Friday, December 23, 2011

The 12 Days of Blogs-mas: 9+1=10!

In continuing with talking about players and their characters that have stuck with me over the years I'm going to now go on about a person who not only was a great player, had fun characters but was also a wonderful human being and made my life one hundred times better just for knowing him.

How very 90's looking...

I got to meet Aaron Malsberger way back in 1995 at a dingy little local gaming store called Wizards Cove. Just mentioning that place gives me the heeby-jeebies. At least I can say that some of the folk I met there were worth knowing, Aaron is definitely on the top of my list.

Well I started hanging out with Aaron playing Magic: The Gathering and we did this for years with a few other of the gang we hung around with. Over time Aaron and I would hang out together and play cards sometimes into 3 or 4am at his kitchen table at his house. There he would tell me all about his dad's (Mike from the Runelord's game) home brew D&D world and all the intricate stories that their characters dealt with. He would also go on about his friend, Bruce, and the Champions game he ran. Champions is a superhero rpg and Bruce is also the same from the Runelords group.

Eventually I got the privilege of being invited to play in Bruce's game and Aaron spent two nights helping me craft my hero, Mr. Majestic. For those who are not familiar with the OLD Champions rules its full of alot of fractions/decimals and a shit load of overly complicated math. Bottom line when it came to creating my hero Aaron and I looked like two monkeys fucking a football just trying to swing the numbers to get the most out of what we could. The character was playable....eventually. My role playing made up for my lack of knowledge in the rules.

I didn't care about how bad my character was or how I didn't understand the rules. I was having a ball hanging out with my friends and I met some new ones that I still game with almost 18 years later. During that trying period of learning Champions Aaron was always there with words of encouragement, a smile and REALLY HORRIBLE PUNS. You just have no clue how bad these were. Fozzy Bear wouldn't use this crap. And I see where he gets it from too.....Mike.

Even though he'd disagree...this *IS* the biggest snake he's held with his hands.

Over time I was eventually invited to join Mike's 'Alexandria' crew for his home brew D&D game. We were going into the 3.0 rules at the time and this was one of the first times I was really put under the task master style of his grognard father. It was awesome. Lute (Jim), Marcus (Bruce), Mohammed (Me) and Agrun (Aaron) had many great adventures in the deserts around Alexandria. Agrun, Aaron's half-orc fighter, stood out to me as an example of what a truly moral hero was like. Agrun had a sense of justice and hearty moral compass too boot. And it was something that came to Aaron easily as he had the same. I can also recall how Aaron would drop his voice to a lower growl that the half-orc had but managed to keep it friendly too.

I also got to see how Aaron (being the party tank) would take his time, sometimes too much time, to think out his maneuvers and strategies before engaging an enemy. It was awesome to watch how his thought process worked as he took into consideration the whole party's strengths, weaknesses, our surroundings and came up with a plan that usually by round three of combat we had the win or at least an overwhelming advantage. Don't get me wrong, we all contributed to the plans, but Aaron was playing his character (a tactically thinking fighter) with such gusto.....we were really ROLE playing those days.

Aaron giving us the bird(s).

When Mike's 'Alexandria' chronicle took a break I stepped up behind the screen and ran a Forgotten Realms game for them of my own design. Yes...Jorian was in this one...but so was Aaron and another one of his most memorable characters to me. Aaron was playing a water genasi monk named Aldym. A water genasi is a planes-touched character (one could say has the blood line descending from an elemental creature). Aaron took this and ran with it. He played Aldym like he was the element of water. Calm and serene as a mountain lake and a roaring tsunami when combat arose. He brought a very zen mentality to the table with his monk which again was not difficult for him as he was one of the most zen and spiritual people I've ever known. Aldym was played with a world view and outlook of an outsider and it was done with such care and ease that I'm kinda jealous that he was able to pull that off role playing and I can't. 

Aaron was just full of all sorts of surprises whether gaming or just spending time with the guy. I love how I found out he was lactose intolerant.....that bastard and how he gassed out my car. Roll the windows down all you want it was like Satan was talking to you. Brimstone and hellfire. So that said he wasn't perfect, he had his flaws like all of us, but Aaron always looked for the good in everyone and that was something I tried to emulate in my own life to this very day. Just from knowing him I am a better human being.

L-R: Me, Aaron & my brother Scott at my wedding day.

Sadly Aaron passed away just a short few years ago after a very hard fought and valiant fight against brain tumors. The mark on my life that he left is monumental. Not just how he was as a player or the characters he created, those are just icing on a very large cake, who he was as a human being. Even today I miss him to no end and, I will admit, this was one of the most difficult things I ever had to write. I remember all the good times, some bad ones but every EVERY moment was worth it. I'm a better person for knowing him, the world was blessed to have him it it and we are all at loss for him not being here anymore.

I'll carry my memories of Aaron for the rest of my life. I could never forget him. I also want to thank Aaron for being my friend and to introducing me to a great group of guys whom to this very day I am friends with and game with. I want to thank Aaron's wife, Tara, for sending those pics to me awhile back. Its nice seeing his smiling face whenever I want to. I want to thank all of you for reading this.

Lastly, Merry Christmas Aaron. I love ya man.