Showing posts with label Jody Lindke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jody Lindke. Show all posts

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Remembering RPG Campaigns Past -- Meet The Crusaders

When I was and undergraduate at the University of Nevada, Reno I ran a DC Heroes campaign that lasted for a couple of years. It is the most successful superhero campaign I've ever run. I had the luck to have a great group of gamers who were willing to cut loose and have a great time with the genre and who felt free to push the limits of the DC Heroes game system. This campaign is one of the reasons that I think DC Heroes is the best set of rules to play a superhero game, though Marvel Saga System comes in a close second.

The premise of the campaign was pretty simple. I wanted to run a game where the characters were on the same power level as the Justice League, minus Superman and Wonder Woman, and I wanted the game play to have a touch of the feel generated by the Giffen/Maguire/DeMatteis run in the Justice League books. I wanted a mix of action and comedy. To be honest, based on my experience in running RPGs, I knew the comedy would come whether I wanted it or not. It's is the DM's Lament to want to run a game that captures the epic tales of the Eddas and Beowulf only to end up with Monte Python's Holy Grail. Instead of fighting that tendency, I decided to roll with it. The title of the campaign was Justice League: Auxiliary. The premise being that the characters were members of the Justice League, as then managed by Maxwell Lord, but where the second string of the team.

What a team it was too. The membership included an interesting mix of characters about whom my wife (girlfriend at the time) drew a couple of cartoon strips that ran in the school paper The Sagebrush. That brief strip was called "Meet the Crusaders" for obvious copyright reasons.  Over the next few days, I'll be presenting the Crusaders to you and will be including statistics for them for a number of role playing games. The primary games I'll be using to emulate the characters are Wizards of the Coast's excellent 4e based Gamma World game and Pinnacle Entertainment Group's Savage Worlds.

First, let me introduced the team to you.


Gabriel was character who believed himself to be the Archangel Gabriel and who exacted swift justice on any he viewed to be in violation of his very strict code of morality. During a battle with the god Ares, he attempted to use his Aura of Fear power and ended up not only succeeding at cowing Ares but in causing the entire continent of Europe to quiver in fear as his pushing of the power extended the aura over the entire geographic area. The character was played by my good friend, and best man at my wedding, Matt.


One of the great things about the DC Heroes system was it's ability to make almost any superhero and my friend Robert's character Aquarius was one that really demonstrated the strength of the rules. Robert wanted to play a super strong character who was a living water elemental and who could transform his hands into any weapon he imagined. In this particular case, the powers were called Omni-Arm, Density Increase, Dispersal, and Water Control powers. Robert was a relatively new gamer at the time, and had never played a superhero game before, so in the early sessions he tended to limit his use of Omni-Arm to turning his hands into sledge hammers. That changed soon enough.

This is just a glimpse at two of the members of the team. I want to save the other strips for when I present each member's statistics, so you will be seeing these strips again as well as those for Jynx, Vanguard, Spirit, and perhaps the most bizarre superhero ever made...Jody's beloved "Less" who was a character inspired by John Carpenter's THE THING and Larry Cohen's THE STUFF. Who is Less? Why is Less called Less? You'll have to wait for his entry.

To bide you over until the next entry, and I promise it will be soon, here is a glimpse at what the Gamma World statistics sheet (page 1) will look like.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Personal Statement Why I'm Happy that BOOM! Studios is Publishing Tribute to Charles M. Schulz

Charles M. Schulz's PEANUTS comic strip has long been a cornerstone of American Pop Culture. The glimpses into the lives of Charlie Brown and friends have resonated with audiences for decades and now BOOM! Studios is publishing a celebration of the comic strip for the 65th anniversary of its publication. The contributing artists are being leaked out to the press slowly but surely.

I have two deep connections with PEANUTS. The first is an undying love of Snoopy, especially in his WWI Ace persona. Snoopy's battles against the Red Baron entertained me throughout my childhood. As odd as it might sound, I think I became interested in War Games featuring battles between Sopwith Camels and Fokker Dr. 1 aircraft because of the battles I imagined. If someone published a Snoopy vs. the Red Baron set for Wings of War, I'd rush out to buy it.

My second connection, is my wife Jody Lindke. Jody has a passion for illustration and cartooning. She has been a cartoonist for longer than I've known her, and she was my favorite cartoonist in the school paper long before we met. I loved her NICNUP cartoon strip in our college paper, a strip that merged BLOOM COUNTY with PEANUTS to wonderful effect. Like PEANUTS, there was an underlying sadness to many of Jody's jokes. Her Bambi strip hits the same ironic sweet spot for me as Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.

My wife is a generally cheerful person, though her humor can run sorrowful, but there are three occasions when I've seen Jody's joy light up an entire room. The most recent was when we were able to bring our twin daughters home from the hospital. She glowed the entire trip home. Then there's our wedding day, when we received just enough rain for it to be lucky, saw small birds being born, and witnessed a double rainbow. I'm not kidding. We saw a double rainbow. This is not a reference to the meme.

I'm happy to have been partly responsible for these moments where I got to see her filled with love and joy. But the most vivid combination of happiness and pride I've ever seen from Jody was when she was receiving the Charles M. Schulz college cartooning award. Jody was the first woman to receive the award. It was an accomplishment that was solely her own. As is often the case, I felt lucky to be in the same room with Jody. After years of hard work and meeting deadlines. After years of using the meager payments from the school paper and local papers to pay her rent and food bills, her work was being acknowledged by people she admired. Snoopy sparked my imagination when I read his adventures in print, but Snoopy handed Jody her award and that was something truly magical to behold.

Because of these two deep emotional connections, I'll be rushing out to buy the book this September.

Image Copyright Jody Lindke
Addendum: Jody is not a part of the Tribute, but we are very excited for everyone who is. There are some great artists participating who have been announced so far.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Just Showing Off My Wife Jody Lindke

From time to time, I like to add some of my wife's artwork to the website. She's a pretty fantastic illustrator and I am blessed to have her in my life.

Jody designed the above logo for use with some children's books we are working on. She wants "Underfut" to be the brand name, and I like it. The dog "Underfut" was a regular character in her Schulz award winning cartoon strip "Nicnup," and the character was based on Jody's real dog Oreo. Both Jody and I miss her very much. Oreo lived to be 20 years old and died the day I was leaving to go to my first Gen Con. We both wish that History and Mystery could have had a chance to meet her.

This is Jody's Steampulp rendition of our marriage. After seeing this, I have been very tempted to walk around with a tophat.

Jody drew this one for a book at work. I work at a non-profit dedicated to youth civic engagement, and this is one of my favorite exaggerated effect of campaign ads images ever.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

There Can Be No Halloween Season Without Vincent Price

I'll let my wife's Nicnup cartoon give us the break down of how important Vincent Price (May 27, 1911 – October 25, 1993) was and will always be to the Halloween season.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Gaming and the Screenwriting/Cartooning Widower #1 -- Meeting the Cartoonist

A few years ago, my wife Jody and I decided to attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon while riding a rocket aided motorcycle.  Okay, that's not exactly true.  We decided to attempt something even more impossible.  We decided that Jody was going to become a successful screenwriter and cartoonist.  Jody applied to USC's prestigious School of Cinema and Television, and we counted the days until the rejection letter would arrive and shatter all our dreams.

That day didn't come.  Instead, we received a very large envelope inviting Jody to attend the school.  We were elated, but also quite amazed by the situation.  I think Jody best described our emotional state when we first arrived on the USC campus in order to get her a student ID card.  She said, "But one actually gets to go to school here.  This place is for remarkable people."

There was no irony in her tone when she made the statement.  She believed it.  You see, Jody has a serious case of underestimating her own talents and worth.  In Champions/HERO System terms, Jody has around a 30 point psychological disadvantage in this regard.  On the plus side, she spent all 30 of these points on her various skills and talents. 

Last week, Jody started up a blog called "Are You Famous Yet?" where she has been sharing her thoughts and experiences as she navigates the mysterious pathways that make up the Entertainment industry, or as it is typically called in Los Angeles...The Industry.  I thought that I would spend some of my blogging time sharing some of my own experiences as a "Screenwriting/Cartooning Widower."  Jody's struggles and long hours would make for lonely days and evenings were it not for the fact that I am an avid gamer and a working graduate student.

Speaking of gaming, the idea for the title of this post and subsequent posts on the subject, come from an article in issue 54 of Steve Jackson Games' old gaming magazine The Space Gamer. 

When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno it was a golden age for that schools Cartoons page.  There were two well done cartoon strips (one about college life and one about a bear), and one cartoon strip that was something quite special.  That special cartoon strip had a truly bizarre name.  It was called Nicnup, and it told the story of a group of young people as they encountered life's oddities.  To say it "told a story" is a bit of a misstatement.  It contained jokes which featured young people encountering life's oddities. 

I had no idea who drew the strip, but I read it religiously in every issue of The Sagebrush.  It was the primary reason I read the school's paper.  It was a great strip that seemed to be getting better every issue as the artist better learned the craft.  I had no idea who the artist was, only that this person was named Jody Lindke.  (For those of you wondering, I took my wife's last name.)

One day I was sitting watching NFL in the television room of one of the dorms, I was waiting to see my friend Rich, when I see this friendly looking young woman carrying her bicycle up to her room.  I quickly ask if she would like to watch the game with me and she said yes.  After taking her bike back up to the room, we watched the game and chatted.  Mostly, we chatted.  I was quite smitten by this young woman named Jody and made arrangements to chat with her again in the near future.  Several more discussions later, I was inviting her to play in a Champions superhero campaign that I was running for some other friends.  She asked what day we played and I told her Monday.  She said she would be delighted to come but that she had to make sure she met her deadline first.

"Deadline?...hmm...?"  The words sounded important, but I made no connection at the time.  It wasn't until after a couple of weeks playing that I finally figured it out.  Jody was running late for the game, so I walked up to her dorm room to see if she could make it and that was when I found out she was the illustrator of Nicnup.  I was surprised.  Here I have been the friend of the best cartoonist in the school paper for over a month, and I had no idea that Jody and Jody Lindke were the same person...even after hearing references to this mysterious "deadline" thing.  I guess I'm pretty dense.

Anyway, for the next few months Jody would either show up on time or be late as the muse hit her or she struggled through coming up with a new idea/joke and therein lies the root of screenwriting/cartooning widower-dom.  The creative muse.  Coming up with ideas is difficult, more so when you are trying to come up with an idea that has the potential to entertain millions of people -- quite a few more than the thousands she entertained with her cartoon strips.

In the years since graduating, Jody no longer plays in my gaming groups.  She likes the people I game with, she likes the hobby, but the time she needs for her creative efforts has multiplied a hundred fold.  When we were in college, I could count the number of times she had to stay up all night to finish a cartoon on my fingers and toes. 

In the time since, I have lost count of the number of all-nighters Jody has experienced in the advancement of her career.  But there is one that comes to mind more vividly than any other.  It was the first "mix-week" she experienced at USC.  Twice each semester, student films have their sound mixes completed in a mad dash cram called "mix week."  During this time, the sound designers, sound department, and TAs work for a full week without ever coming home.  Near as I can tell, they work the entire week without any kind of sleep whatsoever. 

The frantic nature of these weeks, as well as film school in general, made for a pretty lonely marriage experience.  Pre-film school, we were a couple who essentially dated every night and had massive movie marathons every weekend.  During film school, I was lucky to see Jody for more than 5 minutes on some days.  I imagine that this kind of grueling schedule could put a strain on a relationship, but it didn't strain ours.  I made sure to visit Jody on her campus as much as possible, and I had my gaming hobby to fill in the lonely hours while she put her nose to the grindstone.  I was working full-time and in a Grad program, but I was the one with "oodles" of idle time in comparison to Jody.  I never felt resentment that Jody "didn't want to spend time with me."  It was pretty clear every time that I saw her that she would much rather spend time with me, but the demands on her time were severe. 

I was also lucky that Jody didn't resent my gaming time.  Yes, there was some minor resentment for the tabletop gaming I got to do.  That was spending time with other people after all, but there was absolutely no resentment for the hours I spent playing Final Fantasy.  Or as Jody calls it, "the walk around on the very big map and do nothing game."

The key thing I had to focus on was to make sure that my gaming time lined up with her busy time, and that I was free as often as possible during her free time.  Let me stress that this free time was not a lot of time, and that whatever time there was had to be spent doing more than watching a 30 minute sit-com.  There was often a week's (or two) worth of discussion about the world.  There was the need for hugs and quality time.  I made every moment count, and I think I managed to let her know how deeply loved she is in my efforts to cram a weeks worth of marriage into 45 minutes.

Film school was good practice for Jody's time in the "Industry Agency" trenches.  Those were days when she not only worked long, but in an environment that isn't exactly conducive to self-esteem.

I learned a lot about marriage during film school, about what is really important.  Communication and letting your spouse know your care are vital.  When your spouse is working ridiculously hard, it is important to recognize the fact and to sympathize.  Don't think they are doing it because they want to be away from you.  That way lies madness.

Instead, pick up a book, a hobby, or a "long map game" to pass the time, and use that time to think about how you are going to maximize the little together time that you are going to have together.  May I recommend quick jaunts to Culver City or Monrovia for dinner, or a nice hike at Griffith Park, or a brisk walk on the beach. 

When your spouse is trying to get a paying gig in a creative field, it's important to remember to be the net/parachute.  Don't resent any work you have to do to support them, financially or emotionally.  Because your loved one is taking the rocket jump across Snake River Canyon and they are scared enough without having to worry about how things are going at home.

Friday, November 11, 2011

[Cinerati Cartoons] -- Nicnup: Gesundheit

My wife Jody has a wonderful and visual sense of humor. In this Nicnup strip, she manages to capture how I have felt almost every time I've had a loud sneeze. They do sometimes feel earth shattering.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jody Lindke's Pattie Kaiks and Changes in Perception

The image below has long been one of my favorite panels of my wife's "Pattie Kaiks" strip that ran in the Reno News and Review for quite a few years.  It combines our love of pop culture, with the culture shock that we had to share our love with an entirely new generation of fans.  Looking back at the strip now, as the father of twin girls, my perceptions of the comic have changed even more.  My heart leaps for joy when my 3 1/2 year old twins History and Mystery sing the Iron Man: Armored Adventures theme song, and I cannot wait for them to see the Star Wars films with me.  They just watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time yesterday, one of my favorite films all time maybe my absolute favorite depending on the day, and the wicked witch left a significant mark on History's sub-conscious.  Mystery, on the other hand, seemed unfazed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gaming*Mirth [Cartoon] -- GAMR GRLZ #2 "The Quests Begin"

This week, we have the second offering in my wife Jody's experiment with a gaming themed cartoon strip entitled GAMR GRLZ. She's still refining who the characters are, and what challenges they will face, but she is having a wonderful time discovering the young girls who will be featured in the comic. For those of you not familiar with Jody's work, she was the first woman to win the prestigious Charles M. Schulz cartooning award -- which she won for her fantastic Nicnup cartoon strip.

As usual, blogger being blogger and not a webpage optimized for cartoon syndication, if you click on the cartoon you will get a larger and easier to read image.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Gaming*Mirth -- GAMR GRLZ #1

After a one week hiatus, Gaming*Mirth returns with a three panel cartoon by my wife Jody. Please click on the image to see the cartoon full sized.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gaming*Mirth -- No Fantasy This Week, Just an Awesome Jody Lindke Illustration

Since I am planning a major trip to Sacramento next week with 150 high school students, and since I have shared my "busy-ness" with Jody, she was unable to provide the next in her "Dragon Pranks" or other fantasy themed single-panel comics.

So...I thought I would share one of my favorite Jody Lindke political cartoons. A few years ago, I did a "Bridging the Partisan Divide" series of conferences for work and this inspired Jody to draw the following.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Well Shoot! -- We didn't win Angry Robot Books' "Steampunk" Kindle

Last month, Angry Robot Books ran an online competition where they solicited "Steampunk" themed artistic creations and offered a Steampunk skinned Kindle as a prize. I am a big fan of Angry Robot Books -- if you aren't reading their books you are really missing out on a wonderfully diverse list of SF/F offerings -- and thought that the Steampunk skinned Kindle looked amazing.

So...even though both Jody and I already own Kindles, and I already own most of the books Angry Robot was preloading into the prize offering, I asked Jody to draw up a submission to the contest. She drew up an inspired image of our cartoon doppelgangers dressed up in thematic garb. I loved the piece and immediately entered it. I think it is magnificent.

Sadly, our entry didn't win. I would scream "Sour Grapes!" except for the fact that the winning entry is pretty cool. I still like Jody's offering more -- they could have at least given her an Honorable Mention for goodness' sake -- but the winning entry is a combination of cute and original.

Congratulations to all the winners. And thanks again to Jody. It's hard to compete with Steampunk Guitars, Dirigibles, Weapons, and Pop-Up cards.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Gaming*Mirth -- Fantasy Odd Couples: Love and Gelatinous Cubes

Who doesn't remember their first encounter with a Gelatinous Cube? In my case, our DM misled the group into believing that a Spectre was floating down the hallway toward our group. Most of us panicked, as we lacked magic weapons, but our Paladin charged the foul "undead" creature. He had faith in his magic weapon, the only magic weapon in the group, it was his screams of "it burns, it burns!" that signaled that something else was up.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Gaming*Mirth: Dragon Pranks -- Pranking Prince Charming

For the past month, my wife Jody has been providing me with fantasy and gaming inspired cartoons that channel the old cartoons that used to be so prominent in gaming magazines like Dragon and The Space Gamer. This week's entry is the first that will be in color.

I'm happy to see that in the weeks since I have started these posts that Wizard's of the Coast has decided to start including cartoons on their website. I don't think I had any influence on their decision, but it is nice to see we are thinking in the same nostalgic way.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wizards, Warriors, and Wedding Anniversaries

Jody drew this image a couple of years ago for a wedding anniversary card she made me. Last year, I used Cafe Press to put this image on mugs and a wall tile as an anniversary present for her.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Meet The Crusaders -- The Archangel Gabriel

In the 90s, I ran a DC Heroes campaign for a close knit group of friends that lasted for a couple of years. The players all made characters who were supposed to be around "Justice League" power level, but they could make heroes based on any concept they desired. While I was using the DC Heroes rules set for the campaign, the characters were equally likely to be facing Magneto or Doctor Polaris in combat as I incorporated characters from both the Marvel and DC universes.

For a short period during the campaign, my wife made some short cartoon strips based on the role playing adventures of the team members. Some of the results were quite amusing. One of my favorite characters in the game was the Archangel Gabriel. My dear friend Matt York came up with the character concept. You see, Gabriel is an immensely powerful super powered being who believes that he is an Archangel in the service of the Lord. His power and righteousness might lead one to believe he is correct in this opinion, but his stint in an insane asylum and his interesting interpretation of what merits swift retributions might make you rethink the issue.

Click on Image for Larger Version

Click on Image for Larger Version

The third panel in the Origin strip refers to a time during our DC Heroes campaign where Gabriel was in battle with Ares in the European Theater of Operations during a time travel story. Gabriel used his Aura of Fear power in an attempt to intimidate the God of War and give the rest of the Crusaders some benefit during the combat -- Herakles wanted to "bestow upon Ares 'the Gift.'" Matt rolled his attack, which he had already pumped up with hero points to make more effective, and it came up doubles, so he rolled again and added that result to his prior result, but he had rolled doubles again. ...and so on, and so on. He rolled doubles more times than I can remember and his result was literally off the charts. The massive Aura of Fear, which now extended over the entire continent of Europe, not only cowed Ares, but sent put the fear of God into every person in the ETO.

It was a great moment from a great character.