Secrets of the Templars

I honestly believe that it is not hyperbole to say that I used to game with a genius.

In my early twenties, there was a period between careers where I worked odd jobs and participated in 7-8 games a week. I didn’t sleep much. Four of these games were set in the World of Darkness (2 Vampire, 1 Werewolf, and a Mortals game), of which I ran three. One was an alternating arrangement where one GM would run Star Wars, or I would run Call of Cthulhu, or both of us would run our respective games in the same week. One was a Battletech campaign with RP elements that I shared duties for. The final game, and one where I was blissfully just a player, was essentially Shadowrun, but far-removed from the traditional setting.  Obviously, with all the creativity and energy needed to keep 5 campaigns going, the three in which I was a player were extremely important to me.   Of these, the Shadowrun Campaign was the most important, and still stands as one of my favorite games despite the 15+ years between it and the present.

Joining the Templars

I joined this campaign late, as a replacement player for someone who could no longer attend. Recent shake-ups in the campaign involving the loss of characters to either madness or death – and one never-explained disappearance, had the party at a point where it needed to regroup and take in new members. I was fortunate enough to be chosen. I say fortunate because it was my opportunity not only to play in a strongly envisioned setting, with a fun rules set, and absolutely great players, but it was also my chance to see genius at work behind the screen. Although he is lost to us now, he left us many legacies in the real and fictional worlds, and in my mind at least, this campaign is one for both of them.

The game was referred to as “Tom’s Templar Game” and it was set in Europe. Much of the territory we covered had slipped back into a quasi-medieval state, and our characters were members of an order of ostensible knights. Threats ranged the entire gamut from intra-order politics, personal rivalries, national crises, international intrigue, the spectre of war, disasters, and the supernatural forces at work in the world. The GM handled each of these separate dangers with seeming ease, with a razor-sharp focus on story as a tool of character development. He was also the first GM I met who could actually focus on providing opportunities for characters to shine without just glossing over it. He would set the stage, but you would have to earn the spotlight. Comedy kept easy company with Drama, and Action played a game of temptation… sometimes to be desired, other times to be feared, with players never certain which. It truly was masterful.

Shadowrun and Sanity

One of the core additions that was made to the game was a Sanity mechanic, based superficially on that from Call of Cthulhu, but which ran in both directions. It served as a filter for perception, and going off the edge at either end of the scale was a game-ending proposition. If one went Mad with a capital M, the character was taken by the GM in one way or another. If one went… we didn’t have a word for it, but let’s now call it Sane with a capital S, one ceased to be entirely a part of this world – perhaps taken to another plane of existence altogether… at least that is what we, who did not get saner, speculated in coffee shops late at night. Perhaps BF Wolfe can shed some light on that as his character did… uh… “Go Sane.”  😉

Uncommon Cast and Crew

The initial character group, from what I was able to glean in the secrecy-laden conspiracy which was the Templar Order, were generated according to the same templates, but each had some carefully designed secrets to protect. During chargen, each player had a chance to add some ideas to the process to create the same layers of secrets and half-truths which characterized the NPC members of the Order. We were forbidden to have cyberware and were expected to manifest certain powers like physical adepts by virtue of training and… well, virtue. Each player, I believe, started out thinking that each character was exactly like his in terms of base concept, but only suspicious that each character might have something to hide. The extraordinary group of players brought this world of innuendo, implication, and bald-faced lying to life in a palpable sense that could at times transport you elsewhere.

I hope that other members of this campaign, scattered as we are across the globe, will take the time to post their own memories and experiences of it. I’d love to hear what you all have to say about the magic and mystery of this exceptional gaming experience.

At the point where I entered the campaign, doubt about the Order, or at least elements within it, had started to form. Although I as a player had been given no reason to suspect this at the time, the design process for my character was not the same as that for the others. So different were they, that it soon became obvious that I could perform none of the signature ‘Templar’ abilities, yet I had strong ties within the Order. How could I be one of them, if I did not share in any of their gifts and little of their training?

Gleaning Glimmers of Greatness

One of the first things I was able to grasp about the game environment, was that the differences between my character and the others was a signal of some shift in the direction of the campaign, a shift toward darker, more troubling times. Looking back on it now, I wonder if my character was a sort of metaphor for the doubt the players had about the Order, and a sign that all was not as they had been told. In a campaign which had a vast cast of NPCs and a player group ranging between 5 and 7 players, the intricacy of the intrigue web was amazing. No one really knew what abilities, allegiances, secrets, and pressures the others had. New puzzle pieces surfaced and were buried constantly, and often we could not even trust that what we saw was really there.

Around it all, the world was descending into war and chaos.

Soft White  Underbelly and the Driving Force

In addition to having a web of secrets to expose or protect, we each had a goal. Some of these were minor, some major. Some were open, but most were secret. My personal goal was to earn the trust of the characters and help them to uncover the rot at the heart of the Order. Again, I didn’t realize it at the time of character creation, but the GM planted seeds and suggestions in my ear as we created ‘Montague Forte’ and over time, those seeds grew into strong trunks in the complicated forest of his outwardly simple character. In a game of secrecy and conspiracy, mine was the character prone to telling the truth and capable of asking the hard direct questions. More than that, he was empowered with the special abilities which made uncovering truth possible. This aspect of character design – particularly as it was not done overtly or forcefully, is enough for me to claim genius for Tom, but it went further than that.

Walking the the Extra Mile in Purely Speculative Moccasins

Tom took a conversation about games and gaming problems that he and I had had and used this game as a chance for us both to explore it for real. We were both prone to playing capable characters with a sort of lone wolf attitude, that left us on the outside of whatever PC group with which we associated. We both saw it as a problem, but found that when given the chance to play, it was to this sort of character we consciously or unconsciously gravitated. We both ended up staying in groups for reasons which are now commonly referred to as Meta-game Reasons, but then didn’t really have a term that we used. We knew the problem, but had no jazzy term for it. In our discussion, we had come up with a solution, but Tom actually put it into play by giving me a challenge: play a loner with no ties to anything at all, and no reason whatsoever to stay with the group if things go south… but in play – find one. The difference is subtle, but the effect was profound. My challenge was not to build hooks to the party from the outset, but to discover them, in character, in play.

In every aspect right down to the character generation package, my character was different and given every reason to be an outsider, and there I was, tossed into a conspiracy to end all conspiracies, in the middle of the threat of international war both mundane and mystical, while all around were disappearing or going mad, and I had to find reasons to bond with a group of Knights in the thick of everything facing certain death and insanity, possibly in that order….?

Can you think of a better opportunity and gift to give someone who rarely got the chance to play a character through any sort of arc, and more – to make doing so a significant part of the story design?

Genius.

Imagine how much we all miss him.

Comments
39 Responses to “Secrets of the Templars”
  1. Gillbertto Mussolini says:

    Wow; I remember that game. I was skeptical when I first learned about it, due to the disparate genres, but once it started it was really fantastic. I believe I came in late in the campaign as well, and I’m pretty sure I only had the opportunity to play once. There was, IIRC, Brad, Doug, Adrienne, Mike M, BJodi, me and your handsome self. The thing I remember the most was the distance we had to travel to get to where we played – I think it was someone’s cottage. We played in the top room, with exposed beams and the smell of old wood. Mike made an old martial artist, Jodi made some kind of Gypsy, and I made a neo-crusader do-gooder who was going to Fight the Good Fight and Drive Back The Darkness (and fail SPECTACULARLY). We got to pick a stat that went to 6 (I think the normal max was 5) and some kind of special ability. I picked willpower to go to 6(which gave him a SAN of 100) and the ability to influence crowds, which he used to convince a group of bikers to turn themselves in. All in all it was a great game, fantastic setting, and a group of top-notch role-players.

    • David says:

      I recall you guys as the next generation of templars, (call you neo-templars). We were the previous generation, who were only 7-10 years older than you in years, but easily a generation plus by virtue of how the world had changed in even that short span of time. I recall the great role play that developed when the previous geen and your team merged on a few nights. The ‘older’ veterans struggled to relate to these new up and comers, our next best hope! It was the same dynamic that made great game play between Arthur’s knight and Brad/mine/Joe and Tony’s characters.

      Who played the asian neo-templar? Mo’ MSG! (that dratted banned substance!)

      • Runeslinger says:

        What’s that you say David…? I can’t hear you over the wheezing of the Old Man~

        Gil reminds me that I had *two* opportunities to join the campaign late! 😉 The first was as is described in the post, and the second was after Tom revived it a few years later. As Gil mentions, life got in the way of the revival, but it was a blast while it lasted. The emphasis on the Neo-Templars theme really made it distinct from what had gone before, and gave us lots of opportunity to employ references and nostalgia to add depth. Good stuff~

  2. David says:

    Sanity – as I recall the sanity scale, the most Sane, or well adjusted, were those who had the value in the middle of the scale. If you drifted too close to either extreme your perspectives became skewed, or drifted to being at odds with your environment and colleagues. Having tried to solve the cube (accursed ‘missing link’ puzzle) and failed (by only 3 turns) I know Victor for a spell was overcome as his sanity tanked to 0. He was saved by William (deBaskerville) who had previously become too sane, and but had fallen to enemies. Victor met him as he travelled to the underworld. (Of course at the time, my body was possessed by something else and started doing nasty things). In the limbo-hell, William imparted some of his sanity to save Victor and in so doing found peace himself, although the trip back to the land of living was no longer possible for William. Victor made the transition back and reclaimed his body, although now plagued by nightmares of his time in the otherworld. For someone who was already a medium, it proved to be another challenge he would have to reconcile along with the guilt of his friends sacrifice.

  3. David says:

    Joining the Templars – Setting
    Add to the mix, a unique blend of traditional myths with new twists on them. Historical events or mysteries taken and advanced into a Shadowrun/Cthulhu setting. You would hear about something in the game and could go and research it at the library.

    Europe, the Templars domain, had become a haven for Virtues. Here were the last bastions of Humanity (at least from our viewpoint). North America had degenerated as far we knew and was all “modernised and cybered”, and exceedingly protective of its state. Fortress USA, it was the first time that term had been used to my knowledge. Long before any real world troubles had occurred which brought about such mindset closer to reality.

    In Europe, Technology was not exactly forbidden, but it was eschewed. There were agents afoot though that sought to undermine the Templars, whether they be other Orders in Europe, or external influence. The source of the Templar tenets was also a thing of mystery and as the players learned more about their own history they began to experience some disillusionment and confusion which mirrored the conditions in the world around them.

    As for supernatural forces, humbug, you had to believe in those sorts of things for them to be real! Don’t give power to your fears!

    Brilliance! Truly this one of many legacies Tom has left and one I feel priviliged to share with my friends.

    • Runeslinger says:

      There is a lot to remember, isn’t there? Thanks for coming by to add to this post, David!

      I would love to hear more about the Campaign before I joined (Just before disappearance of William, and the infamous Gawain versus the Mortar/Sandwich incident.)

  4. David says:

    Uncommon Cast and Gleaning Glimmers
    I was one of the initial group of characters (Victor Chevalier), however, we were the 3rd generation of Templars. Our history was part of the mystery and as you say secrecy laden.
    As I came to learn through game-play, the 1st order were mystics, the 2nd generation cybered. As best I could figure both were considered to have gone Insane, or gone to extremes in their own rights (perhaps mirroring the 0-100 scale that we used to track Sanity). The Mystics went Sane (>100) and the Cyberknights went Mad (to 0 or below). In this campaign your sanity was a function of essence and was diminished by cyberware.

    I saw our 3rd generation as the New Order, created to find a balance between the two extremes.

    The Templar tenet was that cyberware was bad because the last generation had gone Mad. To that end, my secret was that while most of the order was discouraged from having cyberware, my character had a full point of it, giving me a unique perspective and also another internal conflict to manage. From the start I was living a double standard and as a kind self-appointed leader or spokesperson, placed me in a hypocritical position. (Tom excelled at giving each character challenges that made you exercise your role-playing) So in truth the Templars were guilty of some of the things for which the Order had been accused. However, those Skillwires Level 3 certainly let me rise to the occasion and perform in any capacity as was dictated by circumstance even if only to load the Cooking Soft Level 3 to impress the foreign correspondent. In the closely guarded offices of Haupmann Castle was the mainframe from which I could download the ware. This helped me avert many catastrophies, and perhaps some not so urgent issues. My tendency to absent mindedly scratch my ear during any given dilemma may have been a nervous habit, or possibly me changing my chipsoft.

    The introduction of Montague Forte ( I think that was his name, the archives are a bit vague on the matter 🙂 ) came during a time of regrouping. We had survived our first incursion/exposure to the dark forces, but it only then became apparent that the end had begun. Europe was beginning to break down again and it was becoming clear that the Templars were not strong enough as they were to manage the upcoming storm.

    We frequently made plans to try and get to Brazil to see the head of our Order, but those plans were constantly delayed and confounded by more urgent situations. This perpetuated the mystery of our Origins and left us with an increased feeling of being cut off (or sacrificed).

    Montague, while clearly different from the rest of us, in appearance and manner was no less a Templar by virtue of spirit, will and desire to do right. We all just had different methods and preferences on how to achieve it. Some of us were keen to do it publicly, others more in the background. I believe we needed to visual embodiment of Templarhood (Gawain) as much as the drive and behind the scenes action, hmm shall we say prompting? If I can say prompting meaning a godawfully huge two-handed sword, although that sword didn’t see as much action as we figured it would, the comings and goings of Montague were a boon as the rest of us Knights had become marked men and women. While we were often targetted, Montague could get to places and people without notice. Kind of like gravity, rarely seen, but always felt.

    VC

    • Runeslinger says:

      Brazil started to feel like the Holy Grail to me after awhile, and the challenges we were facing – particularly ones like the decisions that Victor and Montague had to make in those decidedly mystical caves (in Lourdes?) which clearly had strong ramifications on what future developments and allegiances we might make – were refining and tempering us to merit the journey.

      Victor was so well-crafted and executed the memory of him feels like that of a real person. I knew that Victor had cyberware as you were always good about portraying a touch of guilt or hesitance around the topic, but I had no idea what it was. I often wondered if you and Tom were sending signals to each other through body-language. Layers upon layers!

      Montague is one of, if not my very, favorite characters to portray ever – mostly because of the depth and sincerity that you and Brad maintained, and encouraged the others to attain. Arthur brought a lot to the mix as well – not just wheezing and praying. 😉

      It was very interesting to realize that Tom guided my character design choices to embody the very idea of internal conflict. Montague lacked the ‘laying on of hands ability’ and other powers his generation of Templars had, but possessed the ability to pass unremarked, blending in with those around him and later forgotten unless he exerted effort to connect with them. Victor, Gawain, and the ‘The Old Man’ were able to remember him – even when he was gone, but others would soon lose him in the mists of memory. Even records and in one memorable instance a stone plague would suffer ‘data loss’ where he was concerned.

      Countering this, he had the power to dominate the wills of all those who looked upon him singly or in large groups compelling them to obey a clearly defined concept or course of action (stop fighting, follow me, don’t touch it, Answer me truthfully, etc) which had a secondary effect of attracting the attention of those around when it was in use. Tom added that effect so that my use of the power could never be considered ‘subtle.’

      Obviously, the use of each power was exclusive of the other…. as famously portrayed when I used the dominate ability to save us from an ambush then got sniped from behind. It was a classic Tom trade-off, rise up and save your friends at the risk of yourself, or save yourself through stealth and hope to save them another way.

      He balanced Montague in another way as well – the weapons. The classic Templar longsword became that massive Two-Hander for Montague, and the small-arms restriction was openly flaunted – helpfully so, in many cases. I guess he could get away with it, because ‘no one noticed.’

      Thinking back, the loss of Victor to possession was a dark time for all of us, and wondering if we had to put him down was an incredibly hard decision that I was very relieved not to have to make, thanks to the sacrifice of William ‘on the other side.’

      Heady stuff~

      • David says:

        Heh, can never recall how those fleshettes went unnoticed!
        I fondly recall doing that quick summary when you guys left the Cube unguarded. We were in the heat of some battle and had gone to address various threats and then it occurred to me.
        “So let me get this straight, Montague is circling around to catch their flank, Gunther is fending off the enemies trying to gain entrance to the keep and Gawain just came down from the tower to confront the enemies coming in the front gate…”
        I didn’t even have to finish, Tom knew where I was going (For those who weren’t there, I had previously had a brief encounter with The Cube, a mystical artifact purported to contain the secrets we needed to solve the Templars curse and help us defend our way of life. I was told that should opportunity present itself again, I should to solve it one more time.)
        Tom used the Missing Link game to symbolise The Cube, not unlike a “Box” from Hellraiser in description for lack of a better analogy. I’d never played with the Missing Link before and my best with a Rubik’s Cube was 3 colours, once!
        I had a sanity score of 43 at the time, so Tom gave me 43 real-world minutes to solve it. No dice throwing here folks!
        I tried and felt I was getting somewhere, but alas, my 43 minutes elapsed and Tom said, you’d better leave the room now. Arthur (who played Gunther), shouted “Arggghhh!, snatched the Missing Link from Tom as I was leaving and said “See!” And turned the blocks 3 times, Solved! I guess I was close, but not quick enough.
        Very glad you guys didn’t euthanise me! But it gave me a chance to take my hair out and look a little wild and use Victor for some less than savory action.

  5. BF Wolfe says:

    Ahhhahahah. I forgot about that cube. William was aware at the time that we *really* needed to keep it away from Victor, but I let my guard slip in that battle. 🙂 William’s thing was indeed his sanity. Very high will and the ability to see without as much damage as others. But of course, he did not believe in anything supernatural. 🙂 Like others have rightly guessed, there is always a downside. I started gaining sanity. Gradually, but inevitably. We took a ship ride at one point, a rare moment of relaxation and peace. Everyone else was bouncing at the rare chance to regain sanity on that soulful journey, but it was the point when William exceeded 100. The description Tom gave me was very strange. Seeing truth in all its beauty and its ugliness. I started noticing things that no one else saw, and I realized that this was very much the description that someone could receive while going insane. 🙂 I still think sanity was more of a circular than linear system in that game.
    And yes, it was my new found understanding of madness and the hidden that allowed William to make that journey and give a little bit to bring Victor back. The description was always vague enough so that I was never sure whether I was truly exercising a demon in a literal or figurative sense.

    • David says:

      I know I also had a healthy strain of skepticism and would sometimes find myself trying a bit too hard to justify a mundane explanation. And yet again weren’t we the living proof that there was more to us than met the eye? Another duality I enjoyed exploring.
      I think the ship ride was across the Med, because there was something in Egypt or the Middle East that we needed. Also, it was thought that maybe there was some cure for me perhaps? I had lost it at this point and it all came out on the boat ride I think when the deep spawn like things attacked, or at least soon after. Maybe it was on the boat that I finally got a hold of the Cube and it wasn;t the castle scene, but the transit to Egypt. I know that I went possessed in Cairo, and did “unspeakable things, but also extraordinary things….” (Needed to throw in a Bladerunner quote 🙂 )
      Thanks for sharing Joe, I had often wondered how it had been explained to you. Our characters rendez-vousing in hell and fighting the demon hordes did not look like the most Sane place.

  6. BF Wolfe says:

    More memories of that quest. See, William of Basquerville didn’t believe in all of the mysticism that was rampant in the campaign. Sanity was the stress off the times. Madness was post-traumatic stress. Tom crafted every encounter in a way that always left a slight doubt as to its cause. Genius indeed. Everything was possible from both a rational and mystic point of view at the same time. So when he went to rescue Victor, he believed he was delving into Victor’s madness more akin to ‘The Cell’ than the ‘poltergeist’ :). But because Victor believed he was possessed, William needed to find a symbol that Victor believed was powerful enough to slay his personal demons. I think it turned out to be some holy relic. William’s first thought was to share his abundant sanity ‘show reason in his rational terms’. He battled demons on the way into Victors subconcious using the relic, but Tom started switching his terminology the deeper William battled inwards. From fighting Victor’s manifestations, they became creatures of darkness. And I knew William was losing sanity. By the time I had reached Victor at his core, I had lost exactly half my sanity, and I knew I could no longer share, but it had to be all or none. Everything in trade, one for one, one in, and only one out. Mind you, after that, I was able to talk to Victor as ‘William’ on occasion. Not sure if David knew those thoughts were coming from me. 😉

    • Runeslinger says:

      Do you guys remember the long conversation we roleplayed on the subject of the reality of the mystical, with our known, but never discussed, abilities used as the basis for proof?

      • David says:

        These and other circular discussions were common. A credit to Tom to create a scenario where he can introduce concepts and then sit back and watch (and listen). I recall a couple nights when he didn’t say much, just nod, smirk sometimes and stroke his chin thoughtfully. And a credit to my fellow players for staying in character and discussing the merits of our own being within game context.

        Although I daresay we made our own problems some nights. I think Tom sifted through our player discussions and took some of the elements he liked, some he may not have thought before, and made them part of the story. In this way we were unknowingly helping to build the plot lines, an interative process, but one which felt right for all involved.

        I would like to add about the out of game talks too. Tom was not a gamesmaster to shy away from game discussions on off nights or other friendly meeting times. Why not discuss a game instead of the weather over a cup of tea. I would like to think it made him happy to know that we were spending this much time talking/obsessing about his game. He was never forthcoming about speculation, but was always willing to provide a bit more detail about personal player history or information, and if you worded your questions well, you might glean a bit more information to help with the next session.

        And failing any direct game benefits, it was just a darn good way to idle away a couple hours with a friend.

        • Runeslinger says:

          Yes – I think that Tom was very aware that one of the side-effects of his suggestive/amibiguous description style was that some things which should not be in doubt, might wind up that way due to the nature of the medium. He encouraged me to be more open about talking about things with players, that’s for sure. He laughed (and I know you can still hear him laughing) and said, I didn’t have to tell them anything new, but it works better if everyone has some time to clarify what they got from the descriptions. If they were too far off base, they could be guided closer to it, or I could then prepare myself to either make some changes, or deal with the fallout. I think he expected me to do the latter~ 😉

    • David says:

      True enough, having failed at the Cube, I had considered myself not worthy and that perhaps the Chosen One was actually William and not myself for he had been able to achieve enlightenment.

      From my side, I delved into Hell, where we figured William had been sent (can’t remember why), but it was my atonement, to strive against the Hordes to recover our friend as my salvation.

      I thought we had balanced back at 50, being the average of our two Sanity scores. I had hoped afterwards that we might have saved each other, but William was not to return.

      I do recall the messages. I got a lot of them. One of my Mystic Points was spent as a Visionary. I could receive visions, which Tom used to both kindly inform and/or deftly manipulate. There was no direction to the visions, I had to make of them what I could and decide whether or not to act on them.

      As to knowing if they were from William, no I could not be certain after a while where the emessages were coming from. Some felt a bit better than others, but sometimes the sweetest visions were from the most insidious sources.

      • BF Wolfe says:

        An average was indeed the intent. Didn’t work out so well. 🙂 Only a couple of times I remember explicitly sending a message I thought William would send, any other voices in your head were your own problem. 😉 And yes, I remember that topic coming up frequently, and passionately.

  7. David says:

    Soft White Underbelly and the Driving Force
    Hmm Victor’s goals, you I don’t rightly know if I was given any specific goals other than those that seemed to make sense from early on game play. I took the “Face” position of the group, self-appointed leader of the Templars, so some of my goals was just to keep things working and maintain the image of virtues. Ahh, but then whose Virtues? And so began the exploration of what was right and just and from whose perspective?

    I did want to uncover more about the Order, but that was more my own curiosity, and well, we all know how well that went, Meow!. Mostly though we were to try and exist with the Odds against us. It was a test to see if we could resist temptation and stick to our guns or swords and Values when faced with both the Unspeakable and Inexplicable. Initially I also had to live up to my mentor’s last request and feel worthy to bear his longsword. (I got to help in my mentor’s design too). That was a big part of how Tom drew you into the campaign, you were not solely a player, but an integral part of the creative energy. We all breathed life into the NPC’s. Tom may have taken them over and played out their actions later, but many were the progeny of PC’s and GM together, from which grew new entities to test us.

    I think Montague did earn that trust, through action. Your immediate “Trust Me” command didn’t quite work so well on us 😉 So you earned it instead. But it was good example to show us how it worked.

    Having someone who could only tell the truth was a bit of a pain sometimes when in those situations when exaggeration or prevarication might have suited better, but then we had to accept that on occasion you might spoil one of my ruses. And having someone who was willing to go that extra bit who didn’t seem to be too bothered about leaving a couple of Order Principles outside the door when push came to shove was handy too.

    You’re right about the character design 100% We built our characters independently, and each dreamed up our own special abilities using the Physical Adept abilities as a guidelines. I threw in a bit of Sorcerer adept for the Visions and had the cyber boost to cover a couple other aspects of character gen.

    Back to the Goals – honestly, they started to become a little overwhelming. We were constantly uncovering little threads that seemed worthy of exploration, but off the main task. It was had to determine which of these minor quests might actually help us with main objectives. Kind of like real life! And so many nights it became all about the role-playing, objectives be damned, or be damned by your objectives as case would have it.

    Now all this being said, and in the previous posts, I’m going to have to go dig out my character binder if I can find it in the basement.

  8. David says:

    Walking the the Extra Mile in Purely Speculative Moccasins

    I already commented about the in game and out of game talks, spectacular and fun.

    I think part of the magic of the Templar campaign came from the quality of role-playing. We all had characters that Tom helped us develop. The characters had enough personal or close to the mark traits that helped to blur the line on discussions. I think it also helped Tom build the campaign as he didn’t have to deal with the dissociative feeling some eplayeres get when they are well outside their comfort zone with a character. It also allowed Tom to exercise his acute sense of perception. I have no illusions that he used his keen awareness of our own personalities to challenge the characters.

    The Templars a good part of the time were tasked with morality based issues in a world where the scale and scope of what was normal or acceptable was constantly being stretched if not outright broken.

    With many character traits akin to player presonalities, there was only the suspension of disbelief for the setting and with his depth of description and ability to lay out the scenes and create the mood, that was easy enough.

    And the icing was that we all wanted to be there AND we all wanted each other to be there even more importantly. Metagamingwise, that kind of synergy does not always happen. Particularly when you have PC’s that are loners. So credit again to you guys for designing a character that was on the outside looking in, but became part of the “in”, and not long in coming too.

    Tom and I designed a simialr Lone wolf character for my DnD campaign. In so doing I had the chance to explore some world history I had contemplated and had some vague ideas written down. But when he presented what kind of character he wanted to play, I found I could accomodate his desire, with a bit of twist tailored to the setting I had been creating. I think the strongest PC’s come from that kind of iterative process rather than players being at odds with their GM. And it comes only when the GM had a good grasp of their own campaign setting.

    The character generation package was a brilliant concept and was tailored to each of us a bit, in that we were given a bit of freedom on how to apply it (for example my cyberware was not part of the package). I knew the later characters and Neo-templar party had different start-up packages than the original 3rd gen Templars

    The chargen package is a concept I’ve used since, again tailored to the players and setting, but it is a good solid idea.

    Genius. It only begins to indicate the amount of admiration.

    On a bittersweet note, having experienced the joy and fun of the Templar campaign, other gaming experiences haven’t measured up. Good in their own right, but never up there. I ran a bit of my own DnD briefly, but then realworld situations changed and gaming dropped off to nil in terms of sessions and only a smattering of game prep/world design. I am hoping that with a lot of focus and a bit of renovations I can rekindle some of that energy and maybe start up another gen of players.

    • Runeslinger says:

      No sign of Brad, yet. Gawain was such a huge part of the fun of that campaign – figuratively and literally – it’s too bad we haven’t had his input. I really used to love how involved he would get with the little things that make a character really come to life.

      Where Victor had his gestures and expressions, and his careful way of speaking about things, Gawain was so primal, enthusiastic, and real. He reminded us to look at the pretty girls, and to eat… a lot. He reminded us that we were fighting men, and that maybe the answer wasn’t to try and swim out of our diplomatic depth all the time, but to occasionally knock some heads together! The mortar/sandwich encounter still makes me laugh, as does Gawain’s welcome of Montague after “years of separation”

      “I haven’t had a fight in weeks… not even an argument! You show up and five minutes later you are involved in a duel! And he won’t even remember you when its over!”

      I think a lot of GMs would have tried to just gloss over a lot of the conversations we had in character, but I think that that was exactly the sort of thing he was looking to explore with this game. I think this campaign was more about the journey than the destination. He definitely had a destination planned for us, but I think he was also really excited to see how we responded to the setting and scenes and – as you say – allowed the synergy to bring it all to life.

      I remember one of my first nights, if not the first night, in the group. We were camped and discussing the wealth of plot threads we needed to understand, and conversation drifted a bit – naturally. I asked you folks IC about your histories, and was pleased to find how deep that question took us, and for how long that conversation could be sustained. Tom was able to stand back and be engaged through his enjoyment of the scene, and could add in little suggestions if a point went astray from player error without interrupting the flow.

      • David says:

        I emailed Brad, he’s reading, hopefully will contribute shortly (right Brad!?!)

        Gawain was our Rock, you needed to have a reliable and constant force in all this mayhem. And he was so vivacious as well as focussed, sometimes even on something other than a plate of food.

        That definitely sounds like s Gawain quote, I haven’t had a fight in weeks! Makes me laugh!

        The mortar/sandwich and wheezing old man are definitely defining moments. The characters took on their own life. I have to say that at times there was no thought as to what was going to be said, because there was no choice, Victor would say this, Gawain would say that, no player overriding the character personality.

        I liked the way that we saw our characters. Then later in game we’d find out how the rest of the world saw us and the contrast between them, then the realisation that that was something else out of our control.
        Oh I have to run out, continue this later.

      • David says:

        Role playing not roll playing was an essential part of the game. Although to this day I still do not know what the destination was, there were too many options out there. I think if we had stayed hard on a couple quests or missions and decided to abandon some threads we might have found out more. But then that was the crux of the game, continually bombarded with the right things to do and little time to explore personal quests. Or maybe that was just my perspective because that was what my character was about, dilemma and sacrifice. Or was that just my character? Again I’ll point to Tom probing situations that might strike a player to the core of the real self so as to bring about a more intense gaming experience.

        But then that means that he had a bead on all of us, one that quite often our fellow friends and gamers might not know. Hmm, coming back to that genius thing again.

        And I think we need to give a nod of credit to ourselves as well for taking the time and effort in and out of game to develop character histories and relations, as well as take the game conversations to off gaming nights since we always ran out of time on the 1/week schedule.

      • Gawain says:

        Evening gentlemen. I am reading and will respond soon. Gathering the many thoughts and sessions brings up many memories of time spent with Tom. And the fact that I had not spoken to him for sometime before his passing leaves me with sadness. Perhaps these posts will help with that. Till then i am off to make a sandwich. roastbeef with only mustard and the crusts cut off, on a plate far to small. And of course a cup of hot tea which is something we can all share with one another no matter the distance between us. How I do miss our brotherhood. talk to you soon.

      • BF Wolfe says:

        heh. Tom was insistant on his offer of tea no matter how many times I told him i despised the stuff. I eventually started offering him peanuts in return, and that helped. 😉

      • David says:

        Heh, another memory,

        Tom: “Do you want some sugar in your tea?”.
        David: “No”, I replied for the nth time, “Just milk thank you”
        Tom: “Right, right”.

        That in itself became part of the Tea Ceremony.

  9. Runeslinger says:

    We should break down what we remember (that should be amusing enough in and of itself) to see if we can sort it out with the ‘advantage of the perspective of time.’

    • David says:

      I don’t know, not sure if the perspective of time will help. I know we’ve mulled things over this past decade and even when we had a guiding light we didn’t get anywhere, but I still like the idea of the exercise 🙂

    • David says:

      Where to start? What about Castle Haupmann. Elements, medieval castle with a computer mainframe. The illuminati eye on a wall, a basement with cellars and dungeons leading to caves with symbols of Hydra/Drogda(sp?) on the walls. It was our base of operations, but clearly had a much longer history than what we had with it.

      • Runeslinger says:

        For most of my time in the Campaign, I remember (rightly or wrongly) that Haupmann featured only in the early stages, and then we were on the road. I think a lot of clues were planted in the descriptions of the Castle, as you and Brad definitely had strong reactions to certain sections of the place, but those sections were only of interest to me, because you and he were interested in them. As we were so often sent far away, it became harder and harder to investigate those sections. The big exception was the massive attack on the Castle wherein the rest of us learned that Victor was much more aware of what was in the Castle than the rest of us…

        In the second phase of the Campaign Montague once again joined late. Those that remembered him at all thought he had been in England. The truth was substantially different, but not even he could really remember what it was, although it involved inward explorations of his abilities – particularly his ability to fade from consequence.

        He returned to the world from ‘somewhere else, but not a better place than this’ by once again refusing to ‘go deeper’ during a quest. – almost like his refusal in the maze-like caves in Southern France. Lacking contacts and family, Montague returned to Haupmann to see what had befallen everyone else. Finding them all there, with a group of newcomers, was something of a shock. Finding virtually no trace of his own history there was less of a shock… 😉

        At that point, I feel that we decided to really get to the root of what the mysteries of Haupmann were, but… the campaign went on hiatus before we could do so.

        I do remember that there were many empty sections of the castle as well as the restricted sections. One of my first sessions with the group involved chasing the possessed Templar who had had dealings with The Cube or something like it, and appeared in the courtyard to warn you about his fate. Tom’s use of Dead Souls in that scene worked wonderfully. Music can so often go astray in a session, but that time it worked like a charm.

        There was a stone plaque on the wall in the courtyard with all the names of the Templars (and a worn-away spot where my name had been) which I felt we should have paid more attention to, but could not quite pin down a reason to make it a priority with so much other stuff going on.

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