Celebrity Game Table Archive
Chris Pramas: The D&D Chainmail World
Andy Collins: Spelling is Everything
Peter Adkison's Ilboria Campaign
Operation: Deepfreeze - A Montecon Adventure
Thomas M. Reid: The Lunchtime Dungeon Crawl
Daneen McDermott: The Sumberton Campaign
Ed Stark: The Campaign Kick-Off
Rich Baker: Return to the Tomb of Horrors Campaign
Peter Adkison: Random NPC Generator
Philip Athans: The Tegel Campaign
Sean Reynolds: The Praemal Campaign


Celebrity Game Table
Operation: Deepfreeze - A Montecon Adventure
By Will McDermott

The Players Speak

Want to know more about the players of Montecon's "Operation Deepfreeze"? Here's what the participants had to say about their roles and tactics.

Dan Kaufman (Commander Talbot Ricks, human)

Who are you?

I'm a customer service rep and one of the top Magic rules experts in the department, as well as an original playtester for the third edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game. I've played D&D since the late '70s. I have written numerous magazine articles (for TopDeck) about the Doomtown, MLB Showdown, and Magic trading card games. I also wrote the adventure "Snow Job" for Star Wars Gamer and a Star Wars web adventure featuring some items from The Secrets of Tatooine sourcebook. I am currently working on a D&D supplement, The Book of Challenges, with Mike Selinker, Gwendolyn Kestrel, and Skip Williams.

What did Andy tell you about your character before the game?

Andy told me that Ricks was a leader that tended to second guess himself. He also said that I had a loyal soldier (Owen) and that my first officer was usually right, despite the fact that he tended to question my authority. I was then briefed about the mission in general.

How did this information affect your roleplaying?

Second guessing was a shoe-in, since I therefore figured I couldn't make a mistake. If there was a mistake in the game, it was roleplaying whether or not I intended it to be. The leadership role came naturally, of course.

What was the coolest moment of the game for you?

I don't know about a moment, but I enjoyed watching Owen (Lt. Ozrick) miss so many die rolls, from a roleplaying stand point. Here was a guy trained for combat and loyal to the end but he just kept missing. I also liked it when Chris (Secondhunter Goroch Khefaroth) realized that the sorcerer (Lt. Prefect) was flying the ship and decided to stab him to stop the mission.

Tell us something about yourself that's not public knowledge

I've written several screenplays, one of which is registered with the Writer's Guild of America. I just finished a play about a guy who bases all of his adult relationships on this perfect girlfriend he had in second grade.

I never dream about people I know.

Will McDermott (Lieutenant Yuri Prefect, half elf)

Who are you?

I'm the executive editor for the Online Media department at Wizards of the Coast. Previously, I worked in the periodicals department as senior editor of Duelist magazine and then editor in chief of TopDeck magazine. I have written trading card game guides for both Magic: The Gathering and the Pokémon TCG and have a published short story (with my wife, Daneen) in The Myths of Magic anthology. I am currently writing a Magic: The Gathering novel entitled Judgment that should be out in June of 2002.

What did Andy tell you about your character before the game?

Andy told me that I was a half-elf, but considered myself to be full elf, and that I knew I was a better leader than that fool Commander Ricks. As second in command, my character also thought that Ozrick needed to stay in his place and that the halfling was not even worth my time.

How did this information affect your roleplaying?

I usually play a pretty congenial character, being a pretty happy and cooperative person by nature. During "Operation: Deepfreeze," I looked down on everybody and made sure they all knew that I was superior, snapping at both Owen (Lt. Ozrick) and LJ (Private Horsam) whenever they got "out of line" and making snide comments about Dan (Commander Ricks) any time he spoke. (Okay, that wasn't too different.)

What was the coolest moment of the game for you?

When Ed saw the alien creature scuttle out of the "eye" (the front portal of the ship) and dart behind the rocks. He told Chris what he'd seen in gibberish, but when Chris turned to us to translate, he said, without a moment's hesitation, "The great face beckons." At that point, we all knew for sure (the players, not the characters yet) that Chris was a traitor.

Another great moment happened at the end. After Ed knocked out Chris, we tied up the traitor, and then Ed administered a couple healing potions to bring Chris back to consciousness. Apparently Ed's character had threatened to toss Chris's character out of the ship if he had been lying. So Ed got Chris conscious just so he could haul him up to the portal and toss him out of the ship, thus keeping his word. It was, perhaps, the most gruesome moment in gaming I've ever witnessed.

Tell us something about yourself that's not public knowledge.

I once placed an ad in Dragon magazine (about 10 to 15 years ago) for a self-published RPG guide called How to Put More Character in Your Player Character. I sold about 20 copies, which I think paid for the ad, if not the printing costs of the book.

Owen Stephens (Lt. Marcus Ozrick, giff)

Who are you?

I'm a game designer in RPG R&D, writing for the Star Wars line. I wrote the Star Wars fast play game, and worked on the Rebellion Era Sourcebook and Alien Anthology (neither of which is out yet).

What did Andy tell you about your character before the game?

Lt. Markus Ozrick is a proper military soldier. He doesn't like magic much, doesn't approve of sneaks, and isn't impressed by primitives. He thinks the commander is a bit young, but definitely a good man. Also, he's a giff, making him a proper military hippo.

How did this information affect your roleplaying?

It was clear that the only person I'd really get along with was the commander, and that I was supposed to take orders from him. I saw Ozrick as similar to an English sergeant from the 1800s (the fact that he carried a musket reinforced this idea). I tried to maintain proper discipline and order, even when I was the only one I was giving orders to.

What was the coolest moment of the game for you?

Toward the end of the game, Commander Ricks (Dan) and Ozrick were facing a monster with 10-foot reach on the back of a spelljamming ship, and right next to us was a hole to fall out of. I had my musket ready, but felt the need to make a full attack action, as the monster's Armor Class was too high for me to hit very often. Unfortunately, if I took time to draw my greatsword, I'd only be able to make a single attack. I couldn't even back up and fire with my musket, because I'd take an attack of opportunity and I was down to 3 hit points. So instead, I used the musket like a club. I only hit once out of two attacks, but managed to knock out the monster, thus narrowly winning the fight.

Tell us something about yourself that's not public knowledge.

I'm about to start working on the Wheel of Time game, and as a result I'm currently trying to read all nine available novels in the space of about a month.

LJ Stephens (PFC Dudley Horsan, halfling)

Who are you?

I am a freelance artist. I work at home. Owen (Lt. Ozrick) is the game writer in our family!

What did Andy tell you about your character before the game?

He told me that my character was basically the scout for the team. He was generally a prankster, but knew his boundaries, especially when it came to Owen's character (Lt. Ozrick).

How did this information affect your roleplaying?

Well, I took all this into account when dealing with Owen's character (Lt. Ozrick) particularly. Also, I expounded the idea and assumed Horsam was a fairly easy-going and fun-loving guy. I think I made that clear when dealing with the hunters. As we were in a military situation, I was aware that actual practical jokes were probably not appropriate, so I stuck to verbal stuff.

It affected my roleplaying a little in that I was more outgoing that I probably would have been. Military roles aren't my bag, so I was prepared to be quiet and follow orders for the most part. But as the character seemed to lend himself toward talkativeness, I found myself getting on with the other players more than I likely would have otherwise.

What was the coolest moment of the game for you?

When we realized that Chris (Secondhunter Goroch Khefaroth) had been duping us. He did a great job in translations! Haha!

Tell us something about yourself that's not public knowledge.

Currently, I am taking a few art classes at Renton Tech in an attempt to get back into the swing of fine art. I have been out of school for a year because we just moved to Washington last summer. I plan to go back to college in the fall to complete my BFA.

Ed Stark (Firsthunter Kullervo Forothallen, uldra)

Who are you?

I'm the creative director for Dungeons & Dragons. I lead the team that designs and edits product for the Core D&D line. I review much of the D&D material that comes out of Wizards of the Coast (unless it is world-specific or in Dungeon magazine), and I represent the core RPG R&D team to the rest of the company and, occasionally, to our customers. Prior to being creative director, I was assistant brand manager and designer in the Alternity group, and before that I was the lead designer in the Birthright group. I came to TSR back in Wisconsin from West End Games. I've designed a host of products, and my most recent D&D adventure appeared in the first Dungeon magazine that used the new D&D rules. It was called "Evil Unearthed."

What did Andy tell you about your character before the game?

Andy told me that my character would be a native of the planet, a "firsthunter" (and what that meant), and that I wouldn't speak the language that the rest of the party spoke, but that I could pick up a few phrases during the adventure. At the table, he told me I had a trusted friend and lieutenant (Chris's character, Secondhunter Goroch Khefaroth) who would act as my translator.

How did this information affect your roleplaying?

I had to try to not listen to (or act on) things I heard most of the party saying. That wasn't too hard as I simply tried to tune out what they talked about and listen only to my translator's interpretations. As my character became suspicious of Chris (secondhunter Goroch Khefaroth), it became more difficult, because I still had to pretend to not understand what others were saying, but my character had to try to understand, if you know what I mean.

It was very interesting to know, as a player, very early on that Chris's character was trying to betray the rest of the party, but to have to roleplay a character who wanted to give him every benefit of the doubt.

What was the coolest moment of the game for you?

On a few occasions, as my character's suspicions of secondhunter Goroch grew, I took Chris aside and we talked in character about what he was doing and why. Chris roleplayed his character very well. He obviously didn't want to lie to my character (as we both had great respect for each other), so he couldn't really deny what he was doing -- but he couldn't explain it, either.

At one point, my character flat-out confronted Chris's character with the evidence of his betrayal -- and gave him a chance to convince my character that what he was doing was right. If he'd tried, I think my character might actually have abandoned his motivation and taken up the traitor's mission. (My character was very tribe-oriented, but may have prized the honor and friendship of his long-time friend even over his sworn duty -- but it would have taken some convincing.) But, for whatever reason (again, probably his own honor), Chris's character did not go wholeheartedly over to deceiving my character. At that point, we pretty clearly established that we were on opposite sides, and that was pretty interesting.

From then on, it became a roleplaying exercise to know that whatever secondhunter Goroch said on my behalf, or to me on behalf of the rest of the party, was questionable. I had to try to "work alone" to keep the rest of the party from getting themselves killed while keeping an eye on my fellow hunter.

Tell us something about yourself that is not public knowledge

I have a background in English language studies. I have two master's degrees, one in English (literature) and one in education, as well as a BA in creative writing. I mention these not to be pretentious (yeah, sure), but because Andy's game and my role in it actually gave me a chance to take some of my linguistic knowledge out for a road-test. While the only language I can actually speak or read is English, I'm a big fan of Old and Middle English literature, and I enjoy messing around with creating fantasy languages that make some small amount of sense. That's probably one of the reasons I'm a huge fan of J. R. R. Tolkien. I not only love his fiction, but I've actually studied some of his writings on language and linguistics, and I particularly enjoyed his translations of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and other Middle English stories and poetry.

Chris Perkins (Secondhunter Goroch Khefaroth, uldra)

Who are you?

After writing more than two dozen adventures for Dungeon magazine, I was hired by Wizards of the Coast as the magazine's editor in 1997. Almost four years later, I continue to serve as the magazine's editor in chief and art director, but I'm now also the editor-in-chief of Star Wars Gamer magazine. My freelance projects include a number of AD&D and Alternity game supplements, including Warriors of Heaven and Planet of Darkness.

What did Andy tell you about your character before the game?

The day before the game, Andy said that I'd be playing a character with a secret agenda/ulterior motive. He told me that my character would be allied with Ed's character (Firsthunter Kullervo Forothallen), but that my primary goal was to ensure the failure of the other characters' quest. That's all.

Minutes before the game, Andy described the relationship between Ed's character and mine -- that I would serve as his translator and second-in-command on a diplomatic mission. He also enlightened me on the reasons behind my character's treachery. (He serves a group of xenophobic separatists who are resistant to any alliance with outsiders.)

How did this information affect your roleplaying?

Once I learned that Ed's character (Firsthunter Kullervo) would be unable to communicate effectively with the other characters -- and that I would be his translator -- I decided to roleplay my character as a scheming but seemingly harmless and good-tempered mediator, misrepresenting Ed's character as subtly as possible so that my motives would be difficult to peg down. Basically, Ed and I would speak gibberish to each other, and then I'd turn to the other characters and say something that would distract the party from their primary goal or make us sound unable to help them. This was especially easy, because the others knew little about our race, and they were very concerned about being diplomatic. One of my favorite lines to avoid combat was, "We would help you fight [the monster], but the gods would punish us for stealing your kill. This beast you must fight alone."

I knew that my character would invite suspicion from the other players, but I had to make certain that their characters had no reason to suspect my character was a genuine threat. I tried to play the character as conniving, but not adversarial. That way, the other characters would despise him for seeming cowardly and self-serving, but they wouldn't kill him for being outright capricious and destructive. For example, Ed's character (Firsthunter Kullervo) might say (in gibberish): "You are injured. It would be smart to rest and recuperate." I would interpret that as: "He says we should press on, even though we are wounded. He says our wounds make us strong!"

What was the coolest moment of the game for you?

That moment came when Ed's character finally turned on my character, sundering my character's axe before I could deal a "death blow" to the group's immobilized sorcerer (Lt. Prefect). I also enjoyed the moment where my treacherous character was cast off the flying ship and sent plummeting to his death. A cinematic and ignoble end for a slimy villain.

Tell us something about yourself that is not public knowledge

I'm Canadian, and despite my best efforts to shed certain linguistic inflections, people still recognize me as Canadian when I speak. I've banished the word "about" from my verbal vocabulary -- it's a dead giveaway. And another thing: Not all Canadians say "eh!" At least, I don't (and never have).

 





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