Gaming with Bertram

So I e-mailed him:


Think of this as a movie trailer but for a game. You don’t have to know what everything means just yet. You definitely don’t have to know how it will turn out.

All that’s important is that you get the vibe. Its epic samurai fantasy. It isn’t quite Japan. It has as much to do with Japan as the Lord of the Ring’s Middle-Earth has to do with historical medieval Norway.

You’ll be playing a big, gruff samurai with a testubo who has recently inhereted his father’s castle and is in charge of his family, soldiers and a tremendous responsibility.


Your father left you a piece of the Kaiu Wall. It is the same stretch of wall that your family has guarded for generations, set to the task by the Hida Family Daymio, the warrior family of the Crab Clan.

Above your castle’s door are the words, “Millions Die If I am Weak,” carved into the stone by masons long ago.

On the western side of the wall is a lovely countryside, white cherry blossoms, rolling hills, a crystal bay. On the eastern side is a hellish
landscape filled with globlins, demons and all manner of nightmares.

The Empire never thanks you for doing your duty, only notices when some monstrousity escapes. The Empire does not send enough resources to keep the wall strong, only court politics and disdain.

And you receive three letters:

1) A Lion Courtier from the capital city of Otusan Uchii wishes to take a tour of the Shadowlands, see the danger for himself. He is being sent to your stretch of the wall.

2) While buying provisions in ths next province, your brother has fallen in love with a beautiful maiden in the effete Crane Clan; she is promised to another.

3) Maidens have gone missing in a nearby village. The headman has asked that a Kuni Witch-Hunter be sent, but they are few and far between. One might wait years gaining an audience with a true Witch-Hunter.

Millions Die If I am Weak

He e-mailed me back that he was into the concept, which I figured he would be. Then I asked if he had any questions or thoughts on the matter. To which he replied:

I am married to Matua, daughter to a fallen grand master and mistress of the art of ————-. Twin sons Tyi and Sogen 8 years old, and brother-in-law to Hayete who is a Kuni Witch Hunter. Hayete and I have not spoken since the twins were born.

Holy shit, we’ve got a gamer. He totally geeked out and ran with it.


I’m now considering using a tweaked version of Dust Devils for the game itself, rather than L5R. We’ll see.

Thoughts & Blurbs II

My room isn’t clean but its tidy. Sweeping and mopping will commence when I get back from my travels in the coming weeks.

I’d like to introduce my dad into the world of gaming but I’m unsure how to do so. Advice appreciated. I’m half-tempted to make up a Crab Bushi for Legend of the Five Rings and set ‘im loose. The other half wants to run something with a nice couple who he’s friends with, Pat & Pat and perhaps their college age kids. I’m just not sure. Any ideas you’ve got on gaming with parents…I think this is worth a Forge post.

I always thought my mom and several aunts and cousins on her side of the family would dig it too. Some day…

While I cleaning my room, I b.s.’ed with James Arthur about gaming and such utlizing the walkin’ phone’s hands-free attachment. Neat little dingus, it is.

I’m a little excited to run a Jedi game. Ideally, we’d gather to watch the old school episodes III-VI on Jonesy’s new entertainment set-up; I’d excavate my VHS tapes from the depths of my closet.


They got me. They got me but good.

My mother convinced me that she wanted to have an intimate dinner with me and Janaki. They urged me to take a nap as my allergy medicine took hold. I woke up while they shopped and nailed down final details. I woke up from a drug induced slumber, read and welcomed them home.

Then I went to my intimate dinner.

All of the gaming groups, the Swamp Road Regulars, Cindy, her husband, Bhak and her newborn child and the big surprise, my father.

It was the perfect birthday surprise and my mother and Janaki planned it.

I am blessed.

May my second thirty years be as wonderful and blessed as my first thirty.

Thank you all, you know who you are.

From Super Smurf to Gorge Hawk

For some reason my parents decided that a sport would be a good way to remedy to my being picked on. My father had been a talented football player in his youth but at six years old, in the Jersey shore suburbs the only sport for me was soccer.

I was signed up for the Ocean Township Recreational Soccer League. We practiced within walking distance of my house at the Park Avenue Park and my coach was Jerry Van Brunt. Jerry’s son, Kevin, chose our team name. And so we were called the Super Smurfs.

The first game Jerry put me in the goal and my mother approached him. “Jerry, you are making a mistake,” she explained, “My son doesn’t like to get dirty.”

Jerry smiled. “We’ll see.”

I was a six year old animal in the goal. Our team was the worst in the league but somewhere deep inside I liked that. It meant I got more shots on goal to save. I liked to throw myself to the ground. By the end of the game I was a bloody mess.

Someone took count of the first game’s statistics and due to some quirk of grey matter I can remember that the final score was in the high single digits, seven, eight or nine but I had over thirty saves.

My carniverous high point was when the forward on the other team went out of bounds and came back in, shot and scored. I had stopped playing because I assumed the referee would make the correct call. When he didn’t I ran up to his knee and started screaming.

The six year old who had been beaten up on the kindergarten playground told off the ref. I called him, “four eyes” and told him to get better glasses. My parents gaped in horror from the sidelines.

They explained to me, after the game, why that kind of conduct wasn’t right but you couldn’t wipe my father’s smile off of his face. My mother complimented me on how well I concentrated on the ball all game.

The Super Smurfs never won a game. We played the Bears and the Hawks and the Spartans and never won, never even close. But I learned to catch and I learned to come back every week no matter what had happened the week before.

I started to take this entry into my high school years but it get’s complicated and I want this story to be simple. There is one high school moment that is important and is worth writing about.

I was a junior in high school, practicing with the varsity team. A kid named Vinnie kicked a ball at the goal and the morning dew that was covering the grass, spun off of the ball in a spiral pattern. For a split second everything slowed down. The droplets of water flew off of the ball in this beautiful geometrical circular patter. The panels on the soccer ball seemed to be rotating in slow motion as the ball headed at me. I could’ve counted the drops of water.

It remains one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

The catch wasn’t remarkable or dramatic. No one commented on it. The ball had been kicked right to me and I caught it. It was a simple catch during a simple drill that meant nothing.

I looked around at the rest of the team, wondering if they had seen it. Everyone continued with the practice, business as usual. It wasn’t that they weren’t watching or weren’t concentrating. Nothing had happened for them not because they weren’t as enlightened or didn’t have my Jedi powers.

I had gotten lucky and time slowed down for a two, maybe three seconds. That focus that my mother had complimented on, ten years earlier, allowed me to stumble on a beautiful image caught in between moments.

Tonight I played in a great game of soccer with a great team in front of me and a great team coming at me. I threw myself hither and yon and my knees are a bloody mess. It was fun and pretty football.

Our team is called the Gorge Hawks but some day, I hope to once again play on a team called the Super-Smurfs with blue uniforms. I think a kind of reverse psychology might take hold, inspiring the team to new levels of smurfocity.

Time hasn’t slowed down like that since but I keep concentrating, hoping for that goalkeeping satori.

My parents will be glad to know that despite a few terrible calls tonight, I never once told off the referee.