Thursday, May 22, 2014

Listen...Do You Want To Know A Secret?

I haven't done one of these for a while so I thought I would for giggles (Also, I've been sick and working extra, a rough combo that has made it difficult to get back to serious blogging).

This one is kind of old (June 16, 2013) by I just saw it pop up on my tumblr feed.

The Tabletop RPG Ask Meme


1.) Game Master, Player or both? Why?

While I have taken on both roles, my love of GMing outweighs my love of playing by about 100 to 1.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but the primary two are:

Being a Gamemaster gives me a venue for all the things I like and think I am relatively good at. It's the only activity I know of where my imagination, writing, art, storytelling talent, comedic timing, voice acting skills and extensive memory of otherwise unimportant Science Fiction and Comic Book trivia actually come in handy.

With Gamemastering, all that stuff would remain bottled up in my head and heart until I burst.

The second reason is, sadly, a bit more judgemental and negative than is normal for me, but I can not help it. I don't like to play because the vast majority of other GMs I've encountered just aren't very good. I got tired of being told that won't work, you can't do that, that's not available, that's not possible, no, no, no, whenever I used my head and thought of something outside the box.

Playing was no fun. GMing is.

2.) When did you start role playing? How old were you?

I was 8. The date was August 25th, 1977.

3.) What was the first role playing book you ever owned?

Basic D&D. I believe it was the 1981, Moldvay version. I played the game, and even ran it, for about 2-3 years before I owned my own copy.

4.) Describe the first game you ever ran or played in.

The first one I played in, which I've described before, was awesome. I was a Halfling walking through a Wild West style ghost town (because at 7 and 8 none of the player knew what the heck a medieval town looked like) on my way to the King of the Human Lands. I was transporting a small case of hot sauce, which as it turned out, had the effect of giving Humans and Halflings super strength when mixed with other ingredients.

The ghost town turned out to be literal, as I was soon beseiged by skeletons, zombies and other undead. I ended up blowing a lot of them up by luring them into a saloon/inn and than setting it on fire. A cleric (another PC) saw the flames and ran to the village to help me. We than set off on our journey together.

I don't exactly recall the first game I ran but it was most likely D&D.

5.) Which system did you grow up with?

All of them.

I started at the age of 8 in 1977. It's 2014. I'm 45.

I wouldn't know what to begin.

The games I ran and played the most while "growing up" were FASA Star Trek and Villains & Vigilantes, followed by D&D and Advanced D&D.

6.) Which system do you play now?


Star Trek, by Last Unicorn Games, Ars Magica 3rd and 4th, Champions 4th, Marvel Heroic RPG, Mekton II, Mutants & Masterminds 3rd, Risus, Star Wars D6 (WEG), SFX, Traveller, various homebrews and many others.

7.) Longest campaign you’ve run or played in?

Longest ever run would be a D&D game using my homebrewed and customized variant of the game I call D&D AD. It lasted about 4 years.

Longest I was ever in was a Champions game that last nearly 10 years, but I was only in it for 3-3 1/2. Best game ever.

8.) Where did you meet your current gaming group?

Mostly at a local gaming convention called RECESS, put on by a group called NerdNYC. Sadly, the last RECESS was over a year ago or more. I don't think they are doing it any more.

A few others are friends from our FLGS.

9.) Strategic combat or dramatic plotlines?

Dramatic combat that is often the result of strategic plotlines.

10.) Favorite RPG genre?

Whoah nelly! Tough one.

For years and years I wouldn't have thought twice about this. I would have said Science Fiction and left it at that. Nowadays however, I think it might be Superheroes. Go figure.


11.) Your first character.

Gobo Pepperthorn. Male Halfling in Basic D&D. Died protecting a fellow PC from a Dragon Breath attack.

12.) Your favorite character.

StarGuard. Male, Alien Superhero in Champions. Still alive. Still badass.

13.) Your most ridiculous character.

That is hard to narrow down. I played Toon and TFOS a lot. Ridiculous was normal.

I played an Alien Robot Repairman in a game of Hunter Planet (though he was actually rather competent).

14.) The best in-character line you’ve ever had.

"I am going to put you through the Moon."

My Champions PC StarGuard said this to another PC who was acting like a villain even though he believed himself to be a hero. I challenged him to a one-on-one, honor duel on the Moon.

15.) Your most epic death.

Hmmm. Didn't die a lot. Mostly because I didn't play a lot I guess.

Have to go with my first one. Dragon Breath in defense of a friend.

16.) Your most disappointing death.

See above.

17.) Something that shouldn’t have worked, but did.

After another PC created a terrible incident in which two alien armadas were about to go to war with each other while he kidnapped the princess of one of their nations (and blamed the other), I went back in time used a device similar to the Cosmic Treadmill or Doctor Doom's Time Platform and undid everything he did before it happened.

18.) Something that went hilariously awry.

Honestly can't think of anything as a player.

19.) Your most memorable in-character moment.

StarGuard leading several PC and NPC Superheroes, including members of his extraterrestrial superteam, into battle during an alien invasion of the Earth. I took out starships. I protected a few heroes from getting injured or killed, but I couldn't save everyone. My team fought hard but at least three were badly injured and one was killed (another PC).

20.) The coolest item you ever got and how you came to possess it.

Item? Got? Ummm...Oh! Finding treasure. Yeah, no, don't remember and wouldn't. Didn't play D&D much as time went on and it was never about the stuff when I did.

My Star Wars character Dreg, a Rodian, had a cool ship. He started with it but the backstory was his Dad game it to him to make a name for himself. It was sweet.

GAME MASTERS - Describe:

21.) Your favorite NPC and how the party reacted to him/her

I have a lot of favorites.

One is Ip Witspear, actually a former PC in an old game, I brought him back as the proprietor of a shop that buys and sells magic items and magical components. He is also used as a patron who hires PCs to search for some item or material a customer is looking for.

Most of my PCs love him. He speaks with an extremely exaggerated, foppish, British accent and misuses magical items, casts spells improperly, etc., so that just entering his store is an adventure. Various clues have revealed that is largely an act and that is quite an accomplished wizard in his own right.

Another favorite is the Patriot, a superhero who is best described as, "What if Captain America were a Vietnam vet and not the soldier hero of World War II?". He is a disillusioned, superpowered activist who listens to Led Zepplin, smokes weed and tells you, "Don't rule out those Secret Societies man. If you do man, they'll get you. I've seen some things man."

 22.) A game you wish you could run or want to run someday.

I have a certain idea or view of Fantasy that is very unlike D&D. I have run it only once and it was great. Attempts to run it since have failed.

One day.

23.) Something you made up on the spot.

Neither you, nor I, have the time it would take you to list all the things I have come up with on the spot. It's a lot.

A lot.

24.) Your most successful game.

Interesting. My most successful game. Not sure.

The D&D AD sequel to the original D&D AD campaign that I ran with my wife was amazingly good and fun. Our Traveller game was likewise pretty fantastic.

Both of my big Star Wars games were incredibly successful. People still talk about them.

My current Traveller game is going incredibly well and the new Champions campaign I'm starting has great potential.


There was also my Star Trek game...Fedifensor. That might have to be the one.

25.) Your least successful game.

Ooh. Ouch. Bring up the bad memories and the feels why don't you.

Pendragon. I recently tried running Pendragon and it went all kinds of wrong. It sucked rotten eggs through a dirty straw.

26.) The craziest thing your players have ever done, and how it affected your plans.

I don't plan that way other GMs seem to plan. I don't have a pre-determined idea of how the game will go. I have what the villain is up to, what they plan to do, how they plan on doing it and a good idea of what else the world around them is like.

Players are than welcome to do crazy stuff as much as they like, but if they don't thwart the villain, he/she does what he/she planned on doing.

If players investigate the wreckage of a spaceship, I know what's on it, why it's derelict and what could happen should they board it, but that's all. I don't know if the players are going to have their PCs tear it apart for salvage, board it and look around, tractor beam it behind them, toss it into the sun, or whathaveyou and as such, I don't make plans that require any one thing to happen.

27.) Your favorite setting or game location.

I like going from environment to environment, so Science Fiction, especially Space Travel Adventure Science Fiction, is my favorite type of gaming.

My favorite settings include the Star Trek and Star Wars universes, Traveller's canon (pre-MegaTraveller) and global superhero campaigns, whether original or set in the Marvel or DC universe. My preference there is DC, pre-nu52 of course.

As for locations, I like urban settings, space stations and starships and in or under water scenarios. I am also a big fan of Tundra and Arctic locales.

28.) Your creative process when you plan a game.

I have tried to describe this before and don't think I really can. I'll try again.

I get an idea. It pops into my head from somewhere. Sometimes it's something from a movie, a TV show, a video game, a comic book, a piece of concept art, a song lyric, a sentence in a game book, and then, it explodes. It starts bouncing off the inner walls of my mind, hitting other ideas from previous 'pops' and eventually, BOOM!, it all comes crashing down into a little room in my brain reserved specifically for finished product.

I mentally take it out, clean off the dust and any loose pieces, maybe spruce up the paint job at little, but that's it. I don't so much work on games or plan them. Ideas just hit me, fully formed and complete. If they are good, they are usually followed by an avalache of other related ideas and there you go, I have a campaign.

29.) The best / worst character concept you’ve ever heard.

Some of the best characters I've ever seen were not high concept. Most of my ex-wife's character were people, normal for the most part, who became amazing due to her actions and the way she interacted with the settings and other characters.

My friend Andy is surprisingly good at Superhero concepts. I say surprisingly because his favorite genre is horror (albeit somewhat campy horror). Two of his character concepts that blew me away were/are:

Starboard, an android superhero in the mold of the Silver Surfer. A cosmic crusader who travels from planet ot planet warning them of the approach of some great evil. He then remains with them to help them defend against it, whatever it may be.

What makes the concept so cool is that Starboard is actually a starship. He is a Human-sized and shaped, FTL capable 'giant robot' for a species of miniature Humanoid beings. Kind of like Meet Dave merged with the Japanese mecha series and films Ideon. Except cooler and with a heavy dose of Silver Surfer.

His current character in our new Champions campaign is called The Grey Flame. The ghost of an actor who died trying to save immigrants from a burning tenement in 1927, the entity now known as The Grey Flame was, for many years, thought to be an urban legend. Originally referred to as, 'The Man in Grey', the ghost received his current name from one of the few remaining members of the Silver Age Champions who thought The Grey Flame was a hero recruited to join the team.

He appears as a man in the garb of a Muskateer, with a long, dramatic, dark cape. The was what the actor was wearing when he died, as he was on his way to a performance. He is completely invisible and immaterial, unable to be seen, heard or touch, unless he concentrates and wills himself visible and solid.

That's right gaming fans, his power is to become tangible and visible. He expends Endurance points to do so. Awesome.

I'm hard pressed to say these were the Best Characters Ever, but they were the best I've seen in a long time. Definitely cool, and memorable.

As far as worst, eh, I have this one player who, well, all of his concepts are pretty weak. His ability to come up with interesting ideas that aren't just, "I fight good", is pretty limited. Yes, I know that was poor grammar. That is indicitive of this player as well.

30.) What makes GMing fun for you.


I really love everything about it. I love playing to a crowd. I love to entertain. I love gathering a group of friends together on a regular basis to enjoy each others company and a shared hobby. I love making artwork, maps and character sheets for my games.

I love it when Players believe they have figured out some discrepancy in the logic of the game world, point it out, and than I get to see the look on their faces when I say, "Ah, noticed that did you?"

Yeah. I love that.

Barking Alien

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