Sunday, September 09, 2007

Twenty Years Ago...AEGIS!

...I was a 22-year old kid fresh out of college with my career ahead of me. I was a substitute teacher, living in a student ghetto, working part time at a grocery store in the evenings. And I had just made friends that I would have for the next twenty years.

As I've written before, my friend Scott had been in a serious car accident and needed someone to drive him to the Champions game that he ran every week in South Bend. Champions is a role-playing game in which the players portray superheroes and roll dice to resolve actions that their characters would take. Think of it as improv with dice rolling. I had played in some Champions games while in college, but nothing serious. No one had the time to devote to a weekly game and study regularly too. I sat in on Scott's game once during the summer, but there was no room for another player at that time. I thought it was cool how these guys met every week, had professionally drawn sketches of their characters, and even had painted metal miniatures to represent their characters. When the opportunity came to join, I jumped at the chance.

We played at Doug's house at 1025 S. Esther. I've mentioned Doug before. We are still close friends to this day, except for the loser was supposed to call me back last night and never did. Every Sunday afternoon, I would drive Scott and myself to South Bend and have a great evening with Doug, Eric, Carl, Craig, Charles, and Brian. Here's an unfinished group sketch that I did back then of the team, which was called Aegis.

From left to right is Element (Carl), Silverwing (me), Ronin (Charles), Willforce (Eric), Thunderfist (Doug), Prism (Scott), Killshaft (Craig), and Apocalypse (non-player character). Looming over everyone in the back is Star Knight (Brian).

You can see the comic book influences of the day. Element could become an elemental creature based on the classic four elements (earth, air, fire, water). At that time there was a comic by Bill Willingham called Elementals. Silverwing was based more or less on a combination of Alpha Flight's Guardian with a flight suit and a shield like Captain America's. Ronin was a ninja. Willforce was the most unique character. A veteran with terrible hallucinations, whatever he imagined became real in the physical world. If he imagined firing a machine gun, invisible bullets would be fired. He was the only one who saw the effects. To everyone else, it looked like pantomime. Then came Thunderfist, the son of Thor (we were all big on Walt Simonson's work at the time, and I swiped a Simonson figure and adapted a new costume for his sketch, seen at left), and then light-based Prism. Killshaft was an archer, and Apocalypse was a Rambo-type Viet Nam veteran before First Blood came out. His name came from "Apocalypse Now." Star Knight was a Gundam. Brian was big into anime long before it caught on in the mainstream. He had import laser discs from which to draw inspiration.

Man, we had fun. I'll be writing about these times from notes I kept each week on Sundays. It should be just as much fun remembering those times.


Martin said...

Jim, wow - it was 20 years ago for the AEGIS campaign, eh? I remember that I enjoyed reading about their exploits in the APA, not to mention your wonderful artwork.

Jim McClain said...

Martin, it was 20 years ago when *I* started playing in it. It had already been going for quite some time. Maybe I'll get a guest blogger to write about that some time. I'm sure Doug wouldn't mind.