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Of My Memorable Foes – Sir Callas

I’ve been slacking on these questions from Reverb Gamers, but here is my answer when they ask:

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #16: Who was the most memorable foe you’ve ever come up against in a game? How did you beat him/her/it? Or did you?

As in a previous answer, I have way too many to list, so I will share the story of one that comes to mind immediately.

Back in the closing days of AD&D 2nd Edition, my friend Andy ran a campaign for our friend Fred and me in the Dragonlance setting.  In DL, one of the best-known organizations is the Knights of Solamnia, a large organization of warriors dedicated to the noble ideals of honor, justice, protecting the innocent and weak, fighting evil.  You know, just like every other group of noble knights in just about every other setting.

A Knight Of Solamnia

Anyway, Fred’s character was an aspiring member of this group.  He was sort of in on-the-job training, if you will.  I can’t remember the whole story, but he was in charge of either delivering or retrieving some important relic or whatever – let’s call it a MacGuffin.  So, my character, an aspiring Wizard of High Sorcery, was sent with him, not only to represent the Tower’s interests, but also so that he may learn more of the world beyond the walls, and hone his skills in the Art.  (Hmm, that’s two aspiring characters.  Dragonlance seems to be set up to test the newbies, doesn’t it?)  We were joined by two others, a cleric of Mishakal, and another Knight, Sir Callas.

Sir Callas turned out to be interesting.  He was good with his sword, quick of wit, and took on a something of a mentor role to Fred’s knight PC.  We continued on our quest as we battled foes, sought the MacGuffin, and built a camaraderie.

Well, finally, we drew near to the object of our quest.  In one truly magnificent and mettle-testing battle, we defeated our foe.  The MacGuffin in hand, we basked in our triumph as we caught our breath.  Sir Callas retrieved the MacGuffin, smiled, and said, “Thank you for your dedication in this service.  My Queen Takhisis will be pleased.”

Betrayed!  A member of the Knights’ sworn enemies, the Knights of Takhisis, was among us from the start!  And we, the fools, helped him all along!  Sir Callas fled and escaped our pursuit.  Exhausted, we made camp for the night.

In the light of the campfire, the fledgling wizard said, “Don’t worry, friend Knight, I am sure we will meet Sir Callas again, bring him to justice, and regain your honor.”  The Knight spat on the ground at the mention of the name, then grumbled, “‘Sir!’  Callas does not deserve the honor of the title ‘Sir.‘”

“Well, then,” the wizard replied, “We shall no longer call him that!  From this moment forth, he shall be known as Penis-head Callas!

At that moment, all three of us broke out in belly-laughter that lasted for a good two minutes.  It’s the kind of laughter that friends share, especially gamer friends.  The spontaneity of my new title for Callas was all the more reason for his sticking out in my memory.

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Posted by on Friday, 3 February 2012 in Gaming, Personal

 

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Collaborative Or Competitive Games: My Preference

Another fine question from Reverb Gamers:

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #12: Do prefer collaborative or competitive games? What do you think that says about you?

Monopoly Board - From Hasbro

For me, I reckon it depends on the game itself.  Have you ever tried to play Monopoly collaboratively?  It turns out that it doesn’t really work too well.  The same goes with Risk.  Now, I’m not too keen on either of those games, although not because of their competitive nature.  But, that demonstrates my point: some games are inherently competitive, and cannot be played cooperatively without modifying them in some way.  In cases like that, I have no problem with them, and will play them and enjoy them if I enjoy the rules of the game.

Dungeons & Dragons - From TSR/WotC

But, this blog isn’t about board games, is it?  It’s about role-playing games.  When it comes to my RPGs, I heavily favor a collaborative playing style.  Dungeons and Dragons, in every edition, encourages teamwork.  Without a doubt, it can be played competitively, and I have done so in the past.  But, I’ve usually left the table feeling unfulfilled.  Sure, I’ve had fun playing that way, but I’ve enjoyed it more often and to a greater magnitude when playing with the other players, or, as a GM, when the players work together.

What does that say about me?  Perhaps that I like working with people more than against them?  Maybe that I’m just a friendly guy?  Or maybe, just maybe, I get tired of making my friends cry when I beat them.

 
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Posted by on Saturday, 14 January 2012 in Gaming, Personal

 

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The Adventures I LIke

Today, we have another question from Reverb Gamers:

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #14: What kinds of adventures do you enjoy most? Dungeon crawls, mysteries, freeform roleplaying, or something else? What do you think that says about you?

I can honestly say that I can’t pick any one type of adventure, because there are different times that I enjoy different activities.

Dungeon crawls are the first kind of adventure that I ever played.  I think that’s true of a majority of role-playing gamers, especially if one’s first game were Dungeons and Dragons.  At that time, that’s all I ever played, ran or created.  They are very simple, especially for a teenage boy whose players are other teenage boys.

Paladin - From 3.5 Edition D&D PHB

Mysteries came next in my gaming life.  They were pretty much from published modules.  Personally, I didn’t care too much for them.  They always seemed to be written with one and only one way to solve the mystery, and woe to those who fail to find it.  Even now, I don’t really like mysteries, but that’s just a personal preference.

Roleplaying is one of my favorite facets of RPGs.  After all, that’s what RP stands for, right?  But, I find that it’s not really an end in and of itself, but something to do while pursuing other game-related goals.  I don’t really separate it from the other styles of gaming.

When it comes down to it, I find that I can (and do) enjoy gaming if I find the objective to be worthy.  Save the town, rescue the orphans, squash the Big Bad Evil Guy’s Big Bad Evil Plan are the kind of goals I want in my adventures.  If that is the case, I will find a way to enjoy it, especially if the players (and GM, if I’m also a player) have the same motivation.

Bottom line: I want to play the hero.  If I have that, then the rest will fall into place.

 
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Posted by on Saturday, 14 January 2012 in Gaming

 

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Why I Game

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #2: What is it about gaming that you enjoy the most? Why do you game? Is it the adrenaline rush, the social aspect, or something else? (Courtesy of Atlas Games. Visit us at www.atlas-games.com)

This question, posed on Reverb Gamers’ Facebook page, has a complex answer, as far as my impetus for gaming – complex enough that to answer it fully would require more than a blog.  Nonetheless, here is the abridged answer.

Adrenaline rush?  Sure, I get them often when I game.  Social aspect?  Absolutely; it’s no coincidence that my players are also my closest friends.  But it’s very much the something else mentioned in the question.

I game to exercise my imagination, to delve into worlds unknown, to live as another person.  Imagination and creativity are a very important aspect in my love of gaming.  I am not a very artistic person, and gaming affords me that creative outlet.  I love creating new worlds, populating them with the people with whom the player characters will interact, learning about these people’s personalities, motives, dreams and desires, uncovering the schemes plotted by them, and so on.  Then, I love seeing my players’ reactions to this world, as well as the peoples’ reactions to the player characters.

I game to exercise my mind.  There is a lot of math involved in most role-playing games.  Picking apart the rules, seeing how they interact, and using them in ways to create the unexpected.  Also beautiful to me is hacking the rules – changing them where I see problems, sanding off the rough edges, or cutting off the warts.  That is fun!

I game to get together with my friends.  We catch up on the happenings in each other’s lives.  We discuss current events.  We share our personal triumphs and tragedies.  And, of course, we game, working together to write the story of our characters and the worlds they inhabit.

Why do I game?  Because of who I am: a gamer.

 
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Posted by on Wednesday, 4 January 2012 in Gaming, Personal

 

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Speak Out With Your Geek Out – My Other Geek Obsessions

Wow, I made it to Day 5 of Speak Out With Your Geek Out!  How’s that for seeing things through!

So, all this week I’ve concentrated on my RPG Geek.  That’s to be expected from a blog named Elf Steaks, I suppose.  But, as is typically the case with Geeks and non-Geeks alike, I have more than one passion.  “What else do you Geek out about, BeefGriller?”  Well, I’m glad you asked!  Here, in no particular order, are the subjects I most Geek over.

  • Role-playing games  Yes, I’ll list this first.  That’s out of the way, now.  So, I’ll continue…
  • Charcoal grilling There is a reason I took the name BeefGriller.  I bought my first charcoal grill seven years ago.  I obsessed over finding the perfect way to light the charcoal, grill my steaks/chicken/pork/etc., learn about indirect grilling, and just about anything else you can think of.  (I love making grilled tomato pasta sauce.  Yes – pasta sauce.)  I think this passion is a hallmark of Geek, and I have it with charcoal grilling.
  • Cooking  Separate from grilling, by cooking I mean indoor food preparation.  To this extent, the Geek cook demands I use fresh ingredients, make recipes from scratch, and tinker with ingredients until the end result is exactly what I want.  That is Geek to me.  Oh, and I exclude cakes, cookies and candies from this category.  I can’t seem to do them properly, and, truth be told, my wife is the Baking Geek of the household.  (Sorry for outing you, Love.)
  • Computers, open-source software, and making it all work perfectly This is another huge part of my Geek.  I was a founding member of my local Linux user group, way back before Linux was on the radar of any IT group.  I’m a huge supporter of OpenBSD, and use it wherever I can.  Just last year, I bought my first Mac and haven’t looked back.  I’m also lucky enough to have turned this Geek passion into my full-time job.  While it’s not always a bed of roses, I am living the Geek dream in that regard.
  • Sudoku, Kakuro, and other logic games I can sit for hours and solve puzzle after puzzle.  I love logic, and, by extension, logic games.  I love how, given a few clues, I get to the final solution using only my brain.  Not only that, it keeps my mind sharp and helps me relax.  Plus, there are few things more fulfilling than solving a puzzle correctly.

So, that wraps up my Geek list.  What about you?  What are your Geek passions?  If you share any of mine, let’s swap stories and/or tips.

 
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Posted by on Friday, 16 September 2011 in Gaming, Personal

 

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Speak Out With Your Geek Out – My Manifesto

For Day 4 of Speak Out With Your Geek Out, I will make a few promises to myself:

  1. I will not suffer Geek Shame.  For most of my life, when people asked me about my hobbies, I usually answered with reading, grilling, computer games, computer hacking, etc., but I always shied away from the role-playing games.  No more.  I will make that one of the first things I mention, if not the first.  I’m through with Geek Shame.
  2. I will engage others in conversation about my Geek passions.  This flows from the last promise.  When people ask, “What do you mean by ‘role-playing games,'” I will explain it, to the best of my ability.  However, I must make sure that I don’t drone on, bore the questioner, and possibly drive them off.  As a geek, I do tend to get overexcited about my passions.
  3. I will try to bring people into my Geek hobbies and/or passions.  This, too, flows from the last promise.  Excitement is contagious, and if the person with whom I am conversing seems interested, I will invite them to my next game, perhaps, or loan them a rulebook.  Gaming is a social activity, after all, which is improved with more participants (to a point, of course).
  4. I will cultivate the Geek traits and interests in my daughters.  Flows from the last, again.  (Hmm, a pattern emerges?)  Being a father is a pillar of my self-definition.  I see the nascent traits in all three of my girls.  I will do my best to encourage their Geek to grow.  At the same time, I will do my best to instill in them the self-confidence that I lacked.  I must, must, must be certain not to force them into anything.  I know well enough what that is like.
  5. I will work harder to make time for my Geek passions.  (And the pattern falls!)  Real life rears its ugly head oh-too-often.  I have obligations to family, friends, work, home-upkeep, etc..  I am not complaining, but this does take up nearly all of my time.  I will work harder to live up to these obligations in a more timely manner, so as to open up the time for my Geek.

Looking over my list, it seems I want to focus on being myself at all times, teach others about my Geek hobbies, as well as bring others into the hobbies.  Perhaps I’m not being too ambitious, but I’m happy with it.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 15 September 2011 in Gaming, Personal

 

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Speak Out With Your Geek Out – Hands Off My Dice!

BeefGriller's Dice Collection

For my third installment in Speak Out With Your Geek Out, I’ll focus on the pride of every pen-and-paper RPG gaming geek: dice!  In a previous post, I showed off my dice collection.   Now, I’d like to share some of my rules, habits and obsessions I have with my dice.

  1. Hands off my dice!  I don’t think I’m alone in this rule.  I simply don’t like other people touching my dice.  Now, if you ask, I’ll likely give you permission – that’s only good manners.  Also, if you do touch my dice without my permission, you’re certain to be blamed when the bad rolls start coming up – so don’t rub your bad luck on my dice!
  2. At the start of the gaming session, I dump all my dice out of the bag.  This is a necessity, of course.  As you can tell by the picture above, I have many, many dice – how else could I possibly…
  3. Select three complete sets to use during the game.  Mostly because I am likely to need to roll more than one of any given type of die (d6, d8, etc.), this is only practical.
  4. Before use, roll all dice until the highest number shows.  Like athletes, dice need to warm up before the game.
  5. Organize the dice by sides first, from d4 to d20, then colors, in neat rows and columns, with the highest number showing.  OK, so the d4s are put together in a semi-circle because they fit that way.  With the highest number showing, they’re more likely to roll that way, right?  My theory is that gravity causes the bottom to become more dense, effectively weighting the die in my favor.
  6. If a d20 has a run of low rolls, I have a pep talk with it.  If it continues, I give it a “time out.”  Let’s face it, all dice want to roll the best numbers.  If the d20 causes too many failures, you have to let it know that you expect better from it.  If it keeps under-performing, it obviously needs a rest.

I’ve come to realize, oddly enough, that I only do these things as a player.  As a GM, I don’t observe these rules, other than numbers 1 and 2.

How about you?  Do you have any superstitions habits for your dice?  I’d love to hear them.

 
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Posted by on Wednesday, 14 September 2011 in Gaming, Personal

 

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