Read and Respond: Zak S’ Survey Thing

Original post here.

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

The semi-sentient steeped-in-necromancy ever-so-helpful crematorium in that one Mage game. This one’s my favourite not because it’s my cleverest idea but because it gave said necromancer’s player the chance to roleplay her little socks off… and she did.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

Earlier this month, I think?  Lost track of time a bit…

3. When was the last time you played?

Last year sometime… probably summer, August or early September.

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

Prince of the Realm frogmarches your entire village into newly-discovered tomb to clear traps, guardians &c.

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

Attend to the other players whose characters aren’t with them. Think of things for players to do. Wonder if it’s worth my while flicking through the location photos on my hard drive. Drink tea.

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

Whatever’s around. That’s why I try not to have snacks around while GMin’.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

Difficult to say since I’m a chronic Morning Person and doing anything at all after about six/seven pip emma is quite wearying for me. I don’t think it is, unless I’m really going overboard with an NPC.

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

Engineering a brilliant escape strategy for the entire party and then being ordered to forget it. And having to obey, because he was a droid.

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

Occasionally. I don’t think I’ve ever run for a group that takes things ultra-seriously but sometimes I’ve had to invert the tone of a game pretty rapidly as it becomes clear that the players are more into lulz than I was expecting.

10. What do you do with goblins?

Goblins are a playable race. They replace halflings, who are shit.

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

A photo of a Greek monastery on a mountaintop.

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

The looks on my Star Wars group’s faces when they realised my droid character’s restraining bolt had gone AWOL.

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

Err, probably the Vampire Counts army book for Warhammer and I was looking for an illustration.

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

Hoo, fuck. Depends on the game, for one thing. If it’s something a bit cute and innocent, Ursula Vernon (I’d kill to have a Mouse Guard book illustrated by Vernon).  If it’s more grimdark, then Mark Gibbons for monster illustrations, John Blanche for places, border art, section separators and other book-functionings, and Steve Argyle for any full-colour stuff that wants doing. I do of course mean the learned Dr. Shiny.

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

Sometimes. When I’m having a particularly good day. My record is one player sleeping with the lights on for a week. The current group are either harder to shock, or just more prone to cathartic fits of the giggles at opportune moments – I’m not sure which.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn’t write?

We Be Goblins!

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

Big table for playing on, side tables for food, chairs that are comfy but make you sit up straight, and no interruptions barring emergencies. Those are the only givens. Anything else would vary by game.

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

I… don’t know. I haven’t really thought about disparities, barring ‘stuff I like’ or ‘stuff I don’t like’. I suppose that D&D.4 demo adventure I own is unlike pretty much anything else on the shelf…

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

A seminar I went to on industrial ruins as post-industrial monuments, a photograph of a woman asleep on the floor out in a loft full of packing crates, and the Eastern Orthodox Wiki.

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

One that’ll take an interest in the game world and meet that world on its own terms.

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

I met this lovely girl in a cafe once who was turned into a long-running (and less lovely) Mage NPC. I don’t remember much about her now, except that she was called Stephanie andwas a Wiccan who actually had an opinion on Alex Sanders.

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

The rest of the Backswords and Bucklers line, but I’ll live.

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

Depends if they’re interested or not. If they’re not asking questions the conversations tend toward the short. I still find myself weirdly unable to tell rather than show what roleplaying is.

You may now commence belching

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