Helga's Heroes: a History

This morning on my walk into work I found myself reminiscing about the early days of my gaming club, Helga’s Heroes.  I started to make a mental timeline of its formation and growth through the years.  Funny thing is, it seems like most of the major changes in its life were happy accidents.  Anyway, I started digging into the old email archives and my blog to remember when things happened, and figured I might as well write it up in a post.  Probably only interesting to my readers that are actually in the club, but here it is, a brief time-line of the history of Helga’s Heroes:

October 4th, 1999 – My starting date for my new job at Genetic Anomalies.  I had just graduated college the summer prior, and I was totally psyched for what I saw as my dream job.  I moved up to the Boston area just a week or two prior to my start date.  If memory serves, I believe Joe also started that day, and BJ perhaps a week later.  I had no idea that the friendships made at this company would last way longer than the company itself.

November, 1999 – Jenn hadn’t moved up yet, and I had a good amount of free time.  Adam, a friend and fellow gamer from college, lived in the area.  We got together and decided to form up a D&D game, using cork boards at local gaming stores to recruit players.  Joe, whom I shared an office with, expressed interest and joined up as well.

One day Joe and I were discussing this game when a fellow coworker overheard us and said something like, “You guys are playing D&D?  Man, I want to play.”  This idea was echoed by many more co-workers, and it became apparent that a work group was going to form up, whether I was involved or not.  So I organised it, a round-robin GM game with myself GMing the first batch of sessions.  I remember at our first session taking down a white board and laying it on the floor or a desk to use as a battle-mat.  This work game would become the core of Helga’s, lasting well longer than the other game that spawned it.  Though that other game introduced us to Emily, a gamer we still love to play with, and who just ran an excellent Toon game at the last HelgaCon.

Early 2000’s? – That group was the most dedicated group of gamers I’ve ever played with.  Our campaign ran for several years, through the edition change from 2e to 3e, and well past the closing of the company that we all worked for.  We almost never cancelled a game, even Jenn noted the strangeness of how dedicated we were.  I thought perhaps it was because of the fact that we all worked together and played in the company meeting room after hours, but the fact that we continued to play at my apartment well after the company closed its doors belies that.

Anyway, one night while the company is still around (must have been between 99 and 02), Anthony is GMing a game where we’re being entered into some kind of gladiatorial competition.  Delta is playing a bossy cleric by the name of Heregar, who insists is the party’s leader, which always causes the rest of the group to roll their eyes and make snarky jokes.  An NPC asks for our group’s name, and Delta pipes up with “Heregar’s Heroes!”  Anthony has the NPC mis-hear and call us “Helga’s Heroes”.  The rest of us enjoy the mistake so much that we keep the name.  At some point Joe even has his bard create a company standard for “Helga’s Heroes”.

February, 2004 – I had set up an email list for organising the game when GA went under, and we still use it for game logistics and generally just to keep in touch.  At this point the game has been re-set, and now Delta and I are co-gming a new D&D game, but with many of the same members, and the email list is still called “helgasheroes@…”  When someone leaves the group I offer to take them off the list, but they always ask to stay on, so the email list is larger than the playing group.

Jenn surprises me and tells me she actually wants to go to GenCon.  I had gone several years running in high school and college, but Jenn had never come along.  Lately I hadn’t gone due to expense and the expectation that she wasn’t interested.  So we organise a trip with our gaming friends.  We plan to rent a van and drive out, staying at BJ’s folks place.  Five of us will end up doing just that, and Jenn is subjected to four lunatics talking for hours on end in bad Scottish accents as we put together our Living Greyhawk band of dwarven brothers.  Adam and his wife Brenda take a plane and meet us there.  We all have a blast.

August 2005 – I’ve left the current D&D game, which has changed in make-up quite a bit since the original Helga’s Heroes, but still maintain the email list for the group and to chat and keep in touch.  We attended our second annual GenCon trip, this time with even more people.  When we all return we marvel at the number of board games we’ve all bought and regret the fact that we’ll likely never get together to play them.  So on Saturday the 27th we gather together to do just that, and a good number of folks show up to play.  The idea is tossed around to do this with some regularity.

August 29, 2005 – The official birth of Helga’s Heroes Gaming Club.  Our email list is still going strong, supporting a variety of game playing and generally acting as means of keeping in touch.  I send an email to the list suggesting that we formalise this by opening up the list to all gaming friends, and also planning to meet once a month for board gaming and socialising.

September 10, 2005 – The first official gathering is held at John’s house.  I believe we had to actually organise the bringing of chairs to make sure everyone had a place to sit.  We had 11 or 12 people show up.  The email list had 19 people on it, and despite more than doubling in the future (current count at this writing: 41), the first few months would draw the most people, averaging around 12-15 each.

Wow, this is getting long, and we’ve only made it to the first meeting.  I think I’d better break this post apart, and this point seems to make the most sense.  So tune in next time for the continued Helga’s Heroes timeline.

2 thoughts on “Helga's Heroes: a History

  1. Ah, memories.
    The only correction I’ll offer is that You and I started at GA on Oct. 4, and Joe joined us two weeks later on the 15th. I seem to recall that in those early days you and I tended to hang out in the mornings since we both got in early, you because you lived so close and me because I had to take that abominable 2 hour car/train/subway trip at ARGH o’clock in the morning every day.

    I remember also how much it SUCKED to have to leave early on the game sessions to catch the last train outta town. Moving to the Lexington office was such a boon, even with the 50 minute commute.

    I’ll also toss in the office pre-D&D buzz kind of hit it’s peak at that “With Authority!” release party or whatever it was where we stood around eating nachos and talked gaming.

  2. I think I always screw up which one of you arrived on the same day as me, and which came later. I have no idea why, and obviously a week or two doesn’t make much difference. Not sure why I can’t keep that detail straight in my head though.

    Yeah, leaving a game early pretty much always sucks. I think that was what really killed my co-DMed game with Delta. He’s such a night owl, and after we moved it from my place there was no reason not to keep going well past when I had to leave. Having to choose between gaming and proper sleep is a crappy choice to have to make.

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