Yesterday I received the heart breaking news that a very close friend of mine, Jason Graham, had passed away. Some of you might of know Jason from his Lamentations of the Grognard column here on the site. But my adventures with him started 36 years ago.
Jason and I first met in 7th grade art class. It was there that he introduced me to the game Dungeons and Dragons. We spent most of our time in that class either playing, creating characters, planning campaigns, or painting miniatures. Somehow we managed to get passing grades for being creative. He introduced me into a world that said don’t be ashamed to be a geek. He helped me to open my eyes and change my point of view on my life.
Jason moved away later in the year and we didn’t meet up again until we were in our 30’s. That initial meet up was great. It was like we were never apart. We spent hours catching up and geeking out. It was like that everytime we got together and it eventually lead to him being a writer on this site.
Jason was an extremely passionate and intelligent man. He had a big heart and a love for D&D to match. It was easy to get pulled into his world. And once you were there you never wanted to leave. He changed my life. A lot of who I am today was thanks to him. It’s a debt I could never repay, no matter how hard I might try.
I regret the years we were apart and the times I couldn’t join any of his campaigns. But I will remember the 24hr day we spent sitting next to each other at 4 Color Fantasies making our artists lives horrible. I will also remember the 12hr D&D session we spent with our friends having an awesome campaign that left my character in limbo, still waiting to be revived. And who can forget his Mead.
Jason was a writer, web designer, world creator, Dungeon Master, brewer, father, husband, singer, HP Lovecraft addict, and mad genius. But most importantly he was my friend. I will miss him dearly.
I hope he’s up there giving Gary Gygax lessons on how to DM and having the campaign of ages.
Since 2007, Free RPG Day has been partnering with RPG publishers and friendly local game stores (FLGS) to bring new quickstart rules and exclusive modules to gamers around the world. Providing of course, you have an FLGS in your area. Previous free RPG loot included in the celebration T-shirts, dice, Munchkin add-ons, Pathfinder modules, and dozens of new game quick start rules. This years Free RPG Day loot includes the new Runequest quickstart rules, a Pathfinder Bestiary, and I’m personally excited about the Modiphius Entertainment “Robert E. Howard’s CONAN” RPG quickstart rules.
But alas, I won’t be waiting for the ghost of Gary Gygax to leave RPG goodies for me under the game table this year either. Continue reading
Saturday morning, September 17th, 1983. One week before my 11th birthday and only a few weeks after I’d first played Dungeons and Dragons, CBS aired the first 30 minutes of the greatest saturday morning adventure ever. Every weekend for the next three years would include this half hour animated Dungeons and Dragons animated series.
27 episodes of following Hank the ranger, Eric the cavalier, Sheila, the thief, Diana the acrobat, Presto the magician, Bobby the barbarian, and Uni, the baby unicorn, as they searched the realm for a way home to our world after being magically transported via a Dungeons and Dragons roller coaster at an amusement park.
Dungeon Master served as a sort of guide and impetus to the group, dropping clues and instigating adventures and investigations along the way.
The June post was supposed to be about the classic 1984 Marvel Super Heroes RPG from TSR.
Only this isn’t June, and this post isn’t about Marvel Super Heroes.
See, I’m several weeks late in writing about games, because I’ve been too busy playing. Normally I’ll host a game night and run a one shot scenario of whatever game I want to write about next. I’ll dust off the old rulebook, reread the system, write a short
scenario and make some characters, and that was going to happen in early June.
Only it didn’t.
“Boot Hill is full of fellows who pulled their triggers without aiming”
It was early 1988, I was staying over at my friend Dan’s house for the night. Normally we would spend the entire night trying to rescue Princess Zelda, but this time was different. Dan and I had played D&D before but he wasn’t part of my regular group of D&D friends and we usually only played nintendo together. Dan and I were friends because our moms were friends and he went to a different school, so we really only hung out when our moms did. Continue reading
“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars — Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.”
— The Nemedian Chronicles.
January 22nd 1906 in the small community of Peaster Texas, Robert E. Howard was born. While his career, and his life, would be short, his impact would be immeasurable.
During his brief but prolific career Howard created many memorable characters, from Kull the Atlantean, Solomon Kane the Puritan, Bran Mak Morn the King of the Picts, and merchant marine / prize fighter Sailor Steve Costigan. But none would have the impact of his black maned Cimmerian Barbarian who would rise to be King of Aquilonia.
In 1932 Weird Tales Magazine published the first Conan story “the Pheonix and the Sword” and the legend was born. Howard would write twenty more Conan stories (16 of wich would be published in his lifetime), one poem “Cimmeria”, and an essay “The Hyborian Age” before is death in 1936. L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter would publish 9 more based on pieced together fragments, notes and outlines. And in the 80 years since Howards suicide, more than 50 novels and dozens of short stories by various authors have been published. Continue reading
It’s that time of year, and odds are you’re thinking about gifts. Either gifts to buy for that special geek in your life or you’re rounding off that wish list for the fat guy with the beard. Either way, I’ve got the perfect collection of high end gaming accessories for the distinguished nerd.
Whether you’re upgrading your existing game room or going for the full medieval remodel you’ll need a few basic items for a great game session.
In 1984 Chick Publications released the Dark Dungeons comic pamphlet. Chick had been in business for 10 years at this point making religious themed comic strips with 22 panels on various subjects, intent on helping the reader avoid damnation. The comic pamphlets were known as Chick Tracts and covered all manner of threats from Rock and Roll to LSD use. Dark Dungeons was intent on protecting us from the dangers of Role Playing Games and the secret agenda to initiate the players into the world of Satanism via D&D. The fake game in the comic is Dark Dungeons, although the characters refer to it as D&D, waving away the possible confusion of the real subject while still avoiding a lawsuit. Younger readers may not realize this but, once upon a time, playing fantasy role playing games was considered evil and dangerous, an invitation to Satanism, drug use and suicide. With daytime talk shows devoting episode after episode to the subject and even “serious” news programs like 60 Minutes getting in the act. CBS even aired a made for TV movie starring a young Tom Hanks called Mazes and Monsters.
Summer break 1983, a 10 year old boy sits at a card table in a basement. His mace does only 1D6 points of damage, but if he can kill these kobolds, hopefully the other boys, some of them in high school, will invite him back to play next week. The basement in question belongs to the parents of 13 year old Craig Brown. The game on the card table is the 1983 edition of the red box basic Dungeons and Dragons game. The kobolds in the Caves of Chaos have been harassing the good people of the Keep on the Borderlands. The 10 year old boy is me.