23 questions (now with #11 answered too)

Zak asked, I (eventually) answered.  Can’t resist a blogging meme like this…

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?

As a DM, I’m much less of an inventor than an outright thief.  My players love some of the stuff I’ve stolen. The stuff I’ve invented is kind of iffy, but my favorites would be the random tables for thrones, barrels, and such.

As a player, once in a while I think of something good.  I doubt I invented the idea, but I ushered in an era of using an auger to cut peep holes in doors that has become part of the standard dungeoneering operating procedure in our group.

2. When was the last time you GMed?
Last Wed. night, starting my rebooted D&D campaign.
3. When was the last time you played?
The Wednesday before that, played in a one-shot FATE game.
4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven’t run but would like to.
Make your way across the raging battlefield to capture or kill the evil sorcerer F’tang and stop his army of monstrosities.
That doesn’t sound all that great but I imagine setting up a mass battle on the table and telling the PCs they start “here” and need to make it to “there” with a battle raging around them…
5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Smile enigmatically, gather minis behind the DM screen, jot down any good ideas they toss out while they make plans.
6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
When I’m DMing, I usually don’t eat anything, because I’m talking more and sitting further from the snacks.  As a player I will consume all pretzels within arm’s reach.  We sometimes have better snacks; it mostly depends on what the players bring.  Once in a blue moon I supply snacks — Swad mix when it was available, anything leftover from a recent party, or one time I made breadsticks from scratch, that sort of thing.
7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting? 
No.  It’s usually energizing, if anything.
8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
My illusionist, Dagodart Stav, did all kinds of crazy stuff in the C&C game we played a couple years ago.  I already mentioned the auger thing.
9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
My setting is kind of silly but with some serious peril and horror. The players mostly keep it serious.
10. What do you do with goblins?
I don’t use them usually.  In the new campaign, goblins are basically evil cretins who squat in abandoned human buildings, steal babies to turn them into goblins, and keep other monsters as pets.  Having just watched Labyrinth last night with my daughter, I may incorporate some of that kind of stuff too.
11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
<oops…missed this the first time out…>
The panopticon … although it may be some time before it becomes involved in my campaign, I have a lot of ideas brewing.
12. What’s the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
We laugh a lot.  I’m terrible at coming up with examples on the spot though.  A lot of the things I remember are just table talk that is totally unrelated to the game.  A few weeks ago Richard asked another player, who was coming out of the bathroom, is he’d “made a McStinky in there” because if so he’d hold it in and wait a while before using the bathroom himself.  I still laugh about that.  Partly it was Richard’s deadpan delivery, as if it were the most normal thing in the world to say.
13. What was the last game book you looked at–aside from things you referenced in a game–why were you looking at it?
An “Earthdawn” bestiary.  They have some unusal takes on ‘standard’ monsters and every monster listing includes a ‘hook’ — a paragraph or so suggesting an adventure featuring or sparked by the monster. Every monster book should do that.
14. Who’s your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
Dave Trampier (the dramatic irony, the naturalism, the cartoony surrealism); Erol Otus (like Tramp but weirder and more cartoony); Stephan Poag (Tramp+Otus+comix=dang cool); any old black & white illustration from the 19th/early 20th centuries; Bosch.
15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Maybe once in a while…kind of doubt it.  But the ‘Blind Agnes’ from Telecanter’s “Deadly distractions” was pretty scary, I thought!
16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn’t write? (If ever)
I’m terrible at modules.  One Page Dungeons are about all I can handle. “The singing cave” was pretty good.
17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
Actually what I have right now in my basement is pretty close (6×4 foot table, bathroom and fridge nearby, minis & books mostly within easy reach, good light).  I only wish I had more clearance around the table so I could more easily walk around it, and a higher ceiling so no-one has to duck!  Also I could probably use a little cart or side-table for my notes and books.
18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
B/X D&D and GURPS.  Both are pretty perfect although they probably couldn’t be any more different.
19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Lord Dunsany and Ultima III.
20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
Someone who:
  • has a good sense of humor
  • who takes things seriously enough to get into the adventure but who does not take things so seriously that they cry when their PC dies horribly
  • is outspoken enough to participate but who can also shut up and let the other players shine
  • can respect me as a DM and live with bad rulings once in a while

Man, that sounds a lot more demanding than I really am. Really the main thing is: Don’t be an asshole.

21. What’s a real life experience you’ve translated into game terms?

When I’m out hiking I try to store landscapes and terrain in my head for use in games later but so far I’ve mostly run dungeons so not much has translated into a game.  I should think about doing that more.
22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn’t?
A booklet with a few hundred tricks, riddles, and traps to use when I can’t think up something good on the spot (which is most of the time).  Actually i’ve lost my enthusiasm for riddles, but tricks and traps are always welcome.
23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn’t play? How do those conversations go?
Yes.  My wife — she’ll ask how the game went, and occasionally comment on the noise we make (“You guys must have been having a lot of fun”).  She is not interested in the details of play, generally speaking.
My daughter asks what we did, and wants a lot of details, which I tend to censor, since she is six.  I don’t describe the really disturbing elements, and the adventurers just “get stuck in a trap” (not die) and the monsters are beaten or scared away, not killed!  She often has suggestions for traps and locations, mostly influenced by Scooby Doo episodes.
I have a couple of colleagues who I mention my games to, but in little or no detail.  Mostly just “Man, I’m tired from playing D&D until 11 last night” or “I hope this snow doesn’t make me late for D&D tonight” and that kind of thing.
23a. (Bonus question) Why does your wife or girlfriend not play?
I think there are a lot of factors.  Both her older brothers play or played, so it’s not completely alien to her, but as she tells our daughter (who also asked): “It’s just not my thing.”  She has plenty of friends and relatives to socialize with, so she possibly does not feel like she’d have time to play either.  I think the perceived violence of the game makes her reluctant too.  I remember way back when we dating, and I was describing a game where we were using a grappling hook to catch and reel in some harpies who were harrying us from overhead…she stopped me when I explained what a harpy was.  She doesn’t like horror movies etc. either, although I’ve caught her watching the recent LotR movies on TV!
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Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. nice to see #15 🙂


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