Features > Tell Me About Your Character > Theron Bretz

Your name: Theron Bretz
Location: The Greater Houston Area, Texas, USA
Age: 42
Sex: Male

Family: Both parents alive and married to each other. Two younger brothers. Married, one child (a boy, almost 6).

Religion: None. I’m a-religious, not athiestic.

Political party/affiliation: My politics are pretty far to the left of even the Democrats, but I usually vote with them because I’m enough of a realist to want to feel like I have a say in the process.

Education: I was president of the “Wargame Club” my senior year of high school (MacArthur HS, San Antonio, TX, Class of ’81). I have a couple of years of college under my belt towards a degree in History, but I never finished.

Hobbies/Activities: I spent about 17 years in the SCA and quit when a combination of internal politics and my own inability to fight anymore took the fun out of it. Other than that, I read a lot and play guitar rather poorly.

Community service: I’m employed by a non-profit medical clinic. Some might say that’s more of an enlightened self-interest thing, since I’m paid to help people, but what I do for a living and how it affects others matters a great deal to me.

Just to test the stereotype - Have you ever lived, or are you currently living, in your parents' basement? Basement? Oh, you mean those underground rooms they have up north. No.

What is your favorite way to spend a weekend? In Austin, with The Missus, tooling around, visiting friends, hitting Dragon’s Lair, the best game store in Texas, hitting Book People, the best bookstore in Texas, and going to the largest Whole Foods I have ever seen.

What is the most frightening thing you've ever done? Willingly: Witnessed the birth of my son. Unwillingly: Fell off a 20’ cliff and walked away. That one was only scary after the fact.

Which of your accomplishments are you the most happy with? Right
now, it would be having carved out a new career niche at the Clinic where I
work. I spent five years as an administrative assistant before taking over
the IT and Facilities management with no real prior experience and have
done quite well at it.

What is your favorite time of year, and why? Autumn, or what passes
for it down here. Because I am ill-suited for warm weather and Houston has
that in spades.

What is your most prized physical possession? As I’ve gotten older, I find myself less and less attached to things. There was a point when I would never have considered parting with any of my RPGs, but in the past few years, I’ve sold off about a quarter of my previously substantial collection. But of the things I do hold onto, probably a baseball is the dearest. It’s an American League ball from a 1972 Texas Rangers/Boston Red Sox game, fouled off by a Rangers pitcher named Bill Fahey (this was back before the Designated Hitter rule). It was my first major league game, I was nine years old and mad for baseball. A friend of my dad’s had gotten us seats right behind the visitor’s dugout in Arlington, and the ball came over the backstop, bounced off the dugout roof, and my dad grabbed it. He held it for a moment and then handed it to me.

It took me years to understand that moment. At nine, the enormity of getting a Major League ball was lost on me. My dad was a lifetime fan of the game and there he was, holding the Holy Grail, so to speak, and he handed it to his baseball crazy son without a second thought. It’s sitting on my bookshelf in a little Lucite cube right now.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My inability to see a personal project through. I suffer from “Gamer Attention Deficit Disorder” and tend to leave a lot of projects undone.

Did you have any embarassing nicknames as a kid? Apart from being picked on for being skinny and small (I’m 6’2” and 180 lbs now, so there!), I didn’t really get nicknames so much as suffer abuse for being a bit of a dreamer and having a name that rhymes with “Karen” and “Sharon”, a fact that often had me absent-mindedly answering in class when the teacher had called out a girl’s name. Oh, the horror.

One of my friends in 8th grade started calling me “Theron Oakenshield”, but I didn’t get the reference, so he introduced me to The Hobbit instead. Thanks, Stewart! Without you, I might have grown up to be a CPA or a fighter pilot.

What was your favorite toy as a child? GI-Joes. The real ones, the 12” figures. When I was little, Joe was still strictly a military guy, but I was there for the advent of the Adventure Team, with Kung-Fu Grip and beards.

What makes you cry? Lots of stuff, I’m a huge sap. Since the birth of my son, I’m very easily affected by portrayals in the media of kids or families being threatened. I totally teared up watching “Lilo & Stitch” at the thought of Lilo being taken into protective care.

What is your favorite section of the newspaper? The funny pages. The Boondocks, Doonesberry, Foxtrot, and Dilbert. Every day, without fail.

Do you have a useless talent that no one else that you know can do? I can make the perfect grilled cheese sammich.

What are three things you can't live without? My wife, my son, and books.

If you could have one superpower, which power would you pick? I
want to be able to teleport tremendous distances safely and without error.
Most of the time, this fantasy involves being able to see friends who live far
away. Sometimes though, I must admit it involves The State of the Union
Address and a bucket of hand grenades.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
At age 4, a zookeeper.
From 7-12, a veterinarian. At age 14, an Army helicopter pilot. At age 17,
a theatrical lighting technician. At 20, a history teacher. At 40, Neil Gaiman.

If you could pick any other time period to live in - including the future - which would it be, and why? While there are periods in the past I’d love to visit and see, I’d rather stay in the here and now. Failing that, the mid-1990s, prior to the tech bubble bursting. We had money then and were doing pretty well for ourselves.

You've just purchased a small island off the coast of any continent of your choosing, and you are preparing to start your own country there. What does your flag look like? Probably a quartering of mine and The Missus’ SCA heraldry. Mine: Per pale argent and gules, a Cross of Toulouse upon a sun counterchanged. Hers: Gules, a lion’s jamb within a bordure embattled or.

Or maybe a black field with a pair of worn d20s. Pink and white, like those hideous ones that came in the old TSR Box Sets. I’ve still got a couple that are almost worn round from the years they spend in my jeans pocket in high school.

What is one thing that you regret that you would go back and change if you could? In 1984, I voted for Ronald Reagan for President.

Tell us about your favorite RPG character that you've ever played. That would be Troubadour, for Champions (HERO System 4th and 5th editions)

Background/History: Many would say his business card puts it best:

Warrior, Poet, Lover

While Troubadour certainly cultivates a mysterious image, it's hard to consider someone who lives his life in the glare of the limelight truly secretive. Troubadour has been active on the superheroic scene for over a dozen years. While little actual information is publicly bandied about regarding Troubadour's past, it's all there if someone wants to look at it.

Born Geoffrey Larrocque, of the Usher Heights Larrocques, Geoffrey was raised in the lap of luxury. As a second son, there were fewer expectations placed on him that his older brother, Andrew, leaving Geoffrey to pursue whatever interests struck his fancy.

Fascinated by his family's history of piracy and derring-do, Geoffrey developed an early flair for the dramatic and flamboyant, a flair that served him well when he was cast as D'Artagnan Junior., in the hit TV series "Young Musketeers". The series ran for four seasons, giving Geoffrey free rein to indulge all of his swashbuckling fantasies. In his years on the show, he became a capable gymnast, fencer, and martial artist.

At the end of the show's run, Geoffrey went off to college, where he majored in liberal arts and gaining his passion for jazz. One year short of graduation, he left school to travel the world. This trip, however, was cut short by the tragic death of his parents in a plane crash, leaving Andrew in charge of the family fortune.

Andrew, unlike Geoffrey, saw little of value in Geoffrey's interests, the family history or, in fact, anything he deemed "old fashioned". Determined to take the Larrocque name to new heights in business, he decided to sell the family estate and use the funds for start-up venture capital. Horrified at the thought of losing his home, Geoffrey used the remainder of the money from his television days and a goodly portion of his trust fund to buy out his brother's half. Andrew agreed, with the agreement that Geoffrey keep his distance from Andrew's business interests and do nothing to besmirch the family name.

At the age of twenty one, Geoffrey Larrocque found himself the sole proprietor of a forty five room mansion and an incredible case of boredom. His brother's stipulation limited his social calendar; he missed basking in the limelight; and even the mansion itself seemed less alive. Apart from furtive forays to local jazz clubs, he became more and more reclusive.

Until he had his first taste of superheroics.

One night, as he left his favorite club, Geoffrey found himself in the middle of a superpowered firefight. Blue Beacon was taking on Dumpster Diver and the self-proclaimed "genius of junk" was getting the better of the Sapphire Sentinel. Seeing an opening, he caught Dumpster Diver unawares, knocking the piece of trash out cold. At that moment, a new world opened up for Geoffrey. It was exciting! No, it was exhilarating!

Actually, it was all over the papers. "Geoffrey Larrocque, millionaire and former TV star defeats noted supervillain".

Andrew was livid. He threatened legal action. He threatened to cut off Geoffrey's inheritance. He threatened physical violence.

In the end, Geoffrey apologized. It seemed the best thing to do. After all, he hadn't intended to make a public splash. If it weren't for those mask-wearing weirdoes, none of this would have happened. Wait a minute – masks! Of course! He could don a mask himself. After all, he'd already defeated a supervillain, how hard could superheroics be?

Taking inspiration from his swashbuckling heroes and fashioning himself a costume from old bits and pieces culled from the show's library, he set forth to fight crime as The Bard. Using a limited knowledge of pyrotechnics culled from the stage, he crafted skull-shaped bombs to aid him against particularly difficult opponents.

It may have been a silly concept and a sillier costume, but it gave him the freedom he craved. As The Bard, Geoffrey could go forth and conquer, without bringing down the wrath of Andrew. He served a short stint with the Sentinels, (as do many fledgling heroes in the Vanguard Universe), but left over "personality differences". Realizing that The Bard identity was just ridiculous, he disappeared from the scene for a few weeks, only to re-emerge as Troubadour. A year later, he had his name legally changed to Troubadour, in order to appease Andrew, whose business flourishes in Empire City. Since that time, he has been a constant, if not particularly diligent, thorn in the side of evil.

Five years ago purchased a jazz club in downtown Fair City, and named it (appropriately enough) Troubadour's. He makes the scene there a couple of times a week, unless he's off saving the world. Troubadour's is one of the top jazz clubs in the nation, attracting every major act and a host of rising stars.

While he's matched wits (and crossed blades, so to speak) with many supercriminals, there are a few that stand out in his rogues gallery. Cap'n Skulldugger has been a perennial thorn in his side (their chosen motifs do seem to attract one another don't you think?). Secondly (and more dangerous) is the Troubadour Revenge Squad. This is a group of women who, having been spurned by Troubadour at one time or another, acquired superpowers and banded together with the intent of making his life miserable, or at least enlightening him to their feminist agenda. The TRS membership currently includes Large Marge (leader with growth powers), The Shrew, Dollface, Digitalice, and Fury (as in Hell hath no...) due to Troubadour's romantic nature, the group is always recruiting new members.

Personality/Motivation: Anyone with a business card like that can't possibly have low-self esteem problems. And he doesn't. Troubadour believes in living life in CAPITAL LETTERS. If there are multiple ways to accomplish a task, he will inevitably choose the one that shows his abilities off in the best possible manner.

Still, it's important to note that Troubadour has a strong altruistic streak and a sense of noblesse oblige. He comes from the old-money liberal school of politics and has no problem devoting his time, energy, and money to worthy causes. In some cases, this makes him seem like less a superhero and more a garden variety celebrity since he does spend so much time making appearances. In other cases, his strong liberal politics fairly boil to the surface; he excels at asking other superheroes the sort of hard questions the costumed set confronted in the "relevancy" period of the late '60s and early '70s.

Quote: "Forgive me, my dear, I just have to polish of this ruffian and then we'll get back to this delicious...conversation."

Powers/Tactics: Troubadour is a straightforward comic book martial artist. He uses his Find Weakness against slower opponents before leaping into battle and uses his high DCV to avoid damage. If he does get hit, he'll probably go down rather quickly and knows it.

History: In the Fair City campaign, Troubadour started out as a bit of a hero in need of redemption. He was somewhat caught up in his own celebrity and had gotten away from what brought him into the game in the first place, namely the thrill of the chase and the chance to deal with Society's ills head-on. As a member of Vanguard, he slowly moved into a leadership role, and along the way found what appears to be lasting love with his team-mate Gorgon. After her secret identity was revealed and her career as District Attorney ruined, the two of them set out to "Find America, the Real America."

Appearance: Troubadour stands 6'1" tall and weighs around 185 lbs. He has wavy blond hair, a mustache, and goatee. His costume consists of a gold singlet, with a black stylized "T" on the right breast. His boots and gloves are black, along with his mask, which he wears in all public appearances, even though he makes no effort to hide his identity.

What are your favorite RPGs? The HERO System (particularly Champions) is
the one I’ve played the most and the longest, though I’ve grown less fond of it in
recent years. At the moment, I’m running Mutants & Masterminds, so I’d better be
liking it. Others that I would put in my all-time faves list include Pendragon,
RuneQuest (2nd Edition), Villains & Vigilantes, Call of Cthulhu, and D&D.

What was your first RPG session like? My first true RPG session was D&D,
the original J. Eric Holmes Basic Set. It was September 1978, the beginning of
my sophomore year, after school on a Friday afternoon. My friend, John
Brotherman ran an adventure for me and another guy (might have been Rob,
might have been Olen, I can’t remember now).

I had two PCs, a fighter named Feahor the Fearless and a thief unimaginatively named Theron. I don’t remember a lot of it, to tell you the truth. It was the dungeon that came with the set. I think Theron died.

Before that, I’d played a lot of Metagaming’s Melee and Wizard, as well as Death Test, which was a programmed adventure set in a dungeon, so one of those sessions

What was your WORST RPG session like? Beyond a doubt it was a session I’ve taken to referring to “Deadlands in Cannibal Country With Larry.” It’s really too long to recount in all its glory, but it was so awful, so hilariously horrific, that when I posted it to the Deadlands mailing list, Shane Hensley asked if he could put it up on Pinnacle’s website. Here’s the link: http://www.peginc.com/Downloads/Humor/DeadlandsinHell.htm

Who is your all-time favorite person to game with? My favorite players were my original Champions crew – Bobby, Perry, Steve, Charles, and Chris. We were a bunch of rabid comic book geeks with a set of rules that let us do what we wanted, and we made magic. The best GM I ever played with was a guy from California named Doug Garrett. He ran a Justice, Inc. one-shot at Origins in 1984 that totally blew me away and changed my entire approach to GMing in one fell swoop. Here was a guy using cinematic references and disposing of the rules when they got in the way of the pace of the story (which was breakneck). It was like nothing I ever saw, and I adopted his style as quickly as I could manage.

Do you have anything gaming-related to plug? I’m always interested in meeting new gamers in the Houston area. Feel free to drop me a line at tbretz AT gmail DOT com.


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