Current Haymaker! Authors

Lisa Brown | RC Craigo | John Desmarais | Bob Greenwade | Jon Garceau | Derek Hiemforth | James Jandebeur | Tom Lively | Ray Lowery | Scott Martin | Ed May | Rodney Ruff | Mike Sims | Michael Surbrook | Chuck Turnitsa | Wayne Walls | Ross Watson | Leah Watts

Check out our Haymaker! Author Hall of Fame!

Look here for a list of past authors.

Lisa Brown

Column: Tyger's Tales

Personal Web Page: None

Background: Born the fourth child on a Central Indiana farm, Lisa Brown is very much the baby of the family. Her siblings were well spread out, so she was babysitting her nephews instead of the neighbor's kids at age 10. She graduated high school as part of a class of 59 students, then started as a freshman at Purdue and learned the true meaning of "a little fish in a big pond." While at Purdue, she met the one man, David, who would attempt to tame her and on her 21st birthday when he asked her to be his wife, she, through tears, said yes. They have been blessed with two children. Since graduating Purdue, Lisa has worked as a computer programmer, business analyst, system designer, operated her own computer consultant company, and currently expands the minds of students at a community college in northern Indiana, teaching introduction to computers, programming and other general education courses. She also holds a master degree in Information Technology Management. Her husband and his gaming friends introduced her to Champions in college, and she enjoys the adventures, but role-playing games are not her real interest. She loves playing cards (not collectable), board games, especially ones that involve a lot of strategy, and she unwinds by doing Sudoku puzzles or reading before bed. She also volunteers with Gamers for Humanity,and belongs to the Indy Mavens, which sponsors MavenCon.

Personality/Motivation: While she will never admit to being spoiled, she does love getting her own way and having attention. She is an upbeat, positive person who looks as life as a challenge. She rarely backs down from a challenge and likes to try new things. Lisa knows a lot more than she lets on, and rarely allows herself to be seen as a "Geek," even if secretly she is one. She's a shameless flirt, but only with men who know she's happily married and respects that and/or has a wife that won't kick her into next week. She's very goal oriented and is not afraid to work hard for what she wants. She likes to relax and can be very carefree at times, but she doesn't hesitate to take charge of a situation. Her family and her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are the priority in her life.

Powers/Tactics: Lisa's method of thought doesn't fit with the norm always, labeled by one of her friends as "Lisa Logic." She tends to switch topics in mid-sentence because she multitasks in everything, including her thoughts. She is an organizer and a planner, and looks for all possible stumbling blocks in order to avoid most of them. She would rather be proactive than reactive, and can't stand sitting back and not doing or saying something if she feels someone has been wronged. Her logic might confuse you, but she will get you from Point A to Point B. Just don't ask her for the directions!

Quote: "I might be a geek, but I hide it well!" or "So, I'm a brat, what's your point?"

Appearance: Standing a tall 5'4", Lisa is a white, 35 year old female. Her hair color has been described as "butterscotch pudding." She has hazel eyes, which can change from truly blue to green depending on her mood and outfit. Her dress of choice is blue jeans, T-shirt, and a sweatshirt. She's often cold, so you rarely see her without socks, but indoors never shoes. She prefers boots over tennis shoes and tennis shoes over high heels. She hates wearing a coat, so prefers warmer weather, layering her clothes, or just staying inside.

Campaign Use: She will definitely organize the party and if she respects the leader, will be the first to lend a hand. But if she thinks the leadership is lacking, she'll be the first to put them in their place. She tends to start out as a support person, but will take charge if needed.

RC Craigo

Column: From the 11th Dimension

Personal Web Page:

Background: RC was raised in Phoenix, Arizona and has lived in the area ever since. Though not an avid comic book reader, RC's thirst for superheroic action was usually quenched by the multitude of Saturday morning cartoons which aired in the 1980s. He was first introduced to role-playing games in 1989 by friends in high school, and to Champions specifically in a gaming convention two years later.

RC lives with his fiancée, his son and two cats. Recently his mother has moved in as well. In his free time he writes short stories, practices web design and graphic design and plays in a weekly Champions campaign.

Personality/Motivation: RC is possessed by a sarcastic and cynical wit which only fails to point out stupidity in others when it might cost him his job. His sense of humor is good natured and every joke is all in good fun, unless he's driving. RC's primary drive is to entertain those around him, or at least know they are entertained.

Powers/Tactics: RC's typically opens up with his Transform (bored person to laughing person) power. If given enough time, he will eventually use his Mental Illusions to immerse his friends into the alternate reality of his choosing. When all else fails, however, he will simply order a pizza.

Quote: "Would anyone like to play a game?"

Appearance: RC stands 6'4" and would be quite large even if he wasn't overweight. He has dark blonde hair which is worn long and intelligent blue eyes which are constantly examining his environment. He typically dresses in jeans and a t-shirt. The t-shirt usually bears a statement such as "the sun is trying to kill me" or "playing catch with a narcoleptic dog."

Campaign Use: RC most often fills the position of Game Master in most campaigns and his style varies from campaign to campaign as it always caters to the desires of the players. As a player, RC tends to be either a group leader or advisor and his characters will most likely have abilities which either support his fellow player characters or fill a niche the group is missing.

John Desmarais

Column: The Stuff Heroes Are Made Of

Personal Web Page:

Background: John has been an avid fan of the since the mid 1980s when a group of Champions players invited him to join them. Since then he has played and run virtually every genre imaginable with it and has no desire to ever learn another game system well enough to GM it. An infrequent contributor to Adventurers' Club Quarterly back in the ICE age, John became the administrator of the HERO System Mailing List around a decade ago (still in existence, but most of its traffic has migrated to the Hero Games Discussion boards) and is the custodian of the Great Net Book of Real Heroes.

Personality/Motivation: John is primarily motivated by laziness, which is why Hero is so appealing. Learn one set of rules and be prepared for any type of game.

Powers/Tactics: Powers — hah! I've got a book full of them. As for tactics, just slam then upside the head with the big black book; then while they're reeling, slip a copy of Sidekick in front of them so that they wonder why they ever thought Hero was daunting in the first place.

Quote: "Your character did what?!?!?!"

Appearance: Tall, graying, with blue eyes and a neatly trimmed goatee.

Campaign Use: The perpetual support character. Will always play a character designed to fill the perceived "holes" in the party.

Bob Greenwade

Column: Bob's Original Hero Stuff

Personal Web Page: None

Background: Bob grew up in Oregon, and still lives there in Corvallis with his wife, Colleen. He considers himself a 21st-century Renaissance Man, with far-ranging interests including (among other things) superheroes, language, live theater, forensics, and soon-coming technologies.

When he and Colleen initially moved to Corvallis, he worked at Oregon State University, though a statewide property tax limitation measure indirectly led to his position being eliminated. Ever since then, with a few notable breaks, he's been struggling for full-time employment.

He has also become a part of the local community theater scene, appearing in The Wizard of Oz, A Thousand Clowns, The Odd Couple, Hamlet, Harvey, and other productions. Most recently Bob has written several plays of his own, ranging from Androids Don't Cry (a comedy-drama coming-of-age story about an android) to Police Farce (a large-cast show whose title is pretty descriptive), and is trying to market them to prospective directors locally and theater companies nationally.

For Hero Games, Bob co-authored The Ultimate Vehicle and wrote numerous articles for Digital Hero before that publication's unfortunate hiatus. He is also working on a graphic novel script, Legacy, revisiting a superhero world he created for his own comic book company in the late 1980s — though whether it will ever be drawn, let alone published, remains to be seen.

Personality/Motivation: Despite suffering from multiple anxiety disorders, Bob has a true joie de vie, enjoying every minute of life he can (at least when he isn't either sleeping or trying to fight off the clinical depression phase of his illness). His main phobias include bees, lightning, telephones, public speaking, heights, and meteorites.

Bob has a particular love of puns, and contributes frequently to

Powers/Tactics: Bob possesses an "associative thought process," nonlinear in nature such that, when he thinks out loud, anyone listening in becomes confused. Though he writes stories in strictly linear fashion, he rarely writes his gaming material from beginning to end, preferring to jump around from spot to spot and insert stuff as it comes to him. Given his near-genius IQ, this can be very confusing indeed. This associative thought process allows Bob to abruptly arrive at a solution to a problem without the usual trial-and-error or other investigative processes most people have to go through; this is successful about one-third of the time.

He also has unusually responsive senses, which allow him to see well at night, hear faint or low ultrasonic sounds, and discern discrete odors, though any powerful experience (a strobe-light, a police siren, or Michael Moore eating chili) can momentarily incapacitate him.

Quote: "Learn everything you can about everything you can."

Appearance: Bob is a white male, 46 years old, with wavy brown hair and bald on top. Usually he wears his hair to collar-length with a Van Dyke beard, though this can alter if he's performing in a play. During warm weather he generally wears slacks and polo shirt, with jeans and T-shirt on Saturday; during colder weather this changes to slacks, turtleneck sweater, and D'amante dress shirt, with jeans and fleece sweatshirt on Saturdays. Outdoors he wears an appropriate coat, along with a years-old black fedora. He favors black sneakers fastened with velcro strips.

Campaign Use: Though his writings reflect his desire to give the reader everything one could possibly need or even want in a single serving, he tends to prefer simple, straightforward solutions to problems. In HERO System terms, his way of doing something is the method requiring the fewest Power Modifiers.

Bob is also good for those "comic relief" moments, when a play on words, mangled movie quote, or moment of slapstick can come in handy. His Master Plan can include a woman who turns into a female deer under the full moon (in other words, a weredoe), an accident-prone speedster, or a super-soaker loaded with the most powerful laxative known to man ("So you have to ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?")

Jon Garceau

Column: Ad Nauseum

Personal Web Page: Doesn't have one but is a very handy site.

Background: What to say, what to say, what to say?

Well, I'm 46 years old. I've been a bit of a vagabond throughout my adult life, having lived in Texas, Mississippi, and Illinois during my almost four years in the US Air Force; Minneapolis three times, totaling maybe six years; Las Vegas for three months; and the balance of my life here in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I have a BA in broadcasting with a minor in English, a couple of diplomas from a vo-tech, both accounting clerk, one with an emphasis in word processing, the other in micro-computing; probably a dozen certificates from the Air Force for maintenance on autopilot, flight control, and instrument systems; and a certificate from the Institute of Children's Literature for writing. Between that and my history as a job gypsy, potential employers probably see nothing but red flags when I walked in.

I'm not married, I have no kids, and I'm not looking for either one. I really don't have any sort of social life here either. The gaming community of Grand Forks is virtually non-existent, not unless you consider Quarters and Liar's Dice gaming. The couple of gamers I did know here have moved on or just stopped gaming. I used to be fairly active in PBeM games but Real Life seems to have snatched many of those people away as well. Someday though, I hope to live in an area with an active gaming community, hopefully one with some good superheroic games (yeah, my genre of choice).

Until then, I'll keep delivering those pizzas, paying on my bills, saving up my pennies, and trying to exercise my gaming muscles with activities like Haymaker!.

Personality/Motivation: I'm motivated to move, to get out of Grand Forks once and for all — again. There's not really a whole lot here, but at least there's a cheap theater here now. Dollar movies make me very happy because, once again, I can spend an entire day at the movies and not worry about breaking my piggy bank. I'm a fairly quiet guy, soft spoken even, someone who tends to keep to himself. Every now and again though, my leprechaun side will sneak out and things at work start getting misplaced.

Powers/Tactics: I have three major powers: working like a fiend (after all, who wants to be at work until all hours — or rather, all odder hours?), vegetating in front of the TV (on or off, it doesn't matter), and sleeping (but that blasted work interrupts that). Four-plus days each year, I get to exercise those slowly atrophying gaming and social muscles at Gen Con, not that I'm really any good at any of it but it does get me out of the house and out of Grand Forks for a bit. Someday it'll be permanent though — someday!

I hope.

Quote: "I didn't do it!"

Appearance: The son of a pair of couch potatoes, I lean toward the soft and spongy side as well, both physically and intellectually. I measure maybe four feet in height (sitting down, my most common position), six feet when stretched out on my bed or, on those rare occasions, standing, and weigh in at 190 pounds (okay, maybe closer to 200). I have reddish-brown hair going white at the sideburns, blue eyes that are usually either confused or vacant, and facial stubble that I have a bad habit of forgetting to shave.

A pair of seamless bifocals spends more time parked on a table or my desk instead of my face; I never could get the hang of those things. I own neither a suit nor a tie, always finding them life- threateningly constrictive. The only time I dust off dress clothes nowadays is for weddings and/or funerals. The fact is, I'm most comfortable in geek chic — a t-shirt with either something snarky or a superheroic icon imprinted on it, a ratty light flannel shirt, and blue jeans.

Campaign Use: I have a use? Wow. That'd be a change of pace.

Derek Hiemforth

Column: Rhino Rhitings

Personal Web Page:

Background: Derek was born in Bakersfield, CA... which is not the gateway to hell, but the guy a few places ahead in line says he can see it from there. Derek got into RPGs in 1981 via the usual D&D route, but fortunately saw the error of his ways in 1987 when he was introduced to Champions and the HERO System. Gaming led him down the sordid path to writing game stuff, and of course no good can come of that. His first professional RPG writing appeared in the pages of Digital Hero issue one (2002), roughly ten years after his first rejection letter. Since that breakthrough, he's been fortunate enough to have his work published again in Digital Hero issue eleven, in the Champions scenario anthology Champions Battlegrounds, and in the Champions Universe setting book Vibora Bay.

Outside of gaming, Derek lives with his wife Terry in the townhouse owned by their spoiled house rabbits, and works in IT for networking giant Cisco Systems. His non-gaming hobbies include baseball, a cappella music, and reading. He used to do a lot of theater, having appeared in over 20 plays. He hasn't done that in a long time, but might like to get back into it if he can find the time.

Personality/Motivation: Derek's weird, but more-or-less harmless. He's got an exaggerated sense of his own cleverness, he's kinda loud, and he's a curmudgeon ahead of his time. But other than that, he's a swell guy.

His motivations are a true mystery, even to himself. Perhaps especially to himself...

Powers/Tactics: His massive size makes him extremely difficult to bring down with normal attacks (high BODY and STUN, plus possibly non-resistant Physical Damage Reduction). However, he prefers to use his Acid Tongue power to goad his opponents into a frothing rage so they can initiate combat and take him by surprise. (Why he prefers this is unknown, but analysis of his past encounters clearly reveals the trend.) As a result, he's usually at a disadvantage early in a conflict, because he's still trying to switch gears and process the fact that someone is hitting him. Once fully engaged, however, he can be a troublesome foe. Although not particularly fast or skilled at brawling, his extraordinary size, fairly high strength, and willingness to fight dirty can make him dangerous to the unwary. (His nickname "Rhino" should be self-explanatory.)

Quote: "Fanaticism is the root of all evil."

Appearance: Derek is six feet three inches tall, with light brown hair and blue eyes. He weighs... let's just he weighs less than his nicknamesake rhinoceros. Well... less than most rhinos. Okay, less than really big rhinos. All right, all right... there might be a rhino somewhere that weighs more than Derek. Sheesh. Cut the guy some slack, Jack!

Campaign Use: Derek is most "useful" to a campaign as the GM who comes up with an interesting campaign idea, runs it for a while until the players get into it, then gets bored and wants to shelve it in favor of a new campaign. His players have refrained from lynching him so far, but just barely.

James Jandebeur

Column: To be decided

Personal Web Page: None

Background: Having played and tinkered with Hero for a number of years, while simultaneously trying to make a living at various clerical duties while struggling to finally get through school. Currently working as a sleep tech. Working on "brevity".

Personality/Motivation: Generally overthinks things, and wants to know not so much how things work, but how people think. Most people are incomprehensible to him.

Powers/Tactics: Keeps asking questions until it drives people mad. Creates constructs that many reject, which makes him bitter, bitter indeed. Working towards becoming an Arch-Villain and being able to shout, "Fools! I'll destroy you all!", but hasn't quite gotten the hang of the destruction part. Will probably remember details about games and house rules long after they have been forgotten by everyone else.

Quote: "I'm not a rules lawyer, I'm a rules philosopher. Activism is too much trouble."

Appearance: 6 foot 3 inches, or thereabouts, brown hair with a little white, short beard, blue eyes with glasses, heavy around the midsection. Plain clothes.

Campaign Use: The same as an absent-minded professor contact, but primarily for gaming.

Tom Lively

Column: Deadman's Epitaphs

Personal Web Page:

Background: Tom grew up in Southern California and has always been an eclectic person. As a child he played baseball, soccer and chess, collected comic books, was a member of MGM (mentally gifted minors) and pursued martial arts training. In Junior High he began singing in the choir, joined the chess club, played football and stumbled upon what would become a lifelong addiction; Champions. In High School he discovered heavy metal, experimented with the use of certain chemicals and plants, became a member of the GATE program and continued to play Champions and other RPGs. Following High School, Tom joined the Army as an infantryman, began singing in several heavy metal bands, played softball, dancing in nightclubs and yet found time to keep playing Champions. In his 20s Tom became a grocery store manager, off-road enthusiast, Karaoke star, computer student, homeowner, Husband, Father and still continued to find willing participants for Champions games. In his 30s Tom went back to college, became an IT systems engineer, MENSA member, college graduate, Chargers season ticket holder, got his own IT department, played in several softball leagues and found new people to play Champions with. Now in his forties he will definitely be doing a lot of different things and one of them will be playing Champions.

Personality/Motivation: Tom is pretty easy going normally but can get very intense when in pressure situations. Some people see Tom as arrogant but he firmly believes that his obvious intellectual superiority, witty personality and stunning good looks give him the opportunity to exercise humility. Tom is just one of those people that has to be in charge. While he denies that it has anything to do with his lack of trust in the ability of most people, he admits to feeling that he excels at leadership. Actually Tom is a notorious procrastinator, for which he has offered the "perfectionist" excuse. He is motivated by a strong sense of responsibility. Becoming a husband and father has gotten rid of the hedonistic streak of his early years to the point that he is actually a moderately productive member of society today.

Powers/Tactics: Tom is a big man. Standing 6'3" and weighing in at 280 pounds, this ensures that he generally doesn't have to worry about his personal security. While he fills the Brick role in many genres he is certainly not your typical brick. He is highly intelligent and a very cunning and capable opponent. He has extensive computer, security and telecommunications skills and is an expert with networked systems. Tom has been trained in the use of a wide variety of weapons from the bow to turret weapons in an M-1 Abrams main battle tank.

While at one time he was considered an expert with many firearms he prefers to just "pop someone in the nose" when confronted physically.

Quote: "Quit your whining and do it."

Appearance: Tom looks absolutely nothing like you would expect an IT manager and role-playing gamer to look like. He is a very big man but most people don't normally see him as fat. He shaves his head and wears a mustache and goatee. These combined with his ever-present dark sunglasses, jeans and t-shirts standard of dress and normally dour expression have made him rather successful in creating a pretty intimidating look. His eyes are brown when not covered by the aforementioned sunglasses as is his hair as evidenced by his mustache and beard. Now in his forties he no longer thinks of himself as the Greek God he once was but still believes that he is above average looking. Truth be told he has begun to develop a pretty big gut but he's still in denial.

Campaign Use: Tom makes a good leader type character though his skill set may not always lend itself to that role. If present in a group another leader can best enlist Tom as an ally by putting him in charge of something and making him feel important.

Ray Lowery

Column: Around The World In 6,912,000 Segments

Personal Web Page: None

Background: Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, Ray lived in the shadow of “Murder City – where the weak are killed and eaten.” Somehow, he managed to survive. Maybe it was the years spent training with an ageless kung-fu master. Perhaps it was an arsenal of weapons capable of destroying a small country. But most likely, he survived because the suburbs aren’t all that dangerous.

After graduating from high school, Ray enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he first played Champions (in 1982) and has been hooked on Hero ever since. He lasted two years at U-M before getting booted out. He steadfastly denies rumors that he was involved in the lab accident that caused the high-energy physics building to implode late one night. He insists it was really just his grades. Honest.

Ray transferred to Eastern Michigan University, where after many long years going to school part-time he finally earned his degree in Written Technical Communication. During this time, he also got married and brought two daughters into this world. Ray’s youngest insists that she is “mostly evil” (specifically, she says she is 66% evil, 1% good, and the rest is artificial sweeteners, which she calls “evil with a moustache”). The older daughter sings in the choir, volunteers with her church youth group, and will likely become her little sister’s arch-nemesis.

Ray currently works for the University of Michigan as a database programmer. He lives with his wife, two daughters, dog, and cat in eastern Michigan, where he has lived all his life.

Personality/Motivation: Heard a joke lately? Chances are, so has Ray and he’s likely to tell it to you whether or not you want to hear it. Puns, comedy routines, amusing anecdotes – no form of humor is safe from him. Coworkers have been known to plug their ears, run screaming, or in extreme cases decapitate themselves to escape.

Ray has CDO (it's like obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it's in alphabetical order as it SHOULD be). When he worked at a bank, all of his paper clips had to face the same way. He may have loosened up a bit since having kids, but Ray still dislikes clutter.

Strongly motivated to help others, Ray volunteers often at this church and in his local Lion’s Club.

Powers/Tactics: Ray unfortunately only has noncombat powers. He has mild empathic abilities, allowing him to calm angry people with a quiet word or a quick joke. He also has the amazing ability to wake up a few minutes before his clock alarm is set to ring, even if he doesn’t know at what time the alarm is set. He also apparently has a die or two of Luck, since he has yet to break a bone or suffer any serious injury.

Not counting siblings, Ray has never been in a fight in his life. He has gotten punched several times, twice by accident and once because he jokingly "asked" for it. He prefers to talk and finagle his way out of a fight, but can defend himself if necessary.

Quote: "If I had just a little more modesty, I'd be perfect."

Appearance: Brown hair, brown eyes, 5'9" and 210 pounds – Ray is in no danger of being mistaken for Tom Cruise, for which Ray and Tom are both grateful. Unless forced to get formal, Ray normally dresses in jeans and a work-casual shirt, avoiding ties and suitcoats like the plague.

Campaign Use: Ray works best as the mild-mannered DNPC or Contact, supporting the main character but generally not taking a highly visible role.

Scott Martin

AKA: Joseph Martin, Scott Freakin’ Martin

Column: I Hate Mimes!

Personal Web Page: None

Background: Scott was raised in Valinda, an unincorporated part of Southern California that even native Californians don’t know exists. His childhood was normal until one event would change his life forever. While walking home from High school a friend of his mentioned role-playing, and invited Scott to come over to play that evening. After calling his friend some words that can’t be repeated, Scott decided to have an open mind and give it a try. Hooked instantly, Scott began to try other games as well, including Champions. Champions would become his favorite.

A mild mannered project manager by day, Scott goes to school at night, in the hopes of finishing his degree. His goal one day is to leave the world of project management and become a teacher, thereby benefiting humanity

Personality/Motivation: Scott is a jokester and likes laughing. He laughs when he hears the words “duty” “peas” and when football commentators say “penetration.”

His sarcasm has gotten him into trouble on occasion, but he usually can joke his way out of any corner.

However not everything is fun and games with him. Scott becomes an unrecognizable monster when he is driving, yelling at people for seemingly no reason (but there is a reason in his twisted mind).

Scott claims that “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” was created by him, only he called it the “Movie Connection Game” (obviously it doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” does).

Besides Champions, Scott’s passions include watching the Minnesota Vikings lose, watching the Lakers win three years then lose three years then win three years, then. . . (you get the picture), camping, beer tasting (which is basically beer drinking, only it makes you sound like less of a lush), collecting Route 66 memorabilia, and reading. His favorite shows are “24” (and he swears Jack Bauer is real), and “The Shield.”

Powers/Tactics: Scott has the superhuman ability to notice errors in movies, a power which he demonstrates with much pride. He also has the ability to find the worst movies ever made, and he enjoys watching them!

Quote: “I hate mimes.” “Stupid F@#$ing Vikings!”

Appearance: Scott is a white guy with brown hair and blue eyes. He stands 6’1” tall and his weight is none of your freaking business. He can typically be seen wearing a Minnesota Vikings or LA Lakers baseball cap. He wears baggy clothes to try and hide the fact that middle age is settling in.

Campaign Use: Scott could be used as comedy relief, or as a potential recruit for C.L.O.W.N.

Ed May

Column: Ed’s Astonishing Tales

Personal Web Page: None

Background: Ed was born in middle Tennessee in the late 60’s. One of his earliest memories is watching the original Star Trek series with his dad (the one with the salt vampire, creepy). Ed discovered comics before he could read, and had quite a collection by the time he was in Kindergarten.

Being a fan of comics, Star Trek, and other “geeky” things meant Ed was slightly out of place in the rural south. Ed did find other folks who shared his interests in high school, however, and one of them introduced him to Dungeons & Dragons. Ed became an avid role-player, and discovered many other systems in college, including Champions, which quickly became his favorite Super Hero RPG (although he still has a soft spot in his heart for Villains & Vigilantes.) Fun Trivia Fact: Ed discovered Champions through his then roommate Joe Phillips, who illustrated the 4th edition adventure Day of the Destroyer.

These days, with wife, child, and a job that requires a lot of travel, Ed doesn’t have time to game as much as he’d like. He has begun making GenCon a regular event, even taking his son with him last year, attempting to pass his interests on to the next generation.

Personality/Motivation: Ed is either extremely entertaining or annoying, depending on your point of view. Rarely at a loss for words, he has been accused of enjoying the sound of his own voice a bit too much. Ed continues to try to find ways to use his interests in gainful employment.

Powers/Tactics: Ed has the amazing ability to cause inanimate objects to move as though they are alive, with the limitation he must be touching them at the time. While not allowing him world dominance yet, it has allowed him to make a living as a puppeteer. Ed also has the uncanny power to control other people’s actions. This requires a willing subject and only applies on a performance space or “stage.” He has used this talent to direct several puppet productions and a few community theatre productions.

Quote: “Wag the dummy, draw the cash, go to the house.”

Appearance: Most folks think is some kind of musician when they first see him. He is 6 feet and around 235 lbs. He traditionally has “van dyke” style facial hair, but has been known to shave it into various configurations, depending if he’s playing a certain role. Ed has blue eyes and curly black hair that reaches to his mid-back.

Campaign Use: Ed is much like the characters he creates and plays for RPGs; not always the most efficiently built, usually not the most tactically sound, but dang entertaining.

Rodney Ruff

Column: Ruff Stuff

Personal Web Page:

Background: Rodney Ruff was born in Omaha, Nebraska on October 4, 1958, exactly a year after the start of the Space Age. (There are some who would say this is why he's "spaced out.") He showed signs of high intelligence early, having taught himself to read before kindergarten. Despite this, he went through kindergarten twice, thanks to having a mean-spirited and incompetent teacher. (This was perhaps the start of his being picked on by his classmates for being "different.")

However, his academic career afterward was much better. Although never a straight-A student, by high school, none of his grades were lower than B; this continued into college, from which he graduated magna cum laude. The world outside academia proved much crueler; he did not land a job until several years after graduation, as a proofreader for a life insurance company, which he held for three years. He returned to the world of temporary employment for three years, after which he signed on with American Business Information, rising through its ranks at a slower pace than he would have liked to become its resident help file author, in which capacity he was co-creator of one of its software products. He remained there for just over a decade, until being downsized three months after his mother's death, and has since returned to a mixture of temporary and contract work.

Most of his interests date from childhood. Always an avid reader, he became interested in astronomy at an early age; when he ran out of books on the subject at his level, he became interested in mythology and legend. Watching the original Jeopardy! taught him to value knowledge; he later became adept at winning prizes from local radio stations' trivia contests, which he has done more than 60 times. He joined Mensa in 1986, and served on his local group's Executive Committee from 1988 to 2007, serving as its president from September 1993 to March 1995, and captained its CultureQuest team from 1992 to 2004.

Writing, however, has held his interest the longest. In grade school, he often wrote during his free time; in both junior high and high school, he submitted work to his school district's annual, although none of it was published. In his junior and senior years of high school, he was on the staff of his high school newspaper; two of his articles received mention in the city newspaper. In college, he contributed a series of stories to the campus newspaper wherein Superman posed as student Clark Kent. Since then, he has published six fanfics and contributed clues to the board games Clever Endeavor and Trivia Omaha, as well as three articles for Digital Hero, and over 150 how-to articles and business guides. From 1991 to 1993, he hosted a weekly trivia contest at several Omaha bars, for which he also wrote the questions, as he has done for the trivia contests he hosted at various science fiction conventions.

Personality/Motivation: Rod is a curious individual (take that however you want), a highly intelligent quick study with a broad range of knowledge he is eager to add to. He does not so much hold his intelligence over others to make himself their superior as he expects them to use their own intellect to the fullest. He is often frustrated when others do not live up to his expectations. He is least tolerant of forgetfulness, due to his long memory.

He also has high expectations for himself. He is a perfectionist who feels he should be more successful than he currently is and is striving to achieve success as a writer in a number of areas. (He has often stated the goal of becoming the next Steve Allen, not to match Allen in his specific accomplishments but in the range of accomplishments.)

Rod is a man of dichotomies. He is one of the few people who can be both highly analytical and highly imaginative. He can be serious one minute and funny the next; he often cuts loose with incredibly bad puns as a way to defuse his own nervousness in tense situations. While he holds strong beliefs in a number of areas, he will readily adopt an idea he perceives as better than his own, so long as he is not told to "do it my way." He also has a highly developed sense of fair play.

The son of parents who grew up during the Depression, he is tight-fisted with his money. He saves as much as possible and rarely makes purchases on credit. He lives by the adage, "Neither a lender nor a borrower be." He has, however, acquired many possessions, either from winning them on the radio or buying them in second-hand stores. (He describes his three favorite clothiers as Salvacion Armee, Gudvil, and San Vincenne du Paul.) He places more value on the thought behind the gift than the gift itself.

(He is ambivalent about whether he prefers to be called "Rod" or "Rodney." In practice, he uses his full first name with his last as his author's byline, but goes by "Rod" in conversation.)

Powers/Tactics: Rod is not much for physical combat, as he prefers to fight in an arena he can win. His preferred combat methods are to unleash an Autofire barrage of Penetrating RKA trivia questions or Armor-Piercing bad puns to cow his opponents into submission. Otherwise, he tries to Find Weakness in others' arguments by finding their reasons behind their opinions. If he can find a point of consensus, he breaks off the attack, but will doggedly continue combat when he cannot. He gets along with most people and prefers to avoid those whom he can't stand. He has, however, been known to make death threats against inanimate objects that have annoyed or frustrated him.

Quote: "Ken Jennings may have won more money, but I am the Man of Trivia."

Appearance: Rod is 6 feet tall and carries a noticeable paunch, but is not grossly overweight. He has blue eyes and brown hair with some gray (first noticed at age 33), but looks a few years younger than his actual age and acts a few more years younger than it. He wears multi-focal lens glasses to correct nearsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. While he owns a fair number of suits and ties, he normally wears them only when required; otherwise, he prefers casual clothing, although he won't wear any shirt without a pocket and so won't wear T-shirts. At science fiction conventions, he can be recognized by his distinctive straw Stetson with a composite buckle made from a woman's oval belt buckle and thunderbird pendant.

Campaign Use: Rod is best suited for gaming in superheroic campaigns using the HERO System, although he is open to any game in any system he thinks might provide an interesting diversion. He prefers to play energy projectors or characters with a lot of INT-based Skills, although again, he will play any character type that has an interesting story and combination of Powers behind it. He is especially fond of taking actions in combat that will damage more than one character at a time. He is also a force to be reckoned with in games of skill and knowledge and has changed the outcome of Trivial Pursuit games by joining the losing side mid-game.

Away from the gaming table, Rod is best used in situations that call for analytical or creative writing and editing.

Mike Sims (Michael when in trouble)

Column: The Great Aussie Bite

Personal Web Page: None

Background: Mike was born in the most isolated capital city in the world on a stinking hot summer's day in 1972. He was always an energetic and curious child, and loved to play with Lego and Micronauts. As he grew he developed a love for the science fiction and fantasy genres by waking up at 4am on a Saturday morning to watch Barry Barkla's Creature Feature on Channel 9 and religiously watching Doctor Who on a Sunday. His love of these genres persists to this day.

Mike also developed a love of the superhero genre through Saturday morning cartoons, the `60s Batman TV series, and local black and white Murray the Cat reprints of American comics. His favourite hero was always Batman, closely followed by Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk (whom he still identifies with), and Mike could often be found running up and down his street in his Batman cowl and cape that his mother made (not for Halloween, which Aussies do not celebrate, but for love of the character). Mike's love affair with comics themselves has waxed and waned as different trends have moved through the business, but his love of a good story that can only be properly told on paper using sequential art and word balloons has remained strong. And if those stories feature impossibly muscled men and incredibly beautiful women clad in spandex fighting the good fight and exploring not only the concept of heroism but also the concept of humanity, then even better.

Mike's first roleplaying experience came via Steve Jackson's The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and Joe Dever's Lone Wolf series, neither of which make much sense to him now. This was followed by a trip to the local gaming store (Tactics) and purchasing of various game systems – MERP, Rolemaster… and Champions. Champions ignited something in Mike, and before his parents knew it he was using every pad of paper and every exercise book in the house to scribble down lists of numbers and strange words like STR, DEX and CON. Thousands of characters were built, house rules developed, and worlds designed. Mike also joined a local gaming group (SAGA) and made some friends that remain close to him after nearly 20 years.

Other adventures for Mike along the way to this point have included: Being asked to defer from university because rather than attending lectures Mike spent more time eating junk food, playing pool, drinking beer, and roleplaying; being a sound guy, lighting guy, bouncer, and roadie for local Perth bands; completing a degree in Media and having a vampire script repeatedly refused funding because it wasn't Australian enough; travelling to North America and meeting some old school Hero folks like Bruce Harlick, Ray Greer, and the current man himself Steve Long (who let Mike sleep on his floor) and blowing off Sean Fannon's hand (well Laser's) when GMing a con game; becoming a semi-professional stand-up comedian; returning to university and becoming a teacher; travelling to London and seeing much of the world; returning to Australia to teach once again; and the best adventure of all — marrying his beautiful and understanding wife.

Champions and the HERO System have given Mike much over the years – now it's time to give something back.

Personality/Motivation: Mike is a nice guy who generally loves life and people, and wants others to share that love. He is apparently a good listener and a social creature, but also needs times of solitude to process things and recharge his batteries. Mike also has a social filter with an Activation Roll, meaning that sometimes the words come out without editing, which when combined with his Physical Limitation: Mind in the Gutter can lead to some socially awkward yet amusing moments.

He is, however, Frustrated 8 or less with inanimate objects and software that doesn't do what it is meant to (or with himself) which can lead to some short but fierce anger-moments wherein said objects occasionally get broken. Mike is a bit like the Hulk without green skin and purple pants at times.

Powers/Tactics: Mike's main powers are his quick wits and ability to adapt to change. His general knowledge, especially of pop culture, is occasionally handy as well. Physically, Mike is a bit of a powerhouse – he is able to move heavy objects such as furniture on demand — and his training and experience in conflict management has been useful in many situations. Mike is also well versed in most aspects of HERO System rules and mechanics from multiple editions, which often makes him the first port of call for rules questions from his fellows.

Tactically, in a group Mike will act as a protector of others in a conflict and try to defuse it as quickly as possible with the minimum amount of hurt for all involved. He will also fulfil any tasks required of him by others. However, when on his own he will often procrastinate until the last minute.

Quote: "G'day. I'm Mike. And you are?"

Appearance: Mike is tall at about 6'2" and weighs in at 248lbs so could afford to trim down a bit. He is a social chameleon, adapting his outer attire according to the social context in which he finds himself, and therefore has no favourite items of clothing. His loving wife would describe him as having big googly eyes, big floppy ears, chin fur, and a cheeky smile. Or she'd describe him as a big monkey man. Ook ook ook.

Campaign Use: Mike can be used in almost any campaign (except those involving competitive sports) in almost any role. Except as a dominatrix. That's just a bit too this side of kinky for him. And the leather chafes.

Michael Surbrook

Column: Surbrook's Stuff

Personal Web Page:

Background: Michael was born in Sanford, Florida in June of 1967. As his father was in the Navy at the time, this ended up in his living in four states over the next 10 years, until his dad was transferred to Maryland, where’s he’s been ever since.

Michael started gaming sometime in late 1978 or so, starting with that old stand-by, Dungeons & Dragons. He tinkered with Traveller, recalls some really short sessions of Rolemaster, and really fell in love with the simplicty of Melee and In The Fantasy Trip. Then he was introduced to Champions....

Excited by the idea of a game where you built what you want, rather than rolled up and hoped... Michael quickly decided Champions was the game for him. He worked up characters, monsters, settings, and such, eventually becoming one of the acknowledged masters of adapting fictional sources to the HERO System. Sometime in 1996 (or so), he even started a webpage, in order to present his designs to the world at large. In 1998 Michael had every GM’s dream come true — his campaign world (Kazei 5) was published by Hero Games! He then went on to write the 5th Edition version of Ninja Hero, the Asian Bestiary Volumes I & II, and about two dozen articles of Digital Hero. Currently, he’s updating and expanding Kazei 5 for 5th (now 6th) Edition and hopes to do more Hero-related work for either BlackWyrm or DOJ in the future.

When he’s not gaming, Michael works at NASA HQ in Washington DC, which instantly makes him the envy of SF fans everywhere (Yes, he has front row seats for every daytime shuttle launch!). He’s a desktop support tech by trade, and keeps NASA’s Macintosh computers up and running. For about 14 years he used to be part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, but his age and work schedule has pretty much put an end to that. He enjoys baseball, a good book, anime, manga, and those utterly whacked martial arts from the Pacific Rim.

Personality/Motivation: As with many intelligent people, Michael’s life is a constant battle between manic and depressive states. For the most part, his mild form of ADD keeps him busy, bouncing from one project to another (which is why his website is crammed with hundreds of character sheets). He tries to keep a positive attitude and seems to have weathered turning 40 without suffering total collapse. He’s looking forward to the next few years, as he sees great things in store.

At the gaming table, Michael feels he’s gotten beyond the hack-and-slash mentality common to early gamers, and wants to make each PC he plays unique. He doesn’t always succeed, but comments on his PCs from his current gaming group has been overwhelmingly positive.

Powers/Tactics: At one point, Michael was in reasonable shape, with above-average skills with sword and shield. In fact, he was good enough to almost make the push to SCA knighthood, which would have been wonderful — but alas, hindsight is always 20-20 and the old adage of “if I knew then what I know now...” applies perfectly. Still, he’s fairly well-armed at home, with a eclectic collection of swords scattered about his condo. However, he’d rather not fight, even if his temper tells him otherwise, as he’s seen what sort of trouble it can bring.

Interesting, Michael’s greatest power has nothing to do with combat, yet has brought him great renown. He is an avowed master of translating fictional (and some real world) creations into HERO System terms, with some of his adaptations leaving readers of the Hero Message Boards effectively speechless. He takes great pride in his fact, but tries not to let it go to his head, instead realize he’s set a high standard for himself and now much match it.

Quote: "Provide me with ships or proper sails for the celestial atmosphere and there will be men there, too, who do not fear the appalling distance."

Okay, it’s not his quote, but instead belongs to Johannes Kepler, but it’s one of his favorites.

Appearance: At 5’6” and roughly 200 lbs, Michael could afford to lose some weight. He’s actually getting there, though, since he tries to get 30 minutes on a stationary recumbent bike every morning, and has lost around 30 pounds already. His hair is dark brown, with some white strands, while his close-trimmed beard has a lot of white patches. His eyes are a grayish color (well, he thinks so).

Campaign Use: Michael's best use as a constant source of characters, concepts, and other creations for your campaign. As they say on the Hero Boards, “If there’s a character sheet for it, odds are Surbrook’s Stuff has it.”

Chuck Turnitsa

Column: PD Comics Presents

Personal Web Page: Wargaming Club and Research

Background: I began playing wargames in the mid 1970s, just a few years before I began computer programming (1977). Both of these events (along with my religious faith, and a dollop of weird sense of humor) would eventually mold the person I have become. I moved from board gaming to miniature gaming and then in high school (1980) I discovered roleplaying (it was AD&D first, scant months after the first DMG was published). From there I moved to other TSR games, and finally very heavily into Traveller. Having purchased a few of the micro-computers of the time (TRS-80 Color computer, Commodore-128), my programming advanced and developed. College was delayed a year, as I moved across country (from Newport News, Virginia to Chicago) to live with a cousin before starting higher education. Around this time, I was heavily into RPGs, but also into boardgaming (mostly Star Fleet Battles and Avalon Hill wargames). When I moved back to Virginia I discovered a very, very active gaming group (this was about February 1984) that was into Roleplaying — mostly Traveller. But they also taught me a new game — Champions. Later on that year, school started. I double majored in History (all the military history I read that went along with those wargames got me hooked) and Computer Programming (well, why not — I'd been doing it for 8 years already). To make an already too long story shorter, I graduated, worked in the scientific programming world (doing R&D for the US Army, and scientific support programming for NASA) for about 13 years, when I came to work for a University. Part of my job was to complete a graduate degree — which I am currently finishing up the PhD part in — the program is Modeling and Simulation (combining my love for philosophy, math, programming, and gaming).

Personality/Motivation: Gaming can be fun, ethical, and inspirational. I love teaching and entertaining — probably why I like GMing so much — and I love the math and analysis in and behind games. Writing is a hoot, too.

Powers/Tactics: Leads off in combat with the Yuckster beam (6d6 power drain, vs. Gloom based powers. Area effect, Gestures — funny faces and voices). Follows up with a variety of martial conversational maneuvers, geared at engaging the enemy on his/her own terms.

Quote: Often, and from obscure authors.

Appearance: 6'1". Dark salt-and-pepper hair (effects of too many radiation accidents on the Titan space station). Dark brown eyes. Mushy build hidden by purple plas-steel combat suit.

Campaign Use: Plot generator and real estate agent for unnameable and indescribable horrors. Wrangler of giant monkeys. Proponent of all things robotic, and not a few things religious. Donate a few points to the team HQ.

Wayne "Thag" Walls

Column: Dancing at the Feet of the Moon

Personal Web Page: Atomic City Gaming League a local message board.

Background: Wayne, or Thag as he is known by his friends, children and wife, started out in a small town of Wartburg Tennessee. Thag had a love of reading and comics early in life. He loved reading scary stories, pulp adventures and nearly anything related to SF and Fantasy he could get his hands on. Thag also loved music and had a wide range of records in his collection. His reputation was one of, “ That kid that reads a lot” in town.

Thag grew up of course, and went to the local collage, found out about RPGs at a Sci Fi convention, got married and had kids. Wow, 40ish years in a couple of sentences.

Thag lives in Oak Ridge/Oliver Springs, TN, with his wife of 25 years, Claudia and his kids, Corwin, Alexis, Morgan and Justin. Claudia works as a scientific consultant. Thag stays at home to keep the kids out of trouble. So far, its not working out that well.

Personality/Motivation: Thag is a people person. Almost friendly to a fault, he finds it easy to make new friends and to talk to strangers. Thag mainly just wants everyone to get along and to be good to each other. He tries to set an example of volunteer and general good works. That being said, Thag values his alone time to read and to watch movies and can enjoy a day of wandering around used books stores, thrift shops, comic book, and pawn shops looking for that elusive “fantastic deal”.

Powers/Tactics: Back when Thag was into body building, he was strong for a average human, but years of rpg playing, Pizza, dealing with willful children have taken their toll. Still his dead weight lift is pretty good and give Thag a crowbar and he can destroy nearly anything.

Thag is also known for is knowledge of anything that cannot be used in a job. Useless trivia such as Playmates of the 80s, Bad Horror movies, Comics books before they were ruined, TV series themes, porn stars, cartoons and music videos of the 80s top the list.

Thag has a knack to know when something good is at the used book store or flea market. Likewise finding someone he knows at a odd location is another talent he got from his father.

His tactics are to talk and generally blast a wall of sonic blather at a subject until Thag gets what he wants or the victim leaves. He will hug an stranger until stranger relents and hugs back or dies of crushed ribs and lack of air.

Quotes: "Make a perception roll."

"No, Shannon Tweed wasn't Playmate of the year until 82."

"What part of Ook Ook Ook did you not understand?"

Appearance: Wide shoulders, somewhat of a gut, salt and pepper hair, goatee, green eyes and usually smiling. Wear glasses most of the time. Is usually in a t-shirt with a funny saying on it. Mostly found wearing sweat pants. Hates ties.

Campaign Use: If you need someone that can scrounge a hard to find item, Thag is your guy. His knowledge is useless facts can sometime be really handy.

Ross Watson

Column: Watson’s Words

Personal Web Page: None

Background: Ross bounced around between Wyoming and Arkansas most of his young life. Introduced to D&D (the Red Box) at the age of 8, a lifelong obsession with role-playing games soon developed. Soon to follow were a love for all things 80's, including most Saturday morning cartoons. Larry Hama's run on the GI JOE comic pulled the young lad into the world of superheroes and four-color drama, greatly assisted by Perez's covers on the original Who's Who in the DC Universe.

Roleplaying remained Ross's first and greatest hobby over the rest of his life. He formed gaming groups in both Junior and Senior High, and developed a flair for improvisation during lunch hour adventures with Marvel Super Heroes, Rifts, Robotech, and Star Wars. The Big Blue Book of Champions 4th edition caught his eye in 1989, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Thousands of characters later, Ross has learned that not all games are created equal — and that critical thinking led to a career as a freelance writer and editor during his college years. A tour in the Army helped toughen him up for the rigors of sitting at his PC for hours on end writing monsters for Penumbra D20 in between bouts of Baldur's Gate.

Then, like a bolt out of the blue, Games Workshop hired the young man to work as a copy editor in Maryland. Off he went, and discovered the mountainous ups and cavernous downs of working for an actual game company. That was a good period of time that simply didn't last long enough, and in 2005 Ross returned to the 'real world' job market. Since then, he has found work in DC as a consultant and continues to write in the gaming industry in an on-again, off-again fashion.

Personality/Motivation: Described as a "picky gamer," Ross is generally an average example of the human race. Sometimes nice, sometimes grumpy, always a geek. Perhaps his greatest flaw is the Enraged When The Subject of Episode 1 Comes Up In Conversation Disadvantage.

Powers/Tactics: Ross is able to write game text or marketing copy at an impressive rate — yet his editing requires him to sloooooow dowwwwnnn and take his time. These two traits rarely mix well, requiring several proofs to make sure "e" comes before "i" in the correct places.

Ross has an almost encyclopediac knowledge of most roleplaying game systems and 80's cartoons. He is also extremely well versed in most military science fiction and fantasy books, with a specialty in miniature wargaming.

Quote: "Wouldn't it be awesome to run a game mixing GI JOE and Jem & the Holograms? It would totally rock."

Appearance: Ross is around 6 feet tall, somewhat portly, and bald — cue-ball, shiny pate bald. His glasses and cheery smile make up for his squinty blue eyes.

Campaign Use:

Leah Watts

Column: Leah’s Notebook

Personal Web Page: (not that it gets updated all that much)

Background: Leah was born on May 8, 1962 in Omaha, NE. There’s something appropriate about a history buff being born on the anniversary of VE Day. She lived in six different states by her sixth birthday, thanks to the US Navy; but after her parents divorced she, her brother, and her mother moved back to Omaha to be closer to her mother’s side of the family. She’s been a contented Midwesterner ever since.

How long has Leah been gaming? Let’s put it this way – her copy of Deities and Demigods has the Cthulhu, Nehwon, and Melnibonean mythoi, and she bought it when it first came out. She started HERO System with the blue-box edition of Champions, but can never keep track of whether she has the first or second edition. She’s run games at GenCon and at the occasional local convention for several years, and has proofreading credits in some of the 5th edition books.

Leah works for a local dry cleaners, managing one drop store and filling in as needed at other locations. Her other interests include classical music, costuming, reading (especially history), puzzle magazines, old-time radio, and MythBusters. She’s currently trying to decide between making a VIPER or an UNTIL uniform to wear at the 2010 Costume Con in Milwaukee.

Personality/Motivation: Leah tends to be quiet unless she knows the people she’s with fairly well.

Powers/Tactics: Leah does her best to avoid physical combat due to some of her Physical Limitations. In intellectual challenges, she will either try to pull up facts that support her position or see if a different phrasing will make her position clearer.

At the gaming table, Leah has been accused of brainwashing her dice to roll optimum numbers for her (especially when GMing). Personally, she thinks the time she rolled back-to-back critical failures for the same villain was hysterical ... but apparently the only “dice events” that others find worthy of remembering involve huge amounts of damage inflicted on the PCs.

Quote: depends on what she’s read recently.

Appearance: Leah is fairly short, around 5’2”, and could stand to lose a few (dozen) pounds. She has wavy dark brown hair that’s starting to get some silver, and brown eyes. She normally wears contact lenses, but recently has needed to supplement with reading glasses for close-up work ... or just wear her regular glasses. She prefers to wear colors at the cooler end of the spectrum.

Campaign Use: Leah can be used as either a player or GM. She has a soft spot for the more oddball game concepts.

Away from the gaming table, Leah will use any of her Skills to help out her friends.