Zak's GM Questionnaire

Yesterday, Zak over at Playing D&D with Porn Stars put a questionnaire up.  While I don't normally participate in stuff like this, this one looked kind of fun. Every link in the questionnaire, with the exception of the very first one, leads to a post on my blog where I actually went into more detail about that particular topic.

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

I guess it would be the d20 book I wrote, the Quintessential Aristocrat.  I did a ton of research on nobility and the aristocracy of various cultures throughout history.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

July of 2011, although it looks like we're finally set to play again this Saturday.

3. When was the last time you played?

Friday, 1/6 in my friend Brian's Andalusia II campaign.

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

A wizard character capable of limited time travel moves throughout time to recruit a "super team" of other heroes (knights, soldiers, scientists, etc.) to defeat a powerful entity intent on destroying the galaxy in the past, but has to contend with enemy agents out to stop him from recruiting the heroes.

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

Look at my notes for upcoming encounters and go grab a drink.

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

For day-games on weekends: grapes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, marcona almonds, pita/hummus or chips/salsa, and beer. Oh, and chocolate chip cookies.

For Friday night games: pizza, beer, and ice cream.

For all day "game days": depends on what my friend Cal makes.  But always with lots of wine.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

No.  I guess I'm lazy.  But I do find it mentally exhausting.

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

I was playing an English Lieutenant-Colonel and a World War II Savage Worlds game and was handed a piece of paper by the GM in the middle of a combat that basically said that I was actually a "White Wizard" and that all of my technical equipment was actually magic, but I had to role-play to the rest of the players to convince them that there was nothing amiss and that all of my seemingly magical equipment were simply experimental technological items made by British secret agencies.
9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?

Once in a while, but it's totally okay.  D&D for me is more about the social aspects, which includes goofing around and having fun.  If we're not laughing and having a good time, then why are we playing?

10. What do you do with goblins?

They're pretty rare in my campaign world, but are used to point out examples of racism and human-centered bias.

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

Lots of background stuff from a History Channel International special called "The Dark Ages."

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

In a 4E one-shot game (the only time I played that edition), my friend Cal, the GM, assigned me a character with the opening line: "You are the right head of a pygmy ettin."  Another played at the table was in charge of the left head. We had the same physical stats, but different mental stats and even different classes.  We split our movement in half, but other than that, we each got to take our full actions each round. I was told that I hated my "brother", so I put a spiked pauldron over his shoulder to "protect" his arm. It was actually there so that when I slapped his (left) head with the arm I controlled (the left arm), he would slap me back with the right arm that he controlled but would accidentally hit the spiked pauldron instead. Good times.

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

The 2E Arabian Adventures book.  I was looking at descriptions for the new non-weapon proficiencies introduced in the book for another project I'm working on.

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

I always liked the pulpy feel of stuff by Frank Frazetta.  Yeah, I know he didn't illustrate RPGs, but he would be my "perfect" RPG illustrator.

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

Not afraid in the traditional sense of the word, but some of them get anxious about their characters dying.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)

I recently took a group through module S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.  I'd owned it for over 25 years but had never played nor run it.  It was a lot of fun except that the ending was kind of rushed.

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

A really big table that can fit a battle mat plus everyone's books, notes, pens, and dice, as well as all of our food and drinks.  I'm not picky. 

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

Speaking strictly about RPGs, I actually really like Pathfinder, but I also like the simplicity and openness of old school 1E Gamma World.

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

Real-world Earth history and Frank Herbert's Dune.

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

Someone who gets into the world and plays their character based on their character's knowledge, not their meta-game knowledge.

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

Many of the political relationships between various countries in my world are based on friendships or disagreements I had with people over the years. 

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

I would love a true mythical fantasy version of India for a D&D based game (any version but 4E). Not just "fighters belong to the kshatriya caste" but actually taking inspiration from India and creating a cool, fully fleshed out fantasy setting.  And no psionics or yuan-ti allowed.

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

One of my co-workers. We used to go on a lot of business trips together so on the plane ride I would explain to her about the game and why I played. Over time she came to understand that it was really no different than her being hugely into the Dodgers and having memorized lots of stats and getting excited to get together with her friends to watch a game.


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