Wednesday, January 18, 2012

23 answers for Zak

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

2. When was the last time you GMed?
Last Friday.

3. When was the last time you played?
About a week ago.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
The future itself has been kidnapped by the guy the Vampire Lord of Crows answers to.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Look at the map and imagine where a wandering monster should be placed.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
During game store sessions I will sometimes buy a Payday bar from the counter.  The large amount of peanuts allows me to pretend it's not as bad for me as the other candy bars.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
Yes.  If I'm not tired after a session it means I've phoned it in.  I end my Friday morning sessions early enough to get a 20 minute rest period in before I go to work and I usually need it.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?  
In that Outland session I played in I really enjoyed fighting a giant but otherwise normal snake in front of an evil idol.  That's some real Conan shit going down.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
Bouncing back and forth between deadly earnest and slapstick humor is the way I like it.  Which is good, I guess, since most players seem hellbent on playing that way.  Maybe all these years of DMing has left me with Stockholm Syndrome.

10. What do you do with goblins?
Some days I use them as stand-ins for 20th century middle class values.  They're there to comment on the game and the PCs' miscreant behavior.  Other days they're just these little dudes with spears trying to stab you.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
A photo of Salvador Dali.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
Vithujin the Elf mistaking the Dragon for one of those winged cobras and getting incinerated for picking a fight with it.  Though I was the only one at the table who thought that was funny.  The way table crosstalk resulted in Serpentor becoming a saint in Wessex was also pretty hilarious.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed.  I have an idea of using it for a game set in Iceless-Antarctica-as-Atlantis.  So far I can't make up my mind whether I want to hack it to a BX version of the overall concept or try to run it straight.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
The creeping weirdness of Erol Otus, the explosive imagination of Jack Kirby and the heroic figures of Frank Frazetta all rolled into one super-artist.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Only once in a great while, I think.  But you'd have to ask them to know for sure.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
I love running modules, even crappy ones.  I know some DMs aren't cool with running anything that isn't your own material, but I love the challenge of "how can I make this piece of crap work?"  Probably the best time I've had running a module would be the last time ran Rat on a Stick, when the players built a killer parade float.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
A round table on a deck overlooking a big lake on a sunny, cool, windless day.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Nobilis and Andy Hopp's Low Life, maybe?  Though I'm not sure if I'd try playing Nobilis again.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Old Brit Lit on one side (Hardy, Keats, medieval chronicles) and Kirby comics on the other.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
The kind who is happy to get into trouble.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
I've used my experiences as a Freemason to inform my presentation of evil cultists.  :)

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
I'm still hoping that some computer-savvy person will take all the available retroclones and such and put them together like this.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
I sometimes bounce stuff off my wife or she'll ask what happened when I get back from the game store.  She thinks rpgs are very silly but she's also very supportive of me and my silly hobby.

[Zak asked these questions here.]


  1. Anonymous6:41 AM

    Very cool answers Jeff! Dug reading it! Now I gotta answer mine and throw em up tomorrow since I'm blacking out the blog today.

  2. You really play on a Friday morning? From what times, and how do you get players?

  3. Let me know if you ever set up a gaming table overlooking a big lake on a sunny, cool, windless day; I will gladly pay good money to game there, too.

  4. If goblins represent the middle class, that makes me want to kill them more.

  5. I'm still hoping that some computer-savvy person will take all the available retroclones and such and put them together like this.

    I've got a few prototypes of a variant of this. I was thinking more of a database of FLAILSNAILS characters in their native RPG format with different HTML to show the character translated to the RPG of your choice. The prototypes are pretty raw; but, they support two game systems at this point (Traveller and Stormbringer.) You can create, edit and share characters.

    My main problems to date are that:
    - the G+ Hangout API is still not for public consumption (though I've got prerelease APIs and have written some toys there)
    - the database costs money to host. Its a small amount; but, paying for one gives me a feeling of commitment that I'm not ready to give right now

    Anybody wanna write some code with me? My source code is open source on github. No experience necessary. Javascript, HTML5, NoSQL.

    As for the gallery idea discussed a few posts back:

    I could probably make a prototype in one week. Something to get feedback on and refine. It just won't be this week as my work life is hectic. Wanna try it?

    Also, the G+ Hangout API issue above will make the gallery be an invitation-only feature. The GM will have to get a developer account at Google and set up their system to launch a debug session. Its not that hard if you have at least some technical know-how, which I think managing a blog qualifies someone.

    Anybody else interested? Drop me an email.

  6. Hey Jeff, you were 1/2 my answer to #19. Wanting to find more stuff like your posts got me into reading/writing RPG blog.