Everybody’s doin’ it: Zak’s questionnaire

Zak came up with a 23 question questionnaire, and since the semester has started and I’m logging some long booth hours, I figured I’d spend a few minutes filling these out. Instead of leaving questions blank, I deleted those I didn’t answer, hence the jump in numbers.

GM Questionnaire

 1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
Invention or implementation? The most recent implementation is having initiative start with whoever rolled highest and then proceeding clockwise around the table from there. Simple and easy to remember who’s turn it is.
2. When was the last time you GMed?
Two Saturday’s ago. Gamma World D&D 4 ed. On no, I was storyguide last Thursday for Andrew’s Ars Magica 5 ed.  Skype game.
3. When was the last time you played?
Last month, playing my Merinita magus named Hywel. Still don’t have a handle on him. Trying something different, playing a magus from a House I’m not crazy about, to give it a test drive. Hywel’s big trick is talking to trees and rocks, which he does regularly. I’m thinking of having him invent a way to talk to a place’s mystic aura, an Intellego Vim combination, not to determine a site’s aura magnitude or type, but to actually chat with the aura as if it were a sentient thing. Why shouldn’t it be, it’s magic?
4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven’t run but would like to.
A group of Diedne wizards living in a covenant in Gaul during the early years of the Order of Hermes, before the Schism War.
5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Catch my breath. Drink my now cold coffee.  Sketch pictures in the margin of my notebook.
6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
During play I don’t eat much. If I’m running a session I do most of the early talking, so have my mouth crumb-free is a plus. My players appreciate it, anyway.
7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
Refereeing D&D 4 ed. is. There isn’t a lot of down time between combat situations, and each combat encounter is a lot to handle, especially since we are learning the rules as we stumble through them.
9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
We are all pretty lighthearted, and prefer medieval fantasy to horror games or spooky situations. I did run a Call of Cthulhu game for my son and his chum, and scared the bejesus out of them.
10. What do you do with goblins?
Nothing. Ars doesn’t use them for cannon fodder.
12. What’s the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
Too many to remember, really. We’re a funny bunch, both in character and out.
13. What was the last game book you looked at–aside from things you referenced in a game–why were you looking at it?
Mark Galeotti’s Mythic Russia. Admiring his mix of history and magic, his partitioning of chapters regarding setting, rules, and additional material. Looking at it as a blue print for my ideal project.
14. Who’s your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
Dave Trampier is a favorite, of course, as it Erol Otus. I like art, and never differentiated an rpg illustrator from any other type of commercial illustrator. I’d love to see a Jack David module cover, or the Circle of Eight drawn by Mort Drucker. I’d like to see Mobius, Corben, and Crepax draw rpg material. Well, not Crepax. He’s dead. Enki Bilal. I’ll think of more later and wish I’d mentioned them. “How could I have forgotten Neal Adams and Berni Wrightson?” I’d like RPG books to look like ’80’s Heavy Metal magazines. Not everyone agrees.
That said, I’m not so into the current, leather-strap-soft-bondage-spiky-hair look popular with Pathfinder and Wizards of the Coast books.
15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
The Call of Cthulhu game for the twelve-year-olds did.
16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn’t write? (If ever)
I’ve had tons of fun running sessions I didn’t “write.” Create is a better word, maybe. Tomb of Horrors converted to Ars Magica was fun.
17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
My apartment is pretty good. Lots of space. Coffee maker in the kitchen. Two wooden tables and a half-dozen wooden chairs. Maybe some more comfortable chairs would be nice. Bare, hardwood floors. I like space and wood and open rooms.
18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
I can’t answer. Too many of my games are fantasy-medieval types.
20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
I like players who buy the context and setting over the rules. I’m not a huge rules lawyer and don’t like to argue rules. I like conflict – it drives drama – but I like being on the same team as the players. The situation is their opponent, not me.
22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn’t?
The one I’m thinking of doesn’t exist because I haven’t finished the manuscript yet.
23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn’t play? How do those conversations go?
There are lots of folks in my circles – real life circles – that don’t play rpgs. Most know I freelance write for rpgs, without knowing exactly what an rpg is. I generally don’t explain it. “Like D&D” is enough and we move on to other topics.
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