Scot and Nick provided some touching memoirs of their cherished memories of Jerry Stefek. We definitely wanted to show them here so you can get to know the noble soul who inspired this event.
Jerry was the best of us. His home was our gaming nexus and he welcomed us at any time or day. The very first time I met Jerry was towards the end of 2000, and I spent a long time rolling up my first 3e character, a thief. We began playing, and on the very first encounter (within three minutes of starting), I scouted ahead. I was immediately captured by zombies who took me back to their lair and killed me. There was no dice rolling when this happened–it just happened in this matter-of-fact way, and Jerry said “You have been executed.”
I was gobsmacked because I had never played a game where something like that happened. Jerry was famous for killing our characters and “You have been executed” became a comedic statement that spread to our weekly conversations.
When I got divorced and had to sell my house, I didn’t want to deal with having to take my two dogs and three parrots out of the house every time there was a showing, so Jerry let me move in with him.
Jerry was the most generous person I’ve ever met in how he gave both his time and help. He was always one of the most helpful people I’ve ever met, and when I realized some years after meeting him that he wasn’t a sociopath–I really just got executed, it just happened that way in Jerry’s head, and he didn’t mean anything at all by it and would execute Nick just as easily–I realized that Jerry was the most kind and gentle person I’ve ever met. He was always eager to laugh and he never got angry. Jerry loved hosting games at his house, or coffee night, or just whatever. People dropped by whenever, and he was happy to welcome them. He also hosted a yearly game convention called “JerryCon” where we played games all day and most of the night, and he would grill brats and make food for all of us. He also always said “thank you” when you did the littlest things, like make coffee for him in the morning. He was grateful for what he had, not angry about what he didn’t.
I had the good fortune of knowing Jerry for over twenty years. And over those decades we shared so many good experiences, more often than not, around the gaming table.
My favorite gaming memory of Jerry was the time he played in my Star Wars campaign. My goal was to make it a heroic game – not unlike A New Hope – an epic campaign focused on a band of imperfect heroes against the insidious Empire!
Of course, the campaign was nothing like that at all. And in large part, Jerry was to blame.
You see Jerry chose to play a Rodian smuggler who he named The Mouser. And while Mouser started out as a smuggler with a penchant for trading contraband, he quickly raised his profile by becoming a covert agent of Darth Sidious. Much to the frustration of the Jedi apprentice in the group (and snickering glee of everyone else) Mouser drove the narrative forward, inciting the group to strike down and impair the Emperor’s many enemies and even some of his reluctant allies. Most notably was the time they destroyed the lair of a certain Hutt on Tatooine…
In all my years running RPGs I never received so many secret notes over the course of a campaign, let alone from a single player. Whenever Jerry would send one, outlining Mouser’s plans, he’d give me a side eyed glance and evil smile. The players around the table would try to guess what he was up to. But the guy playing the aspiring Jedi would often whisper “I’m going to <BLEEP>ing kill the Mouser, Jeerrrryyy.” But The Mouser he was unstoppable. Thanks to brilliant strategy and his growing dark side abilities he was able to hide his evil machinations and make things progressively worse for the party. His true nature remained hidden until the last few months of the campaign. But by then it was too late. The damage was done, and the Mouser was transformed into a Dark Side minion. In the end the pcs were able to overcome the Emperor, but only after many were sacrificed. In the aftermath they thought The Mouser was dead, but that was a mere illusion thanks his Dark Side powers. And while they celebrated their Pyrrhic victory the Mouser slithered away, never to be seen again…
It was both funny and ironic that Jerry loved to play evil characters, because they were nothing like him. He was a tremendous friend; a generous, kind soul, who had a great sense of humor and contagious laugh. My life is much richer having known Jerry. I wish you could have known him too.
Jerry would have never wanted the spotlight, but I know he’d be very glad that a gaming event was being held in his honor, to support such a worthy cause. So, if you’re attending the con, I hope you’ll consider playing the DCC event – and help celebrate Jerry’s life.