Posts Tagged ‘Tabletop RPG’

No Longer Samu

November 6, 2017

“Where is that child!?” Calo yelled. He was storming into the area in search of somebody. He was looking right and left with a wild look in his eyes.

“Who do you mean?” Akikka asked. She stepped in front of him, knowing the danger of getting in the way of a rampaging beast. She also knew full well to whom Calo was referring. Anybody with half a brain knew who was in trouble. Again.

“Your monkey of a son!” Calo shouted. There was practically steam coming out of his nostrils.

Akikka stayed absolutely calm. She even smiled slightly and cocked her head to one side. “Which son do you mean, Calo?” Akikka was a brave woman and more cunning than most of their kind.

“You only have one!” Calo shouted. “Samu!”

Samu stifled a laugh from his hiding place behind a rock. He was always getting into trouble but he had yet to be caught.

“Oh!” Akika said. “And what has he done this time? Explain it to me?”

Calo started to rant and rave but Samu just slipped away, slinking away low to the ground. Soon he was off to another place on the other side of camp. It had been clear from the welts on his face and the rage in his voice what had happened. Apparently, the honeybee nest he had carefully placed near Calo’s sleeping place had done the trick. Several others would have been hit as well but Calo was just too easy and too fun to wind up. He tried to stop himself from doing it but he just kept going back to it. He could not help himself.

“They’re going to hold you back from the ceremony,” a voice from behind him said. Samu froze and turned to see little Rena.

“What?” Samu had been preparing for the coming of age ceremony for months. He was absolutely scared of it but also excited. He was ready to earn his new name and leave the old one behind. He loved being Samu but he was excited to see who he could become next. He saw himself as a brilliant hunter and a hero like all the stories. He would strike from the shadows and win the hearts of his people, even the ones who he had played tricks on.

“If you keep playing tricks they won’t let you go until next time,” Rena said. She was only seven and would not be part of the ceremony. Samu felt a little bad about leaving her behind seeing as how she had been a constant companion. Finding somebody who put up with his crap on a regular basis was rare.

“They can’t keep me out,” Samu said. “My mother won’t let them.”

“You can’t rely on your mother forever, Samu,” Rena said with a smile.

“I know,” Samu said. “I owe everything to her and my father but I will earn my place now. They have to take me. What I do, it shows how good I will be out there. How I will be a great hunter.”

“So you keep saying,” Rena said. “And yet you spend your time sneaking around and farting.” She laughed and Samu frowned.

“Keep laughing,” Samu said. “I will be a great hunter.”

“Not greater than me!” Rena said with a laugh, pushing Samu slightly and running off so that Samu had to chase her.

* * *

Everything hurt. The three kids (or was it four?) had pulled Samu from the tree and beaten the daylights out of him. If the others had not shown up, he did not know what would have happened. He was covered in blood but thankfully it was not his own. It was the deer’s blood, the subject of his second successful hunt. He had dreamed of being a hunter like his father, like so many before him. He had seen the day when it happened and he knew everybody would be so proud. His parents would be so proud. Rena would be proud. Even Calo would have to be proud.

They were safe. The girl with the grandmother had said that they were safe. She did the ceremony with the deer and the axe and she declared that the members of the stone group were all safe. Being safe from the spirits had brought courage to Samu. More courage than he had ever had. It gave him the courage to be out in the forest by himself. He had scared so many all by himself. However, the ritual only protected them from spirits, not from angry members of the bone group. They had chased Samu up a tree and then pulled him out of that tree. They had given him the bruises he now proudly wore like a badge of honor.

And then the sky had exploded and the moon had disappeared. Rocks had sailed toward where Samu knew his parents were waiting for him, where he would earn his new name. He stood startled, scared out of his mind not far from where they had defeated the bone group. Fire had been something that had fascinated him for a long time but now it had filled the sky. The world was a different place than it had been when the ceremony had begun that morning. He did not know what it meant or what would happen next and that fear was like a stone in his stomach.

He kept repeating it over and over in his head. “We’re safe.”

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Dungeons and Dragons and More

April 5, 2017


My friends and my enemies.

Dungeons and Dragons is something that I ran in parallel to for a long time before recently getting to play it for real. I listened to podcasts and read the literature. I played a forum version of it which is just not the same thing. Dungeon and Dragons is not a whole lot different from most tabletop roleplaying games. It is a system of collaborative storytelling where you and friends are playing both with and against a friend calling themselves the dungeon master (or game master). Tabletop roleplaying puts you into the shoes of your character and you must control them as you act and react in an imaginary world. Personally, it has helped me come out of my shell a little more.


Like most young kids in the nineties, I wanted to be a vampire at one point or another.

I was a shy kid. I talked to my friends but I did not take a whole lot of chances when it came to social skills. As a hopeless introvert, becoming somebody else was my fantasy. I wanted to be somebody interesting. I played a lot of video games but when I grew up, games were played by yourself or with one friend. A woman I had a crush on in theater told me that she and her friends played a game called Vampire: The Dark Ages. I was enraptured by her stories. I really wanted to play too but I was kind of underage at the time so that invitation never came. I created characters on my own but I never got up the courage to ask my friends to play. Some of them probably would have done it but I will never know now.


And yes, you can work through some issues with roleplaying.

Now that I am running with a group, I wonder how I was ever not doing this. Also, I realize how helpful it is. It forces me to make decisions about what I want to do and what I must do during pretty dire straits. However, those dire straits are imaginary so there is a very low risk. Dungeons and Dragons is really good with this. The game can turn brutal in an instant and what was looked easy has now brought you to death’s door. Will you go down the left or right path? Will you attack the ogre or his wizard pal? In this safe space, you get to act as something more than yourself. The fantasy is an outlet for seeing different parts of yourself. Most of my characters spring from something I wish I was or I hope I am not.


I resisted making this next bit political.

There is also the axis of alignment. That is an incredibly important concept that arose in roleplaying games and Dungeons and Dragons in particular. It actually teaches a bit about the real world. On the far left of the axis is chaotic and the far right is lawful. In between is a spectrum between lawlessness and lawfulness. On the bottom of the axis is evil and on the top is good. In between is the spectrum of kindness and spite. In the exact center is neutralness. I have thought recently about who I am. I know that when I was younger I was lawful good but as you saw in an earlier story, I wanted to be seen as chaotic good. Now, I think I am somewhere in between. I am neutral good. I want to work towards the good of all people but I understand that some laws are good and some laws are bad and you cannot just obey the law blindly.

Luck is for Losers (I Still Hate my Dice)

March 13, 2017

Luck is for Losers

Because you don’t want to be lucky, you want to be good at what you do.

Phillip Brooks (better known as CM Punk) has a tattoo that says “Luck is for Losers”. That phrase has resonated me ever since I saw the tattoo. As I have stated in the past, I am a skeptic. As a skeptic, I am picky about what I believe in. I believe in science even if it does not need me to believe in it. I believe in gravity, genetics and free will. I believe in a lot of forces of the universe but I do not believe in luck. I do not believe in a magical force that pushes outcomes one way or another based on the whims of the universe. Who or what would control such a force? Believing in luck feels weird and wrong.


But seriously, don’t buy too many lottery tickets.

I do believe in chance and probability. When I was in high school, I took a probability and statistics class. I learned all sorts of practical things. I learned that if you buy a lottery ticket, it is best to pick numbers that are not a day of the year. You do not raise your odds of winning but you lower your odds of sharing the prize if you happen to win as a lot of people play birthdays, anniversaries or other significant dates. I learned that specific numbers (like 666) can pop up at any given time and they do not mean anything. I learned about the chances of owning a mentally ill dog, a concept that had never occurred to me. The mathematics made sense to me.


I missed and everybody watched it happen.

Of course, I started playing tabletop roleplaying games a while ago and my beliefs were challenged. Lately, this has really started to bother me. On Saturday, our group once again met to deal with dungeons and/or dragons. Our adventuring party (including my character Bron) set out to deal with some bandits that were plaguing a small town. While we made mistakes, we would have done fine if we had not consistently rolled low when it counted. When you are rolling dice, the house always wins eventually but in a tabletop game, 7 people should be able to cover for low rolls. This was barely the case.


Oh Wil Wheaton, bless these dice!

Of course, we have all had bad streaks of rolling dice. One of the things I like about the group is that we are all huge nerds and geeks. The group is mostly made up of people of science. Vets, patent researchers, and IT professionals. As a former theater guy, writer and legal professional I guess I am comparatively a ‘poet’ in the group. They are all also very creative people but we all love science in our own way. And yet, we do a lot of superstitious things. We talk about ‘blessing’ dice with good luck or ‘cursing’ dice with bad luck. We switch dice after a horrible streak of dice and we retire dice ‘responsible’ for particularly bad numbers.


I thought about smashing my dice but I just watched this a few times instead. Therapeutic.

It does not make any sense and I find myself fighting against it. I also find myself fighting the feeling that I am responsible for my bad rolls. I have to believe that if I could roll well by skill and knowledge of the physical realities then I would. For example, if I knew how to move my hand and when to release and how hard to throw the die, I would practice all of those things. The reason that it bothers me is that this is my character. I wrote him to be such a strong fighter and he cannot seem to actually hit anything. All of that backstory is not matching up to the realities when it comes to game time. It is frustrating. I just have to hang on to the belief that eventually, my rolls will average out.

Character Creation

February 13, 2017

I have been part of a gaming group for a while now. If you look to the right of this post, you should see the story archives and you can check out all of the tabletop roleplaying game characters I have made so far in various games. It is the nerdiest thing I have done which is saying a lot because I have attended Magfest and studied Star Trek starship blueprints. I really enjoy the camaraderie of making a story together. We have a great group full of funny and smart people and every session has great story twists. When I first started with them, I bit off more than I could chew with my first character. I created a face man character who would be a negotiator and while I can write that character, I found it hard to actual bring him to life. It was my trial by fire and I almost quit entirely because of it.


Pretty close to my disastrous first try at tabletop gaming.

Since then, I have created a soldier, a mechanic, a detective and a doctor. Lately, I have created a pretty vicious barbarian. I was thinking about my character creation process and I thought I would write a little about it because it is a really fun process. First, I read through the backstory and the setting of whatever campaign we are heading into. Everybody running a game so far has been really good about providing a good starting point for creating a character. Some of them were homebrewed and some of them were written by game companies but all of them provided all of the necessary background info. Plunging into a setting written by somebody else is really fun as I think of what position I want to take in it.


Both Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar informed the movement and look of Bron in my mind.

For me, a character usually starts when some image sparks in my mind. Often, that image will give me the feeling of the character and maybe a mental movie. This is actually really similar to how my flash fiction on this site works. When I was reading the player’s handbook for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons, I was thinking about the origins of a half-orc barbarian. I thought about how tough it would be to grow up in a tribe where you were different from everybody else. I thought about how my character would have to fight every day to prove his physical superiority just to survive. That brought up the image in my head of Roman Reigns. A while back he had a catchphrase of “One vs. All” which really resonated with where I wanted the character to go. In his origin, Bron literally takes on several members of his former tribe alone without standing down. He will not give up especially when he has been enraged.


Sorry headphones user.

When I was filling out the alignment section of the character sheet, I got tripped up on the fact that orcs are inherently evil and half-orcs feel the call of the orc’s evil god in their blood. The phrase “I do what I want” popped into my head. I knew I would be joining a team of adventurers but my character had been nearly killed by the last team he had been a part of. I thought of Braun Strowman stating that instead of being on Team Raw, he was on Team Strowman. My character may be working alongside do-gooders but he is really looking for a good challenge. On any given day, he has bad intentions but those bad intentions are often focused on bad guys rather than good guys.


I turned this guy into an engineer and a drug addict. Fun!

Finally, it was time to figure out a name for the new character. For some reason, I got roundly mocked for naming my first tabletop gaming character Lionel which was the name of a guy I had known previously. My second character had the more generic name of James Garen. About that time, I participated in a forum version of D&D and created a character named Sabin which started a new tradition. Sabin was named after Chris Sabin, a veteran pro-wrestler (who got his stage name from the Final Fantast character). Phillip Brooks was named after the real name of CM Punk, a character who inspired his creation. Dean Wyatt was named after Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, foreshadowing the character’s mental illness. Felix Graham is an exception as his name was created from a Harry Potter potion and the hero of the King’s Quest games. I returned to the tradition by naming my new Barbarian Bron.


I’m sure the party is going to get along well.

Of course, the final part of character creation is getting through the first session. As Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” This is relevant both figuratively and literally for each character I have created. I can post character biographies or short stories on my blog all I want but at the end of the day, my character needs to integrate into the larger collaborative story. I left Bron’s origin open-ended because I was not sure how he would meet up with the heroes. When I arrived, the Dungeon Master gave me the idea that Bron was a bouncer at the tavern which was the starting point of the adventure. This subtly altered how I saw the character which sparked more ideas. In addition, Bron is now working alongside people who annoy the crap out of him. More than that, he is fighting alongside a cleric who actively hates him for what he is. Only time will tell if Bron will snap and actually fight with his so-called comrades or maybe he will grow to respect them somewhat.

The End and the Beginning

December 3, 2016

Bron lay face down in the dirt. When he opened his eyes he could see it was dirt. He was not sure where he was or even if he cared where he was. He closed his eyes again. He tried to think about the night before and it was like pulling on a fishing line. As he pulled, the memories started coming to the surface.

All he had known was life in the Blacktooth camp. It was brutal and dangerous but there was a joy in joining the fight every single day. He had grown up believing in the survival of the tribe against all odds. The kids his age had made that hard. They had always ganged up on him. They had not cared that he had no father. Bastards were common enough. They were upset that Bron was only half-orc. They hated his human side.

Bron did not see it that way. His human half did not make him less, it made him more. The thought fueled him and the hunting and the hunting and constant challenges made him even stronger. Too strong for the elders of the tribe. They had told him that he would never be accepted. Bron had countered that eventually they would die and he would take over. Then he would have to be accepted. They promised that this would never happen. Bron had just laughed and walked away from that meeting. That was what he assumed was the day before.

In the night, they came for Bron. They dragged him away and into the wilderness and he fought but there were twelve of them. One against all is not good odds. Every time he fought back, they hit him with fists or clubs until he was dazed or blacked out. They pulled him to his feet in the middle of a field. He was face to face with Urka. He did his best to spit blood in Urka’s face. He succeeded.

“You’ve never beat me, Urka. So you needed your friends to join in,” Bron said.

“Your time here is done, Bron. Your words are useless,” Urka said.

“You will have to kill me to get rid of me.”

“Good.” There were no speeches, there were no announcements. Urka pulled out a long, wicked dagger and immediately Bron fought hard. He charged Urka but suddenly he was blindsided by an orc with a spear. Bron could feel it going through his body. Then another spear hit his other side and pierced him. Urka walked toward him, grinning like a devil.

The knife drove deep and Bron instantly knew that it was very bad. Urka cradled his head as Bron sank to his knees. Urka drove his knee into Bron’s face. Something cracked. He drove that knee again and again and there was warmth and wetness. The world turned black after that third knee landed.

So here he was. He had no idea how long he had been out. He pushed himself to his feet but the high sun was much too bright and Bron found himself blinking and shielding his eyes for a moment. Beneath his feet, there was a great pool of blood that had mixed with the dirt and then dried. There were two spears as well but no knife. Bron thought Urka must have taken it with him. Bron smiled to himself. He was not dead. He actually felt fine.

He turned and there was a small robed woman standing and staring.

“Who the hell are you?” Bron growled.

“Hmm. It is a long time since I had a name,” The woman said. As Bron approached to strangle her, she held her hand up and he paused. He was merely surprised at her courage. “You can call me the Noonday Witch for now,” the woman said.

“Whatever,” Bron said dismissively. “What do you want? I have necks to snap.”

“I healed you. I did not want to depart without making sure you were alright.”

“I’m fine,” Bron grunted.

“You did not look fine,” The woman said softly and carefully.

“There was twelve of them.”

“Twelve and you lived. Impressive,” The woman said with a slight smile. “The currents of fate may have something big in store for you yet.”

“Whatever. I’m going back there and I am turning Urka inside out.”

“Do you feel the pull of Grummsh that strongly?” The woman asked. The name sent pulses of dread through Bron’s body.

“I am half-orc. I do what I want.”

“If you do not share their ideals, you will never rule them and they will never rule you.”

“What do you care?” Bron asked. “It’s all I know.”

“My point is that there is more world out there. There are challenges more worthy of confronting,” The woman said.

“Like what?” Bron asked. He was suddenly interested. He loved a challenge.

“I see your path going that way,” she said. “If you go that way, it will be hard not to continue down the path.”

Bron squinted at the witch. “Those currents. Can you see the future?”

“Maybe,” she said and smiled cryptically.

“Maybe?”

“It depends on if you go where I suggested,” she said with a shrug.

“Maybe I will. Maybe I will show them my strength,” Bron said. Visions of new faces awed by his strength danced behind his eyes. Maybe he could create his own tribe. A new tribe to crush the Blacktooth for rejecting him.

“Maybe,” the woman and seemed to think about it for a moment. “I like maybe. I hope you will carve your own path some day.” She seemed to flicker like the flame of a torch for a moment and then she was gone. In her place, there was a great ax. Bron walked forward and greeted as if it was a new friend.

Felix Graham: Osaka Adventure 2

September 15, 2015

Felix Osaka

“You know, you didn’t have to take a plane, right?” May asked as they got into the elevator. She reached for the button that nobody else could see. She had a nice little, self-satisfied smirk on her face.

“What?” Felix asked.

“Don’t tell me you’ve never taken the portals, Lucky.” She said, using that old family nickname.

“I hate you.” Felix said with a sigh and then a smile that took the truth from the words. “I’ve never had a reason to take one of those things and you know how much I hate flying.”

“Yeah, that’s why Ren bought the tickets. I love my husband, but he’s a bit of a prankster sometimes.”

“I’ll be on my guard in the future.”

The elevator doors opened and they walked toward the victim’s hospital rooms. Felix pulled the first chart down from the wall and started to flip through it. This was easy, this had become routine the last few years but here he was doing it in Japan. He went from room to room, chart to chart. He studied numbers, statements, x-rays, diagnostics. He set the last chart back in its bin.

“So what’s the word, dear cousin? You’re the expert.” May asked, her four foot sword had disappeared into a satchel at her side. There was no need to show the blade off in the middle of a hospital. If that need arose then they would be in a very bad place indeed.

“Well, I’m almost disappointed, May. The charts only show injuries from mundane explosions. These are aware doctors, I think they would have found more magical wounds. Don’t get me wrong, they’re in bad shape but even a first year med student could bring these people through the woods.”

“That certainly doesn’t get us any leads but I guess it makes these people lucky.”

“Well, bombing victims are rarely called lucky. However, I can let my light shine and they’ll be a little luckier.”

“Harsh truth, cousin. I’ll leave you to that while I check in with my husband.”

Felix walked past his cousin and into the first room. He focused his will and a circle of light formed on his chest, shining through his shirt. A beam of light stretched out to the first patient and he could feel wounds knit, bones heal and burns reverse. He smiled and took a deep breath to recover his will and moved to check the monitors attached to the patient’s body. The young elf looked better than her chart depicted now and he was pleased. He moved to do the same with the next four patients. He hadn’t had enough energy to bring them all to one hundred percent but they were in for a much better time of it now.

May was off the phone again in the hallway but there was a young girl talking to her. “Is this is one of the patients’ family members? Look, they’re all going to be ok. It’s not going to be easy but they won’t suffer as much now.”

The girl looked up at him. “That’s great. I actually work with your cousin and the Sentinel. We need to solve this problem.” The girl replied which brought a laugh from May which quickly became a poorly faked cough when the girl looked at her.

The girl had the fiercest eyes that Felix had ever seen, they were at once annoyed and proud. He thought at first that they were an elf trait but it was just the force of the girl’s personality. She was short and Felix guessed she might be a gnome but he didn’t want to assume. She wore professional clothes for a teenager and glasses with no lenses in them. She had a backpack slung over one shoulder.

“I’m not a stranger to having my foot in my mouth. I sincerely apologize.” Felix said. Sometimes he wasn’t able to catch words before he left his mouth and he had needed to apologize in the past. However, the apology here was mostly political as he couldn’t have known the girl was a Legend although he could see it now.

“I accept your apology.” The girl said, waving away the offense with a gesture.

I know you didn’t ask for me but I’d like to continue to help if I can.”

“You offer to help defend my native land along with your gaijin cousin? How can I refuse?” The girl smirked. “I am Makoto Hino. You could call me a private detective.”

“What are you? 15?”

“I am sixteen and I guarantee I’m smarter than you. Now, shall we adjourn to May’s car so we can meet up with the rest of our team?” The girl tossed her hair and gave Felix an impatient look. May continued to be unhelpful with a big grin on her face behind Makoto.

“You’re the boss. I’m just a guest here.” Felix responded and they headed back down to the parking lot.

Felix Graham: Osaka Adventure

July 29, 2015

Felix Osaka

When the plane touched down at the Osaka International Airport, I eagerly got off and headed through a terminal in a foreign land. I hate flying and the ogre in the seat next to me didn’t make the flight any easier. As soon as he realized I was Aware he talked my ear off about everything under the sun and somethings that weren’t. He was nice enough but I’m anxious enough during a flight. I didn’t need the additional stress.

After a quick trip to baggage claim, I stepped into the sun and got my first lungful of real Japanese air. It was not shockingly different from Baltimore but it was different from Sub Hopkins in all the best ways. I started to look around and I eventually laid eyes on Ren Akiyoshi which was not a good sign. I don’t have anything against Ren but I was expecting his wife and my cousin, May. Her absence meant something was happening because she had talked up and down about how excited she was that I was coming.

This was supposed to be a short vacation before I settled down to establish a practice in Columbia. I had found office space and Grace Testa had agreed to be my assistant. Even now she was setting up the office and getting everything in place for our grand opening. Ever since my Legendary epiphany in Sub Hopkins I was eager to get things started but May and her husband were legends too and wanted to see me. They had paid for the ticket so there was no way I could say no. Besides, I like visiting family.

“Greetings, Felix. How was your flight?” Ren asked, a sly little smile on his face. Ren was hard to read sometimes but May always said he was a good guy.

“It was a flight. It’s common knowledge I don’t like flying. Why do you always talk like that, Ren?” He had intentionally pushed a few buttons but I couldn’t help but smile.

“In an exagerrated manner? It amuses me. Shall we go to the car?”

“Good idea. So what’s going on? What’s the crisis?” I asked. To his credit, Ren didn’t break stride. He did wait until we had slipped into his car to respond.

“The Tengu have taken three people hostage. They also ignited a warehouse and injured a lot of people.”

“Wow. Where do we start?”

“We will meet up with May. She has arrived on the scene and is trying to communicate with the local Sentinel at the warehouse. Also, she was looking forward to seeing you.”

* * *

When we pulled up in front of the smoldering remains of the warehouse, May was standing on the hood of a car and staring off into the distance. Even when we were little, we always called her Wonder Woman. During family vacations, she was almost always the leader of the kids. There she was, looking like the cover of comic book with a four foot broad sword hanging on her back. She grinned and deactivated her armor as she jumped down and gave me a hug.

“Felix! You’re finally here! Ready to help us kick some ass?” She said with a smile.

“Well, it’s kind of my first time with field work but I go where I’m needed.”

She smiled a thousand watt smile. “I’m glad you were needed here.”

“So, is the sentinel going to let us see the crime scene?”

“Yes, actually, but Ren is already inside doing that.”

I looked around and truly Ren had disappeared. “It must be nice being a ninja.”

“I think you’ll find it’s even nicer having one on your team. Come on, let’s grab a cup of coffee and we’ll check out the victims, Doctor.”

Dr. Felix Graham

July 18, 2015

We’re just starting a new campaign in a new system and a new setting.  It’s called Aeternal Legends and it’s available on Drive-Thru RPG.  Up until now, I’ve definitely been in control of combat characters so I thought it was time for something new. This is a world where only a percentage of the world can see the supernatural and a percentage of that percentage are born heroes called Legends.  When you’re a Legend, your path is clearer and problems that need solving always seem to be placed at your feet.

*    *    *

My name is Felix Graham but that’s not where this story starts. I wanted to do as little in life as I could get away with. My career goals began and ended with the new comic book store in the neighborhood. Instead of heading off to college with everybody else, I screwed around a bit first. I was happy with my first girlfriend, Kathryn, and I had snagged a job that let me read all day.

It was nearly a year later when my little sister Olly got hit by a car and entered into a coma. Obviously, my family was devastated and I was shaken out of my comfortable little life. Any time that I wasn’t at the store, I was sitting with my sister until visiting hours ended. Kathryn left for a job opportunity and we broke up shortly after. I regret it but I was so caught up with my family that I at least should have ended that better.

I can recall the moment everything changed vividly, six months later. I had fallen asleep in that same chair as always and my folks were at work. I woke up with exhausted eyes and I thought I saw shadows looming over my sister. To this day, I don’t know if it was real or not but I stood and saw a light shining from my chest and the shadows were washed away.

I woke up suddenly and I was back in the same chair as if I had never left it. My sister was sitting up in bed and rubbing her eyes. She shot me a grateful but confused smile. She was cured. Eventually, after calling my parents and the doctors I went to get everybody something to drink. That’s when I realized how open my eyes were.

I nearly ran into a nurse who glowed with saintly light. As I stumbled back I saw so many strange and wonderful things. It was like They Live without the sunglasses as I stumbled through the hospital in a panic. If my uncle Drew hadn’t just arrived I probably would have made more of a spectacle of myself. He confirmed that I hadn’t lost my mind and talked and laid out how the aware world worked.

Uncle Drew told me that he thought I had taken the first step or two onto a new path and I agreed. I had been impressed with the doctors and nurses that had tended to my sister and I made that my new mission in the strange new world I had entered. I managed to get into Towson University without much trouble. While I studied Pre-Med, I learned more about the aware world from anyone I could get talking but especially Uncle Drew.

After that, I left the borders of Maryland for the first time when I got into the Medical School at the University of Pittsburgh. The work was demanding but I kept my head down and studied hard like a man on a mission. There was darkness out there. I remembered those shadows swarming my sister and even if they were just a metaphor, shadows need to be shown the light. I graduated and recited the Declaration of Geneva along with all my fellow graduates. Of course, I silently edited it to include the other Clades.

I went back home for a visit where I got a letter explaining how I could further my medical training at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. I was fully licensed but I was curious about this opportunity at one of the best hospitals in the world. I packed my bags once again and headed into the big city. My contact, Dr. Oyama, immediately corrected my assumptions about why I was there. I was not doing a residency at Johns Hopkins. I was instead doing it at Sub-Hopkins, an interstice under the famous hospital. It turned out to be a very brutal but rewarding experience, treating an aware population in a dimension below Baltimore.

Three years later I had become comfortable at Sub-Hopkins and much more experienced with treating conditions unique to the aware population. I was called out of bed to the emergency room to help out with a huge disaster. They carted in a Sentinel and three Legends who were heavily damaged. There had been a dragon loose in Cockeysville although it would later be called a gas leak. Two of them were still smoking when they arrived.

We worked all night but we still lost all but one Legend. As I checked her pulse in the morning, I felt like everything was suddenly clear again. If someone like me had been there, maybe they would have made it. They would have at least been more stable when they reached the hospital. No. Not someone like me. Me. I should have been there. I am a Legend. I tendered my resignation with the hospital immediately.

I had to get topside and into a better position to get where I’m needed. Maybe if I started my own practice I could get away for adventures. Maybe somewhere quiet but nearby. Somewhere like Columbia maybe?

Dean Wyatt Begins to Assemble the Murder Board

February 9, 2015

Yes the title here is a reference to Castle.  It turns out that my GM did not kill off my character while I was absent. He’s now tried twice but each time Dean has returned from the brink of death like the fleas that avoid multiple bug bombs.  So I will give Alternate Dean a break and visit Dean Classic who I had all but given up on.  It was great re-engaging the character as I had withdrawn my emotions from him when I thought another author had killed him off.  Don’t worry if this piece is confusing as it is a reflection of how confusing the storyline of our sessions are.  This is basically what I was thinking in the last hour of the session and especially as I drove home listening to J-Pop and BABYMETAL on Pandora.

*       *       *

Dean lay in his bed, once again laying his head down in a foreign land.  This time the team had landed themselves in the middle of a muddy swamp full of frog people which reminded Dean of a Hulk comic he had once read.  Those were frogs right?  The whole thing was strange and had only gotten stranger.  He had been glad to go out and drink with Carlos and Chuck, probably two guys he would never have hung out with.  In fact, he imagined a world where he would have been hired to investigate a cheating Carlos.  While it was true that drinking was pretty pointless, at least it allowed Dean to stop thinking so much for a little.  He also wanted to get away from Mario for a little while.

Now he had nothing keeping him from thinking.  He thought about traveling in the market with Chuck.  He was afraid of the secrets that Chuck was keeping and the threats that might represent in the future.  In retrospect, stopping at the strange empty restaurant had been a mistake.  Magic was still a pretty unsettling phenomenon but he knew that there must still be a cost for such things.  The waiter or maitre d’ had known about the map Chuck had.  What was on that map?  Dean couldn’t remember Chuck or Mario talking about the map before.  If the map was lost, would this help or hurt their mission?  The waiter had spoken with a lot of subtext seemingly meant for Chuck but Chuck hadn’t given the whole story.

The revelation that Mario was or will be or is the Perfect is not exciting or comforting news.  There are too many known unknowns and unknown unknowns attached to that information for Dean’s liking.  The Prophet, apparently an ex-schoolteacher, believed that he himself would change into the Perfect down the line.  Setting the fake in Tira Linga aside, that would mean two potential Perfects.  Since he was always referred to as The Perfect, Dean believed that there could only be one.  He’d seen Highlander and knew how that went down.

The townspeople had sworn fealty to The Perfect and apparently that was a metaphysically binding contract, one that the townspeople might be fulfilling subconsciously.  They had parted around Mario and they had molded the statue in the image of an older Mario.  Who instructed them what The Perfect looked like?  Why was the lower half imprinted with the hands of the worshiping townspeople.  The religious fervor had been frightening and had nearly killed Dean, Tina and had injured several in their team.  If the Prophet could broker a faith like that, he was even more dangerous than Dean had thought.

Mario’s magical display was interesting to say the least.  Dean was grateful to be healed from near death by their compatriot’s magic.  Now there were crops and fish in abundance and hopefully that didn’t destroy the ecosystem of the swamp.  How much power did Mario have?  Dean had never really trusted Mario fully.  Maybe it was the way he freely insulted Dean, maybe it was his admitted criminal past.  Lately Dean had found him more likeable based on their agreement that the Prophet must die.  Handing a powerful lineage and powerful magic to Mario was enough to form a knot in Dean’s stomach the more he thought about it.

There were a lot of questions that still needed to be answered and a lot of ground to cover.  Dean had noticed that during dinner everybody had reacted to Mario’s announcement oddly.  Sure they looked surprised but they also looked unfocused for a moment.  What was that?  Why had it not happened to Dean?  He needed to choose one of them to confront about the incident but that was for another day.  He wondered what they would think of his not being included in their event.

Still, their mission remained the same.  They had to take out the Deathknights, Abyssals, Technocracy and now the Infernals as well.  They were surrounded by enemies and bound together by either destiny or free will.  It was hard to see which one governed the future now more than ever.

This the End, Dean

January 14, 2015

So, apparently my character was deemed unimportant by the GM and he probably killed my character off.  I’ll find out if my character died in the next session supposedly but I don’t have high hopes as he was left very injured and trapped.  So instead of just giving up, I decided to write the character into a different story.   I kind of dig the left turn I came up so I think I might run with it.

*             *            *

Two weeks later and Dean felt like he had barely had a moment of rest.  The cases were piled up and it was a hustle to get the jobs done and the checks collected on time so that the landlord didn’t pay a visit.  Dean would rather she did not know about him sleeping in the office.  It would not take a world class detective to figure it out and Dean didn’t need the hassle.  He rifled through the mini fridge he had snuck in and found nothing edible so it was time to call the chinese place and get something to stop the grumbling.  Then it would be over to the Carmichael residence to tail Mz. Carmichael for a while.  Maybe a search through the dumpsters behind Mr. Smith’s office.  Whatever it takes, however long it takes.

Outside the window, there was Harrison Wyatt and he was staring in with a hollow look in his eyes.  He was dressed in that trenchcoat he bought as a joke and Dean could see the glint of his gun just on the edge of vision.  You probably wouldn’t notice it if you didn’t expect it.  Dean casually slid open the desk drawer and unlocked the lockbox and saw that the gun was still right where he had left it.  Ghost dad couldn’t have the real gun.  Could he?

His dad’s eyes were staring at nothing and everything and he looked like he had been on a twenty four hour stake out.  He still looked the same as when Dean last saw him which was the strangest part.  He should have a caved in skull but his skull was as perfect as ever, only slightly dinged by angry cheating husbands.  Dean didn’t bolt after him but it took all of his self control.  Instead he walked up to the other side of the window and just watched his father through the glass.  Was he going insane or was his dad standing on the other side?  If he wasn’t crazy, what did that mean?

“You have to come with me.  The end is here.”  Harrison said suddenly.  Dean jumped a little and placed a hand against the glass.

“Dad?  What are you talking about?  Where have you been?”

“The other side.”

“Wait, I’m confused.  Are you dead or aren’t you?”

Harrison nodded slowly and then his eyes focused as if he was coming to. “I died.  It seems like forever.”

“It was my fault. I wasn’t there.  I’m sorry, Dad.”  Dean could feel tears starting to form but he could also feel a great weight relieved.  He had wanted to say that out loud for so long but there had nobody there to hear it.  At least, not after Kasey had left.

“Fuck that, Dean.  If you had been there you’d be dead too or who knows.  I don’t blame you.  I wouldn’t have come to get you if I did.”

Dean’s eyes went wide.  “Come to get me?  Did I die and not realize it?”

“No.  You’re not dead.  You will be if you don’t come with me right now.  The sun’s up and I have a feeling they’ll be making their move pretty soon.”

Dean had a lot of questions but he grabbed his coat and walked outside to meet his dad.  After a beat, they shook hands and Dean found himself grinning uncontrollably.  He wasn’t going crazy after all and he wasn’t alone anymore.  “Dad..”

“No time.  Come on.” He started to walk fast and Dean had to push hard to keep up.

“Hold up a little. The living still have to use lungs and muscles.”

“You’re taking this pretty well.”

“Well, I was either crazy or you were a ghost.  Strangely, the latter choice was more acceptable.  I think I can learn to embrace this.”

“Well, get ready for a lot of changes.  Hold here.”

“What do you mean by changes?”  That’s when the screaming started.  The screams seemed to come from every corner of the city and the sky started to grow dark.  There were sounds that Dean could not begin to guess what they were.

“Dad!?  What’s going on?!”

“The end of the world.”

“You’re taking that pretty well.  Should I be concerned?” Dean asked, looking around the alley where they had paused.  It looked like any normal, barely defensible alley.  Dean went to draw his gun and cursed.  It was back in his damn desk drawer and it sounded like the whole world was going to Hell.

“Not if I have the timing right.  Timing is everything, right?” Harrison grinned and checked his watch.  Dean was still not sure how his father had a watch or clothes or anything really.  This was all going so fast and although Dean tried to keep calm, this was insanity.  Maybe it wasn’t too late to just be insane and take some meds or get comitted or something.  While he was thinking about all of this he missed something his father had just said.

“Wait, what did you say!?” Dean shouted, finding it difficult to make himself heard over all the screaming.

His father shook his head and started to repeat himself but the words were lost in a loud static-like sound as a hole seemed to open in the brick wall behind them.  It was too much and Dean started to lose it.  Luckily, this is when his father grabbed a hold of him and shoved him through the strange, massive hole.  Dean’s whole world went black and then an eye-searing white and everything hurt so horribly.  He closed his eyes but it didn’t help at all as the light seemed like it was penetrating his being.  Eventually, after what felt like hours, the pain stopped and the light receded and Dean was standing on a street corner.

“Where are we?” Dean asked, finding that his voice shook a bit.

“I call it Nowhere.  It’s a place in between worlds.”

“In between worlds?  What about my world?  What about our world.”

“Our world has been consumed.  I heard some players are taking some steps to prevent it but we couldn’t rely on that.  This place is our home now.”  Harrison said, lighting up a cigarette.  There was no smell to the smoke.

“Ok.  All of that is confusing but.. what do I do here?” Dean asked.

“Do?  I got you a sweet gig, Dean.  You’re the new Sheriff of Nowhere.”


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