23 Answers for Zak

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be? I think that it would be merging Cyberpunk 2020’s Lifepath system with the Advanced Career Generation systems of Traveller for my CyberTraveller game. It’s simple and straightforward and people love to sit and kibbitz while everyone makes their characters, figuring out how everyone knows one another.
2. When was the last time you GMed? Two Sundays ago, we play again this Sunday.
3. When was the last time you played? Sometime last year? My spouse and I flip back-and-forth sometimes and she’s been busy with work lately.
4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven’t run but would like to: Fight your way out of Hell and back your life.
5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things? Listen to them, scribble things down that I think of in the moment, go use the toilet, whatever.
6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play? Usually some chips make their way into my belly.
7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting? Exhausting, rarely. Tiring? Amost always.
8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing? The thing that comes to mind, though I’m sure that there are examples after this, is killing another PC because the way they were acting it seemed like they were a bad guy. The rest of the group agreed 100%, but I continue to think about that – and it ended up being an epitomizing moment for that character. He turned into someone that the group knew that they could always turn to for help, would always do the right thing, but the way that it would happen could be terrifying.
9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither? Of course! Both directions, and so do I, that’s part of the fun of gaming.
10. What do you do with goblins? They are deceptively easy to kill, but have a cunning tactical sense and desire for self-preservation. Low HD, but they come in increasingly larger groups, use weak poison, and fighting them is a numbers game. If the players stack the deck in their favor they are almost certain to win, if the players don’t take them seriously then the goblins can easily overwhelm them.
11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)? I’m pretty regularly plundering historical fiction and non-fiction for ideas not just for my AD&D game but for my Call of Cthulhu game as well – Cyberpunk too.
12. What’s the funniest table moment you can remember right now? I’m answering these out of order, so, see #16, below, but the party ended up drowning another PC that they found in the middle of the module in the moat because the player was an idiot. I’ll have to relate that story in a post all by itself at some point here…
13. What was the last game book you looked at–aside from things you referenced in a game–why were you looking at it? I was reading a bunch of old Dungeon magazines this morning looking for inspiration for a solo adventure for my spouse.
14. Who’s your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator? It really depends upon the genre of the game. For fantasy it would be David Trampier or Angus McBride (did all of the old ICE MERP illustrations) – though  I also love P.D. Breeding Black who did all of the original art for Talislanta. For science-fiction it would be probably be William H. Kieth Jr. who did tons of old Traveller art, but I loved style direction of most of the both the Cyberpunk 2020 and the Warhammer 40K merchandise lines. Plus I also love Blair Reynolds work for Pagan Publishing (and elsewhere, he did some Megatraveller artwork as well IIRC).
15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid? Yes.
16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn’t write? (If ever) Probably running T1, The Villiage of Hommlet about 2o years ago.
17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in? I had a dedicated game room at one point, that was pretty cool. But anthing where I could get people at one table comfortably would be good. Somebody had the suggestion of a Gentleman’s Club, and that would be pretty fun as well – except I have my 14-year-old son playing with us and I’m pretty certain the scenery would end up being pretty distracting.
18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be? I really like a generic supplement that I have that is simply lists of names and surnames, arranged by language. I’m constantly looking for inspiration for names and that was a life-saver. In a completely different vein, I really love Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads which was the Cyberpunk 2020 referee handbook and guide. It was (and is) one of the most cogent discussions of running not just games but also campaigns out there.
19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be? My early and ongoing interest in religion, spirituality, and occultism opposed by the multi-day family backpacking trips as a teenager (plus spelunking with my father, uncle, and cousin). From intellecual and ethereal to the gritty and muddy physical.
20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table? Someone who likes to role-play, is willing to take risks, and is a team-player. You can’t be afraid to lose a character, but at the same time suicidal nonsense that gets everybody else killed isn’t appreciated by anyone.
21. What’s a real life experience you’ve translated into game terms? Studying the martial arts, plus the experience of the fights I’ve been in. That’s certainly influenced the way I think about combat, across systems. There are certainly more, but that’s a pretty obvious one.
22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn’t? My programable 3D Hologram table for running combats and dungeon exploration on…
23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn’t play? How do those conversations go? Nope.

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