The Substitute

And once again I have demonstrated why I was such a horrible pen pal in grade school . . .

Let me first apologize for my lack of posts. Not only am I taking classes at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, I am also planning for a wedding (which is not only 5 days away. EEK!) and I started a new job last week. Only a few things on my plate 🙂

In between the hectic-ness of life, the universe and everything (Douglas Adams, anyone?) I have found time to run another session of my brand new, shiny Thursday night Valiant RPG group!


Our second gathering was similar to the first in that I provided food and gaming materials and the rest of the group brought their A game (or their R game, if you prefer). The difference was that I was not the Game Master; I left that to one of our experienced players this time. We were continuing on with the story that we began the first night – picking up where we had left off – stranded outside of Las Vegas trying to get in through a military lock-down.

You know it’s fantasy when Vegas is locked down. I don’t think there’s anything that anyone could do to really, actually keep people out of Vegas. I’m pretty sure the world would implode or something.

Our characters were the same though some of our players were new.

  • Peter – this week I was playing this character as last week’s player was our Game Master. I realized just how horrible I am at trying to play the straight man. It’s not that I can’t lead people, I’m just not good at doing it in a serious manner.
  • Zephyr – played by our same gamer as last week, it never gets old watching the player transition from Zephyr to her normal self.
  • Flamingo – this week played by another “newbie” gamer who whole-heartedly embraced Flamingo’s slightly scandalous background and used her . . . assets . . . to help us get into Vegas
  • Torque – played by another “newbie” who was not actually an original group member. This is someone I work with who needed a drink after work that particular Thursday. I told her we had alcohol (Jack Daniels, anyone?) and we hooked her in 🙂


Our story opened on our rather rag-tag group of psiots arriving in Las Vegas. We arrived via stolen helicopter that Zephyr (through an extremely lucky die roll) miraculously knew how to fly. Unfortunately, the dice were not so kind to our landing. So we limped away from the wreckage and took stock of our position. First order of business was a new form of transportation. I decided that Peter would be driving. So with Flamingo providing the distraction, Torque providing the muscle, and Peter providing the mind control we hijacked a car. Conveniently enough we got our hands on an unmarked, inauspicious black SUV. Because that’s not cliche at all, right?

Peter was able to use his telekinetic powers to convince the military blockade that we were some sort of official government agency and we were in! Our next order of business was to make it to the Bellagio to rescue some psiotic (not psychotic) children and try to make a clean escape.


Due to the fact that a helicopter had crashed into the Bellagio hotel we were unable to enjoy the sight of the infamous fountain show. So we contented ourselves with sneaking around alley ways and scaling tall buildings in single leaps until we were able to sneak in via the roof of the hotel. Since our GM is an avid air-softer we were careful to clear the rooms with almost military precision as we made our way down, floor by floor, until we reached the crash site.

There we found the remains of a helicopter. Lucky for us it was not salvageable so we were able to drag Zephyr away without too much crying. We picked up a few useful weapons (because when people who are looking at you up the barrel of a semi-automatic tend to forget you have extra abilities) and moved on. We finally found the children in the kitchen and were able to gain their trust. This was a rather convoluted (and more than slightly ludicrous) series of events involving the following:

  • Terrorists (they were a mirage)
  • Peter telling Zephyr to “Stop. Talking” (one of the character’s action cues)
  • Torque running away (wuss)
  • Zephyr flying around and giggling (not sure if she’s just that bubbly or if she’s slightly insane)
  • Peter telling Zephyr to “Stop.  Talking”
  • Peter face-palming (as I felt the need to act this out every time I ended the night with a bit of a headache)
  • Peter telling Zephyr to “Stop. Talking”
  • Peter trying to keep everyone on task
  • Peter trying to get Flamingo to put her shirt back on after providing a “distraction” whilst we hijacked a car
  • Peter . . . (you get the point)

Seeing as how I am not a good “straight man” this scenario probably would have gone a lot more smoothly had our GM still been playing Peter, but eventually I was able to control my rag-tag bunch of self-proclaimed “superheroes” and we got it done. While it was beneficial to see an experience GM run a game and (try) to keep everyone moving in the right direction, I think next time I will let him stick to playing the “straight man” and I’ll take my chances with the lead.


Although I am an avid reader I have never really gotten in to comic books. I would much rather visualize the characters and settings in my head than be distracted by the artists’ depictions. However, I must say that this Harbinger series had me hooked. I saw the cover, now I’m a believer. Or something like that. The characters are not perfect, in fact Peter (who is the main character in the first few issues) is very flawed. He has a history of drug use and using his mind control powers in less-than-morally-sound ways. He is still fighting his own inner demons while trying to assemble a team to fight the world’s outer demons. His journey to find his own redemption is an excellent story arc and later episodes give great insight into some of the other group members. Even if you are not an avid reader, or maybe not an avid comic book reader, give this series a try. Don’t believe me? Trust IGN. Would Ben Bailey lie to you?


Stay tuned for next week’s adventures in VALIANT UNIVERSE!!!!!!!

Valiant: Harbinger

The Cover of the first comic in the Harbinger Series. For more information/background on the characters and/or story line check it out!

The First Week

Well, as we can all plainly see, I will probably never be a professional blogger. I lose track of time too easily and before I know it, two weeks have gone by and I still haven’t posted again. So now to make up for lost time:

The First Week

It has been a few weeks since our first gaming get-together but I remember it like it was yesterday . . .

We started off with a taco bar (have to make sure we’re at our prime gaming performance, and this includes being well fed, of course) and while eating, I tried to give a brief description of the game, the universe, and everything. While my description was not so brief as “42” I think I did a fairly good job at describing the Valiant Universe, the characters, and the game rules in a fairly abbreviated format.

We started with a game from the Harbinger comic book series. I chose this synopsis because that is the one we demo’d at GenCon so I had a vague idea of how the process of the game should go. What I didn’t expect was how much this play through would vary from our demo play through. I knew that there would be different people playing this time, but it still didn’t quite click in my head that this meant different scenarios until we got into it.

The Characters and their Players

Our first game play consisted of four characters:

  • Peter – the leader of this rag-tag group of “psiots.” His special power is telekinesis (including mind wipes, reading thoughts, levitation, and other neat stuff). Kind of like Professor X (of X-Men)
    • Being played by one of our experienced gamers, he plays the “straight man” to the rest of the group’s rather rambunctious characters. This works well because, as the leader, he can help me keep the game moving along and keep all of the other characters on task. This is much easier said than done
  • Zephyr – the heart of the group, she is an optimistic, 400 lb “wrecking ball” (and yes, we reference that song often). Her special power is flight (including a “companion field” so she can carry other people with her when she flies)
    • Being played by one of our newbies who was also at our original demo of the game. This character/player pairing is all the more hilarious because Zephyr is being played by a rather dry, sarcastic player. Seeing this player in character as Zephyr – all bubbly, bouncy, and optimist – and then subsiding back to her normal self after her turn is especially entertaining
  • Flamingo – the attention seeker of the group, she was a “dancer” until Peter activated her powers. She has the power to control and create fire. This allows her to fly in an Iron Man kind of way
    • Being played by another experienced player. Both player and character are gingers. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide
  • Torque – the newest member of the group, he is a cripple who has been wheel-chair bound his entire life. His special power creates an exoskeleton-like armor that allows him to walk and gives him ridiculous super strength (like The Hulk. And, like The Hulk, you won’t like him when he’s angry. And he’s always angry)
    • Being played by another newbie who was not at the demo, this well-muscled frat boy is being played by one of the skinniest, soft-spoken, and most free-spirited women I know. To see the words of this “bro” coming out of this woman’s mouth is pretty epic (she wasn’t an original member of the group but we sucked her in with the taco bar)

The Play Through

Since most of the evening was taken up with the explanation of the game rules, the characters, and the scenario, we did not play for all that long. We did a short scenario in which the other characters had to “activate” Torque’s power. The one thing I hadn’t expected was how hard it would be to keep the players on task as we played through the scenario.

We had originally started with each player taking their turn – explaining what they were doing (or going to do) and how they would accomplish that. I would then decide how well or how poorly that action would go (based on their die roll) and what the results of that action would be. Then the next player would go. This only lasted through two of our four players and then everyone started jumping in willy-nilly.

It was kind of like trying to herd cats. It was fun, but very hard to accomplish anything. We finally got through with our scenario and I decided that next week I would ask one of our experienced players to lead. That way I could take notes on how to keep the group moving along and hopefully have a more successful run on my next attempt as GM. To see how this guest-GMing went, stay tuned for next episodes . . .


THE SUBSTITUTE  (here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson)


Hello, Gamers!

First off, let me say thank you for checking out my blog and welcome! I am a first time gamer who is – gasp – attempting to run my own Roleplaying Game (RPG). The system I will be running is based on the Valiant Entertainment system’s multitude of comic books.

The Game

The Valiant Universe RPG book is published by Catalyst Game Labs and the purchase of the book allows me to access their many quick start rule PDF’s. My first plan of attack is to print out character sheets and rulebooks for all the other gamers who are participating in this group as a starting point for everyone.

The Blog

I am hoping this blog will be a kind of sounding board for other gamers – both first timers and old pro’s. My group consists of both so I am hoping to be able to not only convey my trials and triumphs as a first time gamer and Game Master (GM) but also those of the people in my group. My hope is that this blog will encourage others to try out games, or at the very least provide a little insight into the “gaming culture.”

The Tools

There are lots of online resources I have found so between those and the help of my experienced gamers hopefully this game will run smoothly and be a fun time for everyone involved. Not to mention this gives me an excuse to bust out the sweet copper dice I bought this past summer at GenCon!

The Legend

So . . . will this game be a triumphant foray into the dangerous world of RPGs? Will our gamers continue to shower regularly or will they slowly decay into their very own putrid brand of “gamer funk”? Will any of my gamers even show up?

Stay tuned for next week’s exciting installment when I talk about . . . (drumroll please) . . .

THE FIRST GAME (dun dun duuuuuuuun)