How has a game surprised you?
This is tough to narrow down, because I read a lot of games and I’m constantly finding little surprises, good and bad. Star Trek Adventures, for instance, surprised me with how intuitively their game mechanics support the tone and story of the game, and actually get players more involved in the action rather than breaking them out of it. At the same time, I’ve been less pleasantly surprised by the latest iteration of Vampire: The Masquerade. While it seems to be a return to ‘90s V:TM, the language of the game is riddled with quite a bit of white supremacist dog-whistling. Whether that’s intentional or not, it marks a major shift in the original tone of V:TM.
In any case, I like finding surprises in my gaming material. If you have the chance I highly recommend tracking down older material and giving it a read. You’ll often find some delightful surprises in those older games. I regularly find ideas and plots I can bring into my game.
How has gaming changed you?
Too many ways to list them all, but the one that stands out is its effect on my ability to better communicate with people. I’m a reformed stutterer and an introvert, and this hobby has been invaluable in helping me overcome the first and adapt to the second, both of which have helped me communicate better. Just being a Game Master and observing what works and what doesn’t when I’m talking with my players has helped me apply some of that same skill to other conversations and situations.
Wildest Character Name?
I never really ever got wild with character names, though I have fun these days by using words in other languages as character names. Latin is always a great choice, but I’ve also grabbed words from Gaelic, Spanish, Portuguese, Urdu, and Arabic. Often it’s as easy as finding a word in English that fits your character, and seeing what Google Translate can find for you. For instance, a recent Dwarven character based around electricity attacks got the name Dealanach, which is the Gaelic word for lightning. While it might be a little on the nose, unless you game with a bunch of fluent Scots no one at the table will know.
Wildest Character Concept?
While I haven’t had a chance to play Numenera yet (my time will come), I have spent some time exploring some character concepts. Numenera’s character creation system makes this especially simple to do, and I’m the type of nerd who loves sitting for hours making up characters I might never play (bonus, I now have a bunch of NPCs if I ever GM the game instead). I think my favourite so far is a particularly silly one I made, a Helpful Jack Who is Clothing Full of Bees. They are essentially what it sounds like, a person distributed through a bee colony, inhabiting clothing to appear more human. I may never get a chance to play it, but I look forward to the day I run a Numenera game and can introduce them as an NPC.
Describe how your play has evolved.
I answered this over on The Rat Hole, so you can check it out there. And maybe read some other stuff while you’re there…
Describe a failure that became amazing.
I don’t know if it’s a failure, but I recently did a bit of writing for a third party publisher that didn’t pan out. For whatever reason my turnover email with the finished work didn’t get to them, and they assumed I blew off the assignment. When I pointed out that they could have followed up much sooner and found out the truth, their response could be summed up by *shrug*. Since I’ve done all the work anyway, I plan to finish laying it out and tweaking some details I like better, commissioning some art, and releasing it on DriveThru. Hopefully that will happen in the fall, and it will be my first self-published work. So not really a failure and too soon to know if it’s amazing, but I’m excited to see what comes of it.
Describe a tricky RPG experience that you enjoyed.
I was GMing my players through a section of The Rise of the Runelords adventure path for Pathfinder, and they were fighting their way through an old runelord enclave to get to the current BBG. Unbeknownst to them the BBG had been scrying on them during their fights, and so had a pretty good idea of their tactics when they arrived. They busted out the usual moves and were shocked and then scared spitless when the BBG just shrugged them off, having had plenty of time to buff and prepare contingencies. Best fight I ever ran, as the party scrambled to come up with new tactics. They won in the end, but it was sphincter-tightenly close a few times. Which of course made the payoff all the sweeter for them. But it was a challenge to not have him just steamroll them, which I could have easily done in the first few rounds.
Describe your plans for your next game.
I’m not sure I want to, as I have it on reasonable authority at least a few of them read my blog (Hello!). But I have a possible upcoming D&D campaign that I’ll be running for a co-worker and his friends, and it’s possible they won’t see this is time to do any good. I had briefly considered putting them in a section of my existing homebrew campaign, which would bring the total number of concurrent campaigns in that world to three. But it’s a group of new players, not just to D&D but to TTRPGs, so I don’t want to add any more confusion than I have to. So I’m taking this as an opportunity to return to the Forgotten Realms, and use some of the material there. I’m looking through the published material to see what I might use, and figuring out if I want to make my own campaign. But as with all games with new players, my plan is to get them into the action as quick as possible, and get them doing cool things right away. Hook them with the cool stuff, and they’ll keep coming back to the table…
Whew! Okay, I promise to try and be good and do these every day. Fingers crossed!