Friday, January 27, 2012

A Response to Zak Sabbath

 A while back Zak over at PD&DWPS posted this questionnaire. I decided it would be fun to fill out. If you were hoping for a flame war, too bad!
1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be? Helm of the Azure Tutor. It starts off as a helm that confers a slight circumstance bonus to AC and Reflex saves - if you listen to it's advice! As the character becomes more powerful, the number of tricks it helps you to perform increases. Of course, there's more to the story - intelligent items that scale with character ability rarely come without a price... but I won't ruin it for you. Suffice it to say that it is not precisely cursed, nor evil, it simply has an agenda.

2. When was the last time you GMed?  November, far too long. The holidays were cruel hard.

3. When was the last time you played? Gah! Dundracon, February 2011. Sickness! Awful!

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to. I've been dying to run Castle Whiterock for a long time now, but that isn't precisely a pitch, is it? How about this; "Imagine that death and plane travel were one in the same thing, and that the reason the undead exist at all is because of this one immutable fact; when too many people die on one plane for the natural flow of life force to be replaced, the undead appear to fill the vacuum." Better. Still not great.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things? Eavesdrop, refresh my knowledge of anything that I know is coming up, occassionally roll dice and smirk to keep people on edge. If they are stalling, I add more monsters.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play? Whatever is put out on the table. We tend to eat pretty healthy stuff, luckily.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting? Sometimes, but mostly I find it mentally fatiguing, which can manifest as semi-physical. Usually it's my voice that wears out.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing? One of my PCs? I had one who was designing a rocket, using only what was available in the 1st or 2nd ed. AD&D rulebooks.
9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither? They take it seriously when I start making their items save vs. destruction, introduce weird monsters they haven't read about on the internet, or even ask them exactly what they are doing/wearing/holding in their hands "right this moment."

10. What do you do with goblins? I'm fond of clever annoyance tactics which aren't really worth dealing with, or simple attacks that leave nothing to retaliate against; a wild-eyed goblin comes running at you holding a bunch of tethered gas spores! Roll initiative!

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)? All I can think of is my trip to Japan in '99, which was one of the inspirations for the campaign I've been running now for almost a decade. It wasn't anything concrete, mostly the notion of geography and history being inextricably wound into the local culture in a concrete way, and tying that into religion and magic. I'm not sure it's something anyone would recognize in that campaign now.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now? My group wanted to lure an enemy into an ambush. Learning that he was a devoted lech, they arranged a high-end, very exclusive orgy held in a Magnificent Mansion. It worked! He came to it and brought two of his 'wives'. Of course, lots of other people showed up too. And of course, the party did not know that the enemy was in reality a vampire cleric, nor that his 'wives' were succubi cohorts. When the party finally realized that many of the wealthy, high-level people at the orgy were level-drained unto undeath, or charmed, or otherwise turned against them, O how I did laugh. And laugh and laugh. I was the only one laughing.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it? latest version of the OSRIC manual, version 2.2. Because I loves me some old skool nerdage.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?


15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid? See 9 and 12, above. It's less frequent now that they are in the teen levels, but it still happens.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever) One instance of the Moathouse in Village of Hommlet, followed closely by The Mysterious Tower (Goodman Games). Low level is the best for crazy, seat-of-the-pants gaming.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in? Huddled around an old coffee table in someone's basement, stocked with beer and snacks, using crayons, legos and random plastic toys as miniatures and map markers. Preferably one bare bulb hanging low over the table. A cruddy selection of dice. Oh, and it would be best if it was kind of damp and chilly too. If that isn't available, then one of these would work too.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be? Uh, Werewolves of Miller's Hollow and Warhammer 40K.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be? Gene Wolfe, old crappy Kaiju like Infra Man, Richard Dawkins, Evil Dead 2. That enough?

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table? Someone who can role-play and dice-play the game, grasps the idea of talking in character, and doesn't try to manhandle the rest of the party.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms? Going up levels (promotions), having a kid (rolling up a new character), aging (stat adjustments).

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't? Now that printable miniatures exist, not that I can think of.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go? I'm guessing this question excludes people who are actually interested in learning about the game, so not really!

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