Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Re: Playing D&D With Porn Stars: GM Questionnaire

So Zak S recently posted a GM Questionnaire which all the cool kids are filling out. I might as well join in, especially since I'm starting to run games again! (Hah, thinking I'd start up in October 2011. Yeah, that was a laugh.)

My answers:

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
That would probably be the Dungeons and Dominion idea I came up with for brainstorming cool setting details. It gave rise to one of the signature details of Legacy of the Bieth (the weird ghost ship that is sailing across the land near Sanctuary).

2. When was the last time you GMed?
December 2011, for my tabletop group. I've been on hiatus prepping my next tabletop game (a Dark Heresy run), which should be good to start up in 2 weeks.

3. When was the last time you played?
Last night, in Chris K's Hill Cantons game. You can read about last night's shenanigans here, although the session wasn't quite as dismal as Chris makes it out to be. We didn't make out with much loot in the second half of the session, but we got more clues about our major project.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
Battletech meets Shadowrun - a merc company is hired for a contract, get burned by their employer, and have to fight their way out and offplanet.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
It depends on the setting. For my tabletop game in LotB, I'll relax and listen to their squabbling (we have long sessions and meet regularly, so I'm more tolerant of delay) and try to figure out other cool things to throw at them. Sometimes if they're being particularly egregious, though, I will theatrically "doze off" with a sign saying "wake me when you do something interesting." For Paranoia, the waiting time is minimized because I try to keep the action fast-paced. I'm trying to get into that habit for other G+ games.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Uh...table snacks? Chips and so forth. Sometimes we'll take a break and I'll grab a sandwich or something.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
Somewhat. I try to keep the energy level high when interesting things are happening, and that can be tiring.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
A PC I was running? Hmm. Having my landsknecht elf investigate this crazy barge in Chris's Hill Cantons game. I'm really excited about figuring out what's making that barge tick.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
Oh, they definitely take the serious and make it unserious. The tabletop group had a paladin who ultimately got nicknamed "Sir Utthar Troll" because of how much he wound up, well, trolling the entire party. We've had batshit irrational crazy characters denouncing all use of violence, being extreme fanboys about dungeon architecture, and so forth.

10. What do you do with goblins?
I don't normally have them in Legacy of the Bieth, but one of the modules I was running for the setting had them showing up, and I didn't feel like converting them into something cooler because I was tired. I tried to reskin them a bit so that they were these freaky little critters with gigantic mouths stretching most of the way around their heads though, which was pretty cool.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
This really cool looking sword at the Philadelphia Art Museum. I seriously love that sword.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
Shutting down the entire party's investigation through an utterly obnoxious butler. No stats, no special abilities, extremely old and talked like Riff-Raff from Rocky Horror (or so I am told). They loved him and hated his guts.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
Dark Heresy corebook, trying to figure out how some of the factions in my upcoming game are going to interact.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
Russ Nicholson - I loved his stuff before I knew his name.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Alas, no. Afraid for their characters, sure - but never genuinely afraid in their own persons.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, introducing the players to kobolds (variety: Tucker's).

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
Well-lit dining room, big table. Cool-looking stuff around. Quiet, no interruptions. Ideally, a badass chair for the GM.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Hmm. Maybe Paranoia and Battletech. One is an utterly rules-light, DM is in control, hosejob game. The other is fiddly little details, ticking off gazillions of armor dots as your mechs take like 3 years to whittle each other down. I really don't know why I love Battletech so much. (Actually I do, it's because the Warhammer and Marauder are frickin' sweet.)

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Sergio Leone, the Malazan Book of the Fallen, my military history courses, a book called Codes of the Underworld discussing communication strategies between criminals.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
I don't want any one player. I want a diverse group. Give me the plotter, who's figuring out how to bend the entire world to her advantage. Give me the instigator, the guy who charges in and pulls levers. Give me the prankster, who finds the humor in the situation and reminds us all to laugh at the utterly ridiculous stuff that's going on. Give me the character player, who latches on to an absurdity of their PC and plays that to the hilt.

I guess I do want some things from all my players: verve, panache, a good sense of humor.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
Hmm. My (pretty limited) camping experience has gone into making sure that my players' PCs have absolutely abysmal nights. My experience with frustrating bureaucracy and people in authority being dicks has certainly informed my Paranoia games.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
The equivalent of Vornheim, but for the wilderness. Zak has mentioned that the Santicore tables hit this to some degree, and that's probably true. Now, I haven't looked at them as much as I ought to yet. but I don't just want the weird tables - I also want a corresponding Weird and Crazy outlook on the world - those little snippets of setting information in Vornheim which set your mind ablaze as they're just sort of casually dropped.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
Not really. I mean, I've tried to get folks to join in (and then found out that they weren't interested), but in those cases after the initial invitation I just don't bother them with stuff they're not interested in.