February 22, 2012

Okay, My Turn: Zak S's GM Questionnaire

I am very late to the party on Zak's questionnaire, but better late than never, I suppose.

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

The Survival Trophy thing I do with my group (link).  In short, the player whose PC has latest the longest gets to hold the Survival Trophy.  When the campaign ends, the player currently with the trophy gets to keep it. Perhaps not the most original thing overall, but it reinforces, "Hey, folks, this is a game," softens the blow of a lethal campaign, and gives the players something to boast about (rightfully so).  A wrote about a fun exchange here: link

2. When was the last time you GMed?

January 6, 2012.  Resulted in a TPK.

3. When was the last time you played?

Labyrinth Lord (run by Tim from Darves Hill), November 13th, at GASPCon 12.  I usually only get to be a player at conventions.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.

The characters are servants of Odin and have been tasked to travel to different worlds and planes to retrieve missing artifacts. The characters maybe from any time, setting, genre, etc. Mutants, vikings, rogues, soldiers, post-apoc warriors, etc.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?

Grab another beer, hurrying them along, read my notes, tell dick and fart jokes.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?

Beer, liquor, cookies, cake, chips, and whatever else my players have brought.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

No, I feel wired. Takes me an hour or so to wind down.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?

In a Mutant Future game at GASPCON 12 (run by Mike From Gutter Cult), after completing the mission for the mayor of a small town, my mutated human took over his brain (i.e., my character became the mayor). It went from the mayor saying, "You guys better skedaddle!" to "Bring me the blue-skinned woman!"

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?

Yeah, they do, but so do I. We don't take it too seriously and I have a knack for setting myself up for this kind of thing....

10. What do you do with goblins?

They are poison-using, conniving, slavers who like like this:


 Wield swords like these (for 2d4 damage):

And use daggers like these (for 1d4+1 damage):


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

I can't think of anything recent, but here are a few non-RPGs things I converted in the past:

I stole the Oracle scene from "The Eaters of the Dead" (aka "The 13th Warrior") as a way to assemble a party (see this clip: link).  I also used the night attack scene as a way to take that campaign into Planescape (see link; instead of savages attacking the heroes, it was demons).

Back in high school, I had dwarves with pump-action crossbows based on an episode of the old Filmation "Ghostbusters" show:  link

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?

The ensuing jokes that followed the party finding a giant obelisk with a pulsing red-tip.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
"Crypts & Things," a newly released Swords & Wizardry variant. I was looking at it to check out the rules and to look for ideas to steal for my Wilderlands Castles & Crusades campaign.

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

Apart from the usual classic guys, I really like the work of: Brian "Glad" Thomas. 

Brian "Glad" Thomas Art 2 - Roper

My buddy, Dave "The Knave" White:

Brian Masse:

Peter Bradley:

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?

In the horror sense? No.  In the "Oh shit, my character is going to bite it if I miss this roll" sense? Yes.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)

I would have to say the years spent running the mega-dungeon, Rappan Athuk Reloaded.  Just so many good times in that campaign.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?

A huge table with a big, dry erase battle mat covering the surface.  Ready access to beer and chips.  In other words, my basement.  All that is missing is a big book shelves for game books and a cork-board wall for displaying maps and art.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?

"Carnage 3:16 Amongst the Stars" and "Harvesters" (anthropomorphic Castles & Crusades)

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?

Kids cartoons and real-world history.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?

A player that shows up prepared and doesn't take the game too seriously.

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

I spent some time in Central Europe (Poland mostly, but I traveled around too) and I've used some real-world architecture, and customs in campaigns.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?

A re-print of the Rules Cyclopedia so I could afford a copy.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?

My wife. They usually go fairly well as she's dabbled with D&D and has at least some clue about what I'm talking about.
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