Christopher Byler, aka Xaos Bob
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
your favorite word? Acrocanthosaurus. Elegant name,
languages do you speak? One, though I do know how to
Spanish, French, German and Japanese, and I can say "thank you" in
languages. Probably the most important phrase to know in any language.
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
soon to come.
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
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.
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. ;)
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.
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
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…
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
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
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
the battlefields of the Blood War, improving his ability to levels of
surpassing even the great heroes and, eventually, the gods themselves.
challenged minor Powers of lust and gluttony to duels, setting their
corpses adrift in the Astral as mute testament to the unknowable
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…
your favorite RPGs? Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and
Shadowrun, though I've tasted the old Call of Cthulhu game and found it
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.
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.
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.
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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