Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Matt Memorial Mmmm... Blog

On Thursday, March 25th, my friend Matthew Brown passed away unexpectedly. He was 25 years old. As far as anyone can tell, a lifetime of diabetes other chronic conditions finally caught up with him.

I'm about as ok about it as anyone can be. Matt's friends and family have drawn together remarkably well, given the circumstances. Matt had a funeral for his family - I couldn't attend because it was at the same time as Passover - and also a geek-themed memorial for his friends, most of him knew him as a player, GM, and World of Warcraft denizen.

Matt and I didn't have exactly the same tastes in game. Matt had a wider hack-and-slash, beer-and-pretzels streak than I do (I am a filthy narrativist). However, the man knew how to run a good game, and I'd like to devote today's post to a few of the things Matt taught me that I want to remember.

  • Everyone is a Star: Matt had an ability to make everyone at the table feel like their character was the star of the show. His Changeling: the Dreaming chronicle, Dreams of Rebirth, featured an incredibly varied cast of characters. We had a frighteningly bitter Unseelie Baron, his lovestruck pooka spymistress, a traumatized scout, a timelost sorceress, and the most vicious 12 year old terrorist you ever met. Somehow, each and every one of us would describe the game as "my game"; in truth, it was our game. I believe that Matt did this by combining careful preparation (as the Abigail has noted, "he remembered things about my character's backstory that I had forgotten"), a feeling for his fellow players that can only be summed up as love, and quick wits. It made for a stellar gaming experience, and it's something to emulate.
  • There is No Drama: "Do not try to prevent the drama - that's impossible. Instead, try to remember the truth: there is no drama, only people." Drama didn't happen in Matt's gaming groups. People had issues, and people - led by Matt's love and patience - solved them. I wish I'd known how to do that in college.
  • Always Room for One More: I've alluded to this before, but Matt was a kind, giving, accepting, and most importantly, inclusive person. I can be a real snob sometimes, but Matt wasn't. As far as I could tell, you liked what you liked - you played the way you played - and whether or not Matt wanted to play with you, that was still just fine.

In closing, I want to share this: at Matt's memorial, we divided up his spoils - his gaming books, his games, his toys - so that they would go to homes with people who would enjoy them in good health for years to come. I was conflicted about it at first, but it was what Matt's family wanted, and in the end, I think it was a good idea. I'm not ashamed to say that I ended up going home with a lot of stuff that I am going to enjoy, and every time I do, I'm going to think about Matt. Every time I struggle to live up to my best - to his best - I'm going to remember him.

Anyway, among the things Matt gave me are everything I need to start playing D&D 4th Edition.

I've been wanting a low-pressure beer-and-pretzels game for a while now.



I am so sorry to hear about your friend. One of my gaming pals passed away suddenly and at a very young age so I think I can understand you how you feel.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Oh man, I'm sorry about your friend's passing. It's tough to lose a friend, especially one so young.

I lost a friend way before her time too, a few years back. I still think of her often, especially around our birthdays (both in April). She makes me a better person and reminds me how very lucky I am just to be alive.

Your friend sounds like he was a great guy and will be missed by a lot of people. I'm so very sorry for your loss. :(

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments and sympathy. We're surviving out here as well as could be expected. Luckily we both have a lot of friends and family who are happy to give us space to grieve when we have to. We both know things are going to be ok... even though there are times now that they aren't.