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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

15 Questions

by Ken Newquist / November 30, 2004

Matt Snyder (of 20by20room.com fame) recently posted a RPG meme topic to his blog. In it, he poses 15 questions about people's gaming experiences. Here are my answers.

1. What is the first RPG you ever played?

Some weird combination of 1st Edition AD&D and the basic set. At the time I was in 4th grade or so, and didn't fully understand the difference between Basic D&D and Advanced D&D. It didn't help that I only had the Basic D&D set and the 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide (but not the Player's Handbook). Of course, back then, the mystery of keyed encounters also confused me -- I thought you were supposed to go from Room 1 to Room 2 to Room 3. Looking back, I think D&D was my first introduction to non-linear thinking.

2. What RPG do you currently play most often?

In the real world, Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. Online, Spycraft.

3. What is the best system you've played?

D&D 3.0. Easy to learn, approachable, and let me build my characters the way I wanted to. 3.5 is a worthwhile upgrade, but IMHO didn't really need to be released. Godlike would be a close runner up though (but, as noted many times before, I'm a sucker for dice pools).

4. What is the best system you've run?

D&D 3.0. It incorporated a tremendous amount of flexibility, allowing me to easily enhance monsters and opponents in ways that were either difficult or outright impossible under previous editions.

5. Would you consider yourself an: Elitist/ Min-Maxer/ Rules Lawyer?

Probably say elitist (in so much as I always like to think I'm right), with a bit of Rules Lawyer thrown in.

6. If you could recommend a new RPG which would you recommend? Why?

Conan d20. Because it does such a great job of echoing Robert E. Howard's original work.

7. How often do you play?

In the real world, once a week. With the online campaign though, it can be every day (though only short bursts of activity)

8. What sort of characters do you play? Leader? Follower? Comic Relief? Roll-Player/ Role-Player?

Within our group's Greyhawk campaign, I tended to play the eccentric weirdo -- the one who's quirks tended towards the amusing (if not outright pathetic). This was largely because I DM'd so much -- its hard to have a strong, dominent character when such a character would interfere with my own story arcs.

That ended in our Redshirts campaign, when I stepped down as DM for a while, and my extraplanar spellsword subsequently died a horrific death at the hands of Stan (otherwise known as Tharizdun). He was replaced by the wizard Merwyn. He proved to be remarkably competent, capable, and dependable. Outside of our campaign, I tend to play a bridge-builder -- the kind of character that seeks to keep the party talking and moving.

9. What is your favorite Genre for RPGs?

Traditionally, it's been fantasy. Right now though, I'd have to say action/adventure with a fair amount of super science thrown in.

10. What Genres have you played in?

Fantasy. Horror. Science Fiction. Espionage. Superhero.

11. Do you prefer to play or GM? Do you do both?

GM, but I also like to play from time to time. I enjoy story telling too much to be a player all the time, and being a GM lets me play with all of the rules. As a player, you get to pick and choose a handful of feats, skills and classes over the course of a campaign (or at least, a handful in comparison to what's available). As a DM, I don't have that restriction -- if I want to use a unique but rarely used prestige class like "Blood Mage", I can simply incorporate it into my adventures.

12. Do you like religion in your games?

In fantasy games, sure -- the gods always play a role there (or at least have in my game). In more real-world inspired games, not so much. Like any other contraversial subject (like say, politics) it can be a useful story tool, but should be used sparingly.

13. Do you have taboo subjects in your games or is everything "fair game"?

On the PC side, there's definitely a creep-out factor. Generally speaking, that means no evil characters. Well, at least none that start out evil -- a few have ended up that way after coming into contact with various nefarious magic items, but generally speaking their story arcs ended shortly after turning to evil. On the DM side, I have more freedom, and can touch on more overtly evil topics (i.e. stuff you might find in the Book of Vile Darkness). It's different on the DM side, because players aren't doing these things; they're fighting against them.

Even so, you have to be careful. There are, of course, some subjects that raise immediate red-flags -- like torture, incest and sexual abuse -- but others can catch you by surprise. For example, when I had giants attack the city of Hochoch during our "Liberation of Geoff" campaign, one of the buildings that they attacked was an orphanage. They ripped the walls off the building, and began consuming children, which is something you'd expect giants to do. Some of the players were shocked and horrified, much more so than I'd expected. It caused them to re-double their efforts in repelling the giant attack, but it did catch me off guard.

14. Have you developed your own RPG before?

Nope. But of course, I have ideas...

15. Have you ever been published in the Gaming Industry? If so...what?

Depends on what you mean by "published". Have I had any modules or games published? No. But I do have a monthly "Summon WebScryer" column in Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine as well as the occasional software review, and I do write for UncleBear.com from time to time.