A Memory, an Announcement, and a Memorial

Memorial Day is about the remembrance of the soldiers that have paid the ultimate price for their service. While it seems a strange time for an announcement, there is a point to it that will become apparent by the end of this post.

With the pandemic opening rules in place, Gamehole Con has made the decision to close. The announcement I am making here is that our Border Kingdoms modules will still be happening. We will see if they make an appearance in Virtual Gamehole Con or if it will go into DMsGuild.com straight away. This leads me in to the Memory…

When we started writing modules in the Border Kingdoms, I introduced an NPC that was a Harper. A spy named Guthryn B Law, who has since become the right hand of Mage Rymdyl after she was raised during the first season. He is one of our recurring NPCs in the Kingdoms, and all of the authors this season were told he was there for their use with a single rule. He remains, no permanent damage is done to him, and he cannot be eliminated. I told them why, but I realized I haven’t shared it with the players in general.

Back during 4E, we had Encounters… it was our store version of AL before there was AL. During these outings at Pegasus Games in Madison, I met a young man that had moved to Madison with his girlfriend after serving in the Army to complete his degree. Playing at a table with him at those events, I could tell that he was a good match to my personality and play style as well as my group. So I offered him a seat at our table.

Blaine was a rather magnetic young man with a rather wicked sense of humor. He was so magnetic, there was even a report that had made the news when his entire unit on maneuvers in basic training were struck by lightning. Everyone was okay at the end of it, but a single strike broke off to connect with all of them. (Some of these stories were provided by his family, but in listening to them I remember him telling me a few of them.)

Blaine in Uniform

During his years in Madison playing with us, there were many awesome stories that spawned from those games. Even as I was working on my remote writing options for NaNoWriMo, he helped me in getting an iPad and all of the accessories I needed to make it a viable option for what I called Public Authorin’ at the time. He was that kind of helpful friend to everyone he knew.

In that time he completed his degree, married his girlfriend, secured a job in his field, and moved to Chicago. A lot went down, but he was still part of our group. My intention (especially once we got our place in Door County) was to schedule a “ZombieMiniCon” where the players from my home game would come together for a weekend to have fun, campfires, and play games. The goal was to bring him back for one of these events.

After returning from a three week cruise we took as part of our 25th Anniversary, we found out that Blaine had passed away. In speaking with his family, we found out he had issues with PTSD from his time in the military that he lost his struggle with. So the military that had caused him to enter into my gaming community and therefore into our lives, took him from all of us (family, friends, gaming community).

That year, we introduced the Hall of Heroes where anyone can add in a player from their table that is no longer there with them. His name was the first added to it. The idea was following the induction speech for Lou Reed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where his partner said (and I will paraphrase here), “some cultures say a person dies three times: the first is when their heart stops; the second is when they are interred; and the third is the final time someone says their name.”

Along those lines, when I was writing a module in the Border Kingdoms that first year, I was determined that his long-time character name Guthryn would be represented. But that wasn’t enough from what I was feeling. That only spoke the name Blaine Law to those of us that played with him. Thus I extended the character name to Guthryn B Law. And I made him the most recent character with that name, a rogue. It was thus the Harpers assigned a spy named Guthryn B Law to a position watching for unchecked power in the Border Kingdoms.

And to speak to the issue of PTSD and its effect on a person, he is helping Mage Rymdyl to come to terms with hers. He is a source of strength, personality and compassion in the realms. It also means that at least once a year I get to feel like I am playing D&D with him again.

This has also had several effects on me personally as well as our local events. We have added Stack-Up.org to our charity partners for charity events – a foundation that covers trips and gaming care packages for disabled vets. There is a direct correlation between gaming and PTSD recovery that makes this group a fitting memory of him. This is also another motivation to one of our other charity partners Jasper’s Game Day that helps to fund mental health services and suicide help lines in local communities. And finally it has reminded me that if I have a friend I haven’t heard from lately that I should call them to check in. Just a single call saying, “Hey, I was thinking of you. How’s it going?”

Every year when Memorial Day comes around and I am reminded (mostly so that I don’t show up to work when the office is closed), I am also reminded of one of the most outgoing and unique young men I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know.

So this year, when you are running or playing through the Season 3 Border Kingdoms content and you are dealing with Guthryn B Law, you now share the same history and importance of it as I do. And as all of our authors do as well.

Our Event Plans During This Outbreak

Yesterday, as Doc and I were setting up the space for the Charity Epic, we were discussing the playspace with Jess, the manager at Noble Knight. All of our venues came to the same realization that we had – that for the safety of our community we needed to suspend our public play events for now. Misty Mountain Games and Noble Knight Games have both suspended events in their playspace. Pegasus Games is still open, but MadDnD has made the decision to suspend public play events until the threat has past.

This doesn’t mean we will stop having events. There is a schedule for this entire year including Hero Camp and charity events through the year. That includes the Marathon Charity Event at it’s new spot in our summer lineup. Once those venues are open for public play again, we will resume our schedule. And until that point, we will still be doing what we can to encourage your Adventurers League character still tell their tales.

The charity events have been branded under 25th Hour Events, and we started a Discord server for the purposes of grouping the tables together for planning leading up to the Marathon Events. We also used it for coordinating the crew of the Lost Talent, a pirate ship of characters with a similar theme created to play in charity events. We are opening that up for players looking to get together for playing games online. For my Tuesday night show on 20 Sides to Every Story, I run a group of our local players through a game using Discord video chat to pipe into the Twitch stream. Either through voice chat or video chat, anyone can easily set up a game of D&D. It is all theater of the mind without a tool like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds, but it is something anyone can do.

https://discord.gg/zWXEmjV (edit: made link non-expiring for now)

If you don’t have it yet, DnDBeyond is a great way to create your character sheets online and share them out to the DM, etc. You do need to own the content you are using on that platform, so anything other than the SRD would have to be purchased on DnDBeyond. Without a subscription anyone can make up to 6 characters. Otherwise there are plenty of form-fillable PDFs that can be used with a shared Google Drive.

These measures will help us to keep our games, our characters, their stories, and our community going in the upcoming weeks. It should be of note that yesterday we watched 7-8 tables of players come together (some of them new to our community, and even D&D as a whole) and took an effort to help wipe down tables between games and do the effort to help protect our neighbors in the gaming community as well as our own players. We rolled with the changes in the format to account for safety, and the removing of some of our standard items like Fai Chen’s Fantastical Faire. That tells us that the community is strong and will come through the other side to sit at a table and roll dice together again soon.

Once the playspaces have opened again, we will be sure to plan a proper party to welcome everyone back. Maybe it will be enough of an event that Fai Chen might make an appearance. Or maybe Mahati. Yeah, that wily old cat would definitely show his face.

Suggestions for Our Open Play Events

With our Charity Epic still on the books for March 14th, we wanted to post something in regards to suggestions to keep everyone safe during our Open Play events at public venues. Everyone in this community is important to us, so we want to offer the safest environment we can during this viral outbreak. With that in mind, here are some suggestions we have come up with…

  • If you are sick please stay home. Especially if you are showing symptoms of this current outbreak.
  • Wash your hands frequently and for 20 seconds. Time yourself once at home, it seems longer than you think.
  • Don’t touch your face unless you just washed your hands, especially around your eyes.
  • We are suggesting theater of the mind to avoid many people touching minis and maps.
  • If possible as the DM, print out copies of each player handout in multiples to give one to each player.
  • If you have to cough, do it into your elbow, NOT your hand.
  • Don’t share your dice and/or minis with people.

For our events, we cannot assure players we will have hand sanitizer available. With the current shortage, there is just none to be had. If anyone finds a stockpile and wants to work out getting it to us, contact me. Until we run out of antibacterial kitchen cleaner, we will work to disinfect the tables before each game. My supply of cleaner and paper towels is significant, but finite.

Any events, such as our Fai Chen’s Fantastical Faire, where multiple paper inventory (certs) are being placed out are on hold until the viral threat has passed. We will offer optional instances of these in the future to make up for the lack of them currently.

This situation is updating daily, and will be constantly evolving during the course of this situation. Keep eyes here and on the emails from our Meetup group for evolving plans in the future.