the Real Life story of the Darkhold gamers

the Real Life story of the Darkhold gamers

The world, characters, and stories on this website are not pure fiction; it's an AD&D game with a long history . . .

[Note: This was authored by David P. Murphy - one of the players since the days of U of F. I (BJ Mitchell) will add my own comments in brackets.]

The game was started by a group of Northwestern University undergrads living in the Foster-Walker Housing Complex (known as simply "The Complex") which consisted of two quads, each containing four houses. Houses 5-8 were on the north side of the building:

# house name comments
5 Marvin Gardens had the largest Monopoly deed card in the world, courtesy of the Parker Brothers
6 Latham House once the home for a famous person
7 Marshalsea Hotel named for a London prison
8 Penthouse you can imagine their mascot

The first dungeon master was a 6-year med student named Ronin Rubenoff, running a world he made up based loosely on Earth/Middle East. He left after his sophomore year and Jeff Baker took over from there, on a world he designed named Darkhold. The characters eventually grew in stature and legend and ended up calling themselves the Mortal Heroes.

[BJ Note: Reducing the Baker years to two sentences is like reducing a history of the Roman Empire to "I came, I saw, I conquered." I will have to add stuff to get the full flavor across. Or better, I'll get Baker to do something.]

After Baker left Northwestern, the others moved to the world of Greyhawk with Rippie as the DM, or retired from gaming. [BJ Note: Rippie was a very good DM as well. I also learned most of what I know about macroeconomics from playing in his game.]

player character(s) house campaigns active in comments
Ronin Rubenoff original DM H6 DM      
Jeff "The Bake" Baker ?, fighter
DM and original developer of Darkhold
H6 * DM    
BJ Mitchell Avatir, Roman Catholic priest
a.k.a. Clint Priestwood, Vatican Death Commando
H5 * * *  
Ed Kuffert Peter Damiano Rosenstern the Sinner, magic-user H5 * * *  
Rik Yoshida ?, paladin H5 *     webpage
Don Woodard Math, magic-user H5 *      
Derek Decker ?, assassin H6 *     website
David Smith ?, magic-user? H7 *      
Glenn Rippie Corwin, magic-user
H7   * DM webpage
Melvin Barnes Professor X, psionic
Lord Kiata, ranger
H8,H6   * *  
Brian Elza Valacar, elven magic-user
Piestrates the Just, cleric
H6   * *  
Ken Chesborough Perseus, druid/illusionist H6   * *  
Larry James Lawrence Dreamstalker, magic-user/fighter H6   *    
Carrol Herman Theodosius the Just, cleric H6   *    
Jim "Flash" Williams Ramahotep, master thief H6   *    
Barb Roa Athena Ravenhair, magic-user H6   *    
George Chronis Lord George Dragonslayer, paladin H6   *    
Ben Goldberg Benthos Arborean, druid H6   *    
Robert Mesrop Augustus the Heartless, fighter H7   *    
Lee Motluck Bruce Lee, monk H6   *    
Bob Lacatena ?, fighter H6   *    
John R. John Paul, cleric [VDC] H7     *  
Valerie Martindale Rook, paladin H7     *  
Jack Goble ?, druid       *  
Bridget Reilly Bridget Manylives, ranger       *  
Christina Clay ?, druid H6     *  

It should be noted that during this period, Ed Kuffert also ran a D&D game.

BJ moved on to doing graduate work at the University of Florida in the Department of Astronomy, where he started/joined a game as an extension of the previous with the following players:

picture of The New Heroes

back row
James Webb Constellus, ranger webpage
Edwin T. "Tom" Rusk Tim the Enchanter, magic-user  
Mike Freed ?, fighter  
Gilbert Milner Denis Moore, paladin was recently Marketing Director for Steve Jackson Games
James Kolasinski Precious, fighter/thief  
Gregory Fitzgibbons Silverleaf, magic-user  
William J. "Billy" Cooke Alrik, cleric of Odin webpage

middle row
Beatriz F. Fernandez Dalynne, thief webpage
BJ Mitchell Clint Priestwood, Vatican Death Commando  
Glenn H Schneider Dworkin, illusionist webpage
Dr. John P. Oliver O J Draxargen, silver dragon webpage

front row
J. Leanne Gable Tyy Sirian, houri
Kira, witch
Beatrice ? Penelope, druid  

not in the picture
Noel ? Hans, dwarven fighter  
Brenda Fitzgibbons Brendel the Sticky, thief  
David P. Murphy Ironfist, monk of Odin webpage
Laura Hammond Shanna, barbarian  
Roger Ball ?, druid  
Marc Hassler Naurli, druid  
David Shepherd Sir Robin the Brave, ?  
Toni ? ?, ?  

This group was set in the same world — Darkhold — and called themselves the New Heroes. Yeah, the silver-dragon-as-player-character was pretty munchkinish, but that player was a professor of the department in which the DM was doing graduate work . . .
[BJ comment: Not that it did any good.]

BJ married Leanne, upgraded his studies to Johns Hopkins [BJ Comment: Calling going from University of Florida to Johns Hopkins an "upgrade" is like calling going from a Pinto to a Rolls Royce an "upgrade"], realized Melvin had moved nearby, started another extension, found me, added a few others.

the New Balance

picture of The New Balance

This is a rare group picture, taken during David & Wendy's wedding reception on 17 August 1991,
of most of the people who had participated in the "New Balance" game up until that point.

standing in the back are
Frank Miller Rok Highmageson, half-ogre fighter
Nagomi Gracen-Yurosawa, cleric
Dave Bassler Quarkus, druid  
David P. Murphy Ironfist, monk of Odin
Father Gregory, cleric (VDC)
Karen Bassler (Dave's wife, not a roleplayer)  
Wendy Murphy (David's wife, not a roleplayer)  
Melvin Barnes Shadowspawn, elven magic-user/thief  
John R. Calvin MacStuart, half-orc fighter  
Leanne Mitchell Arionrhod Graylock, witch
Jade Daywalker, slightly undead fighter
BJ Mitchell DM from Hell
and --- still! --- Clint Priestwood

the three guys kneeling in front are
Jeff Davis Evander Holyshield, paladin webpage
Mossadeq "Muskie" Zia Severian, cleric of Dionysius  
Mike Hsu Flint Fireforge, dwarven fighter  

not in the picture
David Gresham ?, ?  
Candy Gresham ?, ?  

played in the game after 1991
Brian Elza Valacar, elven magic-user  
Jack Goble ?, ?  
Valerie Martindale ?, ?  
Rachel Schmutter Ariadne, half-elven druid  
Amy Grimes Pickles, druid  
Tom Walcott Mentor, cleric of Athena  

Recently, Ironfist died in personal combat. I decided that the manner of his death was honorable enough to warrant not being raised (hey, he's Norse, they want to stay dead), and I rolled up a new character named Thudain, who is multi-classed and whose personal philosophy can be summed up thusly: Simple, neh? He doesn't care too much for tree-huggers, either [elves].
Sure it's stereotypical, but, hey, I just rolled him up one session ago;
give me time.

14 august 1998

Well, he didn't fit in too well; the rest of the party resented a cleric who wasn't primarily a cure machine. Actually they hated him, because in addition to limited curative powers, he could not Raise Dead at all. So for the sake of group goodwill (damn, I rolled a natural 18/00 strength for that dwarf!), I created Father Gregory, a Vatican Death Commando . . . he's worked out okay so far.

4 March 2001

Times change, people change, but the game remains the same.

It's been a long time since I've added to this page, so a summary of all the changes in personnel is due:

We played Vampire: the Masquerade for a while (first indirectly, as a world our AD&D characters visited,
then really playing it) but that didn't last too long. We went back to playing AD&D, but Leanne brought her
Vampire character "Jade" back with her, as playing Arionrhod within the group had become both limited and difficult
(one of the drawbacks of having a large group is trying to get both the people and the characters to get along).

[BJ Note: Another update is in order. I'll do it soon. We have more roster changes.]

Click here if you should be mentioned in one of the above lists but aren't, or you are but don't want to be, or you are and your link is missing, or you're linked but would rather not be, or your info is wrong or misspelled, or if you want to tell me how much you like this page.

30 June 2001

New pictures of the group.