Features > Tell Me About Your Character > Greg Schneider

Your name: Greg Schneider

Location: Helena, Montana, USA

Age: 30


Family: I have a wife of seven years and two boys, ages 6 and 2. (That's the children, my wife is older than that. . .really.)

Pets: When people ask me if I have a dog, I used to say “yes, a tabby” because I used to have a cat that acted just a like a dog. (Run to greet me at the door, jump int the car with us when going places, you name it.) But he disappeared a year and a half ago and I haven't recovered.

Regardless, I still have two other cats and I name all of my pets using Elvish. (Elena and Palin) My wife drew the line at naming my children using Elvish. It was probably for the best.

Religion: Roman Catholic. Despite this I hang out with a lot of Pagans. In fact, I know of three couples where a Roman Catholic married a Pagan, and we joke about doing a book called “Pagan Women and their Catholic husbands”. Regardless, I am very happy being a Catholic and have no conversions to paganism on the horizon.

Political party/affiliation: None. I don't really like the ideas of parties as a whole, but understand their place in politics. I am relatively conservative with lots of liberal ideas.

Education: I have a degree in computer science and English literature.

Hobbies/Activities: I hike and camp, play basketball (despite my size and build) and play the piano. My family are really as close to professional hikers/campers as you can get but I never really went down that road. There is very little I enjoy more then basketball (even gaming). I started playing the piano to sooth my youngest son when he was upset and have been doing it regularly ever since. I write up my own pieces.

Community service: I have a never ending goal to reform anti-social gamers into respectable members of society, but it’s a lot like working on world peace. I do give blood regularly and work for a non-profit (even if that non-profit is a health insurance company.)

What is the most frightening thing you've ever done? The most frightening gaming thing I ever did was decide to run a LARP at the local convention despite having never played in a LARP previously.

But that really wasn’t half as frightening as the time I decided to audition for a play. I’m not an actor, but I had made a resolution that if someone was going to be showing “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead”, that I would audition. So, one winter my theater friend comes over and tells me that the local college is putting on R&G and that auditions are open to anyone. So I had to go down and audition with a bunch of college kids who did this regularly and hope to get a part. That’s scary. It took all my willpower just to walk out of the door of my house, and sitting in the mostly empty auditorium waiting for the auditions to start was like a bad nightmare where you don’t have any clothes on.

But I got a part, despite having to explain to the director that I had never acted before. So it was worth it. Facing your fears usually is.

Which of your accomplishments are you the most happy with? I completed a marathon a couple of years ago, which was a huge life goal. But it is always hard to vote against your kids. Mine are pretty cool. Although it was a great accomplishment to survive my second son’s head to toe eczema at four months old, where he would scream all day and then not sleep at night. Try that for a month and you find out how strong your marriage really is.

What is your favorite word? I’ll go with three: Grainflail, Thanoff, Khurbul. These all come from my Harnmaster days. Say them together, like a mantra...

What is your favorite time of year, and why? Summer. Because there are only three months you can go hiking in the Beartooth Mountains (my second home) and those are the months.

What is your most prized physical possession? I lose things, so it is hard. I could say my Chaos Orb (Magic the Gathering Card), but only because it represents all that was right with the concept of the game and at the same time all that is wrong with how the game is played today (because it is banned.) And because I can get fanatic magic players to drool over it and then riffle shuffle it without a protector in front of their faces.

But really, I have this red fleece pullover jacket with holes from fire embers that is way to big for me that I would have a hard time losing, even though it is so worn out I don’t wear it to work unless I want to look like a homeless person.

Did you have any embarassing nicknames as a kid? Some girls used to call me Fred. But it wasn’t really all that embarrassing. Most of my nicknames came from college and even then they were used sparingly: Elder God (my position in dorm hierarchy), Red Sheep (due to my aforementioned red fleece), and Fearless Leader for no real good reason.

What makes you cry? Anything that can get me emotionally drawn in. Otherwise known as a good story. Some things (like fantasy movies) I am suckers for. I even cried during Narnia, which tells you how much a sucker I am for a good story. The ultimate would be the death of Sturm during the Dragonlance chronicles. (Hope I didn’t ruin that for anyone.) I have NEVER managed to read through the “Battle of Pelennor Fields” (from Return of the King) without going to tears, even the 10th or fifteenth time.

What are three things you can't live without? GMing – my brain goes numb without the creative process. And sunlight, much to the chagrin of my theater tech friends.

If you could have one superpower, which power would you pick? This is easy. Shapechanging. And I’d get myself into a lot of trouble, too. But that’s why I role-play – so that I can try out other identities without actually getting myself into trouble.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Herpatologist (Reptile
Scientist). Still not sure why that never happened – somehow I ended up
with a computer degree and I don’t even like computers.

What is your favorite mode of transportation? Walking. I walk to
work every day, I hike a lot. It lets you think.

If you could pick any other time period to live in, which would
it be, and why?
The past – when things were simpler (okay, not
really) and I could own a sword and actually have it be useful instead of
a decorative ornament for my wall.

Tell us about your favorite RPG character that you've ever played. I will go with Gusar, my insane Paladin of Larani. We played in Harnworld and used 2nd Ed. AD&D while I was in college. I played him once a week for four years straight, maybe missing a couple of sessions the whole time. So there a lots of good stories. . .so hard to pick which ones. . .

Gusar was convinced he couldn't be killed, that his Goddess would not allow it, so he was frighteningly overconfident in any combat situation.

One time, the characters were given the task of ridding a castle of a horde of viking invaders that had moved in. Our plan was to dress up like gods and scare them off. So all made up to look frightening, Gusar strides through the gates to meet the Viking warlord in battle. Yelling things about the futility of facing gods while the clerics dowsed the castle with lightning, Gusar pulls out his sword and immeditally fumbles, throwing it away. No problem for Gusar, he pulls out his bastard sword. And fumbles it away too. But that's okay – because he also carries a dwarven battle-axe with all these runes on it. But it doesn't last either, a third fumble sends it bouncing away into the courtyard. So, still facing the warlord, he makes an impassioned speech about “not needing such tools to deal with the likes of you” and proceeds to beat the snot out of the Viking with his bare hands. I think that was better then the plan.

One more story – Eventually Gusar figured out that even though he was immortal, his companions weren't. So, upon a dangerous quest to infiltrate an entire fighting order of evil female paladins, Gusar slips out of camp early at dawn to deal with them himself, because it is too dangerous to bring the rest of the party along. So he walks up to the gate and starts yelling at them about being cowards and vermin. They see this lone Knight and get an idea. They open the gates, tell Gusar that they will set up a challenge match with their greatest warrior. Gusar accepts, they set him up in the dungeon (not taking his weapons mind you, because he promised not to start any fights) and prepare a ritual killing masquerading as a duel. Meanwhile, the rest of the party figures out what Gusar did, sneaks into the castle during the preparations for the battle, getting ready for what is to come. Now Gusar, sitting in the dungeons, knows that his quest is actually to convert this evil champion to his Goddess, a task he has no real experience at accomplishing, but he read a few books on this courtly love thing, so he comes up with a plan. They put him in the arena with the champion, and he promptly kneels down in front of her and proposes marriage. At the same time, the party manages to kill the high cleric and Grandmistress in one round. With chaos erupting all around, the confused Champion agrees, and Gusar and her run off. Of course, Gusar has to actually marry her, but that's another tale.

What are your favorite RPGs? Rolemaster is my bread and butter game, and game of choice. But I really do go out of my way to play other things. I am very fond of Over The Edge and Harnmaster. I consider my copy of Primal Order as the most important RPG in my collection. I also have to give nods to 7th Sea and Legend of the Five Rings (at least for setting purposes.) I own every Birthright source book ever produced, have an extensive collection of MERP modules and enjoy the times I get to play Tales from the Floating Vagabond.

What was your first RPG session like? What game did you play, and where did you play it? There was this red box. We made some characters. We all got killed by the carrion crawler under the broken gate. We made some more characters. They also got killed by the carrion crawler under the gate. We made another set, we added my friend’s brother, so we would have a chance against the carrion crawler. It killed us anyways. We decided I had better play a cleric. This time we made it.

What was your WORST RPG session like? Oh gosh, the selection, the selection. Was it my encounter with Timmy the power gamer? Or the time I stopped GMing and just duct taped my arm, ripped it off and did it again? Or one of my RPGA sessions gone bad? Or the time the player decided NOT to open the secret door and save the rest of the group but to run away and let them all die? Or the session where we spent three and a half hours of combat with only one character conscious? I think I've said enough.

Who is your all-time favorite person to game with? I'll vote for my friend Eric Kolman, who I grew up role-playing with and pretty much always plays the same character. It is a very fun character! But I will say that I have gamed with a very large number of excellent role-players and feel very fortunate every time a meet another one.

Do you have anything gaming-related to plug? Come visit my brand new website – www.blackshieldgaming.com – which is mainly a gaming blog and place for Montana gamers to organize events. But I have at least one of my gaming resources ready (The character creation worksheet) and will be adding others throughout the year.


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