Wednesday, 18 January 2012

23 Questions

I was at a loose end for a subject for today's blog post, yet by some strange movement of the cosmic ballet Zak happened to come up with a reason why I don't have to think of one:

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

variant on my relationship hex-map idea that I haven't had time to blog about yet.

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

3. When was the last time you played?
I guess this means not GMing, in which case it was probably mid-November.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
Unknown Armies or Call of Cthulu set among the Japanese community in Brazil in the early 20th century. May or may not involve the Black Ocean Society.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
"Train" my dice by arranging them in lines with the highest number facing up.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Nothing usually. 

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting? 
No. I'm 30 years old and pretty healthy, and I only run sessions for about 2 1/2 hours.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
Being the head of a crazed cult who believed that I was a kind of avatar of the Spirit of Justice and using my power and influence to take over the entire town.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
Probably they unserious it a little bit, but then once play starts I always do the same thing.

10. What do you do with goblins?

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

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
One of my players deciding that it would be a good idea to create a distraction by faking having a seizure in the middle of a crowded bar full of Lithuanian mafioso types. It was more the deadly serious expression on his face as he declared this action that made me laugh. You had to be there, really.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
Iron Heroes. I was just idly perusing through it and wondering if I wanted to invest the time in it.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
Probably John Blanche, although I love Diterlizzi too.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid? 
Sometimes, but it depends very much on the game.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
Never. I don't do that.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
Six nubile 18-year old girls of various ethnic backgrounds with a love for OD&D. Failing that, probably at a table on the balcony of an apartment building on a warm day in Rome, Paris, New York or Tokyo.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Hmm. Rolemaster and Risus, probably.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Gene Wolfe on the one side and Fighting Fantasy on the other. 

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
Creative, intelligent, active people. Really anybody who wants to get involved rather than be passively entertained.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
I'm not sure I've ever done that, actually. Unless you count running games in real places. I suppose I've spent a lot of time in "exotic" climes, which trickles into the sort of games I run.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
Now there's a question. I wish there was a version of Pendragon set in feudal Japan that was actually complete. I've seen an incomplete one online, but not a final version.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
No. RPGs are my secret shame.


  1. "Train" my dice by arranging them in lines with the highest number facing up.

    Oh thank heavens I'm not the only one.

  2. also, "RPGs are my secret shame."

    Should we start up RPGA?

  3. Kelvin: Dice are rebellious little fuckers who need constant reminding of what their duties are.

    Richard: I'd be surprised if there isn't one already. Although isn't one of the 12 steps confessing to everybody you know? Not sure I could handle that.

  4. perhaps you could tell people you're into gaming, and after they think you mean gambling and are bracing for news of your debts, then you can say "no no: RPGs."

    Unless you also have massive gambling debts, in which case sorry I mentioned it.

  5. RPGA - where the members make their own step programmen as a d12 ranson table chart.

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  7. One of my players deciding that it would be a good idea to create a distraction by faking having a seizure in the middle of a crowded bar full of Lithuanian mafioso types. It was more the deadly serious expression on his face as he declared this action that made me laugh. You had to be there, really.

    Don't forget the part about how this totally worked and I successfully distracted all of those mafioso types!

  8. Richard: We were talking about this last night: why is it that being a professional poker player is cool, but being a professional RPG designer wouldn't be?

    Anonymous: I actually did 'lol' at that.

  9. It's because poker is understood to be a dangerous drug, so the professional poker player is a kind of lion-tamer - to maintain his professional status he has to resist falling victim to the game and instead somehow rise above it. The contradiction between professional (master) and poker (junkie) opens up an imaginary space where the professional can take on a kind of occult mastery - immune to the familiar threat that poker poses to the ordinary shlub the pro takes on a kind of James Bond fantasy role where he possesses mysterious and deep understanding beyond what you or I could hope for - the same fantasy/mastery world occupied by peaceful warrior martial artists and gonzo junkie writers and (with some kayfabe thrown in) stage magicians. I found a bit of the charm rubbed off on me when I designed computer games for a living, but only with a small demographic. And of course everyone wants to know which one of the 4 games they love did you design.

    Alas, design is part of the drug of RPGs, so the pro RPG designer is really just deeper in his delirium than the casual gamer. Also there's no money or girls hanging on the activity, so you have to actually address it on its own merits, rather than just looking at the attendant effects on the designer's breeding potential.

    Chess champions are a different thing, but I think the power dynamic works similarly. During the Cold War the Russians promoted chess heavily as a sign of their analytical and mathematical prowess, and therefore technological aptitude. Chess Grand Masters were signs of Soviet power, and had to be matched by American Grand Masters. And chess players got money and girls (which could distract them from chess, so they had to be self-disciplined, too). These days (I'd argue) the glory days of chess are largely forgotten: the champions are Indian and Israeli, and the chess master is sliding back into nerdom.