22 June 2014

Age of Rebellion at Pair a Dice Games

A couple months back, I approached the management of Pair a Dice Games in Vista and asked them if they'd like me to run a game of Age of Rebellion for them when Free RPG Day rolled around. I did some work on the AoR core rules, and I thought it'd be a neat way to get the word out about FFG's latest entry into the Star Wars RPG market.
Just before we got started.
They thought it was a swell idea, especially since I contributed to the game. I was suddenly being treated like a minor celebrity, even being mentioned by name in their email flyers leading up to the event. It put a little pressure on, to be sure. After all, I didn't want to go in there and run a crappy scenario for folks who were expecting champion-level storytelling from someone "in the industry."

Thing is, I don't generally go out of my way to tell people I do freelance writing/game design and that I've worked for several big-name game publishers. When they get to know me, they usually find out. Maybe it's worth bragging about, maybe it's not, but I keep it on the down-low most of the time. I don't think I'm better than anyone because of it, and I'd hate for anyone to assume I feel that way. It's just something I do because I find it fulfilling.
Anyway. It is what it is.

Kane, Jared, and Bridgette.
Yesterday was the day of truth. I'd put together a small adventure along with seven pre-genned characters. Since the AoR core rules haven't been released yet, I had to rely on the AoR Beta rules. Using the Beta wasn't a problem, and I don't think any of the players had even seen the book before. Hopefully, when the core book comes out next month, it'll have a positive response with folks. It really is an excellent product.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. The day of truth.

I was worried that the publicity would result in me having too many players to fit into the scenario. In the end, the player group consisted of five very awesome players. Three of them were experienced with Edge of the Empire, so they knew what they were doing. This was great, because they ended up explaining rules to the players who weren't familiar with the game. By the end of the session, everyone was rolling the dice, reading the symbols, and contributing to the story effectively.
Robert and Vance.

My other fear was that I hadn't had an opportunity to playtest the adventure prior to Free RPG Day. The schedule's been tight lately, so I ended up going in blind. Fortunately, the adventure worked. I made a couple of changes on the fly, but overall I felt it was successful (in fact, it might have been too easy!). We got rolling around 1 pm and were finished up by 5:30 in the afternoon.

A number of my personal friends showed up to say hello to me. Since I was running the game, I couldn't break away and socialize, which made me feel kind of bad for them. They understood, though, and it was nice to see everyone, even for a brief moment.

The players succeeded on their mission, and they all seemed to enjoy themselves. Hopefully I run into them all again sometime. If I had more time, I might even make a regular night of it. As it is, my schedule is pretty crowded, so I can't. It's going to have to be an occasional thing rather than a regular one.

In the end, I'd like to extend my thanks to Vance, Robert, Bridgette, Jared, and Kane for playing and making the game a success. It wouldn't have been the same without you guys!

06 June 2014


My wife's grandfather, Paul, died on Tuesday morning. He lived about ten minutes from Carbine, so I would drive over to have lunch with him whenever I could. For a while, it was our Wednesday routine. I'd drop in, we'd eat and chat, and then he'd walk me out and say goodbye. As things got busier and busier closer to launch, my visits became less common. There was so much to do and so little time to do it all. I'd go when I could, but it wasn't as often as before.

I felt very close to Paul. My grandfathers had already passed, and he'd always treated me like family. The first time I met him, we got to talking about my interest in history. I was a Civil War reenactor then, and Paul thought that was the neatest thing ever. He opened up and told me about his experiences in World War II, something he'd never done with anyone else according to my wife and her grandmother.

Paul in Germany, 6/20/1945
Paul served on the ground in Europe as part of an ambulance crew, starting on D-Day +2, through the Battle of the Bulge, and until well after the end of hostilities. He was proud of his service in the war, rightly so. It was an experience that shaped him and changed him forever, and he wrote a memoir about it and sent me a copy which I've kept to this day.

Paul was a little old fashioned about some things, but he was a great guy. He had a quick wit and a jovial laugh, even though he'd often tell the same jokes over and over again. I never minded. It was a pleasure to sit with him and hear about his past, as well as his thoughts on the future. Oftentimes, when we would have lunch, he would talk about the technology of his youth as compared to the technology today. He had no idea where the world would be when my kids were his age, but he was certain of one thing--that it would be amazing.

Paul's in the pink shirt (10/2008)
Since I was always coming from and going to work before and after our visits, he always asked me how things were going. It was clear he didn't quite understand what an MMORPG was, or what it was I did exactly. Still, he'd listen when I tried to explain it, comparing it to this or that, trying to make some kind of sense out of it all. He was proud that I was supporting his granddaughter and his grandchildren, who he loved a great deal.

He called me a couple of weeks ago. "I haven't seen you in an awfully long time," he said. "Maybe we could have lunch soon."

"How about tomorrow?" I asked. We were close to launch and I wasn't as strapped for time as I'd been in those busy months leading up to the fin
al stretch.

I dropped by the next day. My father-in-law was there, too, and the three of us had lunch. Paul was miserable, and he had been since his wife died. His health was slowly deteriorating. His eyesight and hearing had gotten worse, and he hated it. I tried to direct the conversation to other topics, like the kids or the things he'd done way back when. We toyed around with the idea of having a Fourth of July bar-be-que at my place so he could see my children. He made a fuss about not wanting dessert, but I cajoled him into eating some ice cream (which was his favorite thing).

When the hour was up, he walked his son and I to the door and we said goodbye. Despite his complaints, he still seemed strong to me. He appreciated my visit, and I hugged him goodbye and patted him on the back. I drove back to work, knowing that WildStar's launch was only a couple weeks away. I wasn't sure what the future held, but I sure as hell didn't predict that it was the last time I'd see him.

Paul in his favorite chair.
At midnight on Tuesday, June 3rd, WildStar went live. Six to eight hours later, Paul was dead. I didn't find out about his passing until just before noon on the 4th. It hit me hard. I still can't believe he's not with us anymore, and I can't get it out of my head. I'll never sit down to lunch with him again, or show him the game I spent so many hours working on to give him more context into how it worked and what my part in it had been. He'll never tell me about his experiences before, during, and after the war. All those memories, except for those he wrote down, are lost.

We make sacrifices every day. One thing trumps something else so we can get things done. I feel bad that I wasn't able to see him as often as I wished. I know he didn't blame me for it, but I'd give all those overtime hours for just one more hour with him.