of Rilmorn is inspired by Pellucidar from Edgar Rice Burroughs and Skartaris from Mike Grell.  It was to be a place seeded with ancient monsters and super science.  I never built such a place.  It has always been a hazy, unformed realm that I could reference in metaphor and allusion.

The Brown Dwarf reigns above the Giants in the Earth,” is probably my favorite quote dropped by a “mad prophet” in my games.

So, what do I have in place in the Inner World?

  • A brown dwarf microstar that illuminates the lands and oceans of a hollow world
  • A realm where science is more effective than magic
  • 3 ancient, super computers in the remains of their spacecraft
    • Colossus comes from an Earth where American English and Celtic Christianity are the language and faith of the majority of the populace
    • Goliath is from a world where the Akkadian Empire remained a world power and their faith is that of the Sumerian and Babylonian peoples
    • Titan knew a world wherein the Greeks dominated culture worldwide
  • An ancient language based on the percentage of survivors of the total number of colonists; created and shared by the 3 AIs – Orthoni is 60% English, 30% Greek, and 10% Akkadian
  • A magical/runic alphabet called Dymetri that when written precisely produces magical effects
  • Dinosaurs
  • Kularin (winged folk) in stasis
  • Dragons
  • Dragons corrupted by Far Realm energies

Having all of this still unmapped and uncodified has left me in a quandary.  Should I use Numenera as my Inner World setting?  I was going to say, “Yes, since it appeared, serendipitously, the day before my last game” but I got to thinking about so many other ways I can use the setting.  Now, I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’ll have a plan by next Saturday.  Anybody got any suggestions?

Oh, by the way, this weekend 7-9 March 2014 is CoastCon XXXVII.

Game On!

GM’s Day 2014

On March 4, 2008 CE, E. Gary Gygax, one of  cofounders Dungeons and Dragons passed away.  In the years since his passing, the day of his death has become known as GM’s Day or Game Master’s Day.  (I may be incorrect on the origins of GM’s Day.)  Many gamers choose to run special or retro-style games in Gary’s honor.  Game outlets often offer special deals.  I’m going to post about my Big 4E game and plan on starting a DnD Next game, tonight, with my wife and younger daughter.

The “Giants in the Earth” game went off well.  We had to cut in the middle and plan on finishing it on Saturday, March 16, 20014.  The two groups blended smoothly.  I gave the party a glimpse of the Qalibar and its “black hole sun.”  Qalibar is remains of a worlds that were devastated by the Paradox Wars.  (I lifted both Qalibar and the Partadox Wars from game I read, but do not own.  I’d like to find this game and buy it, but my Google-Fu is very poor.)

They encountered Linden, Mistress of Time at the Centre of Time.  They declined her offer to help them navigate the Infinite Paths that lead off from the Centre of Time and used their own powers to get where they needed to go and do what they needed to do.  I got to show them the remains of Spellguard, as it hurtled backwards through Time and the Elemental Chaos – the Body Luminous.  From there, they retrieved the Ivory Pine of Sestus, after fighting past a pack of white slaadi and a lone black slaad.

They used the Infinite Paths to collect the Seed of the Dreaming Tree and they chose to not awaken the rust dragon, sleeping in the hollow interior of the tree.

They returned to the Centre of Time to make their way to Galen’s Tomb hidden beneath Sceptre Tower in Spellguard.  There, they fought two Galens.  One was corporeal, while the other was an insubstantial phane.  During their fight, the dragon Dhivanara appeared and cried for help.  She was laying her, now hatching egg, and being attacked by Time Killers (Linden’s Temporal Assassins).  The PCs prevailed and Chonepsis was born, all three of him.  One time-jumped to the Past.  A second one jumped to the Future, leaving a third one to introduce himself as Chronepsis and ask for a gate key of 100 platinum coins to use to pass through the Living Gate.

While Chronepsis was returning to his lair, E3 Plus painted the lintel of Galen’s Tomb with his blood and went to Castle Timeless.  There they found their way to the Key to Time and retrieved their ship, Enterprise, and collected the Holly-Oak of Melikki from Oseric Magnis of Laurant.  After all the trees were collected, Bollenboch, the figurehead and dragon bonded with the Enterprise took the crew to Occiptus and collected Eldwar’s consort, Iomaudra.  Once the “team” was complete, Bollenboch plane shifted to the Inner World.

Game Paused.

It went well.  Fights were long and I got bored on occasion, but the players were on the top of their game and I could not have asked for a better or more attentive group.  I’m hoping the final encounters will be as engaging and rewarding.

Until next time, Game On!

Beginnings and Endings

On Wednesday, February 26 in the Year of Our Lord 2014

Happy Fiftieth Birthday to Me!

When I started playing Dungeons and Dragons, on that rainy, Sunday afternoon in March (which I’ve referenced so many times already) so many years ago, I never imagined that I’d end up with a library of 132 (if I counted correctly) hardcover books, numerous softcover books, hundreds of pre-packaged adventures, and reams of hand-drawn or photocopied maps.  I, also, never imagined that I would be still playing this game 35 or 34 years later.  It has been amazing.

I’ve traveled a long way, since those early days.  Rilmorn has been named and mapped.  I’ve had friends craft maps for me (Special Shout Out to Thom Thetford and John Hesselberg!).  The solar system in which it resides is defined in broad strokes.  TSR is gone.  Tens of thousands of words have been written about its history.  I have written blog posts as a traveler in Ryllmorrin.  Wizards of the Coast are set to release the fifth edition (DnD Next) this summer.  I’ve ran games in Rilmorn in at least fourteen cities in three states for an uncounted number of people.  I’ve a blog about gaming and designing Rillmorinn.  So far, I’ve had a series of world-spanning wars and two cataclysms (The Great Cataclysm and The Great War) to account for edition changes; this coming Saturday, I’ll be wrapping up the campaign that is paving the way from 4E to DnD Next, as part of my 50th birthday party.  It has been a long path, but I’m glad I traveled it. (2015.04.16)

Saturday, March 1, 2014 around 1 Post Meridian, Eastern Standard Time, we will begin the last game in my Giants in the Earth campaign.  The players will be trying to prevent three super computers from opening portals to the Far Realm and thereby destroying the world.  They are also going to have to save the dragon Dhivanara of the Purple Sands, as she gives birth.  All of this is tied up with the restoration of Castle Timeless and the Quan.

Way back in the 80s, I gave two friends of mine the opportunity to choose and define two parts of Rilmorn.  Mike and Thom chose to fill out the Seven Races of Marn and to give parameters to Inner World of Rylmorn.   Rillmorn is shaped like Skartaris with openings at both poles.  Three colonization crafts (that bore humans from other Earths which ultimately seeded humanity on Rilmorin) are crashed on the inner surface of the world.

Each of those ancient crafts (now, mostly buried and brutally scavenged) was controlled by a super computer.  Colossus, Goliath, and Titan still exist and are active.  Their AIs warped by millennia of neglect and magic, these super computers seek First and Final Theorems and in their despair are attempting to open gates to realms beyond mortal comprehension.

E3 and their allies cannot use standard adventurer logic and “Kill the Giants in the Earth.”  Destroying the super computers will not stop the Far Realm from ripping into the universe; the millennia of spells cast by the Giants themselves have already cracked the fabric of reality.  E3 Plus must “ground the giants” by planting magical/holy trees in the right spots.  After the trees are planted, they must be quickly aged, so the roots can intertwine with the system.  Once that has happened, each tree must be magically bound to the Quan – A mystical realm already restored by E3 member Feldspar von Quan.  All the while this is going on; yochlol demons and vile dragons will be attacking to stop the heroes, since they want reality to shatter.

Because I ran too subtle a plot, my players missed that Iomaudra the Iron Dryad, whom they saved several games ago, has the power to magically increase the age of a tree, when she sheds her blood upon it.  They may need to get her from Occipitus to complete their quest.

In addition to everything else, Dhivanara will seek out Surana.  Dhivanara is about to give birth to Chronepsis, the Triple Dragon of Fate.  E3 encountered Chronepsis during their “World Tour,” when they took their magical, steam-powered airship on an extended trading mission.  Dhivanara is being attacked by servants of Linden the Mistress of the Centre of Time, who sees Chronepsis as a threat to her dominion over time.

E3 also has to gather the three saplings before they can begin the saving process.  They need the Holy-Oak of Meliki (the only surviving cutting of the Holy-Oak in on Laurant in the Rilmoré Cluster), the Dreaming Tree of the Sleeping Gods (the seed of Dreaming Tree grew out of a magical working and vanished hundreds of years ago), and the Ivory Pine (Feldspar has a seedling of the Ivory Pine, but they need a sapling; the dryad Amarantha has one, but E3 doesn’t know where she is).

This is to what my gaming has led me: an epic, convoluted final showdown with the fate of the world on the line.  Isn’t that the way of all D&D?  It is going to be a great party and I’m going to enjoy it all!

Then it’s on my way to DnD Next!

GAME ON!

Traveling Through the Fire Which Burns All Things

Greg Bilsland does it. Chris Perkins does it. I do it and I bet others do it, too. We all use time travel in our D&D games. I’ve dropped time gates and chronosarians into games. I lifted “time-tripping” locations like the “Caves of History” from Egg of the Phoenix and the castle of the Darklord Tristan ApBlanc from Castles Forlorn to great effect in my games. I even ran a limited time travel campaign. It has been fun.

I really don’t know when I first began to drop time travel into my games. Bob Brown helped me design a number of rooms in Castle Timeless. Dragon #65 gave me a great article on time lords. Ken Crosby and I had many discussions about time, time travel, and the relationship between space and time; we both agreed “Time is not the 4th dimension.” All of these events have very specific images to which I connect and while I am sure that they are listed in objective chronological order, I am not sure which one marks the true entrance of time travel into Rilmorn.

Maybe it doesn’t matter; maybe time travel hasn’t begun in Rilmorn. What if the first time traveler hasn’t been born? What if all of the time travel and time travel related information that I have gathered on my game world is all post-cursors to an event yet to happen?

I am sure that I have forgotten some of the time travel that has happened in my games, because I have used it so much. Even if I have, I do have some great memories of time travel events in my games.

I credited Ken Crosby as playing the first chronosarian (time lord from Dragon #65), but Shaefer, his kularin (winged hominid) character, was an illusionist, not a chronosarian. Shaefer enjoyed using time manipulation magic items. He was the first PC in my games to find the Time Glass. Shaefer was delighted to find the time gate in his kingdom of the High Reaches and happily led the rest of the party into the future. He researched the summoning of time elementals and proved the existence of thought elementals. He summoned one of each and placed them as opponents in the Eternal Chess Game. The elementals named Frayin and Theron still exist (even after the Great Cataclysm). They are now bound together in a magical sphere floating above Moon Tower in Spellguard. They are still playing their chess game, they’ve just got new pieces. I hope Ken would be pleased.

James Burkett played the first chronosarian PC in my games. He ran Galen Ringold. I put a series of “time” adventures in this campaign to engage Galen in the story. James had to miss a number of games due to his work schedule and every time he wasn’t there, it seemed like another party member caused a temporal disaster. Amira rewrote the entirety of the players’ history, starting with their first adventure and created a cross-time duplicate of Galen. Shev broke a temporal artifact and duplicated the party; Galen’s duplicate remained, while the other duplicates were absorbed into the originals or returned to their reality. As the number of Galenns increased, the more desperate Galen Ringold became to restore the “Original Timeline.” Galen, ultimately, left the party, formed the Council of Galens, and embarked upon a plan to use the collected life energy of the world to turn back time to stop Amira. He became a supervillain who may or may not have caused the Great Cataclysm that destroyed all life on the planet. Thanks, James.

Long before Doctor Who did it, I had a Time War. Many years ago, I stole the name Castle Timeless from Roger Zelazny’s book, The Changing Land and created a time-themed dungeon. Nimsûl, Guardian of Time, was my NPC which acted as the catalyst to send adventurers to Castle Timeless. I ran multiple groups through Castle Timeless. Ronnie Cooley, a person I knew from my Hattiesburg/USM days, shared with me his time-themed campaign, The Center of Time. He showed me the character sheet of Linden, Mistress of Time, the PC that took over the Center of Time from the mad Master of Time, which his PCs were tasked to slay. Suddenly, I saw a conflict between the two temporal realities. Linden desired Castle Timeless and the title of Chronarch. Galen’s attempt to restore history may have been the opening Linden needed to strike. It may have been the event that allowed Linden to discover the existence of Castle Timeless. It may have been the final blow that brought about the Fall of the Castle. We may never know, but Castle Timeless in now a broken ruin and Linden rules “All of Time.” The Great War is done. (2014.10.02)

Present Games:
Tasque Elzeny is, now, traversing Castle Timeless to find the Key to Time, so they can get home, after being displaced in the ancient past.

Surana (Christina’s dragonborn ranger) has taken up a quest to restore Castle Timeless. Right now E3 is traveling from the ruins of Castle Timeless to the Centre of Time to discover what they can. We’ll see what happens.

If all goes to plan, I’ll, soon, introduce the Weir of Kandalon, from Chronomancer, into Rilmorn’s history. I hope it will soon take a place of prominence alongside the Talisman of Senroth and the Clock of Ages.

Until Next…Time?
Game On!

Game Masters Part 2

Last post, I talked about many of the Game Masters that I have interacted with over the years.  James Burkett reminded me that I forgot a few GMs from my past.  I’d like to correct that oversight.

  • Charles Chen – Another friend from Emory days, Charles ran an amazing Shadowrun game.  It was full of magic, angst, and betrayal.  The characters James and I played always seemed to be at odds with each other in Charles games.  I recall many sessions that ended in lots of explosions, usually set by runners against other members of our own crew.
  • Brandon Mokofisi – Brandon and I met when were both working at DragonScroll.com (He is now doing lead vocals in Urban Tattoo; Check them Out.).  Brandon runs the best tactical game of anyone I know.  He can optimize any class to its maximum usefulness.  His games require quick thinking, strong combat skills, and a strategic mind set.
  • Heather Miller – Heather comes from the same gaming group, as Derek Johnson, Ray Boone, and Ronnie Cooley.  She liked to run Call of Cuthuhu games with lots of puzzles.  For her the game seemed to be a vehicle to introduce new and more involved puzzles.  Heather’s games required an analytical mind and willingness to think outside the box.
  • Ronnie Cooley – Ronnie, Heather, Ray, Derek, Sam, Kris, Marilyn, and I played several different games together, but I remember Ronnie running Cyberpunk.  Ronnie’s Cyberpunk game was a mix of combat and role playing, with an emphasis on combat.  It was fun, but in the end, I was killed by my own party for reasons still unknown.
  • Michael McMillan – Michael is Davy McMillian’s cousin and he ran many AD&D games for me and his brother Barry.  He had a wild imagination.  I remember encountering an iron golem with the mind of an ancient wizard trapped within.  I had to deal with magical shrines that would improve one abilities and grant wishes, if I did the right things and would bestow curses, if I did the wrong things.  It was in Michael’s game that Gregor O’Dragon gained his friend and companion, the dragon Zuth.

Thank you all for many great games,

Game on!

Game Masters (or Those People Who Changed my View of GMing)

Since I first began playing Dungeons and Dragons in March of 1979 AD, I’ve ran more games than I’ve played, but I’ve had a fair number of game masters over the decades.  I tend to get more enjoyment from running games than I do playing them, but I have enjoyed many of the games I played.  Here are some of the notable GMs, I’ve encountered in my days of gaming.

  • Davy McMillan – He was my 1st DM.  He ran me through B1 – In Search of the Unknown.  If Davy had not introduced me to D&D, I’d never been involved in such a wonderful hobby and there would not be a blog for me to write.
  • Clyde Smith – Clyde and Davy were classmates at Vancleave High School.  He was the first DM I knew who would “break” the rules.  He had a predilection for variant classes.  I will always remember the flying-steed riding rangers.  “I live for love.  I love for danger.  I live to be an Airborne Ranger!”  Clyde showed me it was okay to invent things that the rules didn’t cover.
  • Denson Smith – Denson was Clyde’s older brother.  He was known as a “tough DM.”  He played fast and loose with combat and we fought some very tough fights.  We never had a TPK, but we ran awfully close.  I don’t know if I learned anything from Denson, but I felt a rivalry with him and worked hard to make my games talked about as much as others talked about his.
  • Ned Harvey – Ned was a friend of mine since my days at Ocean Springs Junior High.  I introduced him to D&D.  Ned was a good GM in many ways: he had strong ideas, he could devise good combats, and he was well read enough to catch most of the references his players used to create their characters.  His one flaw was that he let it get personal.  Sometimes, it became a GM vs. Player game.  If the Players wanted to go left and his game plan said they had to go straight, then it could become a game wherein Ned tried to force the Players to go back to the story.  I learned from Ned and a few horrid missteps of my own to go with the flow.  If the Players want to spend a game shopping, then they get to spend it shopping.  I just need to keep notes on who sells what and where it is sold.
  • Mike White – Mike and I met in 10th grade.  We played in other GMs’ games and Mike hit the occasional one-shot games that I ran, but I never played in any of his games.  Mike and I were GMs that went to each other, when we at a loss as what to do next in our own games.  We shared D&D modules and ideas.  Mike taught me that GMing could be a collaborative effort.
  • Todd Jordan – Todd joined my D&D game,   after watching me teach his mother, aunt, and cousins about D&D.  He was a fixture in my gaming sessions for a number of years.  Later, he took his characters and his girlfriend’s characters and moved them to his world of Plangenus.  I played a few games in his world.  He had a lot of incredible ideas, but his world was bland and he never followed his ideas to their ends.  His world was a moon of a Jovian planet.  Plangenus revolved around its primary at the same speed as Plangenus rotated, thus one side always faced the primary planet.  The planet bound side of Plangenus got light reflected from the surface of the planet.  It seemed to me that such a world should have special magic effects on the “dark” side.  No direct sunlight, no starlight…wouldn’t there be more drow and other dark loving beings casting special spells that would be ruined by the light of day?  When I asked about such things Todd said that it didn’t matter and my interest in his world waned.  So, I learned from Todd to have weird or special effects in your world, just make sure you follow them all the way to the end.
  • Mike Magee – Mike and I met in college and his second long running character in Rilmorn was Gareth Eybender.  His creation of the Kingdom of Elethar and the extensive family tree of the Eybenders have given me years’ worth of material for my games.  Mike ran two games in which I played: Isle of the Ape and Lichlords.  Both of those modules are high-level games.  Mike ran them with aplomb.  It was from him that I learned to give the high level villains their rightful due.  I often fail to do so, but I always intend to play my powerful NPCs as intelligent, strong people.  You don’t get to be high level, if you are incompetent.
  • Ray Boone – Ray is another college friend that gave me distinct characters and societies that still carry weight in Rilmorn; Levi Dyskor is the exemplar cavalier that all other cavaliers aspire to be.  Ray ran the creepiest Beyond the Supernatural game, I have ever played.  It was a one shot game.  It wasn’t creepy because of all the gore.  It wasn’t creepy because of the monsters.  It was creepy because of the little details.  Ray just, seeming at random, dropped simple observations of what our characters saw.  The descriptions didn’t carry any hideous descriptors.  We were in an Antarctic science station investigating the disappearance of the scientists.  There was no blood.  There were no bodies.  Everything was normal and clean…and every time Ray pointed that out to us, we freaked out a little more.  Ray taught me that the ordinary can be terrifying, if one is expecting something horrifying.
  • Derek Johnson – Derek and I have never played a game of D&D together in our lives.  I have been with groups for which he ran Castle Faulkenstien, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire: The Masquerade, and Bureau 13.  Derek showed me, what I long suspected, that you can make any game system tell whatever story you want to tell.  He plays every system like a musical instrument and delightfully mixes tone and leitmotif to turn Call of Cthulhu into an adventure game or Castle Faulkenstien into a mystery game with a hint of horror tinting the corners of the world.  I try to do the same with each edition of  DnD and Rilmorn.
  • Matt Wagner – Matt is one of my D&D players from Emory.  His game of choice is Call of Cthulhu.  He likes to play in a dimly lit room by candlelight when possible.  Matt showed me how much the table environment affects players’ actions.  He can still evoke terror in a game set at table in the middle of cafeteria by his storytelling alone, but at table of his preference, Matt rules the world where Knowledge Shall Make You Flee.  Now, when possible, I try to set the environment of the game table to set the mood I want in my game.

Thank you all for inspiring me to try and be a better Game Master.

Game On!