About Me

My name is Joshua, and I am a fan of fantasy and gaming.

Me drumming with the Tongans
The earliest memories I have of the public library in the town where I grew up--from the mid-70s, and before I even started kindergarten--were of the fantastic and the strange.  I got a book about dinosaurs because I thought it was so cool (still do, by the way.  Dinosaurs are one of my first and greatest loves.)  The first movie that I remember seeing in theaters (I was five when it was released in 1977) is Star Wars, and it had a profound impact on my tastes in fiction right away.

Ever since, science fiction (and even moreso fantasy) have been my favorite genre, and I love to tinker with writing stuff.  When I got introduced to the idea of roleplaying games--during the heyday of Dungeons & Dragons' most notorious and popular phase in the early to mid 80s--I found the concept to be brilliant.  Here, in a collaborative format, I could create the kinds of novels and movies that I liked in an improvisational and unpredictable (which made the whole thing that much more fun) way.  By this time, I'd read Lloyd Alexander's books about Taran and Prydain, and was well on my way to reading J. R. R. Tolkien's famous Lord of the Rings and that was the mold I wanted my games to aspire to.

One thing that I discovered fairly quickly was that D&D was not really meant to do what I wanted it to do.  The rules mechanics were very gamist, and the designers envisioned a game wherein fairly disposible and uninteresting characters went into random "dungeons" and solved puzzles and fought monsters for treasure and experience.  What did that have to do with the books that I loved which made the whole concept of D&D interesting to me in the first place?  Precious little.  While many gamers wandered astray from the D&D brand during the years of the relatively unpopular Second Edition, I left before then--neither the Basic sets (and their expansions) nor Advanced Dungeons & Dragons gave me the experience I wanted.  While I played some other games here and there, I mostly got busy as I started heading into my teenage years, and gaming fell off my radar.  I wasn't a gamer; it was a hobby that I was academically curious about and had dabbled in in the past was all.  I started driving, I started dating, I got fairly excited and interested in hiking and camping and--you know--life went on.

See?  There I am hiking in Big Bend National Park

Part of what kept me in the hobby in any capacity whatsoever was the timely release and subsequent incredible popularity of novels based on D&D; specifically the Dragonlance novel line, and then R. A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realm novels.  While I'm largely dissatisfied with D&D novels these days, I quite enjoyed the original Dragonlance trilogy, and the original Halfling Gem trilogy, and still hold them out as decent examples of the fantasy genre, and the paperbacks of them that I bought (from Half-Price books; used) I still deem good enough to hold on to and occasionally dust off and re-read.  In other words, they're at least as good as the majority of mainstream novels in the genre.  Which isn't necessarily saying much, but there you have it...

Because of this, I would still occasionally haunt game stores and the game section of book stores, seeing what was going on.  I got caught up in gaming again shortly after getting married when a friend of mine "came out of the closet" as a gamer, and ran a Top Secret S.I. game for me and a few friends.  The bug bit me again--strongly--and I in turn ran a game for them too, also using Top Secret. By this time, the Internet was starting to come to prominance (mid 90s), so it was easier to connect with gamers and at least talk about gaming, even if I wasn't really actually gaming all that much still.  In this way, I became aware, near the end of my stint in grad school in 2000, of the impending release of D&D Third Edition.  Because I now had money and some free time, I heavily invested in the game in a way that I never had before with older D&D.  And, mostly, I found that it fixed a lot of the problems with D&D that I had.  Or, more truthfully, it was flexible enough to allow me to avoid them, even if they were still inherent in the game.  I was now firmly a gamer; it was one of my main hobbies, I'd spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on gaming related crap, I talked about gaming online, and now, I've even been running this blog for a few years that talks about gaming more than any other topic.  I'm a gamer.  Loud and proud.

Me at Glacier National Park
The more recent developments are that 1) I've become more and more dissatisfied with the latent D&Disms still inherent in the Third Edition rules.  Then Fourth Edition came out, and frankly, it strengthened some of the things that I already liked least about Third Edition rather than fixing them.  It kinda went the wrong direction.  Plus, I still don't feel like I've "amortized" all that money I've spent on Third Edition yet.  I'm still happily gaming in that edition, don't need a "supported" game (because I don't really need new product, and because my houserules make much of it kind of wonky to use as is anyway) and kind of dropped out of the market as a customer.  I guess I just really don't need any more gaming stuff, and I only occasionally pick stuff up that really sounds interesting to me.  These days, this is mostly Paizo stuff, both because it's more likely to be fairly compatible with the d20 rulesets that I prefer, and because I just like it anyway.  From a setting standpoint, those guys are pretty solid.  And 2) my taste in fantasy has also migrated.  I used to love the traditional high fantasy, but along with the cultural zeitgeist that is producing wildly different types of fantasy novels in tone and theme, I find myself staying away from Tolkienisms these days, and looking to explore something else.  Not that I don't still love Tolkien; it's just that his many imitators are more likely to compare unfavorably rather than favorably to him.  Plus, it's all been done before--many more times than was necessary--the genre is in serious need of broadening its horizions.

Thus, the genesis of DARK•HERITAGE; a setting for gaming and fiction that has a different feel than classic fantasy; an exotic place that combines fantasy with other loves of mine; my love of the American West and hiking and otherwise being outdoors in areas of spectacular and scenic wilderness, my love of swashbuckling and pirate historical romances, my love of supernatural horror, my love of action thrillers and stories of intrigue and crime and noir, and heck--even my love of paleontology.  With a ruleset heavily modified to accomodate this setting, I've found myself--indefinately--good to go with my gaming for a long time to come.

Also, since I'm kinda an egomaniac, there's a bunch of pictures of me on this page.  Here's a few more.

On the beach, with Chinaman's Hat in the background
After hiking to a waterfall in the mountains of Oahu
With my lovely wife after hiking to the arch on Mackinac Island
Me and my "noble steed" in Flathead National Forest
Me and the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park at sunset

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