If you were to flip through the Core Rules, or Morgansfort, or Fortress, Tomb, and Tower, you’d find among the playtesters a fellow named Alan Jett. I met Alan in high school, back around 1982; he was introduced by a mutual friend, one of the first players in my first RPG group, and in no time, not only had Alan joined our group, but we were playing at his house.
Alan was very reserved normally; I’ve known a number of people who described him as unfriendly, in fact. He was really just rather shy, a consequence of being, well, nerdy. Like me, unsurprisingly. It was in the game world where he really opened up, though, and we got to see him the way he wanted to be seen.
One of his very earliest characters, possibly his first, was a human fighter named Faldren. Faldren joined a party of adventurers who got lost in the Great Desert and ended up exploring some lost pyramid. Faldren was a front-line fighter whenever he got the chance, fighting alongside Thorin the dwarf. (No, neither of those names are particularly original. Give us a break, we were kids.)
Late in 1983, having played what seemed like forever (as everything that lasts more than a month does at that age), we changed to a more “advanced” game, and I let Alan bring Faldren into that game. We experimented with other systems too, superheroes and science fiction and other kinds of fantasy. I soon realized that you never really see what someone wants to be until you play an RPG with them.
Alan wanted to be a hero. He had hoped to serve in the military, but he had the sort of medical issues which would prevent that. In real life he was a bit of a gun freak. He hunted, something I never did with him (or anyone, hunting never appealed to me). He’s the guy who convinced me to see the movie Shocker… someday I have to watch that one again.
I did what he wanted to, but could not. I spent four years in the Air Force, gaining valuable experience that led to my current job. When I got out and came home, we picked up the game as if we’d never quit. I was still running “advanced” adventures, but I began to get an urge for something more, well, basic.
So, along with the rest of my game group, Alan became one of the playtesters for Basic Fantasy RPG. He had two characters, sometimes played together when the group was too small, sometimes played separately; the miniatures pictured here are the ones he used. One, a human fighter named Kyron Ristan, was almost the reincarnation of Faldren, even coming from the same dusty land of Kel south of the Great Desert. The other was his dwarf cleric Tybrinn.
Like every other character I ever saw him play, they were heroes. Another player in my group had the bright idea to play a necromancer, but he was very careful to keep the true nature of his powers secret as he knew if Alan’s characters learned what he was, he’d likely end up dead. Alan was like that, no tolerance for evil.
In October 2012, days away from his 47th birthday, Alan succumbed to the cancer that he had been battling for several years. He is missed at my game table and in my life.
He sounds like a great guy! This article made me miss my old group.