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

When I met John 10 or 12 years ago I used to wonder how he knew everyone personally and contributed so much to the game. Now I think I know - he had more love or warmth in his heart than just about anyone I know. He really loved people and enjoyed making people happy. It's hard to imagine such a great man and I don't think I'll meet another like John. I hope that I can work half as hard as John did at making the people around me happy.
I am sharing in the overwhelming sense of loss everyone is feeling. JTF and I were two of the four young guns who Mike V. entrusted to lead the way when Ashbury began. I doubt casting was in Mike’s mind when he gave us the nod, but you couldn’t have cast a more interesting group of barons and JTF was a real pro, right off the bat. Boy, he was great, he was like a kid in the candy store with the whole political scene. He worked it, for better and for worse, nothing make stronger allies and deeper enemies than politics. JTF seemed to be OK with it, he had a plan and stuck to it, I think that when we realized he had his eyes on the Ducal seat, it was too late. Those were magical years, we were all so young and full of vision. We were lucky to have him there.

In fact, I was trying to get onto one of the baronies before the game started, and the barony I wanted to join wouldn’t give me the time of day. I remember gripping about it to JTF and he said, to me at the end of the first event; “ Come and join our team, I’d love to have you squire for me.” I felt like that kid in the old Coke ad with Mean Joe Green, who got the jersey. Anyway, fate stepped in, and I ended up being asked to be a Baron, but I always looked over at Nordenn and said that it would have been great fun. JTF’s team was a bit of a frat house, but the greatest bunch of people, and that was due to JTF’s personality. If someone could make green the most colorful hue in the spectrum, he did.

JTF and I had many an adventure over the years as plot deliverers and receivers, some of my most memorable were with him. We had so many periods of growth as players, and people. It’s not far fetched to say that we met as boys and became men in the years we played NERO together. I know he always challenged me as a player, I think it was his real joy, to see others do well in the game.

He is a great man, who cared deeply for what he believed in. His efforts shaped some of the best that games offer and his work will go on touching many more to come, even those that will never know him, or have the honor of calling him friend.

Well pal, you beat me to the next level, but you better have a great adventure lined up we meet again.

Colleen, I’m so sorry for your loss, you are so special to John.

I’ve known John Finnegan for over twenty years, since high school, when we both fell in love with gaming.  We started out paper-and-dice role-playing together, and while I fell out along the way, John, just as in every other aspect of his life, persevered.  I am so awed and moved to see how many people John has touched over the years with his imagination, his enthusiasm, and most of all his kindness.

In the years since I’ve had the chance to see John at his wedding, on Thanksgivings, and even had the good fortune to stay with him and Colleen at his home for a few, all too brief days.

Without exaggeration, he was the most generous human being I've ever known.  All of us in this life have our excuses to succumb to apathy and bitterness, but John, bless him, was the strongest of us all and never did.  I could never express how much I admire him for that.  I am moved to tears to think of that great, gentle bear of a man striding across one last realm, chasing down the next adventure with a mighty and open heart.

In closing, I’ll say to John what I can hear him saying as if he were here right now.

I love you, buddy.
poolboy said:
John always approached the game with the goal of making sure that everyone involved had the most fun possible.

I couldn't agree more... that was one of the most important lessons that I learned from John as he mentored me with plot writing. I remember he would always push back on you to make sure that you were writing what the PCs would have the most fun doing. Was it sexy? Would the players feel cool? Would they have fun? It wasn't about giving a free ride--he also felt that stupid should hurt. But it was his goal to give players the opportunity to feel cool.

When NJ went from empire to kingdom I remember us all discussing it--how would we implement it--what NPC would be the king/queen. I remember John saying that we should let the PCs choose. A year later the PCs were given an opportunity to influence a key decision maker as to whom they wanted the King/Queen to be. And the PCs followed through with it--working to get their chosen ruler in place. At that time I was PCing and I remember feeling so empowered and cool. The way it was implemented you didn't even see it coming. It was sexy.

John had an amazing gift of somehow seeing what you needed the most. He could sum up a situation and say, send out this. On a personal level he could look at you and have a very good idea of what you needed... whether it was words of encouragement, a kick in the ***, a joke, show tunes, or a hug.

I know that it is hard to think in a positive way when you are grieving. But I feel that John gave so much to us. It is like we have a permanent mark--his mark upon us. I feel honored and blessed to have spent the time that I did with John and get to know him as a mentor and friend. You never know what time you have with your loved ones--so the time that you do have is what matters. I have no regrets, I am so happy with the time that I had and though I will miss John and miss additional opportunities to speak and hang out with him--I don't feel like he is truly gone. He remains with us--in our memories, our hearts, our laughter and our smiles. Even as I write this tears run down my cheeks but I smile.

He will live on in our stories. He will live on if we are so inspired to emulate the qualities that we respected about him. So I will smile for John and because of John... and I hope that someday soon you all may be able to do the same. I think he would like that.

- Jessica B
Coincidentally I received email today from a friend in Massachusetts I haven't spoken to in awhile. I let him know about John and he replied:

"John Finnegan died?"
"That blows my mind."
"I'm actually sad about it and I haven't seen the man in 12+ years."

That last sentence says plenty.
I will never speak of John in past tense, for energy never disappears, it simply changes to new energy. His legacy will NEVER pass, as long as I have a voice to be heard, I will tell tales of John Finnegan. His life lessons will be passed down to the next generation by all of us.

My Brother:

You have accepted me into your family, and I don't know if I every deserved the honor. You are my best friend, although many can make that claim. While I only had the time for a handful of "best friends", you had hundreds, and have treated us all with compassion, loyalty, and love.

My words, or just words in general cannot do you justice. John Finnegan you are a feeling, an experience, a lifestyle, that the world should know.

I will never forget my wedding, and yours. Those are the two best days of my life. They have altered my state forever. I will never forget our meeting, I kept you up till dawn, and you stayed, listened and laughed the dark sky away. I will never forget the Nordenn run. I will never forget the Hyperius weekend. I will never forget the Brooklyn module site. I will never forget the green Plymouth and the Grey Jeep, nor my hours logged into each. I will never forget throwing the script out halfway through each weekend and flying by the seat of our pants. I will never forget how you looked at each and every person the same way. You never cared where we came from, nor what our past was. You only saw human beings who needed a shepherd.

Alliance (NERO NY) is a family. you can leave the game, you can even loose touch for a while. Thanks to you, I know that anyone can come back and be treated like they never left. That is a reflection of you, that is why you are "the best of us all."

I have had a full day to dwell on this. I have cried, I have laughed, and I have reflected on all of my memories of you. I can only say thank you...not goodbye.

Love always,
David Cashel
(Lord Sethric Nordenn)
Oh my Goodness,
I cannot believe he is gone......Years go by and people go about thier lives, and we lose touch. It was the case with me and John, and lots of LARPing friends. I cannot make it there for the funeral, but I would if it was possible. John was a character, at times a little too far out there for my liking, but I always considered him a friend. Over the years any thoughts I have had, and continue to have about him have and will continue to bring a smile to my face because as has been said before by many. John only needed enter a room to brighten it. He had a great charisma about him and it will be missed from the world with his passing. Regrets, we all have them, so do not burden yourselves too much, but remember the fun and smiles John brought to our lives. Just know that he was loved by many and he will not be forgotten. My heart goes out to his family and friends, we have all lost a great guy here. All of us here on the North Shore of Massachusetts that have known John will miss him. Most of us have not been close with him in a long time, but we all will mourne his passing with heavy hearts, and fond rememberences of the times we spent together in Mass., Conn., and N.Y.. I for one am greatly saddened by this news and I cannot really think of anything to say but WOW, I cannot believe he is gone. He was a great person. I knew him since early on in my Larping career in Massachusetts. He was a kindred spirit for a very long time. He will be sorely missed.

Michael Manning
So over this past summer I ran into Colleen at a New Jersey event after a very long time.
We said hi, hugged, chatted a while. I asked about Jon. She said he was doing well. I told her to tell him I said hi.

We all get older. The world gets a little bit bigger and a little bit more hectic, and its easy to lose touch. I guess all I'm saying is that this big, goofy, absurd game where a bunch of adults get to play pretend for a weekend has influenced me more over the past 18 years than anything else in my life- and maybe I should try to stay more in touch with all of the people that proved to be an exceptional part of this experience. John was one of those people for me.

One time I went on a module where what we ended up doing was trying to teach a creature that wanted to eat magic everything about the world as we tried to learn it's made up/nonsense language. It was 5+ hours in the dead of night in a dark cabin and I've never been more awake at LARP than for that time.
John was that curious, challenging creature.

It was a week long event years ago. In a moment of mid-week latre night insanity I found myself standing with a partner next to me, bouncing back and forth in place, singing an absurd techno beat as my friend Ots (spelling?) was dressed as a Kabuki undead and my partner and I were translating his speech for the players.
John was my goofy, musical partner.

I asked to run the low level event years ago and was granted permission to do so (my first event). I met with John before the event and showed him what I had written- on a napkin. John read it, asked me a few questions, and then allowed me to run it anyway in 1997.
John saw in me something worth supporting and took a chance.

I will miss John. Even though we fell out of touch, it doesn't matter. Because no matter what, no matter how long passed since we spoke, his passing will be felt by hundreds of people who still get together to play crazy, goofy games of make believe in the woods. His influence is so great that those in the future who never even had the pleasure to meet him, maybe those who are even unaware of his impact, will still "miss" him even if they are not sure of what they are missing.

I feel lucky that I had the opportunity to meet John, laugh with him, dance with him, and know him well enough to understand that he is a person who should, and will, be missed.

My deepest sympathies for Colleen, Patrick and the Capuano and Finnegan families.

Raymond Nagle
So sad. So sudden.

This last weekend my brother and myself went up to the Finnegan residence to assist in painting their home. Though the job was pushed back I was fortunate enought to get to spend the day the man. We played Rock Band and formed SexKill. Sex and Violence sells. So with his lady on Bass, him and Bobo pitching the mic between each other and myself jamming that funky 5 button axe we went on tour. Apparently John is a Bon Jovi fan. Much like the rest of us though we refuse to admit it. Bobo was singing "Dead or Alive" when John says to him, "I really don't feel you ridin that steel horse." He takes the mic from Brian and proceeds to show us exactly what he meant. I think Jon Bon may have shed a tear if he knew his song could have been that good. I had no clue John sould sing like that. But it didn't surprise me. John is a man of skills. Many, deep, involved skills.

And in case you played and were wondering, yes, Colleen and myself nailed our parts. Then we took the money we earned and bought Colleen a shorter skirt.

When someone asks me this year, "What do I see?" Its going to mean a whole different thing to me. To think of the degree in which John has touched lives is profound. For instance, the love of my life, whom he so kindly reminded me of how much a fool I am for not putting a ring on, moved out here from Utah. Out there she played a version of NERO that her friends had played. When she moved out here she remembered her friends saying that they played in NY and PA. So she looked it up. The rest is mushy but it does make me wonder how many people John really had a hand in their having a great time, making new friends and learning to explore their creativity. The scope of it is unreal to me.

I'll miss sharing dreams with you John. About the game, our lives and the world as we would like to know it. I just hope that wherever you are they have you stop worrying about everyone else's good time and make you go play. You deserve it.

With a heavy heart and a smile that I got a chance to call you friend,
A big smile just came to my face and it was the thought of John that put it there. The Old Nordenn Crew and Others will get this though I am not sure the tastfullness of it. Many moons ago we played an event in NERO Mass, it was late night and not much was going on so we decided to amuse ourselves. John having his own idea of things that were funny, decided to start his own ever so different version of Tag....Nordenn Style. It echoed throughout the field to the vast happiness of others this game was played outside. John had an interesting sense of things that were funny. I will never forget that about him, or the first or I think second event I played in Old Ashbury as it became later known. The "THE EVENDARRIAN GLADIATORS" which was ever so fun and made so many people laugh. I myself entered not for the magic item that was the BIG PRIZE but the Kiss from the Lady (played by Tracey Lander, with bright red lipstick). John knew it too and gave my little jabs about it over the next several years. He knew that brought me out of my second event shell and welcomed me to Ashbury, as I and John had been friends in our exploits in Ravenholt several years earlier. I cannot believe that was like 14 years ago, man I miss those days with John and his crew of Nordenn.

Once again,
With fond memories,

Michael Manning
The reason John is my Hero....

If it weren't for John i would of left my third NERO event for ever. It was the Brachus Kull event in 96 or 97 at CedarCrest. I got rolled by The Shield of Vendomar 'cause they thought i was someone else. I was packing when John walked in since he heard that someone was pissed at the game and he wanted to know why. I told him my story and he told me of his first weekend how he got rolled for some coppers. This is why John is my Hero, every time i play a LARP i remember that day, I think every time i play now i will start with tears for Him, and end with a laugh since that is the way John would of wanted it.

Every time i play a LARP John it for you. When i get frustrated that my plan doesn't go the way i want, A smile and try harder 'cause i know your there still helping me get passed the hard points in the game....

Lonnie A Bunnell
The other Lonnie
Syrus Lynx deceased
Elis Blade or That Bastard Luck ... deceased
Grym Havogrian alive and kicking ***
SinClaire lost at sea
I just now came out of shock as I heard the new yesterday...

I first spoke to John only a few years ago, but he and I hit it off right away. He helped me write the plot for my fist event. He advised me on scaling, counselled me on dealing with difficult situations, and just plain pep talked me about Alliance whenever I was a bit down. I was honored when he asked me to join the commitee to help write the National event and jumped up at the chance to work with him. He was a mentor and friend to all he touched.

My condolensces to his family in their time of grief. My prayers are with you.

I'll miss him but never forget his impact

The first year of meeting John seems like a blur. I was sixteen, and after years of stories from Sandy and her friends who had ventured into our house, and playing with boffers in the backyard with Danny, Alex, Ray, Quigley and the rest (while Sandy's back was turned) I was FINALLY going to get to come to NERO.
I remember coming in, and getting to meet the Nordenn gang all at once; Mike Hynes and Jen, Eric and his friend (who's name now escapes me), and a couple others. The last person I got to meet was Colleen, who had told me, "John's also here, but he's behind the scenes. You'll meet him later."

The first time I remember, really remember spotting John at the game, he was wearing shorts, white sneakers, and a purple and yellow jester hat. He was also carrying a little puppet, and seemed absolutely amused and interested in talking to the young 16 year old elf who was hiding behind Azura. That was my first memorable experience with Dimsdale, and John Finnegan.

I was out of touch with the game for a long time afterword; Sandy moved up to Boston, and I was going through the usual adulthood; college and the like. It wasn't til I visited Ray and saw Jon Quigley that the NERO bug bit again, and I came back to HQ in 05. I was even more excited to hear that some of the people I had known from years ago still played; it gave me the opportunity to get back in touch with a lot of people I hadn't spoken to in 6+ years. A couple of these people I am overjoyed to say were John and Colleen.

Throughout the 3 years of coming back, John was always the same old John; he was a bright smiling face, always offering a gentle word of encouragement or just a simple "Hey, how are you doing? Tell your sister we said hi and that we miss her." As the barbarian event came around this year, I had asked him to come back as Wyrdin, and he had agreed. It saddens me greatly now that I will never get to see him in this role, or any others; or more importantly, see him at all.

I will never forget the opportunities I had to share in the short time with John, and be touched by his presence. For me, NERO became my family at a very young age, with most of my sister's friends becoming the token older brother/older sister. I consider myself very, very lucky to have been able to see John again after those years, and even more so that I was considered a friend.

We will miss you John, very, very much; and I know at least for me, I will strive to continue your vision of the game; a place where friends can enjoy time playing together, and love the game the way you did.

Bless you, John Finnegan, for all that you have given us.

-Alison Buntemeyer
I saw someone else have the same issue I had, the system ate my first heartfelt post. I think one of the things that says something about John was the fact that I wanted to toss my nice shiny expensive laptop halfway across the room because of this.

I've been a friend of John's for 15 years. I'm seeing people on this board post that I met through John that I have to say I miss. Dave Cashel, Balynthalis (even though he got me into trouble time and time again in game!) and a few others. Guys it a bad occasion but its great to hear from you.

This game has brought amazing people into my life and John was most definately in the upper echelon of those people.

It's amazing how much this weekend had brought me reminders of John. The movie Tombstone was on and it reminded me of how the old Nordenn team, when I was squired under them, used to call me Doc when it came out.

I just recently moved and I went through a box looking for stuff to put away and I came across my wedding invitation and the thank you card from John and Colleen. I wrote a cheesy poem for their card and John treated it like it was the "best gift evah".

Dee posted some pics of her and Scotts weddign and their is john with all of us "best men" with one leg on the log smiling our fool asses off.

I can't express how much this has affected me. The closest I can come is that I have never been as sad except when my Father died. This is family that has passed away for me. One that I had not nearly spent enough time with lately. I missed the surprise party because I had to DJ that night.I didnt even get to send him the Happy birthday email I had every intention of sending him but just didnt get around to thinking I'll just mess with him by calling him the old man next time I see him.

Just was always encouragement on two legs for everyone who had an aspiration to do something at Nero. He told me I should write, he told me I should marshall, and he told me I'd be an excellent head of rules for NeroNJ. When I look back at my time as Head of Rules I dont think of myself as Erica's or the players HOR I think of myself as John's. I had told John no several times on some of his ideas and I'm sure he cursed me out after writing for hours but when I came back to him a few days later after thinking about what he wanted to do and finding the ways for it to work for him, he used to have the best smile. I think it was one of the greatest priveleges in my career when he asked me to design two of his monsters in game.

I know NPC camp in NJ will have this great big hole where John used to be. Beyond his imagination he was just plain fun. Even when he was pissed and angry he would just get this determined look that said "ok lets turn this baby aorund". You could always get him to sing an 80's song. I loved getting him to finish the Vapors song "Turning Japanese" or a million others. The one thing I am going to miss the most about him is his throwing his arm aroudn my shoulder and saying "Hey buddy, how are things going?" because you knew every single time he asked that he really wanted to know and he was ready to hear it all.

The title of this thread is absolutely appropriate for John. He was the best of us all. He was my hero, my idol, a role model for me, and no matter how much time passed between seeing each other he was one of those brothers you'd go through hell for.

It's also an appropriate title because me and my buddies outside of nero have a toast, "Here's to the best of us, damn few left!" and now there is one less.

John, brother & friend forever, I can't say how many times I've come to tears in the past few days. I can't express even in all these words how much I will miss you. I love you man, always have, always will.

William Mullally
John was one of the most creative and warm hearted folks I have ever met. I believe someone mentioned this in an earlier post but John had this way of meeting you for the first time and making you feel welcomed, treating you like an old friend, or a trusted companion. Always a twinkle in his eye, or a funny quip to make, always looking to make you as comfortable as possible. Never judging, never being opinionated, always taking the time to help you, explaining things, really listening and doing. Understanding that it was a game and that it was up to him to teach, guide and make it fun for us. Like a true gifted story teller, he would weave and create this rich, detailed story and lure you in. John was one of the first people I met when I joined Nero Ashbury way back. He made the game fun for me.

I had my differences with John in game, but what made John a truly remarkable person was that he was ready, willing and able to be my worst enemy in-game but he was able to hangout with me out of game and share a good laugh, or rehash a plot or story line he ran and good naturally point out how he outwitted me or got the best of me. I was lucky enough to spend some time with John (how ever briefly) in real life at a few choice parties and at a wedding (Kathy and Aarons) where much to my surprise and disbelief John took my date, with his wifes permission of course and schooled me in dancing. That to me will be my last and fondest memory of him.

The world is a little darker today for me. I will miss John greatly.

I have awoken the last two mornings with the words "JTF passed away" as my first thoughts. That a man I met less than two years ago can have that much impact on me should surprise me--but I don't think anyone here would find that anything but fitting.

I am so grateful to Colleen for organizing John's party earlier this month. He was so stunned that there would be a surprise party for him, so grateful and so honestly humble that we would all come out for an evening devoted to honoring him. I am so glad that my last memories of him are of such a simple, beautiful time. I had the opportunity just before I left that night to have a few minutes outside alone with John, just talking about life. Thank you, Colleen, for giving me the chance to have those last few moments with a truly amazing man.

There is undoubtedly a hole in the world today. But that admittedly not insignificant void is nothing compared to the amount of magic, humor, beauty, and friendship that exist in the lives of more people than any of us will ever be able to truly grasp, because of John.

Thank you, JTF, for being one of the wonders of this world.

Rachel W
I know I've already taken some of this space to express my thoughts - something that Juan (who I don't know yet) said made me want to add.. Juan said "The world is a little darker today for me."

Together, though, we can all do our very best to shine like John for the rest of our lives. To make new people feel welcome - to reach out to old friends and new friends, to live and love.

John's my inspiration.

I have no illusions that I'll ever shine as bright - but I think together we can all shine just a little bit brigther each and all of our light combined might honor his memory.

Here's John's Obituary from the Pocono Record newspaper today:

John T. Finnegan


John T. Finnegan, 37, of Stroudsburg, died on Monday, March 17. Raised in Acton, Mass., he was the beloved son of Gail and Robert Finnegan. He was the loving husband of Colleen Ann Capuano, with whom he celebrated nine years of marriage.

John was employed by QA Associates and served as a respected quality assurance engineer. John Finnegan was one of the founders of the New England Roleplaying Organization, a national Live Action Roleplaying group. He was the organization's heart and soul, spending countless hours enhancing the gaming experience. Its customers benefited from John's magnetic personality and his extraordinary creative talent for unique stories and unforgettable characters.

John graduated from St. Anselm College with a bachelor of arts degree in history. He was an avid reader of the fantasy and science fiction genres. He loved to spend time with his many friends, playing video games and especially Dungeons and Dragons. John could always be relied upon to offer a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on.

In addition to his wife and parents, John is survived by his brother, Christian Finnegan, and his wife, Kambri Crews; his grandmother, Latrice Griffin; his brother-in-law, Patrick Capuano; his sister-in-law, Andrea Bacchi; father-in-law, Pat Capuano; mother-in-law, Laura Capuano; stepmother, Debra Finnegan; his stepsiblings, Matt and Sally McCracken, and Molly and Mirco Gaggiotti.

Visitation will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, March 21, at the funeral home. A Catholic prayers service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, from the Joseph J. Pula Funeral Home, 23 N. Ninth St., Stroudsburg, with the Rev. Fr. Thomas D. McLaughlin officiating. Cremation will follow the services. ... =105961406
John touched my life years before ever entering it. I started playing nearly a decade ago at the NH chapter, and from day one I was hearing stories about his writing and the characters he played. It was these early conversations that made me decide to start writing plot. Over the years I would continue to hear these stories and John gained a pedestal for creative excellence in my mind.
A couple of years ago I had the chance to meet him, and my reaction was as if I were meeting a rock star. I had built a vision of him in my mind, and upon speaking to him and later working with the NJ Plot Team I found that while he had earned my respect as a writer years before, that was nothing compared to the immense respect I gained for him as an individual. I never saw John to be anything less than kind, good humored and dedicated to making sure everyone around him was having as much fun as he obviously was. I mourn for Colleen and for everyone who touched his light. M
One can only assume that the big guy upstairs watched the news and realized that he needed some new members on the Cosmic Plot Comittee. He couldn't have chosen a better person. Just please, John.... no wave battles.