Features > Tell Me About Your Character > Christopher Byler

Name: Christopher Byler, aka Xaos Bob
Location: South Dakota
Age: 35
Gender: Male

Family makeup: I am the only rooster in the henhouse, with a wife, two daughters (one grade school, one preteen), and nearby mother (and soon, mom-in-law). If I could convince my sibs-in-law to move, there would be two of us, but for now, I am decidedly outnumbered.

Religion/politics: I am an odd combination in this day and nation. I'm a liberal Christian. I think what Jesus taught was simply to love people, and anything more is just detail and sociology.

Edumication: I'm working toward an MA in Archaeology, back in school again after 15 years. It was my first stint in college that introduced me to role-playing. I had grown up in a church environment that discouraged individual research—if the church said it was bad or evil, you were expected to simply take it at face value and trust your elders. My mother raised me better than that, though, and in college, I finally had my first contact with gamers. I borrowed copies of the Second Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook and Dungeon Master Guide, read both cover to cover, and discovered that everything I had been told about the game was wrong.

Just to test the stereotype - Have you ever lived, or are you currently living, in your parents' basement? I have never lived in my mom's basement. We live in a bright, airy, second-story duplex apartment. A troll lives in my mom's basement.

What is the most frightening thing you've ever done? This one is fairly easy. When I was a teenager, I had an opportunity to climb up into a 70-foot fire watchtower in a state forest. The ladder was narrow, the rungs bit into my hands as a climbed, and the higher I got, the more the entire ensemble swayed. I made it to the top, feeling the tower lurch with the wind, and while the ranger said it was normal and we were perfectly safe, I was very hesitant to descend again. At least in the tower, there was a floor to stand on and walls to contain us. Going back down the ladder was treacherous and terrifying, and I simply jumped the final ten feet down, so great was my haste. Even that day, though, I was glad I had done it... just that climb down sucked.

What is your favorite word? Acrocanthosaurus. Elegant name, elegant animal.

How many languages do you speak? One, though I do know how to count in
Spanish, French, German and Japanese, and I can say "thank you" in fifteen
languages. Probably the most important phrase to know in any language.

What is your favorite time of year, and why? My favorite time of the year is
autumn in full swing. I love the colors, I love the spicy-sweet smell of fallen leaves
and the tang of woodsmoke, I love the temperature, I love the fact that winter is
soon to come.

What is your most prized physical possession? My wedding ring. It's made from part of the same spoon my father used to fashion my mother's wedding ring, and my wife wears that ring as her engagement band.

What was your favorite toy as a child? Well, considering I never got a hold of Colossal Fossil Fight, the nominees are reduced to one. I bought a blue-grey plastic Civil War-ish cannon at a garage sale for a nickel, pulled the wheels off, turned it around, and it became a starfighter. I got more mileage out of that starfighter than any other toy I had.

What makes you cry? It depends. If I'm watching a movie, appropriately heartbreaking scenes (or heartwarming scenes) make me cry. Of course, in the latest American incarnation of Godzilla (and more recently, Peter Jackson's King Kong), I cry when the monster dies. My wife is very tolerant. ;)

If you could have one superpower, which power would you pick? I've always been torn between two. I'd either like phenomenal speed (the Flash from DC Comics, or mutant Brain Griffin on Family Guy), or the ability to freeze (Iceman from Marvel Comics, or Dr. Freeze of
Batman fame). Both appeal to me, though if I had to stick with only one, I'd have to say speed.

What did you want to be when you grew up? From the age of 2, a paleontologist, specialized in dinosaurs. I still hold that as a hobby, but that interest in the past is still expressed in my continuing education.

What is your favorite mode of transportation? I love to fly. I haven't done it nearly often enough, but whether I'm in an airliner, a Cessna or a crop-spraying helicopter, I love to fly. Someday I would love to skydive, which arguably isn't flying, but falling, but still…

What is the one thing you want to do before you die? I want to watch the sunrise while sitting on the black sands of Suruga Bay in Japan. A book, Japanese Inn, details the history of an inn that overlooked that bay for centuries, and since I read it, I've wanted to do this.

Tell us about your favorite RPG character that you've ever played. My favorite RPG character was an archer named Musashi Taki. He was the first character I ever rolled up, shortly after discovering the truth about gaming for myself. He was for Second Edition AD&D Oriental Adventures, a tiger hengeyokai, a shapechanging animal that can assume human or hybrid forms.

Taki began as a simple enough character. He was a prankster, and a dead shot with a bow. He was married to a human wizard, and they adventured together in the Forgotten Realms' Kara-Tur region for a number of years. When the Time of Troubles came, and the gods wandered the land in human form, his wife was murdered by one of them.

Carrying his wife's ashes in a lacquered box on his back in the hopes she could one day be revived, he wandered the whole of Faerun, seeking the holiest, the wisest and the most pious to entreat their gods on his behalf. His wife's remains were beyond resurrection, however, and her spirit evaded their supplications. Taki trained with elves and drow, labored alongside dwarves, defended human towns and taught orcish tribes to be self-sufficient. He was seeking, still, though it took him years to figure out what it was he sought.

And then he knew. Since he could not have her back, he wanted revenge. His mind
thus determined, he made his way to the Outer Planes. Shielded by the
strength of his convictions, he remained invisible to the prying Powers'
eyes and minions. Each faction in the planar city of Sigil found reason
to back him, and his zeal became a hunt, and his hunt became legendary.
Subtly aided by Tiamat, the one deity he allowed to recognize him, he
honed his skills on the slopes of Olympus and Celestia, refined his aim on
the battlefields of the Blood War, improving his ability to levels of perfection
surpassing even the great heroes and, eventually, the gods themselves. He
challenged minor Powers of lust and gluttony to duels, setting their divine
corpses adrift in the Astral as mute testament to the unknowable wandering "Godslayer".

People began to worship this unknown figure, honoring his quest for justice and perfection. Shrines sprang up all around the Great Wheel, and the number of his followers grew, until the day when their belief actually made him a god.

Knowing he could not challenge Hachiman on his own turf, Taki made an arrangement to gather the gods together at the most neutral meeting place of all—the spire at the center of the Outlands, under the shadow of Sigil itself, where no magic nor divine power functions, and all are rendered equal save for training and knowledge. It was at this great multi-pantheonic gathering that Taki revealed himself to the (understandably nervous) Powers. He revealed that Hachiman had been his target all along, for the murder of his wife…but then something peculiar happened.

Taki forgave Hachiman.

He apologized to the gods for causing them distress, and was willing to dismiss them, but the gods turned as one to the offender, questioned him, and finding him guilty as Taki had charged, did as the gods always, in the end, do. They took it upon themselves to administer justice, stripping him of his deity and offering it to Taki in recompense.

But Taki was gone. His wanderings had brought him to the Elysian fields, where he had found the spirit of his beloved. Now he set aside his acquired divinity, built a small cabin in Elysium, and began the process of wooing his wife all over again…

What are your favorite RPGs? Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and Shadowrun, though I've tasted the old Call of Cthulhu game and found it interesting, too.

What was your first RPG session like? It was an eye-opener, playing with Taki in Second Edition AD&D Oriental Adventures with my newfound friends in our college dorm. It was the beginning of two long-term friendships (two of the crew are in my current gaming group) and a lifetime of wonder with role-playing.

What was your WORST RPG session like? Even games with poor DMs or irritating players or clunky game mechanics (real or imagined) have never qualified for this question. I always have a ball when I play.

Who are your all-time favorite people to game with? My best friends, Greg and Michael. Both of them bring such creativity to the game, whether through their characters or from the DM's side of the screen. Both are good "out of the box" thinkers, which is sort of necessary in games I run, but also wonderful for games I get to actually play in.

Do you have anything gaming-related to plug? It isn't much, but I have a cobbled website that is undergoing a constant revision. Mostly what's there is some equipment, some musings and some of my artwork. More is added as time goes on, based on how busy my life is, but what's there may be worth looking at. All of it is free for private use, though it is all copyrighted (and not OGL material) - http://www.angelfire.com/d20/bladedcage/


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