Friday, November 6, 2015

Before he was a Legend he was a Marine

Larry Brom, esteemed miniatures rules designer and wonderful human being recently passed away.  Larry was a huge influence on historical miniatures gamers, with his Sword and the Flame rules often being the go-to rules for colonial-era conflicts, and other rules covering the Franco-Prussian War (with variants for US Civil War and other conflicts) and his Before I was a Marshal I was a Grenadier rules for Napoleonics, among others.  He was more focused on fun and playability than intense detail in his rules and the games he put on, focusing on the flavor and enjoyment of the participants.

I was fortunate enough to know Larry when I was a lot younger, when he and the Triangle Simulation Society humped down the road to put on games for us at J&S Hobbies in Winston-Salem.  These games really helped the miniatures bug to bite me hard, though I never took the plunge to get historical armies myself.  For their first visit, they put a tarp down over some tables, pulled up the edges and dumped kitty litter all over it.  The game hadn't even started and already we had spectacle.  Once the dust settled they shaped the mounds a bit, pulled out spray cans and soon the mass of kitty litter had become a rolling landscape of grassy hills, with roads and a stream.  Some buildings were placed to form a village and trees stuck directly into the litter to make areas of forest.  After that the miniatures came out and a crowd of us battled back and forth, with casualties left on the field where they fell as evidence of where the fighting had been hardest.  I was hooked.  The whole experience - the immersive terrain, the complete armies of painted figures, the fun and fast rules and general excitement is what I generally try to re-create every time I play (with varied results!).

They came back a number of times later, though usually without the kitty litter.  We played a variety of conflicts, including some great games with his French Foreign Legion fort and a giant Alamo setup.  (his process of giving various legionnaires names from his fellow gamers was the inspiration for my Scythiak recruitment drive)  Again, spectacle and fun were the key drivers.  We played other games and I was in various RPG campaigns and the like, but whenever Larry came it was always a treat.

He moved on, and it has been many years since I had seen him in person.  He got ill, and the other day his daughters posted that he had passed away.  He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.

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