On Curses, Crypts, and Adventure

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Greetings, Adventurer!

I am the Chief Creative Officer of Cursed Crypt, an Adventure Studio based in Spokane, Washington. You've stumbled upon the humble beginnings of a planned series of articles, thoughts, musings, and more-likely-than-not incoherent ramblings. I'll strive to tackle a wide swath of topics, including gaming of all kinds, pop culture, my general emotional state at any given point, and writing lists of things using an excess of commas, oxfords and all. This post is intended to serve as a jumping-off point, in that we're jumping off a cliff into the swirling tumultuous recesses of my brain, wherein you will either witness my personal rise to fame and glory or my slow and crumbling descent into crippling madness.

Let's get started.

Monster manual

My introduction to tabletop role-playing games was sometimes in the neon-soaked 1980’s, poring over copies of my oldest brother’s 1st edition Dungeon & Dragons books while he was away at college. My young and impressionable mind was enthralled, mostly taken in by the hand-drawn illustrations of the Monster Manual, though I was left with only a cursory understanding (also known as 'no understanding at all') of the complex underlying game system. It was that moment, however, that images of elves, dwarves, and other goodly folk locked in an epic battle with an endless tide of skeletal undead minions were lodged somewhere in the deepest corners of my unconscious mind. That battle has raged on for centuries since, an eternal struggle that has helped shape and solidify my lifelong love of the realms of fantasy.

My earliest tabletop games were your regular disorganized fare of teenagers with too many hormones and a dearth of attention. We played (or, rather, attempted to play) Cyberpunk 2020 and Vampire: The Masquerade. This mostly amounted to making detailed characters with intricate and edgy backstories befitting heroes written by forlorn teens, and then trying to play – only to be interrupted by any number of distractions: girls, siblings, television, or a soft breeze.

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It wasn’t until I joined the Evil Party™ that I was reintroduced to Dungeon and Dragons, and my love for tabletop role-playing games was renewed. My closest friends and a friend's dad, Allen, who acted as our defacto dungeon master, embarked on a 3rd edition D&D romp that saw our party of ne'er-do-wells stumbling their way through Allen’s intricately designed world. We used a modified edition of the 3.5 rules that was so heavily revised that we referred to it as “AD&D” – Allen’s Dungeons and Dragons. This was my first real ongoing gaming group with my first real character, a dwarf rogue named Nubby (who has since been immortalized as an NPC in the MMORPG Everquest - I mean, if he is even still there.)

This is my humble origin story, I suppose, leaving out a great swath of details that have otherwise forged me into the power-nerd that I am today, with a focus on role-playing games. In the intervening years since the fizzling end of the Evil Party™, I’ve played hundreds of tabletop RPG sessions, spanning a multitude of game systems. I found my regular gaming group – a selection of friends that I was invited to join, not knowing many of them very well, who became like a family to me. I found my mentor Dungeon Master, author FP Calabretta (you should really check him out if you like fantasy-horror), a man whose imagination, razor-sharp wit, and unrivaled attention to detail constantly leaves me in awe.

All of these things (plus a veritable cornucopia of good-and-bad personal and professional events), have led me down the long and winding path to Cursed Crypt. I joined forces with Zach Shallbetter, the CEO of Cursed Crypt, and my friend of over 20 years, and founded this company with a singular purpose – to provide accessories, enhancements, and content for tabletop role-playing games with an absolutely unparalleled level of quality and design.

We coined the phrase "Adventure Studio" to describe Cursed Crypt. It is a descriptor that I am particularly proud of because it perfectly encapsulates everything that we do here. We make adventure. We enable adventure. We want you - the players, our customers, our fans, our friends, and our families - to trust in your imaginations and create boundless worlds of pure adventure. That's exactly what we do and what we strive for at Cursed Crypt, and my role here is to make sure that we never stray from that course.

So, brave adventurer, welcome to my blog, which is a weird thing to write in 2020 – but, hey, this year has been jam-packed with weirdness, so I guess this is a tiny drop in an earth-sized bucket. Over the course of this blog, I will be discussing many of the things mentioned in my introduction: personal and overall gaming history and nostalgia, unabashed personal stories, finding your niche in the world of role-playing, and, more than anything else, adventure.

If that seems like the kind of thing you will enjoy reading, then welcome aboard.

I’m glad you’re here.