Remembering Steve "Stevil" Johannson

Remembering Steve "Stevil" Johannson
Samuel Luke Fildes -The Empty Chair
As my 12 13 regular readers know, HackMaster is my RPG game of choice. I used to volunteer for the publisher, Kenzer & Company, in several different positions and I considered everyone at KenzerCo friends, even though we've been a bit estranged over the last few years (for reasons equally important and stupid, but neither here nor there.)

Years ago a tradition was started at KenzerCo and honored over the years as a part of the Knights of the Dinner Table and at "Official" Tournament games of HackMaster where an empty chair was designated to represent a gamer who has passed away. I even bought a special folding chair just for this purpose back when I was organizing a lot of tournaments. I cannot find my copy of the accompanying poem, which has been printed and re-printed time & time again in KoDT (the link on the KenzerCo page is 404'd).

This last weekend we lost Steve Johannson, part of the D-Team at KenzerCo. I don't know the details and I suspect I don't want to know, but I regret my part in letting that relationship sour.....regardless of the reason. We worked on an adventure together, one that I had hoped would be the first of many, but it was not meant to be.

I got to play HackMaster with Stevil.....I always thought the character of Stevil Van Hostile was based off of Steve's epic rants (The one about how "mint" adventure modules were an affront to common decency will always stick with me) and I often referred to him as Stevil, but not so much to his face, but it was my endearing nickname, not meant to be mean.

The thing is, pretty much like everyone at KenzerCo (and I'm sure most everyone at every game company) Steve was a regular guy, a good guy. As long as you didn't let him drink too much, or imbibe too much myself, it was fun just to hang out with him. As far as gaming goes...I remember him rolling up a 1st level Mage with a pole-arm so when his spell points ran out he could spend the rest of the night on the spell "Cast Spear". He ran some of us through a side trek outside of the Village of Hommlet and awarded us some treasure of used underwear just so the nekkid barbarian could have some clothes.....There was also that one time he decided he didn't want to roll up a "real" character and instead made a torchbearer. Really hammed up the part at the table. There was that party we crashed the one year where they had real shitty bologna & white-bread "sammiches" that he couldn't seem to get enough of...
Steve & BA at GaryCon 2013
Stevil chewing out BA

I'm sure if I think about it I could come up with a few more funny Stevil tales, but all they do is remind me how much he'll be missed. My heart goes out to his family, both biological and at KenzerCo. I cannot imagine the grief they must be in now and how his absence will affect them on so many levels. I can join the legion of KenzerCo fans who will want to post "The Empty Chair", but to have to actually live with that empty chair.......

Please keep a good thought for Steve's family, I'm sure they could use it.


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