Features > Tell Me About Your Character > Paul Cardwell

Your name: Paul Cardwell.
Location: Bonham, Texas.
Age: 74 in April 2007
Sex: male.

Family: Wife, 2 grown kids, 6 grandkids, all other
relatives have died.

Religion: United Methodist; diaconal ordination.

Political party/affiliation: Green Party US; Fannin County (TX) chair.

Education: BA, Southern Methodist University; MS, University of North Texas (The Attacks on Role-Playing Games was to be my thesis, but they switched me to the journalism department which permitted only statistical theses, not historical research. If I had used the CAR-PGa Media Bias Study, I never would have gotten my degree because they don't believe the mass media should ever be criticized!).

Hobbies/Activities: Music (trombone, guitar, recorder, tub bass, ballad chaser before radio tainted the folk songs); writing (mostly nonfiction); folk board games (many have been commercially marketed: Chinese Checkers (halma), Othello (fan mein), Pente (go ban), etc.); both recreational and museum model building before effective tremor set in.

Community service: Trombone, Paris Municipal Band (summers), Fannin County Community Band (all year); civil rights; Committee for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games (CAR-PGa).

Just to test the stereotype - Have you ever lived, or are you currently living, in your parents' basement? Basements are rather rare around here. I
grew up with a rather standard ground floor bedroom. I left home
to go to college, but returned for three years when they moved
a half mile from the school, left again to get married - 50 years
ago come September.

What is your favorite way to spend a weekend? Games on
Friday nights, cons on Saturday (if any), church on Sunday; TV,
reading or writing in between.

What is the most frightening thing you've ever done? As municipal recreation director, I forced the parasitic suburb to build proper recreation centers. (Four of the activities were getting national coverage.) I never got to work in municipal recreation again, and indeed had to leave the country to feed my family. Blacklisting is no urban legend, and a professor of recreation administration verified it in my case.

Which of your accomplishments are you the most happy with? Getting peer-reviewed papers on RPG published.

What is your favorite word? Bill of Rights (which, of course, includes obligations). So, it's
three sylables and a couple of spaces - it is still one word!

How many languages do you speak? English; read French fairly well; decipher Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, rusty on Dutch.

What is your favorite time of year, and why? Spring; wildflowers are in bloom.

What is your most prized physical possession? My library.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Younger, but only if I could keep my knowledge; I don't want to make those mistakes again when I could be making new ones.

What was your favorite toy as a child? I don't remember, probably something scientific like my dad's old microscope.

What makes you cry? Figuratively - my lacrymal glands don't work too well. Injustice ended (or at least abated) - from the Berlin Wall being torn down with sledge hammers and cold chisels to the Marseillaise scene in Casablanca; Music, particularly Mozart or Beethoven, but so does Danny Kaye's rendition of Malvina Reynold's "Turn Around" - and that before I even had a daughter; "Tom's" letter to his sister about the 1914 Christmas truce.

What is your favorite section of the newspaper? Comics - the only place The People rather than multinational corporations get support in the papers.

What are three things you can't live without? Love, beauty, and imagination.

If you could have one superpower, which power would you pick? The ability to read, write, speak, and understand every language - including abstract ones like music and math.

What did you want to be when you grew up? As a child? Archeologist (never did); museum modeler (did that).

What is your favorite mode of transportation? An Arthurs hybrid (plug-in electric car with an onboard generator for long trips, and will fit on a flat car for very long trips). It and the rail infrastructure don't exist yet, but should, although a few of the cars have been home-made, but not by me.

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? As part of designing a six semester-hour course, Introduction to Appropriate Technology (the human-scaled, nonpolluting, non-exploitative sfsystems of living), I toyed with a term project of "describe a country which uses AT exclusively, explain how it got that way". I tried and ended up with a 105,000 word novel which no publisher would even read, much less publish. Set in the Pacific south of Cook, its flag was light blue with a yellow sun with wavy rays. I will use Vita's.

Tell us about your favorite RPG character that you've ever played. My favorite is
always the one I am currently playing.

The best one for an individual combat exploit was Chira, a centaur in Mythworld.
She was still a beginning character and we were using an old RuneQuest
scenario involving scaling a tower, which she couldn't do. Alone, she was
attacked by a tuskrider knight (a species of diurnal troll riding horse-sized
pigs). With a joust-like charge, she lowered her lance at the last instant,
skewering the tusker. Even though only 35% at shield parry, she deflected the
enemy lance. Then spent the next eight rounds and most of her fatigue points
finishing him off!

For non-combat, it would be Sabra Wellspring, a halfling alchemist. Again, another system's scenario with Mythworld rules, the missing courier from Iron Crown's Middle Earth. The band headed to the waterfront dives to get information while Sabra was cleaning up the house the band had rented and setting out her shingle. Late that night, the rest of the band returned, having barely escaped a couple of brawls and with no information. Sabra had hired some neighborhood kids to help with the cleaning, who knew exactly where the courier was held, traded some medicine for some training, and established her reputation for quality products. All with no particular danger - at least until the rescue where she took out two of the guards, one with a captured crossbow she had never used before.

What are your favorite RPGs? Mythworld, because I designed it, so it would be my favorite. I started RPG with RuneQuest 2 (Mythworld was originally a proposal for RQ3, but too detailed for Greg Stafford's tastes). I also like Toon. I designed Nuclear Winter, a nuclear holocaust survival game, but the Cold War fell apart before I could market it.

What was your first RPG session like? It went rather well for all beginners (including the referee). It was RuneQuest 2, and played on a rather dead Saturday afternoon in the back room of my bookstore.

What was your worst RPG session like? A convention game of Teenagers from Outer Space. The problem was that one player disapproved of jokes which are the heart of the game and the rest couldn't think of any, leaving me like a stand-up comic working a totally potted audience.

Who is your all-time favorite person to game with? As players, there are too many to recount. There are two as referee: Randy Ray because he was always testing the use of Mythworld rules and other system's scenarios; Dan Richards because of his undeserved reputation as a "killer ref" - he never tried to wipe out the PCs, he merely played the NPCs as though they were his own PCs and they never rolled over and played dead, and rarely retreated.

Do you have anything gaming-related to plug? Three things: I doubt anyone out here in the boonies will read it, but we have some making a 100+ mile trip to help testplay the first revision of Mythworld since it was published in 1985. First, third, and fifth Friday nights, in Bonham (contact carpgachair@yahoo.com for directions).

CAR-PGa needs members all over the world. We are an international research network studying all aspects of RPG, including use in curriculum and therapy as well as recreation. Dues are merely documented work for the cause and you can get full information by going back to the home page of The Escapist and clicking CAR-PGa.

Finally, Mythworld (the old dot matrix boxed set) is $35.00 including US shipping ($5.00 more elsewhere). Subtitled Realistic Fantasy, it is easy to learn - just add polytheism, magic, and other intelligent species to what you know and play. Movement is actual meters per second, the square-cube law and second law of thermodynamics are still in place, etc. The Bestiary was used by the Dallas Museum of Natural History for an Olympics tie-in because that is the
only place with the speeds and jumping distances in one volume. When the revision (more of an expansion, as the rules worked quite well) is completed (2007 or 2008 - we keep finding something else to test), all changes will be included in a separate book, so you can update the original without having to do a complete retooling. And we have testplayers who are cold-testing it outside the previously mentioned group and would accept more.


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