John Finnegan - The Best of Us All - Rest in Peace

John, you are missed, you are remembered. I'm at a lost for anything else to say.
I am stunned and heartsick when I just got the news about John. I have known John for almost 10 years, although when Mike & I moved to NC we fell out of touch. It's been all these years but I still remember John's big bear hugs and him with a pencil tucked behind his ear behind Monster desk smiling at me. The riddles competitions he ran during the tournaments. The way he made you feel welcome to the game and made you love it. The times I played at NERO Alliance with him I consider to be some of the best in my NERO life. He helped to run a truly fun game and I can't imagine NERO without him. John was a truly noble man, both in and out of game. Life will never be the same without him.
Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to Colleen, Patrick and the Finnegan & Capuano families. We may be far away, but please known that you are in our saddened hearts. I cannot even begine to imagine your pain. I'm lost to think of anything else to write that will do justice to John's memory.

Barbara & Mike Dufour
Formally Cormack & Kiren of the Order of the Black Unicorns
Total shock ... numbness ... sadness ... losss ... unable to find the words.

John and his family will be in my prayers.
I posted in a different thread the time and location of the funeral services. I would post more but I still can not find words.
Mike or Scott if you can make sure that that thread is bumped or starred so everyone knows. Also,please pass on the information to people that do not check the board often.

Thank you,
This was the first opportunity I could get to the boards today.

I don't think I could of put words together before now, but I have to express my most heartfelt sympathies to John's family, and certainly Colleen and Patrick.

I did not have the pleasure of spending alot of time with John, but the times I did were memorable, vivid, and impactfull on me in many ways.

Everyone has summed up every kind word and thought that can be said, so all I can do is say how to me the world lost one of the good ones with John's passing. May the time heal wounds for us all, and as we come together to greive let us remember all that made JTF such a positive impact on us all.

With Love, Respect, and Sympathies,

Jason Jarusinsky AKA Varen
there are no words.

condolences from the folks in the far south who never got the privilege of meeting the man face to face.

John was one of the constants in the NERO events I attended off and on through the years.

A great roleplayer and storyteller and all around nice guy.

This is a tremendous loss to anyone who knew him, even if only casually.

My condolences to his family and friends.

Mitch Gross
We’ve heard about what happened through the grapevine. While we no longer participate in the game, we still think about many of you often.
John has always been a person that Christian and I respected and loved, and still spoke about often. He has always been genuinely caring, loving, creative, and someone that we truly enjoyed and looked forward to seeing.
My heart and prayers go out to his family and especially Colleen. I can’t imagine…

I’m sorry if I overstepped bounds coming here, I just wanted to send Colleen our love, and this was the only way I knew how.

All our love,

Krista and Christian Centanni
The game, and all of our lives, will not be the same without him, my most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends, which was pretty much anyone he ever met. All of my love to JTF.

I can’t possibly describe how important John was to me and my life. I loved him with all my heart. It moves me deeply to see how many lives he touched. My deepest sympathies to Colleen, Patrick and all the family.

John and I went to our first live action roleplaying event together. We had table gamed together for many years but had never tried NERO or anything like that. We didn’t have the right clothes, we didn’t know the rules, we were total noobs in a huge event. In our weekend John was killed twice not by monsters or npcs but by nefarious players. It was freezing. We tried to sleep in our cabin and constantly heard monsters and players yelling outside in the night (things like “52 acid!” when we each had maybe 4 or so life). And through it all, John had the greatest humor, this wide eyed enthusiasm. Even at the total bottom of the totem pole, a nobody and newcomer to this world, he was having fun.

I didn’t go on to live action roleplay the way John did, but I’ll never forget, one of the many things I’ll never forget about him, his boundless enthusiasm and passion for life.

He always had that.

I miss you John.

im still in shock over the statment, but not the responces. John was all those things and more to a lot of people. I dont really handle death like i should, though i know i mussent be the only one, an it has still only partly sunk in. Ive just known him for a little while and i wish i could have known him lnoger but its certen he was friendly, always willing to help, an a phenomenal writer. In fact, he was one of the reasons i decided to write for Alliance. His creativity and imagination inspired me, and still does. Ive thought of ceasing to write, in grief for him, but then i remebered he once told me how he liked my submitions and he hoped i would continue. So, in his memory, i will. Our condolences go out to John's family and friends who bear heavy hearts. If you are able to find the strength, then dont weap for his loss and absence but smile at his memory and friendship and be glad you had the honor of knowing such a man.

Amanda and Luke Robbins
I am still trying to digest this news and just thinking about John's passing is making me feel sick to my stomach. Everyone who has ever met or known John knew what kind of a kind hearted person he was. Although I have been out of NERO for a while now, John and Colleen are always in my thoughts whenever I reminisce about the good times I had playing the game. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Capuano and Finnegan families.

Dmitry Silman
AKA Saja of the Black Unicorns
John, I miss you so much. There's really nothing more I can say that hasn't already been said by others or by me elsewhere...

Colleen, my heart breaks for you, and I cannot imagine what you are going through right now. We all love you very much.

All my love,
I too wish to echo the comments made by others. He was one of the nicest men..and I say man in the truest form of the sense. He took time out to help a perfect stranger to enjoy this universe he helped create. If it weren't for him I wouldn't have met all of you...for this and more I am forever in his debt. I believe we all should be and are thankful for this Nero Universe he created as it has surpassed the character and roleplaying and has overflowed into our real lives forming friendships that can not be broken. While I am certain there are others that knew him better than I, I still fondly remember the first time I met well as being the first time I walked into the nero world. I was amazed someone would talk to a stranger just driving by to see what wierdness this nero was..but he did..he showed me explained all he could and now here I am. He will never be forgotten, always remembered as the Nero Artifact of Legendary proportions in my book(in wow terms is as best as I can describe him). If there is anything I can do for colleen and all those involved...all of you...I am at your service. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

In forever remeberence of our fallen nero champion,

Josh aka Dominic the gypsy
My main memories of John are from when he played Brian Nordenn. I was a little fish then, but I'd spend many hours in the smoker's guild talking with him about the game, life, deals I was working on, women, deals he was working on, how to play the game better. You know, everything. We joked and laughed a lot and then our characters went back to being vague opponents.

A number of years later I suddenly realized I'd become, in some ways, a bigger fish. All that stuff I'd talked about with John had become the things I use every day to write plotlines, to play my characters, to live my life better. And he was still lightyears ahead of me as a player, a writer, and a person. I can only hope that the little fish who talk to me can take away even a third of what John gave me.

I only saw John once after the split, at a NJ event. I'm very glad I can remember him that way, happy and crazy with life.


John’s first encounter with LARPing was eventful; he gathered his supplies, walked out into the night and saw some other players walking towards him.

“Good eve, fellow travelers! How are you?”

The other players were from the court of Capulus in Ravenholt, and they immediately struck this new player down for his 12 coppers, showing no remorse.

John soon afterwards struck a friendship with Baroness Aurora Blakeney, from the “good guy” barony of Westmarch, who took him in and saw his potential. Aurora Blakeney was played by my wife, Heidi Hooper, who introduced me to her new court member. I’m sure his experience with both Capulus and Westmarch influenced his attitude toward what the game should and could be like.

John’s character Finther proved to be a fun person to have around, and when he was gypsy cursed to dress in terrible clothing, we all just were embarrassed for him. (In those days, you didn’t realize you were cursed nor know who did it to you.)

Soon after, I was running weekend modules at a site in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and John submitted a module to run which was full of great puzzles and encounters. I immediately saw his skills and imagination, and we sat down and worked on the module together. “Why are all these puzzles here? Who made them, and why?” He realized that he needed to explain that, and together we rewrote it so that the crazy dragon mage known as the Chessmaster was behind them. It proved to be one of the most popular modules we ran at that site.

In 1992, Heidi and I decided that we had been too discouraged by the direction in which the Ravenholt game was progressing, and moved to New York to start the Ashbury chapter. John helped us move and helped me form the Ashbury game, writing much of the background of the lands and serving as Baron Bryan Nordenn. His team was one of the most active, and John’s good nature and personality made the team grow big and powerful.

John wrote much plot for us, and created characters such as Creepshow, the Registrar (and the various Graveyards), Baracus Kul, and other memorable bad guys and good guys that kept the players entertained.

When I wrote our new Rule Book, I created some characters to use for giving examples for how the rules work. There was Dreyfus, Arcadia, Grizelda – all made up on the spot – and then there was Finther, named for John’s first character, and included as a tribute to the man who influenced so much of the game.

John also served as my liason to the NERO National Plot Committee, which at that time held tight control over just about anything we wanted to do. I knew John’s strengths and used them to my advantage: whereas I tended to be more confrontational and resolute, John had a way of making friends with everybody. He could say the same thing I was saying but in a way that did not ruffle feathers. (I think I have improved in this department, and in a large part by following John’s examples.)

I remember around this time reading a quote from some columnist about then-President Clinton and then-VP Gore. He said that “Whenever they walked into a room, Gore wanted everyone to think that he was the smartest person there, and Clinton wanted everyone to be his friend.” I told John that sounded like us, but I don’t think he was impressed.

John had one of the greatest senses of humor of anyone I knew, and a massive knowledge of show music, which he would sing at a moment’s notice. I used to tease him that he knew more show music than any non-gay person I knew. One time, he had his team sing a song for a competition in which people had to come up with a story as to how the historical figure Baron Gunther Nordenn had hurt his knee (long story, read the Ashbury Player’s Guide for details). John had worked out all sorts of harmonies for them. They took the old classic “Mr. Sandman” and wrote new words for the occasion: “Oh Baron Gunther / How is your knee? / Was it destroyed / By necromancy?”

One time at the module site we ran in Brooklyn where a local reporter came by to interview us for an article. I had the reporter speak to John, one of the nicest and most eloquent members we had, who laughed and told her that he hoped to meet a nice girl. That same day, he met Colleen, and I was so happy for the both of them when they got married!

John and I would also have fun and respectful debates over religion quite often. John was a very observant Catholic and I, well, am a very observant atheist. Yet through all our debates, never once did it turn insulting or angry, and there are very few people I can think of who can argue over something like that in a completely friendly manner.

Baron Bryan later became Duke Bryan, and we both learned something important at that time: You need to have your most powerful noble in game be an NPC. As a PC, it just wasn’t fair for me to give him extra money or armies that other PCs didn’t get, but it also didn’t make sense in-game either. He was constantly frustrated that the Valenti brothers and their evil barony could get away with stuff because he didn’t have the in-game power to challenge them like he should.

So John decided that the best thing for the game would be for him to step down, run Plot exclusively, and name an NPC Duke (played by his brother-in-law Patrick) which proved to be the right decision, and one we have followed since and which I encourage all my chapters to follow as well.

When Joe Valenti later started attacking us and trying to kick us out of NERO, it was John who arranged meetings and tried to work out the problem, which he did quite excellently. (It wasn’t John’s fault that Joe lied and broke promises.)

When I was told that we were no longer part of NERO International, I had long discussions with John about what we should do. I consider John and Scott Kondrk to be the founders of the Alliance, because they were my closest advisors.

John then helped create much of the new world of Fortannis (along with Patrick and others, of course). John’s creations included the stone elven land of Saridbis, the Lempurs, the cursed undead Vacarran Pirates (I joked that John should have sued when “Pirates of the Carribean” came out), and many more. He became the Head of the Plot Committee and helped to train and encourage others in a way no other could.

He also later became my General Manager, and that unfortunately caused some problems down the line when we argued over the direction we wanted the game to go. John, for all his great talents, still liked to play while wearing shorts and tennis shoes. He also tended to be a lot more “forgiving” to players who mess up or played bad guys. I wanted to raise the bar for costuming and roleplaying, and wanted there to be real consequences for players who made mistakes. After some debate, I asked him to step down as General Manager (but not Head of Plot) and John instead resigned from both.

This hurt me a lot, and I am happy to report that we did settle our differences soon thereafter. I told him that if he ever wanted to come back to the Plot Committee, the invitation was always open, and I asked John to serve as General Manager of the Alliance, which he accepted. Instead of coming back to Plot, though, he put his powerful writing and management skills into the New Jersey chapter to the acclaim of players there.

As GM of the Alliance, he helped me sooth many angry chapter owners and work out problems, and had a way of talking to them that I just don’t have to get things done. As a member of the Alliance Rule Committee, he brought his years of experience to bear and helped to bring about exciting changes and improvements to the game.

I cannot underestimate the importance John has brought to the Alliance game. He was indeed there from before the start, had more influence over it than anyone else (even me sometimes), and made his mark on the world in that way.

I have been in a daze since I heard the news. John has been my friend for so long. When I moved to New York, he did too. When I moved to Stroudsburg, he did too. It did bother me that we lived so close yet hardly did anything together. Still, John and I talked by phone about once a week, and often through e-mail.

I’m sure I will come up with more interesting stories about John Finnegan once the shock wears off, but I wanted to write this, as Fearless Leader of the Alliance, to let everyone know that the game would not be where it is today were it not for John Finnegan. Everyone who has posted something similar is correct. No one is exaggerating.

John left this world with many more friends than he may ever know. He was indeed the kind of person who seriously hardly anyone can say anything bad about. I do not if I will ever get over this.
Coming back to reread this entire post, it's amazing to see all the people with "Posts: 1." People like myself who have been out of the scene for years, but had to come here to speak when we heard the news. John was that guy that everyone loved, and it shows here.

I really hope we have an opportunity to all get together for a day of remembrance.
There are so many who are at a loss for words, and I have been struggling to find something to say after my first quick post. I recently lost my uncle in January and I know how impossibly heavy and terribly sad of a burden this is. I came across this poem, and I think it echoes the sentiments John would want to pass on to all of his close friends and family in this time. It was written by Mary Elizabeth Frye, and I only hope that it can bring some small measure of comfort to you in this tragic time.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I did not die.

John will always be with us. I did not know him nearly well enough, but I am so thankful for the time I did have with him. I will always remember him.

Mike, thanks for sharing that. Though I'm very sad at this news, reading your post made me smile as well.

Might sound weird as I didn't know John as well as many people here and my participation has been so sporadic over the years but that is just the kind of guy John was... so damn likable and inspirational.
John is definately one of my Nero Heroes. I remember when I first started playing and how he inspired me to want to run my own chapter.

Ill never forget the Day Justin Hernandez and I were discussing NeroNJ, and I mentioned to him... wouldnt it be great if we could get John Finnegan to be our Head of Plot.
So I said WTF, I'll call him.

And John said yes. And I dropped phone and hung up on him, I was in shock he had agreed.

John made sure there was magic in Nero. And he helped all of staff develop their abilities and share their inner magic with others. And it takes a lot of mundane crap to make that magic happen. John was always there to field disputes, talk sense into people and to agree to disagree.

I remember I used to win some of our discussions with "Hush Im older than you" and he would be like oh yeah... you are. He was so wise and I remember being such a noob to his nero awesomeness that we would forget.

He told me recently when my life went to hell in a handbasket (of grenades) that he didnt want to see me give up my dreams. He was supportive and caring, and would call just to see how I was doing. He told me he didnt understand why bad things happened to good people, but that the good people had to keep being good, and not turn bitter. That no matter struggle we went through in life, we had to find to the good in the bad.

I think of John in terms of his favorite books. The Harry Potter series. Which I had to read because of him, because he kept referring to stuff in there and I had no clue what the devil he was talking about. John was our Patronus. He was a physical manifastiation of the magic and hope and joy we all find in Nero. For us in Jersey... he was an integral part of our family. I look at life now without him, and I understand what Rowling meant about the dispair caused by the dementors.

John touched so many people in so many ways. He was creative and fun and a genuinly wonderful person. He always made time for you no matter how crazy his life got.

Something inside of me is broken, and it aches to even think of this world John helped create, now devoid of him. I was blessed to have known him and to have been his friend and have been a part of his nero family. I know all of staff loved him dearly.

Colleen and Patrick... we love you. And we will always be there for you. You both were always in Johns conversations and were the lights of his world. If there is anything we can do for you, please let us.