1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
Fluid combat for my Masks system; both sides generate successes and spend them, instead of one side attacking and the other defending, and reversing, etc.
2. When was the last time you GMed?
3. When was the last time you played?
Over 6 months ago for a 1 shot. Before that, a couple years.
4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven’t run but would like to.
“The Day After Tomorrow” hit in the fairly near future, drowning a city in the American Midwest (with an unsavory reputation among those supernaturally aware) in ice–gangs and government groups have set up, and this is the time to go looting/hunting/digging/researching.
5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Quietly wait, start kicking in suggestions, review my notes, start rolling dice, interrupt with an attack of some sort or some action. More or less in that order.
6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
I am almost always DMing, so I’m busy and can’t reach most of the snacks besides what players put in special bowls near me. Usually M&Ms and cheese & crackers. When playing? I don’t really remember…
7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
Yes. I can play until midnight and pop out of bed the next morning, but after running the game, much more weary.
8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
A cleric in a strange land, in one of Dan’s games many years ago, so I was converting the populace and setting up leadership development so I could leave a string of temples and shrines in my wake. More fun in my head; nothing ever came of it.
9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
It’s hard to separate it out with clean lines. All my favorite entertainment (including games) mixes the two.
10. What do you do with goblins?
I have a number of great recipes. Heh. No, generally I crank them sideways somehow to make them more interesting. Like the ones that can snip out lights, or make them. Or the ones where different colors each have one power each. Or the war between surface goblins and deep goblins. etc. For Old School Hack, I determined many new things about them; they reproduce asexually by budding and it is naughty to rub the buds, they produce oil when they genuinely admire someone, they have a tiny third lung that lets them holler while sprinting as a survival echolocation device, and so on.
11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
That poor donkey. Imagine him loaded down with metal, including barding.
12. What’s the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
Too many to count, but what rises to the top… a few years ago, in my super power game, they were fleeing an amusement park chased by tanks and one character animated a ferris wheel, and it was establishing dominance on a pursuing tank–a disturbing moment, but one that the players still talk about.
13. What was the last game book you looked at–aside from things you referenced in a game–why were you looking at it?
Star Trek Planetary Adventures by Last Unicorn. I dunno, I had been watching quite a bit of Enterprise, and still feeling that unscratched Star Trek itch.
14. Who’s your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
I bet Jim Lee would be awesome at it–technically gorgeous, with great kinesthetics. Or Eastman and Laird, to make the drawings accessible, fun to copy, and energetic. Perfect? Hah. There are many delightful flavors.
15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
We have a code word, a “hoodie moment,” named for when one of my players slowly drew the drawstrings of his hood during my description because I freaked him out. I live for inflicting hoodie moments on my players. I think I do, from time to time, get a legitimate player shiver out of them.
16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn’t write? (If ever)
Truly ancient, “Manhunt on Tatooine” from West End Games for Star Wars. Aimed at maybe a jr. high demographic, no effort at all to figure out the names of the described races, but it was a pack of bounty hunters on Tatooine after a target. My players ate it up, and I used the NPCs from that module for the rest of the campaign because they made some serious enemies on that one. Plus, great collateral hilarity, like an ad campaign for “Moisture Farmer, the Tusken Raider Treat” with a jawa in the corner doing thumbs-up saying “Eetraydee!”
17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
Big table able to seat 4-10 people with leaves in (got it) with comfortable chairs and an iPod dock with a remote control and pre-built thematic playlists, a fridge dedicated to the event at hand, adjustable lighting, and quite possibly a cell phone blocker.
18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Difficult to even define what poles or spectrums to use; high quality to low quality, realism, time period, etc. I mean, I have B/X era all the way through house rules I published through Lulu.com, and a dozen game companies represented. Compelled to choose, I’d say Chill by Mayfair Games and 3.x D&D. One is exciting and inspirational and mysterious with a crappy layout and some incomprehensible rulings, the other is neat and tidy and pretty and unappealing to run or play.
19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Justin Alexander at the head of the Blogosphere Brigade of contemplation of mechanics and practices of good DMing etc. on the one hand, and the Old School Hack / West End Games Star Wars pull towards the “Wow!” button on the other.
20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
I desperately want players who come intending to have fun, and accomplish their goal.
21. What’s a real life experience you’ve translated into game terms?
Reframing! Many of the truths we cling to depend on our point of view. If it is an either or question, take a step back and frame the question differently for an unexpected response. Love doing it to my players, love it even more when they wise up and manage it for themselves.
22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn’t?
Just the ones I’m going to write myself…
23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn’t play? How do those conversations go?
After playing for a couple decades, I’ve mentioned enough in passing to talk to my mom about some of what’s going on, and she finds the stories interesting. Generally, I keep my geek tucked in with those out of the loop or even in the mainstream of the RPG hobby; they don’t need to know about my homebrew.