Q&A With Ed Healy
We’re closing in on the end of Week 1 of our Adopt-A-Soldier Holiday Contest, which runs through December. Thanks to everyone who’s been helping to spread the word online! Remember, if you want your blog or Twitter posts to count as an entry for the contest, leave a comment on the original post so we can keep track of your entries.
The Adopt-A-Soldier program is the brainchild of Ed Healy, a veteran of the Iraq war. Ed is the creative force behind RPG Countdown, Atomic Array, and our own Open Design podcast. We asked Ed to share some background on how the program came about.
How did you come to enlist, and where did you serve?
After 9/11, I walked into my local Army recruitment office and asked for a job. I was in a two-year employment contract with Comcast Corporation, so I entered the delayed enlistment program. When my contract ended, it was off to Fort Benning.
The Army allowed me to choose my duty station. Living in the Pacific Northwest sounded like a lot of fun, so I asked for the new Stryker brigade at Fort Lewis, WA. I stayed with 3rd Brigade / 2nd Infantry Division for my entire career. We deployed to Iraq twice, splitting our time between the Kurdish north and Baghdad.
Tell us about your experience as a gamer in the Army.
I don’t have any hard numbers, but I think there are more gamers per capita in the Army than in any other group of people. Finding a gaming group was almost as easy as walking into Gen Con and pulling out a dice bag. With such a large pool of gamers, you can find most anything you want. I was able to try out a lot of new games, and even enjoyed digging up old favorites like Alternity.
It was a challenge to keep a regular group together when deployed. Everyone has a different schedule, whether because of their regular duties or missions. Because of this, short story arcs and one off games became my life. It’s also hard to get new gaming material without someone sending it to you. The Army Bx/Px system has a lot of great stuff, but other than Kobold Quarterly, I didn’t see any gaming material. Digital distribution of game books has helped with this — I dropped hundreds of dollars on RPG Now while overseas — but you can’t always have a powered up laptop on hand and there really is no substitute for a stack of shaved tree. Not to mention the near impossibility of replacing lost dice in a timely manner!
How did you first hear about Kobold Quarterly?
I was a patron on the Castle Shadowcrag Open Design project. When you announced Kobold Quarterly I immediately jumped at the chance to subscribe.
What inspired you to create the Kobold Quarterly Adopt-A-Soldier program?
One of the best services for soldiers is the Books for Troops website. People can list books, music and movies that they want to offer to soldiers and soldiers can log in to see what’s available. Soldiers can also request items and people can volunteer to buy and ship them out. It was a great way to get a season of The Sopranos, but it wasn’t the best for finding new adventures to run. I wanted to create a way for soldiers to say they were interested in Kobold Quarterly.
More importantly, I wanted to give civilians an easy, and anonymous, way of supporting those soldiers.
What difference does a program like Kobold Quarterly‘s Adopt-A-Soldier make in the life of a soldier?
Deployment survival is all about morale. Yes, there is ‘bad stuff’ happening from time to time, but you also have to deal with separation from family and the normalcy of life back home. When you’re not doing your job, you’re looking for some form of entertainment. With so many gamer soldiers, there is a large number of people looking to connect with one of their favorite activities. It meant a lot to me when someone would take the time to send me something I could enjoy.
Baby wipes are nice, and certainly useful, but they are readily available. Kobolds aren’t.