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The Fraternity of Shadows

Interview with the Fraternity of Shadows

This interview was conducted April 2007 by Vannax for his Czech web site, Lost Souls.

May you introduce yourselves a bit?


I'm David although I was known on the boards as "Jester" for a time. I'm a 27yo Canadian from the Western provinces with a Bachelor's degree in English. I have been gaming semi-regularly for a decade and a half and became a Ravenloft player shortly after the Red Box was released.


I'm Dion, 27, live and work in Baguio City, Philippines. I'm a university professor teaching art and literature. I may very well be the only regular Asian on the site. Been gaming since 1997 when I picked up a 1st ed DMG, became a Ravenloft player in 1999. I work out three times a week and love any kind of pasta. And Gatorade.


I am 30 years old and currently live in the Northwestern suburbs of Chicago with my wife and newborn daughter. I am a doctor of pharmaceutical medicine and oversee more than 250 longterm care facilities and hospices. I have been role-playing since about 1985, when I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons. I first learned about Ravenloft through the original I-6 adventure, but it wasn't until Domains of Dread that I became a more avid player in the demiplane. Outside of Ravenloft, I am a huge Planescape fan and have been running campaigns across the planes ever since its release.


I am 42, and gaming since 1981 (thatís much too long if you ask any sane person). Having played (and loved) the infamous Ravenloft (I-6) when it came out (my cavalier was polymorphed into a bird by Strahd), I quickly fell for the Black Box upon its release. Iíve DMed exclusively in Ravenloft for the last decade. Married (sorry ladies), Iím a father of two teens, and they are playing D&D as well. Other hobbies include swimming, biking, reading, wine & cooking and playing electric guitar.


I'm 28 and have been playing Dungeons and Dragons since I was six (my dad taught me). I had seen the Ravenloft adventure and played "Night of the Walking Dead" in my teens, and always thought Ravenloft was the best of TSR's campaign worlds; one day in 2000 I decided to search for TSR.com, ended up at the Kargatane website, and the rest is history. I'm a graduate student getting a Ph.D. and therefore have no other hobbies at all.


I'm 36 years old, over two decades of which have been spent playing D&D. I fondly remember running I6 in the 'old days' of 1E, when encountering a vampire who could toss fireballs came as a huge shock ... nearly as shocking, back then, as encountering (gasp!) a female DM. I played "Feast of Goblyns" at GenCon when the game-setting debuted; Bill Connors dumped my cleric in a centipede pit and scared the bejeebers out of me. He later put my name in the module's playtesters list, perhaps by way of apology. Needless to say, I was hooked, and I still continue to obsess over Ravenloft, between my teaching duties as a college anatomy professor and the voracious consumption of Discworld novels.


Since I'm very busy, I'll let my good friend Socko handle my end of things.
[Socko:] "Stephen's 25 and has been trapped in Ravenloft for more years than he can count. He's a technical writer in between jobs and lives in Toronto. Also, he doesn't wash his hand."

What is role of each of you in FoS project? What section/part do you take care of?


I'm a submitter doing my share of the writing as well as occasionally contributing to the reviews, netbooks and FAQ on the site. I do the first couple edits of the netbooks checking for grammar but leave formatting in other, more capable hands. I'm also the unofficial rule-monkey of the Fraternity and try to correct and balance game rules. I was also the one to blame for the last two Fraternity 'events' including the in-game move of our HQ.


You could say I'm the quietest member of the Fraternity. Right now I'm pretty much guessing I'm unofficially in charge of "player direction" in RL; how to make Ravenloft cater not to the Dungeon Masters but the players.


Before our "Grand Conjunction", I shared the job of editing/proofreading of all the Quoth the Raven netbooks with Stephen (since he and I were the only two long term people on that project). Since the merger, we've been able to share the responsibilities of reading and editing, which means that I've had more time to devote to other endeavors (such as writing my own articles and participating in on-line discussions). I recently stepped down from my official spot to allow Sharon the chance to join the group, but you can still occasionally find me around sharing my wit and wisdom (or lack thereof)...


A role in that loosely defined organization is difficult to pinpoint. The way I see it, we are all doing more or less everything, except Stephen who has the heavy web site management burden. I try to coordinate things when I can, and also does most of the evil FoS propaganda. My weak point for the site is my mother tongue (French), so while itís getting better, it means my prose is not exactly shakespearian, and I canít edit texts in English. But I love to review texts and submit comments and suggestions.


It depends on the project. Joel won't admit it, but he's the headman and the chief propagandizer; Stephen does the technical website stuff and the rest of us mostly just provide a steady background roar of writing and editing stuff.


I'm the newbie of the team, officially enlisted as of Halloween 2006, which theoretically means I should be making coffee for the guys. In practice, I'm learning the ropes and working on my first project as lead writer/editor (VRS Research Files: Doppelgangers), which I expect to be ready for release some time in May. Most of what I've contributed to the collective FoS projects so far is suggestions, brainstormed ideas, and overly-long submissions for the Gazetteers. Oh, and wisecracks.


[Socko:] "Stephen is the web master for the site, edits the netbooks and designs a lot of the graphics in them. Also, I just want to set the record straight: Despite popular rumours, Stephen is not the dreaded Infernal Administrator of the message board. We know this because Stephen wears glasses, and the Infernal Admin does not. They're as different as Clark Kent and Superman. In fact, I've never seen them in the same room together - they're just that different!"

How much time it takes you to participate in running and updating FoS website?

Difficult to answer, as it goes with cycles Ė netbooks, special events, etc. Some week, it can be only an hour or two, other weeks itís more than a dozen hours.

When was born this website? How did it come that you are successors of the Kargatane?
How did you come together to make this site?

November 2003! Just days before the Kargatane site closed, the editing teams of two fan made netbooks (the ďUndead Sea ScrollsĒ and ďQuoth the RavenĒ) decided to join their efforts to make one netbook only and stop competing (and stop sending assassins to the other team). We were caught with complete surprise when our former masters decided to close the kargatane site for good. In the panic (and heavy drinking from despair) that followed this news, we decided to raft a new home for the setting on the web. Today, the Fraternity of Shadows are: Sharon Dornhoff (Rotipher), Dion Fernandez (of Midway Haven), David Gibson (aka Jester), Nathan Okerlund (Dmitri Stanislaus) (who said he left, then didnít really), JoŽl Paquin (aka Gotten on the WotC board), Stephen Sutton (aka ScS). Over the years, those great guys also worked for the USS, QtR or the FoS: Eddie Brennan (aka Wiccy), Luiz Eduardo Perret (Lord Arijani) and Jason True (aka Javier).


Just to add to that--the original USS, in 2001, was Joel's idea, and when he asked for volunteers to help, I stepped forward. Because the Kargatane were, well, the Kargatane, I decided it would be fun to have us be a Ravenloft secret society too, and the Fraternity of Shadows (wizards dedicated to unveiling Ravenloft's secrets!) was a natural choice. It was too much work for two, so we got Eddy, Luis and Dion to help in 2002, and then discovered that the Kargatane were dissolving. IIRC I was the first to say, "Well, we should be the next RL website then." We promptly recruited Stephen, whose QtR was the other major RL netbook being produced, and ran up the FoS site within a few weeks. As for leaving, but not really--well, it's kinda like the Mafia. "Just when I thought I was out...they dragged me back in."

Who came with that idea?


I donít remember, but since I do not want to be credited for this mess, Iíll say it was Nathan. (Honestly, I think it was Nathan?) Our first idea was to make a depositary for our netbooks, as well as a message board. It grew from this!

Last year you started an amazing project of publishing new, original FoS Gazetteers.
Have you also thought about building up a brand new domain Gazetteer made by FoS?

We canít tell you all of our future plans. So we do not deny, and do not confirm. †Check the books when they come out!

How about plans for future regarding the website development?

Surprisingly, or not in fact, we are extremely bad at making long term plans. Dion occasionally comes up with ideas that fizzle, but that's okay with us. (Our plan to add an Internet massage oils retailer component to the site is for the moment postponed).


[Socko:] Just to add something, I'd like to say that we're pursuing an aggressive policy to expand our Internet market share. We just got word that someone from the message board went rogue and is starting their own website in another language. Imagine the nerve! Well look out, um (I can't read this...) Vann-eck? We're coming to get you!

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