John O’Brien

I’ve been gaming since the early eighties… I started in 4th or 5th grade with Dungeons & Dragons and Star Frontiers. After that entrée, AD&D 1st then 2nd editions were the primary staples all through grade school and college. I’m a HUGE Forgotten Realms, Birthright and Planescape geek.

I added BattleTech to the mix in high school, and then the various Storyteller games after college. Over the years, there were various other games sprinkled throughout… some had some staying power amongst my various gaming groups (Cyberpunk, Call of Cthulhu), others quickly fell by the wayside (Shadowrun, RIFTS, GURPS).

The past decade has been peppered with a lot of indie gaming. I don’t remember the names of 90% of them… my gaming group in Boston had a nice jag of running mini-campaigns in a lot of different systems for awhile a few years back. One that I’m currently digging is InSpectres (which I am currently using as of this writing in March of 2010 to run Howard Hughes’ Men of Action).

Oh, and Castle Falkenstein. Love, love, LOVE Falkenstein. That counts as an indie game, right? 😉

I’ll admit: I don’t read a lot of gaming blogs. While I enjoy the hobby, and I’m interested in the nuts n’ bolts of game design and tinkering with rules, reading the kind of wonky game theory or after-play reports one finds on sites like The Forge, Story-Games or doesn’t really appeal to me. I’m a working professional who is rapidly approaching middle age, and I have other things to do with my valuable free time… that Netflix queue isn’t going to watch itself! But I did read 20×20 Room back in the day because I personally knew many of the folks involved, but more importantly: I respected their opinions. Many of those same dudes are here now, so I followed. And since I had gotten bit by the DIY bug and written my own game (Caper! A Game of Pros and Cons), Chris asked if I wanted to contribute, so I figured “well, if you want to hear about my existential wangst over being neither a simulationist grognard[1] nor a narrativist hippy[2], sure.” To quote the Bard: One foot on sea, one foot on shore; to one thing constant never.

I guess I see my role here as mostly being a gadfly– the slightly ignorant outsider (or: the slightly out-of-touch insider) who asks dumb questions, tips sacred cows, and tilts at windmills.

Okay, maybe gadfly isn’t the right word… how about barstool boor?

[1] See, I started to drift away from D&D during 3e… the rules bloat and what I felt was the undue complexity were becoming too much work rather than fun. And the one time I played 4e, well, let’s just say I don’t think it is the game for me. Yet I still ❤ Classic BattleTech, so go figure.
[2] Read between the lines of my previous comments about The Forge and Story-Games, and I’ll just leave it at that. I don’t want to offend you, gentle reader, any more than I may already have. 😉

2 Responses to “John O’Brien”

  1. Getting away from pre-gen characters in Lady Blackbird « Claw/Claw/Peck Says:

    […] it appears the bloom may be fading from 4e. If you read my bio on this site, you’ll see why I’m not terribly broken up by these rumblings coming from […]

  2. Gentlemen, to evil! | Claw/Claw/Peck Says:

    […] John and I whipped up a Pathways system based on the Smallville RPG, and out first session was to follow the flowchart and make the relationship map. It was a lot of fun, and it created a lot of interesting twists the players hadn’t considered, but we should have talked more about themes and directions before setting off into it. And we made some assumptions/mistakes – we left out the step from Smallville that everybody defines their connection to all the other PCs. I’d said (but perhaps not very clearly) that I’d wanted the group to be an already established crew. It turned out very much not that way and the first two sessions have almost entirely been trying to get the PCs together. […]

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