Friday, January 27, 2012

23 Questions

I've got a lot on my plate at the moment, so please accept this set of meme-questions from Zak's D&D with Porn Stars blog. The blog is tucked behind an "Adult Subject Matter" wall (so be aware), but is no more salacious than, say, that old copy of "Eldritch Wizardry" you have in the closet. Here's what I said:
1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
The Universal Table for MSH. In a world where CRTs have gone by the wayside, this remains viable and used to this day. Close second is the random encounter tables for the first MM II.
2. When was the last time you GMed?
About a month back – Call of Cthulhu, Goodman games series. The next time will be this coming Monday.

3. When was the last time you played?
Last night – ArenaNet 4E game (I discovered most of the traps by walking into them). Before that, two weeks ago – Steve Winter running his D&D Cyclopedia campaign.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
The Man from C.T.H.U.L.H.U – 60s CoC adventures in Swinging London.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Make jokes, check references, make monsters tougher.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Cheese, fruit, girl scout cookies.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting? 
Yes, after about five hours I start flagging.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
Covering our tracks after breaking into a underground complex of gator-men, making it look like OTHER dungeon monsters took out the guards.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
When they are being unserious in a serious situation, it is usually that nervous humor of walking across the graveyard. I find that rewarding. Of course, I also run Call of Cthulhu with Scooby-Doo characters, and watch for the moment when the scales from their eyes and they see the twisted horror are the core of the adventures.

10. What do you do with goblins?
Not much. Kobolds tend to be my amusing low-level monsters, and Toede has the hobgoblins staked out. Goblins, which lacked an iconic look until Pathfinder, have been the ugly step-humanoids for a long time in D&D..

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
Reading Norman Davies Vanished Kingdoms and using it in the final write-up of the Grand Duchy of Dornig. Before that, using Greek city-state history as an insight into dwarven kingdoms.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
“I lift my lantern to get a better look” – famous last words from a CoC adventurer before they “Surfed the Shoggoth”.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
Midgard manuscript for Open Design, but that’s work. I READ gamebooks for fun – the most recent being All For One: Regime Diabloque, from Triple Ace Games.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
There are a number of excellent artists currently working in the industry, but you dance with the ones that brung yah – In my case that's the TSR bullpen of Easley, Caldwell, Elmore, Parkinson, Butler, and Brom (Jaquays and Fields are part of that group as well, and while excellent, were not part of the “art room”). Imagine a team like that with Brom as the “new guy”.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid? 
I have frightened people off the sofa.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
I run canned CoC adventures. The Beyond the Mountains of Madness mega-adventure was the best and most detailed.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
D&D – Big table, comfortable chairs, room for snacks.
CoC – Open room, easy chairs, low lights.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Dogs in the Vinyard and Avalon Hill’s Blitzkrieg.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and the Marx Brothers.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
Older, accomplished professionals. I don’t look for them – it just works out that way.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
Using knowledge of modern cities for 20th Cent RPGs. Like explaining how our zombie-hunters get to St. James Cathedral up on Cap Hill with detailed street directions.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
I may be working on that one.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
I talk a lot with those who don’t play. My conversations come with annotations and footnotes.

More later,