When I was young, I was part of the California Boys Choir (yep, I was a choirboy) and it was on a trip back from a concert when I became aware that a couple of my choirmates were playing a -forbidden game-, the evil horrible darkness that was (drum roll please) Dungeons and Dragons. While intrigued I didn’t get to play it, really, until college.
My first experiences were, to put it mildly, not too good. I was young, too bright for my own good, egotistical and annoying. How I managed to get into a game with L. Douglas Garrett (one of the designers for Danger International) I have no idea. I do remember that I rapidly rose to a position of leadership in game and, just as rapidly, got myself riddled with bullets and asked to leave. Permanently. I deserved it.
I coped by learning how to gamemaster and I had a blast through the rest of my college doing exactly that.
Cue to my last summer before I graduated college. We start up a great campaign; that whole ‘ragged nobodies’ to ‘prophesied heroes’ thing. Then we played around with some other games like GURPs. Then a short D&D game. Ars Magica. This comic book shop used to pay me to GM in their store, as long as I came in on Sundays, once a week, to run. The payment was 1/2-off comics and free gaming books if I wanted.
I mention this because I saw what I thought was the goofiest game of all pop up. Something I would have never paid for. Vampire: The Embrace. You get to play the monster. The thing, to my eyes, looked like a bad Goth romance.
It was too tempting to not pick up.
I was so, so wrong about it.
Somebody had taken some threads from Ars Magica and brought it into present time. They had made playing the monster a tragic and amazing experience. The art was perfect for the setup and the entire layout screamed its theme of doomed souls in a goth-punk world.
However, I had no idea how to play it.
So, it staid on a shelf until a group of young gamers challenged me to ‘run something totally different’.
I took that challenge and ran a Vampire/Cyberpunk game. We had a lot more fun than we should have but, like all good things, camp ended. Wondering what to play next, we looked at the book and wondered what would happen if we played it straight? No Cyberpunk, no add-ons, just stuff from the book. This new supplement, Werewolf: the Apocalypse, had just come out and, if anything, it was even better than Vampire!
From that moment, Sneezing Lizard Productions was born, a semi-professional RPG organization that started with six friends and grew into weekly LARP games, convention experiences and connections throughout the Southwest. LARPing led to my very first professional writing gig (Return to Krondor) and ultimately to Fading Suns: Passion Play.