Features > Tell Me About Your Character > Rich Ostorero

Your name: Rich Ostorero
Location: Fresno, California, USA
Age: 52
Sex: Male

Family: Mom and dad, both quite elderly. Eldest of three; none of whom game. One daughter, 30, two ex-wives -- none of whom game. Fiance and stepson, both gamers to different degrees.

Pets: Three territorial adult cats -- Janey, Sophia, and Precious.

Religion: Eclectic neopaganism. I worship the natural world, celebrate the cycle of the year, and the pattern of birth, life, death and rebirth.

Education: Attended Modesto (CA) area public schools to the age of 18. Was always the "weird guy," into military stuff and things like board wargames. Enlisted in the US Navy, found board wargamers galore, and this new thing (in the mid-70s) called "RPGs." I picked up the white box set of D&D from Enterprise 1701 in Orlando, FL, and never looked back. Went to college to study Electronics and and continued to game.   

Hobbies/Activities: Blogging, Facebook, computers, WoW, Macs, coffee.

Just to test the stereotype - Have you ever lived, or are you currently living, in your parents' basement? I am not, have not and have never lived in my parent's basement.
What is your favorite way to spend a weekend? The
Sunday Pathfinder Society games at the local FLGS, going
out to eat with my fiance.

What is your favorite time of year, and why? The six weeks
between the official start of autumn and Halloween (Samhain). I use
this time to evaluate my progress on goals I set the previous year,
celebrate wins and identify opportunities for growth and positive change.

What is your most prized physical possession? My Macbook.

Which of your accomplishments are you the most happy with?
Back in the early 90s I was a contributor to gaming magazines -- SJ Games' Roleplayer,  Autoduel Quarterly, and GDW's Challenge. One of my articles in Challenge was about variants for FASA's old Renegade Legion: Centurion tank boardgame. FASA , publisher of Renegade Legion, picked up the article and included some of my variant rules it a supplement. I got a nice letter and a modest check for my ideas.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would strive to be unflappably calm, to not lose my temper or flip out emotionally.

Did you have any embarassing nicknames as a kid? In boot camp (OK, not childhood, early adulthood -- close enough) I got tagged with the nick name of "Moose." That happened during the first run at boot camp. I was abysmally out of shape when I reported for active duty.  As a guy 6'3" and well over 200 lbs, I moved like, well, a moose.

What was your favorite toy as a child? BB gun. I loved shooting.

What makes you cry? Gallant sacrifice. A high degree of spiritual resonance.

What is your favorite section of the newspaper? The op-ed page.

If you could have one superpower, which power would you pick? The power to grant cluefulness to the clueless.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an astronaut, fighter pilot or scientist.

What is your favorite mode of transportation? A good book.

If you could pick any other time period to live in - including the future - which would it be, and why? History fascinates the hell out of me. If I had to pick one era to live in, it would be in the early Dark Ages. The Byzantine Empire, from the final fall of Rome until the late 11th century.

What is one thing that you regret that you would go back and change if you could? I would have embraced my nerdiness / started flying my geek flag far sooner. I did not grok that Geek is Good fully until I was over 40. Instead of going for the fast degree in hardware, I would have gone all in for computer science. 

What is the one thing you want to do before you die? Write the Great American RPG adventure.

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? The flag would be a heraldic device. The field would be divided "per bend" green and yellow ("vert and Or") with a castle in the middle, green where the field is yellow and yellow where the field is green ("counterchanged"). The heraldry is from one of the kingdoms in my long running game world.

What advice would you give someone who says he or she wants to create and run his or her own game world? As a game master and world builder, your primary job is to create and present an environment so immersive, so evocative and so compelling that the players will be entertained enough to keep coming back for more. I have done this rather successfully with my decade-plus old game world.

The main way I have done this is to never forget this simple fact: If you are going to create a world, you need to know something about, or preferably, have some degree of interest in virtually everything. Read lots and lots of history as well as fantasy novels. Read good literature as well as popcorn. Many of the pros working at WotC and Paizo have degrees in things like literature, history and anthropology. Do not be afraid to adapt, I mean steal, the good ideas you uncover in your reading. Look for patterns and models, then creatively combine them, because there are few truly new things under any sun. 

Finally, make the motto of the US Coast Guard, Semper Paratus ("Always Prepared") your guide. Prep your games throughly.

Tell us about your favorite RPG character that you've ever
Meet Uncle John Sings-The-Truth. Galliard. Homid, Children
of Gaia. Den Father of the Gold Hills Sept, Singer of Tales, Healer of
Bodies and Minds -- my Werewolf: The Apocalypse / Laws of the Wild
(2nd edition) LARP character, Uncle John is an aging Deadhead hippy
stoner / healer / social activist who, due to a lot of Very Bad Weed, did
not First Change until he was well into his fifties.

Uncle John carried a fetish guitar, a "Harmony Lute" given from the hands of none other than the Umbral spirit of Jerry Garcia himself (in this chronicle, the ST ruled that Jerry was indeed a CoG, not kinfolk). After a short cubhood, John progressed rapidly into the leadership of his sept. John had a unique advantage: most Werewolf characters first start becoming aware of  their status as werewolves at puberty. John spent puberty so stoned that First Change was suppressed . . . until he got busted for the very first time at the age of fifty and spent enough time in stir to detoxify the THC enough for Change to happen. John had two or three times more life experience than the average cub, which was something the elders took immediate note of and made use of. John called fools into account at Moots -- I, the player, actually wrote poems and parodied songs to sing at Moots. I was THAT into this character. Perhaps his greatest adventure was when he was inducted into the Silver Pack. The Silver Pack is something of an elite. Silver Packs are gathered by the totem spirit of Phoenix to face down the greatest perils to Gaia.

John was called to face his greatest fear -- that lurking within his gentle, calm pacifistic soul was a raging beast he had only just began to get to know. He had to meet with and come to terms at long last with his inner beast by fighting for his life with a Ahroun Get of Fenris. John acquitted himself well, but John had no chance of winning against a seasoned warrior.

He went down swinging, and singing. As he lay bleeding in the circle of honor, his last sight was a silvery flame as it consumed his body utterly.  In the spirit realm,  John saw the totem avatar of Phoenix, the Silver Pack's patron. As the player, I did not know anything about rules or mechanics, as this was pure roleplaying. A small voice inside my head told me to trust the ST, that you are not dead until the ST says you are. The Pagan in me saw an initiatory death-rebirth rite coming... "Uncle John, Arise reborn from the ashes of your destruction as My Champion. May the Wyrm tremble, for the Silver Pack is reborn!"

I was in tears. The STs set this up as an end-of-season award for the five best-played characters.

What are your favorite RPGs? Pathfinder, D&D 3.5, Traveller: The New Era, Car Wars.

What was your first RPG session like? White box 1st edition D&D, at Naval Training Center, Orlando. Spring 1978. I played a dwarf fighter, Xenon of Nucleon. It was a dungeon crawl through the classical "multilevel underground defense installation" full of 10 x 10 rooms with random encounters. Xenon won for himself a pair of "Gloves of Rollerball" -- spiked gautlets on steroids -- and a Vulcan Lirpa from Star Trek. Three attacks a round, at 1st level. Hack, slash, kill the monsters, grab the loot, go to town to ogle barmaids and pick fights. I was in love!

What was your WORST RPG session like? Add one part last-minute volunteer GM. Stir in a Pathfinder Society Organized Play session. Sprinkle the GM with 'I've never GMed in my whole life, but I have played D&D 3.0 once. Garnish with "Rich had a bad week, and would have GMed himself if he had not been pressed for prep time." Bake with total aggravation culminating in everyone leaving the table in complete disgust when the GM threw massively overpowered CR 6-8 encounters at a 1st thru 3rd level group because he did not know that Pathfinder Society scenarios are scaled to the party level.

Who is your all-time favorite person to game with? My Comic Grapevine (Lodi, CA) groups from the late 90s and early 2000s: Kajir, for the Mad SCIENCE!; Heather, for whipping out a Wand of Wonder in a bar fight; ChrisR, for bitch-slapping Evil; ChrisB, for playing Evil so Good; ChrisG, the Airborne Ranger; Steven, for the Flying Wheelchair of DOOM; Brian, for Grond; Rob, for a weapon so enchanted that it needed a spreadsheet to resolve its full damage; Diane, for knowing when to surrender a major artifact; and David. for being The SPY. Also right up there is Mike, who played in games at two consecutive DunDraCons. Best. Damned. Paladin. EVER.


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