Friday, January 27, 2012

Zak Smith's DM Questionnaire

Exactly what it says on the tin.  I know I'm late to the party, but duty calls.

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
Strangely, I'm not sure.  The Snake-Bear, I guess.  My PCs hated that thing.

2. When was the last time you GMed?
This past Saturday, January 21.  I ran this.

3. When was the last time you played?
January 22.  My characters died doing this.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
The PCs are trying to find the magician harvesting the magical resonance from the deaths of David Carradine, Michael Jackson, and Bea Arthur.
Obviously, I started planning that one a while ago.  It would likely be Unknown Armies.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Look over my notes, or read something I'm either about to use or just haven't had time to read yet.  Arrange my dice.  Listen, because something hilarious is usually happening.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Whatever's around.  I used to get so wired that I'd never eat while GMing, but now it varies.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
Yes and no.  On the one hand, I'm usually pouring sweat at the end of it, but I find it relaxing.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
I said grace at a dinner I would later learn was probably learn was human flesh, likely that of our host.  Made more interesting because it's the first time I've said grace.  Ever.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
Both, really, although the first is much more common.

10. What do you do with goblins?
Nothing special, sadly.  They're just a tribal people.  Salt of the earth.  Occasional marauders.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
The giant slugs in the Fungoid Gardens of the Bone Sorcerer resemble nudibranchs.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
Strangely, the first thing I recalled was the half-elf bard refusing to cross a three-foot-deep stream.  He offered to pay any other party member who would carry him across.  His friend, the elf cleric, offered to do it for free.  They both fell in the river and nearly drowned.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
Carcosa.  I couldn't remember if mummy brains could fly or not.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
I don't know.  I'm keen on DiTerlizzi.  Maybe some brain-melting mashup of Zak Smith and Ralph Steadman.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
I think so.  I'm not actually sure.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
"Wail of the Witch" for Call of Cthulhu was pretty hilarious.  A lone investigator, in the city of the Elder Things, shoving a shoggoth prod at the person currently inhabiting his body.  Good times.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
A room with a table and enough seating for everyone.  Nearby shelves hold all the gaming stuff.  There's room for sound, too.

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

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
It's hard to say, because all of the stuff I like makes sense to me.  I'll say H. P. Lovecraft and Goichi Suda.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
Someone who makes playing fun.  Someone who surprises me and/or will drive the action forward without any prompting is good.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
I ran a Cthulhu LIVE game based on someone's description of trying Salvia divinorum.  Here's a video from that game.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
I've had a modern occult game in mind that I'd like to write and publish, so yeah, there's at least one.  Anything else I'd want to see is just something I need to actually make (like, say, my big chart of random names).

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
Not really.  I try to tone down the RPG talk with anyone who doesn't play.


  1. What sort of random names? I used to have a spreadsheet based off census data and relative weight, but then I found this site which does it all for me:

    1. Like that, but historical and fantasy names, too.

      Basically just a massive chart where I can go, "All right, I'm rolling for a modern human. Now I'm rolling for a fantasy elf. Now I'm rolling for a Norseman from the 10th century." And so forth.

      That's an awesome website, though. I've just been using and picking names either by meaning or commonality.

  2. Thoughts:

    One of my more embarrassing yet prouder moments of Crux of Eternity so far - being such a faffing nonce that I almost drown in a dungeon. RESULT.

    Yes, I have been genuinely terrified at some of your games. True facts. Sometimes in Cthulhu games, several times in "Falsies", and at least a couple in Crux that I can recall. Also, "tripping" on that Soy Sauce-esque stuff (riquid or pirr)at the Mafia LARP was pretty much the best LARP scene I've ever participated in - just you, me, and another PC. You run a damned good story, sir. And no I'm not saying that entirely because I'm biased.

    And fuck that Snake Bear.


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