...and the sky full of dust.

Tabletop RPG Cartography

Zak’s GM Questionnaire: reposted with answers

I’m bored at work, so I’ll bite. Was going to post this yesterday, but thought I’d wait a day due to the Blackout.

Repost and answer. Or, if you don’t have a blog, answer in the comments. Or be a big rebel and do neither. [from Zak’s blog].

 1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
I never used house-rules much, and those I did weren’t all that memorable. I have one in my current game where casters can expend hit points to recast spells, but I think it’s a bit too powerful. I’m working on my own RPG rules, which, if it all works out, I’ll be proud of 🙂
2. When was the last time you GMed?
Monday night, running a LotFP WF rules-based game, latest session report coming up tomorrow.
3. When was the last time you played?
Sunday, see here.
4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven’t run but would like to.
PCs wake up naked on a stone slab, no idea where they are or who they are. Go!
5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Sit back and watch/listen to the fun; and/or think ahead so that I have some ideas of what happens next (and then throw away all the ideas when the players do something else instead).
6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
If it’s for 3.5/Pathfinder or the like, then the whole statting up and ‘balancing’ monsters & NPCs. Otherwise, it’s designing maps (since I have an annoying tendency to do it all on Inkscape, and it can take ages).
8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
Actually, the last really interesting thing for me was in a campaign a few years back when my ranger used a combination of a jump spell, a swan boat feather token and sheer guts to throw a boat into a dragon’s mouth (which worked!).
9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
They all (both groups) tend to take them seriously, even when my goblins aren’t.
10. What do you do with goblins?
Lots. I love the little fellows. Most times I have them as neutral folk who PCs can find in towns and the like (such as the Torchbearer’s Guild), but my current game has them as humanoids to slay. I like my goblins to be a WoWish, technically advanced but with a lot of things going wrong with the stuff they build; either that or alchemists.
11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
The animation Dragon Hunters, which an excellent animation film and full of ideas I plan to use in some capacity (mainly the different types of dragons, for the moment).
12. What’s the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
First thing that pops in my mind is when I have a kraken grapple a PC and suddenly realises that it had a grapple of +64 or something stupid like that, and I laughed madly because I thought it was so dam funny. As a player, the thing that pops into my head was when my hopeless ranger was trying to track some enemies by rooftop, and promptly fell off right in front of them.
13. What was the last game book you looked at–aside from things you referenced in a game–why were you looking at it?
RPG Creatures Bestiary 1: While not technically a game book, it was made with gamers in mind, and the illustrations and descriptions of the 50 monsters/races are great inspiration. For true game book, it was Cthothnian Star, which is Traveller meets Cthulhu, and is something I want to run as a one-shot next time I get a chance (and rip-off/pay homage to Alien).
14. Who’s your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
Someone who captures the essence of the game they are illustrating for, and paints beautiful pictures of monsters that make you want to throw them at your players (such as the RPG Creatures mentioned above).
15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Not recently, other than the usual paranoia of dungeon exploration; but back when I played CoC I did manage to build the atmosphere and tension so that when the phone rang, everyone (including myself) jumped.
16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn’t write? (If ever)
Playing through The Grinding Gear. It worked really well on the players I had.
17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
A quiet pub, with a private space, somewhere neutral with access to drinks and food. Although, playing around a good-sized table at someone’s house can work well if there are few distractions. I actually prefer playing in a pub (which I on the Sunday games, usually in its basement).
18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
I’m going for Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons, whatever editions. Star Wars, for me, is just pulp adventures in space, fighting against the tyranny of the Empire and involves lots of covert missions and battles against stormtroopers; whereas D&D is really about exploration, looting and killing the monsters that are in the way. While you can play either time in the same ways, the style I tend to prefer differs a lot.
Mechanically, I’d say something like Traveller and Sword Noir, very different.
19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
My love of exploration and storytelling (ok, so sometime they work together, but if the chief different between classic sandbox play is the emerging story in-game, then my desire to tell a story does clash at times, and can be considered opposites of a sort).
20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
Ideally, someone who likes to explore, investigate and role-play; someone who plays the game not just to gain XP but because they are having fun playing their character in the setting. Pretty much the kind of player I am, I guess. Instigators rather than passive watchers.
21. What’s a real life experience you’ve translated into game terms?
I play such games to escape from real life, and I don’t think I’ve ever translated anything into the games I play. I case the recent spree of history books I’ve been reading are influencing certain aspects, but that’s all.
22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn’t?
How about a Pulp Adventure RPG based on Tales of the Gold Monkey? I’d buy that.
23. Is there anyone you know who you talk abotu RPGs with who doesn’t play? How do those conversations go?
Only my girlfriend, and she mostly nods and humours me. I tried to get her to play once, but she didn’t really get into it (despite being a geek and enjoying most of the same stuff as me, the RPG side doesn’t click with her).
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