Great Khan Enthroned

Great Khan Enthroned

Thursday, January 19, 2012

GM Questionnaire

So, I decided to fill out Zak's Questionnaire, here are my answers.

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

I am apparently a one trick pony, I can come up with good campaign settings. I can fill them with interesting NPCs and get some action started via plot hooks, after that it's all on the players. I don't really invent stuff like tricks, traps, spells or monsters.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

December 18, 2011, but that session and the one before it weren't all that great.

3. When was the last time you played?

Sometime in 2009? Right after Hackmaster Basic came out, my Daughter Ashli decided to debut as a gamemaster using that system, it went well for the first couple of sessions while she had pre-prepared material to work with, but once she had to start working with her own material and we started to do things that weren't covered in the book, things started to go bad; it ended shortly after that while we waited for the release of Frandor's Keep. I bought that for her when it came out, but we never went back to Hackmaster Basic, I think that the ultra-busyness of her senior year of high school and the bad memory of how it had ended before turned her off to the system. No, I forgot, it was last Spring when Lee's 1/2 Orc died, she DMed my campaign for a few sessions while I recharged my DM mojo.

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

B/X Pendragon, more of a campaign really though.

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

Eat, drink, chat with the other players; eventually roll a random encounter.

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

Usually Beef Summer Sausage, a variety of Cheeses, Ritz Crackers and Ranch Dressing or A couple of Different Types of Mustard make the standard "During the Game" snack tray, also Coffee (always), Hot Tea (Black, Green, or some types of Herbal- upon request), Hot Cocoa (upon request), usually some type of soda, always with a couple of diet options for soda. Sometimes the snack tray will include vegetables or other cold meats, this week's game will have Smoked Herring, for example. Since my game is every other week, I have the opportunity to stock up on snack foods when I find them on sale for a good price, so various Potato Chips and flavors of Doritos make their way here pretty frequently too. Since we always break for dinner, we almost always have some kind of food that is either easy and quick to make, or that we can throw in the oven or on the stove and not have to watch too closely, at recent game sessions we have had Beef Stew and Chili Con Carne; or alternately we order Pizza & Wings or Subs. Players are free to bring whatever other snacks they want to as well, as long as they bring enough to share, so this usually adds some Chips, Cookies and Soda to the mix too.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

No, but I'm not 16 anymore either. I can't play D&D for 16 hours straight and then take a 5 hour nap before another 16 hour session.

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

Planning a tactical assault on a well guarded and somewhat fortified urban mansion with a party of low level PCs? I played a 1st level Magic- User. Seriously, I don't get to play much.

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

Sometimes they do, sometimes I do. It's a game. Sure I may get a little ticked off when one of the players decides to not take the game as deadly serious as I am, at the moment, but aren't we all doing this to have fun and blow off a little of our real life stress and hang out with our friends, and, in my case, my family too? Sometimes this game just takes a turn for the absurd, and there is nothing you can do to turn it around. When it's one player, it CAN get contagious, when it's the DM it WILL get contagious. The less said about the gay Orc discotheque, the better or the naked no-thumbed Orcs. Why do these things keep happening to Orcs?

10. What do you do with goblins?

After what happened to the Orcs, do you really want to know? Seriously, they're mostly evil cannon fodder.

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

The floor plan of a Korean bath house.

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

Funny things happen all the time at my game. We have a pretty fun loving group of players, but nothing springs to mind specifically.

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

Moldvay Basic Book, reading it cover to cover for a blog post.

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

Tough choice here, but I am going to go with Dave Trampier.

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

I would have to say no. Occasionally a little creeped out, but really scared, no; again, it's just a game.

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

Tough to say, I almost always heavily rewrite adventure modules anyway, because if I don't I am afraid I'll forget something important because I didn't write it, and the potential problem of players having read the adventure before hand. The only adventure I can run with a minimum of preparation AND be sure I am not forgetting anything is B2.

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

That would depend on the game now wouldn't it? An ideal set up for a WW II board game is going to be different than the ideal set up for a Star Trek RPG, but for the sake of argument I'll assume you meant ideal for D&D. Ideal for D&D would need to have some medieval ambiance in the room, a table large enough to seat 9 people at least, with room for books, snacks, an optional battle mat and minis. Good lighting. Access to a nearby rest room and kitchen facility, should probably be the DM's residence. Side table for the DM. Bookshelves are a plus, so reference books are in the same room. A good sound system would be nice too. Since we're going for ideal, I'd have a computer at the DM station too. The DM's chair would be more like a throne, so he sat higher up and in a nicer chair, projecting his more powerful status to the players. Actually with some redecoration, my old DM Marty's dining room where we used to play in his 2nd edition campaign comes pretty close, the only issues are that I am the usual DM now, his reference books were in an upstairs library room and it was a little on the small side.

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

Star Fleet Battles and Munchkin, they have got to be sitting at opposite ends of the spectrum.

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

Higher education, my 1st edition AD&D DMG, Conan the Barbarian, King Arthur.

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

People who follow the Wheaton Rule. Other than that be clean, no stereotypical gamers here; be on time and attentive to the game, it's respectful to the rest of the gamers here. It helps if we're already friends and would hang out with each other even if there wasn't a D&D game going on, because sometimes shit happens and we don't get to play D&D when we're supposed to and that can get awkward when there is a stranger that I only really know from D&D in my house.

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

Armored Combat with Sword & Shield (and other weapons) both in singles tournaments and in mêlée.

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

AD&D 2nd edition Oriental Adventures. I think it would have cleaned up a lot of the problems of the 1st edition version and probably would not have abandoned the Kara-Tur setting like 3e did.

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

I have in the past talked with people about RPGs that didn't play, but not with any regularity. Usually they either decide to give RPGs a shot themselves or we don't really talk about them after a while.