I guess I should start out by telling you where my parents were born, and all that David Copperfield kind ofwait a minute, wrong person.
Here's the short version, my gamer's bio:
New: I've created an AccessDenied.Net Gamer Database profile.
Want to know anything else? Then here's the long version:
I was born in the last year of the baby boom, which placed me on the cusp of generational changea good position to observe all sides. I existed in some form but was not born before JFK was assassinated. At heart I've always been a bit of a Victorian, combined with a wild-eyed futurist. Needless to say, I didn't fit in.
I started reading at a fairly young age, and encountered science fiction earlyeither my father brought me a copy of Asimov's Foundation, or else I came across volume I of The Science Fiction Hall of Famein any case, I was hooked. Since my reading speed is way too fast, I've read a lot of books. Not just SF and fantasy, by the way; I enjoy many mysteries, and even the classics. I'm a flat-out readaholic, and I'm just grateful that something in my brain allows me to re-read and enjoy my favorites again and again, about once a year. If I couldn't do that, I'd run out of reading material!
I first encountered fantasy roleplaying in high school. It was a AD&D game, and I went nuts over it like so many others. But the game I was in was pretty awful; the GM showed horrible favoritism (oh, the stories I could tell), and I ended up out of the hobby for several years.
In college (Allegheny College, Meadville PA) I met a bunch of other gamers, and soon got into a game. It was AD&D, and again pretty poor; the GM basically required every player to have a secret background that required them to betray and kill all the other PCs, even if it made no sense. I'm not really sure where he was coming from, but I'm pretty sure he had issues.
Fortunately some of the other players in the game were also into good roleplaying, and before long I was introduced to RuneQuest 2. I was a bit unsure; the concepts were so different! But I gave it a try, and before I knew it I was having the time of my life.
We played other games as well; Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, Traveler, even Bushido. But we always came back to RQ. Eventually RQIII came out, and although there were some aspects of it that were less than perfect, on the whole it was agreed that the best game system had become even better.
After a while my friend Bill started a new kind of game: sheetless. As GM he kept track of all game data; all that the players knew about their characters was what a real human being knows about themself. In other words, you could know that you were strong, even know how much weight you could normally lift (if you were the type of person who'd know that), but you would not know that your Strength was "17", or that your Sword Attack skill was "78%".
It freed us. Without character sheets and stats to distract us, everyone became incredibly involved in the personalities of the PCs, and in the drama of their situations. The result was a truly mind-blowing game. Many of the games run after that point were done sheetless.
Somewhere along the line my friends mentored me into becoming a GM, and (I think) a pretty decent one. Each of the three regular GMs in the group had a strong point: Bill created incredibly interesting and intricate puzzles and plots, and implemented a story arc campaign that was infinitely more satisfying than the usual "serial" style game. Geof brought a strong artistic vision and sense of drama to his adventures, as well as a willingness to go an extra mile for weirdness (there was one time that he ran a CoC adventure for me when I was on codeine with a bad case of the flu. When I failed a SAN check and became paranoid, he didn't tell me what had happened; instead he GMed the world the way I would see it as a paranoid. Very intense). I think that my strength was (is) my portrayal of NPCs (I'm told I'm a decent natural actor), plus my willingness to imitate the good points that I see in other GMs.
What else...after I graduated (Political Science and Sociology/Anthropology, a double major), I came to Boston, a place I've always loved. Met a lot of gamers, ran a game, made several good friends, got involved with amateur press (zines), wrote for The Wild Hunt RPG APA (amateur press association) for several years, and then started up my own APA when TWH failed.
Somewhere in there I also got heavily involved with computers and bulletin boards. I spent a lot of time on the Argus BBS, which was a very large local system with a lot of users. I'd heard of the Internet in college (in fact a very cool political science professor had tried to persuade me to get involved with itif only I'd listened!), but it wasn't until I heard about the RuneQuest Digest mailing list that Internet access became my holy grail. It took a while, but eventually I had three different internet accounts: one via MIT, one through a tech guy I'd met at Argus, and one limited one through a pretty cool small BBS. This was in the very early 90's.
Back to the main story. My APA was Interregnum, and it taught me a lot. I learned how to DTP, and got a lot of experience editing and proofreading. Every aspect of the APA was my responsibility (except for writing other peoples' zines, of course), and I copied, assembled, bound, and mailed all the issues. I also sent out literally thousands of sample issues and flyers all over the world, in the process learning why a person might want to "go postal". M-bags, for exampledo you know, no two PO employees would give me the same information about M-bags? And some of the people at the post office were incredibly awful...okay, change the subject. Oh, in 1996 I also taught myself HTML in order to publish a web page to support IR.
At the same time I started a site for my own RuneQuest scenarios, and although it has grown a lot and moved a few times over the years, it's still here...obviously.
Running and promoting an APA is backbreaking work, but I was able to cope with it until about 1998, when I burned out. It was all just too much, since I also felt an obligation as publisher to write useful (or at least some) comments on every single zine. It started feeling like homework, the bad kind that was pure torture. Fortunately Kiralee McCauley and Joe Teller rescued IR from the void to which most APAs go, and today it's still aroundcheck my links page to look in on IR. [Update April 18, 2003: IR no longer exists. ]
What else? I'm engaged, and will be getting married on April 21st 2001. I hadn't realized that as a gamer and certified geek I was allowed to get married (heck, I didn't even know it was possible, but here I am, surprised but happy. Here's hoping I won't drift away from gaming even when I'm a responsible married man. ;-)
[Update April 18, 2003: I haven't gamed in years, and with the recent collapse of a potential gaming group in this area, I'm coming to believe that I will never get to roleplay again.]
Update: I'm married now!
And still more news: we're expecting. The due date is early October. I'm stunned, but very happy. And as I've been saying lately, I'd be glad to have either a boy or a girljust as long as they're very easy to take care of. :) Seriously, I am hoping we'll have a little SF readaholic and potential gamer. There should be a good 50% chance of that. But no matter what, I'm happy that a new little life is coming to join usknock on wood!
[Update April 18, 2003: The baby is a year and a half old now, he's a boy, he has red hair, his name is John Sebastian Maranci, and in every way he's astonishingat the top of the charts in every way in which a baby can be measured, both physically and mentally. Will he be a gamer? Time will tell. But he does love books. And he's more wonderful than my wildest dreams.]
What else? I'm politically liberal but libertarian (with a SMALL-"el") on matters of personal freedom and morality and the First Amendment. But I also think that large corporations are a deadly danger to freedom; the US isn't anywhere near strong enough on environmental protection, and labor rights are criminally neglected here. I want to see strong and sensible controls on the economic sector; for far too long the wealthy and powerful have been running this country (and most of the world) as a private fiefdom, and now they're running into the ground for their own selfish gain.
Anyone who tries to convince me that liberal is a dirty word can bite me.
The theft of the Presidency by the current gang of Republican thugs was an assault on the very underpinnings of freedom. I for one refuse to be a so-called "nice" Democrat any more. For far too long political debate in this country has been grossly unfairthe Republicans free to commit any skullduggery no matter how vile, while the Democrats lie back and roll their eyes piously in the hopes that their good example will convince everyone to play nice. Screw that! It doesn't work, and it's time to fight back. If your principles matter at all, you have to be willing to stand up for them.
It doesn't help that the media is utterly in the hands of a few wealthy corporations and billionaires, all of whom have discarded all but the faintest fig leaf of impartiality. 99% of the mediaand I'm particularly including public TV and radioare wholly in the Republican's pockets. The situation is so bad that I am hard-pressed to imagine a solution other than the triumph of Republicanism, resulting in the re-creation of the USA as a banana-state society in which the wealthy live in beautiful walled compounds guarded by armies of thugs while the common peasants live or die at the pleasure of the elite.
Ah well. I do what I can to fight that fate. For one thing, I write cruel (but some say funny) political commentary for a few web sites under a pseudonym, which is secret. [Update April 18, 2003: My pseudonymic political personality died when I got fed up with the futility of online "activism". But I still keep an eye on politics.]
I'm 100% Armenian by ancestry, but have red hair and light skinjust a quirk of the genetic dice. I am outraged by the stuff that the Turkish government does to deny the fact that they killed one and a half million Armenians in 1915, including some of my relatives. There are thousands of documents proving this, including official US State Department ones and even photographs! And I'm not pleased that President Clinton and the Republicans have cooperated in killing off a bill that recognized the Genocide recently. If the US is willing to deny genocide for the sake of a political alliance (and in response to the threats of a foreign government), then what's next? Denial of the Holocaust? Allowing products made by slave-children in China to be imported into this country, throwing citizens out of work?
Note: unfortunately the last item has already happened, and has been going on for quite a while. It's not a "conspiracy" thing; dig a little bit in the newspapers and you'll find it, and sometimes it even surfaces in TV news when a celebrity like Kathie Lee is involved. But for the most part the mass media of this freedom-loving country is willing to look elsewhere for news. Oddly enough, many of the incredibly powerful men who own the vast majority of the media (and lobby to get permission to own more of it every year) aren't interested in this storyperhaps because they are profiting from those same women and children who are being exploited.
The rich and powerful have been screwing everyone else long enough, and it's time something was done about it. I just wish I knew what.
Okay, enough political ranting.
I can't really speak any language but English, but have a little bit of knowledge of a lot of languages. I once played Capulet (Juliet's father) in a stage production of Romeo and Juliet; I had a great time, and some said I was a natural actor, but it was so much work! Too much for me. I like chocolate ice cream, cats (I speak Cat fairly well), music of many kinds but most of all 80's new wave and odd rock like Oingo Boingo, They Might Be Giants, and Stan Ridgeway. In the classical field my primary loyalty is to Beethoven and Bach. Driving, I've been hit three times (plus my car was recently totaled while parked in front of my house): once by a drunk in an imported MG, once by a kid on an icy street in his father's Rolls Royce, and once by an oil truck that decided to change lanes into me. I've never been hurt, although my cars have. By the way, never never NEVER take anyone's word that you don't need to file an accident report or notify your insurance company. You dobelieve me, you'll be better off. And if you possibly can, get witnesses!
I have no middle name, never have.
I'm an old Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan, and have picked up the MST disease. Some people like the comments I make at the TV, some join in, and some don't watch TV with me. My fiancee puts up with it, and some day I'm hoping she'll join me.
I dream almost every night, and even though I'm getting older, I think my imagination is just as weird and fun as ever.
You wouldn't believe some of the weird stuff that has happened to me. I could write a book. Someday I will.
Want to know anything else? I love to get mail. So please write!
UPDATE 2005: I'm now getting over 5,400 spams per day, unfortunately, which has made it necessary to put some pretty severe anti-spam measures on my email. As a result not all mail makes it through to me. You can increase your chances of getting through by including [PRQ] in your email subject. If that fails, and you don't get a response after a week at most, please let me know with a post in my guestbook and I'll get right back to you!
And if you're really desperate, the Chatter link below will take you to something that might be called my blog if it didn't pre-date the concept by a few years.
UPDATE 2005: Chatter remains as an archive (I still do the occasional game-related entry), but most of my daily chatter takes place on my journal on LiveJournal. Some of the entries are friends-only, but if you're on LJ (and it doesn't cost anything), drop me a line and I'll add you.
[email protected] Copyright 2000 by Peter Maranci. Revised: February 11, 2005. v.1.8