16 January 2012

What it's like to hate someone

I think it should actually take a little effort on the part of the offender to be forgiven for something, call me crazy or ridiculous or whatever. I'm told all the time, forgive your father, call your father, he's your father, etc. I'm treated like a child because my form of punishment is cutting off communication. I'm not running away. I'm just doing the one thing I know that can hurt him as much as he's hurt me. He loves me, I'm not oblivious to that fact; that's exactly why I know not talking to him will hurt him.

Now, let me straighten my thoughts out. You see, he made my life a living hell. He threatened me and called me an idiot, lazy, practically a disappointment. He treated me like a lesser being and demanded respect without ever actually earning it. He always told me you have to earn respect, but only in a ways that informed me that he didn't respect me. He's the one who said “If you hate it here so much, why don't you just leave?!” He said that so many times, and I finally left.

And, I'm the bad guy.

He emotionally abused me to the point of torture, where physical pain was a relief and escapism was my way of life—drugs, video games, girlfriends, anything that wasn't home. I loved going to work and dreaded coming home.

What's it feel like to have your dad tell you that you're stupid?

Anyway, I'm the bad guy, because I refuse to forgive him.

When I left, my stepmom called at the number that I left on the table along with where I was going and why I was leaving. She called saying that I should come back and that she understood that my dad hurt my feelings and I explained to her that I was not coming back.

He hurt my feelings. Like how a child gets his feelings hurt and runs away. I didn't get my feelings hurt—I was being abused and I left the abusive environment. That's a pretty mature reaction, I believe. Nobody I know sees it that way.

After we hung up, she called back with my four year old brother on the phone saying he missed me. I never believed he fully understood the situation and I don't think he does even now. He's young. Also, dick move on her part. Part of the continued emotional abuse, I'll add. See, in that move, she let me know that she believed that I was the one at fault. Not once during our conversation did she apologize that I felt like I had no choice but to leave. Wouldn't a caring parent do that?

“Where did we go wrong?” they never asked themselves.

It's been over a year and I still get messages through family members: “They wanted me to tell you that Allen (my little brother) misses you.”

Oh, really? Do they feel at all bad for driving me away? Do they really want to talk to me that bad? They have my number. Still. Only called it once. They also know the people I'm around and have not once asked them how to get in contact with me.

Wouldn't a caring parent do that? Wouldn't someone who actually wanted me to come back do anything to get me back? That's what I want. Is it so much to ask that my parents love me enough to ask somebody what my phone number is and then call it? It has to be, because I'm the bad guy, remember?

“Why doesn't he have to call me? Why do I have to be the one to call?” I asked reasonably.

“Because he's your father.” was the response.

Right. Wouldn't a caring father call? He loves me. Just not enough that he would do anything to get in contact with me. Just not enough that he would regret pushing me away. Just not enough to apologize and not expect one back, or even to be forgiven. Just not enough to reexamine how he treated me. Just not enough to want to make me happy. His love is selfish. He wants me around so he can feel good about himself and nothing more.

Let's see.


I have to call.

Even though, I was pushed away and let them know that I felt I had no other choice.

Even though, I left my number which they called the night I left and never again.

Even though, they know how to get in contact with me through other people which they've done by passing on guilt-laced messages. Again, blaming me for leaving.

Listen, dad. If you fucking miss me so fucking much, then why haven't you fucking called me to apologize for pushing me away? Huh? What the fuck did I do to you to make you blame me? If you fucking care about how much Allen misses me, then why don't you goddamn call me and let him talk to me?

I won't forgive him until he actually regrets pushing me away. You see, the goal is to make him feel like he'll never see me again. I want him to feel so bad that he can't forgive himself, then he'll know how I feel. Maybe, he'll apologize at that point, and if he doesn't, too fucking bad for him, I guess.

But what if something happens? I'm asked.

Well, the goal is to make him feel like he'll never see me again, so at this point it doesn't matter much if he dies without seeing me again or if I die without him ever seeing me again. At this point, he deserves either one of those. He deserves to die without me. He deserves for me to die without forgiving him. He deserves to feel that for how he treated me.

I'm not gonna forgive him and let things go back to how they used to be. What's the point? Forgive him and what? Stay away like I'm doing now, or go back and be miserable and abused. How can you forgive somebody who isn't sorry?

25 November 2011

The PC Driven Campaign

PC motivations usually fall somewhere between "I like money" and "I don't like that guy." In there is the driving force that leads most PCs to risk their lives. Isn't there anything deeper than that going on? These PCs often have very rough origin stories. Most of them lost their parents at a young age and had to practically raise themselves. Let's try to add something to that.

The PC driven campaign requires a different outlook on how missions are given. You aren't going to want that mysterious stranger in the tavern ordering the PCs around for petty amounts of gold and "whatever they find in the dungeon." No, your missions will come straight from the PCs' backstories. They will create their own missions and you will set them up. The goal of this is to have the PCs actively searching for what they seek. Whether they find it through rumors, by accident, or from that mysterious stranger, the point is they find it and not the other way around.

Money and Treasure

This PC seeks money and treasure, and not for greedy reasons. This PC's parents (if they live) owe a debt that they cannot pay and the PC seeks the funds to save his/her parents. This PC may also seek to one day open up a shop in a big city and saves for that day. Perhaps, the PC seeks only to contribute all of the money and treasure he/she finds to his/her temple or church.


This PC is looking for a series of shrines or some other artifact. Maybe, the church sent this PC out to pray at shrines across the country, or maybe they sent this PC to find a special artifact for the temple. Maybe as a right of passage, this PC must single-handedly defeat a giant and bring it's head back to his/her tribe.

Out for Blood

This PC has an enemy that he/she seeks to vanquish. This enemy could be something like "all goblins" or "the man who murdered my parents." It could also be more vague like "all evil." Whatever it is, this PC is actively hunting it.

Glory and Honor

This PC seeks glory and honor for reasons of pride or to honor his/her parents or church or tribe. This PC will take on difficult, high profile jobs that will put him/her in the spotlight. This PC may already be famous in some places.

Some of these could take charge of a campaign if you are not careful. Remember that every PC will have motivations and will want to fulfill his/her goals, so don't let the game focus on just one.

At least two things can come from this type of campaign. The in and out game where each PC leaves the group after accomplishing his/her goals and then the player brings in another PC to replace the one who left. Or, the bonded campaign where, having completed his/her task, the PCs stick together until everyone has completed his/her quest.

Feel free to change, use, and abuse this idea in any way you like.

04 November 2011


What does it take to be a millionaire? Well, the first thing one will endure is the initial chuckle or smirk someone sends out in response to the idea.

"I'm going to be a millionaire," one might say.

"Ha! Oh? You're serious," is the response.

It may not be much of a bother at first. What do they know about one's plans? But, eventually it grows frustrating. How is it that nobody believes?

Probably, one may consider, because they don't know how simple it can be.

Those one-in-a-million ideas that completely reinvent the way society functions aren't what makes a millionaire. No, those make billionaires. What makes a millionaire is determination and constant sacrifice.

"But," some may say, "a million dollars is nothing in today's world."

"Sure," one might respond, "but, you do not have one million dollars and look at what you have now. Besides, the goal is not to see how quickly the million can be spent--rather, it is to see how quickly the million can grow into millions."

A million dollars is not a lofty goal. It isn't something one may acquire only through inheritance. It isn't as far fetched an idea as winning the lottery. So, what does it take to become a millionaire? It takes determination and constant sacrifice--constant sacrifice.

If one gives something up for ten years, one can spend the next twenty or thirty years indulging in that thing. No vacations for five years means the most amazing vacations for the next five years or two vacations a year for the next ten years.

Less money spent now means more money to spend later. And, not just the money saved--that money multiplied by compound interest will grow significantly through years of proper handling.

It doesn't take very much. It's quite a simple thing to do, really. Spend less than what comes in and keep the rest for later, and eventually one is a millionaire and all of those people who smirked before are jealous now.

The moral here is that, no matter how many smirks, laughs, and "Oh, I hope you're right,"s one may get, one will become a millionaire. And, one's friends will have an amazing time at the party when it happens.

28 October 2011


She was a sketchbook drawing on a blank white canvas--her lines and curves were unstable and moved and jerked in a chaotic dance that would nearly tear her apart at every second that passed. Smoke billowed up from the cigarette in her hand and stabbed and swirled its way inter her form. She and the smoke became a jumble of flat lines on the empty space around her.

She tensed up--an overwhelming feeling of being watched struck her. She whilred around and yelled.

"I know who you are!"

She could see it, the black canvas that outstretched and enveloped everything it touched, yet somehow remained on the edge of her vision. It was a nasty shadow reaching out to take her, to kill her, to end her.

"You're only fear!"

She yelled again to the empty room around her. Her words were silent letters that floated up from her mouth and dissolved against the canvas into nothing.

"Get away!"

She could feel it. It was inside her, burning her. It was the cold in her eyes. It was a heavy cloak that bore her down to her knees only to have her stand back up against the pressure.

"Get away!"

It advanced and yielded and retreated and advanced again while she turned and looked for it, always at the edge of her vision. She held her arms out and the smoke from her cigarette left her body to form a pillar at the edge of her reach.

"Get out here, Fear!"

She stood defiantly, and challenged the thing she hated most of all.

"I can run; I can hide; you will follow me."

Her form trembled and her lines grew thicker and darker. She yelled out in pain and gritted her teeth until they cracked.

"I bet..."

She yelled and took one final drag of her smoke, then threw it to the ground.

"...I can put you out..."

Her muscles tensed. The smoke rose up and twisted her form with tiny slivers of lines that crawled in through her feet and out through her head, then disappeared against the blank white canvas.

"...like a cigarette!"

Her foot came down on the smoldering remains of her cigarette.

21 October 2011

Our Dance

In this room there's you and me. The black walls melt around us and the ceiling drips, smearing your lipstick running down your chin like cold blood running through veins on the pale moon—your eyes the burning stars that blind the world and tear my limbs apart, leaving me helpless calling your name.

We dance a lover's dance in silence with snake-like rhythm against a voodoo beat, the rhythm of our hearts. Drawn and crying, you sketch your hate on my lips as you bite them, a desperate attempt to steal my heart. And now, I can't feel you, just the taste of your lips and blood linger.

But, when we danced, I echo your words with mindless absence and float to your voice But, when we danced, I felt your tears fall on my cheeks and I smiled and I told you 'This will never end.' Where'd you go?

Our fingers wrap together and your cold, rosy fingers dig into my hands and tear away. And again, I smell nothing but blood and you. I'm here! I cry out, desperate to hear you again. It doesn't have to end. And, we dance.

And, the ceiling collapses and you're nothing but an empty feeling that haunts my dreams and wakes me up in a cold sweat in a room with black walls.

I can't forgive you, I echo your words with mindless absence and float away, trying to forget that time that we danced, but you left scars on my lips and I still taste the blood.

Forget it, I fall and accept the soft ground in a room with no walls or ceiling and I build a statue of myself and climb to the top. This is me! I yell. This is who I am! I never liked our dance anyway.

14 October 2011

Three Bandits

Daryn counted the bandits. “There are three guarding the entrance,” he whispered to his three companions.

“I'll sneak around them and try to flank them, you guys keep their attention,” Tina looked to Daryn for support.

“Good idea. Gareth and I will attack first. We'll focus on the bandit to our right with the longsword Gareth, you stay back with the bow and I'll charge in with my blade. Nathan, you draw the other two men's attention while Tina sneaks around their right side.”

They all nodded in agreement and prepared for the battle.

Gareth struck first, landing an arrow in the bandit's chest with a thunk.
Daryn charge in behind the arrow and sliced through the bandit's leather armor.

The bandit turned to his partners, “William, Sean, we're being attacked!” He swung his blade down and caught Daryn behind the leg, knocking him to his knees.

Nathan decided to distract the other two bandits by throwing rocks at them, drawing their main focus to him as Tina continued to sneak around their backs.

The two bandits, William and Sean, approached Nathan, weapons drawn. William gritted his yellow teeth as he brought his ax down on Nathan, but was knocked to the side by Tina as she struck him in the back of the head with the but of her knife.

Sean turned to her, his dirty brown hair falling into his face, and brought his own blade down on her. She quickly intercepted his sword with her knife and threw him back a bit.

Gareth drew his bow once more and took aim at his target. This time his arrow pierced straight through the bandit's leather armor and a bit of blood trickled out through the hole.
Daryn stood up and grabbed the arrow and shoved it in deeper, causing the bandit to cry out and fall to his knees, blood shooting from his mouth.

The bandit dropped his sword and grabbed the arrow in his chest.
“Dannith, hold on!” William recovered from the blow to his head and rushed past Tina and Nathan to his partner's side. He swung the side of his ax at Daryn and knocked him to the side and took position between his partner and Gareth.

Nathan turned to Tina, “Follow my lead.” He dove down and grabbed Sean's legs, pulling him to the ground. Immediately, Tina was on top of him trying to pin his arms.

Sean managed to throw Tina off of him, but couldn't kick Nathan loose.

Daryn and Gareth exchanged glances and Daryn tackled the bandit, William, while Gareth notched and shot at arrow, landing it straight into Dannith's chest, knocking the bandit to the ground, unconscious.

William threw Daryn off himself and stood up while Tina managed to successfully pin Sean down.
Nathan stood up and hit Sean in the head with the butt of his blade, knocking him unconscious.

Gareth shot an arrow at William, but missed. Daryn stood up and took advantage of the distraction, knocking William in the head.

William saw his two partners go down and decided that this was a losing battle that wasn't worth dying for. He quickly fled the scene as one more arrow from Gareth's bow whirred past his head.

Daryn and Nathan quickly tied the two bandits up with rope and then they all let the adrenaline leave their systems.

“Is anyone seriously injured?” Gareth looked around the group.

“My armor is shot,” Daryn tossed the rags that used to be his leather armor to the ground, “Other than that, I'm fine.”

“I wasn't hurt,” Tina looked around the group.

“Nor I,” Nathan spoke up, “How long do you suppose these two will be out?”

“A few hours at the least,” Daryn examined the two bandits, “They won't be causing us much trouble when they do wake up.”

“Why don't we just slit their throats and be done with them?” Tina eyed them, playing with her knife in her hands.

“Because,” Gareth looked at her sharply, “We're better than that.”

“Yes,” Daryn agreed, “Now let's go. There will be more inside and we must be prepared.”

07 October 2011

Better Backstories

A character's backstory is a great tool from which to draw for both GMs and Players; it is also a great way to engage everyone on more levels of the game. So, why is it that we settle for such poor unoriginal stories? Why are all the parents dead? From where are all these orphans coming? It's a real epidemic, but it helps explain the lack of friends or enemies. These characters were never properly raised and don't know how to interact with other people—what else could explain their behavior?

Next time you start a game, tell yourself and your players that you will not settle for mediocre characters anymore. “Because you always wanted to” is not a good enough reason to join the militia. “Because your parents forced you” is not a good enough reason to pursue a career in magic.

These characters often have nothing to lose but their possessions and their lives and they risk all of it every day. Why is that? Why are they willing to put their lives in so much danger? Money is not a good enough motivation, and neither is depression due to the loss of family. What is the goal of the PCs?

Try this, make a list of things you could use from the backstories of your characters: people, events, places, items, etc. Take that list, and use everything on it.

If your list isn't as long as you'd hoped, then next time you run a game, ask for something more acceptable. Make your players flesh out your world for you. Ask for a friend, an enemy, a place, a meaningful event, and a special item, and make sure every PC has one in his or her story that links to the PC in some way. If you have a party of four, you have twenty plot items for you to abuse.

A Friend

A childhood friend, a pen pal, a friend from work, a close cousin or brother, etc. This person means a lot to the PC and should have a large impact on the PC's life.

An Enemy

A childhood rival, an evil twin, an evil landlord, etc. This person has caused deliberate harm to the PC on more than one occasion and causes the PC's blood to boil at the mention of her or his name.

A Place

Home towns are too easy and will not do. You need something less obvious. A first dungeon, a mysterious island that the PC stared upon as a child, a town to which the PC cannot go for fear of being hanged. These are more exciting and can provide more fuel to a smoldering game.

A Meaningful Event

This is something that has changed the PC's perspective on life and has led the PC to where she or he now is. This is something that haunts the PC's dreams. Births and deaths are easy, but acceptable. The death of parents is not acceptable. This can be a future event envisioned by the PC in a dream, or a massacre the PC took a part in, or an earthquake that swallowed a mountain. Something powerful with a bit of mystery sprinkled in.

A Special Item

This is something that the PC and others revere. Perhaps, it is a family heirloom or the ancient hero's sword that the PC now carries or the necklace the PC's daughter made before the PC left for good. Whatever it is, it's important.