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.)
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.
One Reply to “A Memory, an Announcement, and a Memorial”
Joe, your article was amazing and told Blaine’s story beautifully and I thank you for bringing parts of his life to life for not only family and friends but for everyone who reads your articles and publications. I also want to thank you for partnering with such wonderful charities. The work they do is so important and I’m sure means a lot to each individual they help as well as their families. What you have done and are continuing to do in making sure Blaine is not forgotten means more to me than words can say. I know that each person that learns about Blaine is one more who will keep his memory alive.