Features > Tell Me About Your Character > Mike Czaplinski

Name: Mike Czaplinski
Location: Gaithersburg, MD
Age: 41
Sex: Male

Family: Oldest of 4 brothers (none of whom seriously game anymore), parents divorced, father dead. I’m married to a non-gaming wife. No kids, but three nieces and a nephew.

Pets: None right now (we watch dogs for friends regularly, however)

Religion: Roman Catholic (though I prefer to think of myself as an American Catholic, since I have some serious disagreements with church doctrine).

Political party/affiliation: Independent (though lately I’ve been voting Democratic).

Education: Bachelor’s Degrees in English & Psychology

Hobbies/Activities: I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that gaming is my primary hobby. I do own a house, however, and that keeps me busy. I also enjoy yard sales, used book stores, old & weird movies, history, and reading.

Community service: My day job is in the IT department of a major
non-profit organization. I also volunteer for Hospice Caring of
Montgomery County (MD), mostly as a ‘Big Buddy’ for Camp
Caring, their annual weekend camp for children who’ve had a
close loved one die (www.hospicecaring.org)

Just to test the stereotype - Have you ever lived, or are
you currently living, in your parents' basement?
In the
BASEMENT? No. I had my own room, thank you very much.


What is your favorite way to spend a weekend? At a science fiction convention.

What is your favorite time of day? The period between the time my alarm clock goes of and I actually get up. I tend to hit the snooze button 2 or 3 or 4 times, and I love the feeling
of dropping right back to sleep afer shutting off the alarm.

Which of your accomplishments are you the most happy with? Getting and keeping my current job (which is quite rewarding both professionally and emotionally).

What is your favorite word? “Yes”

How many languages do you speak? 1.1: I was an English major, and can slightly understand some Spanish and American Sign Language

What is your favorite time of year, and why? Halloween. I love dressing up in costume, and at least that once a year I can do it without getting too many weird stares.

What is your most prized physical possession? My lightsabre, given to me by my brothers for my 40th birthday last year

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Less lazy, more discaplined & organized, especially creatively.

Did you have any embarassing nicknames as a kid? Many. When you are blessed with a non-Anglo-Saxon nickname like “Czaplinski” you hear all sorts of variations on it: Zap-linski,
Tchaikovsky, Chap, Mikey likes it.

What was your favorite toy as a child? Anything STAR WARS or STAR TREK related. And my stuffed Hamburglar doll

What makes you cry? Lots of stuff: thinking about the Kennedy family, the movie SNOOPY COME HOME, the songs of Brian Wilson (especially DON’T WORRY BABY and CAROLINE
NO), you name it. I’m a big softie.

What is your favorite section of the newspaper? Arts & Entertainment, followed by the comics and the weird news column.

Do you have a useless talent that no one else that you know can do? My thumbs are double jointed; I can bend them at darn near a 90 degree angle.

What are three things you can't live without? Books, White Castle Hamburgers, Dr. Pepper.

If you could be one superhero, which hero would you be? Batman, definitely. His only super power is supernatural discipline

What did you want to be when you grew up? An Astronaut. Michael Collins, to be precise.

What is your favorite mode of transportation? My car (Toyota Matrix ’04).

If you could pick any other time period to live in, which would it be, and why? The period between the end of WWI and the end of WWII. Most of our modern conveniences would be around, and the fact that science and technology were still seen as forces of good in the world would make me very happy. And I love the fact that you could wear a fedora & a single breasted suit and not look out of place.

What is one thing that you regret that you would go back and change if you could? I’d go back in time and save my friend Jo from beind murdered.

What is the one thing you want to do before you die? Have a book published, or become a media commentator (Radio or TV, none of this hinky newfangled INTERNET stuff for me!).

Tell us about your favorite RPG character that you've ever played. Without a doubt, my character in the Living Greyhawk RPGA campaign: Django Stonereaver. He’s a dwarven sorcerer whom I made because in earlier D&D games I’d never really played them, and I wanted to play a dwarf who wasn’t stereotypical. Through playing the adventures for the
game, as well as from postings to the local group’s Yahoo message board,
Django has arisen as a very distinct character: a slightly less than skilled
sorcerer who makes up for it by being a conniving (but good natured) con man,
thief and pursuer of women of all species (though he has a particular sweet spot
for elven women).

Probably the best exploit I had had nothing to do with the actual module we were
playing: By simple role playing alone, I convinced one PC to declare his love for
another PC (both PC’s were played by a real-life husband and wife, so it didn’t get
too hinky). A little later in the same module, I burglarized one of the main NPC’s of a
item that another NPC wanted, and of course it turned out that the 2nd NPC was a bad guy. Fortunately, I had anticipated it, and managed to keep out of reach of said baddie and his rather formidable henchmen until the rest of the party could arrive to save my butt.

What are your favorite RPGs? Call of Cthulhu, followed closely by the original Star Wars RPG (from West End Games), and then Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. D&D v3 & 3.5 are pretty good, too: very reminicent of WFRP, actually, in some ways. I also like the now out of print game Blue Planet (but could never find a group of people to play more than a couple of sessions of it), as well as Tony DiGeralmo’s Compleat Mafia for d20.

What was your first RPG session like? It was 1979. I was a freshman in high school (Franklin High School in Somerset NJ), and my friend Sonjay Tandon told me about this cool game called Dungeons & Dragons. There was even a D&D club in my school, and that’s where I first played. I was an elf fighter/magic user, and we went through a home made dungeon created by my friend Ron Rhodes, that involved a colony of amazingly friendly kobolds, piercers and stirges and lots of other weird stuff.

What was your WORST RPG session like? Probably the Call of Cthulhu game I ran once for a bunch of total strangers I’d met at a Doctor Who convention. Turns out they were an existing group of friends with some bad interpersonal stuff going on, and the session was just hideous. A close second was a game in the RPGA’s Living Arcanis campaign. The DM was very very poor, a person who I’d played with once or twice and who had proved himself to be less interested in playing the game on its own terms, but was more interested in rules lawyering and grabbing as much loot for himself without regard to teamwork.

Who is your all-time favorite person to game with? My friends Adrian Stein and Bill Kronick. Adrian taught me to play D&D, as he was one of the first people I met in my high school D&D club, and Bill was another high school buddy who learned to play D&D at the same time I did. At first, Bill was a bit of a munchkin (aren’t we all?), but in short order he became an excellent player and DM, to the point where he is now a semi-professional improvisational comedian.

Do you have anything gaming-related to plug? Well, I know two ‘big name’ game designers: Keith Baker (creator of WOTC’s Eberron campaign setting) and Tony DiGeralmo (comic book artist, writer and creator of Compleat Mafia for d20). I’d like to give them a plug.


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