Friday, January 20, 2012

Zak's been asking questions

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

Probably my unique magic items series. It hasn't really affected my occasional players yet, but as a DM it gives me all sorts of inspiration to have a limited number of unique magic items in a campaign, rather than just popping in whatever the random charts spit out, and having the only things with stories attached to them be artifact level items.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

When was, it, last October? November? Ran a couple sessions of my Megadungeon with Classic D&D.

3. When was the last time you played?

Jan. 8, 2012 in Brian's Pathfinder game

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

Terminator: The War Against the Machines (all that future stuff you only see glimpses of in the movies) run with Star Frontiers (minus the Dralasites and stuff).

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

Sometimes pay attention and try to think of ways to turn their ideas back on them. Usually, though, I'm going through my adventure notes one more time to jog my memory of what's probably coming up.

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

In Japan, we always seemed to get MacDonalds takeout for games. Here in Busan, it's mostly just some chips and whatever drinks we prefer (beer or baekseju if I'm drinking, Coke or Mountain Dew if not).

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

No. Mentally exhausting sometimes, though.

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

In our PF game I've been running a Paladin who is trying to clean up the town, scour the dungeon, keep the party from tearing itself apart from internal rivalries, and when I've got a spare moment, visiting my favorite prostitute. He's a busy dude.

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

I tend to end up making my (rare) serious settings unserious all on my own. I've yet to have players turn my (much more common) unserious settings serious on me.

10. What do you do with goblins?

Stick them in dungeon rooms, sometimes with some treasure, and usually a few notes on interesting things they are up to.

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

See my Beast of the Week series, turning monsters from myths and legends into monsters for the game.

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

Lots of them, but the first one that came to mind was in our Gamma World game last year, where Jeremy's mutant bull character bull-headedly blew himself up by trying to bash through a trapped security door with his horns. Josh kept telling him how much damage he'd done and asking him every so often if he wanted to keep going. He did, and at 1000 points of damage, BOOM!!!

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?

In real life, the 2E Monstrous Compendium, for stocking my Megadungeon. On the computer, the 3.5 Complete Aracane for building my Birthright PC for Adam's upcoming game.

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

I grew up with Elmore art in my BECM and Star Frontiers.

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

It has a few times, but as mentioned above, I rarely run serious games so such occurrences are rare.

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

Hard to say, but it was likely either with "Isle of Dread" or "Crash on Volturnus," as I ran both of those modules several times.

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

Good sized table (plenty of room for character sheets, books, snacks & drinks, plus minis if necessary) in a large room, comfy chairs, adequate lighting, and few distractions.

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

I'm liking Pathfinder well enough as a player (doubt I'd like it as a DM after my experiences with 3E), but I also like silly little indie games like "All Outta Bubblegum" or my own "Presidents of the Apocalypse."

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

The Castlevania video games, and Three Kingdoms, the classic Chinese novel.

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

Smart, adaptable, with a sense of humor, well-read and well versed in pop culture (to get my lame jokes and odd references used as clues in the dungeon), and willing to play an Old School version of D&D.

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

The first time I went to Japan, I visited Kakegawa Castle. I turned the floorplans to that castle into a location in an OA game and had the players' Ninja PCs infiltrate it. Having actually been to the place, and then using it in a game worked well for me in visualizing and describing it.

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

A version of the Rules Cyclopedia without the tacked on skill system and expanded Mystara setting, but with the missing tournament rules, and with the original Elmore/Easley art instead of the Terry Dykstra art that's in the RC.

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

My (foreign) coworkers, and my adult conversation students. With the coworkers, it's usually just a "what did you do this weekend" sort of thing with maybe a few questions about how the game works here and there. With my adult students, it's mostly a curiosity thing - they usually don't know what I'm talking about so they ask lots of questions, but usually don't show any interest in playing.


  1. RE: #5: I have this bad habit of listening to my players and then interjecting with a comment or two. I have to force myself to stay out of their RPing. Then again, on certain occasions I feel my comments keep them from killing each other (the characters, not the players).
    RE: #14. I was introduced to the game through Elmore's BECMI art and I really like it too. It's funny that some people are often more critical of the different artists associated with editions than they are of the different editions themselves.
    RE: #21. That sounds awesome.

  2. Re: Terminator Game

    Yes, YEs, YES absolutely. If I am back this summer and you have time, I vote for this.