Zak S.'s GM Questionnaire

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

I’m pretty happy with Awesome Points so far, although it’s probably too early to say I’m entirely sure they’re a success. Still, I’m sticking with it.

2. When was the last time you GMed?


3. When was the last time you played?

Phew! I can’t remember, 2003 maybe?

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

The PCs hear rumors of a sunken city of the Ancients under the lake, and have to decide whether to blow up the damn and slog around in the mud looking for treasures.

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

I do as little as possible. Maybe I stare at the minis.

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

Pizza for 4E, nothing for B/X or M&M.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

Not physically. It leaves me feeling drained, but I think going from running the game to doing some kind of difficult manual labor might be a nice move. Run a dungeon crawl, then chop some wood…

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

I had a guy recently turn around and try to get a job working for the junior BBEG to get some inside information, which was pretty unexpected. The general utter disregard for each other’s gruesome deaths that most characters display is also interesting, in a way.

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

I think things are always taken less seriously than I imagine them, which is what I always expect.

10. What do you do with goblins?

I wrote goblins out of my 4E game. In my B/X game, they’re a constant minor annoyance, but I think the PCs are going to have to strike a deal with them and head through the goblin woods at some point. My goblins are more hated than hateful.

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

The guy from the old 7-Up “Uncola” ads makes a great NPC, voice-wise.

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

Everyone appreciated when Keralon the lich tried to doom the party by summoning his chained-up hydra, not realizing it was long-dead. Any time I get to describe the horrible death of anything, I giggle inside.

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

S&W White Box. I keep wondering whether I want to eliminate thieves from my B/X game. Other than D&D-ish stuff, probably Eclipse Phase, which I received for Christmas. Holy cow, that book is enormous!

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

I really liked Jeff Easley’s work on 2E. I don’t know if I’d call it perfect, but I liked it a lot. “Cut Down to Size” still makes me happy. Jim Holloway’s stuff on Paranoia also really makes me happy.

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

I think sometimes I make them anxious, which is about the best I seem able to do. Sometimes it’s because I can build up the right atmosphere, but just as often it’s when I roll on some random table and mutter to myself.

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

I’ve never done it.

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

Windows, sunlight, a chair on which I can cross my legs, a round table with plenty of room for tiles, and maybe a few whiteboards in arm’s reach.

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

Mage and Human Occupied Landfill

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

William Gibson and He-Man.

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

Somebody who will shut up about the last game he was in, how this reminds him of an episode of Star Trek, and who will pursue a goal further in the future than ten minutes.

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

Nothing springs to mind.

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

I want the 4E D&D Compendium for old-school games, complete with inline expandable explanations of monsters’ spell-like effects.

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

Sometimes I tell a co-worker about an amusing scene, which works with no context. A few weeks ago I tried to explain to a neighbor where I was headed (to a M&M game). It was harder than I expected, at least when I tried to fit it into a few sentences.

Written on January 18, 2012
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