GM Questionnaire Asked by Zak S

Zak S, over at Playing D&D with Porn Stars, asks us to repost and answer.

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

My random village generator for use when traveling through war-torn lands.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

January 7th, 2012

3. When was the last time you played?

January 15th, 2012

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

Hey guys, lets all play the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh!

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

Listen to see if they need nudging.

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

Peanuts, trail mix, some chips.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

Physically, no. Mentally yes.

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

Margaret, my character, attempted to use an illusion spell to create a villager she had met earlier that day.  Margaret was going to then use her illusion to help converse with a brainwashed kid.

Instead, Margaret failed her spell and conjured an imp that recognized the characters.  It slowly tried to walk, but we all gave chase.

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

Nope. Serious campaigns remain serious – during play.

10. What do you do with goblins?

As a GM, I treat them as second-class citizens that are at the edge of societal acceptance. They are typically scheming.

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

In our Diaspora campaign (The Precious Few), I was planning on having the Emperor of New Memphis speak with the voice of George Takei – Oh yeah!

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

Our “Irv the Mole” session, when all the characters were standing in a circle trying to determine how to split the gems…when my brother’s character, holding a crossbow says to no one in particular, “You know, we could split this two ways.”

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

Burning Wheel Gold was the last role-playing book I looked at.  However, the last game book that I looked at was Martin Wallace’s “A Few Acres of Snow“, a lite wargame with mechanics inspired by Dominion.

Having tried for the past two months to trade for A Few Acres of Snow, I instead stopped by The Griffon, one of my Friendly Local Game Stores, and picked up a copy.  I’m hoping to play with my wife, my son, or my friends.

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

I’m a huge fan of RPG illustrations having a story.  I don’t need mugshots or body builder poses.  So give me an adventuring group working on a deadly trap while fighting off a monster and I’m good.

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

I don’t think so.  Although they may be afraid that I’ll keep switching systems.

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

I loved running Richard Baker’s “Red Hand of Doom.”  We didn’t complete the campaign due to several players moving away, but it is certainly a high water mark in our gaming.

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

I have a pretty good setup for gaming.  Our dining table, originally my wife’s great grand-mothers, is 44 inches wide and can expand to 96 inches.  In the dining room we have several fantasy prints by Omar Rayyan as well as wall to wall book shelves.

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

Jason Morningstar’s Fiasco and Luke Crane’s Burning Empires.

Fiasco is a great game for introducing people to role-playing games.  It requires only a minor time commitment and is GM-less. The rules are easy to explain, and keep out of the way during play.

Burning Empires will send your friends screaming. It asks that you play numerous sessions to build the campaign.  The rules are rather dense. It is an adversarial game between players and GM.

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

The Muppets, Simon Singh’s books, and LEGO.

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

I want a player willing to take risks with their character.  Someone who will step up and grab the reins.  I want players who share the spotlight;  Who are willing to give another player their time to shine.  I want players who know how to work together and know how to argue.

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

I lived in Germany for 3 months and mentally reference the smaller European villages, castles, and cathedrals for play in my fantasy games.

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

I would love to see more products like VSCA’s Deluge – Setting frameworks if you will.

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

My wife does not play RPGs, but she hears plenty about them. She has expressed interest, but is not as willing to commit to a 4 hour game.  I try my very best to summarize most things in two sentences then ask if my wife is interested in more.  Sometimes she is, other times, not so much.

Bloodstone Character Questionnaire

Last night I downloaded the free e-Book Gamemastering by Brian Jamison from gamemastering.info. It is 300 pages of all kinds of awesome!  As I was reading it, I drew all kinds of inspiration for my Bloodstone game.  I also noted that Burning Wheel has procedures in place that mirror Brian’s advice.

So I’m asking the players to work through a questionnaire.  The player’s need not fill this out, but should be prepared to discuss these things and we’ll take notes concerning the questionnaire.

Questionnaire

Character

Lifepaths

  • List your lifepaths.
  • For each of your lifepaths, tell me about a defining moment during that lifepath.
  • For each lifepath transition, tell me why/how you changed lifepaths.

Background

  • Where were you when Vaasa attacked Damara, and declared war (13 years ago)?
  • Where were you when you heard that King Viridin had died (3 years ago)?
  • How is it that were you spared on the Night of the Long Knives (2 years ago)?
  • Tell me about someone whom you lost on the Night of the Long Knives?
  • Tell me about someone that thankfully survived the Night of the Long Knives?
  • What have you lost with the collapse of Damara?
  • Why did you flee to Valls?
  • Tell me about one of your foes…A feud? A person of authority? A superior? A rival/peer?  You need not spend starting resource points on this character.

Beliefs and Instincts

I would like each character to have a belief that relates to one of the other characters.  I would also like each character to have a goal-based belief.  Think in terms of your character’s long-term goals, then determine what the first step towards achieving that goal will be…That first step should be codified into a belief.

Skills

One of the recommendations from Gamemastering is that I should write down all of the character skills.  This is to ensure that each character has a chance to shine.  There are a lot of skills in Burning Wheel, so help me understand what skills you want to use.  I’m planning on writing down all of your skills, so I have a frame of reference for working on adventures.